Tuesday, May 03, 2022

The Creation Catalyst

This tier, Blizzard introduced a mechanic to help with Tier gear: the Creation Catalyst.

Previously, the problem with Tier sets was that you could be unlucky and never get Tier to drop for you. Or perhaps worse, you have Tier shoulders, and a higher item-level non-Tier shoulders drop, and you have to choose between the set bonus or discarding the higher level item.

The Creation Catalyst pretty much solves all the issues with Tier. Once a week, you can transform a non-Tier item into the Tier item of the same item level. It's pretty much the equivalent of allowing you to purchase a Tier item of any slot at the rate of one per week.

So the first couple of times you use the Creation Catalyst, it's to finish off your 4-piece set bonus. Then after that, you can start transforming upgrades, always keeping your set bonus.

It even allows solo-players or non-raiders to get their Tier set bonus. You can transform the Zerith Mortis rewards into Tier, so you should get your set bonus in 4 weeks.

All in all, the Creation Catalyst was an excellent mechanic that solves many of the issues with Tier set bonuses. I hope it is carried forward for future content.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

The Return of Master Loot?

In an interview, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas said that the Dev Team is interested in bringing back Master Loot. He specifically called out the problems around clarity which items are actually tradable. 

I'll be honest, I have zero idea how trading Tier tokens actually works in this tier. I just look for the blue text on the item if I don't want it.

In any case, I've long held that the current iteration of Personal Loot is a corrupted system. It was created to reduce drama in automatic group content, and then adapted for premade group content. I've posted my ideal loot system suite before, but it might be a little complex.

What I think Blizzard should work towards is the following:

  • Two systems: Personal Loot and Master Loot.
  • Personal Loot cannot be traded at all.
  • Master Loot has the standard "Tradable for 2 hours to people in the group"
  • Automatic Group Content uses Personal Loot and it cannot be changed.
  • Premade Groups can choose between Personal Loot and Master Loot.
  • Switching the Loot System requires everyone in the group to agree to the change. You can do a Ready Check style thing, where everyone has to click Yes for the switch to happen. (Maybe change the look/feel of the popup so people don't mistake it for a Ready Check.)
  • Master Loot is deactivated in new raids/dungeons for the first month. This is mostly to cut down the degeneracy of split runs in the World First race.

I think that would be good enough. Personal Loot is for no-drama Automatic Group Runs. Master Loot is for when you create the group from scratch and want control over how loot is handed out.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Ya Boy Kongming!

For some reason, Google is not letting me sign in and reply to comments. Not sure what's going on there.

In any case, there's a pretty good anime airing this season: Ya Boy Kongming! The ancient Chinese strategist Zhuge Liang (also called Kongming) reincarnates in modern Japan and decides to help a young singer achieve stardom.

I rather enjoy these shows that start with a wacky concept and and then commit to it. Additionally, Ya Boy Kongming is actually a decent show, and uses its conceit well.

Also, it has an amazing opening! The really weird part is that the opening is actually a good reflection of the show.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Dungeon Finder in Classic

Blizzard announced that there would be no Dungeon Finder in Wrath of the Lich King Classic. The Classic community promptly exploded into a state of civil war.

In the end, this is really vindication for J. Allen Brack when he said that "You think you do, but you don't". For better or worse, Dungeon Finder is the dividing line between Classic and Retail. Now basically we have the Retail audience plus a significant minority (maybe even a majority) of the Classic audience wanting to go down the same path that the Retail devs took a decade ago.

A reader reminded me of the posts I wrote when Dungeon Finder first came out. I've always been reasonably happy with Dungeon Finder. I like running dungeons, especially at low levels. And my groups have not been particularly toxic. Though these days I do lend more credence to the idea that healers are drama-prone, which I don't see since I heal.

I generally like the Dungeon Finder, but at the same time, I'm a Retail player, not really a Classic player. I pretty much only dabble in Soul of Iron in Classic Season of Mastery. I'm not really sure it would be fair to apply my preferences to the Classic audience who really want something different than Retail. After all, if you want to play WoW with Dungeon Finder, you can always play Retail. There's something to be said for the idea that two different games should offer two different experiences.

Still, it's possible that there are two ideas in play here, both true at the same time:
  1. Dungeon Finder makes it easier for players to run dungeons.
  2. Dungeon Finder destroys the server community.
I do believe that Dungeon Finder hurts the server community. I once defined social fabric as "the bonds created by repeated, positive interactions between the same set of people." Dungeon Finder cuts directly against this. You no longer do the most common repeatable action with the same set of people. You don't see the same people or the same guilds regularly.

But maybe being able to do content whenever you want is more important than server community. Maybe Classic is really about the content and class systems that was lost with Cataclysm than about nebulous notions like community.

The real irony here is that Retail sees far less use of the Dungeon Finder than Classic would. Mythic and Mythic Keystone dungeons don't use the Dungeon Finder and automatic group creation, they use the Premade Group Finder. So really, the only people using the Dungeon Finder are people levelling, people doing dungeons to finish quests, or people gearing up a little at the very start of an expansion. Otherwise everyone is doing dungeons the old-fashioned way, even having to travel to the instance entrance in the world.

So should Classic Wrath have the Dungeon Finder? I don't really know. I do think that it would worth experimenting with the Premade Group Finder first. See if being able to post and apply to groups in a nice format with requirements listed where you can see what roles are needed. Getting notified when someone applies to your group instead of having to post advertisements in an LFG channel every minute or so.

Perhaps that would end up balancing the ability to run dungeons with server community better than the Dungeon Finder did.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Trailer

In 2004, Wizards of the Coast released the Kamigawa block, sets inspired by traditional Japanese mythology. By every measure, they were a failure.

The original Kamigawa was a "deep cut" into Japanese mythology and spirit lore. Too deep, it turns out. Most of the audience didn't get the references and concepts. It didn't help that it was much less powerful than the sets immediately before.

This year, WotC took another crack at Kamigawa. 

I do admire this about Wizards of the Coast, they are willing to revisit their failed mechanics and settings. They even brought back phasing in the last couple of years, which stunned old-timers. It's now something you can do temporarily to targets, to remove a threat, or save one of your creatures. "Target creature phases out." 

In the intervening years, manga and anime has become much more popular, especially in Magic's target demographic. So the new Kamigawa set, Neon Dynasty, jumped forward in time, and leaned heavily into a lot of recognizable anime/manga tropes.

And naturally enough, WotC made an anime trailer for the set, featuring two of their new planeswalkers, Kaito and the Wanderer:


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Dracthyr Evoker

The one element of Dragonflight which going over very poorly is the new race-class combo Dracthyr Evoker.

It's a ranged DPS or healer class. Only Dracthyr can be Evokers, and only Evokers can be Dracythr. Perhaps a little bit like demon hunters only being elves.

The class part seems to be okay, but a lot of people don't really like the look. It's seen as very scrawny, more lizard than dragon. Apparently people really wanted more bulky D&D dragonborne types of dragons. Something which exudes power.

I kind of see Blizzard's thought process here, though. These are caster dragons. There are a lot of complaints about the human (and draenei) male mages being overly buff. Muscle wizards. If Dracthyr were bulky, I rather think that people would be complaining that they were a ranged class. There would be a huge volume of calls for Dracthyr Warriors and Paladins. Buff Dragon Paladins would be amazing, now that I think about it!

On the other hand, I still agree that the current Dracthyr aren't a particularly exciting or inspiring race.

Perhaps Blizzard should have swung for the fences here, and done something really outside the box. Imagine if the new race was basically a dragon whelp, or maybe a slightly bigger but still draconic form of a whelp (a dragonet?). They would still be casters, because whelps and dragonets are always casters in WoW. But it would be more like Bear form for druids.

Maybe that would be too much, not being able to see armor. But bears and cats are still moderately popular in WoW, and the current Dracthyr don't look like they wear all the armor. Then have the whelps get a humanoid form, either at the start or as part of the starting area. Alliance dragons could shift into human or gnome forms, Horde dragons into blood elves or tauren, with a few light draconic customizations.

I think the "must be able to see armor" directive is too restricting, and there's room for a little experimentation outside that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Affectionate Memes

This whole topic of discussion is hilarious to me:

(From Reddit.)

Honestly, this is a good sign for Dragonflight. I think you see these affectionate, tongue-in-cheek memes when players are generally happy. When you have weird oddities like the Age of Mortals only lasting 10 years, but the players just roll with it.

Another example recently was from FFXIV. If you missed it, FFXIV royally screwed up the rollout of their housing lottery. YoshiP did an excellent job explaining and apologizing. (Long story short, it looks like results from one service never made it to another service. Ahh, microservices.) 

The fanbase, at least after the initial torches and pitchforks, went on to post memes like:

From Reddit. The crying elf is Francel, the NPC who was in charge of Ishgard restoration (where the the new housing is). The blue elephant is Ser Aymeric, leader of Ishgard. Not really sure why he's in a blue elephant costume, but apparently that's in-game too.

In any case, I see community memes in response to "mistakes" like these to be a good sign that the community is happy with things overall.