Archive for October, 2010


Masquerade

Night elf druid? Come on. That is SO last expansion. Pumpkin-headed ninja witch just has so much more variety in the talent tree…

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The Joys of a Guild Run

Most of my dungeon experience – well, about 95% of it, in fact – has been in PUGs. They are easy to find, if not always quick, and the dungeon finder neatly dodges the problem of there having been not too many leveling people in my last guild. I did do one run through Magister’s Terrace with them, but the rest of the group were mostly 80s, and a level 70-odd messing things up by accidentally body pulling wasn’t really an asset to the group. After that, in general, I’ve left things well alone and simply PUGged my way through the various instances…until now.

This new guild, as I think I have mentioned, actually does things together. We’re all a little bit disoriented with the new patch, and were discussing the various class changes and so forth, when I discovered that my baby disco priest was now locked out of Wailing Caverns since 4.0.1 hit. Apparently you’re now supposed to discover it before you can queue for it; clearly this is a change I’d missed! I like the idea, but it was a bit confusing at the time. In any case, three of us (a paladin and two priests) trundled off from Azuremyst to the Barrens…and, roughly half an hour later, we all arrived at the Wailing Caverns and picked up the quests. We were a little bit apprehensive, all things considered, since none of us was all that familiar with our class changes yet and we were at level for the dungeon, but one way and another we decided to give it a go.

I’ve always loved Wailing Caverns, in spite of its length and tortuousness, but there is no denying that it can be hard on a PUG. The number of times I have failed to finish it for one reason or another probably exceeds the number of times I’ve successfully got through it by a fair margin. This run, though – despite the fact that we were 3 manning it and that the group composition (ret pala, holy and disco priests in the level 16-22 range) was perhaps less than ideal, was absolutely smooth as silk. Bosses keeled over at our feet, adds and accidental pulls were managed with barely a slip below 50% health, and nobody got lost or fell off anything (unintentionally). Although it’s tempting to ascribe this to our amazingly l33t skillz and adaptability, I think it’s probably more accurate to give the credit to the very fact that this wasn’t a PUG.

Voice communication, for one thing, makes life indescribably easier. By the time you’ve typed ‘another druid’ and then added ‘and I’m slept’, and someone has typed ‘where?’ and someone else has typed ‘behind you’, half the unfortunate victim’s health has probably gone. Saying it is, of course, much faster. Also, voice communication seems to allow for more accountability; not that any of us was trying to ignore the others, but it fosters working in a team and actually listening to what each other say.

Also, of course, I think everyone is more relaxed in a guild run simply by virtue of knowing the others in the group. You can be reasonably confident that no one is going to ninja things or pull half the dungeon and then drop group (or that if they do, there will be consequences). Then, too, a lot of the difficulties around trading things cross-realm are of course removed. And, shock and horror, it’s all just more fun in a group where you can mess around a bit and chat, and where you know any mistakes aren’t going to be met with an instant kick. We ended up having so much fun with this one that plans are afoot to set up more dungeon runs in the near future, which is an alien experience for me but one I think I like. Isn’t this, after all, the definition of a massively multiplayer online RPG?

Of course, PUGs also have their advantages, and I doubt I’ll ever completely abandon them. Sometimes it’s nice to be anonymous and not expected to be on teamspeak or to socialise, particularly at the end of a long day. Likewise, though it’s fun to have friends around, you do sometimes end up on detours that you might not have with a random group. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing both, if only to keep my perspective on what’s good about each!

Are you a PUG person or do you prefer guild or premade groups? Honestly, I’m not sure I could decide…

Serendipity

Sometimes things just happen, without our apparent participation. Such is the tale I tell today…

I’ve been thinking for a while about leaving Dhakeilh’s guild. Not that they aren’t nice enough people, but the time zones aren’t a particularly good match, and even when they’re on, for some reason they seem to have difficulty hearing anything I say – because they never, never answer. This has got to the point where I almost wonder whether my gchat channel is even working! As I said, not unpleasant people – but also not a very social environment, and since I can’t raid easily on that server due to time zone issues, I’m really looking for a nice friendly guild.

On the other hand, they have put up with me as I leveled to 80, and it seemed a little cheeky to ding 80 and immediately say ‘Bye! Looking for someone I like better.’ So I dithered, and mumbled, and complained to other friends, and finally started looking around for a social guild to join. My efforts were somewhat complicated, however, by my criteria: the members must behave in a reasonably mature fashion, must at least attempt to speak English and not l33t, and must enjoy doing things together. You wouldn’t think it would be all that hard to find, but somehow, one or other of those criteria has been missing from all the ones I’d so far looked into – and with Cataclysm around the corner, I want my efforts to go into leveling a guild I actually like.

Then, as it is wont to do, serendipity came along. I had temporarily given up the quests both  for a new guild and for Sons of Hodir reputation and had gone off to mess around on a level 10 priest – and got recruited into a leveling guild. Not only did the recruiter appear to have a basic command of the English language (though it isn’t his first), he also showed distinct signs of intelligence – and he wasn’t the only guild member logged in at the time, although it was the morning. What can I lose, I thought – it’s only a level 10, I can always leave if I don’t like them. So I signed up, got a few levels, chatted to them on teamspeak and was reasonably content with life.

Then, the next morning, I logged onto Dhakeilh and found a letter from my old GM. Apparently the guild had quietly disbanded itself overnight, and since I had been a ‘long term and loyal’ member, he’d done me the courtesy of writing to tell me. Timing, as they say, is everything; rather than floundering, I simply wrote him a ‘thanks and good luck’ note, and got Dhakeilh into this new guild with my little priest. They were thankful to have another 80, and I am interested to experience WoW with other people, instead of just with other people talking in their little groups, so it appears to be a win/win situation so far. They seem to like voice chatting whenever more than one person is on, which tends to make me retreat into my shell a bit, but it is nice to have found a group that not only talks to one another but (*gasp*) plays WoW with one another!

So! We shall see if this works out. The jury is still out, no doubt on both sides, but as all I’m looking for is a group of people to hang around with and maybe do some casual grouping with, I’m hoping it’ll be a good fit. If not, well, I suppose it’s back to the drawing board…

Llani, from Pocket Heals, has supplied us with this weeks Blog Azeroth shared topic (which I might be posting just a little bit late). She asks,

“What takes the longest to choose, is the first thing people see, and is the one thing they always remember about you and your character?

Your name.

How did you decide upon the name for your character(s)? Did you delve into Norse, Greek, or Roman mythology? Did you choose a name from one of your family members? Did you mash the “Random” name generator button in vain until you stumbled upon something you liked? Is your name a play on aspects of your class, using spells or other traits? Did you play around with syllables, vowels, and consonants until you found something that you loved?

How long did it take you to come up with your name? Do all of your characters share the same ‘theme’ or naming convention? Have you ever run into someone who had a similar name? How did you feel? Does your character have a partner with “the other half” to your name (such as “Salt” and “Pepper”). Do any of your characters have a “themed” guild that goes along with your name? Do you have a nickname that your guild, friends, or significant other has given your character?

Has your character name become your online persona, or maybe the other way around?

Do you have any tips for naming your characters in WoW, or any other game? Resources, name generators, mythology websites, sources of inspiration, etc.

If you are an avid roleplayer, how was your name decided upon by family/friends? Did your character choose the name later in life or were they given it at birth? There are whole stories behind naming/birthday celebrations that I am sure are floating around out there.

So much can be said about names. What does yours say?”

 

Wow. I could go on for hours (but, to everyone’s relief I’m sure, I won’t). And not to disagree with the Bard, but I’ve always felt that the name you choose for a character has a significant impact on how you feel about them and, by extension, how much you want to play them.

Warning: wall of text in 5…4…3…2…1…

Names, for me, are very important – perhaps because I’ve never cared much for my own real life one! While I have occasionally been known to use a random name generator or look at baby names (or adapt obscure book character names *cough*), as a general rule I simply invent them. This can at times be a long process, since I won’t stop until I actually have it right. If the character is important, it can go on for days or weeks before I’m happy enough to actually settle on one…and, of course, they usually end up with nicknames as well. In the interest of answering some of the questions Llani puts, I thought I might write about the process of choosing a name for one of my real characters.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been considering names for a character I hope will be very important – she will be sharing the ‘main’ honours with Dhakeilh when Cataclysm comes out. Dhakeilh, while lots of fun and definitely a going concern, is on an EU server; this has certain disadvantages when attempting to find a raiding guild if you live in Australia and everyone raids while you’re at work/at church/asleep. Therefore, I have decided that the most sensible thing to do would be to develop a second character in a place where, when someone says ‘Monday evening’, that actually translates to ‘Monday evening’ in my time zone!

No doubt I will say a great many things about this new character in due time, but in a post about names, I’ll (try to) keep it relevant. This character will be a worgen and a druid, and is intended to be a tank, so I want a name that doesn’t look ridiculous hanging over the head of a generously proportioned bear or a humanoid wolf; however, she will also be female, so I’m not going to call her ‘Grarh’ or ‘Maulpow’ either. Her name will need to be something that’s easy to say, doesn’t shorten to anything obscene or stupid, doesn’t contain any English words (it’s a name, not a charter document) and must be something I like the sound and ‘taste’ of. So much for the initial considerations.

There are certain combinations of letters and sounds I like (k, t, s, dh, y) and others I really don’t as a rule (p, g, b, u). Female names, to me, should sound feminine; I almost never create characters with names ending in ‘ok’ or ‘um’, for instance. I will admit to an enjoyment of odd combinations of letters that we don’t use in English, but all of my characters must have names that are pronounceable by the normal person and easily typed, without weird characters or clever accents.
That all sounds terribly regimented, but it doesn’t work that way in practice – getting this far only takes a few seconds. It’s the next bit that’s time-consuming – finding a ‘base’ syllable or sound that I think suits her, and then playing with additions and changing letters and so on until I come up with the perfect combination. I’m doing this as I write this post, so I have no idea what her name will be either, but it should be interesting to find out!

‘K’ and ‘t’ go together well, and they both suit a combative sort of character. Shying away from the Kate/Katrina names, perhaps I’ll put them in the middle of the name – Akata works as a starting point. Serendipity being what it is, I typoed and added a ‘j’ to the end of that, which actually I rather like, so now we have ‘Akataj’; if she were going to be a mage of the Kirin Tor I might stop there, but I think something a little softer is needed for a druid. Aekataj? No, not quite right. Akhataj? Still evokes a mage, though it’s closer. Akhyatajh? Too complicated and rather affected, though I’ll admit I like the sound of it. Actually, I have too many characters with ‘kh’ in their names already, so perhaps I’ll shift away from that a little; also, ‘A’ is one of my more common starting letters. Changing those two things, we come up with…

Kahatya? Too evocative of kitty druids, which this one likely won’t be, and of Russians, which I’m not (I already have a Nadezhda who gets all sorts of whispers in Russian, which I don’t understand). Unfortunately, I keep getting drawn back to the complicated but pretty ‘Akhyatajh’ I dismissed just before; did I mention I have a weakness for strange combinations of letters? Every now and then a name just grabs me, and that seems to have happened here, so I’m going to disregard the previous comment about similarites to other character. Maybe if I remove the A, thus coming up with Khyatajh? No, that actually makes it paradoxically harder to pronounce. Perhaps I’ll get rid of the last h instead…or not…no, I will.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. If you made it this far through a maze of rambling and stream-of-consciousness babble, I’m very impressed! At the end of a convoluted but enjoyable process of name generation, and in spite of the fact that she won’t actually exist for another two months yet, I would like to present…

Akhyataj

Don’t you love it?

Maybe it’s something about being a fresh 80, which I’ll admit is written all over me even just to look at, but yesterday I attracted not one but two overly helpful citizens on my way to obtain my swift flight form. This, by the way, is a milestone, since achieving that much money has taken me quite a while; clearly I don’t spend enough time playing the auction house.

It must be admitted that taking unsolicited advice has never been my strong point. I prefer to ask for help when I want it and otherwise stand on my own feet, which has its good and bad points; it certainly led to my amusing demise yesterday in my first ever Trial of the Crusader run, when I got confused about where we were supposed to be standing and wandered over to the champions of the Horde…without bothering about any little details like, for instance, the tank or the healer.

Oops.

Fortunately in that case my group were more entertained than annoyed, and I got a quick resurrection and we finished the rest without a hitch. I then toddled off to spend almost all my money on buying artisan riding and my swift flight form and a new gryphon (not that I don’t love my snowy one…and not that I need a new mount, you know, with the whole bird thing going on). It was when I hit Valiance Keep and the trainer that the fun began.

First up was a level 23 night elf, riding his first ever tiger, who wanted to know whether I knew how to fly. Upon being informed that yes, as a level 80 druid, I could in fact fly, he then wanted to know if I had a gryphon and if it could walk. (Because, you know, we buy gryphons for their l33t walking capabilities). Having enjoyed a demonstration of the ambulatory talents of a snowy gryphon, he stood and watched as I bought the flight skill and got the relevant achievement…and then congratulated me and suggested that I might want to get swift flight form or a faster mount, because the bird he’d seen me fly in as was slow.

Thank you for those wise words, my friend. What did you think I’m doing?

 

He took himself off back to Darkshore, running commentary all the way, and I headed up to the roof of the keep to get my random-mount-calling macro right so that it stopped insisting that I wanted to use a slower mount. On the way I met a level 70 whose very first words were…wait for it…’Why is your gs so low, lulz’.

/facepalm

OK, answering may have been feeding the trolls, but I did it anyway – along the lines of ‘fresh 80. And it’s your business because…?’ It turned out, however, that he had my best interests at heart all along; he wanted to tell me that to get into ICC runs I would need a higher gearscore and some achievements. I suppose he felt he was being helpful (or at least was labouring under the delusion that flying around Valiance Keep means someone has immediate plans to go to ICC), but I fail to see why a fresh 80 with a gearscore of 2.4k would be trying to get into ICC runs at all! The phrase ‘squashed like a gnat’ comes to mind.

One of my favourite sayings has always been ‘Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ The fact of this blog’s existence, of course, demonstrates that I don’t actually follow that wise counsel – but my two benefactors today have certainly proven to me that giving advice should only be undertaken if you’re absolutely sure of your ground, just in case there was any confusion on that score! Meanwhile, I shall continue to potter around on my own little agenda…and use the /ignore command freely.

How do you usually handle the unwanted but oh, so helpful suggestions you encounter? Any creative strategies beyond pretending they’re not there?

Ding!

Getting your first 80 has to be a pretty momentous thing. At least, for me, I have to say I’m excited about it – even though pretty soon 80 will no longer be the level cap and Dhakeilh will once again be a candidate for leveling!  I even had the way I’d finally get there planned out, and I’m happy to say that a plan for once went exactly as intended.

At heart, I am basically someone who enjoys traditions and routines, so it made sense to go back to the first ‘grown up’ quest I ever did in WoW. It was not, of course, on my account; a friend in the US who I was visiting was attempting to convert me and, knowing me well, took his character to Dragonblight. Needless to say, I was abysmally bad at the quest, which was the one involving fighting the Azure Dragonflight at the temple, and I have a nasty feeling I may have created something of a repair bill for him – but the experience of flying a-dragonback, exactly as he planned, created a memory that stuck. I put off starting to play on my own for about a year after that, but the dragons can take the credit for putting out the initial bait – and so I went back to them as the very last quest to get me over the line to 80.

In a way, it was a little anticlimactic – no fanfare, just the completion of another daily quest. It is, however, quite satisfying in a quiet sort of way – and this even though I realise that this is only the very beginning of Dhakeilh’s adventures. As a matter of fact, I’m currently working on Valiance Expedition reputation, so there will be no resting on laurels around here. Also, I need to go through and make a list of the gear I need from the normal dungeons, and begin the (from all I hear) endless cycle of replacing existing equipment with better. Fortunately, being a jewelcrafter, one aspect of that at least will be cheaper and easier.

A million things to do notwithstanding, though, reaching 80 is still a milestone – and I intend to enjoy it. I also expect to have nearly as much fun picking out a new character to level…but that’s a story for another time!