Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Not Me - Just Pixels on a Screen

As you guys probably know, Kattastrophe & I have been trying to find the right guild. One that raids "enough" but is "fun enough".

A family member on another server is in a guild that is trying to recruit us. As it stands, I sincerely doubt I will make the switch, but Kattastrophe is still trying to decide, and postred about it HERE. Any thoughts or ideas you guys may have would be appreciated.

As for me not wanting to change, there are a bunch of reasons. One of the biggest is that this guild is Horde. All the other things set aside ($$$ to server switch AND faction switch) I just don't want to be a Belf. (or a Cow, in another 6-8 months)

Do I really care about factions that much? From a lore or "us vs them" side, no I don't.

For me it's about the aesthetics. True, Dreanei (males) aren't exactly "good loocking" (though the goat girls are cute!) But the rest of the Ally character models are "good enough".

When I was a younger man...

20 years ago, I would have played Horde, probably on a PvP server, and would likely have gone the RP route.

Now? I just like the look & feel of the Alliance cities and characters. I chose a Drae simply because it was different. I've "been" an elf, human and a dwarf countless times. (and gnomes are a "fun" race, not necessarily a "srs bzns" gaming race for me)

Where's Waldo?

And then there's the fact that my toon is simlpy a "Waldo" for me. (it's a Heinlein reference HERE, that was the first use of remote control or telepresence)

Anyhow, when I play Balthazario, I am not in the character at all. I am not "in" the game world nor am I immmersed at all. Balth is simply a remote control wrecking ball that I use to interact with other avatars/toons and the environment.

If only he didn't have that goofy Russian accent. :P

But All Games Aren't this Way

Now, to counterpoint my lack of immersion in WoW, I *DO* get immersed in other games. For instance, I've been flying around the galaxy in the starship Normandy, along with Shepard, a Krogan and a few others. (Mass Effect 2)

This game is VERY linear and does a good job of storyteling (folks that hate semi-interactive cut scenes would hate it) It's a bit mystery, a bit action, and all around an interesting story. In fact, I think I like the story here more than I did in the first one.

Some things are better, some worse... but I can say that I miss the Mako. (I'm one of the few people I know that actually enjoyed buggying around on planets)

EDIT - I have heard that this post says "I don't like playing WoW." That isn't my point at ALL.

No, this means I simply don't take on the role (RP or whatever) when I play. When you play multiplayer HALO, I seriously doubt that the players are "feeling like they are the Master Cheif" or anything. They are simply using the game as an extension of themselves (like an RC plane or RC car) :)

THAT is how I feel.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ANGER!... ANGER!... Master of Puppets is Pulling Your Strings!

This post is only tangentially related to WoW (ie WoW co-inspired it), is rather long and maybe a little deeper into thought that I ought to go.

It's inspired by Taramind ("Don't go wasting your emotions") in which he ponders the possible reasons for all the WoW-rage, and he posits that it's simply because it's really one of the few acceptable emotions that you CAN express. Either that, or they just keep mum.(I'm horrid at summarizing, he says it SO much better and the comments are awesome as well, so PLEASE read it if you haven't!)

I think he's definitely on to something, but during my looong drive home, I got to thinking (yes, a dangerous pursuit for me)

Maybe a lot of that anger is real.

To put this in perspective, or at least explain my perspective let me 'splain a bit about myself.

I'm not young, I'm not old: I'm about as middle age as you can get. I'm 40. I don't have the hormone driven angst & anger of youth, or the senile acceptance of old age (though I do want those whippersnappers OFF MY LAWN!) I sit happily in the middle, betwixt those extremes.

And yet I rage. Road rage, nerd rage, rage against the machine, et cetera, ad nauseum. Though, to be honest, most of my anger can be traced to two sources:




In most cases, it's not people actively and intentionally being jerks, assholes or morons, it's just that they are completely self absorbed and absolutely clueless that they exist in a world with anyone else.

They cut in line, they cut you off in traffic, they stand in line at the fast food joint, talking on their phone, and can't be bothered to chose their food prior to being asked what they want.

They write a check at the grocery store for $1.83. (and don't start writing ANYTHING until they find out the total) Or, even worse, they make the same purchase with a mixture of pennies, nickles and dimes.

Or they're too lazy to pull into a parking space correctly and either take up 3 spaces, or they block you in after you've already parked.

The result?

Only now,getting angry and/or acting out is socially acceptable.

"Back in the day", being a jerk, being loud or any of a hundred plus other behaviors would get you socially punished. People would stare, laugh or act in some way that would reinforce that you were "behaving badly in public".

Nowadays, an Olympic medal winner gets photographed at a party with him using the medal in a manner that makes it look like he's getting a blow job, and when he gets disciplined for it, a hue & cry goes out that he's being treated too harshly.

We ignore the families with children screaming like Murlocks and their dirty feet and asses on the table at the restaurant.

We actively cheer the hecklers, even when a performance is good.

Everything is on video, or photographed by cell phone, and all manner of ugly behavior is nearly idolized and the assholes' "15 minutes" lasts them a life time.

Our society actively promotes nasty, disrespectful behavior.

Then everyone gets upset because they are either an asshole that gets angry just because they can, or it's one of the folks they're being an asshole to, and THEY get pissed off at the the whole thing.


It's just a figment of the electronic, internet age. The actions & behaviors aren't really any worse than before, it's just that with all the media we are exposed to, maybe we just see it more vividly.

After all, here in the US, violent crimes of almost all types are down from years past, but the news would have you believe otherwise. Assaults and abductions are down, yet they get prime coverage; if it bleeds, it leads... or so goes the mantra.

(though I'll be honest, I don't think the anger & disrespect we see are the same as the news, I honestly believe the "people behaving badly" is a real phenomenon)

Did I talk myself in a circle?

Probably... but it was an interest line of thought for me... even if I am an angry S.O.B., railing at the misfortunes of age, and the prospect of rolling down the back side of the hill that I am now going over.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shot Through the Heart, and I'm to Blame

Yeah, I give PvP...

a bad name...

This takes placeon Argent Dawn, US. This is my 3rd Balthazario Pally and he's a member of "Single Abstract Noun" (aka SAN), the blog-people guild. This is the guild envisioned by Tamarind (and started in the EU HERE) and expanded to the US by Miss Medicina (HERE) The SAN Guild Forums are HERE. As an FYI, the US chapter has ~275 players, and we just broke 400 toons last night. WOW!!

AAAAnyhow... back on topic.

To be honest, there's a small amount of ironic humour here. Earlier on the night in question, Cynwise was on, and I was bemoaning my sad PvP abilities, which I whined about yesterday in my blog. Ans, as befitting a PvPer and blogger of her caliber, she chatted with me and gave some input and good ideas. (thanks, btw!)

Later in the night, after Cyn had logged off, I trundled my level 16 Pally into Elwynn Forest, and through the oddity that is Goldshire.

There are a couple duels going, and a bunch of folks milling about. I'm looking around for anythig untoward (I had been hearing a lot of "ugh, Goldshire is nasty!" but honestly had no clue -at the time - what the problem was) There was no RP going on (which I have barely seen ANY of) and so I'm getting ready to go about my business.

And in comes the Duel Challenge.

The name pops up, and I scroll around trying to see who & what is challenging me. As usual in a crowded area, I can't find them (is there a hint to finding them, by the way?)

I take a slow deep breath and click "accept".

The countdown starts... 4... 3... 2... 1...

A couple seconds go by and I'm sitting there waiting for an attack so I know who I'm supposed to be dueling.

FINALLY a fireball plasters me. AHA! A Mage!


I then get locked in ice, and a moment after that get some meteor shower or something (sorry, I don't know my mage spells) This is the time I realize that I am fighting a level 20 mage. At level 16.

Oh boy...

As I wait for the ice to wear off, I hit Holy Light to heal a bit and charge after the mage.

Sssslllllooooowwwwllly. Friggin Ice bolts.

I run towards him, Judge, melee hammer of Justice to stun/ interrupt him melee him a bit and I drop him to nearly half in 2-3 seconds.

He starts to run and -WTF?!?!?

Oh yeah, friggin blink. Le-sigh.

Repeat the previous steps, except I started totake a LOT of damage. So I pop Divine Protection (my shield wall) My health is ~10%, I hit Gift of Naaru.

By the time I'm out of the ice, I'm back to full health, and the mage is actually pretty close.
I charge after him - Ice Bolt - Blink - He casts, I charge in, beat him up.

Repeat. Well, mostly, this time I used holy light.

And he's now healed once (potion?) and is back below 1/2 health.

I attack, stun, hit, run, blink, ice bolt... yada yada.

After 3-4 repetitions of this, he's dead.

Wait! I Just won an honest-to-god duel! Against an "equivalent" player! (actually, 4 levels higher- I'm only a 16!)

I heal him and bow to him and we go our separate ways.

I didn't think to armory the guy, so I have zero clue about his gear, spec or anything.

Anyhow, the guy is probably new to PvP, and doesn't really understand the advantages he had, because, even level aside, in a wide open area, a Mage *should* wipe the floor with a Pally.

The guy did a number of things "less than ideally". Well, 2 things that really stand out:

- He stayed too close.
- He seemed to only use long cast spells.

Many of his other tactics were good ideas, but not used optimally. If I were to fight a Pally (if I were a Mage) I would do the following:

- Ice block
- Blink to maximum ranged DPS range.
- if still iced, maybe hit one "fast" cast spell
- as soon as ice wears off - Ice bolt to slow down
- INSTANT CAST/WAND LIKE A MOFO!!! put some damage on that Pally and keep it coming- as soon as the pally starts to get a *little* close, I run away until Blink & ice block are available.
- repeat the above steps until pally is dead.
- A Pally will heal when trapped, so remember that his heals can be slowed/interrupted.

Yes, use big DPS, long cast spells on occasion, but they leave you vulnerable. Most of your damage (IMHO) should be instant cast (or wand if there aren't any) If you are standing there for 3 seconds while casting, if he isn't locked in a trap, he will be running after you.

As a ranged caster, with some AWESOME traps/etc, never EVER let a Paladin get within 30 yards. You can simply kite the poor bastard around, without taking any damage at all. Yes, Pallies can bubble then heal, BUT, we can only bubble once every 2 minutes. And yes, while self healing is a bugger, a Ret or Prot shouldn't be able to heal faster than a caster can DPS.

Also, a (lower level) Pally can only heal when stationary, so if he's running after you, he isn't healing. KITE HIM!!!!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CRYING!... crying... Whiny post is whiny

Yeah, here's my national (international?) "Whiney Day" post. Since I prolly whine too much anyway, I'll keep it short.

The reason I don't like PvP is that I pretty much stink at it. I've mentioned this once or twice, I believe. Why do I stink?

- Is it my gear? Well, while that doesn't HELP the situation, I don't believe it's the main problem.

- Is it my spec? Again, my spec doesn't help my situation, since it's havily slanted towards PvE, but I have a couple "PvP-ish" things (reduced stun times and the like) in my talent tree.

So nope, those aren't the big reasons.

Basically, it comes down to poor hand-eye coordination, poor situational awareness, a lack of deep understanding & familiarity with the toon and its abilities (aka - lack of practice)

Back in the day, I played a lot of HALO 2. Now, for me, "a lot" was 15+ hours a week. If you compare that to a teenager that can easily put in 30+ hours, it isn't a lot, BUT for any "normal" person, that's a lot.

When I first started, I really sucked. I was ranked at a skill level of 15 or 16. (rank went from 1-50, with 50 being the best) My ability to spin & shoot and all things "twitchy" like that were pretty bad. However, I really liked the feel of the game, and put in a lot of time learning the maps, learning jumps and all sorts of other "tricks" and things. No glitching or anything, but learning to use the map to my advantage.

After all that practice, my hand-eye coordination got a *little* better, but with the rest of the practice & learning, I managed to get my skill up to a 27 or so. A bit above average.

After 500+ hours of playing, I went from being a truly bad player to being a "so-so" player. In one of the last games of it I ever played, I was in a game with two 40+ skill players. I went 0-25 before I got my first kill. Humbling to say the least.

So, for WoW PvP, yes I *could* spend a lot of time learning the maps, practicing my spells,etc, and getting really familiar with my toon. And I would get better.

A *little* better.

Part of my distaste is that I'm a bit too lazy to put in that type of effort, but it's also combined with the knowledge that, even with TONS of time spent getting better, at the end of the day, I would have improved to average (or maybe a squinch above).

That really isn't much of an incentive...

On a happier note:


Monday, March 8, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everwhere a Sign...

We went and saw Alice in Wonderland over the weekend, and I noticed Curfew signs around the theaters. No, not the one pictured (it's a googled image). These just said Curfew Enforced, with no mention of age, parents, etc.

This was at the Galleria at Tyler (aka the "Tyler Mall" in Riverside California)

A part of me (once I figured out what it meant) was like YES! No little punks running amok!

Then another part of me bristled STRONGLY about it. It doesn't affect me in ANY sort of negative way. I'm 40, not particularly fond of kids, and I get annoyed to no end dealing with youthful vigor and asshattedness.

Anyhow, it got me to thinking & wondering about what WoW would be like if some sort of Curfew were enabled. Assume for a moment, that something like a juvenile curfew COULD be implimented in WoW. Also ignore the complexity involved with the wide array of time zones (ie Eastern time US, and say Brisbane time Oceanic)

In this "wonderland" existed, would you WANT Blizzard to have a curfew, so that we could have only adults playing after a certain hour?

The tipping point for this post cam rather late on Saturday night, as I was levelling a toon in the Single Abstract Noun guild over on Argent Dawn US. (a blogger/reader group started on both the EU and US AD servers, as hosted by Tamarind and MissMedicina, HERE [EU] and HERE [US] respectively)

Argent Dawn is an "normal" RP server, as in no world PvP. This means griefers have to be a little more creative in their grief.

So, I'm levelling up from levels 6-8, doing the quests us Space Goats need t odo, over on Azuremist Isle. The only problem is that it's REALLY tough to empty your bags, get quests, turn in quests, train or pretty much anything else WHEN SOME ASSHOLE KILLED ALL THE NPCs.

Not once.

Not twice.

But thrice.

Twice it was the same Troll DK, and the other time it was a Mage & Rogue (not sure what races - I didn't get close enough/notice) It was roughly 4 am server time when the last attack occurred.

Needless to say, I was rather pissed off, and wanted all asshats to die and GTF off the server.

Now, as much as I hate that kind of crap, but there are a couple reasons I would NOT want a curfew:

1 - I think it's nearly as likely to be an adult doing that crap as it is a youngster
2 - I really dislike arbitrary restrictions (ie, at a certain age, you must stop playing at a certain time)

So, even if it were possible, I would not want to have a curfew. (having parents monitoring their kids would be nice, but, if implimenting a curfew is nearly impossible, asking for parental involvement with many idiot kids would require a miracle)

Now, I don't have any great psychometric analysis for why I feel this way, or any peer reviewed papers that I can reference. It's just my gut that tells me that I don't want it, even if doing such a thing might improve my time in game a bit...

How do you guys feel about it?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Poof Goes the Magic Dragon

So I'm running around doing my dailies, and while collecting whositwhatsit egg sacs, NPC_Scan alerts me that Vyragosa is nearby.


I ran across her a while back, but she refused to land, and I didn't have the gear to survive her attacks. So I ran away and vowed to get her at some later date.

It's now a later date... and this time?

Well, even though I *still* couldn't get her to land, I *was* able to survive her attacks. With Frost Aura on, she hits like a paraplegic kindergartner (no offence intended to any paraplegic kindergartners OR anyone else...) So, with my mighty Exorcism spell, I burned her into the ground (with one or two Hammer of Wrath) Yeah, casting once every 8-10 seconds means the battle takes a while...

If you look *really* closely in the screen cap, you can see my DPS for the fight: 2418. So, for the duration of the fight, using Exorcism & HoW exclusively, I still managed to get nearly 2.5k DPS. I dunno why, but I do find that kinda humorous. (like a joke, not the bone)

In the loot, I got some leather helm that is now sitting in the AH, about 10 gold and some frostweave. *shrug*. Not too shabby for simply flying by...

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been on a spending spree with the Dalaran jeweler. Well, I finally dropped the remaining 2,000 gold.

Runed Ring of the Kirin Tor

This puts it just ahead of the ring it replaced (bloodshed band) I lose some hit (not a big deal- I'm way over cap anyhow) gain a little stamina, a bunch of expertise (which I still don't really understand) and I lose 6 strength. Not perfect for DPS, but eff it, because:

I gain one MASSIVELY nice thing: an extra teleport back to Dal.

Yes, I'm lazy like that.

Also, I had remembered reading somewhere (probably at Critical QQ, Cynwises' Battle manual, or maybe even Gnomeageddon) that there is a really nice bracer available from the PvP vendors:

Wrathful Gladiators Bracers of Triumph

Even without gems or enchants, they are better than the piece they replaced (can't remember what they were, but I can look them up from a recent RAWR save) Also, since I have been looking to put together a set of PvP gear (via honor and emblems, not arena) this works out PERFECTLY. I get an upgrade for my PvE gear that also happens to be a really nice piece for PvP.

And all for a "mere" 43,000 honor points, plus another 10k honor for the uncut cardinal ruby. (and 20 gold for the gem cutting, and 120 gold for the greater assault enchant)

BUT STILL! a neat upgrade relatively cheap.

Oh, my Argent pets still haven't sold, but I made the quick money by selling 10 bars of titansteel. I still need to sell off the rest of it, because with that upcoming patch (and elimination of the 24 hour cooldown on smelting titansteel) it will likely drop a LOT in value.

Sell it for 110 each now, and then buy it later (if needed) for 25-30 gold each.

I'm going to try to post "My Guild Application" in the next few days. Then, theoretically, if I apply to any guilds, I can refer them to it, which will give them a LOT more info about who I am and how I play AND give them a blunt head's up that I blog.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm a Farmer in the Dal...

So, you may have noticed my posts slacking off a bit in the last couple weeks. For better or worse, this follows my game play as well. And, the time I HAVE spent in game has been kind of farmish.

Take my latest Achies:

Other recent ones include getting my Cooking Hat, buying (and upgrading) a Ring of the Kirin Tor, and getting "Dinner Impossible" (preparing a Great Feast in 5 specific Battlegrounds)

I still have 2 more upgrades for the ring (another 2,000 gold) but I should be there in a couple more days. (I'm selling a couple Argent Tourney pets)

I will probably work on the Outlands Gourmet (so I can get my Chef title) and farm some more gold and buy enough pets for the Little Salt lick.

What about progression?

Well, aside from an occasional Frost run or even more rare weekly raid, I am not doing much.

And why is that?

There are a couple reasons... (and they're both a bit long)

1 - PuG frost runs stress the ever loving crap out of me.

It's a lot better if Kattastrophe comes along, but with our schedules lately, that hasn't been feasible. If I can get 2-3 other friends/guildies to come along, it becomes even less stressful, but that's even rarer (more on this in part 2).

But it's just a frost run - why so serious? I have no idea. I make the occasional mistake, but overall, I'm pretty good at what I do. Before all the players were at a 5k+ Gear Score, I was usually the top DPS. Since they HAVE been doing frost runs and I haven't, I am starting to have the lowest GS (and am now only #2 in DPS) That isn't the reason I get stressed, but it certainly isn't helping.

To be honest, my overall experience with PuGs hasn't been that bad. 90-95% of them have been a fairly polite, if silent, sprint through the heroics. One thing I *have* noticed is that the runs have been getting less & less smooth as time goes on. My guess is that more "less serious" players are now geared enough to run, and that more of the "more serious" players have already moved past the Frost runs. Fewer "good" folks, and more "average"/"casual" folks filling in.

Maybe I should "sack up" and just deal with the stress, and run PuGs full tilt again, but you know what? I want to play a game so I can enjoy it. "Learning to deal with stress" is NOT what I would call enjoyment...

2 - Playing at night with a daytime guild

While this strongly relates to point 1 in that I *MUCH* prefer running with folks I am at least slightly affiliated and/or friendly with, but, it's a big enough issue that I feel it deserves its own comment.

In general, I play from 8:00 pm server time (often later) until I call it a night. (sometimes this is 8:05 pm or sometimes 1:00am) When I get online, there are ususally 3-5 other guildies online. This includes folks playing low level alts, some new blood, and a couple established guildies on 80s. Within an hour, this has ususally petered out and maybe one or two others will be left.

The rest of the guild was already on and done by 6pm server time.

Of the players that are on, (of the ones that are on 80s) pretty much all are DPS players. No tanks or healers. (also, they usually already have their frost) This means doing a "quick" frost run is out of the question (queue times at this time of night on my server are usually 20 minutes)

At this point one might ask "well, why the fock are you still in that guild?"

A very valid question, and it's one I have been mulling over & over myself.

The answers I have for still being where I am are multifold (like the restroom papertowels)

1 - There are players I really enjoy playing with. Even if they aren't always on at the same time, we talk via facebook, or on /g late at night, and they are really neat folks. In general, I would rather "do nothing" with a group of people I like, than "accomplish a lot" with folks I don't really know or care about. (let alone dislike)

2 - I am not going to even consider /gquit without having another place to go. In fact, I would rather have a "trial" period with another guild for a few days (or even a couple weeks) than find a new guild and jump ship.

3 - If the thought of grouping up with 4 other randoms stresses me out a bit, well, you can imagine what the thought of submitting myself to entierely new guild is doing to my blood pressure.

A while back Cassandri & Lathere had a post about what a guild application should look like. 10 Tips to Successfully Apply to a Rading Guild. As I said in my comments there and in my own recent post (Just another Brick in the Wall, Eh? ) I am only willing to subject myself to a certain level of structure and/or "seriousness". Now, please understand, I will follow a RL's directions to a "T", and will gladly help a guild out via gold, mats, crafting etc. I *will* stand up for a guildie I don't really know, even as far as leaving a PUG raid to show solidarity. If I join a "team", I join the team. For me, the social aspect has a higher priority than progression. (that being said, I don't want to run with a reasonably well geared group that wipes 10 time on Marrowgar without beating him - even if they are very nice folks - I want SOME success as well)

I do believe that change is inevitable.

I have started to put out tentative feelers with folks that I see online on most evenings. Some of them are in "kinda hardcore" guilds. I don't think I would ever want to be a "full" member, but maybe something like a "pocket PUG". Someone that is around regularly, and ready/willing to run on short notice, but I don't think I could ever get into the "we raid 3 times a week at such & such a time, blah blah blah."

I just wanna have a good time with some friendly peeps.

Are there other options?

Yeah, Mass Effect 2 is sitting unopened in the living room...