Tuesday, August 31, 2010

wtb screen space

I've procrastinated making some UI changes I knew I needed to make for some time. I have never posted a screenshot of my UI because, it's not impressive but it's also downright embarrassing. I could blame my small screen, but that's only the half of it. My UI looked like my desk: cluttered, redundant, and a bit dusty.

So I spent a couple of hours today reworking how my UI helps me play. Because in the end, a pretty UI is nice but it has to have the things I need to be a healadin. This time around, my focus was getting more crap off my screen.

Saving Space Through Addons

Bartender or Dominos are fantastic addons to "buy" screen space. It takes a bit of configuring to get it going, but potentially offers much more free screen space. They get rid of the extra junk (spacing, padding, and decorations) around the standard UI, and allow you to move your bars wherever you want. You can shrink 'em, but most importantly, you can shove 'em wherever you like. You can also hide bars that you don't need in combat. My hearthstone, professions, and self-only oh-shit buttons are keybound and invisible.

You may notice that I have no addon mini-map buttons. They are all disabled, because of how few I actually need when I'm in combat. Most addons have menu or config options that can be accessed with slash-commands.

/al - Atlas Loot
/sg - Surgeon General
/radur - Who's Tanking Frames
/dxe config - Deus Vox Encounters

Healbot and Grid both have drag-tags that you can remove. I set up HB so that the options open up with the right-click of the dead space outside of the bars (I also set it up so that there is no padding or spacing between bars, another space saver).

I used to use Pitbull for raid frames as well as Healbot, but it's redundant (and bogs down an older computer). If your screen is tiny, it's an important question to ask: do I need the same information/spells taking up space twice?

I used to have a bar devoted to blessings, but I've been using Pally Power long enough that I couldn't justify that space on my screen. I have them bound (a bit awkwardly, but that's alright, they are for out of combat) in healbot, as well. That was three places to cast one thing.

Saving Space Through Macros

Macros that can save you bar space. Abilities you always use together, for instance, will only take up one spot on your action bar instead of two or three if they are macro'd (trinkets, too!). Cast sequence macros can help you buff, i.e., a priest can click the same macro button four times and buff fort>spirit>shadow>inner fire. A macro like this would be handy for after-rezzing. A paladin macro might have Seal>Divine Plea>Kings.

Macros can also be set up with modifiers, allowing one button to do different things. A blessing macro could do kings, wisdom, or might, determined by modifier. I have three buttons dedicated to judgments (one is keybound, the others are next to it so that I can switch depending on our raid composition), but if I cared I could set it up so that shift or control judged differently. I may give this a try, but I prefer just to set the right judgment to the non-modified keybind before the pull. In combat, I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. However, if your raid has a pretty darn consistent group and you almost always judge light or wisdom, setting up a modifier for the other wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Mouseover macros can also cast a spell determined by whether the target is friendly or hostile. My priest saves bar space by having a dps spell and a healing spell tied to the same button - smite and flash heal, holy fire and greater heal, and shadow word: pain and renew. While I (rarely) use the DPS portions of the macros, they are helpful and a time-saver when you do need to nuke. (I haven't PVP'd in a while, but there's the obvious application).

I just learned something new! In clique and healbot, you can add macros directly into the interface. For Clique, you type your macro text directly into the window, and in Healbot, you create a macro (using the mouseover script) in Blizzard's macro menu, then import it.


I have a confession to make: when I was leveling my paladin, I had some serious druid-envy. When HB broke and I learned to use mouseover macros, I chose icons for druid heals instead of paladin heals. I never changed it, because it's kinda silly.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a man(bot)'s world

FuturamaThursdays 10pm / 9c
Futurama New EpisodesBig LakeA New Comedy from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay

Do you have any idea what it's like to be a fembot living in a manbot's manputer world?

I can't get blogger to like this embedded video, so here's the link: Fembot on Futurama

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rock Paper Tiger: A Gamer's Review

Have you read Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann? I snagged it as an impulse borrow from the library after seeing it mentioned a handful of times on book blogs. I was surprised to find that Brackmann uses an MMO-style universe as part of the story.

Without spoiling it for you, here are a handful of things I liked about the world inside the book: The Sword of Ill Repute, or, the Game.

1. The protagonist plays to connect, not escape. Her friends have a specific virtual space to meet. She doesn't define herself as a gamer; she just happens to play a video game, and she's got quite a bit of life going on outside of the game. And her dirty dishes have nothing to do with gaming.

2. No nerd stigma. That's right, no socially awkward teenagers in sight. No geek jokes. No mention of grandmother's basements. No pwning or 1337 speak. No obsessive player who loses his family/job/house to the keyboard.

3. The protagonist identifies herself with her avatar. She also ponders the avatars of people she has met in real life, coming to a better understanding of them through the way they choose to express themselves in the Game. Granted, in WoW we don't have quite the amount of customization as in the Game, but I appreciate the suggestion that characters can be valid creative expressions.

4. The Game is Chinese, and as such, uses Chinese mythology. The lore is elegant and portrayed thoughtfully, creating a mini-world with depth and culture of its own.

5. Brackmann takes us into the Game without overwhelming non-players. While the protagonist doesn't do anything 'hardcore' like raiding, we are exposed to MMO staples - cool weapons, fearsome monsters, fun items, and adventure. No math or heavy theory. The Game is accessible.

There's room for disagreement that every mention of the Game was positive, and a couple of things that happened around the Game are already controversy in the industry. (And yes, there were a few events that would make for less-than-stellar game mechanics. I'm talking portrayal, not playability here). Still, I was pleased with the treatment. It's downright refreshing to read about an MMO sans nerd stigma.

Rock Paper Tiger is not a book about a MMORPGs. It's a book about international crime and war that features an MMO to connect the characters. As such, it finds a much different audience: readers, not gamers.

How about you - have you read the book? How do you feel about The Sword of Ill Repute as a portrayal of MMOs outside of the gaming industry (or other showings of MMOs in the mainstream)? I've never set up commenting rules or anything like that, but I do ask that we keep this page spoiler-free for those who might still have Rock Paper Tiger on their reading list.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Logs! Shamanigans!

I found a neat website earlier today I wanted to share with you:


If you upload your WoL parses, it will, by fight, show you how many cooldowns a player could have used, and it will also show you handy uptime.
There are a couple of things that are wonky, especially for healing. I've really been looking for a handy DPS analysis tool - I'm fairly comfortable using WoL to analyze healing, but for DPS I just don't even know what I'm looking at.

Here's my audit for our Putricide kill last week, with a few discrepancies and thoughts below:

Buffs/Debuffs has been the most valuable, however, it does take some encounter knowledge to understand whether all those 0's meant I failed or whether the cooldown just didn't apply. For instance, and if I am mistaken (please, for the love of Elune, let me know so I can improve) leave me a comment, Aura Mastery doesn't help much because the damage type is nature. Ok, so I didn't use Divine Favor at all. Thats kinda lame. However, I did maintain 99% uptime on JotP (I do love to judge), but I didn't use either of my self-only bubbles.

It also doesn't list sacred shield fo
r me, however, according to the actual WoL parse this is built from, I had 47% uptime on Sacred Shield (turns out another paladin was overwriting mine, which while annoying, at least the tank was fully shielded).

I don't understand how it's suggesting I only should have used DP twice, when on a seven minute fight I could have used it seven times. Five uses isn't bad, considering two of those were at phase changes whether I needed it or not.

The Malleable Goo thing is interesting, considering I know that I myself never actually got hit by it, and that was splash damage (other players took 45-66k damage in Malleable Goo, but I digress!).

I found this far more handy for DPS, for a couple of reasons. A players active DPS time usually reflects their standing on the charts. Players with consistently above 90% are the same ones in the top five. Meanwhile, I saw DPS with active times as low as 60%. I won't link any examples because I don't feel comfortable publicly shaming anyone but myself, but if you want to see it for yourself, upload your guilds parses and see how it works for you.

Also, while I'm talking about logs, Ophelie did an awesome write-up about how to make WoL show you uptime for healing buffs. I had a couple of healers looking for distinct feedback for improvement and I couldn't think of anything to say until I saw this. You can plot uptime for buffs you ideally want up 100%, but it can also show you when in the fight a player is managing cooldowns. Handy indeed!


It's no secret that I've wanted all four healers. Oddly enough, shaman was my first healing character I created, but I fizzled out leveling her when I researched a bit more and realized that priest was more my style (so then I made a paladin. Go figure!). I still had a level 49 shaman on a server I don't play on anymore, but I made another shaman, horde side, on Malfurion. It's been a blast, and I plan on leveling has as resto. I'm not in a hurry, and ideally thats why I want her eventually at max level, to understand the resto raiding shaman.

It's been a lot of fun to be back in Mulgore (I started playing horde, then switched to Ally upon insistence of a friend, who of course is long gone from the game now), although it hasn't been without its foibles. I went into a WSG with Mayhem's rogue and had some major disorientation. I also thought we were winning because the alliance had two flags. Oops!

Edit: I found this website on skeletonjack.com about DPS and WoL and while it's not technical, it's a good read. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tanking Pet Peeves: The Accidental Out-Threat

There is no "I" in tank team.

Actually, there might be a couple of pet peeves coming out today.

1. When your raid leaders go on vacation and someone else steps in to handle a run, please don't bitch at her for something that happened on that run weeks ago that she had nothing to do with.

2. Oops, I just out-threated you.

My biggest pet peeve from tanks is this. Fights that aren't tank-swaps, but they are still swapping because there's not enough team work. Sure, it's a farm boss and a tank swap isn't a wipe, but it's obvious there's one player who wants to be the star of the show even though we've told him that he's the third tank (when you have 24k hp unbuffed to tank ICC25, I feel the correct response is grateful humility, not taunting off the other tanks and calling it an accident).

I've been the super undergeared second/third tank before. It's hard to pick up aggro off someone who has three times the attack power and mitigation than you do (especially if you're still gemming for def cap). You have to do something snotty like taunt and pretend you didn't.

If it's not a tank swap, don't take the boss. If it IS a tank swap, no need to taunt before the swap time. There's a reason we agree on encounter specifics like "X stacks" or "X boss cooldown" to swap, and not "I'm bored and I want to see the boss swinging at me instead". And if we ask you to DPS, the correct response is "ok, let me switch" and not "ok but I'm going to stay in tank spec and gear in case something goes wrong".

No, you're not.

I'm sure there is such a thing as an accidental out-threat, but I don't believe it happens more than once. Certainly, not seven times in one fight.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Healers Who Don't Wanna

Have you noticed a trend in healers who don't wanna?

I have, but I'm not sure that I qualify to talk about it. Most of my memories from the beginning of the expansion was focused primarily in 10's, where we had a semi-steady group where we would pug at least a warm body or two. We ended up in some pretty strange Naxxs - three holy paladin teams (never again!), hardly ever any heroism, retribution paladins ahoy.

The one thing I remember frustrating the snot out of me was a shortage of 'main spec' healers. We'd always end up finishing the group by inviting another dps and asking the priest/druid/paladin to switch (grumble, grumble) to their offspec. And more often than not, it would sour the rest of the evening because they couldn't just say "I'm here to dps. I don't have fun healing."

(Better yet - don't keep a holy/resto off spec!)

Rant completed, I haven't run into this in a while, but like I said: I do 25s with a raiding guild. A set roster and steady group decrease my chances of running into healers who don't wanna. We have enough (close to it) healers who prefer to heal. The dps who heal offspec riptide with the same vigor of lava burst.

So I'm curious. I've "noticed" that there are less now, but I'm not looking for them either. Lately, have you run into healers who don't wanna?

(Quick note: If you're a dps who enjoys healing and/or tanking too, I love you.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Punch Real Life in the Face

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&brand=v5%5E544x306&from=sp&vid=8cb424dc-cbdb-40be-90c5-8fb450462d2f" target="_new" title="Season 4 - Music Video - ">Video: Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"</a>

The Guild Season 4
Seriously. Go enjoy.