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Archive for July, 2010

This post has been last updated on July 14th 2011.

I was at first going to write this from a tank perspective but as I was writing it I figured that it applied to everyone. After all, raid awareness is something that everyone needs in order to clear raids now. While tanking is one of the jobs who require the most raid awareness and made me research ways of improving the following applies to everyone. This is a very long post wich I divided in sections for easier reading.  There is a tanking and raiding philosophy in there that I know some people don’t agree with so feel free to not agree but this has worked for me.

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Return to Azeroth

I’m not going to lie and pretend I’m only testing the waters with WoW anymore. Based on the time I’ve put into the game these past few days its pretty clear I’m fully back in it. While I did not spend more time playing MMOs, WoW did take up all of that time. If anything my approach of doing whatever the hell I feel like doing is paying off big time.

So what have I been up to? A lot actually. I’ve started leveling a troll shaman from the ground up to see what that class was about. In close to six years playing its one of the few classes I had never taken above level 5. I’m now standing at level 16 and so far it’s been great fun. I love the totem/shock mechanic and all the options I have.

But I was ignoring what my black heart was calling for. In a dark corner my death knigth was looking at me and bidding his time. Knowing at some point I’d cave in to the promess of untold power and eternal life. Before I stopped playing I loved my DK. Of all the things I don’t like about WoW and caused me to quit my DK was not one of them. I love tanking with it and I just plain enjoy the class. Just like Larisa the mage and other players who stick with one class, death knight is my class and I’d have trouble seeing myself not playing one.

But the main lure that dragged me back to playing him was having a level 80. While my shaman is fun, he doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to meeting people. Most people at that level are rushing through the levels and the low-level guilds have always been unreliable at best and more often than not, nests of griefers and clueless players. Yes, I want to meet people but I don’t want to boost everyone up either. In that way my DK offered me more opportunity to meet new people.

The raid

Kaozz had offered when I transferred my DK to join up with her guild. I was interested but I wasn’t sure if I’d stick with WoW and I wasn’t sure they needed an extra tank. So while the offer was on the table I was playing hard to get, not saying no but not saying yes either. Yesterday an opportunity presented itself. Kaozz guild was going to head to Ruby Sanctum and they needed a tank. I told Kaozz I’d do it since it would be a good opportunity for me to see if I could stomach raiding again and also for me to check out the guild before taking a decision.

So the raid went rather okay. We didn’t down Hallion but we had the fight pretty much unde control and only needed dps to be more aware of the twilight cutter. We wiped a lot but people remained calm wich was something I was looking for. How would they behave when there’s a difficult raid. The big thing that impressed me however is that the raid leader did put his pants on. He called names when they needed to be called and threatened some members with getting their act together or he’d replace them. That, for me, is an excellent sign of a healthy raid environment. It might not look super friendly at first but having people accountable is for the better in the long run.

In many ways I was happy we didn’t manage to down the boss, hard raids are way more telling of a guild character than a successful, easy raid. Toward the end of the night I decided to stop playing hard to get and joined up with her guild. I must have made an impression because I got asked right away if I’d be on hand to tank later during the week. Told them I didn’t know for now but its fun to know your wanted.

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A raid leading question

Hello everyone and good morning! It’s been a while since I’ve talked about raiding here but  with my recent return to WoW and after seeing all those adverts for pugs in trade chat it got me thinking about raiding again and about a problem I had before as a raid leader. Some information has been modified to protect the guilty. So I’m curious to see what would have been your solution to my little problem.

Let me set the stage first. You are the raid leader of a “hardcore casual” guild, one of those guilds made up of above average raiders with a few casuals who want to try to raid thrown in. You guys are not raiding that often to keep it casual and you’re not the first to clear content but still, you’re getting somewhere and life is mostly good in the guild. Overall, a fun place to be and a fun gang to raid with.

Then someday the new uber-dungeon gets released and everyone jumps in with both feet, eager to clear content and get all the new sweet loot. Progress is made at first but it’s slower than usual, more wipes are happening and you can feel a bit of frustration building. You tell everyone that it’s normal because this raid is really harder and everyone needs play their best to clear the place. Still you struggle more and more as time goes on up to the point where no progress is made at all. It feels as if you’ve hit the brick wall.

So like any good raid leader you start to investigate everything about your raid and members to uncover what exactly is giving you so much trouble. Is it the bosses, the difficulty, someone not performing? Whatever it is you need to find it fast because it’s starting to turn this fun guild into a pressure cooker ready to explode. Fun and casual guilds can only sustain so many wipes before things go sour. Then one night, you find the problem.

Your problem is rather simple in fact, it’s simply one of the healers who can’t keep up with the raid. While the fights were easier he could handle it but with the increased difficulty he just can’t keep up and this is making the raid wipe… time after time. And it’s when you realize you have a real problem.

You see, this particular healer is a pillar of the guild. Someone who’s liked by everyone, who makes everyone laugh, who’s helped everyone out when they really needed it. Without him the guild wouldn’t be the same. Still, the pillar just can’t keep up with the raid despite your tries at having him improve and its becoming clear that you have to do something before everyone just leave for other guilds who are not wiping.

So how would you handle this? What would be the correct way of doing this? I know I failed by keeping my mouth shut and trying to have the healer improve but tensions and frustration got the guild down first.

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That weird feeling

GeeCee was asking me yesterday how it felt to come back to WoW. I had to think about it for a moment before I simply could not think of how to describe the exact way I feel. I summed it up with “weird” but I think it deserves a longer explanation.

On one hand what I hated about WoW when I left is still there and I still hate it as much. The same stats obsessed community is still there, people are still calling each other noobs and names on the trade channels and I’m pretty sure pugging still sucks as much. I could go on for hours with examples about immersion, dailies and a ton of other stuff I don’t like. I was doing the Echo Isles quests and I was thinking I could be in Moria exploring the wonderful world of Tolkien.

But for some reason it didn’t feel as bad as I tought it would be. Knowing what I’m getting into and what I want out of the game make the flaws less of a problem. Yes, farming badges sucks but if I can do it with a group of friend then I don’t mind. I used to be all about completing raids and defeating content but now it’s not what I’m aiming for, I simply want a fun group experience.

Yesterday I was having trouble juggling conversation with Kaozz and Geecee at the same time without being killed and I loved every minute of that. It didn’t matter that I was killing Makura clackers for the 100th time, I was simply enjoying talking to people while killing stuff. The rest didn’t matter much.

The plan

I’m taking a page out of Lotro here and I’ll try to approach WoW without a plan this time around. I will play the game according to my own whims and fancies and see where that takes me. If I don’t want to farm badges there’s nothing preventing me from getting my gear the old way for example. I’m taking this as a sort of experiment and I’m really curious to see where I’ll end up.

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The single player MMO

I always find it incredibly funny how sometimes things magically line up to fit together. For example, I’ve been talking about how I find that social interaction in MMOs are the one thing that makes playing them truly worth it and then I find the last few posts by Gevlon talking about how “success” in WoW is attained by being asocial.

Success

What is exactly success in MMOs? What exactly makes you say you succeeded in it? Defeating a boss is certainly a success and completing a quest is also a success. But what’s success in the larger  sense? For a lot of people and I’m counting Gevlon amongst them its completing the hardest/more advanced content the game has to offer. If you can finish every hardmode in WoW then you surely have succeeded at it no?

Of course you did!  But may I ask a question?

Why the hell did you pick WoW then when there’s so many other options out there with better designed challenges and that don’t cost you 15$ a month? When you look at game design, MMOs are rather badly designed games, relics of the 90s… try out a few other games out there and you’ll find out that there’s way better options out there.

I’ll admit that not everyone defines success the same way and that for some being successful might be about making money in-game or a lot of other things. Still, with one exception I believe that they are better options than MMOS.

The better games

So what makes you tick in MMOs? Tell me and I’ll give you another game that does it better:
-Challenge: Try out Demon’s Soul for the PS3 or Starcraft 2 multiplayer. Will make Arthas hardmode look like a toddler.
-Graphics: About every game out there on the PS3 or Xbox 360.
-Strategy: Civilisation 4, Hearts of Iron 3
-Classic Rpg: Fallout 3, Elder Scroll serie, Bioware games
-Exploration: Castlevania and Metroid series.
-Puzzle: Monkey Island serie or any old Sierra adventure game
-Epic storyline: Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy Serie

This brings back the question. If what you are interested in is challenge for example, why do you play a MMO when there’s better options out there where you will be able to focus on the challenge and won’t have to deal with social issues for example.

The one thing

There is one thing that I find MMOs to do better and that is the social interactions that they offer. No other type of game provide this well when it comes to putting people together and making them interact with one another to overcome the challenges of the game.

What makes it interesting is not the challenge itself but rather overcoming it with a group of people your having fun playing it. If you’d rather do it with robots then why not get a single player game where you will be able to play at your own pace.

I do not question that Gevlon tips of being asocial for success are working. I am convinced that they do. But is it worth it? What he’s doing amounts to playing a single player game. In his examples his guildies becomes highly intelligent bots but they remain bots nonetheless.

In the end if you’re not playing for the social interaction why are you playing a MMO. I can think of one reason that I haven’t covered that I’m pretty sure you tought of too but that would bring us back to ape behavior and we’re above that right?

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