Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's that?

Altoholic decided to sketch, haven't done this in a long time.

Mr. Paladin seems surprised or entranced by something. I was thinking about it just being some sort of magical orb or some sort of invention, however, I'm tempted towards sketching one of my other characters (the non-speaking hunter) pouting at him and the object he's looking at being... an adolescent feline, or several. The unspoken question, "Can we keep them?"

He could also be looking at a gem, an engineering trinket, or casting a healing spell (but not flash of light, he never casts flash of light).

What is that?

Back to the Healing

In the past day or two I've begun running my assorted characters through the random heroic.

  • 13/23 - Hunter: I haven't had any trouble. I still feel like I'm sucking at it but my character does ok.
  • 17/23 - DK1: I'll only do randoms as a tank if I'm with my guild. I run as dps otherwise and suck it up but I haven't gotten vote-kicked.
  • 10/23 - Druid: My druid is amazingly undergeared but has some TOC normal epix and some PVP gear. I healed a speed run with little effort.
  • 14/23 - Shaman: I healed a run on my shaman with little effort or complaints.
  • 2/23 - DK2: Got comments from people because the character isn't in all epics. First heroic was oculus, the tank / leader told me to stay on my drake for the boss that does the lightning arcs, because apparently no epics + boa weapon = inexperienced moron. I did not die to the stupid on any fight in said instance.
The hunter has done the weekly heroic. I don't know his exact badge count. I also don't know the DK1's badge count, but he has done part of the new ICC instances with the 6 free frost badges.

The shaman, druid, and DK2 haven't done the icecrown instances or the weekly raid. It is possible that I could pull off doing some of those on the weekly raid depending on which raid it is.

This week it's the second boss in TotC10. My shaman could do it, but not the druid or DKs. I have lots of work to do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guild Recruiting: There has to be a better way - Redeux!

I was catching up with an old friend and I mentioned unto him this blog. He commented on my entry about guild recruiting, and how it would be so much easier and more successful with the proper tools to do so. Also thought that my idea would be capable of applying not only to WOW but to other places as well, and that it sounded like an idea for a social network.

I wanted to elaborate a bit more on the idea and how it would work just to write it down.

Playtime
One of the most important things to do when trying to match someone to a group is find schedules that match. I've seen a lot of sites do this with timezones and they don't always seem to work well and they make searching a pain.

The first thing a registering member would do, aside from register, validate e-mail address, jab at captcha, etc, would be to enter their timzeone and their full playtime.

Time values should be stored in military time at the GMT timezone and then converted and displayed accordingly. When someone enters their timezone, all dates and times for everything listed when they're searching will be listed as the time in their own timezone.

A guild that raids on Wednesday morning at midnight would appear as raiding on Tuesday at 11PM for someone in Central, 10 for Mountain, 9 for Pacific. If someone chooses to search for a guild, at this point the algorithm should pull up all guilds that have core activities based in the players playtime range. Default sorting would probably be if the entire mandatory raid time would fit or if only some of it would, then progression would be listed.

A guild registering could enter their core and optional playtimes and other related stuff. I would assume that optional play not matching a potential recruit's playtime isn't a bad thing because it's optional. Progression would be entered.

Values
Different people enjoy different things and have different priorities. Different people will put up with different things for the sake of progression. I've met players who are in raiding guilds that are completely miserable because of how they're treated.

A registrant could take a quiz or something that asks them a bunch of questions to determine what they value most and to determine their play intensity.

Some players may not care about atmosphere or guild climate so long as they're killing bosses and getting loot, while others would want to be among others with common interests. determining which elements have which weight for different people would ultimately effect how things are sorted and delivered to the user.

I would probably stay away from terms like 'hardcore' in favor of 'progression' or 'relaxed' 'low stress'. I know some players on a casual schedule who are extremely hardcore when it comes to skill, and some 'hardcore' people that suck more than 'casuals' do.

Interests
A'la LiveJournal, users could add in interests. They'd get a tag cloud and be able to see other users with the same interests. It's possible that a matching algorithm could be applied on a user to user basis to let users find gaming friends outside of a guild structure.

Players in guilds could also sign up and 'join' their guilds on the site. Like on wowheadhunter, personalities can be calculated. Interests could be displayed as well with tag clouds where the bigger the word the more people that have a particular interest.

You could find a guild full of goons or btards or furries (or all three existing in harmony) who enjoy dividing by zero, comicbooks, drawing, anime, blogging, alting and tragic canoeing accidents.

Playtimes other than the guild listed playtime, like, individual member playtime could be graphed somehow showing if people are on earlier or later.

Depending on someone's value, a guild with lower progression but higher similar interests and personality could show up on the recommended list for someone seeking a guild.

Progression and a guild's ability to clear stuff requires people, without people guilds can't progress very well. One or two more good players may be all some of the 'not as progressed' raids need, and the right environment, attitude, and interests could attract those people.

Fun for Guild members
It's possible that guild members could have fun with this as well. It'd let players break the ice with each other. Two people might have a common interest and not even realizing it.

I didn't realize just how much into Anime members of my raid were until we were running through a FoS and one of them mentioned watching Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, and the conversation from there evolved into everyone talking about their favorite shows, new ones, old ones, suggesting stuff to watch to each other.

Mentioning "Rune Soldier" prompted a response of "Louie Punch!" from one of my guildmates. I just about died.

It could make existing guilds a healthier place, too.
It could be made into some form of fun social network, too.


Unfortunately I fear the CPU power required to make such a keen site would probably make Dreamhost bitch-slap me and tell me to get a far more expensive dedicated hosting plan instead of my colocation plan. This means that the service would not be without either advertisements or premium membership. Perhaps member to member matching could be a premium membership feature. Perhaps it could be wired in a way that people's 'membership' stuff went straight towards account credits somehow.

For legal reasons, it'd be best that if I were to pursue some project to incorporate myself, which means talking to laywers and other fun crap.

Glee.

Rambling - ROBIEOETSRPCDU - Alphabet soup!

And now I ramble on moving from topic to topic...

Last week I didn't balance out the raiders in my guild for two ICC10 runs because of the holidays. I didn't know who would be around and who would be away so I grabbed people that wanted to go and we went in and punched it. Little did I know that more people wanted to go and that our second group wouldn't do as well. Part of that was that I just suck on my hunter but it's also partially due to mains that were preforming lower than my huntar. (There's no excuse for 900 dps on the boss. Evar.)

My hunter didn't do well, but was 3rd out of 5 on DPS for Marrowgar and when one of our dps had to drop I went up to second. I'm beating myself up over my hunter's suck and am working on figuring out what I'm doing wrong and how I can do better, but it's still a bad bad place for my guild that I'm in third place. This means that my alt is outplaying other people's mains, and my alt isn't the only one doing this. The difference between me and the other two dps that were low was that I didn't die to the fire and that I did target people that were boned and nuked them out as fast as possible.

With this in mind, I am now working on gearing my Hunter (so I don't suck) and my DK tank (for fun) at the same time. I'm also working on bettering my main, the Healadin, by shuffling through all my alts and getting ready to run the daily random heroic every day for 12 days straight. I may also hop the weekly raid when possible. My mission? To replace my iLevel226 crafted boots. I need 6-7 Primordial Saronite, one for the bullets pattern (so I can create both, yay), one for the blacksmithing pattern, and five for the actual crafted item. That's right, I'm using my alts to better my main. Altoholic advantage right there, but I digress.


My raidlings suggested that I split the groups more evenly so everyone can get a chance to kill the bosses (and so we don't get all of the lower geared / inexperienced players in one team). To this, I agreed. That's been my intention the whole time, but holidays come around and I'd rather get one group through than hold up raids and not go because people show up missing and have zero raids clear.

So I mentally worked out in my head who should go where and for what so we would have a good strong balance, with the less experienced slower learning players spread out. I slotted myself and another experienced players alt into spots for one of the runs so we knew we had some ok hitters who at least knew what they were doing.

When I arrived home from work, I heard that it was implied in guild chat that people were upset about alts going to raids over mains. It was pointed, once again, in the direction of the altoholics of the AA guild. In particular, I think it was pointed towards myself and one other raider, whose alts have been demonstrated as running equal to or slightly ahead of some of our slower players mains.

The other alotholic for whom this was pointed at was pretty disheartened and resigned himself to sit out for the night. I pondered the setup of groups and arranged to have a different paladin healer, a regular guest, go in my place, and also resigned myself to the bench. (We're usually, literally, found sitting on the bench just inside the door of the north bank in Dalaran on the left hand side. So we were, quite literally, on the bench.)

I put together the group, using my hunter as the invite source. I grabbed two tanks, three healers (one of whom was going on a trip today so had to go with that group), two strong melee dps, one dps dps shaman who could go melee or ranged (he has a level 1 humanoid and can't play all the time), and had two ranged spots. I gave the tanks promotions, set them as tanks in ora, threw them leader, left who they'd bring as their two other ranged up to them, and had them go ahead and roll out. I told them to grab the flasks from the bank and shooed them down to one of the raid channels.

They did ask if altoholic tank and I wanted to bring our warlock and hunter. I privately noted I wasn't feeling too hot, and was pretty down on myself for my poor performance on my hunter, that I feel he's not ready for ICC yet. I also explained that people were bitchin' about others bringing alts, and that the tank and I would try to get a pug on our alts later, but that we were fairly content with the bench. The response I got from the players was that the complainers would just have to deal with it.

They wound up taking one of our slower players and a regular from a TotGC10 a handful of the team has been doing. (I've not gone for my own reasons.) I would assume that if the regular guest hunter was in there in TotGC and could beat the dps requirements for Northrend Beasts that they're probably good enough to make up for the slowness of the less experienced player.

I sat on the bench for a while. I kinda wanted to go because I loved raiding, and moreover, I was one frost badge away from my pretty new shoulders. I brooded for a few minutes and wondered if I did the right thing and questioned my own motivations and desired outcomes.

  1. I did make my best honest effort to give them a reasonably stacked group so they could succeed.
  2. I tried to keep groups of players (friends, significant others, etc) together for maximum happy and comfort in raid.
  3. At the same time, I also gave an honest effort to slot the people who could only make it that night. Level 1 humanoids and trips overseas happen sometimes.
  4. I attempted to appease the anonymous complainers by not slotting well geared alts of experienced players over others mains, even if those mains weren't as effective.

  • I genuinely wanted the group to succeed, I really genuinely and sincerely want to have two strong teams capable of clearing 10 man ICC.
  • I feel like I am being pushed to include some of our slower learning players on progression by other members, members whom I suspect are subject to listening to players complaining about how unfair things are and sympathetic.
  • I feel like when I include them others get frustrated by their poor performance, and players get frustrated at me for including them.
  • I wanted the decision to bring a player with sub-par performance to be up to the other players rather than me, so I am not the target of blame and frustration.
  • I kinda wanted others to learn what it's like to lead and have to make these tough decisions and learn for themselves why I do what I do. There is a method to my madness.
  • I'm tired of being made out to be the bad guy and getting hate for benching people. Seriously, one of my raiders spoke of me to my fellow raiders, in my presence, and said they wanted to throw me in a fire because I wasn't benching a regular to take them when they happened to feel like showing up.
I phantomed down to listen to what was going on at one point during the night and they were wiping on Saurfang. I cheered for them in gchat, listened to their last attempt on Saurfang, which was a really close wipe, and frowned. I was pretty sad and hoping for them to get it on their last try.

My brooding session didn't last most of their instance. It only lasted a few minutes and after over-thinking and worrying, one of my players who wasn't going expressed interest in the weekly raid. I collected the players that weren't in ICC10 and wound up with 8 people. We pugged a strong rogue from another raiding guild we're on friendly terms with, and one of my players found a willing holy paladin.

Gleeful, the pug healadin was one whose name I have on my friends list. They were one of the people who seemed to, according to wowprogress, disappear from the roster of a guild I used to be in around the time that one of my critics was bragging about gkicking people and implying I was a bottom feeder. Former GL critic has a tendency to trash talk former members, he did it when I was there, he probably does it about me too. The person probably was unsure about us when he realized I was leading the raid, likely having heard trash-talking of me.

Regardless, we went in and cleared the instance with little issue, and the paladin happily got several tank offset upgrades and the shield off of Anub by default. We gemmed and enchanted it too, and in the end he thanked me for the run, said he had a good time, to friend him (way ahead of him there), and if we ever needed a healer again to let him know, he'd be happy to run with us again. I gave him our friends and family chat channel that I send out calls on before looking externally, and he went on his merry way.

Hit a heroic on my tiny DK then went and ran with members of the group that went into Icecrown for them hitting the weekly raid on my hunter. They asked for anyone before they went to trade so I went along. Vent was quiet. Either people were tired or in an upset mood, and it's probably upsetness at me. =(


As a guild leader and a raid leader, I try do the following things:
  • Recruit - I spend time recruiting new people. I give them attention, welcome them, make sure they have what they need and have direction.
  • Organize - I schedule events and herd cats to go to them.
  • Balance - I choose who goes what what group so that things will be balanced. This can be pretty hard. Do I take everyone and spread our strongest players across two groups or do I make one really solid group and push progression?
  • Invite - I invite people to the raids.
  • Explain - I explain the strategies.
  • Observe - I observe what happens, what people are doing.
  • Evaluate - I evaluate how people are doing and what's going on.
  • Troubleshoot - I troubleshoot what went awry.
  • Solve - I present solutions to problems.
  • Reiterate - I reiterate important things that might have caused a wipe (like, seriously, spread out on Saurfang. Seriously don't let the beasts touch you, it's really really important).
  • Praise - I praise people when they do well.
  • Congratulate - I celebrate the success of the raid.
  • Diffuse - I try to difuse trouble and conflicts before they get out of hand.
  • Unruffle - And I try to unruffle feathers of people who are upset.
Sometimes I don't succeed, but I try, and that's really all I can hope to do.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guild Recruiting: There has to be a better way.

I've been following the exploits of an Alliance player on my server whom is hated due to douchebaggery long past. He can't find a guild and he's shooting himself in the foot by looking down at guilds that are smaller. He's so concerned with size, progression, and raid time that he isn't thinking about a home at all... and probably won't find one.

In my WOW gaming career I've been a part of 5 different raids and four different guilds, two of them were run by me. In both cases where I've operated guilds, we've been late to enter the playing field and struggling to reach critical mass. It's been easier with WotLK to keep and run a raid group, what with being able to remain small and run 10 man content, but finding people to go from 10 to 25 man content is immensely challenging.

Of course, 10 man raiding gets looked down upon on our server as being 'casual' and not as important. Having done 40, 25, and 10 man raiding, I'd have to say 10 man is definitely the hardest of the bunch and least respected.

With 40 man raiding, you were, theoretically, 2.5% of the total raid. Some raiders may have contributed 3.5% and others may have contributed 1%, but the total added up to 100%.

With 25 man raids each player contributes 4% to the total raid. Some may do 5% or 6% and carry others who are doing 1%. I've seen 25 man raid content cleared with 20 good people.

With 10 man raids each player contributes approximately 10% to the raid. It's much harder for a 10 man raid to carry multiple people who don't shoulder their own weight. (My group has been discussing doing a 5-6 man Naxx run with some of our most competent players.)

We really have to be on our A game when we want to really clear new content, we don't have the luxury of slacking or carrying folks as much, we have to be on our A game. I have to say to people, "Sorry, you don't do enough DPS and we want to clear new content this week" and bench them. I also have to deal with hurt feelings and others getting upset at me over me benching their friends. I hate to be the bad guy

A 10 man raider running equivalent content to a 25 man raider works 6% harder for inferior gear and no respect. If I could collect 5-10 more players who are capable of being 10% of a raid, and combined them, it's theoretical that we could be a 25 man raid that works harder than a normal 25 man raid, perhaps one that even gives people a run for their money and pushes server firsts.

But I digress... back on subject.

I frequent probably every guild recruitment tool out there, searching desperately for new players to invite to my community. While I've found some very good assets, the number of assets I've successfully collected is minuscule compared to the amount of information I've shuffled through.

When I read entries on WOWlemmings, I see people in badge gear want 25 man raids in ICC when they've never seen Kel'Thuzad or Yogg-Saron die. People want to be carried and geared out instead of working for it themselves.

Wowheadhunter can show personality types, others (world of raids, wowraid, wowmatcher) can show progression and raid times but seem to fudge timezones or aren't smart in matching.

What if there were a way to intelligently and automatically match players to groups, less searching and shuffling and hoping.
Not just by progression or raid time, but by values, interests, and personality too.

Imagine if finding a guild was like coming home, to a place, a community, among friends where you feel you actually belong. With people who you enjoy spending time with.

Imagine progression while being happy and having fun with people you find fun.

There's got to be a better way. If there's not, one must be made.
Once again I wish I were a programmer so I could make such a thing a reality.

Friday, December 25, 2009

LFG-Phobia

After an evening of farming ICC25 for rep on my hunter, and blowing 2500g, my hunter now has maxed out engineering and can make the epic arrows. Yeay.

I checked my Frost badges on my Paladin and I'm pretty close to a piece of tier gear, so my favorite tank and I hopped into a random heroic to put me a little closer, the heroic was DTK.

We wound up with a group of DPS pugs, one of which who was asking us to skip the 'optional' bosses, the other off whom was complaining about things going slow (I threatened to put on my RP gear and NPC walk the rest of the instance). We ignored the requests to skip bosses because badges are very useful, the person who was asking us to skip was still sporting some 213 gear.

After killing King Dread, one of the DPS got all uppity. He or she started yelling at my tank for 'sucking', not taunting, etc.

I politely pointed out that as Paladin tanks get more geared up, they begin to go through mana starvation, which makes it harder for him to generate threat. I mean, I've tanked things on my Paladin and I suffer from mana starvation and this tank's got gear far superior to mine, I can only imagine his pain. I have to sit down and drink once every few pulls when tanking.

I also pointed out that tanks shouldn't have to taunt, that taunt isn't a part of a tank's regular threat rotation as taunt does not build agro. If he's having to taunt, it's because someone else is being too overzealous.

I also pointed out that the DPS should wait for the tank to get agro (wait for one consecrate) and to assist off the tank for the proper kill target, neither of which this DPS was doing. They still insisted we suck, when in actuality, he was the one being bad.

I said on vent, "I'm not going to heal this jerk warlock anymore." Our tank relayed that. I noticed the locke seems to lifetap his health down and expects a heal, I can just let him die. I put on my tier 2 gear and sit around looking pretty while listening to the locke egobitch. The tank does the same. We're standing around looking fabulous watching this jackass make a jerk of himself.

At that point the jackass pulls the next set of mobs, saying that he's going to get us killed. He says, "We'll see who dies." The tank DIs me and says, "Oh, I killed myself" and I stood there in the bubble happily in my fabulous mishmash of judgement and wrath epics. We waited, and the locke ran around in circles trying to run out of the instance, away from the mobs he'd agroed in his unsuccessful retaliative attempt to kill us.

One of the other players left, the warlock died, and we vote-kicked him and got two new DPS. One of them was a fury warrior in welfare epics (200s, 219s) from heroics and was complaining about his repair bills when he died to the stupid.

The instance was cleared and we moved on with our lives.

But this experience leaves me very apprehensive. If our TotC10/Totc25 geared MT is too 'suck' to tank heroics, what treatment am I going to get next time I'm in a heroic on my tiny DK tank who's wearing gear appropriate for the instances (blues with a few epics).

I'm starting to get terrified of looking for group because I don't want to have people abuse me to detract attention from their own personal shortcomings.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tales of the Baby Tank: Part 1

So far, my general experiences on my death knight tank, aside from being grouped with guild, have been absolutely horrible. It's no wonder why tanks are in such short supply: Gearing one up without the support of a group of friends willing to help you go through heroics-n-stuff is amazingly terrible.

I'm pretty discouraged, I don't even have my first piece of tier gear yet.

Unlike players who have been 80 for a while, my character is a fresh 80. I do not vastly outgear the instances I'm running. This requires people to not suck and play intelligently.

I've gone so far as to make a generic and very snarky macro of assholism for the sake of tanking.
The macro pretty much says that my character is a new tank and that people should utilize basic wow skills and do things like wait for mobs to reach the tank before doing AOE and assisting off of the tank for kill targets. Snarky macro also includes a 'you spank it you tank it' clause and encourages the healer to not heal people who pull agro of their own stupid (aoeing before the mobs reach the tank).

My observations so far:
  • Groups of people want to go go go. They're in a rush. I don't like this. As a tank or healer, I'm tanking / healing until combat ends. I'd like to loot.
  • People DPS before the tank has agro.
  • People DPS before the mobs reach the tank, regardless of the layout of the pulls and their difficulty. (Some of the early FoS pulls are obnxoious.)
  • People get pissed off if they die because of DPSing before the tank has agro.
  • Overzealous DPS of the plate variety (warriors, mostly) snottily ask if I have a DPS spec the first time they die from whirlwinding before I have agro established. (They assume incompetence on my part, when it's actually .)
  • A majority of rogues don't know what Tricks of the Trade is.
  • Hunters seem to have lost their Misdirect button.
  • It's hard to turn off growl.
  • Paladins seem to fail at having Pallypower and buff reagents. If I get a 10 minute buff without good reason, I'm going to want to votekick. I actually ran into a Paladin who REFUSED to buff when I was on my healadin. They didn't get heals. :)
I'm hoping that while my character is in blues that people realize that I'm communicating properly with the language of gear. (I haven't been vote-kicked yet, so I think it's understood.) Every piece of gear I have is gemmed and enchanted appropriately. The only thing I'm missing is the epic bop JC gems, I need to do one more JC daily before I have the pattern I need, though putting them in my blues is silly, gonna hold off for some happy tier.
  • I'm raid defense capped.
  • I've got a decent spec.
  • I've got decent glyphs.
  • I'm using the correct gems.
  • I'm using rare gems in rare gear.
  • I'm using epic gems in epic gear.
  • My gear is enchanted appropriately.
  • I have a rare quality leg armor kit on my crafted rare pants.
  • I have helm and shoulder enchants.
I'm told tanking will get easier as I get more gear, but getting started as a tank sucks without friends.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twin Tanks go!

My tiny DKs are now all grown up and on the path to their career as tankytypes.

My first instance tanked was a non-heroic Forge of Souls.
I had a killer hard time holding agro, partially because of inexperience / gear, and partially because the other players failed at the basic idea of attacking the target that the tank is building threat on.

I didn't get vote-kicked and didn't die to the stupid. I got a 219 chestpiece and less than optimal 219 boots (block boots, bah). My plan at this point is to farm Forge of Souls until I have two tanky weapons off the first boss.

Trimph-badge wise I'll probably go straight for t9 shoulders, helm, gloves, boots, and chest. I may collect trimph badges on alts periodically to get enough crusader orbs (I think I threw 5 in the guild bank) to make a nice tanky chestpiece and bracers.

I've been told the tanking will smooth out once I have better gear. I'm hoping that's the case.

One of my guildmates was picking my brain about alting last night. He asked me what I was going to level next, or if I was planning on leveling anything, and if I level my alts for the sake of making money from them as they level.

I told him if I level any more of my alts, it'll probably be for the sake of being able to pick up Cataclysm level professions, that for now I'm going to focus on the six eighties I already have, mastering them, and getting them respectable before I create any more feeps to distract myself with.

When I do decide to level things, I have four immediate choices:
Rogue or Warrior with Priest or Mage.

With one more level, the mage can make portals, so I may push that one level out just for the sake of transportation.

The rogue is my leatherworker and could benefit from being higher level and leveling her skinning.

The warrior's my blacksmith but I have no real reason to level her, she's maxed out with her professions... though tanks are in need and I don't think this is changing any time soon. I'll likely have an easier time getting instant queues for stuff on this character than others.

My priest was one of my main focus characters in BC behind my hunter and paladin, she along with my warrior were my mains for the first half of BC. My dedication to the healing side of the game makes me feel inclined to level and play this character so I am up to date on the healing side of priests. I can't really be an insane multi-class grasping healy-person without actually brushing up on my priesting.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Of Authenticators, Icecrown, and Altoholic Advantages

Authenticators

Back in mid BC I had two of my raiders, officers no less, get hacked. They were real life roommates, they did share their accounts and computers with each other but it's not like they don't know where the others live, but two of them had their keys get logged.

The third roommate went to log into his roomie's account to make an armor kit and got a 'wrong password' notice. Called the roomie up at work to check the info, it was correct, they went through a password restore but to no avail. We demoted the character down to being locked out of bank access.

We did not detect, however, that the third roommate's account was compromised until it was too late. I was healing Heroic SL when he logged in, in the middle of the last boss. I noticed he didn't log into our 'friends of' chat channel and knew immediately it wasn't the real him.

The GL crown was on an alt and I had to finish the boss fight before I could log over and demote him. By the time I did it was too late and our enchanting mats and other valuables were gone.

I spent the next two weeks dealing with a large number of very upset players and it took me raging on the customer service forums for us to get our stuff restored.

I jumped on an authenticator as soon as I could and have encouraged all my players who have the money free in this recession to do the same. Access to the bank is now more restricted, though some unauthenticated officers people could steal 5 stacks of stuff. No longer will I have to fear unruffling feathers.

Icecrown
We hit Icecrown the thursday after it came out. We wiped on Marrowgar 10 times before giving up. He was hitting insanely hard, nearly killing the tanks on the way in, cleaving saber lash like crazy. After the bone storm the tanks would get instagibbed, faster than a hasted holy light, if I got boned the tanks would get smashed to death in seconds. I felt terribad.

I gained information from chatting with people on forums that supposedly he was dealing 25 man level damage in 10 man, that fixing the tuning or something was forgotten.

A few days later a few of my players went along as guests on another run that cleared it, one of the tanks that went who wasn't on our attempt was talking down to me telling me it was us being bad, not because the encounter was broken.

(Said tank wound up gquitting to go join the people he went as a guest for, GL of said group has tried to poach several of my members and is banned from my vent and have told my players about the poaching jackassery and encouraged them to avoid members of this other guild. Said tank left his rogue in guild and asks to still hang out in vent because his new lolhardcore 10 man guild doesn't allow their vent to be used for anything but raiding. I've been too nice to tell him to go eat a dick. Ahhh diplomacy.)

Apparently it had been debugged at some point, probably before the pug.

We went back in monday night before the reset and smashed Marrowgar with a one-shot then attempted deathwhisper. I got a pretty plate skirt. ^_^

Wednesday we went back in and roflstomped it.
Last night we got a few who didn't get to go earlier + alts and did the first two bosses. Yeah, ICC alt run, it's like that.

I've used this leverage for recruiting and immediately filled 2/7 spots. All I have left to get is a moonkin, a ret, an enh shaman, a holy priest, a MS warrior or combat rogue.

Altoholic Advantage
I have two engineers. I'm farming rep on both.

I have four eighties I can do the random daily heroic on for frost badges.

By the time I have rep on both my engineers to get the ammo (as soon as next week) I should have enough frost badges to buy the currency to get the pattern.

Engineering + Honored + Alts with Frost Badges = Profit

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gear Fallacy

Gevlon has been talking for quite some time about gear being a fallacy, the whole clearing Ulduar in blues and looking at clearing all WotLK content in blues is pretty badass. I find it somewhat inspiring, and I've been thinking about doing this for a while but keep deciding not to.

Today I did it. I was running random heroics to help a friend of our guild gear up an alt so she can play with us, there's no harm in running heroics to do so, it's pretty darn easy. And we get into our random instance, Heroic Culling of Strat with a pair of people from another server.

One of the non-server players commented that she felt bad being around people in such good gear compared to her own. I exclaimed unto her something to the extent of, "Gear is a fallacy. Did you hear some people cleared Ulduar10 in blues? Hell, I'll do the rest of this instance in my RP gear."

So I slapped on the RP gear (6/8 Paladin T2 + engineering tank goggles + Hand of Rag), then slapped on my regular healing mace, my shield, a belt (I'm missing the Judgement belt), and kept right on healing.

One of the PUGs said that my average iLevel in my RP suit was 165. For reference, that's about the average level of loot from Violet Hold regular. Mind you that I wasn't wearing a healing helm and Paladin T2's itemization is absolute crap, so 165 is generous, it was probably much lower when it comes to beneficial stats.

We did just fine. I did slap on my regular suit for the gauntlet simply because I wasn't sure if the pugs would get agro, nor if I had enough power to heal one of them through undead agro. We had... 6 or 7 minutes left on our timer. A wipe would have lost the drake, but since one of them had mentioned interest in getting a mount, implying that they'd not been in groups that had completed the timed run before.

One of them did get the dragon and I chatted it up with them briefly afterwards. I invited them to come chat with me on our server and said I'd try to /friend them when the battlenet changes go live that will let us talk across server.

Regardless of if I ever get to talk to them again or not, I'm fairly sure that the heroic run where one of them got a drake and got healed by a crazy belf in T2 is one they won't soon forget.

I'm thinking I should do a whole bunch of pug runs in that gear just to record the reactions... I'll probably grab a guildling or two so I can't be vote-kicked. I'll probably do the gear with a few tweaks (enchants, a slight regemming so I'll still have my meta bonus (2% int) and wearing the 232 judgement helm instead of the level 72 epic goggles).

This is going to be fun.

Monday, December 14, 2009

When ignore fails...

The AA guild has taken over a corner of the north bank in Dalaran around one of the benches. It's not uncommon for our members to be found lingering in that general area. It was late and I sat on the bench on my hunter, alt-tabbed over to my Paladin. I got daring and listed myself as "tank" "healer" "leader" and threw myself into the random heroic queue and got Oculus (FML!). One of our tanks and a disc priest that runs with us sometimes were there with me to witness what unfolded.

An alt of my former guild leader (whose guild I am now in direct competition with) and some other person in another guild were talking about their guild related stuff. Said former colleague commented about how they hadn't cleared the first wing of ICC25 yet because he'd /gkicked a bunch of people. Jokes were made at my expense for leading pug raids and that I might 'pick up' the people that got /gkicked.

I usually have his alts on ignore, I just happened to overlook that one alt on my one alt. He sat there and talked crap and threw flares and volleys at my character, who sat idly on the bench. I gave no response or reaction, give him no satisfaction, and I told the friends sitting there onlooking to do the same. So we sat there, above it all, minding our own business.

Eventually I tired of the unentertaining ego-blabber flooding my screen (at least trade is entertaining) and slapped ignores on the annoyances. After finishing my OC run (FML!) I hopped on out and spent a few moments pondering.

I realized: This former leader of mine has forgotten his own roots. He used to be a bench warmer for a large, very progressed, raiding guild on that server. One that everyone made fun of behind his back. He got started leading pug Karazhans and eventually made his own guild. He even had his own channel for raids, "raidleadersnamekara" or something. I joined his raid when they were struggling (and having to pug a few) to do T5 content, as in the first week I was there, they only ran Kara. They had to pug people in for T5 stuff.

Maybe I will bottom feed and take in a few of those people who got gkicked (or more likely exodused because they got sick of the crap) and finally inflate my team to be large enough for 25 mans. Maybe in doing so we could surpass this other guild in progression. Wouldn't that be ironic?

He can talk shit about me in public all he wants. My team has fucking amazing PR.

He gkicks people, treats them like dirt and uses them to better his own gear and ego. He lacks basic understanding of his class, trash talks ex-members in raid--he did it when I was there, he probably does it about me too. If they take guests to their runs they make up rules on the spot to deny outsiders gear.

My guild, on the other hand, works with people, gears them, teaches them, turns non-raiders into raiders, operate fairly, gem and enchant all gear won on our runs. We don't yell, or scream, and aren't terribly destructively negative (unless I'm exclaiming how much I suck at healing TotGC). We don't trash talk ex-members, especially not during raids, we welcome anyone to our raids regardless of guild so long as they're not douchebags. (We have alts from other raiding guilds, including the one the ex-GL was a bench warmer for and alts from ex-GL's guild, attending our runs.)

Those players he /gkicked will be fanning out to other guilds, probably spreading the bad word. Meanwhile, the players we've helped fan out to other guilds, spreading the good word.

When progression becomes equal, who will stand strong and who will fall?

There's a reason why my personal mantra is, "Never ever underestimate me."

PS: My DKs are now 79.

Friday, December 11, 2009

WOW Guilds as an attention economy

Several years ago, a real life acquaintance said unto me, "Attention is the currency of the future." He's said this to many other people over the years, often at game industry panels, and it applies quite well to online communities.

The AA guild consists of 15-20 different people who interact with each other on a regular basis. I wear the 'leader' hat a majority of the times, though some of my more socially aware players occasionally pick up on when I'm distressed or burnt out and organize and operate fun runs with some good enthusiasm and let me have some time to just play.

A WOW guild is an attention economy.

As The Leader™ I pay my guildlings with attention.
  • I run heroics and raids with them.
  • I chat and be social with them.
  • I praise them when they do well--but I don't overdo it.
  • I thank them when they're helpful.
  • I invest time in them if they're behind.
  • I try to unruffle feathers and smite drama before it goes overboard.
  • I listen and remark.
Unfortunately, sometimes I get spread thin. I work on detecting which players within my group are self assured and worry less about giving them attention and worry more about those who need the encouragement. I still thank the more self-assured players, however, they don't need it and may fall into similar attention patterns, lessening the burden on me by making sure that people who may not get enough attention from me will still feel sufficiently welcome and part of the whole.


Sometimes my players behave badly and I intentionally stop paying attention to them. I stop paying them with my attention. This is pretty rare but it's something I'm doing with a few of my less active players at the moment.

Here are a few non-payment cases:
  • Undergeared player "Wants to raid", even sets it as their note (which I removed). They're in Naxx gear, they're not online often, and they don't seem to put effort into getting better. Sure, we've brought alts other players of the same class in equal gear into raids before and had them do just fine, but those were alts of people who'd invested the time and effort to be the best they can and are willing to be flexible. They have skill and experience. Now I would be more than happy to help "wants to raid" but "wants to raid" is mysteriously not around often. "Wants to raid" does not help herself, therefore she gets little attention or help from myself or anyone else. When "wants to raid" wants to actually raid, they can get online and start completing some random heroics.
  • "Le Sigh" is another player I'm currently not paying much attention to. His schedule kinda sucks, he's not always around, and he seems to be playing a bit sub-par. His heart isn't in it. When he is around he expects us to do things for him, to make spots in our raids (bench someone reliable). He will sit around and be all pouty, he also expects us to go out of our way to grab him and involve him. No, I'm not going to call you or go get you out of the channel that makes it so you can't hear anything. Be present, be active, step up your game, and stop with the self pity.
  • "Roleplayer" has some behavior issues and has been drama-queening lately, somewhat due to RL stress and other issues inappropriate to discuss here, which is why I am amazingly patient with this person. Again, another person who has been busy with real life but expects us to drop everything when they're there. They want the guild to run them through stuff instead of using the new LFG tool and seem to get upset that people don't (when people are currently running that and busy). When "roleplayer" is having a tantrum or feeling unhappy he'll go to another channel and complain and drama-queen. When he engages in such behavior and then asks what we're doing, he's probably not going to get an answer, let alone a raid invite. He does occasionally step back, realize he's being a douche, and give sincere apologies for his behavior.
  • "Lag" is a slow learner but generally well meaning. She listens to people and somehow gets caught up in drama. I don't think she's entirely guilty or malicious, but she isn't innocent either. Myself and several of the self-assured folks spent a good deal of time helping her get her DPS to not suck and then her hard drive died. She's now on an old laptop that doesn't run very well and complains about lag. She mopes around wanting raid invites when we're trying to do currentish content and hardmodes. She can't be on her A-game on the machine she's running and in a 10 man raid where we're doing progression or hardmodes we need everyone on their A-game. She sends signals that she wants us to buy her a new one as she doesn't work and for whatever reason turns up her nose at quick temp job suggestions. I think one of her parents is getting her a new drive for the holidays. I've given my sympathy and suggestions, I'm not going to dwell on it, I have two accounts plus a vent server and web hosting to pay for (along with food, gas, insurance, utilities, and rent).
Usually, when I stop paying players with attention, they act out as an attempt to get attention. They may go off and cry to each other or seek attention from other self-assured attention-givers. Sometimes those players come to me about the problem and I tell them point blank what's up and those other players tend to back off as well.

When the badly behaving players find their stunts aren't working and that people are just thinking they're acting like tools and attention whores they step off it and curb the bad behavior and actually get better (or quit).

When their behavior improves attention payments resume.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

What do you think of attention economies in WOW?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's back!

Sometimes a screenshot is worth a thousand words:

Going in blind?

AA is a late night group, I'm talking midnight EST, so with any luck the servers will have stabilized by our raid time.

We have a few options:
We can have an offnight or two, let the servers stabalize, level alts, run heroics.
We can go plow through TotC10 and Naxx10 as speed runs for an easy 30+ badges (bonus if the weekly raid is one of those).
We can go into ICC, there's risks of the encounters being bugged to hell.

If we choose the later, there's another question, do we go in blind or do we go read others' strategies?

Honestly, some of the most fun I've had with encounters is going in completely blind and figuring it out. I remember we cleared Koralon the night he first became available with no DBM or knowledge of the fight, we wound up having one tank solo tank it, and after a wipe I figured out what to shove into my grid to show me who was in fire and needed heals.

In the end, it's up to everyone else. I just hope everything is stable enough to actually let us do something.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dissent in the Altoholics Anonymous Guild

Survival of all or none.
One raindrop raises the sea.
Weapons are enemies, even to their owners.

Give more, take less.
Others first, self last.
Observe, listen and learn.
Do one thing at a time.

Sing every day.
Exercise imagination.
Eat to live, don't live to eat.
Find the light.
-- Code of Dinotopia

My apologies if this is a bit ranty, but I have to get this out there to see what others think of the situation.

As you may have realized, Dear Readers, I refer to my guild as Altoholics Anonymous in this blog not as a thing of ego, but as a majority of my core players have 2+ geared characters. I've previously blogged about how this is beneficial.

It's the beginning of the month and some members of our team are getting their paychecks. One of my players
(our MT)
, as a holiday gift to himself, recently transfered his warlock from Alliance to Horde. The character was almost 80 and had full rest and now has access to BOA items and will probably hit 80 shortly.

Through whispers and IMs, I catch wind that some of my raiders are complaining amongst themselves. The word "selfish" came up, that the player already has a few eighties. They're afraid the new character is going to take their caster loot.

Chances are, this won't happen. It certainly won't happen anywhere that matters, such as raids. Why does it even matter? With the next patch, he'll be able to pug using the new LFG system and go along with me on my planned grind to get "The Patient" title.

If people want to gear out their alts with their free time, so be it. It's none of anyone else's business.

If there's whining then something is wrong and needs to be fixed. The leader in me says that singling out one player is wrong and that if I must impose limits on the number of eighties someone can have in the guild that the limits must apply across the board to all players, especially to me.

But with the accusations of greed and selfishness about someone with their fourth character floating behind my back, I can't help but feel a bit attacked myself, after all, I'm working on 80s #5 and #6 right now in preparation for the patch. If people are whining about one of my raiders leveling a fourth toon, how do they feel about me? I have four at eighty and am leveling too more.

The other altoholics tell me not to feel bad about playing characters other than my main, that no one actually thinks I'm selfish, but this issue arising triggers a huge feeling of doubt. It feels like I'm a bad person for leveling all classes and learning everything I can about them, like I'm a bad person for leveling a second healer to help establish a second ten man raid so no one gets to miss out. I'm a bad person for having a hunter and a pvp druid with epic flying so I can mine and herb even if most of the proceeds do go to providing gems, potions, enchants, and flasks to the whiners.

I level my alts with the idea of helping others. Several others on my team do the same. We provide flexibility to make sure we can suceed no matter what loop gets thrown at us. In essence, we operate under the mantra of Others first, self last. Somehow that is selfish?

Nevermind that I paid for most of the guild bank tabs out of pocket, plus a five tab bank, plus a three tab bank for overflow. Nevermind that many of the supplies in the bank exist because of the assortment of Altoholics and their array of professions.
Gems, Belt buckles, Enchanting materials, Food, Potions, Flasks, Enchanting scrolls? They're all made by using alts. Yet somehow people are selfish for having alts.

To avoid further drama, I've gone ahead and removed all but my four eighties and my enchanter from the guild, all of my lowbie have been kicked. I made a funny by making jokes as I booted each one. This way people can't whine, complain, and call me selfish and greedy for having, leveling, and gearing my alts.

I'll just keep my mining profits, my gems, my enchanting materials, my herbs, my frost lotus, my several titansteel smelts, my epic gem transmutes, my cloth cooldowns, my jewelcrafting dailies on three characters, etc all to myself. Maybe I'll use the proceeds buy a hog or two for my alts.

I'm pretty sad because it's really fucked up that I can't do something I love (alting) while spending time with people I enjoy (in my own guild) because a few members of my online family feel what I do is selfish.

It's a huge bummer and I'm feeling pretty unappreciated.
Hopefully the whiners will get hit by a good clue-by-four when they realize I'm not playing in my own guild because of them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alting in prep for 3.3 and Surprise Hardmodes!

Last week, I predicted to my guildlings that we'd see 3.3 in "three weeks". Ghostcrawler has implied "more than a week, less than a month".

Now I'm hearing that MMO-Champion is predicting it next week. We'll see.

I've decided in my downtime, rather than farm for badges to gear out my characters better (3/4 of them are done anyhow) I might as well just finish leveling my next set of toons to 80.

My death knights are at 75 and therefore are the closest and the obvious choice.
Last night I proceeded to collect 33% or so of a level in about an hour and will likely spend post-raiding time tonight pushing them up to 76. With luck,t hey'll be 80 by the time the patch does drop, or shortly after.

I can play them in my spare time and get them nicely geared out in T9 (which they'll look fabulous in) by having them tank pug heroics using the new LFG system, and save my other toons to run with guildmates.

A funny thing happened in Ulduar the other day...
We had some alts and some people who'd just been returning to the game after eight months of being away. We decided to go into Ulduar and kill some bosses for badges and getting token pieces for people who needed them (or LOLRP for those that didn't). Half the time we lacked Replenishment.

We reached Thorim and split up, it'd been a while since we did him, we sent our druid in the tunnel with me healing, to rogues, and our terribly undergeared newly returned DK (in blues). We made it through the tunnel, popped up, pulled Thorim, and jumped into the Arena.

I beacon one of the tanks and heal the other and begin peeling debuffs and doing other healerish things. I think to myself, "My, I don't recall so many debuffs to peel. People sure are taking lots of damage, they must not be avoiding the stupid. Why's there a blizzard over there... Hey Siff is frostbolting people. Why is Siff in the arena?!? Oh shit!"

We'd engaged hardmode... and it hurt. A lot. Surprise hardmode!

We decided since we could do it, we'd bang our heads against it a few times. Had we filled the under-geared and lagged peoples spots with high DPS and swapped out the alt tankadin and the alt rogue for their mains (tankadin and a hunter, yeay replenishment) we probably would have defeated it. Needless to say the words, "Let's try some hardmodes next week" rang through vent.

Speaking of Hardmodes...

TotGC, ouch.
The guildlings have been carrying on for a while now wanting to do TotGC. I honestly don't think we're ready for it, and I'm certainly personally not ready to heal it with two healers. After TotC10 which we cleared in about an hour, they asked for TotGC and I said, "I'm not comfortable with this, I don't think my skills as a player are up to where they need to be."

We went in anyways and made about five or six attempts on the northrend beasts.

We wiped and wiped and wiped and most, if not all of the wipes, were the result of mistakes on my part, one missed cooldown, one second of beacon being down and having a tank die. All me. In some cases it was the same mistake more than once, meaning I wasn't catching and correcting the mistakes.

I stepped up and immediately took credit for my own fuckups.
I also beat myself up pretty hard over it--Not being able to correct said screwups make me bad... and I don't want to be bad.

It's ok, right?
I warned them I wasn't feeling like I, personally, was ready, right?

I try to lead by example. If I can't fix my mistakes when they're causing wipes over and over again, how can I expect anyone else to get better?