Monday, June 14, 2010

Macros and You!


I figure I should do a bit more than simply regurgitate news from other sites, and I was thinking to myself (yes, again...) that I really REALLY love macros and UIs in WoW. I mean REALLY. It's actually rather sad how excited I get when I decide to completely overthrow my Pitbull layout and start from scratch. But we'll leave off UI fun for another post, and focus more on the macro side of WoW.

Contents:


One of the first things to think about when making a macro is: What do I want it to do exactly? Setting some goals when it comes to macro design is an important thing really. There is nothing worse than finishing a macro, only to realize that you didn't actually address your problem... like having a macro to summon your mount/flying mount regardless of location, only to have a macro that summons one of your twenty flying mounts only. ...not that I would know that from personal experience *coughs*.

So set a goal. What do you want your macro to do? Now, I'm not advocating the formation of lists and spread sheets, nono, don't get me wrong here... But setting your goal in your mind over what you want to make is the first step in making a successful macro.

Next, you'll obviously have to either have a grasp of the macro language, or know a very good website where you can find macros to either use or tweak yourself. Personally, I don't find the macro language too much of a barrier, so I tend to either create my own macros from scratch or simply customize an existing macro to work for what I need it to do.

Now, we're into the middle steps... making the macro. Some important things to remember when making a macro are the following:

1. Limited number of characters

When making a macro in WoW, you're limited to a total of 255 characters (letters, spaces, symbols, what have you). So you'll want to make sure you abbreviate whenever allowable.

Some handy ones include [mod] for modifier (holding alt, shift, or ctrl when pressing the macro key), @player/@target/etc for the old [target=player], and [btn:1] for mouse button 1 (left mouse button).

You can also save space by removing unnecessary /cast or /use calls. This is done by reducing:
/cast [@target, harm] Lightning Bolt
/cast [@target, noharm] Healing Wave
to
/cast [@target, harm] Lightning Bolt; [@target, noharm] Healing Wave;
chopping down your macro length and making it a bit more streamlined.

2. You can't do two things in one macro

Blizzard took a firm stand on macros playing your character for you, so you'll rarely be able to have a macro do things like they used to, such as the old Mage macros for 1-shotting people with trinket/PoM/Pyro. What you can do is sequence a macro using... well, /castsequence. So for example:

/castsequence reset=combat/7 Stormstrike, Lava Lash

will cast Stormstrike first, and then for the next 7 seconds (to account for the 8 second cooldown on SS) allow you to cast Lava Lash with the same button until you either leave combat or are able to use SS again.

3. Icons and tooltips are important

Never underestimate the usage of #showtooltip (which, obviously, shows the tooltip for the abilities you use in your macro). A macro like:

#showtooltip
/use Zandalar Honor Token

will show the icon and tooltip for the Zandalar Honor Token item (ah, I miss the old ZG runs). You can use the #showtooltip in a cast sequence macro as well, to keep track of what ability you can currently use in the sequence. All you need to do when making the macro is be sure to use the ? icon for the macro, instead of choosing from the huge selection of icons available.




@target/@player/@focus : Allows you to set the target for the ability in the macro, making it harder to accidentally misuse an ability.

Ex: /cast [@focus] Healing Wave (no matter who you're targeting, this macro will ONLY cast Healing Wave on your focus... useful for say, when you have the tank focused and want to dedicate a button to making sure they don't die.)

[mod], [nomod] : Determines what happens when you're holding a modifier (ctrl, alt, shift) or not when pressing a macro button.

Ex: /cast [mod:ctrl] Healing Wave; [nomod] Lesser Healing Wave; (casts HW when you hold ctrl and hit the macro, and LHW when you're just hitting the macro.)

[harm], [noharm] : Determines what the macro does depending on whether the target is peaceful or neutral/aggressive.

Ex: /cast [noharm] Water Breathing; [harm] Frost Shock; (not especially useful I suppose, but it will cast WB on your target if it's friendly, and Frost Shock it if it is not.)

[flyable], [noflyable], [mounted], [nomounted] : Pretty self explanatory really. Does different things depending on if you can fly or not fly in the area, and if you're mounted or not mounted.
Ex:
/dismount [mounted]
/cast [flyable] Swift Purple Wind Rider; [noflyable] Swift Orange Raptor; (uses your flying mount in places you can use it, and uses your ground mount if you can't fly. Will also dismount you if you're mounted... dangerous to use if flying high.)

[combat], [nocombat] : Like the others, does one thing in combat, and another if not in combat.
Ex: /cast [combat] Ghost Wolf; [nocombat] Swift Orange Raptor; (will GW if you're fighting something, or mount up otherwise).




So with those tips out of the way, lets get to making a macro, shall we? I'll start off with some macros I use, and explain their mechanics and usages where applicable.

#showtooltip
/cast [nomod] Earth Shock; [mod] Wind Shear

This macro does two things: If I press the button, it will cast Earth Shock. If, however, I press the button while holding a modifier (ctrl, alt, shift), it will cast Wind Shear.

The main use is obvious: To keep my bar from being clogged down by abilities I rarely use, while keeping important abilities I rarely use in easy reach.

#showtooltip
/castsequence [nomod] reset=combat/target/17 Flame Shock, Lava Burst
/cast [mod] Lava Burst

What this macro does is similar to the Stormstrike macro I included in the earlier bits, but with a slight change. First, it allows me to cast Flame Shock with a simple button press, followed by Lava Burst for the next 17 seconds (for the 18s debuff timer on Flame Shock), and it will reset in 17s, on leaving combat, or when I change targets. It also allows me to always cast Lava Burst if I press the button while holding a modifier down.

#showtooltip
/castsequence [nomod] reset=2 Windfury Weapon, Flametongue Weapon
/stopmacro [nomod]
/run local c=CancelItemTempEnchantment c(1) c(2)

This macro is my latest fix for having my weapon enchants on one button. The last one was broken somewhere down the line, just like the ones I had used previously. So what it does is, with no modifiers held down, casts Windfury followed by Flametongue with a second press. It then stops the macro. If, however I press the button with a mod, it will clear my weapon enchants off, allowing me to always cast WF on my main hand, and FT on my off hand. Because we all know that there are few things less annoying than having the wrong enchant on your weapons, right?

Well, that's it for macros for this installment... maybe if I get some demand I'll go into more depth on things like scripts in your macro, and the many random mount type macros that are out there.

- Nipah

Ghostcrawler Interview

A nice little fluff interview with everyone's favorite Blue poster Ghostcrawler over on wowhead.com.

The interview covers various points, such as making professions more desirable while leveling (instead of being a case of "I only did it for the ring enchants!") and cross-account achievements (a pipe dream that GC apparently also harbors!).

Head on over to wowhead.com for the entire thing!

In other WoW type "holy crap, you might have already read this" news, WoW.com (by way of WorldofRaids.com) has some breaking news on the latest dirt concerning the Cataclysm expansion. It talks about the removal of the Path of the Titans feature (a bit of a downer), the tweaking of the Guild Leveling system, and the various day 1 raids to make the launch when the expac comes out (Which has been labeled as "Soon®")

Keep your eyes open everyone... the closer it gets to the expac, the more tender morsels of new info will seep out.

- Nipah

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend HO!

With the weekend approaching, it usually means a hard, down and dirty run face first through a bunch of instances for most... or at this point in the cycle of the game, getting out the reading glasses and scouring the net for any info about new stuff set to be introduced in Cataclysm.

Which brings us to *insert fan fare here* New Shaman Talent Changes!

I've been browsing that little blog on WoWHead on and off all night, and I must say... I have mixed feelings over it. The Enhancement Shaman in me gives the overall
oomph of those changes a 7/10... just enough to make me toss around ideas in the talent calculator, but not enough to make me break out in a cold sweat while waiting for the expansion. The Elemental Shaman in me gives it a 7/10 as well... and really, for the same basic reasons. Nothing changes greatly, a few tweaks here and there, but overall, nothing special. The Restoration Shaman in me doesn't know what to think... I had read a comment from Ghostcrawler mentioning the fact that they're adding a new heal (so we'll have Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave, and Chain Heal as default heals), and I've been wondering why that even needs to be done. I mean really, were Shaman going around complaining about not having a middle-ground healing spell or something?

... anyhow. Those changes are rather interesting to read, and they upset a few people to no end ("Oh no, they're reducing the crit we get from talents! The sky! IT'S CRUSHING ME!"), but everyone seems to be taking it all with a grain of salt.

So there you have it... the worthless opinion of me, Nipah. If you feel ripped off, please return to the point of sale with your receipt for a full refund of your money.

- Nipah

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Life of the Party

Greetings once again! I realize that anyone reading this won't realize it, but this post was submitted about... 2 minutes after the previous one... Don't ask me why, just enjoy another generic overview of something MMORPG-centric.

Anyhow, that's enough preamble, here's the words!

For a respectable demographic of society, walking up to a stranger and holding a conversation is at best awkward, and at worst a horrifying experience. This same situation, however, occurs on a constant basis in your average Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG), whether it's trading items or gathering fellow players to conquer a tough dungeon.

A shy gamer, someone who isolates themself in a corner during a yearly office party, might also be the same person forming a 40 man group in an MMORPG. The only difference is the face to face interaction with an actual person, as opposed to an anonymous meeting between avatars in a fantasy environment. All that's required for that person to achieve the same confidence at the party as they have in-game is to detach themself from their fear of embarrassment. This detachment is made easier in a game, where they don't interact using their actual self, but instead use a virtual personality. This disconnects them from the interaction, and makes it acceptable to blunder or fail in any given situation because they will think "this is not actually me" or "I can always start over". This detachment and freedom to reinvent yourself in-game allows someone to be more willing to take chances, to step outside of their usual practices in a social situation.

In order to bridge the gap between real life and in-game interactions, a shy gamer must be willing to detach themselves from their ego, their real life avatar, and be willing to look a little foolish, a little awkward in front of strangers. By taking the common practices that occur in an MMORPG, a shy player can break from their standard actions and become not only the life of their 5-man party, but also the life of their after work get-together.

- Nipah

Change, and why it's good

So I thought to myself "Nipah... wait, why are you talking to yourself?"... then I thought "Ya know, while playing WoW is fun and all, I'd also like to show people what else I love about the game besides hitting things in the face with an axe or lightning...".

So here we have it...
We Let Our Toes Wiggle (aka. Troll's don't need no boots!). For my first posts, I'll toss out a generalized view of why change does not suck. So without further ado:

Change, and why it's good

It's happened to everyone.
You've been playing a game for a while, leveling up, increasing your crafting, looting new and shiny weapons. Suddenly, it's patch day, and everything changes. Your class is nothing like it used to be. They changed X instead of Y, and now you're useless! Change is horrible!

Change, however, is not horrible. Change is the on
e thing that keeps a game fresh. Whether it's class tweaks, new content, or simply a few bug fixes, changes in an MMORPG are what you're paying the monthly fee for. How fun would a game be if it was the same old problems, day in, day out? Have you been getting your butt kicked sideways by another class using an "overpowered" ability? Tough luck Nancy, you had better suck it up, because no change is coming. Maybe you've been trying to complete a quest, only to have one of the NPCs bug out randomly, and charge face first into the nearest group of hostile monsters? Well that's just too bad Hoss, because no change is coming.

So yes, change is good. Change is good when it effects things you see as "wrong" and "broken". However, it's not good when it effects something you're taking advantage of? Well now, there is the stickler. In a perfect MMORPG, change will be like Justice, blind and impartial, swinging it's blade and righting wrongs swiftly and fairly. Sweeping changes to a class/quest/etc will come about not because of developer bias, but due to a need to fix what is broken or wrong. And for the most part, the major developers in the MMORPG world treat change just like this. Granted, it's not always this cut and dry, and there will come times when changes come down from above like laws from an insane king. One class will see preferential treatment while another class lies by the side, broken and bleeding players away to the latest fad of the month class.


But change is good, even when it hurts your character. Why, you might ask, as you turn your face to the skies and wipe the tears from your eyes. Because no change is permanent. Nothing in an MMORPG lasts forever. Don't let anything in an MMORPG take away from the fun you get while playing it, changing what was once an enjoyable hobby into a boring/tedious task... only
then is change bad.

- Nipah