Kurn's Contemplations on Tuesday

Hello, lovely people. It is Tuesday once again and, once again, I have had a ridiculously low number of search terms I haven’t covered, so, once again, the Q&A post will be put off. Can’t wait for people’s Internet use to go up again…

Anyways, I thought I’d update the ol’ blog with some, well, updates.

Beta:

You may have noticed I haven’t talked much about Beta in the last few days, not since I hit 83 and got Healing Hands.

Why haven’t I been talking about the Beta? Well, I’m kind of stuck.

Madrana’s 83, which is the level cap, so I don’t want to quest on her, since I’m not gaining any more experience. I would love to do instances like crazy, but the Random Dungeon Finder isn’t working unless you’re already in a group, apparently.

So I could go quest on Kurn, right? I’m only level 81 and 3/4. But the thing is, Kurn’s stuck on a bugged quest in Vashj’ir (Still Precious, if you’re curious — no naga currently drop the pearls!). I’d rather not skip the content in this sub-zone and move on, because I’m enjoying the feeling of completing the subzones and continuing this storyline. Again, can’t really do instances… I could go do Hyjal on Kurn, but I figure I’ll be doing Hyjal and Vashj’ir enough times on live when Cataclysm drops, so I’m just sort of waiting for Blizzard to fix a few things in a new build.

God, I hope they drop a new build soon. Like, today. Tomorrow. Yesterday…

Leadership:

I went to a private, all-girls’ school for eleven years, from Grade 1 through to Grade 11 (which is our last year of high school in Quebec). Somewhere along the way, somehow, I obtained these things called “leadership skills”. I was never, ever a leader back in school. I shied away from positions of authority, I never liked being the one people looked to for decisions or depended upon to make decisions.

But in every circumstance since my high school days, I have found myself gravitating to leadership positions whenever it’s clear that whoever is currently leading is not doing it well.

And you know, I’m not terribly bad at being a leader. I’m good at allocating resources, scheduling things, thinking inside the box and then outside when it’s required… Sadly, I’m one of the better leaders I’ve encountered out here in the real world. It kind of sucks, because I really don’t like being a leader.

What I prefer is to be led by a competent leader.

If the leader is not competent or if I am not being led appropriately (not being used to my full extent, not being given clear instructions, etc) then that’s when my leadership skills step in and want to usurp the leader’s position and just DO IT BETTER.

Why am I talking about this? Because it’s basically describing my leadership experiences in WoW.

How did I get to be a raid leader/officer back in my old, old guild? I asked questions, I educated myself and then I educated others on why, precisely, they wanted to do Zul’Gurub and Molten Core.

How did I get to be an officer/raid leader/healing lead back in Apotheosis? It’s because I took initiative to help form the guild, it’s because I knew Karazhan and I researched my ass off for Gruul and Mag and everything else. I had learned to allocate healing from my short stint in another guild and applied it to Apotheosis and that basically meant that I was just doing healing, period. And I was okay with that, because there just wasn’t anyone else I trusted at the start to do healing, except for our awesome priest officer, who was, unfortunately, MIA more often than not.

How did I get to be healing officer in my Bronzebeard guild? The healing lead (and GM) stepped down from raiding/playing altogether for a long while and I was the noisiest healer of the bunch, so they were like “HEY YOU! Here! Do healing!”. I wasn’t being led properly, so I became the leader.

How did I get to do healing for a period of like, 3 months through Sindragosa (reg), LK (reg) and 8/12 ICC25 HMs? My friend had basically deputized me before she took time off, but I still had to earn my “position” in that I was CONSTANTLY talking to the raid leader about healing and such. Why did I do it if it made me miserable? Because no one else was going to be able to do it, barring the RL, and having been a RL and healing lead at the same time, I basically don’t wish that upon anyone.

So it’s nice to be in a guild now where the leaders work hard. I might not always get a precise healing assignment, but I know I’m on the tanks. My healing lead listens to my feedback (and the feedback of others, I would imagine) and sometimes strats and assignments are tweaked. Sometimes they’re not. But at least I have an idea that he’s listening.

My GM is awesome, as you guys already know. I don’t envy her the position, nor the work and time and energy she puts into the guild. I’m sort of dreading being in that position with Apotheosis in a few months. I think I’ve learned a lot about the workings of guilds in the last year and a half, though. I always go into a guild with the attitude that I will be there forever (or at least until the end of the expansion) and, barring seriously bad conditions (continuously cancelled raids, abusive environment, etc), I WILL be there. While I’m in any guild, though, I find that I’m soaking up all the little things to do or not to do if (when) I find myself back in the position of GM.

Raiding:

Re-learning some of these fights with a new guild isn’t easy. My current guild is struggling on Putricide and I don’t really know why. I got caught by the Gas Cloud last night on one attempt and I was like “WHAT THE HELL?” because I NEVER get caught by that thing. I realized that it hadn’t been slowed. Sure, I wasn’t in an ideal position for the possibility of being targetted by it, but, by golly, I had a head start on the sucker!

So I mention to my GM that I’d been caught because it wasn’t slowed. She countered that I didn’t move fast enough/was in a bad place.

Of course, I looked up the logs.

[22:22:53.499] Gas Cloud’s Regurgitated Ooze fades
[19:22:55.251] Gas Cloud Gaseous Bloat  Madrana 17373
[19:22:56.582] Gas Cloud hits Madrana Absorb (574)

Okay, so it only took it two seconds to catch up to me, but I was right; it wasn’t being slowed. My GM later mentioned that she was aware of the slowing issues but honestly thought I was right next to the Gas Cloud and that’s why I was hit. I maintain I’d have been able to get away since I was the second target and the thing should have been almost dead, but anyways. The point is that — the Gas Cloud was not being slowed.

Why?

The Abomination has a lack of energy.

Why?

Druids aren’t keeping Rejuv up for Revitalize procs, disc priest isn’t keeping PW:S up for Rapture procs.

But on the bright side, we’re doing less dying to Plague?

I don’t know, it was a tough reset, I guess. It feels like there are too many little mistakes being made by too many people, which includes me. I’ve eaten some Malleable Goo, I got hit by the Gas Cloud, I’ve died to Unbound Plague because I didn’t pass it off when I should have.

I’m learning that heroic Putricide is actually a lot harder than it was when I first learned it. It was an easy fight to learn for my last guild, but, for whatever reason, it’s a lot more challenging for this guild. I’m okay with that, and getting to P3 and getting him to 7% or thereabouts this reset was great. I just want that momentum to continue.

Anyways, that’s about all for my deep thoughts right now. Hopefully we’ll get something going on the Beta soon so I can post more.

And who knows, maybe a new Holy How-To soon, eh? It’s been over a month since my last one!

Raiding and End of Expansion Malaise

It always happens. As the end of an expansion draws near, people’s interests change radically. They might suddenly realize that the loot they’ve been working so hard for will be worthless at the new level cap. They might realize that all the aggravation of raiding isn’t worth it because the new content is on its way.

Your most dedicated and hardcore raiders might finally just burn out and say screw it and move along to a more casual activity, like random battlegrounds. Or they may choose to be more dedicated to something like competitive arenas rather than raiding.

People get sloppy, focus is easily lost in raids and there’s a lot of finger-pointing going around as people feel the pressure to get things done before the new expansion launches.

Raiding is a team activity. It takes some luck and a lot of work by the guild leaders to help keep that focus going.

I’ve suffered through the end of pre-BC and BC WoW. Both times, my guilds were, shall we say, screwed.

It was due to End of Expansion Malaise that my first real guild didn’t get Onyxia down and never even attempted Majordomo. Everyone was playing similar amounts to what they’d been playing previously, but they were spending it in the battlegrounds, grinding honor to get those epics, perhaps not realizing how quickly they would be replaced in Outlands.

Apotheosis just barely weathered the End of Expansion Malaise at the end of Burning Crusade. We were 4/5 in Mount Hyjal and 5/9 in Black Temple when 3.0 dropped and the nerf bat hit the remaining bosses. If this hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have cleared both instances. We had lost some valuable raiders who were frustrated with our progression and that we even managed to get Bloodboil and Gorefiend on farm before the nerf is kind of a miracle in and of itself.

We suffered through some cancelled raids and some short-handed raids and some really bad raid comps, but, by golly, we killed Archimonde (and probably would have done so even without the nerf!) and we killed Reliquary, Mother, Council and Illidan.

We had all of three attempts on Kalecgos though, because halfway through trash to him, one of our warrior tanks just gave up. He was asked to tank something and, well, he wasn’t. So our paladin tank (who was also an officer) taunts the thing and is now tanking two things and then the warrior tank wakes up and taunts it back, even when there’s something else that’s not being tanked.

After asking on vent and in the tank channel and raid chat, the pally tank loses it.

“[tank name] PLZ STOP NOT TANKING SHIT” goes out over the raid warning.

Personally, I laughed my ass off.

The warrior went offline.

Five minutes later, he comes back… on his shadow priest. And declares that he is done with people riding his coattails.

Alone, that’s just laughable. He was arguably our weakest tank.

But what pissed me off about it is that he just quit in the middle of a raid. Four days until the expansion launched, while we were tooling around in Sunwell Plateau, he just quits.

I have no respect for people who quit.

If someone signs up for a guild that I’m running, they are signing up for the rest of the expansion, as far as I’m concerned. If you have legitimate RL issues, okay, that’s understandable. But the fact remains that if you quit, you let the team down.

Why am I talking about this now?

I find myself experiencing End of Expansion Malaise. Not on my raiding character — I’m still looking forward to raids with my “new” guild (eight or so weeks in, are they still my “new” guild?). But I’ve neglected the hell out of Kurn and my other alts. Part of it is the Beta — it’s like I can just fast-forward ahead three months or however long it’s going to be and just experience the new game content, glitchy though it may be. I’m getting to see what my hunter is capable of right now — and, currently geared, I have yet to replace anything at almost level 82. (Although I would definitely replace a trinket with a trinket out of Blackrock Caverns.) What this means to me is that I’ve gotten to the point in current content where I will be able to power through early expansion quests without trouble, at least on the hunter, which is really the only character I really care about, apart from the paladin.

I honestly don’t care about daily heroics and Emblems of Frost. I don’t care about Primordial Saronites and crafted gear, clearing content, getting achievements… All of that interest and desire is pretty much gone.

I do, however, want to make a crapton of gold before Cataclysm hits. I’d like to have around 50-60k gold on my hunter’s server (which has all my other toons on it save the pally) and 20k gold on my pally’s server, so that I can transfer everyone over with the max amount of gold (or close to it) and be able to start over again on Eldre’Thalas with a healthy amount of gold.

We’ll see if that happens, though. With my increased apathy towards current game content on my hunter, I don’t know if I’ll find the energy to actually make gold over the next couple of months, particularly since my brother and Majik enjoy bankrupting me on a near-weekly basis. ;)

However, I am dedicated to finishing this expansion with my current guild on my paladin. I will be there for the raids. I will stick it out through thick and thin. It’s what I expect of everyone else and I hold myself to the same standards.

I’m still not convinced that Blizzard has mastered the transition from old-to-new expansion yet. But I know that even if they’re unable to keep people interested in playing, that I will continue to play out of duty and obligation, if not out of fun. Because I’m part of a team. And I understand how important it is to not let the rest of the team down.

(But I’m still having fun, too.)

Kurn's Q&A #26

Tuesday! A day off from raiding, a day to center myself and get caught up on a bunch of things, including weekly search terms that seem interesting.

1) what is raidwalled

“Raidwalled” is when a paladin with the talent Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian casts Divine Sacrifice, which activates Divine Guardian. This name comes from the warrior cooldown called Shield Wall, although Divine Guardian will not mitigate anywhere near as much damage as Shield Wall. However, it does affect the entire raid, whereas Shield Wall only affects the warrior.

2) bop remove cleave armor debuff ruby sanctum

That’s an awesome question. Next time I do RS, I’ll BOP an inactive tank for a second before freedoming them to see if that works.

3) do elixir mastery proc on potions

It astounds me that, more than three years since alchemy specializations were introduced, people still don’t get it.

No, Elixir Mastery alchemists proc on elixirs and flasks. Potion Mastery alchemists proc on potions. Transmute Mastery alchemists proc on transmutes.

4) drape of the violet tower holy paladin

DON’T DO IT DON’T DO IT DON’T DO IT BY ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT DO IT.

Okay, I may have exaggerated. But you have other options.

Fluttering Sapphiron Drape (10m Ony)
Flowing Sapphiron Drape (25m Ony)

And if you got lucky, Ahune dropped Shroud of Winter’s Chill for you and you didn’t get rid of it.

Honestly, I’d rank the cloaks thusly, from best to worst for a holy paladin:

25m Ony then Ahune then 10m Ony then Drape of the Violet Tower.

Seriously.

5) stormbringer gloves

I admit, I had no idea what the hell these were. The 251 Stormbringer Gloves are nice 251-level gloves. I would recommend the badge gloves over them, though, for a holy paladin. The Gauntlets of Overexposure are better — more int, more haste. They’re also available for 60 Emblems of Frost. Ultimately, I like the Unclean Surgical Gloves and the heroic Unclean Surgical Gloves better.

Here’s a comparison.

6) +casting +”beacon of light” +threat

I’m pretty sure that you do get some measure of threat merely by casting Beacon of Light. The Lich King looked at me last night after I cast Beacon of Light on an OT. It’s likely not much, probably the equivalent of a face pull, and would probably need to be done right when the boss becomes active (in the case of the Lich King, for example) in order to cause any significant threat.

Does the mirrored heal from Beacon of Light cause threat? I honestly don’t know. I’ll see if I can figure that one out.

7) any way to parse halion log

I use World of Logs, but the last I saw, it wasn’t able to parse both the shadow realm and the physical realm, since you’re only logging for your active realm.

I love WoL dearly and have no doubt they’re working on this issue.

8) halion beacon of light

What I like to do is beacon the tank here and raid heal, including myself. However, I never, ever hesitate to directly heal the tank, even if beacon is on them. I do this on most single-tank portions of fights. Will the beacon go through the realms? I do not think so.

9) holy paladin multiple beacon

You can have an unlimited number of beacons on a single target. The only limitation is how many holy paladins you have around.

10) is the weekly on the same lockout as the regular raids

Yes. That means if your weekly is Lord Jaraxxus and you go into TOC10 to kill him, you will be saved to TOC10. Same if it’s XT-002 Deconstructor and you go in to Ulduar 25, you are then saved to Ulduar 25.

Guilds and Relationships

By special request, here is a post about guilds and the relationships within them. Thank you, Majik, for the prompt!

A guild is a weird thing. It’s a tag, a chat channel, a list of ranks, a collection of junk (and money) in a bank.

It’s also a collection of people.

There are all kinds of people in a guild. You have your GM (or GMs), your officer(s), your raiders, your friends, your alts and pretty much everything in between.

Even weirder, guilds are different things to different people.

To some, it’s a tight-knit group of people who’ve known each other for half a decade who are single-mindedly going about their declared purpose and vision. To some, it’s a loose collection of people, filled with strangers you’ll never really get to know or talk to before they just stop logging on or decide to leave. To still others, a guild is an online place for real life friends to meet up and chat. To others, it’s a home for bank alts and a repository for all the junk this game requires us to use.

As if those descriptions didn’t make guilds sound weird to begin with, there are hundreds of variations between those types (and other types I didn’t even dare to mention!) that make guilds unique. There’s the business-like guild, where you all log on almost in unison, do your raid/PVP/RP, then log off again, only showing up again some 20ish hours later to repeat the process. There’s the social guild, where everyone knows everyone else and people call out toon names in guild chat akin to people shouting “NORM!” on Cheers.

Today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the relationships within a relatively typical raiding guild. We’re talking about one that isn’t 100% business but isn’t 100% social, has a mix of people who know each other from RL or for many years and new people as well.

So here are some relationships that I’ll examine.

1) The Romantic Relationship

Just about every typical raiding guild has a couple in it. You might not know about it, you might not be privy to that information, but there’s almost always a couple. The couple may pre-date the game or may have been formed once the two participants met in-game, in that very guild.

In general, this is cool. Who am I to judge if someone finds their soulmate through this game? There are stranger ways to meet someone.

It becomes uncool as soon as it starts affecting the guild. This usually happens when one of the participants is a guild leader (officer or GM) and the other is, shall we say, not a very talented player. (For some reason, this is typically a male guild leader and a female player, giving women everywhere in WoW a bad name. :P)

In the hopes of impressing his or her newfound love, the guild leader campaigns extensively to allow the player into raids, using a subpar spec and gear, or might just award them loot or such in a less fair and transparent guild.

Actual example of this:

Guild Master L fell for a new priest we’d recruited, O. O was, back in those days, a shadow priest. You know, back when ALL the priest tier gear was +healing and there was absolutely no second kind of tier? (As an aside, I did some Naxx 60 when I was 70 with my RL friend the resto druid and a friend of hers, who was a shadow priest. The friend rolled on some Tier 3 token and then was like “Uh. Where’s the shadow set?” when he got to the tier vendor. Not joking!)

Considering our old guild had a severe shortage of these elusive things called “healers”, we tried to get O to swap to healing. She refused for a while and then, when she finally caved, she INSISTED to Guild Leader L that she be his healer. Period.

Never you mind that THE BEST PRIEST of that era was in our guild (we miss you, BW!) and the healing lead at the time. Never you mind that this awesome priest had Benediction and some Tier 1. Never you mind that O had mostly the Devout set and was still trying to figure out what the hell Greater Heal did. She wanted to heal L.

When she was not only not allowed to heal L and only L (she was given a group to heal, if I recall correctly) and, worse, was not in his GROUP and, even worse, the resident (female!) warlock WAS in L’s group (hi, imp buff? How are you?), she threw a fit.

She eventually gquit.

L talked her into coming back. Whereupon she promptly threw another fit. And gquit. Again.

The officers as a whole decided we were better off without her.

Which led to L making me the GM and gquitting himself and starting up a new guild with O where they could be their lovey-dovey kissyface selves.

Of course, if you have a couple that doesn’t expect special favours or extra loot or anything of the sort, that’s a lot more workable for the raid and may actually not cause any drama whatsoever. The L/O scenario isn’t even a worst-case situation. L could have easily gkicked everyone, retained control over the guild and reinvited her.

2) The Relative/Pre-Existing Real-Life Friendship

Similar perils exist in this relationship as in the romantic relationship. Relatives and RL friends obviously prefer to play together, most of the time and may make demands upon guild leader friends/relatives.

Actual example of this:

Picture it. Early summer of 2007. When Apotheosis was clearing Karazhan regularly with one group, we started looking at rosters for two groups. Being the kind and benevolent raid leader at the time (God, I miss having Toga be GM) I did what I could to balance the groups to respect pre-existing friendships or relative relations.

My brother and I were at our parents’ cottage one weekend when I’d finally set the rosters.

“What the fuck?!” he exclaimed, “Why the fuck am I stuck in YOUR group and I’m not in Majik’s group with Pal?!”

I sighed. “Because, dear brother, you and Palantir are the only two in the guild who can currently summon Nightbane.”

“So?!”

“So you can’t lock yourselves to the same instance.”

“Oh.”

“Look,” I said, “each group needs 1 MT, 1 OT who can DPS, 3 healers and five DPS. There’s the list of 24ish people. Do what you can to make sure people raid with their relatives or BF/GF or their friends.”

“FINE,” he said, grabbing the papers from me.

Over an hour later he came back to me, threw the papers at me and said “I give up, you win.” The groups he’d come up with were exactly the same ones I’d come up with.

Of course, our preference wasn’t necessarily to raid together. But we put the good of the guild and the happiness of our guildies ahead of our own desires.

In fact, my brother and I don’t always get along when we play together.

Actual example of this:

One night, back in 2006, my brother came over for pizza and WoW together, since we were raiding Molten Core that night. At one point, we were yelling at each other in officer chat, in /raid, over vent AND IRL, all while sitting in the same room. I can only assume it had something to do with people not looting their Ancient Core Hounds, or not stacking up for Lava Surgers, but I could be mistaken.

3) The In-Game Friends

This category of relationships consists of those people who have played with each other in-game enough during some of the formative moments in their WoW lives. I’m talking about those people you met in Zul’Farrak, after you spent forty-five minutes looking for a group and you had two people to replace in that time. Those people who stood at your side at the temple steps or helped you summon Gahz’rilla, chances are, those people became your WoW friends for quite some time. (My ZF buddy, who remained on my friends list for years, was Mikezanze, a great paladin who eventually healed in Apotheosis during BC.) Generally, they’re people you might not be guilded with or see all that often, but you try to run with them if you can.

4) Those Friends With Whom You Run

These are the people in your raid group, generally (or PVP group, arena team, what-have-you) whom you see often in-game and have developed a genuine friendship. You may know their real names, they may know yours, and you feel relatively secure in the knowledge that they’re not going to show up at your front door with an actual axe with which they would smash your face in.

These are the people you chat with on Vent or in-game well after the raid or whatever has ended. These are the people you do stupid things with at 2am. These are the people who make you laugh so hard you feel like you’ve done fifty situps.

Ideally, these are the people for whom we’re all searching, if indeed someone is searching for people as a reason to be in a guild and to play this game.

In my case, these are the people like Majik, Tia, Crypt and Tan and many others from Apotheosis, with a sprinkling from my Bronzebeard guild and maybe even some from my Skywall guild will join these ranks.

These are the people with whom I want to play the game. I don’t want to play in Cataclysm without Majik and Daey, Toga and Shadow, Euphie and Osephala, Fadorable and Kaleri, just to name a few. (NO, Sham, I did not forget you. ;))

There are other relationships to explore; the relationship between a guild master and his or her officers; the relationship between guild officers and their raiders; the relationship between a guild master and his or her raiders.

But those examinations will have to wait until another time. I started writing before I’d really found a point to my post and I found it when I hit point 4. I love this game, yes, but it’s the people who make it worth my time and make the experience something memorable and special.

Feel free to regale me with your tales about the relationships in your guild.

(Oh, and because I was lacking a conclusion for a while, here’s Majik’s suggestion for a conclusion: “conclude that majik is just the greatest thing since sliced bread.”)

(ETA: “Wait. Can you make it conjured sliced bread? Pleeeeeeeease”)

Victory, for now.

As the official blue post says, the new forums will not integrate people’s real names.

I hope that’s the last we’ll hear of this “real name” stuff. I kind of doubt it, to be honest, but I’m satisfied for the moment. I am trying not to entertain any conspiracy theories that indicate this might have been their initial position and didn’t think it would fly, so they pushed the envelope even further and then “compromised” by using this unique identifier thing.

I don’t see how on earth anyone at Blizzard could possibly be so out of touch with the players to think that the Real ID on the forums thing would fly, so I can see where these theories can make sense.

However, I have enough crap in my head that I don’t need more outlandish theories. I’ll take this as a victory, for now, and encourage everyone to respectfully thank Blizzard for listening to the community’s outcry.

Raiding and progression.

It’s kind of a weird situation I’m in, I keep realizing. My guild is working on heroic modes, right? They were 7/12 when I joined and then we got Dreamwalker that week. (All they were missing was a kick-ass holy paladin, obviously!) Then we did some work on Lady Deathwhisper the second week. Didn’t get her down, but worked on refining the strategy.

The third week, last week, we went out and downed Lady Deathwhisper. And Halion (on regular), too. Then we worked on some heroic Sindragosa. I swear to God, it’s my least-favourite fight in the instance, but I know it pretty damn well at this point. ;)

So this week, we got LDW down again and one-shotted heroic Saurfang for the first time. (The first four marks were all on healers, if you can imagine.) We also got Princes down that night and then went on to Halion.

Last night, though, we were short a healer. We’re seriously in need of a priest and another pally would be great. But one of our priests had his wisdom teeth out or something, so he wasn’t going to be on.

We did BQL, Festergut and Rotface all on heroic with five healers.

And then decided to play with heroic Putricide, which the guild’s never seen before.

I actually really love the heroic Putricide encounter. Malleable Goo sucks ass, don’t get me wrong, but I LOVE the heroic Putricide encounter because I happen to be GOOD at dealing with the stupid Unbound Plague.

In the first night of attempts, and not even a full night, mind you, but we’re talking less than two hours, my new guild almost pushed phase 3.

Of course, it’s going to be HILARIOUS to see their reaction to the insane, incomprehensible amounts of raid damage once we hit ~2 stacks on each tank in P3, ahahahaha. I’m really looking forward to the reactions on Vent or in raid chat, because it’s going to be freaking hilarious. The one warning I gave the healers was something along the lines of “if we make it to P3, don’t worry about me. I’m going to Beacon myself and heal the active tank. Just worry about yourselves and the raid.”

We didn’t make it to P3, but I feel as though in less than two hours of work on him, we did as well adjusting to the mechanics as my previous guild did in about six or seven hours.

I really feel good about the raid group. We did a lot of plague swapping without calling it out and had a few (of our 9? 10?) attempts where the plague swapping was, honestly, PERFECT. We were killing Putricide in my last guild (with AVRE still in use!) and not getting plague swaps that clean.

Speaking of, HudMap on this encounter is freaking phenomenal. I kept messing with my settings and accidentally turned the entire thing OFF at one point, but it does a great job of showing you who has the plague and how long they’ve had it for, which is the difficult part of the encounter. According to the Curse page, it’ll show you who you can’t give it to, too (or rather, shouldn’t, due to Plague Sickness), but I didn’t even see that. I didn’t really need it, given my experience with the encounter, but it might be handy in general.

Anyways. I feel like heroic Putricide is within our grasp. We called the raid a little early last night and left him up for Monday, along with Dreamwalker, Sindragosa and LK. If I were running the raid, I’d spend 2.5 hours on Putricide, then roll through heroic Dreamwalker, regular Sindragosa and LK. Even if we don’t get Putricide on heroic this week, I have a good feeling about next reset.

I think the coolest thing about this is that even though I’m not the one getting achievements like Heroic: Storming the Citadel or Heroic: The Plagueworks… it still feels like progression to me. Even though it’s not new to me, even though I’ve wiped for countless hours on all of these encounters before and then stood in screenshots over their bodies. This is awesome forward momentum. This is progression for the guild. I WANT to get these people their heroic kills, I WANT to get these people their drakes. I want to wipe on heroic LK with these people. I want to wipe on heroic Halion with these people.

I think the end of Wrath of the Lich King will be a great time for me and it is SO NICE to feel that way and look forward to raids instead of dreading them.

An interesting idea.

If you’ve never raided with me, but you read my blog, you already know that I’m long-winded as all get out.

If you’ve both raided with me and read my blog, you know that I’m not just long-winded as all get out, but that I am very detail-oriented and I use that to go through the logs and pick apart where a raid went wrong.

My RL friend the resto druid told my former raid leader that she thinks I might actually enjoy going through parses more than playing the game itself. Sometimes, I think she has a point. ;)

I had an EPIC-length post that I sent to my RL friend the resto druid and my former raid leader in regards to the Failadin who apped to that guild a couple of months ago. You know, the one who only cast Sacred Shield when he was MCed by Lady Deathwhisper.

I actually sent that post to the other GOOD holy paladin in the guild and he was like “… you should do this for a living.” He also could not believe how bad the pally app was, but anyways. ;)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve sent out a couple of these analyses to the raid leaders and the GM of my current guild, in the hopes of pointing out some issues that they may or may not be aware of, but that I know need to be addressed in order to progress in various encounters. Because they’re SO LONG and SO DETAILED, I’m sure their eyes tend to glaze over. ;)

So my GM snagged me on Vent last night and we had a long chat about going over parses and stuff and we may have found a constructive outlet for my ramblings and my attention to detail and stuff.

It also involves a Cliff’s Notes version of the raid analyses. ;)

Also, in talking to her last night, about all kinds of guild ideal stuff, I realized that, if all goes well with the planning of Apotheosis 2.0, I’m really going to miss my current guild. I know that I’m new, that I’ve only been there for three weeks and that the honeymoon period is still going on, but I honestly really like how things are done and the attitudes of people, for the most part. (I think the biggest issue I might have with the guild is that, as a raiding group, the raiders have an occasional tendency to talk themselves out of being able to do something — they can sometimes think they’re going to fail, so they do. I have thoughts about that, too, because it’s the first time I’ve really encountered that sort of thing. Most guilds I’ve been in have either been too cocky or too stupid to realize they “can’t” get something done. ;))

I feel good that Apotheosis will come back and kick ass in Cataclysm. I really do. But if it doesn’t, I think I have a really good alternative open to me. And hey, if it means I don’t have to be GM? SWEET. ;D

Real ID and the Official WoW Forums

Today, it was announced by Blizzard that forum posts to the official World of Warcraft forums would be tagged with your Real ID. It was later clarified that this is not something that will be retroactive, so if this creeps you out, you do not need to go purge the current forum system of all your posts.

When I read this post, my first thought was “Well, there go the forums.”

For those of you who don’t know (which is likely a great many of you), I have worked for quite a few years in the Internet industry. Specifically, I was a content producer for a top-ten website as well as maintaining the most active chatting community on that web property for a period of approximately three out of the four years I worked there, at the height of the boom in the “dot com” industry. (For the record, it took me a year to build up the community and then my community was the most active chat for the next three years until I got laid off with hundreds of other people because they were too stupid to monetize us.)

I haven’t worked too much in that area of the industry recently for a variety of reasons, including the “dot com” crash and a return to university to get my degree. Still, I maintain a variety of different forum and chat-based communities across the web and have successfully grown self-sustaining communities in both mediums from scratch. I love online communities and I love creating them. I daresay I’ve created a nice little community here on my blog as well and I really enjoy the back and forth I have with my commenters.

So as a seasoned professional in the area of online communities, my first thought wasn’t to myself and Blizzard’s privacy creep as it infringes on me. It was “Oh Lord, Blizzard has just completely ruined their own forum community and the forums will now be a desolate wasteland.”

Let us go through my thought process on the matter:

– Blizzard has provided us with access to their many, many forums for many years. They existed when I started playing over four years ago, but I’m unsure if they were available at launch or not. Regardless, a minimum of 4+ years is a long time to have a community tool such as the forums easily accessible to every customer. Changing how the forums work after so long is bound to anger some customers, regardless of what the change is.

– People get acclimated to the forums, particularly when they become a very official method of communicating with Blizzard (Blue), once Ghostwalker (Greg Street) starts posting in his official capacity on a regular basis and solicits your feedback and opinions with regards to class development and design. People also flock to the forums for a variety of other reasons: looking for a guild, recruiting for a guild, advertising guild progression, advertising crafting services on your realm forum, looking for technical support, looking for customer support, even posting to ask on which characters you’ve done the 00x quests. The forums become a valuable method of communication as soon as both sides start using the forums as a tool to communicate what they feel is important information, regardless of what that information is. As soon as people feel it’s important, the medium in which that information is available becomes valuable.

– As with all online communities, trolls and other unwelcome entities have had their fun. In fact, a lot of people disregard the official forums as completely useless, disgusting, troll-filled message boards rather than the potentially useful tool that they are. How about the Guild Relations forum? The Customer and Technical Support forums? The Guild Recruitment forum? Your realm forum? Sure, there are trolls and otherwise unhelpful individuals in each of those places, but, by and large, the good information in each of those forums is enough to outweigh the undesirables.

“So,” I concluded, “Blizzard wants to get rid of the trolls.” I feel that this upcoming system will certainly help to combat the troll problem. Without low-level alts to hide behind, without the veil of anonymity, people are bound to be less moronic. In fact, I believe that it will stop around 75% of trollish behaviour on the forums since people will be accountable for their actions as they will no longer be able to jump from alt to alt to alt as a persona. (Note that I have no data on how much crap Blizzard actually locks and deletes versus how much gets posted, etc. This is a ballpark figure based on my previous experience in online communities and the more than four years I’ve spent in the World of Warcraft community.)

So the next question I asked myself was “What will forcing people to post using their ‘real ID’ actually do?” Well, first of all, I strongly believe that a portion of the people upset over this would be upset over any change, as I mentioned before. Already, there’s a portion of the community that won’t take this “slap in the face” lying down.

Then you have the people who have reason (regardless of what the reason is) to be reluctant to share their real name with eleven million other players and anyone who happens to surf along. (“Anyone” being someone who ran some kind of search on you, like a prospective employer, a potential significant other, your cousin in Nebraska, the kid you used to babysit, anyone.) Given the uproar on this already, I would have to wager that approximately 20-25% of Blizzard’s overall customer base is actively unhappy with this upcoming change. Again, this is a ballpark figure, based on my never having seen such a strong, negative reaction to anything Blizzard has done before. The original thread, posted by Nethaera at about noon, eastern time, has grown to 607 pages of 20 responses on each page in ten hours.

Conservatively estimating things, that’s about 900 responses from unique individuals an hour, the vast majority of them disagreeing with this upcoming change. And that’s just on the North American forums. I’ve never seen such an outcry in my four-plus years in this game. No nerf has ever generated this much response.

Therefore, my conclusion is that if the change goes forward, about 25% or so of people (conservatively estimating) who did use the official forums in some capacity, including trolling, will stop doing so. There’s even an MVP poster, Snowfox, who will no longer post if this goes through.

25% less traffic means 25% less posts to make sure aren’t obscene, profane or threatening. 25% less traffic means less bandwidth/server costs. 25% less traffic means less manpower hours to supervise the posts. 25% less traffic turns into money saved for Blizzard.

Forums and other community-based tools are notoriously hard to monetize. Go on, click on the link above to the WoW forum thread about this to see how Blizzard is currently trying to monetize their forums. I’m currently looking at two banner ads. One is for swagdog, offering your guild tabard on a t-shirt. The other is for Warcraft figures.

Because the forums are so heavily trafficked, I imagine that Blizzard does make a bit of money from the display of advertisements on each forum page, just by virtue of the law of averages. But it’s my professional opinion and experience that lead me to believe that this kind of advertising is NOT enough to sustain the infrastructure and manpower the forums require and so the cost of the forums is likely subsidized by other avenues of income, including our monthly fee.

Because I do not believe the forums to be entirely self-sustaining, I believe that Blizzard is attempting to do two things here that are designed to cut costs:

a) Lower traffic on the forums to lower infrastructure-related costs

b) Lower the amount of trolling on the official forums by making people accountable for their posts by virtue of using a single identifying tag (the real ID) which lowers the amount of human supervision the forums need.

I further believe that they are doing this under the guise of hopping on the social networking bandwagon. They may be thinking that since Facebook is mostly real-life names and identities and it’s so popular, why not tap into that willingness to share and connect? Targeted advertising could be next, based on the assumed gender your real ID indicates. Advertising that can be directed to specific segments of the population can bring in a lot of money versus ads that are directed at a general population. The bottom line is, Activision Blizzard is a business and they want money. They are clearly looking at new avenues to procure money or, at the very least, save it.

So to recap, it is my professional opinion that the change forcing us to use Real ID when posting on the official forums will cut official forum use substantially, meaning less money spent on the forum infrastructure and supervision, with the bonus that trolling will drop even more than legitimate traffic.

Now for my personal opinion.

Blizzard, you’ve lost your mind. Personally, as someone who doesn’t use the Real ID in-game friend system except for three people (one of whom I’m related to, one of whom I’ve known IRL for 27 years and one of whom I’ve spent hours with IRL and many years playing with), this is ridiculous.

From the Real ID FAQ:

“Who should I add to my Real ID friends list?
Real ID is a system designed to be used with people you know and trust in real life — friends, co-workers and family”

Versus the announcement today:

“The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name”

So, hold up. You want me to share my real name with people who already know it, who are people I know in real life… okay. That’s my choice, I got it.

But then you want me to use the same information on a public forum which is accessible to anyone on the Internet?

Uh, no.

I’ve used the official forums a moderate amount over the years. I used to post guild progression updates, I’d post in people’s “looking for a new guild” posts with information about my guild, I’d post recruitment threads, I’d post on the forums to say hey, I’m a Leatherworker and can make this stuff…

No one needs to know that [my real name] is a holy paladin looking for a new guild.

No one needs to know that [my real name] is a Leatherworker on some realm with a couple of interesting patterns.

Further, I am, in case you didn’t know, a woman. I have had enough bad experiences in online communities over the years just because I am female that when I first made a toon in WoW, I made my hunter male. While the numbers between men and women in WoW are getting more balanced, this is still an environment that is inherently extremely hostile to women. Just about every insult used frequently in-game by others is hostile to women because it equates women with being weak and apparently some of the ultimate insults in the game have to do with men being equated to women or just being less of a “man”.

Seriously, think about that for a minute. I apologize if this is a trigger for anyone, but think about this: why do people use “rape” as casually as they do in this game? “Aw yeah, I’m gonna rape that guy!” It’s because, to them, “rape” is synonymous with exerting power and control over another person. It is encouraged in this game to exert power and control over others and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that people use the term “rape” so casually, to indicate they are powerful beings in this world, when the fact of the matter is that one in six women (and one in thirty-three men) will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I have been fortunate enough to not be that one-in-six, but I certainly know my fair share of people who haven’t been that lucky.

Due to the fact that is is disturbingly common for women to be assaulted in such a way, how can using the word “rape” in-game not be hostile to women? Even if the intent is clear that someone doesn’t want to actually sexually assault another person’s character, it trivializes what is a horrifying event for anyone who is subject to it. It also emasculates the intended target, since most victims of rape and sexual assault are women.

On a related note, how can calling someone “gay” or a “fag” not be hostile to members of the GLBT community? For that matter, how is that not hostile to women as well? If someone is calling someone else “gay” as a derogatory insult, it can only be because they are not as “manly” or “strong” as a heterosexual man is perceived. And, in our binary society, if you are not a man, you must then be… a woman! So to call someone “gay” or a “fag” is not only equating homosexuality with weakness, but the implication is also that weakness is equated to being a woman.

So given the prevailing attitudes in this overall World of Warcraft community, is it any wonder that many women don’t want to be known as women to the general public? Don’t want to give people even the slightest opening into being able to look them up and stalk them?

I have an EXTREMELY common name. It’s so common that I was stopped in Germany a few years ago because suspected terrorists are using passports and other identification papers using that same name and they wanted to make sure that I was really me and not actually a suspected terrorist. And I STILL don’t want people in-game to know my real name, in general. I certainly can’t blame anyone, regardless of the popularity of their names, for not wanting to give out that information.

Giving out my real name should always be my choice. There’s a reason I post as Kurn and not my real name. Kurn is my public WoW identity. Kurn is not now, nor has ever been, linked to my real name in any capacity except where I have chosen to share my name. Kurn is SO FAR AWAY from my professional online presence that I’m sure no one even suspects that I play WoW. (Well, I hope, anyways.)

And I LIKE it that way.

That’s why, if this change goes through, I will no longer be posting on the official World of Warcraft forums. There are too many people out there who are REALLY good at e-stalking to even risk it. Doubt me? Poor Bashiok, a blue poster, made the mistake of posting his real name on the official forums and now a ton of people have looked him up, determined he’s 28 and lives at home with his mother and older brother, possibly a sister as well, and found his Facebook (now 100% closed if you’re not friends with him) and found a contact number for him. Even if that’s not Bashiok, what about the poor guy who shares his name? Do you really think there aren’t people who are going to call that number at 4am just to be dicks? If you don’t believe that’s a distinct possibility, then please, tell me what game environment have YOU been playing in? Check out Trade, sometime.

Then, there’s the whole “gainful employment” thing. On some versions of my curriculum vitae that I send out, I mention the whole officer/GM thing. On some, I don’t. I fully expect some potential employers to think it’s a good thing and some to think I’m a nutcase if they come across that information. I’m careful about which prospective employers I share that information with.

And now, some links:

Miss Medicina has a cautionary tale for you all, as well.

Ciderhelm at TankSpot is against this, too.

So is Lume.

ETA:

Larisa’s thoughts at Pink Pigtail Inn: 1 and 2

Nattie’s comment at MetaFilter is long and detailed and TOTALLY worth every moment of the read. (Thanks for the link, Mattias.)

Lissanna of Restokin is also against this and will not post her extremely popular and useful druid guides to the new forums. (Thanks for posting, Lissanna!)

The last thing I’ll say in this post is: please think about how this affects other people before you pronounce this to be “okay” or “fine”. Please think about the various uses people have for the official forums, including technical and customer support before you call people with valid concerns “paranoid”.

And finally, please note that I’ll be monitoring my comments on this post carefully. If you disagree with me, I don’t have a problem with that. But disagree with me respectfully, intelligently and back up your arguments with proof. Troll comments will be deleted.

T-t-t-tuesday!

A few things on the agenda today:

1) Write a post about the RealID/forum fiasco, including my professional opinion as someone who built communities for a living and still dabbles in it.

2) A new Q&A post.

3) A new poll.

But first, guild news!

I was promoted to a Raider last night in my new guild. I kind of figured I’d get promoted once my trial period was over, but it’s still nice to have the trial done with. :)

I’m going over the parses from last night’s heroic Sindragosa attempts and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why this one tank was basically allowed to die. Probably my weakness (apart from my crappy video card) in this game is that I overanalyze things. It worked out nicely when I was a GM or healing lead, but I’m not altogether sure how my analyses of raids goes over with my current guild leadership. I’ve sent a couple out in my trial period, so at least they didn’t gkick me for being overly long-winded and detailed, but at the same time, I wonder if I should even open my mouth about things.

I think my problem is that I KNOW how to read the logs. And I read them frequently and I see things in there that maybe the RLs aren’t aware of. I should trust that they do, but all my instincts are screaming at me to let them know what I’ve found, so I think I WILL send a writeup to them about some attempts from last night. I’ll make sure it’s framed in a “I dug all this info up, please do with it what you will” way and hope they don’t regret promoting me to Raider. ;)

How do you deal with pointing things out to raid leaders and such?