Thursday, February 3, 2011

At 3 am he nukes a pizza and checks the combat logs

What’s it like to play on the bleeding edge? Kruf of Paragon, the current highest ranked guild in the world, recently shared a typical day of his life.

Here’s a sample from his blogpost. Kruf has just finished a raid that lasted eight hours straight, from 6 pm to 2 am. And yes, he holds a fulltime day job and his alarm goes off at 8:10 every morning.

“02:00. Raid ends. Now it's time to do some daily quests, maybe a random heroic if necessary to reach the Valor Point cap on either of the raiding characters and restock consumables for next raid.

03:00. Done with all the "mandatory" stuff ingame, so it's time to get some food in real life. Depending on how lazy I am, that means either cooking something or just tossing a frozen pizza in the oven or nuking something in the microwave. Most of the time, it turns out to be pizza. Check the forums and news while eating. Try to fix some addons, do some parses on combatlogs to figure out boss ability timers and such.

04:00. Finally ready for bed”
This is what his life has been like most days since Cataclysm launch, and Kruf tries to explain what motivates him:

“A lot of people would wonder "Why does anyone do something like this?", for which I have no better answer than vanity, wanting to be one of the best.”
Different worlds
I don’t normally bother too much about the competition for the world firsts, who killed what, with or without bugs. They live in their world and I live in mine and never will those worlds meet. Just because you like to play football with your friends in the backyard it doesn’t mean that you need to follow every step of the players in Champions League.

However there was something in this post that captured me. I think it was the refreshing honesty. Sometimes hardcore players claim that they play less than casuals. It’s a sneaky form of bragging, if you ask me. We’re led to believe that their godly WoW skills come from talent rather than from spending insane amounts of time on it.

The truth is probably a bit of both. Of course you can spend all day long in Azeroth, doing lapdances for gold, without improving in any aspect at all – apart from possibly becoming a good lapdancer. If you use your online time carefully, always focusing on activities that eventually will lead to your overall raiding goal, you will get a way better return on your time investment and progress quicker in the game. But you still have to invest time, even if you’re ever so talented.

Kruf doesn’t pretend that it’s easy to combine a normal life with job and family with raiding on the bleeding edge. At 3 am, when you’re done with the “mandatories”, you warm your pizza, fix your addons and check the combat logs. That’s what it’s like to be on the top. If you want to be there, you have to pay the price - either you’re WoW player, a football player or a mountain climber.

The scale of seriousness
Kruf’s post made me think about how different approaches we have to WoW. The scale of seriousness is gigantic. On one end you have Kruf. On the other you have what Gevlon calls “morons and slackers”.

Where do I find myself on this scale? Somewhere in the middle I suppose, but probably closer to Kruf than to the bleeding edge of casual players.

I do arrange my real life a bit around our raiding schedule so I can make most of our three raid nights a week. But our raids last three hours, not eight. Like Kruf I make sure to refill my bags with consumables after a raid. On the other side I won’t torture myself with mandatory dailies or running a heroic just to cap my valor points, if I’d rather go to sleep. And I don’t eat pizza at in the morning. I have dinner with my family.

Not a problem
Do I think that Kruf’s lifestyle is bad and something that therefore should be condemned? Not at all. While it admittedly sounds a bit unhealthy in the long run, I can't see any problem in it, as long as he's the only one who takes the consequences and his life choices doesn't affect someone else, as a child.

However it can be good to bear his blogpost in mind as you compare your own progression rate to Paragon’s deeds. If Kruf's guild has cleared all the heroic modes, while you're wiping on the first bosses in normal, there is a reason for it. They've paid a price that you're probably not prepared to pay.

There ain't such a thing as a free bosskill.


Shannara said...

That explains why he is, and will always be single. Having a job isn't the only thing needed to have a life :)

klokbok said...

That's a Hilf. No question about it.

Hilf - Hero I'd like to ... uhm, yeah.

Oh, it's raining!

Rhii said...

I always appreciate your little peeks into the world of the Paragons and Ensidias of the world, Larisa. You're one of the few people that I think looks at their stuff without a sort of underlying tinge of jealousy or without some panic that their actions will change the game for the rest of us. It IS interesting to think about what their daily lives are really like though, or what makes them want to play at the level they do.

And yes, I think you're right on in that the level that you, or most of us here in the blogosphere plays at, is closer to that end of the scale than the non-raiding casual end. It's good, I think to see that, and realize we're maybe less casual than we think, in the overarching scheme of things. And also, at the same time, thank goodness we're more casual than Kruf! :P

Tesh said...

I look at that and I can't help but think "unhealthy". But hey, to each their own. There's certainly a price to be paid for being the top dog. It's a good thing I don't play the game as a competition. ;)

*vlad* said...

How he spends his free time is up to him, but 2 hours sleep a night is very unhealthy, and probably causes health problems after awhile.
8 hour raids? They must have immense concentration, especially after being at work all day.

As for me, all I care about is getting the bosses killed before Blizzard nerfs them. Then I know we have done just as well as the hard-core guys, but obviously at a much relaxed pace.

Redbeard said...

One thing is certain, the hard core raiders of the world have chosen to forsake a lot of things most normal people wouldn't give up.

I know of fans who drive 8 hours each week during college and pro football season (American version) just to party/tailgate and then go to the game. And there are the racing fans (like Formula One and NASCAR)...

The amount of money and time spent on their obsession is in the same league as the Paragons, and the dedication is similar. For me, however, it's not a choice I care to make.

I think of what the hard core raiders must have sacrificed, and shake my head.

Syl said...

If it makes him happy, I see no issue in it. if it's true that he can maintain a normal lifestyle besides that without any other people suffering, all the better.

I honestly wonder one thing though, and that's how they manage the sleep deprivation, combined with being tired from work and unhealthy food habits. sooner or later it must take its toll. i hope the price won't be too high for raiding glory.

klokbok said...

But really, putting down 8+ hrs on WoW raids just to get a "world first" isn't that far from spending 8 hrs driving to football games - like Redbeard said - or staring at a chessboard.

I do think we react in a different way because this is about a "computer game". And, for that matter - the world reacts differently. When was the last time we read about "philatelist hospitalized after 48 hrs of stamp collecting with others"?

I've known people who spent up to 10 hrs a day sorting through stamps or playing chess. I know people who spends up to 72 hrs certain weekends playing pen and paper RPG's or "tactical boardgames". The prep phase for these games often take most of the free time of a working week - and this is Adult People, often with families and a job. Adults, who "should know better".

If we look at WoW as a hobby - even when we talk about Paragon - then maybe we're not that unusual than, say, people who collect soaps. Or model trains ... or those who spend hours and hours with Verlindens products -

Paragon and others are superstars in our hobby, the "Zlatans" of WoW (hey, I'm from Sweden, for non-swedes, google Zlatan ;) ) They are the ones we, tossing a football between each others - or wiping on trash in Deadmines - dream of. Ig we can't be world first, maybe we could be "server first" - or even "guild first"? Or just "first time for me"?

They keep us going (even if we won't admit it).

Now all I need to find is a poster of Paragon to put on my wall :)

(Btw, I'm 42 this year. I should know better. Or so "they" say ... but "they" say a lot. Don't they?)

Xaxziminrax II said...

Plato says that the price for genius is madness.

SpiritusRex said...

You know reading that caused me to think comparatively - something I like to do if for no other reason...hmm, I know of no reason why I do it other than I think it's interesting. Anywho...

Kruf played approximately 9 hours a day for lets say 6 weeks straight (may be less or more, I'm not sure, but for argument's sake let's so 6). At 63 hours a week (9x7)for six weeks that's 378 hours to finish all modes of current content.

Now, on average, I play 4 hours a day (night), 7 nights a week for a weekly total of 28 hours. If I take MY weekly total and divide it into HIS total time, I come out to 13.5. That means, all things being equal, the only thing that separates me (or any of us) from being a world first is 13.5 weeks. Of course, it also means that we've got a hobby to enjoy 7.5 weeks longer than him.

As aside, I consider myself an average player (in terms of time). It's interesting to note that 13.5 weeks equals approximately 3.5 months. Isn't that usually the average amount of time (over the course of an expansion) that Blizz introduces new content? Interesting. Or maybe not if you're not a math nerd like me.

Tesh said...

I have to wonder what his employer thinks of him. Sleep deprivation isn't usually a good thing for work.

chewy said...

Is there more judgement of him because he's playing a video game rather than his life style per se ?

If he were an amateur athlete training for the 2012 Olympics aspiring to win a gold medal would we condemn his routine ?

If he wanted to be a concert pianist and practiced 8 hours a day after work would we think he was a freak ?

I admire his determination. It's not what I want to do (or probably even could do) but the desire to be the absolute best and the drive to achieve that goal I believe is admirable.

Larísa said...

@Chewy: I haven't judged him, have I?

sha said...

The biggest difference between him as the super hardcore and a "normal" hardcore is right now the normal hardcore is 12/12 maybe 1/12 hc. In the long term i would guarantee he spends less time raiding than the majority of even casual hardcore raiders.

I know i fit into a slightly more casual hardcore of things (12 hrs/wk for main toon raids) and their is a complete difference from moving a appointment with an adviser from 1500 to 1400 to get to the raid on time and straight up having to delay seeing them till after bosses die. That is a level very few go to.

I would say people fall at the more casual end of things than they think. This is mostly due to the fact that the extreme hardcore is as far out there as krufs. How many people raid enough to actually affect their diet and sleep times almost everyday?

chewy said...


No you haven't judged him. Maybe I didn't make my point well.

Shannara suggested that he might always be single. Tesh mentioned that it is probably unhealthy and wondered what his employers thought of him, both valid points. My initial reaction was that he's pushing himself hard for a video game but then I reconsidered - is it any different from an amateur athlete or many other examples of people focused on a goal ?

It was then that I wondered if my own reaction and that of others is because it's a video game, it's not "as worthy".

Larísa said...

: Actually I belive he's at least been in a releationship previously, a fellow guildie. According to her blogpost at the same site. But yeah, it probably takes another hardcore gamer to make it work.

@Rhii: Yep, I think that in the eyes of very casual players or non-players, we’re quite close to Kruf, even if we of course deny it vehemently. ;) I’m glad you appreciated the post. The blogosphere normally doesn’t pay that much attention to the doings of the elite guilds, but I have a private little fascination for them.

@Tesh: Yep. To each one his own. And remember: it might seem unhealthy but he doesn’t do this 365/year. I think the elite play in bursts. Between the progression periods, they don’t play that much at all and can catch up on job, sleep, socializing and exercise.

About his lack of sleep affecting work: people DO have different needs. Some go around very well on five hours. But since he has such a trouble getting up in the morning accordning to his post I reckon it’s a bit too low.

@Vlad: I think it was 4, but yeah, that’s not too much either. But again: it’s not like this all year round, only during the progression times. I liked your goal by the way! That’s how I feel about it too.

: Oh yes, there are fans in all sorts of hobbies. Have you ever met one of the bird watchers? In Sweden we have a “checklist” of the I think 300-something birds there are in our country. If you’ve seen them all you’re in the club. But some are very rare. And people walk around with beep alarms and whatnot and will go hundreds of miles if the warning goes off that one of their missing birds is somewhere. Dropping their work, family or whatever just to get the check…
I <3 fans!

@Syl: Well I don’t think he does it all-year-round to be honest. And I figure not for too many years?

@Klobok: I’m all with you! And yes, they’re indeed the Zlatan equivalence. I’m afraid they won’t qualify for my walls though. Neither Zlatan, nor Kruf.

42.. pfft. I beat you with one!

: Oh yes. I’m afraid it is the other side of the coin.

: Yes, if you add it up, the elite players don’t necessarily play that much more than more casual ones. But they play in bursts and finish content way quicker. But when they play, it’s reall a bit crazy.

@Sha: But think of how many players there are! There are thousands and thousands of players on your server. How many of those are in seriously raiding guilds? A couple of hundred perhaps? I still think we’re more towards Kruf on the scale than you may imagine.

@Chewy: Yes, I think there are prejudices against video games, that people find it hard to accept the competitive teamsport side of it. That it can take just as much devotion and sacrifice as any other sport of you want to become the best. However I think you’d see far, far more judging if someone else reported about his habits than PPI. We’ve got a fairly open minded audience here I believe.

Tam said...

It's strange, isn't it, (and no offence to the poster) that the first comment on this is an implied criticism that the guy doesn't have a life - drawing attention to the fact he's single. But the thing is, if you are competing to be "the best" or one of the best, that involves sacrifices - and I think it's rather courageous of this fellow to draw attention to those sacrifices in the honest way he does, knowing, as he must, that people will judge him for not having a life.

The thing is, I think there are periods in all our lives when we make a conscious choice to disregard the priorities and values of the world around us. I remember when I was doing my finals I didn't have a partner and I lived a life very much like this - I was, essentially, checking my notes at 3am and eating a cuppa-soup. But the point was, at that stage, I wanted to be the best in my subject and that ambition simply didn't, and couldn't, exist in any sort of normal sphere. If I'd had a relationship, I would have destroyed it simply because I didn't have the time or attention to give it.

I'm pretty sure that when his priorities shift towards something other than world firsts in WoW (and there is nothing wrong with having that as your priority) his life will return to something the rest of us would recognise as normal, and, yes, he'll have a relationship just like anyone else.

One of the things I find most depressing about WoW is the inherent judgements we make about other players. If people are better than the game than us or commit more time to it, then they have no life. If they less good, and commit less time, then they are morons and slackers.

Selyndia said...

I often see people disparage those willing to put in the time for these kind of things in an online game, yet most people don’t realize it’s no different then what people doing other hobbies do.

When I played various trading and collectable card games semi-competitively, the group I played with would often spend hours into the night practicing and discussion card strategy, draft picks, etc only to get ready for work the next morning in four hours; or for the weekend, getting ready to start a several hour drive to a tournament.

When I played table top games, I had friends that would stay up til god knows what hour working on little details on their armies, painting figurines, designing terrain, and planning out new pieces they wanted to work on.

My father collected many old pieces of music from the twenties and thirties, and would often go on about 4 hours of sleep just to make sure he could get to various antique shows or flea markets to get the best shot at missing pieces of his collection.

People will invest this amount of time in things that they want to do. And I see no difference between what Paragon or the other top guilds do and what other people doing other hobbies do in things that they love. Insulting or disparaging them for their decisions is just a way to attempt to state that our own decisions and choices are better; when in fact we are in no place to actively judge them.

“Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.”

thehampster said...

As a physician, I am going to say that his life style clearly isn't healthy, and SHOULD be condemned.

Let's look at what he's sacrificing:

1. Personal life: With his current schedule there is no way he'll ever find, let alone maintain, a meaningful relationship. And I'd guess that family plus children are pretty much out of the picture . . . and for what?

2. Professiona life: Grats on holding down a full time job! So does the vast majority of the world. If he's competent enough to do that well in WoW, my guess is he has the ability to do very well in the real world. But with all his motivation and energy being pumped into WoW, he's unlikely to be doing great things in real life.

3. Health. This is a dirty word to many MMORPG players. So he usually easts pizza at 3am and then goes to sleep? That is awful. And my guess is he doesn't have time to exercise much. I really hope for his sake that his job is a blue collar one that involves lots of physical activity. Otherwise, his lifestyle is likely very sedentary and very very bad for his longetivity.

And what is all this for? Digital achievements that will be meaningless in one year? Chewy made a really good comparison to olympic athletes and musicians. But most of them are no way near as hardcore as this WoW player is. They usually do make time for families and friends, and stay very healthy.

There's a word for people who spend all of their energy and time trying to do as much of one thing as possible, at the expense of everything else. This unhealthy Addiciton for WoW is not much less destructive then an addicition for drugs.

Red Skies said...

I'm really glad you expressed your thoughts on this, because elsewhere in the blogospheres people are mounting their high horse and patting themselves on the back for not being like Kruf. Which is absurd. I feel like this is the twilight zone sometimes.

But it is nice to have like minded gamers, like you, have some humility and say "hey, its no so different from I'm doing, just a lot more cutting edge". I think that is the stuff of real honesty and fellowship.