Tuesday Questions

I admit, I haven’t been playing Warcraft lately. Most of my “gaming time” has been spent playing Diablo and while I have some legit extended criticisms as I dig deeper into it, those require a little more time to be poked and fussed over. So I decided to have my Twitter followers ask me some questions.

@Goosecomics: What do you think about the movement in eSports? Need more games? What other types of games? Pro Pokemon battles?

I think the movement to monetize and make gaming into a sport has some interesting implications. As much as I really dislike celebrity/sport culture paying way too much money to people because it is entertainment, I really like the idea of people people using what is arguably another set of talents to achieve some sort of greatness. Gaming is still tied really heavily into the privilege of being able to afford a console or PC and develop those types of skill, but you’re seeing people being able to make it without being dazzlingly handsome/beautiful or have physical prowess in the same way an athlete does. Gaming competitively is still a relatively “new” thing when it comes to the professional circuit even though it has been around for about a decade or two. My only concern is that where “competition” is involved with a mostly-male dominated audience and participation pool, it usually follows that there’s a ton of barriers to entry for anyone who isn’t a dude, basically. There’s an inherent misogyny to the competitive gaming culture in a lot of ways and that needs to stop before we can really take eSports seriously.

Pro-Pokemon leagues have been around, as I know at least one person who used to do it semi-pro.

I’d like to see more games in general though, yes. Sometimes I wish I was good enough to be a competitive professional gamer but then I realize that the game I’m best at is Monopoly.

@Goosecomics: Do you think Blizzard can make WoW into a spectator game and exciting to watch like Starcraft and LoL? Also in before arenas. It never really caught on as big as SC2 etc. Live raids? Like Vodka vs Method?

I thought about this long and hard because while I’ve watched a lot of MLG tournaments and arena matches live/telecast, I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t as popular as say League of Legends or Starcraft II (Barcraft and the like). I think it has to do with the fact that WoW is not a game designed for spectators (arenas basically require special camera rigs in order to show the “action”) as well as the fact that the PVP aspect is just but one small part of the overall game. MOBA genre games are all about quick, efficient PVP method gaming and are built as such. They are easier to “watch” and follow even if you do not know or play the games personally. In that respect, that’s probably why they are more popular. I can see live-raids failing at being a spectator sport even moreso than arenas. Only other WoW raiders care about watching 25 people take down a dragon, in my opinion.

@AlternativeChat:  Has your attitude to Warcraft changed as a result of the Ji Firepaw incident?

That’s a good question, actually. Part of me really dislikes what kind of worms crawled out of the woodwork with regards to what I felt was a legitimate criticism of an early-beta character design. Part of me really enjoyed how Blizzard reacted. Overall, that netted me about the same feeling I’ve always had about World of Warcraft – that some of the community is pure utter crap, some of it is really supportive and awesome, and Blizzard at least tries to make right when they are called out on their failures. It isn’t always that you see such a direct action from a company though to react to a critique and I’m very glad that I spoke up and said something.

@snack_road: How about your raiding: what brought you to it, whats your favorite parts, what do you miss now that you “retired” from it?

Oh boy, the ol’ raiding chestnut. I got into raiding a long, long time ago back in Vanilla. It wasn’t one of the things you just “did” at the endgame because at that point, you could do literally anything, despite there being almost nothing TO do. Battlegrounds had JUST been implemented when I hit 60, arenas were a dream still. AQ40 had been opened a little while back and everyone was gearing up for impending Naxxramas, I believe. I wanted so badly to be part of the “big kids” so I started hitting Blackrock Depths and getting craftables for Molten Core/Onyxia, as those were the “starter” raids. You needed a minimum of 150 FR to be considered and once I had that, I got brought along on the giant 40-person Molten Core farm raid. I got bitten by the bug then, tackling PVE content and wanted to do it whenever I could. I didn’t start seriously progression raiding until Burning Crusade, however. But I mostly got into it because it was something to do with my time and all of my guild friends were doing it.

My favorite parts of raiding were the typical – the joy of victory, sharing good memories with the relatively same group of people (a lot of people in the raid team I was in by Firelands had people I raided with in Molten Core even) and seeing things that not many other people got to see. Raiding was a lot more exclusive over most of my career, so I felt really special and cool, heh. I had mounts other people didn’t, titles others didn’t, and all that jazz. Moreover, it made me a better mage. Becoming a better player in both skill and theory made me feel really confident. Achievements and mounts were a nice side effect from that.

I actually don’t miss much, to be fair. I think the only thing I really miss is just working as a team of competent people to achieve something. I raid very casually once a week with my guild (as that is literally all I can stand now) but sometimes I do miss really rock-hard progression nights with some of my old raiding friends. It’s hard to describe why and the two experiences don’t make either one the “best” or the “worst” just …different. I miss the adrenaline rush of pulling off a really difficult first kill when everyone executes flawlessly or perhaps less so but still manages some weird 1% kill Hail-Mary sort of miracle.

@SkolnickWho: Looking back with a historical eye, do you think the golden age of MMOs will be measured from WoW ’04 through SWTOR release? Not because SWTOR replaced WoW, but showed over-saturation of similar clones & showing that a next gen is eventually needed.

It’s hard to really peg a “golden age” yet, you know? I think the MMORPG genre is still evolving, and while WoW is the undisputed juggernaut right now, much like EQ was before, there’s always something over the horizon. EQ was the biggest, then WoW was, then it went mainstream. Maybe something else will crush it or refine it. Who knows? I’m terrible at speculation like this. Golden age implies a certain hazy rose-colored glasses approach to game design. Not sure if we are there quite yet.

You Can Take the Gnome Out of the Raid

Tarecgosa roaring in front of Wyrmrest Temple.

But you can’t always take the raid out of the gnome.

While I’ve been meaning to write a keybinding guide/exploration, or perhaps a post on any number of topics, the holidays and wrapping up the last couple weeks of my job have been slaughtering my motivation to blog. However, one thought has really stuck in my craw enough to make me write a blog post.

Last night, my little social guild grouped up and did their weekly LFR run together. This is a lot of fun for us; we sit on Mumble and crack jokes on bad players, talk about other stuff and sometimes even alcohol is involved. It is a great way for us to see raid content together but the stress of people feeling terrible or unused to raid mechanics is gone. I consider it preparing people gear-wise and knowledge-wise for an eventual 10man. We cleared through both segments of Dragon Soul fairly handily. On Ultraxion, I won the chest tier piece. I was shocked! I have been running LFR for quite a number of weeks now and aside from my guildmate giving me the Insignia of the Corrupted Mind last night, this was the first piece of gear I had won fair and square. I was so excited!

Except then a druid piped up that I was wearing a 391 tier chest from Firelands. I was, wasn’t I? The tier pieces from LFR are 384. I immediately felt stupid. Did I forget that LFR gear isn’t necessarily* better than the 391s I was dripping in? Or the legendary staff I have strapped to my back? I probably looked like an overentitled jerkbag just then. As much as I’d love 2 or 4-set tier bonus for the delicious haste, is it really better mathematically than the 391 Tier 12 I’m currently wearing? What struck me immediately after that thought was this one:

Does it even matter?

I always made this argument when I saw people in various communities who only ran heroics complaining that they didn’t have access to raid gear. If you didn’t do raids, why would you need that level of gear. I find myself in this position now. While everyone has access to raid gear now via LFR (which is awesome), the fact of the matter is that I am no longer raiding but outgear the LFR in most ways, and find myself without even so much as a casual 10-man now. Do I really need to be doing LFR at all?  This is a question I wrestle with now. I’ve been part of the gear grind for so long, that long eternal lock-step of BETTER, BETTER, BETTER, BEST-IN-SLOT that now I have no idea what to do with myself. I’m not pushing content even on normal and theoretically I don’t need the gear out of LFR to do heroics. While running LFR is nice for capping valor points or updating certain slots, I sorta wonder (for the first time since 4.3) dropped what I really am going to do with myself. It’s been nice to have free time but I feel suddenly devoid of things to do on my main. I’ve been leveling a tank alt in my free time as well as my second mage, but this is the first time I feel like I’ve “finished” a character.

So for as much as I have “quit” raiding, some part of me still hasn’t. I think last night was a bit of a wake-up call.


The End of an Era

Raid fights Taerar the world dragon.

I’ve been quiet the last few days, and for a lot of reasons. Well, not just because I had five days off from work, but also because as of last night, my 25-man raid decided to finally call it quits for good. My raid has ostensibly been together since UBRS, in one form or another – 10-mans, 40-mans, and then 25s. We’ve fielded 10-mans, done achievements together, even squeezed out a server first or two along the way. We were never the most progressed all the time, or the most well-known, but we had been around a very long time. I’ve only been in it to some degree for five years now, a lot of the older members have been in for 6 or 7 years. It almost felt like it was never going to die, that we’d just keep going on because that’s what we did. That was our notable aspect.

Not anymore, however. It saddens me greatly to see something of an institution that weathered raid leader change-ups, absentee DPS, raid attunements, guild perks and even people in our raid passing away, go the way of the buffalo. I felt like we were a raid team that still held onto some immutable shred of what life used to be like back before paladins had 30 minute blessings and you could summon your entire raid into the raid instance. Unfortunately, time and familiarity doesn’t hold things together, it pulls them apart. Even rocks get worn down into dust after long enough. I felt that a lot of our members were playing a game they hated solely out of respect and loyalty to a raid they cared about. So while I am sad that this has to break apart, it had to happen and it means that we can all go on to be happier (and dare I say more productive) people.

The question here to be asked is this though, “Do I dislike raiding now?”

Raiding has made me the mage I am today, and I’d never speak ill of it. Even when I wanted to quit, give up and start crying because I’ve historically done (in my mind) less DPS than I ought to be doing every step of the way, there’s not a single moment I can think of where my raid team didn’t force me to improve – whether it was using macros, looking at spell rotations and theorycrafting or BIS lists. There’s no way this blog would even exist if it wasn’t for these people that have supported me and definitely carried me through more content than your average raid. Even when I hated it, or them, or the content, or myself, I still did it.I raided late into the night, even as a backup, when I had to be up for work at 4:30 AM. I raided when I was sick, exhausted, or on medication. I’ve missed maybe 3 boss kills from Burning Crusade to Cataclysm. Because that’s just what you do. Raiding has a way of getting under your skin. As much as it has eaten up my time and stressed me out to no degree (especially as of late), I still love it. I hope to be doing it in one form or another for the rest of my WoW career, as long or short as that may be.

Is it time for a break though? Possibly. I have a few loose ends to tie up, however, namely a staff. I’m 75 siphoned essences short of a legendary and I’d also love a purple flame bird. How will I achieve those things? Not sure right now. A few 10-mans might shake out of this for the time being. I might go to someone’s alt runs. I might PUG it. Who knows. After that, 4.3 will come and I will make the decision to raid or not at all. I might take this well-earned vacation to focus on making myself a better mage and enjoying myself. I might hit up LFR. I might just go fire for the end of my days and force you all to read about it (mwahahah!) Maybe I’ll go onto bigger and better things myself.

As sad as I am now, I know that I won’t be sad forever. And the raid might be breaking up, my memories and connections to these people I’ve spent more time with than boyfriends or jobs will never go away. We’re going to still be friends in one way or another, I suspect, and I think that’s what truly matters in the end – not the bosses you’ve downed, but the people who were alongside you when you did it. Their names will never be forgotten, much less their intrinsic personalities – they have made me both who I am and everything I’ve grown to be.

My hats off to all of you, you know who you are.