Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thoughts on why

by Copra

It started as a Twitter question I posted. The question is as follows:
Just a question, no back thoughts actually: Have I missed anything special for not ever raiding, still seeing all except LK in ICC?
As it happens, I was lucky during my holiday to be able to participate in two guild runs in ICC. One with my priest in IC25 and another with my warrior in IC10. Normal, of course, as the runs were more a training for the actual raiding core for the hard modes. And as such they felt: in 25 I learned that my computer cannot handle the amount of information and my frame rate dropped below 5 fps, and still the bosses went down here and there, me feeling that I wasn't contributing at all. That feeling is something I hate with passion, and I don't know if it is valid because I was still delivering above 3.6k dps in my 'pre-raid' level gear. So I was contributing even though I was looking at ICC25 cartoon book.

All in all, I've seen IC up to LK, but because I've seen it on two separate toons I'm effectively out of the "11/12 bosses, link ach" PUG's even if they would accept a tank with 5.2k GS. But because I've seen them all, and participated in the fights, I'm actually missing only the bloody part in which I really have to work for the win. And that is more a question of trust on others than on my own performance, because I am always doing my best. Which isn't necessarily enough because of the fact that gear conceals the lack of skill, as someone has earlier commented.

The valid question I hear from here and there is, why do I play WoW? Its valid because I state all the time that I don't raid, I do not have group of good friends to play with and because I sound bitter whenever I start talking about raiding and how it is not right even though I haven't done it for real.

First of all, I found out that my absence from the game for a week worked miracles. There were some things I got very disappointed during my vacation which can be left out of the discussion, so the week of leave in fact cleaned the air. I stopped thinking about how I could become part of the raiding team or how I could do the WoW catch-22 and get into the PUGs running ICC.

I found out that the journey is more important to me than the level cap grind. The raiding is there to keep the players who want to beat the game happy, a game which you cannot beat. I say this again, there is no Game Over, You Win screen in WoW. Raiding, like anything else in the game, is a passtime. It should be considered no more than that, yet it is revered like its something mystical. (I admit, I have fallen into that trap myself and find raiding as such very mystical and mythified thing only because I do not understand the pull of it.)

Raiding people usually say that the questing is boring and just an obstacle to start raiding. That the end game is where the game really starts. The question is, if this is true? In MMORPG's the game is everywhere and in the end game, the game kind of stalls and ends because the 'artificial growth' of the character is stalled and replaced by even more artificial (and grindy) gear progression in one way or another. The epeen measuring in GS or any other way ("Woot! Look at my shiny pony!") is not really what MMORPG's end game should be, yet still it is.

I still say that raiding is more a clique forming part of the game. I have my reasons to say that in more than one way, even though I can somehow imagine that it may be a very nice and binding experience when you are playing with good group of friends. However, this causes the experience to be very much clique forming and thus becomes exclusive: how can you trust an outsider if your group has worked so well in the past.

So instead of putting so much effort in being an elite raider and looking down on the people playing the game for the lore, world or quests and stories, people should appreciate each and every part of the game similarily. If nothing else, but because each and everyone of the players is paying the same fee to play and each and everyone is looking for a pleasant experience.

I would like to see Lich King fall, not only as the video shown in the middle of Dalaran, but as first hand. But I don't want to be frowned on, looked down on or dismissed because my gear isn't up to the arbitrary standard created by one way of calculating even more arbitrary numbers together. I don't want to be stuck into the catch-22 of not having good enough gear for not raiding because I don't have good enough gear to raid.

Because of these reasons, I find myself playing the game I like: doing quests, avoiding using my main because I feel disappointment every time I see the GS requirements of PUGs and know I cannot make it into the guild raid core without committing my sleep into the game. I rather level an useless alt on a desolate low level area than feel not accepted or excluded from the world my main is living in.

I've heard time and again to change guild. For one, I don't do guild hopping. I'm too old to go around and try to impress anyone. I kind of feel at home with the people, even though there is distinct separation between the raiders and casual members. Baseline is, I don't want to change guild, I want an equal opportunity to PUG and/or participate. Something the game cannot and doesn't provide currently.

So I do quests and level up alts.

And I like it: at least it takes my thoughts away from the things I don't like and, most importantly, away from my stressful enough work.

So the big question is, why do you raid the same raids time and again, and why do people who raid look down the people not raiding.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mini-games and me..

By Azariell

Its been a while since I last made a post but I've been attempting to tone down my online/PC time. Suffice to say it didn't work, but did have some consequences for my online game play.

First of all, I figured the best way to reduce game-time was to stop raiding again. Sad thing is, that I only started raiding not too long ago. However, as this was a health based decision, the raid group could live with it and wished me all the best.

This, however, did bring be back to my old habits of thinking up mini-games or better said small achievements to entertain myself with. You see, I've been playing since about 2005 and for the first 3-4 years I didn't raid simply because I did not have 'fixed' free time slots. Remember, this was all in the era without the fancy blizzard achievements.

So pre-WotLK for example I had smaller projects such as completely focusing on making money for that epic flyer, but also things such as collecting all materials needed to level tailoring from 0-375 (only getting the tailoring profession after I was done with the collecting). Most people actually thought I was insane and did not understand that I still found the game interesting...

The same situation occurs now, and I've found joy again in the 'simpler things in life' or simpler things in WoW sorta say... I've started the process needed to obtain the Venomhide ravasaur mount, next to that I'm leveling my DK to 80 with a side 'quest' that I want to have enough PVP currency (WG marks and honor-points) to buy a few pieces of starter gear when I hit 80, and a similar personal quest with the argent crusade tokens.

The stupid thing is that as soon as I started raiding I more or less had to 'abandon' playing any of my other toons as I didn't really have time to really play them. Now, I actually can enjoy the different classes again and do all the little personal sub-quests/achievements that blizzard throws at us...

So, What do you guys think? Do you also have little personal achievements? Or can't you believe that someone can find WoW interesting without raiding the end-game?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Major confession

by Copra

I've found out a peculiar thing in myself. I love dailies. I can't wait to get home, login to the game and do the daily.

Sadly I'm not referring to WoW, but my new sidetracking love in FPS PvP, CrossFire.

The major points of interest are:

  1. My son plays CrossFire, too.
  2. He plays a lot better than I do.
  3. I learn everytime I login and play.
  4. The rewards are mainly tangible and really help me later on.
  5. Did I mention that I learn to play better every time?
  6. Even though the maps are always the same, the daily challenges are different.
  7. Even though I'm just a newbie and beginner, I can participate in a game of pro's.
  8. In a game full of pro's, I have a chance to survive and even pull kills.
Yup. If the PvP or dailies would have a part of that in WoW, I would be hooked. But no, the dailies and PvP are governed with different set of rules which for me cause frustration and boredom.

Besides, CrossFire loads a lot faster than WoW and there is always a game starting. The only toon who gets right into the action in WoW is my warrior tank, but the daily heroics are what they are.

Too bad I don't have 3 hours a day for WoW to raid. I have 30 minutes to run a couple of CrossFire matches.

Good enough. And getting better.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Jump into the deep end

by Copra

Sometime ago I wrote about how the PUGging is in fact a question of trust. In that post I mention how I don't want to tank in LFD heroics because I feel that the rest of the group are not trusting me. Now I have to change that a bit: I don't feel comfortable enough to volunteer for a PUG raid as a tank, but in LFD group I take the leap into the deep end of the pool. I trust the healer to do their best to keep me alive, but I don't trust the dps to look their threat meter -if they even have one.

Yesterday was another evening like that. Several IC10's opening up all the time, GS requirement a bit higher than my current gear and achievement requirement for 4-6 bosses, minimum. I don't have the achievements, so that's it. I know I can do the fights as a tank, seen them all up to Sindragosa and bested them. Sadly on two different characters and on different raid sizes, so I don't have a concise way of showing them.

So I passed the whole /trade because of this. If the people calling for a PUG raid have such expectations for their group, they won't trust them a bit. They just want to have the badges and some loot, not anyone doing their best.

We ran two heroics with Förgelös, and I submitted myself on the mercy of the healer. There was enough to do in the first Ahn'Kahet, as there was a hunter and a warlock who were no the most careful with their pets. Fun and furious, never the less.

Second one showed me again the lack of group play tutorials in the game. We went to Gundrak Drak'Tharon and there was this boomkin druid who clearly had no idea on aggro management or what to do in a group. But hey, he had at least four pieces of ilvl264 on him. First pull with five mobs and this druid was down. Why didn't tank hold the aggro was his question. Being the gentleman I am, I told that I had a glitch on my computer (which I really had, the whole thing froze for 5-10 seconds mid-fight), but the real reason he died was the fact that he pulled that one mob before I had any aggro on it. I had enough to do with the rest before my 'puter froze.

The same thing persisted through the whole instance. The other thing that royally pissed me off was his use of Cyclone all the time. Just as I had charged, thunderclapped and slammed the trash mobs, his cyclone would push them all away from me and I had to start again. Worst moment was when he did that on King Dread fight in which we had two adds: the two adds were pushed to the path of two more, so that when Dread was dead, we still had five (one came later) raptors to deal with.

Without the wonderful shammy healer and mu total trust in her talents it would have been a wipefest. Also the mage did a great job to down the odd adds for the druid, not to mention Förgelös' new level of dps after getting some sweet crafted gear.

It is hard to let go and trust completely to other players when you see this kind of disregard from them. But in the end, when you are able to trust that the players around you do -or at least try- their best, you can really pull out the best in your own performance: concentrate on your own skills and moves and dedicate yourself on your own job.

As a tank, getting beaten by the bad guys so the others can do the beating, uninterrupted.

Can you really take the jump into the deep end and not worry about other's doing their job while in a PUG (raid or LFD)?

I think I finally can.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skill or gear?

by Copra

Over the last few weeks I played quite a bit of WoW. While I was more concentrating on getting my main - protection warrior - up to the GS standards for IC PUGs, I also spent some serious quality time with my shadowpriest and for a while I had her in better gear than my warrior. Which was easy really: as ranged DPS you are more welcome to come and blunder in an impromptu PUG raid than with an almost-decently geared tank. So I got in more PUG raids with my spriest than with  my main, which of course increased the probability of loot gear.

I still cannot fathom the LFD tool, though. Even though my warrior overgeared my spriest, the latter gets PoS or HoR as random heroic all the time, while the warrior has to succumb to VH. Why? As it happens, my spriest has done the quest line in IC5 mans, where as my warrior hasn't.

As if this wasn't enough, I have been playing my unguilded deathknight quite a bit. Coming from lv74 to 78 has been quite a journey and is in fact the point of the title. You see, every time I launched to quest with my deathknight I launched the LFD. Most of the time it took three or four tries to finish the random instance. And I mean three or four total new starts, not just replacing some people in there. The experience was awful, really, as most of the time the players were obviously levelling their umpteenth alt with the mindframe of a capped and geared toon: blast in, aoe everything, move on.

At lv78 it just doesn't work that way, except when the toons are properly geared and the players really know how to play. Of course there were the entertaining runs of Ahn'Kahet, in which we just chain pulled everything in steady flow, but most of the time the group just disappeared mid-instance after a wipe.

The worst case was the druid, who came to Violet Hold as a tank, but it became very soon very obvious that he didn't know a thing about tanking. First of all, his gear was not for tanking. Second, when he was asked to kite Xevozz, he didn't even know what kiting was. And as the final straw, I was asked to tank in my unholy dps gear... I should have declined.

Later on it turned out he was levelling his third alt, and he was in fact a boomkin. And he was so full of himself that he kept saying everyone else a noob, while he was himself one, really.

On the other hand, at level cap, the better the gear you are wearing, the easier the heroics turn to be. The meager improvement of 200 in GS (up to 5.2k now) meant that my warrior gets the silent, strong type heroic runs everytime. We grouped once with Förgelös to run a couple of heroics together and his two comments were quite revealing. First one after we got into a group right after I had chosen my role was: "Well, that was fast. I normally have to wait for 5-8 minutes." (SIDENOTE: With my spriest I have the average waiting time of 13 minutes...) And the second one just after the instance was finished: "That was fast and professional. I usually spend much longer time even in the easier ones."

So all in all, at least in the capped heroics it's not about skill but gear. Gear to take the beating and gear to deliver enough damage to kill them all promptly. However, in the levelling stage the skill is more important than the gear, as I was able to beat the damage meters with few levels lower skills, talents and gear in an instance repeatedly with my dk, even against a mage and warlock.

The more I look at it, at level cap the skill doesn't rate too high. The few raids I got into were more like jumping platform games than MMO experience at its best.

My judgement is that gear >> skill. At least for now.

EDIT. Just occured to me that I didn't define what I mean by skill. In WoW in my opinion skill is the ability to play the toon to the fullest and be able to utilize all skills appropriately, depending on the encounter. Running around a boss room is not skill per that definition, neither is doing a dance or platform jumper acrobatics while in an encounter. Like Tobold has said time and again, there should be more encounters which require strategic thinking rather than twitch.

Monday, August 16, 2010


by Copra

I'm back, well rested after a nice four weeks absence from the blogosphere. And boy am I out of the current flow of things. Which is apparently no flow as far as I have been able to see.

Anyhow, I'll return to the irregular schedule you have gotten accustomed to soon enough.

I have played, yes, and found out some curious things in WoW. And in Crossfire, to which my son lured me to try my achiever-fps-pvp side. But more about those experiences later.

One thing that amazes me in WoW currently, though, is the uncanny increasing requirements to participate any PUG raid... Before my vacation started, the outrageous average GS for a PUG IC10 was around 5.3k. The last I checked was 5.6k. And rising. And the outrageous Catch-22 of this is the fact that to get that high GS you have to raid. But you cannot get into a PUG without having the high GS which you can achieve only by getting gear from raiding.