Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Play Diary #8

World of Warcraft

Heroic Desolate Host and Heroic Mistress fell to us this week. It was kind of funny, because the raid leads were so sure that Heroic Mistress would be a pushover, but we kept wiping on her. It's just one of those fights that you can screw up in many small ways. But once you learn it and get used to it, it should be fairly straightforward.

I also finished my Demon Hunter's class mount. It was a pretty good quest line.

It's somewhat interesting that WoW made the same mistake that SWTOR did. By splitting up the content by class, there's lots to do for an alt, but for a single character the content looks sparse. If you compare 7.1 to 7.2, the 7.1 content (Suramar City insurrection) feels so much meatier, even though there's probably the same amount of content in Broken Isles, just spread among the different classes.

Final Fantasy XIV

I hit max level with my Red Mage. I've started doing roulettes and gearing up. So far the wait isn't too bad. All the groups have been wall-to-wall pulls. Red Mage AoE is a little boring, but whatever. Boss fights are still fun. It's kind of interesting to see all the mechanics I ignored when tanking.

I'm debating if I should start leveling another class, or just gear this one up fully. I doubt I'll do EX primals or Omega Savage, but I could go through Omega Normal. I've never actually finished the older 8-man raids, either.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

High Skill Gameplay Versus Low Skill Gameplay

Another day, another forum/reddit post about the state of max level gameplay in FFXIV, this time focusing on healers. My current theory on why FFXIV is experiencing unhappiness is because the "high skill gameplay" does not match "low skill gameplay".

To see what I mean, let's look at WoW. In WoW a mythic healer plays much like a normal healer, only better. They both cast the same spells, but the mythic healer gets in more casts and triages better. The mythic healer probably makes better use of cooldowns. The normal healer's goal is to slowly refine her gameplay to match the mythic healer.

In contrast, in FFXIV, high skill gameplay and low skill gameplay is very different. If you're in a low skill group, you want to have the tank in tank stance and focus on threat moves. The healer heals more than she damages.

In contrast, high skill gameplay often has the tank in DPS stance, and using DPS stats. The healers are often dealing damage as well, with one estimate of a healer casting 3 damage spells for every healing spell.

I think a game has trouble when you're in the middle, when you're not sure if you should be using the low skill or high skill tactics.  You go low skill when the rest of the group is high skill, and they get upset for you wasting their time. You go high skill when the rest of the group is low skill, and you end up wiping.

In contrast, in WoW, how you should play is fairly straightforward. You tank, heal or dps to the best of your abilities. You don't need to significantly adjust how you play.

Another game which has issues with the low skill/high skill dichotomy is Overwatch. Certain heroes are much stronger and weaker at different levels of the game. Widowmaker and other snipers become a lot better when people can aim. Meanwhile, Torb and Bastion are much more potent against low skill players who have trouble dealing with them. But the "meta" is defined by the high skill players, and that can cause issues in low skill gameplay.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

WoW Analyzer

I came across an excellent site for analyzing your performance: WoW Analyzer.

It's super easy to use and really slick.  You just link a Warcraft Logs parse, and it gives you a genuine breakdown of things you can improve upon.

For example, apparently I double Holy Shock a lot when Divine Purpose procs, causing me to waste Infusion of Light procs. I really should go Holy Shock - Flash of Light - Holy Shock. That was genuinely useful information, provided in an excellent format.

Suggestions for one of my Desolate Host wipes

Seriously, this site is an amazing example of web app design!

The only problem is that not all specs are supported. It's mainly healer specs right now. Hopefully it will be able to attract more contributors and support more specs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Play Diary #7

Final Fantasy XIV

The latest seasonal event, Moonfire Faire, has started. It was short and sweet, and really just an excuse for everyone to congregate on a beach in swimwear.

I figured out how to hide my weapons so I could make a cosmetic gear set. I've been playing for years, and never realized the button next to Hide Hat hid your weapons! For some reason, I thought it was just sheath/unsheath weapons.

Otherwise, my Red Mage is up to level 67. The end is almost in sight. One interesting aspect of playing DPS is that commendations are treasured because they're rare. Especially if you manage to get multiple commendations in a single instance.

World of Warcraft

We got our second kill on H-Mistress, and then got our first kill on H-Sisters. Then we wiped a fair bit on H-Desolate Host. We don't have the transition to the last phase quite right yet.

Hopefully we will get it this week. However, I think the summer vacation bug will hit in August, and we'll be treading water until September. That's normal though, and hopefully we won't regress.


Still chugging along. The difficulty is beginning to ramp up. I've won all my matches up to this point, but I think my first loss will come soon. Apparently the game continues on even if you lose a match, just like a regular sports game. It will be interesting to see how that is handled.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

An Accidental Game of Competitive Lucioball

 Overwatch's latest event, the Summer Games, started today. I don't play Overwatch a lot, but I logged in today while eating dinner to open the free lootbox. (Sadly, I didn't get anything interesting.) After that, I started clicking around to see the new skins and other elements.

I accidentally clicked on Competitive Lucioball in the Arcade, and Overwatch managed to sign me for a match within seconds! Normally matchmaking takes up to a minute, so I'm not sure if Blizz has made major improvements with the matchmaker or if I was just lucky (unlucky?).

I hurriedly tried to figure out how to play Lucio, praying that I at least would not score any own goals. Luckily my teammates were able to carry me, and we actually won!

I'm kind of surprised Blizzard made a competitive version of Lucioball. It is kind of fun, and it is a level playing field. At the very least, no one can complain about your choice of character. Still, it's pretty unusual to get a competitive ladder for an event side-game which won't be around for very long.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Pyre: First Impressions

I've started Supergiant's latest game, Pyre. So far, it's really good.

It's sort of a text-based RPG combined with ritual battle system called the Rites. As you go through the story, you recruit different teammates and make simple choices that determines how you progress.

One interesting thing is that it's not fully voice-acted, but each character makes some sounds in a made-up language whenever they speak. It's a really neat way of adding a voice and tone, without having to actually record every line.

 The Rites system is a mix of sport and combat. It's a little bit like a fantasy variant of basketball. There are 3 players on a team, but only one player can be active at a time, though you can quickly switch from player to player. There is a an orb on the playfield, and the objective is to take the orb to the enemies pyre. Each player has an aura around them which they use for defense, or to cast at an enemy player. The player with the orb has no aura.

Characters have different characteristics. Some are slow, some are fast. Some have large auras, some score more points when they capture the orb.

The battlefield is also on the mental plane, so character's have stats like Hope. All in all, it's quite a neat system.

I'm not sure how far in I am, but the story is very good so far. All in all, I recommend Pyre.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Dungeon Meta in WoW versus FFXIV

In the comments to the previous post on FFXIV's dungeon meta, Shintar asks:
Sounds a lot like the way it's been in WoW for years (or at least it was still that way last time I played). Or do you think this is different?
First, I really don't remember exactly what WoW meta was when anymore, so I'm just going to compare FFXIV to the current meta.

In WoW, speed runs usually aim to skip trash, rather than engage. When you're skipping packs, you generally don't drag mobs along, because you don't want to accidentally engage. In FFXIV, trash is unskippable, for the most part.

WoW also has more trash than FFXIV. But the WoW trash generally has less health but hits harder. Also a WoW group has 3 dps instead of 2. Basically instead of a few large pulls, WoW tends toward many smaller pulls.

As well, packs in FFXIV have a lot of space between them, which I think makes the stop-and-start nature of gameplay more obvious. I think this lends itself to a good WoW group going through the dungeon at a steady pace. Not quite pulling multiple packs, but chaining from pack to pack quicker.

Another possibility is that WoW seems to be segregating the player base by ability this expansion. More geared and advanced players are funneled into more difficult content like Mythic+, while people generally only run the lower dungeons when they're undergeared, or just want an easy run.

FFXIV takes opposite tack, and often encourages better players to go back and play with newer players. A lot of the time this is good, but it does mean that "edge" tactics come to dominate, and start being applied in places they shouldn't be.

Now, that I think about it, this last possibility is probably the same as as older WoW expansions, when experienced players ran heroics for badges. That was a "go go go" meta as well. So ultimately, maybe encouraging veterans to play with new players is a bad idea.