Friday, 27 August 2010


I tried, but doing Python/database/Apache things in Windows just isn't nice. All the guides for doing it are like afterthoughts to the Linux guides. Consequently, I am downloading Ubuntu. uTorrent says it'll be done in 6 minutes, but that's assuming the speed holds, which it hasn't for the previous 72.3%.

I have a Grand Scheme to make some simple blogging software as a way to learn Python, Pylons, SQL et al, possibly even moving this very blog to it. We shall see. In any event, it means I'll probably be playing WoW less as I'm lazy and rebooting back into Windows just to play will seem like an insurmountable obstacle. This is a good thing, honestly, as I need to aim higher than my current "career".

Anyway, must go, takeaway Chinese food should be ready for collection now!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Class Body

Chas' recent post at Righteous Orbs got me thinking about a few things (unsurprisingly—it's a thought-provoking post). The thing I want to write about here is about body shapes in games, and how they relate to the character's role in the game. I'm going to use World of Warcraft for my examples in this post as it's the game I'm most faimilar with.

In most role-playing games, the character you play uses the same basic model regardless of what class it is, and as Chas noted, they're invariably well-build musclemen if male, or "sexy" if female. Naturally there are exceptions: I don't think female orcs, trolls or tauren (or even dorfs) in WoW are supposed to be "sexy", and apparently Blizzard's artists consulted real actual women when designing the Horde females. Imagine that! Maybe it explains why the Horde women are able to stand upright, rather than walking around dragging their fists on the floor.

To use a rather extreme example of body-to-role mismatch, let's look at the male draenei:

Comparison of male draenei mage and warrior characters.

Clearly one is a HULK SMASH melee fighter and the other is a sissy robe-wearing flinger of girly magic.

My first character in WoW was a rogue. Rogues are supposed to be sneaky-stealthy types who stab people in the back and then vanish if things get too confrontational. They do not take hits to the face very well at all. And yet, because my rogue was male and human, he was build like Conan the Barbarian, which really grates rather.

My second character was a priest, and this time I made it female. It took a lot of fiddling to come up with one that didn't look like an empty-headed bimbo.

Caera the human female priest.

I fully intended her to be a shadow priest, hence the serious face. Alas, her voice doesn't match her appearance in the slightest: she sounds like a bimbo in the same way that my rogue sounds like an 80s action movie character.

Coming from the other end of the spectrum we have the female characters in melee fighter or tank roles. Female blood elves are notoriously thin, and even kitted out in plate armour they look frail, so much so that they looks out of place up front getting smacked in the face by a boss. It's rather silly to imagine them being able to hit as hard, and take hits as hard, as someone three times larger and heavier than they are.

A male orc and a female blood elf, both of whom can tank.

His forearms are thicker than her waist.

Make It Fit

So what could be done about this? I think it's quite simple, at least conceptually: make it so your character's body shape reflects the role it performs. Tanks and plate-wearing melee fighters would be stocky and strong-looking, regardless of whether they were male or female. Rogues and hunters would be lithe and agile, relying on stealth, subtlety and accuracy of attacks rather than brute force. And finally, spellcasters would be thin and physically weak-looking, reflecting their inability to do any meaningful physical damage. Hybrid classes like shaman, druids and paladins could simply have their body shape determined by their primary talent tree (although this may introduce oddness should a player re-spec, unless the body shape adjusted over a few days or something).

I imagine this might annoy some players (anything will annoy someone), so it could easily be made an option - some people might not like the idea of a tough-looking female character, or a thin and weak-looking male. Still, it would be nice to have the option to control a character that actually looks like they would be performing their role.


A reply to Chas' post brought up another point related to my post: animations. As things are now, if you make a priest melee something with a mace, they'll do it in exactly the same way as a warrior, paladin or shaman. The jumping animation, the running animation, it's the same across all the classes for a particular race/gender set.

This, however, is not something I can get too worked up about, as it starts to wander into development constraints territory. Animation is expensive and time-consuming, and creating a different animation for every class, race and sex combination could well be prohibitively so given the relatively minor difference it would make. That's not to say I think it's a bad idea; in fact I'd love Blizzard to do something like that—it's not like they're short of money—but I just don't feel they'd see it as worth the effort, which is a shame. It's small details like that which can really help immersion, even if they're not immediately obvious.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Post Is Late

Good day! Well it is for me, as good as work days can be, which on balance is actually around average. 50% good. So, WoW then, eh? I've not stopped playing in the long time since my last post, but I've also not really had a lot I've felt like writing about. Drama happened with the guild (again), resulting in me pretty much losing interest in raiding altogether. I think I've been on one raid in the past 2 months, and that only because Zoe begged me to come and tank Patchwerk for the weekly. Tanking Patchwerk in a mostly 251-geared Blood-spec DK tank is kinda dull. Zoe did did 360 DPS on her Disc priest. I think she was the only healer, too.

And speaking of tanking! I might have mentioned in these hallow'd posts my orc warrior. He's called Sibher and he's a tank. He's also now level 77, and has been Prot spec from day one. Well, from level 10 at least, as much as a level 10 character can be said to have any spec at all with just one talent point. So warrior tanking. There's a lot more to it than DK tanking, that's for sure. Many more buttons to press, or at least that's how it feels. Definitely more dynamic, and zooming about like a bit spiky pinball of doom is great fun. I just seriously with you got Heroic Throw sooner, and not damn level 80.

I actually levelled all the way to 75 as Prot spec, and to be honest I think this is the best way to do it - you are really really hard to kill, and with DPS gear on you still do a pretty high amount of damage. Soloing elites of your own level or maybe 1 higher is often possible. Rounding up a bunch of 9 mobs and killing them all at once is routine stuff - they don't hit very hard individually, so while Shield Block is up you're more or less invincible. Unless there's more than one spellcaster in the mix, then you're stuffed. Hate spellcasters.

At level 75 I got him a Fury spec, then bought him another Bloodied Arcanite Reaper, and... well, did crap DPS to be honest. I don't really know what I'm doing wrong but other classes (hunters, warlocks and boomkins in particular) seem to do vastly more damage than me in dungeons. At 77 with full heirloom gear I can manage about 1300 DPS on a training dummy, but in instances it barely gets above 1000. I discovered that having enough Hit rating is essential, as not only do missed melee swings lower your DPS, they also generate no rage, with has an even bigger impact on your damage output.

And maybe I'm doing it wrong or something but Fury DPS is kinda... simplistic. All I seem to do is hit Whirlwind and Bloodthirst on cooldown, and Slam when it procs. Maybe Execute on a boss but they're usually dead by the time I notice their health is below 20%. Four buttons, then, none of which are spammable. I dunno, it just seems weird not to be constantly using GCDs for something. Maybe I should put Sunder Armor on my bars.

And Another Thing

I didn't play WoW at all last night. Instead, I worked on my new Project: learning how to program for the web. Specifically, Python. I didn't actually get much done, having managed to install Apache and Python, then Pylons, and I still need to get some kind of SQL going (Bob recommends PostgreSQL instead of MySQL so I'll give that a pop).

The purpose for all this is two-fold. Firstly, I need to wean myself off WoW. I am too easily tempted by distraction for it to be good for me, and I would be better off spending my time doing something with real-world benefits. Which leads into the second point: I want eventually to make this a career. I enjoy programming, having done a lot of Delphi, HTML, CSS, and lately at work some VBA (yuck), and I've dabbled a bit in Javascript. I believe web programming is going to be very important in the coming decades, so I want to make sure I'm prepared. Programming jobs are usually well-paid, so hopefully with Zoe becoming a teacher we'll have a comfortable life together :-)