Cat Context 43: Broken Age, Backlogs, and Insta-levelling
Jan22

Cat Context 43: Broken Age, Backlogs, and Insta-levelling

cat context vertical Cat Context 43: Broken Age, Backlogs, and Insta levelling

Arolaide was a Kickstarter backer for Broken Age and she’s here to give us the inside scoop! Did one of the first and most successful gaming Kickstarters pay off? She reports on how the game plays and also how it feels to see her donation become something real.

This week we also lament our huge Steam backlogs and discuss what “completing” a game really means. Ellyndrial is pretty sure he’ll work through his backlog eventually and even looks forward to buying more games, while Liore is both appauled at her competion stats and pretty sure she has more games than she could ever, ever play.

The final topic is the news of instant level 90s in WoW’s Warlords of Draenor expansion! As usual we’re of divided opinions about the new feature, and we wonder if levelling even valuable anymore in WoW or any MMO.

Also: The Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Kickstarter! More Magic: The Gathering Tournament reports! Really bad segues!

This podcast was also livestreamed as a hangout on air:

It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)

* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

What Class Will You Insta-Level?
Jan20

What Class Will You Insta-Level?

Last week the World of Warcraft team released a blog post updating everyone on the status of Warlords of Draenor, and it included this little tidbit:

In addition, when you pre-purchase either digital version [of Warlords of Draenor], we’re going to grant you your level-90 boost at the time of pre-purchase. That’s a little different from the plan we laid out at BlizzCon, but based on the feedback, it’s obvious that many of you would like the chance to get acquainted with a new class before heading into the expansion.

This statement, along with a survey that asked users how much they would be willing to pay for an instant level 90, has caused a lot of consternation in the MMO community. I understand why people might not like the idea, but for myself I’m more bothered by the incorrect comma use in that quotation than its content. (Look, grammar is the true serious business.)

I can’t find a source for this number at the moment, but I’m fairly certain that there are more North Americans who used to play WoW than those who currently play. And I suspect that luring back ex-players is easier and more cost effective than trying to snag new ones.

Level 90 is a huge barrier for returning folks! Even if you wandered off after Wrath, that’s 10 levels before you can join your friends in end-game activities, or more if you want to try a different class. Ideally WoW would create some kind of mentoring or sidekicking system, but barring that I think a paid insta-90 option (along with the free on you get with purchase) is fine.

Yes, it means people will be level 90 without having played their class for the paltry 15 or so hours it takes experienced players to level nowadays, but if you’ve done any LFRs or BGs lately you’ll know that there’s probably not much difference between that and half your group anyway.

But worrying about instant levelling is really beside the point. The important issue here, I think, is what class am I going to level up with the free 90?!

I currently have a 90 priest and an 85 shaman on the Horde side, as well as an 80 Alliance mage. It seems to me my top 3 options are:

Warlock: It is undeniable that warlocks are rad as hell. They’ve always gotten the best looking tier sets, they have cool demon pets, and neat utility spells. I’m not sure where they are right now in the DPS hierarchy, but in the past they’ve been very competitive damage dealers and occasionally even good tanks. While I don’t think levelling up a warlock would be that difficult, they are cool enough (and I am lazy enough) to be an excellent insta-90 candidate.

Rogue: I basically play healers at almost every opportunity, so the appeal of rogues is that they seem to fill the exact opposite role. Rogues are traditionally light on buffs or support mechanisms, and instead have the sole mission of stabbing things as hard and as fast as possible. On the one hand I’m a little iffy on playing melee, but on the other what better opportunity to Learn2Fight than an instant max-level character?

tier 2 paladin What Class Will You Insta Level?

Paladin T2: Still the best armor set Blizzard ever made.

Paladin: As an eternal priest player, I have always been secretly a little jealous of paladins. Not only can they be competent tanks or melee DPS, but as healers they seemed to have such a delightful bag of tricks. Their plate armor makes them probably the best choice for PvP healing, and the old Divine Intervention was not only a great cooldown but also a lot of fun for playing tricks on people. (Semajftw, we miss you!)

However, what I have learned about paladins first hand is that they are sooooo boring to level. So much. The boringest. Right now paladin is my #1 choice for instant levelling, and hopefully in Warlords of Draenor I can become the PvP menace I have always wanted to be.

So what class will you use for your free insta-90?

A Modest Proposal about Boobs

Okay, okay, okay. So WildStar just reduced the breast size of the Human and Aurin (bunnygirls!) character models in this latest beta patch. Most people either don’t care or are generally pleased with the decision, while a vocal minority are flipping out.

We’re often told that part of the reason female characters are almost always designed to be sexually attractive to straight dudes first and foremost is capitalism and marketing and business and stuff, right? So here’s my idea.

MMOs make female characters who are proportional or even shaped in ways not usually found in games, and then put giant ridiculous boobs in the cash shop. You want a big bouncy ladybutt to ogle while you run around? Buy the .99 badonkadonk upgrade. Want your Night Elf to jiggle enticingly as her idle animation? (Sigh.) That’s $1.99, but it applies account-wide so it’s actually a deal!

If games need sexually attractive female characters to make money, and free-to-play makes more money than subscription, then putting giant boobs in the cash shop should make cash by the wagonload! Hey, it’s just what the market demands, baby.

MMO companies, you can thank me later.

40 Person Raids are not Necessarily Terrible (WildStar)
Jan14

40 Person Raids are not Necessarily Terrible (WildStar)

While WildStar has generally received praise from press and good hype from players, not everything is happy times in space. Probably the most divisive issue is the female character models and the lack of character customization in general, but close after that is the game’s plan to have 40 person raids.

(Don’t read the comments on that female character model link, by the way. Seriously. It is full of hyper-defensive dudes accusing the author of just trying to suck up to women and the usual “it’s not sexism, it’s marketing” argument and ahhhhh why did I read those comments why?!)

For good or for ill, 40 person raids make people think of Vanilla World of Warcraft, and apparently some people really did not enjoy those days. And that’s fine — my guild was pretty awesome and friendly and laid-back when we were raiding 40s bosses so I had an awesome time, but I realize not everyone had such a great experience and would prefer to not go through those times again.

ragsdown 40 Person Raids are not Necessarily Terrible (WildStar)

My guild and our first Ragnaros kill, 2006

I think, though, that it’s putting the cart before the horse to assume that WildStar’s big raids will be exactly like WoW’s classic big raids. I mean, they could be! But personally I think it’s unlikely, and we don’t really know how that content will play.

For example, after Molten Core a lot of the big raid content in classic WoW required quite a bit of gear and concentration to complete. Naxx #1 and Ahn’Qiraj in particular were extremely difficult when they launched, and had crazy requirements like weird nature resist sets and having 8 well-geared tanks available. I’m just guessing, but I would be very surprised if the bulk of WildStar’s big raid content was that punishing.

MMOs have also vastly improved their group management tools since Vanilla WoW. There are automated group finders, cross-server teams, lockout extensions, and WildStar’s relatively new idea of friend “circles”. Outside of the game, players use social media much more frequently now to coordinate activites, and things like oQueue and Open Raid make it easier than ever to find a spot in a big group on a flexible schedule.

Imagine that WildStar’s initial tier of 40 person raid content, for example, had an automated grouping feature along with it. Or, what if it was tuned to accommodate a more casual zerg style of play? Or some flexibility in difficulty, through group size or triggers like Ulduar?

I honestly don’t know exactly how their big raids will work. Maybe they will be serious-business-hardcore-only right out of the gate! But I think making the assumption that the content will be terrible (or amazing, really) simply based on the maximum group size is a mistake. One of the great things about the post-WoW MMO landscape is its diversity, and I’ll be interested to see how WildStar is planning on updating the now disused 40 person raid concept for a modern audience.

This is not a post.

I’ve been trying for a week to write this post about how Guild Wars 2 in fact did not shift the paradigm of MMOs despite all the claims from ArenaNet that it would, man, but it’s just not working out yet. In the meantime, I suggest you read:

Murf on how soloability is unsustainable in MMOs

j3w3l’s two-part takedown on free-to-play evangelism

Ellyndrial about the sweet weekend of group gaming our guild had

While words are failing me right now I did manage to put my amazing art skills to use to form this highly professional intro for an entirely new creative endeavor. More details in a couple of weeks, movie fans!

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