Sunday, March 01, 2015

Tell Me on a Sunday

Everybody loves a Villain.

It's been a funny old week, all told.

Yesterday bought to a head a number of personal issues I've had with Warcraft for a while: some are with the game, others are with the people that play it. None of it really matters in the greater scheme of things, of course, as Mr Alt likes to remind me, like video game arguments actually matter to anything anyway. I joked yesterday on Twitter that actually speaking my mind could be considered tantamount to 'career' suicide, except of course that's ridiculous. Once upon a time, I did want to do this as a job, until the moment I reminded myself again that I'd have to sacrifice a part of my soul I have no real desire to give up. The problem is that too many people in gaming want to be heroes, and perilously few will take up the mantle of villain, because if you do, the inevitable consequences are... well, inevitable.

Being the Bad Gurl is always a thankless task ^^

Table flipping's all part of the resume.

See, when your huge company wants to forge relationships with its player base, it has to go with people it trusts. As a result (and we discussed this at length last week) being on the outside can be more than a little galling for some if they feel that the other side of the fence is where all the lovely sparkly stuff is to be had. People make friendships that become professional relationships with others they know, because it is simply easier and safer than taking the chance on the unknown. Except, sometimes, stuff doesn't go right. Mistakes are made, and if nobody's prepared to stand up and say something, nothing ever changes. Resentment builds, and eventually nobody says anything any more... because, that's just the way things are. That's never sat right with me. Life should never be about letting people get away with average, when it can be done better, or differently. So, how do you blow the whistle and stay friends with everyone? You don't. The way it works is that lots of people lose all the respect for the work you've done and you accept the possibility you'll be isolated, or you simply don't see it as an issue to begin with.

I pretty much sit in the latter camp. I'm not here to be Blizzard's friend. I'm here to play their game.

Keep talking, Internet, some of us may not be listening ^^

If you believe the soul purpose of writing a Blog is to be complimentary, I think you're in a really commendable headspace. I wish I was one of those people who could just focus on the good in things. Ironically, I've written two 'legitimate' fansites over the years, one of which actually became professionally backed and was quite trailblazing for its time. I enjoyed the concept initially, but after a while it became clear that actually, if you're being paid by somebody else to make their TV Show look good, what happens when you stop believing it is? Are you able to lie with impunity to keep your pay-cheque intact? I decided that actually I couldn't, and yet was still able to walk away with a pretty sizable 'handshake' for having done the groundwork. Of course, these incidents don't always move in your favour. Personally, I've made my bed here, and I'm happy where I lie. I may like to joke about a lot of things that happen as a result too, and that's part of how I survive: fuck, some people still think I'm a man after six years and countless podcasts, and who am I to try and correct them? Except I always do, because that's also part of the deal.

As a brief aside, anyone who thinks I'd use my sexuality as a serious effort to points score is really on a hiding to nothing.

Happens a lot around these parts.

In the end, what matters most is how you feel at the close of any given day. If the bunch of pixels you used to love is now something you actively hate, well, we have an answer for that. For all points in between, you need a yardstick and the understanding that whatever you do should make you happy. This has been the closet I've come to quitting for a while, I'll grant you. The trouble is, at least for me, is that I know I'm still not done yet. There's a lot that needs to be poked and prodded, and when what's more important to you is being right in your own mind than being popular, then there's probably some room for manoeuvre. I still maintain this isn't about people thinking I'm Blizzard's friend. Sometimes, you don't want to be friends with someone, you're just after respect. If you can't get that by saying what you see, and believing there's an issue? Well, then it is time to move on.

What matters to me most of all, right now, is fairness. I want to be fair and honest with what I see and report. I don't think that's unreasonable, and I don't think that's too much to ask of anyone who blogs in gaming. However, there are many people who would feel otherwise, and whilst this attitude remains, there is potential for conflict. Pixels are serious business, after all.

That's why I'm determined to keep doing what I'm doing, however much flack I draw.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Working for the Weekend

I've thought long and hard about posting this, but you know what? There's a point of principle to be made here, and I've decided I'd like to make it. I'm also, along the way, going to alert people to the unavoidable truth that when you're on the inside looking out of a bubble, things have a tenancy to distort.

That Tweet exchange on Friday above was pointed out to earlier this evening, on the back of what was clearly some irritation as to my comments in various places, including my earlier Blog post. Let's be really very clear about a couple of things from the word go: once it was pointed out to me the obvious disparity between the transcript text and the ACTUAL interview, my blog post was amended. The fact the transcript text I quoted offended many people throughout the day (and I saw that happen) says to me two things: not everybody follows the transcriber and the Dev on Twitter, and that there was clearly and definitely some disparity between what was transcribed and what actually was said.

However, what bothers me even more is that this exchange on Twitter between a Fansite and a Developer took place to begin with.

I made a big fuss a while back about how Devs had shut up shop to players, and how there were communications issues as a result. Blizzard responded to this and told me that all this would be fixed and that, as a result, we could expect to see the 'official' Twitter feed be blessed with the answers to all our questions. As a result of *that* pretty much all the Devs stopped posting Warcraft-related chatter. I was really surprised therefore to see one answer a Tweet of mine on Friday. It came as a real shock, and I wasn't quite sure how I should react as a result.

Seeing the exchange appear above therefore made me feel rather disappointed, that a joke is made between a Blizzard dev and a fansite staffer over the fact people would automatically assume that these comments were derogatory because the sarcasm was not transcribed. About five minutes after I'd been alerted to this another contributor to the fansite appears and tells me, in no uncertain terms, to 'not quote people misleadingly.' I wasn't aware I'd done anything other than just quote what I saw on site. Of course, the original transcript may now change to more accurately represent what was said.

That's no longer the issue here, at least for me.

My problem is the fact that, I believed, Blizzard Devs wouldn't be using personal accounts to talk about stuff like this. Of course, it could well be that the Dev and the fansite staffer are RL friends, in which case I'm still not sure that's the time to be having that kind of conversation to begin with. I found it inappropriate, but I'm not that far into the bubble for it to matter. What bothers me more, and why I decided I'd say this, is that my interpretation of what was written was what started a chain of events that now has me being actively harassed on Twitter, being told my perception is warped and I am clearly wrong.

That says to me that actually, somebody is pissed with how I've perceived this enough to start an Egg account to try and provoke a reaction. I'll do that right now.

When I read something that purports to be a transcript, I assume the person doing it will do so with a measure of accuracy, which in this case I believe was not the case. I hold no ill-will toward the transcriber, or anyone who commented or indeed harassed me. I don't have time to watch videos on video games, I rely on fansites to provide me with reliable information. I made a set of judgements on the information I was given, and then I changed it when I was found to have missed a key point. That does't remove the fact that a conversation took place via Social Media I don't think should even have occurred.

I'll take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who feels I've been rude in this entire affair. It is never my intention to intentionally offend. It genuinely isn't. The fact remains, I'd like to see a bit more transparency than currently exists between certain fansites and Blizzard. I'd also like to see the Blizzard's social media policy get a look-over.

However, when all is said and done, this is just a bunch of pixels on a screen. I think I realise that more today than I have at any point in the last ten years.

No Scrubs

Q) How do you feel about Garrison missions giving out BRF Mythic loot when they haven't done it? 
A) It's fine. That's the point. Gives you gear relevant to your playstyle. Never raid? You'll get normal. Do some normal? You'll get heroic. Once every 2 weeks. You can tell the "mere peons" from the "fully Mythic geared raider" - it's fine, really. 

I deliberately stayed away from the Twitch Live Developer Interview yesterday, and reading back Wowhead's useful summary, I have to say I'm rather glad I did. These were questions that were at least in part solicited in advance and the answers... well, there's some real gems in this lot to discuss. Forget for a moment that Blizzard appear to be unable to keep five mans relevant for new players, outgearing them before we hit 6.1, or that LFR is clearly a priority to get people 'into' raiding... and let's take a moment to consider the fact that the 'class' system in the game could be considered as alive and well. Lead Game Designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas may think this is acceptable, but I'm not so sure.

So I'm no longer a Dirty Casual this morning, I'm simply a mere Peon. Yes, I know Mr H was being sarcastic. That's not the point here.

Raiding is clearly a priority, but offering the illusion of raiding (whether it be via Garrison drops or otherwise) is important to a percentage of the playerbase. There's also the consistent issue (which the question above clearly references) that proves without doubt what I'm now going to refer to as The E-peen Issue just refuses to go away. Even with people in their Garrison and no capitol cities in which to show off your Mount/Tier/Achievements, a percentage of the playerbase still feel aggrieved. More importantly, and perhaps more worrying for people like me, Blizzard still feel the need to assuage people who have such a concern.

There's a simple solution here, that will keep EVERYBODY happy. Stop making it about loot.

Make it about skill.

Gear normalisation is now a part of gameplay via Proving Grounds and Challenge Modes. It is now time to stop mucking about and make the real races have nothing to do with what you're wearing, and everything to do with just how good you are. Let's see High End Raiding work in the same way as Challenge Modes, please: gear becomes irrelevant, everything is normalised and it comes down, once and for all, to the people who can actually play. Then the reward for players stops being the fact they're wearing the right equipment, it just becomes that they're good enough to beat a boss first. That would also put pay to a lot of people who don't think this form of 'entertainment' is a sport, because it would effectively level the field for anyone and everyone to participate.

Of course, that won't appease the players that want to show off, and they'll still demand their fripperies as rewards and find any excuse possible to hang around in public places wearing them. To be fair, that's really not Blizzard's issue, that's a wider societal problem that will need to be addressed in about forty years or so anyway because if it isn't there'll be no Society left in which people play computer games anyway. All the 'wealth' with a tiny percentage of the player base, material or spiritual, really isn't the way to keep any kind of civilisation in check. In fact, as more and more organisations are realising on a wide stage, keeping the 1% rich and the rest of the 'World' poorer is simply a recipe for disaster. But nobody cares about that in a video game, all you want to come here to do is escape and pretend you're something that you're not, or more importantly become that 1% when you'd never have the opportunity to do so otherwise.

So, how do you solve the problem of aspiration in a behemoth like Warcraft?

I think, first and foremost, you need to stop offering everyone the same chances. That might sound cruel, and ultimately divisive, but actually it could serve an important purpose. You don't get to be an Olympic athlete (in 99% of cases) just by turning up on the day and hoping for the best. It is time, and effort and reward and all those things above in bright colours. The fact is, giving people gear from stuff they don't do isn't the answer, it does make things worse, and it devalues the items to begin with. Yes, this is me saying this because once upon a time the only way you got Tier 1 was by going into Molten Core and actually, that's the way you want it to remain forever. No mogging with it, no allowing anyone to wear it if you want to maintain the sanctity of achievement via pixels. However, that train sailed a long time ago.

Because loot is now everything, this is the situation we find ourselves within. People aspire to have an item named after them. People who couldn't get loot aspire to mog with it after it is relevant. Everybody looks at each other and really, if we get down to it, Blizzard could do anything with the pixels and somebody would find a means of making it about something it's not. After ten years, it is no longer about the building we live in, but more and more about the individual memories we have of our time inside.

Part of me thinks everyone, including the Designers, could do with walking away and starting again from scratch.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Perogative

Without any fuss, and with no announcement, 6.1 saw many short-cuts in five Man Dungeons removed. The Tweet above references The Everbloom, which was possibly the most trivialised dungeon ever thanks to these 'diversions' which pretty much destroyed the point of the entire place to begin with. I've never done this place 'properly' since Warlords launched, and I now look forward to seeing what it should be like... except, of course, I won't. There's no need to go there any more, except if I was doing it on Challenge Mode, and as I'm being told, Blizzard are only now discussing this situation and the consequences of their move.

I'm sorry, but shouldn't you have done that BEFORE you made the change?

The last week has been, it must be said, quite frustrating in some quarters. Decisions appear to have been made without considering consequences, features implemented without restrictions being properly announced... and time after time it takes players themselves to bring this to the attention of the Developers. I noticed someone in my Twitter feed in the week joyfully announcing they've been employed as a QA representative at Blizzard: well, that's been distinctly lacking of late (assuming Quality Assurance means the same things on both sides of the pond.) In fact, in the Left Hand Right Hand Disparity Department, there's a lot of work that needs to be done, and with some urgency.

It is almost as if two different sets of people are trying to produce this game at present.

There's no point in complaining, this is the way it is... ^^

What I'm finding amazing is that 'testing' this time around does not seem to have involved a lot of... well, testing. It almost seemed a surprise to the CM's when people complained that after two days there'd only been one Professions Trader in North America because guess what? When you insist on using the Random Number Generator to spawn your NPC's it means some days you get the same one twice. I have had concerns since Beta that feedback from issues in Draenor zones was not acted upon, and I'm seeing 'bugs' I thought had been fixed still popping up as I watch Mr Alt take new characters through the levelling process. This was bought home yesterday when I watched what is now an ex-player on Twitter complain bitterly about how the removal of individual Dev accountability thanks to the new centralised feedback system has effectively alienated a lot of players who feel decisions are now being made without clear consideration for the players and their classes.

There's certainly a lot of muttering going on. That I can very much attest to.

- You can't use Twitter integration without turning RealID on.
- Oh ^^

Then there's a question to be asked: do you keep playing or not, if what you see isn't what you like? My good, dear friend @Belghast messaged me yesterday to tell me he'd trawled through over 100 websites that had previously had some kind of regular commentary on Warcraft to find nothing. Zip. Nada. Of course, many people now use the more visual media (Twitch, You Tube) and audio (Podcasting) to display their unhappiness: I suspect therefore the timing of today's Twitch Developer Q&A is anything but co-incidental. Blizzard is clearly trying to address as many avenues as possible for feedback, but the fact remains is that we really shouldn't be talking about changes after the fact, it should happen BEFORE the game is altered, which was one of the key strengths of the individual developer 'relationship.' Giving people a face to direct their class queries to worked. Yes, there are quite obvious disadvantages to doing things this way but actually? Trying to homogonise this game through one portal or a single developer?

Well, look what happened with Ghostcrawler.

Whatever the future may bring, I still want to write about this game, even if large numbers of Blogging brethren are jumping ship. I know Warcraft blogging is beginning to show the strain, but I'm not going anywhere.

I just wonder if Blizzard have also noticed the deafening silence.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Many Rivers to Cross

Looking Good, Pher :D

6.1, as it happens, isn't looking nearly as barren as I'd initially thought.

Quite apart from the fact I appear to have been given more eyelashes since Tuesday (I'm not complaining, ironically my character now looks more like me than she did before) the changes I played with yesterday were more than satisfactory. Queuing multiple work orders, 665 shoulders from an immediately-spawned Blackrock Foundry mission, having stockpiled enough Follower upgrades to earn Item Level Army in the first fifteen minutes of logging... all are Good Things (TM) I got the S.E.L.F.I.E camera in my first wave of Missions and yes, I can entirely understand the appeal. I'll do the Achievement over several days, but it isn't going anywhere fast, but I'm with the Aboriginals on this one. Enough of my soul's been stolen by this game to really want to use it to excess. Also, faces being pulled look ugly and in some cases actually scary. Serenity beats all.

Not a big fan of the Selfie Camera, TBH.

The biggest single improvement I found yesterday was being able to earn ridiculous amounts of Apexis Crystals in one hit: take a Daily Incursion Target quest from your Town Hall (800/1000 crystals) and then get the corresponding Daily Scouting Missive from Crowler outside the Town Hall (another 800 Crystals.) Then, Mr Alt had Harrison Jones in his Shaman's Garrison so I could go pick up his Relic Hunter Quest for 150g, which sent me to the Broken Precipice (ironically this also gave me 800 Crystals but I'm pretty certain that was bugged.) However, I'd remembered to take a Scouting Missive for that area too, so when I'd done with Quest items a quick clear-up meant an extra 800 Crystal bonus.) I earnt 3200 Apexis from little or no effort.

The Missives effectively allowed me to double up my earnings. If this carries on, I'll have that Apexis Monument in no time. [*]

Mr Alt's Garrison gives up the Goods...

Having lots of things to do is quite cool (again) I will say. I am still havering over going to do the Battle Pet Achievement (it will be cash in the bank regardless) and there are a number of patterns I still need, so I suspect I will justify the visit at some point. However what is more important at this point is the Mount Collection, and yesterday I was reminded that I only need 25 to get to 250. I went through all my Alts and ended up with 32 Heirlooms, and when I realised I could buy them from either faction without penalty, the large pile of cash on the Horde side gathering dust suddenly had use again. Therefore, late last night I took the Goblin Rogue to the Undercity, and the deed was done.

Mount #225. WTB [Female Chauffeur]

All in all, it wasn't a bad day's work. The sense of achievement was considerable, and that's been missing from the game for some time. I hope the influx of optional content is enough to make things interesting for the inevitable wait I'll now have for actual plot development and 6.2...


[*] WARNING: Time will remain a constant, but your perception of it may vary.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Private Eyes

Nope. NOPE. Just. NO.

This morning, I logged into 6.1 to discover that Twitter functionality was not available on my account.

This appears to be to be as a result of me not having Real ID implemented.

As this is news to me, I thought it might be news to you too. So I'm putting the Tweet here.

There's a reason I have Real ID turned off. I'm sure as heck not turning it on just for this. 

Ballad of the Mighty I

What will you be doing for 6.1, Alternative?
- You know what, that's a really good question...

#GirlySwot because making notes from notes is COOL.

I tried last night to get my brain to absorb anything of note from what is a HECK of a lot of changes in 6.1. All you people saying this is a content-light exercise clearly haven't tried to assimilate what we've been given yet. Mind you, I'm able to pull it down to a hand-written page of A5 so it can't be all bad, and my ability to summarise always needs work. For me, at least, there is a fair deal to consider that's not been written down either. I can update the Followers I have past 655 without wasting ilevels, I can finally use buildings to level my Professions people, and I can maybe find something to do  in current content to keep myself busy until 6.2, because that's really what I'm looking towards now. The Legendary Follower stuff is all well and good, but I'm a writer and what I crave now is plot and development, and there's absolutely sod all of that here to keep me interested.

You tell 'em, Lara ^^

Then there are some important Hunter changes to consider. Apart from the abject embarrassment I felt when I realised I've been doing Beast Cleave AOE all wrong since November, I'm actually fairly confident that the changes here will make me more robust in BM, which I'm now using as Main Spec. My greatest joy however is the news that STAMPEDE IS BACK BABY giving me every excuse possible to annoy Mr Alt with a mad rush of rabid beasts for twice as long as before. 


Apart from that? Well, as I've been typing this the Servers have come up... as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating... I'll be back later and tell you how it's going.

[EDIT: Some of you won't be able to find your Twitter integration. It should be on this part of your Interface menu, under the Mouse Wheel Scroll thing, but unless you have Real ID enabled, you can't use it.

Nope. I don't have this.

I posted about this above. Remember, keep breathing and IT'S ONLY A GAME.


So disappointing. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Island of Lost Souls

The 'original' Draenor map from Blizzcon.

There are going to be those of you in the US who'll be waking up today and deciding that 6.1 isn't actually a Patch at all. There's not a major 'event' Hub to go visit, no epic plot to expose (though there'll be some Legendary stuff for those advanced enough down the chain) and no sense that the 'story' of our presence in Draenor has advanced any further. I'm glad I'm not the only person who feels this way: I mentioned Anne Stickney's comments on the story of the Expansion yesterday and it bears repeating. There's various speculation on why that's the case: this Patch is simply to get the game to the point it should have been on Release, the Dev Team's working on the NEXT expansion already... whatever your tin hat theory, Blizzard will be doing their best to distract you with other gubbins in the next few weeks anyway. There's that MASSIVE Overwatch Press Event this week to co-incide with the game's arrival at PAX EAST in 10 days time, which I'm betting some will hope can hold the news cycle for a while... but I don't do other Blizzard titles :P

That means, its time to look at maps and work out what Draenor might hold in 6.2 and beyond.

From this thread on MMO Champion.

As far back as June last year, people were constructing the cartography of the old continent new World from datamining, and the presence of two (as yet unidentified) land masses was confirmed. Those islands subsequently appeared on the map used for Blizzcon, which exists on a number of information hubs today, but has been removed from the current map of Draenor as we see it. There's even a part of my brain that can remember one of these islands being referenced in the first Blizzcon conversation about the continent, and that it was being earmarked for 'future content'. Of the two potential sites, I'd say the safer bet would be Mystery Island B where we'd be focussing interest in 6.2, mostly because of it's proximity to Tanaan... but then yesterday I noticed this Tweet from a Parody Account that made me wonder...

Either location could be relevant.There's also the very real possibility Tanaan itself could be full of stuff we've not as yet been able to full access (and because of the unique way this Continent is populated there could be an entire raft of phased content in the same zone you travelled through as the Starting Area to boot.) Blizzard have confirmed that at least one quest sneaked into 6.1 that shouldn't have been there, but don't be getting any big ideas as a result...

Whatever 6.1 brings for you, I hope you enjoy having some new 'content' this week, because that is what this is, like it or not. If it's not what you want, part of me thinks you might have a while to wait before anything new comes around, but you never know with Blizzard...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Money's Too Tight To Mention

T'was ever thus... ^^

I hate to break it to you, but this game's been all about currency for a very long time. There's more Gold Millionaires in Azeroth at this point than ever before: it's so simple to make the stuff right now that Blizzard will be deliberately nerfing their own gold drops from certain missions in 6.1, plus re-introducing the gold sinks of Heirloom Upgrades and 'purchasable' Followers in an attempt to try and claw back some of the cash. However, most of the people I know coining in the cash don't rely on either of these 'basics' to create their nesteggs. Sure, they're a factor but not the means by which the money comes rolling in, and with Blizzard trying to encourage more people to Pet Battle in 6.1, I reckon it could be time to pull some of those rare pets from the Bank and stick them on the AH... because in the next few weeks, it'll all be about the stuff you can buy cheap.

When we consider currency, gold is but the least of the possibilities on offer.

Time is an Illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

There's been a lot of muttering from many about just how much time it takes to do anything these days, but the fact remains I scored a Highmaul Raid upgrade yesterday whilst at the Gym. [*] That's a massive quantum leap forward in terms of relative productively, and for those prepared to put in the extra legwork, rewards for building Garrisons are considerable. For everybody else, the grind has changed very little since Blizzard introduced the token system. Apexis for gear is no different to Justice, or Tokens, the only restriction is the effort you're prepared to put in. Some would argue that's still far too time-based, and you know what? Not gonna change. There are just some things you're going to have to accept as part and parcel of what you're presented with whilst gaming. If you want random upgrades in 6.1, go back to Heroics with Garrison 'Dailies.' If you want to improve specific items and you can farm Apexis, go do that instead. Choice is the key, and even if you don't appreciate that right now, I can guarantee there'll be someone who does.

Time remains the currency most people have the most trouble gathering with consistency.

When all is said and done, this is just a game (despite those trying to convince you its a lifestyle choice ^^) and if you want to play it 24/7 you can. That means, effectively, there's all the time you need to do everything that needs doing if you decide to put your mind to it. Any point after that, one could argue, is moot. So, making things easier or quicker becomes a question of just how much reward the designers decide they're going to throw at you at any one point in time. We're shortly about to be give a massive leg up in Professions in terms of time spent (6.1 simplifies a lot of processes including the problematic Savage Blood 'sourcing') but it still doesn't give the process a soul. Anne Stickney's made the point in a recent Blizzard Watch post: there's a storyline missing somewhere in Draenor: if we're talking about time as currency, I wonder, can I include plot too as something people want to earn? Would that matter more than gear or progression in mechanical terms? I suspect for many it would, and if that is the case then restricting that could be even more dangerous than stopping people from making gold or earning tokens.

Perhaps it is time that we stopped taking about what we need to earn to make progress, and instead there is a discussion on what is missing that needs to be addressed. See me tomorrow for more.


[*] Yes, the Mission completed while I was at the Gym.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please

This song, for me, pretty much sums up the social side of Warcraft. I've always imagined that 'the Community' was roughly akin to a massive Public House (in the English stylee) where, on any given night you'd be able to walk in, order a drink and automatically find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals. Your friends were always there, at your favourite table, and there you'd sit and regale each other with tales of the day... and around you were other groups, people you'd know, who you could go sit with for a while before moving back to your Friends... and the futher anyone strayed from their 'home', the less in common you'd have with the people drinking. Yeah, they'd all be Warcraft 'fans' and all still be a part of the 'Community', but your actual association with them would be tenuous at best. Then there'd be the table with the people on you upset who pretend you don't exist... and I think you get my point.

This song also makes me wonder what it must be like trying to get served at the Warcraft Public House if nobody knows who you the Hell you are.

Reproduced with thanks from @KatsukeSaito on Twitter. Relevant.

There's a problem in life that crosses multiple interests and social groups: you can't make people like you. However hard you try, it isn't about ingratiating yourself with anyone. True Community works best when it is organic and honest, and relies very heavily on the trust that comes from previous associations in order to allow new people to enter the 'group.' That's why the maxim 'it's not what you know it's who' still applies regardless of the individual's actual suitability (or indeed ability.) In Warcraft, this can lead to moments where you find yourself wondering who someone is that you've never heard of in your Guild, until it becomes apparent they're a Friend of X they got invited in on a favour. That's all well and good until you discover the brother-in-law of the girl everyone likes is an utter douche, and by then the damage is already done. For content creators, watching the mate of someone else get the gig ahead of you can be soul destroying, if all you're making content for is to try and get those magic numbers on the Followers lists. Then it doesn't seem like a Community at all. Then you're more and more convinced there's no point to what you're doing, and you may as well throw in the towel.

Except, actually, that's the moment when you should ask yourself why you came here to begin with.

The Community begins with one person. Every time.

When you're able to grasp that something like... oh, let's say no Flying in Draenor isn't a personal insult, that Blizzard didn't do it to piss you off, a lot of things change. Being responsible enough to understand how the World works is actually a big step for a lot of people, and what it brings is a freedom that allows you to stop asking what the Community should be providing for you, and instead what you'd like to achieve in the Community itself. Because views and followers are all well and good, but if you're not enjoying yourself, really, what is the point? I've had several unrelated conversations on Twitter this week asking this question: what matters more, your audience or your satisfaction? Would you rather play the class you don't like because it's more efficient and does more damage? Would you prefer to have fun streaming or is it about sacrificing your notion of comfort to give others what they consider more enjoyable? The thing is, in the end, people will know if you're not having fun. The people who succeed, consistently, are the ones who don't live for their personas, they just are them. You may not like what that means sometimes, and it may end up that these are the people who kop the breaks ahead of you, but there's nothing you can do about someone who works hard and gets the breaks, but yet doesn't notice you exist.

In fact, it is a dangerous game to allow people like this to influence your individual thinking.

Speaking personally, this is a very comfortable place I find myself in right now. I'm surrounded by decent, honest people who do what they do with more than a dose of self-doubt, which I would consider a healthy mindset to possess: always a good idea not to think you're doing enough, because that inevitably provides scope for improvement. I think I'm carving a decent niche for myself as a Blogger, my fiction work is in a very healthy state, and I'm happier than I have been for many, many years, and that means I can give back to the Community with a measure of confidence. This allows me better tolerance in some places, but inevitably a shorter fuse in others. I know which tables I feel comfortable visiting, and which I will avoid, however much they try and convince me to come and sit with them for a drink... Now I understand myself better, I can see ahead to where there could be potential problems and avoid them before they arrive: because sometimes it isn't about wanting people to be your friends, often it's quite the opposite. What matters more, at least for me, is respect.

That takes a lot of work, but is so worth it in the end.

I see what you did thar... ^^

If you subscribe to the notion of Gestalt Psychology none of this really matters anyway: putting people into Communities is simply individuals attempting to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. However, there IS undoubtedly a Community around the game, and around that is a construct: I use a Pub, a friend considers it like a Ballroom, and someone in the week probably more accurately described it as a bubble, which keeps the people in and worryingly for some the outside world separate. That's not healthy, and if you live here all the time it would be a sensible idea from time to time to go to other pubs, maybe to the Supermarket and most definitely the Gym once in a while. Community in Gaming does exist, but it's only part of a larger equation, and if you're going to work here, it might be a plan to go relax someplace else. Oh and the next time you see a new person at the Bar trying to get attention for a drink, offer them a hand.

Because once upon a time, that person was you.