Warlords of Draenor: Talented Shaman

Today’s post was written on request for Damien, who writes the Icy Veins class and spec guides. Originally, this was in the form of a short* advice document to discuss the Level 100 talents for Restoration Shaman – the contents of which went towards informing the guide itself. This turns out to be quite a complex topic when you get down into the nitty gritty, so I expect that this post will go into a lot more detail. Without further ado, let’s look at the different talents which you can choose as a level 100 Resto Shaman and discuss which ones you should be taking when.

I was going to write "Not necessarily recommended", but I quite like this build.

I was going to write “Not necessarily recommended”, but I quite like this build.

* – (only 800 words!)

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A Debate on Sexualization in Videogames :: A “Review”

I had the honor and privilege to attend a debate at the University of Surrey tonight hosted by the Student’s Union’s Debate Society – the subject was the sexualization of women in videogames. The opposing sides were the SU’s Feminist Society and the SU’s Videogames Society, both of which brought along several representatives as part of a parliamentary style debate. This post is a review of the broad strokes of the debate, with my own commentary.

Read on, and find out what I thought about the debate.

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Statlords of Shamanor

Many of my fellow theorycrafters (the healers, at least) opine that stat weights are one of the lowest priority bits of theorycraft to do because they aren’t really that useful. While I see their point of view, I think it somewhat misses the point. I spend a lot of time on the Icy Veins forums (where I’m a mod, I also review the Resto Shaman guides) and a significant fraction of the posts we get talk in some way about stat weights. To put it in perspective; patch 6.0 had been out for a meagre day before we already had a post about Ask Mr Robot’s stat weights!

Even Dumbledore is impatient for stat weights to be done…

Clearly, stat weights might not be strictly useful to us, but for the general playerbase they sure are important, which is why I think we should pay more attention to it. In addition, we can do a lot better in our recommendations for stat weights than we’ve done historically! In this post, I explain why and how we should take different approaches to stat weights, and then present the results of my own research.

If you don’t feel like reading my words on what I did to come up with my recommendations and just want to be told what to do, I spell out my recommendations right at the bottom of the page.

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Posted in General Science | 6 Comments

An Instructive Example on Gender

This industry is rife with misunderstanding. There are important debates to be had about the way things are handled in the industry, and some of those issues touch on contentious gender-based ideas. Women in this industry experience extensive harassment, or large career obstacles, or are simply ignored outright, where their male counterparts see relatively little problems. This industry’s issues are clouded by the simple lack of understanding and communication about different experiences for different genders, regardless of the urgent practical issues which need to be addressed.


What industry am I talking about?

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Posted in Et cetera, Physics, World of Warcraft | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hashtag: Gamer, Hashtag: Harassment

Anybody paying the slightest bit of attention to games-related parts of the internet will have heard, at least in passing, of the “gamergate” hashtag on Twitter. You may even have followed or supported it. I’d like to say that, regardless of ones personal opinion, I don’t and can’t get upset that someone else holds a different opinion to myself. Anybody reading this is entitled to hold and express their own opinion, and I shan’t begrudge you that right.

Nevertheless, I have steered clear of hashtag gamergate for one important and serious reason: harassment. This whole saga started by the toxic accusations and actions of a small (and, later, much larger) subset of people on the internet. Originally, it centred around shaming a female game developer for personal and inherently private actions. Private is where those things should have stayed, but people (not “gamers”, or “the internet”; people) took an active decision to harass and threaten other people with whom they disagreed. Not only do I disagree with the original complaint, but I disagree with the methods by which some people have decided to effect change.

Some people (a lot of people, perhaps) have made this issue about the ethics of journalism relating to games. While I feel that this is a very important subject with interesting things to be discussed, the current campaign is so tainted by its roots that the nuggets of useful conversation are almost impossible to separate from the vortex of abuse. The important messages have got lost in the vitriol. When harassment like this happens, nobody wins.

So I don’t support hashtag gamergate, and I won’t ever. But this has come to signify more than “just harassment” (how fucked up is that phrase?). No; as a result of the commotion, reactions, and re-reactions, the community of people who enthuse over videogames (“gamers”) has supposedly lost something. “Gaming is dead”, “Gamer culture is dying”, and so on – some people have told me gaming has “lost its innocence”. I personally find my own feelings on the matter too complex to discuss adequately, but I do know that gaming – as a pastime and a culture – has been centrally important to me for many years now, and the shitstorm has questioned something fundamental about how I view the community.

This brings me to the article which inspired this post; “Why I Still Call Myself a Gamer” by The Escapist’s Editor in Chief, Greg Tito. In a concise and touching essay, Greg discusses the main issues central to the recent fuss, and the steps he’s taken as part of the editorial team there to address the key learning points from hashtag gamergate. Greg has obviously made an effort to express his personal feelings, but as I read the article I couldn’t help but think that he was refraining from saying something. Then, right at the end, it becomes apparent quite how much this has weighed on Mr Tito’s mind;

I do not support harassment by gamers or of gamers. Abuse is wrong, no matter what you believe or who you support. Engaging in debate is important. Publicly stating ethics policies is important. Encouraging all voices to participate in the discussion is important. Insulting, abusing and harassing those who disagree with you is bullshit.

Please stop.

This paragraph is one of the simplest in the essay, and is cunningly disguised as a closing statement of the topics at hand. I think, though, that this is all Greg really wanted to say – it’s like an outlet of feelings, almost a rant. It’s almost as if this paragraph was written first and the rest of the article built around it. It feels as though the author wanted more than anything to just make the whole article more of the same thing.

The article struck a chord with me. It resonates with the same struggle to express a whirl of different thoughts and feelings that I have suffered from of late. I identify with that difficulty of having a nuanced opinion on a polarized and very personal matter, and I want to say that I’m very glad Greg wrote the article. I’m thankful that I could read it.

It restores a chunk of my faith in the community, simply because it’s concrete evidence that other people are wrestling with strong and nuanced opinions in the midst of this shit storm. It’s a small article in a big world of worrying things, but I treasure it nonetheless.

Thanks, Greg.

Posted in Et cetera | 2 Comments

Mr. Bean Goes on Experiment – pt. 2

So last week I posted a wildly popular post about my misadventures in the Netherlands, humorously comparing myself to Rowan Atkinson. I am not worthy!

A mirror for infra-red light. Look carefully and you can see the HeNe laser we were using to set things up.

A mirror for infra-red light. Look carefully and you can see the HeNe laser we were using to set things up.

With all the hilarity over, I did eventually get down to the more serious business of experiments. Today, I’m going to be going through some of the cool stuff which I saw/did at the facility I was visiting. It’s known as FELIX; the Free Eletron Laser for Infrared… eXperiments, located at Radboud University in Nijmegen. But what’s a Free Electron Laser anyway?

Read on to find out!

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Posted in General Science, Physics | 2 Comments

To cast, perchance to Chain (Heal)

To Riptide Target, or not to Riptide Target — that is the question.

For me, the biggest news in recent Theorycraft was Dayani’s excellent analysis on Chain Heal, High Tide, and Glyph of Riptide (which you can find here). I was inspired enough to devote some time to looking at how to extend Dayani’s model (I blogged about it), and I still think it’s a fantastic piece of research. However, as I’ve said previously I think that Theorycraft is a science; it is essential to extend that initial study with further work. I’ve been talking about my approach to studying Chain Heal in a series of posts (1 2 3 4 5 parts and counting!), and one of my main aims is to see if I can replicate Dayani’s results in simulation.

Courtesy of Dayani, visit her blog and read her stuff!

Courtesy of Dayani, visit her blog and read her stuff!

The maths she carried out checks out perfectly, and she makes some very strong points on the calculations she made. In a nutshell, Dayani looked at how Chain Heal’s mean healing increased dependent upon whether you chose a Riptide target or a target without Riptide (henceforth “RTT” and “nRTT”, respectively). She found that in every situation she calculated, it was always an advantage in terms of mean healing to heal a RTT (regardless of number of Riptides on the raid). She concluded that as in Mists and Cataclysm, Warlords will be dominated by Shaman using people with Riptide essentially as Chain Heal turrets. This is a reasonable conclusion based on her work, and I can replicate her results no problem at all. It’s extremely strong as an investigation, and if you’re lazy you can find a TL:DR at the end.

However, there are plenty of reasons to doubt whether this is indeed the truth.

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Posted in Alpha/Beta News, General Science, Maths, World of Warcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments