Monday, November 30, 2009

New LS Graphics

I few new graphics I created for Lunarsphere over the past month or so. You will need to convert them to .blp with a blp2png converter. A quick import copy-paste is provided below each section.

Dragon Age art/screens:

DAO6, DAO7, DAO8, DAO9, DAO10,
DAO11, DAO12, DAO13, DAO14, DAO15,
DAO16, DAO17, DAO18, DAO19, DAO20,
DAO21, DAO22, DAO_Leliana


Ulduar1, Ulduar2, Ulduar3, Ulduar4, Ulduar5,
Ulduar6, lampglobe, wolf1, druid1, druid2

U10: They're Coming Out of the Walls

A remarkably easy achievement if you've got strong dps, but one that few guilds have even attempted (0.04% of 10-strict guilds have it, and 2% of 25's). All that must be done is to round up 9+ Guardians during P1, and aoe them down. Since their explosions upon death will hurt each other, killing one when they're all pretty low will spark a massive chain reaction!

We used the following makeup:
  • 3 tanks - prot pally, prot warrior, bear
  • 1 melee dps - DK, his offspec was a pvp spec for faction champs, otherwise he'd've gone tank too
  • 3 healers - it was a fight to keep everyone up through the volleys and range
  • 3 ranged dps - aoeing their hearts out. We had two locks and a hunter.
I recommend dropping all 4 of the keepers for this acheivement, just to make it easier.

As we ran in, we had two tanks stand at maximum heal range: ~35 yards from the healers. There are several mods available that will let you judge your distance from a target, including IceHUD and Simple Range Indicator. Our feral druid, hunter, and DK ran around tagging every cloud they could reach, while the healers hid by the door. Healing aggro drew the Guardians towards the tanks, who picked them up; the feral druid went bear after cat-sprint-tagging some clouds and helped to pick up the mobs.

Make use of enemy nameplates to monitor the Guardians' relative health levels to make sure they're pretty even, and that none of them die too early. DPS stayed light until all 9+ guardians were in place and the tanks had sufficient threat, and then the AoEing began. This went very quickly, though it was hectic as we shuffled around to keep out of volley range but within heal range of the tanks, and dps range of the mobs. Tanks should try to stay on the side of the swarm of mobs that is closest to the healers, to aid range.

Once one exploded, they went off like dominos. They all fell within a second of each other in one huge, deadly explosion of death for anyone in range: being our melee. With 4 of our raiders dead, we opted to wipe and reset the fight before going for a Yogg speed-kill :) With two soulstones and two battle-resses, though, we technically could've gone on to kill Yogg after getting the achivement, had we decided to do the explosion right on top of Sara! It took one of our weeks of Yogg +0 attempts, but it was worth it, and a lot of fun!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

ToC10: Tribute to Insanity

A guildie of mine (Damorons, warlock) created a compilation video from our Tribute to Insanity (heroic with no wipes) achievement run. It has short clips from each of the bosses, and then the entirety of the Anub fight. Watch me nearly die to Burrower aggro, and then be casting nearly non-stop through P3 >.> The OT and one other player died RIGHT as Anub fell, but otherwise it was a clean run! Keep in mind, we are a 10-strict guild :)

You can D/L the HD version from filefront here (221MB).

If/when the YouTube version is posted (music-stripped and low-quality, likely), I will update to embed.

I do like how he put SexyCooldown over his cast bar.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey-Day!

A day early as I'm heading out of town :)

I made this model-viewer pic a few years back, but it's still sooooo appropriate! Much love to all my feathered druid pals.

More UI Screenies

Hard to get a good feel for a UI in just one shot! Sooo here are some pics from the past two raids. Click to enlarge :)

Goofing off in Naxx10 for a few achievements, we decided to create some "achievements" of our own. For example, killing Gothik without him casting a single shadow bolt, by mana-draining him to nothing before he even ports down :D We tried killing Instructor without Mind-Controls, but Alyae (prot pally) got one-shot for like 400k at 40%.

Edit: Instructor Razuvious's Unbalancing Strike hit Alyae for 65233 damage. :)

I was testing out the Deus Vox bossmods in tandem with DBM at the time, to explain the multiple boss timers. The proximity alert on the left hand side of the screen is part of DV.

Out of Combat shot; we were about to go do the Coming Out of the Walls achievement.

Taken shortly after our first Algalon kill. Out of Combat again, shows more of the custom UI art. The art is translucent, so it shows up best against bright backgrounds. Yes, Cel, I *am* following you. /stalks. (I'm lazy and didn't want to walk myself out to the transporter after tabbing out to check screenshots!)

Combat with Jaraxxus, probably normal mode (but maybe heroic, cuz Rul noticed we have 3 healers in the shot). Several power auras alerts, and you can see my debuff filter monitoring the more feral-important things (over the leaf-shaped Nature's Grace power auras proc). The "too far away" spam happens to me a lot... I keep auto-attack on the boss for giggles. Melee tree, rawr!

(Note Alyae's guild rank on the right, next to guild tag. It was self-inflicted!) :)

Same UI works well for the kitty and tank stuff. Here's my alliance druid in a pug ToC25. I have no idea where the "no player named Acidmaw" came from, though.... but, this one shows a bit of Quartz's castbar by way of the target-castbar, "Sweep." I'll have to find a good screenshot that shows my own castbar, as it is styled differently. (btw, hi Orbitz!) Looking at this screenshot makes me want to Rip something. ;)

To best explain Lunarsphere, you'd have to go check my walk-through guide on the mod (which is currently being linked to by the mod's own developer as the "official" guide, actually). But, for a quick explanation, three of the buttons for it on my screen actually toggle sub-menus of action buttons, some on click and some on mouseover (potions).

Since this shot, I moved my potion bar up under my minimap and put my bag menu in its place by the main sphere. All of the buttons have click-actions bound to all 3 main mouse buttons, and some are just showing a cooldown but when clicked do something entirely different: the Wild Growth cooldown button, for example, is actually my raid-buffing button. The innervate (used for cooldown monitor and when innervating someone besides myself, which is keybound otherwise) has bandages on the other clicks. The res/revive/groundmount/random pet button and the profession menu/flying mount button are also very multi-purpose! I love this mod. The gauge is set to show my selected reputation currently, though I have used it for 5-second rule counter, energy, or experience bar in the past.

I found this screenshot, too, and wanted to post it up as a warning:

BEWARE SPLOITFISH. They have swords and kill sharks!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dragon Age, Kae, and Single-Player RPGs

Note: I will avoid exact spoilers in this post

Kae and RPGs

I have a love/hate relationship with single-player RPGs. I absolutely love the stories, the character interactions, exploring the new fantasy worlds, and the comic relief often thrown in (GO FOR THE EYES, BOO!)... but I have a dirty secret:

I rarely finish those games.

Three major things meld together to eventually cause me to loose interest in a single-player RPG:
  • Bad camera/control system
  • Forced use of party-wide tactics and constant pausing to do so
  • Lack of real person-to-person interaction
I understand some people like those sorts of tactics games. They like looking at their collected party as a little army unit they have god-like control over, like 4 (or more) little marionettes they're pulling the strings of, telling them all what to do as a 20-second combat in real-time drags out to 5-minutes or more through constant use of pausing the game to tell each person where to go.

Me, I'd rather have my one character, do what I will with her, and let the others figure things out for themselves. If they do something stupid, I'll yell at them (briefly take control) for a few seconds, then continue on my merry way.

Some games I never finished include:
  • Neverwinter Nights (and expansions). I absolutely loved the story, but the camera controls were very unweildy, and constant pausing was forced to survive. Playing the game eventually became too much of a hassle to complete the story.
  • Baldur's Gate: same issue.
  • Morrowind: this one just became too repetitive in the grinding of skills, and the lack of having "friends" in the game eventually got to me. I didn't have anyone but myself and a bunch of strangers to care about.
  • Disgaea: as a tactical puzzle game, having to control all of the characters is a MUST. As the maps got longer and longer, I just lost interest.
  • Kingdom Hearts: the grind and the gummi-ship racing got to me. The pressure of finding everything as maps got longer and more complex, tied to a weak camera system and a ever-shifting party of buddies just made me bored with it.
I "finished" the stories by watching my husband play the final levels and cinematics. Some games I DID finish on my own include:
  • The .Hack// series of the first 4 games, but it was close: the grind got to me, and I put the last game on hold for a year before I picked it up and finished it again. The grinding of dungeon mobs just got too dull.
  • Star Wars: Rebellion. Shocking, isn't it? A tactics game that I not only finished, but played through again a few times. Difference being, it wasn't so much an RPG as just a straight tactics game, my "character" being just the pointer of my mouse as I clicked around maps and issued commands across a galaxy.
  • Star Wars: Jedi Knight. Unlike Morrowind, I had "friends" in other Jedi who kept me interested and feeling like I was a part of something fighting for a cause, rather than the "outlander" who is completely out of place and unwanted in the world. Plus, I had a lightsaber and thermal detonators, and a lack of stable internet at the time.

Dragon Age

Knowing how I never finished the games it was built off of (Neverwinter and BG), I was reasonably certain that Dragon Age would be the same way: something I'd enjoy the story of, but grow bored with and/or frustrated with the camera system, and never finish.

My current save-game is heading up the stairs to what is likely the final confrontation/battle.

Dragon Age has, honestly, surprised me. It has kept me going and interested, because it gave me the option of not HAVING to take control of the other characters by putting it on easy-mode. Easy mode has given me a chance to just fight things out without the constant pausing and party-takeover tactics that the other games required. The camera system is also able to be viewed "classically" or from a more WoW-style camera, which makes the camera more fluid and controllable. I like. I have the PC version, by the way; I've heard the console version is not as easy to navigate.

I wish my tree-form looked that cool.

The only time I really felt "the grind" was when going through the mines, but then mines just bore me. If it had been in a forest, I probably would've felt differently, and that's just a personal preference of space and greenery (are you surprised? This *is* a druid blog!). The pacing of the story is slow enough to let me explore side-quests, but not so slow that I feel lost about what I need to do or grow bored.

I do have one big complaint about the game, though: the races and their backgrounds are "standard fantasy." This bugs me, because as fantasy, having a "standard" just seems wrong and pretty cheap. Having ale-drinking, stout dwarves living in the mines and loving the stone while elves (who were once a more populous race but are on decline) wander the forests communing with nature while all the humans go about their farming/city-filth lives swarming over the rest of the world feels like a cop-out. It's become the "standard" thanks to D&D and, before it, Tolkien. While the story is fresh and it's a new world, the races in it are "familiar" and what you'd see stepping into the majority of other fantasy settings as they have become the norm. I would like to see a game of this caliber that offers more fresh, new fantasy ideas. I can understand wanting to have some of the textbook-fantasy anchors simply for marketing and making it familiar enough of a story to make it appeal to a wide audience, but too much of the race/society felt copy-pasted with some place renaming.

There is one single race/class combo starting story that felt at all new and "different," breaking the mold, and it is the one I chose: the city elf, living in the slums of the human cities and treated as 2nd-class citizens. The ones who whisper of the wild-living forest elves as though they're myths, legends, and extinct. The ones who see and feel the worst aspects of humanity, the former slaves, yet the ones who can still find joy. They feel real and new and different compared to the other selections. They don't feel textbook.

Overall, I applaud Bioware for creating such an amazing game and offering the option of difficulty levels to tailor the tactics/pause usage vs. letting the AI handle things. The story is engaging, the character interactions keep me feeling like I'm a part of the world, the camera system is familiar and fluid, the world is open enough that I don't feel claustrophobic in spite of the lack of a jump button, the graphics are beautiful (if a bit blood-splattered, ha), and there are puppies.

I like puppies.

Good game. I highly recommend this game to others, if they are mature enough to handle it :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Off-topic: Travel Safety

It's that time of year when travel peaks for the holidays. For those of you traveling alone in the USA, here is an especially important reminder:

Not all unmarked cars with flashing lights are really police.

It is not safe to pull over in a deserted area/highway. There are some people who will pose as police to snatch you, rob you, or do worse. You are allowed to pull off at an exit and find a public area--gas station, restaurant, etc--to pull over, where you will be safer if the officer is a fake. The police are required to respect your right for safety, especially for women who are alone when being pursued by an unmarked car. Flash your headlights/taillights or emergency flashers to acknowledge the officer (so that they don't think you're trying to run); use some method of communication to let the officer know that you do intend to pull over, just in a safe place.

You are also permitted to dial 911 to get confirmation as to the validity of the officer, or even to have the dispatcher tell the officer of your intentions to pull over in a safe place. Some states also have a #77 or *77 state trooper line, sometimes intended for reporting other drivers' erratic or unsafe behavior, but this is NOT universal (in spite of some rumors). 911 is a much better choice and guarantees your call will be recorded. For other countries, dial whatever number is used as the standard for emergency police.

Be aware, of course, of laws against driving while using a handheld cell phone. No need to complicate matters!

If you have to pull over on the side of a road where you don't feel safe, keep the doors locked and only crack the window enough to be able to hear the officer through. If the officer insists on otherwise, you can explain your discomfort/concern for safety, and ask to travel to a safer location to continue, or dial 911 for the confirmation and ask for backup officers if necessary for proof.

If the car trying to pull you over isn't legitimate, these things may save your life.

Be smart, stay safe, drive carefully, and have a good holiday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Turkey, Chairs, and Mods

Quickie post to mention a few things:

Feasting Tables

Some mods get confused as to how to handle the feast tables for pilgrim's bounty. Make sure your mods (ie bartender) have turned on pet and/or vehicle bars (even without a pet active), and if you have issues leaving the table for lack of an exit button, use this script macro:

/script VehicleExit();

I think it has something to do with eating too much and getting stuck in the chair :)


5 recipes for 1silver? And they count towards the "recipes known" achievement? Awesome. I ended up getting the 160-recipes achievement off of this! Unfortunately, the cook book doesn't have a nice sub-section sorting for holiday foods, so you'll have to dig through it with the search and "have mats" filters to pull the recipes out of the long list of grays, if you've leveled your cooking any.


Either hunt around Goldshire, or hunt around Tirisfal Glades. They're little yellow-con turkey critters that you can moonfire to one-shot at range, then loot your turkey for (for the quests). The turkey-killing-spree achievement is a bit of a headache, but as with similar achievements, here is the recommendation: tracker snacks + a low-server-pop hunting time (say, 3am or while people are at work/school, and not during lunchtime 12-2pm!). From what I hear, you need to stack your turkey-killing-buff to 40 to get the achievement. Good hunting, to you!

Other Stuff

Algalon down. :) It was frapsed (tank PoV)... so we'll see when it can be dropped on Youtube! I spent most of the fight dropping rejuv on the whole raid and keeping LB rolling/blooming on the tanks. We also did "They're Coming Out of the Walls!" and the speed kill on Yogg(+4) which was quick and a lot of fun (and a bit wipetastic on the 9-adds-kill), but an achievement very few guilds ever try to get. Overall, a good wrap-up before the holiday Thanksgiving break for Vortex!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

UI: Updated Screenshot

I realize my UI photo is getting on in months, so I wanted to update with what it looks like now. Clicky for fullsize :)

For more screenshots of my UI, click here.

My focus target is down next to my Grid frames. This is quite useful for when I need to focus an enemy to see who they are going after (faction champs), though a tank is most often my focus, so that I can assist them for a DPS target. As a whole, the UI is laid out so that I can use it while tanking, healing, or DPSing without having to change anything.

The links below are for further explanations on how I've made use of these mods, going to mod-specific posts on this blog.

Action Bars
  • Bartender4 buttons
  • Lunarsphere (bar menu system/sphere gauge/res speeches, auto-repair, auto-reagent refill, etc.)
  • Bindpad (keybind frame)
  • OmniCC (cooldowns on actions)

Unit Frames
  • Grid for raid
  • Pitbull3 for player/target/focus
  • oRA2 for mt list/raid cooldowns
  • LootRollMover (take loot rolls off my Grid frames)
  • IceHUD (head's up display)

Basic UI
  • caelNamePlates (nameplate mod, lightweight)
  • kgpanels (artwork, I custom designed my art aside the sexymap leaves)
  • FuBar (with clear background)
  • ButtonFacade (skinning for buffs and bartender)
  • Mapster (world map)
  • GatherMate (resource node mapping system)
  • Cowtip tooltips
  • Buffalo (buff resizing/positioning)
  • Quartz (castbar)
  • SmoothDurability
  • Chatter (chat window)
  • Sexymap (minimap)

  • Omen Threat Meter
  • SexyCooldown
  • TargetCharms (raid icon bar + readycheck button)
  • DBM raid warnings (considering trying the new one)
  • Skada damage meters (lightweight recount replacement)
  • Debuff Filter (movable debuff frame of specific buffs you want to watch)
  • Ghost Pulse (cooldown pulse)
  • Power Auras (graphical buffs/debuffs/alerts etc.)
  • OptiTaunt (taunt resist announces + tank-specific cooldown alerts for the raid)
  • HearKitty (combo point audio alert)
  • Oomni (turn addons on/off without logging)
  • CastDonut (simple GCD timer that circles my mouse pointer)

**As a note, I do not run any combat-text mods anymore, preferring to use the simple blizzard default one.**

Some of the custom art I use in my UI are below. You can use a blp2png converter to drop them in your own UI image library for kgpanels or eepanels.

(red version here)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


A discussion I had with some friends last night got me thinking about the concept behind tanking and "threat." In WoW, we have tanks who taunt the pve boss and, in spite of doing far less damage than the DPS and taking far less damage than the squishy healers, are able to keep the boss' attentions for the duration of combat, until the group is standing victorious over the boss' corpse. This has become a pretty common concept to MMOs, when it comes to PvE content.... but is it at all realistic?

PvE Threat

Just how does the tank seem like a better target than the squishy mage or priest? Here are a few of my thoughts:
  • Someone makes some snide remark about the boss' mother, and the computer-driven AI goes into a rage-blinded, stubborn frenzy against that person until they're dead, or someone else makes insult.
  • Most impressive and threatening-looking armor: the guy attacking you with a scythe sticking out of his helmet seems like more of a threat than the little gnome standing in the corner in an evening gown. Among healers, apparently walking trees are just too scary compared to people, though the armor of the shaman and all their shiny totems also seems to increase their threatening appearance. As for the armor of paladins... well, I guess the bosses figure if the paladin who looks like the tank has put his shield and sword away in favor of making sparkly, sunny, holy lights, he must not be a problem compared to all the people with sharp objects.
  • Alternatively, divine magic must be far less threatening than natural magic for some reason: shaman and druid threat vs priest and pally. Some of those we fight are "gods," themselves, but nature's wildness and its competition with most construction (compare emerald dream to current azeroth?) maybe make it seem more threatening? Maybe? (fear the bunnies!)
  • Tunnel-vision.
  • Boss rules? Do they sign a contract stating they'll install and use Omen or KLH or an internal threat-meter, and attack whoever passes threshold? Perhaps to offset the otherwise game-unbalancing power they've been handed.
As farfetched as the last one is, realistically speaking, it's actually the truth. It makes me feel bad for the bosses... almost :)

PvP Threat

PvP content is different: if you want to taunt your enemy, you have to make them mad at you, personally. I've seen it done in PvP, though it's far less possible in the current game: the notorious lowbie-gankers, or the ones who like to corpse-camp while doing crude emotes, or even the leaders of strong guilds on the server during realm-wide opening events such as the AQ40 chain when they decide to wait to turn in the quest for whatever reason while the rest of the server is screaming at them to finish so everyone can begin raiding the dungeon. At that point, the player's name becomes a kill target to many enemies they may meet in PvP combat, which can effectively make them a tank. Since the introduction of cross-realm BGs, however, this is far less possible, as the swarm of people and servers brings with it anonymity.

As players in PvP can make their own decisions about what is most threatening, often these things are considerations:
  • Armor: the mage is squishier than the shield-bearing warrior. The mage wearing what looks like greens is squishier than the one with the graphic art of the most cutting-edge content or resilience kit. Some gear is also a dead give-away on the player's role as a healer: the old vanilla-wow Benediction staff was refered to in pvp as the "Kill Stick" for this very reason, as it was a big glowy "hey I'mma healer, come kill me!" symbol.
  • Proximity: the guy next to you is a far easier and more threatening target than some guy across the map.
  • Aggro: the guy stabbing you is more threatening than the guy that's stabbing someone else... unless that someone else is your healer. Aggro on your buddies can even carry you across a map as you rush to defend a node or flag.
  • Injuries: if you can take out a guy quick (and maybe earn a killing blow) while weakening their forces by one for a short time as they wait to res, they're a more worthy target than some other guy at full health.
  • Specialists: healers will make it far more difficult to bring down anyone else; someone who is spell-locking or interrupting your buddies may also be a higher priority than those who are not. Also, the flag-carrier must die, or the guy trying to cap your node.

Faction Champs

These guys have some of the most realistic AI threat in the game, which is why so many PvE guilds stumble over them: they are different from PvE threat, but still have rules compared to PvP. The guide on their threat at maintankadin has been linked around a lot recently, but for posterity, I will link it again.

The Faction Champions decide their threat on the following factors (among possible other things):
  • Proximity: someone closer is more noticeable and a more immediate threat, thus their actions will seem more threatening. Afterall, someone far away may not even be in range to cast at them, so they are not as threatening.
  • Armor: someone who looks squishier generally is squishier. You can cut down a mage far faster than a walking Mecha in full plate. Even pugs use this rule when considering kill orders in instances against enemies. To quote BBB, "When in doubt, we shall kill the casters first, for they are squishy and taste good with ketchup."
  • Injuries: someone bleeding is a lot closer to being taken out, usually, than someone without a scratch, especially when considered by relative percentage of injuries. In a game where someone who is barely standing can still hit you with a 15k ball of fire, you may as well take them out before you begin working on the guy who's pristine, especially when there is a risk that they will be healed up shortly.
To me, these threat considerations are far more realistic, and much closer to how a player considers threat. The threat mechanics involved models intelligent and more realistic behavior. It's a pretty revolutionary thing for WoW, and I'm somewhat torn as to whether or not I'd like to see more of it: it can be a very difficult thing for a guild to overcome when they are so used to the more traditional "Bosses are dumb" tanking threat, at least if they don't overgear the fight, but at the same time, you can learn and adapt to it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complete Randomness: Piasa Bird

My own rendering of a Piasa Bird. Which is a dragon. And a hawk. And a fish. And a deer.
Decided to go without the underbite fangs.


/reminds self to get most recent guild killpic done

Edit: I'm so cheap.