Saturday, September 15, 2012

Never Too Late...

2 Gnomes, 1 Pick. Yeah, I know ^^

Today I have sorted 7/12 85's with some kind of TB Daily, which has made my brain turn to mush. As a result I thought I was in the perfect state to get my healer out and try to understand how Priests Work Now, and I've been really rather encouraged. Now I've worked out what the new Chakra states do (with some help) and have done both dps and healing in quite difficult situations (LFR even with Guildies can be a perilous place) I can attest that yes, I've made the right choice in bringing my Priest out to bat first when the expansion launches.

Mana doesn't as yet seem to be a problem (though I'm betting that will change) Dps as Holy (which I have to say I prefer over shadow because deep down I like the concept of just having one 'form' for both things) was actually very enjoyable in TB today, and even at this stage stuff seemed to die pretty quickly, which I vaguely recall distinctly not being the case when I last levelled. Talent choices make sense, though I'm disappointed at the distinct lack of funky cosmetic glyphery currently available, but having an instant cast Holy Fire and extra PoM power, plus Renew goodness all makes a lot of sense. I ran through a couple of the lower level Heroics to help my husband's new hunter gear up, and it was all pretty straightforward: in fact, I felt really rather comfortable with everything. How that would translate to the new 5 mans and Heroics however... well, we will see.

My main priority in getting the Gnome 'out there' is her Scribe/Chanting professions, but I realise that having another healer on the Guild Books will be just as important, especially as we're still in the dark over who is likely to return to heal for us come Pandaria. I began this character as a Draenai, back when we were progressing through Zul'Aman 20 as a Guild, for the exact same reason: we were short of key personnel and needed to move forward, and there was no-one else to do the job. She became a Gnome when Goblins got the chance in Pandaria and frankly I'm really pleased I made the change. I think her personality suits the shorter frame and although I briefly toyed with making her a Dwarf, I think this is the best race for her.

I'll be spending the rest of the evening dragging her around instances, I suspect, seeing if I can remember which Chakra works in which situation and doing my best not to kill myself by standing in bad stuff whilst casting... now if only I could Leap of Faith myself OUT of bad situations... ^^

Friday, September 14, 2012

Do it Anyway!

There are many things I have never done in game.

Before last week I'd never successfully completed a Heroic Mode in current content, and I find myself thinking that if I can score that achievement without the world coming to a perfunctory close, maybe I should think about some of the other stuff that might be possible. Reading Rades' post this morning about turning round a 1920-1300 deficit in a Gilneas Battleground and having this Ben Folds 5 track in my head for pretty much the entire week makes me stop and ruminate: what do I want to do in game that I've put off because I thought it was too hard, too stressful or simply because I didn't think I could complete it at all?

There are a couple of biggies that immediately spring to mind:

  • Finish 'Tower Defence' in AV. I should grow a set, find some Real ID mates, and get in there and just BLOODY DO IT. Its just that BG's got really sad when Rated came along and... no, stop that! You're 24/50. SO DOABLE. Stop making excuses!
  • Try and find a rated RBG group that doesn't suck. Perhaps persuade some of the people I play with that I don't totally suck and we could do Arenas too, because I really do enjoy PvP (assuming anyone cares with Challenge Modes)
  • Actually PLAY A TANK. Only class I never got my head around successfully, and I have tried (in my defence) but its never really happened. Maybe in Pandaria I can make my Paladin a meat shield, or possibly one of my Druids... I should really give it a shot. I might be good, but I'll never know unless I attempt it.
  • Have the courage to speak to more people on my Real ID list: I get really self conscious as it occurs to me that people in game may not actually want to speak about just the game when they're playing. I'm pretty useless with people I don't know well, if I'm honest (I can cover that when I'm GM by sounding like I'm just organising stuffs) and Real ID, frankly, pretty scary business. WTB [More Confidence] PST...

I am sure there are many others, but for now I'm going to start with those and see how I go. The first step in overcoming confidence issues is to understand you have them, it occurs to me, and some days my inability to talk to people can be a considerable hindrance to getting anything done successfully. In a game which is deliberately geared to be sociable, that's never very helpful. Time to suck in the gut and walk confidently into the virtual arena, taking care as I do so not to trip up over anything I may have inadvertently left in my own path on the way in... ^^

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Little Things :D

That's a VERY bright dagger you got there...

It's been at least a week since I raved about how awesome Mog It is as a tool to help you dress your toons both stylishly and practically, so here I am with a picture of my White (now back to frost) Mage rocking a fabulous find: the Electrified Dagger from (of all places) the Alterac Valley Quartermaster. In Additionally Awesome News, there's also a staff with a white glow (Crackling Staff) which I'm already mentally making a note to purchase because I'm betting I'll need it sometime in the future...

Part of my 'things to keep me sane' process in the last few days has been to start picking mounts and pets that match the looks of my mogged adventurers, so that when I send them out they'll look like someone took the time to co-ordinate them all and didn't just throw them out of the inn with the first things they found. This is of secondary importance to many people I know, but now I have the ability to consciously coordinate my family, I find myself grasping every opportunity I find with both hands. I like the comfort this gives me, especially when in the Real World I have no access to anything as beautiful. Yes, I'm living out my Cosplay Fantasies in game because I neither have the time or money to make them a reality. There, I said it.

Druid on Bear. Insert your own caption here.

A lot of the time I'm looking at the outfits that I don't think work and fiddling in a vain attempt to get them right. My rogue is in this place currently and, try as I might, I am yet to find an outfit that works for her. I suspect there may be a real effort to make something work over the weekend, because it bothers me that with the vast wealth of items pretty much freely available to me in game, I can't find the right combination that suits how I see her as being. That reminds me, I have a Questionnaire on Identity in Warcraft to fill in and send back before the weekend is done...

Vanity Druid. I can't bear to enchant the staff, it NEEDS a green glow ^^

I used to dress up my characters long before Mogging was even thought of, and I know why, it used to be my favourite thing to do as a kid, my dollies and their outfits, trying to find which ones would match best with each other. If I had the time I suspect I could waste many, many hours doing just that with my virtual dollies too, but only because I feel they're all a little part of me when all is said and done... :D On the days when the realities of being a mum to two utterly brilliant but exhausting kids mean I can't even remember the word for 'trousers' (I had to describe them game-show style, things that go on your legs but aren't underwear) to be able to escape for a quiet twenty minutes of dress up really does have therapeutic value for my exhausted soul.

Roll on the weekend...

If It's Thursday, it must be... er...

I reckon I can max out from here... :D

... time to start actually getting organised.

My Warcraft book is out in front of me. Everyone's major professions have been maxxed for quite some time, its the secondary ones I'll look at today. Most importantly First Aid, which when levelling can (literally) be a life saver. Normally I'd also address Cookery but Blizzard have decided to make that a lot easier for me in Pandaria so I'll ignore the 2/12 alts not done. Its time to start counting the TB Dailies on everybody and to run everyone through Mr Robot's newly-updated database for reforgeness. The three people still rocking low level weapons will (hopefully) benefit from Theramore's demise next week, otherwise I might start looking at viable alternatives.

There is also the fact that I can now buy Valor items with Justice points, and a number of the alts have odd bits of low level gears which really could be replaced. Pencil and paper is standing by, and I'll log everyone when I'm finished writing this to check what I could update to help levelling when it finally occurs. Levelling P means I'll have leather/mail items to pass on to alts who can use them (and stuff to send for DE) so I'm tempted not to go too mad but if there's an update one of my early levellers could benefit from, it seems like a good idea to invest...

I also have a column marked 'Mogging': I am going to try my very best to co-ordinate everyone with an appropriate flying mount/ground mount/vanity pet to match their Mog as it stands. Looks are important, after all, especially if wandering around a new continent trying to show the indigenous population that I'm a professional explorer. Nothing says 'organised' more than colour co-ordination :D On that front, I've renamed my first thirty vanity pets. Only another 160 odd left to do... and then there's working out what needs to be prepared for caging and what I can now safely delete...

I can't sit around here chatting, there is WORK TO BE DONE! If you'll excuse me, I'm off to be productive... :D

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Not *Quite* Here...

You know what I'm doing? Nope, neither do I... ^^

We truly have entered the arse-end of Cataclysm.

LFR is painful, in a whole different way to any point that has proceeded it. Not even loot on every boss is enough any more, because even 25 gold is 'pointless.' When an issue with people joining LFR this morning caused chaos I don't think I heard one person NOT moaning about how crap the game had become. This is Wednesday morning, the time of day I could normally guarantee a fuss-free run through Dragon Soul. Not any more. Five people asked in Trade if they could Pet Battle (yes I counted them) before lunchtime and several more were annoyed Theramore wasn't live. Again.

We still have thirteen days to go ^^

It is encouraging to see so many of my Real ID friends online in the evenings (if you'd like my ID, poke me) but I'm finding the need to be out of Trade for the sake of my own sanity: I've been digging a lot once I've sorted TB Dailies. I did a scoot around Eastern Plaguelands last night and picked up a spare Mr Grubbs (added to the pet pile) and tonight I may well wend my way down to Ferelas to see if I can get lucky with a Sprite Darter. Either that or I may fish an alt to max in the Dalaran Sewers you know, just incase ^^ I am hoping I might be able to sneak in some Guild Heroics to cap off the people who need to max 4k JP, but I have to admit I've pretty much given up on doing anything hugely productive. Suddenly, all I really want to do is faff.

There are things that need to be done, but most of these revolve around things that require a brain to complete, and as my brain as of right now isn't actually talking to me after an argument that's been running for the best part of two days... I find myself taking comfort in the stuff I can do without needing intelligence fully engaged. I apologise therefore to those people on my Real ID list (and indeed anyone in Guild) if I don't chat much in game over the next week or so. I need to switch off for a bit, so this is me informing the world in general and you guys in particular its nothing personal, I'm just not quite here.

I'll be back, I promise. Eventually.

My Very Own Nemesis...

If you've never watched this show, you really should.

I am unlucky enough to have a nemesis. Currently, she isn't playing, but yesterday I noticed her log for the first time since the guild she runs stopped doing Heroic Modes, and my heart sank. I didn't ask to be the person she hates on my server, it just happened that way. Let me explain how.

When I was first made GM of the Guild, we were still in Vanilla. My nemesis was our Web Mistress, and was clearly not best pleased that the outgoing GM picked me to run things ahead of her. I did my very best not to rise to the pointed comments for several weeks, and eventually I thought we might be able to get on, until my nemesis started shouting at people when she couldn't get what she wanted. Her main interest it appeared, when helping out anyone else, was what she could do for herself in the process.

As it happens, I don't remember what it was that was the last straw. I can't recall whether she just left in disgust because I wouldn't be held hostage, or whether I removed her in frustration. Either way, her bile went everywhere: into Trade whenever I was in it, across the Guild and throughout my Server. We lost people who I liked from the roster but they were friends of hers and I entirely understand why they left. I was the enemy, the Guild my instrument. However, I moved on. Fast forward to a couple of months into Dragon Soul, and an incident in a 10 man in Tol Barad where a member of my Nemesis' Guild caused trouble. As soon as it became apparent I was calling their behaviour out in Trade she appeared, and it was as if six years had never happened. The depth of anger she felt towards me at that point was genuinely troubling, and I find myself thinking that time may be a healer for some, but for others it simply serves to fan flames that should really be extinguished.

I've found that by far the best way to deal with her is to simply leave her alone. I frequently considered reconciliation but found myself thinking that even if I did, it wouldn't be long before something else upset her, because that was what would happen before the initial schism appeared. Some people, like it or not, just don't get on with each other. I hold myself as much to blame for this, I should say, perhaps more so. I find certain people will get under my skin, and despite my best efforts I'll end up saying things that I know I'll end up regretting when my common sense filter kicks in. One of the best lessons I have learnt in my time as GM, from a horribly personal moment which still gives me nightmares, is to think before you speak. Don't EVER engage your mouth if your brain isn't monitoring transmissions, because I guarantee you'll end up saying something you'll regret. You may end up ruining someone's confidence in the process, and its really not worth it.

Needless to say, I confidently predict I'll see my ex-Guildie in Pandaria, but there will be a key difference this time around. I formally denounce her as my nemesis. I no longer want to be a part of a double act where I am the bad girl. Six years is far too long to conduct such campaigns about anything and frankly it is time to move on. I hope she is not the kind of person who is only happy if I'm there to moan about: even if she is, I will give her no cause to do so. Sometimes, the best way to change is to admit you are wrong. I'm sorry for what happened, but this is only a game. Holding a grudge for this amount of time really isn't worth it. It is time to move on.

I wish you all the best in the upcoming Expansion. I hope I am no-one's nemesis this time around.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Matters Most?

Our only reasonable response is to just focus on the 25-man raids and consider the 10-man bracket as extra. The tuning required to create consistently equally hard boss fights in both brackets would require a ridiculous amount of resources and is very unlikely to happen. So for now, the 10-mans will be something that we can do if we have the time for it after the race in our own bracket. But that's not how everyone views it, simply because of the artificial "10-man = 25-man" decision rewarding the same achievements, same everything and having the official stamp of equal difficulty.

With what has to be stated looks like the minimum of fuss on their website, Paragon announced today that they're stepping out of the 25 man raiding bracket. The quote above is from the same site, from just over a year ago, and makes it clear that this group of people had only one priority at time of writing. As a GM I entirely grasp the need to prioritise, and clearly while they could, 25 man was always going to be the better choice to keep a Guild with such a high profile in the spotlight. Paragon has fallen victim to what I suspect will be referred to by many as 'The Cataclysm Effect': people got fed up and stopped playing, and their 25 raid team pretty much ceased to exist as a a result. 14 members of their Roster have given up Warcraft since DS was beaten, which is a staggering statistic to make public: more telling is the admission that Paragon's core of raiders had been constant since Ulduar. It makes their decision to downsize all the more understandable.

For everyone who leaves, there are always those who will stay.

I'm reporting all this for one reason and one reason alone: there will be those people 'out there' who will look at this and assume that's the end of 25 man raiding. DON'T GO THERE. Paragon, it appears to me, is a pretty tight-knit group of friends with a secondary support network. Too many people moved on at once, and they've been unable to recruit to a standard they are happy with. In other words, Paragon are JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. This has happened either before or after EVERY expansion in my memory: the only difference after seven years is the profile of the raiders, and the publicity that follows them. After all, not every Guild is sponsored by peripherals.

What this will do to the Hardcore sector of the game is debatable, however. From my position down in the Kids Pool it appears this could stick more competition into the 10 man bracket, is likely to give a new 25 man a chance to shine (assuming they don't decide to cheat their way to anything) However, if I put my Naysayer Hat on at a jaunty angle, could the loss of one of the biggest names in gaming really be a sign of a greater malaise? I think that depends on the average age of the players, on what else becomes more attractive than sitting behind a screen for countless hours, and the inescapable fact that if your life revolves around getting something before anyone else, what do you do in the times in-between?

My guild has survived for seven years because of the relationships that hold it together. The game is often secondary to that, and there comes a time where you stop looking at what bosses need to die and begin to care more about when the next baby is due or what there is to talk about in Guild Chat. To run a successful organisation of any kind, it is all about understanding the people who make up its being, and with the unique way Serious Raiding Guilds function you are likely only to survive if everyone is as passionate and committed as the the most committed individual. You can blame some of that on the game, of course you can, but in the end its only a smaller part of a far larger picture, especially when your every move is very publicly spotlighted.

I firmly believe what matters most when you play any game is the amount of enjoyment you derive from it. If you make your game a job, everything changes. If you choose to play with sponsorship, then there are responsibilities beyond simply those made to friends and that too is a path that should never be trodden lightly. I hope Paragon can be happy with the choices that they have made due to circumstances which are clearly out of their control, and I hope the community in general can see this development without overly critical or cynical eyes...

Never Forgotten.

When I die, I have a provision in my will that I would like my ashes spread across the Hudson River.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but those who know me well understand my love of New York is ingrained, not simply as a result of a certain Woody Allen movie. I've been there twice, and the three panel photograph I took myself the second time I went there has the Twin Towers deliberately front and centre. It's why this Ryan Adams video is always the one I pick to watch when I feel I need to be reminded of the city. Shot four days before the landscape and American culture changed forever, it is a reminder of a time I often miss, but know has passed.

This isn't a particular anniversary, and every year that passes takes the events of 2001 further away. I've not been back to New York since it happened, and I miss the town terribly, this year more than I have for a long time. It seemed fitting therefore to take a moment to stop and remember that for every event there are a million consequences, that ripples from one person's actions can have effects for months and years after the event. One day I will return and make my own trip to Ground Zero. I owe it to the people and the city I love so much to do so.

I miss the place, and I will never forget what happened to change it forever.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Proceed to Stage Two!

I am assigning mounts to alts. This is a Good Sign [TM]

It's almost two weeks to go until Pandaria, and here at ALT: ernative Towers, things are beginning to shift up a gear or two...

All remaining Hunters finally own their outstanding glyphs, have Spirit Mend macros, and are ready to roll. Everyone has a working UI (with the exception of the Shaman and Paladin, who will be addressed this week) and finally, almost two weeks after the patch, I'm beginning to think I've got a handle on what has changed. If you asked me which Expansion changeover this reminds me of previously, I'd have to say Vanilla to TBC, quite simply for the sheer number of odd bugs and issues I'm coming across, plus some fairly significant graphic changes. I've lost count of the times my graphics card has glitched in the last fourteen days (even crashing the game on a couple of occasions). I've gone back to DirectX 9 yesterday (the game is running 11 by default) which has helped but I can't help thinking this is Blizzard's way of telling me my PC is already out of date... ^^

This week's plan is very simple, in terms of prepping everyone: I need to finally pick my team to (initially) level. I reckon this is the way it's going to pan out:

Primary Expeditionary Force
(Panda Stylee)

Primary Leveller will be the P-ster. She'll be out questing, starting my relationship with the Tillers, fishing (HELL YEAH) Digging stuff (obviously!) and being #1 ACHIEVEMENT GIRL. Oh yes, and YAK MOUNT! *cough*

W is second out, mostly because of her JC-age's importance in the General Scheme of Things (yes, mounts, that transparent) and is most likely going to be my Pet Wrangler in the early weeks of the Expansion. GOTTA SELL THEM ALL ^^

To feed W's Alchemy and JC habit, I'm gonna need raw materials, so the Mogging Hunter K's part of the plan, with herbalism and mining ready to roll. I'd expect her to do a lot of XP by gathering. We can work on the gear later, right?

Finally, I intend to have a Healer at 90 fairly fast, to cover Heroics and the possibility we may need backup in 10 mans. Of the healers I own I'm most confident with N's Priesting, plus she's my Scribe (shoulder enchants) and an Enchanter (dusts!).

To this end, these four will be spending the next week getting lean, mean and stocked up with 25 dailies from whoever will give them. Bags will be rationalised, gear will be sold, old materials will be shipped to the Bankalt Support Network in anticipation and (all things being equal) by Friday these four Will Be Prepared. This will include maxxed JP's and as many Epicurean Awards as is feasible (K has cookery at stupidly low and will be taking advantage if the speed levelling available in the Valley of the Four Winds, expect blog pots when that happens)

After that, everyone else will get the same treatment :D

That's the plan, time to put it into practice... after I've had my first trip of the week to the Gym. If I'm going to be putting in the hours in Azeroth I wanna make sure I'm fit and ready behind the screen too... :D

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Life in 140 Characters?

Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it...

An unannounced (and hugely popular) feature of 5.0.4 has emerged: forget the Darkmoon Rabbit, this is far more fun and doesn't need 39 mates to complete, and if you get a response it's worth more than an epic rabbit with big pointy teeth. Ghostcrawler is on Twitter.  I'm just hoping my tongue in cheek response doesn't actually have any credence, because getting a response is likely to become as rare as a T2 Paladin Helm drop. You have been warned.

Mr B. B. Butt made a comment a couple of days back, fairly similar to @GGElaina's above: you gotta feel sorry for the guy. How many people have asked for a pony (or a moose?) How many people are trying to fit their 3 page forum rants at this man into 140 characters? How many others are simply bombarding him with personal bugbears without thinking about the actual person behind the screen? I find myself thinking, especially with the timing of this particular high-profie arrival, that actually Mr Street knew EXACTLY what he was letting himself in for when he signed up, and may well have been encouraged to do so as what is becoming the ultimate in Instant PR Gratification. This guy's clearly got a very specific plan of action at play with the means to address potential issues with the patch, plus also to tease an ever growing audience on what might yet be in store. He's also not adverse to the odd pointed remark:

Sorry. Couldn't resist ^^

The timing of this is fairly crucial I think, and it is another shrewd move by Blizzard (who clearly enjoy any opportunity to embrace social media wherever possible.) @GGElaina joked about Twitter integration in Mists but you know, the more I think about it, the more likely it becomes that 'broadcast this achievement to Twitter' could happen at some point in the future (its not like it doesn't happen in gaming now after all) What interests me more is just how long Ghostcrawler can keep this up, and how long it is before there's some actual controversy. Blizzard have been very good at keeping things both neutral and even across its Twitter accounts (no actor divas stroppy fits or naked photos for these guys) but with the arrival of The Ghost Crab, things have the potential to get a little more spicy.

I noticed with some interest that the major news sites are now making digests of what they consider to be the most relevant Tweets: how long before a GC Tweet App reaches my iPhone? How long before 'I got a Tweet from Ghostcrawler' t-shirts appear on Jinx? This is evolving into something of a mini phenomena (I just have to watch GC ask a question on glyphs this afternoon to create minor explosion of posts on my feed) How long can the guy keep going before he explodes?

More importantly, how much of an answer can you ever be satisfied with when you only have 140 characters to play with?