My Favourite Monstie

May 31, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Running ‘round killing stuff is a staple part of most MMOs.  Whether it’s as part of a quest, part of self-defence whilst travelling from Point A to Point B, or just for fun and profit, there are plenty of monsties around.

Sometimes a monster manages to elevate itself above the commons, to rise up from the morass, to stand out and shout towards the very heavens; “I am here, and I am special”.  Well, it does for me anyway.

In the original Everquest, it was lions.  Just as I’m settled into the long, long wait for mana and health to replenish, up pops a lion (from out of nowhere) and bites me.  It’s thoroughly grey to me, and hitting it once is enough to start it running for cover, but not enough to kill it.  So the dratted thing runs off, is really annoying to chase down, and when it feels brave enough (usually when it has just enough health for me to not one-shot it) it comes back and bites me again.  Of course, I could just pop a spell in it’s fat ares, but of course that just uses up some mana that I’m trying to replenish.

I still hate those lions.  With a passion that few will understand.  Annoying, niggly gits.

In Lord of the Rings Online, it’s goblins.  It’s as if someone tattooed All Goblins Must Be Pwned on the monitor when I’m playing.  They way they move, the things they say, the way they look; everything just makes me want to destroy them.  And yes, I will go out of my way to kill them.  And then /dance over their digital corpses.

Now there is a new candidate in the Hawley MMO Hall of Infamy; the Hermit Crab.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it even a crab?

Fallen Earth has some weird squacky monsties, such as the various types of mutants and giant insects.  But right now, in Sector 1, the Hermit Crib is the winner.

Just look at it.  That’s a big nasty lobster/crab thing, using an old crt monitor or a bin as a shell.  And my geography is a little weak; how far is the Grand Canyon from any large body of water?

Never mind.  They just look wonderful.  There’s a wonderful sense of humour and imagination involved in the way they look, which makes me giggle whenever they’re near.

Of course, whenever they’re near, they’re attacking me.  They have an aggro-range that’s roughly the size of a Sector, so if they can see you, then they’re scuttling towards you in Attack Pattern CLAAAAW!  They also like the taste of horse; my horse has inadvertently ended up tanking for me when the Hermit Crab equivalent of a Spar Gang (I’m afraid you have to be English to get that reference completely.  Sorry) descends on me (from a few game miles away).

And then there’s the loot that you can harvest from them.  Crab Meat is only to be expected, but then there’s a cornucopia of scrap metals, as well as the generic animal possibilities of Tainted Meat and Weak Biochemicals.  They’re just wonderfully random to harvest, as if they’re the Kinder Egg of monsties.

Just without the chocolate.

It's going for the face

I love Hermit Crabs.  They make me smile, even when they’re attempting to eat my face.  Or my horse’s face.  They hit Fabulous on the Hawley Scale of Fabulousness; they’re a sign of a well-developed sense of humour and imagination amongst the creators of the game, as well as a willingness to do something a little wackier than most.  And the best thing about them is that their inclusion in the game world doesn’t seem forced.  They seem to belong as part of the natural flora and fauna of the game world.

Lovely.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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Changing Clans

May 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Ysharros is now the boss of me.

Well, in Fallen Earth she’s the clan boss of me, if just to clarify matters.

This is a new development, as I had previously been a member of T.E.M.P.S.  I’ll now start just calling them TEMPS, seeing as putting in all those full stops is really annoying, and I’ll be talking about TEMPS a bit in this post.  See?  Did it again.  TEMPS!

Silliness aside, I was a member of TEMPS for a good few weeks.  I’d been recruited as a part of a mass blind invite, and I would ordinarily have declined on principle, but one of the things I’d wanted to do as part of the Wol Project was to experience things I wouldn’t ordinarily do, and clicking “Join” would be something I wouldn’t ordinarily do.

TEMPS is a great initiative.  They’re a clan that is designed to help new players over that steep learning curve that Fallen Earth has; their clan name is short for To Ensure More Players Stay.  And good luck to them; it’s a worthy cause, and one that is good for both the community and the game.

If you’re trying out the game, give them a look.  It can really help.

But now I’m in the South Burb Trading Co, and Ysharros is the boss.  Which means that the buck stops with her, she gets to make all the decisions, and that I’ve devolved all responsibility to her.

That’s a good thing, she tells me…

Cheers,
Hawley.

LFD and Me: Ceasefire

May 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I think it’s safe to say that LFD and I are now in a state of uneasy truce.

Running random dungeons with strangers is the fastest and easiest way to hoover up Emblems, be they Triumph or Frost, and buying Tier armour with Emblems is most certainly the fastest and easiest way to get hold of epixxx when you don’t have access to either 4 or 9 other players.

But there’s that having to withstand the slings of arrows of outrageous fortune; am I going to get a fun, fast blast through an instance, or am I going to get multiple dropouts, kick votes, and more wipes than a baby convention?

Yet familiarity is starting to bring acceptance rather than contempt.  Whilst I’d much prefer to be running them with friends, I’ll stand one random dungeon bash a day as a solo player without too much grinding of teeth.  More than that would be stretching it, and the last thing I want to do is burn out on the LFD.

There is a funny side, though.  I don’t know most of these dungeons, so I’m reduced to spending a first attempt at a boss with the tactic of smack hard, smack often. If that works, all to the good.  If that doesn’t, then after ressing I try and glean what I should do from various, sometimes snarky, comments raised by my erstwhile colleagues.

Still, my dps is rising, and Recount sometimes says I wasn’t wrrrrrrrrubbish, which is nice when it happens.

Cheers,
Hawley.

The Wol Project: The Grand Choosing

May 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

The time is drawing close, closer, closest, and I find myself pondering what decisions I shall make at the time of The Grand Choosing.

I think it’s quite safe to say that The Wol Project has been an unparalleled success.  I feel a lot more comfortable playing Fallen Earth, and as a result Wol’s progress has happened without me even intending it to.  I seem to have a lot more APs, a lot more options, and even levelling my crafting has been easier.  It’s pretty safe to say that Wol is now my character of choice for post apocalyptic gaming goodness.

Of course, there is a price for that continued progress, and that is: The Grand Choosing.  Well, it’s what I think of as The Grand Choosing.  For anyone else, it could be Tuesday evening.  Any particular Tuesday evening, at that.  Or even a Wednesday.

Because The Grand Choosing is that moment where that big choice is made: What will this character *do*.

Most games don’t have this moment during gameplay.  They have it during character creation.  In choosing a character class, we choose what our character will wear, will wield, and what their role will be in the game world.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  Having a specialised, defined role from the beginning means never having to wonder if you’re playing a “broken” character.  And by “broken”, I mean not able to do much after all the levelling’s done but die a lot.

Fallen Earth is not like the other kids, in this and many other ways.

Fallen Earth allows a scary amount of customisation, with many attractive options.  Yet the finer details are annoyingly vague, and there is a constant fear of creating some sort of Frankenstein’s monster of a character; one so fractured and broken it’s as if someone forgot to put in the stitches.

Well, that’s my fear.  There are so many cool things I’d like Wol to be able to do that I have to sit down, get out a character creater thingy such as Globaltech Atlas’ one here, and figure a few things out.  It also helps that Wol has a respec device; having a safety net, even a one-use safety net, makes me feel much better about spending APs.

Anyhoo…

The First Test of The Grand Choosing is The Lovely Brew. I never, ever make an important decision without the soothing, calming, and smarts-boosting effects of a lovely cup of tea.  Empires might rise and fall, but I won’t do anything without a large mug of the steaming brown stuff in my hand.  No, wait, that didn’t sound right.  Moving swiftly on:

The Second Test of The Grand Choosing is Choice Of Weapon. There are three main combat styles; Melee, Pistols and Rifles.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being drawn to the bangsticks.  They’re not something seen in many MMOs, never mind being used to such an extent.  Rifles are long-range, but I’m clumsy and random and pistols are better for mid-range and close-combat.  Melee suffers from the fact that most of my MMO characters have wielded some form of hurty-stick, regardless of whether the combat was fps or MMO-standard.

I think it’s going to be Pistols, with a touch of Melee for when I feel like getting out my 2by4 (or whatever’s replaced it).  If I start pining for rifles there are sub-machine guns, and even sawed of shotguns that use pistol skill.

The Third Test of The Grand Choosing is Everything Else.
By “Everything Else” I mean what, other than combat, do I want my character to be able to *do*.  Crafting, to a large degree, is free in that you don’t need to put APs into it.

Mutagenics, on the other hand, requires APs but doesn’t particularly feature until Sector 2, and whilst I am reliably informed that I could go there at level 15, I’m also reliably informed that going there before squeezing all the starter towns for all of their AP Quest goodness is purest folly.  That might well take me until level 20-something, so I can wait to learn more.

Medicine and First Aid is highly attractive, as ever.  I’ve always been aware of my own abilities and limitations in First Person Shooter gaming; I’m not twitchy enough to excel at the combat, but I am smart enough to figure out how I can be, at the very least, an effective speed-bump in someone else’s killing spree.

But a support role such as healing means I can help the combat monkeys do their thing.

The Fourth Test of The Grand Choosing is The Winnowing.
This is where I realise that I don’t have the points for everything that I want Wol to be able to do, and start cutting out some things.  Maybe I’m not going to be great at wielding a 2by4, so that I can be more dangerous with a pistol.  Maybe the only mutagenics I’ll have will be healing stuff, so I can use that to bolster my Medicine and First Aid skills.

It goes without saying that The Winnowing is the nasty part of The Grand Choosing.

So, I’m looking at creating a pistol-toting crafting field medic with the potential for a bit of brain-burning and a 2by4 for when it all goes wrong.

Heheh.  I love Fallen Earth…

Cheers,
Hawley.

Sunday Madness

May 24, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Posted in General | 4 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Every so often, I have a head-brain malfunction.

For some completely unfathomable reason, I decided that what Herewerd really needed was a proto-drake.  I’m not sure why, as I was flying around Ice Crown on my lovely armoured (fast) griffon, and I’m really not a mount collector.  The griffon does me proud, and that’s enough for me.

Usually.

So I went on to Wowhead, and started a short bit of research on Proto-Drakes.  But bear in mind I was on a slacker’s flight of fancy; I wanted a Proto-Drake, but I didn’t want to grind for one.  Earning my ride?  No thanks; I wanted it now.

After a checking out a couple of entries, I was already getting bored.  But then I found that one drops from a rare elite that flies around Ice Crown; the Time-Lost Proto Drake.

Yay!  Just check out the handily-provided map, find mob, kill mob, loot mob, drink celebratory cup of tea, fly proto-drake!

So I flew around Ice Crown, farming herbs and ore whilst keeping an eye open for a rare-elite drrrrrragin.  And whilst I did, I started noticing something I’d never noticed before…

Dotted about, in suspiciously strategic positions, were a number of other players.  They looked far too much like they were…  waiting.

I could have asked them why they were… waiting.  Or even if they were after the same drrrrragin I was, but were even more of a slacker than I was (waiting for it to come to you is the course of action only a cad and a bounder would choose, never mind being a slacker).  But I was too embarrassed, and it was a bit late, and I’d just spent 45 minutes chasing a ghost around a zone.

Still, I did get to fill a bag with herbs and ore.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Mousal Musings

May 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Slight departure from the norm here; instead of rambling on incessantly about a game, I’m going to ramble incessantly about getting a mouse.

Not the sort I just saw.  Where?  There on the stair.  Where on the stair?  Right there!

No, the sort that gamers like.  The fancy-shmancy sort that are supposed to help us game with the sort of mongoose-like reactions that will make us leet kiddies, as opposed to old geezers.

Let me explain a little more.  I game with a trackball.  This is because I injured my wrist whilst doing manual labour a few years ago (and have sworn off manual labour ever since) and due to an extensive gaming habit the dratted thing refused to heal.  RSI mouse wrist, basically.

After 6 months of pain, I finally wised up, swapped to a trackball, and the pain was gone in two weeks.

However, whilst I really enjoy using a trackball (and really enjoy not being in pain/having a seized up wrist), I am aware that they’re just not as accurate or twitchy as a mouse.  You get about 95% of the accuracy of using a mouse in normal use, dropping to about 85% when gaming.

And gaming is where accuracy counts most.  In first person shooters, I was always clumsy and random; nowadays I just aim for the torso, as I’d rather be hitting center mass than not hitting headshots at all.

The utility isn’t quite there either.  All the Trackballs I’ve seen have just the two buttons, because their designers must think that trackballs are used by staid gentlemen, who drive older Volvos in a sedate fashion and have a spaniel that only ever goes for long, ambling walks.  As opposed to rabid gamers who’ve sacrificed their wrists at the altar of gaming.

More buttons, please.

For more buttons, the controller of choice is the mouse.

So I’ve been looking at mice over the last couple of days.  This is because Fallen Earth has first person shooter style controls in combat, and I am wasting a surprising amount of ammunition.  Those quarrels and bullets cost, you know.  It’s not just for Fallen Earth, though; I’m playing a few games that could do with a mouse over a trackball.

And I’m wondering which direction to take.  Cheap and cheerful is not going to do it for me.  I’m no controller snob, but a £5 mouse just won’t have the build quality, ergonomics, or number of buttons that I need.  Oh, I suppose I am a bit of a controller snob then.  Maybe I should just point out that I need a mouse that’s “fit for purpose”.

This means going mid- or high-end.  And that means deciding on a decent quality mouse (the mid-end) or throwing financial reasoning out of the window, and getting a gaming mouse (that would be the high-end).

Hmm.  In typically male fashion, I’m angling towards a mouse that is far more engineered than I need.  Both wireless and wired, rechargeable battery, crazy dpi and response times, too many buttons, and far too many flashy lights and what-have –you.

Yes, I keep being drawn to the hyper-expensive gaming mice.

Mmm.

The sensible part of me wants to look at the more serious mid-range mice, reasoning that they’re expensive enough as they are, whilst being more than enough to respond to my ageing and decrepit responses.  But sometimes I remind myself that if I *am* going to mangle my wrist due to using a mouse, I might as well go out holding one that is, frankly, sooooo shiny.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Enhanced Gaming

May 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

I feel like such a raid hooer.

I spoke to my friend in the rather successful raiding guild, checked out their website, and found that whilst they have restoration and elemental shamans up the wazoo, they don’t have an enhancement shaman.

I’ve never played an enhancement shaman in my life.

Until now, of course.  Yeesh!  Is there nothing I won’t do to get into a raid group?

The answer seems to be; “No”.  I’ve respecced from elemental, which I didn’t really mind as I found it to be rather boring to use when farming and questing.  Of course, it was boring because it did such a scarily large amount of damage.  Three key presses and whatever normal mob it was would be lying down on the ground, desperate to give me all its xp and trez just to make the pain stop.

That is no longer an option.  Mine is the more involved, more difficult route.

(See what I did there?  I’ve managed to alienate every single ranged dps player in every game ever!  Just with one simple little line.  Let’s see if they notice.)

Ahem.  The gear, or lack of it, didn’t help.  Being the only enhancement kid on the block wearing +spell gear doesn’t help in the Not Looking Like A Njub stakes.

Follow this with what I previously knew to be true about Enhancement Shamans:

Windfury gud.

Umm.  That’s it.  So I did some research.  Deciding to cut out the middleman, I decided to go straight to Elitist Jerks.  There I found that:

Dual weapons gud.
2.6-3.0 second swing times Gud.
Two-handers bad.  Ded-bad.  Even more bad than ded-bad.

I tried to find out more, but there was a lot of acronyms going on, and maths, and I was already feeling out of my depth.  There was also a throbbing vein in my temple which I’m pretty sure is a bad sign, so I cut out whilst I was ahead.  And before some sort of head-explodey thing happened.

Time for Plan B: I installed a Shaman mod.  Now, I look down on people who use mods for gameplay purposes.  I am a gaming snob, and feel that gameplay mods just prop up poor skill.  So, with my get-out clause of “It’s just until I have a better idea of what I’m doing” at the ready, I started my first fight.

And almost died as my screen suddenly lit up like a Christmas Tree, and I couldn’t see anything for all the bars and screens and something was in my head screaming; “Thicky! Thicky! THICKY!”

I’m not sure the voice in my head came with the mod, but by turning most of it off I now feel that it’s helping me a bit, without playing for me.  And the voice went away, so maybe it was an option in the mod’s settings after all.

It’s called Shock and Awe, and I use the timer bars as they are very helpful.

Of course, all this wasn’t enough.  I needed proper practice, not just picking on normal mobs for pocket change.  My friend very kindly offered to team up through a few LFD runs.  Now, both of my regular readers will know of my dislike of going off for a bit of LFD, but if I’m going to go raiding I need the gear that those little dungeon monsties drop, as well as their lovely little, oh so juicy emblems.

So here am me, in a nasty patchwork of low quality enhancement gear and high quality +spell gear, girly-giggling as I try and keep up through a dizzyingly phantasmagorical selection of instances.  Needless to say, Recount said I as wrrrrrrrrrubbish!

And, honest admission time here, with my mate as co-pilot, they were much more fun.  In point of fact, I had a good couple of hours as we worked to get me enough emblems to get a set of shoulders from the nice emblem man.

And I had fun as an enhancement shaman, even if I’m a particularly poor one.  I need to work out a proper rotation of abilities, as well as learn when to use the right ability.  I need to sharpen up my positioning skills, as well as sharpen up my gaming enough to keep up with ranged dps, but hey, it’s a challenge I look forward to.

Have I sold my principles for a shot at raiding the big time?

Well, sometimes principles are misguided, and it takes something like this to remind me of the fact that I have a bad habit of deciding on a certain course of action, to have certain principles, and do my utmost to keep a death-grip on them despite any negative influences that they might have upon me having fun.

Whereas sometimes it’s fun to be a complete njub, and feel like I have to learn everything again.  It’s refreshing, as is deciding to lay aside any principles and prejudices I might have created, and go and have fun.

I’m all for challenges in my gaming, and if playing an enhancement shaman in a raid group is too much of a challenge, then I’ll be happy as long as I gave it my all.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Warp Factor: Stupid

May 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

You know those “You must be this tall” signs at the entrance to roller-coaster queues?  Well, I sometimes wonder if some games should have “You must be this smart” signs…

I spotted that Steam had a Star Trek Online demo.  Now, both of my regular readers are well aware that Hawley loves free trials, so I was all over it like a rash.

Unfortunately, I just had problems getting into the demo.  It just wasn’t intuitive, in terms of finding out what I needed to do to get into the game.  Sometimes I can be thick, whilst other times I really do need instructions written on the soul of a boot in order to pour p1ss out of it.  Especially if it’s a style of boot I’ve not seen before.

In the end, I had to ask a mate, who kindly provided the answer.  Thank you.  You’ve saved a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

It seems I needed to right click the game entry in the library, and select Manage Game Account.

Maybe my stupidity was due to not knowing Steam very well, maybe it was due to being a monkey.  And maybe it was because Cryptic hate me, and enjoyed laughing at me.

I shall have a go at the demo.  Insert overused Star Trek quote here…

Cheers,
Hawley.

Njub Admissions

May 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Posted in General | 4 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Crafting is a big part of Fallen Earth, and it’s filled with lovely gaming goo.  It’s not a vital part of the game, as there are plenty of ways to get weapons and gear, and from other players is just one of them.

You won’t even be “missing out” if you choose not to craft, but for me it is loads of fun.  As with all things Fallen Earth, there’s quite a learning curve, and it’s taken me a while to start to get to grips with the some of the finer points of the crafting system.

Anyhoo…

Njub Admission Number 1:

Sometimes I’m such a njub it hurts.  Real, physical pain.  It could be angina; I bet I hit most of the criteria for that demographic.  Hmm.  Less hypochondriac rambling, more embarrassing admission.

I was always short of Ragged Leather.  So many armourcrafting recipes need leather that it hurts.  Yet I just couldn’t get that much Ragged Leather.  Even when I went off farming leathery-looking animals, I kept getting some weird animal skin drops.  Ragged Coyote Leather is a prime example of the NOT RAGGED LEATHER that I’d get.

Yet I could never find which recipes  such things as Ragged Coyote Leather were used for, despite them being described as tradeskill ingredients.

That’s because I seem to have had a huyuuuge blind spot that just didn’t see the phrase: Also Counts As in the item description.  So I was putting stacks of Ragged Coyote Leather in the bank, and not realising that it could, of course, be used as Ragged Leather.

I sigh.  *Head-desk*

Learn from my lesson; read the whole of an item’s description, and don’t just grumble about it not being what you need it to be before throwing it in the bank.  Also Counts As is now my friend.

Njub Admission Number 2:

Start off questing, not crafting.  Honestly, do some quests.  Quite a number of starter quests have crafting books as rewards, and even though quite a few of them are quite cheap, there’s still quite a few of them, and the cost does add up.

Getting the missions done will also net you some cash, but more importantly will take you out into the wilds, and in the wilds are lots and lots of resource nodes.  Farming whilst questing can net you a surprisingly large crafting stash, as well as helping to locate (and then waypoint) some great farming spots.

If you decide to immediately jump into crafting, then you’ll actually find it harder starting off, than if you take your time and get a few quests done.  Never mind losing out on cash and AP rewards from quests.

When I started Hawley I went a little quest-blind.  With Wol I made sure I got quests done, and life has been a lot, lot easier.

Njub Admission Number 3:

Scrap Fasteners.  They were the bane of my crafting life.  The little suckers are prevalent in so many recipes, and so many are used that you’ll never find enough.  And seeing as they’re a third of a blue chip each, they’ll bankrupt you whilst you’re making your first pistol.

I’d looked through the wares of various crafting vendors, and even asked around to see if there was a crafting book that would make scrap fasteners, but no-one seemed to know.  I obviously gave up too easily.

Lifenet Podcast number 7 came to my rescue.  In their crafting special, they talked about the use of Refine X books, and it was as if the heavens parted, and the sun came out again.

Refine Fasteners cost me almost 12 blue chips (which is a lot to a starting character), but it’s worth its weight in purest green.  I also got Refine Adhesive, as Weak Adhesive is also used a lot.  I’ll also be looking out for the other Refine books, because they allow the creation of many of the annoying to scavenge/never have enough crafting ingredients.  They’re comparatively expensive for new characters, but they’re an investment, and one you won’t regret if you’re going to be crafting a lot.

It takes 15 minutes to make a Scrap Fastener.  Weak Adhesive takes a similar time, which seems strange seeing as it takes less time to make more complex items.  But they take easily- and plentifully-found base ingredients, so what I do is set off a batch just before logging off.

Right now, I’m the only crafter I know with a surplus of Scrap Fasteners.  I’m trying not to be too smug about it, seeing as I’m aware of the scary amount of cash I’ve spent on Scrap Fasteners in the past.

Njub Admission Number 4:

If you’re going to be doing any serious crafting then you’ll be crafting the upgrade books, and that means you’ll be needing pens.

DON’T BUY PENS.

There’s a book called Craft Pen.  Buy it.  Make pens.  They’re stupid expensive, especially considering the fact that the book costs less than the price of two pens.
They don’t even have nasty ingredients, and they stack nicely in the bank for when you need them.

I bought pens.  Then felt stupid.

I’m not really a Pro Tip sort of person.  But I’m more than willing to share my mistakes with the intarnets, so that you, dear reader, don’t have to share my njubness.

Have fun in the GC.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Armchair Raiding

May 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Posted in General | 4 Comments
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Wotcha everyone

Am I an Armchair Raider?

It’s a question I asked myself as a result of a conversation held in World of Warcraft with an old friend, who’s co leader of a strict 10-man raiding guild that is doing remarkably well (*cough*firstonserver*cough*) in the rankings.

They took a gamble, leaving their respective 25 man teams to set out as 10-man raiders when it wasn’t fashionable, so that they could have more of a hand in guiding their own fate.  They took the risks, they now get to reap the rewards.  Well done chaps.  Really impressed.

Now, I think of myself as someone who enjoys raiding.  I enjoy the challenge of progressing through a raid, and I even enjoy those raids where the challenge is gone, but we’re going out just to have fun in the raiding instance.

I like the sense of teamwork, spending time in game with my peers, and the sense of camaraderie in the face of all those elite odds.

This conversation was a bit of an eyeopener.  Have I become an Armchair Raider, living off past glories and old tiered armour, more content to just sit there talking a big game, yet clinging to any old excuse for why I can’t go raiding just now, rather than get off my ares and go raiding again?

Many raids run a twice-weekly schedule.  And one of those days is usually a Sunday.  This, more than anything else, is my easiest opt-out clause: I can’t spare two nights a week from my hectic social schedule, to devote purely to raiding.  Sundays are a rubbish night to try and organise something, as there’s normally something that I’ll be attending on that day.  Never mind that most of the time raids are finishing about 30 minutes after I need to be going to bed for my much needed ugly sleep, due to my early-morning wake-up.

I am no longer young enough to withstand the slings and arrows of a lack of sleep the night before, especially if I have to go to work and use smarts.

And for all its “sociable, being a part of a group of players” notions, raiding is remarkably unsociable for those around you.  It means headset on and random shouting at the internet, which isn’t exactly encouraging to the lovely lady near me who’s trying to watch telly-e-vision.  Or do anything else in the same room.

Can you teach an old raider new tricks?  Or just new encounters?  I tend to learn better and faster by doing something, rather than just reading something on the internet, or watching a walkthrough on youtube.  In fact, I really hate watching how someone else downed a boss on youtube, because I really do learn nothing from it.  For me, it’s not just the formula required to down a boss that’s important, it’s learning how to use the abilities and skills I have as both a player and a character to their best effect, and that means going and doing it.  It’s about experiencing the encounters, so I can learn how my class, my spec and my nouse as a player will help most.

If I was to join an established raid now, I’d be expected to go off and do homework, so that I could hit the ground running, wouldn’t I?  My life is busy enough, without having to go and study…

Raiding also takes preparation.  It’s not just about turning up and playing.  There’s consumables to bring, there’s enchantments to keep up to date, there’s sockets to be gemmed up and there’s cash required for repairs.  Do I really have the time to get all that together, ready for each and every raid?  I don’t know if I do.  I have a multi-game habit to keep going, after all

Yet I’m also unwilling to let someone else do all of that for me.  If I’m going to be part of a raid team, then I want to pull my own (considerable) weight when it comes to getting everything sorted.  I don’t want to be the idiot that’s constantly asking for flasks, or never putting fishy feasts down, or having any healing or mana potions.  Or begging on Dalaran street corners for enough coppers to repair gear.  Or even worse, having to do favours for sailor goblins…

Of course, all of this is dependant on me actually managing to get into a raid team.  For a start, I wouldn’t know how to begin to find a raid team to join.  The only ones I know of in any real sense of the word are the one I used to be in, and the one that my friends are in.  Secondly, I’m not sure if I want to go through that whole approval/rejection process.  I’m staring 40 down the barrel of a gun, and that means (in the eyes of the law, at least) I am an adult.  It means I care not for the rejection of others, and do not require the approval of others when it comes to finding my own entertainment.

But there is still a part of me that’s 8 years old and desperately hoping that I won’t be picked last.  And it’s enough to make me really wonder about whether or not my self esteem really wants to go through that whole getting into a raid team process.

The indignity of being picked last goes for more than just attempting to join a raid team, though.  It’s about not being picked for the first team, about having to stay on and do nothing whilst everyone else is having fun in the raid, because you’re the reserve.  Because you’re not good enough to be in that first team.

I really hate that.  I have to clear a night: I have to use up some hard-won girlfriend rep to ensure that nothing’s been planned, there’s nothing I’m needed for, and that I’m not going to be told half-way through a boss fight that I *MUST* go and empty the dishwasher *NOW* (or the world as we know it will end, or something).  And then I get to just hang about in case someone else decides to drop out early.  It almost seems like anti-fun.

And that’s the most important thing.

I don’t *need* to raid, in order to be a proper and valid MMO player.  I don’t *need* to do anything, in fact.  That’s one of the joys of a good MMO; multiple ways to have fun.

But the fact is that I have fun raiding.  And I should at least make an effort to stop being an Armchair Raider.  It makes me look like the scary old bloke that’s somewhere in every pub in England.  The one who is convinced that they’re an opinion of note on every subject, yet is sitting in a pub talking at strangers who just want to escape, and smelling vaguely of wee.

And another, equally important fact is that I really, really need to loosen up.  If not, I’m in danger of coming complete with reverb effect because my head is so far up my own ares.  I am not that special.  I’m just one of plenty of players who have social lives, but whom are able to juggle that and playing MMOs.

So that means that if I want to raid, I need to stop being prissy about it, and take the rough with the smooth.  That means reading websites for strategy tips *before* seeing the monsty-boss for the first time.  It means being willing to sit on the bench *because sometimes you have to*.  It means being part of a team effort, and sometimes that means not being the star of the show, in order to shine.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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