Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Epics for Nothing

Now look at them newbies,
That’s the way the do it.
They run through Nexus and Heroic OC
That ain’t raiding!
That’s the way they do it
Get their emblems for nothing and their loot for free!

Now that ain’t raiding,
That’s the way they do it.
Let me tell you, them scrubs ain’t dumb.
Maybe get a tier piece and a brand new necklace,
Maybe get a trinket or a gun.

We had to raid through all of Naxxramas
Then kill Maly, Sarth plus 3
We got no freebies, we got no handouts
I had to spend all my effing DKP!

I should have known
To wait for the patch.
I should have held off ‘til 3.2
Look at that hunter, he’s decked out all in epics
But what achievements did he do?

And who is that? My GM’s alt?
He just dinged 80 and he’s rocking two one three’s!
Oh that ain’t raiding, that’s the way they do it,
Get their emblems for nothing and their loot for free

I had to raid through all of Naxxramas,
Then kill Maly, Sarth + 3
I got no freebies, I got no handouts,
I had to spend all my effing DKP!

With apologies to Mark Knopfler for destroying his classic Money for Nothing.

There's been a fair bit of hullabaloo over the upcoming patch, much of it focused on the changes to emblems. Not surprisingly much of the reaction to the 'new' emblem system is negative. Maybe I’m in the minority on this; maybe those who are filling blogs, O-boards and Trade chat with QQ over this are in the minority, just noisier about it, hard to say. Maybe I just think about my gear differently than everyone else: for the most part I don’t look at my gear as The End. To me it’s the Means to an End, and the End is downing the boss and completing the content. The gear helps me reach that end. I don’t go into Naxx and Ulduar so that I can parade around the streets of Dalaran brandishing my Horologist’s Wristguards and my Torch of Holy Fire, making others wish they were me. I don’t curl my lip at the guy wearing a BoE epic and think ‘Huh, he probably bought his’. So what if he did? Who is he hurting?

The only argument I might buy into about how so-called ‘welfare epics’ can hurt the game is the notion that ‘bad’ players can now get good gear with less effort. The thinking is that these guys will then worm their way into your raids due to their artificially buffed stats. Once in the raid they will quickly be revealed as being ‘The Mole’, and will cost you time and gold. I don’t even think that this argument holds up that well; it’s entirely possible for bad people to get good gear by being carried through raids and instances anyway. As an example I give you Badpaladin (not his real name). Badpaladin is a member of my guild who picked up 5 good Naxx/heroic Naxx pieces of gear (through pugs or a friend, I’m not sure) before the rest of us really got started, yet it didn’t help him heal his way through Azjol-Nerub. Regular. With an 80 tank and level-appropriate dps. They never made it past the first boss. My GM (who was there on one of his alts) reported a failure of Epic Proportions, as it was clear Badpaladin had no real clue how to heal. Yet he has good gear.

In some ways, this kind of ‘welfare epic’ may be worse than cheap badges. At least with the cheap badges it will take much longer for the ‘moles’ to farm enough emblems to get the gear they need to get into your raid. Maybe by then you’ll be well past the content they’re trying to worm their way into. In the meantime, I suggest you remember that gear is a tool, a way to help you get the job done. Enjoy the fights and the camaraderie involved in defeating raid bosses; that’s where most of the true fun in the game lies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still independent

My Secret Identity is growing up – he just hit 73 and has moved into Dragonblight – and as he grows up, the Call of the Guild grows ever stronger. Despite the concluding line of my initial post on this subject, I have not yet made up a contest, and my Secret Identity is still somewhat Secret. I think part of it is that I like to maintain some semblance of independence, like George Costanza:

(Incidentally, this is the reason I jokingly gave when people would ask me why I wasn't in the same guild with my wife. We're in the same guild now, but we still joke about it once in a while)

Aside from the ‘Independence’ factor, staying out of my guild does provide me with some interesting experiences, which will hopefully translate into interesting blog posts! The following event occurred last night.

I was in Stormwind playing APS (Azerothian Parcel Service) between my Secret Identity and my bank when a Guild Charter popped up in my face. Now it’s an absolute pet peeve of mine when I get group invites, charters, trade requests and the like with no preamble, and this was one of them: No whispered ‘could you please sign’, no offer of gold in exchange for a signature, nothing. I closed it. It promptly opened again. I closed it. It opened again, with a whisper from the persistent, would-be GM: “You can just exit”. So I signed, wished him luck, and went back about my business. About an hour later I became a founding member of …err, ummm, well, I actually didn’t even notice the name of the new guild, except that it miraculously did not have the word ‘Knight’ in the title (If I had a gold for every guild name that includes ‘Knight’, I’d have enough for my epic flyer!). Instead of /gquit, I thought ‘well, let’s see what happens’ and delivered the first message in life (actually second, the first was that some other guy left):




Not a good sign. A couple of minutes later, the GM wonders if anyone has any gold they can contribute for the bank tab.

My inner Deadly Boss Mods began flashing a warning across my mental monitor: ‘MoneyGrubber reaches for your gold!’ I deftly parried his thrust by admitting that my toon is poor – he’s leveling enchanting and tailoring after all. At this point one of the other new guild members chimed in with The Big Question:

“So, what are your plans for this guild?”

What would it be? A raiding guild? A leveling guild? A social, hang out and have fun guild? A hide from your guild guild? Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong! His answer:

“I just want to use the bank tab.”

Well at least he had the guts (or maybe it was stupidity) to admit it. I wonder if he would have kicked us all had we ponied up the cash for the tab? I wasn’t going to hang around long enough to find out. I told him ‘Good luck with that’ and /gquit.

Independent once more, but for how long?

Friday, June 12, 2009

What Do People Do All Day?

Every time I’m in a city for any length of time I think of the title of a book I used to read with my children when they were small: Richard Scarry’s ‘What Do People Do All Day?’ Not because I see Huckle Cat or Lowly Worm running around (wouldn’t that be frightening?), but because of all the junk flying around in the General and Trade chats. The murloc game, the anal [link] game, ripping people for asking questions, ripping people for inflating AH prices, accusing people of spamming for posting recruitment messages: It goes on constantly, and it’s the same people all the time!

What do these people do all day?

Now I understand that WoW is a social game, and I understand that people get their enjoyment out of it in different ways; still, isn’t there something better to do with your time than sit in Stormwind and tell Chuck Norris jokes?

A big part of the problem is that, even though there is a lot to do in the game, there’s also a lot of downtime: Waiting for the BG to begin, waiting for all your raid members to log on, waiting for that elusive healer for the heroic daily. It’s sad, though, that idle time and a large ‘audience’ results in such massive amounts of outright stupidity. Is it really that funny to type in ‘Raiders of the Lost Murloc’ or Anal [Wrath]? Especially when it’s been done over and over and over again? (I logged on in Dalaran the other day to a ‘Murloc game’ in progress. Someone boasted ‘lol, I left to take a nap two hours ago and it’s still going on!’ You’re proud of that???) I know, I know ‘QQ moar’ and ‘/leave trade, /leave general’. The problem with that is there are real questions out there, legitimate deals to be had, and people honestly looking for one more dps or healer out there – it’s a shame it gets pushed off the screen so fast that you miss it. So does guild and officer chat for that matter, and I frequently find myself scrolling back through the drivel to find the important stuff.

I suppose I should be thankful in a way that these people are taking their boredom out in what is ultimately a harmless manner. After all they could be out on the streets of the Real World harassing old ladies, or getting blitzed and puking on my lawn or wrapping a car around a telephone pole. So I guess I’ll just continue to deal with it by spending as little in-game time in the cities as possible, and hope that, when I do have to visit the city, that spammers will have come up with some new material.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Secret Identity

I have a confession to make: I have a Secret Identity.

No, it's not like Ferraro's Secret Identity (identities?), or the Secret Identity that Sarah Townsend didn't even know she had. Mine is an in-game Secret Identity.

It's a Warlock.

My Secret Warlock is and is known only to a handful of my guildies: my wife (of course); my GM and his wife; and three or four others. Ironically, my GM has his own Secret Warlock; we've done some quests together and we chat pretty extensively when we're both online at the same time. Our Secret Warlocks are secret: they are not in the guild.

When I created my Secret Warlock I had every intention of bringing him into the guild, but I figured I'd have some fun with it. I envisioned a 'Find My Alt' contest, with Fabulous Cash Prizes for the lucky guildie who was able to find me through clever clues posted on the website or by my wife in-game. The contest never materialized, however; I could never quite figure out how I wanted to do it, but I think the real reason it didn't happen was because....

It was quiet. And I liked it.

I love my guild. I really do.They’re a great bunch of people, and there’s always something happening in guild chat – frequently entertaining, often enlightening, never boring. Yet I found the peace and quiet refreshing. It was nice to be able to kill worgen in Duskwood without watching the constantly-streaming lines of green chat flowing by, or stopping to see what I missed while siccing my Voidwalker on Stalvan Mistmantle. I didn’t have to feel guilty for not dropping what I was doing to heal a heroic, or worry that I wasn’t being nice for not giving someone that run-through of Scarlet Monastery. So, I enjoyed the silence.

And then I got lonely.

Now, being a Warlock means you’re never really alone, but minions are generally poor company. They’re not much for conversation, they just grumble and complain, or slap their butts. I was looking for more than that. So, when someone asked if I could sign a guild charter for them, I thought 'Why not? It will be nice to have some company'. I also thought it might not be a bad idea to experience being in a different guild, with different people, so that I could be exposed to different ways of thinking and organization.

So I joined the new guild. And I hated it.

Here is a typical conversation in the new guild (actually, both of the ones my Secret Warlock has been in):
[Myalt] has come online
[Myalt] Good evening, all
[Guildie1] sup
[Guildie2] yo
[Myalt] What's everyone up to tonight?
[guildchat] /cricket

I find it interesting that as much as I liked the Sounds of Silence when I was unguilded, I hated it more when I was in a guild. If I’m in a social organization then I want to socialize. I’m not looking for run-throughs, or handouts, or a spiffy guild tabard. I don’t have to spend every minute of every session grouped up with you for no purpose; I don’t need an extensive detailing of your personal life – but I DO want more than ‘sup’ and ‘yo’. In short, I’m looking for more from my gaming experience and my guild, and I think I know what to do.

So, if you'll excuse me, I have a contest to design.