Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Druid for mage

Jive has a mage friend asking how healing differs from DPS


Hey there. Snap, I played frost all through MC-T5! I'm a warlock now with priest and druid alts who tend to get called into BT for Gertie + Council.

The main difference between DPS and healing is that when healing, your output is capped. There's only so much healing to do, but you have to do it FAST.

On a basic level, healing is reactive. Raid-regrowth tends to be like this, eXtreem whack-a-mole. This mode is not about high heal-per-second (HPS), it's about people not dying RIGHT NOW.

As you get more experienced you'll be able to watch the field more and predict who'll take damage. This is how those paladins get anywhere raidhealing - they're casting before damage even happens. You don't have to be psychic to heal, but it helps :D

Druids have an extra little thing you may have heard of, called HOTs. These are a lot more like a standard DPS cycle, especially if you have experience keeping up DOTs or debuffs. It depends on your assignment, but usually you want to have between one tank lifebloomed, up to full hots on two tanks. HOTs give awesome HPS+HPM and cushion spikes but have to be put up ahead of time.

Great druid healing comes from being able to flow between reactive OMG healing and stabilising the fight through the insane HPS of HOTs.

Ideally you also need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your other healers. That's a whole extra subject though :)

This is all for 25-man raiding. Frankly, for 5-man, there's a much simpler plan. 1) Get 1600 +heal, 2) roll lifeblooms on 4 people, 3) cackle wildly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Best Practices

I’m sure some of these will seem naive or cookie-obvious. Maybe a different few to each reader.

Read books. The Pragmatic Programmer, Mythical Man Month, Refactoring. Learn a new language, methodology or framework every quarter.

Cycle people, don’t let them overspecialise or silo. You’ll get broader more useful employees. Their CVs will look nice, which should compensate for the extra challenge. Maintainability will be closer to the hearts of every developer. Consider how resilient your schedule is to a double-decker (”bus impedance”).

Overtime takes a toll. After eight hours you are not doing your best work. An overtime culture will cause employee throughput, fragmented design and many bugs reaching production. I bet Tseric put a lot of hours in. Having said that, a release push won’t kill you. Just not constantly.

Users are great at describing problems, not always so great at picking solutions (not that you should ignore those). Listen, bring in requirements, write usecases, iterate, run the tests, release, reexamine. Anyone should envy Blizzard the Elitist Jerks forum.

Admit mistakes. Confirmation bias is the root of evil. Identify the drivers and facts, don’t allow elegance as a driver but do allow maintainability and flexibiliity.
Tackle risk early, do design carefully but don’t gold plate. Identify the most likely causes of change and allow for those, instead of making the most general solution possible.

Keep people motivate through attention and constructive feedback. Bored/frustrated people cause problems, responsibility can transform them.
Keep visibility through the management chain, ensure those you lead understand your drivers clearly.
When appropriate, praise employees cc your manager. Help overcome challenges privately.
Ask employees to mail you about their successes or those who especially helped them and keep a record.

Don’t use stack ranking for more than two years.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Healatica Principia

This started as a response to an Ego post on downranking, but grew well out of scope. The short version:

For raiding, you do have to offset damage taken against the healing you expect them to receive from other healers.


For raiding, the key points are:
#1. There is a minimum amount of overheal required to keep a raid tank alive
#2. The goal is to run out of mana exactly at the end of the fight
#3. Mostly, healers have SICK amounts of regen now. We aren't in MC any more. Eldr has nearly 600 mp5 oo5sr and he's far from leet.

Healing by prio is very effective:
#1. Can you CoH 3+ people?
#2. Does anyone need a shield+pom?
#3. Does anyone need a flash?
#4. Is PoM on CD? If not send to tank.
#5. Is a tank healer having trouble keeping up? GHmax
#6. Is renew up on tanks?
#7. Do you have <10% mana? Take a spirit break
#8. Chaincast GH1, even if the tank is full

Besides this, there has to be awareness of the other healers. Paladins are spike saviours, let them do it. Druids prevent spikes, Shaman spam CH4 - help with spikes more. Even if you have paladins, if there's spiky damage on ranged they may be FoLing, watch where others are healing and be cautious - better to waste mana than lose the tank.

We rarely allocate dedicated healers (and my priest is an alt), so I prefer to help out all over rather than try to muscle in on a specific area. Everyone is better at something than priests, I see it as my job to keep the toys going (coh, pom, renew) and help out as necessary. When flashing, I often target the person second-most in need of a heal, as my heals are smaller than others' and the other healers are very, very fast!

Monday, June 16, 2008


response to another of shamus' posts.

Slang serves many purposes and leetspeak is a fine example of all of them. It's being studied. The key driver imho is not technological change per se, but the availability and routing of comm channels. Rigid language is a form of redundancy which helps the language survive long journeys or periods of isolation. "Rosy fingered dawn arose above the wine dark sea".

The internet, dictionaries and the vast body of modern literature available make this redundancy unnecessary, so language is naturally evolving to a more portable, rich, fluid form.

I use a lot of spoken leet, but usually for effect. I like the subtleties of emphasis it allows. For example:

lol: just funny. Generally people say 'hehe' now.
lul: funny because someone's being stupid or a dick which is what lul means in Dutch.
kek: Alliance side, this means kk (ok) but also that I think you're telling me to do something dumb
lolwut: like wtf but less offensive

Most people probably don't get these subtleties, but that's the point of slang.

WTF is pronounced wuh-tuh-fuh. Pwned is powned or owned, I honestly couldn't care less. Anyone who says pee-owned is an outsider.

I do sometimes find it difficult speaking to work colleagues who still have a tenuous idea of what the tubes are about. Most of the little jokes, references and asides I usually pepper my conversation with I have to omit or expect to be ignored. This probably makes me seem kinda boring, when in fact I'm trying way harder to understand their hobby than they are mine. crai crai. (self-aware emo)

I met a work colleague who didn't understand emo the other day. After a pause, we silently agreed this was an unbridgable chasm and we should just move on.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The content

After Ego's visit, I'm all starstruck and concerned someone might actually read this blog. Or try to. Doesn't look like there's much here, hm?

All the links are in my shared items, so as not to clog this blog. I read a lot of news, mainly slashdot and lolcats, but now and then I stumble on something like findlaw or ethicalcorp.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Second comment on the same post. I'm gonna have to start paying Shamus for storage.


@DevNull: yay I'm not alone! I feel less dirty for liking WoW now. A little anyway.

Are cookiecutter builds so bad? With scarce resources, not many people will actually achieve the perfect build. It gives people an easy point to aim for, letting them get 'on the path'* without a statistics degree. A rich, well-balanced system will allow playstyle differences to make deviation profitable. So newbies can get on the path to cookiecutter easily, then when they get there they're pro enough to understand the deviations they want to make. I raid felguard.

I actually love the idea of legendary weapons, which provide 50-75% of your character's power. I would like to be able to name my weapon, pop different mods in and out, upgrade the core weapon down multiple trees and so on. I'd be happy to get 1 new weapon every 20 levels, that would require a LOT of work (or some work and the gutting of my current weapon) to bring up to a reasonable level. Each weapon would give my character almost entirely different abilities.

Of course what I'm talking about is a mech game that isn't a frackin mech game**. I've hated every one I tried, totally unapproachable, no story, post-apoc setting. Don't they like selling games?

HG:L screwed the pooch on this one by not allowing you to remove enchantments. You could screw up your uberweapon, forever. In short: no respec button. So close, but no cigar. I'm not Korean, nor am I unemployed, therefore the chances of me ever getting a really good weapon are nearly nil.

That's really demotivating. CRPGers will put up with a hell of a lot if they're on the path. HG:L tips you off the path at every opportunity, one misstep and boom you're dead. Call me obsessive but playing without a respec button is like hardcore mode to me.

* 'on the path' is not my idea, but I wish it was.

** Click my name.

and yeah, I did mention I like obsessive analysis right?

HG:L response

re: Hellgate:London Autopsy, Part 3

Where HG:L really screwed up is not in making crafting a viable way to obtain and customise top-end items, but allowing it to eclipse the other methods. WoW has several playstyles which reward loot, each generally has a few best-in-slot items to offer which encourage diversifying one's experience.

For the most important gear (read: stuff you might use), WoW is moving towards point and token buy systems. This avoids some of the real-money-trading issues around gold while providing the guarantee of item X after Y points. The Diablo concept of maybe, juuuust maybe a SoJ dropping off a random zombie has been dead for a long time in favor of custom loot tables.

The HG:L tooltips aggravate me more than anything else in the game. One of the revolutionary innovations in WoW was simply putting a DPS (damage per second) number on weapons. It's a small but significant step away from pnp handwaving. It speaks of a culture that cares about mechanical balance and a confidence that 'exploiting' the system is simply playing well. *

The (generally) extremely accurate and detailed tooltips allow theorycrafters to construct wonderful spreadsheets to allow you to figure out your actual DPS. Programmatic access to the combat log allows in-depth postmortems and metrics.

It all comes down to providing control and continual positive feedback. These are key to the usability of any system, not just games.

Veering briefly back to the OP, HG:L has none of that. It's a game-killer to a systems junkie like me. WoW's transparency culture produced the armory**, HG:L can't even tell me what my spells do before I buy them.


* AD&D is phenomenally exploitable so there was a continual game of "what can we get away with?". There's a theory that munchkins find this question so inescapably fascinating they are unable to focus on actual roleplay while it stands. Consequently they test the DM to destruction.

Technically coins can be thrown 3/round for 1 damage. Plus strength modifier. That gets pretty crazy with a haste (6 coins /r) and a +10 strength mod. They're more like Stinger missiles at that point.

** The Armory is an inspiring example of a web application. There aren't many websites this sophisticated.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Feel the Love


Insightful and very true. I would also extend the relationship to really good DPS, who help the tank do their job rather than make it harder and give their all in CC to protect the healer. Felguard Stuns Save Lives. Although I'm not allowed to tell any of Honey's little friends I make him save people. Even a warlock has to draw the line somewhere.

The relationship is definitely strongest for a regularly paired, raiding tank + healer. These so routinely codepend that a strong bond is necessary, if just to prevent either freaking out under stress!

WRT the protector/nurturer gender roles. I find women (in general) have a strong preference for druids, then mages and priests. No warriors and or paladins to speak of (one of the droods I know does have an unloved 70 protadin). However the role split is equal, all the female droods I've known tank or want to.

At the same time I see plenty of men (including myself) enjoying healer roles in a protective way. When I heal instead of thinking "I'll sustain you, make you strong so you can protect me" it tends to be "I won't let you die!". Almost as if we're in opposition, though I really do appreciate a good tank! Maybe I'm just nuts, I also enjoy it when the tank loses control and I get to flex my +heal a bit ^^;
This may partly be because I tend to gear hard, so I'm usually numerically stronger than the tank. When I'm not, it's usually because we both massively outgear the encounter. It could also be because I almost exclusively play with paladin tanks outside raid. If DPS behave panic-tanking situations rarely arise. It all boils down to the tank depending on me going above-and-beyond way more than I depend on zir.

It seems to me that both genders like both roles, but perhaps perceive them in a different light?

This is an interesting discussion for me partly for the possible crossover to motivating women to choose scientific careers, specifically computer science. At the moment most women do not seem to perceive a career in computer science as rewarding, while they happily take up careers with close parallels like law. Admittedly law is very prestigious, but women are no more likely than men to seek high prestige jobs. If we want more diversity in code labs, we need to understand the difference and work to address it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Screenshots for Vonya

Hi from Zanikke! Also Eldr, Deira, Dzi, Kaili and the rest of the family :)

Pictures of my Empyrean Tortoise for Vonya.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Vice Fund

You gotta admire them. Ethical investors expect lower profits, so the opposite should expect higher, right?
I'm unconvinced that tobacco is a growth industry, though...
clipped from

The Vice Fund invests in companies, both domestic and foreign, engaged in the aerospace and defense industries, owners and operators of casinos and gaming facilities, manufacturers
of gaming equipment such as slot machines, manufacturers of cigarettes and other tobacco products, and brewers, distillers, vintners and producers of other alcoholic beverages.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

re: muscle car

An ant's strength has very little to do with its muscles and a lot to do with the exoskeleton. Chitin is stiff but flexible, the energy stored by flexing it can build up to a remarkable level. To lift something heavy an ant flexes its shell until it has sufficient force, then heaves it up.
I suspect the multiple legs lock out in sequence, again leveraging the hard exoskeleton to provide a constant basis to rest the weight on.
Neither property is particularly useful for building something fast. Ants are tractors not roadsters.

Dismissing your muscle car as a horse is understandable but missing the point. A muscle car would have many advantages over a natural animal, like wheels. However, assuming only the engine is organic, you need to bond a shoulder-type assembly to a drive train. Presumably genetic engineering could offer a tendon with a gristle hoop on the end. Wear and tear would be an issue, but human hips generally last a good 30 years past maturity if not abused.
The concept would be much faster and cheaper to realise without digestion; or a vastly simplified version. Cellulose is extraordinarily hard to digest. Outsource the problem to a biofactory. Generate fuel composed of alcohol or simple sugars, doped with amino acid sources for tissue maintenance, coupled with an activation agent of enzymes and bacteria.
It would probably have to be sealed in a box to prevent infection, given the near complete absence of an immune system.
You could do without a nervous system; or rather, have a device like a regular car. That should give any wannabe animal rights protestors conniptions; either it can't feel pain, or computers can.

What have I missed?

Friday, February 29, 2008


I probably could have been more constructive and less pissy, but well, I'm late for work >.>
Also, I should learn how to do linkbacks one day...

The casuals are the 'loot whores' if you ask me. Raiders NEED good gear, to progress. If you aren't running T5 or T6, why do you need epix? Most heroics can be completed with very modest gear, indeed they're more fun like that. BT will be unlocked next patch... try going in there with blues. Please YouTube it entitled "Why Raiders Don't Need Epix and are All Lootwhores".

Besides... 'casuals' has become a misnomer. True casuals don't have 150 badges. A better term would be grinders, people who are unable or unwilling to tackle the social and scheduling challenges of raiding, who want the WoW endgame to consist of one long grind after another. Why should being able to kill 8000 fire elementals or run Mech 50 times equate to mastering a boss strategy and applying it as a team? I can't overstate the social challenges involved in 25man raiding as well.
PvP is a tricky one, you don't need skill to get honor/arena but you do to get it fast. Moreover measurement of PvP skill in a BG environment is tricky... so I don't blame the devs *too* much for this imperfect system.

Your dismissal of world firsts is akin to dismissing chess grandmasters. "Pff... they've just spent way too long reading chess books, they've memorised the game big deal, get a life!". To get a world first, you can't sit around farming loot for 6 months. You can't wait for someone to write the strat for you. There aren't any nice timer bars. You have to figure the whole damn thing out by looking at combatlogs.

Oh and quit your emo QQ. "Clearly I'm the only person who worries about the Internet being a breeding ground for the lowest common denominator."? OMG internet is dying! Since when? Dumbass remarks like this don't serve any purpose.

"how do you keep all of your players happy, when you can pick ten of them, and get twenty different answers when you ask them what they want from the game? Sadly, I don't have the answer to that question, but then again, I don't have to – it's not my job"
Actually, it kind of is. Informed journalistic coverage can have a profound influence on the attitudes of those in power. Instead you chose to have a public whine, without any constructive suggestions on how it could be better. What a copout, is your mother proud of you?

So as not to be entirely hypocritical... TBH I feel Blizz have made stunning moves in this space. PvP honor and arena points are the way forward, unskilled players can gain epix but not fast enough to stay far ahead of the patch curve. Blues for reputation provide a stepping stone into PvP. Triple tier tokens, while still randomised (boo hiss) provide much faster gearing and hence progression; it truly sucks having to farm old content to overcome gearchecks. Tier tokens for PvP gear rocks.
What would I like to see? More badges from 25-man, so that 25-man raiders can stay ahead on the badge curve without farming heroics. More and more interesting heroics (Tribute run \o/), to keep the casuals entertained. 2-3 times as many nontier items. "War effort" style grinds for noncombat pets, RP outfits and gimmicks. Remember Talvash's scrying dish? Let us buy them and make more of them.

Now I'm pissed at you for sure. You're probably pissed at me for lambasting you. There's only one question I ask you, however. How could you make your next article better?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Collectible RTS

RTS games are often hard to get into. Advanced players credit their success to their 'uber micro' (micromanagement) skills; ie, clicking extremely fast and accurately. While that's certainly an impressive skill, a game which relies too much on micro often seems simply annoying and hard work to play. The original RTS, Dune 2, required you to move every unit individually, without waypoints. Not even the most emo of emo kids would inflict that kind of pain on themselves voluntarily nowadays.

More recent games take some of the micro out with groups. Moving a group of 12 units at once makes focus fire, light armor tactics etc viable. Special abilities aren't touched, however. StarCraft Science Vessels have no default attack, so when you tell them (as part of a group) to attack, they simply bob gently above the opposing forces without even activating a shield.

This leads to the idea of a squad - a group of units, produced together, with alloted roles. Put a medic in a marine group and when the group is told to attack, he will heal marines instead of trying to tase firebats. This frees players from rote tactical micro to make economic and strategic plays, and significantly enhances the value of these units. Another example - put mages with footmen and they auto-sheep the enemy's archers.

It also opens up a whole meta-game of squad design and trading, reminiscent of collectible card games. In effect it layers persistent, solo and social capabilities onto the RTS meat, helping turn it from a one-shot experience only the hardcore will truly explore into something more gripping. WoW has shown that simple base-level play with tangible advancement helps draw a mass audience. Spore is taking a page out of Facebook, it's time for RTS to join the club.

Bonus cow level: imagine an RTS with a window manager, on a multitouch screen. With cows.