Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Game Design Flaw In World Of Warcraft: Tanking

At least on my server in World of Warcraft, it's becoming harder and harder to find good tanks. I was thinking about why, and I believe it comes from the basic design model of "threat."

World of Warcraft is still approximately based on the principle of tanks, healers, and damage dealers. Tanks are built to take a lot of damage without dying, but generally don't deal very much damage. Healers heal wounded players, generally focusing on the tank. Damage dealers do damage to things, obviously. The game would be too easy if enemies always automatically attacked the tank, so the game has a concept called "threat." Enemies will attack whoever is the biggest threat to it so the idea sounds good on paper, but in my mind the mechanic somewhat fails overall. It's silly that an "intelligent" enemy would not realize that he's hitting the guy in full plate armor and is not killing him and doesn't go kill something wearing cloth, but I digress. Dealing damage and healing both generate threat, so it is the tank's responsibility to generate the most threat on the enemies to protect his team. Since he doesn't deal that much damage, the class has a bunch of abilities with "increased threat" so he can not do much damage but be ahead of the damage dealers on threat.

This model drives tanks from the game for several reasons. I myself have played a tank, healer, and a damage dealer, and playing a tank is by far the most stressful job. I believe this stress causes people (like me) to eventually retire from tanking and do other jobs even if we are quite good at tanking. Most people play this game for fun and it's not fun to have to focus that hard for that long all the time to do your job well. In 5 man instances, maintaining aggro (i.e. being the highest threat) on all enemies can be nerve wracking, when damage dealers attack the wrong enemy or the healer's general healing threat pulls aggro off you. In raids, controlling multiple mobs is rarely a problem, but then you have the challenge of being the highest in threat, even compared to the highest threat generating damage dealer in your raid. The tank has some error margin, but if he lapses in threat generation for even a moment, the raid will often be wiped out because the damage dealer who is trying the hardest will take aggro off the tank. When I was tanking on raids, it pretty much felt like I was always competing against everybody else in the raid and if I wasn't number one all the time, we failed. But in a sense, that's exactly what this threat model requires.

Additionally, being the tank is the most gear intensive role because if your gear is not good enough, the group fails. If a damage dealer is under geared, he simply does less damage, the group doesn't fail. If a healer is under geared, he may not be able to keep up with the healing load, but a well geared tank compensates for it because he takes less damage. If a tank is under geared, he takes too much damage and forces a healer to heal excessively, which can generate too much healing threat and the group will fail. If his gear does not allow him to generate enough threat, the damage dealers can generate more threat than he generates and the group will fail.

Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer people willing to take on the responsibility to always be playing 100% your best and to always have the best gear possible. I now play a damage dealer most of the time and I find it so much more relaxing. If I don't concentrate too hard and I am late on nuking something, nothing bad happens. In fact, it simply makes it easier for the tank to do his job. Even being a healer is somewhat stressful, but this is mostly only in 5 man instances where you are the only healer because if you are late on a heal, sometimes, the tank dies and the group fails. However, there are more healers around in game, because raids bring many healers so as long as one or two are not late on a heal, nothing bad usually happens.

Yet another factor is that most of the really good tanks I've known have since changed their role to damage dealer. There's this sort of mini-game of who can deal the most damage that damage dealers play with each other. We all run damage meters that tally up all the damage each player deals and we can see who is doing the most damage over time. Since most of us former tanks are used to playing at such a high concentration level, we typically dominate the damage meters as well, but the difference is that now we don't have to try as hard if we don't want to. The only bad thing that happens is our ranking on the damage meter is a tiny bit lower.

There always will be a few individuals who love the responsibility of being a tank, but most people eventually give it up to relax when they play the game instead.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cute Cat Animation

This thing is so cute. They got in so many little cat mannerisms and then a comical ending. =)

Instant Oatmeal vs Real Oatmeal

My roommate had a couple of packets of instant oatmeal that she didn't want to eat, so I said I'd eat them. I usually eat real oatmeal most morning, so I figured I'd just eat instant oatmeal a couple of days instead.

Instant oatmeal is disgusting compared to real oatmeal. I'm not clear on what they do to it to make it instant. In its dry form it looks like regular oatmeal that's more powdery. Well, whatever they do to it makes it have this weird taste that's kind of hard to describe. Real oatmeal has just a hint of that taste but the warm taste of oats dominates it. Instant oatmeal completely lacks the taste of oats.

So yeah, blech to instant oatmeal. Take the time to make real oatmeal instead and you may find that you like oatmeal more than you did before.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

FEMA Fails Again

FEMA had employees pose as reporters in a news conference on the California fires. I mean seriously, wow. This is like something you see happen in a comedy movie.

Sometimes Timing Is Everything

Southern California burns during a stretch of dry, gusty winds, burning half a million acres of land. Now it's starting to drizzle a little.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Zero no Tsukaima

I happened to stumble across an anime series called "Zero no Tsukaima" on Youtube (both seasons that currently exist are available there) and I was pleasantly surprised. The series admittedly has some fanservice going on, but there's a little more to it than that. It reminds me a little bit of "The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi" in the sense that there's a little more to it than the superficial level of silly humor, cute girls, and romance.

This series happens to deal with class systems and oppression, a bit of science meets magic, and of course, the horror of war.

The theme of nobility vs plebians runs throughout the series, especially since the nobility is determined through the ability to use magic. It also seems that there is a bit of a "might makes right" theme in why a magic user is above a non magic user. However, the good nobles do use their power and influence to protect the people of their land while the bad nobles abuse their power to oppress the people of their land. The nobles are obsessed with concepts like honor and reputation, for better or for worse.

The theme of science meets magic creates some amusing scenarios, like the Mitsubishi Zero being a "dragon" and the gasoline it runs on being "dragon's blood." The Staff of Destruction being a rocket launcher is probably the goofiest. Apparently their world gets little bits and pieces of our world somewhat frequently. Even an accidentally summoned porn magazine becomes a family's heirloom in their world.

The theme of the horror of war is pretty frequently referenced too, particularly in the second season beginning with the captain of the royal guard seeking revenge for massacre of her home town. It turns out of course that the massacre of her home town was due to political motives by a fairly evil high ranking noble to the horror of the captain who burned the town. The captain realized his mistake and gave up on war to try to atone for his crime by becoming a teacher. He dies saving the captain who wants revenge on him, resolving her need for revenge without her having to kill him at least. This message about the value of life continues to the final segment of the second season where Louise attempts to sacrifice her own life to buy time for everybody else and Saito takes her place to protect her and our two lovers have to confront each others' deaths. I have to admit, I was pretty sad by this section because it really did feel like the two were finally getting things to work between them.

Yeah, I guess I've gotten sappier in my old age. I think it's a bit due to my issues with the women in my life (who seem to bear a slight resemblance to Louise). But due to some totally unexplained chick with big boobs, Saito survives. Apparently there's more information about that chick in the manga, but I'm too lazy to read the manga to figure it out. Hopefully the next season will explain a little more....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Extraordinary Rendition?"

This is completely screwed up. The United States claims to be the defenders of the free world, but we allow this "extraordinary rendition" to occur? Basically, they can take anybody, ship him off to another country where torture is legal (since most torture is illegal here still for now), and have the other country torture the person for as long as we want. Plus, we don't need to have just cause....

I mean seriously, how is this okay??

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dumbledore Is Gay?

I just read this article discussing J.K. Rowling's announcement that Dumbledore is gay. I have to agree a little bit with the article that announcing this after the fact is a bit weak on her part. There's no reason why they couldn't have alluded to it more explicitly in the books themselves if this were the case. I mean in hindsight, I suppose that there is a little bit of reasoning that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had stronger feelings for one another than explicitly stated. Then again, I also can understand that since it was a very private relationship between the two and that Dumbledore is quite secretive, that there was no point at which she could have explicitly revealed it without it sounding forced. Either that or she would have had to make some significant plot or character design changes.

But yeah, in other news, Southern California is still burning. I just read an article saying that the average temperature here in Southern California is about 10 degrees hotter than it usually is, simply due to the fires. That's insane. I had just been thinking that it was awfully warm out today. The whole area is illuminated by this surreal reddish tint. It's not quite as bad where I am as it was during the last huge fires, but it seems like things are gonna keep burning for a little while longer. =(

Monday, October 22, 2007

Southern California Burning Again...

What a terrible day yesterday. It was extremely windy in general. I was stopped at a traffic light in my car and I could feel the wind pushing around my car. Then of course the fires that broke out around Malibu and elsewhere spread like mad because of the wind gusts....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Old Lady + Hammer vs Comcast

An old lady who got exceptionally bad service from Comcast took matters into her own hands and smashed up some stuff in the Comcast office. I can't say I really blame her. Violence isn't really a good solution to anything, but in this day and age, companies tend care too little about providing good service. Hopefully her point got through to them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

67 Million Dollar Lawsuit Over A Pair Of Pants

Okay, everyone's heard of the multi-million dollar lawsuit over spilling hot McDonald's coffee... This one is even worse. A guy in New York filed a 67 million dollar lawsuit claiming a dry cleaner gave him back different pants from the ones he dropped off. Fortunately he lost. I mean seriously.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Click Here To Become A Terrorist....

A boy in the U.K. is accused of "possessing material for terrorist purposes" because he had a copy of the old Anarchist's Cookbook.

Fortunately, possession of this document is legal in the United States.... If you want to see one version of the actual document, just click here:

The Anarchist's Cookbook

And just like that, if you're in the U.K. you may be charged with "possessing material for terrorist purposes." Wasn't that easy?

Monday, October 1, 2007


Words lost in chaos
Like every blog entry here.
Why do I bother?

Women And Relationships

It seems like women these days fall into two categories.... the ones who are obsessively attached to one guy or the ones who refuse to be attached to one guy. Ironically, the two even seem a bit related. For example, the woman may refuse to be attached to one guy now because she is obsessively attached to a guy from her past.

I'm sure there are some who follow the middle road, but I seem to find a lot more of the two extremes.