Status report!

Plus musings on GearScore dammit and thoughts on Battle.net Real ID…

Firstly, an update on where I am right now.

Amaras is at level 67. I haven’t had much opportunity to play him lately, unfortunately. I jumped on him today, got invited to do some dungeons by a level 60 healer in my new guild.

Wait, halt! New guild? Again?! Well, not exactly. A guild merge took place while I was away on holiday, so I’m now in First Legion of Azeroth. It sounds a lot more like a mercenary company, so that works out OK from an in-character perspective. There are a LOT more people about too, so that’s good.

So, to be continuation: There we were in Hellfire Ramparts. I shifted into Bear form and launched myself at the enemy. The XP was good, my threat and rage generation was through the roof. It was a good day to be a beartank! Naturally, just after the first boss someone wandered into a big group of enemies. “No problem!” I thought. I charged in, mashing swipe and maul to pull them off the poor clothie they were assailing. My buttons didn’t work. In fact, everything was frozen. My allies and targets all just… twitched a bit.

Disco. Not the music-type, the “You have been disconnected from the server” type. Tried to log back in, no success. I lean around the corner aaaand the connection lights on my router were off. Outstanding. Half an hour later when the connection comes back up, I log on, apologise and then get disconnected again. British Telecommunications have apparently decided that I’m not accomplishing anything today.

As for my hunter, he’s suddenly fallen into some lucky new gear which has improved my performance somewhat, the first noticable improvement in damage-dealing ability for some time. My objective is to get myself sufficiently geared to see the inside of ICC (by which time everyone should be disenchanting all the gear, so getting my hands on upgrades should be simple, heh). My gearscore is hovering around 4800 (up from 4500 earlier in the week), and I need to get somewhere north or 5k. I’ve been putting off respeccing, but I expect I’ll switch over to the newfangled 53/14/4 or something soonish.

What’s that? Do I hear you, The Reader (I know you’re out there somewhere) tutting? Perhaps you are thinking “Ah, Durkon! I have seen you laying into GearScore previously, and now I’ve caught you using it! Have you gone quite mad?

Allow me to assure you that my level of insanity remains unchanged. I despise GearScore. A system of oversimplifying raid manning decisions so devoid of merit or worthiness that I am ashamed to be caught using it in my gearing evaluation. It fails to take into account appropriate gear (I could equip shaman mail and it would score me the same), gems or enchants, not to mention skill, spec and the general ability to play one’s class without being catastrophically incompetent and wiping the raid. So why would I mention it?

The answer is irritatingly simple. Gearscore is ubiquitous. Every single PuG raid leader on my server uses it, many of them as the exclusive decider of who gets the raid slot. If you have 4850 GS, you don’t get to go to Icecrown Citadel. Sometimes you don’t even get to go to VoA. If you have 5k, you have a chance. Sometimes you need 5.2k. Because that makes you exactly 200 more competent than before, obv.

I’d join a guild that raids, but my Internet connection isn’t reliable enough…

Let’s talk about Battle.net Real ID before I rupture something important.

3.3.5 will see this going live, which is a bit of a surprise (for me, anyway). I kind of assumed that this would be a Cataclysm feature. It’s… an interesting one. The current ingame friends functionality will be unchanged, but you will be able to invite someone to become a Real ID friend. You must both accept for this to occur, and once it does it will allow you to speak with friends across servers, factions and indeed battle.net games. Sounds good. Unfortunately, the system automatically broadcasts to your Real ID friends your… real ID – that is to say, your actual in-reality first name and surname, taken from your account details. It’s designed only for people who know each other in reality, and so you still can’t friend that awesome tank you found in cross server LFG who helped you with your achievements. If you’ve changed servers, you still can’t speak to your old guildies from the previous server – at least not without furnishing them with all your actual details.

In addition, you can’t turn it off. Hard day at work, want to play a bit of Starcraft II single player without having to deal with people? Soon as you start up the game, your Real ID friends will know that you’re online, exactly what you’re doing and will no doubt launch into a rant about whatever the new GearScore is in six months time and why don’t you come on wow because we’re going to do heroic deadmines and we need a healer. Current indications suggest that there is no ‘appear offline’ or ‘invisible’ (or even log out!). It really is all or nothing.

I don’t really know if I’ll use it or not. I really don’t understand Blizzard’s attitude of “this is what it is, and we don’t care what features you want”. I’m sure a lot of people are OK with it, but there’s been a lot of criticism too, and they don’t really seem to care about how they could broaden its appeal. We’ll see.

/me ruptures something important.
/cast Frostweave Bandage

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