Monday, February 28, 2011

Channeled - A Look Into One Man's Psyche

I'd like to be upfront and honest about something before I really get started today. February 6th will be an important day for me. It was the day I began to question myself. Not in the "why am I here [on Earth]" question, but rather why am I here in the blogosphere. I read something that was never intended to garner an emotional response and weeks of deep introspection. It was a simple blog post intending to say goodbye. Tamarind, over at the newly unoccupied Rightous Orbs said something that simply proved to me that I was not as confident as I should be.

"It is fitting that people appear, write, and then fade away; that others come to take their places, and say the same things in different ways."

Was this me? I know for a fact that he wasn't even thinking about me when he wrote this, but nevertheless it resonated and caused me to consider whether I was one of those that were just saying the same things that have been said over and over and over as one in the long line of bloggers that come and go from the WoW blogosphere.

I've been frozen since then, unable to generate any thought for fear of it being so completely unoriginal, worried that my thoughts were the 14th encarnation, the 12th actually put to words and sent over the vast internet[s]. But why? Why should it matter? Even if it's not completely original, it may be relevant to me and my current experiences. And if that's the case then it's worthy to [cut] and paste. Sorry, bad attempt at humorous rhyming.

More than that, I haven't read much as I've only been reading and blogging for a little over a year now (one year and about 20 days), which means that I don't know what's been said. So, for the sake of overcoming my own self-esteem issues, I remembered the reason I blog in the first place. I firmly believe that people matter, you and me included I hope, and that people are the ones actually playing MMO's like WoW (with some exceptions perhaps). Every person experiences something while they play, be it good or bad. Those experiences have the potential to affect the real lives in some small or large way.

The point is, we all feel. Well, there may be a few unfeeling terds out there, but I bet even those feel something, even if it is self-loathing. Anyhoo, we feel, we think, we laugh, we scream, we grow tired or sick. We hide our gaming self from the world or we are liberated to celebrate it with those who employ us. So many of the experiences that our level 85 Fire Breathing Mage or Warlock are shared experiences with the person at the keyboard and mouse combo. I've never been too shy to be personal here on this blog, it's how I roll because if I don't show the real me, then how will I ever connect with the real you?

There's a story I want to share, and I'll have the pleasure of relating that experience directly into the WoW experience.

The Girl

I'm married now, but it wasn't always that way. Yes, believe it or not I was once a nerdy teenager, entirely too self-absorbed and critical. I was a handsome dude, to put it lightly, and I had the unfortunate habit of refusing to dance with a girl once. ONE TIME ONLY, I might add, a terrible mistake which I never afterward repeated. This girl was a couple years younger than me at the time of the unfortunate incident. I continued on in life, oblivious to her and her feelings. Around the time I was 18 I saw her again and was struck dumb and fool by her overwhelming beauty and perfection.

I was in love, or at least the love a teenager can possess, which differs in everyone. We had the opportunity to be a part of something wonderful, and do it together. Joy was in everything, life was rich, music rang from the houses and the hills, the sea and the air. Quite literally, in fact, as we were both chosen to sing in the musical The Sound of Music. I was to play the part of the young traitor Rolf, while she was the lovely eldest daughter of the Captain Von Trapp, Liesel.

For those of you who don't know, one of the most memorable scenes in the play/movie is where the young man and woman sing and dance with each other and ultimately kiss at the end. For girls it's utterly romantic, for boys it's deserving of some "whoops and hollas" from your bros in the audience. For me it was magic.

Opening night arrived, the backstage area was electric as adrenaline pulsed through the veins of all the actors and stage crew, director and orchestra. It was a monumental accomplishment for such an ameteur group of singers; I was on the verge of something wonderful. Shortly before costume and makeup time I was chatting with one of the other younger actresses who played Liesel's sisters. From out of nowhere she decided to tell me something that my beautiful sidekick had told confidence. It was about our kissing during the hundreds of rehersals pervious.

"She said it was a bit dry, not very impressive. I'm surprised she doesn't just gag instead."

Now, what could have possibly motivated this young lady to say such a thing to me I have no idea. I was shocked, floored, destroyed. In a few short seconds all my hopes and dreams for love were vanishing into the void, and all because I had laid a fairly dry kiss on a girl. (Mind you, it was always in front of the entire cast, and so I was nervous ALL THE TIME in rehersals). My desire to see this queen of perfection outside of the play seemed to vanish before the eyes of my very soul. My psyche forever tarnished.

I don't remember making my way up the stairs and into my dressing room, but the next thing I know I'm there. Sitting in his chair was the lead actor, with one look at my face he jumped to my side pleading to allow him to assist me, for I looked quite ill to him.

"No, I'm not ill," I told him. "Just heartbroken." I related the story to him and watched as he listened intently, not saying a single word until I had finished my story. Slowly he placed his hand on my shoulder and said:

"Don't let this get you down. Channel this feeling, all the disappointment, sadness, hate, love, everything you have into your character, into your performance. Let these feelings channel into your heart and mind and focus you like you've never focues before."

That was it, he was done. With another pat on the shoulder and a "break a leg" while walking out the door, I was left to wonder if it was even possible to channel what I felt in to something positive.

But I did it.

Everything I had ever felt for this girl, past and present, I allowed to envelope me completely. I wouldn't even speak to her or anyone else before going on stage. I was a machine internally, but to the crowd I turned into Rolf, Rolf as he really was and how everyone should see him.

The beautiful one and I sang and danced as we had never done before. And as the scene came to its conclusion, we kissed as we had never done before. In that one kiss there was passion, warmth, hate, betrayal, love and confusion. Everything poured out and we shone as a result. Drawing all power from the grid we lit up the city, and people in our town talked about us for years afterwards. All because those feelings were channeled, focused into the power to accomplish a worthy goal.

That was my life, and my life isn't mutually exclusive from the games I play, and now a part of my life is a game. A small part to be sure, but a part nonetheless.

Channeling in WoW

It can be done, and successfully at that. There have been times when I have listened to a raid leader implore the group to "get it right for once", and other stuff less appropriate for children along those same lines of thought. Those times when I allow myself to become frustrated at that leader or at someone who is clearly making multiple mistakes, are times when I begin to fail. But those times when I can successfully focus all those positive and often negative emotions into my ability to concentrate on the task at hand are those times I find my greatest successes.

Perhaps I'm in a BG and someone is yelling at everyone else to NOT BE SO BAD, when that happens I try to take all that disdain and channel it into performance. Sometimes it works, sometimes I lose focus and I fail badly. But the opportunities are there for me, for you, for many other gamers out there. We play with other people, people with different opinions, values, personalities, and often we clash with these folks to the point were we either want to vomit or just punch them in the face. Since their faces are not within punching distance, there is another option. Channeling. Channel your hate of that trade chat idiot into something worthwhile. Maybe you can just ignore him/her, which makes channeling unnecessary. But you can't ignore everyone, it's literally impossible.

So I say to you, give it a try. Next time you get frustrated, focus, channel those emotions into somthing beneficial, something positive that rewards you and leaves you feeling accomplished. Don't listen to the yelling of the raid leader, listen to the words, then channel the emotion that is on the verge of boiling over into a great performance this week, this month, or whenever.

Who Am I?

I've thought about it, and here I've given it to you. These thoughts, however many times they have been expressed, have never been done so by me to you in this manner. This fact, above all else, tells me to keep on keeping on in this here interesting blogosphere. It's a pleasure to talk with you, to receive you to my little corner of the world, to get personal with you, and maybe, just maybe, connect with one of you.

Come back soon sometime!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Job Even Deathwing Would Hate

The thing about bad guys is they are always so melodramatic. When was the last time you faced a raid boss that just /sighed and said nothing at all? That's right, never! They have their speeches prepared by the losing presidential candidates, always going on and on with their pointless arguments. Don't they get it? They lost the race? The bosses, well, they lost the fight thanks to online videos and detailed breakdowns of the fights on the blogosphere. They need to keep their mouths shut.

One thing that melodramatic bad guys do well with are deadlines. Call them enrage timers or whatever, they know when they need to perform ability X, Y and Z and in what order. They are, in fact, so predictable, that it leads to their ruin many, many times a night. Many jobs in RL have deadlines, so this doesn't exactly pin down a job that these bad guys would be both good at and hate at the same time. So, let's see what else they can do.

Bad guys love bureaucracy, a chain of command to follow when things go sideways. Arthas had his minions following his command, and often they reminded us of their loyalty to Arthas. So clearly they don't have to be independent business owners, they can work for someone who issues commands and sets strict deadlines, so with these two qualities are quite fit for many jobs; at least we've taken Amway distributor out of the running though.

I've wondered, however, if bad guys are good with numbers. Let's take Deathwing. He knows how many sentient lives he wants to destroy, infinity, which makes him both a mathmatician and a philosopher. At the same time, he doesn't want to die himself, which means that he knows how to kill everyone without killing everyone. How does he know, you ask? Why the answer is clear, he's an Accountant. But he hates his job.

Deathwing is great with deadlines (timers and such), loves a good organization chart, is great with fudging numbers (of people he wants to kill), but the one things that keeps him up at night is the governemnt oversight. You see, even the great Aspect of Death can't fudge with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). The entire month of January he was busy finishing out 2010's books and getting the annual report ready for the investors (old gods and such folk).

The most frustrating thing about the SEC deadlines is that it doesn't allow for the same melodrama that exists as any of his bad guys prepare for battle. Consequently, for the last month and nine days every single raid boss has not spoken a single word in any combat. The reason being that they needed to hurry up and die to get back to closing the books on their invasion on Azeroth. To further delve into the mystery, they have actually replaced themselves with digital reproductions of themselves, which if prompted, will say some things during a battle, but the actual boss guys themselves have had a gag order placed on their real selves as they slave away at their desks, crunching numbers in their Excel spreadsheets.

But finally, yesterday, Feb 9, Activision Blizzard, er, Deathwing, finally realeased its 2010 annual financial reportings. It was a big event for Deathwing, who was quoted by saying "Now I can finally get back to destroying the world". The SEC really had him by the claws on this one, dictating the timetable TO Deathwing, a job that Deathwing definately hated. "I don't know how Arthas did it! I don't really want to do this again next year; maybe I'll be dead by then and can turn it over to the next bad guy."

I never would have thought that Deathwing would have hated accounting more than Humans, but I'm not complaining.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Come Up With a Better Name Than That!

I have no idea how many people I'm going to offend here, no doubt a lot given the numerous infractions of what I'm about to talk about. You're quite free to argue or disagree, this is just something I need to get off my chest.


A long time ago, when I started playing I always looked at some names of players around me and though them silly, or even stupid at times. But I recognize the many variations in people and their personalities and give them leave to express themselves by choosing whatever name they wish for their characters. So when I see a name like 'Douchedragon' or 'Spongegirl' or 'Ipwnuloser' I get it, it's just a person expressing themselves how they want. Even if the name itself totally breaks away from fantasy and destroys any possible immersion, it's fine with me.

But there is one kind of name that, even though I understand, I simply wish that people would be even A LITTLE creative when creating. For example, and I see this most with Shamans (in my experience), any time I see a name with 'Shammy' or someone uses the name of a talent spec like Ëlemental, I can't help but think that that person has no creative bone in their body.

Oh, did I upset you, guy/girl who has a Shaman named 'Shamtastic'? Or simply yet another varied spelling of Ĕlêmêntål. Well too bad. You're free to make fun on any of my toon's names if you like, it's just that I have a blog and can say whatever I like, so suck it up!

The hunter named 'BeastMaster', who's a Beast Mastery spec hunter, or the Fire mage named 'Fyre' (see what I did there? I spelled fire but used a Y instead of an I). True, the first time I saw the name 'Shammwow' I chuckled, but soon got over it. I think I've seen at least two dozen Elementals in my play days. I wonder, sometimes, what happens when their guild wants them to heal? Do they change their name or do they simply explain that this healing thing is temporary, but as others can see by their name they are an Elemental Shaman at heart.

I know it's stupid, to get worked up over something as small as names; to be fair it's not THAT big of an issue, but it is something I've been thinking about for a while. Whatever method people use to create a name, whether you're like me and you use mixed up variations of names of real people, or you use fantasy based names, or an clear joke of a name, I feel that at least you have used some creativity in forming it. To use Mage, Hunter, Shaman, Priest, etc in your name just isn't very creative, imo. It's like naming your newborn baby, 'Baby'! Who would do that?

Or what if your mom and dad had a 'Shotgun Wedding', and in their passion conceived you that day, then named you 'Shotgun'. There's just no thought, no brain cells at work. I just don't get it. No, wait, I do get it, I just think it's totally stupid.

Guess what? I just ran a dungeon today with an Enhancement Shaman named, wait for it...'Enhancement'. Aaaarrrrggghhhh! C'mon man, you don't need a life, you just need a new naming philosophy.

So that's all for now. I can't imagine I'll ever change my opinion on this. And if you are the kind who uses this naming strategy, well, suck it up because I won't apologize. But I do hope you have a nice day! :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Most ANNOYING Quest Ever

There are quite a few that I'd vote for, but thanks to the Cataclysm a new leader has risen above all the others. And to think, it's supposed to be "cute" - turns out cute is the new suck!

Save the Wee Animals

You're supposed to run around a burning grove of trees and pick up any combination of of Panicked Bunnies or Terrified Squirrels. Question: With Night Elves connection with nature, you would think that they would know of some spell or encantation that would attract wildlife to their side, including these cute little bunnies and squirrels. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! They ask some dude with an axe to gain the confidence of an already terrified little animal and allow themselves to be picked up and carried to safety.

Which leads me to the annoying part, picking them up. They are small, they move fast, their patterns are sorta random, sorta pre-programmed, and just when you think you have them where you want them, BAM! They quickly dart off in the other direction. They are suspicious little buggers, that's for sure. Don't they know I'm trying to save them? Just keep your cute little fanny on the ground and let me, the 6'4" man hero to lift you to safety already.

It's the capture part that gets to me, er, the rescue attempt. It's not easy to right click on a tiny moving target. It's so difficult, in fact, I need to call in help in the form of kobolds. Kobolds have these wonderful nets that they like to throw on people, so, in an effort to get this quest done quickly and efficiently, I enlist the help of 10 Kobold Miners who I send out into the burning wild to capture one critter each. When they are done I pay them with fake rocks, plastic painted like rock, and to date no kobold has complained.

I warn you, if you haven't quested through Hyjal, be prepared to be frustrated. The quest, even with it's cute factor, just plain sucks.

And that's all I have to say about that.