Thursday, May 31, 2018

Leveling Quick Fixes: Elite Subzones

This article is part of a series. Click here to go to the intro article where a table of contents is available.

Some of my early experiences of playing World of Warcraft involved wandering into areas crawling with elite mobs that more often than not were beyond what I was able to defeat. They often congregated around the entrance to instances but there were also subzones dedicated entirely to them such as Pyrewood Village and Jintha'Alor. The novelty of them was nerfed shortly after I started playing the game however since in patch 2.3, elites in many of these areas were changed to non-elites in an attempt to improve the game's leveling experience. I can understand the reasoning of the nerf since grouping up to quest in one or more of the areas was often necessary to ensure a smooth leveling experience due to a lack of non-grindy leveling content.

Elite areas were then rarely utilized in a meaningful way for a few expansions until Isle of Giants was released in 5.2, which was a zone full of elite mobs that were able to be farmed solo or in a group. Timeless Isle expounded on the idea and featured elite mobs that could be farmed for benefits such as Emperor Shaohao reputation and Lesser Charms of Excessive Good Fortune. Warlords of Draenor also featured some elite zones that the player entered as part of daily quests. Finally, Legion had a quest chain for the Nightfallen that involved entering an area full of elites and featured many elite World Quests that players could attempt solo if they wanted a bit of a challenge.

The reason I bring this all up is because it seems Blizzard is comfortable with making their overworld dangerous to players again by making use of elite areas or what I'll call what I consider to be the more appropriate term of "subzones." In fact, I think it's possible to return elite subzones to lower level zones while maintaining the idea behind the leveling improvements made in patch 2.3. If done well, such areas will provide a place for players to challenge themselves without disrupting other leveling content such as questing like elite subzones in the past did.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Some Thoughts on (Blizzard) Selling Cosmetics for Charity

Depending on how well the charity uses the money it receives, supporting charities that have goals that align with your own can be a great thing. One such goal that can generally be agreed to be great is putting an end to cancer, even if it's a specific one such as breast cancer. Personally, I would like to think funding research for curing one type of cancer will ultimately contribute to curing them all. This is also why I think holding events to fundraise without being incredibly wasteful in the process can be great and one way to do so is to partner up and sell a product for charity.

Blizzard is a company that has done this many times over the years such as when they sold a pet to support disaster relief efforts relatively recently. This time Blizzard is supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and to do so, they have ventured into new territory since in addition to selling a cosmetic in Overwatch for charity, the cosmetic in question is planned to have a limited run.

Personally, I've felt rather mixed on these promotions since while all the profits made are going towards a good cause, it comes at the expense of continuing to justify Blizzard's pricing model. Since I criticized Blizzard's pricing of cosmetics in the past, I was thinking of posting a follow-up article on the specific topic of selling arguably overpriced cosmetics to raise money for charity. Instead, I contented myself with occasionally expressing my mixed feelings.

What has prompted me to post an article on the topic is that discussion on the sale of the Pink Mercy skin personally bothered me a little more than usual. When I browse a Blizzard subreddit, there's often posts regarding Blizzard's overpricing practices but also ones expressing opposing opinions too. Therefore, I wasn't too annoyed by a recent post defending Blizzard's pricing of the Pink Mercy skin. What did irk me though was how questionable the poster's logic seemed. This detail bothered me so much that I reasoned now's a good time to express my thoughts regarding the topic of selling cosmetics for charity, however awful some may find them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Leveling Quick Fixes Appendix - Mechanical Learning Expectations

This article is part of a series. Click here to go to the intro article where a table of contents is available.

This article, as the title states, is meant to provide information on the mechanics I expect players to learn as they level to complement suggestions I make in the Leveling Quick Fixes article series and possibly more. The general idea of these learning expectations are that as the player's level increases, they are gradually introduced to additional mechanics and the overall difficulty of existing mechanics increases. However, the 7.3.5 changes to leveling have forced me to alter my original plans of having carefully designed leveling zones since it's easier for players to (unintentionally) avoid them by leveling in lower level zones.

Therefore, I have instead created four distinct leveling brackets from 1-90 and assigned each a pool of mechanical categories to learn and the level of challenge each type of mechanic provides. The level brackets are as follows, with an explanation for why I set each specific interval:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

How Interesting Are The Mechanics of Witchwood Cards?

A new year means a new expansion and Standard rotation for Hearthstone. In this case, the Witchwood expansion is the newest one to welcome the Year of the Raven and it features the Rush and Echo keywords. With this expansion I'm also going to try something new since as the title states, I'm opting to analyze mechanics instead of attempting to evaluate the competitive viability of cards. The reasoning is simple: I'm really bad at evaluating the competitive viability of cards and might do a better job of expressing my opinions on which mechanics are interesting.

With a new type of evaluation comes a new rating system. The rating system is as follows and is meant to apply to all formats:
Boring - This rating is assigned to vanilla minions, frequently used effects that I consider unexciting, and blatant pack filler. These cards may have keywords such as Taunt that I generally consider uninteresting.
Meh - These are basically just a cut above being Boring and more often than not attempt to try something creative but don't really intrigue me.
Okay - Cards with this rating have mechanics that are somewhat intriguing, but not enough for me to consider them Interesting.
Interesting - These cards have mechanics that are quite intriguing and often make me think of its influence on deckbuilding and matches.
Rapturous - These cards are utterly engrossing in terms of their mechanics because they are incredibly unique, have great influence on deckbuilding and matches, and/or are otherwise very thought-provoking.
It is worth noting that while I'm not evaluating competitive viability, I may need to take the power level of a card into account when considering how interesting its mechanics are. This is because the power level may directly benefit from the mechanic or vice versa, such as with the Rush keyword this expansion. In addition, synergies with other cards will be taken into account though I will prefer towards cards that enable synergies being the more mechanically interesting ones since they make cards that may be uninteresting more interesting.

Before moving on to the cards themselves, the ordering will be based on the order shown on this site, which should make navigation to the cards you want to see me be most wrong about easier.