Aion: Day Three

October 6, 2009 at 3:35 am | Posted in Aion, Grouping, Guilds | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Day 2 doesn’t deserve its own post, because I didn’t get to play much.  Gained a level or so, and was happy at that.  I then promptly put on my encounter suit, and headed off for an evening in the real world.  Fun.

Day 3 saw me get to level 10, and go through the Ascension set of quests.  Now, I must remember that these are Devas, and neither angel nor demon.  Hmm.  Isn’t Deva another name for… And isn’t “Ascension” a moment where…

Moving swiftly on.  My gameplay in Days 1 to 3 has mainly consisted of what I term “guerrilla healing”.

Now that may or may not conjure up images of wide hats and crossed bandoliers filled with bandages and plasters.  If it has, that’s ok. You are not alone.

It’s me, running around doing whatever I’m doing (usually questing, brutally slaughtering things, or both), and throwing out buffs and heals to those that need it.  Now, I don’t do it because I’m desperately looking for friends, or a group, or anything like that.  I don’t even do it because I’m lonely.

No, I’m not lonely.  The nice gold seller would kindly send me a tell every so often, because he likes me, and because he wants to peddle his evil gold at me.

I do it because I have the skills to do it.  It costs me a moment to target and a moment to cast.  And it gains me a bit more experience in buffing and healing, in a nice and easy way that might (or might not) make someone’s game a bit easier.

I’ve still not been in a group, but then again all of the content up to level 10 was easily soloable, so no real need to group up.  I’m also wondering if everyone is attempting to level up quickly, and too quickly to want to group up at low levels.  Who knows?

I also had a pleasant exchanges with some of the individuals I guerrilla healed.  You know, the MMO equivalent of the cheery wave and a smile you give when you’re putting the bins out and see a neighbour.  They emote, I emote in return.  Nice and polite.

Of course, it’s not an all-you can buff buffet at Chez Hawley.  Oh no.  I might be giving it out for free (oo-er missus) but I do have my grumpy side to placate.  And that means people will daft, stoopid or just plain not-names get ignored.  Sorry, but you’re just not on my radar.

Yes, if there was a role-playing server I’d want to be on it.

Plan for the next few days?  Find a guild.  Or, as they are called in Aion, a “Legion”.  Although that term does have some unfortunate connotations thanks to a certain Emperor boasting about having an “entire legion” of Stormtroopers.  If I recall correctly, that boasting took place shortly before they all got shivved up by some angry ewoks, and their pet wookie.



Revolving Doors (and contemplation)

September 16, 2009 at 5:25 am | Posted in Grouping, Guilds, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

If a week is a long time in politics, it could quite well be forever in raid communities…

On Friday I wrote a post that I can thankfully consign to the recycle bin of history.  Mainly because it was admittedly whiny, with me feeling very sorry for myself.  The reason it can be thankfully discarded is because events of the weekend moved quickly, and resulted in the post becoming redundant. 

Here’s the short story:

Over the weekend, I left my raid community.  All of my mates had left it, and the only reason I had joined it was because they were in it.  And yes, one of the reasons I had been able to join it was because they could stand up and state that I was likewise a stand up chap and all-round good egg.

Now I’ve left them.  I did actually think long and hard about it, and decided that I’d rather do other things than raid with people I don’t know so well.  It’s not that they’re bad people, or even bad players, but when it came to staying, the negatives outweighed the positives.

Then, to prove the universe has a sense of humour, just as I’m working up to telling my raid community that I’m leaving, I get asked if I want to join the guild that my mates are helping to set up.

The rambling thoughts begin here:

I’d rather PUG with strangers than raid with people I don’t know well.  Yes, because I’d feel like I was just hanging around with these people because I wanted the phat lewtz, rather than their company.  Call me strange, but I like my friendships (real world or online) to be more about enjoying each other’s company than about what epixxx they can help me get.  PUGing for stuff just seems more honest.

The timing makes me look like I’m leaving them for the cool kids.  Which stinks, but hey, that’s timing.  Besides, is there a cooldown on joining another guild?  Is there a period of time one should wait after leaving one grouping, before joining another?  Who exactly *is* writing the MMO Book of Etiquette?  And who is reading it?

It’s alright if you’re invited.  And it must really stink if you’re not.  Hey, I felt rejected I wasn’t asked immediately, but I’m just passive-aggressive with rejection issues.  I suppose it’s similar to being a multi-platinum selling musician in a huge band, and some of your musician mates decide to set up a super-group, but without inviting you.  “Sorry, Dave has baggsy’d guitars already, and we all think you’re rubbish really”.

Being beaten with the Casual Stick.  I’ve seen it far too much to care about the term “Casual” when it’s used in online gaming.  It’s only casual if you do what the consensus wants.  If you try and change things, you’re *literally* worse than Himmler.  And should you leave for pastures new?  *Literally* worse than Hitler.  It shouldn’t be like this.  A casual group (guild, kinship, raid community, whatever the term used) should know that they have no recourse when players decide to act in a casual manner, or decide to leave if it’s not for them.  The benefits of a relaxed, casual atmosphere outweigh the potential loss of players who want to play in a more demanding atmosphere; it’s not fair to judge them as a result.

Raid Communities are the sum of their parts.  So if those parts leave (or have stopped working) they fold.  A mass migration like this could kill a raiding community, just as it could kill a guild.  But this is also time for those players who have been on the periphery of a community to stand up, be counted, and have the opportunity to take a more active role.  Stagnation is a bad, bad thing, and can kill a community far easier than renewal.

Millenial Fever.  Announcements of impending expansions cause all sorts of upheavals; Cataclysm is quite an accurate name, for once.  Only alts go over old content, so moves are already afoot to see as much of the Wrath of the Lich King content as possible.  For some that means exchanging casual 25-man raid groups for stripped-down, lean-mean-fighting-machine 10-man special-forces raid teams.  I can see why.  Finding and organising 25 players can be like herding cats, and just as rewarding.  Ten like-minded individuals is far, far easier to manage.  Being someone who sets his own achievements rather than relying on Blizzard (or Turbine, or any other games developer) for them, I’m somewhat bemused by them, but for others they are a powerful draw, and now there is a time limit.

Sooo…  Here I am.  Raid-less, but with possibility of joining another.  Older, wiser, more enriched thanks to my experiences.


The Secret Lives of Healers (or, how we met)

September 3, 2009 at 4:28 am | Posted in Captain, Grouping, healing, LotRO, Minstrel | Leave a comment
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A long long time ago, when I was still playing Dark Age of Camelot I think, I read a piece somewhere about how the best healers were those who could chat in group/raid while healing. As a multi-tasking test more than anything else. Since I’m horribly chatty, I took this as gospel and as a validation of the fact I’m just as likely to be chatting as healing someone at any given situation!

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that the way me and Hawley met was via chat, during a raid where were were the only healers. Our kin ‘borrowed’ Hawley from our allied kin to boost our minstrel numbers for the 12-man Rift raid in LotRO. I am even relatively sure he offered himself up for this. We didn’t have enough minstrels to regularly go twice a week, and his kin had plenty of healers and weren’t actually raiding as seriously as us. So Hawley became ours for the nights we needed.

Me, I played a minstrel up to 50 so I could also bolster the numbers of real healers. But I quite often went as Captain healer anyway. And of course, we introduced ourselves on the way to the first fight, had a little chat about strategies, who was most likely to die first, what order we tended to heal people, etc etc. Just in way of a professional greeting.

But, by boss no. 2 we’d kind of moved to chit-chat, and jokes. I’ve always chatted to the other healers on raids, during the raids. We share tactics. That’s good. In some MMOs we have to take care of overhealing, so discussion is very important. But, in other cases, it’s just nice to hang out and chat with people who face the same strategic choices and stresses as you.

Let’s face it, we all know healers get yelled at a lot. Whether right or wrong it’s basic human instinct to want to not die! Especially if there’s someone there who can prevent it by pressing a few buttons. But, there are times, when fights are going well.. when healers are really just on stand-by mode. And we can spot those times, and break out of them when needed. In those times, I’d say I generally exchange some kind of chit-chat, mostly via page. Teamspeak makes raidwide chatter easier, but often, in a new raid, the talk needs to be kept down a little. So typing offers me that release. And I was glad to find, in Hawley, a fellow chatterbox.

No-one died unnecessarily on our watch, and we continued our conversations every friday and sunday at the Rift for many months. It helps to be friendly enough to de-brief after a rough fight also, or to reassure that nothing could have gone differently (or discuss how healing could have been better). I chat with most healers I raid with.. sometimes I think it’s just me, but they always join in and seemingly enjoy it! I think it helps build a healer support structure, since the only people that really know how it feels to heal and to be yelled at are the raid healers. And to support one another and be sociable is the main reason I play MMOs. I’ve made a lot of healing friends, and no-one’s ever told me to shut up and get back to healing!

In other games, I have been told off for typing in group while healing, I guess that’s why I page people mostly these days. And because I don’t think my healing suffers in any way from the chatter. I’m no fool, I pick my moments, as do the people I chat to. In fact, we need the behind-the-scenes chat to let off steam. It can be a little stressful, and anything said in a raid in private chat, stays in private chat and is forgotten afterwards. Honest!


The PUG is my friend, the PUG is my friend

September 1, 2009 at 5:51 am | Posted in Grouping, healing | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Back in the mists of time, Skooge was a bad, bad undead rogue.

One day I was on the Baron Run.  I was in a PUG that was proceeding quite well; we weren’t going to do it in time, but it was good practice for all that.  There were no temper tantrums over phat lewtz, and no-one was acting like a melon-headed sausage-fingered fool.

But just as the portcullis closes, and the first of the waves of ogres begins to trundle towards us, one of the two warriors tells us that his dad is calling him down for tea, and despite his protestations, he has to go afk to eat.

It brings a smile to my face, just thinking about that moment.  We only just survived that fight with four active players, and it was great fun, but the reactions of some of the party were more than a little uncharitable.  I wasn’t one of them; food is better than gaming, any day.  If anything, it made me smile as I remembered being 12 and not wanting to leave the Spectrum for food…

Why my reminiscing?

There are loads of horror stories regarding PUGs; players not understanding aggro mechanics, pets that run amok, petty arguments over phat lewtz.

And I will hold my hand high, and freely admit that I am allergic to PUGs.  They bring me out in a rash, honest.

However.  I am older and wiser now, and I am going to change my attitude towards PUGs.  Why?  Well, I have a number of characters that I need to bash back into shape.  I’m out of practice, and I’m looking at some of the skills and abilities they have, and wonder; “We used to be mates, you and I.  Why?”

Being in a PUG is fantastic practice.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I learn more about playing a healer when things go badly than when they go well, and it’s an honest truth that playing with people you don’t know makes things more likely to go wrong.

Instances are also great for levelling, as they provide bucket-loads of xp, and trez.  Bonus!

It’s about more than just the material benefits, though.  Massively Multiplayer.  The bit that makes these games more than the sum of their parts.  And for me to pointedly ignore that aspect of online gaming means I’m not playing these games to their fullest potential.

So, from now on, I shall play with a view to getting into instances and groups (time permitting).  Gone are the days of insular, curmudgeonly Hawley (and alts).  No, from now on it’s friendly, welcoming Hawley, here for all your PUG healing needs!

Yeah, I wonder how long it will last as well, but we’ll see, won’t we?



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