I have a WoW Ku for you, Fimlys!

Fimlys, the brilliant gem behind Asleep at the WoW (oh yeah, and that damn blogcast thing too) just started another meme.

I haven’t even done the last meme yet, and here we go again.

But you know what? I just saw something that inspired the hell out of me.

Oh hell yeah, Fimlys, I’ve got your WoW Ku right here.

Ahem.

He told us farewell
We mourned the great one’s passing
Top Secret WTF?

Resonate with anyone else?

Okay, it’s supposed to be class oriented, I know.

Fine.

Ahem. AHEM ahem.

Shadows wrap about me
Prey comes, claws shine as I pounce! 
Oh shit, Elite, GO BEAR!!!

Now, I want to spread the joy just as Fimlys did, so who’s next…

Ah, I know!

Secret Agent Cat (of course)
Pike at Aspect of the Hare
The inevitable Ratters (but only if Maurice does it, I can’t get enough Maurice)
Tesh of Tish Tosh Tesh fame
Moondancer over at Gaming Diva
And finally Kattrinsaa at A Moonkins View of Azeroth

Have fun, my friends.

I would have asked quite a few others, but I know that they will get tagged too… and Krizzlybear already posted his in the comments of Fimly’s post. Goofball.

I picked a bad week to stop huffing paint

As happy as I am that Dan Howell (the inimitable awesomeness that is BRK) has decided his priority is his family, and that he made this decision while there was still time to do something about it, I am sad that we won’t be granted his thoughts and witty banter.

Unlike some folks, I love his BRK vs Brain posts. 🙂

We’ll deal, life goes on, etc etc. And much as 4 Healz has done a wonderful job as becoming one of the new leading voices of Restoration Druids with her insightful posts and great analysis, I’m sure that one of the many wonderful Hunter blogs will take up the challenge of being silly and goofy while still having great, informative posts, insightful analysis, guidance on specs and talents, and updates on upcoming changes and testing results.

Wait, you’re saying almost all of them do that? Well, what the heck did we need BRK for then?

Just kidding, just kidding.

I just don’t know what I’ll do without someone to mess with and pretend to duel with. Hmmm.

On a far, far more serious note, our son Alex has pneumonia.

He is on antibiotics, is taking medicine through a breather to help ease his coughing, and is of course staying at home taking it easy.

Cassie is sick too, hopefully not as seriously.

But it’s funny how differently we think of sickness.

“Oh, I have a cough” gets a much different reaction in my mind than “Oh, I have pneumonia.”

For an adult, if I heard them tell me they had a cough, I’d tell them to suck it up, pain is weakness leaving the body. In a polite and understanding way, of course.

If an adult tells me he has penumonia, well… I’m going to be much more considerate.

Either way, when it’s a child that’s sick… I want him all better NAOW, damnit!!!

Poor little guy.

This isn't about what you think it's about

I bet you all think I’m about to talk about BRK announcing he’s going to suspend the blogging (and perhaps the WoW as well) to refocus on spending time with his family and providing his love and support for his most cherished redhead wife and their son.

Nope, afraid not.

Perhaps you think I’m going to take this opportunity, instead, to gloat over talk about being nominated for an award by folks as wonderful as Matticus and Slice and Dice

Nope, not that either.

No, this post is for a far, far more important reason.

It’s to say one thing, and one thing only.

I WAS RIGHT, SO STUFF IT!

Ahem.

Perhaps, not that long ago, you might remember I wrote a tiny little post that drew the ire of generations of readers across the World… of Warcraft.

The post was called, amusingly enough, Dual Spec, I agree with the noob!

Ah, this post drew hate like few since I talked about PvP gear grinds for PvE tanking years ago.

In this long post, I stated a position that drew considerable heat…

I’ll give you just a taste.

If Blizzard really is going to open the gates to Dual Spec without any negative side effects, in a raid, without a cooldown, with the only stipulation being that you not actually be in combat at that particular moment, which is what they are saying right now, then they need to return to the heart of the classes that aren’t Hybrids.

Yes, I was talking, at length, over and over, how I felt it not only reasonable but damn well fair that if hybrid classes were able to choose to tank, DPS, or heal at the drop of a hat, then the straight classes, the DPS who have three flavors of DPS spec to choose from, should at LEAST be as good at it as other hybrids with similar gear levels… and actually, as far as I was concerned, they ought to damn well have the potential to be slightly better.

Skill ought to be the deciding factor, damnit.

Wow, the disagreement, the hate, the jeers… I got some interesting points of view on that one.

Well, guess what.

If you don’t like my saying it, then tell it to Ghostcrawler. Apparently, he’s a clueless noob too.

To quote Ghostcrawler;

Must… not… reply… to… thread….

Argh.

Then again maybe we need a “pure vs. hybrid debate” forum. 🙂

Our logic is actually pretty simple. If hybrid classes can do the same dps as pure classes, then why have pure classes in the game? So we design the pure classes to do slightly higher dps.

We try very hard not to define “slightly.” I probably got cornered by a bunch of angry posters in a dark alley one evening and blurted out “5%!” Or maybe someone in the forums suggested 5% and it stuck.

Why don’t we like to refer to very explicit numbers like 5%? Because look what happens. A fine guild like Premonition or Ensidia posts their Ulduar parses, and players jump on them and say “ZOMG that mage is below the warrior,” or “ZOMG that rogue is 7% above the paladin.” It just isn’t going to turn out that way on every parse, folks. Encounters are very different from each other. Gear varies. Even for fantastic guilds, skill varies. Players have to deal with things like lag or whatever mods they use or just dumb luck. RNG exists in boss fights. Strings of crits for a Fire mage or strings of parries for a DK tank can change the outcome enormously.

Saying that pures should beat hybrids by 5% is like saying a penny should be tails 50% of the time. If you flip a penny infinite times, yes, it will be tails half the time. But if you flip the penny three time and don’t get any tails, you shouldn’t take the penny to the bank and tell them it’s broken.

Our goal is to give every class reasonable raid buffs and utility. None of them should be so good that you earn a spot just because of that utility. Plenty of times, your utility isn’t going to be as useful because someone else has already brought that buff. This is by design. However, if you feel your class just got boned in the buff department, that is a great thing to bring up (though probably not in this thread). We used to penalize classes who had excellent buffs. Now we try to spread the wealth of both buffs and dps a lot better.

We want you to get a spot because you know what the blank you’re doing, not because your class is programmed to always do top dps or inflate raid dps through a miraculous spell that you impart by clicking a button every 30 min.

Play your class to the best of your ability. If you do so, you will be very high on the damage meters, even if you are a druid, priest, warrior, DK, shaman or paladin. You won’t top it on every fight. Some fights are better for some classes than others. Some players have better luck. Over time, the trends will emerge and most raiding players will figure them out. For our part, we will keep jimmying the numbers to get the results we want.

P.S. Don’t look for me to address this issue too often, because I have done it a few times now. Dead horse is dead. 🙂

Now, he clearly thinks that a pure DPS class already does that kind of damage if played intelligently, is correctly specced, and has the correct gear.

That’s fine, if that is what the intent is, and they actually are attempting to do that, then my only cause for bitching in my earlier post that is valid is my belief that, based on every single run I’ve ever gone on, it isn’t actually happening that way.

But that’s fine. At least he acknowledges my point and bloody well agrees with me. I’m not totally insane.

I was pretty down after some of the comments from that one. I just didn’t think I was wrong.

Considering some of the comments and the insane emails I got, to see GC make it pretty clear that he agrees that pure DPS classes at least SHOULD have the potential to be a teeny bit better than hybrid DPS…

Oh, hell yeah. Booyah!

Okay, seriously, I have no idea what else to say except that I hope and pray that Big Red Kitty and his wife and son reconnect, rediscover the deepness of their true feelings for each other, and destroy any barriers that may have arisen between them. Destroy them, I say! My best wishes go with you and your family. You will be missed, but I will be glad in my heart to know that you are together and happy, Mr BRK. God bless and godspeed.

As far as the award thingie… I’m flattered, and I’ll try and find the time to thank the folks that considered me worth a mention in nominating me more seriously later this week.

But some things just gotta be said.

Need Some Advice on Guild Forum/Sites

Hi All,

BBB and I need some help from other GMs/Guild Admins.  We’ve been using Guild Portal for our forums/calendar/admin stuff since we formed the guild last year.  We had been happy with them, but we’ve been having massive problems (as has everyone else) for the past month or so.  They were down for 3 out of 4 days in a row last week, posts no longer show as read even after you’ve looked at them many times, and the support is non-existent.  People are complaining in their forums and don’t even get a response.  So we’re considering switching to a new host.

It would be a massive project since we have pretty active forums and there’s no way to export posts, so we’d lose a lot or have to copy/paste into new posts.  Plus the nightmare of setting up accounts and permissions for the over 100 people that are in the guild now.  But we don’t want to pay for service that we aren’t getting and we’ve seen others that offer more features for about what we are paying now.

I’ve done some investigating and really like what I’ve seen from GuildOMatic.  They not only have a demo site that you can test out, but also let you do a free/adware version to try it out for your own setup, so I’ve done some playing around.  I’ve also looked at Guild Launch and MyGuildHost, but they don’t have free options to try out.

We’d love to hear feedback from other guilds who use any of those three or another one that I might not have found from web searches.  We do use forums a lot and we also use the calendar for instance/raid scheduling, so those are minimums that it needs to have.  We’d love a site that automated applications a bit (right now they send a forum mail to my inbox to apply) and we’ve seen features through GuildOMatic and the others that allow tracking of loot/attendance at raids, which would be nice from historical and tracking purposes.  But we’re not a raiding guild, so we don’t need full DKP and crazy tracking systems either.  🙂

Please let us know what you’ve liked/disliked, what kinds of service/support you’ve gotten if you’ve had issues or questions, etc.  Thanks!

Cassie

Spider and Plague down, will others follow?

I don’t normally do raid success boast posts, or ‘poasts’, but I’m very proud of the Sidhe Devils and dagnabit it’s time to toot some horns

First, some bad news.

Falromord, our most beloved new guild officer, had the power supplies on both his AND Shrinns wonderful new PCs get blown out by what turned out to be an ungrounded building power distribution panel.

This has taken our friend’s out of the game JUST when the guild was looking forward to having both of them back with us for fun and chatting and happiness all around.

Poor Falromord wasn’t even able to attend the VoA and Obsidian Sanctum run he had scheduled on the calander as raid leader.

As you can imagine, the week, in game terms, has felt pretty chaotic. Whether we were even going to have raids this week or not was starting to look kind of questionable.

Now, I KNOW I have a power supply in my spare parts bin that I can send him. I might even have two. But he has said that until his building power gets fixed (this is the second time they’ve had power supplies taken out like this) he’s not going to try and fix it.

Can you imagine how frustrating that must be? To be spending so much time and money to get your computer, and the computer the love of your life uses for fun, both up and running great, only to have them destroyed by a building electrical system that isn’t up to code? Grrr!

Ah well. It’s not like I can beat up their building maintenance guy. Not like I haven’t thought of it.

As much as I miss Fal and Shrinn, the guild must go on. If I stopped everything every time someone we loved had to take an extended break, I would have quit months ago when Wulfa and Dammy started spending their time in the real world.

I took over the organizing of Fal’s VoA / OS run on Thursday, and we kicked it’s butt.

But what we did was great, because I decided not to tank. And it worked so well, that I carried it over for the Naxx run on Saturday.

Hold on Lucy, lemme’ ‘splain.

See, we’ve had quite a few very nice folks join the guild in the last month. Some of them are still climbing the alt ladders, and others brought higher level characters. While many folks in the guild have gone on several raids together, others have never had the chance, or if they have only very rarely.

So I looked at the roster of those that signed up, and intentionally tried to form a Vault of Archavon and Obsidian Sanctum run composed of a mix of newer players and experienced ones.

It’s MY policy that an officer be present in any guild scheduled event to make sure everything goes smoothly, but there is no rule saying I gotta tank. So rather than once again bogarting a main tank spot, we had two other tanks take it, and I sat back a bit and went bang-bang on my hunter.

As an aside, folks have asked why Cassie hasn’t been running much at all. One of the reasons is that if she comes, that’s one less DPS slot in a 10 man where someone could come that has never been.

Pushpin, one of the guilds tanks, a very capable Death Knight, took the rains as main tank, and I heartily encouraged him to lead the run.

And behold! Someone other than me did the talking and running the fights, and did a great job. The runs went smoothly, and everyone had fun. And loot. 🙂

Fast forward two days, Saturday arrived and we had Naxx 10 man scheduled.

It had originally been my intent to start with Plague Quarter, because we’ve done Spider over and over and every time we do it, it seems a lot of stuff gets sharded. That to me indicates people are done with Spider, so I figured, let’s do Plague and then go see something new.

With the success of the Thursday run and the fun new folks had in coming, I changed my mind.

Instead, I again tried to bring a mix of both new and experienced players in the guild. New to us, anyway. Get more people a chance to play together as a group, get that feeling of hanging out and having fun together.

I still did Main Tank duty, but I really looked for opportunities to bring players that haven’t seen the raids as much with us.

It was a BLAST!

We went into Spider Quarter like always, me and a Paladin tank named Olivar. He quickly showed that he has the skills to pay the bills in there.

You know, Sidhe Devils is blessed with a lot of good tanks. Just off the top of my head I know we have 5 possible Naxx 10 man main tanks that I think are geared enough right now to go the whole way, Falromord, Pushpin, Olivar, Suxtobundr and me. Granted we aren’t Sux’s main guild, he’s in a different raiding guild as his main home and just hangs out with us on off nights, but that’s still not too tacky for a relatively small casual guild, eh?

Spider Quarter was crushed in record time. Maybe an hour, hour and a half tops.

After that, we cleared just far enough in the Abomination Quarter to beat up Patchwerk and steal his lunch money. I like doing that as a single shot, since the more familiar everyone is with that part, the easier it’s going to be to get used to blowing past him to the tough stuff later.

After Patchwerk… Plague Quarter!

Now, I have a horrible confession to make.

I LOVE taking new people to Heigan.

I know, I know, it’s sick. But I do.

There is no other fight that I know of that clearly shows a group of people learning and getting better EVERY time.

You can see the confidence growing.

When you first get near, you can feel the apprehension and uncertainty on vent as people get ready to try it for the first time, unsure of what the hell is going on. Everyone has heard of the infamous ‘safety dance’, and it gets built up as some fearsome terrible thing.

People have to overcome their fears of failure, and do their best regardless. 🙂

I’ll grant you that there’s always a few people that just nail it, first time, everytime. That’s rythym, baby. Some folks got it, some don’t.

Anyway, first time through some folks start the running from zone to zone in phase two and die quick, famous last words being “Oh hell, thats a lot faster than I thought.”

Or they expect that the zones will fill an actual evenly distributed, clearly defined area they can move to, and get caught right on the edges. Dancing in and out of the transitions is tricky when you don’t have a visual cue that seems clear and regular.

Having them zones NOT be evenly tied to the corners of the platform always catches someone.

And some folks just don’t ever need to ‘run and gun’ when playing, and aren’t used to hustling their tushies in game.

So sure, the first try with brand new people, a bunch just get blown up right off the bat, and a handful keep going.

My congratulations to folks that survive their first time and never falter… you’ve got natural rythym. It’s got a beat and you can dance to it. 🙂

But I love seeing the second through whatever attempts.

The second attempt, more folks survive. Maybe over two or three cycles they go down again, but they make the first round, and get a feel for the rythym of the cycles.

Third time? A TON more people make it and you start to see the healers dealing with running like hell AND healing people through the disease.

And the fourth time, everything comes together and the raid kicks the snot out of it.

Sure maybe one or two folks still go down on that last attempt… but next time, they usually make it. And I’ve noticed that the folks that consistently have trouble after that have usually had problems with game lag in the past. Funny how that works, huh?

Seriously. It’s freaking awesome. You can see people respond to what’s going on, grow confident, learn and improve, and go on to win.

I know it happens on other fights, but rarely are there times when a single slip means instant death. Usually, if someone is new and isn’t sure what’s going on, the fight allows them to watch the flow, and adjust over time.

You KNOW learning is going on, but can’t see it.

Either that, or I’m just an evil bastard. Take your pick.

Okay, we’ve done Heigan before, so that was a good feeling taking him down, but it wasn’t a big guild first.

What was a first was, we went through the maggot gauntlet after Heigan, sized things up, and took down the final boss.

Now, no, we didn’t one shot him. We almost got the sucker, but right around Doom #23 things took a turn for the worse as those 4000+ damage 10 second delay attacks really started blowing us up. The point where he increases the frequency of casting them really shows.

The second time, though, was delightful. The DPS grabbed the Spores a little faster, kept DPS on the boss a bit more, and down he went.

A huge huzzah was shared when everyone got that achievement for the Plague Quarter. 🙂

We didn’t go any further in Naxx, it was pretty late, but we all had so much fun that we formed up a pair of heroic groups and took down Culling of Stratholme in sync.

Seeing someone ask “How are you guys ten manning CoS?” was kinda cute. 🙂

A bigtime grats to the Sidhe Devils for working so well together, and for all the fun. It was great playing with you folks, as always.

And Fal and Shrinn… send me an email, I want to help you guys get back up and running, okay? Seriously, I couldn’t help you with a motherboard, but power supply… that I got. I just hope your power panel gets fixed most soonish.

I am NOT a slacker!

Matt had a great thought provoking post over at World of Matticus this morning, the kind of post that gives you lots of fun internal dialogue. I’d link to it, but Matt is bigtime… my new work blocks his website. FIXED!

Essentially… he asserts that some of his raiders are perfectionists, some are slackers, and his guild benefits from having both.

I made a joke about it for my post title… he used ‘slacker’ as his label for a person that, once he achieves a certain level of effectiveness with his gear, is happy. They will of course still enjoy getting new upgrades… but they can play and enjoy themselves just fine without that next incremental loot drop that increases Agility by +2 overall. 

He was pretty clearly NOT trying to be offensive by using the term slacker. I certainly wasn’t offended. Better make sure I get that across, don’t want to unintentionally start a war. 🙂

I don’t know how he decided to land on that label, but perhaps in Canada they don’t have the same cultural baggage. Here in the States, some well established negative connotations of slackers are portraying them as lazy, shiftless buggers that surf all day, blow off school, and wear neither shoes nor shirt while smoking weed in a VW van in the school parking lot between classes. 

Not that I ever saw “Fast Times in Ridgemont High”, you understand…

So let’s just move past the Slacker label thing. You can call it whatever you want, his description of the player is what I resonated with.

He used Perfectionist and Slacker as labels. Let’s keep his meaning, and just use different, non-value laden terms.

How about, just for the purposes of losing those negative connotations, we call them Performance Oriented and Goal Oriented, instead.

The Perfectionist is our Performance Oriented player. His playstyle is to always be seeking to squeeze that last little bit of improved performance out of his character. He isn’t quite satisfied, ever. There is always an area that he feels could be improved to boost performance.

The Slacker is our Goal Oriented player. He determines what level of performance he needs to attain to achieve his goal, and once at that point, he relaxes a bit and further upgrades are welcome, but are not the key focus of play.

I am totally a Goal Oriented player.

Matt talked a bit about the kind of attitude that gives rise to being Goal Oriented. I’m not going to try and rephrase his excellent writing.

Instead, I’d like to talk about actually being a Goal Oriented player. It’s the point of view I have. In many ways, his phrasing things in this way has helped me to define why I’ve chosen the topics I write about, and how I approach the game.

See, many people I talk to clearly believe that a true player, or perhaps a better way to phrase it is a dedicated player, can never be satisfied with their gear. It often seems that some folks believe you must always be fighting for the next drop.

And for a Performance player, that’s going to be true.

But I am a Goal Oriented player. Hehe… I’m a “Goalie”. 

My intent, when playing in a group, is to be able to effectively perform my role in the group.

If I’m a healer, I need to be able to keep everyone alive, throw down extra buffs and cleanses, and also provide a healing cushion to deal with emergencies and prevent low health based panic.

I’f I’m DPS, I need to be able to provide strong enough damage output to do my fair share (and hopefully a bit more) when taking part in any fight that has a hard enrage timer. Such fights are based around the idea that you must be able, as a team, to do a certain amount of damage in a certain set amount of time. I have to be able to do my part in that, plus a bit. In addition I need to be able to provide what special services my class can offer the group, whether that be buffs or CC or mana or health regen or purges.

And for tanking, I need to be able to avoid enough, mitigate enough, and absorb enough damage of all different types that the healer is not so overly taxed in keeping me alive that she either runs out of mana before the end of a fight, or has no extra time to spare to heal others in the group or provide other services than healing. Almost all of a tanks’ goal is focused on reducing the burden of the healer. The secondary consideration is to be able to provide enough threat on all enemies quickly enough to stay ahead of the max threat output of any DPS, because that lets’ DPS go as all out as they are capable, within the limits of Energy, Rage or Mana.

So for a Goal Oriented player, we need to know our class and the content challenges well enough to plan our gear and stat levels needed to reach that goal.

When we are still struggling to reach our gear goal, we can look for the challenges we know we can handle… or work with friends who are willing to take a chance on harder challenges for the sake of fun, even if you’re a bit under geared by your own standards. This is where you don’t want to try and pug raids or content you know that, by your own standards, you are undergeared for, because it’s unreasonable to ask strangers to have to overperform to make up for your shortcomings. Your friends, on the other hand… well, abusing them is what they’re for, right?

With a gear goal reached though, we can freely volunteer to join a group, even a pug, doing anything we planned for, without worry that we won’t be able to pull our weight or do our fair share in terms of gear.

Whether you’re SKILLED enough to do it is a different subject entirely.

Every time you get an upgrade that pushes you further past your goal (without hurting something else), you can enjoy knowing you are overgeared for what you’re doing, and may even be getting close to ready for encounters you never dreamed of attempting.

Even better… once you’ve hit your gear goal, and you are satisfied that you can perform your role in a group, you are free to begin working on another character, whether it be an alt for fun or a different class that you’d like to raid with.

That’s what I do. I don’t worry about ever becoming the best geared Bear Tank evah. It is meaningless to me. It is, truly, without meaning to me. I am not competing with other Bear Tanks to see who is, like, the Bear Tankiest.

What I worry about is being capable of doing my part in a run well enough while playing with friends that I don’t let anyone down. And if I’m well enough geared to help support a healer or DPS through difficult content who isn’t yet near their own gear goals… BONUS!

I think that, in some ways, how competitive you are in the game has an impacton whether you are Performance or Goal Oriented.

Going back briefly to an earlier post, competitive play or teamwork… I personally want to have fun playing in a group, a grop of successful happy folks… so if loot drops, and my own goals have already been reached, then even if it’s an upgrade… I don’t actually NEED it. Someone else in the run may get more out of it.

If I were more competitive about how I played, more about wanting to be better than other actual people in the game rather than the content, then I’d probably desire those upgrades quite a lot more.

I love knowing that my tank is a solid tank… and I love knowing that, even though she’s got a mix of blues and epics, my Hunter consistently provides comparable DPS in 5, 10 or 25 man content. Not the best DPS, but a decent and reliable amount providing a solid contribution to the success of the group.

And I love feeling that I can play my Shaman, leveling and improving gear, without worrying that I’m abandoning an unfinished toon. I’ve got two that, at a moments notice, I can say “Oh, you need a tank? Sure, hold on.” “Oh, you need one more DPS? Sure, hold on.”

Someday, I’ll be able to say the same about a Healer. 🙂

I love reading a post that encourages me to think. Thanks Matt, I appreciate it, buddy.

I'm planning a raid! Err, I mean live group event!

The votes are in, and I’ll definitely get another group event going, hopefully within the next two weeks. 

It’s really nice to see so many folks saying they’d like to come chat for a bit. I have days when I start to feel that writing the blog is pretty silly, and that the folks that take the time to read, while really nice and super friendly… are just here because they’re utterly bored.

That someone would really take real world time to come by and have fun talking about the game and stuff with someone that is, technically, a wierdo internet writing stranger is very cool.

Hey, if some of you are really willing to hang out for a bit and have fun, that’s good enough for me to show up.

Keep in mind though, this is more than just a friendly get together.

We all share one thing. WoW. And WoW is srs bsnss…. we are srs people doing srs things. When we get together, it’s not to do something silly like have a damby pamby ice cream social, dangit, when WoW players get together like this it’s for a RAID!

Kinda like vikings.  Pick a target and descend to loot, pillage and destroy.

So we’re planning a raid, and planning a raid is srs bsnss too!

Even if all we raid is the buffet line.

We all play WoW. Many folks have scheduled raids every week, some folks are in guilds where attending scheduled raids is mandatory.

Others are going to need some reasonable advance warning to arrange for a babysitter, or spousal approval, or just to make sure it’s not the same time as their regular family bowling night.

I’m not kidding on that one… I know Cassie would be unthrilled if I just sprung on her “Hey, oh love of my life, this guy is having a thing at a place tomorrow, can I go?”, especially if the next night would just happen to be my turn to make dinner, give Alex a bath, or generally do normal day to day things. It might seem.. awfully convenient.

So as with any WoW raid… gotta have advance warning to give people time to prepare. Also have to set the time and date for when it hopefully won’t interfere with most folks in-game raiding nights. And also want to be convenient for folks that work during the day, or even would like to visit from an area close to but not actually IN the Twin Cities.

And finally, as in any raid… we gotta figure out what luckless establishment we are going to descend upon like a ravening horde.

It should be a location that is fairly reasonable for folks in different areas of the Twin Cities to get to, be open and friendly to everyone of any age, and still be kind of fun to hang out in.

Thankfully, everywhere in the Twin Cities is a smoke free establishment. Some of you may smoke, but I don’t, not for a very, very long time.

(Cigars with the Mannyac once or twice a year don’t count. Hmmm…. wonder if I can sucker Melpo into coming to a Tim Malloys night with me and having a cigar and drinking Guinness? MUST look into that. By the way Melpo, how you liking the Planetary comics I lent ya?)

I am open to suggestions on places we could meet, and on when would be an appropriate time. I’d normally think an evening in the middle of the week, but then I don’t know if the folks from the Chicago area or Des Moines would be able to make it. Assuming they were serious about coming, of course.

As far as when… I’m thinking in about two to three weeks.

Ooh! We also need a cute name for the raid! It can’t be a blogging raid without a cute codename!

So I now do what a good raid leader does… make someone else do the real work.

The suggestion line is now open open!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading, already in progress.

A Bears eye view to gaming etiquette

I think writing a guide about gaming etiquette in general would be fun to do, but I bet some folks wouldn’t get the tongue in cheek aspect of doing it.

The thing is, the game we play is both social AND competitive, and you don’t have to do both to enjoy the game.

You can, like myself, play the game purely for the social enjoyment of playing with friends as a cooperative team, choosing as our adversaries the NPCs controlled by the software AI. Our enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of playing together well and having fun as friends. Of tackling difficult challenges and beating them as a team. Even when playing solo, most of our fun comes from exploring, adventuring, and trying new challenges alone.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can choose to play against human opponents in PvP arenas, duels, world PvP battles, and battlegrounds, fighting to prove who is the best. You can work and dedicate yourself to being a fantastic player in one on one or large group wars waged against other living, breathing, scheming opponents that want to be just as tricky or evil as you.

And of course, you can enjoy the game in any of a million shades in-between.

So etiquette, a series of rules for what is or is not appropriate behavior in the game, is pretty much impossible to seriously tackle in my opinion.

One person’s idea of what the game is all about may be to have fun and play with other people in a friendly environment. Mature conversation, people helping each other, and in general a cooperative mutually supportive society. A group where everyone wants each other to win together, and enjoy success together.

Another person’s idea of what the game is about may be to prove that they are superior to you by beating you in some measurable way. Victory could be measured as completing more difficult achievements, winning duels, victory in battlegrounds, higher DPS in raids, more epics, Arena rankings, number of lifetime honorable kills, more gold earned in game, more level 80 characters, the list goes on and on. The point here is, the person is playing the game as a means of competing with, and trying to be better than, other living people… and that is also a totally valid point of view.

No, seriously, it really is a totally valid reason to play. There are official Arena tournament matches, the battlegrounds, the duel system, world PvP… clearly, Blizzard feels that competition amongst players against each other is a vital, essential part of the game.

Now, for the most part I feel that everyone should reasonably be expected to act in a polite and considerate fashion to other players. I’m not naive enough to expect that to ever happen, but hope springs eternal.  

But when you take into account the competitive nature of so much of the game, you have to change your expectations of how people will act.

Competition in and of itself is perfectly fine, but here in the States at least, and maybe elsewhere too, there is a lot of stuff that shouldn’t be a part of competition, but is. For some people, winning is inextricably tied into forcing someone else to acknowledge they are a loser. To feel good about themselves, they believe they have to force someone else to feel bad. They want not a victory, but a victim. 

In true competitive sports, you beat yourself into a frenzy to win. Maybe you even demonize your opponent; you don’t want to just beat him, you want to destroy him. But a true sportsman knows he is psyching himself up to unleash a ton of emotional power. At the end of the day, he or she doesn’t actually spit on the other players and want to gut them and eat the entrails. At least, not as a matter of course. At the moment, in the heat of battle, whether they really mean it or not isn’t really going to matter. The exultation over kicking your butt is what’s gonna come through. 

Still and all, I’m afraid I’m gonna my opinion is that level of competitive spirit isn’t appropriate for WoW.

This is a video game, with a player base of all ages, and anyone you meet could be somebody else’s under 12 son or daughter, and treating other people like crap in this environment just isn’t appropriate.

A certain level of competitive spirit isn’t bad at all, among people who share that drive, that zeal, that passion. I’m not saying it’s bad, I think it’s awesome that there is so much for people to be drawn to in the game. I also think that most good raiding guilds are forged of people that have a drive to win, to succeed, to push the limits of themselves and each other and destroy the opposition.

No problem. Kick ass!

Most of that kind of interaction and any behavior surrounding it can be kept in guild, between people who share that desire to win, okay?

What I’m saying is that in a mixed group of strangers, in open General and Trade Chat, in pugged raids, in any group setting where you do not know the people you are playing with… treating other people like shit is wrong. Sneering at someone, mocking them, acting and talking in a way to try and make them feel bad about themselves or their accomplishments is crappy. 

If you are driven to be number one, thats fine. But a real athlete doesn’t pit himself against everyone that comes along and calls it a reasonable fight. You need to find someone else that also thinks they’re number one, and duke it out in order to have a true competition.

If you are number one DPS, and nobody else in the group is striving for that goal, if they’re just trying to each do their part of the team effort… you are working towards a meaningless victory. Maybe on that Maexxna fight you’re so proud of, if that other Hunter had been doing nothing but pounding on the boss instead of cutting webbed people off the wall, he’d of smoked you. Or maybe not. He wasn’t trying, so who knows?

But he cut people off the wall, they got back into the fight fast, the group as a whole worked together, and the boss died. You had number one DPS on the boss. Grats… but you were competing in the wrong race, and some of the others are likely to be wondering whats up when you post your Damage Meters and start gloating over your score while they are all basking in the success of the group.

Compete, yes. Just make sure you’re in the same race as the others.

Competition is great. I’m really not trying to put down raiding guilds fighting for server firsts, or PvPers kicking some serious butt. I’m pointing out that putting people down, trying to hurt someone else’s feelings or belittle what they’ve done and how they choose to play the game may be appropriate if that is why you play the game… but only amongst other people you know are playing the game for the same reason as you. And the best way to ensure that is to keep it in guild or between folks on your friends list. 

I started by saying this game has both a social and a competitive side.

For me, specifically, what I enjoy in the game is the social aspect of playing with friends as a team.

Since that’s what I enjoy in the game, it stands to reason that the people I want to play with in the game are those that share my love for the social game, and share my values and sense of what is or is not appropriate behavior.

I’m going to share my beliefs on what is appropriate behavior. That is, appropriate behavior if you play the game NOT as a competition, but as a way of sharing adventures and fun with people you care about.

I invite you to share your own thoughts on this, on what you do think is fine in the game, and what you think isn’t. Maybe share your pet peeve… or the thing you think other people make a big deal of that isn’t anything at all to get worked up over.

Okay, my opinions on what the heck is appropriate.

First, the golden rule that most of us learned in kindergarten. Act towards others as you would like them to act towards you. 

That’s a fine foundation to start from, but to me, that really means; “Act towards others as you believe they would LIKE to be treated, so as not to hurt their feelings or offend them, because you do not want other people to hurt YOUR feelings or offend YOU.”

It’s not quite the same thing. If you like being whipped and beaten and made to play the submissive… do you really think you should treat everyone else as if they do too? Hopefully not, but considering my audience, I’m not placing bets. 🙂

I’ll go a little farther. If you respect someone, if you care how the other person feels, then you should not want to act in a way that you know or believe would hurt them or their feelings.

That works both ways. You don’t want people acting towards you in a way that shows they are intentionally trying to hurt you or damage you. Not because you actually were or were not hurt by them, but because it shows that they don’t care enough about you as a person to make any effort towards behaving with politeness or consideration.

In the game, just as in life, I try to act how I think is appropriate by my own standards and values… and if I encounter people in the game that I feel act in an inconsiderate or hurtful way towards others, I choose not to associate with them again.

I do my best not to swear in public or amongst strangers. Friends and guild members that have gotten a chance to know me, and who know that I would not intentionally offend someone, will inevitably hear swearing in vent, especially if Prince Arthas decides he wants to go charging 150 yards ahead of the group and kill us all… but I don’t talk that way in front of anyone that might misconstrue what I’m saying or how I’m saying it as a personal insult towards anyone. BTW I want to boot Arthas from the group, that freaking noob. 

I try to treat everyone that I meet with courtesy and consideration. That includes joking around. If I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, then there is no way they could be expected to know if what I say, no matter what my intent, is meant as a joke or as a serious comment. Sometimes I’m better at this one than others.

I try and share or offer my help if I see a situation where someone else might need a hand. The nature of the game that I enjoy is to be social and friendly, and share fun times. If it looks like someone needs help, AND if I have the time at the moment, then it’s the right thing to do to offer to help. Maybe they are attempting to overcome impossible odds and don’t want help. That’s fine. But if they are trying hard to do something, and encountering serious difficulty… then why not lend a hand?

I try not to discriminate towards others based on gear, class, or level where the content makes it possible. If I’m doing a Heroic, I’ll have to only go with level 80s, but I won’t pass over a player due to their gear or spec or class. If we have a tank and a healer, and some DPS, then we’re good to give something a shot. One kinda group may take longer than another to clear an area, and we may even run into a problem we simply can’t get past. But I’m not going to worry about it until we hit that point, and if we do get stuck… sure it can be disappointing, but all I personally really care about is that we try our best and we work together and have fun.

Sometimes I will, as a guild leader and raid leader, set minimum standards for something like a ten man raid, say a minimum Spellpower or DPS. When I do that, it’s never to put roadblocks up, but instead to try and give people a goal to aim for when preparing themselves. I can’t remember the last time I actually told someone they weren’t okay to give a raid a shot… it’s just good to have an idea of what to aim for. I try hard to encourage people in the guild to work hard on their own gear before they run a raid… because it does show that they care about trying to do the best they can as part of the group, and show respect and consideration for all the other folks that have worked hard to be the best they could be. But in the end, I mostly drag undergeared folks into raids who are afraid they aren’t geared up enough first. I almost never have to tell someone they’re not ready yet.   

I do not judge others based on Damage Meters. Damage Meters are fine tools, but very few people seem to understand how to use them. You can set them to show many different things, such as the overall total damage done on a raid. That’s great, except that the information is always presented as a comparison to others on the run. Well, if you are looking at overall damage done… those that do AoE damage on large groups of trash mobs will make a much higher showing than someone that specializes in single target sustained DPS. You need to take that into account. You can also show damage done for a particular boss kill, just one fight on one target… but then that doesn’t take into account the DPS that were dividing their time killing trash spawns to keep them off the healers while the rest of the raid was fighting the boss. Damage Meters are subjective tools that need to be understood properly to provide a benefit, and really do little for me when I’m raid leading. I do not judge based on them. Instead, I try and pay attention to the flow of the game, who is doing what, and whether or not what needs to be done IS getting done, and how smoothly. I don’t rely on a Damage Meter to tell me how other people are playing their character.

I do not judge others based on arbitrary stats such as Spell Power, Crit Rating, Stamina, Attack Power, or hair color of toon. To me, it’s not the stats or the numbers, but how well you play with what you have, and how much fun you are to play with.
 
And finally, when I say that I will be somewhere to help someone do something or be part of  a raid, I always try to be earlier than the scheduled time. When you’ve got a bunch of people all getting together, I am well aware that some of those folks have families, children, pets, work, hobbies, commitments… and they have to put these things on hold for a little while, take time out of their lives, all to be there together for fun. To be late, to make them all wait and wait… it is to me the ultimate example of being rude. It says you really don’t care about the rest of the group, it’s fine if they wait on you. No worries about what they could have been doing during that time they spent sitting and waiting. I really, really try hard never to leave someone waiting on me.

I do not expect anyone else to share any of my values or act according to my personal standards. People are perfectly free to behave in exactly the way they choose to behave. I’m not a WoW nazi bitching every time someone does something that I don’t approve of.

However, I DO choose to only spend my time in game with people who have shown by their actions that how they treat other people, how they act around other people, is similar to what I’ve described. People that are just… friendly. Polite. Kind and considerate to others. 

That power, the power to choose WHO I spend my time with, IS under my control.

I will say a few words about how the blog fits in here, because it’s come up a few times.

I do not expect anyone to ever change to suit me. Never. If I encounter someone that is, in my personal opinion, rude or doesn’t show consideration for other players as people, then I put them on ignore, and I do not group with them again. Doesn’t exactly hurt anyone, now does it?

Sometimes, if it’s something that I think is a little over the top, I’ll come back here and talk about it.

The reason is not to publicly shame someone into acting a different way, despite what folks might think. I have called people out as an asshat before, but if you think I ever expect anyone to change their behavior from that, you’re crazy. I know nobody really cares what some fool writes on a blog. It’s all cool.

I share stuff here, on my blog, because the only people I am speaking with are people who share in some way my values, understand where I’m coming from with how I see things even if they don’t agree, and are themselves quite likely to be amazed or amused by the things people will do or say to other people in game. 

“But BBB,” I hear you say, “How can you be sure that’s who you’re chatting with?”

It’s simple. If you’re the kind of person that enjoys being rude to me or to others, inconsiderate, inflammatory, abusive… I’m not writing my posts for you. 

I’m writing for the people who can discuss their opinions, whether for or vehemently against, without being rude or inconsiderate of others. For people that are just playing a game and having fun, and like to chat about it or read about it when they aren’t actually playing it.  And for people that can tell the difference between being nice to others, and being a dick.

If being polite or considerate when you express your point of view seems too difficult… either here or in the game… well, the problems not on my end. Your transmission is coming through loud and clear, five by five. Go find another channel. 🙂

The rest of you are my wittle wabbits, and I will wuv you and squeeze you and call you George.

Ah… the definition of a fictitious reality. I tune out what I don’t like, and pretend only the good exists, both here and in the game. lalalala I can’t HEAR you, my head is in the sand….

There. Now that I’ve said all that, gotten it all out of my system once and for all… I never have to mention any of it ever, ever again. Yay!

Gone for the weekend after a fun night of raiding!

The family of bears is moving north for the weekend, there to frolic in… wait, that’s Duluth.

“Honey? What the hell is there to do in Duluth again? No, I know we’re not going drinking. C’mon, there’s got to be SOMETHING they do in Duluth besides hit the bars! ”

They have HOW many bars? Wow, what, they think they’re Milwaukee now?

Oh, yeah, right!

So, we’re gonna hit the train museum and a children’s museum, and maybe eat some yummy food. And hot tubs!

So we be gone, and that means moderators be gone. If you post a comment this weekend, and it doesn’t show up… just keep in mind we’ll see it and likely approve it Sunday night.

Oh, and as a humorous update… Sidhe Devils teamed with another guild last night to do Spider and Plague wings of Naxx 25.

I did not raid lead, I kept my usually bossy and domineering mouth shut to see how the run would go. I intentionally took a back seat on vent as much as humanly possible.

After all, everybody in my guild already knows what the sound of my voice droning on is like, right? And how better to find out how their guild interacts than by leaving those silences to fill?

It was awesome to find out our healers were good enough to keep me alive through the Achievement for defeating Grand Widow Faerlina without dispelling frenzy the entire fight. That was hilarious!

We went through and one shot all bosses in the Spider Wing and the Plague Wing, and almost everybody in Sidhe Devils danced with Heigan just fine. Almost. Poor Kitiomi hadn’t even seen the fight before.

The plate tanking loot dropped like rain, but if you look closely at the sidebar where my equipped gear is displayed, you might see that the bear is sporting something new.

Have a great weekend everyone, and have fun!

Thinking about Bears night out!

I was recently asked if I had any plans on doing another “Meet the Bear” kind of thing in the near future.

I haven’t had any plans other than “That would be sooo much fun to do again sometime”, but maybe I need to get off the stick and start making something happen.

If there isn’t any interest, though, then why go there?

So I have a poll up. It SHOULD be on the sidebar over there while it’s active. ====>

This isn’t about what day, what time, or what location you could attend.

It’s just to give me some idea of who locally would be interested in getting together and hanging out for a bit, chatting, socializing, enjoying group settings out in the real world… all of that stuff people that play games excel at.

No special events, nothing to buy… just a bunch of folks getting together and chillin’.

Obviously, since I live in the Minneapolis / Saint Paul area of Minnesota, USA, that’s the general region where the meet would take place.

Now, I’m up for doing something like this even if nobody showed up… but I know that before Cassie will let me out of the bear trap for a night, she’s gonna want to see some signs that I’d be doing more than eating wings and drinking beer by myself while watching a big screen show the final four. 

If there does seem to be some interest, I’ll throw up a poll looking for specific guidance on where, when, and what kind of place to meet at. 

Again, for my RSS subscribers… there is a poll on my actual website, so if you would like to attend, please come visit and let me know.

Thank you!