March 2010


I went snowboarding yesterday. It was great because we spent most of our time off piste. The snow was good powder and we were able to find a few good virgin runs a little back in the woods and do them over and over. On piste itself was not so great. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people ski like they drive – in a bubble-world all of their own. They are the only ones who exist as they are the only ones who are important. This is all well and good if your hobbies are knitting or vomiting, but not so much when they effect other people. So you have people being dangerous on piste, not by going too fast, but by not taking anyone else into consideration. Which, in pusuits such as skiing or driving a car can have some nasty consequences. And if you attempt to say anything? Good luck with that – you’re a dickhead and a trouble maker. So I’ll board off piste thank you very much. I’m still working on an alternative for the driving.

There are two posts this week on blogs that reflect this in different ways. Sam has a post on Slice & Dice about how being late for a raid can throw everything out to the extent that the raid doesn’t function properly. People lose their focus as a result of having to wait around for 30 minutes behind the screen twiddling their thumbs. This was a big problem for me when I was a raid leader and organising raids. You would have the good raiders who were on time, (which meant 15 minutes before the start time), week after week. I set myself a goal of always going into the raid on time. We managed to do it for three weeks, after that it was lost.

Jakkru has a post up on Slash two about finally reaching the breaking point with regards to smokers taking constant breaks during a raid to satisfy their habit. I will admit that I enjoy the occasional cigarette, it is a pleasure for me, not a vice. And sometimes I also enjoy it during a raid. That is while we are raiding. I am sitting at the computer, playing my toon, and having a quiet smoke at the same time. I don’t expect others to stop and wait for me though. And if you’re not able to smoke inside, well that’s your problem. Why should it be mine?

In all of these examples the common problem is of people not considering others. If a few of us make the effort to be on time and ready to go, why can you not also award us the same courtesy? Our time is precious, for all of us. If we all agree to take time to do a raid then that is what we are doing. Smoking, if it takes time away from what I committed to do, is not a part of that. I committed to raid, so I will be on time, ready to go and with drinks and other things already arranged so as to not inconvenience others. Then we can all start and focus on what we are doing. You don’t turn up to work 30 seconds before you start. You come in a little earlier, have a chat to others, grab a coffee, find out what is going on, so by the time that you’re supposed to start you’re ready to go.

Of course things happen, real life can intrude sometimes, as it did to Sam. But to expect people to always wait for you, whether it be because you couldn’t be bothered to turn up on time or that you want to go outside and have a smoke, means that you need to retake that beginners course in human relationships 101.

I got a comment on my “Do noobs have more fun?” post on Saturday that was a bit weird. It went straight to my spam box where I have the possibility of approving it or not. I tend to approve almost all comments as I’ll take what I can get, obviously, but if I did approve this one then he would be able to comment automatically on my blog in the future. Which, considering the comment, does not fill me with oceans of joy. But anyway, I thought the comment warrented posting just because I can’t figure out what he’s talking about. Lets have a look at it, shall we?

“You were undergeared, hadn’t read all 187 pages at the warrior EJ forum, hadn’t learnt the ladder progression steps for your class, used the improper rotation for your level, and had to leave mid-run? And you felt proud because, hey, you “didn’t die”?

Fucking FAIL. Excuse me while I go to the Blizzard forums and various blogs and DENOUNCE players like you.

You’re probably lying, anyway. Read Gevlon’s blog. If you had done anything you said, you would have wiped many times, blamed everyone else, and gotten kicked anyway. DO NOT DISAGREE WITH GEVLON. HE IS GEVLON. YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS OF HIS WEALTH, AREN’T YOU?”

Can anyone else figure this out? At least trolls used to make sense. I can’t figure out for the life of me what the fuck he’s going on about. Any troll translation help would be most appreciated.

The last part about Gevlon is interesting in the sense of just how much he has permeated the blogging sphere in the last six months. Love him or hate him you will have an opinion on him. His name is on the way to becoming a term in itself. And when internet trolls routinely use you to make their, ‘point’, then you know that you’ve arrived big time. So well done there, Gevlon. I know you will be proud.

Not much to report from me. I could hardly get onto WoW at all due to real life commitments. Hopefully this week will be better, though I did take 30 minutes out to tank my first ever full instance run in Ragefire Chasm. We got the three bosses down, one wipe, (we were levels 11-15 with most of us on the low side). Larisa healed us for the first part then she had to go raiding and we swapped roles around and brought in a level 11 mage from the SAN guild. He did great and made a nice comment:

“I haven’t had this much fun in raiding for ages.”

Indeed.

The other night I had my first tanking experience on my groovy tauran warrior, BigKahuna. I am level 12. I figured that this was enough to go and tank Ragefire Chasm. We got together a group in the Single Abstract Noun, (SAN) guild. We had two warlocks, both level 12, another warrior, again level 12, myself, and a druid who was level 15. In we went. It was very strange going in as the tank. For all my WoW life I have been DPS, (although on one occasion I did heal a Stockades run). So to find myself going first with all the party dots behind me was unique. And quite scary. Oh, and all my gear was white, not even one green. I used thuderclap a lot, and shield bash, and erm, well that was it really because I hadn’t done my warrior quest at level 10 to get defensive stance, taunt and something else. I hadn’t done it because the quest just told me to go out to the Barrens and have a chat to someone or other. I figured that this was one of those change zone quests which point you in the next direction, but I was having fun in Mulgore so I hadn’t gone. I looked it up on wowhead after and sure enough, that is the warrior quest which gets you all the taunting goodness. Fail me.

So back to the run. I am happy to say that we didn’t wipe, not even one death. Although that may have had something to do with the fact that we didn’t make it to the first boss. One of the warlocks had to go and join his main raid group and then I realised that it was well beyond dinner time and my wife and dog were giving me ‘the look’, so I had to go as well. We had cleared quite a bit though and it had been a lot of fun.

So now I have to go and get my warrior quest done. But this got me thinking – if I hadn’t looked that up on wowhead, if I hadn’t known beforehand that I was missing a stance and some abilities, hell if I hadn’t even known what a stance was and what it did, then I wouldn’t have done that quest and core tanking abilities would have been lost to me. And if I was a new player there would be a very good chance in fact that this would be the case. I would just progress along, having fun, trying to kill stuff, and the first time I went into a 5 man with a group I would be ridiculed for being super-number-1-noob-of-the-world. And after a bit of this I suppose that I would just begin replying, ‘retard’, and before I knew it I would be a super-noob for reals!

Yet perhaps ignorance is bliss. At the end of the day all the noobs running around with 0/0/71 talent trees and no enchants or gems or the wrong gear or what have you, they’re all doing it their way. They’re having fun. They don’t get mad at other players for not having this or not having that. They’re just playing a game. Sure, I’m different from them. Anything I do I want to find out everything that I can and do it to the best of my ability, that gives me pleasure. But their way gives them pleasure as well. After all, it is just a game. And I am the one being annoyed by them, not the other way around. Perhaps noobs really do have more fun.

Larisa has a very interesting post up about the state of raiding in WoW. She links to an excellent post on Tankspot which talks about the lack of surprises in the game amongst many other things. Larisa writes about how much she enjoyed the Opera event in Karazhan – the randomness of the event meant that you could never fully prepare, there was always a twist at the end out of your control, ie which of the three bosses would it be? Due to all the information online we’re often going in completely prepared. Which means that our own level of discovery is cheapened as a result.

Larisa then mentions Violet Hold in the same example as having a random set of bosses that come out. But this is where I think that these two examples are completely different – to me there is nothing to distinguish between the bosses in Violet Hold. I couldn’t even tell you what they are and I have done it countless times. I don’t know what their abilities are. I just run up and DPS them down. They could be flying strawberries for all I know. But the Opera event, well, that I can tell you about. Why? Because I can relate to it. It has a background that I am familiar with. Little Red riding hood or the Wizard of Oz, we know these, so they mean something. And the fights are truly interesting. You have to think in there. I don’t have to think in the Violet Hold. I just have to wait for the tank to run in. If you don’t have to think then you won’t be surprised.

I still think that Karazhan is one of the best examples of a raid in WoW. The reason is not only becasue of the dynamic and interesting fights, the sense of discovery, the sheer attention to detail, the very careful pulling of trash mobs that was required, the quest series with ongoing rewards, the fact that you had to use crowd control. It was that the whole place made sense and you could relate to it. I cannot comment truly on Tankspots post in regards to ICC due to the fact that I haven’t stepped foot in ICC. Leaving all the projects that I am doing aside, it just doesn’t interest me. I can see it being like everything else in Northrend. Designed to be consumed quickly, (apart from Naxx of course but that came from vanilla.) Am I wrong? Is ICC worth the time? And are you ever surprised in there?

I had resisted jumping on the new blogging guild, Single Abstract Noun, as I didn’t want to distract myself from leveling my undergeared mage and sorting out my rogues pvp gear on her new pvp realm. Yesterday I had a free day and I decided to spend some time over there, however. I rerolled a tauran warrior called BigKahuna. I thought that this was a good name for a tank:

“Here comes the Big Kahuna! —— POW!”

And I have never played a tank before. I don’t know if this is a good idea as I always get lost in instances, or I get confused about which mechanic is which, so expecting people to follow me around will be interesting when it happens. Tauran warriors are not subtle, are they? Run in really fast, bash something on the head, then as soon as it dies turn and bash something else with the cool 20 second opener that you have from killing the first guy, which leads you on in an orgy of continual destruction until you wake as if from a dream state and see what was a nice green Mulgore field littered with a pile of corpses. I got to level 9 and then called it a day, but what an afternoon it was.

This guild is quite extraordinary. The chat is constant. Now normally that would be annoying, but in this case it is not. It is informative, amusing, entertaining and involving. The guild is made up of bloggers and people who read blogs, so you are starting off with a very highly informed player base in the guild. Then there are no idiots. Well, there may well be but they are doing very well to hide their idiot tendancies. Because the thing is, if you act like an idiot in a guild with 50 bloggers you can expect to wake up the next day to some serious internet grief. So everyone is just having a jolly good time. In fact, it may well be the best time that I have ever had in WoW. I eventually logged off and pottered around the house doing things that needed to be done, but lurking in the back of my mind was the desire to jump back online. To hang out with my cool new guild. And the feeling that I have to do this is the same one when I first began playing WoW. When I first started WoW I would literally be awake in the morning before I opened my eyes and already thinking about getting on the game. I don’t have that level of obsessiveness now, but it is something close to that same level of wonderment and discovery.

WoW has always been something of a social thing for me, but too often this has been poisoned by unwanted drama and in-fighting and the general malaise that weighs you down when you log on and are immediately whispered by five different people wanting you to either fix a problem or letting you know what new drama bomb has gone down since you were last logged on.

This new guild is another world in comparison to this old reality. You log on to see who is there and what they’re talking about. You log on to have a good time, and while doing that you re-immerse yourself in the fantasy game that we all know and love. The day I transferred my main rogue to the pvp server I spoke to one of the people that I know on my old server of Quel Talas. I told him about the new blogging guild. Last night when I logged back on he was there. He had rolled a new druid and joined and it was just such a nice feeling to see him there. It took me a good few weeks to summon up the courage to transfer my main off my original server. I would be leaving behind all those people who I had played this game with from the beginning. And yet here he was. And he was really enjoying it also. He said that it was such a refreshing change from all the stress and hassle of his main guild.

I don’t know where Single Abstract Noun will go. I don’t know if it is just in a honeymoon phase and will devolve until we begin talking about this time as that time of wonder when everything was good and groovy. But whatever happens I will enjoy this time now while it lasts, and I hope that it lasts a good long while.

So I have two projects and a new found interest on the go in WoW. It’s a complete turn-around from a few months ago when I had quit my guild and was standing around in Dalaran not knowing what I wanted to do. My mage in the Undergeared project is at level 65 and I hope for an all out levelling attack in the next couple of weeks to get him to 80. My rogue has been transferred to magtheridon for the Inglourious Gankers project, and I am busy gearing her up for PvP. I actually had a dream about being in a battleground last night. It was weird: I could see enemy players stealthed around me but I couldn’t communicate that to my team due to some sort of horror lag. It probably means that I’m sexually repressed or something.

And the third thing, or the new found interest, is the bloggers community guild. I rolled a shaman. I don’t know why, maybe because I like the colour blue. I hate healing, so I thought that seeing as it’s an RP realm I could be the healer who doesn’t want to heal but will if you pay him. It still won’t make it work. I’m going to try being a tank. Going to roll a Tauran Warrior. I love taurans, I think that they are epic cool, almost as much as I like trolls. The horde is really quite a cool faction. And I get to kill gnomes, what could be sweeter?

I don’t know which one of these will turn out to be my main interest, only one of them can be, particularly going into summer when my work demands go ballistic. But the difference with all three of these guilds is that they have all been formed with a purpose. Larissa wrote a lovely post on this today, and I too have been finding immediate attention from other players in an RP situation on Argent Dawn. And it sure beats the hell out of standing around in Dalaran.

Blogging and the internet is a revolutionary medium, in the sense that as writers, we are not subject to the brutal editing by editors working for advertisers. If you write for a magazine or a newspaper or a large web site, what you write or how you write it is often dictated to you by market forces. Bloggers have total freedom to write what they want – and I dare say that this is the first time in history that such a situation has presented itself. Oh sure, in the past you could write what you want in a journal and show it to a few friends, but bloggers can write what they want and reach all around the world in an instant. I often wonder if this particular turn of events will last.

The problem, as I see it, is that even with this total freedom a good number of bloggers restrict themselves because of a failure to understand just who they are writing for. This article, and it’s a long one, was on massively.com last month. It interviews a bunch of community managers from MMO companies asking them how people can make it as an MMO blogger. It’s a nice idea I suppose, but what a lot of it effectively amounts to is how bloggers can get game companies to like them. How you can get noticed, how you can foster a relationship and how to avoid pissing the companies off is all well and good. But it assumes that the reason you’re writing a blog is for the game companies to notice you. If this is true then you are nothing but a glorified fanboy and your blog will reflect that. Is your allegiance to your readers or is it to those that you write about – the companies that pay game designers to make the games.

An example of this that I found recently comes from World of Matticus. It’s a famous blog. One that the blogging community looks up to. Which is why when I see stuff like this that I begin to question his real motives for having a blog. To sum it up, Matticus was asked to write some articles for the Blizzard magazine, which were accepted and published but his name was not included anywhere in the publication. This hurt his feelings a little bit. In the post he said that the reason was that it was political, which as it turned out meant that in reality Blizzard just doesn’t like him very much. This he found to be crushing. To quote:

“… Its just crushing when you find out that the gaming company who you’re most loyal and passionate about has heard of you and doesn’t really like you. Sorry, this is bothering me a lot more than I thought it would …”

I would feel a little put out at that as well. I would not find it crushing that a company asked me to write for them, knowing full well that they didn’t respect me or my opnions but needed a space filler, and then refused to credit me and told me straight out that it’s political. I instead would find it extremely fucking rude. Maybe I would have given them back their dirty money and asked for my articles back. Stick it up your arse you bunch of wankers or something like that. Matticus didn’t want to do that as he needs the dough, it’s helping him out at a crucial time and fair enough too. We’ve all been there, I can respect that. So what he should have done is take their money and then turn around and publically give them the big fat fucking finger. Did he do that? Not exactly. He included a link in the same post to where people could sign up for the magazine. So while he was getting arse-pounded he was more or less turning around and giving them the big thumbs up through gritted teeth.

Now that’s pathetic, of that there is no doubt. But each to his own. What raises my hackles is the whinging that goes on. But Blizzard doesn’t like me, sob sob sob. And I was first in line to buy their games, sob sob sob. And all my friends played one of their games at my house, cry cry cry. Makes you want to just reach for a tissue. Can you imagine Lester Bangs doing that? I mean, really, can you imagine it? Great critics don’t care about the good opinion of their chosen target. It should be irrelevant. But all gamers want to be is fanboys. From the days of boardgame TSR and Wizards of the Coast right through to Electronic Arts and Blizzard, we’re just wide eyed gals on their big wedding night. And it’s a unique situation. Because these are companies, not artists. A film reviewer reviews the directors, actors, and crews collective work. They don’t go on about Touchstone pictures or whoever bankrolled the movie. A rock critic gets stuck into the band. He’s not really that interested in Atlantic Records for example, (unless they made unreasonable demands to commercialise the end product). But with video games, our only visual point of reference is the companies who make these things, (unless we get a gift like Ghostcrawler). So we have to criticise them. But if we like their game then we want to love them. Ask any WoW blogger what their dream gift from Blizzard would be, (as the Twisted Nether podcast regularly do), and the universal answer of extreme patheticness is;

a job.

That’s just mind-blowingly fucking crap. I can’t effectively communicate the depths of crappiness that is present with that response. If your dream is to work for Blizzard, (or any other company that makes these games), then you have no objectivity. You’re just a glorified fanboy writing in the hope that you will get noticed so that you can score the job of your dreams. It would be okay if bloggers would state that on their site heading: Glorified Blizzard, (or substitute any other company here), Fanboy. But they don’t. So then I have to waste my time reading them until I discover the sordid truth.

The first step up is to get a job on wow.com. Remember these are the guys who got into a big pissy pink fit because the forums weren’t being respectful enough to Blizzard. It just makes me want to claw my eyes out of my head in an orgy of blood enfused frustration. From there the ultimate hope is for the Blizzard execs to come and swoop down and scoop you up and fly you off to their big castle where you can work for them all day in an all-in orgy love fest, ala Patrick Beja.

Before blogs came about, before forums, before the internet, you purchased a game and played it and talked about it with your friends and that was pretty much all you had. Apart from the games magazines, and the closest you could possibly come with them was to write a letter to the editor and actually have it published. Now we have this incredible opportunity to be able to get our own thoughts and ideas out there, unfettered and unrestricted by publisher or advertising demands. And who knows how long this freedom may last. Because the companies that you dream of working for are really not that nice. These pinkly clouded visions that you have of working for these companies is far removed from the reality of games design. I wish that some bloggers would realise what an incredible opportunity it is that we have. It should not be us waving our hands trying to get the attention of game companies, it should be them waving their hands trying to get our attention. And the sooner we realise it the more power we will have.

In Burning Crusade I did a lot of battlegrounds, as I was farming honor to get the only epic swords reachable by me at that time. I got quite good at it as well. But then raiding took over and as there were no dual specs at that time it was a case really of one or the other and so I chose the other, which was raiding. Since walking out on my guild, raiding has taken a step back, particularly when the new LFG tool inexplicably removed raids from the drop down list, (as well as group quests, zones and looking for hawt chicks). It got to the stage where I wasn’t doing very much on my beloved rogue, except standing around in Dalaran seeing if there was a raid going.

Then Gevlon announced his new project. This is to try and retake a server that has been lost to a single faction. In this case the server is EU Magtheridon and the dominate faction is the horde. I am not keen on leveling another alt, but I thought to myself that this would be a good opportunity to do something with my rogue. I have a couple of high level pvp pieces that dropped from VoA runs, and I have one dagger, all I need is a few more pieces and a fast dagger. So I transferred my rogue. It says on the Blizzard site that it normally takes several days for a transfer to go through. Unless you are an Ally transferring to Magtheridon. It took 40 minutes. The blizzard team must have wet themselves. An Ally that wants to transfer to Mag?? Is he nuts?? Transfer him quick before he realises what he has done!!!

Boom! Transferred.

I have enchanting, (440) and jewelcrafting, (450). And I brought a good stack of mats. The auction house is devoid of most items and terribly overpriced, (a scroll of mongoose at 650gold and stacks of dream dust at 50g). There were no greater cosmic essences on the AH but a few level 70 green items under 10g. I snapped these up, disenchanted them and threw the stuff on. The AH should be interesting.

Then I went and did a few battlegrounds. Talk about rusty. But I quickly worked out what to do – find a paladin and make friends with them. Now I have to find another dagger and spec. Combat swords in pvp just doesn’t work that well, although Killing Spree can work wonders. Looking at the long dagger lst, the easist 1.40 speed dagger for me to get would be Krick’s Beetle Stabber from Pit of Saron normal mode. I’ll try and get that today. Then I have to work out a spec. The changes coming in patch 3.3 mean that subtlety could well be a very viable pvp spec. In the meantime I may well try this envenom mutilate spec. And I need to find a good place to gank Horde in Northrend. Any ideas?

I’ve changed the site layout as you can see. This is in response to a few people saying that they have been having problems reading the blog at work as the black background made it difficult to hide from their co-workers. As I am often in cahoots with law-breakers, I felt it only fair to indulge my good readership in their efforts in losing their job. So here is the new, ‘read-at-work-friendly-but-don’t-blame-me-if-you-end-up-living-on-the-streets’, look.

There’s a lot of talk on the blogosphere at the moment about guilds. So I thought that this would be an opportune moment to talk about the worst fucking guildie that I ever had. I would like to out her right here and now, but seeing as she is an attention whore that would be like giving a junkie smack to punish him for his sins. So I won’t. But I will tell you how utterly fail she was. She was ten layers of fail wrapped up in some chocolate coating that was full of laxatives which anyone who ever had her as a guild-mate likened the experience to flying from Sydney to London after eating that laxative cake.

Firstly, she was part of a husband and wife team, (she was the wife apparently). They were both in the guild and her husband was one of our core raiders, (this was back in Burning Crusade). She used this as a leverage, because the problem with couples is that if one gets upset and leaves then you know that the other one is going to follow. Which is fine, except if the other one is your main paladin healer. The first time I met this horrible cow I was just a lowly peon in the guild. If anyone has ever read my very first ever blog post, they will know that my main is a female night elf, cause their bottoms are damn hot and that is what I spend 90% of my time in WoW looking at so it may as well be a night elfs butt. I had been a part of the guild for a few months. I am quite vocal in chat when I put my mind to it. Lots of one liners, some of which are even funny. People in the guild liked me. But mad-cow really liked me, because she assumed that I was female because I had a female night elf which just goes to show how fucking stupid she was, as the only people who play female night elves are perverts like myself. When I found out that she actually thought that I was a female in real life I felt that I had to inform her of her mistake. Needless to say she went completely ape-shit. Apparently I had decieved her and every other girl in the guild, which was news to me. They were just jealous cause I was so fucking hot. At this point I didn’t have a real understanding of how much of a loopy-tune she was, so I apologised and stuff and calmed the situation down. All was good. Around this time the guild imploded mostly due to the fact that the GM thought of us as his personal property, serfs if you will. So a bunch of us told him to stick it and we formed our own guild. I should have known that things would not have turned out well when they took three whole days to decide on the guild name. I had come up with some great names, among them;

‘Somebody Boost Me’
‘The Crazy Eighty Eight’
and my personal favorite, ‘6ULDV8′.

And the name that they decided on after I told them that I couldn’t care less any more?

‘The Order of Dawn.’

What does that even mean?? Does that imply that I have to get up early? Or that we raid when other normal people are going to bed drunk with some stranger they found down the pub? I never found out, but Order of fucking dawn we were. And mad-cow was an officer, as was her husband. And I was one as well. I kept some notes over the next 9 month period. The bitch quit the guild 17 times. After about the third time I informed everyone, (except her husband of course which is why couples suck in a guild), that she was quitting as a means to get attention, get her own way, or a combination of both. Everyone agreed with me, nodded their heads, told me that I was right, and then let her back in again. She quit for unbelievable reasons. She turned up to a Karazhan run 20 minutes late with no soud shards, (she was a warlock, fitting I thought), and I chewed her out? /gquit. She deposited some items in the guild bank and wasn’t thanked by each and every individual guild officer? /gquit once again. All this would be fine except she interspersed her periods of nuttiness with periods of being the guild mother hen. The sort of person who is asking how you are, is everything okay, when the real reason that she is asking is not because she wants to be nice but because she wants to find out everything that is going on. But nobody wanted to be the one who kicked her permanently, except me but they wouldn’t let me. Because, as with deciding on the guild name, everything was done by mass agreement. Every single person had to agree before a decision was taken. Which meant that nothing got decided, a little bit like Italian politics.
Eventually she quit again and this time I announced to the guild that if they let her back in then I was quitting. I was the raid leader so this would not have been good. But a few weeks later I went away for a few days, came back, and she was back in the guild. As soon as I logged on I received a stack of hurried whispers explaining why she had been let back in, that this time was different, etc etc.

I said that the reasons were all nice and promptly quit the guild. I didn’t want to do it, a lot of my friends were in there, but sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do. Some time after, her and her husband transferred off the realm. That’s the nice thing about WoW if you’re a social wankstain; just change your name and transfer to some other poor unsuspecting realm. Have any of you got a husband and wife team in your guild that are out where the trains don’t run? Paladin and a Warlock?

Be afraid, be very afraid.

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