Monday, March 21, 2011

Rift Cleric Tanking

I've started playing a cleric tank a little bit more.  I'm liking the soloability and of course the ability to tank an instance.  I've only done the first instance "Iron Tomb" on my cleric, but other than being a little squishy for the second half trash I've been going ok.  I like that I've been through the dungeon as DPS first, no responsibility other than pew pew and learning the instance.  Now that I have the responsibility of being the tank it's not so stressful.

The cleric Justicar soul gives you all the tools to tank, it works and IMO it works very well.  My other souls are the melee DPS cleric souls of Shaman and Druid, some of their early tree abilities benefit a tank with some endurance and damage reduction.  About halfway up the  tree there are a number of abilities that help with block or give you an ability when wielding a shield.  From what I've seen  the benefit to using the shield doesn't seem to outweigh the additional DPS, though perhaps when instancing the loss in DPS wouldn't hurt as much.

Cleric shields don't get as much armor or tanking stats as Warrior shields, they are also missing the spellpower that you would get in other caster off-hands.  It just seems that using a shield as a cleric is a net loss compared to other options.  Currently my tree is avoiding the shield talents and I just whip around a staff catching up to 5 mobs in my path with "Even Justice".  I've made sure to have the pure damage reduction 3% per point spent in the Justicar and the 3% for 3 points in Shaman.  Perhaps when my cleric gets to Deepstrike Mine I'll experiment with a different role using the shield and get some feedback from the healer to my survivability and from the DPS regarding my aggro control.

Has anyone else seen any discussions regarding this point?

P.S.  Vacation for me starts tomorrow, I'm going away so updates or comments may be sparse for a week or so.

Monday, March 14, 2011

King's Breach - Rift instance

I finally got into a group in King's Breach, the instance in Scarwood Reach.
  I was asked to DPS as they already had their healer, so I got a chance to learn how to play my warlock build.  The instance had the usual trash you would expect in an instance, easily gathered up and dps'd down.  I had my dominator soul second to my warlock soul all ready to squirrel things but there didn't seem to be any reason to CC. 

There are three boss locations in King's Breach, at the last spot you get to fight two bosses, one after the other.  Our tank seemed to know the instance so we moved fairly quickly and he was nice enough to give us a heads up for any special mechanics. 

We cleared out the trash from the first area, and after we had killed the last group the first boss came out to fight.  She was "Hunter Suleng", she seemed to be typical tank-n-spank with adds that spawned during the fight.  It seemed to be an easy fight, some of the trash that lead up to her probably hit harder.  In the same area as this boss is a life-bomb, you need to get three of them.  In this run the first life bomb was inaccessible, it seemed to be stuck behind a clip plane, though I hear that sometimes it is accessible. 

The second boss was Ravalos, he's a large crocodile that has a front cleave and a tail sweep.  On top of his melee attacks he puts a circle of some form of attack on the ground, you have to move out of it or you'll be asking your healer to heal when he shouldn't have to.  There's a decent amount of crocodile trash as well for those who have the butchering profession. 

We continued on through the area and ended up at the last boss fight location.  At this location you get one of two random bosses either Mondrach or Autoch, both of them are griffins, we got Autoch who's main annoyance is a charge ability.  Our tank had everyone stand in an alcove in a tree stump and he pulled the boss to us.  This kept the boss from charging anyone and made the fight relatively simple, I'm not sure if the additional damage to the group made healing any more difficult to the healer.  Following Autoch a Shadehorror Phantasm spawns in the same place he was standing.  He casts an AE void bolt so at the start the tank had us LoS the boss then we all started on him.  During the fight he spawns adds and at the same time becomes undamageable, the adds are elites but seemed to be easy enough.  It was a fun run, I'm sure it was made easier by the knowledgable tank.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've actually enjoyed some PVP

I've got my chloromancer in Rift to lvl 34. I'm playing him on a PVP server, totally against my normal inclination.  From some of the posts I had read prior to launch I wanted to have a chance to play in that environment.  You know the one, where you're constantly on the lookout for your next assassin?  I know if my Bartle test had come up "killer" I would be looking at the zones as "target rich", but that's not me.  Instead I look around every corner and try and find some companionship while questing through the "kill x of y".
Apparently I made a bad choice with playing a mage on that server, some posts say that they are the worst to play in PVP.  I found this out when I stumbled upon what I guess was someone with Champion as their main soul and got thoroughly pwned.  I kept at it though, even attacking him first a couple of times, hoping to get a drop on him, but to no avail.  I soon gave up on trying to take him down, but it didn't discourage me from trying other PVP targets as I went about questing.
When I was 29 in Scarlet Gorge I spent a whole hour with my group trying to find our way to the "Fallen Cascade" instance which happens to be deep into enemy territory at the north point of Scarlet Gorge.  None of us knew for certain where the instance was nor how to get there, but we kept trying.  Eventually one of us prevailed through corpse hopping and we all benefitted from the teleport that group members get when any of their group enters an instance.  Sometimes this felt frustrating, but the pride in overcoming the challenge was worth the frustration.

All things considered I'm enjoying the PVP aspect in the game a little bit more than I have before.  I'll probably keep going with it and see what the end areas are like with both factions fighting over territory and quest hubs.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Bartle

Well a couple days ago I managed to drum up a bunch of reads when I posted my blog URL into some WoW forum discussions on how to "fix" WoW.  In one of those forums I got one response of "I liked your post and agree with it".  It would have been nice to get a couple of comments on the blog itself, but I'll take what I can get.  I've done a little moving around of stuff around here, removed my WoW armory and moved TJ down into a lower link bracket since her stuff is now mostly about her pregnancy, congrats TJ!!!

I'm sure most people have seen or taken those personality tests, the ones that confirm in your mind what type of person you are.  I assumed there was one out there for Bartle's archetypes, so I did a search and found this one.

I found that according to their test I'm an Explorer being driven by achievement:
It's not so much the wandering around and poking about, but that euphoric eureka moment the Explorer strives for. The joys of discovery do not necessarily involve geography, real or virtual. They may derive from the mental road less traveled, the uncovering of esoteric or hidden knowledge and it's creative application. Explorers make great theory crafters. The most infinitesimal bit of newness can deliver the most delicious zing to an Explorer.

What did you test out to be?

Friday, March 4, 2011

What happened to WoW?

My previous post here: Rift - Why I think it will be a success , was about Rift and how they appear to have addressed Bartel's rpg gamer archetypes as shown here:  In my opinion WoW started out appealing to those archetypes as well, but through changing their game they have actually taken away some of that appeal.
  What WoW did was to reduce the amount of exploration by changing the leveling curve in their game, now to level from 1 to end game takes significantly less time than in Vanilla or BC.  Also the addition of the dungeon finder removed some of the need to wander and find quests or just the need to wander when given a quest.  Another thing that removed the need to explore was the the addition of the quest helper, which now directs you to where you need to go to finish your quest instead of giving you more general direction in the quest text itself.  So explorers got short changed, their gameplay was nerfed. 
  WoW de-emphasized the Achiever by making everything more accessible to everyone.  What an achiever wants is a way to differentiate themself.  In recent years ( last 3 years ) Blizzard has tried to make the game easy enough for anyone to play all of the end game, setting expectations that all players will be able to be the best.  They did attempt to keep some achievment based content by providing a "Heroic" version of the content, sometimes the heroic version has been met with disdain as just more HP and more damage taken.  I was more happy in the "Burning Crusades" days when I had better players to look up to, I had the next raid tier to look forward to and knew I had a ladder to climb.  Any achiever needs to have goals, even if they didn't seem attainable at this instant.  Removing the incentive to work through the content reduced the achievement process.  Why should I work so hard on this content when in 2 months when the new content comes out I'll automatically be bumped to that level?
  When the dungeonfinder was added the need to socialize with other players was reduced.  Sure the people could chat with guildies and in trade channel and city channels, but is this the kind of socialization anyone really wants?  Since the people you're running with in instances are people you most likekly won't ever see again, in most groups not one word is spoken other than "I'm ready".  In my opinion dungeonfinder broke the server community, your socializer types will have a harder time finding people who just want to have conversations, especially new people.  They have also made the quests easier to do solo, even further reducing the need to talk with anyone else, and giving possible socializer friends a reason not to communicate with the socializer.
  I'm not a PVPer so I can't make a whole lot of comment on this.  But most complaints I've seen has been based on balance and "Flavor of the Month" and how the player's favorite class no longer competes.  Anyone have any comments on this one?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rift - Why I think it will be a success

OK, in case it wasn't obvious by my last posts I became enamoured of Rift.  I absolutely love the game and took a vacation day on Friday to play.
The first problem which is a carryover from Thursday headstart launch was that most of the servers were full, users would have to queue to get into the game.  Trion was very diligent in deploying new servers and allowing new players to get into the game quickly.  The only issue was on those servers that were identified by the user base as being the prime servers.  These servers were chosen by a large amount of guilds as their playground and I'm sure a lot of players decided they wanted to play on a popular server.  There have been many complaints but in most cases the player was rebuked by the community at large who pointed out that there are servers that are not full and without queues available to them.
On the positive side the game is as smooth if not smoother than beta, the gameplay is still as fun as I remember and the development team is responsive and helpful.  One thing that struck me is that this game seemed to strike a chord with me, I seemed to be more thoroughly entertained by a game than ever before.  It made me wonder what they did in this game that was different or better than the current king of the MMO world, so here are my thoughts on that matter.

Richard Bartle broke down rpg gamers into four psychological types: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers and Killers.  His article can be found here:
Achievers regard rising in levels and overcoming the game as their main goal
Explorers love to wander and discover previously undiscovered areas of the game
Socializers are interested in people, and what they have to say
Killers get their kicks from imposing themselves on others

Most MMOs attempt to satisfy each type of gamer and each player archetypes have some form of support.  The real question is how well each type of player is supported and how each type of play has been "incentivized".  Please remember that pretty much everyone is a combination of all four types, desiring some form of each playstyle in their game.  Rift seems to have managed to support each type of player pretty well.  I was going to try and describe the pros of Rift, but in order to contrast the statement I'll have to compare to the current king MMO, WoW. 
When the game was first release WoW took the existing MMO model and "perfected" it.  They streamlined the questing so that a person didn't have to stumble upon a quest or at the very least have a list of key words to say to an NPC for them to let you know what you needed to do for them.  They also created the "list" of quests in your quest log that you are currently working on.  There were probably many other improvements made to the MMO genre, these are just a few that came to mind.  WoW was made for all of the player archetypes, each type seemed to be well represented.  Over time though WoW has reduced the amount of satisfaction given to a few of the archetypes.
Rift has has built upon the user experience that players got in WoW, and perfected the way the different player archetypes were supported.  Explorers are given artifacts to find as well as puzzles in the open world and other hidden caches of items.  And as any new MMO the ability to discover a new world for yourself feeds the explorer.  For the achiever rift has a common achievment system where a player gets credit for doing something first as well as completing all of the quests in a given area.  Players are also given access to titles if particular questlines are completed and I'm sure there are other achievment based items that I can't recall at the moment.  The game provides standard MMO socialization as well a newer mechanic to support socialization with their rift events and public groups, apparently this type of system was used in Warhammer Online, I never played that game.  And the killers are supported by the contested areas after lvl 20 as well as warfronts which are team based PvP instances that have a winning condition.

In conclusion Trion has put together a solid fun game here, almost everything I've read has been positive.  They appear to be responsive to game issues and have done a very good job managing this rollout.

My next post might touch on what Blizzard did wrong since the beginning.