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!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What Makes a Good Guild Good?

Wow I haven't written for a looooong time. Apologies to those (2? 3?) people who read this blog. I'd like to say it's because I've just been too busy with my exciting, full real life (well, some big things have happened but they haven't affected my blogging ;) ), but the truth is I just haven't felt motivated. Up until recently, I've been beginning to suspect I was well and truly burning out. I love to raid, but really, ICC is getting pretty old. And it's fun to have huge yellow numbers all over the place due to the 30% pity buff but again, it's not your real damage and it's getting old.

What's worse than both of those things, though? Despite almost every Wow player out there now knowing ICC like the backs of their hands, despite the huge 30% buff, my guild was still wiping on normal mode Putricide. Still wiping on normal Blood Queen, and still wiping on normal Dreamwalker. I got sick of looking forward to the raid, turning up in a cheerful, optimistic mood, only for said mood to gradually deteriorate over the course of the night as I ran through the mists of death again, or shook my head at an incomprehensible (and unexplained) loot council decision.

Instead of continuing to turn up night after night only to have a rather unenjoyable time, I decided it was time to move on. I wanted a challenge, and I was sick of being a "casual raider". So I applied to one of the most progressed guilds on my server and was accepted. So far I've only raided with them a few times, but both times have been joking, laughing, exciting boss-killing fun!

Yes, that's right. Wow had become fun again.

The huge difference between this guild and my previous guild got me thinking about just what makes a guild "good". I've played on many different servers, and on each one there have been a few guilds that were widely understood to be "good" guilds and many guilds that were either bad, or just average. These "good" guilds were usually more progressed than the others, and always had more than their fair share of applications even when they weren't recruiting. But just what makes such guilds work so well?

I had a bit of a think, and to me, the following list contains some of the reasons good guilds are good. If you have reasons of your own, please feel free to mention them in a comment. Perhaps they, along with my list, will assist brand new GMs to create the environment they most desire.

  • A Competent GM (or Leadership Group)
    A whole new list could be made about this sub-topic. There are many things that make a good GM. In a broad sense, however, a good GM is confident with leadership, dedicated to the guild, optimistic and encouraging. A guild with a good GM is a guild with direction. If this guild falls into trouble, someone will be there with the will to pull it out.

  • An Excellent Raid Leader
    We all know what one of these sounds like. This is the man or woman with the confidence and knowledge to guide a 10 or 25-person raid. He or she knows all the strats, every class' abilities, every boss' abilities, and can either yell or coax depending on what the situation requires. Having a great raid leader is absolutely essential to having a good guild, because a great raid leader more often than not means the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful raid.

  • A Strong Officer Group
    These guys often do the hard work in a guild, or have the specific knowledge to back up the raid leader, so it's vital to have competent officers. The number of officers can vary wildly, but the main thing is that they are a cohesive, functioning group as well as talented individuals.

  • Skilled and Dedicated Players
    Players are not just a bunch of sheep to be herded, protesting, toward a goal. "Good" guilds will be full of "good" players. There are many different kinds of good players, but to generalise, a good player is dedicated, naturally skilled, knowledgeable (or willing to learn) and has a positive attitude.

  • A Strong, Cohesive Social Atmosphere
    To round out my list, I believe a good guild should have a good social atmosphere. Many people log on just to raid, especially during that grey area before an expansion. But there should always be a group of players, the bigger the better, who log on at other times too - just because they like the game and they like hanging out with each other. The more people like hanging out with one another, the more they'll want to maintain the social constructs that allow them to do so - ie the guild.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Erajorma vs GM Saga

A week or so ago, Larisa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn - one of my favourite blogs - wrote about a guildy of hers who she believed had been treated unfairly by a Blizzard GM. If you want the full story, you can find it here. The short version is: Larisa's guildy, Erajorma, was - in my opinion - unacceptably rude to a Blizzard GM when this GM was trying to assist him. The GM responded - in my opinion - in a very hurtful and unprofessional manner by enforcing a name change for a toon that had existed for 5 years. The incident became what I call a saga when what seemed like the entire blogging community along with many casual observers responded to Larisa's post, leaving (the last time I checked) a grand total of 99 comments.

The saga concluded (continued?) two days ago when Larisa posted a Senior GM's response to the incident. The Senior GM apologises profusely for his colleague's behaviour and undoes the enforced name change, taking full responsibility for the whole incident. And rather than try and fit what is likely to be a long rant into a comment on Larisa's blog, I thought I'd use my own.

I can't express in words how angry this whole thing has made me. Firstly, there was Erajorma's petty, borderline nasty, treatment of the Blizzard GM who attempted to assist him with a problem. He began the conversation with the goal of taking his anger out on someone, rather than finding a solution to his problem. He belittled the GM, was arrogant, childish, overbearing and tried numerous times to humiliate them. When we are five years old we are taught at kindergarten to do unto others as you would have done unto you. Did Erajorma miss the whole of kindergarten? And primary school? And high school?

Secondly, why was this conversation allowed to continue past, oh, say the 4th line? As soon as Erajorma ordered the GM to "be silent", the GM should have explained calmly but firmly that they were trying to assist him and would not be able to do so if they were not spoken to in a civil manner. A couple of warnings after that, the conversation should have been ended, the ticket closed, and a warning placed on Erajorma's account. But instead - and this reflects a sad, sad lack of training and/or supervision - the GM turned it into a pissing contest. They drew the conversation out until finally deciding to get some sadistic revenge by forcing a name change.

Thirdly, and this is the worst part of the whole thing - a Senior GM apologises for the GM's actions, removes the enforced name change and removes all warnings from Erajorma's account. Letting him off scott-free, and thereby endorsing to the world the way Erajorma had the gall to treat his colleague.

I don't understand it. It just boggles my mind. I work in customer service, and if any customer ever spoke to me in that manner I would end the conversation. Customers have spoken to me in a similar fashion and I have politely ended the conversation and walked away. I am paid to provide a service to customers and treat them with respect but I am NOT paid to take that sort of abuse. If I were the GM in question I would have chosen my words a little differently, but just because that GM handled the conversation in a terrible manner does not excuse the way Erajorma treated them.

And I am stunned by the number of comments endorsing - even applauding - Erajorma's actions. On what level can you think this was okay? Oh wait, I know - you are the sort of people who would stand by and watch a 6 ft man yell at a 17 year old teller because she has been charging him too many bank fees. You are the sort of people who believe it is okay to take your anger at a big company out on its employees. The fact that these employees don't have anything to do with creating policy - whether it's charging fees or sending a standard reply to a Wow player asking a question about macros - doesn't matter in the slightest.

No, I did not have a bad day at work today. I actually had a really enjoyable one. And as is the case 99% of the time, I had lovely customers. These customers had problems. They waited in line with every other customer, and when they sat down with me they were agitated, but they were polite. As a direct consequence of their attitude, I was able to discuss their problem, ask questions and receive helpful and informative answers. And therefore, I was able to solve it. If they had sat down and yelled at me, I would have had to spend the entire time trying to calm them down. I would also have had to spend the entire time fighting to be professional and to treat them in a professional manner. No doubt the GM in question knows exactly how this feels.

And I hope the GM in question does not need to deal with the same Senior GM, Huw, who responded in this case, in the future. There is nothing worse than being a customer service rep who has been abused by a customer, then having your boss try to calm the situation down by blaming the entire incident on you. No matter how unacceptably the customer has treated you, some bosses - like this GM Huw - take the easy way out by backing down completely and blaming their junior staff for errors that may not have been their fault. The GM in this situation definitely contributed to the problem, there is no doubt about that, and should be reprimanded, taken aside and retrained in how to handle difficult customers. But something needed to be said to Erajorma - I believe a warning should have been placed on his account - and GM Huw should have been the one to do it. After sending such a spineless response to Erajorma he should be ashamed of himself.

This whole saga just perpetuates the idea that it is okay to treat customer service staff - be they on the phone or right in front of you - like dirt in order to get what you want out of a big company. This myth has persisted for so long, and is so accepted by society, that I believe something needs to be said to bring it to light and hopefully take steps toward getting rid of it. When you are talking to Bob from the Telstra call centre, after all, you are not talking to "Telstra". You are talking to Bob, who works for Telstra. Bob did not personally arrive at work that morning and suspend your account because you are one day behind on your bill payments.

If both Erajorma and the GM had kept their heads just enough to remember they were in a situation where they needed to be professional, none of this would have happened. And if GM Huw had politely but firmly reminded Erajorma that behaviour like his was not acceptable and would not get him any results, perhaps he would think twice about behaving like that in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2010

31-Point Talents, Or Why Not Just Spec For Us Blizzard?

One of the things I've always enjoyed in Wow is playing with my talent spec. I really like taking my current spec and playing with it on the Wowhead talent calculator (the best one out there IMHO) to see if I could possibly make it any better. This became slightly less fun after I discovered EJ and theorycrafting and found there was usually only one Best Spec, but I could still have fun with it while I levelled. Every time I levelled a new toon I would play with my spec as I went, every 5 or 10 levels, and make sure I was taking the best talents based on how I was playing. I would also make sure I couldn't be doing anything better in the way I played by checking what my talent points were buffing.

But this is all being taken away by the new 31-point talent trees.

Initially I really liked the idea. After all, there were a lot of boring talents in all three trees that HAD to be specced into (often with 5 points) in order for your spec to be viable. Blizzard promised to remove this, and let us be more flexible with how we wanted to spec. They promised us choice, and that if we wanted the best PVP build or the best PVE build we would be able to take that build and then take some fun talents as well. I was stoked, anticipating hours of fun ahead playing with my talents.

But what Blizzard gave us was Build 12604.

I've already ranted on this over at the brand, sparkly new mage forums at Mana Obscura, in this thread, so I won't repeat myself.

Why don't you just spec for us, Blizzard? If we have to take so many PVP talents when all we want to do is PVE (or vice versa), then why not just give us set bonuses and set talents after we choose either PVP or PVE? Really, even if we want to do both we have to take almost the same talents anyway! So why bother with talent trees at all?

/deep breath.

Okay, end rant. I know this is not the final talent build. And it IS significantly better than the previous one. I will keep my fingers crossed that Blizzard puts a little more work into the next round, though.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

If I Was A GM: Mains Before Alts

One of the touchy subjects when it comes to loot rules is the idea of mains before alts. Most guilds that can field a 25-man raid don't need to worry about it as their raid is usually made up of all mains, but the occasion does come up when you need someone's healer alt, or someone's tank alt, to come in to enable the run to happen. The problem is, how do you adequately compensate the person who is having to bring in a toon that is not their main and thus not have a chance at loot and badges on their main for the week? And also, how do you do this without upsetting the other players who are playing their mains and may not feel that it's fair to lose a piece of loot they've been after for weeks to someone's alt?

I've seen it done in a number of ways, some worked well and some didn't.

Using DKP
Having a DKP loot system in place can help. CAN help. It really depends on how this has been set up. For example, I once had a toon in a guild that allowed DKP to be shared between the same player's toons. Like many guilds, they often had a problem with attendance and having the right classes available, so they had to ask players to switch to their alts and sometimes even pug the last couple of spots. Therefore, they had a rule that dkp would be shared amongst a player's toons, and it could be spent on whatever toon happened to be in the raid.

I found that most of the time this system worked well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the guild wasn't the most progressed on the server, so most loot that dropped wasn't life-changing. So if an alt rolled on some gear and won, using dkp they had fairly earned, there usually wasn't much QQ. Secondly, most people in that guild were fair and unselfish themselves. The players who were asked to bring alts to the raid always rolled carefully, and if an item WAS of the life-changing variety, they simply wouldn't roll on it.

However, inevitably, there was some loot drama. Quite a few people had only their alts in this guild, their mains in more progressed guilds on the server - including myself. These people earned their dkp in the same way and in some cases provided extra experience and advice (rarely in my case! ;) ), but it was well known that they were playing alts. This caused some members of the guild to grumble a bit when this group won loot. The reasoning was that they already had well-geared mains, and now they were getting loot the second time around. I understand where some of the grumblers were coming from, it's a legitimate complaint. If the positions had been reversed I would have been feeling a little iffy about it too.

Using Loot Council
I really don't like loot council. It just has too much potential to cause unwanted drama. Even if the officers who make up the council are beyond reproach and fair to a fault, people are human and make mistakes. And if decisions are not explained, it can lead to a simmering resentment amongst guildies toward the officers.

I think the only plus for loot council is that having a mains before alts rule won't affect it much. It can be stated at the start of the run that so-and-so is bringing in his pally healer alt to help out so he will be up for consideration on all pally healer gear, but the decision still remains with the loot council. Thus there may be less chance for drama between guild members (other than resentment toward the pally) but more chance of drama both amongst and directed at the officers.

Free Rolls
I actually don't mind using free rolling as a loot system. It's not very good for an established guild that regularly clears a substantial amount of content every week, but for a casual guild or a pug raid it's a better idea. The advantage - or disadvantage, depending on your POV - of using this loot system in conjunction with a mains before alts rule is that any QQ will likely be at a guild level, as opposed to directed squarely at the officers.

It really depends on how well the loot rules have been defined at the start of the run. If they've been discussed in depth and set out in stone before the first mob is pulled, this system has a better chance of succeeding. But if not, it really relies on the players in question being fair and unselfish. It relies on those playing alts thinking before each roll - has someone in the run been trying to get this item for ages? Have I got this item on my main recently? Are there a lot of people that need this item? I've been in some great runs where this system was used, way back in ZA. We were all friends and all took the time to look at each other's gear before rolling on loot to make sure it wasn't a bigger upgrade for someone else. It can be very rewarding passing on an item that is a small upgrade to you but a huge upgrade for your friend, especially if they've brought their healer along just to enable your run to go ahead.

In My Guild
If I was a GM, the choice I would make would depend on what kind of guild I had. While the guild was still building, and if we were needing to pug a lot, I would use free roll and allow alts to have the same rolling rights as mains. Then when we became more established, I would use a DKP system of some kind. If we regularly needed to have people switch to their alts to allow our run to go ahead, I would let dkp be shared amongst all the player's toons. But if not, and someone requested to bring their alt along, it would be a strict mains before alts policy, or perhaps an alt's roll for their main spec would equal a main's roll for their off spec.

So I have the first set of rules sorted for my future guild. Well, a tiny, tiny subset. But you have to start somewhere!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

If I Was A Guild Master

I like politics IRL. I was stoked to hear Australia got our first female PM a couple of weeks ago, but a little dubious about how she got there. It looked like a nice little coup to be honest but of course Australia doesn't have those... I listened to every word of poor K-Rudd's goodbye speech and I've been glued to SBS News (the legitimate news channel, for non-Aussies) every night now an election has been called. According to polls Julia is the preferred PM by far (largely because no woman in her right mind would vote for the other guy... *shudder* sleazy much) but the two main parties are neck and neck. It's like a battle between the good guys and the bad guys, except the good guys aren't quite so good all the time and the bad guys aren't quite so bad - and that sentence could apply in so many different ways to different people. It's all so interesting!

I also really like Wow politics, particularly guild politics. There's a huge amount of politics and drama in Wow, and I love reading about it and commenting on it. There's behind the scenes Blizzard politics (hello, Real ID) and in-game drama over raid spots and loot. And there's bigger drama, like what to do if your guild is collapsing? Who is going to leave and who is going to stay? Who are the people putting the effort into rebuilding and who is being carried? Who should be booted? And so on.

That's what gave me the idea to start a sort of mini-series within my blog, based on what I would do if I was a guild master and I was the one dealing with these situations in order to keep my guild running smoothly.

If you read my first post you would know it's one of my ambitions to some day have my own guild. At the moment there are circumstances preventing me from doing this, both in-game and real-life, most notably the fact that we're in the middle of the pre-expansion blues. If I was to start a guild right now, chances are it would collapse in the guild-hopping flurry we'll get once Cata hits. So in the mean time, I'm going to put some of my ideas to paper (or to the computer screen, as it may be).

Disclaimer: This series is not going to take the form of an advice column. I've never lead a guild before; in fact, I've never lead anything beyond a 25 Naxx before. So rather than me giving advice, I'm going to just think out loud and rant and just generally shout my opinions to the world. I'm a blogger, it's what we do. ;) And I'll hope that among the (two, maybe three) people who read this blog there is an experienced GM or two who could give me some much needed guidance.

I'm not going to post my first entry in this little series now, but I have a couple up my sleeve that just need a little more thinking and research and they will be out shortly. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Healing Arrogance

Enough about RealID. I want to talk about the game again. :)

So I've been levelling up (another) priest lately, and having a lot of fun with the simplicity of the levelling process. You find a !, go kill the stuff it wants you to, then go back and find the ?. And when you get bored of quests, you queue for LFD. As soon as I hit 40 I bought myself a dual spec, so I always queue as dps and heals, but I usually get in as heals. So I've been healing my way through about 75% of the levelling process, really, and along the way I've noticed a few things and developed a few habits.

I didn't really think they were bad habits until my bf happened to mention offhand that I was a bit of an arrogant healer. I disagreed with him at the time, and even after thinking about it I still do. Let me list some of them, and I'd love to hear other people's opinions, especially healers.

Before I begin, let me clarify something. Those of you who have recently levelled up a priest would know that until you hit around level 45 (maybe a few levels prior) you have drastic mana issues while healing. If the tank takes one or two pulls at a time, you'll be fine, but today's tanks tend to think they can take on everything in sight at once. Whenever my tanks did this, I found myself needing to drink after each pull. Perhaps this is my own bad gear choices but whatever the cause, the situation I was in was one of extreme mana-rationing.

The List

  • I refuse to heal hunter's pets unless they are doing something useful, AND the hunter is also healing it. A good hunter will not allow her pet to pull agro unless it is absolutely necessary (ie something is eating the healer), therefore the pet should not need to be healed unless there is some kind of aoe damage.
  • I refuse to heal a tapping warlock unless they are out of mana mid-fight. And further to this - if said warlock refuses to drink between pulls and taps instead, expecting to be healed, then enters the fight on 30% health and pulls agro, I WILL let them die. To me, that is arrogance and stupidity on the part of the warlock, not me.
  • At this level tanks usually don't bother to check the healer's mana before pulling. I understand this, so when I need to drink I say so in party chat. If a tank goes off and pulls after I've said I need to drink, I don't mind letting him die.

To my mind, all of these things - checking the healer's mana, healing your own pet, and not tapping to 30% right before a pull - are common courtesy and common sense. Therefore it's not being arrogant to put the tank or other party members first. But I will be interested to hear other opinions, even if you agree with my bf on this one.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blizzard "Backs Down"

To a chorus of largely positive responses, Blizzard has "backed down" from its plans to make posting with your real name mandatory on its new forums. Without a doubt, this is good news. I won't go into why it was a terrible idea, because I've already done that.

What I do want to talk about, however, is that I'm not 100% sure this whole thing was genuine. I did mention in passing in my previous post on the subject that I was a little suspicious over Blizzard's intentions, and the timing on their backdown has only increased those suspicions. For three days they allowed the forums to go wild with the player backlash, then just as the story began to spread to the wider world, they put a lid on it.

Now, I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist and I normally laugh at the theories some people come up with. But this time the theory makes too much sense. There are two huge advantages Blizzard gains over this whole mess.

Firstly, this story has generated enough publicity and spread to enough newspapers and online news services in the world that it has no doubt managed to put Wow back on the minds of people who have let their subscriptions lapse during the pre-expansion blues. As happens with every expansion, people get bored after finishing all the content and turn to other games to tide them over. This story would no doubt serve as a reminder that Wow is still around and still relevant, and possibly give some people a nudge to renew their subscriptions.

Secondly, it is a widely accepted PR tactic to generate (read: fake) bad publicity about your client in order to bring him/her/it into the media's eye. We see it every day with celebrities (Brangelina have been about to break up for the past three years), new movies (surely every set in Hollywood can't be overrun with feuding costars), new TV shows, new products, and so on. What it does is make the client seem relevant again. Also, on occasion, it can mask a slightly less controversial change that the client actually does want to make.

And this is what makes me think. If Blizzard wants to, they can now announce that in the new forums everyone will need to post on and be known by just one alias. Prior to the big controversy, there would have been many complaints about this, I'm sure. Some people just like to complain. But now there will be much wider acceptance in the Wow community, plus Blizzard got some great publicity out of it.

The proof will be in the pudding, as my grandma says. I think this was a carefully thought-out, cleverly executed, publicity stunt. I'll be interested to see how things pan out in the days to come.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The RealID Controversy

I wasn't going to weigh in on this topic because it's everywhere now, but I do feel strongly about it. Basically, Blizzard is going to be implementing new forums for Wow that will launch with Cataclysm, which will display your real first and last name on every post.

I've read a few blue posts and I'm quite shocked that Blizzard hasn't taken a huge back step after the overwhelmingly negative response (see threads here and here for a taste) they've received. It seems to me that they have a great and flowery vision of the future and are doggedly trying to make it happen, despite what the actual merits of the idea may be.

Let's look at some of the pros and cons then.

1. There will be less trolling. Fewer pointless posts and less nastiness are always good things.
2. There will be less posting overall. Many people will not want to assign their real name to their posts and thus will not post. This means the forums will be smaller and much easier to maintain. Which leads me to my next pro...
3. The forums will be much easier to police.
4. The tone of the forums will likely change to be more civil and polite.

1. There will be less trolling. Some trolls (admittedly few) are actually pretty funny, and can be quite insightful.
2. There will be less posting overall. The forums will be smaller and less interesting, therefore becoming less reliable for information and/or entertainment. People will go elsewhere and look for other communities.
3. Less ad revenue for Blizzard when people go elsewhere. The only reason I care about this is because I happen to quite like Wow and want the company that runs it to stay afloat.
4. I don't care what someone's real name is. I quote, "anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID -- that is, their real-life first and last name -- with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it." I don't care what John Smith has to say about mage spell rotations but I do care what Merlin the mage from the top guild on Blackrock server says. This idea is not precisely a con, but just made little sense to me. When you post, you MUST display your real first and last name but it's only optional to display your character name? Of course anyone posting about mage tactics will add their mage toon's name to their post, but I would have thought that, especially if Blizzard wants to encourage accountability, they would also make the display of a toon's name compulsory. After all, in game, I don't know who John Smith is but I might know who Merlin is.

But I digress, and I think that's a hint that I'm done with my pros and cons list.

Overall, I think this is a very poorly thought-out, slapped-together idea. Blizz has their hearts in the right place, but just haven't thought this through.

Perhaps this is an indication that Blizz no longer want to have to maintain huge fan forums? Perhaps this is an invitation for someone else to start an unofficial forum hub? Depending on how you think about it, that could either be very short-sighted or a very smart, future-oriented business decision. After all, Wow can't last forever and this would free up Blizzard staff to work on other projects.

I guess we'll wait and see. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who Gets Focus Magic?

The age-old question. It's been bugging me for a while, ever since an ex-guildy mentioned that it was no longer best to swap FM with your fellow mages. I didn't believe him at first (mostly because I had just met him and didn't trust him to give me advice yet) but because I would probably make my brain explode if I tried to do the calculations myself I went and researched the idea, just in case. And it turns out he was right.

I went to the usual sites., Wowwiki (which was surprisingly a step up from useless as it hasn't been updated for about a year), the official Wow forums, and I even waded through Elitistjerks. God I hate that site. It's so hard to find anything useful. And yet I love it at the same time because you can almost always trust the information you find there. I struck gold at MMO-Champion. Before you read that, understand that it REALLY gets into the nitty gritty of things. Most mages could happily go about their way completely ignoring it. In fact, it really only applies when you're looking at high-end ICC 25 raiding, when everyone is in full iLevel 264 gear or higher.

Another link I found to back that one up (constructed differently but with mostly the same priority list) was on the official forums, here.

So after my research I've come up with a checklist for FM targetting that I'm going to follow from now on.

1. What is the target's usual DPS output? If this information is not available, what is the target's gear score?

A higher gearscore means a higher spell damage value, which means if they do crit, it will be for a bigger number. It also means in some class' case that they have a 2- or 4-set Tier 10 bonus, and without delving into each specific class' specific bonuses, this usually increases haste, crit or spell damage, all of which are good for my purposes.

2. Which class has a higher crit chance?

This means I will crit more. If I'm pulling decent DPS and gain a good benefit from more crit chance then this is of benefit to the raid.

3. Which class will gain more benefit from having a higher crit rating?

This means that when they crit, they'll crit for more, which will benefit the raid.

I would almost add that if I'm specced fire at the time, I would put my own increased crit chance before others. Whereas if I was specced arcane, I would try and aim to benefit others more than myself because arcane just doesn't get as much return from crit.

I'm curious to know what other mages think. Do you also run through a checklist? Or do you just put your FM on the nearest other mage?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back to Oldschool Healing

As well as my numerous 80 mages I have an 80 holy/disc priest. I've had this priest since the first days of BC and I healed my way through SSC, TK and Hyjal with her. I'm an old school healer, in the sense that I perform best when I'm standing still, looking after one target (maybe two). I like to carefully manage my mana, knowing that every heal I spare the nub dps who just pulled is one less heal for the tank. I like to know the fight well enough that I can time my Greater Heals to land exactly when they are needed, and thus be as efficient as possible.

Nowadays, however, I'm really not a very good healer. Healing just isn't like what it used to be. Even if you know the fight like the back of your hand there still won't be time for you to heal a tank with nothing but Greater Heals - in fact, you'll be lucky to be able to use Greater Heal at all. Instead you'll be spamming Flash Heal and Prayer of Mending, or shielding like mad if you're Disc. That's if you're even given the tank healer job - most of the time you'll be raid healing, even if you're disc. So you'll be spam-flashing or spam-healing the whole raid. Which, I have to say, is really no fun.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see this on Scroll down to the heading "Shifting to triage-style healing". It seems Blizzard has decided to shift away from the spam model and back to the triage/mana management model that made me love healing so much when I first started playing a healer.

I'm not sure if this is their intention behind the changes listed in that article, but it's certainly a step in that direction. I wonder if this represents Blizzard taking a good hard look at what made the game great back when it first started? In a previous post I spoke about epics being made epic again, and to me this change seems like it could have a similar effect, ie realigning the game back to its roots. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall at a Blizzard strategy meeting.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making Epics Epic Again

So I hear that Blizzard is bringing the epic back to epics. They've finally decided to listen to us when we say an epic is not very epic if everyone's got it. Just to be a little bit grumpy, I would say this is a little bit obvious. /grumpy

I'm actually really stoked at this, though, and I really want to keep this a positive post. The post I linked above is very small and in the scheme of things a minor change to be made to the game, but in the big picture this is HUGE.

Firstly, as I mentioned, Blizzard LISTENED. Really listened. Not to the endless whinging crap about rogues being overpowered but to the intelligent, well-thought out analyses of one of the reasons the game has soured slightly.

Secondly, this opens up the floor. If Blizzard finally understands this point about epics, perhaps they are or would be willing to look at things like raid difficulty. If you follow that link above and go to the next Blizzard post, you'll see a quoted post that explains the point I am trying to make with dungeon difficulty. Nowadays almost everyone has killed the Lich King in some way, shape or form, but back in the day maybe one guild per server could finish 40-man Naxx. Maybe. And they had the very pretty purples to show for it. And when we looked at them, we knew they were GOOD. And we wanted to be like them. So we worked harder! (And played more and paid more, Blizzard.)

The reason the game was so successful to start with (in my opinion) was because you had to work so hard to get the shinies - whether it was shiny loot or shiny boss kills. And when you did, you gained status within the community. So I'm glad to hear Blizzard is looking at trying to bring this back.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ninja! Dun dun dun....

Well, I woke up this morning and the first thing I wanted to do was write a post about the ninja who was in our raid last night. I have to say that I've only rarely experienced being ninjaed - and in this case I hadn't even rolled on the item - but it's not a nice feeling. And this one was a little out of the ordinary. I would really like to name and shame this person but I don't think it would accomplish anything. The word will have already spread around my server, and this person will be lucky to get a pug run in the near future.

First I should explain that last night's run was a guild run, made up of 20 guildies and 5 pugs (3 of which joined our guild during the run). Before we even started moving toward the trash the loot rules were laid out. They were the usual - one main spec piece per run, unlimited OS, BOEs MS only and otherwise going to the guild bank, saronite to the guild bank. It was not specifically stated that you can only roll on your class' main armour class (mages on cloth, shammies on mail etc) but this is not unusual; the 1 MS per run clause is usually enough to cover this on my server.

Not this time. Basically what happened is that some cloth gloves dropped off Rotface. Two people rolled on them - a resto druid and a warlock. The druid won, and the officers went quiet to discuss. During this time the loot master (who was brand new to the job) accidentally passed the loot to the druid, as they had won the roll. There was no objection from the warlock but a few others in the raid spoke up in protest as it was a cloth piece, and therefore the warlock's main spec. Neither the druid nor the warlock had previously won anything. The officers agreed that it was the lock's main spec and asked the druid to please pass the loot to the lock. The druid - who had seemed like a very nice person up until then and a competent raider - completely changed their tone and began arguing. They refused to hand the loot over, insisting that they thought they deserved it, and instead quit the raid and hearthed.

Earlier in the raid the loot master had set the loot threshold too high which had allowed one of the pugs to loot the saronite. This pug ran all the way back to the boss to loot it and passed it straight to the loot master when asked. I think, if this pug had taken the saronite and hearthed, like any normal random ninja, it would have been better than what this druid did.

Perhaps I'm biased because 90% of my toons are cloth wearers, but I consider this to be one of the worst forms of ninjaing I've seen. As it is, there are three cloth-wearing classes eligible for cloth loot - priests, mages and warlocks. But half the Wow population seems to feel they are entitled to roll on it too if it's an upgrade. If this was accepted, priests, mages and warlocks would have to compete with ele shammies, resto shammies, boomkins, resto druids AND pallies for their gear. Ele and resto shammies have spellpower mail to roll on as well; boomkins and resto druids have spellpower leather, and pallies have spellpower plate. Priests, mages and locks have access to NONE of this.

So what non-cloth wearers are doing when they roll on cloth gear is expanding their own loot pool at the expense of the poor clothy who can't roll on anything else. Trust me, they have beeen waiting just as long for an upgrade, and yes, they deserve it too.

I put in a ticket, but I sincerely doubt Blizzard will be able to do anything about it. The loot rules were defined but it was not specifically stated that druids can only roll on leather, etc. I'll have my fingers crossed, but take comfort in the fact that this particular druid will now be quite well known on the server for all the wrong reasons.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back In The Swing Of It

On a happier note I raided with the guild for the first time in weeks last night and it was brilliant fun. It was like what I remember from the old days in BC and Vanilla. I lost track of two hours!

The people were all very nice, and mostly very talented (although one or two did have a recurring problem staying out of the bad stuff). We're going to continue tonight and hopefully down the harder bosses we just had a taste of last night, Putricide and Blood Princes. A few of us hadn't done them before but now that we've experienced the fights a couple of times I've got high hopes that we'll be able to down them without too much difficulty. They're actually really fun fights once you have an idea of the mechanics. I was assigned to keeping the orbs off the floor in Princes and at one point was darting around the room firing off Living Bombs and Fireballs all over the place!

Can't wait for tonight. :)

He's Not Serious... Is He?

I was reading my favourite blog Pugnacious Priest today and found myself reading about an article posted on about how to make sure your vital raid members turned up to raid. I read regularly because the writing on that site is usually of a very high quality and the subjects are often interesting and relevant. But I have to admit I was borderline shocked when I read this article, so I'm going to add my voice to Zahraah's in disbelief.

I think the article should have been titled 'How to Lay a Massive Guilt Trip on Your Raiders So They Turn Up Despite Whatever More Important Things May Be Happening in Their Real Lives'.

I quote: "If you find out someone is absolutely irreplaceable for a raid, talk to that member. Tell him, "We need you there, or the raid can't run. Are you comfortable accepting that responsibility?" "

This, in a nutshell, is how an unhealthy attitude to raiding is created. The raid leader/officers/GM puts so much pressure on the often young, impressionable raider that they don't feel they can say no. So they'll start choosing raiding over their real life friends and family to the point that they'll feel like they've let the team down if they have to go to their own graduation during raid time. This is when raiding becomes a chore. It ceases being an enjoyable pastime and becomes a JOB. I know, I've been in that situation.

And you know what, there are people out there who like treating raiding as a job. If you're one of those people, good for you. I guarantee you'll burn out sooner rather than later. No, I didn't believe that either until it happened to me.

You know what, this isn't the only thing that was SO WRONG with this article. I'm going to have to come back to this later, I need a nice relaxing cup of coffee first.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guild Drama - A New Perspective

If you've ever been an officer or a GM you would understand and empathise if I was to say that I hated guild drama - but that's not what I'm going to say today.

I actually quite like it.

But let me clarify that for the two people who are still reading.

When I say "guild drama", in my head I am not referring to nasty things like bullying, guild banks being ninjaed or GMs abandoning their guilds with no prior warning. Things like that are hurtful and are in no way capable of being viewed in a positive light.

The type of guild drama I'm referring to is, for example, when a small group of players decide to leave for a more progressed raiding guild. Don't get me wrong, this sort of thing can be quite detrimental to the guild left behind. Along with the loss of players they suddenly have to deal with the fact that they're not as uber as they thought they were. And if officers have left, they will need to be replaced, which could prove very difficult.

However, I would argue that this could in fact be a positive situation. Yes, the guild has lost a few players, but this leaves room for recruitment and allows a chance to fix the stagnation that led to them leaving in the first place. If you recruit carefully you may even find the kind of player everyone really wants - those slightly greener players who are so grateful and so excited to be invited to a guild that they work their little butts off to be the best guild member they can be.

And if you're not able to find new guildies straight away you can pug a few raids. This can be a lot of fun (come on, everyone's had at least ONE fun pug run) and can find those elusive new guild members. At the very least, dealing with terrible pugs can remind those remaining guildies of just how valuable their guild is.

Let's take another guild drama situation. Let's use the old, familiar tanty that comes from that player left sitting on the sidelines after the raid team for the night has been chosen. I can already hear the officers sighing in frustration; but hold on a minute here.

The reason this person is so upset is because he or she CARES about that raid spot. Would you rather have a guild full of players who don't care if they raid or not? Who don't care if they're gemmed or enchanted correctly? And who don't bother to turn up to raid half the time?

The player chucking the tanty probably needs a bit of a talking-to regarding appropriate behaviour but I believe this is a small price to pay for the knowledge that you have guildies who care about raiding so much.

I hate writing conclusions so I'll just say this - instead of getting on your high horse and rolling your eyes next time there is a bit of drama in your guild, be grateful you have players who care enough to create it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Big Evil Addiction

At uni today one of my friends happened to say something that's still stuck in my head. He said, "You know, when someone stops playing a game they usually just say that they're done with it. But with Wow they always say they've quit."

I hear this sort of thing from everyone. My boyfriend strongly believes the game is an addiction that interferes with real life. The media has done its bit (of course); I still remember that story they did on how Wow was dangerous because it had so many kids addicted to it. And I just read a post from Pugnacious Priest considering her own addiction (or lack thereof) to the game.

Quite frankly, I'm tired of it. Wow is not like cigarettes, or drugs. It does not have a chemical component that induces addiction. People who get "addicted" to the game most of the time are missing something in their lives that Wow happens to fulfil. If they didn't use Wow to escape reality they would do so in other ways, like reading or watching telly or obsessively collecting stamps. The people who become dangerously addicted and suffer withdrawal when they can't play are not okay in the head to start with. Often they genuinely need professional help. This is not altered by the fact that they play a game.

Speaking from my own experience, I'm grateful my mum bought me the game five years ago. I learned a new talent and discovered I was really good at it. I've developed team work and leadership skills. But most importantly I met (and continue to meet) lovely, kind, talented, non-judgmental people who have become good friends. I was once incredibly awkward in social situations, and Wow (among other things) has helped me overcome that.

No I'm not getting paid by Blizzard. I just think that sometimes the good, beneficial side of Wow is completely overlooked in favour of sensationalism.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We Need A New Mage Blog

I was reading another blog today which referred to a comment that there seemed to be a grand total of 2 mage blogs, and claimed that they were both crap.

I'm new to the whole blogging thing, but even I have managed to find 4 mage blogs. This leads me to believe there are most likely a whole bunch more I haven't found.

I can't speak as to the quality of these, though - good or bad. I've barely glanced at the ones I know exist because what spare time I have to devote to blogs I've already filled with the likes of Pugnacious Priest and Digital Incorrectness.

Anyway, what I'd like to do with this blog is make it a good mage blog. I want to try and write regular, fun, interesting and informative posts predominantly about playing a mage, and about WoW from a long-time mage's perspective. I've had a few stops and starts with this blog, even deleting the entire thing at least twice, but this time I want to make it work.

A Little About Me
I'm a 26 year old woman from Australia, currently studying computer science at uni and working at a bank to pay the bills.

I've played WoW for about 4 and a half years now. My very first character was a mage, and since then I've rolled two more mages that are now at level 80. For a good part of BC I had a 70 warrior tank and a 70 holy priest, although only the priest has made it to 80.

I've been an officer multiple times, and a (puppet) class leader, but I've never ran my own guild. I've had the privilege of being in some of the best guilds on my server(s), and raiding with some of the best mages out there. I like to think I have some idea of what I'm talking about, although I'm sure if people actually end up reading this I'll be proven wrong a bunch of times. ;)

Enough introduction, I'm crap at introductions anyway. Time to think of some real stuff to write. :)

<3 Jayd