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.

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.

 

Getting Pumped for Battle for Azeroth (BFA)

I am so incredibly excited, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I love new expansions and new games for the opportunity of a clean slate.  It’s the best time to learn a new game when everyone else is learning it as well.  Its a much better experience than joining a 5 player dungeon group just be scolded or worst, kicked, just because you didn’t understand the mechanics of a fight.  Its a time when everything is fresh and shiny and new.  Even my mage that I have had since the end of classic World of Warcraft is exciting to play again.  She feels familiar yet different, more powerful as she has enhanced her ability over the past twelve years.

I’m excited not for all of the changes and new content of the game but because this is the first time in 4 years that I’m getting my guild into a new MMO.  We are hitting the ground running and I am leading the way.

We are a smaller group of about 10 people and we will be able to do the normal and heroic versions of the large group content with this many.  It is my hope that we can grow enough to do the harder content but it will be difficult with the light schedule that we are playing on.  I know the type of player I am.  I know the type of players my guild tends to attract.  We will want to do more once we have completed the easy stuff.  We will want to do the hardest content in the game.

I’m excited to be leading a guild again.  Never have I felt more driven to succeed as when I am holding the reigns.  BFA – we are ready for you!

 

Prepping for BFA (or any new game launch)

I’ve been through a lot of game and expansion launches in the past 15 years and have been refining my plan to maximize my time playing the new game.

The last big game launch that I was a part of was a few years ago.  The time that the servers went up would be 3am.  Both my husband and I were going to be playing so we made a plan.  This was pre-kids so our intensity level was quite a bit higher as we were planning on playing about 20+ hours the first day.  Our plan was to go to bed a few hours early and wake up about 45 minutes prior to the game going live, get a big breakfast with coffee and hop on voice chat with our guild.  There were about 30 people on our voice chat that early morning and excitement buzzed.  Of course this extended gaming session had ended with my PC having problems and me having to swap to playing on a laptop with poor reaction times.  My brain also had some poor reaction times near the end of my 23 hours played and I wound up dying so much right as I was nearing the finish line (level cap).  I may have cried this day, sources say that I did but I don’t remember it like that.  This was definitely the most intensely I have ever played a game launch.

I’m coming to the launch of BFA (Battle for Azeroth) just as excited as I was all those years ago.  However, this time I’m older and (hopefully) wiser.  I also have a child to consider when making my gaming launch plans and we want to make sure we do this game release in a healthy way.  The game will launch at 5pm CST which is 6pm our time.  We plan to take about 20 minutes each taking turns between 6pm and 8pm.  We will go through our normal evening routine of dinner, playing with my daughter and then get her to bed around 8pm.  Once she is in bed we will start leveling together and play until about midnight our time, so about 4 hours total.  This will be our gaming schedule for the rest of the work week.  On the weekend we will trade off playing games and playing with my toddler and will have periodic breaks where we will leave the house for an hour or so to get some sunshine.  I know this seems like a huge difference from what we did before, and it is!  But this plan is in line with this phase of life that we are in.

Things to do before a new game launch:

  • Meals: Prep food for the week.  This means having easy go to meals that do not require a lot of time to get on the table.  Using paper plates this week so washing dishes can be avoided at all costs.
  • Housekeeping: having the house clean helps keep the guilt away when I playing for an extended period of time.
  • Sleep: gotta get some!  I know its hard to sleep the night before something so exciting but try to get to bed early.  If I are waking up in the middle of the night for a 3am launch try to get at least 6 hours of sleep and wake up with enough time to brew the coffee, take a shower and get dressed.  Since this launch will be in the evening and I’ll be working that day I’ll get as well rested as I can.
  • Communicate your intentions:  This is assuming that you typically have contact with the outside world.  If you plan to hole up in your room for a week and not leave except for bathroom and food, you may want to let those in your life know.  Of course use your best judgement.  I started telling my family how I play during these launches because it was the easier way to go about things since they are not the judgmental type.  If they know what I’m up to they won’t worry about me if I suddenly stop communicating and don’t want to go outside.  I NEED MY GAMES MOM!

I’ve made a list of things to do in game to prep for the WoW launch of BFA.  Some of these things will translate to other expansion launches and some won’t.

Things to do in game:

  • Quest log: empty old quests that I do not want to complete.  This expansion I have complete a bunch of quests and once I’m able to start leveling, I go turn them all in for a small boost in the first level.

quests

  • Bag/Bank:  I cleared out any old pieces of gear that I no longer need and have a mostly empty bag so that I will need to make less stops to sell junk or bank items.
  • Consumables: Stock up on food, flasks, potions, banners, goblin glider kits and anything else that will help me move and kill things faster.
  • Update UI:  Now is a great time to tinker with any elements of my UI that I would like to improve.
    • Recommended Addons
      • Handy Notes + Handy Notes: Legion Treasures – If you haven’t picked up many of your treasures in Legion it is well worth your while to collect them for level 110 to 111.
      • Azeroth Auto Pilot or Zygors guide both will assist you with what to do next and will take alot of the decision making out of how to go about leveling.
      • LookingForGroup – this streamlines the looking for group interface and makes it a little bit quicker to party for group quests.

Things to remember while binging on your favorite video game.

  • Water > Caffeine:  You may plan on staying up later than normal, in that case make sure you use caffeine sparingly and to drink lots of water along with your coffee or energy drink
  • Snacks:  You will want healthy snacks that don’t get your hands messy.  My go-to is going to be cut up fruit in containers that I can eat with a fork and trail mix that I will eat with a spoon.  I know this sounds weird but trust me, you do not want salt and stickiness all over your keyboard and mouse.
  • Breaks:  Every couple of hours I plan to get up from my desk and get my heart rate up.  I’ll be running down and running up my stairs when I need something from the kitchen just to get a burst of exercise.
  • GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun):  Keep in mind that we are playing games for our personal enjoyment.  Listen to your gut and make sure to stop if needed.
Drinking Coffee waiting for BFA
Enjoying some coffee while I wait for BFA.  Who knew that there were french presses in Dalaran?

This launch is going to be a great one!  I can’t wait to see all of the new areas and start doing the new dungeons.   I’ll be doing this with my guild, some of them will out pace me in levels and I’ll hopefully beat some to 120 as well.  What are some things that you do to prepare for a new game launch?

 

 

Burning of the World Tree

My tip this morning when I logged on my Demon Hunter said to “Smile early and often.”  I took this advice to heart…until the flames rose.

I wanted to see the events that lead up to the destruction of two of my most loved major cities.

Silva received a summons from Anduin Wryon, the King of Stormwind.  The Horde is marching on Silithis in order to seize Azerite.  As she was about to leave, Mathias Shaw the leader of SI:7 runs in to inform us that we have been tricked and that the Horde was marching to Astrannar.

When Silva entered Astranaar she finds Captain Delaryn Summermoon standing over the corpse of Captain Alennah Starsong.  The smell of smoke and blood fills the air as she walks through the aftermath of the Horde’s deceit. Silva has the solemn duty of honoring the fallen soldiers and ensuring that their spirits find peace.  The Assassins still lurk in the city, she smiles as the bloodlust floods her body and she sinks her warglaive into the chest of the undead deviate.

The wisps quickly leave Astrannar as if on a mission.  Where is Malfurion?  Silva follows the trail left by the wisps and finds an empowered Malfurion facing off against Lady Sylvanas who is ready to charge.  A wall of wisp energy blocks her way and burns those horde who dare to walk forward.  “We must protect the Wild!”  Malfurion declares. 

Captain Delaryn Summermoon approaches Malfurion and Silva with a new report.  The Banshee Queen has established her forces at Soram’gar Outpost.  Malfurion fears that she is after the World Tree.  He plans to stay back as a distraction and has asked Silva to help.  Silva sends the druids to defend the Grove of the Ancients, she also takes care of the Furbog threat that they were seeing to.

The Goblins have sent in a Monstrous Shredder to cause chaos in the Grove of the Ancients.  Silva decimates the monstrocity and ensurse the safety of the grove.

Captain Delaryn Summermoon needs help to sabotage the Horde Demolishes.  They sneak through the Horde camp with great stealth and plant bombs under each of the siege weapons.  They make their way through the camp, incapacitating those that get in the way, rescue those that cry for help.

Azerite?  Here in the Dark Shore?  Perhaps Malfurion was wrong about Sylvanas’s intentions.  She was here for valuble resources that we were unaware of.  The Azerite lay shattered all around, Silva begins to collect it.  Better in our hands than in the Horde’s.  She hear the satisfying crunch of goblin bones under the force of her blades.  

Malfurion’s voice calls out to fall back further north.  The Goblins and Orc are overwelming our forces!  Anger boils as Silva suffers a blow to her shoulder. She charges forward with a fury but is quickly snatch up by an elder sentient tree.  “Let us crush our foe together, little one.” The tree leaps in the air landing on a shocked orc, crushing his ribs in the process.  

The Horde far outnumber us and we must fall back again.  Malfurion calls for us to regroup in Darnassus.  Silva laid eyes on the majestic city for the first time.  She took in the ancient intricacies of the construction.  These were a people that took great pride in creating a strong but beautiful home.  But, these are desperate times and we must gather what is left of our forces.  Silva seeks out Malfurion for orders and hears a cry “FOR THE HORDE”  Malfurion is stunned by this turn, as the Horde has done the unexpected once more.  They have scaled the mountains and were coming down from the north.

Malfurion and Sylvanas face off.  Surafang leaps behind Malfurion and strikes him down.  Sylvanas is pleased by this and instructs Surafang to kill Malfurion as she heads to Darnassus.  Silva is frozen for fear that the orc will finish the job is she approaches.

A breeze catches Silva’s hair and tangles it in a wisp of smoke.  She looks to the horizon to see the molten glow of fire.  It’s now clear that azerite wasn’t the only thing that Sylvanas was after.  What did the destruction of the world tree do?  Would this weaken the druid’s connection with the Emerald Dream?  Would it sever it?  Only time would tell.