WoW: More Dungeons

I’m writing this a day late. Saturday, I pretty much spent all day taking Oleari through quests and dungeons. I respecced her a bit, changing her Shaman specialization from Enhancement to Restoration, for the specific purpose of making her more party-oriented — I had chosen Enhancement for the same reason initially, thinking that specializing in buffs would be similarly useful to others, but it turns out that Enhancement mainly means enhancing yourself. Self-buffs are always a troubling bit of design. If a spellcaster can spell himself up into a more powerful fighter than a warrior-type, why bother having warrior-types? And if he can’t, why not just roll up a warrior instead of bothering with the self-buffs? There has to be some kind of tradeoff for it to make sense. Well, the WoW Enhancement Shaman has at least the disadvantage that you have to take the time to cast your enhancement spells, and most likely drop a totem or two as well, which I suppose means a dedicated warrior would be able to respond to a sneak attack better. But this is all speculation from someone who hasn’t even hit level 30 yet.

I’ve been through all of the dungeons that were initially available in the Dungeon Finder (more are added as you level up), and while the experience has been mostly more pleasant than my first stupid dungeon, there’s one aspect of that first attempt that I haven’t been able to shake: doing a dungeon properly usually takes me two tries. Usually there’s some in-dungeon quest goal that I miss the first time through — some gathering-quest that I don’t pursue adequately until it’s too late, or some quest-giver who I didn’t notice until after the boss he wants me to beat is already beaten. Everyone else seems to already know the basic dungeons by heart, which means that they’re off and away before I get a chance to read the quest descriptions fully — particularly when the tank (who takes point, and thus sets the pace) is a Warrior, because they have a motivation to rush from one encounter to the next before their Rage meter empties. Maybe next time I should research the dungeons in advance.

The only dungeon that I completed in only one sally was the Wailing Caverns. There was some kind of dream-god in the form of a giant snake in there, or something like that. I couldn’t tell you the details. I’m sure it was all very important to the quest-givers, but again, I was too busy trying to keep up with the party. It went pretty smoothly: I managed to keep people healed, and everyone agreed in the end that it had been a good team. But after the last boss, when people started leaving, I still needed to pick flowers. That was a side-quest within the dungeon: some herbalist or something wants samples of a rare flower called Serpentblossom that only grows in that dungeon. For most of the run, I kept seeing it reported in the message window that various other people had found them, but I wasn’t seeing any myself, mainly because I didn’t know what to look for. So after the end, I was faced with the task of scouring the dungeon for flowers alone. Except that I wasn’t alone: one other member of the party was in the same situation, and we helped each other search, chatting a bit as we did so — he gave me some help with the less-obvious parts of the interface. This was a lot more like the kind of party experience I had come to Azeroth expecting than the frantic slaughter-race that’s turning out to be the norm.

I did take Oleari through Shadowfang Keep, even though I had already conquered it with Pleasance. I didn’t finish it this time. The end boss, one Lord Godfrey, seems to be particularly tough. Pleasance’s team had difficulties with him as well, I recall. Every once in a while, he performs an attack called Pistol Barrage that can easily take out most of the party, if they haven’t taken cover. Fortunately, you get warning when he’s about to use it, but as the party healer, taking cover means losing my line of sight on the tank, and thus, for a little while, my ability to cast healing spells on him. Perhaps the tank should have sought cover as well? Does Godfrey stand still or something when he’s preparing a Pistol Barrage to give you that opportunity? Regardless, I was blamed. Keeping the tank alive is the healer’s job, so if the tank dies, it’s the healer’s fault. There were exasperated cries of “wtf shammy” and intelligence-belittling exhortations to just stand there and heal him, as if I had been doing anything else. Before quitting the party, the tank instructed me to delete the character and start over with a new one. So, yeah, not as pleasant an experience as Wailing Caverns. I wonder how much this is due to the party, and how much due to Shadowfang Keep being a morale-breaker?

One thing about the Godfrey debacle worthy of special note: at one point, someone asked something about the healbot I was using, and /facepalmed when I revealed that I wasn’t using one. Are bots simply expected in WoW? It would explain a thing or two about everyone else’s behavior. It probably doesn’t seem like you’re taking things particularly fast when the computer is performing most of your actions for you. But if this is the case, it’s a big change from my Everquest days. Bots were considered a form of cheating back then; they might even have been a bannable offense. Cheating or not, I can’t say I see much point in playing a game without, y’know, playing it. But then, a lot of people clearly feel otherwise — otherwise, the infamous Chinese gold farms would never see a profit.

7 Comments so far

  1. Josh W on 31 Jan 2011

    I find it fascinating (and somewhat disturbing) that this trend continues to happen almost five years after I witnessed the same exact thing happened to a new player–and now a good friend of mine.

    Even more interesting is that it all took place in Wailing Caverns as well. He was new to the game and had no idea what he was doing. He had just tried the dungeon for the first time and was completely humiliated by the rest of the group who decided to mock him instead of helping him.

    Luckily, my brother, a friend of ours and myself found him wandering aimlessly in the Barrens and decided to allow him to tank. He was doing some elementary no-no’s (ie – “ninja” looting, which isn’t so much a problem anymore), but instead of belittling him, we showed him the ropes and explained things to him. Since we were the first group that showed him any kindness since he had started (about a week!), he stuck with us and we all leveled up together.

    He is now one of the higher ranked players on the server (much higher than I ever hope to achieve and still maintain a life ; ) ) and keeps in contact with us regularly.

    I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon, but take heart in knowing there’s a group of people out there, albeit small, that try to teach positively. ; )

  2. Merus on 31 Jan 2011

    Blizzard take care to require hardware events in order to cast spells, so it’s impossible to build a ‘bot’. What they were likely referring to is the addon, Healbot, which customises the interface to be more useful for healers.

    Shadowfang Keep was one of the dungeons heavily revamped in Cataclysm. Not even the top-level players have worked out how to handle Pistol Barrage. (Shadowfang Keep gets an upgrade to a level 85 dungeon.)

    The trick to Pistol Barrage, apparently, is that he fires it in front of him. If the tank stands there and takes Pistol Barrage and everyone else stands behind Godfrey, you should be able to squeeze off a heal just after Godfrey fires. But yes, unfortunately there are not a lot of patient people in the Dungeon Finder.

  3. Starmaker on 31 Jan 2011

    > Cheating or not, I can’t say I see much point in playing a game without, y’know, playing it.

    This. WoW is about as much about finding better addons and writing better macros as it is about killing monsters and taking their stuff. I sorta see how people get interested in such a game – you’re playing from both sides, fighting monsters in Azeroth and researching better stuff IRL. But at this stage, I’d rather play Progress Quest.

    Now, many addons didn’t work properly on a private server where I played, and those that did slowed down the game. The meta-game was all about cheating. Diplomacizing data about a new bug out of a rival guild, misinforming them about its nature, abusing it to hell and back while mods sleep, then, as the rivals are catching on and behaving recklessly, giving enough hints to snitches so that the GMs find out and close down the area for repairs, so no one else can follow in our footsteps. Three words: awesome.

    On healing/tanking: everyone blames the newb. That’s the way of life. In an experienced party, whoever falls first gets to choose a scapegoat. But if you’re new, it’s always you. Tank died? You weren’t healing well enough. You died? Blame yourself, newb, why could’t you stand still. (But I did! – That’s what I said. Why were you just standing there like a newb?) Out of mana? Well no wonder, look at that crap you’re wearing (never mind that their tank is geared in beer cans and tinfoil). If it’s any consolation, other classes have it worse. Damage dealers have a constant e-peen arms race. Tanks are useless if not fully blinged out and not interested if they are (plus, they may have to pay armor repair out of their own pocket, which is *a lot* even if they don’t die).

  4. paul on 31 Jan 2011

    I’ve been trying dungeons too, and I think my experience has been smoother because I’m playing a rogue.

    The Dungeon Finder requires 1 tank (so the tank is important) 1 healer (so the healer is important) and 3 damage dealers (so one of them can kinda suck and no one seems to notice).

    I definitely found myself wondering, as I played, “How do new players play warriors and priests?” It seems like it takes so much experience to fill these roles. I can’t imagine jumping right into that role. For a damage dealer, though, it’s pretty simple: fight whoever the tank is fighting.

    I do think it would be a lot more fun dungeoneering casually with 4 friends rather than playing with 4 hyper strangers. In fact, that seems like it would be the perfect social WoW experience, because it doesn’t feel very challenging group-questing through quests designed for one player.

  5. Carl Muckenhoupt on 31 Jan 2011

    Healer isn’t all that complicated for new players either, because at low levels you don’t have very many healing spells. Most of the time, you just cast Healing Wave at the tank over and over.

    I mean, okay, that changes if other people start taking damage. But you have health bars for everyone in the party (and their pets) in front of you, right next to their character portraits, which you can click on to target them. No other role is made so convenient by the UI.

  6. malkav11 on 31 Jan 2011

    Yeah, Healbot isn’t an actual bot. Rather, it’s named after a term people (used to?) use for healers, and is one of, if not the most, popular healing addons. It seems rather silly to me to expect people to be using powerful raiding-centric UI customizations for level 20-30 dungeons, but I suppose that’s what comes from a player-base that’s largely levelcapped at least once and rushing through with new alts loaded with heirloom gear that’s better than anything you can get while levelling and boosts experience to boot. If you do get to raiding, though, it or something like it will probably be expected of you by any remotely serious raid team, along with various other addons like a boss mod suite (Deadly Boss Mods is the most common), a threat meter (apparently the one built into the UI is considered insufficient by most people, though I’ve never been sure why), etc.

    Addons are, in general, something you might want to research. A lot of them won’t have any immediate utility at low levels, and/or for new players, but WoW’s UI scripting is amazingly flexible and once I got over my reluctance I’ve found myself addicted. At this point I use well over 20 addons that convey extra information, simplify routine tasks, and provide functionality that the default UI does not expose. It’s great. I don’t mean to suggest that the default UI is bad – it’s better than ever, and Blizzard gradually integrates some of the most key improvements from the addon community. But you can still do better. (And I’m not even a power user – I still click most of my abilities, something which is supposedly a no-no but I’ve had no complaints about my damage output; and things like xPerl, Grid, and Power Auras are way out of my league configuration-wise.)

  7. danowar on 1 Feb 2011

    This right here is one of the main reasons I don’t play MMORPGs.

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