Done for good.

16 07 2014

It’s always hard saying goodbye to something that defined my free time for as long as WoW did. Unfortunately, a combination of burnout and some absolutely staggering bigotry from my guild leader led me to freeze my account and find some other things to do with my time as of three or four months ago. I’ll always have the memories, but between how I was feeling at the time and everything I’ve seen about the next expansion, I had to decide that it was time to be done. Thanks to everyone who’s followed my blog through the years.

I’m closing down this blog later this month. If you’re interested in following other things I do, feel free to check out my personal blog, which is updated rather more frequently.

Nostalgia hits hard

15 01 2014

For the last few months, as I’ve been more and more busy, I have had less and less time to keep up with the blog. Maybe my announced return was premature. :(

In any case, things have been going well for me. I’m still finding time to raid Siege of Orgrimmar, and so far have managed to stumble through ten of the fourteen bosses in there. My guild’s about to start saving the raid lock, so hopefully we’ll get to make some good progress in the rest of it soon!

It’s been really nice doing the casual thing, though. I’ve been able to tank in Flexible raid difficulty – something that I had really, really missed doing. I didn’t realize how happy tanking again for the first time since Wrath would make me! It’s been cool to be back in the “driver’s seat”, so to speak, for those runs. So far I’ve only gotten to do the first four bosses, since we only do one night of Flex per week, but it’s still been a lot of fun.

Speaking of Wrath, though, I’ve recently had the opportunity to get back in touch with a lot of my old guildies from that time, and that’s been a lot of fun. Some of my best memories in this game were from Wrath, so getting back together and leveling through that old content with everyone has been such a blast. I’ll have to post some screenshots later as it has been a lot of fun!

Evolving feelings about dailies and associated ramblings

19 09 2013

Have I mentioned how awesome it is to be back? Seriously. Having an outlet to just write again is so nice.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk a little about something I noticed in my feelings about dailies from BC compared to dailies in MoP.

Back in BC, I routinely capped out my daily limit after 2.4 and the Shattered Sun Offensive hit. 25 dailies, every single day. While I think we can all agree that Shattered Sun was a grindy jerk of a reputation, I still did it – and enjoyed myself while doing it!

Fast forward…holy cow, five years? Has it really been that long? Yikes! Anyway, fast forward to Mists of Pandaria, where I find myself complaining about the gated reputations, the need to do dailies every day, and in general how much time I feel is wasted due to daily grinds.

I talked with this recently with my girlfriend, and she mentioned that it might be because there was a lot less demand for this kind of grind during WOTLK and Cata, and I tend to agree. I know at least my mentality over all of Cata was a lot of “eh, I could go do my dailies, or… I could do something I enjoy doing and still be a complete baller in raids”. I think it must have spoiled me far too much.

In addition, there’s just more stuff in Mists! I don’t particularly like some of that stuff, but there are certainly more things to do. Back in BC, for example, I was doing Shattered Sun because that was what there was to do. Sure, I could have gone and done Skyguard rep, or Sporeggar, or what have you, but I didn’t – because those weren’t core to the gameplay experience. I could get by and be successful without doing those – but Shattered Sun was a core part of Patch 2.4. Compare to Patch 5.0, where I felt like Golden Lotus, Shado-Pan, Klaxxi, and August Celestials (to a lesser extent) were all core parts of the game. If you wanted to get raid ready, you needed gear – and the best way to get gear was behind those gated reputations, as opposed to the pre-raid model in BC, where you could get gear out of (admittedly, more difficult) heroics and transition from there smoothly into more group-based play.

While I’m doing the stream-of-consciousness thing, let’s talk about that dichotomy – that of group-based versus individual play. I feel like part of what recent gameplay changes (and by recent, I mean “starting with the implementation of the Dungeon Finder tool”) have served to accomplish is a unification of the two playstyles. If you don’t want to interact with other people while you’re leveling and gearing, now you don’t have to – you can do your dailies (individually), queue for dungeons (also individually – just because you’re using the Dungeon Finder is not a mandate to communicate with the people you’re grouped with), and even go do raids (that LFR tool is a pretty easy way to do it) – all without the aid of anyone that you actually need to talk to. You don’t even need to be good – only just good enough to avoid the notice of the votekick brigades so prevalent in LFR (I geared a monk up this way. The secret is doing just slightly more DPS than either of the tanks in the group). Once you’ve finished all of that, you can jump into Trade chat and find a real raid group – all through the aid of those epics (and now a legendary) that you were able to get by yourself. (disclaimer: the legendary cloak does probably need some human interaction – at least to kill the elite mob out in Krasarang Wilds). It’s worth noting that heroics won’t reward gear as effectively as reputation grinding.

Contrast to BC (and also Wrath to a large extent – at least until LFD got implemented), where they forced you into group play if you wanted to go do things like raid. Sure, you could solo quest, do your dailies, and level your professions, but that wasn’t a viable way into group play. If you wanted to raid, you needed to do heroics. Not only that, but you had to talk to people to find a group. Plus, the heroics were actually demanding enough that the group was forced to communicate. This was a much more effective way to prepare someone for a raid environment, where they needed to communicate with the rest of the group and be effective in their role.

I know this sounds like I’m nostalgiaing really hard for the old style of gearing – I’m trying not to, honestly. These last couple paragraphs aren’t meant to be a direct criticism of this shift – I do realize that it makes the game a lot more accessible in some ways, especially for people who aren’t members of a guild or who don’t have established friends in-game. In other ways, I think it could be argued that the game has become less accessible, especially the initial gearing gate before one can begin to effectively participate in group-based play (dailies felt mandatory at the beginning of the expansion, although this has been somewhat mitigated as time has gone on in the expansion).

Now, that said, I would like to point out that WoW is a multiplayer game by design. Looking back – even to BC, when I enjoyed things – dailies don’t feel like a good way to enhance that multiplayer experience. PArt of what made those dailies fun for me was the human interaction – I did them with friends. I killed Alliance out on that island while I was doing my dailies. I sometimes got completely rolled over by gank squads. But that was part of the experience! Blizzard shoved a ton of people into a tiny area and made them interact to achieve a goal (unlocking Sunwell). Now, it’s shoving each person into their own little world so that they can grind their personal character’s reputation with a faction to Exalted, get some gear, whatever.

And that’s where 5.4 comes in.

Timeless Isle, to me, feels like a giant throwback to that era back on the Isle of Quel’Danas. Throw a bunch of people together, give them a daily hub, and see what happens. Once things settle out a little bit, I’m very interested to see how group dynamics evolve on this island. So far, it’s just been a bunch of rare-hunting, but maybe as more people get their Censers, we’ll start to see some really cool stuff happening.

Besides all of this, though, I’m really excited for next expansion, whatever it may be. With Rob Pardo back at the helm, I’m hoping that we can get back to the parts of the game I enjoyed the most. Whether it be nostalgia or truly that the game was better then, I really enjoyed my time in BC more than anything I’ve done in game to date – and it’ll be nice to see what the director of BC brings to the table for new expansions.

News from the last couple years

11 09 2013

Hello, everyone. I know I’ve been away for the last couple years. I honestly thought I would be done writing on this blog for good when I made my last substantive post, but I guess I can’t stay away.

It’s nice, though. Like settling back into an old, comfortable armchair. Hopefully it’ll be like I never went away, and I can get right back into the groove of things here.

Since the last time I posted, I have been busy working on real life, for the most part. I ended up not playing Mists seriously for quite some time (I really wasn’t impressed with the features added / lore / actually pretty much everything, plus I was on the final semester before I graduated college – no time!), but eventually started getting back into it. I completed one heroic mode in the first raid tier before 5.2 hit, but really was playing casually/not even a regular raider at the time. Before ToT hit, my old guild on Gul’dan died out, and I ended up moving over to Pixelated full-time with my girlfriend. I was still playing casually (just LFR’s), which was good for me at the time since I was in the process of moving across the country after graduating. I managed to get a job here in western New York, and eventually – almost unconsciously – moved into the position of a backup for the regular 10-man raid. While this didn’t mean I raided a lot, it did allow me to move back into a regular raiding  spot a couple weeks before 5.4 hit. All of a sudden I found myself in a role I hadn’t been in in literally years – that of a regular raider.

I literally cannot begin to express how wonderful it is to be back in a role where I can experience content and contribute to guild progression without the added responsibility of being an officer or GM. While I was told after I gave up guild lead of my last guild that I had done a good job, it was a huge stressor for me.  The way this group’s set up, I can still contribute my thoughts on boss fights (it’s relatively easy to observe as a ranged DPS) but I don’t have to deal with the petty drama that you hear about as an officer, or the recruiting, or the day to day guild management. All I have to do is make sure I know my class inside and out, and that…that, I can do.

Plus, it gives me more time to talk to all of you wonderful people.

We downed the first boss in Siege of Orgrimmar tonight. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that feeling of downing a really challenging boss and knowing I did everything I could to make that happen. I had forgotten just how good it feels.

Anywho, that just about wraps up my life over the last few years. More actual real content to come, of course, but for now that’s all I have. Cheers, all. It’s good to be back.

I’m back…

10 09 2013

*dusts off the blogging pen*

At least, I’m going to try.

Once upon a time, I wrote a lot of words on this blog. Then I stopped blogging. Then I stopped playing the game.

Well, now I’m back. Different faction, different spec, different buttons, but I’m back. Same mage, same questionable writing skill, same trying-to-be-accessible mage guides that get put out super sporadically.

I’ll try to have something together for 5.4, but no promises! For now, consider this my official return to the blogging scene. Cheers.

Dos and don’ts of raid leading

18 02 2013

I was having a conversation the other day with my girlfriend, and she mentioned that the raid group she had been running with recently had been having some issues with their raid leadership. This led to a discussion about what’s good and bad in a raid leader, and how to effectively raid lead and motivate people. Although I don’t raid much these days (as evidenced by the dead blog), I have done plenty of raid leading in my day and I think I have some information that’s worth sharing.

First, let’s talk about what not to do. I’ve seen raid leaders singling out individuals in Ventrilo when they screw up or when they die, but I think that this is a good way to demotivate people. If you do things like this, not only does it encourage other raiders to do the same (especially if you start focusing on one person) but it also leads the singled out individual to either feel angry and hard-done-by or even stop raiding. Not a good way to effectively motivate people.

I remember the last time I tried to lead a raid in this way. It led to one person that I was criticizing muting/ignoring me – which obviously leads to some problems with guiding that person through fights. Needless to say, I stopped doing that fairly quickly.

At the same time, I think there has to be some element of public criticism in raids. Typically, what I would do is make this criticism more general (if I noticed a raider consistently standing in defile on Lich King, I’d say things like “get out of defile” during the fight, sure, but after the fight or before our next attempt I’d bring it up as a general principle: “Hey guys, this attempt let’s really focus on making sure Defile doesn’t spread in phase 2 and 3″). Without doing this, your raiders may feel resentful or feel like they are carrying some of the less skilled players in your group – they need to see that you’re doing something to address the problem.

One thing that can help you as a raid leader is also bringing things up with raiders in whispers. If you think it’s a tactical issue that they may be able to fix between attempts, send them a whisper. Don’t be overly confrontational unless it’s the third or fourth time you’ve seen this, but for the first couple of times a simple “hey, I noticed you’ve been having issues with X boss mechanic, I’d really like you to focus on that for our next attempt and make sure you’re doing it right” should suffice.

If issues are chronic or speaking to them quickly as above isn’t fixing an issue, then I honestly think it’s your responsibility as a raid leader to talk with them about it after the raid. Pull them into another channel in Vent and talk with them about what you’re seeing. “Hey, I’ve noticed your DPS is consistently pretty low. I really need you to work on fixing this, because it’s seriously affecting our raid.” If necessary (for example, if you don’t necessarily know their class), put them in contact with a class leader or someone you know who can help them improve – don’t just say they need to get better and leave it at that.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time touching on how to effectively give criticism, but as a raid leader it’s also important to motivate through positivity. If you see someone really excelling, don’t hesitate to point it out. I’ve kind of gone back and forth about doing this through whispers or more publicly through Ventrilo, and at the end of my raid leading tenure I was doing it through whispers. The point is that it’s a great motivator as a raider to be told you did a good job. It shows that your leadership is taking an active interest in your performance.

The other part of this is that you should also be watching people who have been criticized on something recently and watch for improvement. If you do see improvement, you need to make sure you’re commenting on it! I remember one of my raiders during ICC had all sorts of trouble with Sindragosa’s frost bombs. I talked with him about it, and after a couple of attempts he started doing the fight absolutely perfectly. I then whispered him and let him know that I was really impressed with his improvement. I think he really took that to heart, because when we moved on to heroic modes he was letter-perfect on almost every single new mechanic we were learning as a group.

I hope the above ramblings can help you in your role as a raid leader. I think that the above principles have certainly served me well during my time leading. Best of luck moving forward in the tail end of 5.1, and happy raiding during the upcoming Hall of the Thunder King!

2012 in review

30 12 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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