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Posts Tagged ‘WoW’

A WoW journey of 10 years, part 8

Warning! Epic wall of text incoming!

I’m changing the format of these posts a bit today because the next part is going to get a bit personal and will touch on topics that transpired a bit in this blog and that I’ve touched on in other posts about guild life and expectations. To sum up the chain of events leading to this post, since last time, I took a WoW break around Ulduar time where I went and enjoyed hobbits for a while before coming back to WoW a bit before ICC and joining back up with Auraye and friends in a guild I honestly can’t remember the name of so let’s call it Timebomb.

Due to the simple fact that I was one of the most experienced players in the guild and because I genuinely wanted to help, I was made raid leader of Timebomb shortly after I came back. They were missing someone for the position and the guild leader, Auraye didn’t want to handle both guild leading and raid leading at the same time. We had a few good discussions to start things off and our roles were clear. I was to do handle everything raid related and she’d keep on doing the other guild stuff. Officially, we were a serious casual raiding guild which meant that we were supposed to be skilled players but with more limited raiding time.

The reality

Near every single player will tell you they are good if you ask them. The reality though is that not everyone can do Heroic Arthas while its current content. Everyone wants to succeed if you ask them but again the reality is that they might not want to put in the time or effort to get there.  Whether or not putting in all that time into a game is really worth it is a debate for another time but the bottom line is that the boss won’t die unless everyone plays their part at a high enough level.

Timebomb was not a serious casual raiding guild. It was a casual guild who wanted to raid. The average level of the players in it was passable and most of them had little to no raid progression experience. Like many other guilds, the guild was built on a small group of friends who wanted to get some sweet epics and had recruited haphazardly without any real plan. There were a few good players, including the guild leader Auraye but not enough to fill a raid. In fact filling raids was a constant struggle and we ended up inviting pugs more than once.

Auraye was another big part of the equation. Auraye was a good healer who had aspirations of hardmode raiding and sweet epics. In fact, getting the best gear and showing it up was her main motivation. She was also good enough to get said spot in the hardcore guilds but for unknown reasons she had preferred starting her own guild to get her there.  However, she didn’t want to do the actual leading. As far as she was concerned guild leading meant setting up a website, throwing up the occasional “fun” event and approving the decisions of others.

As for my role in this I was the raid leader which meant in Timebomb that I was to handle strategy, loot (pending approval of guild leadership), invites, checking up gear, checking flasks, making sure the guild bank had mats, player performance, dealing with Pugs and even recruitment. Last and most important to Auraye, progression was expected.

Looking back now, it’s pretty apparent that we had a recipe for disaster but back then, we were all a group of friends and I was just helping out as best as I could. Auraye couldn’t do it all by herself and my experience put me in a good position to help out.  Plus, all we had to do was Tournament of crusaders and by then, everyone had it on farm so the skill problems weren’t as apparent.

Under pressure

ICC came along and the going was good at first. We were making slow but steady progress and I was confident the raiders issues I was noticing (flasks,low dps, etc…) would iron themselves out quickly enough.

This right there is one of the hardest calls to make as a raid leader. How do you differentiate between a bad player and someone who’s inexperienced? The bad player you’re limited to what you can do with but the inexperienced… if you give them time they can be awesome players.  In the same vein of thought, bad is a relative term. Someone might be good enough for regular mode but won’t be able to do heroic.  When you’re progressing a player that was okay before might become a hindrance on a latter fight.

Sure, given enough time most players will improve but what is enough time? How long do you hold the group back just so someone can improve. How do you even approach a player about his or her need to improve? What needs to be done? Gear, rotations? Is it a problem with his connection?

So we progressed up to plague wing and Putricide and this is where things started going to hell rapidly. We had some stress getting up to that point but Putricide was our wall. We were going nowhere fast wiping on him and pressure was mounting fast on the guild. Still operating under the assumptions that everyone was a serious raider and wanted to progress I was trying to help out as best as I can but still there was a threshold I was not willing to cross and that was outright saying to someone they needed to be better.

After a while of trying the soft methods and not having many results, Auraye came to me and asked me to fix things. I was the raid leader and as such, I should be able to get things moving again. I agreed with that too and went about finding our issues, logs in hand.  Two issues were identified. First, our attendance issues meant we still could not fill a full raid. Second, it was obvious some players were still underperforming after many weeks of raiding.

So I made two crucial mistakes without realizing. In order to fix the first issue I invited some real friends I knew to be great raiders to come raid with us.  Then, I made it clear that the underperforming players would be cut from progression fights. I remember writing in the forums a very mathematical post about it in the sense of you to do X dps to kill the boss so if you’re lower we’ll replace you for fight Y.

The bad players, who were real-life close friends of Auraye didn’t like it one bit and made the case to Auraye that I was in fact taking over the guild with my friends and cutting the people we didn’t like. While that was not my intention, I admit that the two decisions taken together didn’t look good either.

We raided under the new system for about two weeks. Except that nobody would be replaced in raids since Auraye overruled me on that point so… we had more attendance but still had the bad players.

Or course things didn’t work out and two weeks later…. Boom!

The fallout

I was the one who blew up first. I was under a lot of pressure both in real-life and now in-game trying to make things work out so when Auraye and friend approached me to tell me that they didn’t like the way things were going and that they were thinking of kicking me and my friends out of the guild if we didn’t find a solution I blew up.

Yes the guild had issue, yes the raids sucked and guild atmosphere was in the gutter. But I would not accept blame for it. No effing way that she would let it fall on me. I was driving myself nuts trying to find a solution and now I was being made the problem.

So I said a lot bad words, wrote this post and left saying eff you people. To my delight, my leaving did not fix the guild issues as Auraye was pretending and the guild ended up dying soon after. Auraye later transferred server and did join up with a hardcore guild where she got all the purples she ever wanted.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize how much the experience taught me and was in fact beneficial. I learned a lot about group dynamics and expectations, both said and unsaid. I learned that I’m not alone in a team and that as such, success or failure does not rest only on me. I learned to say no, to set my limits and to walk away when things are not working out.  These skills have served me well in my career and I have to thank a videogame for that.

So in the end, was I to blame for what happened? Yes, in a way I am responsible for what happened. I should have questioned the official guild goals of raiding when I realized the skill level of the guild. I should have not accepted to be in a position where my every decision could be overturned according to the whim of the guild leader. I should have delegated more and not take everything on me.

And at the end, when Auraye would have insisted that we raid and that her friends were good raiders… I should have walked away…

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A WoW journey of 10 years, part 7

In my last post I explained how me and a friend went about teaching other friends how to raid and how the guild drifted apart when came the time to decide if we wanted to go further and raid 25 man raids. Following a short stint in a 25 raiding guild I ended up stopping raiding altogether and wandered around WoW for a while without any particular goal.

While the whole period was rather uneventful on the gaming side, it was when I discovered WoW blogging thanks to a blogger named Foton (AFKGamer) who is sadly not blogging anymore.  Foton dark sense of humor and insightful critiques got me interested in the blogging world and I was soon devouring blogs left and right. Back then I had a lot of gripes with the game and it was nice to read others who shared my thoughts and ideas.

To sum up, the main issues back then were the varying raid sizes (10/25), how WoW had too much grinding (dailies) and the casualization of the game. While these problems have been addressed in the sense that Blizzard did make major changes in these areas, the same issues are still discussed years later.  Funny how that is no?

In the land of Hobbits

WoW is shit! At least it was what I was thinking back then and there was no way that I’d be giving money to the Blizzard overlords who were living in their ivory tower, feasting on the souls of us gamers. Raiding was stupid and I was going to play a real MMO damnit! Not this railroaded casual grindfest!

I quickly gravitated toward Lord of the Rings Online who was getting good reviews, its story and immersive world in particular and I wanted to see it for myself. Plus I am a Tolkien nerd so it had that going for it too. I loved Lotro, I still do in fact. It is one of those very rare games that put the lore before anything else (at least it used to).  To this day, I see it as one of the best examples of immersion in MMOs.

My love affair with Lotro lasted until shortly before Wotlk released. By that time, I was getting tired of playing Lotro solo and the old gang from early BC was talking about getting the guild back together for Lich King. Plus, Northrend was looking real awesome so I agreed to leave Lotro and come back to WoW for what I then believed would be nice casual raiding.

From Lotro I did take away a few things. Namely that immersion and setting are two very important elements for me to enjoy an MMO.  If these two are lacking my interest is sure to go away, something a few MMOs managed to prove over the years.

The chill of Northrend

Early Wrath was a series of highs and lows for me.  For a while, everything was awesome and I was having a blast. The scenery of Howling Fjord, the music in Grizzly Hills, the whole questing experience …it was perfect. Wrath still is for me one of the better expansions in terms of storytelling and craftsmanship of the zones. Then, Naxxramas happened and everything went to hell rapidly.

Here I was in a friend and family type guild and we were pretty excited to start raiding Naxx, which in itself is not a bad raid…  it’s just a tiny bit too easy.  Like, cleared it under a month too easy and not that fun to repeat week after week.  Quite suddenly we found ourselves without a clear goal and the guild just fell apart. A lot of people left disappointed by what they felt was subpar endgame content.

I’d follow suit in due time but for a while I drifted around before settling in Blackwing (can’t remember the actual name) and meeting Auraye their guild leader, who would teach me a very valuable lesson in leadership much later.  Blackwing was at the time working on clearing Naxx and for reasons  I don’t remember I ended joining them.  We were a casual raiding guild in the truest sense of the word. Just a bunch of people grouping together once or twice a week to go get our faces bashed in by bosses. Gems, enchants and strategies were often lacking and despite bold claims of being good players, most of the guild wasn’t. Auraye wanted to get this guild in hardcore raiding but we were very very far from making that happen.  Still, it was a fun crew so I didn’t mind the lack of progress or talent that much.

My time with Blackwing ended up being rather short. A lack of interest combined with a lack of content made me look at other games and eventually I left for greener pastures.

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So, it seems Lono plans on busting out of the dungeon this weekend and my time here will come to an end. I’ve enjoyed writing here, it’s made me wrack my brain for some other topics besides my usual day to day postings on what I’m playing. It’s also nice reaching out to another audience as I am sure he has readers that never come to my site. I like the idea of having other people incorporated in a blog, it’s really nice. I’d love to open up my blog to guest writers sometime, it’s always nice to have different perspectives. Maybe I ran off a few readers…. Mwahaha! Just kidding!

I’ve missed playing WoW with Lono and I was thinking of popping back into WoW recently but I’ve had to hear how much WoW sucks, from my ol’ man. I see where he is coming from, as he sometimes sounds like me on a bad day. However, I love all things MMO. While I don’t always support changes in games or direction, I still am awed by the design and dynamics of games. I try to be open and not close minded about games.

What’s holding me back… besides the caveman, club in hand making Tim Allen sounds while pulling  at my hair at any mention of it! I suppose it’s the watered down community and burn out. But Cataclysm is soon to release which is making a return sound very interesting. Digital download, yes please! Though, am I ready to jump back into the meter, gear score, nerd raging scene again? It’s been nice and quiet and relaxing since I’ve been gone. On the other hand, I do miss the game and my friends.

I was thinking about heading back in casually and enjoying the expansion for what it is. I think there may be some good changes and I’m almost ready to venture back. Almost. So what is everyone else doing until release? Are you excited about Cataclysm? Should I venture back now, or wait for Cata to hit? I can’t help it all the new things have me intrigued! I have characters sitting there waiting to experience the new goodness!

Thanks for putting up with me for the week 😉 I’ve enjoyed the the time here. *Rolls out the red carpet for Lono’s return*

-kaozz

 

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Changes, No Monkey Today! (WoW)

Greetings! The Monkey is away and it’s now time for kaozz take over! Mwahahaha! He’s locked away in a dungeon.. err away on business. In all seriousness I’m very flattered my friend, Lono, asked me to do a few guest posts while he is gone! Lately we don’t play many of the same games together but we share many of the same ideals and expectations when it comes to MMO games. So, I thought I’d write a bit about the game where we have shared the most time playing together, World of Warcraft. Cataclysm is releasing in roughly four weeks and it seems like a lot of changes.

I actually had a dream I started playing WoW again, last night. [Insert nerd joke here.]  Sometimes I get nostalgic about the game, it’s changed so very much. Why do people think the older ways were better? Even the developers have stated that this expansion will bring back some of the old ways, such as blue gear having more worth and more focus on working more together as a team, in instances. I don’t know if we can ever go back to where we started, we’ve moved so far ahead. Classes keep changing and roles start blending together. The community is more separated than ever. Yet we still have hopes each expansion will give us hope for the future! Cataclysm will being us back to the old, places we’ve had some great memories, but freshen these old places up a bit. Maybe it will bring some of that old feeling back?

So what is it that keeps us playing? Memories, friends, and the game is basically a very enjoyable experience as far as combat is concerned, those are a few reasons for me. While I’m not playing it now, I’m sure I will after Cataclysm is released. It will be refreshing and new again. I miss some of the old direction though. What is it that  players miss so much, that we want to recapture, besides that wide eyed newbie feeling we once had? What could Cataclysm bring back, what are we missing?

Being proud of what you worked for!

I think for some people it was that hard work was rewarded. Spending massive amounts of time isn’t always what we mean here. Dungeons were a challenge and everyone had to do their part (not going to get into 40 man raids here.. lol). There were many classes that could make things easier. Working hard for something, well it sort of gives you a sense of accomplishment. Does that mean things like the emblem system are bad? No, I actually like both ways of doing things. Maybe making rewards viable from many different outlets for different play styles.

Definition.

Classes had definition. You played a class for a reason, you may like the lore surrounding it or they play style. But each class had a unique feel to it. I miss that a lot. I have not played since the current patch was released but it had quite a few changes. Will the classes be more defining in Cataclysm? Maybe they could shape up more, I do know they will morph even more over the next year with more changes through this expansion.

Community

I love not sitting there spamming LFG over and over. However I don’t like the idea of the servers being meshed together while ripping a community apart to do this. I, for one, would prefer to be able to cross faction group before doing a cross server group. People are not accountable for their actions and this has really changed the feel of the game for me. I remember making friends in groups and raids along the way. I don’t do that much anymore, at least not in groups. If I do, sadly, they are, almost always, on other servers. Maybe the new guild system will help players reach out to others in the need to build a stronger guild. All we can do is wait and see!

Old World

While it will be sad to see many zones change it will give us some more refreshing places to adventure to. I will miss many of these, I’ve had a peek at some and it’s looking good with much of the same feel though. The old players can visit some of those old places where it’s been so long since we’ve really had much of a reason to adventure to, which will have a nice charm about it. New players won’t really mind because it’s all new to them!

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That’s as much of a blast from the past as I can take, for today! What hopes do you have for Cataclysm? Being reunited with old friends, new places to explore and seeing some of the old places again, are a few things that I am looking forward to. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite old school videos, enjoy the scenery! Thanks for putting up with my ramblings,  I’ll be back to ramble again  😉 Unless the Monkey escapes… I mean comes back early!

-kaozz

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