the rantings and ravings of a not quite sane cow

Monday, September 28, 2009

Overanalysis: Shaman changes in WoW 3.2.0-3.2.2

Shaman changes in 3.2.0:

  • A customizable totem bar will now be available for shamans allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
    Finally! Now I don't have to spend half of every fight mashing totem buttons.

  • All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
    Being enhancement this doesn't really affect me (well, might make me pull using a shock
    instead of a LB, but that's about it).

  • Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
    Correcting a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place. In other words, it's about time! Now we might be able to die approximately 7% slower in PvP.

  • Chain Heal: Jump distance increased by 25% to 12.5 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
    Chain Heal jumping further, AND healing more? Sweeeeeeeet. Especially since when I'm healing there isn't much else I use.

  • Earth Shock: Redesigned. This spell no longer interrupts spell casting, but rather reduces melee attack speed by 10% for 8 seconds (exclusive with similar effects such as Thunder Clap).
    The exclusive part hurts a little, but to be expected. Still, making the enemy do less damage is always good. Read down a little bit to see why I'm not worried.

  • Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
    Being level 80 and not intending to level a shammy (until maybe Cataclysm comes out), the first part doesn't really affect me (okay, it's bringing the whole mounts at 20 thing into line, but it does make ghost wolf fairly useless for transport). Not being able to be snared below normal run speed is awesome though, as it makes for easier escapes (not that we SHOULD need them, but we do).

  • Wind Shock: Has been renamed Wind Shear and no longer shares a cooldown with Flame, Frost or Earth Shock.
    So now I don't have to constantly use Earth Shock to interrupt casters? Sweet.
  • Maelstrom Weapon: Now also has a chance to reduce the cast time of Hex.
    Instant hexing sounds fun!

  • Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman's attack power, down from 30%.
    I'd prefer the more intense mana regen, but this is probably a good thing, since if you blow it at the wrong time for whatever reason it's not as long before you can use it again.
  • Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target's armor.
    A reduction is damage is always easier to measure, and will probably help casters more, should they need it.

  • Cure Poison and Cure Disease: Combined into a single spell, Cure Toxins.
    I can't think of any situation where I've needed to use both at once, but saving a spot on my bars is always nice.

  • Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
    Earth Shield lasting longer. Anyone who objects shall die. Probably because the Shaman's enemies are the ones who object.

  • Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman's Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
    Trading a bonus to HWs on one character after using several to a bonus to any character whenever you damn well please... probably a good thing.

  • Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman's health.
    PvE resto shammys aren't exactly renowned for huge health pools, but less likely to die is always good. Probably more of a PvP buff, since a resto shammy in PvP gear would have a decent amount of health.

  • Nature's Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman's maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
    I prefer the effect of the old one, but I like the reliability of this one. Let's call it even.

  • Nature's Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
    More instant spells? No objection here. Not that I need them of course, as my healing is always more than enough to not have to worry about burst healing. Right? *eyes shift around room*

  • Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.
    Personally I prefer the crit bonus, since I like bursts of damage or healing (and tanks hate me). A reduction in cast time is more reliable and more easily measured though.

  • Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.
    Now THIS is awesome. Triggered from Chain Heal AND no longer consuming charges? I can stop reapplying Water Shield every 30 seconds!

Shaman changes in 3.2.2:

  • Cleansing Totem: No longer pulses instantly when dropped.
    Mainly a PvP nerf, to stop you dropping it to remove everything from your team whenever needed. That's also a bit of a PvE nerf, but I can deal with it.

  • Flame Shock: The duration of all ranks has been increased by 6 seconds.
    Getting to use less Flame Shocks? More Earth Shocks to go around.

  • Lava Burst: This ability no longer ever consumes a Flame Shock debuff off of the target.
    Awesome. Now I get a bonus from having a FS on the target, but it isn't consumed by the Lava Burst. That means more fire. The only problem is that shammys aren't supposed to be pyromaniacs, but a buff is a buff and I'll shut up about it now.
Elemental Combat
  • Shamanism: Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells gain an additional 3/6/9/12/15% and your Lava Burst gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus damage effects.
    More damage is something I never complain about. Unless it's a PvP buff. Or an Elemental buff. Where's the Enhancement love?
  • Earthen Power: No longer causes Earthbind to pulse a persistent snare immunity aura. It does still remove snares from allies as an instant pulse, but there is no lingering immunity. Earthen Power now also brings Earth Shock's melee attack speed reduction up to -15%/-20% (with 1 or 2 points in it, respectively).
    This is both a nerf and a buff. The removal of the snare immunity is clearly a PvP nerf (shying away from PvP is always something I want for the glorious Shammy). A PvE buff (well, I guess it also helps in PvP... maybe if we can actually get a hit on a rogue it'll slow them down a bit) is always fun.

Overall, I'm cautiously optomistic. No major nerfs for once (the nerfhammer has to run out of steam sometime), so either Blizzard has finally realised what Shammys need... or they're preparing us for a double whammy next time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Slashee Rants: In-Game Advertising

It's a fact of life: advertising is everywhere. And while I'm sure we'd all like to shoot the guy who thought of it in the first place, we're stuck with it until I invent a time machine. The theory behind it is actually pretty good: you get something for free, whoever made it gets some money, everybody wins.

I don't mind ads on TV. I'd rather get ads than have to pay for TV. Of course, with technology these days we can skip ads. Naturally the people paying for the ads, and the ones making money from them are outraged. I'd like to point out though, that while I can only speak for myself, I can't remember any times that I've bought something just because I saw it an ad on TV. If I'm not going to buy anything from an ad... does it really matter if I skip them?

Still not touching the original subject, I'd like to discuss the internet now. Ads have been around since the start of the internet. These days, they're not hard to block entirely. That's what I do (I love you, Adblock Plus!). I might not block ads if they weren't so obnoxious. But when you've got a flashing thing over here, a flashing thing over there, pop ups, pop unders, and if you're really lucky, a healthy dose of spyware... that's just taking things too far. Google text ads are pretty good... they're unobtrusive and relevant, unlike most ads (you wouldn't believe how many websites I'm the millionth visitor to). If they were the only ads around, I'd gladly leave them on.

While that is all well and good, the original subject was games. If you take away one sentence from this, then let it be the following: Ads in something that's free are alright, but if I pay $100 (or more) for something, it shouldn't have ads. Ads are used to provide revenue when you're providing a free service. Free games, I don't mind ads in. But if I've paid plenty of money for a game (and they cost enough these days), I think I have the right to be a little pissed at some game company executive (probably Bobby Kotick) lining his pockets with ad money, when there's already plenty coming in from sales of the game. And most of the time, they look damn out of place.
  • Screaming through Paradise City, there are plenty of billboards for the game (those you can destroy), and plenty of billboard ads (which you can't)... at least let me take them out for a bit of revenge.
  • Swinging through a destroyed city in Bionic Commando, there are billboards. How the hell did the bomb manage to destroy everything EXCEPT the ads?
  • Rocking out on stage in Guitar Hero, there are ads. While plenty of real stadiums and wherever the hell else you play music have ads, they look completely out of place in the stylised world of GH.
On the other hand, the ads in Midnight Club: LA don't look so out of place... to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure whether they're in there for authenticity or because they're getting paid for it... that's how suitable they are.

Also worth noting: I'm sure we all don't remember when an update for SWAT 4 not only added ads, but tracked how long you looked at them and sent that data back to the mothership. While that's far from the biggest invasion of privacy I've ever seen, it's still not something you want to be a victim of.

In summary: either get rid of the ads in games or give me the games for free.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not Photoshopped, I Swears: Part I

I sure hope so.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Movie Review: Ponyo

I'll start by filtering out the crud:
If you think animation is only for kids, this movie isn't for you.
If you think Family Guy is the height of animation for adults to watch, this movie isn't for you.
If you think that animation only exists to be funny, this movie isn't for you.
If you've never seen a film by Hayao Miyazaki, you might have no idea what the hell I'm talking about in this review.

None of that is to say that this isn't suitable for kids or adults or isn't funny. It's more suitable for kids than any other Miyazaki movie I've seen (although some things might need some explaining to the little ones). It might not as good to the older set as Princess Mononoke. And while it probably is funnier than any of the Miyazaki movies I've seen, that's not its sole purpose for existence.

I'd give you the basic idea of the plot but that's really not necessary, look it up somewhere else. Yes, the plot is important (and quite good for the medium), bet regaling you of it is not why I'm here. It's told quite well, never leaving you confused as to what's going on (except maybe at the start, but how often do you know EXACTLY what is going on at the start of a movie?). Most importantly: it's fun! Yes, it may seem like it's aimed towards kids (as I said before, not necessarily true) but it really can be enjoyed by anyone, assuming you have a heart.

The art style is quite nice, full of vibrant colours and has just the right amount of detail (not much)... I guess you could say it has kind of a picture book look to it, but it suits and looks great doing so.

Now for the audio portion of our tour... music is quite nice, fits in perfectly... you may not notice it's there but if it wasn't, then you'd notice. Some of the voices are done by people you might recognise (Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon), but they're in it because they're right for the roles, not to try and get people to notice the movie. There are a few things that crop up from the dub, the one I noticed most was that nobody could seem to agree on how to pronounce Sōsuke's name. I think it'd be nice to learn Japanese and listen to the original soundtrack (which should be on the DVD, as it is with other Studio Ghibli DVDs... while I'm on that, PLEASE, PLEASE stop correcting for overscan on the disc masters).

Summary: This movie may not be for everyone. It should be, though, and you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. Anyone who just brushes it aside because it's an anime movie or for whatever reason is doing themselves a big disservice.