Archive for August, 2010


Walk, Don’t Run

Aminyara and her Not So Fast Mount

 

(With apologies to the Ventures).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that people careening through the streets of Orgrimmar (or Stormwind) on the back of their Very Fast Mount pose a hazard to public safety. I mean, what if some little old orc lady is just trying to carry her shopping home and gets skittled by a blood elf on a giant ostrich…or worse, by a tauren on a kodo? That’s not going to improve race relations among the Horde all that much.

Of course, on most servers we really don’t care. Since we can all run right through each other (and all the passersby as well), we can all dash madly about our vitally important business and show off our Very Fast Mounts, and nobody gets hurt…well, nobody except anyone foolish enough to look directly at a sparklepony in the sunlight. But what about the RP realms?

(Won’t somebody think of the RP realms?!)

How do you manage when you’re in character and in a city, if in fact that is something you would ever be? Of course, it depends on exactly how your character would behave. It certainly isn’t outside the realms of possibility that some characters really wouldn’t be worried about the little old ladies of Orgrimmar in the least. Personally, given that Aminyara is a blood elf and (relatively) well brought up, I find it far more natural…if much slower…to walk through cities, towns and other large groups of people and save the galloping for out on the open range.

Interestingly, the other advantage to walking when you’re in town, if you’re so inclined, is that you blend into the scene and the atmosphere much better – particularly if you’re on foot. Normally you can tell a moving PC from a moving NPC a mile away, simply by the fact that NPCs generally walk and PCs sprint everywhere as though Arthas were right behind them (Quick! I must reach the cooking recipe vendor with all haste! Lives may depend on it!). If you walk, assuming you’re not wearing your Tier 104 Armor of Doom with Shoulder Sculpture Artwork, other players may even mistake you for someone who actually lives there – surely a good thing if you’re looking for the immersive factor. More importantly, you might mistake yourself for someone who actually lives there – or your character, at least.

Even though (as a constantly busy person with roughly ten times as many alts as would be strictly necessary) I usually try to make the most of my trips to Azeroth from a time point of view, I find the discipline of slowing down now and then actually enhances my enjoyment…which is, after all, the point of the whole exercise. It’s often when I’m walking along at Aminyara’s leisurely pace that I notice what a gorgeous job the designers have done on the sky at sunset in Mulgore, for instance – or realise that there’s actually a vendor tucked away behind that building that I’ve never checked – or whatever.

Of course, maybe I just think this is a good idea because as yet Aminyara has no Very Fast Mount to display…*cough*

So, what’s your trick for getting that little bit more immersion happening?

Wide-Eyed Moment: Snow!

 

Snow!

It’s night in Kharanos, and it’s snowing.

Snowing!!

How cool is that?

I’ve spent plenty of time in Dun Morogh, but never yet have I realised that it snows there instead of rains. Now I want to go out and make snow angels 😉

This week’s BlogAzeroth shared topic (proposed by RestoDude) is about helping out your groupmates – protecting and assisting the other members, and so on. While I think the original topic may have been meant to refer to abilities or strategies ingame, in a multiplayer game like WoW it’s equally vital to consider ways to help and support your groupmates in a social sense.

White bear!

Qanala - level 19

This girl essentially exists because I want to tank on Dhakeilh and am too much of a chicken to start learning at higher levels (and also because I fell in love with the white druid forms. Different topic!). Most of her time is spent tanking instances, more or less ineptly, and a run through Shadowfang Keep this week is where we meet the shared topic.

I find tanking very intimidating. I know I’m not alone in this, judging by the huge number of other posts and comments out there saying the same thing, but that doesn’t make it any easier to check the blue box (take the blue pill…?) on the dungeon finder and frantically hope your groupmates will be at least civilised, if not friendly. And, of course – as with everything – as I get more intimidated, I get less accurate with my reactions and more flustered. This has on occasion led directly to wipes, which always make me reach for the Whip of Self-Flagellation and, of course, tends to perpetuate the cycle.

The contribution of the other group members to a tank’s mental state is perhaps obvious, but bears restating. An experienced and confident tank can of course shrug off the comments; after all, he knows what he’s doing, and if they don’t like it, screw them. For less confident tanks, though, the group can make all the difference to their comfort level and, therefore, to their performance. There is a world of difference between the group where the refrain is ‘gogogogo…pull faster…pull bigger…come on failtank’ and one where not much is said, but the underlying attitude is ‘take your time, do it right, mistakes happen.’ A group doesn’t have to be a mutual admiration society with compliments every twelve seconds to maintain a supportive atmosphere.

Not being entirely oblivious, I realise this is a very optimistic and idealistic attitude to WoW – particularly as applied to PUGs. However, the abovementioned SFK run, which was a PUG with four complete strangers, showed me that it is possible; not once did someone complain about the tanking, the healing or anything else, even though both myself and the healer were new at our roles. As a consequence, a group with no members over level 20 dealt with the instance with a minimum of trouble, and I zoned out at the end feeling over the moon. I could tank!

I question whether that instance would even have been possible for me to tank with a group that pushed me to pull faster, or spammed party chat with demands for heals. This group wasn’t chatty or overly friendly, just quietly supportive and occasionally patient. Is a tank (or anyone else) responsible for her own performance? Absolutely. Can the group members contribute to or detract from that performance just by their attitude and presence in party/raid chat? Without a doubt.

So, many thanks to Edaedia (priest), Gnomophobia (warlock), Floor (mage) and gnome-rogue-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten-sorry!, for a fun and confidence-building run –  and for the reminder that sometimes the best thing we can do to help and assist others in our group is to be nice.

Guilds and ‘Lowbies’

It isn’t difficult to find information and advice about how to run a guild, find a guild, participate in a guild, leave a guild or anything else – so long as you’re level 80. Given that by far the majority of non-leveling-based activities within WoW really take off at level 80, that’s completely understandable. However, I find there’s a rather gaping hole in terms of information for what could be called ‘midbies’ – that is, no longer below level 20 and trying to work out what ‘DPS’ stands for, but not yet having reached level 80 either.

I have no intention of trying to completely fill that gap, since I’m still too squarely in the middle of it myself. I have found myself thinking, though, about how a character can contribute to a guild before level 80 – and what a guild should do to nurture those little people who will hopefully grow up to become its core raiders/PvPers/socialisers/whateverers. It is oh, so easy to lose them – or to get lost – in the shuffle. This list does presuppose that the player concerned has found a guild they like and are willing to put some effort into, since much of it is irrelevant if not.

A player can…

  • Be sociable. You don’t have to be level 80 to chat (though, depending on your guild, they might be slow to warm up to new players, especially if they’ve been burned before). If you’ve been able to get to know the other members, the guild is more likely to feel like home and less likely to feel like being at the ‘uncool’ lunch table at school.
  • Be (relatively) independent. If the level 80s are bored and want to run you through instances, great – but don’t constantly ask for instance runs or equipment. Most especially, don’t ask for gold, and never ninja things from the guild bank. This is common sense, of course, but it’s amazing how often it gets forgotten. Rise to the challenge of working your way up without hanging onto anyone else’s coattails – it can be remarkably entertaining, even when it isn’t the first time through!
  • Be creative. Consider a gathering profession – if you have level 80s who decide they want to change from one crafting profession to another, you may be in a far better position to conveniently farm (for example) tin or liferoot than they are. They may not pay as much as that lucky sale on the AH, but it’s likely to be a more consistent market, and you get all that bonus goodwill thrown in.
  • Be a team player. If you’re in the guild at level 20 (or 45, or 70), chances are you aren’t the only character who isn’t level capped. In-guild dungeon runs can be fun and profitable, even if it’s only Gnomeregan – and you’re less likely to encounter complete idiots or gear ninjas than you are with the dungeon finder.

 

A guild can…

  • Be clear. Is this a guild who wants sub-level 80s in the ranks or not? If not, it might be smart to say that at the outset, rather than letting people in ‘to be nice’ and then basically ignoring them until they hit that magic 8-0 achievement. I’m absolutely not advocating holding peoples’ hands and boosting them to level cap, but if no one has any interest in interacting with people who can’t run heroics or get to Dalaran, maybe setting a minimum entry level of 70 would be worth considering – even if you are a casual/social guild.
  • Be patient. A lot of non-80s are new or newish players who are likely to ask basic questions on gchat and/or do stupid things in dungeon runs (Tiganza would never make such elementary mistakes, though I am quite likely to). Many of these players are not unintelligent or naturally bad at gaming, but it might require some tolerance until they work out that high DPS is only helpful if the tank also puts out high threat. Look for signs of a good attitude and willingness to learn, rather than uber l33t skillz, from the first day. (Of course, if they’ve been with you for two years and still can’t define ‘threat’, it may be time to rethink). On the other hand…
  • Be discerning. Just because it’s nice to be patient with new players doesn’t mean that beggars, jerks and other highly unpleasant people should be tolerated because they’re low level. In no way is this post a plea for universal acceptance of bad behaviour!
  • Be inclusive. Doubtless many of the guild’s level 80s have lower level alts, whether in the guild or not – try to keep them on the radar when interacting with your lower level members. Could you log on that resto shaman you’ve been meaning to level and run through SM with those two guildies who are talking about it on gchat? In many ways, this is often preferable to just taking a portal from Dalaran and boosting said guildies through the instance, since everyone (maybe even you! *gasp*) is likely to get more out of it.
  • Be actively non-clique-ish. (That is absolutely a word). While it might be easier to talk to your fellow 80s who you’ve known for months or years, your guild is presumably recruiting because it wants to bring in new people. Try to avoid the syndrome of four 80s yakking away on gchat who completely ignore the tentative attempts of a level 53 to join the conversation. Someday, that 53 will be an 80…and who knows, they might be the perfect 5th person for that heroic? Of course, humans by nature tend to form cliques (or, more benignly, groups of friends), and it can sometimes take a real effort to break out of the habit…but hey, it may well be worth it.

 

Having now been in a number of guilds on various servers, I can safely say that this is written from the point of view not of a guild officer (or even of an 80), but only from that of a leveling member. With that in mind, there may be biases – but the above are some things I have seen done both well and badly (by myself, others, and the guilds concerned) over time. Certainly it gives me some starting points from which to work on my own levels of participation…

"Oh, did you want your felsteed back, Dad?"

OK, maybe it’s just me, but as much as I honestly love the Felsteed, a gnome looks absolutely ridiculous perched on its back. I mean, come on…an enormous black charger with flaming eyes and feet, snorting evil and doom at the world – and being ridden by a two-foot-tall midget whose feet barely reach over its withers?

But then, maybe it’s only because Anyiella (pictured, from Jubei’Thos) is only a baby and I’m not yet used to seeing things from her perspective…