World of Lovecraft

We entered an underground cave where the fish-people had set up a military facility.  They patrolled back and forth as we waited patiently out of sight.  One by one, we jumped into the water and frantically swam as sharp fish teeth pierced our skin.  We were after the treasure and equipment the that was held by those running of the facility.  With sword in hand, we cut our way through our enemies.  It was a typical Tuesday night.

I was a healer and I was dam good at it.  So good, that when a newcomer came along and outperformed me, I took notice.  He had just joined the guild and I was watching him.  Watching him because I wanted to CRUSH him.  Did I mention I’m a bit competitive?  This is just what I needed to push me to be better.

Several years before I ever met my husband in person, we played a game called World of Warcraft.  We played together off and on as we would drive in and out of the game.  It was one of those online friends that you always got along with and was always down for a dungeon run.  It wasn’t until I was fresh off a long term relationship that meeting him ever occurred to me.  We had known each other for years and years but this was brand new experience for both of us.

Early into our courtship we sat down and played against each other in Halo. It started with me kicking his butt and as he got used to the controls…ended with me throwing the controller at his head. I HATE losing.  I love that he’s competitive but I also love that we now solely play cooperative games together.  Less things get broken this way.

It was a whirlwind romance of weekend visits, wine and video games.  He lived about an hour away from me and at this time I was a college student, working two jobs so we fit in time when we could.  Most Saturdays I would have to work a 7 hour shift and would come home to find him eating taco bell, pugging a raid on my computer.  I know that gaming is a major turn off for a lot of women, but for me it an absolute necessity in a partner.  The last thing I needed in my life was the guy I was with whining about how much time I spent on the computer.

Do you remember that newcomer that seriously put me in my place?  If you guess that I was talking about my future husband, you’re right!  Much later I’ll learn that he had just picked up the class that he was playing and that he barely knew what he was doing!  After 5 years of marriage we are still going strong.  Those that play together, stay together 🙂

WoW BFA Recruitment

Now is the time to put on your recruiting boots!  The very beginning of any game or game expansion is a great time to recruit players for your guild.  There are lots of people that are coming to a game for the first time or returning after an extended absence.  This all means that they need a social group!

A couple weeks ago I talked about how we were in the beginning stages of recruiting for our guild.  Now that the expansion has launched we are starting to get a flood of potential recruits.  Last time I made a big push to recruit, I did so mostly by seeking out those players that posted to the general forums saying that they were looking for a guild.  I would send each of them a private message that was personalized to respond to what they were looking for.  While this proved very effective in a new game, this method was getting very little responses in WoW.  For one, we were a brand spankin new guild as far as anyone was concerned.  We didn’t have any wowprogress history or any impressive boss kill logs, so the serious players didn’t even consider us since they were getting lots of messages from already established guilds.

I was frustrated that all my hours of finding the perfect recruits were proving unfruitful.  So I made a change and rethought of how we could improve our headcount and be able to step foot into the new raids for BFA and hopefully reduce my load of administrative duties outside of game.  I mean, I wanted to play the game too!  I decided for my own sanity that I needed to cast a wider net and started to spend less time talking to applicants during the first week of the expansion and steering them to the community.

Communities are a new feature which allows you to join a new social group without leaving your current guild or having to pay for a server transfer.  I could see wow eventually making this THE new social experience in the future.  For those long time wow vets, a community is basically a custom chat channel with a member list interface.  I like this idea so much that instead of building up the “guild” we were using the community as our new “guild”  It was so easy to use.  Instead of a potential player having to wait to get an invite from someone, they can just enter a join code and instantly be connected with everyone else that’s online.

Getting people to talk to you is half the battle, and having them join a social group just gives us opportunity to introduce people to our group’s culture.  It takes a lot of work to join a new guild in any of these games, so if I can get them to play with us even just a little bit they may like that experience and want to hang around because of it.  Right now we are getting to know our potential raiders and just having fun.

Handling Criticism as a Guild Leader

Today one of my long time guildmates sent me a whisper.  He didn’t agree with how I was recruiting for our raid groups.  He felt that the players that were in our community were not well vetted, which is true, they are not since I have the link to join posted on public forums.  I’m not looking to create an exclusive club with a whole list of criteria from the get go.  I would find myself saying no to people all day and not growing our ranks.  What if I told a player “no” based on their lack of raiding experience and they ended up being amazing?  A good resume does not mean that the player is going to be great.  People lie all the time and tell us what we want to hear.

This type of criticism is not uncommon for a guild leader.  There is always people that want to tell you how to do things.  I have one time that stood out as a clear, what not to do to keep your guild alive and healthy:

It was the first couple weeks into Wildstar.  We had started strong and were currently sitting at the #5 rank for the entire world for boss kills.  One big problem was that the #1 guild was on our same server and provided extra pressure to catch up to them and surpass them.  This was because we wanted to be the best, and so did the majority of our guild members.

There was a lot of complaining about how we needed to change and improve or people would leave.  The loudest critics came to me and said, we need to do XYZ in order to succeed.  They offered to help, so I promoted them to officers so that they would have the authority to make the changes that they wanted.  Or maybe I promoted them to shut them up, or so they wouldn’t leave.  The later two were the wrong reasons.

So the loud critics didn’t make any changes and continued to complain and now when they were complaining, they were doing so with the Officer title.  OF course maybe part of this was because they realized how much work is involved with leading a successful guild.  The continued complaining created massive problems with moral for a large chunk of our members.

It all reached a boiling point when one of our long time officers sent me a message that they were done with all the stress of trying to be a leader in the guild and that they were going to join the #1 guild in the game.  When they left, so did 30% of our members.  We were a broken group that lacked the ability to complete the content that we were clearing just the day before.  All of the venomous talk of how bad everything really got in my head and stressed me out.  I didn’t even want to play the game anymore.  This experience had sucked all of the fun right out of it for me.

Cancerous members like these may have good intentions, but when they start stirring up crap with rumors and complaining all the time, it’s time for them to go.  You may end up losing a player or two in this process but most likely your guild will remain intact.  Don’t promote your biggest critics to officers in your guild.  If they already don’t agree with you, its more likely that they’ll work against you than with you in the future.

After the experience of trying to allow people to do more and help out and having it backfire so badly, I am leaning towards trusting my gut.  I’m not going to create a perfect place for everyone, its just not possible.  Since I’m doing the bulk of the work getting this thing off the ground my instincts tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing and know that I won’t be pleasing everyone and they’ll move on to green pastures.  The goal is to create a place where I’m still having fun and not burning out form all the stress of trying to please people.

Ikea, a Gamer’s Best Friend? Yea, I think so.

We have the good fortune of having an Ikea warehouse close to our house.  Anytime that we have had something specific in mind for a piece of furniture we look everywhere for options.  Most of the pieces that would work for us tended to be expensive.  Enter Ikea!  A cheap, modular furniture super hero.  Being a small family, we tend to be easy on our furniture which gives the inexpensive Ikea furniture a long life.  I also own a power drill which is necessary for any type of assembly.

Of me and my husband, I am the more handy.  I’ve installed a wall mounted tv, replaced the ice maker in our freezer and have put together countless desktop PCs.  Furniture is not much different.

I had a vision for my computer desk and shopped for months before I threw my hands in the air.  There were no good options for what I wanted to make.  I needed something clean and modern that was also ergonomic, I was getting neck pain from looking down at my monitors all day.  Looking for answers on the internet I found Ikea Hackers and found exactly what I was looking for.  Not long after I was building my desk and creating the simple, minimalist look that I wanted.

2017-08-31_20-24-55_467

My husband has been playing on a small glass top desk for many years and talking about updating his set up.  After settling on a design idea it took almost a year to pull the trigger.  We took a trip to the store and picked up the pieces to make the hub’s dream desk.  A month later the boxes are still sitting unopened and driving me nuts, which in retrospect may have been by design.  I was fed up!  If I get something new I want it set up right away and it was just sitting in a box looking ugly in my house!  One evening while he was working on something outside of our computer room I started clearing off his desk and carry it down stairs.  I emptied the first box of a zillion pieces onto the floor and got to work.

Ikea pieces

Later when he comes into the room I look up to him and say “the fastest way we can do this is if you take that box in the other room and start putting that piece together.  It will probably take 30 minutes.”  One hour later…we have most of the desk put together with just a few finishing touches needed.

It wasn’t until the weekend when I found myself staring at the mounting bracket spread out along the floor.  The hubs was in the next room taking a nap and I got to work.  I haven’t mounted a monitor before but I’ve done a wall mounted TV.  This was similar and the directions were good.

2018-08-12_18-14-35_313

We also found this LED sticky tape lighting which was a total impulse buy.  I ran this along the back edge and down the side of the desk.  The light will either scroll through the color spectrum or you can freeze it on a specific color.

2018-08-12_18-47-27_876

It was a long process, mostly of the pieces sitting in boxes in the hallway, but we finally have a new desk!  Just in time for BFA!  At least we got it done before our upcoming MMO bingefest!

A Safehaven for Women in World of Warcraft

With the introduction of communities, we’ve seen a explosion of all sorts of groups forming.  There are massive amounts of social groups with a common focus beyond gaming.  So if you want to play games with people that you can identify with you can find them more easily through the use of in game communities.  I’ve been searching for new people to play with that I can relate too.  I’m excited to expand my group of friends beyond just my guild.

I’ve never thought of combining the different parts of my identity in what ever game I was playing.  When I was gaming, I was a gamer and that was usually the end of it.  I never looked for more in a guild than, 1. was the guild going to help me accomplish my in game goals? and 2. were these people that I can tolerate?

I always viewed a guild as a type of family or work environment where you got to know them and worked on keeping the peace, but you didn’t necessarily hold the same values as these people.  Of course I can’t pick my family and actively work to get along with them the best that I can, same goes with co-workers.  Parts of my identity  that drive my opinions are that I am a woman, feminist, minimalist, rule follower to a fault, mother, wife and working mom.  I don’t expect to find only people exactly like me but if there is an intersection between two or more of these things it gives us more to bond over and a way to create lasting friendships.

During my search for a new group that I share a common interest with, I have found a female focused group called Sisters of Azeroth.  Their gatekeepers are strict in order to maintain a safe place for women to exist in gaming.   If you are interested in joining the discord channel you must verify that you are female by voice chatting with one of the moderators.  From there you will gain access to the community group links.  The population of this group has exploded and the have some exciting things in the works including a twitch channel and community events.  Groups like this will only grow bigger as we move further into the expansion.

Bedtime Struggles and Raid Time

A cry comes from the other room.  We have spent the past hour working through the demons of the burning throne fortress and we had further to go still.  I looked at my husband and he looked at me, both of us with hands on keyboard and mouse.  The cry comes again.  We were playing a game of chicken and I was about to win.

The whole first year of my daughter’s life, I was tired.  While there weren’t too many sleepless nights, but there were very few that I stayed in bed all night uninterrupted.  One of my gamer friends at work asked me if I was able to play video games with a kid?  I honestly told her that at that time I wanted to make sure I got enough sleep and would go to bed shortly after my kid was asleep.

Once we hit the 2 year mark of toddler-hood the clouds parted and my PC beckoned.  I was getting tired of the tablet games that have been occupying my 20-30 minutes of free time before bed and I was finally ready to have a few hours to do my own thing again.  It was not how it used to be.  Gone were the days where I wasn’t able to participate in scheduled play for several uninterrupted hours because at a moment’s notice I had to leave.  If I couldn’t be reliable I didn’t want to cause problems for the people that I played with.  After a long stint of good bedtimes routines and actually getting a full nights sleep I was ready to get back at it!

There are still nights where a 10pm potty break is needed and night time cuddles are still very much an enjoyable part of those few times where my sleep is interrupted.   I’m fortunate to have a husband who games with me and is able to split the parent load when it comes to taking care of the bedtime troubles.  There is something I miss about the baby phase but I’m happy that we are past it.  I’m sure I will be saying the same thing as we move past toddlerhood and into a more independent phase of life.

 

 

 

Logging in to Game Server

Oh Azeroth, how I miss thee.  Today was the day!  Months of anticipation all lead to the start of a new war…the Battle for Azeroth.  The night before I sharppened my sword, polished my plate male and packed up my Goblin Glider Kits.  I was ready.

There a lot of reasons to be on a high population server.  There are always people to play with and you get a really big pool of players who want to do the raid content, which is what we tend to focus on.  When your server is know for being the home of 5 guilds that are in the top 100 in the world, that’s a big draw for people.  I know when I’m looking for a server I want to have lots of options for guild prospects.

Of course there are drawbacks to being on a high pop server.  If there is going to be issues with log in queue or server stability, odds are it will hit the high population servers first.  This is exactly what I faced last night as I watched the hours tick by looking at this screen.  Oh how I hate this screen…

Logging into game
Watching the clock tick by while my games decides if it wants to log in.

I sat there, just waiting for my time to charge into battle and catch up with my friends who were lucky enough to be on a stable server and enjoying their BFA launch experience.

realm list
This screen is such a tease. You think you’re almost in…only to be completely disconnected 5 minutes later.

Sometimes I would get a little bit further and I would just be disappointed.   It was nearly 9pm before I could log in.  Some of my friends couldn’t log in for the first 6 hours of the new expansion.  I got a whopping 2 hours to play before it was time for bed.  Tomorrow is a new day!  I’ll be hitting the leveling hard.