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!

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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!

Old is as old reacts

I was listening to the radio on the way home from work, flipping between talk radio (long enough to turn red in the face), the teeny bopper channel (in hopes of hearing Lady Gagas’ Poker Face), and my Dragonforce CD, when something came across the airwaves that made me stop in stunned disbelief.

I like to think that I’m fairly aware of the dirty underside of life. It’s been a long time since something actually shocked me or surprised me, in terms of the lengths someone will go in the media, either in language or suggestability.

I grew up in Miami, my dad was a foul mouthed cop, I spent many years in the Marines, and I love listening to Lewis Black. The use of the f-bomb in polite conversation does not startle me. In fact, the use of that word, and indeed many MANY others in polite conversation comes MORE natural to me than breathing.

Ask my friends in vent. If I get comfortable and relax my self-filter, my language gets, to use a dated phrase, ‘salty’.

I make no apologies. I earned the use of that language in a fairly hard school, and while I don’t intend to shock and I don’t think the use of such language is at all witty or edgy… well, I make no apologies if my upbringing was soaked with such language, and your ears are tender to such things.

That being said, ever since Alex was born, I have made a concerted, harder than heck effort to eradicate the saltiness from my conversation, so that he at least has a choice as to how his vocabulary grows. 

Since this is a family friendly (hey, I’ve got a family, and I’m friendly… if you want to bring your family to visit, I’d like to feel that I’m friendly to them, too) blog, I try very hard to not go past a PG rating in terms of language and content.

Yes, some days the token f-bomb will float it’s way past my internal censor. I don’t think I’m being witty or clever by dropping one, I just forget myself.

My point in all this babbling BS is that, while I do not go around venting in expletives deleted here or in casual conversation anymore, I feel that I am WELL past the point of being shocked at hearing anything in the media.

Oh, was I wrong.

I started this post by talking about the radio.

A song came on that I had not heard before. A female singer. I like female singers. Sue me.

As I listen to what she’s singing… I find myself asking myself, “She can’t possibly be saying that on the radio, right? I’m just not hearing that right. She didn’t just say… she keeps repeating that… Who wrote that song, and who the heck would SING that? That makes it past the FCC these days? Holy crap!”

I have, over the course of many years, heard lyrics use many, many euphemisms to talk about sex and describe body parts without actually violating the letter of the law.

“Muffin” is one of the ones that can make me laugh out loud.

Speaking of letters of the law, the letters are what this one uses to get away with it.

The name of the song, it turns out, is exactly what I thought it was, and at the same time, totally not what I thought it was.

“If you seek Amy”.

Looks innocent, right?

Oh yeah, sure.

Try sounding it out phonetically. Much like OU812 of years past (many, many years), what it looks like in text and what it means when you sound it out… or sing it… are quite different.

Congratulations. I got stunned and flabbergasted over something I heard on the flipping radio. Damn, I not only feel old, this proves I AM old.

Now here’s the worst bit… in order to make sure I complete the post… this singer’s music will be on my blog. There is something BEYOND wrong with that.

“All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if u seek amy”.

Please, somebody just shoot me.

Bear swiping fun in 3.1!

We’ve got a wall of changes staring at us from down the road, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how folks roll with it.

Talked about it before, should be no surprise to anyone that our armor multiplier from Survival of the Fittest is getting cut in half.

We’re also losing some of our Stamina buff from Heart of the Wild in Bear form.

It should also come as no surprise by now that we are getting a bubble (Savage Defense) whose strength is 25% of your Attack Power, and which supposedly procs every time you land a Critical Strike. I’m not on the PTR, I don’t have the time, but I’m sure someone will rush to tell us if there has been a hidden cooldown timer on the bubble procs, or if they proc on EVERY Crit.

Not that I’m all that concerned. Either Savage Defense will balance out the loss of health and armor, and successfully do what Blizz seems to want and make us work harder on chasing gear upgrades, or it won’t. What we see live will give us the answer in due time.

What may surprise you from the PTR is the discovery that our Swipe continues to affect an unlimited number of targets… but now does NOT require a target to be selected. It has become a simple 360° AoE with an 8 yard range, untargeted.

That’s right.

I think that bears repeating.

Swipe is no longer a targeted attack with a frontal arc. It is now an 8 yard 360° AoE.

So…

I see this as being a pretty significant change to how I actually play my bear in tight situations, and maybe you will feel the same if you’re one of us mid-content players. By mid-content, I mean those folks at level 80 who play in 5 man heroic instances, 10 man raids, and the occasional 25 man pug.

Right now, I am quite accustomed… nay, happy… with playing my bear tank as I do, with a targeted frontal arc Swipe. It’s a flavor thing.

I know that it’s quite different as a mechanism than other methods, and while there are of course certain challenges, there are also rewards.

In it’s current form, it’s not, in my mind, any better or worse than other AoE threat generating methods. Just different. It’s… well, it’s bearish.

For example, right now Paladins drop a stationary Consecrate that ticks threat. Mobs can run through it without taking a tick, and not get held up. Likewise for Death and Decay. These two methods of group threat generation are extremely strong continuous threat generators with a 360° field of affect, and their only drawback is they lack mobility. 

On top of that, Paladins have had to face the fact that, yes, their Consecrate pulls in a 360° area, but their Shield does not protect them from attacks from any opponents in the rear. Paladins are quite vulnerable to being taken from behind without protection.

(Yes, Graimerin, that joke was for you. You know you like it. lol.)

Also, in close quarters, stationary continuously ticking 360° threat can make the use of Crowd Control quite difficult, if not outright impossible.

On the other side of the tanking spectrum, Swipe has, up until 3.1 goes live, been quite different in technique and effect.

With Swipe, you are not throwing down a field of hate. Instead, you are specifically targeting one mob within your range, and then attacking it, and everyone near him within a frontal arc centered on that target, and all those additional targets may actually be outside your normal physical attack range, but they’ll still get affected by the effects of Swipe.

Swipe is not a passive field you lure the timid daisies into before ravaging them unmercifully. It’s an intentionally timed attack that lasts for the space of a single smackdown, and can let you herd your wayward charges wherever you desire.

Allow me to describe a typical scene for the non-bears in our audience to illustrate my point.

A nice little typical five man run. A group of four mobs ahead.

Say we in the group are all new to heroics, and these guys hit like the Steeler’s offensive line.

Time for a quick three second decision on pull tactics.

One of them is a ranged caster, so he’d be squishy, go down fast… but if we CC him, we’d be lining up the three highest hit point/high armor targets for our first three kills, which will potentially drag the fight out long enough for the CC on ranged doofus number one to expire. 

If it does expire without us noticing while mixing it up in melee, or if the three we are fighting give us more troubles that we expected, we might end up with a glass cannon lighting us up that won’t come a-running when I Growl.

So, fine.

I set up for a ranged line of sight pull, intending to dart forward, nail the closest one (that is not the necessarily the marked skull first kill target, he’s just the closest; ranged boy will be my first kill target) with a Feral Faerie Fire.

Why Feral Faerie Fire? Well, I know that Growl does not actually CAUSE threat, it only pops your threat higher than any other person your target is currently aware of. So it’s kinda useless to use as a pull, especially if the Healer throws any kind of ticking heal or stat increasing buff on you afterward. If you pop a Growl on one target and then switch to a different target to start fighting… any heals you get will send that first mob off after the new highest threat person out there likety split. But you knew that already.

Anyway, there is a Mage in the group with me, so as I line up on the mobs at extreme range, I mark the caster as a Skull for our priority kill, and mark one of the most distant melee bullyboys as a sheep target.

I ask the Mage to be prepared to sheep one after I do my pull.

Why after? Sheep causes Threat, so if you have the Mage do a Sheep pull… all the baddies will love the Mage long time. I’m the jealous kind, I want all their lovin’ for myself.

Gimme all your lovin’, all your hugs and kisses too.

So, I’m lined up. I give the Mage a split-second verbal warning so she can begin her long 1.5 second Sheep cast, then I send in my FFF on the closest one, and run like hell away and get around a corner, out of line of sight, and wait for my idiot targets to come running around the corner to me, including my bestest buddy, Mr Caster Who Wants His Face Ripped Clean Off.

As they go running past the party chasing after me, ignoring everyone else because they are quietly standing there whispering to themselves “you can’t see me I’m not here you can’t see me I’m not here you can’t…” the Mage has been casting Sheep, and it goes off on the run.

So there I am, facing two melee and one very squishy ranged…

I make sure I have the very closest mob targeted so when he rounds the corner, my first Swipe goes off fast and lays down a base foundation of threat on all three to counteract initial global healing aggro and bad targeting decisions from the DPS. Not that I’m saying I expect the DPS to be unloading all out damage on the wrong targets a millisecond after the mobs reach me… okay, yes I am saying that.

I change targets if necessary and spike a Mangle into the forehead of caster-boy ’cause I want him to lay down and die first, I prime a Maul to go off that will do tons of damage (for me) AND help build even more threat on one of the other two melee, fire off another Swipe to keep building up group threat, and get a FFF going on my caster main target, global cooldown permitting.

I toss a glance at the displayed targets of each of my team members, a helpful tool that XPerl provides in the party display, so I can tell if someone is, in fact, on the wrong damn target.

Wow, everyone is on target, and caster boy be going down. Yay us!

So, there you have a truly typical line of sight pull around a corner, with CC safely out of range of Swipe. A caster was selected as the first kill target due to his potential damage output being all out of proportion to his health, and rapidly burnt down.

Ah, but what if someone accidentally tags the Sheeped melee, baaing his little heart out, and he springs up and runs around the corner into melee range of the Healer or the Mage before the Mage can get another 1.5 second Sheep cast off again?

If I had Consecrate or Death and Decay, then I would now simply be a singer in a rock and roll band, and tank the extra groupie.

Instead, I have an intelligently controlled, directionally targeted group threat that only fires when I tell it to.

I use my ranged Growl to bring the groupie… err, I mean target, over to me. I give it a cursory Mangle to get it’s attention, and then switch auto-attack to the next true kill target and ask the Mage to reSheep. I stop Swiping and I stop Maul, because I want to control who I am applying threat to. I will restrict myself to Mangle and Lacerate on my kill target until Sheep goes off.

I ask the group to ease off on all heals and AoE, I let the Mage finish the Sheep… and I drag my posse of zombies back a bit, move through them, turn around, and get them all nice and repositioned just the way I like it with the Sheeped mob behind me… and with another Swipe we’re back in business. Even in close quarters.

I have the power to choose how I use my abilities, and can tailor my choices to fit a changing tactical situation in a way that feels, to me, to be somewhat bear-like.

When I Swipe right now, I’m slashing the group in front of me. I can relate to that. It feels… it feels like being a bear. 

Using a Consecrate is not worse, of course. It’s just different. It’s a different playstyle than what I’ve gotten used to, with it’s own inherent mechanics. It is absolutely not inferior.

For a Bear Tank, having a 360° threat AoE that does not require a targeted opponent to be within range in front of you will be a powerful buff to our ability to pull in and hold mobs consistently, AND we will be able to control when it goes off. 

I have no complaints. It is NOT bear consecrate. At least, not unless they really change the hell out it, and I see no signs of that happening yet.

However, it bears reminding everyone that, if the enemy is behind you, YOU CANNOT DODGE. As you are also not Parrying or Blocking… you’re still gonna need to move that big bear butt when you get surrounded. Mobility is still a factor, even if you can now be confident that if it’s within 8 yards, you tagged it.

I just want to be clear about this… I’m not unhappy with the change. It’s a buff to our threat on multiple mobs, and I’m sure that after I get used to the small changes, it’s going to be a welcome addition to my arsenal of tanking.

In the above example, the only real change will be that if I am in quarters too tight to move more than 8 yards away from the Sheep target, I’ll just stand and tank it and forget trying to re-establish CC. Facing away from the Sheep mob won’t help.

No, I don’t regret  the coming change, in terms of my effectiveness.

Humor me, however, as I take a single moment to cherish my current bear dancing manuevers in the dark, as I thrive on the fun of using facing and backstepping and a directional Swipe to be a nimble old bear while I tank my groups. It’s fun, it keeps me hopping, and while I do admit that 9 times out of 10 the standard fast pull overgeared overpowered strategy is “run in, piss ’em all off, Swipe and take it”…

When the going gets tough…

It’s time to bring out the dancing bear!

A Happy Saint Patricks day to all!

Yes, I know this is going up the evening before.

I promise you, that there will still be a touch of Guinness flowing through my veins as midnight passes to the 17th.

In the meantime…

Allow me the priviledge of introducing you to a local band here in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, The Tim Malloys.

These guys are the real deal, an awesome band that plays locally, and I am proud to have all their albums. And a hat. And a shirt that doesn’t fit, damnit.

I think listening to Neal on this track makes it pretty clear why I love these guys so.

The Mannyac and I spent my Bachelor’s Eve party with these guys years gone by… and we sat and chatted in between sets. A fine old time was had by me, that I’m sure they forgot by the next day, but that I’ll always remember fondly.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all, my friends, no matter where you may be.
I shall hoist a few wee Guinness, in remembrance of thee.
Should your travels take you far from home, and the way be dark with gloom,
Still you know I’ll be right here, waiting patiently for you.

Slainche!

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Okay, I can’t just leave it at that. So one other Tim Malloys song, aye? And if ye be local to the Twin Cities… go see them, and tell them the Big Bear Butt sent ya!

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A funny thing happened on the way to the Watchmen review

I watched the Watchmen last night.

Yep. Who watches the Watchmen? That would be me.

After I got home, I wrote a nice long movie review full of spoilers.

Then I looked at it, and how long it was, and deleted it.

You can thank me now. Even after reading this very long, movie review. Thank me for deleting that other one.

Yeah, I spent about an hour writing that post, but in the end, it wasn’t worth posting it. I’m not outraged, I’m not horrified, I was just writing down my thoughts on what I liked or didn’t like about the movie.

And it got to be stupidly long, because I grew up with the graphic novel, and have over the years spent a lot of time thinking about some of the storytelling techniques used in the comic.

So I scrapped it, and wrote this new long ass post/review full of spoilers instead.

Why? Because I damn well grew up with Watchmen, I read the comics when they came out and I was in High School, I admired the way it broke new ground, and I admired the many, many layers of depth and meaning in the book. A large chunk of my mental capacity was spent thinking about Watchmen back in the eighties, God help me and my wasted youth.

I am intimately familiar with the story, and as a writer I feel I learned a great deal about how some characters can be developed, and how they can affect a reader from reading Watchmen.

For one thing, it showed me that you can have a character be written in a certain way that he is charismatic, interesting, occasionally funny, and makes the reader like him… and then show that, inside, he is a monster, an amoral killing machine without a conscience as we understand it, someone that is just despicable, has done terrible, monstrous things… and still have it be the same person we met at first, someone who, now that you know more about them, still seems to be a complete character. The character has a believable consistency to what they do. You know more about them, about how they think… and even though you can’t help but still like the way he’s portrayed, and feel a touch of sympathy for him as a person, you now know that inside, he’s a monster that deserves a bullet to the back of the head. 

You can also have a character that your reader will dislike, that they will see, and meet, and think “What a dirtbag. Oh, ugh… what a pompous asshole. Treats his friends like dirt. Abuses people right and left. What a jackass.” But in the end, you can win the reader over by showing them what has driven the person to be this way… how the one character you started out hating can be the one that becomes your favorite, because you know they would fight by your side no matter what, they would never betray you, never turn aside from evil, but would do whatever it takes to see justice done. That no matter how horrible they seem to act on the outside… what drives them is a thirst for vengeance against anyone that harms an innocent life, and that burning intensity has left no room for anything else inside them. They are worthy of pity, and fear, but not your hate.

There are a lot of rich characters, deep personalities in the comic book, and I learned a lot from it about the crafting of a story.

So I wrote a movie review based on my appreciation for the craft involved in the base material. Kinda worthless, since who cares about the graphic novel, it’s the movie I was supposed to talk about.

So here’s a real review.

 The action scenes are very well done, but short. There are more of them in the movie than in the comic, but the amount of dialogue in the movie is brutal. They did a good job of trying to be faithful to the dialogue of the source material… but it is just is too long, and too dry. What worked on the written page doesn’t work here.

Now, I said they did a good job of being faithful to the dialogue. That is true.

But they did a pretty poor job of being faithful to the highs and lows of the story, and matching them to the big screen.

First, the lows; most of the movie is pretty agreeable for most audiences, but I felt that, considering how drastically they changed major parts of the story for the film, they really screwed the viewers by leaving in some scenes of graphic, nasty violence. Hands cut off, heads struck multiple whacks by a cleaver, dripping body parts from the ceiling, that kind of thing. Just didn’t really fit the overall rest of the film. They were in the graphic novel (well, not the cleaver to the head)… but you’re making a film. Once you choose to change shit to be consistent with showing a film to an audience… be consistent. Those scenes were the epitomy of gratuitous violence, because they added nothing to the story but gore and violence.

Now, the very lows;

I posted the Hitler thing a few days ago mocking a frantic fanboy’s fury over the changed ending, and it’s funny, but really, it’s pretty true.

Because where they changed the story from the base material, where they just went in a totally different direction… it does NOT work for the better. It’s pretty bad.

They did two major things to change the original story, and there was absolutely no need for it. And what’s worse, the changes they made hurt the story quite badly, and left me walking out of the theater thinking “That was pretty crappy and showed a pathetic lack of imagination.”

The first is simply that they changed the nature of what Adrian Veidt and Dr Manhatten were working on, so that the two of them were working together on a source of infinitely renewable free energy to replace fossil fuels, creating a machine that could duplicate the power of Dr Manhatten himself, duplicate the way he could create energy apparently from out of nothing at all, by changing the molecular structure of reality. 

This change in the story was a necessary change to make their new ending work… but it also gave them an opportunity to include a brand new scene… where Adrian Veidt is faced by a group of ‘captains of industry’ involved with exploiting fossil fuels, coal and natural gas as energy sources, and even naming Lee Iacocca by name, and portray them all as a group of smarmy evil men willing to do anything to retain their greedy, evil profits at the expense of a planet in dire peril of disaster.  After the fat cats gave ther smarmy threats and insinuations, it gives Veidt a chance to lecture uninterrupted about how evil and mean they are, how shortsighted they are, and how free energy is the way of freedom and peace and love. In fact, it allows him to describe how, if it weren’t for exploitive oil companies and car manufacturers, there would be no war today.

The fact that the actor they got to play Veidt looks like a typical whining yuppie that could be broken in two by a stiff wind, and boy oh boy, I was really impressed. What a crock of shit.

Yay. Yeah, that fit in the movie like a turd in church.

But the big failure that stunk up the movie was the damned changed ending.

Seriously.

Yeah, the ending they used was just lame. The whole point of the movie was that the Comedian stumbled on something so big, so scary, so terrifyingly over the top, such a huge practical joke on the whole world, that he snaps. And he can’t keep his mouth shut after he snaps, this amoral man who kills kids and pregnant women, who assassinated Kennedy himself, it’s so big that HE snaps, and has to be killed to shut his ass up.

The original ending, in my opinion, fit the bill. Sure. It was a whopper of a big huge lie to make the entire world choke on, and I could see the Comedian seeing that huge-ass thing under the tarpaulin, read about the cloned psychic brain, the whole mindfuck of Dr Manhatten, and snapping a little. Even after everything he had done… because this was something bigger, more audacious, than nearly any mortal mind could conceive of not just planning, but DOING and getting away with.

What they did instead… it’s like the deballing of the graphic novel, and it has no integrity at all. They take out something that made sense, that had it’s own crazy logic… and replaced it with something that doesn’t even work in what little connection to reality the story had.

The graphic novel was always partly about a character study of diffferent personality types, and how they would react to different stimula. You learn more about these people over time, and see how their actions are shaped by their experiences, and by their own inner nature.

And then the movie changes the ending into something that is ignorant of even the most basic understanding of human behavior.

Dr Manhatten is the only superpowered individual on earth. We are shown that, from the moment he came into being, in the era of Vietnam, the US government had total control over him. He lived in a military facility. He obeyed military directives. For over 30 years, he was the threat of nuclear force that kept the Soviet Union at bay.

In reaction, the Soviets worked feverishly to stockpile a nuclear arsenal that could overwhelm even Dr Manhatten’s ability to stop them all, forcing America to retain the balance and not push the Soviets too far. America had bullied the Soviets previously, in Vietnam, and won. But now, now mutually assured destruction and a world on the brink of WWIII has things tense, balanced, and the slightest misunderstanding or pecker waving could see everything go up in smoke.

So to make the world one peaceful place full of joy and love, we are led to believe that first, Dr Manhatten is encouraged to leave earth forever, so America now has no nuclear deterrance to remain at a comparable level with the Soviets. Next, we are shown that America is at Defcon 1, and is fueling it’s bombers and arming it’s bombs to go to war in a pre-emptive strike, in response to the Soviet war machine posturing in Afghanistan, taunting the US to see if Dr Manhatten has really gone.

So the Soviets are shown explicitly not believing that Manhatten is gone… and everyone knows America has controlled Manhatten for his entire existence, and used him to wage war in the past, blowing people up and tanks up.

America is shown as being ready to launch a nuclear attack at any moment… a fact which anyone that has a clue knows the Soviets would be aware of.

And we are supposed to believe that the Soviet response to having some of their cities blown up by a massive explosion with Dr Manhatten’s energy signature… would be to say “Oh, you Americans had some of your cities blow up too, is all big mistake, Manhatten is actually fighting all of us at once for no reason, he must be crazy and is acting independantly against everyone on Earth, is not some American trick, so we all big friends now.”

Really.

And better still… this lame ass plot is supposed to be over the top crazy enough to make the Comedian crack?

Just… “Bitch, please.”

And there’s my real movie review. Taking the movie as a movie… they took an ending that, even if goofy, at least made sense… and left you walking out of the theater thinking, “Boy, that was a pretty stupid ending. In what universe is that supposed to make sense? The Soviets would have pushed the button about three seconds after their first city blew up. Dumbasses.”

Edit: After reading PlasticRats comment, aside from the fact that Alan Moore was the writer of Watchmen and not Frank Miller, I pretty much think you’re dead on. In fact, you nailed the reason I even felt any desire to write anything about it… that they did such a great job in all other respects, the acting, costuming, the attention to detail. It all showed a fine appreciation for, and respect for, the original material. Frankly, the movie showed far more love and care than I personally needed. I’m cool with reinterpretations… Batman Begins, Spiderman, Iron Man, Hellboy… none of them really went panel by panel with an original comic. Sin City did, and I thought it was done real well, but it’s the rarity in comic book movie adaptations.

So to me, in a case where clearly they did their absolute bestest in following the comic book, right down to Silk Spectre’s fugly costume… somebody, somewhere, had to come up with the idea that the tentacled squid was a bad idea, and Dr Manhatten energy bombs was a better idea. And many other people had to agree.

And again, as PlasticRat points out… Why? I guess it was a cool movie in many regards, I thought they did a great job of dealing with Rorshach, Nite Owl was handled extremely well, Silk Spectre was given a very strong consistent thread… to me, it’s just the changing of the ending that drops me. Because to me, it’s not that it’s different… it’s that it just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t feel like it would work.

Ah well. I still have Death Race to watch on DVD, I’ve got Resident Evil: Apocalypse for right after. Maybe after I watch those, I’ll come to appreciate the fine acting and special effects in Watchmen a lot more.