Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The return of AVR (sort of)

There was an interesting tidbit that showed up on WoW Insider (is it WoW Insider again now? I'm not sure. I've lost track...) over the weekend.

Apparently Blizz has implemented in-game position markers. (I like calling them "hot spots." Not to be confused with HoT spots.) Don't know what I'm talking about? Maybe you remember AVR.

AVR was an addon that enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight for doing something no addon had previously done. It allowed the raid leader (or whoever) to "paint" marks on the ground. It made explaining positioning on certain fights much, much easier to explain. Especially on fights like Sindragosa.

My explanation for Frost Tomb positioning on (10 man) Sindragosa usually goes something like this:
When Sindy flies up into the air, she's going to mark two people. One of the marked people needs to run to where the dark stripes at the base of the stairs make a corner, but stay where the floor is made of bones. Right about here. (I'll go there and start jumping.) The other person needs to stand in the same place on the other side.)
Had I used AVR, I'd be able to paint a couple regions on the ground, one white with a skull marker and the other red with an X marker and say "skull goes to skull, X goes to X." It would have made life a lot simpler.

On 25-man, where 5 people get tombed, this is exponentially more true.

I never did download AVR, for two reasons.
  1. I felt that it was crossing a certain line. There's a point at which an addon removes almost any need for thought. I hate discouraging thought in my raiders. I often feel like I do it too much already by the way I lead.
  2. I had a feeling Blizz was going to agree with me on #1.
Sure enough, patch 3.3.5 came along and changed the API to break AVRs functionality.

The reasoning was interesting, though. I felt at the time that Blizz was very careful with their wording. They didn't say that they didn't want people to have a way to put hot spots on the map. They said that had issue with an addon being able to modify their textures in order to accomplish that effect.

Incidentally, long-time Druids may be familiar with Andrige's work prior to us finally getting new models (at least for Ferals). Andrige came up with some amazing new models/skins for Druid forms and posted a modified version of the game files that would let them be displayed in your client when installed. However, it was use-at-your-own-risk. If Blizz detected you using these modified game files, you could be banned. Why? Because while using modified models for your Druid forms seems innocent enough, the same methods could be used to...say...remodel opposing players in BGs to be huge and bright red so that you can see them from anywhere on the map. It's a bad idea.

Same thing here. While placing down hot spots is innocent enough (depending on your viewpoint) the ability to repaint Blizz's textures could also be used for other, less innocent methods.

Anyway, that whole mess aside, it seems Blizz actually liked the idea of us being able to drop hot spots, rather than trying to describe their location. They've now given us the ability to do just that.

Apparently this ability has been in Beta for at least a little while, but has now been upgraded to be even easier to see.

What this has done to me, specifically, is challenge my notion of what is and isn't crossing the line.

You may remember a few posts ago when I mentioned that one of my guildies refused to use DBM because she felt it was crossing a line. Basically that it trivialized encounters in a way that could be construed as cheating. I argued this was not the case because the addon has been around for a long time and Blizzard has essentially designed their encounters around the idea that any serious raider would be using it.

This latest change, I believe, has moved that disabled functionality of AVR into the same space. Blizzard is basically saying that they believe it's okay for us to put down hot spots during encounters.

You could argue that we've always had this ability. Engineers are able to create smoke flares that we can toss out at will. They last a few minutes (5?) and then dissipate.

I don't know how widely used these things are. I know we pretty much only use them during Phase 2 of Sindragosa.

These new hot spots are different, though. Flares have to be made or bought. And then they are subsequently consumed. So if you want to keep using them, you have to keep replenishing the supply. Hot spots are immediately available and never run out (though you can only put down so many at one time, I'm assuming).

What this tells me is that when we get to Cata we're going to be seeing more situations where we need to say "toon 1 needs to go here, toon 2 needs to go there" or "when this happen, the raid needs to group on this spot." Blizzard is acknowledging this and supporting our needs to easily and effectively identify and describe those locations.

Based on that, I can also assume that the margin of error for execution is going to get even smaller than it is now. If we're able to go so far as to say, "go stand in the purple hot spot," then people are going to have a very small window in which to find where it is in the chaos of an encounter and move to it.

Of course, I'm not in beta, so I don't know. But I'm very anxious to see how it plays out.


  1. A simple "smoke flares" version of this is already live and insanely helpful for explaining encounters. We love it in my raid.

  2. No kidding? I had no idea. I'm going to have to look in to that.

    RTFM, amirite?

  3. Analogue beat me to it, but yeah the smoke flares are already there, and they have different colors. Our GM found it the first night we raided after the patch while looking around in the raid interface.

    I am in the beta, but I haven't logged into it since 4.0 went live, and even then I never bothered raiding. I like the version in the screenshot a lot better though. I can see a LOT of ways to make use of that one.

  4. Ah, that may be why I haven't seen it. I have the Blizz raid UI hidden in favor of my own.

    I'm going to have to find a way to access those outside of that UI. Off to Curse I go!