Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From chaos to order – slowly climbing the learning curve once again

Once again I’ve been tossed into chaos with the arrival of the Ulduar patch. It happens every time there’s major new content added to the game or they change the game mechanics or user interface. I get lost.

It doesn’t matter how quick the major blogs and fansites are to publish informative guides on how to beat the new raid instance or perform the new dailies. I read it but I can’t apply it straight off. I have to see with my own eyes and experience it myself. I have to try and fail a couple of time before I slowly, slowly start to get the picture of it and it finally “clicks”.

Slow learner
This process is rather slow these days. I don’t know what to blame. Maybe it’s my age. Tobold has talked a lot about this lately, how the aging population in WoW has problems with new game mechanics that most of all demand quick reactions. Honestly – we DO learn quicker when we’re younger. My mental hard disk isn’t what it used to be. Either I need more brain cells or a defrag to speed up the processor. I won’t speculate on the cause. It could also have something to do with my lack of gaming experience. But the fact remains: it takes time for me orient myself in the new post-patch landscape.

My limited gaming time doesn’t make the learning process easier. While some guildies already have spent four nights in Ulduar – trying it in 25 man as well as in 10 man – I’ve only been able to see it once. I would be tempted to do like many others do and increase my gaming time to enjoy all the new shiny stuff. I know better though. Now it’s time to stick to the agreement I’ve made with my family when it comes to raiding hours, no matter what.

This will make me miss some of our guild first boss kills and it will also mean that I get less practice in the new fights. This sucks a bit. But after all I know I’ll see all the bosses and do all the bossfights eventually, as long as I manage to balance real life and playing. If I fail in this I’ll end up in game over and that would be much worse.

First impressions
So what did I think about my first peek into Ulduar? Well, it certainly was chaotic enough. I’ve had a little practice of the siege weapon concept in Wintergrasp, but that’s far from enough to be able to perform well in a vehicle fight. I feel lost without my normal action bars and abilities. I would need to explore the new interface that suddenly is presented at my own pace, without any pressure to get on with the fight. There’s no time for figuring out things, experimenting on your own. You have to get the hang of it asap.

I was assigned as a demolisher passenger and even though I read about what to do on WoWwiki and even watched some videos, I was quite clueless when it came to execution. All I could see around me was a mess of vehicles, mobs and explosions and doing the trash I shooted all around quite randomly. Luckily enough my guildies are more cleaver and quick at grasping the situation than I am. I didn’t take us many tries before we downed him. And when we succeeded I actually managed to use the catapult mechanism and get an achievement for taking down a tower, so I guess I did something right after all.

Figuring out Razorscale
The rest of the night as spent on figuring out how to kill Razorscale. It was a wonderful learning experience. While there are strategies published, they’re still not polished and discussed in the community until perfection. There was still room for doing our own trial and error, step by step working out a strategy, analyzing what to change after each wipe. And that’s exactly what makes raiding interesting to me.

Once again my first impression of the fight was: complete chaos. There were mobs spawning everywhere, some of which I was supposed to sheep – preferably before someone had damaged them. There was fire and there were random bombs and unlike for instance the Heigan fight it wasn’t enough to just stay alive – you had to push out decent dps as well. Quite a challenge! To be honest I died way too quickly to begin with. But in or last and best try, which ended at 53 percent, the encounter suddenly didn’t seem quite as chaotic as it did at first. There was a pattern. And I knew that we would get him pretty easily the next time. (I was right about that – it didn't take long before my guildies killed him in the following raid).

From chaos to order
Tonight I’ll hopefully be drafted to our third and last 25 man raid in Ulduar this week. A new encounter awaits me: XT 002-Deconstructor. This will be challenging to me, who wasn’t there for the first attempts, but I’ll do my best to catch up. And slowly, slowly I’ll climb the learning curve of Ulduar. Finally I know we’ll sort it all out and the place will be on farm. That will make me a richer girl, but it will make it all much less interesting. And we’ll ask ourselves how we could have such problems with those “easy”, free-looting bosses. Because so short is our memory. But by then the magic will be gone and we’ll be craving for something else.

If someone asked me what aspect of raiding I love most and I only was allowed to pick one, it would be this one – the process of learning an encounter, to see the transformation from chaos to order.

From what I saw of the first night in Ulduar, it will offer me exactly what I’m looking for in the game. Resistance, confusion and a riddle to solve. Wipes and trials, eventually followed by triumphs. We’re not Ensidia, and we’ll have to struggle quite a bit before we’ll have it all sorted out. I’m quite sure it will keep us occupied until the next raid instance is released and another chaotic period can start.

Do I need to tell you I’m happy about this patch?


Anonymous said...

I agree with the point about reaction times. This was brought home to me with the change they made to the Druid talent Nature's Grace. It used to be that the talent gave you .5 seconds off your next spell so long as you cast it within 15 seconds. With the new patch, it now speeds casting time by 20% for three seconds.

One of the Druid's main spells is Wrath. And if you are spamming Wrath as in a raid, this actually represents a buff because you will knock .6 seconds off rather than .5. But as I've discovered it's actually a nerf for PvE. I normally don't spam in PvE as I root and nuke. By the time I actually even realize it's processed, the three second increase in casting speed has been lost. Put another way, prior to 3.1 I had 15 seconds to react to the spell processing; now I have three. That's a real nerf in some situations.

Scotty said...

"Luckily enough my guildies are more cleaver and quick at grasping the situation than I am"

I cant speak for the other 23 in that raid, but as ONE of your guildies, I can assure you I was also totally cluless the first go, just generally aiming attacks towards stuff with its name in red, and pressing button 1 !

Hmm...thats the same tactics I use in BGs !

By the end of the 2ng go I had the hang of it, but first go was a nightmare !

I absolutely agree on your favourite bit of raiding, progress runs ftw, farming can be fun, but nothing beats that feeling of killing a boss first time after hours (or nights, or weeks) of wiping,,,I'm looking forward to more of that :)

Cassini said...

Ah progress runs. They're the best I agree. :)

Sounds like you had fun, and as for the whole work/play balance, it's a good thing. How long were you in Naxxramas for? Long after you had initially completed it and I assume as with most guilds, long enough to be getting bored with it?

Well then playing less just means you finish it later, and have less opportunity to become blase with the place. I'd say it's win/win for you! :)

PS> And sorry for off-topic, how come your blog doesn't show as updated in my blogroll? It hasn't updated since your "Endgame once again!" post...

Carra said...

New patch, a new learning curve:
-> Search for the new imba talent builds on EJ.
-> Try out that new, fancy rotation and new spell on a dummy doll.
-> Action!

We had some fun in Ulduar 10. I quickly got the hang of riding with that motorcycle but I didn't completely get what was happening :) Was fun though and the boss died on our first attempt! Now, a lot more bosses to go!

Rich said...

i'm exaclt the same. I logged into my guild one night seeing the message of the day being to watch PTR fights of bosses that weren't even RELEASED yet (before 3.1 went live), and died a little bit on the inside. I refuse to watch videos on 'how it's supposed to be done' until I've tried it myself.

in fact, aside from Kael in TK, I'm pretty sure i've never watched any how to videos... it would just destroy one of my favorite aspects of the game.

Larísa said...

@Daniel: Yeah, I seriously think that older players have worse reaction time. The dedicated and skilled PvP players you see tend to be younger than raiders for intance. (I don't have evidence for it, it's just my impression.) And I'm pretty sure it has to do with the extremely quick reaction and high level of movability that PvPing takes.

@Scotty: I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one that was lost in the first attempt! However even when we downed him I can't say that I was completely sure of what I was doing.

@Cassini: deep inside I know there isn't such a big rush to conquer the place in 10 mans... I'll see it all eventually. But still I've got the heart of a raider, so it isn't completely painless to stand at the side seeing others throwing themselves into Ulduar....

About the link: I don't know what's wrong. A suggestion though: try linking to my feedburner address (click on the rss link up to the right to get it). That usually works when Blogger has issues on linking.

@carra: no new spec and rotation for me so far. But maybe at a later point. I'll stick to arcane for a little while longer. But the learning is most of all about understanding the gimmicks of the bosses - and to be able to perform what you're supposed to do.

@Ixobell: actually I DO watch some how-to-do-videos. Not an insane amount of them, not over and over again, but I'll try to see one if possible. The videos provided by Tankspot are excellent. However - as I'm such a ridiculously slow learner, as pointed out, I STILL can enjoy the feeling of going from chaos to order, to learn by doing... The experience isn't destroyed at all to me. It probably would be if I was a better player. As it is now, I feel quite suprprised when I see the bosses at the first time on my own. And they definitely provide the challange I'm looking for.

Cassini said...

@ Larisa - Ah the feedburner link did the trick thanks! :)

Dwism said...

Ah new content. Who doesnt love the smell of it?

And let me tell you. As an oldtime raider, this is practically the first new instance in Wrath, so it was a looong time comming.

And it gets better!! Before mimiron [think transformers] the trash will actuelly wipe you. Repeatably. At least it did for us in 10 manned.

The best part of WoW for me, is that one or two tries on a brand new boss, where you can feel him almost tipping over. Where you know that everyone gets it, and its just execution left before you get him down.
(The kill itself is usually so chaotic that i dont enjoy it ;)

Inachinashop said...

I'm an older-than-average gamer but I grew up with games so I feel, like in driving, sometimes the experience and wise judgment that often accompany growing older can make up for slower reaction times . . . in the right situations. I can usually guess another players age based on observing things like the balance between their patience and eagerness.
As a new player I have to say that getting into new content (even though I am just in Vanilla WoW) is always exciting and putting order to it is a great and thrilling challenge.
I'm hoping the day will not come when I see the game as repetitive and blase (sp?).

Anonymous said...

I just fought flame leviathan for the first time last night and my impressions if that fight were exactly the same as yours O_O mess of vehicles, smoke, mobs running everywhere, missiles flying from all directions..

I was a passenger in a demolisher as well, I I pretty much found myself mashing 1 and 2 at random. sometimes later in a fight (we 2 shot him, because he accidentally aggroed and half the raid was locked out the first time around o_O) - I figured out how to pick up those blue barrels, so that helped a little. but for the most part - it was up to my driver and the rest of the people O_O.

I much prefer Razorscale fight :P

Larísa said...

@Dw-Redux: oh, the tipping point is sweet, it really is! And I did make it into this raid and I climbed the learning curve and after an almost full night of wiping we suddenly made a perfect execution and got Destructor down - and two achievements to go with it. Sooo sweet! I must say that Ulduar is a great change but I like it so far.

@Inchinashop: I've played it for over two years and I'm still excited. But I notice that people who have played it from start seem to get a bit burned out, to be honest. I've got the feeling that they've started to drop off. But it will probably still be quite a while before this game dies. There's still plenty of adventures for you out there!

@Leah: You're back at raiding and seem to enjoy it as much as me. That's great to hear. I hope you'll stick to blogging as well!