Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Why Don't They See Me?

Following on from yesterday's blog, the whole topic of people being less accountable for the things that they do online due to hiding behind an online personality, an anonymous one, that means they feel that the way they interact with the rest of the internet does not matter.

Firstly, this little old blog has almost reached 800 page views! This makes me excited, and a number I never thought it would reach. I wondered when I started this if anyone would read it, what would I write (something I still struggle with!), and what would be the point of it all.

It has only been a month, but regardless of how many people may or may not read my ramblings, it is nice to actually share them!

Which brings me back to my original point - my online persona. However, I'm going to flip the topic slightly - in my case, my online persona and personality, while it is a direct representation of who I am, it is also who I wish I could be in real life, with the people who actually know me and see me day to day.

In game I'm this fearless warrior (or hunter, or druid, or mage - you get the drift). The possibilities are endless, I regularly interact with people I enjoy spending time with, I can be open and not worry about things as life is peachy.

In real life, the picture is not so rosy. I have friends and family, but none of them know me to the extent my gaming friends know me. The community of people that I interact with online and the things I have learnt about myself as a person are irrelevant to them, its only a game and surely it doesn't matter if I have to stop the activity I am doing with 2/5/9/24 other people, it's just a game, a game that can't possibly teach me anything.

I am my online personality, and while I have now grown comfortable with my real identity being connected with my online activities and personality, I still need to learn how to allow the things I have learned online and the experiences I have gained from interacting with such a wide range of people from all backgrounds, countries and cultures to reflect within my non-game life.

Do I perhaps use the game as an escape from some of the real life issues I'm having, perhaps I do. But I would not be the person I am today without those experiences from in game being combined with the experiences I have had outside the game.

In May I attended the wedding of two of the best people you could want to meet, I have been friends with these two for many years, we have fought dragons together, we have consoled each other through failed relationships.

Without the creation of my online persona and this game that we all love, I would never have met these fantastic people, nor have been able to share the most special day in their life.

So a question for you people that do read - how much of your online personality is actually reflected within your everyday life?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Now You See Me...

...or at least the online representation of me!

There's been a lot of attention recently to the trolls that have been baiting people on Twitter, and indeed there's even an article about it over on Wow Insider.

This got me thinking, there is obviously a huge issue with people using that anonymity of being an online persona to be horrible to others. I remember a few years back that Blizzard announced that their forums were going to be displaying peoples' real names if they used RealID, in the hope of combating the trolls that frequented the boards.

The uproar because of this was astounding! Even I was aghast at the prospect, and I would not ever count myself as a troll of any kind. I had created an online "identity" and wished that to be the only way that people could identify me. I didn't require them to know my real name or any other detail about me!

Now you could argue as someone that doesn't argue online or cause hassle or threaten anyone, why would I be bothered by my name being on a forum? The answer to that question right now is: it doesn't bother me. I've become more secure in my online identity, it is an extension of my "real" identity, and even writing this blog which is apparently tied into my Google + account posts it under my real name if I leave comments.

Back then however, I couldn't pin point why it bothered me, just that it did! I felt that it was a huge issue and even contemplated turning off RealID which was a fun new way for me to keep in touch with my friends on other servers.

Nowadays, I'm more comfortable sharing who I am with the people I play the game with. My guild has a facebook group, and we occasionally call each other by our real names rather than our in game names (I've been known as Sofia for many years now, which is no where near my real name, but its still a part of who I am ^^).

In game wise, I have decided that I really really really want a top level warlock, so most of my effort is going into levelling the baby Warlock. The Baby Priest is still sitting in Uldum, and I shall return to her soon, along with all my other alts that have been neglected lately.

However, I must just add: I love my Wild Imps :D

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Levelling Experience - Is it too Easy?

(Picture "borrowed" from Wow Insider)

As you may have noticed, I have levelled a lot of characters. Some of them more recently than others, but still they have all been somewhere on the levelling curve over the last few years.

During that time, the levelling process has changed massively. When I first made my older characters, I can remember that mobs in the start areas were aggressive and had red names. 
You had to plan how to kill them and death was indeed possible!

Similarly mobs out in the rest of the world were challenging but not too difficult, always level appropriate, but required you to actually think about what you were doing and to be careful in your explorations.

I remember my shock when I next made a new character to find the start area had been "nerfed" and that the mobs were no longer aggressive. In hindsight, I can see why this has been done, to appeal to new players so that they don't get killed straight away and ushers them gently into the rest of the game.

However, I do feel that the rest of the levelling curve has been made slightly too easy.

Don't get me wrong, I am not looking back at the old ways with rose tinted glasses thinking that was the best! There were times when I purposefully chose to ride around and explore rather than do my quests because I just couldn't kill the mob that I needed to kill, and this went on fairly often until a friend took pity on me and came and helped.

I just feel that perhaps they went a bit too far in the other direction.

Players today are coming in and not meeting any challenge that makes them want to improve to be able to overcome it. The questing is linear (which is a good thing!) but there is also nothing that provides a bit of friction.

Yes I'm aware that its all about getting to end game and people want to rush through the older content, but why should they be able to do it at the expense of actually experiencing the game?

Players are rushing through to end level and then hitting the wall of not actually being able to kill things straight away, which just maybe is where the problem of people wanting "free epics" to outgear things quickly so they can just zerg through it comes from?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people being able to level quickly and I'm not saying that the levelling curve should be as steep as it used to be pre-Cata - I'm just trying to think what is making people leave the game and is there a way it can be fixed.

Maybe it is the lack of a challenge for many people - and I'm not talking about the few percent that do progress raiding etc. That's not something that I can enjoy or even do! I am talking just about the basic joy of having a slightly difficult challenge and overcoming it, even if it is just how to kill mob X to get object Y to hand in for some shiny XP

Saturday, 27 July 2013

I'm an Achievement Whore, So Sue Me!

I can't decide if I enjoy the collecting part of pet battles more or the fact that there are achievements I can get that I don't have yet!

Collected a few more pet related ones and a few that were nothing to do with it.

However, I did manage to ding my Monk to 90 via pet battling!

This means that pet battling is now becoming another way I add to the levelling of my many alts, just to spice things up a bit ^^

Though, I did get a few more pet battling related ones too:

I also had to rename one of my companion pets as the opportunity to have this screenshot just had to be done:

Now I'm going to have to find suitable companion pets for all my hunter pets at some point I think!

Alt wise, I have been rather slacky, though the baby warlock I made a few days ago just hit level 15 (yes, another alt, I had the "itch" as it were!).

In the wider world of gaming, most of you will now have heard that World of Warcraft "only" has 7.7 million subscribers, and that Activision Blizzard have bought a load of shares back from Vivendi.

Many people have started down the inevitable "oh woe the end is nigh" track, which I can partially understand. I've decided to stay quietly optimistic. The servers are still on, people are still playing and as long as I am able to continue to log in I shall do so.

7.7 million is still a massive number of people, even if it is a smaller number than have played at XYZ time previously. I shall be following The Godmother from Alt:ernative's example:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Still Pet Battle-ing....Send Help!

As the title suggests, today has been taken over mostly by pet battling.

I'm not into PvP battles so haven't done many of those yet, but am definitely into the collecting of pets! So today has been dedicated to doing the few quests I had picked up at the start of the expansion but never gotten around to doing as well as picking up a fair few achievements along the way!

Firstly I took my horde mage around (for ease of travel!) and got the Kalimdor achievements:

With those ones done on horde, I logged over to an alliance characters (in this case no mage, but spent some quality time with my Night Elf Druid) and did the Eastern Kingdom one:

Not bd for only recently getting in to it!

Just the Safaris and Outland/Pandaria tamers to go ^^

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Arghhhh Maintenance!

It is that time of the week again where people inevitably rage that they can't log in, even if the delay is only slight!

I used the time to catch up on some of the blogs I read, got a little bit further on Borderlands 2 (I'm so bad at that game x) ), caught up on Twitter and replied to some guild forums topics, I even *gulp* went outside! (However it was hot, so I came back in again ^^)

In game news, my #minimilestones that I set myself yesterday went woefully unachieved as I got distracted by pet battles!

I did log the priest on in Uldum where she is currently questing and proceeded to kill hyenas, then a Tol'Vir Scarab crossed my path. It was level 23 and only Common quality but I figured I would give it a shot with my level 20 Clefthoof Runt Kev (it is named after a very good friend who gave me a flawless battletsone to upgrade said pet from Poor quality to Rare :D)

I managed to actually win the battle and capture the pet, meaning I was even close to getting a pet to 25!

The rest of the day was then spent catching pets in Northrend getting me the Northrend Tamer achievement and levelling pets gradually closer.

In the end I had caught a rare level 22 Mac Frog in Uldum and used this to battle my way to 25.

Now I can get on with collecting more pets :D

Also last night I led a fun run to ICC 25 heroic with my guild! A group of 9 of us returned and showed the Lich King that we still weren't to be messed with!

Much fun was had and achievements were got, as well as shards for our resident warrior who is on the Shadowmourne questline!

Hoping to do more fun runs soon! If any would like to join us, give me a shout :)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

In a completely bizarre and unexpected offering, a random stranger did me a very awesome kindness yesterday.

(And although it had nothing to do with World of Warcraft, it was a game related kindness, so I'm going to share it with you good folk ^^)

As many people have been over the last week or so, I have bee following the Steam Summer Sale, and ooo'ing and ahh'ing at the prices. Current budget meant I couldn't really buy much this year so I just added a few things to my wishlist for ease of finding when funds did again allow.

I logged on yesterday morning to a random friend request on Steam, which I accepted, as half of my WoW friends are still adding me and I don't know all their usernames yet.

Queue then two lovely messages (and corresponding Steam powered emails) from this person:

That's right, this perfect stranger bought me Borderlands and Borderlands 2 just because they were on my wishlist!

This put me in a really nice mood and I intend to "pay it forward" as it were by doing nice things for people in WoW. First plan of action today is logging my tailor and making a load of bags, then I'm going to camp a starting area ^^

As for the mini milestones yesterday, all three were accomplished, although it did take me until half 1 this morning (I blame the two hours I spent on Borderlands 2, it took me far too long to get past the first "boss" xD).

I'm quite getting into this pet battling thing, not as much as some people I know, but more because it appeals to the collector in me, must own ALL the things!

I also made a new cover for my Twitter:

All my ladies together (more or less ^^)

Today's goals are to pass on the goodwill gesture that I received from a stranger and I think I shall aim to get the priest to 85 and maybe the hunter to 70 ^^ Its nice being able to be slacky just before reset day! Then doing an ICC 25 fun run tonight with some of my guild ^^

In other news, MMO Champion has found some info that you will finally be able to queue for more than one LFR at a time in 5.4 huzzah! \o/

Monday, 22 July 2013

Mini Milestones

With the Summer meaning less people online in my guild so fewer group things to do, I've been setting myself some small achievable goals for each time I log on, a certain "place" I wish to be with that particular character.

Yesterday I got my rogue to 55! This is the highest level I've ever managed to get a rogue, and I'm still waiting for that magical point where it becomes as fun as my other classes (I'm guessing that's going to be around the time I get Fan of Knives xD).

I also got my Shaman to Twilight Highlands and she is well on the way to 85.

See? Small easily achievable goals :)

My DK also got exalted with the Order of the Cloud Serpents like my other six 90s ^^ (You'd be surprised just how many Onyx Eggs you can find at around 3am UK time, even on a Full server)

Obviously I already knew the mount itself so she got a nice bonus 750g (yes, these mounts can be vendored for a lovely amount if you already know them).

Today I think I'm going to aim to get the Shaman to 85, the rogue to 60, and to get a battle pet to level 20! (Level 18 is my highest at the moment :D)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Hunter Rare Tame Challenges!

So most of Saturday (after doing LFR and some scenarios) was spent flying around Pandaria as I decided it was high time that I finished taming the Hunter Challenge tames for my hunter.

For those who don't know, Mists of Pandaria brought a new taming challenge for hunters. Each expansion has some lovely rare pets but for Mists they introduced a new mechanism.

Each zone had at least one rare pet that could only be found by hunters as the pets were invisible! They leave a trail of footprints and you have to follow the trail, with each rare having a unique footprint.

Upon reaching the end you have to use the Flare ability to bring out hidden enemies to be able to see the pet.

You then have to use your Hunter's Mark ability to keep it visible so you can tame it ^^

Muchos fun!

Now she already had Portent from the Vale of Eternal Blossoms and Hexapos from Dread Wastes, but I hadn't gone and found the others yet!

So began a lovely afternoon of pet hunting!

First she found Bloodtooth in Krasarang Wilds, just before heading in to LFR:

(Yes I'm aware the screenshot for this and the next pet is in Valley of Four Winds, but I forgot to take them earlier :p)

Then I went and found Savage in the Jade Forest:

Next on the list was Patrannache, in Valley of Four Winds:

I headed over to Kun-Lai Summit then and got myself Stompy and Bristlespine:

Then I headed to Townlong Steppes and got Rockhide:

(I love how he looks like he's grinning for the camera! ^^)

Then lastly I headed back down to Krasarang Wilds as I found there was a worm that I didn't know was added last patch, and so, Bombyx became mine :)

Next time I think I'm going to go after the spirit beasts I don't have ^^

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Saturday Post, Oh My!

Just a brief posting, a mini update if you will.

Following some lovely comments on my last post, I play on EU servers, and am enjoying this unseasonable warm weather the rest of the UK is experiencing ^^

Also, after much reflection and actually being accepted to another guild, I withdrew my application.

A large part of my personal identity, both in game and real life, comes from the people I play with and the experiences we have had together in game.

I wouldn't be the person or indeed *player* I am without the experiences I have had with both the people from The Wanderers and The Drafia.

Yes things might be a little bit broken where I am at the moment, but with a little TLC, it can still be fixed :)

Friday, 19 July 2013

What a Guild Means to Me

(By now you've probably realised I'm not the best at thinking of Blog titles ^^)

But yes, this one is going to be about guilds. I've been fairly lucky in my playing life to only have been in a couple of guilds, both of whom had many of the same players in them, and gave me my extended WoW family.

You've heard me mention The Wanderers and you've heard me mention The Drafia, but I can't fully express my feelings about the former and latter without some explanations and why I'm sad that the guild levelling experience and rewards that Blizzard implemented seem dead in the water.

Now, I told how I first found The Wanderers and joined back in my post about the origins of my first character, the whisper to Urru saying I had done Karazhan which I thought was a raid.

The Wanderers are still going strong, but with many names and faces I don't recognise now. I spent many years hunting achievements and doing dungeons there and enjoyed (nearly) every minute of it.

Then Blizzard brought in Guild Levels. Well, with out approximately 600 strong member base (most of whom were alts), we took to it like a duck to water and levelled fairly quickly with most people out levelling as well. This resulted in our levels and xp being rest not once, not twice, but three times as Blizzard tried to adjust how quickly people were levelling guilds, which was very taxing to both the Officer team and members alike that were contributing to the levelling. Many tickets were opened and we were told that it was too fast and levels were adjusted correctly.

No exploits, no cheats, just people playing as they were meant to be, gaining xp for the guild the way it was meant to be gained, but apparently "too quickly".

I still say this is what cost us the server first level 25 guild as we were one of the front runners on Steamwheedle Cartel.

However, Level 25 we did achieve and worked on many of the other guild achievements too, including the Stay Classy for the extra guild bank tabs, and the cauldron recipes and everything we could possibly get, as a large part of the members were achievement hunters, as well as myself and a fair few of the officers.

So group activities were made with the express purpose of getting XYZ guild achievements, or often, meta achieves for old raids and mounts with members.

The perks at each level were also good, right up until the point where they decided before Mists to take away the group summon, take away the 100% movement increase when dead, and replacing the Chug-a-Lug cauldron perk with The Doctor Is In (granted, this is personal opinion etc. etc.).

Since then, guild levelling and perks hasn't been added to, given new things to look for, apart from the chance at heirloom legs for the Working Better as a Team pandaria achievement. The Wanderers pulled together for this one with everyone donating mats and time to farm (and lots of gold) and managed to get the Server First Working Better as a Team, and the coveted Feat of Strength - you can see it on the armory ^^

However despite all this, some people were slow to return to WoW after the start of Mists, and the Officer team were rarely on except for myself and one other with few exceptions. This meant people asking when the raiding would be starting back up, and not being able to answer that question, which left people in limbo. 

Raiding did start eventually but a few people had already left from the "usual" raiders, and due to a number of contributing factors, progress was slow. The Wanderers was still just about fielding a 25 man team, but mistakes were happening over and over, but we eventually downed Mogu'shan Vaults, and moved on to Heart of Fear, with me raiding on my druid at the time.

We eventually got Garalon down, by the skin of our teeth as I mentioned here, and then spent much time wiping on the next boss. At the time I had started a new job so was unwilling to commit more time when there was still a lot of Pandaria I wished to see so I retired from the raid team. I also had started doing some of the quests horde side to experience the full story, and my alts were in The Drafia.

Now the reason I had joined The Drafia is that I knew quite a few of the members from my time in The Wanderers. When we were raiding in Dragonsoul and then progressing through heroic, a number of The Drafia had alliance alts in our guild and were raiding with us, some of them also being Officers with us.

It made perfect sense to me to have alts in a guild with people I already knew and had played with for a number of years.

In the meantime, Steamwheedle Cartel as a server was still slowly dying. Various discussions went on within The Wanderers between the officers to see how to recruit and solve this (we had taken in a number of another guild to bolster numbers but still needed more) and suggestions were made about guild transferring to another server with a higher population.

This was shot down pretty much instantly by the Guild Leader as he had no interest in moving and trying to lead the guild again on another server.

Things carried on and it came to light that The Drafia were also discussing the guild moving elsewhere. The guild leader of The Drafia was also an officer in The Wanderers so obviously had seen all the discussions and felt it was right for his guild too.

I had only really played properly on Steamwheedle Cartel so the prospect of levelling on another server, a busier server, was quite appealing, so with that I moved my druid over with The Drafia to Draenor when they transferred, at the time still determined for my druid (whether the alliance or horde one) to be my main this expansion as I had raided with my hunter in Cataclysm.

The difference between the two servers was astounding! There were people everywhere, and the economy was great!

I admit I did spend more time online over on Draenor than The Wanderers, but initially I did have the intention of experiencing the lore on the horde side then returning to my alliance characters as normal, but the levelling and playing experience was so much better than I had ever experienced or known!

I let Kalev know that I intended to return eventually but to feel free to demote me from Officer in the meantime as I wasn't really carrying out the role anymore, apart from keeping everything up to date on the website and forums (an aspect of my role that I had taken a lot of time over, designing and redesigning the application process, the templates that used to be used, the current questions used and methods etc).

As time went on I become more at home with The Drafia over here and moved a number of alts over as well to supplement my main, with professions and levelling new characters (I still enjoy questing above all else), however I still tried to keep up to date with The Wanderers via the website and forums, and speaking still to people who I had as friends over there.

A number of changes were made which I didn't particularly like but then, I wasn't playing over there so figured it was none of my business (I still had my "Royal Advisor" rank, which equated to one step down from the Guild Leader) so didn't say anything. Then a few people who had returned to game after disappearing and letting the raid team down in the past were reinvited and re-promoted to Officer, and favouritism was being shown towards raiders who could do anything they liked behaviour wise that we wouldn't have dreamed of accepting from a social member because they were part of the raid team and recruitment was hard.

A few more things added up to me finally deciding to leave The Wanderers, which is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my time playing, as I had spent four years of my life in that guild.

So I brought a few more characters to Draenor, posted a goodbye post on the forums and let the guild leader know I was leaving. My characters on SWC are still guildless now.

Now The Drafia, while my home on Draenor, has had bad luck with regards to raiding this expansion. When I joined, there were three raid teams, all going strong, but for various reasons, lack of people joining being one of them, there are now none.

The most recent team were working on heroic progress but a few key people left and that's that, and those members are looking for other raid teams to finish the content with the intention of returning for SoO.

That being said, I've also been wondering why on earth I'm continuing to try to gear my hunter up when she isn't in any raid teams and hasn't been since my own disbanded, so I started looking around.

I do not leave a guild lightly, and will be staying in The Drafia with the rest of my characters no matter what happens, but it makes me sad that the Summer Slowdown seems to have such a bad affect on the guilds I've been in so far.

Hopefully I can join another "family" and make more friends in the meantime :)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Changes are good for you! (Or Why I Had to Race Change)

Well, sometimes!

I made a conscious decision today to make a change to one of my characters because if I didn't, I would continue to find excuses not to play her, so I race changed her from Tauren to Pandaren.

I've been levelling a shaman since I transferred to Draenor, and because I didn't have one, I made her Tauren. This was okay for a while, but as my levelling progressed I found more and more excuses not to log on to her. I enjoyed the way the mounts looked bigger for her, but it just felt completely wrong when I played her. I just couldn't comfortably immerse myself in the game while looking at her massive hooves and tried to persuade myself she wouldn't fall from the sky every time I lifted off on a flying mount.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against large body types for characters. I have pandas and dwarves already (and am "large" in RL), but its a game breaker for me trying to play a Tauren.

I've given it a few attempts over the years but always ended up deleting them, figuring I as bored. However wanting to level the Shaman but realising I was putting it off purely because of her race made me realise I do not enjoy playing Taurens at all.

This doesn't mean I think that no one should play them either. I have some very good friends that love their Tauren characters, same as some who love their Orc characters (another race I have trouble immersing myself in).

Part of it could be the fact that these races only have "ugly" faces that you can choose from (or like trolls, one face that could be acceptable so EVERY female troll has the same face), or that the hairstyles have a lack of customisation so that it's almost a joke (Taurens, looking at you again). I'm betting I'm not alone in feeling like this about certain WoW races - feel free to let me know!

Hopefully, I should now be able to level my shaman anyway!

In other news, more patch notes released for 5.4, and oh my, look at all the lovely new glyphs!

(More detailed links etc. can be found here: Wowhead Patch Notes)

Some of them look like a lot of fun! I will definitely be using Glyph of the Sha and Glyph of Spirit Raptors to say the least! (Obviously, if they stay to go live, as with all PTR patch notes, it doesn't guarantee they will make it to live game).

Fingers crossed though!