Thursday, December 17, 2009

Multiple (raiding) personalities and mindsets

As I'm sure some already know, I belong to a guild that focuses solely on raiding the 10-player content in World of Warcraft. Our guild has 11 players, and one of them was recruited (and he knew this before joining, and knows this is his role within the guild) solely as a bench player, to fill in when someone out of the regular 10 could not make it.

So far, this has worked incredibly well for us. A good number of us within the guild have been raiding together for over four years, and everyone within the guild knows his/her role, and knows what to expect out of every other player within the raid.

Most important of all for a successful raiding environment like this though, is that everyone in the guild is on the same page when it comes down to what exactly they want out of the raids we do as a guild.

We are all of the same mindset when it comes to raiding. This is key, because there are so many different mindsets amongst WoW players when it comes to raiding, and what each player considers "fun" for them.

WoW is a game, and therefore players should actually have fun while playing it, and should genuinely enjoy the time they spend logged in.

Over the span of the five years I have been playing this game, I have been a part of seven different guilds. I have been an officer in five of them, and the GM of three. Believe me when I tell you that nothing can cause more drama, issues, and tension than trying to raid with a raidforce that is made of players with different mindsets when it comes to raiding. This issue, and this issue alone can be at the heart of the majority of different types of loot drama/disputes, it is a major culprit of creating elitist cliques within guilds, and it can cause guilds to split and cause mass exoduses... simply because raiders within a guild want different things out of their time spent raiding.

If half the folks in your raid lean more toward the "hardcore" side of raiding, and the other half tend to lean toward the "casual" side of things... the two mindsets are likely to inevitably clash.

Some folks in your raid may not care about how many bosses they get down in a night, and some may become frustrated with anything less than a full clear.

Some may not feel that always making sure they have epic quality gems or high level enchants are important, and others may sacrifice their first-born child in order to afford the shards for a +63 spellpower enchant over the +50.

Can guilds made up of players with varying raiding mindsets function and succeed at raiding. Of this, I have no doubt. I just feel that it is much, MUCH easier when players have similar mindsets, and all want the same things out of their raids. If your raid is made up of raiders who want the same things, and are expecting the same things out of everyone else... you can avoid the clashing (when it comes to raids) altogether.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a relaxed raiding environment, nor is there anything wrong with wanting a more hardcore environment. Everyone is different in terms of what they consider "fun." I personally just feel that making sure you are raiding with like-minded players will ensure that everyone in the raid is having a good time... and not some having fun, and others pulling their hair out of frustration.

This is ultimately the reason why we choose to only raid 10-player content. Finding 10 like-minded players... is much easier than finding 25. We figured that while the gear may be better out of the 25's, the frustration of raiding with people that may not want the same things out of raiding wasn't worth it.

We'll take the few ilevel points hit to our gear in order to always have a good time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fifteen years of WarCraft... and a trip down memory lane.

First off, let me apologize for my lack of posts over the last few weeks. It's the time of year where work consumes my life for a few months, and drains me of all the free time I once had. Me, being the stubborn fool that I am, find myself still trying to fit in as much gaming into my day as I once did... even though I *technically* probably don't have the time for it. It's the time of year where I pride myself on finding more and more creative ways to replace sleep with things like energy drinks, and lots... and lots... of coffee. Tack onto that the greatness that is Dragon Age... and WoW has of late been pushed to second place on my priority list... for now.


If you've logged into WoW lately (which is getting harder and harder for some of us every day as we wait desperately for new content) you've likely noticed the WoW five-year anniversary achievement and your new cute Onyxia whelp pet in your inbox. (For a good time, bring the Ony whelp with to an Onyxia PuG where folks use DBM...)

Also, if you've been to Blizzard's homepage or the WoW Community homepage, you've likely seen that they have put up a mini-site in recognition of the fifteen years since the WarCraft franchise was born. At this mini-site, there is a video feature where a bunch of the well-known Blizzard Devs that have worked on the games over the years tell about their most meaningful and memorable WarCraft moments.

Personally, as someone who's been playing the WarCraft games for fifteen years (that makes me feel kinda old... sad), I found this video feature incredibly interesting. It made me feel sort of... nostalgic. It made me stop and think about my most meaningful and memorable WarCraft moments... and it brought me down memory lane.

I have more memories about moments playing WarCraft 1,2 and 3 than I can could ever hope to list, and I still consider those games to be a few of the most entertaining games that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. WarCraft 2 was my first true multiplayer experience (aside from playing things like two-player Mario or other console games) that I had ever had... and although this may sound corny... I can honestly say that it changed my life. The first time I played WarCraft 2: ToD with a bunch of buddies over the LAN, was when console and single player gaming lost most of its luster for me. Granted, there are certainly exceptions to that, and I still enjoy some single player games (Dragon Age being a recent example) as well as many games on the console systems. There is a reason I keep coming back to a game like WoW though... and at this point in the game, I can honestly say that it isn't due to superior content, as much as it is the people whom I play the game with. If WoW was a Single Player game... I would have likely stopped playing about 4.5 years ago.

This video also got me thinking about those "meaningful" and "memorable" moments strictly in terms of World of WarCraft. I'd consider it a safe bet in saying that everyone has quite a few of those moments, that stand out over the years.

Like I mentioned above, prior to playing WoW, I played all the other WarCraft titles. Going into WoW, I knew the stories and lore from the previous games... I knew characters, places, knew what things had looked like from the previous games, etc.. I participated in the WoW beta... but as many folks realize from playing betas... they're not the same as playing the final, polished game.

In terms of the game itself, and has nothing to do with the social aspect of the game at all... there is one moment that truly "wowed" me (see what I did there?), and that was as a new NE character, walking through that gate into Darnassus for the first time. The ambience, look of the city, and music, just sent tingles up my spine the first time I did it. The beta did not prepare me at all for how epic of a feeling it was walking into that city for the first time. That and the first time ever flying over Menethil Harbor and "recognizing" the barracks there from WarCraft III was epic.

Another great moment, was creating my character.

During the WoW beta, I played as an Undead Mage, since mage/caster-types were what I had normally preferred in RPG's. I wasn't a hard-core beta player... I messed around with it, and did a few quests in the starting area, explored quite a bit, and tried out new abilities as they tested them... but I didn't dedicate much time to it. It was the beta, and like I said above... the game was not really in its finished, polished, and finalized form. The music wasn't implemented, and there were quite a few times where you were restricted to specific areas while they stress tested.

When it came time for the actual release, a buddy of mine bought it the first day, just as I did. We created toons on the same server, and were both Human (we wanted to try alliance, since we did Horde in beta). In our previous RPG exploits like Baldurs Gate 1 &2, Icewind Dale, NWN, and Dungeon Siege to name a few, he was always the heavy hitting melee/tank characters, and I was always the mage/ranged damage dealers... and we usually flipped a coin for the healer/paladin classes. We decided to stick with this plan, since it had always worked for us in the past. We chose the Garona server. He rolled a warrior, and I chose a warlock. We had both worked that day, and after installing, downloading the initial patch, and creating our toons and thinking up names (which always tends to take longer than it really should)... we finally got to play. We got to level 7 or 8 that night, before we had to call it a night.

The next day... the Garona server was down. We were both a bit irked, but not really all that surprised, considering the undertaking of launching a new MMO. We still wanted to play the game though, so we decided to start new toons on another realm that was up, and check out another one of the races, and their starting areas. We chose to try the Night Elves on the Malygos server. Sticking with the "plan" of he rolls melee, I roll caster, he decided on a NE Rogue.

Then we ran into a snag... Night Elves couldn't be mages... or warlocks. They could be druids... but a druid, after reading the description, didn't really appeal to me. Since we were only making these toons as a temporary fix until Garona was back up... I grudgingly decided to roll a priest, since they were the only "caster" class available. Based on the description of the priest... I remember thinking that I was glad it was only temporary. I didn't think I was going to enjoy it much, since I thought I was getting "stuck" with playing the healer... but I went with it anyway. We didn't even put that much time into creating our characters. We even used the random name generators for names, because we just wanted to get in quick and see as much of the NE starting area as we could before Garona came back up.

The RNG gave his toon the name "Aurora" and after clicking mine a few times, decided on "Monger"... since I found the name sort of ironic for a female Night Elf Priest.

Long story shorter, we ended up never logging back into our toons on Garona again. I never deleted it... but I ended up enjoying the priest, and he the rogue, enough so that we just continued to play them.

This is the toon I still play as my main to this day. She's gone through a faction change and a couple server transfers... but the BE Priest "Mongrr" is essentially still the same toon I started five years ago, never expecting to actually play. Aurora stopped playing WoW about half-way through Burning Crusade... but I still pester him about coming back, at least once per week. I figure maybe... just maybe, I'll wear him down and I'll hook him again.

The "memorable moments" a game like this can produce for people is one of the most amazing things about a game like this, and what fuels myself and I'm sure many others to continue playing it.