Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Perfect Instance

Read to the end, it's pretty funny!

I did it! After months and months of long nights and minimal sleep. After enduring mockery and public scorn. After utilizing every resource available to mankind, I have done it! I have created the perfect instance. One that will please the lazy casual who wants everything now and for free, and at the same time will challenge the most hard-core nostalgist (is that a word? who cares, it sounds really neat). Prepare yourselves, this will be unlike anything you have ever before seen or heard of.

The name of the instance will be called: The Ninth Circle!

This idea has nothing to do with religion, despite the obvious reference to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy in which he travels through the 9 circles of hell. He does other stuff too, like visit purgatory and then the 9 circles of paradise (heaven). I'm just using Dante's poem as inspiration for my idea. There is no ideology, theology, or any other type of -ology inferred, it's just an idea for the perfect instance.

Here we go. Ready? Great!

The basic layout of the dungeon is straight forward, there will be literally 9 levels to pass through, each circular in shape, but with varying designs and themes for each level you pass though. The first circle you visit will be the easiest, and each subsequent circle will get harder and harder until you reach the ninth circle at the very bottom of the instance.

Upon completing the first circle you will be offered a choice by a very sexy siren (volunteers are welcome), who will give you the option to open a magical hatch and slide all the way down, bypassing levels 2-8, directly to the end boss in the ninth circle. More on this later in the show.

The other option is to say no to the sultry temptress and proceed with the instance circle by agonizing circle. Not agonizing in a boring way, but in a "wow, that hurt but felt really good" way. I won't go into detail about every circle, but I will give you a taste of a few of them.

Circle 1: We're all familiar with this play style, the tank will have to enter the room and pull all mobs to him/her. The DPS proceed to AoE every creature who is trying to kill the tank. After about 5 seconds of massive AoE fest, the room is cleared. Easy. Now given that you made the choice to continue circle by circle, here are a couple more.

Circle 4: All your AoE abilities have been turned off, they don't work in this circle. If you're in a 5-man group your DPS will have the chance to proove that they are more than just meter-makers. CC will be the name of the game, as well as skilled kiting methods as your DPS will need to use single-target spells only to down the many mobs here. But there are so many mobs your tank/healer combo wouldn't be able to last without the help of the DPS'ers finer, not so damaging CC skills. Good luck with this one.

Circle 6: Here your AoE spells are turned back on, but all your single-target damage spells are turned off. This will be more difficult for some classes than others, so a good class balance in your group will be essential. The trick here is that there will be 12 mobs that can only be damaged/killed by AoE damage spells. The caveat is that only 3 at a time can be killed. So the remaining groups of 3 will have to be CC'd at the same time that you are AoE'ing the first group. To help you out, your CC spells will last twice as long here, unless you go Heroic mode, then it's the same. There will be a mix of Undead and Humanoids, so you can sheep, frog, shackle, or whatever in this circle.

Circle 8: You'll need a skilled off-tank or kiter for this one. There will be two bosses only in this room. The first will be handled by the tank while the second must be off-tanked or kited. The trick here will be similar to the Safety Dance...oh now don't you go all elitist on me now. Heigan the Uncleen taught us something important, move or die. This will be the ultimate movement fight, but with two bosses needing to be kept far apart from each other while ooze, fire, ice, and other massive AoE spells of death whirl around your group in different directions. Your healer will have to be at his/her very best, keeping up the tank and off/kiter as well as him/herself and the remaining DPS...all while dodging twice as much bad stuff as any single group will have to. It will be the ultimate test in coordination and patience.

Circle 9: Finally we reach the end, the pinnacle (even though it's lower geographically than circle one) of the instance. Here will be the end-boss, the guy that gives the best loot, the one for which you will earn the achievement of passing through to the Ninth Circle of Hell. The fight is hard, but doable, and when you finish you find yourself completely satisfied at a job well done.

That is, of course, provided you had chosen to fight through all circles and not go all the way to the bottom. For those that fell to the temptations of the siren, you find yourself in the Boss' clutches. The difficulty level increases x50, essentially making it impossible to defeat the end boss. After wiping 5 times somebody tries to leave the group and is presented with this message.

"You are not allowed the pleasure of the Nine Circles of Paradise unless you pass through the ninth circle of hell. Try again."

So you try again, and again, and again, and after a while you find that the encounter is literally impossible. Not only that, but your hearth doesn't work, when you log out then log back in you're still there with your group. You can't get out!

This is the punishment for all those lazy, entitled, elitist, offending, trolling, criticizing, gogogogo-ing types that infest our WoW universe. They, like everyone else, were invited to see the perfect instance, without prior knowledge that it existed, and upon entering discovering what kind of person they are. They are stuck in the Ninth Circle saying to themselves and each other "What the Hell?"

Meanwhile, those willing to work for their achievements are saying "That was hell, but now I'm enjoying paradise."

That's right, maybe one day we can enjoy a game where tools and jerks and idiots and every other nasty, "ONLY GS + ACHIEVE MATTERS NOOB" person get what they deserve, and we can get some peace and quiet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Good and The Bad

With each patch, whether it's minor or major, I've noticed that there are many who cry foul and others who are willing to sing praises of joy. In this latest (patch 3.3.3) I've noticed a few things that can be seen as both good and bad.

Dungeon Finder Up/Downgrades

Patch notes: "The Deserter debuff given to players who leave a dungeon prematurely when queuing via the Random Dungeon option has been increased to 30 minutes, up from 15 minutes. The cooldown for using the Random Dungeon option remains 15 minutes."


"Players who use the Vote Kick option will now be prompted to provide a reason for kicking a party member. This reason will be presented to everyone in the party except for the person voted to be kicked."

What the patch notes fail to state is that you no longer have to wait 15 minutes before vote kicking somebody. When you zone in you can look at everyone and make a random, or calculated, choice to vote kick a party member right away. But first the debuff.

I like that the deserter debuff is 30 min. Longer is good, it makes those tanks think twice before dropping from group as soon as they zone in and realize they are in the Occulus for the 93rd time. I still think that people should be given the Deserter title that can't be removed for 24 hours. Psychologists tell us that people are happier when they make committments, so if you queue in the LFD tool make a committment to it. If you plan on going AFK or a taco bell run, take yourself out of the Random Dungeon Finder queue, please. If you're afraid of getting put into the Occulus, queue up for a specific dungeon and take fewer rewards. Even though I like the 30 min debuff, it should still be longer. If you accept the fact that your dungeon will be random, you also need to accept whichever dungeon you're thrown into.

Disclaimer: I have only voted to kick somebody 4 or 5 times. Each time it was because somebody kept DC-ing multiple times. I've heard stories of people kicking others because their gear wasn't ICC level, but I've never experienced it. I think most people are reasonable creatures when it comes to pugging dungeons nowadays. But I suppose it will be nice to make somebody state the REASON to the whole group why they are being a jerk before they get away with it. For all sensible and understanding people, this feature will not mean a whole lot and therefore is neither good nor bad.

The biggest issue, however, is one that is not stated in the patch notes (yet). "Now I can kick you as soon as you zone in and I see your gear sucks." Nice. Another way of saying this is "now I can kick you before 15 mintues are up because you are our healer and you were DC'd from the start and we all would like to get on with the dungeon please." This feature will be both a blessing and a curse, depending on who is wielding the power of the vote kick. Some will say it's good, others will say it's bad, but the truth is it is both. Like I said, most random dungeon finder pugs are filled with people who range from good to "not quite a jerk but a little annoying...I know I have to gogogo, shut up already." This tool will be abused by the jerk, the selfish, the arrogant and the elitist. If I ever get kicked from a dungeon with this kind of person, fine. I can wait 15 minutes and chances are I'll find a pretty good group on the other side.


Cooldowns are being removed for various tasks. Titansteel, Moonshroud, Spellweave, Ebonweave. For me, this is good. I like putting up more than one titansteel bar on the AH at once, but hate having to wait a week to make all the gold from it. Now I can make and post multiple per day, increasing my gold intake significantly. That is, of course, if I'm able to find enough titanium nodes while mining. Add to this the fact that I can turn in my frozen orbs for Eternals, it will make the titansteel creation process that much more fluid.

The bad? This may very well lower the price of titansteel as a massive shift in the supply curve will shift the equalibrium price. So in the end volume will increase but income per bar sold will decrease. But will I profit? That is yet to be analyzed. I may find that I still profit even though I sell more at a lower price. As anything in economics, you can guess but you'll never know for sure until it happens.


My Shaman found this one very interesting, it seems that there will be a few buffs that procced off crits that will now be permanent auras (see links to wowwiki below). (Note only the portion of the buff that affects the party/raid will be an aura):

Mage: Arcane Empowerment
Shaman (Elemental): Elemental Oath
Shaman (Enhancement): Unleashed Rage
Warrior: Rampage

Remember, some of these auras won't stack with similar auras provided by other classes, but it's still a nice passive benefit for these classes. Is it making things too simple? Maybe. Is simple always bad? No, sometimes simplicity means that you can focus on other things to make you a better player or better analyze a potential raid group makeup.

These are just a few of the things in the most recent patch notes. So whether you are somebody who tends to see the positive or negative in patch notes, this patch is just perfect for you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lesson on Leadership

There I stood, atop the highest tower in the land. My feet stood upon sparkling glass that reflected the sun's rays into a thousand different colors, each one new to my mind. I stood in awe at the land around me. Emerald forests with a golden floor. Titans stood along the eastern edge of my sight, forming glistening, snow capped mountains. And other figures there were, busying themselves all around, in small towns filled with bread shops and blacksmiths and leatherworkers. I could see them clearly, their hands moving, crafting with a harmony that drew a tear from my eye.


Who were these people, what was this place, who am I? There were no stairs leading down from the tower. How did I ever get up here? How will I ever get down? Then I hear a voice behind me saying "follow me". I turn and see, for the first time, another person atop the tower. Green eyed, tall, dressed in full fiery armor and sword in hand he points to the center of the tower and a staircase opens before me. Without hesitation I moved myself forward to the steps when all of a sudden they vanished. A chasm opened before me, but it was too late, I had taken the step and now I was falling. Just as I was about to collide with the ground my body felt light, was I floating? Yes, some magic surrounded me and I floated safely to the ground.

I turn and and see the same green eyed man before me.

"You nearly killed me!" I shouted.

"Maybe. But then I saved you, should you not feel grateful?"

Grateful? I did not understand what was happening. I don't know why I trusted him the first time, but after nearly killing me I am supposed to be grateful?

"Yes" he said, as if he was reading my thoughts. "If it wasn't for me you would not even be here."

"Where is here, who are you, what is going on?"

It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the beauty of the land, the craftsmanship of the townspeople, the peace I felt as I stood atop the tower. All of it invaded my senses and overwhelmed me. But I couldn't shake this strange feeling which came as soon the green-eyed soldier appeared. Deep inside of me, somewhere that others cannot see and I only feel occaisionally, I felt loyalty to this green-eyed sodier, but resentment started to build as well.

"Follow me," he said again. So I did.

Each pace on the golden forest floor renewed my hope, gave me strength I did not know exsited within me. I don't know how long we had walked, but the next thing I know we were on the edge of a river. A light shimmered from its depths and a bright, slender figure walked out of the water. At first it was just water, in the form of a woman, but slowly the vision faded and I behled a moral form, tall, thin, auburn hair and piercing blue eyes. She gazed into my eyes, I was transfixed.

"Cross the river" the green-eyed man said to me.

I stood in silence, under the spell of the river-woman. Then she spoke, but her mouth did not move. He words came to my mind as clear as a silver bell on a crisp, cold winter night.

"You have rope in your hands, look." She said.

I looked, sure enough there was rope.

"Throw one end of the rope to the other side. It's magical rope, so as soon as it touches a tree it will weave a knot, then all you need to do is do the same on this side of the river. A second rope will come to you and you need to repeat the process, the second rope being tossed 4-5 feet higher than the first. The two combined will create a rope bridge that you can cross. Don't be afraid, I have faith in you."

I turned to the green-eyed soldier, he didn't seem to notice the river-woman.

"Hurry up and cross!" He yelled. "We don't have much time."

"I need to toss the rope, just as I was instructed," I responded.

"What rope?" The green-eyed soldier looked at me as if I was losing my mind.

This is strange, what is going on? I could feel the wills of this man and woman fight against each other, but each oblivious to the other's presence. I was drawn to the woman, not because of her beauty, but rather because of the way she treated me. She taught me, she uplifted me and showed that she had confidence in me.

I quickly made the rope bridge and crossed the river. The green-eyed soldier desolved into mist on the other side of river; the woman stood before me again and spoke.

"I always believed in you. I taught you to believe in yourself, that is why you crossed the river."

"I know."

That was all I could say to her. I wanted to say thank you, ask who she was and why she helped me, but in my heart I knew who she was. My leader. She taught me very simply that leadership is when the leader believes in their subjects so that the subjects can believe in themselves, and they don't stop until each subject can stand on their own.

Her form faded once more into shimmering water, and slowly she merged once more with the river. My path before me was clear. A new power built up inside - hope, courage, belief. Whatever was beyond the emerald forest or the titan mountains, I knew that I could withstand the trial. I also knew that if I needed her, the river-woman would be there to guide me, teach me, and believe in me. She was my leader, I would do what she asked because I knew that she would only ask for that which I was capable.

The green-eyed soldier still visits sometimes, in the darker parts of the forest. He's never cruel, but he never emboldens me with confidence either. That I got from her, and now from myself.

The End

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Long Lost Diary of Arthas

I found this in a mysterious place, somewhere in Azeroth. A book, a diary, presumably written by Arthas himself. Here was one of his last entries. It's disturbing, you may wish to look away.

Arthas: "Dear Diary, how are you today? What, not in the mood for chit-chat? You know I can destroy you, right? That's better, I knew you could talk. So how are you today? I know I asked that already, Diary, you're really starting to get on my nerves.

I had a bad dream last night, it was about ponies. These 5 ponies all dressed in pink battle armor came charging into my house while I was in the shower. Wouldn't ya know one of the first places they went to was my closet where I keep my sword. Did they really think I'd leave Frostmourne out in the open for no reason, a king's gotta shower, right?

One of the ponies asked me if he could marry my daugter! Funny, I didn't know I had kids. But I thought I would do the "Dad" thing and pretend that I would kill him, so he and his friends took off down the hall towards the back door. I kept saying creepy things, you know, just to intimidate the bloke...he wanted to get hitched to my daughter! I guess I'll have to figure out who the mother is someday.

Where was I? Oh yes, ponies. I love ponies, I always wanted one as a kid but my dad thought they were too dangerous. 'It'll kick your eye out' he kept saying. That's bull! I've never seen a pony kick out the eye of a kid. Never! I think I never got over that, I became angry. I mean, wouldn't you get angry if you didn't get the pony you always wanted? Well? C'mon, Diary, speak up! That's better, was that so hard?

I wanted a pretty blue and yellow pony with three magical horns and eyes that shown and lit up the forest paths at night. But nooooooooooo. What a bummer.

I had a second dream, it was a scary one. I dreamed that I was unemployed. Horrifying! I know I have the perfect job, I stay at home unless I need to do a hologram/video conference, and even then I use my stunt double. Ha! It's not even me those pesky ponies see.

Sometimes I feel like a burger, so I ask Patchwerk to cook me up something special. He usually comes back with gooey, slimey muck mixed with toenails or something gross. I think Spongebob could teach him the ropes of good fry cooking. Other than that I have a huge home that I didn't even have to pay a commission to a real estate agent for, yippee! People come and talk to me, and even spar with me from time to time. To think if it was all taken away one day, /shudder.

Thank you, Diary, for listening to me again. I know I can get sappy and sentimental sometimes, but that's just because I'm still mad at my daddy for not getting me a pretty pony when I was a boy. It's just a pony!"

The End

Ew, that was weird. Never figured Arthas had "daddy issues".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gear Score: Who benefits the most?

Backdrop: I have been asked to heal ICC with one of my toons that isn't Gronthe. I don't want to reveal the name to protect the identity of everyone else. This particular toon of mine is dual-spec DPS/Heals. My main spec is DPS and is more than qualified to run ICC. My offspec is heals, and the gear isn't quite up to par with my DPS set. Actually, it isn't quite up to par with anybody in my raid group. However, lately I have been asked to take on more healing responsibilities.

Technically speaking, my healing gear is right around the minimum to enter ICC, that's good, right? I have known and witnessed DPS'ers who seem to outplay their gear because they know how to play their class so well they can put out superior DPS, outdoing others with much higher gear score. I am one of these, when I DPS. I am really, really good and can put out heavy numbers, I know how and when to use my abilities to CC, interrupts, etc. I know my DPS class like my own children (maybe that's not a good thing, but I'm a great dad, so shut up!).

I haven't been healing very long, however, but I've somehow managed to gather some descent gear along the way. My problem is that it seems that it's difficult for a healer to out-heal an equally skilled healer with lesser gear. IN MY OPINION (not imo), gear score may just be important for healing classes. With improved gear comes greater spell power, haste, crit rating, and more gem slots. All of these improve the power of my heals and the speed at which I can get them off so people don't die. Lesser healing gear means the opposite, smaller heals and slower casting...thus less healing. For ICC, this is bad.

My raid group is young, only half of us have significant raiding experience, so some are still learning the ropes. I'm on the younger end, especially as a healer. Maybe I am underestimating my skill, maybe that's why I keep being asked to heal. Maybe I do so well our RL is willing to put what I view as an undergeared healer in the group, expecting to succeed in the process. Problem: we're only "sort-of" succeeding. Nobody has said "it's the healer's fault", mainly because we have a self-depricating tank who takes blame for everything. But I feel it's my fault. I also am beginning to resent my RL because I know I'm not geared or experienced enough to heal ICC but he keeps putting me on duty.

I feel like this is an entry into my personal journal, or that I'm just thinking out loud and you have to listen to my ramblings. But I can't help but think that for healers, gear score, even though it's not the "end-all" in determining success, certainly seems to be much more important than for you DPS'ers (I'm not going to talk about tanks because I just don't know).

I dare you to tell me I'm wrong.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Like...Gag me with spoon!

If you don't know what a Valley Girl is, see here. Having been born and raised in New England, the Valley Girl life never really appealed to me. All I did was make fun of the way they talked.

"So Billy, you want to, you know like, you want to go play football?"

"Totally like, duh! That would be like so totally wicked" (The wicked was and is heavily used where I grew up)

"Awesome, why, like I am so excited. Let's so go like, now!"

You have to remember that intonation was like so key to Valspeak. It's pretty much the opposite of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If his speach was dull grey, a Valley Girl was hot pink and every color in the rainbow.

I wonder what it would sound like in WoW?

VG1: "Hey Shrentblablabla, like whatever your name is. Check out my new eipc, it's like, so totally purple"

VG2: "I know right?"

VG1: "Yeah, why, I'm now so much more powerfuler than you. I've got like, so many hit points."

VG2: "Like, duh, I know right? But are you like, trying to say that I'm like, just not cool or something?"

VG1: "Duh!"

VG2: "I'm gonna like, get me some better epics than you. You'll be on the floor like, so crying."

VG1: "You wish. Your like, such a noob, you don't have any epics"

VG2: "What EVER! So like, you know, I'm gonna like, so get me some of that."

VG1: "Some of like, what?"

VG2: "You know, like some of that awesomeness stuff, you know. Like, Purples!"

VG1: "Whatever! You're still like, a total noob."

In other words, LFM for ICC, 20K GS, 50K DPS, know fight, no noobs, no fail group (or you're so like, not even coming).

"Ugh! Gag me with a spoon! Like, as if I'm ever gonna have like, that kinda DPS. That guy is like, a total loser. C'mon Shertblablabla whatever your name is. Let's like, get so outta here. Server Transfer!"

Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you Mr Outrageous expectation sir.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fantasy or Reality

I was in a foreign country, I did not look or sound like the natives. The clothes that draped me were dark, non-descript, but I stood out in a crowd. I had a type of armor on, or at least that's what I was told.

In the distance I spied a group of miscreants lurking in the shadows. They looked like they were holding weapons, or was it some sort of prohibited beverage? It was hard to tell.

Their eyes in unison looked up to meet mine. Glaring contest, who would win? I had a bag filled with random items: books, metal objects, paper, pens, and other stuff. Could I use any to ward off the impending attack?

The miscreants approached. They did not pounce on me like a lion on its prey, rather a threat issued from a hole in the center of their leader's face.

"I've got a knife, you might want to get out of here unless you would like me to use it against you."

Did I mention my friend was next to me?

My friend couldn't keep his mouth shut. "Show it to me, pal, cause we ain't goin' nowhere."

Great, why can't my friend just shut up?

There was no knife, but there were five of them and two of us. We began to walk away, slowly, backwards. We needed to watch them until we got to safety.

The next thing I know I hear a man yell out "The two tanks have aggro on the mobs...ATTACK!"

Blinding flashes of light illuminated the night sky as fire, ice and mists of shadow enveloped the miscreants. Swords clashed, axes hued, the miscreants fell upon each other in a pile of blood and ash. We were safe. I woke up.

Have you ever had a dream where a real life event was inturrupted by memories of a WoW raid night? I just did. The first part actually happened to me somewhere in South America, the second...well, that happened too, but it wasn't exactly real life.

I went back to sleep, maybe I can dream of snowflakes and sipping hot chocolate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Four-Man-er

So a few weeks ago the weekly raid was to kill Sartharion. Our guild had suffered through a slowdown, mainly caused by winter holidays and vacations, so there weren't enough online to fill all 10 slots. Actually, there were only 4 of us, and we didn't feel like pugging anyone. So we went in alone, just the four of us.

It was a revelation, really, a bit of a surprise to find out that we could actually do it. We are not a full time, hard-core raiding guild, so our gear, albeit good, wasn't the BiS type gear. But very slowly and methodically made our way from trash mob to drake - to trash - to drake.

We made it through all trash and drakes and stood before the beautiful dragon, or is it drake, I can't tell the difference. We were about to head in when we heard the chime of somebody logging into vent. A fifth.

He came, we killed Sartharion, we turned in the quest and got our 5 frost emblems. The four of us who started were a bit sad that a fifth came in to take away our achievement, but he was a guildie and we love him. Denying him would have been wrong. Still, I wonder if we could have done it? I think so.

At the end somebody commented that OS should be made into a 5-man instead of a raid. I'm all for it. After all, it can be done...and rather easily at that. I admit that the 1,2 or 3 drakes up thing might be a bit tougher for a 5-man group. Maybe add two more slots and make it a 7-man epic dungeon.

Then I logged off and listened to Opera music. And before any of you guys out there think that's boring, do you have any idea how many girls out there find that romantic in a man? Not all girls, of course, but so many in my life that I lost count. Good thing, my wife wouldn't want me counting other women anyway.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Sawed Dat

Sticking to your guns, do you do it? What I mean is do you play the class/spec that's the flavor of the patch or do you play whatever class/spec combo that you like the best? If you are a Survival Hunter, do you stick to it no matter what your guild leader says? What if you're a Shaman, like me, and want to stay Enhancement even when everyone around you is saying "You should go ranged DPS or switch to Resto. As Resto you can get into any raid, it's awesome".

But what if you don't like healing? Should you allow yourself to be forced to heal for the good of the group? Or should you say to your guild leader "Maybe you should recruit more healers, but I would like to stay DPS".

I haven't done the math, but there are, let's see, 1...2...3...4...oh I give up. There are a lot of different race/class/spec combinations. Enough to go around, that's for sure. Now I hear it often, we need more tanks and healers in the game, DPS is a dime a dozen, can people please roll more tanks and heals?


So your LFD queue time is instant, just like tanks? Why should you or I give up the class/spec that we enjoy most for the good of the group?

Disclaimer: I'm an American, an individual from a very individualistic society. What's good for the whole isn't our first instinct. That said, I still wonder if we should easily capitulate to outside forces, demanding that our Mage be Arcane in order to top the Recount meters.

Gronthe is my Warlock, but I also have a Shaman at lvl 80. He's Enhance, and will always be. I will heal every now and then, but if I ever have a choice I play my Enhance because that's what I love to play.

If you continue reading I'll tell another story of my childhood, it's pretty good and has a lot to do with what I'm talking about.

This is embarassing, but as a kid I had some "speech impediments", according to experts. Actually, moving from the New England to the Rocky Mountains (for only a few forgetful years) my Maine accent was considered to be a disability. My elementary school forced me into speach therapy to fix my habit of rarely pronouncing my "R's", which most of the time came out sounding like the word "awe".

Heck, even at my high school football games when I moved back to New Hampshire we joked about our team's/city's name, Dover, by chanting:

Gimme a D...O...V...A...H. What's that spell? DOVAH!

One day I was at my friends house in the crisp, clean air of the Rockies, when I looked at a Tonka truck in his driveway, I noticed that there was a hole in the top of the truck that wasn't supposed to be there. Wanting to be a good friend, I tried to point this out by saying that I saw a hole in his truck, and maybe I could help him repair it. But it didn't come out right.

"I sawed a hole in yuh twuck".

He, being quick witted and a bit sarcastic, understood what I was saying but decided it be more fun to play with me.

"What, you sawed a hole into my truck? Why would you do that? Are you going to saw it in half when I'm asleep? Why? Why?"

Then he started to fake a cry. Oh great, he completely misunderstood me, or so I thought. After a couple minutes of teasing me he told me that he understood. We laughed about it and them played the day away.

But back at school I was forced spend the next year in speech therapy learning to forget the "true me" and speak like all the other robots in my shcool. In other words, I learned to pronounce my "R's". Now I can't stop, and to this day I hate my school for thinking there was something wrong with me.

For me this is the same as somebody telling me I need to change my spec because it's not the right fit. Well what if I don't freakin' want to pronounce my "R's" anymore, what if I want to stay Enhancement and not switch to ranged DPS or full time healer. I like who I am, and if you don't well then I'll find somebody who will!!!!!

I wish I could have said that to my speech therapist, but I had a hard time pronouncing his name:

Roger Frankwriter (a.k.a. Wodgah Fwankwightah). He probably thought I was swearing at him all the time.

I know it's not that big of a deal, as many smart guild/raid leaders appreciate and seek for a balance in their raiding teams, but I just had to get this off my chest.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cents and Centsability

Please do not make fun of me for knowing about Jane Austin. She wrote my wife's favorite book, Pride and Prejudice (& Sense and Sensibility), which has been made into film by many screenwriters over the years. Another author, Leo Tolstoy, wrote stories about Russian aristocracy similar to Jane Austin's novels which often revolve around persons within the elite of British wealth. Both authors offer insight into these worlds, the common thread in their explorations into the human condition is money.

Stay with me, I like to present a backdrop to every story I tell or topic I discuss.

Where was I? Oh yes, money. Another author I wish to highlight is Victor Hugo, well known in the US and around the world as the writer of Les Miserables. Yes, the musical was based off an incredibly famous novel. Hugo was a champion of the poor and miserable of France. He explored the human condition from the other end of the spectrum opposite Tolstoy and Austin. Hugo's works are filled with poor and oppressed individuals and the lives they were often forced to live, from planning a revolution to having to steal bread to live. So as Tolstoy wrote of princes in battle against Napoleon, Hugo wrote of a man who was so lowly that even the dog houses were too good of a place for him to sleep.

Money is one of the most powerful forces on earth, in the real world at least. While in games, even though it has its power and influences, it does not rival its real world impact on people. As I have played WoW there have been times of great wealth (for me) and times of sheer poverty. I remember trying to start up a new character, my first toon, with zero money. No copper, no silver, no gold. Those were difficult times, but I learned quickly to sell products that other people used a lot. Eventually I would earn enough to fuel all of my gaming activities.

Now there are nearly as many different attitudes about in-game currency as there are people. Some value the challenge of making thousands of gold a day, while others only get money from what they loot or the trash they sell. And some don't know that they can even sell trash, poor souls. Some people buy expensive mounts while others buy stuff off the AH just to flip it and get even more money.

Is there a right and wrong attitude for the money we make and spend? If I am not interested in hitting the gold cap, does that mean that I have no vision or am an idiot? I think the only thing it means is that I don't value that activity, not that I'm incapable or too stupid to accomplish it. Conversly, if my main activity on WoW is to make money at all costs, does that mean that I'm necessarily greedy and a goldmonger? Not at all. It could simply mean that you want to attempt the challenge of being the richest player in WoW.

However, there are players who are not very quick or understand the dynamics of economies. Some because they have either never had the opportunity to learn or have neglected it. Others simply due to age.

I have two kids (ages 7 & 9) that I allow to play sometimes, both are terrible at making money and I'm always having to finance their activities. Their inability to make money is not because they are slackers or idiots (by the way, I love my kids, so if you call them stupid there is a very good chance I will hunt you down and hurt you), they don't make money because they just don't care. They want to slay dragons and even raise baby murlocs in a good home. Swinging a sword is fun for them, not spending hours upon hours at the auction house. My kids don't understand economies, and that's ok. They have different values, and for them that is enough.

If we learn anything from great world authors is that there are redeeming qualities in both the uber-wealthy and the starving-poor. Yet there are also some who exibit the qualities of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello. Those are the dangerous ones, they will literally lie, cheat and steal in order to get more gold. They will paint a picture to the world while silently weaving webs of mistrust and betrayal. They promise you one thing only to hack your account and take everything your character has. For whatever reason they value theft and dishonesty. I think these individuals are a special case and don't fit well into the topic at hand.

Whatever people do for/with money in-game is their choice, most of the time. It's based on what they value and what types of activities they consider "fun" (which is subjective and varying). I think it's great that just as there is a choice between PvP and PvE we can make a choice between caring about the WoW economy and virtual gold and not caring. However, there is one thing that is similar to virtual economies and real life, in both cases money is needed at some point to progress or survive. So no matter what your attitude, sooner or later you're gonna need it. Tolstoy, Austin and Hugo understood this perfectly.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Part 3...Unveiling of Motive

Let me get something straight, two days ago I said that I would write one post a day until I completed 3 posts that would ultimately unveil what my motives for playing WoW are. Well yesterday I was so unbelievably sick that I just couldn't post. Then Larisa the Innkeeper decided to chime in, waiting for my post, but it wasn't there. I felt terrible, just terrible, so I decided to post part one and two. Maybe it's my medicine, maybe it's just luck, but I feel well enough now to write, and not knowing how I'll feel tomorrow I'm going to post part 3 now (I also don't want to lose such a wonderful reader as Larisa).

If you haven't read part one or two I suggest you do, it gives the backdrop to the story I am telling.

Part 3...Unveiling of Motive

Cute girls? /Laugh. They are a thing of the past. Only one woman matters to me today, not 3 bent on devastaion and destruction of my skull. Music is still a part of my life, as are sports (but only in the viewing sense). I work professionally in business and still have the dream of owning my own theater one day. I believe in culture, I believe that a community is enriched by music and dance and theater. But moving on...

Two years ago I was involved in an accident at work, an accident that left me unable to walk for a couple weeks. I can walk today, but I live with a tremendous amount of pain. It's difficult to keep a steady job because I miss so much work due to my condition. Every avenue to help me feel better and fix my condition has been denied by both workers compensation law and private insurance companies. Nobody wants to put up the money necessary to help me, and I am not wealthy enough to do it without financial support.

So where am I? Stuck. The system has spit me out and stomped on my head (or back, since it's my back that's injured). I'm frustrated and scared. I've done nothing illegal, I only seek medical help, yet the law in my state, and many states in the US does not protect the worker but the businesses that employ. Law is not always right, we know that, but I find myself only 3 weeks from losing my current job (was just notified of that 2 days ago), I am handicaped, but not in a way that allows me to earn support from local or federal government or private sources of support, and there remain just a few things that I can physically do.

Two things I can do: I can live and I can remember.

The memories of my life are as fresh today as the day they all occured. It's a result of having a lot of time to think by myself, unhindered by a stern boss or nagging wife (just to be clear, my wife doesn't nag, she's perfect). Memories of my past have helped me put my present into perspective. Memories have helped me to not repeat past mistakes and search for new experiences. Memories keep me sane, in part.

I live life the best way I can now. I know I said I'm angry but I still hold out hope for a solution. I would love to be able to teach my kids how to throw a baseball or shoot a basketball, but those activities have been put on hold. Outside of work I live in two worlds, my church and my family (not necessarily in that order). Every day when I get home I have my family there waiting for me, smiling and happy to see their husband or dad get home from a hard and painful day at work. They bring me a light and a joy that I once thought I would find in cute girls, sports, music or business.

But I've learned none of those things were truly important to me. My family is what gives me life now. But I'm limited, and that makes my kids sad sometimes, and in turn leads me to tears. But a little more than a year ago while serfing the net I came accross an add for a free ten day trial for some World of Warcraft or something or other. I couldn't do a lot physically, but my eyes and fingers still worked just fine. So I tried it out.

I was engaged from the fist step I took into the Northsire Abby. What came flooding back to me were all the memories I had as a kid, playing games because I was too injured to participate in what other "normal" people were doing. In High School my games were singing and dancing, a diversion afforded to me because of physical injury and limitations. Now as an adult I am injured once more, and out of all things to divert me for brief moments at night I have a game that millions of others are playing all around the world. A MMO, a term I had never before heard of...why would I?

Soon after starting my kids saw this game and have rarely left my side since. Every day we play together, me and my boys. I've let them create a few characters of their own to explore Azeroth, and it makes me happy to see them excited because they enjoy the time we spend together.

I'm not a horrible father, however, I still talk to them, read to them, and help them with shcool projects and their cub scout stuff, but we still love to play WoW together every night.

All my life I've made plans, and it's always been some physical injury that has changed the course of my life. Those injuries have forced me to find other hobbies, other activities to engage in. Before my injury as an adult I spent time with my kids just like any other dad, perhaps better even. But now I spend a lot of time with them, and playing Wow together has simply given me more time to do even more stuff with them, even though I'm limited phycially.

I started to play WoW because, well, I could. There were no limitations on me physically. But more than that it was a lifetime of memories flowing back to greet me, to welcome me back into the world of games and fantasy. A new path that appeared out of trial.

I still play because it's one more thing to do to spend time with my kids, it makes us happy. I continue to play because it allows me to rest from the difficulites of my day, the pain. I know it's just a game, and I know that one day something new will open up in my life, but I'm going to ride this train as long as it's at the station.

If a motive is something (need or desire) that causes a person to act, my motive was my desire to feel relief. I'm relieved I can do something with my kids without them resenting me for not being able to walk or play outside with them. I'm relieved that there is a fun and fascinating diversion in my life that lets me be myself without interference from the world. I needed relief, and for now I've found it, and it's nice.

Part 2...Adolescence

If you have not yet read part 1, please do it first then read part 2. Thanks.

So with the sirens of the roller-skating rink firmly in my past, I set my sights forward to a bright and hopeful future. I thought I would be playing games every day of my life, but then 6th grade came, age 12, and life changed once again.

Long past were the Atari days of playing Asteroids, a new game system had exploded onto the market, the Nintendo something or other. I didn't have enough money to buy it, and at my partents urging I became more active in after-school activities with real, live, human beings.

I learned that I could play basketball. The first game I played in 6th grade was against our cross-town, bitter rival of the South side. Us North-siders had an air of superiority in us, no doubt, but I always tried to remain humble. I was still very shy and did not like to show off, that is until that first basketball game. The first 10 times that the other team had the ball I promptly stole it and dribbled down to our basket to lay the ball up and in. We ended up winning something like 56-6. And I think I scored 50 of our points.

I had no idea I was this good. I was alwasy bigger and stronger and faster than everyone else my age, I just never thought of using it against people. But I did...and it was great.

Obviously we made it to the championship game against the schoole we first beat 56-6, butunfortunately the game was only presided over by our coach and one other adult somewhere in the gym. The other team's coach wasn't even at the game and kids from their school were running the scoreboard. They played fiercly that game, trying to do everything they could to stay way from me and my Rogue-like hands of thievery. But every now and then I would look up at the scoreboard in the middle of a play and see a point or two added here and there.

I kept mentioning it to people but nobody wanted to listen. By the time we were done we had lost by 4 points. We should have beaten them by 10, at least, but the scoreboard showed that we lost. They got the trophy, and we were shamed.

I was mad, I still am, and I soon channeled that anger into my work to get better and sports. Games fell by the wayside, I became an All-State baseball and baskektball player by my junior year of high school. Everything was falling into place, I was on the verge of college athletic scholorships and all-around notariety.

Then I went to basketball camp in the summer of my junior year. During a scrimmage game on the outdoor courts I was pushed into the pole that holds up the backboard and heard a "CRACK". Yes, that was my kneecap hitting the solid, very sturdy, metal pole. Water built up in my knee within the hour, a crack formed in my patella, it was a very serious injury.

Having to leave early I came home dejected and sad at what that could mean for my Senior season. But fate stepped in once again. A friend who took pity on my situation spent day after day talking to me and helping me to cope with the possibility of not being able to play basketball that year. One night at her house we started to sign a Boyz-2-Men song in her living room, we were that comfortable with each other, and Bozy-2-Men were the hottest thing on the planet at the time. She said that I had a nice voice and should try out for the school choir. After much thought I dropped my physics class and took up singing. I couldn't play sports because I couldn't walk straight for 8 months. So I sang.

By the time I was done with High School I had gone from a gamer, to a jock, to a musician. I had sang in musicals and played in AAU competition. My life in the gaming world was non-existant. I also had an opportunity to live and study in South America, learn to speak fluent Castellano (that's the Spanish spoken in Argentina). My life chagned completely, games were a thing of childhood, trivial and time consuming. A waste.

My life was set, I started to study commercial real estate with the hopes of buying and owing my own community theater one day. I met a beautiful woman, once again employing all my powers of cuteness on here, and we married and had two perfect boys. Then things changed again, I grew up, and Part 3 of my journey commenced.

Stay tuned.

Part 1...Childhood

Every 7 year old is cute. Well, not every one, I knew this kid once, well, I won't get into that. Let's just say that he never showered.

But I was cute, a real heartbreaker. I had every girl my age at school eating out of the palm of my hand. It was great. I can't say I was a player, I was too shy for that, but in my mind I understood the power I had over girls at that age. And I wielded that power with grace and cunning.

The best part about growing up was the summer, duh, but we had a roller-skating funhouse in our town and were given free passes from our school to skate there every day if we were so inclined. It was a great way for parents to keep their kids busy, and for some kids it was a place to actually "get busy". (Just kissing, nothing more)

I saw Michael Jackson's "Thriller" for the first time while roller-skating there, it was by far the biggest event of the day when it was played on the 80 inch movie screen in the corner. That was a rush.

The biggest event of the day, however, was when the lights were turned down and the slow, romantic music permiated every into corner of rink. On alternate days you would see one of the following: 1) Girls sitting on the pony wall along the north side holding out there hands just waiting for a boy to grab them and pull them into the rink of love to enjoy a skate and a glance, and maybe, just maybe, even hand-holding. /gasp! 2) Boys holding out there hands hoping that nobody would touch them, but it was mandatory, so we had to.

One day it was my turn to skate around and look at all the little cuties lined up on the wall, hands stretched out in anticipation, and here I am wielding once again my power. What great days those were. Anyway, I saw a group of 3 blond-headed cutesies bunched together. With all the bravado I could muster I skated by them and said on my next pass I'd like to take all three. They giggled at me, then as I skated off said something like "yes, finally" whispered between them. So the next pass I held out my hand ready to grab each in turn when all of a sudden they grabbed me all at once, and so hard did they pull at me (in order to lift themselves off the wall and onto the skating rink) that they pulled me down to the floor where the back of my head hit with the force of ten tanker trucks.

Within the minute a couple adults supervising the skating were at my side administering first aid. My world had come crashing down and those cute little girls were to blame. So much for my hand-holding venture, what a failure. Sure, maybe I was a little to ambitious, but so what, a guy has gotta try, right?

So how in the world does this have anything to do with World of Warcraft and my motives for playing it? Well, as I was resting on the sidelines watching those girls skate away with other, less cute boys, I walked around the arcade part of the building and saw a Miss Pac-Man game calling me. That game had an exploit where you could spin a penny into the coin slot and trick the machine into thinking it was a quarter, it was great. So instead of holding hands with the cutiest girls in school I started playing games that day...and the next, and the next, and the next.

My summer ended with little concern over girls and cuteness, I even felt my power receding into the background. It was still there, believe me, but it remained dormant for a few years. I wasn't ready to wield that power again just yet.

But that day granted me a new hobby. I liked games as much as the next kid, but that day got me started on a path of fun and a lot of time wasted. I later got the new Atari 2600 (at least I think it was that version). I could play all kinds of different games now, and in the comfort of my own, soft-floored, home.

So let me thank those cuties for setting me straight. I don't know what I would be like today if they hadn't nearly split my head in two.

Later brings part two...Adolescence. Ick!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Motives are power. They are the raw force that drives us to act. They are a product of thought fueled by knowledge. What actions are ever done without first existed a motive for such action.

Websters defines it as "something (need or desire) that causes a person to act.

In my short and limited exposure to psychology I noticed that Psychologits are hesitant to claim "Causality" as it is very difficult to prove something like "watching reality TV CAUSES stupidity". There are levels of correlation that they are willing to measure, but it's dangerous to say that any one thing CAUSES another.

But our motives are drivers, in a way causing us to act because that's what we think that we need or know that we desire.

What was my motive to start playing World of Warcraft? The story is a long one and I'm afraid I cannot put it all into one post. What I plan to do is write a series of 3 posts that help to give a deeper insight into not only why I started playing but why I continue to do so.

Sorry, this is a cliffhanger!

Feel free to bring both you and yourself back tomorrow for the start of this journey. Hint: It begins in childhood. I hope I can make it entertaining enough to keep you coming back for more.

That's Sick!

What I hate about a cold is how foggy it can make you feel. You don't see straight, things can get blurry or fuzzy or you feel dizzy and need to get back into bed. What I hate more than having a cold myself is when a supervisor or manager gets one and they still come to work. I can only figure that it's a statement of toughness and of their inner drive to "get the job done" that they are showing off.

To me they are crazy, all it does is reinforce a social belief that you SHOULD, nay you MUST work while sick, otherwise you're nothing but the lazy person in the office who shows weakness at the first signs of adversity. "You are not management material because you stay home when you are sick, loser."

So what about raiding? Do people give any slack to somebody who is obviously sick and doesn't have all their mental faculties available to them? The other night while doing the weekly raid with a few guildies and some pugged players, we had some trouble because there were two people who were really, really sick. Just so happens that it was the main tank and his healer (me).

I can't say who was in a greater fog, but I'm not sure it mattered. He kept forgetting to use certain abilities that enable tanks to, well, tank. And I was so out of it I never even noticed I was in the fire until I couldn't cast anymore..."Hey, I died, how did that happen?"

The run was a failure, and DPS types were talking to us over vent as if we were complete idiots. We apologized and said that we just needed to get off and let everyone else find a way to succeed without us.

I felt so bad, but also angry. I guess raiding has become a business, or just a job, where there is no mercy shown to those who get sick and no allowed time off without attaching a social stigma to those persons.

Let me phrase my question this way: Are you cold blooded or do you have a heart?

I'm curious. My own experience tells me that many are unforgiving, but my experience is narrow and only mine. What about you? Would you show your understanding or rail against the sickos in cold-blood?