February 2010

I was listening to the Twisted Nether podcast episode with Tristan from the Elitest podcast, today. Okay, that’s not entirely true, let me back up a bit. I saw this post on wow.com today and it got me thinking about that episode from Twisted Nether, so I went back to listen to it again. That link from wow.com if you haven’t clicked on it already, (due to the fact that you’re afraid I’m going to try and install a keylogger on your computer), is about a group of sponsored gamers called The Frag Dolls. This is an all female gaming team which, and I will quote the article here;

“… This all-business gamer has helped create and lead the a multi-platform clan of more than 300 gun-toting women who compete across five FPS (First Person Shooter) games in 10 separate divisions …”

(Nice editing there, wow.com.)

So good luck to them, right? Empowerment to women and all that. It’s really good that they can do that, blah blah blah. But it immediately made me think of the podcast interviewing Tristan. You see, Tristan belongs to a guild called, ‘No Chicks Allowed’. So good luck to them too, right? It’s really good that they can do that too, right?

Nope. Listen to the episode, (around the 1 hour 15 minute mark), and he is clearly uncomfortable with the fact that he belongs to such a group. He feels that he must explain himself and the rationale is that in a mixed raiding guild, women get treated badly by immature men, apparently. So this is not due to boys not wanting to play with girls, it’s due to the fact that boys cannot be trusted to play with girls, that’s the real reason, so please understand and be nice to us we’re not bad really truly. He then gets asked if the reason that they don’t allow women is because they’re a bunch of ‘sexist trolls’. His reponse is an uncomfortable ramble comparing their guild with the prison system because you can’t put men and women together in prisons, (which I thought had to do with the sex thing which as far as I know isn’t possible over Vent but if it is, for the love of god somebody please let me know), and thus you can’t put men and women togther in raid teams. Obviously this is a pretty stupid analogy, but what can you expect from such a stupid question? According to Tristan, women can get victimised by the male majority in raiding guilds. I don’t know about that. I know that a lot of women that I have played with have been great. A lot of them have also been stupid fucking drama queens, rumor-mongers, trouble stirrers and in two instances guilds have broken up directly because of a female gamer causing problems. Does that mean that I label all women as problem-gamers? Nope, but I am aware that it can happen and I understand their reasoning behind having an all male guild. I just wish that they had the nads to stand up and say, we don’t want to play with girls and if you don’t like it just go and fuck yourselves. But they don’t. Instead they infer that men are intrinscially bad and women are intrinsically good so it’s better for women if the men just hide by themselves in a corner.

Because if women do this, if they make an all female guild or as in the case above an all female gaming team, (300 members don’t forget), it’s great and empowering and beautiful and you had better not fucking say anything negative about it. But if men do the same thing, well, watch the shit hit the fan. The really interesting thing is that a guild is a private entity. Your choices in your guild do not effect anyone outside the guild, (unless you want to be incredibly pathetic and say that in this case, as a woman, seeing the guild name ‘No Chicks Allowed’ makes you feel disempowered and it hurts your self esteem). But the all girl Frag team is actually sponsored by a company. They see a marketing value in an all female association. Not only are they not made to defend themselves, but they can get publicly sponsored for effectively doing the same thing as No Chicks Allowed. Whereas members of that all male guild are made to constantly defend their choice, (as Tristan says on the podcast, a thread about their guild will come up on the Blizzard forums every few weeks, and it is inevitably an attack).

Would an all male team get sponsorship for the fact that they are male? I doubt it. Unless maybe they put on a blonde wig and try and look hawt in a tight T-shirt.


I can remember a few episodes from when I was in high school were we organised to meet the kids we didn’t like after school ‘behind the bike racks’. Your good old fashioned rumble. I was usually the one directing the action from beihd the scenes, calling out commands, manouvering my troops and keeping a sharp eye out for the school caretaker. Fun times. Wouldn’t it be great to have that type of antagonism in World of Warcraft? There’s bound to be some player that you don’t like on your faction. You don’t like him, he doesn’t like you, the stage is set for an epic battle. But lets take it a step further – what if you started to call out his fellow guildies?

“I see you’re in the same guild as Deathkiller. He’s such a moron, you must be a moron to hang around him.”
“Who the hell do you think you are? Those are fighting words!”
“Yeah, so what are you going to do about it??”

Answer? Nothing, because there’s nothing that you can do. But what if there was …?

Imagine if your guild was able to declare war on another guild from the same faction. This would permanently enable pvp combat between the players of each guild at any time, anywhere. You would be able to stalk and harrass them, gang up on them, use espionage and infiltrate their guild, calling out their location to your own guildies. Imagine the real time battles that could happen in the streets of Stormwind – rumbles with real meaning. Epic battles outside the auction house or by the Onyxia summoning stone.

Yeah, yeah, that’s all well and good, I hear you say. But at the end of the day it doesn’t mean anything much apart from the risk of being ganked.

I suppose so, but what if we add another twist? What if you had a situation where if you killed a player from a rival guild you were able to take one item from them and equip it yourself?

Now it opens itself up to some interesting possibilities. You would have to walk around with an escort if you had some really nice gear, or else be really sure of your own pvp abilities. Or it would involve a lot of walking around naked. Either way it could definitely get the heart pumping. And a good deal of trash talking. And bring a level of diplomacy and political subterfuge into the game that is entirely missing. And of course, this would be possible on PvE servers. I think that it would be ten flavors of awesome. How else could we refine it?

Dear Blizzard,

Hopefully soon you are going to release Cataclysm. This will be good as it will give us something to do. I am sure that you are going to put off the release with various arenas/battlegrounds/crappy PvE content to keep us occupied because it isn’t ready yet. Seeing that it isn’t ready yet, may I request a few things for the expansion? If you don’t want to put these in I understand perfectly due to the fact that you are all very busy and are a bunch of fucktards. Now that we’ve got off on the right foot, let me make my humble requests;

1. Arenas – these make our lives and yours rather difficult due to balancing issues. I know that if you nuke them altogether then people will say that you failed before and 0.000001% of the player base will be upset, so this obviously isn’t feasible. Could we make some arena-only realms where the laws of physics and magic function somewhat differently there? That could then leave the other realms to be arena free and not have to suffer through all the balancing decisions made as a result of this tedious medium.

2. Outland – Is there any point to this place anymore? It was a rhetorical question. I know that you wish the levelling process to continue through Outland but you have to know that apart from Nagrand, we all fucking hate that place. I’m not saying get rid of it, leave it out there hanging in space like a pair of undies on the washing line that you forgot before going on holiday for three months to India and when you come back you haven’t the heart to touch them again. Just give us a few alternative zones on Azeroth to get from 60-68. I know, make old raid content as a levelling option. AQ40! Yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhh!!!

3. Gnomeragon – Is that how you spell it? Whatever, please make this a city just so that I never have to run this as an instance again. While we’re on the subject I feel that Maraudon and Dire Maul should be turned into something else, such as theme parks or nudist colonies. To be fair, I shouldn’t comment on Dire Maul as I’ve barely done any of it, only due to the fact that I could never find a group to bare going with me at the appropriate level. It’s in my dungeon finder now though, so perhaps I can get back to you on this one.

4. The Weather effects – I like them a lot, please make more of them. How about some high and low tides in different parts of the world? And four seasons, would that be possible? Spring in the desert with flowers everywhere, that would be so lovely …

5. Vanish – Could you … ? Like … fix it?

6. Professions – Do something, anything, please, I like crafting but it is WoW’s weak point. Surely you could make these more interesting and not merely leveling time sinks.

If I think of any more I’ll throw them up. Thank you Blizzard for your oh so valuable time.

I’ve had good PuG’s all weekend, (even the one where the paladin told me to jump into the lava on a corpse run back to Blackrock Depths because it was a ‘short cut’ and I stupidly took him at his word), but then I had the usual horror PuG from hell that you know is just waiting around the corner when things start going well. This one was about levels of badness that leave me without anything to say, so I will just write instead. I leave it up to my readers to determine who was the fail member of the group.

Dear Tanking person, a few things that I wish to bring to your attention before we go into this instance run. I would not call this a formal contract as such, but it does require your signature at the bottom. If this is asking too much of you, a large X will suffice nicely. You, who will from now on be referred to as the ‘tank’, will do your best to follow these simple rules and requirements whilst tanking this quick run. Firstly, please be aware that even though technically you are running into every fight first, this does not make you the defacto ‘leader’ of the group. Often the best leading is done from the back, as you are more likely to stay alive, and seeing as anyone can put the funny symbols on the mobs now, we can handle that quite effectively thank you very much. You are simply required to run in first and gather ‘threat’. This means that the monsters want to hang around you, so feel free to use any of the awesome AoE abilities at your disposal. Please be aware that we are not impressed with how many mobs you can gather up. We are impressed with how many mobs that you can keep. If you subtract the second number from the first number and you get something greater than zero, then you are not doing your job properly. Please adjust accordingly by reducing the number of mobs that you gather up. We know that this hurts your ego, but it is necessary.
Please be aware that we don’t require you to tell us all what to do at every step of the run. We know that we need to buff people, we know that we need to use certain abiltities, we know to stay out of the fire. We also know that we need to run very fast in order to be able to keep up with you. You do know that when you’re running very fast that we can’t heal you if we can’t see you, don’t you? Perhaps you should take that into consideration. Please also take into account our drinking requirements as we get thirsty often and need to stock up on a little thing called mana. If a DPS takes threat off you it either means that they are doing awesome DPS or that your tanking sucks. Lets assume the latter until the former is proven, shall we? If we let you run in first, then give you ten seconds to gather as much threat as you can, and then at the first damage we do all the mobs run to us, something is not going right from your end, capisci? On that note, if the whole raid wipes but you manage to stay alive, this does not make you a great tank.
I realise that calling you the ‘tank’ is slightly off-putting, but until you begin to address us by our names then you will just have to live with it.
On DPS – yes, it’s great that you can do DPS too, we all feel full of warmth for you. But your job is to hold threat, not to try and beat the DPS players in a DPS race. So please concentrate on that instead of linking recount in the middle of every fight. When a boss goes down there is some stuff called, ‘loot’, which drops from said boss. This is not for you to dish out as you see fit, and if someone asks if it is okay for them to roll need they are not specifically waiting for your own approval. Also, try and control yourself and not roll need on cloth gear even if the stats are awesome for you. I know this sounds obvious, but hey, you’re not the brightest spark in the room, are you?

This is a plug for the web site that has been my home page for a few months now, Grognardia. If you are an old school gamer, if you grew up rolling funny dice and spending two hours agonising over whether to open the door or not, then this is the blog for you. James Maliszewski writes exceptionally well, (his book and game reviews are awesome), he has a stack of content and he also gives detailed updates on his current tabletop RPG campaign. Go back through the archives and start from the beginning, (they’re listed under Dwimmermount and have the number next to them, the latest being Dwimmermount 30), it’s a wonderful way to laze away a cold Sunday. He also posts about old games, whether they be modules, supplements or the games themselves, so if you played these then this sure brings back a lot of memories. It’s just a wonderful site, so enjoy.

Oh, and for those of you who don’t understand the blog name, it comes from the French word, Grognard, which means grumbler or complainer. Historically it refers to a member of Napoleans Old Guard who saw him through thinck and thin but grumbled a lot. The term was then picked up by tabletop gamers in the 1970’s, which is where it is relevent here.

The other night my awesome troll mage who’s hobbies include knitting, vomiting and flying to the moon, headed for the first time into Blackrock Depths. It’s been a few years since I last set foot in here, and let me tell you something:

I had no idea where to go. And neither did anyone else in the PuG.

They’ve split the instance into two halves, but I’m buggered if I know which is the end boss. We walked into the big circular bit with packs of hell hounds and iron dwarves wandering around the edges. We cleared them up and then it was literally a case of einey meeny miney moe. We picked a random corrider, walked down it to the end while killing a few unfortunates, went down some stairs, killed some other unfortunate and the little flash came up saying that we had completed our PuG and had a nice bag of goodies to open, (which knowing the usual run of events would be a pair of tanking gloves masquerading as cloth.) This is supposed to be one of the longest instances ever. They designed the new dungeon finder to be quick. They even divided the longer instances into little bits, because they knew that we’d want to do it quick. So why on earth couldn’t they have stuck instance maps in there like in Northrend? I mean, is this really hard to do? Does it take up a lot of time? Are we asking too much for you to do this instead of designing another fucking non combat pet?

Don’t get me wrong, I like to explore. I enjoy taking my time. I would love to wander around and go through it bit by bit – but PuGs don’t. They want to be in there and out of there faster than a sailor with the only ten minutes of shore leave that he’s seen in six months. The other really crap thing about these dungeon finder runs is that you never know where the hell you are. Scarlet Monastary has three or four wings, but the dungeon finder doesn’t tell you which one you’re in. So you wipe, and you rez outside and you run back, (a mission in itself as I never have any idea where I’m going anymore), and then you walk into the entrance hall and then are 4 instance entrances … so …. which one do I go in? They couldn’t just write something at the top of the screen somewhere? Is that asking too much??

I solved this one though: you just walk into any entrance of the instance, then you walk out which means that you’re teleported back to your own realm, and then you hit the roving eye on your little mini-map and it teleports you back to where you’re supposed to be … damn good streamling that.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m apprehensive about hitting the random dungeon button. At least most of the groups find themselves in the same dilemma – which usually results in us doing weird things together that we never do, like talking. Maybe Blizzard did this on purpose.

So Blizz, some maps plz, k, thx, bye.

So apparently only 30% of trial players make it past level 10. This makes me a fucking genius for getting a toon to 80. Taking away all the gold farmers and other hijinks of that type, I find this very weird. I mean, have you seen how long it takes to download a trial version of this game? It’s a long time. Really long, like seeing your bus leaving as you’re running down the road to catch it and then, knowing that you have another hour to wait, you go into a cafè and order a coffee and there’s a girl there and you want to talk to her becuase she looks lonely and cute and stuff and you think that you could make her life better, you could make a difference and that sweet lonely looking girl would transfer all her attention to you and …

Fuck! I’ve missed the bus again!

That kind of long.

So after all of that, you start up the game and you don’t get past level 10?? Okay, I know that I downloaded Age of Conan and I didn’t get to level 20, but that’s because Age of Conan sucked big hairy donkey balls of suckiness. Wait, maybe that’s what they think of WoW. Could people actually think that WoW sucks? How could they think like this? This is blasphemy! The starting area isn’t that bad, I know because I did it with my troll mage just a few months ago. Oh wait, no, it sucked. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. The amount of stupid inane things that I had to do. But it’s not as if the rest of the game is like that.

They better get Cataclysm out quick.

By the way, anyone noticed the horror lag? Larisa has written about it, and Blizzard has an anouncement on the start-up screen saying that they’re aware of the problem, blah blah blah. But could it be that all this lag is the precurser to a pre-cataclysm world event? There was a good deal of earthquake movement before the lag. Stranger things have happened.

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