Friday, 25 September 2009

Upgrades and Murlocs

So, amidst turmoil and introspection on my performance on recent raids, I got a few thingies that brought a smile on my head, whereas I am planning a few more.

I am now a happy owner of Grunty, the Murloc Marine marine... Yes, that is two 'marines' for achieving The Marine Marine achievement.... whatever. This is a funny pet. We went to get some Elementum ores for a guildmate's Thunderfury yesterday after out ToC tries. It was kinda late in Greece, around 01:00. My girlfriend was sleeping, dog was sleeping and even vent was boringly quiet. I think that is why I had left the speaker volume kinda high, trying to listen to my guildies... Suddenly....

...the murloc aims... AND STARTS SHOOTING... RATATATATATA!!!
(Check a vid here)

Ok, one of these days I am going to get a heart-attack from 'improper use of in-game sound mechanics...'.

Apart from Grunty, I got 3/5ths of the 245lvl Tyralyon set and an item from the 232 set. Things start to balance out on the gear front as I am trying to `up' my mana pool a bit more. ToC hard mode was not really forgiving for us this week, still a lot of things to tweak. But I think we can tackle the Northend Beasts soon.

Brewfest is the last achievements group towards What a Long, Strange Trip it's been - (notice the Grateful Dead reference there). At least I'll get my hands on a proto-drake, although I have been raiding for ages I still have not gotten my hands on any. Slacker... Not even the green one as I have been quite unlucky with luck-based rewards in WoW. Hopefuly, I'll find the time to do at least those Ulduar 10man hard modes.

Last but not least, its time to convert some accumulated badges to gems, both for sale and future upgrades. And start planning for non-armor items...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Guts 'n' balls... revisited

I often wonder what makes elite players truly elite. By elite I do not mean the wannabes of every server but the truly top ones. What makes them so efficient at what they do? Often people simply reply... time. Ok, time does indeed play a huge role in our involvement with the game. The amount of time we put into the game is often proportional to what we achieve. Or the other way around, but you do get the picture. But that is often an aspect of an individual, not the guild as a whole. So... what makes elite guilds tick? Fear of the RL? Some common jedi-like focus on the game? Magic? Money?

I'd like to think that its co-operation. World of Warcraft is by no means complex. Mathematics can be complex. Quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, augmented reality and space travel. These are complex. Scripted, repetitive encounters are not complex. What IS complex though, to some extent, is how you approach those encounters. Take a raid for example...

You got 25 individuals. One of them, at least, is busy up to his neck with raid leading. Possibly others with leading subgroups, like healers etc. The rest try to do a set task and do it as best as possible. Most of the times. When they do not slack that is. When the raid succeds all is well. But what happens when they fail?

One of the most important aspects of World of warcraft is that its a multi-player game. Not a solo game. Therefore, its safe to assume that teamwork does indeed play an important role. I often used to refer in the past to Manslow's pyramid of needs - depicted below:

Source: University of Tasmania (!)

I beleive that the three top layers can be extrapolated to the WoW environment through the notion of guilds. All of the features depicted in the above diagram can be met within a guild. Teamwork - expressed above in the Social tier but with hints to Ego and Self-Actualization - is an important element of a guild. Since most encounters require certain subgroups to micro-manage, its essential that those groups work together consistently to achieve their goals. Moreover, the members of these groups must maintain a good level of communication in order to rectify errors, achieve stability and hopefuly - and ultimately - improve performance.

Now, enough with the posh talk. Wow players must play together. They need to communicate, speak their mind in a polite way. There is absolutely no value in not expressing an opinion when you want to concider yourself a raider. However, this communication needs to follow some simple ethics. I remember when I filled in my application form in Escape a year and a few months ago there was one question. "What is your abuse tolerance level". Well, most of us said extreme. Quite rightfuly I might add. But at the end of the day I often thought that this tolerance is towards constructive critisism. One that is expressed directly from the person voicing an opinion towards the individual concerned. I expect my fellow raiders to come to me and offer their suggestions, critisim and ideas personaly. Thats when that question starts to mean something. When I will sit down and talk with them, reply to their suggestions. Otherwise, if they do not speak their minds I will not know of their opinion. And - I am not perfect by far - I may make a mistake. I must admit - and I am thangfull for it - that certain people do actualy come forth and speak their mind to me.

Raiding is more often than not about reviewing what you did. About being aware of your choices and making decisions. Its about communicating those decisions, tactics and concerns. When a guild does not communicate as it should, when people keep opinions for themselves - or use messengers to relay them... - the guild stops being that very thing, a guild. It becomes a pug, full of indifferent individuals who would rather talk with a sub-group of players with absolutely no benefit for the group, instead of trying to help out the group.

I am fortunate enough that I have a fellow paladin playing with me that he does have the balls to come and talk tactics and opinions with me. We recently had a talk, trying to gauge certain aspects of the encounters we are currently working at. And we adapt. This is teamwork after all...

Guts 'n' balls boys and girls. Come forward and have your say. I assure you, you will surprised from my answer (and this is not by any means a threat...)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Guts 'n' Balls

Ever though you got so many to say, so many things to curse for but you feel you must not do so? For `the greater good'?

Well, that is the spot I am into. Once again this week. A friend told me, when this game stops being fun its time to call it quits. Not sure if that time has come yet, I guess I have faith in some people and hope to see a change of things. So, I will pretend everything is fine and speak bout a subject in a `politically correct' manner, - whereas I would ideally like to be very non-PC...

I must admit, one of the hardest things in WoW is not to be included in your guild's raids. Even if they are just the non-scheduled ones. Granted, I have been fortunate enough to be a regular in the 25mans but 10mans are a often different story. And all that got me thinking of how tricky is for everyone, organisers and participants of such raids, to balance things out.

From the organisers point of view, there are two paths to follow. One is the `progressive' path where people pursue achievements, prestigious kills etc. I appreciate that its definitely better to go with a stable set-up to those encounters as the group gets more efficient with playing together for extended periods. Such raids offer good publicity to a guild when said progress is achieved. From the participants point of view they need to be punctual, follow the usually `internal' schedule (by internal I mean its often organised from raid to raid and not with the assistance of a raid subscription tool), come prepared to the max and do their best.

On the other hand, we have what I like to call `community' raids. Raids which offer a basic clear-out of instances or in the best case scenario some hard-modes AFTER having completed a basic set of goals. Their purpose is twofold. One is to mix and match the raid group and give the chance to more people to raid. Equally important - particularly with the current ToC badges - is the collection of a basic number of tokens for gear upgrades which ultimately lead to better gear for all guild functions. Unfortunately, such raids often have people that are either indifferent to hard modes or have been left out from `progressive' raids. Either way, such groups are trickier in achieving anything but normal clear-outs. Not impossible though, just trickier.

Naturally, those two groups often merge together, the progress raid being the predominant one. People have to adjust to this mentality, play their best even if in theory they come from the `casuals' pool. Note here that by casuals I do not mean in any extent less capable. I mean those that are not as often on-line as others. Because - in principle - if those players are much worse than their peers skill-wise, then they should not be in the guild in the first place.

Obviously, the problem is which path to take and how far you can merge these two groups. That is, if you can not afford two raids, one in the fast lane and one for the rest. To wrap it up, the advantages of those two categories are the following:

Progressive Raids


  • Sought Achievements ontained
  • Good guild PR when those achievments are obtained
  • The joy of hard-modes challenge
  • Progress, progress, progress
  • Better gear for some

  • Often, a seperation of a guild to `elite' and lesser groups occurs
  • High concentration of gear to specific individuals - the rest get to be in guild functions in lesser gear compared to their 'elite' counterparts
  • People of a casual raiding schedule can't follow - (although are often present when these raids take place...)
  • Guild fragmentation and morale issues

Community Raids

  • More people participate
  • Gear is spread more evenly accross the available player pool, thus augmenting the whole groups capabilities (or potential)
  • More people get the chance to participate in 10man content - and if the raid is good, get to complete hard modes
  • Badges of more = more upgrades = better gear for more

  • Rarely achieve well-sought progress
  • Players often take their outcome for granted and underperform
  • (Aledgedly) better players often disregard them for greater chalenges
  • (Aledgedly) better players are unhappy with the non-take-no-prisoners attitude of the raids

I must admit that I am not sure which path I would follow. It is basically the very same reason why I stopped being a GM/officer etc. So that I wont have to decide such things. I have the utmost respect for those that take the effort to organise either of those types of raid. And to a great extent respect their choices.

But people suddenly loose that respect when they do not abide themselves to a few basic rules. Do not disregard people that have been with ya for a large period of time, do not `ninja' their raid IDs. Not when they are on-line at that time. At least have the courtesy to ASK them before you go and invite your out-of-the-guild buddies. Have the guts 'n' balls to tell people when you want to raid with one of your buddies, don't leave them waiting. Do not go behind their back...

Not when I respect you and the guild as much as I do...

Of course I might be exaggerating a bit. After all these raids are not a primary guild function and could be treated simply as someone else's raid. He or she leads, its their raid, their choice who they take and their choice who to talk to. Their rules, their game.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Lancebit the Paly and Lance the Dog

This week I got some real-life news...

A few days ago while returning home from an errand I was followed by a puppy. The place where I live is full of houses with fairly big gardens where most dog owners have their dogs running loose, pooping all over the place. Our municipality even has a playground for dogs, something not often encountered in hardcore-urban Athens. I expected the dog to belong to someone but nobody ever asked for it and there were no labels or a microchip on him.

So... the puppy followed my up to my parents house and back. He seemed relaxed, coping with my walking pace. As I walked back home, my girlfriend was on the garden, tiding up. When she saw the puppy she became ecstatic, making funny joyful noises. One thing lead to an other and now the puppy is under our protection for the last week or so. We took him to the Vet, did all the necessary check-ups, got some instructions and we are training him (and ourselves I might add...). And now Lancebit and Erlune have a real pet...

His name? Well, Lance ofc...

Lance 'in da house'

As for WoW? We cleared ToC10 and ToC25, starting on hard-modes, I got two 245level set items and some other assorted upgrades, got epic gems and planning further upgrades. I also upgraded my PvP gear and hoping to a rewarding Arena season. Arf!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A deafening silence...

Its been while since I wrote anything in the blog. I can not help thinking that I often have so much things to say but for various reasons I do not. I used to be a GM in my previous guild, writing huge walls of text with directions for my officers but at some point I lost the plot, they did as well and we all followed separate paths.

Nonetheless, not being an officer - therefore someone who is 'entitled' to speak about certain affairs - sometimes stops me from saying those things I want to say. Other times I am thinking of the consequences of what I will say, which bearing in mind my understanding of social norms in the game, can be devastating for my image and... my peace. Besides, its not my place any more to give instructions and I am immensely happy of not having that `burden'.

I am really sorry for not updating this blog more frequently but its getting really hard some times to keep my cool and enthusiasm for the game. Hard not to cry out a hurricane of feelings, observations and remarks. People do not like it when someone `knocks' their reality, just as much as I do not. I just hope that soon, I wont have to feel that way and people will see what is wrong and sort it out. Its so easy and apparent...that it is hidden like the best kept secret in the world...

We visited Koralon on 10-man yesterday, cleared ToC and then attempted the hard modes. Bearing in mind our set-up was not the best possible since we spread people over two raids and used alts and off-specs to fill in blanks I must say I am not surprised we did not get that far. I know the group that in theory had more `main' specs and a tad better composition got at least the first two beasts by the time I logged off.

The heroic modes do indeed seem quite challenging but I must admit I am sceptical on who long this will last. 245 level gear are fairly easy to grab, are quite an improvement compared to out Ulduar bits and I think the heroic modes will soon be conquered. Still, I never considered anything but the hard modes as a challenge and its a good one.

Apparently paid transfers are coming soon (they are available it seems in the US) and I am thinking of transferring my `pet' rogue who is decked in heirlooms to a horde side and when Cataclysm comes, level a goblin rogue for the kicks of it. Anyone know if heirlooms transfer with a toon when you do a realm/faction change?

Last but not least I began writing Lance's story. I am not gonna go into details but I want to use it as an alibi for certain changes I am planing for him.

Till then, I'll keep my mouth shut and my hammer next to me...

  © Blogger template 'Ultimatum' by 2008

Back to TOP