Tasty MMO goodness! Thursday, Sep 24 2009 

There are days when I just love the playing MMOs. Yesterday was one of them.

I collapsed into bed well after midnight feeling warm and fuzzy about all things MMO last night. Two things made it a great day…

Aion: got the box

Firstly, I picked up my collectors edition of Aion. It’s pretty and has a cool figurine.

I’m going to wait a week until the usual launch issues of server queues and connection issues shake themselves out. I’m not too concerned about what I’ve read in other blogs… I’ll wait to see myself.

Being a proud MMO tourist I have no issue in dipping my toe into Aion’s waters to see if I like the game.  However Aion is not front of mind at present… especially since my WoW Group finally cleared Naxxramas last night!


The Fall of Naxxramas

It’s taken nearly two months and a lot of hard work, but our group finally cleared Naxxramas last night. We took down the final boss just before midnight. The feeling of the group was ecstatic. I feel I’ve passed an important MMO milestone: clearing and endgame instance. 

It’s only been in the last few weeks that the group line up become solid. Once we had the right players we started breezing though content. The tanks, well tanked. The healers, healed. The DPS did some serious damage. Our co-ordination was great. We worked as a group with a common interest. We also had a lot of fun as well.

This is what can make WoW’s end game so enjoyable.

Sapp was one shotted. Damn we were pretty pleased with ourselves:

One shot

Not so tough now eh?

Kel’Thuzad we took down on the third attempt. Massive cheers and clapping could be heard over Vent.

Up popped the achievements and “Gratz” flowed in from the guild.

I also picked up two more Tier 7 pieces last night, so I’m feeling pretty special. OK, they’re Tier 7 and item level 200 (For non-WoW players you can get Tier 9 sets). 

Sure, there’s better gear out there… but I look hawt!

I love the smell of victory...

I look like a professional raider now.

It also means I’ve made the final graduation from casual  to serious raider. With Naxx under my belt I’m ready to move onto Ulduar.

It was only in late July that I entered the world of raiding. All the research, collecting gear, working on building a team worthy of the challenge… it all paid off.

What I felt last night was enormous satisfaction. Sure, killing a dragon in an MMO does not change the world. But everyone in the group felt a real sense of accomplishment.

This is why I play games such as WoW: for the shared experience. Ten people who would otherwise be strangers get together and set out to achieve a goal.

Naxxramas is the perfect level entry raid dungeon. Ulduar may test the group in other ways, but I’m confident we’re up to the challenge.

By the time Patch 3.3 hits, this group just might be ready to take on Arthus.


Things fall into place Friday, Sep 18 2009 

Last Thursday’s Naxx run was perhaps the groups best.The infamous Four Hoursemen went down, one shotted actually. The week prior we repeatedly wiped in them. This week, things fell into place. We went from this:

OK, let's try that again...

OK, let's try that again...

To this kind of run:

... now that's better!

... now that's better!

Two quarters cleared in the run, not a single wipe. All the bosses one shotted. I also managed to collect my first piece of The Hero’s Redemption set. Yep, my very first piece of tiered gear! A personal milestone: a few months into raiding and it’s starting to really jell. After nearly eight weeks of learning how to group, swapping individual team members in and out we finally hit our grove. And damn it felt good!

The group agreed to lock out the raid: next week we’re aiming to take on the final bosses of Naxxramas.

The “Golden Rule” and dealing with gamers Thursday, Sep 10 2009 

What do you do when a raid member does not perform as they should? Hurl abuse, attack them, kick them from the team? Maybe. But also consider the Golden Rule.
The Four Horsemen: wiping raids since 150 AD...

The Four Horsemen: wiping raids since 150 AD...

Lol nOOb u cant play!

MMOs are famous for the abuse players through at each other due to the anonymity of the internet:

“hey loser yr DPS sux!”

“why can’t you noobs get anything right!”

“that’s it I quit the guild!!!!!!”

In both MMOs I’ve played extensively (WAR and WoW) I’ve seen plenty of ugly name calling incidents, nerd rage and abuse. It can be pretty bad in PvP situations (Battlegrounds in WoW, Scenarios in WAR)… I still shudder when I think of my first few WoW Battlegrounds experiences.

It can happen in PuGs as well, but my experiences has been mostly positive over the past four years. In the end you can shrug off the harsh words of strangers. I’ve spent enough time in MMOs and been involved in enough online discussion groups and “debates” with forum trolls to have developed a pretty thick skin.

Sure, you can abuse a stranger. But what if it’s a guild mate?

What happens if you don’t have the anonymity of the internet to hide behind? This is the problem often faced by raid teams. More often than not the group is made up of guild members. At the very least there is some familiarity with each other. In a good guild, people strive to be nice.

But just like real life, the more you know someone, the harder it is to point out a mistake they’ve made. You want to spare their feelings. Especially if they’re a “nice guy/girl”.

And thus, the famous candid behaviour of MMO players evaporates.

Rather than a group of strangers hurling abuse at each other over guild/general chat no-one is prepared to say anything.

That’s the situation we had last night. Our Naxx team threw themselves at the Four Horsemen for just shy of two hours last night without completing the encounter. Now, we can be forgiven I think for most wipes. Most of us our new to raiding, and for many it was the first time in the fight – it’s also the most technical fight in Naxx. I was up the back holding the aggro of one of the bosses while one of the guilds best Warlocks held the aggro of another. My role was to simply heal myself through the damage, and swap bosses with the Warlock when we received three buffs. We got that down pat.

The rest of the raid had to kill the bosses. If anyone lost the aggro of a boss, or got two many buffs the whole raid would wipe. The key to the fight is co-ordination.

It was good healing experience for me, and I was able to keep myself up and maintain adequate mana reserves.

But the wipes kept happening.

In the end it came down to one raid member not performing their role. Most people were frustrated, and at the end of the raid I got a lot of private tells from other raid members about the performance of the non-performing individual.

WoW team management skills and the Golden Rule

Telling someone their performance in a raid is not up to scratch is not easy. How do you approach it? Just like real life – make it constructive, keep your tone neutral and don’t make the person feel there is something “wrong with them”.

So as the, ahem, raid leader this job fell to me.

And thus  I had a little chat with them after the raid.

I started off by asking them about their gear, and asked them to link the gear in chat. Right away I could see they were wearing a mixture of PvP and PvE gear. For WoW raiding not so good. Nor was the gear enchanted.

I pointed this out to them, as the right gear set up could make a difference.

My next step was to point them in the direction of useful web resources; WoWWiki, Tankspot, Elitist Jerks. Even doing a little bit of research about gear and boss strategies may help. they where not familiar with these resources.

“OK – this is good I thought.”

In less then five minutes I’m able to point out a few things. No-one teaches you how to play an MMO. These games can be complex beasts, and more often than not your left to own devices in figuring out what to do. As a baby raider, I know just how daunting an experience it can be.

Still that was the easy part:  next I had to tell them they’re performance was not up to standards. However, if they could gear up, do the research they’d have another shot.

Constructive criticism and incentive: tell the person what the problem is, suggest ways to fix it and give them a goal to shoot for.

As best I can tell it went OK. I hope they felt it was a conversation, not a personal attack. It’s what I expect others would do for me.

But the most important thing is remember there is another human being controlling that avatar. Sure, hurl abuse if you want… but really, is that how you would want to be treated?

Just like real life, observe the Golden Rule: “Do unto others and would be done to you.”

We all can’t be uber-l337 raiders. But we can treat each other respect. That’s what makes a “true hero” in the MMO world.

Fear and trembling: getting ready for Naxx raiding Tuesday, Jul 21 2009 

OK, I’m well behind the experience curve as far as WoW raiding goes.

I’ll be making the transition from casual player to hardcore, leet, uber-paladin when I step into Naxxramas this week.

Reading the boss strategies, getting my potions and consumables from the Auction House. Got me Vent head set good and ready.

Raiding was always the thing every one else did. Now I’m going to experience the fabled end game.

Here I go…!!!!!!

Ready, set... Naxx!

Ready, set... Naxx!