Monday, May 30, 2011

4.2 changes to Valor points

EDIT: STOP SPENDING JUSTICE POINTS NOW. The short story here is that your Justice Points will be worth MORE after 4.2. You'll get serious ilevel 359 gear with Justice Points shortly, instead of the crap you're spending them on now. You will not lose your Valor Points.

(I've reworded this a bit; it looks like a number of people find this post when searching for Valor Point changes.)

Make sense? If you wanted Stormrider's Leggings now and you had 500 Valor Points and 2000 Justice Points, you're toast in 4.1. They cost 2200 Valor Points.

In 4.2, though, your 2000 Old Justice Points will combine with your 500 Old Valor Points, and you'll have 2500 New Justice Points. The Stormrider's Leggings will now only cost 2200 JPs! You're golden!

But if you spent 950 of your 2000 Justice Points on an Apple Bent-Bough during 4.1, an ilvl 346 item, you'd be toast when 4.2 drops. You'd only have 2000-950 = 1050 Old Justice Points + 500 Old Valor Points = 1550 New Justice Points. That's bad. Save your cash and get the good stuff.

So in 4.2 we'll have two new categories of currency. Valor Points v4.1 will become Justice Points v4.2. Justice Points v4.1 will be upgraded to Justice Points v4.2 too. You're going to have a lot of Justice Points v4.2, which can all be used to buy what can currently be purchased with Valor Points v4.1.

There will also be Valor Points v4.2 which can be used to buy gear that's not available in 4.1. Nobody will have any New Valor Points when 4.2 rolls out. Nobody! There's no reason to save VPs 4.1, as you'll be able to buy the same stuff with them in 4.2 as 4.1. But since you'll soon be able to spend Justice Points v4.1 on Valor Points v4.1 gear, you should save all of your Justice Points v4.1 until they appreciate in value in 4.2.

From MMO-Champion - Patch 4.2 Valor Points Rewards, Firelands Ragnaros Video, Blue Posts, Artworks

"Old epic ilvl 359/'Valor' gear is now available from the Justice Points vendor at the same prices.
'Old' rare/Justice Points gear is still for sale at the same price.
When Patch 4.2 is released, your existing Valor Points will be converted to Justice Points.
Normal versions of Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the Four Winds will be nerfed and will only reward Justice Points.

You can still buy the same pieces with Old (pre-4.2) Valor Points as before. It's just that in 4.2, you can buy them with JP too! It's not really that your old VPs are being nerfed so much as your JPs are getting buffed. You can keep spending your Valor Points on whatever you wanted to spend them on, as their value won't change. Just realize you'll have tons of Old Valor Point equivalents soon when your JPs get buffed.

So you should keep running heroics, knowing you're now getting 70 Old VP equivalents + 70 Old VP equivs per boss now, right?

And randomly -- Why is so slow recently? We might have too many eggs in that basket. Wish someone had told me about WoWPedia earlier too. I was wondering why WoWWiki was so danged out of date.

On the tax payers of virtual economies

I promised myself that I'd stop posting comments on Spinks' blog, as they tend to be too long and dominate the comment scroll. I also don't get a lot of follow-up conversation, honestly, so I'm really wasting everyone's time.

Oh well. Here we went again [sic]. Figured this was interesting enough (to me) to capture here too. This is from Spink's "Enchanting and the gear tax"post.

Or in other words, enchanting is an artificial way to stimulate demand in game.

Two long points.

The in-house Ultima Online researcher (years ago) had a great presentation on the way UO initially wanted to simulate a closed economy. Turns out a market flooded with n00b leather caps and sandals doesn't work so well.

The economic paradigm in UO quickly changed from a closed economy to a "faucet and drain" model. You pump gold in, and you provide drains to pull it back out. It's all subsidies and taxes.

Here, you take the players invested in farming mats (faucets) and crafting (small drain with recipes) who create useful enchants (money magnets/tax collectors) and then you hook larger drains up to these harder-core players -- repairs, guild rewards, mounts, etc.

It's not just demand that's stimulated with enchantments. It's a specific implementation of the faucet/drain system, one that involves setting up a system of tax collectors.

Am I really the only person who would prefer to be able to just grab a cool drop and be ready to go without being asked to do all the legwork for an extra minor bonus? It’s funny, once I used to find these extra complexities so cool. I think that I’m over it now, or at least I’ve done it over again in enough games that I’d rather just cut to the chase.

Second point -- you have to striate the market to maximize its appeal. This is the same as with difficult games and game guides. Who would finish all of Metal Gear Solid without a little help? Same with many quests in MMORPGs. Casual players can read guides. Minigame players and completists can take the time to learn professions. Harder-core players can challenge themselves and prepare for Heroic dungeons (and I can't believe how much time I've wasted researching and then gearing up, and I'm not that hard core).

As my third foray into Heroics showed me very quickly, many don't bother with gems, enchants, etc. It's a way of striating your customer base. You have to provide avenues for multiple playstyles to enjoy your content, whether they're completists, or (and I can't find the reference, which is killing me), folks (apparently young girls in the article I can't find) who would rather drive around Liberty City for fun rather than maim and rob. These are all games within games ["within games," Frank Herbert added, "You have to say it three times to achieve full effect."]. It's not that there's no right way to play. There are many right ways to play.

Very little is more fascinating than "virtual" economies -- of gold, of goods, of bits, and, most importantly, of dollars and time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

And hello heroics

Though it's technically my second successful heroic, it's the first I've done after completing my mad max gear up and my first since March 17th(!). Had never run Shadowfang before. Was relatively enjoyable. We had one wipe before Lord Godfrey, and then had three. The fourth, we had two go down again, including the priest (who went down first maybe two or three of the four shots; still not sure how that happened), and I hit rebirth to bring her back.

Seconds pass, and no rez. Quick typing (the "@" symbol in my frantic "take the rez!@" is, of course, the Angband guy pleading too) and some mad off-healing later, she's taken my Rebirth and is back, I'm DPSing again, and we finally bring him down (though the priest dies again after we're done. I guess she kept catching the Cursed Bullets, but I wasn't calm enough to see.)

It was one of those exciting gaming moments when you breathe a literal sigh of relief. It's fun and, more importantly, memorable to scoot through by the seat of your pants. I was awfully lucky to have a group patient enough to sit through four wipes and a dungeon guide nice enough to give us the 411 on each boss. And I was even luckier to bag the Chaos Orb when it was done. Strangely, two in the party dropped as soon as Godfrey's loot popped up, not even interested in greeding a few more gold into their pockets.

Overall a good, fun run. I (barely) had burst DPS over 11k when things cut just right, and managed to keep it around 7.5-8.5k outside of trash (ie, bosses) when I wasn't off healing (strangely kept it around 6k+ even when I was). I'm not going to say all those hours of grinding gear paid off, as it's wasted time I could have been spending doing something productive (read: "paid"), but they have made the game more fun.

Wow, as an aside, I just Armoried (this is like Googling a date, isn't it?) the other folks. Gear scores:

Priest 345 (7 unenchanted items)
Shaman 342 (10 unenchanted, 9 empty sockets(!!), no belt buckle, unenchanted ring)
Tank/Prot Paladin 339 (5 unenchanted, 5 missing glyphs, no belt buckle)
DK (Frost) 352 (only thing missing is a Chimera's Eye)

And I thought I was behind. But I'm at 344 equipped and a perfect audit. Makes me wonder how much heroics have changed. The DK was the only guy doing serious damage consistently, but I guess I know why now.

Of course, as I've said before, off-healing is about as fun as it gets, as you really do feel you're the only thing between the group and failure. At least one boss required some off-heals and a tranq pop, and of course I had to heal our way through each of the wipes once the priest died (the first time, some DPS died first and I battle rezzed him, not knowing it was going to get lots worse, which kept me healing for a while). Honestly, that's a ton of fun.

I think the secret to good DPS really is mushroom use. I don't enjoy it, but it's growing on me, har har. I'm also using Pickled Guppy and Scrolls of Intellect, something I haven't done with regularity before.

Phew, I'm going to need to run a little archeology just to calm back down.

In other news, I got a free fishing pole with +25 fishing just for catching up with Nat, and even though some NPCs ignore Deathwing's fire, checking how badly the flames are killing your framerate is not A Good Idea.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The end of a grind in achievements

It's finally over. I have the Stump of Time, and now have a gear score of 344. I'm not sure there's much higher level that's useful for a Balance druid that I can get on my own pre-Heroic runs, and nothing I think I can get efficiently. I've regemmed, reenchanted, but not quite yet reforged.

I was going to make a huge retrospective post with tons of pictures, but there were too many, so for now I'm just going to slap in a few of the achievements I got while grinding. And, admittedly, much of this -- particularly Archeology -- was done when I was bored out of my freaking mind during the grinding.

There's at least one more. I received an achievement somewhere about getting 50 Chef's Awards, though I was holding 70 and had spent several before I got it. Seems like lots of the counters for achievements didn't start at Day 0 but at some random implementation point in the future.

Also note the "Next Battle" time for the Baradin's Wardens achievement. Cutting it pretty close. ;^)

I'll try to get up the gumption to write a step-by-step, PvE, casual gamer Balance Gear Guide in the coming days. I ended up buying three pieces, and most of my gear from Normals dropped more than once, iirc, so I think I can give a pretty good, specific list for those leveling alts who want a paint by numbers guide, which I haven't found yet -- which zones to run, which rep to grab in what order, what to buy, etc. Not pick from three items, but get this item, you know? It might not be absolutely "right", but when you're researching this crap, being able to offload all this researching would be nice.

Without further ado...

Victory in Tol Barad

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The PUG to raid gap grows

From Lissanna's Some thoughts on the Dungeon Journal:

To prepare for raids, I read the spell abilities on wowpedia, and THEN I read strategies there. Then, I hop over to watch a Tankspot video on youtube and read the comments on tankspot.

Boy, that sounds like fun, doesn't it?

For raids, okay, I'll allow the point. This isn't that crazy a set of research prereqs. But for heroic dungeons? I really still think the gap between PUGging normals and hitting heroics is too large, from the gear needed to the amount of gaming knowledge before the fact (see "spoiler" comment from Lissanna below). Making a stupid Dungeon Journal is a real coward's fix and, if what Restokin says is true, only a partially successful way to get players up to speed.

Third party sites and addons did the same thing, but better and with more detail.

That's just a sad state of affairs. The game should prepare you for bosses. There should be preparation quests. NPCs helping teach you what's going to go down.

That you're in a state of affairs where...

Most raid groups “spoiler” bosses before they step foot in a raid dungeon

... tells me Blizzard really hasn't finished the game. And with 4.1 only bringing serious new content for those done with heroics (the mini quest line was fun, but really only a distraction. And much MUCH too easy. It was like a 4th grade in-class worksheet), the gap isn't closing and the game isn't approaching finished at all.

I wish we knew why subscription numbers are down. I've seen hard core bloggers say it's because hard core players have finished the content. But you know, I really don't think 10% of the player population is necessarily hard-core, end game finished players. The drop is from the casual player too. It's really no surprise. If I hadn't accidentally forgotten to cancel my autopay, I would probably be taking a week or two break this month myself. I barely have time for Tol Barad (where I've painfully found that I won't yet have the rep to buy Stump of Time when I have the commendations), often squeeze in a few minutes on my underpowered laptop without the Razer Naga (really hurts the DPS), and often just log in for another frostsaber cub whisker. Dude is getting big though. ;^) Watch him shoot up around 0:14...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gear upgrades and Grinding Tol Barad -- 18 quests a day!

I've been running archaeology digs, farming for Winterspring Cub Whiskers, and grinding Tol Barad while waiting for running normals recently. I recently bagged a Scepter of Power and traded in some JP for the Apple-Bent Bough. With the off-hand intellect enchant, I think I come out ahead of my old Staff of Siphoned Essences. Here they are compared on WoWhead, though it misses the +40 INT from the off-hand enchant. That with a few smarter enchants and though my iLevel is the same, DPS should start looking up. I also traded out my one piece of Heroic gear, the Corrupted Egg Shell, for the normal Gale of Shadows I picked up in my tenth or so run of Grim Batol last night. It was time to stop worrying about convenient mana and to throw in on more DPS.

But the real lesson for my grind comes from
this comment on Baradin's Wardens at WoWhead:

You can do a maximum of 18 daily quests to earn reputation with Baradin's Wardens [A] or Hellscream's Reach [H].

The post continues to tell you how. I've been stopping after "6 daily quests (out of 22) that you can pick up at Baradin Base Camp [A]", when, "If your faction controls Tol Barad, then there are 12 daily quests that you can pick up at Baradin Hold." Whoops. 18 a day (even the more sure 12, since I won't check in that often) would speed up the grind for the Stump of Time just a little bit!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cenarion Hatchling: See, that wasn't so tough, was it?

(the above image unethically stolen straight from Blizzard's site)

After totally screwing up the moonkin pet and Make-a-Wish where half went to charity and half straight to Blizzard's pockets, Blizzard learns most of their lesson with the Cenarion Hatchling for Japan.

For every Cenarion Hatchling purchased between now and July 31, 100% of the $10 USD adoption fee will be donated to the American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief efforts. This support will enable the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support, and other assistance to victims of this disaster.

About the only thing wrong here is that it'd appear the Hatchling will continue to be sold for cai$h after July, and Valve's fundraiser headgear went kaput once the fundraiser was over. But now I'm splitting hairs. Sorta.

EDIT: Okay, I'm not splitting hairs. Why every pet doesn't give all $10 to the Red Cross right now, I don't know. I like the Monk, I'd rather have the $10 goes somewhere useful, but it's straight cash to Blizzard's pockets. I really prefer the Valve, get it for a donation or don't get it at all, remember this the next time you sit on your hands hard sale better.