Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Legion predictions (again)

Alpha testing for family and friends of Blizzard started last November (never mind that Ion Hazzikostas promised it would be beta testing, we get the gist). That gives us an extra data-point with which to make predictions of when Legion will be released, and forces me to revisit my previous predictions to see if they stand up. It would be madness to ignore pertinent new information.

Let's take a look at what hard data we have for previous releases (by the way, all the dates are ordered as year-month-day, to make it extra hard to understand them, no matter what part of the world you are in):

AnnouncedTesting startdeltaPre-release patch [n+1].0.0deltaPre-release event (shattering/scourge plague, etc)deltaRelease

First, let me point out that I made up the testing start date for BC. I could only find that it started in mid August 2006. All the other dates are exact.

So what is this table saying? Well, I'm calculating how long it was after testing started for each release, until certain landmarks along the way. The first such landmark is when the pre-release patch appeared. This is typically the patch with the last two numbers 0.0, and it's usually when new mechanics appear, to get players used to them before the release. For instance, talent tree changes, stat re-balancing and so on. It also usually contains all the artifacts needed for the new release.

The second landmark is when the pre-release event starts, that draws us into the new release. For instance, with the Cataclysm, the 4.0.0 (or 4.0.1) patch appeared on October 12, 2010 resetting everybody's talent trees and spell bars and glyphs. But there was nothing new happening in Azeroth, save a few tremors from time to time. Then came patch 4.03a on 23 November 2010, bringing the events of the Shattering: the old world was changed forever as Deathwing erupted from the fiery elemental plane of Deepholm, bursting through the crust of the planet and destroying everything he found in his path. However, all this was content available to everyone who had paid for WotLK. The new Cataclysm content became available (to everyone who had paid for it) on 7 Dec 2010, and we all rushed off to Uldum, Mount Hyjal, Vash'jir and so on.

So for each of these landmarks I calculated how many days that stage lasted (the delta column). So there were 162 days between when closed Alpha testing began and when 4.0.1 released. then a further 42 days before the Shattering, and another 14 days until the new zones opened and we could start levelling from 80-85.

It doesn't take much work to calculate the averages for each of these stages: on average, it takes 143 days of testing before the x.0.0 patch; an average of 21 days between that patch and the start of the pre-release event; and an average of  16 days after that until the release day, for a total of 180 days on average from when testing begins until product release. Let's plug these into the table and see what we get:

AnnouncedTesting startdeltaPre-release patch [n+1].0.0deltaPre-release event (shattering/scourge plague, etc)deltaRelease

So there you have it.

These predictions in red are to be taken with a pinch of salt. That average of 180 days? It has a standard deviation of 25 days. In other words, we shouldn't be surprised if the release date is a month before or after the 18th of May.

What this tells me is that I am still comfortable with my original prediction back in August that Legion's release date is planned to tie in with the release date of the Warcraft movie, which is currently 10 June in the US.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3.

  1. Warcraft: the Beginning
  2. Film and Legion twinning
  3. Summer sun is coming (and boats)
  1. Devs chat at GamesCon
  2. Afrasabi and Tom Chilton
  3. Demons die in Legion (and nanny goats)
  1. Demon Hunters!
  2. Dalaran's next portal
  3. Demons aren't immortal (plus equal votes)
  1. Flying back in Draenor
  2. The tailoring trainer
  3. Gul'dan isn't saner (and porridge oats)


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Priestly disciplines

I took advantage of the level 100 boost that comes with Legion last month to bring a new healer under my wings: a discipline priest. They seemed to be doing fantastic things with healing in the raids I've been in, and priests are sadly lacking in my arsenal. A boost to level 100 and ilvl 640 is not to be sniffed at!

Sadly, I can't get to grips with the discipline style of healing, which is more about absorbs (and also a little bit of DPSing to restore mana and build Evangelism1). I've read IcyVeins, I've read Noxxic, I read HealingWow, but I'm still not very good at it. And despite having 640 gear, I wasn't able to complete the proving grounds even on bronze, so I still haven't got a good "rotation" (that's not even the right word here).

On top of that is the add-ons I'm using. I'm a clicker when it comes to WoW. I find I just can't memorize keybinds, and I have to see a visual indication of the spell I'm about to cast; or when I do memorize them, they interfere with the next class I'm playing, so for instance I go to cast Smite, and find myself hitting the key that's bound to Arcane Blast on my mage2.

So I'm not comfortable with mouse-over macros that require me to mouse over a raider and hit a memorized key-combo to cast a particular spell on her (plus, in raids there are so many melee bunched together that I'm bound to heal the wrong person). And individually targetting each raider and then clicking on the spell I want to cast on them is doubling the workload.

I'm using healbot, which at least allows me to hover over the player's name in its grid and cast a spell with a mouse-click combination (for which a tooltip appears to let me know what I've bound to each combo). It's not great for me. Besides the difficulty of finding the spell I want (spells on shift or ctrl modifiers only show in the tooltip once you hold down the modifier), I also note that I'm spending my time watching the grid, not the fight. I often find myself standing in the fire and not even seeing it, but spotting on the grid that that priest is taking a lot of damage and I'd better shield her!

So I don't think I've yet found a comfortable way to play this role. I've put my discipline priest away for now, and I've switched to a druid healer which I'm finding much more appealing. Druid heals are reactive, whereas priestly absorbs are best when proactive. And the longer (and fixed) duration of druid HOTs make it more rewarding to spend two clicks (one to select the player, one to select the spell) per cast, so I don't bother with any addons for druid healing.

All suggestions gratefully received!

1. By the way, I read in various places that Power Word: Solace generates 3 stacks of  Evangelism, but I can't find this info in its tooltip, nor does it seem to be generating 3 stacks for me. What am I missing?

2. You might say, "why don't you just map smite to the same key that you use for arcane blast?" That might work in this single case, but there isn't in general a one-to-one mapping between spells across classes, so it won't work in general.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Sinking under the weight of inconsistencies

Back in Azeroth after the Rugby World Cup finished. And with a fresh outlook, I can't help feel that the weight of story inconsistencies are crushing the World of Warcraft.

A fresh horde character showed the problem starkly. All through the classical levels, Vol'Jin is now sitting in Orgrimmar as warchief. Okay, Garrosh turns up in Outland and Northrend, but the fresh character is unaware of 'later' events. However, when she reaches the Twilight Highlands, Garrosh is spearheading the assault, as Warchief. He's in the Stonetalon Mountains as Warchief. Later he's in Pandaria as Warchief. And Vol'jin is plotting against him. What?

That could be partially fixed by putting the portals to Outland, Northrend, and Pandaria in the Caverns of Time, removing all other routes into them, and replacing Garrosh in Kalimdor with another NPC. But it's hard to keep all these mixed stories straight. Anyway, I was in Dalaran recently, and I was amazed to see that Jaina has let the horde back in. Did Theramore suddenly get undestroyed? Did the duplicitous Sunreavers do something trustworthy? What's going on?

After we invaded Orgrimmar, defeated the Kor'kron and brought Garrosh to justice, you would expect the Alliance to install an administrative leader in Orgrimmar (perhaps Jaina would have been the right person for the job), and to restore the destroyed or desecrated lands of the Stonetalon Mountains, Ashenvale and Azshara to Night Elf care, Instead, orcs and goblins continue to run riot through these areas. And rather than getting rid of the aggressive alien invaders right here on our doorstep, we're off in Draenor, invading another planet.

It would be fantastic if the night elves could have their lands restored, and the orcs and Draenei could have their planet restored and we could all live in peace on our own planets. Then all we have to do is get rid of the scourge in Lordaeron.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

6.2.3 and Legion predictions

Another PvP season is coming in 6.2.3. And 6.2.3 is only going to the PTR, so we can't expect it on live servers until about the start of December.

How long does a PvP season last? Well, about 20 weeks; which would take us until about mid-April. Then there'll be a further patch with the pre-release event for the Legion expansion before Legion actually goes live. That could be anything from a fortnight to a month, leaving us around early to mid-May for the Legion release. And when does the Warcraft movie go on general release? End of May. My July prediction about that is strengthened.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Living it up

Fuill, Paoquan and I are taking a well deserved holiday from Azeroth. We decided to spend a marathon month on Earth jet-setting around Europe. We're just back from the Côte d'Azur which was fab. I don't think I've ever seen so many yachts in my life before. And not cheap ones, either. The port of Antibes alone held over a thousand yachts that the three of us couldn't afford to buy. In fact, we could hardly afford to buy a mooring berth there! We hired bicycles, instead.
€65 000 for a 10x4 metre mooring here.
I liked Antibes a lot. Probably the only town in the world with more chandleries than supermarkets.

But the  Côte d'Azur has a problem with its "beaches". In Azeroth, a beach has sand on it. In Nice, their beaches are made up of large pebbles or small rocks. I'm not one for lying on a beach sunbathing, but lying on a rocky shore sounds more like mortification than pleasure.

This is what passes for a beach on the Côte d'Azur

We took a trip to Monaco to see the Napoleonic exhibition, only to find it was sold off last year. It seems the sovereign Prince of Monaco was short of a few bob. A few bob short of a pound, if you ask me.

Anyway, our jet-setting isn't over, and the rugby world cup is underway in England, so we're off to London to watch Ireland defeat the rest of the world. Slán!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Ahoy there, me hearties! Avast behind!

My time in Azeroth has temporarily come to an end. I let my subscription lapse some months ago and am now paying with WoW tokens instead. Now I've stopped that, too. I still have some tokens in my bags, but what with a summer holiday approaching (now that it's autumn!) and the rugby world cup on the horizon (and Ireland has the incredible ranking of world number 3 right now), I don't think I'm going to have any time for raiding. Plus, I need a break.

I may come back to Azeroth refreshed in October, or I might wait a little longer. Perhaps even to the next expansion, who knows.

In the meantime, I've been playing with wargaming.net's latest World of Warships beta release. I downloaded it ages ago, but I had trouble getting it running. The screen would flicker in such a way that I could see what was previously on the screen, For instance, in the middle of battle, I could still see the pre-battle screen flickering in and out. And moving my gun target left a trail of target cursors in its wake. Don't even think about what happened when I rotated my point of view. Suffice to say it was unplayable.

I updated it recently to see if the problem had been fixed, and lo and behold ... it hadn't. But after much searching I found a work-around, and got the try out WoWs (as we cognoscenti call it).

Have you noticed how much more agile the tanks in World of Tanks are, compared with actual tanks? WoWs has the same problem, on speed. My low-level ships feel like windsurfing boards.

There are several different classes of ship, and the most problematic for me are destroyers, which at low-level fire torpedo broadsides from deck-mounted launchers. The problem is that the torpedoes travel really slowly, and once you have four or five destroyers on each side, well, there are a lot of fish in the water. And it's not unknown for your team to find themselves turning into the path of your slow-moving torpedoes. Uh, oh!

I am a team-killer. Inadvertently. I've also inadvertently been been killed by my own team's fish. I haven't yet had the ignominy of steaming into my own torpedoes: thank goodness my top speed is slightly lower than the top speed of my torpedoes. Otherwise it would have happened.

I guess it's just a matter of better map awareness, and better awareness of how slowly these torpedoes travel. Although the torpedo range is 8km, there really seems to be no point in using them until you're on top of the enemy. Definitely cease firing them while you are behind your own team. Avast behind!*

*This whole article written to allow me to legitimately use that final exclamation.

Blaugust, day 31.