Wednesday, December 5, 2007


You can now find me at Wordpress: Outland Bound.

I initially chose Blogger because it seemed convenient, but as it is no longer friendly to commenters who would like to link their own blogs unless they are also using a Blogger ID, I've decided not to write here any longer. These old entries and comments have been moved to the new location, and I'll junk this blog at the beginning of next year. All new posts will be at the new Wordpress blog.

See you there!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Just a sec...

When I put myself into the LFG channel, this means that within five minutes or so (just a quick trip to the vendor, and I'll even hearthstone to one if I'm not near a town), I will be ready for summons. Most of the other folks I've encountered seem to have very different philosophies. Unless I'm a mid-instance replacement or the 5th addition to the group, I'd say that 9 times out of 10 I'm one of the poor saps standing there by the summoning stone, scowling at one or more of the following comments, usually beginning "Just a sec..."

1) "I just leveled so I want to go train first."

Ok, this is really annoying. Although training seems like a speedy thing to the person doing it, that 15-20 minutes during which you deliberate on which talent tree to put your gold into is like forever to those people standing there waiting for you. Sometimes I wonder if I'm waiting for the person to train in every profession they have, check their auctions, and reorganize their bank space before they are ready to be summoned. Times slips by when you're actually doing something in the game (boy, does it ever), but to those waiting for you, it's much longer than a "sec."

2) "I just need to turn in this quest first."

Once I was standing by the summoning stone at RFK with my group, waiting for the last guy to "just turn in this one quest," and we watched him fly over our heads, back and forth, at least three times, between Thousand Needles and wherever he was turning in his quests. I'm sure it was one of those Fed Ex chain quests where you rack up some experience just by delivering letters back and forth. We kept asking him if he was ready for summoning, and he kept saying, "lol almost." Dude, we are not lol-ing. In fact, it took us so long to get this group going, that partway through the instance, someone had to leave and so we had to go back out and get a fifth. When we ran out to summon him, this Fed Ex guy said, "hey I leveled, do you mind if I go train real quick?" The leader of the group said, "NO," to my relief, but then said, "jk sure go ahead." "Please, no," I said. "Let's continue." Not kidding!

3) "Just need to finish this quest and I'll be right there."

I know how it is. You're sure that next murloc you kill is going to drop that last eye the witch doctor asked you to collect for him. You've spent the last hour killing them, so just one more... one more... ok, the next one... I'm so close... certainly the next one will... no, just one more... (do none of these have eyes?) I've stayed up hours past my bedtime to finish a collection quest like this, and it always takes longer than you think it will. Plus, you're never done when you collect the last item because your reward is to go turn it in. Just stop before you even type that sentence. It's not going to be quick.

4) "I need to fly around and pick up all the quests first."

Ha! I don't think so.

5) "Can I just finish this BG first?"

I'm not kidding, someone actually asked if they could finish running the battleground they were in, and the leader of our group said it was fine. We did the usual ritual by the summoning stone while we waited... buffing, rebuffing, dancing, telling jokes, clucking like chickens, falling asleep, etc, while we watched this person's health drop all the way to nothing and then spike up again as they were healed. We saw them die a few times, get their body, repeat... arrrrgh. I can't even believe we waited for this person.

It takes so long to finally get a group in the first place, and then all the time wasting. Gah!

So, why do I wait for any of these people? *Sigh* I really like running instances, and it takes us sooo long to get that fifth person, that I may as well wait 15 more minutes because it could be another hour or more before the next group of five is gathered, and then another round of "Just a sec..."

Some of this time wasting may be over soon, thanks to my guild. I was a little slow to take advantage of our guild website for organizing instance runs, but some of the newer folks have been more assertive, so I'm starting to join their groups. I imagine some of the level 70 folks that have started playing their alts might join us in these runs as well. I'm really looking forward to it!

I won't stop pugging anytime soon though (despite all the complaining). In fact, stay tuned for info about a companion blog, coming soon...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Leadership and Hobbies

Whenever I enter a new hobby that involves dealing with other people, I generally go in feeling like I just want to be a part of the group, not in charge of anything. I'm in charge of enough at work that for my free time activities, I'm happy to let someone lead the way. I will just be a little cog in the machine, I always tell myself... But if I'm associated with the hobby for some length of time, I inevitably end up in charge of something. I don't know how it happens, but it happens every time.

About ten years ago (wow *creaks bones*), during my aspiring novelist phase, I was part of several online writing communities. A friend and I got an idea for a new kind of community and collaborated to get it going, and we ended up working as co-moderators of this writing group for something like four years. It was surprisingly successful, and my energy for it was seemingly limitless. I thought about it any spare moment I had, planning things for the group, and sneaking in computer time at my job to work on it during the day. We got a write-up in a popular ISP's monthly publication for its users, and found ourselves inundated with hundreds of new writers within the first year. When the co-moderator and I finally decided to close the group down, we were more than 500 writers strong.

Part of the reason we decided to dissolve the group and retire was that all the administrative stuff left little time for us to do any writing ourselves. That was why we got into the hobby (and the group) in the first place: to write more. But, we didn't. We wrote less and less until we were writing nothing. The extent of our participation in the group was to run in, do what was required of us for that particular day, douse any flames, make sure everyone was happy, and then go someplace else to relax. Somewhere in there, it had ceased to be a relaxing hobby. It was more like a job.

Same thing happened with my most recent hobby (that shall remain nameless, since I'm still casually involved with it and WoW is sort of my dirty little secret, the reason I'm absent from it so much -- my escape!). I went into it thinking that I could just be part of it, but the longer I stayed, the more responsibilities I found myself with. At first it was great... there was enough to occupy me for hours and hours when I got home every night. It was a little like I was coming home to a second job that I didn't get paid for, but it was a job that I loved even more than my real job. I constantly fantasized about making this hobby my real job.

Now I'm totally burnt out on it. I'm relieved I didn't swerve off my path and make a big career change, because I'm ready to leave it all behind. It feels like a job in a stressful way now, and when I go visit the forums of the community, there's a noticible spike in my blood pressure. Definitely not a relaxing way to spend my precious free time. Running around Azeroth and hitting things with a stick is much better for my soul. So far, anyway...

I read a lot of blogs by folks who've hit level 70 or have taken on a lot of guild responsibilities, and I see them burning out on WoW the same way I burned out on my last hobby. I don't want this to happen for me, so I find myself actively avoiding in-game responsibilities. I would never want to run a guild, or even be an officer in one. That previous hobby still has so many tentacles on me, so many reasons I could never just quit if I wanted to, not without a lot of guilt, anyway. I want WoW to be a flexible hobby. If I am obsessed and feel like I have to log in and check my auctions once a day, that's one thing. Ultimately, I'm in control of that, and there will be no repurcussions if I don't do this. If I decide I want to quit tomorrow, I want to be able to quit tomorrow, and not feel like there are still a hundred things I need to take care of first or a hundred people depending on me to do things for them. I'm happy to help folks in my guild -- I'm thrilled to help them -- I just don't want to be the single point of failure for any particular responsibility.

I'm sure it's inevitable. It's a cycle. One day, one way or another, I will find myself done with WoW. I will do (and not do) what I can to postpone that, however, and enjoy the game as long as I can. Now that I'm conscious of this habit of mine, of accepting lots of responsibilities, maybe I can avoid this particular reason for ultimately quitting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

60 fps (Weekend Highlights)

It felt like it took forever to get everything for the game installed and downloaded on Friday. The computer arrived shortly after noon, and when I posted around 3pm, I was partway through the second patch download. I still had to download 2.3 (another biggun), install BC, and get all my addons in the right place. It was about 6pm before I was finally logged in and playing again. It was totally worth the wait though. Even standing in the auction house in Silvermoon with my bank character was completely stunning.... the detail! I cranked all the video options up to give me maximum detail for the environment, the spells, everything. Wow. I couldn't believe how sharp everything looked. Sort of reminded me how in the old days, the cinematic at the beginning of the game would be incredible quality, but then the actual game play had very blocky graphics. Over the years, the games have looked more and more like the cinematic. Now, I'm finally playing the cinematic.

I took my mage out for a spin in Dustwallow Marsh, and ... again, it's hard to describe how breathtaking it all was. The weeds all over the ground, the shimmers on the surface of the water, the bricks on the road... and then when I started casting spells! Amazing! I almost died in the first battle because I was so distracted by all the new animations surrounding me. I can't believe how much I've been missing.

So far, it's consistently giving me 60 fps, with nary a dip. I think I saw it go down to 50 once, but that's not something I notice unless I'm looking at the number. When I'm leaving or arriving at a flight path, I can see all the animation. When the zeppelin carries me from spot to spot, there isn't a full minute delay where I know I've arrived at the destination, but just can't see it yet. It's immediate. When I walk into an instance, I only see that loading screen for a few moments. I don't have to sit there wondering whether I've disconnected again, hoping my party doesn't replace me... Ahhhh! It's all so much more relaxing, more predictable. I love it.

[/new computer joy]

So, we played quite a bit on Friday evening, and then almost all day on Saturday and Sunday. I did meet all my goals for the weekend...

I played my hunter just a little bit. She wasn't fully rested, but had enough double experience saved up to get me to 52 just grinding greens on my way to some quests. I killed my way through the trolls in Jintha'Alor to make my own Mallet of Zul'Farrak. Easy peasy. I then decided to wander west and try to kill the giant spider Shadra. Turns out she was a bit out of my league, so I ended up abandoning my poor cat and making a hasty retreat toward the exit. Will have to try that one again later. (It was an orange group quest, but hey, my pet and I are like a group, right?) I had one more Hinterlands quest on my list... to get the ancient egg from the cave behind the area where I'd just made the mallet. Doh! I really need to read these quests more carefully after I receive them. SO, I revisited those trolls and swiped the egg. *Yoink!*

I also got my mage to 40. I mostly killed stuff around Dustwallow Marsh, but did travel a bit to get stuff for the mage-specific quests from Tabetha there. I got to the last quest in the chain, which involved killing the Demon of the Orb that she summons in the little garden by her house. I got his hit points pretty low on the first try, but he killed me before I could finish him off. I retrieved by body, ran back, and tried a second time. Again, so close. The Demon and I basically flopped to the ground at precisely the same moment. Damn! Again, ran back to Tabetha's cottage, and when I went inside, there was a pair of 38ish level human mages starting the same quest. So, I waited while Tabetha walked out and summoned the Demon for them. I watched them slay the demon (and even fired a helpful frost bolt in there as he began smushing one of them... I know, they're humans, but... he's a big demon!). They killed him, and as they were turning in the quest, I peeked in my quest log to see what the reward was, and noted at this point that it said "group." Heh... But I had come so close twice by myself! So, I decided to try it one more time. When the humans were done, I had Tabetha summon the Demon again. The humans followed me out in the garden to watch the fight...

I secured him in place with my frost nova and then hurled frostbolts and fire blasts at him until he was no longer frozen. I had to take hits from him until the nova cooldown was over, but then recast it as soon as I could, ran backwards and bandaged myself briefly. I then repeated with the fireblast, frostbolts, and cone of cold until he was on me again. I drank a healing potion, and then finished him off with everything I had. I was down to about 20% of my hit points as he finally crumpled to the ground. It was so awesome.

The human mages stuck around for the whole the battle (no complementary frost bolts for me, but I didn't care, since it was pretty exciting to down this Demon myself), and they both cheered for me and saluted me with respect after the kill. Too cool. That was one of the highlights of my WoWeekend. Somewhere along the way back to town I hit level 40, and then went to buy a mount. She now has a nifty blue hawkstrider.

We took our priest/warrior duo into Blackfathom Deeps so that my priest could kill Lorgus Jett, and my husband could complete a few lingering quests he had there. We wouldn't get much experience (if any), but we thought it might be a fun challenge with just the two of us, and we'd get a bit of loot for disenchants, rep, etc. We actually did quite well. We made it all the way to Kelris without a wipe, and dropped him like a bag of dirt. Yay! So, it was time to light the four trays on the altar. I'd mentioned to my husband that we should only light one at a time (as he hadn't done this instance before), but he lit one, and when it seemed like nothing happened right away, he ran over and lit a second one. Ooops.... so, we wiped. It had taken us so long to get there, and knowing how close some of our earlier scrapes were, we weren't certain we'd be able to do it, so we just decided to call it a night. My husband is very anxious to get a character to 40, so we may not pair again with these two until we've both leveled a bit. His warrior is at 37, my priest at 36.

Our paladin/shaman duo will continue to bulldoze the opposition, however. We did Ragefire Chasm together, just the two of us, since we were both significantly above the level range. It was so much fun that we decided to try running the whole of Wailing Caverns, just the two of us. I'd heard that folks can pretty much solo WC at level 30, so we thought there was a good chance we could do it as a pair of 24s, each with healing and resurrection capabilities. Turns out we were right -- we did very well. We approached each pull very carefully, and our deliberation paid off. We wiped only once, and it was when we weren't paying attention and got hit with a few patrols during a battle where we were taking on three at once already. We both decided to bail from the battle, hoping one of us could get away and resurrect the other, but my husband unfortunately took a wrong turn right into another patrolling slimy thing, and I, instead of jumping over the side into a clear area, took the ramp down instead and got killed. Doh!

Aside from that, we kicked butt. We killed all the bosses, collected all four of the gems for Leaders of the Fang, and then did the final event. I mentally prepared myself for the idea that we would not be successful in killing all the waves of monsters that emerged from the water around us, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy. Nooo problem.

While it was perhaps not the best use of our time (it took a very long time, and yielded very little experience, though we did both level to 25 upon turning in the quests), it was really very much fun. I loved the excitement of wondering whether we'd actually survive some of the fights -- some of it was easy, but some of it was quite challenging. This is what I love about running instances. I don't care so much about the loot or the lore. I enjoy working out the strategy for each pull, given the particular resources of the team, and trying to execute the plan.

Friday, November 23, 2007


The new computer arrived a day earlier than Fed Ex's initial prediction! Last night felt a little like Christmas eve, knowing that I'd have it in my hot little hands by the end of the day today. I played a bit this morning, keeping one eye on my mage as she did a brief SM-Library run with some folks from the guild and the other eye out the window, watching for the Fed Ex truck. I actually didn't notice he'd pulled up until I heard some banging on the neighbor's door. I ran down the stairs and poked my head out the door of the apartment building and got his attention. I suspect he was trying to deliver it to the wrong apartment, so I'm relieved that I caught him...

So, it's now set up, and I've got most of my basic everyday software installed (FireFox, WinAmp, etc), and all five discs for WoW are loaded. One big patch installation is complete, and I'm now 21% of the way through a second one, and I suspect there will be at least one more. After that, I'll pop in the BC discs, install any remaining patches, grab all my addons, and then awayyy we go...

I'm not sure what to say about the computer so far other than it's absolutely humongous. I think the tower is at least twice the physical volume of the one its replacing. I have one of those big wooden desks with a hutch on top and a compartment below that is designed to hold a tower. The compartment is tall and wide enough, but not deep enough, so the computer sticks out of the front of it about five inches. I guess this means the little door has to stay open, but... whatever. Like I'm going to be sitting here playing WoW and thinking, damn, I wish I could get that little door on my desk closed. Not likely.