Flipping positions!

During this weeks downtime, good old Gnomeaggedon had a wonderful post, where he praised Blizzard’s communication skills. You know what the contraction for “good old” is, right? Go’ld!

He frequently has wonderful posts, he is pure go’ld, I’m just mentioning that one because it’s relevant to what I’m going to be talking about.

Oh, and Gnomer, you been threatening me with a rant against one of my PvP related posts for months now. Wassup? Bring it, shorty!

Ahem.

So yeah, Gnomer was very impressed with Blizzard’s communication skills during the recent downtime.

Since he was nice and considerate, that must mean I gotta be contrary and cranky, right?

Sure, Blizzard had some great communication. Well played.

But how about that communication the week before?

You know, the Twitter Developer Chat communication?

Yeah, THAT communication.

I’m very happy whenever Blizzard passes on information to us concerning their plans, and the intent behind them. Most companies restrict themselves to lawyer-approved press releases that are so sanitized you can’t see controversy in them unless you really twist your inner lens ALL out of focus.

Blizzard doesn’t do that. They talk to us. The developers as well as the community moderators. So please, keep in mind that when I do bitch, it’s with a healthy appreciation that at least we have some idea of what they’ve got going on.

I’d rather be told something I don’t like, and have it be the truth, than to be told nothing at all.

Moving on to the Twitter Developer Chat, the subject of class specific quests was brought up. Will Cataclysm have them?

The bare bones answer is, yes. There will be class quests at 20, and another at 50. Or something like that. This is good news, correct? There will be something for each class.

However, the value-added answer was that there will not be, and by implication never be, extensive class-specific quests because it is too expensive for the developers to program into the game.

Why is it considered too expensive? Let’s think about it for a moment.

The amount of time spent on quests for that one class could be better spent on quests that all classes could complete. The decision has to be made, create content all classes will see, or content only one class will see, using a certain finite amount of resources.

Or, to try and clarify Blizzard’s position for us, plucking numbers from thin air, if a programmer costs $30 an hour, it takes 1 hour to design a quest and implement the programming, and 100 hours of programming time ($3000) is budgeted for new quest content, then which is a more valuable use of that $3000? 100 quests for everyone, or 10 quests for each class?

That’s the position Blizzard holds. That it is too expensive in terms of allocated resources to program content exclusively for one class that nobody else will see.

In terms of project management and budget resource allocation, it’s very convincing logic. Especially when budgeting the resources required to completely revamp the existing Azerothian world experience.

In terms of the game design of an MMO, however, especially for an MMO with an extremely aging demographic, I don’t think it’s solid foreward planning.

In fact, I think it’s damn shortsighted.

My biggest objection to that logic? The concept, at this stage in the game, that content designed for only one character class will only be seen by a small segment of the players.

Are there still any players of over two years experience in this game that have created one character, and stuck to it, never experiencing anything else?

No. Most players play one main character, and then they start a new one for a new experience in the same game.

Having made that point, let’s back up a little. 

As a developer, you have a decision to make.

Allocate resources to either attract new customers, or allocate them to retain existing customers.

Or both.

I think Cataclysm is a brilliant plan for accomplishing both.

Existing customers get brand new leveling experiences within a familiar setting. I personally think that there is a lot of evidence that people LOVE being surrounded by familiar settings with a fresh new little tweak.

Anyone else love long series of books, TV shows or movies, where the scenery may change, and the plot may be different, but the major characters and genre stay the same?

No, I didn’t think so. Oh no, once an episode or book comes out, there’s never a demand for a sequal.

For existing customers, Cataclysm lets us continue to play in a world with familiar rules, settings, and structure… but the rules are just a little different now, and the places are a little changed now, and the quests are a little different now, and even the locations where Herbs and Ore spawn will be a little different now. And you can fly!

Small adjustments, but overall a comfortable feeling of being at home. It’s just like having a new couch and loveseat, and a 44″ HDTV added to the experience.

For brand new customers, the advertising will entice them by saying, “You never tried WoW before, because you were worried that everyone else already knew everything, and you’d be the noob. But now’s your chance to get in at the beginning, and learn the World of Warcraft alongside everyone else. The rules are new, the world is fresh, and there are brand new races and starting areas to try. There has never been a better opportunity to explore World of Warcraft all over again… for the very first time.”

Okay, so Cataclysm brings something for both existing and new customers.

For the existing customers, though… we’ve all been here before. I for one feel like I can predict the future based on past experiences.

Right now I have every character slot filled. I have had for months.

If I want to experience the new leveling world, there are three possibilities for me;

  1. I delete existing characters I love.
  2. I start up fresh on a new server.
  3. Blizzard lets us have more character slots per server.

What if all my friends are on my server? Then if Blizzard doesn’t open up more character slots, somebody has to get the axe.

If the game was only a year old, or even two years old, that wouldn’t be such an unreasonable expectation. Right?

But as a long term customer of over four years, I don’t think I’m unusual in having almost every slot filled with a character I like, and in which I have invested my time to develop, train and bond with. .

Does that sound super geeky? Bonding with a character in a video game? Of course it does. Anyone that doesn’t share certain geeky video game role playing characteristics with me is even now firing up the comment page to scream “It’s just a video game, get a grip!”

That’s fine, you don’t get it, and perhaps that means you represent the sane point of view.

I can only say that when I look at my level 73 Shadow Priest with maxed Jewelcrafting and Tailoring, I know that I may not feel like playing the character because I don’t currently enjoy her playstyle, but I have too many memories tied up in playing that character with friends. Great times with Legatum Ignavis in Karazhan, uber time spent PvPing in Alterac Valley with my wife to get the awesome PvP epic gavel (which she still carries), even time spent training Jewelcrafting that I just don’t want to lose by deleting her, even though I don’t intend playing her any time soon.

To paraphrase Roy Batty, “All those moments would be lost in time… like tears in the rain.”

Cut down to it,  if I want to hang with all my friends, and they don’t feel like server changing, then I have to kill a long time friend. Digital or not, it’s not cool. I’d much prefer to allow the character to remain, perhaps not logged in by me, but I can imagine at the loading screen that my Priest is out there in Azeroth, somewhere, sipping ale at the Pink Pigtail Inn and sharing stories of Mind Flaying some poor Rogue in Alterac Valley back in the day. Just waiting in pleasant retirement until the day her old friend wants to melt faces once again.

So, technically, limited replay value in the leveling experience, yes? Us oldtimers don’t have tons of empty slots to fill up.

But that’s okay, let’s move past that and assume that most people will eventually fire up a character on another server to experience the changed world. Or delete people. OR, perhaps they’ll take their max level characters and go questing the old world from scratch. Hopefully, all quests will be reset so you can do it all over again from the beginning.

So you do that on one character. Leveling or questing content from 1 to 60.

And then you do it a second time.

What have we learned from 5 years of playing?

Doing the same quests on different characters year after year gets damn old.

We play multiple characters in the hopes of experiencing something new.

And you tell us that content for one class is too expensive because it wouldn’t be seen by enough people? REALLY?

Sure, if all you’re looking at is the next three months, you might be right. Are we really planning on the game only lasting three more months?

Inevitably you want to see the experience from the other faction. Why? Is it because they’ve got better classes? Not anymore. Is it because they’ve got races you like better than the ones you first picked? Probably not, what races you went with first are the ones you liked best. Except for folks that like the brand new races, and none of the others on that faction.

So why?

It’s to see new quests. To take part in new storylines. To experience something new and fresh.

Well, if there are no class specific quests or content, I mean real class content different from the rest, then what you have is playing a different class through the same old thing you’ve already seen five, ten, fifteen times.

If each class had it’s own rich content at some point, or a little thread that wound it’s way through all the levels that had some good story to it, that would to me add something special for the long term player. Something new that playing that class brought besides a new way to trigger a ranged or melee attack.

I’m not thinking of the next year. I’m not even thinking of the next two years. I’m thinking of where we are now, and how short sighted it feels to hear a developer say that class specific content is too expensive for the return on investment.

When World of Warcraft was originally being developed, going headfirst against Everquest II, they invested in their plan. They couldn’t know how it would turn out, so they brought their ‘A’ game and did the best they could to anticipate what would really attract and retain customers long term.

None of the magazines or news agencies at the time considered WoW to be the big thing that would dominate the world. Everquest II was regularly reported to be the stronger contender for next gen MMO, simply because of the experience and popularity of EQ1.

During that initial development, clearly somebody over at Blizzard thought about differentiating the class gameplay experience in ways other than just stats and playstyle.

Somebody clearly thought that investing resources into making each class leveling experience have something special, something new. Some reason to draw you into the 1 to 60 game all over again, and extend your subscription that bit longer.

They invested at that time in class specific content. Special quest chains to unlock class defining abilities. Rogue quest areas and Ravenholdt. Warrior chains for kick ass weapons. Level 50 class quests for items out of Sunken Temple.

It really does feel like one person had that vision, but spent more time with one class than another. Different classes have content implemented at different levels. In some cases, all the class chains consist of are “go here and do this” to get an item that would have been a decent upgrade. Others have big epic feeling chains that bring special mounts. Even the Hunter class had the raiding gear chain that brought the bow and quiver of awesomeness.

It doesn’t feel like the attention to the classes was balanced, but more like one person had a vision… and then in mid stream had their attention shifted, or their resources pulled, and nobody left shares that same vision going forward.

It’s too bad. I know that, having done it already, I don’t personally look forward to questing through everything for the third time and saying, “What now?”, knowing that the plan is for all classes to get the same basic experience.

When it comes to investing resources in improving the replay value of World of Warcraft, a game meant to be a subscription based long-term gaming experience… I just don’t agree with the idea that class specific content is “too expensive”.

Really, when it comes right down to it, I’d rather they had the opposite opinion; that investing in long term replayability at all levels of content be something they make a high priority.

I know that Blizzard has done a fantastic job on the Cataclysm content. I’ve seen the screenshots, I’ve read a few of the beta reports, and by all indications, one thing you cannot accuse Blizzard of is being cheap on developing new content or redesigning the game.

I guess what it boils down to is my objection to the game design philosophy lurking behind such statements. If you’re going to be a subscription based game, you’ve got to be keeping your eye on things that will improve replayability, and keep your customers in it for the long term.

Saying class specific content is “too expensive” feels, to me, to be back-asswards to that concept.

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I still aten’t dead.

Just being killed by work.

Amazingly enough, I have finally found the amount of stress necessary to finally stop me from posting daily. It only required continuous equipment failures and personally covering other people’s shifts for weeks on end.

Local RPG

For those of you that have emailed me about starting up a local pen and paper RPG group, thank you, I do believe I have replied to you, but in case I haven’t… I will soon.

Responding to Email

For those of you that have emailed me in the last few weeks with questions… most likely I haven’t replied, but I’ll certainly try. Someday. Really. No, really.

Local get together/Meet the Bear/Yell at the Bear

For those rare few of you that have asked me when I might be planning to do a local Twin Cities get together, like I’ve done at Buffalo Wild Wings before… I’d like to do it again soon, but I think BWW might be played out. Any suggestions? It’d have to be some place that could have flexible seating since ya never know how many folks might be coming (although all things considered, a small booth is probably cool), and be smoke free. And well lit. And safe for people to visit who are nervous about meeting complete strangers they only know through the internet.

Be Safe

Oh, and while I’m thinking about it… chaperones to these things are not only welcome, but encouraged. There are some stone freaks out there, so if you do go out anywhere to meet people you only know from the internet BRING A FRIEND. And a shotgun. If you can’t conceal a shotgun in your back pocket, well, Minnesota IS a conceal carry state, so get your permit, and I happen to know from MY childhood that a Baeur .25 auto/Baby Browning fits in a back pocket admirably.

Plus, it’s cheaper to feed than your cousin bubba.

Anyway, in short… I may be quiet, but I aten’t dead yet.

A Novice’s Mistake

So, there I was.

Doing a bit of questing.

I’m finally pursuing my dream, a goal I have wished to take part in from the first day I dinged 60 on my first character.

I’m following the lengthy quest chains needed to transform a Rogue’s Shadowcraft Armor Dungeon Set 1 into the Darkmantle Dungeon Set 2.

This is a very lengthy chain, as I believe I mentioned already.

It is in the finest tradition of level 60 Vanilla WoW time wasting quest chains, when the goal was to give casual non-raiding players something to keep them occupied for months on end.

In this case, you begin by running certain level 60ish instances and raids over, and over, and over, and over, and over until you get each of 8 pieces of your Dungeon Set 1.

Three items CAN be found on the Auction House, being Bind on Equip, except that the Shadowcraft Gloves drop only from Shadow Hunter Vosh’gajin in LBRS, a boss and an instance not exactly known for it’s frequent clears these days. As an example of the fun of drop rates, let me tell you that I ran LBRS back to back on my Druid a few nights ago, using stealth and skill, and it took no less than 12 kills before the Gloves dropped. In the meantime… 9 sets of Demonic Runed Spaulders, a bow and a crossbow. Nine sets of shoulders.

Imagine for a moment, if you weren’t there at the time, how much fun it must have been when level 60 was the max, when gear was pretty skimpy with stats, to want a piece of your set oh so very bad, and run LBRS in full no less than 11 times without ever having seen the Gloves. I say in full, because who would leave a group in disgust when the only item they truly cared for didn’t drop? I know I’ve never heard of it happening.

And when they drop… God help you if it was a pug with a Druid in it, because Ferals wanted those pieces JUST as bad, and if it was a pug, they’d ninja them in a heartbeat. Oh, the drama. Oh the galactic levels of drama.

I bet that out there, if you look, there are still ancient forum flamewars between Rogues demanding the Shadowcraft pieces as theirs alone because only Rogues can upgrade them and wear them as Darkmantle, and Druids claiming they have equl right because Shadowcraft is optimised for Ferals in the day, and the Shadowcraft is NOT restricted to any one class.

The flames from those wars shall not die, nay, not though a thousand years shall pass… which, in internet time, is next week. 

Now consider this… the chest piece for every set for every class drops from the same boss, General Drakkisath in UBRS. That was quite easy to keep back then… until your guild geared past UBRS and wanted to kill Onyxia and take on Molten Core. After that, max level 60 pugged UBRS.

And again… pugged Druids grabbing the chest, even if there is a Rogue.

Hey, I AM a Druid on my main… and I was there. I was Feral, and I was right there hoping and praying the armor bits would drop, and any Rogue along would say, ‘Oh no, I’m fine, I’ll pass.” Hoping… My friends, hope in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first. So much for hope.

/shiver.

Just take a moment. Consider the horror, or reminisce about it if you lived it.

I took on the challenge for my Druid, the Wildheart Raiment, and never finished it. I just never could get those damn birdie shoulders to drop from Gizrul (the Slavener.. whatever the hell THAT is) in LBRS.

Many back then took the Dungeon Set 1 to 2 challenge on, I think everyone back then harbored some aspiration of completing the entire chain.

So few completed it. So many were lost along the wayside, doomed by poor drop rates and progressive raiding guilds that had no time in their 7 night a week raid schedule to do old crap like UBRS or LBRS clears.

But I’m doing it now. And if my Rogue can solo to Cannon Master Willy in search of the set shoulders 10 times without seeing them drop, so what? They’ll drop eventually, and at least I’m not wasting an entire groups’ time.

But the quest chain. Ah yes.

Even IF you had somehow managed to run every instance and raid often enough at level 60 to get all eight pieces of your class set, you weren’t done. Not by a long shot.

You had to follow a quest chain that, as I said, was meant to keep you busy for a long, long, long time while the special people raided.

I’ll leave the entire Sillythis end part of the chain out of the discussion for now, because I have yet to hit it at this point, and I have a strong feeling that when it does, additional fodder for blog posts will be born in the fires of drop frustration.

What I will touch on, what’s relevant to the post, is that the way Blizzard created a time consuming quest chain, in part, was to send you to the farthest reaches of the globe, there to ride to the farthest reaches of the zone, and kill a bunch of mobs for a drop. And then return for the next step, rinse and repeat.

This, I am proud to say, I’m doing, mostly by cheating.

I’m a Rogue. I’m an Engineer. I got Sprint, I got an epic mount, I got Rocket Boots, I’ve got a Teleport Trinket to Gadgetzan, I’ve got a Teleport item for Northrend, I’ve got a Dalaran hearth point set with a 30 minute cooldown, Dalaran even has a port straight to Tenaris… In one day I can get my ass around Azeroth back and forth to Gadgetzan pretty darn fast.

This fine evening, I’d used ALL of it in the following of the quest that requires you to travel to Silithis and get 12 ghost ectoplasms, then travel to Winterspring and get 12 ghost ectoplasms, and then to Eastern Plaguelands and get 12 ghost ectoplasms.

These would be undead thingies I’m killing. Just thought I’d mention it, since, y’know, ghosts and ectoplasms… you mighta been confused and thought I was hunting wabbits.

The quest started in Gadgetzan, and I have to return the 36 ectoplasms (I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!) back to Gadgetzan.

I do this thing. I turn in the ghost goo. He seems grateful to GET the ghost goo. Woo!

I open up the next part of the chain, and see that, sure enough, the next step, surprise surprise, is to travel across the world and kill some dude for some drop, and then bring it all the way the hell back here. And all my hooyahs are on cooldown, so damnit, time to get on the flight to Theramore and get on a boat and then fly to Burning Steppes. Time to pick up my “in flight” book. If I was smart, I’d have an in flight movie playing, and I’d tab in and out while on fights, but this is a good book. Gene Wolfe has me hooked.

I haven’t watched Immortal Beloved for a few years, I feel the urge. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I see where I have to go, I run down and hop a flight, read until I’m at the dock, read until the boat comes, read until the boat docks, read until the flight lands in Burning Steppes, and then once I’m there I pop open my quest log to see who is marked for extermination….

I have no quest in my quest log.

Hmmm. Did I? Did I really? Why yes, yes I did.

See, I neglected, in my ennui and haste (if there is such a thing as rushed boredom, I experienced it) to actually click on the little “Accept” button when I was reading the quest description.

I’ve been playing this game HOW long, exactly, and I didn’t click the stupid little accept button? Isn’t that reflex, like, hard wired in by now? Somebody rings a bell, I salivate and click “Accept Quest”?

But yes. Yes, I did that. Or failed to do that, which is more completely accurate.

Guess what? Hearth was off cooldown. I’m not ashamed to admit I used it. Why look, a portal to Tanaris in the Violet Hold? Oh, you shouldnt have!

Can I get frequent porting miles? Is there an in-port beverage service?

Why hello there, handsome, and don’t YOU look familiar? Hey, gotta quest? You do? I’m /shocked!

And now to return to reading/flying/reading/flying/riding/killing/riding/flying/reading….

My take on new Cataclysm Talent Specs

What’s that? My take on Cataclysm talent specs?

It’s that I’m not going to bother doing one.

I wish I hadn’t even bothered to open the damn talent calculator to look at them.

What’s the point?

They’ve done a complete reboot of the concept they had and thrown it out there, and it’s just unfinished. It’s incomplete. All you can say about it is, it’s a good start.

You know what, when I plan on unveiling a big project at work, I don’t get 85% through the first iteration of my concept, and then hold a staff meeting to say, “Hey, here ya go, what do you think? Give me your honest feedback on what we need to do to improve it.”

What do I think? I think it’s a good concept but you left it 85% done, and what do you expect me to say about it? “Hey, that bit doesn’t look right?”

Gee, what do you say in reply? Something like, “Oh yeah, we know that isn’t right, we’re planning on fixing that soon.”

Well, tell you what. Hows about you carry your happy ass on back and fix all the things you already know need fixing, and then when you’re actually thinking you’re DONE, then you let us see it? Then, with a concept you think is ready for prime time in hand, when we tell you we have a concern, instead of saying “Oh yeah, we already knew about that”, you can just make a list of NEW things that you DIDN’T know.

Things that aren’t bloody obvious.

What is obvious? No, I’m not going to bother. I’m not wasting one more freaking ounce of my precious time dissecting these things.

No, I’ll wait until they actually release something that indicates they think they’re close to done. I know they don’t need my feedback; they’ve got Beta testers to point out the obviousness. 

Wait, am I supposed to thank Blizzard for giving us a tease?

Yay! Thank you for rushing it out the door in the middle of all your bad press last week! Appreciate it! Woo!

Man, I’m so excited I feel dizzy.

Mangle say what now?

MMO Champion just posted a new look at the Cataclysm Beta build, and they’re showing the stuff you get at level 10 when you pick a Talent Tree.

Now, I know this is subject to change, but so far it’s Vengeance, an unspecified ‘Feral Druid” buff (the spellcaster types are listed as getting pushback reduction to spells for theirs), and….

Mangle.

Mangle at level 10.

No more baby Claw, but Mangle.

Well, hell, they’re really making me feel bad about deciding to level a Troll Druid as Feral from 1 to 85 in Cataclysm, aren’t they?

For those that don’t recall, Vengeance is supposed to be a new ability that, as you take damage in Bear form, your attack power gets boosted. So it’s a threat multipler/damage buff for Bears that tank, that hopefully will scale as we level.

But, well, that’s nifty and all… but Mangle at level 10!

Reader Mail – Finding the Confidence to Tank

Welcome to more reader mail, where I answer questions. It’s rare white elk day in Bearland.

I had a pretty nice email from Feraldawn, who had a number of excellent questions. The question I liked most was about gaining the confidence to tank for the first time.

First, the email;

I have finally leveled my druid to 80.  I have always soloed with her.  Now that she is 80 I would really like to run her into instances.  I had intended to be the tank but I am not confident yet.  I thought I would have her talented as a tank and run around in kitty form until I was more comfortable with playing her in groups. 

Here are my questions:

  • Should I keep the talents like a bear tank or should I duel spec; one for bear and one for kitty.
  • How did you get comfortable tanking?  My main is a holy priest, the tank and healer get the most heat from bad runs.
  • Where should my gear be at to start tanking heroics? 

Well thank you for the help.  I really enjoyed your tank guides and the blog.

Feraldawn

Those are really great questions,  Feraldawn. Short and directly to the point.

Talents. My suggestion to you is, unless you are raiding as Feral Cat, to go ahead and use a spec tailored towards Bear tanking, and have no fears about your Kitty DPS in groups. If you’re not raiding, it’s not going to be a big issue. Soloing, you’ll certainly be just fine. If you are raiding, then you really should dual spec for Cat to make sure you tweak things out for maximum DPS for the team.

Also, if you’re raiding as Cat, you really should have seperate Kitty gear. It’s not the same as Bear gear. The leather is similar, but what stat load on that gear changes.

But, again, if you’re not raiding the upper reaches, go for a Bear weighted talent spec and gear. Even for kitty, it’s fine for 5 man action. 

I’m going to skip ahead here to gear. You ask what gear you should have to start tanking.

My answer to you is, it depends entirely on how confident you are.

You CAN start tanking as a Warrior in cloth gear at level 15 in Ragefire Chasm if you want, and if you’re really confident and practise your moves, and have a great healer, you’ll probably kick it’s butt. How? By keeping all threat from all mobs on you and trusting the healer to keep you alive.

That ain’t helpful, it’s mean to illustrate a point. There is no magic number where you will tank without the potential for failure. The reason for that is that you could go into an instance with poor gear and be propped up by a superb healer, or go in with uber gear and never get heals and die anyway.

It’s a team job.

If you were confident in your ability to play well, and IF you were only going to play with friends willing to be patient, you could go into an instance and tank as soon as every slot in your gear list had at least one piece of gear from anywhere on my sidebar guides. The lowest rank of gear in those guides is still fine for tanking instances. If your team is careful on their threat output, if your healer is solid, and if you take your time, you’ll win.

What I think you really want to know is, at what point is your gear good enough that random people won’t be asshats to you in the instance?

That’ll never happen. There is no gear level high enough.

Still, if that is what your goal is, I really suggest you run heroics as a Kitty DPS until you are able to get a full set of higher level gear from my sidebar lists, including the Tier pieces. The better your gear, the more cushion you’ll have to buffer you from the random pug blues. 

As I said, if your confidence is strong, that’s not necessary. But if you’re not sure you’re playing well yet, not sure you’re hitting the right buttons, etc, having more powerful gear than necessary will certainly boost your spirits.

Your third (second?) question is the biggie.

Confidence as a tank.

The fact is, in order to be a tank, much like your experience with healing, you have to be self-confident.

If you run in randoms, there WILL be people that are rude little pricks to you. Absolutely, no question. I 100% guarantee it.

There will be people that do NOT want to be in group with you, people who are there only for a couple daily Frost, people who feel that spending time with you is beneath them, people who want nothing more than a two minute run with zero wasted time on talk. Go go go, get your butt moving, if you won’t pull then I’ll pull for you, pull more, pull faster, why are you stopping, go go go. Pull several rooms at once, why are you pausing, I don’t need mana, you noob, you suck, you’re the worst tank ever, (and then they pop a massive crit while playing in their 6k gear score Fire Mage spec and pull aggro from every mob in the room, and shriek at how bad you suck).

There are many, many random puggers out there that figure that, since THEY have 6k Gearscore and killed Arthas, then EVERYONE they meet in random pugs should ALSO be in the same gear… and that using threat meters is beneath them.

To tank in random pugs, you HAVE to be able to blow those asshats off.

You have to know going in that you have your way of doing it, the way you are most comfortable with, and if you announce in advance, “Hey, I’m still getting my gear together and sharpening my skills, so please give me a chance to build aggro before you blow up the mobs” and they act like asshats pulling for you, or leave the group, or in general are rude, it’s THEIR fault for being pricks, and NOT a reflection on you.

It’s hard, I know. Especially when you feel uncertain as to your skills, and are worried that you’ll do something wrong that you’ll feel warrants being yelled at.

Trust me, I know. If you feel that way, then you’re one of the people I wish I got the chance to play with, because you care, you actually care if you’re doing a good job, and I’ll take you over Mr. 6k gearscore any day of the week.

Me, before I play a new role in a team setting, I research what the skills and talents do, I put together a spec, build a gear set, and then I practise on my own in as close to real world conditions as possible.

For tanks, this means making sure you practise keeping all the mobs in sight, so knowing how to change/turn your camera view to keep everyone in view.

Practise using Taunt (Growl) frequently so you can nail it in an emergency, which is the time you need it most.

Try practise pulling groups that have both melee and casters by pulling at range with Feral Faerie Fire, and then using Feral Charge on the ranged guy that still stands back there. It is a good habit to get into, to be able to use Feral Charge in mid-combat to flit to and fro among ranged mobs that are cranky and don’t come running.

Please read those stickies on the sidebar, and focus on learning to see what’s going on, and how to grab aggro on the fly. If you can see when someone pulled aggro, and toss a Growl and a Feral Faerie Fire, and as a last resort Feral Charge the mob and Mangle it, by gosh if that doesn’t get the wayward mob back on you, it’s not your fault.

So, study. Prepare your bars and skills. Practise in non-instances.

Then, hey… why not queue up as a level 80 to tank regular Nexus? There is a good range of mobs, casters and melee. There are some that stun you, there are some that whirlwind, there are groups for AoE, and there are a few dragonkin pulls where the healers are apart from each other, so you can nail one, then Feral Charge to the other one and lock him down, and hop back. You don’t have to, but if you can do it before they die, it’s good practise before you get to the first Icecrown 5 man ranged groups.

Confidence is very hard to build up. If you really care what other people think, and what they say, then the bored people, the idiots with zero patience will get you down, because you cannot prevent them from being pissy.

You just can’t.

What you CAN do, and what you seem to be trying to do, is prepare yourself the best you can, get the right gear, the right spec, and some helpful tips.

My biggest suggestion, really, is to try out the addon TidyPlates, with the added Threat Plates package, both available on Curse. Curse? I’m pretty sure they’re on Curse. I’ll link ’em when I get home.

Your biggest challenge as a tank on the battlefield is keeping all mobs in view, and knowing for an absolute certainty that you have threat on every mob you’ve pulled. Threat Plates will help you do that. It’s very reassuring for new tanks. Being able to see, for a fact, that you have threat on every mob in your view is HUGE for your confidence.

I hope that some of the suggestions here help out, and I also hope that some of our wonderful readers will chime in with tips of their own.

Thanks for the email, Feraldawn!

Real Life – The Game!

I was browsing the blogorama this morning, and couldn’t help but notice Miss Medicina talking about a new game she’s been enjoying lately.

I guess it’s called “Real Life”, or something like that.

I thought it was called “Second Life”, but I guess that’s some other game.

Reading about this cool new game gave me the urge to try it on for myself.

The hard part in getting started, however, is that the match making service is still in Beta.

I mean, it turns out I’ve got a character in the game already. I don’t like the name they gave me, it feels kinda like the game assigned it to me at startup, but I checked out the rules and while I could change it, that requires extra payment and there’s a cooldown on how often I can do it, so I figure I’ll just keep it.

But now that I’m in the game, and I’ve got a character and everything… well, it’s hard to get a party going.

It turns out that the LFD in Real Life is full of trolls like you would NOT believe.

Okay, hold on while I talk “In Character” now. Yeah, I know, it’s part of the game. Feels wierd. Okay, here we go, let me see if I can do this. 

John Patricelli says; Hi folks! I’ve been thinking about getting back into playing pen and paper style role playing games that require actual face to face interaction. I’m just kicking the idea around, no definite plans just now. For one thing, Cassie might decide I haven’t been nearly nice enough to have a ‘gaming night’ in our already hectic schedule.

John Patricelli says; What I wanted to do was throw the idea out there and see if any of you in the area of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, were interested in getting together and forming a gaming group. If you’ve been reading the Converging Forces stuff, you’ve got a fairly good idea of the kinds of games I run when I GM, lots of story and character development, some action, and lots of long term consequences and drama. And sarcasm.

John Patricelli says; So, again, this is totally just to see if there are enough folks out there in my area that are both interested in stepping away from WoW once in awhile to get together in real life for pen and paper role playing, and are also interested in doing so with me. If you are, toss me an email at tigerlordgm@yahoo.com.

Why do I have the feeling I’m going to be hearing crickets? This is a group of readers focused on playing video games, after all, not playing RPGs.

Again, totally not starting anything right this second, just looking to see if there would be local interest, and maybe I should say, the campaign would not take place in WoW. At least, not if I’m GMing. I don’t know the lore NEARLY well enough.

Hey James, would you be in once or twice a month?