Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Lucky Bunch.

I read, with a great deal of satisfaction, that someone who I thought might be joining the Guild has, infact, gone somewhere else. She would have been a considerable asset to us, if truth be told, with experience up to Ragnaros on 10 man, but in the end it was never going to matter unless she was happy with the destination. Having read her blog it is abundantly apparent she's gone to exactly the right place for her. This has made me think about why people play, and that it's easy to sometimes overlook that the emotional requirements of players can be a far more significant factor to their progression than playing the game itself.

The game is secondary. Mostly, it's about the people.

I know how depressing it is to have people moan at you when they're not picked for Raids, and I totally understand the feelings behind it. I know that promising people things I won't be able to do is a sure fire way to create huge slabs of drama. I can remember just about every argument I've had with people who have shared their accounts with people, who have paid for gold or had their characters power-levelled whilst in Guild. I can recall nights when I've broken down in tears because of negative events online, and that I've always walked away thinking 'I shouldn't get this involved with a game...' Except, of course, this isn't just a game. It's a weird combination of social networking, online interaction with the added bonus/disadvantage of an MMO tacked on the end. For me too it is something else as well, something quite subtle I realise with thought.

It is yet another way to feel I am capable.

I have never been a competent gamer, and what I've lacked in skill I've always attempted to make up with enthusiasm. However, somewhere between my runs to and from Tarran Mill doing PvP on Al'Akir to my current home and my pretty-much self-sufficient 'virtual' family I stopped being content with just doing things, I wanted to learn to do them better. Maybe it was being continually surrounded by competitive people: I'd like to think this wasn't the real reason, however. I think as I came out of the birth of my second child I decided it was time for things to be different. I'd put up with certain people and particular issues for a long time, I'd just managed whilst at the back of my mind I was getting progressively more unhappy with the way that parts of my life had turned out. My mission was how I instigated that change, and it's taken a long time to find a way to deal with things that I feel comfortable with.

This is not going to turn into another discussion on the benefits/disadvantages of gaming. I know about the negative, and it has been a long, long time since I used any game as an excuse to avoid an issue in Real Life, that I couldn't get up and walk away to do something else. Those people who use gaming as a way to accentuate the positive in their lives, who admit that they have become more organised and better motivated, they're telling only part of the story. It's as much about them feeling happy and comfortable outside the login screen, that their real life reflects into what they do and how they play, more than anyone would comfortably like to admit. It has taken me a long, long time to get to the stage where all of my life feels like it works (most of the time), and the reasons for that could fill a dozen blogs if I felt the need. Fortunately for everyone, that's not likely to ever happen. The past is best left where it is, I have always believed. The future is yet to be written, so let it be the place where you change what has come before.

Needless to say, I'm not the biggest fan of pre-determination.

Change is a vital part of life. Being able to change and finding somewhere that you can feel comfortable is no mean feat. I am really pleased that there are those people out there who know themselves well enough and are able to do this without a decade-long run up, because when time is the limiting factor it really helps to be able to come to a decision quickly. I know I'm not like that, and when I see someone who is able to do it I can take that as yet another poke I need to pull my socks up and get with the programme. Maybe I can be like that, but if I don't try I will never know.

I therefore give a wave goodbye to the Guildie who never was, and would like to let her know via this Blog that she was nothing but a positive influence for the brief time we interacted. I'd like to thank her for that, and for the reminder that happiness is yours to determine and for no-one else to decide. Enjoy your new home S, and may it be everything you want it to be.

To the Guild who have taken you I say the following: I hope you realise just how lucky you are.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Did an hour's grinding in Un'goro with P this afternoon. If I can make that much gold every day from AH results I'll be a) amazed and b) unaffected by money loss in short order.

With the weekend coming, I think it's definitely time to go rediscover Old Skool Grinding.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

AH Update :: Picking Your Moment.

No thick leather? I can do something about that..

After dropping a not inconsiderable amount of glods on P's BiS Polearm, part of me feels I should do something to make back the investment. My normal way of addressing negative cash issues is to throw myself into farming: doing the Firelands Dailies was pretty lucrative as a skinner but is now mostly pointless as an exercise. Savage Leather is not where it's at, baby. With the news that 4.3's bringing a reduction in the levelling curve in Northrend I'm seeing a distinct pick-up on all sorts of low level mats prices and, as we can see above, a complete lack of certain items on the AH. With Dire Maul downgraded into a L40-summat instance I find myself thinking it might be time to pop back there for a bit and see if the dogs are as profitable as they were back when I was grinding for Steamweedle Rep.

Right now Thorium Ore is selling for more than Elementium which is great news both for my miners and my JC-er, who will be making hay from prospecting the latter in anticipation of the new patch. The former's looking like a decent bet to farm across the week to boot, and as our regularly-scheduled Firelands night has moved from Wednesday to Thursday I think I might get someone out to Un'Goro later and see how much I can sweep up in an hour. Un'Goro has the advantage of Ravasaur Hatchings to boot, and as WoW Insider notes today selling pets on the AH is always a decent way to drag in a few coppers. To that end, I should see who has the most Argent Crusade marks gathering dust amongst the alts and get them up to Icecrown. As the coin bags from the Tournament are now guaranteed to have a mark inside them it's 2-3 days work tops to make enough for an Alliance Pet, plus the gold rewards are still pretty decent. Thinking about it, if I took one of my not-quite-85-yet alts up there I could combine mark farming with actual levelling... ^^

I'm always amazed at those people who moan that there's no way they can ever make money. It really doesn't have to be about Dailies any more, either, there are a myriad of options available, especially if you have a toon with a Gathering profession. We'll see how we do with these ideas for starters, and I'll let you know if any of these potential avenues bring forth decent rewards...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

New Frontiers.

Last night, after our abortive Baleroc run, a Guildie whispered me and congratulated me on my dps.

This NEVER happens....

During the run, I mucked up crystal hugging on one pull and was admonished by another Guildie.

This NEVER EVER happens...

I find myself thinking: what suddenly changed?


As GM it has for some time been impossible to get anyone to give me an objective picture of how I'm doing in ten mans, and as a result it's been increasingly difficult to justify my own inclusion. Last week, for instance, when asking a fellow Officer who he'd take as the five dps for the evening, I found myself not even on his list and this made me stop and wonder: is it fair to even consider including myself if other people don't believe I'm bringing enough to the table? Last night's revisit to the Firelands didn't present me with any such problems: we had too many healers and not enough dps so our Holy Paladin went Retri and I was along with a point to make.

My husband loves to mock me as a keyboard turner, and last night I think even he was surprised that I got the Baleroc mechanic so easily and was able to fit into a five man rotation team with a degree of ease. I was helped by not having anything to do for the first 10% of the fight than stand and stick dps into the boss, which for a Marks Hunter is pretty much as good as it gets. Careful Aim with it's +60% crit chance means that until 90% I can bring some massive numbers to the table, and add that to Rapid Fire and my Pet's Call of the Wild (plus a quickly quaffed Potion of the Tolvir) and I was able last night to exceed 21k on one of our tries. I very rarely see the top of the meters with my Guild, as the rest of the people I play with are far better at this entire co-ordination lark. I won't make any bones about it either: I know what I'm good at, and I know what I'll struggle with. Even with the best will in the world I won't beat the younger and faster pure damage dealers so it's better that I focus on what I know are my strengths. Last night, I took it upon myself to make sure I was as good as I could be and I owned that first 10%. To be complimented about it afterwards made me feel unbelievably good.

After my first admonishment on failing to hug fast enough on Crystal Duty, I stopped and had a think about what I still do with my hunter after over six years: I stand at the back. It's a hangover from those early days in MC, when a Hunter could feign, go OOC and drink/bandage as a way of taking the strain off the healers. In most cases it's a good way to make sure you never get into trouble but in this situation where all our crystals were dropping in melee range of the Boss, it wasn't going to work. I had to think fast and let's be honest, on certain days that just doesn't happen (blames hormones, knows it's not that simple) Last night however I really think I got the hang of it, even being able to move in and out of a crystal's range without losing any dps time. It felt easy and I was able to still keep damaging, so could contribute in a positive fashion. I'm very pleased I got told to pick my game up last night, because it's meant it's started a process where I am now thinking about a great many things that remain as hangovers from times past. There's as much to be had from being told you're not doing something well as there will ever be from being complimented, if it means in the end you leave with a better understanding of what you are capable of.

Thanks to both events I felt confident enough to go try the Blade's Edge Bomberman achievement, my current Unobtainable Achievement of DOOM. Well, it used to be. I owned that too :D

I'd like to thank both Guildies for taking the time to talk to me last night. On reflection I hope that maybe the thing that's changing is me, and that in turn I can find better ways to work more effectively with my Guild as a whole. Let this be the beginning of something new and entertaining....

Now What?

There. Now What?

Last night, after multiple failed attempts on Baleroc (25% with a minute to go before Enrage was as good as we got) I decided I was going to spend the most money I've ever dropped on a single item in game. The Ranseur of Hatred is Best in Slot for the entire tier and (from memory) I don't think I've ever been a position before to either contemplate buying such an item or to actually be able to afford one. Needless to say, I am acutely aware that I cannot slack on these 10 man bosses. Low dps is not an option or things just wont die.

I could have waited for it to drop from Trash, of course. The decision to purchase it was driven at least in part by the realisation that even if we kill Ragnaros in 10 man there will be not be (even the chance of) a weapon for me at the end of it, or indeed from any of the bosses. With the exception of upgrading from Heroic BoT/BWD/TToTW my only remaining gear improvements currently are from the Firelands. Running heroics for Valor Points is largely a waste of time (unless I want to start gearing alts in 378 bracers) and the only thing my Justice Points are good for are PvP Upgrades or buying Greater Eternal Essences.

I am not friends with the RNG this Expansion. Buying it guarantees it will drop on our next run and one of our druids will get the Upgrade instead :D Everybody wins.

I doubt it will take that long to earn the cash back, either.

It did mean however when I logged into Mr Robot this morning, I was met with the following dialog:

That will do :D

Monday, September 05, 2011

Dress You Up! :: Back in Black

Unless you've been stuck in a dungeon the last few weeks you will be aware that Mogging is coming to a Server Near You in 4.3. If our little corner of Azeroth is any indicator, people are already out in the field frantically gathering items with which to transform their current looks. Needless to say we at ALT: ernative Towers aren't going to be left behind in this Fashonista Free-for-All. However, we'd like to do things a little differently. That means when we dress up, we do it without reaching into the box marked 'Tier Gear.' In the first of a series that will see me wasting good grinding time making outfits for all my 85's, I'll show you what P's gonna be wearing if she can fight her way to the Transmogrification Wallah...

They've got to catch me if they want me to hang...

The starting point for this outfit was armour I spent a lot of time wearing back in Vanilla, the Black Dragonscale Set, because the Shoulders are one of the very few items in that slot I could look at and not get bored/irritated with. Once I'd decided it was black for this ensemble the rest of the pieces were fairly simple to put together: a mixture of green, blue and epic (BOOTS!) pieces from four different 'named' sets that were purchased on the AH. I needed a polearm to match with the piece I would be mogging with and sadly none of the Vanilla or TBC skins look any good in that regard so I went instead for the Wrath skin on Banner Slicer. I regret now having not held onto Terokk's Quill which was my favourite polearm in game for quite some time. Needless to say I know I won't be alone in feeling that way.

A better look at the Banner Slicer and the Dark Leather Cloak which isn't that dark... ^^

The bow for this outfit was a no-brainer, and is here to bring colour AND animation: the still awesome Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers. I'm betting many Benedictions will be wielded by Priests and although I have a fair few bows/guns I could have picked to finish this outfit off I'm pretty sure none of those have flowers that grow out of them and disappear with a magical *poof* of blossom. Like I said, no-brainer.

You can't see it blooming, but trust me it does :D

To complete the look I've gone for the Tabard of the Argent Dawn, long since unobtainable in the midst of Undead Invasions, just to make it be known that I've been around for a while, I've seen it all before and frankly you Night Elf Come Latelies in your Tier Gears can go stand in the corner. Female Dwarf Hunters can be stylish, co-ordinated and take your ear off with a well aimed arrow. Gun Racial my arse!

No hat mog for this outfit, by the way, which I suspect will be a theme for most of my toons and I like to see their faces. A full list of the items used are below.

  • Black Dragonscale Shoulders
  • Dark Leather Cloak
  • Blackforge Breastplate
  • Tabard of the Argent Dawn
  • Banner Slicer
  • Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers
  • Renegade Gauntlets of Power
  • Renegade Belt of the Monkey
  • Mithril Scale Pants
  • Black Dragonscale Boots
[EDIT: Links added!]

Not The Same!

There's a good reason this picture is funny whilst simultaneously being ironic.

I am continually depressed at how the Gaming Community is portrayed in the media, but it is not really any surprise the stereotypes keep being recycled. MMO Players particularly inhabit what can at times seem like an extremely insular and addictive world to anyone not aware that reality does in fact exist in the player base. This was ably demonstrated to me this morning.

It was time for my bi-yearly eye examination, and the lovely male mid-20's assistant who took me for my screenings asked me casually in the process of his pre-testing spiel what I did as my main hobby. I thought for a moment about just responding 'I play on the PC' but instead I decided for a moment of total honesty. 'I love gaming, especially playing MMO's like World of Warcraft.' The double take this guy then did was worth the moment alone, until he responded with a measure of amazement: 'Isn't that the really addictive game that ruins people's lives?'

I needed a second after this to consider my position, and as I did the Assistant began to tell me about 'this documentary he'd seen on Current TV about Warcraft...' before realising he should probably be doing my eye health tests. Although I didn't press him further I wonder if he was referring to Second Skin which was shown on Current TV (and ironically renamed  My Gaming Addiction 'so it grabs more attention as people flip channels' ) and which joyfully announces from it's publicity blurb that 'of the 50 million players worldwide [*], 50 percent consider themselves addicted.' I'm sorry?

This documentary covers the activities of three sets of players: looking at the Subjects page I recognise most of those 'stereotypes' too (which sadly includes just the one woman who appears to be there because she fell in love with a guy she met online. Yes, I KNOW this happens, yes it's great that people can find love online, I just have a problem with the MMO Dating Service thing ^^.) I find myself thinking I need to watch the whole thing to give it an objective hearing but then I stop myself and decide that actually life is too short. I have better things to do.

This fight's been going on a long time. Anything that causes a certain chemical reactions in the minds and bodies of human beingd has the potential to become an addiction. Gaming addiction is no different from alcohol, drugs or sex in that regard, the source of the problem isn't just the individual but their particular circumstances. Gaming Designers should not be held responsible, the fault lies in those playing and not making the entertainment. With the current obsession the world seems to have with 'reality' TV, people who just play and have fun whilst gaming aren't ever going to be as interesting as those who are affected by it's darker sides. I may get upset at how people view Warcraft, but if I make sure that I'm not perpetuating any more stereotyping than is strictly necessary then I can at least ensure I'm not fuelling the fire.

I clearly don't look the part most of the time, which is a start.

[*] Covering games other than Warcraft, including Second Life and Everquest II.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Today, I healed my first Heroic as a Shaman.

Bloody Hell, it got HARD.

There are certain advantages to coming late to this party, it occurs to me. Knowing what to expect aside, I'm able to run Dungeons with well-geared people who also understand the fights and as a result are far less likely to stand in bad stuff (unless you're my Husband playing pure dps for the first time ^^) which means my Triage ability wasn't under such close scrutiny. Tank damage in some fights, quite frankly, is STUPID but ironically this was on trash but not on Bosses (am thinking the trash pack before the Bear boss in ZA especially) It was also very clear that unless everyone did know how to help mitigate damage I was unable to keep an entire party up, and I only have the heroic ZA achievement thanks to my Guildie DK tank who effectively soloed the last 15% of the last boss with me decomposing on the floor.

There's NO WAY ON AZEROTH I'm stepping foot in a Random for quite some time. The Satchel of Exotic Mysteries will remain unclaimed for the now.

I can understand why so many people I know have decided to give up healing: after all, this is a game and is supposed to be fun. However, I find myself thinking I will not be beaten BY A CHUFFING PILE OF PIXELS. There is a time and place for everything, after all, and I think this may well be the time to suck in the gut and just get on with learning how to do this properly. Don't get me wrong though, if there's a way to cheese I'll grab that and that's why I finally have Ludicrous Speed as an Achievement. If you want to know how to do it, the answer's online. Needless to say, I am looking forward after the last 3 of my Cheevos are done to NEVER SETTING FOOT ON THE MOLTEN FRONT AGAIN.

Blizzard, I've yet to find anyone who actually enjoyed that grind. Learn from this, please.