Monday, April 23, 2007

Making the switch to Moonkin

When I used to play Warcraft 3 a few years ago, my favorite character class to use against the enemy was the Druid. Their ability to shift into different forms gave them what I felt was a tremendous advantage. So naturally when I picked up World of Warcraft a few months ago, my first character was a Night Elf Druid. Fortunately they'd gained the ability to shift into other forms besides Bear.

Going on the advice of a friend and veteran of the game I decided to spec Feral. This turned out to be a pretty good choice given the peculiar difficulties that a Druid presents and since this was my first character. As I learned more about the game play, I became better at using my Cat form in conjunction with Bear form to shred and tank against mobs. Yet save for the occasional role as a healer in instance runs, I felt my spell casting abilities were being severely under utilized.

By the time I reached level 45, I'd invested nearly 10 points in the Balance tree. This worked well in that I could use my DoTs to wear down an enemy to half their HP before they even got close whereupon I could easily finish them off in Cat form. Unfortunately, this also drained my mana pool very quickly. After reading up on the latest patch changes and how it vastly improved the Balance tree, I decided to re-spec and see if that matched by playing style any better.

Within an hour of going Balance and gaining Moonkin form, I did an incredible instance run of Zul'Farrak with my guild buddies as a high DPSer. Though Cat and Bear form had both decreased significantly with regards to damage output, in a sticky situation I could still switch to the latter and perform Frenzied Regeneration. Gradually, I changed out all my gear as well and went for those items with high intellect. I also switched to using a two-handed mace as my main weapon which upped my attack power and thus my mana regeneration.

At this point, I am a level 52 Balance Druid who spends about 95% of his time in Moonkin form. I haven't regretted the re-spec at all and in fact, I have only come to enjoy it more. Recently I attained Force of Nature thus giving me three treants to fight on my behalf and allowing me to easily take on enemies three or four levels higher. In PvP, I now have Warlocks of equal level complaining that I'm overpowered.

In short, the Balance tree has long been overlooked for Druids in favor of the easier-to-solo Feral build. But with the right equipment, good mana management and a desire to play more like a mage than a warrior, the Moonkin Druid can quickly rise to the top and become an invaluable member of raids and instance runs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Revolution Health launches!

Three months after the initial beta release, Revolution Health launched yesterday to much fanfare and celebration. Yours truly is privileged enough along with 280 or so other employees to be a part of this incredible startup. To celebrate, the company rented out the Beacon Hotel just down the street and provided an open bar and appetizers. For some, it seemed like it was the first of the outside world they'd seen in several weeks after having worked furiously to get the site ready for launch.

Though I wasn't locked away I was working some pretty heavy hours to make sure that our group's section of the site was working seamlessly. It feels a bit strange to finally be on the other side of it all, as if we've stepped through some sort of door. One thing's for sure, there is no going back. From here on out, the health industry is going to wake up and listen and not just to us, but to consumers as well.

Our competition seems to be taking the hint. From imitating our look and feel (it's the sincerest form of flattery, right?) to adding a 'community' section, they are doing their best to keep up. Coincidentally enough, on the day of our launch they fired their CTO. Some people have theorized as to whether this was a signal to us but there's no way to be sure.

What is certain though is that we only needed to do something disruptive in either health care or technology to be revolutionary but we have instead chosen to take on both fronts. A brand-new approach to health care combined with the amazing Ruby on Rails framework means that we will be that much harder to beat. Let the race begin.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Back from hiatus

Yes, so I know it's been a long time since I've posted here and all I can say is that I have some very good reasons for my hiatus. The big one would have to be work. In preparation for our launch this Thursday, our full site release mind you, I've been working 12 hour days. Trying to maintain even the shadow of a social life in light of these long hours has been difficult to say the least.

In addition, I have also been spending time building my character in World of Warcraft. I'll probably dedicate a full post to that sometime later this week. Needless to say, while some will point to this as evidence of WoW's addictive powers, I can assure you that a few hours spent gaming online every now and then does not make one an addict.

Thanks to work pressures I feel like my Ruby/Rails knowledge has increased exponentially in the past few months. From plugins to ActiveRecord, the need for efficient easily-maintainable code has forced me to dive into Rails' inner workings. It's been tough but I feel that I have a much better idea now of what's going on behind the scenes.

So in effect, work is the culprit. I can only hope that in the future I will be able to drag myself away from it to blog on at least a weekly basis.