Elemental, Meta, Shaman, WoW

Old news

Not old news in the sense of being irrelevant, but in the sense of being fashionably late; here’s some stuff to draw attention to that is not hot off the press but is recent.

  • WoW.com‘s new elemental shaman columnist is none other than Matt Sampson, aka Binkenstein, so expect to see some great elemental content on that blog at last!  He’s already written a couple of posts relating to Cataclysm talents, and one of the perks of the position is that he’s also now in the beta.  (Let’s just not talk about that Sherlock Holmes pun.)
  • Raid Warning’s Shaman Round Table podcast “Totem Recall” was released last week.  The elemental segment took nearly two hours to record and it felt like we kinda rushed through the last hour or so, and they had to somehow cut it down to 45 minutes – and I reckon it’s still probably the longest podcast they’ve done?  Because as well as the elemental segment which starts the ‘cast off, there are restoration and enhancement segments too.  For me the fascinating thing was not so much the content (though that was interesting) as it was hearing what some of the prominent shamans I read regularly actually sound like and how they interact.  (For my part, though I found the recording very difficult largely because of the problems I was having with my rubbish old microphone, I really enjoyed “meeting” the other elementals and the after-show chat was a real highlight.)

31-point talent trees have appeared in the beta, but at a very early stage.  So early that I’m hesitant to comment on them because, well, it seems more like a hasty compression to make classes still playable on the beta servers than actually a seriously considered new version of the trees.  However plenty of others have commented:

  • Zing has first impressions and a look at likely specs.
  • Pewter’s immediate reactions follow her own round up of elemental news which I strongly recommend checking out if you haven’t yet – she features a few new blogs and has some news on Operation TotemSpot.
  • Kazgrel’s posted some thoughts too.
  • There’s a new thread on Elitist Jerks for discussing specifically elemental aspects of the beta, already containing a lot of interesting insights and discussion regarding the state and direction of elemental in Cataclysm.  Enjoy the read but remember to read the forum rules carefully if you want to post.
  • Levelling blog Riding the Lightning has posted thoughts on the teensy weensy elemental shaman section of the recent Twitter dev chat, and “the only real Elemental Focused question was actually from me” [that is, the author, not me].

Finally, over in the comments at Blogenstein, Shuuwki asks:

Bink, is there anything helpful those of us on the outside can do other than continuing to talk about Elemental shaman issues and suggest / QC solutions? There’s an insider culture between certain players and the Developers that some of us aren’t privy to, so it would seem as if there’s only so much we can contribute.

Which strikes me as a good question.  What is the best way to provide feedback on developments in the beta?  Considering this comment from Ghostcrawler:

We interact a lot with the community outside of the building, visibly on forums like this one, but through email, IRC and even in game. There are a lot of excellent PvP and PvE players with whom I regularly correspond, and I want to call out any of you reading this and thank you publically.

Do we take that as reassurance that the thoughts of players from the grassroots to the ivory towers are being heard and taken seriously, or do we take it in a more sinister way – that only a few players are really able to influence the direction of the development process?  And are any of those players elemental shamans?  Now, I really don’t mean that in a cynical way, but I guess it’s a pretty relevant question when we spend so much of our time discussing the Cataclysm beta – is anyone listening?  And does it matter if they aren’t?

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “Old news

  1. Re: the shaman round table. I found the elemental section really lacking in depth, particularly the questions posed to you. I loved hearing the panelists speak and I wanted to pick everyone’s brains further. I mentioned this to one of you who explained that it was mostly because the hosts didn’t play shamans themselves, which makes sense. Would love this to become a regular feature of thoughts.

    Re: Ghostcrawler. My initial reaction is the very inelegant ‘lol’. Interested in your thoughts on this and what others may have to comment about it. I have seen this in other games and while the intentions are good, the outcome rarely is. I want to echo your questions “Are any of these players elemental shamans?” Listening is excellent but listening to who becomes important.

    Posted by Anaia | July 18, 2010, 8:17 pm
  2. My point in bringing up that note was that feedback, from the proper source, is being considered and used. The trick is figuring out what avenue we should take for our feedback to reach ears open to new ideas.

    I think that the Shaman class needs quite a bit of work – it’s got a primary resource that is inappropriate for one spec and talented / skilled to the point of being able to ignore it for another spec. It’s got a secondary resource, totems, that are more or less useless in their current implementation as buffs, useful only as utilities, and a shrinking number of utilities at that. It’s got a heal spec with an always-promised, never implemented spell, a spellcaster spec with no historical scaling talents and a single target rotation available to both other specs from trained skills, and a melee tree that’s built around spell damage.

    Something needs doing, and we need to be sure our feedback is being heard. That takes proper channels and an ear on the Systems Design team at Blizzard.

    Posted by Shuuwki | July 19, 2010, 9:27 am
  3. @Anaia and re the Round Table: I think it would be unfair of me to complain about the questions (or the show in general), especially considering the astonishing amount of work must go into every podcast. And with so many elemental folks there talking it was always going to be an interesting show to cope with editorially while trying to fit the other specs into the same cast :D We could have spent a very, very, very long time discussing a great many things and in some considerable depth, but I guess it wasn’t really the opportunity for that. I remember very clearly wanting to keep talking about a subject but having the host move on to the next question.

    So yes, for me it was indeed a little frustrating and I do feel there could’ve been more “meaty” discussion, but I guess that’s sort of beyond the scope of the show – and I really don’t want to sound ungrateful about it because (a) I enjoyed it hugely, despite the frustrating aspects and (b) I think the result was pretty good considering the crazy situation they had to work with :)

    @Shuuwki: I agree, which is why I highlighted your comment (I hope you don’t mind!). Bink’s saying he’s going to write an open letter to blizzard. I’ve posted feedback on the alpha (now beta) forums and on this blog. There are plenty of posters (including yourself) on the US/EU forums, EJ, MMO-champion etc and blogs discussing elemental issues and providing excellent evaluations of elemental concerns. And in the beta itself, we can use the feedback tool to survey specific spells and talents etc. So the question is – which of these “counts”? Which of these gets heard? How much weight do they put on the opinions of players and which players’ opinions gets more weight?

    For example, do the folks complaining that elemental is too boring result in a talent like Lava Surge? What about the guys that then critique Lava Surge, do they get heard too? And what about folks who ask for elemental to receive a somewhat more fundamental work-over? Whose feedback receives priority?

    I’d guess that most of the developers’ direction will be influenced by their personal experience of a class-spec, but that again begs the question of just how many of them play something like an elemental shaman, and how much attention they pay to opinions from big hardcore theorycrafting sites like EJ.

    Posted by Charles | July 20, 2010, 12:38 am
  4. Hey, kind of off-topic but, what’s your opinion of the EQ?
    There’s quite a bit of controversy on the class forums now. I don’t really know how I feel about it. On one hand, I’m quite excited there’s going to be a channeled aoe spell even though it’s not played up in cataclysm. I’m sure it can come in handy, especially with its knockback effect.
    Damage and all that can be tweaked, but is it normal to get an aoe as one’s 31 talent point? Seems like something that normally comes baseline with the class. That said, I don’t really mind, Thunderstorm was highly situational too.
    Mechanics aside (since it’s so early in the beta), do you like the direction they’re going with it?

    About interaction with Blizzard, I do think they value certain players’ opinions more heavily. I think it’s sort of inevitable, because most of those players have proven appropriate voices for the class. They’re usually supported by the community anyway.
    Quite honestly, I feel like a lot of people fall in line with whatever EJ believes. Be it because it’s a logical opinion to come to by yourself, or because they agreed with what they read there or because they designate their opinions onto someone else who may be more ‘qualified’, it all seems to mesh. Sometimes I really feel like the WoW community is a big hive mind. Of course more personal things like removing the tree of life and pvp vs pve changes might cause splits, I think Blizz does hear the greater issues a lot of times. I think it’s mainly because it continues to propagate itself.

    Posted by kazeko8 | July 20, 2010, 4:29 am
    • I think other people have already talked about Earthquake as a 31-point talent far more eloquently than I could, notably in the most recent twitter chat thread. But I think it’s important to remember that Earthquake is something shamans have been begging for for years, and if it manages to keep its knockdown component it could be a very exciting spell to use even if it doesn’t top damage meters.

      I actually like the current super-involved form of elemental AoE because it takes a lot of skill, planning and opportunism to get the big damage out on AoE packs… but I confess to often just not bothering with it. So something to use at range would be nice. But it remains to be seen whether Earthquake will go down the path of AoE ability (which I fear would be of extremely limited use in Cataclysm, especially if it keeps its cooldown) or control ability (which could be just what we need).

      Posted by Charles | July 23, 2010, 4:21 pm

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