Thursday, May 28, 2009

Playing WoW with chop sticks

Have you ever watched dogs having dinner? You put down the bowl on the floor and before you know it it’s empty. Over and done in a few seconds.

Embarrassingly enough that’s pretty much how I behave at a dinner table. I’ve got so much manner that I won’t start eating until everyone is served (given that there are <8 people in the party), but at that point… Oh dear. I just start eating and I won’t stop until the plate is empty and I’m finished. While the other family members still have at least half of their meal left to enjoy, I’m beginning to tap my toes, impatiently, wondering if it would be very rude of me to start clearing the table. They surely couldn’t mind if I at least put my own plate in the dishing machine?

I know this habit is far from healthy and whenever I’ve got the opportunity I try to put some restrictions on myself to slow me up. So if we’re eating china food and there are chop sticks available I’ll always pick those, hoping that the difficulties in handling the tools will keep me occupied a bit longer. (Unfortunately my skills in chop stick eating have improved too much lately, so the method doesn’t work as well as it used to.)

The Klepsacovic suggestion
Anyway. Klepsacovic made me think about the chop stick approach when I read a comment he did to my post yesterday:

You're rushing, there's your problem. Take your time. Relax […] Don't focus on the goal and end up with an unfun process, the goal ends up being a relief rather than a reward.

I think he’s absolutely right. I really need to slow down a bit. Mind you, not in the raids. Never. I really don’t like to raid at a slow pace. You know when there are several breaks without any clear time limit, when there are too much of discussions and random waiting for nothing particular. When marking and assigning people take ages. It makes my skin itch and my focus shatter. Besides, there is a good reason for raids to hurry up – after all there IS the weekly reset and a set amount of raiding hours available (in our guild about 10) before we’re starting it all over again. If we ever want to kill Yogg-Saron we have to keep it up, just as Spinksville suggested the other day.

No, let’s keep the speed in the raids. But what I’m talking about are the other activities, the things I do in between. What is the hurry, really? What exactly do I think I’ll reach by always trying to do things as quickly as possible, in an “efficient manner”? Am I not fooling myself, playing WoW as if it was a job? Will reaching the goal be more of a relief from an un-fun activity, as Klepsacovic puts it, than a real reward?

The thought worries me. It really does.

The need of variation
I could blame that it’s how I am naturally. I walk quickly too, in spite of my short real life appearance. I talk quite quickly – and a lot when I’m in the mood for it. Not to talk about my writing. I actually write faster than I think. So why shouldn’t I be rational and quick in my questing? Why force myself to a slower pace?

Well, the thing is that I imagine that constantly running your engine at warp speed eventually will wear it out. What we need to work at our best is variation. We need periods of recovery between the intense rushes. Moments of tranquillity and relaxation.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m looking for it in the wrong place, wanting to spend some slow time in Azeroth. Maybe the best thing between raids would be to minimize the online time, to just get the little gold I need for repairs and consumables in the quickest possible way. I should shut down the PC, open the door to the little garden on my backyard and lose myself in the May concert of the blackbird. (Have you heard it? It will break your heart if you just bother to listen. There’s no game sound that can compete with it, believe me. And above all - it's random, unscripted and absolutely unique, a one-time-only happening.)

Still there are reasons why you should be online not just on raid time, not the least if you want to have some kind of social life and be a part of the guild. And I can’t rid myself from the thought that it should be possible to play WoW in a different manner. I should be able to enjoy the quests and the incredible details in the artwork, instead of mindlessly chasing the next reward.

I wish I could slow myself somehow, making it possible to actually feel every flavour of the game. I want to silence the competitive side of myself, the one that is constantly striving for “accomplishments”, which in fact mean nothing at all. I want to eat WoW with chop sticks. Not always, but sometimes.

I only wish I knew how.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wanted: better incentives for endgame questing

There I was, once again trying to catch the monsterbelly to get the lost arm of a fisherman and bring it back to Dalaran. The Frozen sea looked exactly the same is it did yesterday. I caught it at the fifth try. Not too shabby.

Then I mounted up and continued to the lake in the Howling Fjord, where the poor maiden in the iceblock was to be released once again. I knew it was a lost cause. Every time I’ve melted the ice, she has instantly refrozen before I’ve even left the place. She’s doomed to never leave the spot.

Finally I discussed with myself if I should go to Brunnhildar village once again and beat up the poor reluctant prisoners in the cave. The thought was revolting, but still, I couldn’t quite erase the bear mount from my wish list.

It was another night in Azeroth and I suddenly realized that I was doing what I’m doing most of the time when I’m not in a raid. I was doing dailies, meaning that I was doing the same, easy, silly quests over and over again. I was exactly as scripted as the NPCs. And I was in the danger zone of growing really bored.

Reasons for repetition
It was quite incomprehensible when I thought about it. Here I was, in the middle of a huge game, where I still had unexplored areas, where there still were tons of quests that I had never done. And still I chose to stick to just a few quests. How come?

Reason 1: out of laziness. It’s like water pouring down a mountain: it takes the shortest way down, following the already existing ravine. If I make a new, unknown quest I may have to think a little bit and make an effort, however small, to find out what to do. Even if I use a quest support addon as Lightheaded I’ll have to at least read a few lines. Doing dailies requires less effort than doing real quests. It’s relaxing in its own peculiar way, just like picking herbs.

Reason 2: because of the rewards. Doing normal quests in Icecrown generally will give me less in exchange than doing dailies. The possible gear rewards are useless to me and I’m not an enchanter, so I’ll just get a few gold from vendoring the items. I’m exalted with all the connected factions since long from grinding instances, so that’s not a motivator either. And the daily quests at Argent Tournament will award me currency that can be traded for vanity rewards such as mounts and cute pets – useless things, but still attractive to a childish player like me. Ordinary non-daily questing wouldn’t offer me anything like that. Just gold and a Loremaster title, which I don’t care much about.

Why it’s bad
I’m probably not alone in my behaviour. I think there are many other players who still haven’t done half of the offered quests in game, but have slipped into the habit of doing dailies. And while we obviously find reasons to do it, we also grumble and whine a bit about being bored from it. “Oh-my-god-I’m-sick-of-this!” Yet we do it. Kind of weird, isn’t it?

I think this is harmful to the game experience in the long run. A lot of displeased, whining players will create a negative climate, feeding the feeling that we’re playing a game that has passed zenith and now is declining, heading for it’s inevitable future death. It will also make players cluster all at one spot, at the Argent Tournament ground or the fishing spot of the day, rather than populating all of Northrend, which at least makes me a sad panda. To me a big part of the fun in playing an MMO is that I actually meet other players in the virtual world, not only friendly and unfriendly NPC:s.

My suggestion
So here comes my suggestion: why couldn’t they make the rewards from doing ordinary quests once you’ve reached endgame slightly more attractive? I doesn’t necessary have to be huge gold rewards. I think just a RNG feature, such as the items you can find in the fishing reward bag would be enough.

What if there was a chance, every so small, but still a chance, that you could get a special mount, pet or an epic gem such as you can get from the fishing quest, every time you completed an ordinary quest in Northrend. You wouldn’t know exactly what your reward would be; there would always be a moment of lottery in it. I think that would be inspiring enough to bring more people to finish off the zones, in this way using more of the content, meaning that less developer effort would be wasted. Everyone’s a winner.

Stop repeating myself
Well, I don’t expect suggestions from Larísa of Stormrage to be implemented in the game. So I’ve decided to try to be strong. When I have some time over, outside of raids and the obligations that come with it, I’m going to turn my back towards the monsterbelly, the frozen maiden and the blue people village. If not always, at least sometimes. I’ll stop just repeating myself and open my eyes to the one-time-only quests I’ve yet to do.

And I won’t do them for any other reward than the pleasure of seeing the quest designs and the stories.

After all: the amount of entertainment you get from an activity beats everything else in the end. It’s just sad that I have to remind myself about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Different approaches to gold farming

Do you ever read the blog by the Ensidia leader Kungen? I do, because it gives me some giggles and an insight into the somewhat bizarre life he leads in Azeroth. The other week he had a post about a, let’s call it different, way of making your living in game.

Here’s the story: Normally Kungen doesn’t visit Ogrimmar for longer than 5-10 minutes a week to get the consumables he needs for raiding. One night however, he did an experiment and decided to hang around for an hour. Immediately people started to give him gold, without any special reason. Not huge sums, more like 10-50 gold. But all in all it gave him 1000 gold in an hour and a bunch of consumables to go with it. He got all this for doing absolutely nothing except for just being there.

Gevlon’s thoughts
I couldn’t help wondering what the Gold collector number 1, Gevlon, would have thought about it. Actually I don’t think he’d disapprove, at least not entirely.

On one hand you could suspect that the people who gave those gifts to Kungen were true “Moron&Slacker” material, stupid people who thought that they could somehow buy the friendship and respect from the Nihilum guild leader for a few gold coins. They were part of a mindless crowd, not thinking for themselves, not striving for any goal or improvement on their own. The kind of people that give the goblins a good profit.

On the other hand you could also see them as fellow businessmen. Theoretically they could have the same good intention as Gevlon has declared on several occasions; they may want to spend their hard earned gold on a worthy cause. They’d rather sponsor a hard working, successfully progressing guild, than just burn it.

It’s a beautiful thought. But to be honest I don’t think it’s the case. The sums are just too small to be considered as real donations.

A good profit
Reading a blog post by Gevlon I realized that the Kungen method of gold farming wouldn’t get any goblin approval anyway. Why? It’s simply not profitable enough.

“I consider 2-3000G/hour (active playing time without AFK listings) an unlucky session.”

Cheers! That is what I’d call a challenging benchmark!

Dear Gevlon, there have been many occasions when I couldn’t agree with you, especially not when you’re into political socio-economic and moral discussions about real world matters. But nevertheless, I like you a lot, as you know, for being so cocky, so full of self confidence and so annoyingly good at what you’re doing.

Being a successful businessman in isn’t about showing up in Ogrimmar waiting for miracles to happen. It’s about devoting a little bit of effort into planning, monitoring the market, finding the opportunities and then exploring them, heading for volume rather than for occasional one-time-only bargains. It’s an entirely different approach to gold farming than the Kungen way.

Larísa’s gold farming
So how about Larísa? Do I ever farm gold in the game? No. Not really. My current fortune is about 5 k gold, spread over my characters, and if you would believe Gevlon I’m on the verge of poverty, even though I don’t see it quite that way myself. I’ve got the economy I need to pay my repairs, even after nasty wipe nights. I’m never low on consumables and I can easily enchant and gem the gear I obtain. My needs aren’t exactly overwhelming. Who would want a mega big mammoth blocking the whole screen anyway? Not me.

The truth is that I still haven’t been able to see the fun in hanging around scanning the Auction House for business opportunities. I farm in my own, slow way. I think the white wastes of Stormpeak give a more beautiful setting, where I can relax and let my mind drift away, than staring at the big screen of Auctioneer.

Maybe I’ll change my mind one day and give the Gevlon methods a shot. If I’d just be efficient and good enough at it, it may not be the boring time sink that I fear. After all, there are a couple of new tailoring recipes that drop in Ulduar now and I can’t deny that the shiny new belt is attractive. If I somehow could make 3 000 g per hour I would no doubt be able to get that upgrade a lot quicker.

Gold farming according to Kungen on the other hand isn’t an option to more than a handful of players in the world, and I’m really not one of them. Actually I’m not sure I’d want to either. I can’t say that I’d fancy having a cloud of people surrounding me, whispering me, opening trade windows to me whenever I visited a capital. Not even if they paid me 1000 g an hour.

And when you think about it... isn’t it dangerously close to begging?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Greatness of the Game

Games infuse our world. People infuse our would. Thus it is no surprise to encounter people who think they are bigger than the game itself: sport players using drugs, politicians taking bribes, priests molesting children, starlets breaking the law. Karatechop.

Karatechop deserved his ban. Regardless of Blizzard’s predicate acts, regardless of the innocence of his motivation, the fundamental truth is that the actual results of Karatechop’s behavior violated the core integrity of the game. If he had killed fourteen boars rather than fourteen bosses no would have noticed. It is true that comparatively speaking boars are challenging to lower level characters and using Martin Fury to kill them would have been as insulting to such low level characters as killing bosses are to raiders. But the effect of Karatechop’s actions on his fellow players is not the correct metric; the best metric is the effect of his actions on the game itself. The truth is that bosses are more important than boars; the game is designed that way. Imagine the world without boars. Now imagine it without bosses. From loot, to achievements, to quests; a core element to Warcraft is killing bosses. Boars are a minor sideshow. When Karatechop went around one-shotting bosses he didn’t just hit the game, he critted it.

Moreover, Karatechop’s account is not essential to the game. I realize that this is a pill some players don’t want to swallow. They have invested much time, energy, and passion into their characters and the idea that their account can be cut off in a flash without recourse is disconcerting. There seems to be an unspoken agreement that banning is a severe punishment. It’s not. It’s not if the metric is the impact on the game itself. The harsh truth is that the loss of Karatechop will have a negligible impact upon the game as a whole.

The Alternative

Before I played Warcraft I played several games based upon a micro-transaction business model. Nominally, such games are free; there is no cost to log-in to kill a few monsters and do a few quests. However, to progress in the game and experience all the content, you must buy in-game items (pets, gear, mounts, etc.) with real money. The more money you spend the more of the game that is accessible to you and thus the stronger you grow.

One consequences of the micro-transaction business model is that the people who are best at the game are those who are willing to spend the most real life money. It is common for the top players in popular games to spend $5000 a year. I once spent more money in three months than I did in an entire year playing the World of Warcraft.

Believe it or not the sheer amount of money I spent on micro-transaction games was not what caused me to quit them. The bigger problem with the micro-transaction business model is the way it warps developer’s priorities. In your average micro-transaction game, only about 5%-10% of the people actually pay. Most players are free loaders. When it comes to customer service, bug fixes, game design, and anything else you can think of, money talks. Wait, it’s more like screaming.

Playing favorites

The skewing of competition based upon the possession of real life monetary resources is the inevitable consequence of the pure micro-transaction model because such disparity is precisely the source of profit. If the real life disparity in monetary resources didn’t exist, the developers couldn’t afford to support the 95% of the population that is free loading. Imagine Blizzard trying to support the game if only 5% of the people paid $13 a month and everyone else played free; they’d shut down within the week. The only way a micro-transaction game can afford to carry the freeloaders is because a minority is funding it. And when that minority cries, you bet your ass the developers are going to listen; that’s their income talking.

In a micro-transaction model the marginal loss of a player is binary. If the player is a freeloader, the marginal loss is almost non-existent; if the player is a payer, the marginal loss can be significant. In plain language, the developers play favorites. But in a subscription model every player is equally dispensable; the lose is unitary. The loss of any one player has a negligible impact on the game as a whole. Each marginal loss is the same loss since everyone is paying the same monthly fee. A subscription model offers no incentive to the developer to play favorites; the micro-transaction model requires it. The net result is that developers funded by a subscription model are driven, consciously or not, to put the needs of the game first. Consistently catering to a minority can only hurt and never help. On the other hand, the management and expansion of a micro-transaction game is molded to suit the needs of the paying customers.

When you get right down to it all people who pay to play on-line games are engaged in “rent a developer;” what the developers see as good for the game bears a direct correlation to who is paying for it. In this sense the only difference between a subscription game and a micro-transaction game is the diversity of the income stream. Yet that diversity matters, it matters enormously. Because the greater the diversity of income streams the more dispensable each income stream becomes; the less one is beholden to any single interest group; the more one is inclined to do what is best for the game as a whole. It is for this reason that a game where each player individually is dispensable but where the game itself is indispensable is a better game to be playing than one where the game itself is dispensable but a few individual players are not.

The greatness of the game

When the whole Martin Fury debacle came about my reaction was to thank god, once again, that I was not back playing my former games. Because I know what would have happened if Karatechop had been one of those players spending thousands of dollars a year in a micro-transaction game. Absolutely nothing. The developers wouldn’t have dared. The impact on the integrity of the game be damned; the impact on the bottom line is what would have mattered.

For all the incantations of fun, Karatechop committed the sin of hubris. He put his needs above the needs of the game itself. That was intolerable. Just as it was intolerable when Paris Hilton thought she could drive around drunk without consequence or when baseball players thought they could take banned drugs without fear of the consequences. It's the developer's job to play god, not mine or yours.

If all you want is selfish greatness, go play a micro-transaction game that for $5000 a year allows you to play god to the developers. If you want to be playing a great game, however, you need a different perspective. For a being of greatness stands on top and looks down upon the masses, lets go with a Martin Fury, one shots the bosses. The greatness of being is standing on the bottom looking up, conscious of the miracle of creation towering above you, perceiving how disposable you truly are. That’s when you see the greatness of the game.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why I’d never use the new WoW profile tracker

Exactly what are you doing right now in the game? Have you just completed the daily fishing quest? Have you crossed the border from Grizzly Hills to Howling Fjord? Did you just kill Gothic?

Please don’t answer, because I seriously don’t want to know. This is another outburst which will probably put me in a bad light since I will appear grumpy and old fashioned. But really: I can’t understand what’s up with all of you guys who want to record every single step you take and then expect the world to keep track of it.

Big Brother Watching
I’ll start this rant from the beginning, explaining to you where I come from. You see, when I grew up in the 70s, I had a couple of fears that I shared with my generation. One was that there would be a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union that literally would blow up Earth. That wasn’t as much a fear as a fact. We all knew the world was heading towards its end; it was just a matter of time before it would happen.

Time has shown that the gloomy prophecies from the 70s were quite wrong. I don’t deny that there are environmental issues and that poverty is a reality in big parts of the world today, but we’re not inevitably heading towards a catastrophe. As a matter of fact many things have improved over time, a fact that some people find hard to accept.

Another fear I had was that we were about to lose our individual freedom and integrity. Inspired by dystopia novels such as 1984 and Brave New World, I pictured a world where computers registered every little thing we were doing, until we couldn’t take a single step without someone else knowing it. Big Brother would be watching. And to be honest, I think this fear wasn’t quite as exaggerated and out of place as the other gloom-and-doom statements from that era.

WoW tracker
The other day the former WoW insider, nowadays, proudly announced an upgrade. They haven’t just switched to a new address and got a new, good looking layout. They’ve also launched a new feature, where you can register your character, install an addon and so let anyone follow exactly what you’re doing in the game, minute by minute, just by checking a website.

Now, I know this is all voluntary. If you don’t like the thought of it, you don’t have to do it. So in that manner it really isn’t any “Big Brother Watches You”-issue. It isn’t forced up on you.


I just have to say it once for all: I don’t understand it. I don’t understand what motivates people to jump on this train, what urge they feel to be voluntarily supervised.

I guess it’s somehow connected to my lack of understanding for the charm of Twitter. As I said, I’m probably just old, conservative and a child of the 70s, but don’t you guys ever want to do things just on your own, without anyone else knowing it?

Do you seriously enjoy to have people following every step you take? I’m trying to see what motivates you. Is it like the things you experience don’t happen for real if you only record them in your mind and memory and not at a website? “I twitter, therefore I exist”. Is that the new saying?

The new way of communicating
The world has changed. We’re communicating in a way that not even a science fiction fan like me could have imagined. Most of it is for good. The thought exchange has gone into warp speed and become global.

Still sometimes I can’t help thinking that something is lost on the way: the excitement that comes with some lack of information.

When my grandfather was in his 30s he went on a botanical expedition to the remote areas of Argentina to explore and collect plants. He spent two years over there, in the middle of the second world war. Two years, without any phone calls. At the most he could send a telegram or a letter, not being sure if it would ever arrive at its destination. When they came back they wrote a book about it, and reading it I can’t help thinking that this was what I would call a truly epic adventure. After two years of silence he had really some story to share! He hadn’t spoiled it on beforehand by twittering every step he took.

Where blogging comes in
The journey of my grandfather was quite the opposite of the concept of WoW profile tracking. So what about me then? I’m really not as private as my grandfather was. Just by running this blog I make a part of my gameplay public. I display my character name and realm name and anyone who would like to see me in game or want to check what achievements I’ve done so far can easily do so. Sometimes I share stories from what I’ve been up to.

There’s a difference though to WoW profile tracking: My stories are selected. It’s the stories and the thoughts that I want to share, but there’s other stuff going on that you don’t have a clue about. You’ll never get the full picture and I think you’re probably as happy about that as I am. I seriously can’t think about anything more boring than to get an unfiltered stream of reports from the game activities of another player.

So now you know. You won’t be able to track my activities on, not even when they’ve opened for European characters. I still care about my privacy. Even in this era when everything seems to be recorded.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

33 things I want to do before I quit WoW

There’s a lot of talking about quitting WoW these days. Some do it for real. Others are just playing with the thought.

I’m not ready to join either of the categories yet. But it certainly makes me start thinking. A long time ago I wrote a post about what I would do the last few hours if Blizzard suddenly decided to close down the servers. At that point I wanted to have a last few hours in Karazhan, and then let Larísa finish her days in a simple way, dressed in a simple white dress, forever merrily playing at some idyllic green pasture such as Elwynn Forest.

And I think I would say the same if you asked me again, almost a year later. Those two activities represent what is the essence of the game to me. One is raiding. I’d probably not spend my last night online in Karazhan, but I’d certainly want to get a last mouthful of it to enjoy. Maybe one of the new, quicker encounters, such as Sartharion or Malygos?

Ever since I discovered the charm of raiding, it has been the warm, throbbing heart of my WoW playing. It has brought me focus, relaxation, excitement, friendship and all of those zen moments of clarity which make the real world worries fade away.

But the other aspect, the running around barefoot on a field, is just as important to me, even though I tend to forget it sometimes when I get too caught up in the “always being productive and efficient” approach to the game, which is rather silly when I think closer about it.

I want to remember my character Larísa as someone who is free from burdens and obligations, who happily runs around, probably making cute emotes, playing hide and seek and just enjoying herself and the world. It’s somehow a comforting thought to think that she’ll still be there, even if it’s only in my imagination.

My 33 list
Today however I started to pay the issue a little bit more of attention. I thought: when I decide to quit the game, the question isn’t just how I’ll spend my last few hours. It would probably be a decision that would grow over time. And even once it’s taken I’d probably have some more days to spend in the game before the subscription ran out. And I was asking myself: are there some things in the game that I haven’t done and I’d really like to do before I can leave it with an easy mind?

Have you seen those books flooding the market, where people list “1000 movies you need to see before you die”, “1000 places you need to visit” and so on? I don’t think I could come up with 1000 “must-do” activities in WoW, and I certainly don’t have the nerve to tell others what they should do. But for fun I made a smaller list for myself. So here I proudly present you 33 things (without any priority order) that I want to do before I log out for the very last time! Maybe some of it can inspire you if you feel stuck and out of inspiration what to do next:

  1. Win an arena match. This is a brave one. Will I ever be able to leave WoW if doing this is a condition? But I’m always up for a challenge.
  2. Clear Sunwell. A whole raiding instance that I haven’t seen. Seems like such a waste of content.
  3. Create a horde character on a strange server where I don’t know anyone and level it to at least 40. No quest addons allowed. Will I once again feel the thrill and excitement I felt being new and lost in an unknown world? Or will it be just a “meh, kill 10 horde version of pigs” experience? Will I make friends? Will I progress more easily than I did when I started, thanks to my experience? I want to know what I’ve learned over the years.
  4. Eat a delicious chocolate cake at a beautiful spot. It makes me smile every time! Not for the achievement, but for the silly little firework and the completely unnecessary buff.
  5. Get an Azure Whelping. Preferably not at AH, unless I’m desperate.
  6. Get myself a Winterspring Frostsaber mount. (I imagine that after such a grind I’ll felt relived rather than sorry to leave the game. It’s my cunning plan to detach myself from Azeroth.)
  7. Make a cool Slowfall. From Darnassus to Kalimdor, from Stormspire to Hellfire. Be a video copy cat and pretend that I came up with it myself.
  8. Try some world PvP. Join a For the Alliance raid.
  9. Arrange and lead a successful instance run of any kind from the beginning to the end. (Should involve more players than myself.) Just to prove to myself that I can.
  10. Run an instance as a healer. (Which means that I’ll have to level my little druid at least to Deadmine level).
  11. Run an instance as a tank. (Same druid! Dual spec, ftw!)
  12. Roll a Death Knight and level it at least until Outland ready. They say it's such a cool questline.
  13. Buy an awesome Darkmoon trinket. It’s always seemed way out of reach to me. Is it really so?
  14. Find a sneaky player who could take me on a guided tour to some lesser known places over the world where you’re not supposed to be. It’s probably forbidden, but who cares since I’m leaving anyway?
  15. Get an undying title of any valor. Prove to the world, and over all to myself, that I’m NOT necessarily suicidal just because I’m a mage.
  16. Do if not all, at least most quests in Northrend. There are so many interesting quests, including cool things like movies, vehicles and phases, and I still haven’t come around to do many of them, which is a pity.
  17. Do the Make Love, not Warcraft achivement, hugging dead enemies before they release corpse. It’s cute and still sort of humiliating in a devilish way. Kill them and then hug them. I love the idea.
  18. Spec frost and go nuts aoe!
  19. Harass some poor flag watcher in AB with my rogue. I’ve been attacked SO many times by rogues. The revenge will be sweet.
  20. Spend a silly night at the Ironforge bridge in company with our realm clown Cacknoob. Maybe he was right all the time? Maybe that’s the way the game should be played. I don’t know until I’ve tried it.
  21. Kill the toughest raid boss that the game offers at that moment. I really can’t leave as long as he is standing on his feet. Who it will be depends on in which expansion I’ll be leaving.
  22. Disable all map addons and play hide and seek with someone likeminded in Stormwind.
  23. Spend a couple of nights at a role playing server to see what it’s like.
  24. Complete the spear quest at Hodirs. It was so annoying that I gave up and leveled my rep to exalted by other means. But it’s annoying to have it undone. I want to show myself that I can do it.
  25. Have a ride with the subway between Stormwind and Ironforge. I’ll never forget the thrill I felt the first time I did it. Being a mage you get into teleporting habits pretty quickly though, so it’s been too long since I last did it.
  26. Catch some fish in Ogrimmar! I'm not a coward.
  27. Get the Polymorph Cat spell, make a macro for random polymorphing and find a spot where I can amuse myself with that on the behalf of some poor mob. I would feel like a real wizard for once.
  28. Dress up in the useless, but good looking cloths that currently are just collecting dust in my bank vault. I’ve never ever put on those beautiful pink and black dresses, always walking around in full combat gear. It’s a shame. Larísa should get a casual dressed night at least once before she retires.
  29. Complete my world exploring. When I first started to play the game, the map was grey and the world was huge and endless. Now it has shrunk sadly and I know very well it isn’t. There’s no excuse to leave the game without seeing it all.
  30. Kill a rare spawn. The requirements of The Northern Exposure achievement seem modest enough. Find and kill ONE of 23 named creatures. But I have yet to see a single one of them. Heming Nesingwary must be displeased with me.
  31. Take a bunch of screenshots of dear friends and places in the game. I’ve never been good at picture taking and the few ones I had were lost in the last computer crash. Of course I have it all in my head, but it would be nice to have a few pictures too to show my grand children.
  32. Give a game master a farewell hug. I think they need it.
  33. Have a haircut.

Nooooo! The last one was just a joke. Won't happen. Ever.

I'll leave that open for you. What is the 33rd thing I should do before I quit?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring cleaning the inn

The spring sun has arrived and is relentlessly exposing the lack of window cleaning activities in my home. While the mothers of the neighbourhood are polishing frenetically, I shrug. I look at the grey shade on the window, thinking: “it isn’t too bad. After all it helps out to filter the annoying sun reflections so I get a better view on the screen.” Yeah. I’m a bad, bad woman.

But nevertheless: spring has arrived and that means that it’s about time to do some cleaning at The Ping Pigtail Inn as well. I’ve had my home in those premises for eleven months now, and it has become quite untidy in the corners. It isn’t anything revolutionary stuff going on, just small adjustments, so please keep enjoying your beer and posts and don’t worry too much about it.

If you’re curious about what’s been going on without your noticing I thought I’d point it out and also give some proper credit for the work.

The rescuing knight
The knight that has suddenly come to my rescue in this matter is the in every aspect outstanding, awesome WoW blogger Ixobelle. A little while ago he wrote to me and suggested that I should move the author names so that they come before the posts, in order to avoid confusion about who has written them, now that I have a bartender. I replied that I’d like to and that I had tried to, but that I for some reason couldn’t make it work, and that I unfortunately had no clue about html writing.

“I’ll help you out” he said. And so he did. And while he was still at it, he also helped me with an old issue, which has been bothering me since last autumn: the fact that whenever a Blogger based blog linked to my blog in a blogroll, the link went to an old post, unless they linked to my Feedburner address. Now that problem is solved and I don’t have to write individually to every single blogger who is kind enough to link to me, explaining why the link doesn’t work.

And as if this wasn’t enough he offered to help me to make a little icon for the blog. So if you look closely in the address field of the blog you’ll find a smallish pink pigtail.

Broken blogroll
Finally Ixobelle suggested that I should give the blog a proper domain name. I had thought it was rather complicated – it turned out that it wasn’t. So from now on you’ll find me at The old address will continue to work though, so it’s no panic to change it.

As a side effect of this it seems as if my blogroll has disappeared. I don’t know if I’ll be able to restore it the way it was or if I’ll have to rebuild it manually. If it’s the later, it will take me some time, since I don’t read blogs through any reader, but through my blog roll. I’ll have to try to recall them all and probably I’ll fail on a few. So please, if you know that you were linked on my roll and don’t find your blog linked here again in a few days, please throw me a letter and I’ll put you back! Don’t take any offence. Some blogs have trade marks that I can recall without any help, some haven't, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t read and appreciate them.

By the way, Ixobelle did another great thing for The Pink Pigtail Inn and a bunch of other blogs on his blogroll. Instead of just providing a link, he has made personal, unique thumbnails for each one of the blog. I so proud and thrilled to see mine that I just have to publish it here so that you’ll all will see it, in case you’re not one of Ixobelle’s regular readers.
Did I tell you he is awesome? Not enough many times. So I say it again. Ixobelle, you are my hero.

The state of the blog
A few final words about the state of the blog. The last few weeks I’ve had a few posts which have been heavily commented, partly thanks to some link love from WoW Insider. It’s nice and very much appreciated; however it’s a little bit overwhelming. I’ve always tried to answer almost every single comment, and that works well when you have 5-10 comments at the most, but not as well when there’s 39 of them. If you have commented and not got a personal reply, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t read and appreciate the comment. I really, really do.

To be honest it feels a bit weird to get all this attention. Gaining a big audience has never been a big blogging motivator for me, but suddenly I find myself with over 500 subscribers. I guess it’s a sign of the time we’re living in. Established WoW bloggers are now quitting almost every day. Gnomeaggedon hasn’t quit yet, in spite of all the little pranks he’s currently playing us. But many others have and I guess that this means that their readers are looking for new blogs to get their daily dose of WoW-related blog reading. Some of them end up here.

To all of you who have started to frequent PPI recently, I can just say: welcome and have a seat! Feel free to poke around a bit among my old writings! I’ve written over 300 posts by now and actually most of them are rather timeless, since I don’t engage myself that much into news from the PTRs and such. When I look back at my first posts I can see that my perspective has shifted slightly, after I’ve gained more raiding experience. But the essence is pretty much the same and I don’t regret any of my earlier writings. So if you think that my posting is slower that you’d like, it could be an idea to try some of the vintage brews while waiting for the new ones to arrive.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The stories that can’t be told

Monday morning. I’m slowly making progress in the queue to the coffee machine. We’re asking the same question as we ask every week. Not necessarily because we want to know, but because that’s how you’re supposed to socialize at work:

“So how was your weekend?”

This should be answered with something a little bit more detailed than “not bad”. You’re supposed to add something about what you’ve been up to. Preferably you drop something about how you spent the whole Saturday taking out the weeds in the garden, had a barbeque with your friends or watched a football match that your sons’ team was playing.

I’m thinking desperately for something to say. Something socially accepted. And absolutely not WoW related. Should I mention the WoW insider link love I got late friday night which resulted in an insane traffic spike to my blog? No I shouldn't. My co-workers are aware of my obscure interest in science fiction and fantasy, and I think they know that it happens that I play online games. But they certainly don’t know how passionate I am about it, so crazy that I even run a related blog. This event is out of the question to mention.

Finally I come to think about the big final of the Eurovision song contest that I watched with my family. Yes, that’s it! This will be the perfect coffee break topic of the day. It will last me all the way until I’m heading home. I'm safe for this time.

Trying to explain
Sometimes I can’t help regretting that there are so many stories, so many experiences, that can’t be told or shared with anyone outside of the WoW playing community. I’ve tried to explain it a few times, but I’ve given it up, because to an outsider the most epic moments in the game sound just flat and silly.

My last effort in this area took place the other week, when my youngest, non-playing daughter spoke up and said: “Mum, we always speak about our activities but never about yours. Let’s listen to you for once. What are you doing in the game now, is there something important going on, it seems like that?”

So I told her about the new raid instance that was released pretty recently and explained that we were fighting hard to get down all the new bosses. Now we had finally managed to get down the 11th of them in the 10 man version. I had died over and over again for two hours previous night, but at last we got him, and I was so happy and proud about it. And I added that I hoped that we would kill the same boss once again anytime soon now, but with 25 people present.

I listened to myself with the ears of a non-gamer and I knew as I was speaking that I sounded stupid, to tell the least. To kill the same boss again? What was that about, really? From the look on her face I realized that my effort to explain this passion of mine was a complete failure. I fumbled for some better words and then I gave in and turned silent.

The difficulties
For some reason it seems that it’s much harder to talk about WoW than about any other hobby. If you’re a dedicated golf player, you can easily talk about a hole-in-one or a successful round that was so-and-so under par, and people will perfectly well understand why you’re so excited. If you’re playing football you can talk about your wins and losses. If you’re into performing arts you can talk about the audience and reviews.

But try to explain to someone outside of the game how glad you are that you finally got your Hodir rep to exalted so you could buy the shoulder enchants and that you never ever want to do any Hodir quests again. Try to explain the awesomeness of the two pieces of T8 bonus. Explain how happily surprised you were when it turned out that the fishing quest reward contained a +23 spelldamage gem that seems to sell at 1k gold at AH (happened to me yesterday!) Try to explain the joys and sorrows that come with the everyday of a living, vibrant raiding guild. Tell them about the visions, the dreams, the failures, the triumphs, the emotions and the relations that define who we are in the game.

Has anyone succeeded? Is it doable at all?

The solid barrier
Sometimes I’ve been playing with the idea to write some kind of fiction, inspired by my own experiences from this world – a little bit like a written equivalent to The Guild perhaps. However I seriously doubt that I could ever find an audience for it outside of the MMO community. The niche is to narrow.

There’s a solid barrier between Azeroth and the rest of the world, for good and for bad. The bad thing about it is that there’s a big and important part of my life that I can’t show publicly. Sometimes this makes me feel like a hoax. I’m acting like a normal, well adapted grown-up, while there’s a part of me that is revolting against it.

On the other hand I’m not only worried about the barrier. Actually there’s a part of me who wants to keep the worlds distinctly apart, who enjoys to share a secret with a few million other people spread all over the world. There is an escape-it-all aspect of the game that speaks to me. Azeroth is to me like any Elidor or Narnia. Entering the magic portal, the login screen, slipping into my online identity, I can sometimes literally feel how the burdens of everyday slip of my shoulders. Would they really do that if the worlds were more mixed together?

Monday morning
Monday morning. I’m standing by the coffee machine listening to myself talking about the Eurovision song contest as if it mattered to me. Tomorrow night I’ll once again slip through the portal to my second, secret existence. Epic encounters with Freya and Mimron are waiting. Our adventures will become a new story that cannot be told to those on the other side of the doorway to the magic world.

And maybe it’s just as good.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mine That Bird

I love thoroughbred horse racing. Starting as a 12 year old, I mucked stalls at the local horse trainer for a dollar an hour. While other kids worked the local fast food joint or babysat, I broke horses and learned to train them. All that ended when I went off to college, but I always retain my love for the event. While I’m much too tall to be a professional jockey, racing horses is thrilling even in practice. I retain a vivid memory of riding an Appaloosa down the stretch: the drumming hooves, the rippling flesh, the flecks of sweat flying of the neck. I think it was the first time in my life I experienced power; I unequivocally felt free.

So naturally I was stupidly excited when a horse from New Mexico called “Mine That Bird” won the Kentucky Derby for the first time. The fact he went off at long-shot odds and won a thrilling come from behind victory is proof that the early bird doesn’t always get the worm. His home park, Sunland Park, was not where we raced but any connection would do. I was literally cackling with glee after the race.

That Bird Mine

I won’t lie. Even though I derisively call it “the chicken” it’s just out of envy. In truth getting Reins of the Raven Lord would make me happy as a lark. I think one major reason I went through the Druid Swift Flight Form quest line even though I didn’t have to was so I could mine that bird. Certainly it is true that after the quest line was finished I spent days pestering Looking for Group in order to round up groups of level 80s to run Heroic Sethekk Halls. But this approach turned out to a little birdbrained; I finally figured out that if I spent my time leveling to 80 I could probably solo it.

The reason that I want Reins of the Raven Lord is that I always have had a fascination with brightly colored birds. My favorite birds at the zoo are parrots and toucans. So even though Anzu’s mount can’t fly, I think it’s the most beautiful bird in the game. And I won’t lie. It’s also a bird that is still rare, at least on my server. There is one woman in particular who is always hanging out on her bird in the middle of the Ironforge bridge, proud as a peacock. As soon as I see the bird I know who it is; it’s Laney. Laney the Immortal. And I always say to myself as I ride right through her, that bird mine.

Bird Mine That

Commentators are writing a lot of tripe about this Kentucky Derby victory intended to impress gullible people who know nothing about horse racing. This race was not some type of strange bird; it was a mine-run case. For from being impossible, as the announcer has it, the same jockey used this exact same strategy two years ago when Street Sense came from 19th place to win. In racing parlance the strategy is called “marking time” or sometimes “saving ground”. By keeping the horse back, the jockey keeps him out of harms way and saves his energy for later in the race. In fact, if the horse hugs the rail the entire way, it actually runs a shorter distance than all the other horses. In a sport where races are often decided by a nose or a neck, that’s a huge advantage. Here is another example of the technique, David Wottle uses it perfectly to win the 800m at the 1972 Olympics.

Your guess is a good as mine as to whether Mine that Bird can repeat in the Preakness or even win the Triple Crown. Each race is a unique and difficult event; there’s a reason why no horse has swept the races since 1978. Certainly most people, including myself, just a few weeks ago would have found the idea of a New Mexico horse winning the Triple Crown strictly for the birds. Now people think his owners are sitting on a gold mine.

I wish Mine that Bird all the luck in the world. Wait, actually I don’t. I’m going to need some of that luck myself; I going to get the chicken and I don’t intend to spend forever to mine that bird.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Overcoming cowardness

Have you ever caught yourself acting like a coward? I have.

The insight struck me the other day when I looked at my talent sheet. My main spec is still the one I raided with in Naxx: arcane with a little bit of frost for icy veins. I haven’t yet been totally convinced that I should ditch for deep fire with focus magic. Maybe I will eventually.

A little while ago I felt that I wanted to spoil Larísa a bit, so I bought her the luxury of a dual spec. Somewhere in my back head I also thought that this might inspire me to be a bit more flexible about my specs. I’ve always hated the process of respeccing, putting all the points at the right places, changing the action bars accordingly. I imagined that I would feel much less reluctant to do it if I just could put it up once and then switch between them.

Ashamed of myself
Looking at my dual spec now I felt ashamed over myself. Did I grab the opportunity to try something completely different? Did I for instance go for a frost-aoe spec to try out some of the awesomeness that Krizzlybear keeps talking about? Or did I pick a specialized PvP spec that could have made the BG:s I endured on the hunt for my Childrens Week title quite a bit more fun?

No. I didn’t. My secondary spec is the fire spec that I may or may not switch to. It’s a cookie-cutter spec, but it definitely isn’t something new and challenging. I’m just playing safe, staying well within my comfort zone. Been there, done that. NOT exploring new worlds.

Sigh. "Shame on you. You can do better than this, Larísa!"

The cowardness annoys me, because it's not the kind of person I want to be. I think part of it isn’t about the lack of courage, it’s about being lazy. If I pick a frost spec I actually have to do a bit of research to find out how to glyph it and what spell rotations I should do. And I’ll have to arrange macros and action bars over again. But seriously, how long could it take me? Two hours perhaps? It wouldn’t be impossible to bring that up. I could just postpone my need for a new silly pet, cutting down on jousting and daily questing (which already is on a very low level, but I could leave it entirely for a while). I surely could get the time to do it, provided that I really went for it.

But there also is some built in fear of the unknown, fear of doing things I haven’t done before. “What if I screw up?”, says my childish, tiny, whining inner voice.
“Yeah, what if you do?” I tell her back, quite harshly. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? A few gold in repairs, a few wasted glyphs and possibly some people having a laugh if they see your failure. It could be worse!”

A story of horse riding
I come to think of something that my horse riding instructor said. This is the story: I had taken up riding as a hobby as a grown up, just as I did with WoW playing. It was quite frightening to begin with – I assure you that real mounts are quite much harder to handle than their virtual counterparts.

When you take the step to start jumping –which you have to do galloping in order to make it – it feels like you’re going to fall off any second. The problem is that whatever you do you can’t display your fear so that the horse will notice it. You see, your fear is contagious. It will make your horse so scared that it completely will refuse to take the jump.

And this is what my riding instructor always told me: “Toss your heart over first. Then you can come after”.

That picture really helped me, and I’ve used when I’ve prepared myself mentally for other challenges in life. I toss my heart first. And then the rest of me can follow.

That’s what I should do the next time an opportunity is opened to me to do something I’ve never done in the game before, be it to play around with a frost spec or maybe to do some mage tanking, if future instances will offer that.

So listen carefully now:

“Larísa, you shall not hesitate anymore!
Toss your heart over and then jump.”

Your inner instructor has spoken.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A rant about our fear of temporary changes

I will start this post by throwing the first stone at myself. I’m not better than anyone of those people that I’m about to attack. It happens that I whine too, and I’ve probably bitched a bit myself in the past. But I’m not worse than I can change my mind, OK?

Now with this settled, I just want to let my heart out about a thing that is bothering me: the conservatism of the WoW community, at least the vocal part of it. It’s absolutely astonishing.

Whenever there’s a small temporary change in the game mechanics, people go nuts about it, complaining, bitching, moaning, whining about the cruelness and stupidity of the developers. Eventually they manage to create a negative atmosphere around the whole event, effectively taking the fun out of it for everyone else, even those that from the beginning didn’t have any clear opinion about it of their own.

The scourge invasion
For instance it happened before the launching of WotLK, with those infectious scourge running around in the capitals. Do you remember? I was sulking and bitching myself! Maybe not in this blog, but at least in my head, and probably in whispers to people I know. Now afterwards I just want to apologize. I was dead wrong and I’m sorry about it.

Blizzard gave us a twist, a new sort of challenge, something we had to figure out how to deal with on our own, not by doing what we’re always doing. And how did we react? We tossed the gift away, like spoiled kids. It wasn’t like the game was going to be like that forever. It was a matter of weeks or even a few days, since they were forced to stop it sooner than they had planned (even though they’ll never admit they did). But we couldn’t cope with it because our bank alts were killed. Seriously, our reactions were completely out of proportion.

Children’s week
The outcry about the Children’s week achievement last week is another example of it. I’ve complained about it a bit myself, not aloud, but in my head. I was thinking about writing a post about the stupidity of forcing PvE players to go to the BGs, thus destroying the gameplay altogether for the PvP:ers, since our incentives were completely different to theirs.

I /signed wholeheartedly at the well put rant of Euripides, who suggested that the achievements should rather have been about winning the BG:s. In that way the motives of the regular PvPers and the temporary PvPers chasing achievements wouldn’t interfere. But giving it a second thought I’ve changed my mind.

Yeah, I know it was a pain to get it done. It took me quite a few hours to succeed. Especially I remember a WG that went on and on forever. Both sides refused to attack, just assembling in respectively flag room, orphans up, waiting for someone to come so they could retake the flag. The situation was quite absurd.

On the other hand: was it really so bad? They screwed up the BGs the way they’re normally played, but they gave us something else, a new sort of PvP. I caught myself many times thinking that the true opponents in BG wasn’t horde, but alliance players, competing with you to capture a flag or a tower. You had to invent new strategies on the fly. Was it best to sneak, wait for another alliance player to do something brave and foolish, and then grab the chance? Or should you by emotes and telepathy try to convince the achievement junkies on the horde side to cooperate with you?

You could pick up some strategic advice from bloggers about how to do it, but in the end, there wasn’t just The way to complete this, since the BGs varies a lot, from server to server and battle to battle, depending on the players. You had to think for yourself. It was unpredictable and actually rather fun, if you just didn’t cling so desperately to the idea that everything in Azeroth always should be the same.

A new approach
I’ll end this rant with a promise, which I hope you’ll hold me to.

Read my lips:
Next time there will be a game-mechanics changing temporary event for a week, I’ll refuse to join The Leage of Organized Whiners. I’ll open my eyes, try to see the new and fun in it and adapt to the situation.

Seriously, those things don’t break the game for us. They shake us up a bit, which is exactly what we need sometimes, whether we realize it or not. They break the routine and the grind that we constantly complain about, the repetition that we find so boring.

They’re not a problem. They’re a possibility.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Merely WoW

Every so often a common phrase or a concept enters my life and drives me batty. A few years ago “think out side the box” was a bugaboo for me. I detested that phrase and every time I heard it I wanted to punch someone in the face, and I am not a violent person. It was a phrase that covered up a distinct lack of thinking. I never was in a box thank you very much. But it was like an ill-chosen Christmas gift; a mantra regifted time and time again because in truth no one wants it but everyone is convinced someone else does.

Of all the trite phrases used in the World of Warcraft, the one that annoys me the most is the claim that “it’s just a game.” Every time some cries, or complains, or expresses any unhappiness at all about the game for any reason, someone inevitably hauls it out: “It’s just a game.” As if that explains everything. Sometimes it’s even hauled out to smack someone over the head with if they appear too enthusiastic about said game. It’s as if there is some subtle or unspoken rule that because something is a game, people can’t care, or be passionate, or spend a lot of time and energy on it. And if people do, whatever they have to say is wrong based upon that fact alone.

If you think about it it’s really quite bizarre. Here in America, many of our sports have become year-around pastimes. The coverage of professional sports such as the National Football league is covered in the type of minute detail 24/7/365 that Wow Insider or Wowhead could only fantasize about. I know people involved in fantasy baseball who schedule their family vacations at spring training locations so they can scope out the upcoming players for their company’s league draft in person. Some people spend significant portions of their entire lives involved in such games from the moment they enter little league as a five year old to the time leave senior softball at age 70. Yet never have I heard anyone ever criticize any of these people with the claim that baseball or football (American or European) is “just a game.”

As annoyed as I get at the people who use the phrase “it’s just a game” in an attempt to trivialize other people’s values, I get equally frustrated with the people who capitulate to it. It’s as if there is an unspoken guilt or embarrassment about doing something that others perceive as inconsequential. Who cares what they think. If some people think WoW is just a game, then they simply have no place in the conversation; we should not stand around while people demean us. No serious NFL or Euro Cup fan would allow their pastime to be dismissed so cavalierly. Why should we.

WoW is a game but it’s not just a game. It’s not just a game to Blizzard which is making a mint. It’s not just a game to hundreds of employees who are spending substantial portions of their careers designing, developing, implementing, and maintaining the game. And as the huge outcry over the Martin Fury debacle showed, it’s not just a game to millions of players; it serious business.

Sometimes I think that what the WoW community needs more than anything else is a group of cheerleaders. Some hot gals and guys on the sideline yelling “go team go!” Maybe that will make us feel better about ourselves. Maybe it will stop the angst. If you perceive the need to justify the time or energy or passion you spend on WoW to yourself or to your closest loved ones, fine. But you don’t need to justify it to anyone else. Because truthfully no one else cares. They are too busy checking the latest sports score, wondering who is cheating on who in the soap operas, and reading all about Madonna’s latest adoption.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Player housing in WoW – worth fighting for?

“We have a nation of 12 million homeless avatars who fall asleep in alleyways, alongside mailboxes and in pubs each night. Yet we have ample amounts of real estate within major cities that are boarded up and unused.”
This quote comes from a post last week by Wolfshead, a very interesting general gaming blogger that I found recently thanks to Tobold (thank you!).

Wolfshead argues that it’s about time that Blizzard spends some developing resources on creating player housing. Other MMO:s have proven that it’s possible. And while they’re still at it they should make guild halls available as well.

Player housing would, according to Wolfshead:
  • give players more things to do (like role-playing)
  • make professions meaningful again
  • give a broader playerbase (since women are supposed to be more interested in building homes, something I won’t even comment on, since I don’t want this post to become another “all-women-aren’t-the-same-and-I-love-to-raid-too-post”).

Above all Wolfshead thinks it will give players a feeling of ownership. They’ll have a place to call their own and be able to “leave their own mark to the world.”

Honestly I’ve never ever thought about this before. I’ve never felt like I’ve been homeless; I’ve always felt comfortable enough at the inns where I’ve put my stone. But after reading this I’ve bended my mind back and forward, trying to figure out my opinion about it.

The thing is that with my lack of gaming experience it’s kind of hard to picture what it would be like to have a player house. What would it look like? How would I use it? Would it feel some need that I actually carry, it’s just that I’m not aware of it yet?

What is player housing?
I turned to my friend Zakesh and asked him about what player housing was like in other games. Apparently there have been a bit different approaches. In Lord of the Rings online, the houses were instanced. You entered a portal and there were some 30 buildings around, of which your guild owned one. In Star Wars the houses were built in the common world. Someone built a town hall and then you were free to build houses within a certain distance of it. Player cities grew up and guilds often had a bunch of common buildings with different purposes – like a place for storing crafting materials, a shuttlehall, a house for living and so on.

The houses in Star Wars didn’t despawn the moment a guild broke up or a player quit, but they would decay over time. That could take quite a while though if the houses had been financed for repairs. This gave the effect that some houses could stand empty for years, only slowly turning into ruins. Recently they had a patch though that cleared away houses that hadn’t been used in a long time. All in all the houses were hardly footprints, equivalent to traces of dinosaurs. They weren’t forever.

What was the use of those places then? As far as I understand they served as tools for helping in some matters that are handled in other ways in WoW. In Star Wars, for instance, there wasn’t any tool for transferring items between players like the ingame mail system in WoW. By using the houses you could send things to your alt or a friend. They also served a purpose for plain storage, something that is handled in the bank system in WoW. The difference of course is that in a player house, you don’t only put your item into a bank slot, invisible to anyone else but you. You can post it like a trophy on the wall and let other players admire and envy them.

Not a collector
How does this sound to Larísa?

Well, since we have guild banks, auction houses and post boxes, there’s no need for player or guild houses for those reasons. So let’s look at the museum side of it instead. In real life I’ve never been the collector type. I don’t have 200 ceramic elephants standing on a shelf; I don’t fill my walls with souvenirs from all over the world. And it’s the same in the game. Even though admittedly I DO have a storage problem, it’s all about being lazy and negative towards sorting things. It’s not that I can’t rid my self of the things. It would never ever come to my idea to make a collection of all the tier sets for a mage. The only souvenir item I have – which I really love – is my skull from Ilidan. I would seem rather exaggerated though to build a whole house just to display one item to a non-existing audience.

What about the role playing aspect of it then? Well, I can certainly understand that people who’re mainly focusing on roleplaying would benefit a lot from it. At least if it wasn’t instanced, I guess it would mean that I could open a Pink Pigtail Inn at the EU Stormrage server, which people actually could visit. However, I would rarely be there myself, spending most of my online time raiding and such, so in reality I can’t see how it would work. The opening hours would be crappy to say the least.

Theoretically I like the thought of having a place that I truly can call my own, a couple of comfortable armchairs where me and my friends could relax in front of the fire place, having a hot drink and sharing memories. But thinking closer about it, how long would that be fun? Wouldn’t I soon be itching for some action? If I wanted that kind of “furnish-a-home-and-speak-to-your-friends-game” I could as well go for Sims or Second life.

Nice but not necessary
I can’t speak for every single other player in Azeroth. I’m sure that there are some players out there craving for a house of their own. But if you ask me about my opinion I’d categorize player housing as “nice” but not “necessary”. If I could decide where Blizzard would allocate their development resources I’d choose new raid encounters and five man instances, every time. A player house as I picture it would only be fluff, which will start to collect dust as soon as the first sensation of novelty is gone.

When I think of how player houses would look in Azeroth, I don't see the lovely quarters around the town square in Stormwind, teaming with people on their way to do errands, or just messing around, seeing friends and watching what's going on. I see houses that will sooner or later be deserted since the players have quit or the guilds have broken down. Haunted castles, ruins, memories of lost friendships and broken dreams. It will be more depressing than fun to watch.

And it’s really not worth fighting for.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The challenge of un-preparing myself

Tuesday night was supposed to be one of those nights that you won’t forget in the first place. I was looking to three and a half raiding hours filled with tries and hopefully a first kill of Hodir. Maybe we’d have a few shots at some other raid boss as well.

It was a couple of minutes to raid start and almost every player in the raid was already at spot, ready to pull. The table had been served. In the mage channel we had settled the focus magic buff order for the evening. Any minute now the officer would finish their pre-meeting and join the rest of the crew in the raid room at vent. I was sitting by my cozy fire, hugging my chosen companion pet for the night, Chuck the crocodile.

Then I heard it: the disturbing little melody that tells me that I’ve been cut off from the vent server. I was just about to ask in the raid chat if someone else had been tossed out when I was disconnected from the WoW server as well. My Internet connection apparently had decided to go down, at the worst possible moment.

Growing frustration
First of all I called a friend in the raid on the phone, so he could inform the others what was going on. Then I immediately took action: restarted the router, restarted the cable modem. No result. The lack of shining lamps at the modem was disturbing, and when I tried to call my internet provider and was completely unable to get through I was even more worried. Apparently there was some major issue going on. (Later it turned on there had been a major power shutdown in the Stockholm area, making hundreds of thousands of people go offline for three hours.)

As the minutes passed I went more and more unsettled and frustrated. The raid would probably wait for me through some trash pulls, but if I didn’t turn up to the boss encounter I would no doubt be replaced.

Eventually I knew my chance was gone. One of my two raid nights this week wouldn’t happen. I just had to accept the fact.

Dealing with it
Things happen in real life as well as in Azeroth. I guess part of being a grown up is that we more easily can accept it, cope with it and move on. Smashing things around, cursing and screaming won’t change anything at all.

I must admit though, that I don’t find it entirely easy to deal with un-expected cancelled raid nights. It’s not that I don’t understand that a lost raid night isn’t a big deal. There will be more of them. Even after this night there would surely be more first kills to enjoy in Ulduar, not to talk about the other raid instance that Blizzard will present us in the future. The loss wasn’t more than spot in a fun raid and a few dkp.

So what’s troubling me? It’s the process of un-preparing. When I’m about to start a difficult raid, I’m like a high strung blow string. I’ve been preparing for days. Of course I’ve done the standard things that all raiders do. I’ve seen to that I’m repaired, got my agents, flasks, potions and buff food in order and that I’m on spot long before raid start. I’ve done my out-of-game homework, checking that my essential addons are updated and looking up strategies for the bosses we’re likely to do, written as well as movies. But most of all, I’ve prepared myself mentally, like any sportsman thinking about an upcoming competition. I’ve already gone through the fight in my thoughts, picturing all that’s going to happen, mentally focusing on that it’s going to be a successful night, when I’m going give my very best, everything that I’m capable and a little bit more.

I’m like one of the 100 meter sprinters in an Olympic game, standing on the start line, waiting for the gun shot to send them off.

How to wind down
It’s not easy to wind down from the level I’ve been on, to go from “prepared for a 3 hour non-stop adrenaline intense rush” to a quiet evening in front of the TV with my kids. There’s a part of my brain that refuses to adjust to the new situation as quickly as I want it to. And it surely doesn’t go easier since I’ve just had a couple of big cups of coffee to make sure that I stay alert even if the night will be long.

So how did I finally spend my night? Well, at first I continued to do some tries to get in contact with my IP provider, even though I knew that my raid spot was lost. Then I watched an episode of House with my family, which helped me relax a little. And finally I wrote this blog post, to get it off my heart. It helped a bit, but not entirely. Probably it would have been a better idea to do something physical – jogging or going to the gym – to get out the tension I had built up.

I wonder how other players deal with it. How do they get their mental preparation out of their system, how do they “un-prepare” themselves? Do they take a drink? Go playing some non-online video game? Or maybe they’re just better at turning off their brains from the raid mod than I am?

And yeah, they did get Hodir down this night, but Thorim didn’t fall this time. Next week he will. And I’ll be there. Prepared!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The story about Kungen's race to lvl 80

Blogs in the part of the Blogosphere where I dwell don’t write much about Ensidia. I guess their activities are a little bit too distant to feel relevant and interesting to most of us. Especially now, since there’s money involved, the gap to the normal gaming community has increased.

They are like professional soccer players in the highest league. We’re still kicking a ball for fun in the backyard. Some of us admire their skill and dedication; others pity them for running out of content so quickly, or shrug, since they couldn’t care less. At the most we notice their first kills and our jaws drop a little, but then we go back to our noble egg collecting or whatever we were up to.

A new blog
I can’t say that I follow every step Ensidia takes either. Still I can’t help nourishing some kind of fascination for people who’re really pushing the edge and got a passion for what they’re doing. I've always done that. For instance I loved reading the autobiography of Lance Armstrong, even though I couldn’t care less about the bicycling sport as such.

I guess that’s the reason why I once in a while stop by the homepage of Ensidia to check out what’s going on. And there I found something the other day that I’d like to share with the rest of you who probably haven’t seen it. What caught my attention wasn’t the information about their first kills and progress in the hardmodes of Ulduar. No, the thing that you may have missed and I’d like you to read is the blog of one of the guild leaders, Kungen. He has started to write a series of blogposts about his “WotLK Journey”.

The race to 80
So far he’s published five articles, all about how the race from level 70 to level 80 from his point of view. He describes a world where red bull and coffee isn’t enough to keep him and the friends he’s levelling with awake after 40 hours of constant playing, so they start to use an electroshock machine as a help. He writes about how he ran Utgard Keep 40 times in a row, and then regretted being stupid enough to move on to another instance to get some change. The XP output was much worse there and a guildie who picked another instance passed him in the race. And he writes about how he when he just for a short while left the computer in order to pick up some more coffee, and then got stuck in an elevator for one long, painful hour.

Kungen excuses himself for not being an awesome writer, but I seriously must say that I laughed out loud reading it. For all the insanity it describes, it’s written with some sort of self distance, humour and honesty. He isn’t trying to make anything look better than it is. Reading this I can understand that this kind of experience is enjoyable to some players, in its own, peculiar way. The only thing is that it requires a life situation that most players don’t have.

Should he be pitied or envied? Decide for yourself.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When you wish upon a star

Throughout human history shooting stars have been seen as a harbinger, a symbol of impending fate, a message from a higher power. The birth of Jesus was marked by “the star that shone in the East." When good things happen we "thank our lucky stars". Stars are also sources of the exotic: the origin of many a science fiction alien is out there, among the stars. We call the most famous celebrities among us "stars". So it is fitting that Druids, the masters of nature, should call upon the power of the stars as one of their premier talents.

Reaching for the stars

Whenever I am in Looking For Group I think I’m a bit of a fraud. I say that I am Balance druid but it’s not precisely true. I’m better described as a “healkin.” My exact specialization at level 76 is 46/0/21. I’ve compared my DPS output to pure Balance druids and mine does suffer. On the plus side, due to talents like Omen of Clarity and Intensity I don’t suffer from the mana problems. And Nature’s Swiftness is a true lifesaver. The consequence is that I’m often called upon to heal instances as much as doing DPS.

Yet I’ve always been curious to know what it was like play my specialization as it was designed to be played. In particular, I had my eye on the acme Balance talent: Starfall. One great weakness of Druids is that we have comparatively little AOE damage ability. And the possibility for AOE grinding with my Druid, as I can do with my frost mage alt, was appealing. So when dual specs arrived and Blizzard gave us all a free respec, I seized the opportunity. It would be, at long last, my fate to command the power of the stars.

Houston, we have a problem

Unmitigated disaster. I died the first six times I cast the spell. I felt like I was starting the game over again. Since I no longer had my Restoration talents I was going out of mana fast, super fast. But the real problem was that the spell which I had longed for, the one that would allow me to be the master of fates, was a major dud.

Starfall is one of those spells whose power sounds awesome in theory but in practice is a walking suicide pill. First, unlike area-of-effect spells such as the mage's Blizzard you cannot target Starfall. Instead, Starfall radiates 30 yards around you as the center. Have you ever tried to guess just how far 30 yards is in the game with nothing to guide you? No little light on the action bar telling you when a mob is in range; no little blue or green circle to tell you the radius of the spell you are going to cast. Just nothing. Welcome to the "if you guess wrong you die game." Second, this 30 yard range is not stopped or broken up in any way by minor problems like hills, pillars, or anything else that blocks your line of sight. The stars are falling from the sky, watch out! There is nothing more frustrating than taking the time to look around you before you cast the spell and then the next thing you know mobs are crawling up the hill and dashing around the corner all gunning for your furry Moonkin ass. Finally, since the spell is instant cast, here's something you might not know: if the spell is instant cast that means that once you cast it you can't cancel it. That ten second duration mean ten seconds of dreading patrolling mobs; especially patrolling mobs coming up behind you, where you can’t even see them.

Spells as Symbols

One of my major fascinations with the World of Warcraft is that it is a world filled with symbols that leap out and surprise me unexpectedly. The more I moved away from a consideration of the impact of Starfall spell mechanics on game play and turned towards consideration of it as a symbol, the more fitting and proper those mechanics seemed to me. Take the fact that the spell automatically has the caster as the center. That is the way most people approach wishing: may it be that for one precious moment those higher powers draw their attention down and make our wish the center of the universe. How egotistical of humanity to think that shooting stars, nothing more than comet dust really, are omens of its fate. Take the fact that the spell can’t be targeted before casting. Isn’t that just like one’s actions: tossed out like a pebble in a pond, never fully comprehending how far the ripples will go. Nowhere is the great law of unintended consequences more plainly apparent than when one plays with fate. And the most fitting and proper of all is that the falling stars should ignore the caster’s line of sight. For who among us can foresee what our fate holds. Who among us, standing on earth, has that “God’s eye” view of the world. For it is quite natural for the lost lamb to bleat for its mother; quite natural for the wolf to show up instead.

Yes, the power of the stars has the ability to utterly destroy one’s enemies. To the person out there right now insisting that Starfall was always meant to be a PvP talent; you’re saying the right words and missing the entire point. Used without maturity or wisdom the likely result of commanding the stars to fall is our own destruction. For the fundamental message of the Starfall spell is that while one may call upon the power of fate, the power of the stars, once in motion fate does not obey our command. In a moment of anger reacting to some slight, we say to a friend or a lover, “God damn you.” In that instant the universe changes. The stars themselves fall by force of gravity.

The famous Disney song informs us that when you wish upon a star it doesn’t matter who you are. Walt Disney never played a Moonkin. And he never worked for Blizzard. Because if he had he would have known that we play with higher powers at our own peril. Wishing is a dangerous act; dreams may turn into nightmares. Druids know this. When we wish upon the stars, those stars fall; sometimes on our own heads, to our own doom. Druids know this too. At least the ones with any sense of balance.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The pursuit for gaming zen moments

A few sentences at Typhoon Andrew’s place caught my attention:
“Doing 10 man Ulduar on the Iron Council fight was totally awesome. We got killed over and over, but each time got closer. I literally could not have looked away from the screen - gaming zen moment.”
This description was so spot on. Gaming zen moments. I know exactly what he means by it and to me it’s definitely the most addicting part of the game and the reason why I’m so hopelessly hooked on raiding.

I don’t say that you can’t encounter zen moments doing other stuff. I’m pretty sure you can. I can imagine that if you’re a dedicated PvP:er and doing a bunch of really important Arena games where your ranking is at stake, you’ll be so focused and motivated that you’ll enter this altered state. But speaking from my own experiences I’ve hardly ever had any zen moments outside of raiding.

Questing for instance is out of the question, there’s no zen for me in that. Not to mention crafting and gathering. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong about those activities; they may be fun and relaxing in their own way, but I can’t lose myself into it to the extent that real life time and space cease to exist. There’s always room for my mind to drift away and my attention to be caught by a whisper or a chat or real life problems that bother me.

Sometimes five man instances have been able to give me the same feeling of being absolutely focused at what I was doing. Black Morass comes to my mind. You probably don’t remember it now, but there was a point when we weren’t overgeared and it actually was quite challenging.

Looking for zen
So how do you find those zen moments? Well, it isn’t like you can order them from a menu and count on that you’ll get them delivered to you. They don’t always appear when you want them to and sometimes they just happen unexpectedly.

But as a general rule I wouldn’t look for them in raids on farming status, such as Naxx. That’s why I find those raids so inferior to progression raids. Blizzard may drench us in emblems and epic loot, it doesn’t matter, because we’re still missing the zen and then it’s not as fun.

To enable the zen mode, the encounter needs to be so challenging that it requires our full attention every second of it. An encounter being new to you isn’t enough. Neither Patchwerk, nor Loatheb ever offered a journey to the zen zone of my mind. Tank- and spank fights rarely do. No, there must be some more twist into the fight than just handling your spell rotations and threat. Sarth+3d is a good example. It requires you to be mobile and follow not only the health bar of the boss, but everything else that’s going on in the surroundings. The other night I had a first go at Hodir and he seems to have zen potential indeed. I was absolutely exhausted, but also pretty thrilled after the insane dancing between all the stand-there and don’t-stand-there spots.

Raid discipline
But it takes more than just a good fight to bring me to WoW nirvana. It requires another ingredient: raid discipline. It’s the kind of discipline that will appear when the initial analysis of the first tries is done, when we’ve worked out a strategy that we believe in and only need to practice it until the execution is perfect.

In this phase of a new raid encounter, our recoveries will be quick and smooth. There will be no unnecessary waiting. We just run, buff, mana up and then pull again, all in one single flow. Again and again and again, with an occasional break for repairs. And for almost every try we’ll notice some kind of improvement, a little step on the road that eventually will take us to the sweet kill. A typical sign that the raid has reached the zen moment is when the vent turns so silent that you’re wondering if it’s broken. And the silence doesn’t come from fear of an angry raid leader; it comes naturally because we’re all too involved in what’s going on to even think about opening our mouths.

A danger?
A question comes into my mind: is the pursuit for those zen moments that I enjoy so much only for good? Could there be a danger in them? Tobold had a post yesterday where he discussed the amount of time that he had spent on WoW. And if I understood him correctly, he thought that this kind of activity, which requires a high amount of focus and energy, is more addicting, more in conflict with real life obligations and because of this also more questionable than “casual” activities in the game such as questing.

I gave it a thought but came to the conclusion that I for once sake don’t quite agree with Tobold. I think it’s rather the opposite. The more adrenaline kicks I can get from those zen moments in the game, the less interest do I feel to engage myself in time sinks, such as grinds for vanity reps, pointless achievements, levelling of alts and general hanging around and chatting to people. When I’ve had my zen moment, I feel satisfied and can happily log off, throwing myself into other activities outside of Azeroth.

If you ask my family they don’t give a damned about if I’m questing or raiding. All they can see is that I’m staring into a screen with colorful toons running around. The fewer hours they have to see me doing this, the happier they will be. So my conclusion is: Quality > Quantity.

And just because I’m passionate about my hobby it doesn’t mean that I can’t be passionate about my job as well. To me it appears as if the energy I put into raiding is somehow converted and returned to me. You should see me the day after a sweet first kill! I can make miracles, I assure you!

It just happens
Zen moments. Some of us love them. Others couldn’t care less or will even avoid them, because they want to keep themselves at a sound distance from the game.

If you want it, you can provide the right circumstances by your choice of activity and by creating a focused raiding atmosphere. But in the very end you can’t control it completely. A part of it is about grabbing the moment and opening your mind. To recognize it and embrace it when it happens.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reasons for me to keep smiling when the world seems to be falling apart

We’re doomed. And that goes for both worlds, if you should believe the people who speak most and loudest.

In Real World we’re expecting to die from a new kind of flue. Run away, little girl, Armageddon is coming!

And in the Gaming World, the prophets are equally sure that Azeroth is about to be deserted any day. World of Warcraft has peaked and it’s just a matter of days before the servers will shut down.

Well the last statement was maybe just a LITTLE bit exaggerated. But there’s no doubt that a Wall of Apathy has hit the Blogosphere and critted us pretty badly. Well known and much loved blogs are announcing their closing more or less daily. Resto4life, BRK, Out of Mana, Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick and Hoof n’Healz are names that come into my head, but there have been more of them.

Other bloggers like Kestrel and Euripiedes still write and play, but have written posts about how the game has lost its magic grip on them. It remains to see if it’s a temporary burnout or if they’ll gradually turn their back to Azeroth until they decide to cancel their WoW accounts, like Tobold did the other day.

Gloominess spreading
In Swedish there is a saying that goes “there’s no smoke unless there’s a fire”. I really hate it, because it’s often used as an excuse to spread false rumors and lies. People often jump into conclusions from random observations, without actually checking facts and how things really are.

About this general feeling of decline in WoW I’m not sure what to think. I don’t have access to the subscription numbers or server statistics of Blizzard. I don’t know how the discussions are going in their direction room.

All I can say is that there currently is a sort of gloominess that is spreading in the Blogopshere. The quality of light has changed from dawn to dusk; it’s still glowing, but it’s lost some of its freshness. This could have to do with the fact that many of the bloggers are long time players. They’ve been doing this more or less since the very first beta. Day after day, week after week, month after month. Tobold bravely displayed his /played hours in a post and I bet many of those bloggers have a lot more. It would be strange if people didn’t eventually feel that they’d had enough of this game. It really would.

I on the other hand started to play in TBC, so I’m two years behind the rest of you guys who are burned out. Think about how you felt about the game two years ago! That’s how it is to me now. (Yes, I know I’m lucky!) It’s as if I find myself a safe spot. The Apathy Wall couldn’t touch me this time.

Reasons for me to smile
I have plenty of reasons to keep smiling, even at a point when Azeroth seems to be falling apart. I keep rejoicing at small things that are happening to me. Here are a few of the most recent events:

  • Glory of the Hero completed

I finally got my Glory of the Hero achievement completed!

The last achievement I needed for it was the Emerald Void achievement in Occulus. On my third mission to get it (the two first had only ended in wipes) we nailed it only after a few tries. Words can’t describe how happy and proud I am about this one. It really feels like an achievement worth mentioning, very much different to “explore Badlands” or “Eat 100 pieces of chocolate”. The dragon mount that came with it honestly looks hideous. It’s too big and flies only with difficulty. It looks as if she’s about to crash any minute. But she means a lot to me anyway, since she embodies all the fun I’ve had doing those instances in new and challenging ways.

  • Gevlon’s still around

Gevlon has found a new guild! I’m glad that it seems as if he finally can look forward to get some decent raiding within the frames of a guild instead of in horrible pugs. And I’m glad that he’ll keep blogging. I would have missed him for sure.

  • The return of the realm clown

Cacknoob is back! Yep, the retired realm clown that I wrote about in mid March has once again turned up at the server. He couldn’t stay away more than six weeks. Within 20 minutes of his arrival he was back arguing in the trade channel and things were back to normal. Some players were pouring out their contempt, not for Cacknoob himself, but for the people who like him. Well, that includes me then. When I whispered Cacknoob and greeted him, he told me that he read my blog continuously and that he agrees with 99 percent of what I write. Woot! I didn’t think he agreed with anyone but himself. But Cack, you’ve got a spot in my heart and a special chair at the inn, that’s for sure. This inn is open for everyone, especially for outcasts.

  • New bloggers incoming

There are a lot of new, promising bloggers incoming! New bloggers are reporting for duty every day at the introduction forum at Blog Azeroth. They’ll give us entertainment and food for thought if we just give them a chance and some encouragement. Stop moping over our fallen heroes and look for the new ones! I try to include the ones that I fall in love with instantly into my Blogroll. The latest jewel I found was Shy at WoW. Please pay her a visit!

  • Argent Tournament

I’ve learned how to joust! Or at least I’ve improved. I’ve currently got valiant rank, when you’re doing The Great Melee quest, fighting three opponents. When I first tried this I lost over and over again, four, five matches in a row. Won one and then lost again, swearing over my own incompetence. Now I oneshot them pretty easily, feeling like a gnomish version of Ivanhoe. I may suck at some parts of WoW but at least I hardly ever give up on anything. And that pays off, eventually. It remains to see though if I’ll be quite as triumphant when I advance to Champion. I must say that I really enjoy the Argent Tournament. I’m rather drawn to the swords and sorcery side of WoW than to the high tech and here I’m right in the middle of a fairy tale, including frog kissing. Apart from boring travelling time that I could have been without, I think they’ve done a great job in this.

  • My new bartender

And last, but not least: I’ve hired a bartender, as you’ve probably noticed. I’m very proud to introduce Elnia, who will be guest posting at The Pink Pigtail Inn every now and then. Actually I don’t know very much about her. Elnia is one of my regular readers who one day offered to write a guest post. Or maybe I should say “him”, since I think it’s a guy behind this character, but after all, does it matter really?

What I do know is that Elnia knows how to write. The style is a bit different to mine but I think you’ll like it. At least I do. Don’t expect quick shots that you finish in a second and then stupidly stare at the empty glass. Expect walls of texts that are like cocktails that you can sip and enjoy for a long time. That’s the kind of bartender that Elnia is.

I keep smiling
The Wall of Apathy passed me at safe distance. I’m not doomed yet. And when I think about WoW and the WoW community I still have many reasons to smile. How about you?