Thursday, February 10, 2011

If I Was a GM: An Interesting Look At Raid Personalities

I've had a few days off work recently and have consequently found myself getting bored quite a bit. Turns out a day takes a long time when you don't have much to do. I've been looking for new blogs to read and in my searches I came across the World of Matticus. I'm sure I've read this blog before; in fact, I know it's a pretty big, well-known one. After having a quick read of the Tough Call post this week though, I'll definitely be adding this blog to my bookmarks again. I have no idea why I took it off in the first place.

The author, Viktory, has an intriguing take on how to classify raiders into three different types: those with natural ability, those who have to (and do) work hard, and "trained noobs". Follow the link above to have a read of it; and it's worth reading the comments too, for clarification purposes.

The reason I found this post so intriguing is firstly because I have known and raided with at least one person who matches each of those descriptions. In fact, I would bet most people have. If you're going to broadly classify raiders, this seems like a pretty accurate way to do it. Obviously there are plenty of mitigating circumstances that will mean someone doesn't fit into any of these categories. And of course, there are many reasons why stereotyping people is bad. This is the second reason I found this such an interesting topic.

I've met only one Native Speaker in my raiding past. This was a mage whom I raided with when I was also playing my mage, in one of the high-end guilds I've been a part of. This mage always topped damage meters. Every. Single. Fight. Without fail. And without pulling agro. It didn't matter if we had to constantly move during the fight, or if he had to respec to frost for utility, or even if it was his very first attempt at a boss he had never seen before. He always knew how to get the best out of his mage. I was constantly in awe of him, and so grateful that he was a nice guy and happy to help out his fellow mages. If we were pulling sub-par dps on a fight, seeing this guy top the meters as usual encouraged us to do better. This guy was a huge asset to the guild.

I have known many Fluent Professionals over the years, and many Trained Noobs. Back when I was raiding fulltime I would consider myself to be a Fluent Professional. I had some natural talent, but nothing approaching the Native Speaker. I had to work hard and practise to do well. Many of my friends and fellow raiders were the same, and they were always the backbone of the guild. The hard work we all put in kept our guilds running smoothly.

The Trained Noobs, however, were like the dead weights dragging us down. They were the ones that did what you told them to do fine, and pulled okay dps or did okay heals, but as soon as something didn't go according to plan they would collapse under the pressure. They didn't really understand what they were doing, so as soon as they had to go beyond their routine they were lost. I agree with Viktory when he says people like this need to be carefully weeded out of any raiding guild looking to be successful.

However, this is not to say that every "Trained Noob" is an idiot and should be written off; here is where the whole stereotyping-is-bad thing (and the whole elitism thing) comes in. Plenty of people that could be lumped in under this description are also the ones who will be endlessly loyal to your guild and work their arses off for it every day. Sure, you might have to spend an extra 10 min explaining things to them and maybe wipe a couple extra times while they learn the fight, but you would never have been able to provide consumables to the whole raid were it not for their hours of herbing.

It's hard to make a raid. I've only done it a few times in my life, and I've found it difficult to choose who to take along. There are quite a few people who are arseholes but do their jobs really really well, or lovely people who always mess up. It's hard to decide whether you want a successful, but probably less fun, raid, or a really fun, less successful raid.

I actually think if I were a GM making a guild raid it would make it easier than someone trying to get a pug raid (or a casual raid) going. That way, I would be able to choose the people who would provide for the best long-term experience for the guild. Who's to say those Trained Noobs won't turn into Fluent Professionals if you put the time and effort in to helping them?

So in conclusion: this was a great post. Really interesting, and got me thinking. But... I disagree with it. You just can't classify people that easily. And if you do try and set up your guild raids that way, you're almost certainly losing out.

The nostalgia was nice though. :)

<3 Jayd

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The LFD Tool Still Needs Work (Or The Most Fun PuG EVER)

Yesterday my boyfriend and I decided to run a couple of random dungeons with our lowbies. We've been levelling using the LFD tool for a couple of days and because we have the Recruit-A-Friend bonus and he tanks, meaning we get instant dungeons, we've been dinging like mad. 25 levels in two days, it's insane. Brilliant fun, but insane.

Yesterday, though, the rhythmn stopped for about an hour while we attempted one particular dungeon.

It was the ogre bit of Dire Maul, Gordok Commons, and we materialised next to another hunter, a priest, and a mage. We grabbed our quests and my bf and I said hi (to no response, of course, but that's par for the course so didn't bother us), and without further ado the hunter pulled.

Oh yay, I thought to myself, we've got a huntard. Used to this sort of thing, my bf grabbed the mob off the hunter's pet and tanked away. The mob went down, and we all moved down the ramp to the next pull which was a group of three. The hunter pulled again, and of course, completely lost control of all the mobs. One ogre started eating the mage so I set my pet to Growl and grabbed it off him, while my bf ran after the other two mobs.

Instead of feigning death, however, the hunter continued to try and tank with his pet. And the priest healed them both, to the exclusion of my bf - the tank - who died. And was then told by the hunter that he was a crappy tank. At this point the mage left (I don't blame him). In retrospect, perhaps we should have done the same, but we were a bit annoyed.

I responded, blaming the hunter who had pulled, who then came back with something along the lines of 'well the tank should be able to hold agro and me and the priest duo dungeons all the time.' This, of course, started an argument. Finally we agreed to continue as normal, and moved on to the boss.

Again, the hunter pulled. My bf grabbed it off him again. And the priest completely refused to heal him. My bf healed himself like mad but ended up dying anyway. The boss went down after being bounced around between all of us because the pet couldn't keep agro. When we called the priest on not healing the tank, he had the gall to say that he was healing the tank because the tank is defined as the one who has agro and the hunter's pet had agro. So he had been healing the hunter and his pet.

We had had enough. Thoroughly pissed off by these idiots, we decided that if they wanted to duo the instance, fine. They could duo the instance. And we would be happy with the free xp they gave us. We calmly sat down within range of xp but out of range of any agro dumps, and waited.

This seemed to perplex the two idiots - let's call them Dumb and Dumber for the sake of convenience (if not originality). Dumb and Dumber wanted to know what was going on, so we explained that if they'd like to duo the instance they could go right ahead and we would be happy with our free xp. Predictably, they didn't like this idea, and started trying to provoke us. Apparently we were noobs and didn't understand that they were doing it right. We happily sat there, silent for the most part (although we did make fun of their English at some point - apparently I needed to work on my "grammer").

Eventually Dumb and Dumber decided to try to duo the next mobs - a pair of ogres. We sat back and watched as predictably the pet couldn't tank both of them. After the pet was eaten, the ogres killed the priest and then went after the hunter, who feigned and they reset. At this point Dumb and Dumber must have finally realised that they couldn't duo the place after all, and started trying to requeue us.

We were way beyond being diplomatic at this point - and we knew that as soon as they brought in another member it would be a 50/50 chance of us getting kicked rather than them - so we continually declined. Yes, after all the griefing they had done, we finally gave in and griefed back. We sat there calmly, silently, watching as they tried to provoke us by throwing insults at party chat. All of us knew we were at a stalemate, and it would be either them or us before the dungeon could continue.

Before you say anything, yes, I know, we were also in the wrong here. We should not have griefed back. We should have taken the high road, left Dumb and Dumber to their own devices and queued for another group. But there is something deep down inside of me that refuses to let the bad guys win without a fight.

Finally we realised that griefing was getting us nowhere. We were having fun wasting these idiots' time and getting a little revenge for their arse-hattery but we knew it couldn't go on forever. Besides, we had more dungeons to do. So when they tried to requeue us again, we agreed, knowing we'd have a 50/50 chance of getting booted. As soon as the new person came in, we attempted to vote-kick the priest for refusing to heal the tank. This failed. The priest then attempted to vote-kick my bf, which also failed. We explained our reasoning to the new person in party chat, explained what had happened, and tried v-kicking again, but it still failed. The new person told us he just wanted to get on with it, which we agreed with, but the next time Dumb and Dumber tried to kick my bf, it succeeded. I shrugged to myself, wished the new guy luck, and left the party.

What have I learned from my experiences? Well, not much. It was really just another day in Wow. You get your good pugs, and you also get your bad pugs. We had had a good run. We were bound to get some bad apples sooner or later. And really, I enjoyed the experience. Sure, we could have run another dungeon in the time we were getting to know Dumb and Dumber but would it have been as fun? I doubt it!

Nope, no lessons here. Just a bit of fun and a good Wow war story.

<3 Jayd

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wow for Kiddies

Many people have been saying it. I didn't understand at first, but now I really, really do.

Cata is a kids' game.

Well... not all of it. I should really say, parts of Cata are like a kids' game. I stepped into Vash'jir for the first time today with my Level 82 priest (bf and I are levelling in Hyjal so I couldn't go there without him) and found myself in Finding Nemo. Although, I have yet to find Nemo (I have no doubt I will).

I was told to head off on an underwater adventure, where I could magically breathe like a fish and sprint speedily around on the ocean floor. I had to search for treasure, collect gear for the big bad Alliance troops and save my friends from drowning. And I got given a cooooool seahorse to ride around on.

...oh, wait, you thought I was being sarcastic?

Nope! I love it. It's so easy and fun, and I'm constantly giggling with glee at the fun quests I have to do. The XP just keeps coming. I'm progressing fast and getting heaps of greens to gear up with and DE, and did I mention having fun? What more could I want for the first few levels of a new expansion, after being so bored and frustrated with the game for so long?

Challenge, I hear you say! Yes, I want a challenge. But having already levelled my mage to 85, I know that's coming in Twilight Highlands. And after I've been primed not to expect things to come so easily as they did going from 80-83, I'll have heroics and raids to go on to.

Kudos, Blizzard, nice job!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Don't Even Know Where To Begin.

This guy thinks Cata is the worst expansion ever. Not just for Wow, but for all MMOs. Ever.

Have a read of that - and before you scream TROLL!!! let me just say... no kidding. I would call this one of the trolliest trolls in trolling trollness. Trollity.

But, because I like having a vent sometimes, I'm going to gleefully jump right on that bandwagon.

The first point this guy makes is that apparently levels 1-85 are completely devoid of any challenge or intensity. Oh, and apparently mob density has been reduced to almost nothing and they take absolutely no skill to kill.

Okay, well I'm going to have to read a bit further through his post (I'm writing this as I read) to find out whether he has any points that indicate whether he's actually played or not. Levels 1-82, yes, I completely agree. There's absolutely no challenge there (barring playing a healer around levels 20-30). There is a whole lot of fun with the redesigned zones and questing, but no challenge or intensity.

However, around level 82-83, it starts getting hard. When you're questing by yourself you can't just jump in and start killing, you need to start to think a bit. Where am I standing? Are there any other mobs around that could agro onto me? If there are, do I have my sheep/hex/stun up and a pot handy? The respawn rates are very high at the moment - will the mob I just killed respawn on top of me, and if it does am I prepared for it?

Perhaps this is just because I've only played clothies past 80 (although reading through the blogosphere and watching my bf level his druid would beg to differ), but this, I believe, is called a challenge. Finally you need to lift up your face from your keyboard where it had been comfortably rolling and pay attention as you play. And as for intensity, really, that is in the eye of the beholder (player?). If you have mobs repeatedly spawn on top of you, have to throw in a couple of cooldowns, a pot, some lucky kiting, and manage to kill all 5 of them while ending up on about 20 health (yes, that has happened to me, although probably due to my own bad positioning), it is a bit intense (and fun!).

Next: apparently the dungeon finder has completely removed all notion of community and camaraderie from the game. I know this statement comes about a year too late, but I'll respond anyway.

I would agree with this, but only to a certain extent. You no longer need to be in a guild to find a dungeon group, which means you don't have to go to the effort of fitting in and making friends, living through wipes together and learning how the dungeons work. However, in Cataclysm, this notion ends after normal dungeons have been completed and heroics are next on the list.

I can't speak from experience here, as I've only just hit 85 and haven't gotten to any heroics yet, but from what I've heard pug groups from the dungeon finder and even from your own server become almost unbearable from heroics on up. Raids and heroic dungeons require enough skill and coordination that doing them with pugs becomes a lesson in patience. In fact, I hear that if you want to do a heroic via the dungeon finder, you should set aside 2 or 3 hours and be prepared for many corpse runs.

Rather than try and live through that, people are again looking to build on the Wow community and create or join guilds. They are looking to make new friends or reconnect with old ones and tackle dungeons together. This is certainly what I am now looking to do and what many people on my server are also looking to do. And this seems to indicate that it was not the dungeon finder destroying the community at all; rather, it was the widely lamented previous nerf-fest expansion, WotLK. Hmm. I begin to wonder if Mr Wolfshead stopping playing around level 78... or did he ever play Cataclysm at all?

In fact, apparently in order to know that Cataclysm is absolutely terrible, "you don’t need to fall into a sewer to know that it stinks and is full of waste."

Well... when you're completely missing the fact that almost everything you're complaining about (lack of community, lack of difficulty, culture of entitlement) has been addressed and is in the process of being fixed, I think you might actually need to take a deep breath and dive into the "sewer". Perhaps you should actually give it a try before complaining about it? Or at the very least, research a little more extensively!

Overall, I think this is at best, a rather long troll. The poster clearly has no firsthand experience in what he is complaining about and backs nothing up with actual evidence, but has decided to make his opinion known anyway. Well, fair enough, here's my opinion on your opinion, and I very much enjoyed writing it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cata Musings

I haven't really been able to think of a good overall topic for this post so I just thought I'd muse about a few things that have happened to me so far while playing in Cata.

Healer Power in PUGs
I've talked about this before, sort of. If someone is being an idiot in a pug and constantly pulling off the tank (especially if the tank is my bf >:( ) I will eventually stop wasting heals on them. So far my priest is only 76 though, and has been cruising through dungeons. I can practically PoM > Renew > Take A Nap. This brings me to an evil thought.

Healers have all the power in Cata!

In 80+ dungeons, based on what I've heard and what I've experienced on my mage, dps now have equal responsibility for the success of the dungeon. Don't stand in fire, don't hit the sheep/sap, don't pull off the tank, etc. Healers are severely limited in what they can save while still having enough mana to last the fight, so it really makes perfect logical sense to let that stupid lock who thinks he can tank die.

This means you no longer look like an arrogant arse letting the lock die; on the contrary! You've just prevented a wipe.

This, my fellow healers, is what we've been waiting for! Finally, our chance to take our rightful place on the throne of Wow--

Ahem.

Pretend you didn't hear that.

But seriously, I really think this is good for the game. From what I've heard, it really is THAT hard to heal 80+ dungeons. Legitimately, in the course of doing your job and keeping the party as a whole alive, the tanking lock comes last on your heal list. If they die a few times, what better way for them to learn they're doing something wrong? (Other than having a quick word, of course, but you can't do that for everyone.)


Hmm, that went on for longer than I thought it would. Oh well, more musings later then!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cata's Here...

... and rather than levelling my mage up to 85 I left my old guild, transferred my old main to a new server and rolled a new priest there with my boyfriend.

My boyfriend recently decided to get back into Wow, and I'm stoked about it. At this point I had all but decided to quit because I just wasn't having fun anymore, but now that he's playing with me I'm having a ball. We've levelled using the Recruit-A-Friend tool and it's been a whirlwind of new adventures. We can be so choosy about what quests we do (if any) because you get so much XP that you ding from handing in 4-6 quests. And because I can go heals and he can go tank, we get instant LFG dungeons. We're levelling so fast that I'm starting to think about getting ready for 85 in terms of professions and what I'm going to do about guilds and raiding, but I suppose that's getting ahead of myself a bit.

I left my old guild because I just didn't feel connected to them. They were nice enough, but I didn't become good friends with any of them. After my break I came back and felt absolutely no connection to them whatsoever. So it was a case of so long and thanks for the Kingslayer title.

I haven't felt that connection to guildies since I first started Wow more than 5 years ago. Perhaps it's because I've grown up and I can no longer form those sorts of attachments with people I only know through a game. Perhaps it's not that I've grown up, but that I've got a lot more happening outside of the game now and I no longer need to make friends in games. Maybe I just need to get it out of my head that there's a difference between "Real Friends" and "Game Friends". Sure, I can see real friends in real life but really, they're all people.

Whatever the case, in this expansion I want to rediscover my enjoyment of the game (work permitting, of course :S ). Hopefully this fresh new start will let me do just that!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time for a Break... and Time to Get Excited About Cata!

This expansion just seems to drag on and on and on, doesn't it. I was sick of ICC months ago; although I had a resurgence of interest when I joined my new guild. Now I've got my Kingslayer title and I'm just sick of it again, sick of the whole game really. It's just the same old same old. I can't even start a new toon, because it's the same old starting area whichever toon I create. And I don't want to raid because it's the same instances, the same boring fights over and over.

So I've decided to take a break from Wow. It doesn't make sense to me, to keep playing even though I'm not enjoying it. It is, after all, a game. My guild will be fine without me, we have plenty of subs, so all I have to worry about is my own enjoyment.

BUT. This is not the world's most whiny, depressing post. I am SO excited about Cata!

I've been reading up on it a lot, and I'm getting excited about the changes to mechanics. I couldn't care less about goblins and worgens because realistically, I'm not going to roll one of them for the same reason I've never been able to get any of the horde races beyond level 5 - I can't relate to them. But I do care about new talents, new areas, new quests, and new fight mechanics.

In my favourite blog, Arcane Brilliance, Christian Belt discusses this week how the new heroics are panning out in the Cata Beta. His insights are very interesting! Apparently the fight mechanics for heroics have been changed so you must think about what you're doing before diving in, AOE at the ready. You now need to set up as much CC as possible, and still be prepared to use your own cooldowns to keep yourself alive.

Players who came to the game at the beginning of WotLK will get a big shock, no doubt, but I think those of us who have been around since Vanilla will get a massive kick out of this. Remember UBRS? It was a massive pain in the arse because you had to run it a lot to get the good gear at the end, but you couldn't just faceroll it every time. You actually had to think, and make sure your raid was organised and paying attention.

And the atmosphere! This is something I'm hoping will come back, as well. The atmosphere of Blackrock Mountain and all its instances was brilliant. They managed to make it hollow and echo-y, and add that to the molten lava, rocks and potentially deadly mis-steps and you had a really immersive place. Plus those instances were HARD. Not many people on my server got all the way into BWL, let alone AQ40 and Naxx. You knew when you saw Tier 3 gear, that that guild was awesome.

I'm hoping that with the changes to fight mechanics, Cata will bring back the ability to differentiate between the good players, and the casual and not so good players. I have heard lots of people complaining about the potential that this will happen (however remote it may be at the time) over the years but I really believe it's essential to the game doing well. The status and notoriety of the best players is what keeps everyone else trying so hard. The fact that only a few people in the world have the best gear and the hardest kills makes the rest of us want to try harder and play more in order to get to that level. To me, this is a fundamental concept, and one of the reasons why the game did so well in the first place.

I can't wait to see what'll happen when Cata hits!