I blame Deathwing

I get the overwhelming feeling that WoW is slowly dying. I thought it was just me that was no longer finding excitement and things to look forward to in the game. But I’m hearing the same in other blogs and I am seeing a lot of my friends finding their time spent more on Rift.

Rift won’t be the WoW killer, WoW will be the WoW killer. Blizzard did WoTLK right. The Lich King represented a true evilness that must be defeated. I could see it in the artwork when I opened my collector’s edition on release date. The epic cut scene as I was questing through Dragonblight portrayed an larger-than-life experience that was to be the rest of the expansion. His appearance in multitudes of quests, dungeons, and raid instances reaffirmed the evilness that I was to defeat. There was a point, an ends to the means, a final conquest to look forward to for the entire expansion.

I never got this feeling leveling through Cataclysm. It kind of seems like some big dragon just happened to fly over Azeroth and fart tearing a rift in the world. I never saw him once leveling up. Why am I supposed to care about this guy? Deathwing’s character is super underdeveloped in the game, giving the appearance that the climax of Cataclysm’s adventure will be uneventful and the road to get there a flat mundane drudge.

What really hooks in the audience of an MMORPG? It’s the villain in the story. The badass motherfucker at the end of the road better live up to the hours I spent leveling, grinding, and improving my gear to defeat. This farting, sneezing, rift tearing dragon just makes me feel like it isn’t worth spending my time.


With great power comes great responsibility.

A lot has happened in the last week.  I no longer am GM of Jubilance.  I feel relieved and sad at the same time.  I want my responsibility in online games to be limited at most in the future.  I like being a part of a community when it comes to gaming, but I don't want to provide it direction.  I'd rather save my responsibilities for the real world.

I am now a member of a Starcraft II clan Relentless Heroes.  They have very strong players that I can learn a lot from, but unfortunately I have been scared off by the immaturity of their ventrilo conversations.  However, their forum community is very educational and I am hoping that I can use that to my advantage.  A lot of them sport super cool artsy signatures and it inspired me to create my own :

The title of the artwork is "Guardian".  I browsed through science fiction art online and liked this one a lot.  They say your signature says a lot about your personality and how you relate to others.    I remember practicing writing my signature as a kid because I wanted it to look cool.  I suppose I see myself as a guardian.

 Coincidentally, I picked up Rift today and learned that the two opposing factions in the game are "Guardians" and "Defiants".  The funny thing is, I told a friend in WoW today that I was tired of being the good faction and was probably going to choose to play as a "Defiant".  Oh well.

I picked up the game 5 hours ago and I can't believe I haven't started playing it yet!  There's no way this game is going to be the "WoW killer", but I need something fresh and new right now.


Dealing with Rejection

Yesterday, I was rejected an invite from a PUG group. This is something that hasn’t happened to me in a long time.

I saw a trade spam requesting dps roles for Conclave of Winds and I whispered the dude on my Warlock alt requesting an invite saying I knew the fight. After I was invited, he requested a DPS check at the training dummies in Stormwind. Of course I obliged and I actually fancied this requirement check rather than a gear check.

During the check, my performance on the training dummies was not the best. I typically have no problem surpassing10k and can top out at 12k-13k, but during the check I was hovering around 9.5k.

After a minute or two, I was kicked from the group without a word from the raid leader. I asked what his DPS requirement was and he said 11k.

On the inside, I was livid.
My ego was screaming things to reply:
• “I know I can hit that number easily and had just been unlucky with RNG give me another shot.”
• “I’ll be willing to lay 50k gold on the line that I won’t be the lowest dps in this raid.”
• “The 11k requirement is pretty steep for the first boss of conclave.”
• “Don’t you know how affliction dps works? I get a huge spike in damage in the last 25% of the fight which can’t be demonstrated on a training dummy you idiot!”

However, I haven’t spent the time in game to get the auto-invites that I’m used to. I only have 1 reputation epic on my warlock from running heroics when I could have 3-4 more which would push me over 11k mark easily. I also can’t blame the raid leader for having steep requirements for a PUG group. The only person I had to blame was myself for not meeting the requirement so I replied “Fair enough”.

I saw he was still in need of a healer so I hopped over to my main toon Pixelated. I figured I’d settle for healing it and whispered him again requesting an invite. I got a prompt invite, but a minute later he said “I’m sorry I have to drop you for a resto druid for a better raid composition”. To make matters worse the druid was an ex guildy who had recently left from not being included in our downsizing to 10 man.

Regretfully, I caved to my ego.

Me - “Do you know who I am?”
Him – “Are you that good?”
Me – “No, it’s not that. I am good.” “I’m the GM of Jubilance; we’re 9/12” (As if somehow being the GM of a progressed guild gives you the privilege of a raid invite.)
Me – “Listen take the other healer, she’s a good healer, she used to be a guildy of mine” (Playing it off as if it was now my decision instead of his)
Him – “Listen I’m really sorry man. What’s your Warlock’s name again? I’ll make sure to bring you next time.” (There were people in the group that knew me that were giving him grief).
Me – “Listen I commend you for having strict for requirements for a PUG, it helps ensure success”.

I know that not only was I more than qualified to be in this raid, but more qualified to lead the raid too. I’m upset that this clearly wasn’t enough for me but that I somehow I wanted to get it into his head too.

My final thoughts are that I’m clearly emotionally attached to my toons. I want to and am making steps towards detaching myself from them (I would have reacted much differently 6 months ago). I would much rather be a well known influential figure in the real world than a well known influential figure in the game. I still love the game too much to let it go.


More on Social Behavior in WoW

My parent’s have looked at World of Warcraft with disdain. "A waste of time and energy" the claimed. My father once said to me out of deep concern, “These people in this game are not your friends, they won’t help in a time of need or desperation.”

I do think that there are people that do justice to this statement and others that would prove it wrong. The internet barrier that separates us from one another provides an amplification of our true personalities. I am much more expressive, animated, and passionate over the internet than I am in reality. I can say what I feel without the fear of being socially reprimanded because after all, I can always throw this internet reality away right?

I’m dealing with a full spectrum of personalities. On one end there is the social butterfly who embraces the social context of the game. The type of person who you know would be your friend in real life. Others, the ends justify the means. To me, there is no correct or incorrect with either side, but there is not one person passionate about this game that plays it alone.

In a recent discussion, an officer of mine mentioned “There’s a reason you don’t see people wondering around the game without a guild tag, it will drive you in insane.” Gevlon, in Why tolerate elitist jerks
states, “No one would wear a T-Shirt with Solitaire on it”

Even he, the advocator of the non-social does things just to “shake up the social”. I would argue anything done to get a social reaction is social behavior. In his post, he claims that Blizzard is selling the illusion of you being a great gamer. If this is true, then Blizzard is really selling the illusion of being socially acceptable.

The social in me proclaims that the reality that is World of Warcraft (and the internet) is not an illusion, but is real. Does face book, twitter, and myspace illustrate a social illusion? I’ve heard countess stories of strong and deep connections made through the game many concluding in marriages.

The non-social analyst sees how these websites and WoW skew your self-perception toward favorable social status with “fancy graphics”, “colorful status updates”, and counts of “followers“ , “admirers“ or “friends”. Do all of these sparklies tell me I’m twice as cool as I really am?


Throw Crusader Strike out for Protection

As a protection Paladin or any Paladin for that matter, a lot of the functionality of our class is funneled through the “Holy Power” resource bar.

The typical play style of the Paladin is to generate a maximum of 3 “Holy Power” as quickly as possible by using abilities such as Crusader Strike, Hammer of Righteousness, or Holy Shock and then dump the Holy Power by using a powerful ability that consumes it such as Word of Glory, Shield of Righteousness, Templar’s Verdict, Inquisition or Light of Dawn.

The class mechanic revolves around the generation and expenditure of this resource. With Holy Power, a Paladin tank has the wonderful utility of producing high amounts of damage and threat or increasing his survival or the survival of others. Each time I am at 3 Holy Power charges, I make a judgment call on whether a 20-30k heal on a friendly target or 30-40k damage on an enemy target is more needed.

In regards to patch 4.06, I immediately noticed that something was different when raiding this week. I wasn’t generating Holy Power like I was before. Any time my Crusader Strike missed or was dodged or parried I got no power.

My immediate reaction was to say “I’ve got to get hit and expertise capped ASAP”. I don’t even have to look at the numbers to know that know that I’ll take my holy power and word of glory heals over small amounts of mitigation any day of the week. What seemed to be a buff patch for paladins with the addition of rebuke all of a sudden became a huge nerf for protection. I would now be losing a lot of mitigation and survival comparatively to keep my constant holy power generation.

However, later in the raid I tried using Hammer of Righteousness instead of Crusader Strike to generate holy power and noticed that it was hitting much more often. In fact, after looking at the logs of a particular encounter I had not missed at all with it. I don’t know whether the ability is using the spell hit cap or that it is a cleave ability that gives it extra chances to hit. I don’t really care.

The fact of the matter is I am taking Crusader Strike off my action bar for now and using Hammer of Righteousness instead. It does almost the same amount of single target damage and more importantly it never misses. I can stay under hit capped and not lose any mitigation stats.

For the Prot paladins considering hit and expertise capping, I recommend using HoR instead and tossing Crusader Strike off of your action bar until something changes.


Patch 4.06

Patch days are the best time in the game to make gold. There is always a short period of time where the demand for a specific item is excessive and most people don’t prepare until the demand peaks. If you plan for this, you can always make bank.

For patch 4.06, the hot ticket item is going to be Shadowspirit Diamonds. There are 3 new Shadowspirit cuts that will be BiS metas for DPSers. Agile Shadowspirit Diamond (Agility/3% critical damage), Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond (Strength/3% critical damage), and Burning Shadowspirit Diamond (Intellect/3% critical damage).

The patterns can drop off of any Cataclysm creature and are unbound so if you are lucky enough to get a drop, be sure to post it on the AH at a high price immediately. If you find the pattern within the first 24 hours of the patch release I would recommend posting it around 20k gold.

As for me, I already have about 40 raw Shadowspirit diamonds stocked up. I am not sure whether I plan on selling them raw or scouring the AH for the pattern to see if I can find it for a bargain. If I see a pattern available anywhere under 10k gold I plan on snatching it up immediately and cutting and selling the Shadowspirit diamonds. I expect the raw gems to jump up to around 500g a piece with the cut versions selling for over 1000g.

This post is a little bit late to get you prepared to make buku bucks, but what you can also do is check the price of Obsidium ore, Elementium ore, and uncommon gems. If you have an alchemist and a JC you can prospect the ore to green gems or buy the green gems off the AH and transmute as many Shadowspirit diamonds as you possibly can.

What else did I do to prepare for the patch? I bought well over 200 volatile life at a cheap price as I expect an increase in demand as flasks require more of them and new Alchemist trinkets are coming out which require 50 of them to be made.

Enchanters have the opportunity to make money off of some new bracer enchants. Enchanting mat prices will possibly increase slightly and anyone to find the lucky enchanting pattern will have the chance to make a fortune.

Rare gems will also see a slight increase in demand as many of the crafted pieces will have empty sockets in them as you log on. Everyone who is sporting a crafted epic is going to be looking for a gem to fill it with. Inferno Ruby’s could possibly rise in price to around 200g for a short stint.

Next patch I’ll be sure to remind you much farther in advance what to stock up on and how to get rich quick.


Communication is the limit

I no longer stress in raids anymore. Our premiere 10 man group is completely self sufficient and no one needs hand holding or coddling. I don’t have to prepare for anybody. I know I can relax and play my game without even looking at the performance of others. 25 man raid leading consisted of constant attention to the actions of others and whether it needs immediate vocal correction to avoid damage and death. I now can completely focus inwardly and my personal game has improved.

Our problem is that our entire group is a bunch of loud mouths. Everyone loves the sound of their own voice. I don’t think that a moment of silence or peace and serenity has occurred in Mumble since we started raiding as a 10 man group. It makes for an entertaining night and I love the fact that going in, I am guaranteed to laugh, but I want to improve the way we communicate, especially during encounters.

Our group does not have a prominent leader calling out the shots during the encounters, so we are all personally responsible in whether what we say is appropriate or beneficial. Asking a question during an encounter is fine, but is not helpful when the question isn’t quick, the answer isn’t quick, it is preceded by a statement “I have a quick question”, and it is answered by multiple people at the same time who proceed to argue over the details of the answer.

We have an awesome resource in a bunch of videos of us communicating at Muradin Musings

I was going to analyze our videos and give some examples of good communication and bad communication.  I rewatched our Halfus video and was actually really impressed at how smooth the ventrilo interaction is.  Granted these are our "kill" videos and therefore prone to success, there really wasn't much bad communication that I could see.

I've been really busy lately and wanted to not watch an hours worth of videos to critique them for this blog, so I wrote down some general ideas on what I think is good and bad communication over VoIP.

Rules of thumbs for communication over ventrilo:

- Shorter is better. Treat vocal space during an encounter as an expensive commodity that shouldn’t be wasted. When giving directions, a reason for your directions is not necessary. “Jimbob move to your left” should be said rather than “Jimbob you need to move to your left now because a giant boulder is being hurled at you”. Human beings will tend to process the entirety of a sentence or phrase before deciding on an action. You can explain to Jimbob how to better avoid the boulder in between encounters.

- Don’t teach during the fight. This is talk that should be conducted in between attempts. This includes explanations of mechanics and the proper way to deal with them. During learning attempts we want as much input information from the fight itself.

- Direct your questions. Say a name when you are asking a question. “Hots, what is the enrage timer at?” will be answered quickly by one person. Not directing your question can result in multiple people piping up with multiple answers, or no one speaking at all.

- Keep your questions informational. If you have a question about mechanics or strategy, save it until after the encounter is over.

- Timers and reminders. When calling out timers or reminders, say it in the same manner and style. You want to drill these things into people’s heads and repetition is the key. For instance “Don’t break your stride” said over and over repeatedly will drill into people’s head that they cannot hesitate or change directions for the flame breathe on Atramades.

- Stay calm. A panicked voice is detrimental and almost always causes a wipe. You will derail the focus of every raider if you come across panicked.

- Don’t undervalue encouragement. “We’re almost there”, “We’re okay”, “We can still do this” are good ways to keep people on track when everyone feels that things are slipping apart. Deaths always have a huge impact on focus. When someone dies, get the focus off of the death and back on to the fight.

If you can take one thing away from this, take away that your voice and your words should be a supplement to the focus of the raiders in the encounter and never a distraction.