Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mt. Hyjal

A GM spawned the first boss in the Mt. Hyjal event for a PUG on PTR. The first boss is Rage Winterchill, aka the Blood Lich. Some players have lamented on the fact that Rage Winterchill should have red bones - like the one portrayed in the WC3 campaign. He currently looks like a regular Lich (screenshot here). They wiped at 87%, but it was unanimously decided upon that the cause of wipe was the lolspawnfest, which they were obviously not expecting. I bet the GM was laughing his ass off. Some of the raid members have commented on WoR forums that the fight felt relatively easy; aside from the spawnfest which caused a very swift wipe.

The screenshots of Mt. Hyjal look insane. Hyjal is really quite breath-taking. Blizzard literally slapped the single-player campaign onto WoW, and it looks like they did one heck of a job. Hyjal is a damn good reason why Blizzard deserves your 15 bucks a month. But then again, I'm going to assume only the very top-end guilds will even reach Hyjal. 99% probably wouldn't. It's going to be quite disappointing if I miss Archimonde; I already missed Kel'Thuzad.

I'm downloading the Hyjal Exploration video from filefront atm. (Note: this isn't one of the zonestepping ones)

Ming's 1v1 Compilation

It's not released, yet. But I'll be sure to download it. I'm not a fanboy of Ming or anything, but he's quite an inspiration; at least from an ex-dueller's PoV. I love duelling, in the past. Paladins are just a bit too single-dimensional now. I find more joy trying to live as long as I can in duels, but that isn't going to really help me kill the enemy. A lot of mana is required to kill anything; your only bet is to make them run OOM if they even have a mana pool. The reason for this is simple, Paladin DPS is extremely mana inefficient and not forgetting it's presumably low, and this leads to another problem. That is, you will be outDPSed and will have to heal, draining even more mana. So even fighting MS Warriors who have little to no experience duelling Paladins, you will find yourself running OOM relatively fast, unless he's that badly geared.

The compilation should be very good. Most fights show top-notch duellers, although in the past Ming has produced videos where mistakes were made when they shouldn't have (hint Nitrana vs Geecee).

I caught an interesting comment:

"The developers for Warhammer Online have learned from this mistake and have (so far) not included stealth in their game. Stealth classes seem to be the hardest to balance because they are so situational, it’s best not to even bother."

(source: here)

A Touching Video

My English class teacher in Sec 3 recently linked me a video. The video is about a student-teacher relationship, it is however a bit lengthy. Watch it here. It's particularly interesting for me because both my parents are in the field of education and both have had taught for 30 years. But to be honest, I don't know if they've had such pupils, but it would be surprising. My parents are usually cold, but I assume they're different at the working place.

I don't recall having met a teacher who has helped me a lot. Most have been decent, except for a few. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but I still have something against Jean Winter. She taught me in the first 3 months of JC and she annoyed me a lot. A lot of girls envy her. I'm not surprised. She's from a very rich family, and was engaged (married and probably a mother now) to an Irish expat. A lot of girls disliked her as well. *hint* *hint* Cheryl Joyce Sophia.

I cried while arguing with her once. It was embarrassing but I think it was justified. She said on day 1 that students either loved or hated her. It didn't take me long to find which side I was on. I skipped school a lot in the first 3 months, well duh. She SMSed me a lot to come to school, like f*cking leave me alone. She didn't try to understand why her students were skipping class. I know where she's coming from, but it's just retarded. Or at least, that was what I thought.

One day, someone told me Jean Yeow (Winter) appeared on the papers. I couldn't find the papers so I tried to Google the article. Instead, I found an entry on a Junior College Guide. The entry says:

"How can we forget Jean Yeow? Thank Goodness this is her last year in CJ... Married some ang moh... now she's Mrs Winters.. whatever la.. always flaunting her diamond rings.. talking bout her husband.. "Oh you know.. Andrew and I are setting up a teak business.. but i know nothing about teak.." ladida... always cant wait for her weak history students to leave the college. "You know.. Its for your own GOOD!" like yeah.. of course.."

She said nearly the exact same thing to me. That is, she asked me if I wanted to withdraw from college because I didn't seem interested. That was such an insult. I didn't know what to say. I wish I was violent. It was dumb because I was one of the stronger history students she had. Obviously, she didn't think I got those scores because of hard work, but because I was typically better at writing. That's why she was mean to me, I guess. I remember during a walk in the outdoor camp, she asked the bunch of us what subjects we were stronger in. Kai said he was stronger in lit, he was good at everything anyway. Jean Winter asked me whether I thought I was, I said I wasn't that good, and she paused a bit and said, "Oh, I thought lit was your forte." Is she trying to imply that I'm not good in history? That was my first interpretation.

Anyway, after the probation ended, I continued staying on in CJ. I remember Joyce skipping a few days of lessons and Mrs. Winter called her via cell phone during class. I tried to SMS her to not pick up the phone. But she did anyway and Mrs. Winter went out of the classroom and talked privately to her. Joyce later told me that Mrs. Winter threatened to withdraw her out of probation. That's just f*cked up.

I understand her intentions but the approach is not tactful at all.

I haven't had a super teacher before. I don't think I need one. I thought Jeanie Ang (my sec 3/4 lit teacher) was quite good. She was focused and tried to keep us concentrating, but not through mean ways. She made futile attempts to split me and Jacob though lol.


My first assignment for the semester is to conceptualize, design and develop a digital game using the software Panda3d. I'm doing a Maya module, but we're using Maya 8.5 and a convertor to an .egg file does not exist yet. So we have to use 3dStudioMax to do our modelling, which would be extra effort, but I guess it's beneficial to learn both softwares.

Anyway, the first week we had to come up with 10 different concepts. It was quite difficult because you are easily consumed by conventional ideas. So I had to put on my green hat. Yep, I was in Dr. Edward De Bono's lateral thinking course for 3 years. It's quite amazing because I was enrolled into the course at the age of 7. At that point in time, I didn't learn much to be honest, I was too young. The lecturers were world-class professors and the pupils were some of the brightest in the country. But when I recall now, a lot of what I heard during the classes start to make a lot of sense to me. I have quite an amazing memory, fortunately.

Edward De Bono is a world-renowned psychologist who is considered a pioneer in the field of lateral thinking. In layman terms, lateral thinking is simply thinking 'out of the box'. He asserts that lateral thinking is not reactive, but deliberate. I think this is still contentious today. I personally think it's both, because dreams can't be deliberate and people have come up with ideas through their dreams. I just thought out of the box btw :p

Anyway, Edward De Bono categorizes thinking into 6 strategies. These 6 strategies are represented by 6 thinking hats. The White Hat represents factual thinking. Milynn has this hat on permanently imo :p The Red Hat represents emotional point of view. This hat is interesting because when we try to assess a problem, we usually think factually, morally, and strategically. We sometimes ignore the emotions of others, somewhat viewing emotion has an additive rather than a component. The Black Hat represents critical assessment. This hat is crucial because when you assess a problem, whether it's a design solution or a moral issue, you have to prioritize what matters most. The Yellow Hat suggests that there are positive aspects to a negative problem. Let's say, murder in society. Can murder be good? Not in that sense, but the existence of murder warns us that security matters and individual responsibility and vigilance counts in keeping everyone safe. The Green Hat is creative thinking, or, lateral thought. Creative thinking is a very contentious concept. Marshall McLuhan asserts that Man creates the future by looking into the past. So we're not that creative after all? I really don't know. The Blue Hat represents Process Control. Process Control is usually cited in managerial roles, whereby data is used to neutralize problems or form solutions.

I remember stintly that I would draw some rubbish creatures for Green hat exercises. What they did was to give us a piece of paper that had some curves and lines on it. Then we were told to continue the drawing in any fashion we liked. My teacher often told me to draw something without thinking. It's almost like ontology. I was bad at it, I would draw Godzillas and what not lol. I was a very quiet kid during classes, maybe because the other kids were imba. Some of them were incessantly giving input, to the point where no-one else bothered. I never was aggressive. I play diplomatically and use intellectual discourse to establish relationships.

Warhammer Online

I'm very interested in WAR (Warhammer: Age of Reckoning) for a number of reasons. I'm starting to find WoW raids too tedious. In a way raiding is difficult because so much effort is required. Maybe it's just because I'm in a leadership position and doing a lot of work. I find arena so enjoyable because you really enjoy WoW in its truest form, even though the current PVP mechanics are broken here and there. It's a bit like an escape from WoW. That just sounds so.. wrong.

WAR is undoubtedly the most anticipated game in 2007. But I really doubt that it can be better than WoW. WoW is so complex - too complex. But a complex game is good if you take time to understand its complexity. Game designers and critiques often say simple games are the best, and cite Tetris as an example. They should shoot themselves in the fase. Not everyone is a simpleton. Well kids are, and therefore games targeted at kids are always exploitative.

I really don't know what class to choose though. I appreciate Warrior-like classes. Paladins are OK, but smashing fases right-on is always fun. Assassins always seem to be overpowered in Asian MMOs, but that's just Asian Game designers and their fascination with the bow and arrow, and ninjitsu etc.

I played a Paladin in Prince of Qin. It was a fantastic game, but PvP was too limited. You get marked and can't enter cities, so it kills the game. You can however, duel. So a lot of time was spent duelling day in and out. I didn't like a Barbarian because yeh, I don't like being fat. I think like an anorexic, but dont act like one. In RiskYourLife, I played a mage. So it seems like I'm not so cornered to make a decision, but 2.5 years of WoW seeps in quite hard.

The over-expressed feature about WAR is that classes are not role-based. Meaning, there is no designated healer like a Priest, or a DPS class. But if WAR doesn't encapsulate hardcore healing, the game will be gimped, at least from an RPG point of view. Fights will be short unless players have a lot of health and defenses. And if they do, fights will be unnecessarily long. Maybe PvP in WAR will be CC-based, which will take some skill and effort. Heals however add an immense dimension to an MMO, and this is why I suspect I might not enjoy WAR.

I'm looking forward to playing one of the Elf races, or Chaos. But really, information is scant and I don't expect myself to make a decision any time soon. I'm not saying I won't play a Dwarf or a Greenskin, but it's just not me. I think aside from preference, I'm looking at what my friends want to play, and see if I can fill in the gaps. Some of my classmates have expressed much interest in WAR, but to be honest I don't know if I want to play with some of them. I do doubt their skill in some way or another, but it's more their style. I haven't played an MMO with them, so I might be completely skewed. They don't have the credentials or a track record to show their commitment to an MMO, so this is one reason why I might not play with them. It's going to cut me deep if we play 2 months into the game, and they opt to pull out. This has not happened to me, but some my guild mates have experienced it.

Perhaps the largest factor might be whether I can join an existing powerhouse guild. I'm aware that Curse for example is interested in completely migrating to WAR, but their hours are different I think. I'm not surprised if hundreds if not thousands of WoW guilds want to migrate to WAR. I might start to check various forums soon. But yeh, I don't think I want to create and lead a guild. I'm busy as it is and it's taking a toll on me mentally.


I first saw Geecee in action in Panda's video (ZERG IT DOWN, Trance PoV). He was quite amazing. His Earthshocks were timed miracally well and he jumps on situations quickly. AFAIK he's commonly rated the no.1 Elemental shaman on NA. I wasn't superbly impressed by him in today's 2v2. Nerfette and I teamed up for 2v2. Like wow, he's actually still interested in the game. We don't work very well, we just do what we normally do in BGs. It's quite miraculous that we even won a game, or 3 in fact. We lost up to 6 games though, 1 game I slipped a finger and DS'ed before a fight. My g-spot is quite sensitive.

The last game was fascinating. I faked 2 counterspells and 3-4 earthshocks. Geecee made some errors though, he Frost shocked too often and left it open for me to heal. 3/3 Blessed Life and 9.8k unbuffed health helped A LOT.

I'm really looking forward to possibly getting 2.2k rating for 2v2 though. I think I've been underperforming, at least score-wise.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Arena Tournament Drama

Blizzard got themselves into a bit of trouble lately. Apparently they have made errors in the selections for tournament qualifiers. I'm sure you're aware of the sponsored groups on Bloodlust (BG9) - PowerTrip and ZERG IT DOWN. You've probably downloaded their PvP vids as well. Well, ZERG IT DOWN dropped to 5th shortly before the stated time for selection. By right, the top 3 teams should have been selected. However, ZERG IT DOWN was chosen instead of #3 and #4. I hope impartiality wasn't involved in this.

Aside from that, #3 happens to be a team fielded by Vicious Cycle. Vicious Cycle was an Alliance guild on Frostmane that had dozens of Grand Marshals. They rerolled Horde and is now in Ner'zhul. They have been a powerhouse guild since Shadowbane. I'm kinda waiting to see what kind of drama they can come up with. Ha.

All my sources suggest that PowerTrip is currently no.1. Reznap said "The only real competition atm I think is FGJ." FGJ (For Great Justice) is the main group fielded by The Fighting Mongooses, and is sponsored by Enervate Gaming.

Back to Civ2

Recently I downloaded Sid Meier's Civilization 2. Many gamers say Starcraft: Broodwar is the best game ever created. To some extent yes, but Civ2 has a breadth and depth so deep that even until today, many playing strategies are being formulated. In IGN's Top 100 Games, Civilization 2 ranked 4th, only losing out to Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Tetris. You can see the entire list here. SC might have to run a few more years :p

As a student studying Games Design, I truly hope to follow in the footsteps of Sid Meier. No fanciful graphics, no e-peen stroking by, no gore and disorder like that of GTA, no androgynous guys like those in FF, just sheer brilliance and architectural intellect. No I'm lieing lol, you can't make a living without those. FF guys are damn hot anyway ^_^ But yeh, Civ2 is simply breath-taking.

It doesn't go without flaws though. Some Civilizations are predictable because their AI-personality is static. For example, the Sioux are fantastic militarists while the French are pussycat dolls. I like to play Russia, not just because I'm a commie at large, but because I aspire to play like a Communist. I'm too used to isolation and then maxing out science. It's good for the space-race, but it's not kicking enough for me. Some guides suggested using Espionage to steal techs while buffing domestic military, that could be quite fun. Anyway, the last time I won a game through military conquest, I played China, went Fundamentalism and zerged fases LMAO.

Advance Fake Casting

I skipped classes in the morning to prep for tonight's games (I know it's an excuse). The reason why I thought it was worth it was because we now supposedly have a decent group setup. We used to play 4 dps-1 healer. It wasn't desirable. Felhunters and mages had Focus target on me and it was very stressful trying to dish out any heal, fake or not. I'm meant to be a specialist in fake casting, my record was 8 fake heals in a row vs 2 frost mages in 3v3, but it's slightly different when trying to apply fake heals in 5v5.

I'll try to illustrate why fake casting is harder in 5v5 by explaining the concept behind fake casting.

A fake heal occurs when a player begins a form of heal and cancels it before he gets counterspelled (I don't categorize hearthstones and the furbolg wand as fake casts, although they are truly fake). Notice I said 'it must be used'. The argument is simple, it is better to spend 5s fake casting then getting counterspelled (by a mage/lock). But the assumption here is that the mage/lock is intending to CS you and of course, he must have CS free from cd. So the success rate of your fake cast depends on 3 primary factors.

1) You need to establish whether the mage/felhunter has CS on cooldown. Better players will try to keep a lookout for the availability of the mage arcane tree and his general cd timer.

2) You need to know if the mage/felhunter intends to CS you. This is more difficult to establish as you need to quickly analyze a number of factors to calculate the probability of you being a target. These factors include the preference of the player, his current status (whether he's trying to achieve something else), his proximity, his ping etc. The best bet (in the past) is to check if he's targetting you, but most mages/locks use Focus nowadays, so that bet is ruled out.

3) Establish your status. This sounds basic but some healers like to brute heal themselves even when 3 targets are on them. I don't blame them, you're dieing and you need a heal. But let's be rational, are you sure the mage is going to DPS through your heals? Not a chance even in 1v1.

At the end of the day, you can actually determine the probability of you being CSed. But the problem with CS is that it's too consequential. It's like skywalking. You could skywalk in a mock situation and get across across 90% of the time. But what happens in that 10%? Hence, the various CS nerfs are very welcoming indeed.

You realize I excluded another very important factor, that is, whether your target requires the heal or not. Friends, this is why stam/resi is so good.

But anyway, we tried a double healer team tonight (Alandalf as disc/holy Priest). It went well at first, 13-1. But things started to falter against a particular team. They were in the 1900-2000 range. They had warr hunter elesham pally pally. It was really annoying. We roll war/hunter/mage so you can guess our forte - snares. Double BOF is amazing, and their hunter was very good. Scorpion pet and improved stings is seriously quite taboo -_-. Their shaman did little, but had 10k~ health unbuffed and 300~ resi. We lost around 6 games to them which cost us 120 points. We tried subbing Cyper (hunter) with Damianrx (warlock) but they still won us with the sheer ability to survive burst. Every game was reduced to attrition and the scorpion/viper rotation just owned us badly.

I'm quite optimistic actually, but I try to be pessimistic because optimism derives from neutralizing pessimism, right? :) I'm sure tomorrow we'd fair much better.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I'm hit quite hard by the illum nerf. I'm sitting on 29% holy crit raid buffed, which is 35% crit on holy light. I'm lucky I have prepared some mp5 gear. It was primarily for arena switching, but yeh it's going to be more useful soon.

To be honest, I'm not raging hard about the illum nerf. I enjoyed it, and expected a nerf. If you haven't seen my 44% holy light crit video, you can see it here. This video was made after 41 pt talents were added to the game. You would notice that Light's Grace is bugged; it wasn't being applied on the next heal if it was casted too fast. It has since been fixed though so by right, my HPS would have been significantly higher.

I read the Paladin forums quite extensively but not as much as I did in the past. If you didn't get the latest push update, illum now returns 60% mana instead of 50%. I mean does Blizzard really know what they're doing at all? They seem to be approaching drastic class changes in a comic-strip manner.

Anyhow, I saw some really good illum suggestions. I lost a direct link but someone suggested adding a percentile coefficient to your spell crit to determine how much mana you gain. The more crit you have, the less mana you get from crits. However, this would mean that Blizzard has to decide on a median amount of mana you gain from crits. This is fine, they can decide on any median they want but what the coefficient does is to normalize crit gear, while not making them obsolete.

I'm often asked how much crit converts into mp5. The answer is quite situational because it depends whether you are spam casting or just casting a few variant heals or burst casting then waiting. It is at expedience to do the calculations based on the former assumption.

x = mp5
x = (mana cost of spell * 0.01) / cast time of spell * 5
rank7 FOL => 180 * 0.01 / 1.5 * 5 = 6mp5
rank11 HL => 840 * 0.01 / 2 * 5 = 21mp5

Using the current illum push, these numbers are nerfed to 3.6 and 12.6 respectively. Not as good as before. But the arguement is very obvious, not every situation allows you to spamcast. Right now, I'm trying to get used to my mp5 gear. I'm still not a patron of +heal, im sitting on 1200 for raids, and I'm happy with it. There are however some items that are outright best for PVE. For example, Virtue Bearer's Vambraces and Talasite Owl.

I truly do not understand why some Paladins rejoice at the illum nerf anyway. It is a nerf, in any shape or form. No-one except the level designers and testers should be happy. The ability to PVE got nerfed, period.


It's been roughly 2.5 years since my Paladin was created (Leonardo on US.Blackrock). I have been heavily criticized for not wanting to play another high level toon, but it's just me. I don't seem to enjoy other classes. I remember 2 years ago I asked a fellow guildmate Etoh why he rolled a Priest. He said that he didn't trust anyone else to heal him. I think I'm beginning to adopt that stance.

An old friend came to my house the other day and I introduced him to WoW. I'm sure I don't stand alone here, but I have plenty of friends whom just have something against WoW despite ever having playing it, and this guy was that. He asked for a /played check; it was quite embarassing to say the least and I hate to say it, but I do have 244 days played. Let's do the math:

I started my Paladin on 26rd November 2004, yes I remember the date exactly. I got the game 3 days late since I didn't order it from an international courier company. So it's been roughly 913 days. 244/913 is roughly 26%. Woo 6.5 hours a day on average.

I play a lot, and I have a certain amount of pride in doing so. I never got Grand Marshal - it wasn't possible then as I had 8 hours of classes on weekdays. But I have to admit I enjoy flaunting my 127k lifetime kills, although it is quite meaningless.

Recently, my classmates managed to grab hold of Dark Messiah: Might and Magic. It was a pretty good FPS-style RPG. A classmate Andre said it was too linear, that's a good description of it. You follow a static storyline and explore/gib in that direction. What I enjoyed in the game was the FPS-like physics and especially the variation of specs (although the trees were short). Some of my classmates went the assassin route (archery/backstab), others went mage (staffing/magic). I went what I call the way of the Paladin. High melee damage, ability to heal, and mana regeneration. See what I mean?

If you haven't caught it, illumination was changed to 60% mana gained on the latest PTR push. I have yet to establish a rant about that, but expect one.