Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quick glance at my Ignore list and...

So I was glancing at my ignore list last night and guess what I found? Wrong! Sorry, you lose. Still guessing?...........Time's up! I'll tell you. A new guild member, maybe two weeks young now, is in my ignore list.

I don't know why. It was probably one of the following:

1) During a dungeon or pug raid they were being a jerk to me or other group members.
2) They are a chat troll who tells vile and insensitive jokes and/or makes fun of others without cause or provocation.
3) Yep, the first two basically covers it. They definately said something jerkish at some point and I considered them complete morons unworthy of my association.

Now they have been invited into my guild. Wow, this is awkward. So what do I do if I'm grouped with this person by our guild leaders? What if they need something made or a gem cut, do I take somebody off my ignore list just because they are now part of the "in crowd"?

I honestly have no idea what to do. For now they remain on my ignore list, I hope we're never in a group together, and I hope that we have the same professions so they never need me or they always get help from other people on that front.

I don't put someone on my ignore list just because they get upset one time. You really have to say something that is truly bad. I account for people's tempers and frustrations, but there is a point where you just don't call someone a 'fag' because you think it will help prove your point. What to do? What to do? What to do? I know they deserved it, so does being in the same guild automatically make them a better person? Maybe they have reformed and are nice to people? Maybe that one instance that got them on my ignore list was a one-time thing? Even if it was, it definately was pretty bad. /sigh

Any advice?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Data

I am not a professional researcher. I am not a professional historian. I am a professional accountant with experience in many different industries. One, in particular, relates to this post by Larisa about whether WoW is really dying. The industry I speak of and my part in it is the Mortgage & Real Estate.

I'd like to say first that "It's not my fault!" Seriously, I had nothing to do with you buying a house you couldn't afford thinking that it would appreciate 200% over the next 12 months but now you're upside down on your loan and can't sell your house and can't afford the higher interest rate from the 3/1 Arm you bought. It's not really your fault either, I just like playing with people.

I think the big difference between Blizzard and the individual who claims that WoW is dying is Data, or information gained through years of research. The big difference between the loan officer who was trying to sell you a loan you couldn't afford and you was information...they had it, you didn't, but they too had a family to feed.

If you want to know all the reasons for the real estate collapse, I know the circumstances more intimately than most but won't spell it all out in tedium here. My particular position with this billion dollar mortgage bank was one where I and my supervisors had a lot of data. And as it was my and others' jobs to forecast and interpret this data, I did my very best.

I recall a beautiful afternoon here in Las Vegas when I went to lunch with our CFO, Controller and other accounting friends. This was about a year before things started to circle the drain, a time of tremendous growth, tremendous risk, and tremendous profits. There had been signs, however, signs that I noticed a couple years before. Underwriters of loans began to question the results of home Appraisers. But when appraisers stood their ground and a second confirmed the higher than usual home value, underwriters were forced to allow the loans to be processed.

One point of data led to another, until this fateful lunch outing when I told my bosses that our business was bound to fail. "It's just too risky, and nobody is paying attention to the underlying values of these mortgages, which are being sold to people who can't afford them and bought by banks who have desintegrating purchase standards. There's no way these loans can be pooled unless there's collusion on the secondary markets." Come to find out, there was (separate topic). My CFO started to ask our Secondary Marketing manager to look closely at the loans being sold to our investors. And as the year waned our CFO brougt data to our owners and told them that we needed to pull back on the risky loans and form a more traditional model that would keep us in business.

One February morning, Valentines day I think it was, we all came into work and an email was waiting for us.

"We're closed. Go home. No jobs for anyone."

We had data, we had viable and verifiable information upon which we based our council. That the owners didn't listen was their choice.

Re: the immenent death of WoW, it's my simple belief that they, a multi-billion dollar public company, has more information and data than any single player in the world. No matter how smart you may think you are or how much you think you know, Blizzard simply has more resources to collect the data they need to base decisions on.

Does that mean that all their decisions are good or the right business path? Absolutely not. But having been a part of a billion dollar business and having access to ALL the company data, I can with confidence say that I would rather trust people with the information than those without. I am not referring to concepts and ideas of game mechanics, lore, etc, I'm referring to the "big picture" data and information. People don't tend to choose to NOT play WoW because of the chat window (which was seeminly messed up this last patch), no, I'm not a single voter when it comes to WoW, and I'd venture to guess that most of you aren't either.

Blizzard has the data and believes that they will sell X # of copies of Cataclysm, have X # of subscribers during months Y & Z. They monitor that data and use it as a PART of their decision making process. And so far the decisions that they have made have led to increased popularity and access, not less.

As I hinted at before, I don't trust their data 100% because there are always variables in product creation and general business practices that will alter the expected course. But given the vast amounts of research they have done, I dare say that they know more than you or me put together. WoW isn't dying the way I guess some people have claimed for the past few years. It is losing individuals, but I guarantee Blizz isn't basing their decision on the whims of some individuals, they have the big picture in front of them, something nobody out there except for them can claim to have.

So let's just see if the choices they implement upcoming and in Cataclysm make this game more or less popular. As of now it's all just guess work.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Epix

Boxing in Las Vegas used to be the pinnacle of sporting events in this nation. There was actually a time when, sit down and shut up football fans, a heavyweight championship fight was bigger than the Super Bowl. Doh! I think the NFL just fined me for using the term Super Bowl. Oops, I did it again! (makes moaning sound)

Today I suppose the UFC is taking over boxing’s failed market, although I’ve never been a real fan of men hugging each other while lying on a mat in tight spandex undies. But I digress.

A classic call by the boxing announcer at the start of the fight was thus:

“In this corner we have the Sultain of Pain, the Czar of Scars, the Master of Disaster…Biiiiiiiiiiiiiig Miiiiiiiiiiike! And in the other corner, hailing from the outer-most reaches of the Andes mountains in South America, comes the Warden of Flesh, Destroyer of Souls, the one, the only, Jooooorrrrggggeeeee Guuuueeerrrrrrrroooo!

Crowd cheers wildly with excitement.

WoW kinda has had an epic boxing match of their own as the most recent expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, as unfolded. In one corner are all those who played and raided back in Vanilla and maybe even in TCB, in the other corner comes the challenger. The casual who demands free epics at little cost or effort in any raiding situation. The bane of the purists existence. The fight went back and forth: “Epics are handed out like candy, what ever happened to them being unique, truly epic?” vs “Hey, I work all day pal! Unlike you, who has no life and plays wow 14 hours/day, I feed a family and only have a few hours a week to devote to raiding. But that doesn’t mean that epic gear should be withheld from me, that I am held back from seeing content that I’m clearly paying for with my subscription. I deserve epics just as much as the hard core, no-life losers.”

Well, we’re in the 9th round and it looks like momentum may be shifting slightly back to the “old guys” of raiding. Quoting blue poster Ancilorn:

“Well, hopefully this comes as good news. We're actually working on restoring the epic feeling to epic items in Cataclysm. Epic loot should be epic, and something to be very proud of. Our plan is to try and get the Heroic -> Blue Gear and Raid -> Purple Gear balance back.”

Well, well, well! Looks like Harry and Ron will have to stop copying off Hermione’s homework every night and get out and raid in order to don some epic gear instead of just running little ‘ol heroics. I can’t really say I care that much. Oh, that’s not a good selling point for a blog. Here, let me try again.

THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! WHAT A CROCK! I HAVEN’T PLAYED FOR A YEAR AND A HALF JUST TO HAVE MY WELFARE EPICS TAKEN FROM ME OUT OF THE BLUE! SCREW YOU, DEATHWING! LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO THE CASUAL, YOU’RE SCREWING EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. (Not the best image, but if Deathwing is motivated I’m sure that he can…)

Well that just won’t do, I’m not much into yelling. Give me one more chance to state a definitive opinion on this.

*clear throat*

It’s about time! Epic gear has ceased to be epic, in every sense of the word. Gone are the days where by standing in the center of the trade district in Stormwind can one be defined by the design of the gear he’s wearing. The day anyone turns 80, with enough time and motivation, can have 4-8 pieces of epic gear, sometimes more depending on how much money they have and RNG. It’s been an absolute joke, and it progressively worsened as the WotLK xpac progressed. I’m glad that Blizzard has started to reward some of the older players, we who knew what it was like to work week after week just to grind a few pieces of epic gear…if we were lucky. I certainly don’t expect it to be as hard as it was in Vanilla, but it brings a smile to my face and warms my heart to know that the casual won’t be as epic as me anymore.

So who’s side are you on? Or are you like Treebeard, on nobody’s side because nobody’s on your side? How, exactly, do you feel about this statement and how do you THINK it will play out? Once the second raid tier opens up in Cataclysm do you think that “welfare epics”, as I’ve heard them called before, be the norm again? Or does Blizz have a built-in mechanic to deal with the issue of such easy access to raid-level gear for the fresh 80?

My honest opinion is that in general, this is a good thing. I don’t think it will be as hard as Vanilla, nor as easy as WotLK. Even as a super casual, I don’t mind epic gear only being available in raids (at least to start out with), mainly because I’m not a gear whore. I don’t define my abilities or worth my the gear I have on. I play the game to have fun how I want to. Gear helps make difficult content less difficult, and for that I’m grateful. I never expected or asked for handouts, so to go back to a system where epic loot will be considered more “epic” than it is today, I think will be a good change.

How long it will last, who knows? But I’ll take it while I can get it.

Friday Frivolity Literary Contest!

"There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming."

Quick, who said it? Yep, that's right. Our good 'ol friend and Wizard Gandalf the Grey.

How about this one from WoW, can you name the NPC and or his race and where he's stationed?

"I WILL KILL YOU, WINKY!"..."SHUT UP, WINKY"..."I'm going to let you in on a little secret, soldier. Come a little closer. I'M THE ONLY SANE ONE HERE! Look at these people! Would you believe they're all insane? Well they are! NUTS! CRAZY!...Let's just keep that between me, you, and my pal Captain Winky...Get in there and shake your monemaker!"

Right again, Oralius, the SANE Dwarf NPC in Burning Steppes. He's provided many an Alliance character much needed laughs in such a desolate zone.

Let's see if you can guess the following, I won't give the answers this time, so you're on your own. I'm not using recent WotLK quotes, so you'll have to search your memory banks for these:

1) "Tell me, tell me everything...naughty secrets! I'll rip the secrets from your flesh!"

2) "Avast ye swabs repel the invaders!"

3) Left head: "Me hungry!" Right head: "You always hungry. That why we so fat."

4) "BY FIRE BE PURGED!"

Honestly there are hundreds of funny, memorable phrases spoken by bosses, quest givers, random mobs and other random NPC's. If you can guess the above quotes without looking them up on the internet then you'll win! Win what? How do I know. Why don't you just tell me what you want and I'll see what I can do.

If you're really in a creative mood, let's see who can come up with the best line for the following scenario:

You've just killed the Lich King, the final words of Arthas are..." ? "

Good luck, I look forward to hearing your responses!
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I have one more competition for those literary-minded folk out there. It's significantly more serious than everything I've written today, but I'm curious to see if anyone can (again, without looking them all up on the internet) guess where these quotes came from. The winner of this will get a super prize for their staunch efforts. Here they are:

1) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
2) There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.
3) Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.
4) In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea! If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore, Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.
5) Nothing can be revoked or said in vain nor unfulfilled if I should nod my head.

If you get all of these I will be truly impressed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Worgen District

Brain Deadiness
OK, so I'm a total spaceball. Living out in the Mojave desert can do stuff to your brain, so I ask for a passon this one. The Worgen District is going to be in Darnassus, not Stormwind.

Well, I guess Deathwing destroyed more than the park, but all hopes for Human-Worgen relations. Now the oft-misunderstood Worgen will be nurtured by the tree-hugging Night Elves. Great! I hope this particular alliance doens't diminish the animalistic ferocity attributed to the Worgen Race.

Tangent
I need some ice, please, it's too hot! Talk about being misuderstood, Las Vegas gets that treatment all the time. Vegas is more than the Strip, gambling, booze, strippers, shows, gambling, quick marriages, gambling...it's a very large city nestled in a desolate valley that once was inhabited by rivers and streams and reeds of grass. Did you know Las Vegas means "The Meadows"? That's right. But the summers here are oppressive. Dry heat my booty! 120 is hot, humidity or no humidity. (It's not 120 today, but we're getting there).

Funny thing is whenever local residents get out of town family or friends in, that's when they do their duty and head on down to the fun part of town. The rest of the year is school, shopping, parks, friends, you know...normal stuff.

Back to Psychosis
I still can't believe I never heard about the Worgen District to be in Darnassus until yesterday. I am so oblivious!

Overstepping Your Bounds

Are you in a guild? If no, then this doesn't apply to you, but you are most welcome to say and share your thoughts anyway.

Assumption...You're in a Guild
Are you the Guild Leader or an Officer or one of the guild's Raid Leaders (if it's a raiding guild)? If you answer yes then you too are welcome to stay and offer your perspective, but I'm not directing this directly to you.

Assumption...You're in a Guild but your Not in ANY leadership role
Nice, now we can all settle in with our Dasani bottled water and chewing gum and get to work.

The question I'd like to address is this: Can a regular guildie in a non-leadership position ever overstep his/her bounds but it be the "right thing" to do? Ugh, I know, I never should have introduced the term "right thing", there's too much room for interpretation. So let's narrow it down then, shall we? Let's say, rather, "for the good of the guild". There's still some interpretation to be made, but I think most will agree that creating drama that would result in a slew of /gquits is not "for the good of the guild".

Mode of Declaration
What would happen if a memeber of the guild unexpectedly mentioned in guild chat one night that they were considering leaving for another progression guild that was closer to killing the lich king than your current guild? How would you treat that person? Now what if this happened when there were no guild leaders/officers online, how would you proceed?

1) "Dude, if you want to go just go."

or

2) "I think you should stay, you're really good and we could really use you."

or

3) "Jerk! How dare you talk openly about leaving our guild. You should just /gquit and do the rest of us the favor of kicking you!"

or

4) "Tell me, what are your motives for raiding? What is it exactly that you would be looking for in either staying or changing guilds?"

The Answer
So what would be the response closest to yours? If you wanted to keep somebody in your guild, a) How truthful would you be with them about the real progress of your guild's most advanced group? and b) Would you result to flattery?

Well I wouldn't flatter anybody, I don't care who they are, and I would do my best to be truthful with them and leave the decision in their hands, not mine. But I would ask them #4. I would want to know why they raid in the first place? Is it to boost their ego by boosting their gear score and showing off to everyone in town? Is is for the challenge of the raid, in which case it wouldn't matter at all what guild you were in, you can be challenged in different ways in any raiding guild you join. Or do you, at this point in the expansion, have the specific goal of doing one thing and one thing only...Killing Arthas?

I realize there are some people who believe that sociality has no place in raiding, and that the progression and attaining your end goal is the only motive. Still others consider the social aspects of raiding guilds and soak up the warmness of the friendships they make along the path, even if it takes them a bit longer to get there.

But here you are, a regular 'ol guildie, facing this potential traitor to your goals; but you want to keep them because they are, quite frankly, one of the best at what they do. So you speak up, you ask them to consider their motives, you tell them the truth about the progress you have made in your group in the guild and how close you are to downing the Lich King. You encourage them to consider what's important to them and let them know that you would support them in whatever decision they made.

Impatience vs Understanding
See I think a guild leader would react differently than a drone (someone like me). I think someone who has led the guild would feel more betrayed by the open declaration of a guildie that they were seriously considering leaving. I think many GL's would /gkick their butt with the obligatory "don't let the door...", etc., etc., etc.

But a drone guildie, who has no real stake in this person as they are not in the same raid group, but share the same motives, has a better chance to make the choices and say those things that are "for the good of the guild" than a GL or officer. You are on their level so it's easier to empathise with their plight.

How good would you feel if you convinced that player to remain? Pretty good, I suppose, and the leadership doesn't have to know. I guess now the question is, should you say anything? Have you, at any time, overstepped your bounds by doing something that you KNOW the guild leader would not have done?

As Spongebob says, "Well good luck with that."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Given One More Chance

I've joined quite a few pug raids in my time. Not a lot, just quite a few. Mostly it's for the weekly raid on my alts, so that probably doesn't really count as a raid. Anyway, with ToC staring at our server this past week and three toons to do it on I had to choose which one would go with guild and which two would pug it.

Tuesday night happened and in went my Shaman with my guild, easy money. Saturday came and I had to run it on my priest. I decided to lead it so I started to post for others to join my merry band of weekly raiders. I wasn't in the mood to require gear score or achievement, it was early and I really didn't have time to care about that. I guess I just hoped that people would know if they were capable or not (please no quest greens, please no quest greens).

Group formed, ToC started. Wipe on worms. Wipe on worms. Wipe on worms. What's going on, can't we just get to Icehowl? Wipe on worms. Tank leaves, dps leaves. I ask healing Priest to go DPS and we get awesome holy Pali from someone's guild...joy. But before that happy moment, I had to, just had to look at the meters to see how everyone was doing. I'm not one who believes that you need 4K dps or some other random number to do ToC (first two bosses). Proper coordination and people doing things at right times (Snobolds, fires, poisons, running away, etc) will get you through just fine.

But there was this other Shadow Priest in the group that was doing 1K dps. Hmm, I wonder what's going on? Being a Shadow Priest myself I understood very well what we're capable of given certain gear and performing our rotation even close to the best manner possible. But I was doing 1K dps in my 70's running regular dungeons. This particular priest had gear from 25M Naxx mostly, plus a couple 245 Emblem purchased pieces. Must be someone who hasn't played in a long time. But 1K dps was, well, really bad for a this particular raid. Very difficult to make up when everyone else was doing around 3K.

So, here I was, raid leader of a pug and a couple people had quit already. What do I do? I decided to talk to the priest. I said that as a group we seemed to be having some issues, but none that can't be overcome with a little more focus and coordination. I wasn't an expert, but I said that I felt like 1K dps was pretty low for these fights and if there was anything I could do to help. They explained to me that it had been a while since they played and they were really trying hard, which I believed. So this is what I said.

"I'll make you a deal. I've give you the choice to stay if you want to. Even though I think your dps output is too low for these fights, I'm willing to give you another chance. If we wipe, I think it would serve the group if you voluntarily left, but I'll still leave the choice to you."

What?!?!?!? Gronthe, you're the freakin' raid leader, it's your job to make sure that the group is well enough equipped for success. Allowing someone doing 1K to stay in your ToC raid is crazy, just kick 'em and replace 'em!!!!

Maybe, but something in me at that moment felt like saying what I did. I think I felt that an introspection would be better than yelling at how much they sucked (not that I thought they sucked, I just think that since they hadn't played in a really long time that this person was struggling with their rotation, etc). Maybe this approach was more offensive, I'm not sure. But if I were made to consider whether my contributions were a help or a hinderance what would I do? Would I be honest with myself? Would I be too hard on myself and leave anyway? Would I lie to myself and say that dps output doesn't matter at all (as long as we have healers with enough mana to keep us alive indefinately, we can take down any boss)?

The priest evidently took some time to think, then whispered back to me "ty for inviting me, I think I'll leave though." That's when we filled the last two spots and finished the weekly without any more wipes. Yippee for us.

But I wonder why I did what I did. It was certainly unconventional, giving the choice to somebody who was clearly not contributing much to the group, but it still seemed right at the time. Yes, I wanted my badges for the week, but this was a pug and I don't care about GS or Achieve. Maybe they would take my adivce on their rotation? They took my advice on other stuff as well, so this person was clearly open to instruction. A part of me still feels bad because I basically told someone that they're not very good. But since I figured there was a reason that could be overcome I should give that player the chance.

I realize that many, many will disapprove of this course of action because I put the needs of the group behind the needs of the one. But you know what? I'm so sick of people being rude to each other, of not helping or offering suggestions in a constructive way, of not giving people the chance because they only have 213 gear on, and all other demeaning behavior towards other people. I'm so sick of it and I had a chance to not be that guy. I had a chance to give someone a chance and I took it. If the group disbanded we'd all find other pugs to join, so it's not like I prevented people from success, just maybe risked a delay in it. But I don't regret it, people need to be given a chance to prove themselves, especially those who are willing to learn.

Would have there been a point where I just kicked him? Admittedly yes, I said as much. Basically I had given this player one more chance, because I didn't completely ignore the needs of the other 8 players there. I hope this person has found a group that can carry him, I really do. We just were not that group. But I'm glad I didn't kick 'em after the first wipe, but I wonder a bit if what I did was still worse than demeaning him in front of everyone. I guess I'll never know.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Good News...I Still Have a Guild

A few days ago I talked about how the increased raiding efforts of my guild had been difficult on me physically, due to my disability with my back and other physical pains and afflictions I have. I knew I needed to talk to my raid and guild leaders, but wasn't looking forward to telling them that one of their oldest, most reliable, and versitile raiders needed to cut back. Simply put this would mean that I could 1) only run raids with my main two nights a week, 2) no more 25mans, 3) my alts could not participate in additional 10-man groups the guild was forming.

So Wednesday night I logged in and sent a tell to those leaders.

I told them I had to cut back and all the reasons why.

I also explained that it didn't mean I wouldn't be online during raid times, I would, but a casual play night for me is much, much different than a raid night - meaning the way it impacts my physical body.

I asked for their feedback, I wanted to know what their reactions would be.

AND..................

To a man they each said they were "Cool with it" and that they "Understood". It helped that one of them has a back injury himself, so he knows better than most what I was talking about.

I was left to hope that they meant what they said, and given what they have preached before ("Real life comes first") I knew they were truthful in beintg "cool with it".

What a relief. The good news is that the two nights I can stand to raid I'm part of the 10-man group that has progressed the farthest into ICC. No, we're not a super-powerful guild who does hard modes, we're far too casual for that. We stand at 10/12, and if it wasn't for just some piss poor bad luck on Sindragosa we'd be at the Lich King's feet.

So, while my guild was doing their weekly 25-man, what was I doing? During the same three hours I tanked with my lvl17 Pali, I watched TV with my kids, I farmed some Lichbloom, I played some basketball on XBox 360, and I ran a random on my new DK. It was one of the most stress-free nights I've had in a long time.

I was asked in a comment why I had any trepidation in the first place. I believe I answered that it was difficult to explain, but the best thing I can say is that mabye 15-20 years ago I would have had no difficulty, but that's when it was easy to be confident about everything in life. There are times I can't even sit up without help, or put socks on, let alone work enough to provide for my family - not being able to do stupid, simple stuff doesn't exactly instill confidence in people.

But I mustered enough to speak up for myself, and wow what a relief. I do love to play this game, and I enjoy the goodness of the people in my guild. I no longer have to stress about a raiding night disabling me (literally) for the next two days, I can go back to a well rounded approach to the game, which is how I've always loved to play it and it's how I can continue to approach it from here on out.

Have a great weekend, may you achieve your goals and burn up the baddies!

Friday Frivolity!

BITE ME!

I have no sentiment of frivolity today, today just SUCKS! I was born and raised in New England (you know, the 6 northeast states of the USA that collectively are known as New England, but separately known as New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massacheusetts). Dispite being a New York Yankee fan for baseball (long story) I have also been a lifelong Celtics fan. And last night they got robbed by officials on the take and the $#$%#@$%!@#$%!#$%!#$%#!$%@#$%@#$% Lakers!

Don't even argue with me, but when one team gets 37 free throw attempts and the other not even half as much, it means that the officials weren't exactly calling the game fair. Laker fans are stupid anyway, and if you are one you can go suck it, I don't care if you ever read my blog again, YOU ALL SUCK!

Not only that, but the US Soccer/Futbol team got ROBBED by a phantom call in the 86th minute against Slovenia. ROBBED! There was NO FOUL AND NO OFFSIDES. Check the freakin' replay, NOTHING HAPPENED!!!!!!

I am just so pissed today, it's not even funny. Huff, puff, huff, puff, huff, puff, I'm gonna blow all your stupid houses down! I just hate everyone today!!!!!!

BUT WAIT, ONE GOOD THING HAPPENED LAST NIGHT!

I tanked a dungeon, the Deadmines to be exact, with my level 17 Paladin. Yep, I raised a whole level too, 18.5 when I was done, SWEET! I don't have consecration yet, so there were many times mobs just kind of went wild. But we only had 1 wipe, and one extra...no two deaths after that. We downed the end boss and all his stupid rogues no sweat. All this even when a hunter in the group would pull every mob group...he was responsible for the wipe in that room with all the goblins and their stupid mechanical ELITE toys. STUPID HUNTARDS, WHAT'S YOUR FREAKIN' PROBLEM? CONTROL YOUR STUPID PET. WHAT ARE YOU, LAKERS FANS OR WORLD CUP OFFICIALS?

I'm leveling full Prot too, yep, that's right baby, no stupid Ret for me. I've gone that route and deleted 3 level 20 Pali's just cause I get irritated with lvl 80 Pali's in WG always bubbling and running around like nothing can touch them, AREN'T YOU JUST SO SPECIAL, YOU STUPID....

I'm still pissed.

So go and post some comment about a fun or witty or exciting story for Friday Frivolity, I DARE YOU! I sure as heck am not happy about anything today, LIFE SUCKS! And to top it off...no, I won't get into anything more today. Maybe the weekend we'll finish up all bosses save the Lich King himself, and I can get closer to Kingslayer.

BTW, I was so pissed last night and wanted something good, I opted in for Cataclysm Beta. Don't know if I'll get invite, but I sure would like something interesting to happen, something worth talking about.

WORLD CUP OFFICIALS SUCK!!!! CHECK THE REPLAY, THE US WON THAT GAME!!!

LAKERS FANS ARE THE DUMMEST FANS IN THE WORLD, LAKERS SUCK AND THE REFS THEY PAID OFF SUCK IT TOO!!!! GO OFF YOURSELVES!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Some Financial Facts...and some Speculation

Financials: Known as the various kinds of financial reporting instruments both required by law and required by usefulness. Not a textbook definition, but a practical one. Accountants and Management look at and analyze financials and use them as a tool for both understanding what has worked for the company but also how to proceed as to operations and strategy for the future.

We recently learned that Blizzard has drastically changed the upcoming Cataclysm feature Path of the Titans. It’ll still be there, but not really. This and a couple other omissions have left some people wondering whether Blizzard is pushing too fast to release Cataclysm, while others stand by Blizzard’s PR people in saying that the expansion “will be released when it’s ready.”

So what’s the truth? If you’re smart you must realize that the truth is always somewhere on the spectrum between two extremes. Maybe a better question is: How much influence does ActivisionBlizzard’s (I’ll use ATVI, it’s stock symbol for the rest of the post) upper management have on the development and release of Cataclysm? To get close to the answer, I believe, will require us to understand their Financials. So let’s get to it. (All my data comes directly from ATVI’s financial statements on their website and from NASDAQ.com).

A rather common but erroneous measure of a company’s financial position is its stock price. I’ve put in a graph of their stock price over the past 12 months. What do you notice?




For one it appears that the stock price as been A) Trending lower and B) Volitile. That is until you realize that over a five year period it’s gone from 6.87 to 14.85 to 8.64 to around 11.20 today. Their stock price has always been volatile, but during that same period there has definitely been a significant RISE in player subscriptions. So just looking at a stock price won’t tell us if Management is putting the pressure to release.

LEVERAGE
I like that show, but it’s moving to Sunday night on TNT so I don’t know if I’ll remember to watch. Oh, not that Leverage, financial leverage or debt. ATVI is actually in a good position. They actually do not incur any long-term debt, and their current ratio is a solid 2.91. Current Ratio measures the ability of a company to pay off short-term debt. Calculated by dividing Current Assets / Current Liabilities (Current = less than one year).

What this means that in the short term if ATVI ran into some small financial trouble, they would have sufficient assets to pay off what they owed and keep themselves afloat. ATVI also maintains a significant cash reserve, but even according to admitted risk factors, a significant drop in subscribers could easily completely use up their loss reserves, which is an undesirable event. But overall their leveraged positions are strong, there’s not much there to worry management.

EARNINGS
Now we’re getting to the meat of the issue. Earnings and all the factors and measurements off earnings are a tool managers use to strategize and make decisions. Not to say earnings are the sole factor, any analyst knows that you actually use ALL financial data and relevant reports to reach any conclusions. But expected future earnings are a factor in stock prices, which is good for shareholders.

AVTI breaks down their revenue into two categories: 1) Product Sales, and 2) Subscription, Licensing and Other Revenue. #2 is a broad range of income and consists of income generated through their relationships with retailers and other outlets and developers. Product sales are pretty self-explanatory, I hope; they sell a box of WotLK and they call that “Revenue”.

The Net Revenue over the past five years looks like this (in Millions):
2009 - $4,279
2008 - 3,026
2007 - 1,349
2006 - 1,018
2005 - 780

Consequently their Net Income (Loss) for the same time period looks like this:
2009 - $113
2008 - 107
2007 - 227
2006 - 139
2005 - 45

Per AVTI’s financial reports:

Cash Flows from Operating Activities
The primary drivers of cash flows from operating activities have typically included the collection of customer receivables generated by the sale of our products and our subscription revenues, offset by payments for taxes and to vendors for the manufacture, distribution and marketing of our products, third-party developers and intellectual property holders, and to our workforce. A significant operating use of our cash relates to our continued investment in software development and intellectual property.


AVTI even exceeded Q1 2010 expectations by posting $1.3B in Revenue (1.1B expected), with total cash and investments totaling $3.4B (3.3 expected). They anticipate $700M for Q2 and $4.2B for the entire year 2010. Additionally, their EPS (or earnings per share) have also exceeded expectations. So financially speaking, they are reaching their goals for revenue and even recently exceeding their expectations. That’s got to have management in a good mood. As part of their expectations they still anticipate to release Cataclysm in 2010, so whatever revenues generated from those product sales are included into their $4.2B estimate.

Unfortunately, AVTI’s P/E Ratio is not one of the best in their industry. Yes, there are future expectations of revenue, but there are significant risks to AVTI’s products and operations. In their own words, let me share what they see are some, just some of those risks. These may seem obvious, but to see them written and admitted to makes them legitimate and worth consideration.

RISKS

* A continuing deterioration of general economic conditions could result in a reduction in discretionary spending by consumers that could reduce demand for our product.
* We depend on a relatively small number of franchises for a significant portion of our revenues and profits. (i.e. Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and World of Warcraft account for approximately 68% of all net revenues for the year ended Dec 31, 2009. Additionally, revenues associated with the World of Warcraft franchises accounted for 98%, 97%, and 97% of Blizzard’s consolidated net revenues for the years ended Dec 31 2009, 2008, and 2007 respectively)
* A substantial portion of our revenue and profitability will depend on the subscription –based MMORPG category. If we do not maintain our leadership position in this category, our financial results could suffer. To remain a leader in the MMORPG category, it is important that we continue to refresh World of Warcraft or develop new MMORPG products that are favorably received by both our existing customer base and new customers.
* The future success of our business depends on our ability to release popular products in a timely manner.
* If our products contain defects, our business could be harmed significantly.

Bored yet?

I hope not, because simply by looking into their financial reports we see a few interesting things. First is that without WoW, Blizzard would fail…at least as we know them now. Unless they introduced something else to take it’s place, they still rely on product sales and continued subscriptions of WoW to keep their business a viable business. They are very interested in making a good product. VERY. They realize that if they send Cataclysm to the retail floors of Wal-Mart, Target, GameStop, whatever that it needs to be a product with as few defects as possible and a gaming experience worthy of the subscribership they need to remain financially viable.

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think I realize that the truth definitely is in the middle on this one. Yes, top brass is whispering in the ears of the developers to get the product launched in the time they set forth who knows how long ago. In the meantime, the devs are working their brains off to get it done…THE RIGHT WAY. I don’t envy them in the slightest. It can’t be an easy job to satisfy enough people to earn over 4 billion a year in revenue. Yet each year they seem to meet or exceed their revenue goals. Now there are other financial factors that are incredibly boring to discuss at the moment, so I won’t ever go there.

But I think it’s clear that they are trying. I don’t think they scrapped PotT because they couldn’t meet a deadline, financially speaking it’s better for them to put out a good product than to put out a product by X date. So in a way I believe it when they say that it “will be released when it’s ready”…as long as it’s this year so that the shareholders get their money’s worth!

Be a Good Hybrid

I woke up this morning with an idea for a post. Then I read some comments over on Larisa's blog from people with clearly different opinions. There were some assumptions made and still others were crying out for facts regarding Blizzard's subscription status and/or financial sitation.

So I did what any accountant would do, I went and researched Blizzard's financial statements and announcements over the past five years through the first quarter of 2010. The FACTS I found I would like to share with you, but it will take time to organize, so expect those FACTS later this week.

For today I'm going with my original idea that I had upon waking up from a particularly bad dream. Every morning I read books. It's a nice, calm way to start the day, plus it gets my mind jump started in a way significanly more useful than, let's say, SportsCenter. Lately I've been revisiting the Harry Potter series. It's so well written, I really do like to read them about once a year. I'm in book 5, Order of the Phoenix.

In it is the foul Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, fat-head Fudge (fat-head isn't his real name, just a given name by me). She was appointed as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and is making the students read a textbook every class instead of actually practicing magic. She has some prejudices, however, one of which is her disdain of Half-Breeds - like Centaurs and Werewolves. One of Harry's former teachers, and friend of his late father James Potter, is a Werewolf named Remus Lupin. Umbridge seems to think that all Half-Breeds are an abomination and undeserving of treatment given to a more pure form of wizard or witch.

So what about Hybrids? Were they ever or are they now looked down upon as a second class --- class? As for the former I can only speak based on anecdotal evidence, not personal experience. It seems that earlier in WoW, the various hybrid classes weren't really the best all their various roles. Pure DPS classes such as Rogues and Mages were better than the Druids and Shamans and Palidins. Priests were the supreme healing class while Warriors were the tanks. I think these assumptions are pretty accurate, so I'll skip over the rest of what I never actually saw and look to the present.

Rogues and Mages, the really good ones who know there class, can still do more DPS today than anyone else, so that really hasn't changed much. The difference is that just about all other class and spec (save a couple really under-utilized and underperforming raid specs like Subtelty Rogues and some, only some Frost Mages) are nearly equal in DPS performance and can compete with the top on occaision. All healing classes have competitive specs that have their specialized and powerful uses as well, Priests are no longer alone at the top of that pile.

Tanks, well, each class able to tank can do it if the person behind the controls is good, so I'm not going to disucss something anymore that I'm not a all familiar with.

So now you are starting a new character, and you want to avoid the pure DPS classes (Rogue, Mage, Warlock, Hunter), you want to roll a hybrid. Not all hybrids are equal, Priests can heal with 2 specs and DPS with the third. Shaman's can DPS with 2 and heal with the third. Druids can range dps, melee dps, tank and heal - ooh, you're so awesome. Paladin's can Tank, Heal, and DPS. DK's can Tank and DPS (currently you can do both with all three trees, which is very interesting, but come Cataclysm will only be able to tank in Blood). And finally the almighty Warrior, original Tank and now DPSer to boot.

No matter your choice, there will be external expectations heaped upon you, some of which you already have for yourself and others you will fight every day you log on. So here's my first tip in being a good hybrid.

1. Manage Expectations
I know it, I've experienced it many, many times. I decided to level both my Priest and Shaman as DPS, but every time that I ran a dungeon and ESPECIALLY when I hit 80, it seemed that nobody realized that either had any other available spec than HEALS. There were massive expectations to heal, and I fought those tooth and nail for months. Eventually I decided that it wouldn't hurt me to try healing. Making a long story short, I am now a top healer in my guild. I still get the chance to DPS, which makes me very happy. Giving in to demands isn't what I did, I made the choice to try and do something that I viewed as challenging. When I did that I found that I could manage the expectations because as I could switch specs upon request, people stopped expecting anything from me and were glad that I had the ability to fill many roles. Learning your specs helps you manage expectations.

2. Dont' Slack Off
If you gear up your tank set (as offspec) because your GL didn't want you running as Ret every week, don't begrudge it [ too much :) ]. When you're running randoms with the guildies helping you get your starter gear, try and do your best at a role you're unfamiliar with. Don't purposely fail and say at the end "I just can't do it, I'm goin' back to ret'. Try and learn your gear strategy, gemming, enchants, spells, abilities, and your role in a fight that is clearly different from what you're used to. Working hard to be good at every skill possible (currently 2 with duel-spec) will not only make you valuable, but provide you a way to keep the game fresh by allowing you to do the same thing two different ways, thus providing a completely different experience. Slacking off may just lead to burnout, while working at it will keep you playing and having fun.

3. Be Flexible
Should be easy, you're a freakin' hybrid. Last night I had my Shadow Priest in a weekly raid with my guild. We had some new tanks and healer and it wasn't easy. There were times when the new healer would die and I had to stop DPSing, pop shields and renews and flash heal our way through the end of the fight. Even through a few wipes when a few were impatient and a bit irritated and said, "Why is [Gronthe's] DPS so low? You really need to be higher with your gear," I didn't get upset because I knew that my ability to be flexible during the fight got us farther than if I kept my head down and mashed buttons. BTW, I calmly reminded this bloke what I needed to do, and to please refrain from criticizing me who was consistently 1 or 2 on the charts for fights that I didn't have to off-heal. /Sigh Some people.

4. Don't be an Umbridge
If you can at all remember what it felt like when everyone asked you to learn a new role you had no intention of doing when you first started your toon, good. Remember how it feels to want to fight back against those expectations and don't push other people in the same way you were pushed. Sure, encouragement to others to fulfill as many hybrid roles as possible is a good thing, for the group and for the person as well. It's nice to feel useful, and hybrids are in a perfect position now to fulfill all the roles at the highest levels of the game. Don't dispise others because of who they are; if that Druid just doesn't want to heal, ultimately it's his choice. Don't treat make him an outcast because he's not like you. Be accepting of his chosen role. Small encouragement is still good, but don't push it!

It's a good age for the hybrid, I for one love it. We can do everything and do it well. I'm sure this hybrid love will continue on in Cataclysm.

Until next time, adieu!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Side of the Story - Chapter 1

I thougt I'd go ahead and get started...from my toon's point of view.

* * * * * * *

Everything suddenly went from cold and dark to warm and, what is that I feel? Light? What are those tall, dark things over there that block the…light from completely shining down on my cool face? I was told this would be a shocking change from the oblivion I lived in for the past five years. I was told that I would see and feel and experience things that were indescribable. Trees, that’s what they are, those tall, dark things that only allow small rays of light to shine and warm my cheeks. Yes, that’s the word they said I needed to remember, trees.

Oh, and what’s this? A tall…er, what’s the word…man with a yellow line over his head with a small dot below the line…and exclamation point, yes that’s it. A man with an exclamation point over his head, very weird, but they said to expect it.

And behind him, beautiful! A building, a church or cathedral or something like it…an abbey, yes that‘s it. They said there was another man in the abbey with an exclamation point over his head and that I needed to talk to both of them. Well, here goes nothing.

“Welcome, young Warlock,!” the man said to me. So that’s what I was, a Warlock. Interesting name.

“Gronthe, I need you to kill 10 Kobolds,” the man finished saying. So I was a Warlock named Gronthe, and I was being asked to kill these little vermin-like creatures called Kobolds. Well they must be bad because I was told that I wouldn’t be asked to do anything evil, that all my actions in the world to come will be for the greater good of…er, what’s the word…Azeroth, yes that’s it.

I accept.

Well let me see, I was told that I would have the ability to fight somehow. Look, a stick on my back, yes I’ll use this. Come here, little Kobolds, come out, come out wherever you are. I need to kill you with my stick. I’ll try and hit you real hard so you don’t suffer, just tell me where you are please. Oh man, why can’t I find them? Are they in the abbey? Nope, not in here. Maybe some guy around the side knows where I can find them. Oh look, another exclamation point.

You need some pelts or something from these wolves. Will they just give me them if I ask or do I have to kill them too? Oh, I have to kill them first then I get the pelts, well ok, I can do that. I can use my stick for that too.

Ugh, take that you little, nasty, dangerous Kobold and Wolf, how does it feel to taste my stick in your face? Well, you’re a bigger Kobold, a #3, I think you need to die too, but nobody said you were a #3. Oh no, please don’t kill me, no please don’t…Noooooooooooooooooooo!

It’s darker now, and shadowy, no light here. Where do I go? Well there’s an arrow on my map, I’ll follow that. Oh look, my dead body, let me go see what it looks like. What’s this? Do I want to come back to life? Duh, of course! Nice, I’m alive again. Wait, what’s that? S.h.a.d.o.w. B.o.l.t. I’ll try that instead of my stick. Ooooh, nice! Those Kobolds die much more quickly now.

Ok, so now I’ve done a bunch of these little questy thingies, I’ve got a bit-o-learning about how to be a Warlock from my Lock trainer, yippee! I’ve even got a few new…er, what’s the word…spells to use against these nefarious creatures. Now they tell me that I need to go to Goldshire. Great, I don’t suppose they could point me in the right direction. Well I guess I’ll just follow this road here, yes this road will do nicely.

* * * * * * *

I remember the next part very clearly, I walked out of the gates of…Northshire, yes Northshire, and all of a sudden it got darker again. There were a lot more trees here than I thought were possible, and I think it was night, I was frightened out of my wits. “Just stay on the path, stay on the path” I continued to tell myself. Sooner or later you’ll reach this Goldshire place. I placed one foot in front of the other, stopping every now and then to glance around me trying to spy any enemy that desired to waylay me while I wandered aimlessly among the dirt roads of this intimidating forest.

Suddenly I noticed some lights in the distance, and people, people with blue words or names or something over their head. And flags on the ground, and people fighting with each other. I wondered if this was your orientation to Goldshire, like you had to fight the local knight to prove your worth or something. As nobody asked to fight with me I walked into a building that looked like a friendly inn. To my great pleasure that’s exactly what it was.

Nobody was particularly friendly, I still felt alone and scared in this world. I was told that I could grow into a powerful Warlock, a being of immense but dark powers. But at this moment I felt kind of stupid, I had no idea what to do next. I see more exclamations, but I don’t want to do a questy thingy right now, I’m hungry.

“Do you have any food, or maybe a place to sleep?” I asked the innkeeper.

“Hello!” was his only response.

“Do you have any food please?” I queried again.

“Light be with you!”

“I clicked on your shoulder, can’t you say anything else? Dammit!” Then I remembered I needed to tap him with my right hand instead of my left. Yes, food!

I went upstairs and lay myself down in a bed, even though there was this weird dude with purple sissy robes standing at the foot of my bed. I was warm and full of a delightful pumpkin, but I was still scared. I know I hadn’t mastered my powers, and I couldn’t find my new trainer. Where was he, or she? Alone in a strange bed, in a strange inn, in a strange world. What was going to become of me?

Making a Story Good

Do you have any stories to tell from your time playing WoW? If yes, then what makes it a good story? Does it need colorful characters or are the events (a.k.a. plot) sufficient to engage the reader in your happenings? Is it funny?

Actually, that last one is a bit nebulous, I mean we all come from different parts of the globe or different States and regions, and sometimes what is funny in Amsterdam isn't funny in Montana. I concede that there are many universalities of humor, so I guess I'll let that last question slide for now.

If you were to put to story your experiences in WoW, how would you frame it? Would you tell the story from the point of view of your main toon or even an alt, or would you tell your story from the 'real you' point of view? Is there anything that you would want to keep secret from a group of strangers over the internet, or would you be willing to tell about everything?

My personal belief, and I am by no means a professional or expert (the comments made here today are the sole property of the author and in no way represent the thoughts or beliefs of Deuwowlity.com or its affiliates). To make a good story I believe you need to start with good characters. The character needs to be somebody that I can invest in emotionally, whether for good or bad, I need to feel something about them. That can be accomplished by having that person pass through a personal trial in their lives that makes me feel sorry for them or by having them commit atrocities that cannot be forgiven (well, maybe not that bad, but doing mean stuff would suffice), no matter how much remorse they may or may not feel. So extremes is the method I'll implement for my character. Let me share a few examples of snapshots of 3 people's stories from the game.

Example:
1) While on a pug run I really didn't say anything. I wasn't at the top of the damage charts and kinda just drank some water every now and then. It was fine, I was fine, it was nice.
2) ...And then this jerk was, like, yelling at me so I told him to @#$@# off, lol. @#$#@$ I #$*$ hate noobs, they are nothing but a bunch of @#$&#$ m&s'ers that can't tell the @#$&%^^% time of day if their @#$& was stuck to their @#$%&.
3) It was so sad. I sat there at the end of the run frozen, unsure of what to do. Somebody in this group had said something to make me remember about the day my father and mother died. I felt a touch on the shoulder, no, not a touch, but I felt something. I stared at the computer screen with tears in my eyes, this guy, this complete stranger was saying sorry to have offended me. But I'm not offended, I just remember how much I love my parents.

So I guess you figured out that #1 was an example of a non-extreme situation and partial story. #2 & 3, however, are short examples of other stories I can tell and the perspective I can take. I, for one, would probably want to hear more about #2 or 3, but would be dead bored listening to or reading a post about #1's experience.

People go for stories that make them feel something. Good characters are important, a good plot really helps move those characters through their journey, and then of course there are the very fine, technical points that make a story understandable.

I think I'll write my story one day. I've shared parts of it here, just check out the archives for some of my first posts on my motives for playing this game. But those are just snippets of my story, and they are from the perspective of the 'real life me', not the in-game me. The second is the story that I'd like to write. And I will write it, but it may take some time to post, so I ain't making any promises I can't keep. I won't set a release date and then (like many say Activision is doing) push for a release date before it's ready.

I would love to hear some of your story. Obviously the whole thing would take a long time, so maybe just one scene. Is your character someone that I could feel something for (either good or bad)? Does your plot make sense and is it any different from anyone else's story, if so how?

What I wonder is if enough people told their story, how many of them would start to intersect until we arrived at a complete picture of the game and its community?

p.s. Completely unrelated. I read an interview with Ghostcrawler and he mentioned that Blizz was researching about how many people actually use all 10 character slots - not just toss on a few level 1's, but actually USE them to better determine if they want to raise the character slot level to 12 (or some other random #). I think this "research" is stupid, because if anybody is anything like me, then you're saving slots on your main's server for some cataclysm alts. This would mean that the results of this research will be skewed and more than likely it won't come to fruition. They should let common sense rule out, not emperical evidence. Sometimes you can make legitimate statistics bolster your argument depending on the definition of said statistics.

Just give us 2 extra freakin' slots already!

Thanks for stopping by Deuwowlity. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

When Making an Easy Choice Becomes Hard

Life is an experience throughout which we make a series of choices that alter and shape present and future experiences. Yeah, I know, not the best description of life, but it'll do for today.

Blizzard recently announced some changes they're making for Cataclysm, Wowhead had a nice writeup on it here. I've seen various opinions on the changes, especially those related to Path of the Titans and the Guild changes. Frankly, I don't care what they do with guilds, it won't really affect how or why I play the game or what my in game activities will be. I'll still pretty much do whatever I want, and if it helps the guild then fine and if not then fine. Yep, I'm not a controversial wanker regarding any guild changes in Cataclysm. I don't say crap just to get a rise out of people no matter the motive. I speak my mind and am truthful about my perspectives.

The changes to Path of the Titans doesn't surprise me, namely the removal of it. I was wary of this feature from the beginning as I felt that there is no real way for a class to venture from the "best spec for X" because there will always be the theorycrafters telling us what gems to use and what glyphs to insert and what spell rotation is the ONLY rotation for maxing out DPS. For as much as I respect and appreciate these incredibly smart people, for they are the ones that I turned to when wanting to learn how to optimize my performance, I feel that my behavior has only fed the theorycrafting machine.

I think I was ignorant of the long-term effects of my reliance on these min/maxing experts. I didn't realize that when I started searching the web for help on weapon enchants or talents that there were guild and raid leaders ready to use this knowledge as a benchmark for admittance into their organization/party. I didn't know when I started searching out the theorycrafting knowledge that it would mean that I wouldn't have a choice to apply my talents as I wanted if I wanted to be among the raiding class. Sure, if I really did "whatever I wanted" and didn't care about competitive raiding or pvp just solo work nobody would care what talents I have. But thanks to people a lot smarter than myself, we all have to concern ourselves with the "best" of this or that.

My fear was that Path of the Titans would further that dependence on theorycrafting, as certainly those elite mathmaticians would devise the "best path" for me and my chosen main spec. Blizzard, I feel, had the right intention of wanting to provide people with a way to be different while sharing the same class and spec as your next door neighbor. In theory it was a good idea, but in practice I think it would have deepened our dependency on the theorycrafter. So I'm glad it's out, it wasn't what draws me to Cataclysm anyway.

I don't know if these were difficult choices for Blizzard. My guess is they weren't necessarily easy. But we're all faced with choices as Cataclysm approaches. To burn from 80-85 and start raiding by the first weekend or to level one ore more new alts and see the new world? To join a guild and stay with them or to experiment with being guildless as the maverick you are? To be a serious raider or a casual player who does this and that but has no one end-game focus? To keep playing or to stop, since what's the point now that Arthas is dead?

I myself am faced with a difficult choice of something that is easy to decide as well. I've talked before here about my disability, I'm not afraid to say I have a bad back. Not bad as in "yeah, my back hurts sometimes, it can really bother me. No, mine is bad as in "I can barely hold down a job because of the pain" bad. My guild has been growing lately, and we've started to do more stuff. We can now fill a weekly 25 man and we have 3 10 man groups, working on a 4th.

I was in the original guild when all of this started, so I've been here from only having 6-7 people in the guild to a full raiding guild. I've worked very hard to become an outstanding Restoration Shaman, even though my first and true love is with Enhancement. I've sacrificed in the best interest of the group and it's paid off, my 10-man group is progressed farther than any in the guild and it feels good.

However.

You know when a group of people get together and say "Hey, let's do X", but you don't want to? It's not because you don't have time or don't like the people, but there are other circumstances that you just don't feel comfortable sharing in front of everyone like "Can't tonight, guys, I've got syphilis tonight boys, can't play with ya'lls." That's both uncomfortable and private, right?

The peer pressure can be great in a guild, especially when there are 25 people online, 24 are in ICC and asking the one that isn't "Why can you be online but not with us? What's the difference?" Could you be able to stand firm in the face of such pressure? Surely your guild-mates will be talking about you in vent and about how you don't want to help the guild progress. Or maybe they don't say anything overt, but are passive aggressive towards you and your situation.

Simply put, my pain cannot allow me to raid more than twice a week...AT MOST...yet my guild is wanting me to committ to 4 nights a week. Do I need to quit the guild now because the terms of being a part of the guild are different than from when I joined? And since those terms are terms I never agreed to am I stuck with the new rules regardless, which necessitates my departure?

There's a lot more to it, and I won't take much more of your time today. But I know I have to speak up tonight and am terrified to do it. I want to be in a guild, but I can't fulfill the new "unwritten" rules. It'll hurt the guild too because I am one of the best three healers AND dps in our entire guild (yes I get to DPS sometimes). But is the choice of whether I stay or go not mine to make but the GM? Yes, I know I can choose to leave at any time, but I don't want to. I also don't want to raid 4 nights a week, it's just too much.

PotT out = not all that bad
Guild changes = whatever
Back pain = bad
Stay in guild = no idea
Explain my situation and not have it gossiped about behind my back = impossible
What Should be an Easy choice (health comes first) = Hard

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Frivolity!

Here at Deuwowlity we embrace all the personalities of every individual. You heard me right, I've got at least 3 or 4 personalities, which is more than most, but at least they don't all talk to each other at the same time. I assume that you have 2-3, even though you won't admit it to either of them.

You see, harmony among my split personalities is very important, that's why we send memos to each other on a weekly basis, and maybe even an email here and there. In the end I (the supreme administrator of all my personalities) is charged with keeping the peace.

I can't stand talking about WoW every day, although I love to play it. That's why every week I try and throw in some random short story that I make up as I write. But this is in no way a divergence from my philosophy. Remember, Dualism: A theory that considers reality to consist of two irrecudible elements or modes (i.e. relating to the belief that humans are made of two irreducible elements [matter and spirit]. It's at the top of my blog and always has been.

Now whatever your personal concept of matter and spirit are (this is not the forum for me to really care or discuss), today I am referring to my theory that sometimes there is something inside of you, inside your real body (heart, mind, organs, etc) that you can't explain, that drives you to action. Assuming that I am made of both matter and spirit then I assume that there's a posibility that I have varying desires that also clash at times, and therefore varying personalities that surface to exert control over the matter that is my body.

Sorry about that, didn't mean to get "all deep" on you there. The personality known as Franco made me do it. He's always so philosophical.

"I am not!"

"Yes you are!"

Again, sorry for that, I had to send him to bed for that outburst. What is my point? I think what I'm saying is that sometimes I just want to write a little story, sometimes I want to rant, sometimes I want to soak in the sunshine of a good night's gaming, and sometimes I want to give voice to all my personalities.

"Yes, Alejandro, what do you want?"

"I'd like to say something, master. You know what I really hate?"

"No, Alejandro, why don't you tell us."

"I hate it when people complain. Ugh, it just bugs me, ya know? I hate it when people say 'I don't like this or that' or 'they are so stupid, get me away from them'. I especially hate it when a raid leader will say 'healers can't roll on dps stuff, but dps can roll on healing stuff because I just don't freakin' care about those stupid, whiny healers'. I mean really, why do people have to whine at all, I never do, ya know?"

See what I have to deal with, Alejandro is obviously a shining example of self-control and non-whiny language. I wonder, what do your other personalities act like? Do you ever give voice to them or let them out of their rooms? Have you admitted to yourself that they exist? If not this is a perfect time to let them out.

If you came here today for WoW stuff, here it is: PUGS can get bad (that whole rant of Alejandro's actually happened to him), friends can be made, Cataclysm isn't out yet (SURPRISE!) but some really early and disappointing talent trees are, and Death Knights aren't as bad as you think, it's all about the player behind the screen.

"If I only had a brain."

Frehmheim, that's enough! Shut up and let me finish this! Sorry about that.

So, uh, you know the rules. You can share anything you want on the comments, any story, comment, whatever, just no foul language...it's my only rule. Welcome to Friday Frivolity!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Random Cataclysm Thoughts

If you haven't seen the early talent previews officially released then you don't know how to work the internet. I saw them today, and at first it caused a certain amount of consternation, but I'm over it. Now that I've looked at things closely I have just a few random thoughts to share.

1) Healing will be different for everyone. Of course I haven't seen any Holy Pali changes yet, but Priests, Druids and Shamans all have talent changes that will increase their healing after doing damage with spell X, Y or Z.

Analysis: I think that's pretty cool. I have no idea how healing will feel in Cataclysm, but I'm hoping it'll be enough of a change that I will definately feel it. Healers will be a part of the fight, not just some oafs standing in the back watching bars. Yes, we'll still watch bars, but we'll have to pay attention not only to the heals we cast but to the damage spells we cast the the resulting procs. As if healers didn't already have enough to worry about. Can you say "more addons" to track all this stuff? Or simply expanding the use of current ones, like Power Auras (which I still struggle to set up, so if anyone can point me in the right direction for a really good examples I'd appreciate it).

2) It's Early - Stuff is still in trees that Blizzard said wouldn't be.

Analysis: I'll give them time. On one hand they say they want to get rid of more passive abilities that do x% increase, but I don't see how they can get around it given that that would require an absolute, complete overhaul of talent trees. Redundancy, for example, should be eliminated. For example, the Shadow Priest has a 2 pt talent in tier 1 of their tree Dark Thoughts, which reduces spell pushback while casting shadow spells by 70%. Standard spell that every caster has. But look at Improved Shadow Form, that has an effect that will also reduce cast time lost by 70% when taking damage while casting any shadow spell while in shadow form. Um, Blizzard, it seems you got two talents that do the same thing, just worded differently. One is for early leveling while one is for level cap? Just take out the tier 1 talents later? Maybe, but it still seems like a waste of talent points to have such redundancy. I hope there isn't other talents for other classes with this problem.

3) It's Early

Analysis: Sort of like #2. I realize these are as preliminary as they're gonna get. There is definately some cool stuff out there to be had and a lot of boring stuff too. I really do hope that whatever changes they make that we're given more flexibility than we are now. As I see it, however, there's still very little flexibility and very few if any talents that one can look at and say "I don't NEED that one, let me pick up something that better fits my play style." Blizzard said there wouldn't be as many mandatory talents, well Blizz, you got a few months to make it so.

That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Black Hole

“Service to a King often comes at a price. That price usually includes one’s own time, pleasures, will and every so often, dignity. But my service was no less worthy than hers, so why should I have been thrown out with the rotten kitchen scraps as if I had never served my master faithfully for more than two decades? More importantly, why is she so highly favored of a king that has known her less than a month? She is rotten, I say, rotten! I shall unveil her secret designs, even if it costs me my life.”

A little less than one month earlier…

“My lord, my lord, Princess Aielandi shall present herself before your lordship within the hour with gifts from her homeland. So say the messengers.” I don’t know why I was breathing hard, unless you factor in the 569 steps it took to reach the top of the King’s tower. I, Torm Yailhunt, was used to more composure from myself than I displayed before the king at this moment. I knew I needed to calm myself more or the king would grow suspicious of both me and the arrival of Princess Aielandi. So I gathered myself into the form of a statue and continued my message to the king.

“Princess Aielandi of the southern-most realm of our lands wishes to abide in your presence while the gifts are presented. Although it is custom in her lands to have her servants enter before with such gifts, she wishes to be present at her unveiling. The gift she brings must be remarkable indeed if she is to break with her own tradition. I shall make all necessary arrangement for her housing, she shall be cared for greater than all but yourself, sire.”

Bowing to my King was second nature to me. I actually stopped thinking about what it meant after the first year. But he enjoys watching others bow to him, but he’s never killed anyone for forgetting or for unenthusiastic bows, but I still don’t think I will ever test him on that note. A nod from his head is all that I require to know that my actions are his will. And with a nod I strode from the room back down the tower stairs and into the courtyard to await the Princess’ arrival.

I managed all the King’s affairs, and did it with precision. By the time the Princess had arrived all arrangements had been settled for her stay at the castle for an indefinite period of time. Servants had been assigned to guide and assist the servants she was already bringing with her. A guard had been set around the Princess, 8 of the noblest and mighty knights of our King’s realm (those not guarding the king) were assigned to keep her alive at the cost of all their lives. This was in addition to the guard that she brought with her.

The southern-most realm had been a mystery to many, until recently. Most thought it a mountainous jungle region where civilization was sparse. Certainly it wasn’t the best place for crops, and game was equally delicious as it was venomous. Nobody really expected there to be a thriving kingdom among those trees and mountains, we mostly believed it to be terrain unfit for life…well, respectable, human life to be exact.

Princess Aielandi was the contradiction of our beliefs, and her presence signaled a renewed hope for further exploration of our world and the hope of new peoples heretofore undiscovered. And here Princess Aielandi stood before me, having descended from her carriage and taken three long strides she looked closely into my eyes and smiled. So far so good, I thought to myself. I felt and ease and a sense of comfort that made my mind feel free and lively, but my heart questioned it. Quickly I shut the door on my heart, all seemed in perfect order.
“It is an honor, Princess Aielandi, to welcome you to the King’s realm,” I said cordially. “Our people’s hopes and dreams have been reawakened by your presence. The King awaits the honor of your presence and is particularly curious of the gift you bring and, might I add, the manner of its giving.”

In the moments that followed, most of which I strain to remember now, I heard flow from her lips the most melodious and beautiful voice I ever recall hearing in all my days. The music of it washed over my senses and filled my mind with images of glorious mountain peaks, crystal clear flowing waters, brilliantly colorful animals grazing in the fields that stretched in front of a high mountain castle with golden battlements and silver trumpeters piercing the valleys with even the softest blows on their horns. Princess Aielandi was enchanting.

Upon reaching the King’s chamber at the top of the tower, Princess Aielandi, followed by myself and both of the guards now assigned to her, approached the King. Stopping at the squared carpet containing the royal seal of a mighty golden dragon on a dark green background, with the royal flower embroidered along the edges, Princess Aielandi fell to her knees and offered up her praise to my King. Then opening her hands she produced a small object, a ring.

This ring was made of a pure white element, nothing like gold or silver, but more like a white rock polished until the blaze of it drove your eyes away from its brightness. Set in the white, stone ring was a black jewel. The depths of it’s blackness made it appear nearly translucent, as if by looking at the stone you could see through it to anything that you wished, making it look like it wasn’t there at all, but a vision of another time or place or wherever the heart longed to go. I caught myself staring into the jewel, afraid to see something that would turn my focus away from my service to the King. Looking around a the guards I noticed that I wasn’t alone, all of them were in a trance-like state, all staring at the most startling and beautiful ring any of us had ever seen.

Raising his hand the Princess went forward and placed the ring on the first finger of the King’s right hand. The King smiled, thanked Princess Aielandi, and gave her leave. They would meet again this evening at a royal feast given in honor of the Princess’ visit.

Almost a month later…

Crash! The doors burst open and the new Queen Aielandi’s guard burst through and grabbed me by my neck, dragging me from my room, and down to the front gates of the castle.

“Out you go, traitor!” was the cry; first from the rabid guards, but then by the Queen herself. “You shall never again grace the presence of my lord. You are banished from the King’s realm. Now go! Go before I change my mind and have you executed.”

“You are a devil witch, and I shall kill you if you do not bring the axe upon my neck tonight. You shall be the one who was revealed as traitor, not me!” I yelled. Then, seeing the seething in her eyes and on her lips I did what any rational person would do, I ran. The guards were close behind, but I was able to find my way into a secret grove of trees, one of which was hollowed out in order to fit a small staircase that led to an underground room. Quickly I opened the side of the tree without being seen and slipped in just as a contingent passed by the grove. Safely inside I began my plan for revenge. But first, I had to figure out what changed the heart of the King I had loved and served for so many years.

I suspected, from the first day the Princess, now Queen, visited, that her gift was a trap, a black hole that would suck in the lives of anyone and anything that gazed into its depths for too long. How I was able to avert my gaze at that first meeting, or rather how I became aware of its power and had the will to pull my eyes from it is not so much a mystery to me as it was to the Princess then. She had noticed I did not stare into the gem’s depths as long as the king or the guards, but she didn’t know why. I did.

From my early years I had been the apprentice of a wizard. At least that’s what he called himself, to the general public he was a crazy old man. But what he taught me I had been able to use in the service of my King. More than one time did I save his life with magic, and more than once he thanked me. He knew of magic’s existence and enjoyed learning what he could on the subject. But few were the magicians of the land and fewer were powerful enough to do anything with it. All those with the greatest skill in magic were in service to the King. Until Princess Aielandi showed up. Her magic was darker, magic I had never encountered or learned of. I didn’t have a plan, yet, of how I would rescue the King from the Queen’s spell, but I knew it started and ended with the ring.

I was always one for talking in my sleep, or so said my apprentice. As the morning sun peered through the tiny shafts made for the entry of light into my hidden fortress, I remember saying “I shall unveil her secret designs, even if it costs me my life.”

A voice brought me out of my dream and into reality. “I can oblige you, if you wish.”

Terror, a new emotion for me, was the only feeling seen in my eyes as I looked up into those of Queen Aielandi. Her voice no longer enchanted me as it did the first day we met, I saw past her fa├žade as easily as through clear glass. She continued in what was to be her final speech before my death. Dulcet to everyone else, bitterness rang in her tones.

“Nice place you have here, Torm. I especially enjoy the secrecy of your new home, so convenient for so many things. I see my your extensive library here that you are well versed in magic. Hmm, interesting. But not all kinds, am I correct?”

I nodded yes.

“Yes, well that’s too bad. I’m sure if you knew who I was you could defeat me, but alas you don’t, and so you shall die. It’s a pity, really, we could have been…” then running her finger down the side of my face, along the muscles in my neck and then slowly down my chest, then stomach, then…”friends.”

Repulsed by the idea of being “friends” with the sorceress, I grabbed her hand and yanked it away from my…

Then I noticed something else, she wore a ring on her hand. It was the virtual opposite of the King’s new ring. The stone that made the ring was pure black, and mirrored all light that touched it. Set among the dark stone was a crystal white gem. I looked up at her and smiled, confident I had found what she believed so clever to have disguised.

“White, not black. Very interesting, my Queen. The power to have all things escape you, all your feelings, even your will may leave you, but you need a black hole to draw it in. You needed the King to put on the ring of the black hole in order to receive all that you offered with your white hole ring.”

Startled the Queen tried to step back, gasping as my grip became more fierce. “White holes, black holes, nonsense you speak, Torm, nonsense I say.”

“Our astronomers have their theories, I don’t understand all of them. But often they speak of these black holes amongst the stars that suck in all goodness and light. I assume that if there are black holes that attract all to them, there must be opposition to it, white. These must eject light and matter and whatever else they choose. It seems to me that all it would take is for one to put on your ring with the crystal white stone, present the black hole to someone, and every desire of yours would be absorbed by the wearer of that ring.”

At this the Queen started and was about to scream until I continued talking. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, my Queen,” as I pulled with my free and a knife from under the pillow. “It appears that you will not rule here after all, a new ruler shall emerge from this and I think I know who it will be.”

And with that I cut off the finger of the Queen, who collapsed on the floor to rise no more. Then I slid the ring from the Queen’s finger and placed it on my right hand. Pleased with my discovery I quickly and quietly made my way back to the castle and up the King’s tower to the royal chamber. The King stood as I approached the throne and asked, “Torm, what is it that you wish to do? Have you not been labeled a traitor? Why should I not kill you now? What is it that you want?”

The perfect question, what do I want?

Then I felt the power of my ring, and the King lowered his head, looked into the black gem on his ring, and the Kingdom became mine forever.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What you don't know about your class...

Warrior: Open your spell book and in there you will find an ability previously thought lost forever. I doubt you have ever used it. It’s called Sell. That’s right, my actively aggressive friends, when activated the Warrior becomes a door to door salesman, displaying the charisma and vivacity of the most successful salesman in the world. If a buyer attempts to refuse your foot will go into their metaphorical door until they relent. Yes, my good warriors, you have a way to force your leetness onto everyone around you.

Druid: You currently have Mark of the Wild, which does something positive I assume. But did you know that you also have Mark of the Wild Animal? That’s right, by Druid brothers and sisters. No longer will other classes infringe on your way of life, no longer will anyone take your home from you, no longer will anyone approach your humble abode without smelling the mark that you left on all the trees, rocks and bushes in the area. Some call it Marking your Turf, but since you can take the form of various animals, and luckily even a tree, you may want to consider marking yourself, you know, just so that nobody else tries to take you away and make you their castle slave. Pee on, my friends.

Mage: Mirror Images, bah! Try out your new spell, Mirror Mirror on the Wall. When activated, a mirror with the face of a shadowy and weird looking, green faced dude will appear and tell you that you are the best in the world. Nobody trumps a mage, nobody. Who is cute and cuddly and full of fire blasting hurt? That’s right, Mages. Who will freeze your blood and stop your heart? Right again, Mages. Your Mirror Mirror on the Wall will remind you of these supernal truths every day of your life. Yes, you are special.

Paladin: “What? I can’t hear you, see I’m kinda in this bubble thing!” Ugh, Paladins. Let me know when you’re done.

Rogue: Here’s something Rogues didn’t know they could do, it’s an ability called Reappear. We are all familiar with the Rogue’s ability to go into stealth and vanish (is that still broken?), but when they really want to surprise people all a Rogue needs to do is Reappear. Of course most will believe that it’s not the actual Rogue, because what Rogue would be so stupid as to stand there visible to the world. No, it must be a statue or hologram or something. And just as your foe has given up on sense and reason and walks by, you can stab ‘em in the back; shouldn’t be hard for you Rogues.

Huntard, er Hunter: Your hidden, special ability is unique. It’s a weapon rarely believed to have the probability of existing; all you have to do is push the little button Control Pet and Speak with Words. The first action will be for the pet to stay by the side of the hunter to be close enough to read the Hunter’s mind. Once it gets past the recital of the ABC’s, it will attack the Hunter’s target. After the targeted mob dies, the Hunter will say to its pet “Don’t run off into a random group of mobs, come right back to my side and stay until we fight again”. Those words were not previously in the Hunter’s vocabulary, but now they can be if you utilize Control Pet and Speak with Words.

Warlock: One time a Warlock friend of mine tried to look into a Mage’s Mirror Mirror on the Wall and fainted. When he was finally revived he was asked what could possibly have caused him to faint. He replied, “Esimed nwo ym.” Weird. Locks, you’ve really got to stop using Mage spells, and I mean now! Stick to Affliction or Demonology, leave fire throwing to the professionals.

Shaman: What ability does a Shaman not possess? A lot, actually, but until they do there is one more forgotten spell, or should I say totem (a Shaman isn’t complete without their complete set of totems). Totem of Jealousy. Which are the most versatile hybrids in the game? Paladin, Druid, Shaman. There are other semi-hybrid types, but of these three in particular, which hybrid can’t tank? You got it, Shaman. The Totem of Jealousy unleashes the power of every Shaman’s inner desire to tank, effectively increasing armor and stamina by 25,000 for 30 seconds. When the effects wear off the Shaman rolls in to a little ball and cries until his mommy coddles him to sleep. “I just wanted to tank, mommy, all the other hybrid boys and girls get to, I just wanted a chance.” Get a grip!

Priest: If Paladin’s weren’t self righteous enough, Priests can now be equally so with an ability of the same name, Self Righteous. Upon activation the Priest blows up into a giant ball of light, filling the room with their glowing perfection, healing everyone in sight, even if that’s not their job, because they are Light embodied. 1 Second Cooldown, because Priests will always want to feel Self Righteous. Or was this the Paladin's special ability, I always get confused.

Death Knight: The best is saved for last. The Death Knight burst onto the scene in Wrath and has since suffered many highs and lows in how the class is viewed by the others. King Varian held a banquet in honor of all the heroes that have defeated the Lich King. His summons was to bring a representative of every class to his Keep to award them with especial honors. After awarding 9 special medals of honor he concluded the festivities with a toast, “To all the living who made the undead, really dead.” To which the Death Knight present stood up, pressed #4 on his keyboard, and left Crying to his Mommy. Definately a strange synergy between Shammys and DK's, hmmm.

I wanted to share these very special and previously unknown abilities with you all. There are so many websites that can tell you everything you think you know, but I thought it was time to give the people something they don’t actually know.

(On a serious note, I know that we all love our main class, and also those of our various alts – this connection is good, it’s healthy, it helps us all to become better at what we do; killing, tanking, or healing).

My tongue, ladies and gentlemen, has been stuck to the inside of my cheek for quite some time. Maybe one day I’ll actually write a theorycrafting post on one or more classes. Uh, then again maybe not, then I’d be responsible for my actions, and I wouldn’t want that.

Thank you, as always for your visits. I hope you continue to stop by and enjoy the mad ramblings here at Deuwowlity.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Avoiding the Dark Side

Two Sides
There is, in my mind, a Bright side to WoW, and there is a Dark Side. The Bright Side is a game of reasonable, well spoken, understanding, inoffensive, friendly, helpful people playing with their avatars in every corner of the world (both the real world and Azeroth) and beyond. This side of the game is the one I play in most of the time. If a newbie is running their first dungeon with 4 veterans of the game, we all help out the new player, providing tips and encouragement as needed. There is no kicking of a person from a group because everyone is at 50dps but the noob is only at 45 (low level example). No, everyone realized that they have a role to fill and as everyone does it the group succeeds and everyone leaves happy with some blue goodies or a new epic weapon.

There is also the Dark Side of the game. Infested with offensive, short-tempered, unforgiving, and yet imperfect jerks that find nasty pleasure in lifting their own egos above everyone else’s by demeaning everyone around them. The person who, if someone doesn’t meet their completely random DPS or GearScore requirement they kick from their group, or even better, never give them the chance to prove themselves in the first place.

But worse than that, these are the people who make fun of newer players for not knowing every mechanic of every fight, of not knowing every detail on how to min/max their toon from the first day they hit level 80. These are the people who scream and whine and complain in pugs because they didn’t win the loot roll and who drop group after winning the piece of gear on boss 1, leaving everyone else scrambling for a replacement. This is the person who will queue with his friends for a dungeon, be totally wasted, make the enhancement shaman the healer then yell at everyone to drop group to get the deserter buff because they refuse to kick you instead. These people are very simply, the worst kind.

Well, not the worst. There are some really bad people in this world, some truly evil people who are the worst. We live in a fantasy world, no more, but within that fantasy world we deal with real people. At least we try to deal with them, sometimes with grace and tact and other times not so much.

Hunger Games
I’m going to mention a book, not because I’m getting paid to promote it (because I’m NOT) but because it describes something that helps me understand people’s behavior on the Dark Side of WoW. The book is actually a trilogy, the first called Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. The second was titled Catching Fire, and the third coming out later this year is Mockingjay.

If you’ve read these books then you know how disturbing they can be. (Thanks to Wikipedia who can summarize this better than I can):

[The Hunger Games] “introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world where a powerful government called the Capitol has risen up after several devastating disasters. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the ruthless and evil Capitol randomly selects one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, who are then pitted against each other in a game of survival and forced to kill until only one remains.”

It’s one boy and one girl, I believe they had to be between the ages of 12-18, for a total of 24 youth pitted against each other in a fight to the death. The whole scenes of bloodshed and gore are made worse since the people watching in the Capitol cheer like the Romans of old at Gladiator matches for the death and dismemberment of innocent souls who have never done anything but be born at the wrong time on the wrong planet.

The behavior of these Capitol citizens is so appalling (to me) not only because they seem to behave like no person in my social circle, but disturbing because it’s a vision of where humanity CAN go if allowed. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying in any way that people who are jerks in WoW will become bloodthirsty humans who revel in watching “games” of young kids slaughter each other on live television. I’m not saying that at all. I would only wish to draw a parallel.

Admission
I was once very new to WoW. I made ignorant comments or made ignorant choices, but over time as I leveled one then two then more toons to or towards 80 I learned things. Now I believe I have become extremely good at playing my characters and their various talent specs. I can switch between top healer to top DPS in the same raid on the same toon (or close to the top, I’m not that awesome). But any toon I play with I understand, and can teach others who are now new to the game or their class.

There are times, however, when I allow myself to get frustrated. I never say anything in party chat or raid chat or on vent, so far I can control that, but I sometimes have trouble not feeling frustrated at people who do stupid noob things. Maybe it’s when I’m in a hurry or I’m tired, but there are times when I just want to yell at people and say “STOP PULLING THREE ROOMS AT ONCE, YOU’RE NOT THAT GOOD OF A TANK AND WE ONLY HAVE ONE HEALER YOU IDIOT”.

Of course, the tank in question thinks he/she’s god and can pull an entire instance and expects to be healed. But maybe it’s the healer who never fully heals and after each pull just leaves everyone at 75% health. It’s little things mostly, sometimes big, but I admit that there are times I wish I was more willing to fall to the temptations of the Dark Side and join in the ranting and offending and abusive language that I see in the game.

Those that live on the Dark Side of WoW is what we are all capable of being. We CAN become like them if we allow it. If someone in a random says “Gronthe sucks @#$@#” kick him already, every 2 minutes, should I respond in kind? Should I have some clever retort to his abuse? Should I give in and bring myself closer and closer to the Dark Side? Or should I just take the abuse and do my job, and if I get kicked I get kicked? Or maybe there’s a third option, that’s trying to respond in peaceful, patient tones providing logic and sound arguments for why we should not listen to the abuse anymore and, instead of kicking me, kicking the one who is bringing grief down on the party/raid. Maybe that’s an option.

But the more I think about it, it’s not. Why? When was the last time you were able to reason with the unreasonable? Exactly! This leaves me the two roads to follow, one of temperance or one of giving in to my passionate hate.

Let’s argue for a second that it’s psychologically healthy to be assertive, to stand up for oneself and not let people trample over you and abuse you in life. This would allow me or you to stand up the jerk, the abusive and offensive individual that plays to lift his ego at the cost of all others. To stand up to a bully is a good thing, right? Even if you need to stoop to his level to put him in his place! Because by doing this you are accomplishing something greater, you are asserting your individuality and showing the griefer that they will not be victorious over you. All you need to do is do what they do, but with justice on your side.

Being in the right makes all your actions good, does it not? So on you or I go with our game and we feel empowered because of how well we stood up to the bully. The next time it’s even easier because we’re bolstered by the confidence our previous experience gave to us. The time after that it’s even easier. "Ok, maybe 2500 dps is enough for a heroic, but I really want to finish faster so I'll initiate a vote kick for a chance at someone who does 5k. I'm acting in the best interest of the group; after all I'm are right in thinking that three DPS doing 5 k will clear the instance faster than 1 doing 5k and 2 doing 2.5k."

I used to be timid, humble and ignorant, so I took correction well. I don’t take correction as well anymore, but I still do for the good of the group. I used to NEVER get frustrated with anyone because I could empathize better than anyone…"I’m new so there’s no way I’ll ever judge someone else." But now I get frustrated with people, but I still hold my tongue. I’m afraid, however, that even my tongue won’t be bested by my self-control.

I am one of the shyest, calmest, soft-spoken, patient people you would ever meet in your life if we could meet face to face. Yet somehow I have changed internally from where I began when I started playing WoW. But I keep myself on the bright side, or try to. I am aware of my pride that creeps in and try to prune myself of it when it grows back. I don’t ever want to live on the Dark Side of WoW. But much like in the Hunger Games, where the people of the Capitol were representative of what humanity CAN act like when they allow themselves to live unchecked by some ethical or moral law, any one of us can slowly do things that would make it seem appropriate to live on the Dark Side of WoW every now and then.

Surely one rant isn’t bad, right? “I’m just standing up for myself”. But the problem is that you’re not the only one playing this game, there are many others and they are real. Real people with real lives, real feelings, real problems, many of them are playing the game to escape those problems for a short time. Perhaps they had a really bad day because they were fired and their wife left them and they go off in chat. Surely it’s ok to yell back at them, because they were wrong to give grief to you in the first place.

If you think that way then I don’t think we’re going to be very good friends. You see, I think that the more people abuse each other verbally in this game the worse it is. Every single attack adds up. If everyone thought it was ok to attack others, even only once in a while, then there would be a lot of people abusing and offending and very few helping and listening.

Encouragement
I praise all of you who hold your tongue, who TRY to remember what is was like being new to WoW, those who give help and encouragement and not hate and resentment. There is a time and place to rant. A blog is good because you’re not attacking a real person in real time. You can passively express yourself and your dislike of other’s behavior, as I am doing here. But to be specific, personal, and abuse a real person so you can feel better about your own LEETNESS is living on the Dark Side of WoW and that’s a place I don’t ever want to visit.

There are so many great and wonderful people around the world that I share this game with. The Bright Side is a lot bigger than the Dark Side, and I would encourage everyone to keep it that way. There is a good time to assert yourself and there are times when such assertions will fall on the deaf ears of the moronic and offensive. You can’t argue with the mentally disturbed, no good comes of it. You simply cannot reason with the unreasonable, so stop trying.

Stay Bright, stay in the Light. You don’t have to act on everything you feel. In the end I think that self-control will be rewarded with a more positive gaming experience for you and those you play with.