Monthly Archives: August 2009

I have a soul. Look I have a whole bag of them.

“You have no soul!” accused a druid running along side me.
“Yes, I do.” I insisted.
“You enslave beings and cast curses!” The druid argued.
“I have a soul. I have a whole bag of them. Want one?” I responded. At this point I desperately wished I could emote opening my soul shard bag, reaching in and pulling out one of the bright pink shards and holding it out to the horrified druid.

Warlocks are a class playable in World of Warcraft. My main, that is the character I play the most and generally attempt to do the cool stuff on, is a warlock. The warlock class is focused on doing damage, or damage per second (DPS). In most games you have three main types of characters, tanks, who take damage, healers, who obviously heals, and dps, who tries to kill things as fast as possible. Warlocks are ranged, meaning they do most of their damage from a distance. They also have a pet, any one of seven demons that they enslave and call to do their bidding. These pets have some specialized skills like the Voidwalker can create a shield that protects the Warlock from a few thousand damage, or the Succubus who can seduce another player and essentially freeze them in place.

Warlocks do damage in a slightly different way than the other classes. A majority of their dps comes from Damage Over Time spells, or DOTs. DOTs are curses that are placed on a creature and then “tick” every second doing x amount of damage. Some DOTs are front loaded and do their damage early. Some build up over time. But best of all, most of these DOTs are instant cast spells, meaning they can be cast while running across the room dodging attacks from bosses.

So for four years I have played my Warlock, happily blasting things away, roleplaying my “evilness” and thoroughly enjoying myself. The only thing that mildly annoyed me was the soul shard mechanic.

Soul shards are warlock unique items that are used to do many of the things that makes a warlock special. The lore behind them is that a warlock drains the soul of a creature just before it dies and traps it in a small shard then uses this shard to power their spells. Soulstones (an item that allows a player who has died to immediately respawn with health and mana where they died), healthstones (like health potions, only on a different cooldown), demon summoning (the pets), player summoning, and even some of their damage spells all require the use of soul shards. They take up one inventory slot and do not stack. All warlocks carry a bag that is slightly larger than normal bags but only holds soul shards. So we lose a bag, and we have to “farm” soul shards by going out and killing creatures to drain the soul, just in case we get stuck in a situation where we can’t get more shards.

However at BlizzCon last weekend they announced they are changing this mechanic to be more like the Death Knight Rune system. Meaning that there will be 3 soul shard icons below the character portrait and they are used when a spell uses one of them, then they slowly recharge over time. Be still my fluttering heart! No more shard bag. No more shard farming. Now they will work as empowering modifiers to my spells!

I am scouring every post and bit of information about them and will continue to do so until Cataclysm is released. But I, for one, am glad to be a part of the new Warlock Overlord Class. 🙂

It's kinda like…

People always ask, but, What does a level designer do?

I would respond, I build the World. And get these wonderful blank stares.

When dealing with people who don’t play video games, or equate video games with Tetris they seem to have a mental block as to understanding what it is a level designer does when they make video games. So I try to equate things. I am an architect, interior designer, and a landscaper. Not to mention lighting specialist, painter, carpenter, and feng shui guru.

The funniest thing is when I am working on something and I am trying to get the scale of something right. I will tell the person, “This doorway just isn’t right, I need to tweak it.” They usually boggle at me and say something to the effect of “But doorways are 3 foot standard. Some wide ones are 4 ft. How much is 4 feet in your game?” I always want to snidely remark, “If it were as simple as just making it the same size it would be in real life, do you honestly think they would pay me as much as they do to make levels when they could just hire someone who can read a plan?” Then I follow up by creating a doorway that is the equivalent of a “normal” doorway. Everyone can immediately tell it appears too small or too claustrophobic. Game cameras and characters are not like real life, and as such, the world cannot be.

I picked up the Unreal 3 book this week and got down to building a project I have been thinking about for a long time. I am barely into the blockout phase and I have already wildly altered the sizes and spaces of the the first few areas. It feels better to me from a game point of view and really captures the essence of the place as opposed to the truth of the place.

Essence and truth, such an odd comparison.