June 2010


[Host]: Good evening everyone, and welcome to the first in a series of interviews with the unsung background heroes of World of Warcraft. Tonight we have a very special guest, someone that I know a lot of you have met in the past, the Defias Traitor, better known to his friends and family as, Terry.

[Terry]: Thanks Dale, and it’s a real pleasure to be here.

[Host]: So, you’ve been a traitor to the Defias Brotherhood for quite some time now …

[Terry:] Over five years.

[Host]: … over five years, incredible. Tell me, how do you balance out being a traitor of this sort with your everyday life?

[Terry]: That’s a good question. I hide a lot, as you may imagine. I still live in Westfall but I’ve had to disguise myself somewhat and alter my life style.

[Host]: Can you give us any details of that?

[Terry]: Well, more or less I’ve disguised myself as a riverpaw gnoll. And I live with a tribe of riverpaws who don’t actually know that I’m not a gnoll. It’s a pretty good disguise, although it can get a bit hot and it’s a pain in the butt when the flies get into it. The life style isn’t that great, we sit around the fire a lot and keep a look out and that sort of thing. Thinking back I should have disguised myself as a shaman, cause they get the best cuts of raw meat, but I can’t cast spells so that would have been a bit of a problem I suppose.

[Host]: Fascinating. So what is the biggest challenge to your day to day life?

[Terry]: That would have to be the Patrolling Westfall quest from Captain Danuvin, man I hate that guy. What I do is try and keep a stack of gnoll paws handy that I surreptiously cut off of the other gnolls when they’re not looking. So if some paladin attacks me I just feign dead and throw a couple of paws on the ground and normally they’re really happy with that and they fuck off and leave me alone.

[Host]: So is that why gnolls sometimes don’t drop paws when you kill them?

[Terry]: Yeah, sorry about that.

[Host]: Okay, we have a question from a viewer at home who wants to know why you don’t take a circuitous route to show the Deadmine hideout, and why you walk so damn slowly? It’s a good question this one as I’ve been wondering this myself for a while.

[Terry]: Well you gotta understand that I’m not in this for the money, I’m in this for the thrills and a bit of revenge. Sure, I could just jog around the back of the village there, go by the graveyard and point out the entrance from a distance, but where would be the fun in that? And you can bet that any of those pussy Defias who cheated me in all those poker games wouldn’t get it from whomever is doing the quest. So I like to take them right through the middle of the village and take it nice and slow. That way I can be sure that at least some of my old partners in crime get what’s coming to them.

[Host]: Do you have any advice for people who are thinking of getting into the traitor game?

[Terry]: Being a traitor has a lot of scope to it, and a lot of future. I mean, look at that poor Defias Messenger guy. Apart from the fact that he has to run all the time, so you know he’s always tired out, it’s almost a certainty that he’s gonna get killed. Whereas I have a good chance to come out in front. Make sure you get a gnoll costume with good ventilation though. And make sure that the costume isn’t good looking either. Man, that was a big mistake.

[Host]: Terry, thanks very much for your time.

Yesterday was a bad day for me. We all have bad days, I suppose. Where you get up in the morning and discover that you’re married to a horrible slug and you’ve got two children to her. Actually, that’s just a bad hangover that’s lasted a few years. Anyway, yesterday was a bad day. Things just didn’t seem to gel, but finally in the late afternoon I had a bit of free time before my ex-girlfriend was coming around for dinner with her partner who happens to be my best mate, so I jumped on WoW. Going to do some mining! Actually what I did was regem my PvE set from agility to attack power as I have pushed the crit cap. It made quite a bit of difference too. So I needed a bunch of epic gems, which I get through honor points. I have a shit tonne of stone keeper shards so my goal was to win Wintergrasp so I could hand some of them in for honor tokens. Easier said than done. But it was only 20 minutes to the next WG and a guildie suddenly asked who was in for a WG team, and a bunch of us put up our hands and I had high hopes of winning.

We formulated our strategy, just like in the ‘old days’ from the ganking guild, and away we went. First job was to get promoted, which everyone managed to do except for me. So I was told to protect the sieges, which I was hoping to do if I could only get to them from halfway across the map where I was trying to find a guard, any fucking guard at all so I could kill them and get promoted. gevlon sent me a whisper of ‘where the fuck are ya?’, and all I could manage was a timid ‘omw’ while trying the hell to catch up to them.
So I caught up and killed a hordie who was trying to take the two sieges and I got promoted but I got told to hang around with them. So what did I do? I stood at the wall next to the sieges while they hammered at the defences. there were no horde around to defend against so I just stood there. And stood there. And stood there some more …

‘Can you get in a cannon and start shooting??’

Oh yeah, the cannons … I could do that … oops.

So I get in the cannons and start shooting and we take down the first wall and get the second wall halfway down and then the seiges get taken down and we die. Rez back at Broken temple and we get some demolishers which we take off to hide behind the tree in our good old demo shooting over the wall strategy. Except I don’t really hide mine very well because I’m watching what’s going on until …

“Could you hide your demo BEHIND the tree??”

Oh yeah, the tree, behind it, sorry about that … oops.

So we’re waiting and waiting for the right time to sneak them in and then the faceless numberless Alliance on the other side of the map manage to break in and win the game. Oh good, well done, I suppose we contributed … Well I got my honor points so all ends well. I regem and I’m off mining some nodes when I get a whisper from Gevlon. It seems that I invited someone into the guild who may have already had an alt in the guild but we’re not sure because I didn’t do any checking when I invited them and my only freaking task to do if I invite someone is to check which I didn’t do so then we had to kick the new guy who was offline and then everyone in the guild started up with, why did he get kicked? what did he do and then we had to spend 15 minutes explaining everything and more people came online and we had to explain to them but in fact it was gevlon doing most of the explaining and me sitting there feeling like an absolute idiot and it was a bad fucking day okay????

Saturday morning rant over. Everyone please go back to your homes. Nothing to see here.

The best way to do something that you are not sure about doing is to just do it and then afterwards have a good cry if you think you have made a serious fucking mistake. Or hire a good lawyer. I don’t need a lawyer and I haven’t had a good cry … yet. You see, yesterday I deleted fully maxed 450 enchanting with a stack of Vanilla and BC enchants on my main. I’d been deliberating on it for weeks. And once again I found myself deliberating when I just thought, fuck it. And I pressed the delete button and it said, ‘what the fuck? Are you sure??’, and I said yes and then it was all over.

Whoah.

I’ve had enchanting on my main since the beginning. I suppose apart from my hearthstone that this profession was the last original thing remaining. And I just blew it off like Suzzie McTavish used to do for us at year 10 parties. Oh well. And what have I dumped it for? Engineering. Which was not funny when a guidie jumped in chat literally 5 minutes after I performed the dumping and informed us that he had dumped engineering because it was useless. Aww fuck, don’t say things like that.

I haven’t taken engineering yet, I took mining. I want to gather up the resources to power level it in one day, and there is a serious lack of raw mining mats on the AH. No saronite or cobalt ore yesterday. And common wrath gems going for stupidly high prices. So I’m running around Westfall and Duskwood doing some gathering. And you know what? It’s nice, I’m enjoying it. I like grabbing a new profession like mining and taking it up. You get to run around and see all the old content again. Say hello to old friends, and then kill them if they get in the way of your mining nodes. What the hell is it with aggro radius and nodes? I can walk right through any of these level 15 mobs without them even glancing in my direction, but as soon as I hit a node they come running to attack me from miles away. Hello? If you wanted the node why didn’t you just take it yourself? Now I have to fan of knives you all to the deaths.

I reinstalled gatherer and it still had all my old data! Sweet! So a mining we will go. We jumped into ICC last night for the first run with the new guild, and I got a nice chest drop for a measley 1700gold which is a huge upgrade over my old piece of twaddle. There were a few drops that nobody wanted though and before I knew it the raid leader had given them to me to disenchant.

Erm … there’s something that I haven’t told you guys is there …

So today I transfer my hottie night elf rogue, Elizzà, away from the horrors of the Magtheridon realm. The ganking project has been a lot of fun and I’ve learnt a great deal, so it’s only fair that I mention some highlights of the experience that I can look back at in a few years and wonder at the horror of it all, (just kidding!).

Things I learnt.

Being in a guild can be a lot of fun if it’s not populated by drama seeking attention whores, soul sucking leeches and the socially and skillfully inept. A typical message in guild chat could go something like this:

“Anyone want to run a random heroic with me?”

And that would be it, no replies. People that wanted to go would whisper for an invite. What’s missing here? Well, the times when nobody would whisper of course. In other guilds in the past that would result in the person who received no replies having a massive drama bomb meltdown because, “nobody likes me or wants to help me!” This was completely absent from the guild.

I learnt how to PvP and I learnt to appreciate and value a PvP realm. These two go hand in hand. I didn’t want to play on a PvP realm because I didn’t know how to PvP, and I didn’t want to have to suffer the ingnonimy of being ground to dust by the other faction. I had nightmares of level 77 death knights wiping the floor with me. In truth, it wasn’t that bad at all. It did take me a while to get my PvP skills up to scratch, but now I’m a better player for it. I would never voluntarilly choose a PvE realm again. I look forward very much to the level 80-85 levelling process in Cataclysm on a PvP realm.
I also got my PvP gear set. Sure it won’t last a week in the next expansion, but now I know how to get a good set quickly and I know and appreciate the difference that it made.
I got into Wintergrasp and learnt how to play it. Prior to this guild I had never set foot into that place, for reasons tied to the PvP realm bit. There were some battles in there which were extremely memorable, not least the one where Gevlon and I hid a pair of Demolishers off to the side of the keep when on attack. After our first assault had fizzled out against the walls and the horde ran out to kill all the Alliance, we moved them quickly up, took down the first wall and then positioned them to shoot over the second wall at the main door, taking it down and winning the battle. Awesome stuff.

Playing arena matches for the first time and getting fairly competant was also a big deal. I would like to thank my arena partner Eluzis and demand that he transfer with me. Come on bro, you know you want to.

Being around a guild full of goblins you cannot help but learn how to make gold, and make gold I did. Not huge amounts, but more than I have ever had in game. The stuff just seemed to pour in. Which is why I loved those GDKP runs so much. Here’s hoping I can make the golds on the new realm.

Running raids with competant players. This was really amazing. No arguing, no fighting, no blaming, no defending from criticism. Just honest appraisal with the goal of killing the boss always foremost in mind. People removed from the raid for not being up to scratch and then seeing them there the next week, trying harder and improving on their past performances. Idiots being quickly culled from the ranks with no drama, (usually there was a disinterested comment along the lines of, “well I suppose we better find another priest then”), gave the good players the comfort and security to know that they could just get on with the job. They knew their leader would get their back.

I hope that you all have enjoyed my reports and ramblings on the Ganking Project. It’s been a lot of fun sharing it all with you. So now we head on to a new adventure, Gevlons PuG project. May the good times continue.

A lot of gamers are scared of PvP. Really, really scared. Like when you were a kid and were convinced that there was a godawful globbulous slime thing under your bed that was gonna get you kind of scared. I know, I was one of those scared players. But then I moved to a PvP server and I saw the light. I saw the light my brothers! (and sisters too I suppose). Anyway, here are some tips on what it will be like for you when you enter the new wide world of a pvp server.

First off, lets start with rolling a new toon. You have your new little gnome mage or whatever the hell it is in your brand new world. And lets be honest, you’re scared shitless. But after a little while you work out that nothing bad can happen to you in the starter zone. So you run around and do your quests and stuff and all is nice and good in the world. But then comes the horrible moment when you cross for the first time into a zone labelled, ‘Contested Area’. Now every move you make is fraught with danger for you could be ganked at any moment …

I levelled a gnome warlock up to about level 30 on an RPPvP realm a few months ago, just to check out what this RP thing was like, (stupid and dull and populated by people who still play with dolls and knight lego sets). I never got ganked, not even once. But I tell you what, it was a lot more exciting. There is a warlock quest that sends you over to the Barrens to talk to some dude. Now the Barrens is serious horde territory. I was only a low level 20 when I had to set foot over there. I figured that the best way in was via Theramore Isle, up through Dustwallow Marsh, (where I fully expected to have to corpse run a bit due to aggro issues), and then into the Barrens. The first surprising thing was that I managed to get through the marsh without being killed. I aggroed a few crocodiles and what have you, but my little feets ran a treat and I scampered away. I also ran past a few horde who kind of regarded me with a faintly bemused expression, kind of along the lines of, ‘what the fuck are you doing out here?’.

So into The Barrens I arrived. This was exciting stuff. Instead of taking the road I decided to travel along the tops of the mountain peaks, which was also good for avoiding packs of mobs which could easily make my life a misery at my level. I scrambled along these all the way up to where I had to find the dude. It was very exciting stuff, mostly because I was an outlaw in an enemy land. Do this on a PvE server and you basically waltz your merry way to where you want to be. But I got in and out without being ganked and that was a very satisfying feeling.

Transferring my rogue across to the PvP realm for the ganking project, I had the same type of worries, only now I was a level 80 in Northrend. My first few trips out into the wilds to do my JC dailies had me reduced to a nervous wreck. But once again I never got ganked. I still remember the first time I actually ganked a player. I crept up on a warlock in the Storm Peaks who was doing his daily. I waited until he had just killed a mob and his health and mana were not at maximum, then I cheap shotted him from behind. It turned out to be an epic battle due to my PvP crapness at the time and I only just managed to take him out. I then quickly got the fuck out of there as I was terrified that he was going to come back with 5 of his mates.

Playing on a PvP server is not that different from a PvE one. World PvP doesn’t really exist anymore. But it gives you an extra dimension to the game and rewards you with the option of actually killing that player from the enemy faction who is making your life a misery. And if your own PvP skills aren’t up to the task? Well, you’re just going to have to get better, and that’s always a good thing.

Gevlon is winding up the ganking project, effective probably within the week. Those of us in the project received the news yesterday on our forum. The reaction was sadness and a lot of support for Gevlon, whereas he had been bracing himself for anger. The interesting this is that I was going to write this post last week, but I didn’t due to not wanting to jinx the project. Irony for the winner.

It is no secret that I have enjoyed the ganking project immensely, as it gave new focus and goals as well as the opportunity to learn new skills to my WoW game. But as we progressed a little doubt began to nag at me. My enjoyment was all based on the whim of one person. If he decided to pull the plug then it would be over. Nobody else would be able to step in and take his place. To understand why this is so, you have to appreciate the enormous amount of energy and sheer force of will that Gevlon put into the project. And in a way, us guildies were feeding off that. We were doing our part to be sure, (well most of us), but I knew that I could always count on Gevlon to be there and sort things out. And is it fair to burden someone with that amount of responsibility? Of course, Gevlon started the project, it was his decision to do it, so it is his responsibility. But how many times have you started something and not really realised what you have gotten yourself into?

Yesterday after the news broke, there was a lot of discussion in guild chat about someone to replace Gevlon and carry on with the project. I made it very clear that I would not be interested in taking on such a role. It requires the leader to be online every day. You can’t take a break from leading something of this type. And you cannot effectively delegate responsibilities to other players in the guild, no matter how capable. At the end of the day it is force of will alone that carries something like this forward. Perhaps that is why it was so enjoyable. But it is very hard to keep up that sort of performance over a long period of time.

But the disappointment at its conclusion must be balanced with the positives to take from this experience. Apart from finally learning how to PvP, I have to say that I have never played with a group of people of such a high skill level and such a low dickhead factor. Perhaps this was the true secret to why I enjoyed the project so much. Gevlon is set to announce a new project in the next few days. Will I be joining that one? Lets wait and see what it is. But if he manages to attract the same calibre of player it will be very tempting indeed. Let us only hope that the project is something sustainable and not balanced on the force of will of one person.

Tobold has an interesting post today where he talks about the holy trinity of MMO’s – tank, healer and dps, and the problems associated with these. There are three basic issues:

1. It’s kind of unrealistic that a smart monster would just stand there and hit the taunting tank while everyone else takes him down.
2. It’s difficult for tanks and healers to level as their damage dealing abilities are weaker than that of dps.
3. You get skewed numbers – too many dps available and not enough tanks or healers.

He has some ideas on how to address these issues, but at the end of the day this is still just window dressing. You’re always dealing with the ‘holy trinity’, so what you’re doing is just changing around abilities a bit to make those three different roles work, which is a bandaid solution at best.

I have another idea entirely – get rid of tanks and healers and make everyone dps. Change the way the encounters work. The one way to differentiate between all the dps classes in this situation would be buffs, mitigation and crowd control. The last aspect is key. Attacking a boss becomes no longer an issue of having one player stand at the front and get hit a lot. It switches to different classes taking it in turn to lock down an enemy while the other party members deal dps. With no healing available, a characters damage mitigation and their skill in using it becomes key to surviving. There are still all three roles present:

Tanking becomes crowd control.
Healing become damage mitigation.
DPS is still DPS.

It would mean that players would have to become responsible for all 3 roles, constantly switching back and forth in harmony with the rest of the group. Every group make-up would be different, requiring you to come up with new ways and tactics to defeat a boss. There would be no tankspot style videos online as the random possibilities based on the classes present in each group would be so different. You could still research a boss online but what you would be researching is their abilities and ways to counter them. This would require that crowd control abilities would work on bosses. It could encourage more realistic fights. I’ve never been a fan of the big room fight situation where the players carefully pull each section of the room while the other mobs stand there with their fingers up their butt seemingly unconcerned that their buddies standing 20 feet away are getting their faces ripped off. With all classes being DPS you could realistically take on a room full of opponents. Remember the Zul Farrak fight on the high steps where waves of mobs came swarming up at you? I think that is one of the best ever fights in WoW. The first time I did it I was enraptured and pumped full of energy. It’s a full-on battle fest, yet at its core it is simple.

This system would solve the three problems listed above and would also lead to better PvP situations. It won’t happen of course in WoW as Blizzard has already invested too much time and effort in the present system. But if I was a new game looking to be the next big MMO, this is the direction I would take.

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