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.

Most blog readers know about Big Red Kitty, the famous hunter blogger. He stopped blogging, swearing never to return and has now returned. The reason for him showing up again like the dude at the party who left drunk a few hours ago saying he had to go to work tomorrow and then is found on the couch waxing prophetic about steak recipies is due to him being asked to Alpha test Cataclysm. I suppose that he could have just done this without causing much of a hoo-haa, but us bloggers like to wax lyrical so his blog has started up again as well as him beginning to appear on podcasts.

I was never a big BRK fan mostly due to the fact that I thought he was a pompous dude who also played a hunter and I was a little bemused at the interblog hero worship that emerged dripping on each and every one of his pronouncements. So when his blog started up again I thought I’d go and give him another chance, to see if I could get into all the hero worship, cause I really need a hero. Maybe so I could hang a poster of my hero on my bedroom wall. When was the last time any of you hung a poster of your hero in your bedroom? I don’t think my wife would be impressed though.

So anyway, his blog now consists of him detailing his alpha testing in no detail. There is no detail because he is bound by the NDA. So what he’s doing is writing down a list of stuff, something like what I could do if I was learning how to swim but wasn’t allowed to give any details:

1: it’s warm, yey!
2: I have to do what?
3: Ok, that works I suppose.
4: Hawt chicks, yeah.
5: Do I have to …. oh damn
6: Gotta get some new equipments.

I think the first post was nice and original and stuff but I couldn’t get through the second one as it gets lame very quick. It’s not funny and it doesn’t include the reader. It leaves you on the outside. I mean, I could mention on this blog that I got to hang out with lots of hot chicks in my disco last night and that would be all fine. But if I kept rubbing your faces in the fact every day I think most readers would begin to get a bit jaded. So yeah, you’re in the alpha and you’re not giving us any details because you can’t and you’re going to tell us that every day. Big fucking deal. Which would be fine because I don’t have to read his blog but almost every blogger out there is going on about BRK is back, BRK is here to save the world, blah blah blah.

Well excuse me for being underwhelmed.

The title of this post is a comment that I received a few weeks ago on a post of mine. What prefaced this line was mostly stupid, but then the commenter finished off with the classic line, ‘I used to enjoy your posts.’

Obviously what he is trying to say here is that my posts used to be of some worth but now they are not. What is also impled is that I, as said writer of these posts, should begin to start writing as I used to write before when he was actually enjoying them. What is also present here is a power play, an implied threat that I will lose a reader, and that if he is feeling this way then many others will as well.

I just want you to know that I really couldn’t give a shit either way. Stay or go, read or don’t read, whatever lights your fire. It’s nice to have days when I get a huge number of hits on my blog, but it’s not the be all and end all of why I do this. Blog statistics are kind of like damage meters in that way. Yeah they give us information, and it can be very valuable, but to lose sight of everything else just to keep that number ticking over is to lose sight of what your original objective was. My objective was to be able to communicate what I think about the game in a forum of my own choosing and control. If you used to enjoy my posts then that’s great. If you don’t anymore then I’m sorry that you don’t but I’m not going to get up in the morning thinking, ‘Oh crap I better do a ‘good post’ today so as to satisfy that percentage of my readership that used to enjoy my posts but now don’t.’

I’ve got better things to do than that, like drink my coffee and ponder over whether Webber can win a third race in a row. Don’t get me wrong, I value the readers who take the time to post a comment on my blog, and I approve all of them. I think I have only ever deleted two and that was by mistake. I’ve been called all sorts of names, been ridiculed, had aspirtions cast on my general character, whatever. I’ll approve them. What a love is when I approve a comment attacking me and my readership takes it upon themselves to come to my defense. That’s awesome. There have been a few comments in the last weeks from people saying, ‘long term reader, first time commenter.’ Those are fantastic, and I hope that you keep commenting.

But I will still write whatever the fuck I feel like writing, and if you enjoy it, great. If you don’t, go read something else. It’s not like you’re starved for choice.

There has been a lot of words written in the WoW blogosphere in the last few weeks about the difficulty of holding guilds together at the moment, let alone actually recruiting. This is of course perfectly natural and on par with the life cycle of the game between expansions. If it wasn’t happening then I would be surprised. Added to that the fact that we’re heading into summer and it’s just a bit too much to expect people to have their standard drive for a game. I myself took a break from the game just after WotLK was released. I left it for about four months. No big deal, I just wasn’t interested anymore, and I needed a break. We all need a break from time to time.

So this period is about trying to keep your guild from falling apart. That doesn’t sound like much fun. I know that it wasn’t fun for me at the end of burning crusade. I was so zonked after that process that I promptly took those four months off. I did it the day the Wrath expansion pack arrived at my door. I opened the box, looked at the cover and just thought that I didn’t want to know about this right now. The game stayed wrapped in its celophane on my desk for all that time. Lets face it there is nothing left to do. We’ve all run these instances a million times, dailyed our brains out of existence and battlegrinded our way to mental oblivion. And no Ruby Sanctum dragon run is going to change any of that.

But I’m not bored at all, on the contrary. I’m having a great time in WoW right now and I have to thank Gevlons ganking project for that. It’s given me a new focus for the game. When I log in I have many things to do, all of them to help us reach our common ganking goal. It could be playing the AH a bit to get some more gold for a GDKP run, or running some battlegrounds for the honor, or playing some more arena matches for the gear and experience, or running some raids, or greatly upsetting the horde when they try to win a fishing contest, or ganking their faces off at the jewelcrafting daily. And all of it for a common goal. And all of it with other people from the guild who have the same goal. And the guild keeps growing. New players join every day. We really need warlocks and mages at the moment, so if you have one of those and you’re bored with the game at the moment why not transfer over and join? If you do transfer, bring a lot of profession mats with you, just a friendly tip.

There has also been quite a bit of talk recently concerning the state of MMO’s, with the usual screeching directed at Blizzard as the main culprit. This culminated this week with wolfshead’s rant. A major complaint is that these games don’t encourage community anymore. Look, I’ll spell it out for you all. Blizzard gave us the tools within the game to be social, but they sure aren’t going to hold your hand to make friends. Social is what you make of it. Does social mean that you need to whisper other players trying to make friends? I suppose you can try that if you like, but you won’t be getting me to hang around with you for very long. I’ve made a bunch of new friends and contacts in WoW over the last few months, both from the blogging guild and the ganking guild. People working towards a common goal or people with a shared passion playing together. The game is what you create from it, and that’s the greatest freedom of all. Some people just can’t handle freedom when it’s given to them, even when they have been clamouring for it.
The problem that players like Wolfshead have is when they log on they want to be entertained. I think that it’s amazing and testimony to the game itself that WoW has managed to do this for them for so long. But sooner or later the fun runs out if you don’t make any effort yourself. The ganking guild is a creative use of the game at a time when many players are left standing around in Dalaran hoping for inspiration. I haven’t stood around in Dalaran for a long time now.

Yesterday we held Wintergrasp for three straight victories. We lost the fourth because by that stage the horde were so annoyed they must have turned up with everyone on the server and the zerg was impossible to stop. We now have almost 40 level 80 players in the guild, so at any one time at least 10 of us are going into WG. The strategy planning is interesting because we have to make provision for two things: how to win against the horde and how to counter the random idiots who will show up on our own team. Someone will put forward a good attack plan but then we will spend most of our time working out how to send our moron allies off out of harms way, while thinking that they are at the cutting edge of the battle.

Anyway, after the third win we decided to do a VoA 25 man run. Half were guildies and half were PuGs. Crucially, the tanks were members of our guild, so we could easily control the run. A few of the PuGs were very loud-mouthed in the lead up to starting the run. I don’t know if they were excitied about seeing a 25 man VoA on the server after 60 years of not having one or if that was their normal behavior, but whatever the cause they were vocal and moronic. Gevlon may not be the best tactical leader but he sure is the best leader of the group when there are morons to be dealt with that I have ever seen. The first boss we did was the stone giant, and Gevlon announced before the fight that this was a dps test and anyone who did under 1500 would be kicked. Nobody was kicked. Then we did the Fire boss with the same conditions applying. Still nobody was kicked. Don’t get me wrong, they were vocal about this, but when it came time to put out the damage they got their heads down and did it. Then we moved on to the Ice boss that drops the sweet 270 loots. Gevlon came up with a fantastic plan: the lowest ranged dps on the orbs wouldn’t get any loot. There was howling about that, but when it came to the fight everyone did what they were supposed to do and we one shotted the boss. He dropped, and within 10 seconds the chat was filled with something like this; (I’m para-phrasing)

“Gevlon you fucking piece of shit you can’t fucking run it this way who the fuck do you thinkl yopu are you fucking son of a whore …”

He went on for quite a bit longer. Then unsurprisingly, he was kicked. This was a shadow priest, (there were no cloth drops), who put out 6800 dps, and who had been one of the vocal idiots during the whole run. I asked in chat what was his problem as I genuinely had no idea. His problem was with the rule for ranged dps on orbs. Forcing him to do his job had caused his dps to drop below some of the melee on the recount chart. Thus his temper tantrum.

I was staggered by this. I mean, we all make fun of gearscore, we all argue over recount and what its positive and negative points are, but at the end of the day most of us doing the arguing here in the blogosphere are somewhat sane and rational. So to see recounts true effect on players who don’t think somewhat sane and rationally is … insane. This guy had the biggest dummy-spit that I have ever seen in a PuG, and a PuG that was a complete success with no wipes and just one or two deaths. And what was it over? It was because someone succeeded in forcing him to do his required task at the expense of the recount meter. Because he did his task we got the boss down. But this upset him, a lot. Because he was only 4th on recount for that fight. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Now I know that Gevlon used recount at the beginning to threaten players with being kicked if they didn’t perform, but that was a minimum number, not a maximum. All you had to do was your required task and be above 1500dps. If the highest dps got a reward then that would be different as this players dps would have been “compromised” in such a situation.

I like recount and I refer to it often to gauge how I am performing. But the extent to which this tool is misused had escaped me until this situation yesterday. Gevlons idea of lowest ranged dps on orbs gets no loot was a brilliant one in this case. But going on how players are motivated by recount in a negative way, you will need to come up with a plan like this for every fight just to get players to do their job. Based on this, Blizzard has a sure-fire way to create a boss that a 25 man PuG will NEVER get down: make it so that a successful attempt will require dps players to run around and do all sorts of jobs so that if they do it properly their dps will never go above 2000. Or even better, include a special prize that the boss give out to a player in a group that wipes whose dps was over 10,000 lets say in this case. Evil.

Some players dropped the group after this but we decided to try the last boss anyway. But as we got there, one of the hunters misdirected the boss onto our group, left the instance and we wiped. Apparently he too was very annoyed at being forced to complete a task at the expense of his dps. Another PuG who had been fairly quiet for most of the run then said that we would be lucky to ever form a 25 man PuG again on the server and he dropped the group. So to sum it all up; we nuked the bosses, never wiped, and got the loots, but we will never form another PuG again because we made people do their jobs.

Oh, and no rogue loots dropped, sheesh.

ps; apparently the priest was not kicked, he quit group himself. And the rules were all clearly stated in raid chat before the first boss went down and players were saved to the raid.

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?

Low cost airlines appeared in the skies of Europe around 1998 and they quickly blew apart the established status quo. Headed by companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet, they caused air fares to plummet while opening up air routes to distant corners of Europe. They promised a new golden age of air travel. They reality 10 years later, is a little different. For starters, often now you have no choice but to fly with low cost companies, as the regular companies have been driven out of the market. The great lowering of fares coincided with a great lowering of standards and behaviour on flights. Flying used to be somewhat of a pleasant experience. Now you are more than likely to share your 4 hours in an aluminium tube seated next to a rowdy yob throwing pretzels at his mate two rows behind you. Seat allocation is non existant – so elbow your way up those stairs otherwise you won’t be left with any space to store your little bag that you are allowed to bring on.

But more to the point, the flights aren’t that cheap anymore. These companies make billions of euros every year in micro-transactions. What started out as a side line has grown to the extent that the owner of Ryanair recently joked that if they could charge for the use of the toilet, they would. Every little extra is charged for. Just the act of checking in now costs you something like €40. And once you’re in, if you need any type of service, you’re stuck. You have to pay. The ultimate joke charge is the ‘priority boarding’ fee. You pay something like €20, (I’m not sure of the exact fee), and you get to que in a priority line which will be the first to board the plane. Well, now what’s starting to happen is that almost everyone is using the priority boarding service. So in effect, there is no priority. But everyone is paying for it. Ryan Air effectively added an extra €20 or so to every ticket and at the same time eliminated 99% of their check-in desks and their subsequent costs. And the thing that really sucks? As I said before, you are now almost forced to fly with these companies as they are the only ones plying the skies.

I prefer the regular airlines. Sure, the tickets cost more up front. But there is no stress, no hassle, I am not surrounded by yobs, and if I want a drink on the flight I will damn well have it. And more importantly, if for some reason I miss a connecting flight then the airline will take care of me, whether by arranging another flight for me or putting me up at a hotel until one is available. Low-cost companies won’t do that for you – you’re on your own.

With MMO’s, there are regular subscription games and then the free ones. The subscription games cost you say €13 a month, but you get everything. The world is there for you to enjoy. Free games are just that – free, but you have to pay for any little extras that you want. These payments can quickly add up. €13 a month for a full service game quickly adds up. That’s €156 a year for a game. If I’m paying that sort of money then I want to get my monies worth, and I sure don’t want to be having to fork out extra money for in-game products.

I’ve spoken before about my complete hate for the paid for in game vanity pet service offered by WoW. But it has taken me a little while to completely understand why I think that it is so devious. It’s the fact that a fully-paid for game service is now expecting you to pay extra to have something more inside the game. It’s as if British Airways suddenly decided to start charging me €40 because I wanted to check-in in person and not online, after having paid for a full service ticket.

In game services such as faction changes and realm swaps are something different. We fly Spitfires spoke about this the other day. I don’t have a problem with Blizzard charging us for these services for two reasons:

It will encourage people to make decisions that it is better to stick with, and will discourage ninjas and other undersirables from jumping between realms on a continual basis,

It doesn’t cost them any time. A service member just needs to click a button. Big deal.

But things like in-game vanity pets are another matter. Developers had to work on those, dedicate time and effort to make them as good as possible. Well, that is their time and effort that I am allready paying for by the act of subscribing to the game. So they are taking that time paid for by me, and using it to work on something that I then have to pay for once again if I want to have it. Which is a load of bollocks.

I think that the paid for vanity pet service was a big experiment on Blizzards part. They wanted to see if they could charge full airline prices and then charge again for the little services the low-cost carriers can get away with. And they got away with it. So expect more in the future. And expect the nature of games to change, just as flying has done. And it won’t change for the better.