Narratives.

September 2, 2010 at 5:01 am (stories) (, , , )

Both of these stories are true. Even if they are not literally true accounts of events that transpired, they both express truth.
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Story one.

There once was a man, and in his house he threw a party. His friends came over, and times were good. Some of the neighbors nearby had become friends, and came to the party. Others came, and went, and the party rocked on and good times were had. There was the occasional awkward situation, vomiting in the planter or stumbling home drunk, but the music was kicking, the beer was cold, and good times were had.

And then a whole group of new people came by, because they saw the party from the street.

“Hey, can we join?” they asked. “It looks like fun.”

And the host replied, “Sure! More people’s more party!”

And so they came, and joined the party. Some of the older guests were making out in back rooms, or passed out under the couch, and in the front room, at the party proper, the new guests came to outnumber the old, and then they came with questions.

“We see you like beer! Cool. Hey, can we drink your beer? We’ve got a box of wine coolers, you can have it to replace the beer.”
“And hey, we don’t like techno. Can we play our jazz cds, instead? And, we’d like to turn it down so we can have a proper conversation.”
“It’s kind of chilly in here, we’re all cold. Can we turn up the thermostat?”

And the host, and those who had been at this party since it started, began to grow bitter. Who were these people who had come to this party? And why, when they wanted to change so much of it, did they stay in the house they had been invited to, that they chose to come, instead of finding their own?
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Story two.

Once there was a mural on the wall. This was the ongoing work of many artists, and it reflected them all. The mural was a living thing, and it was their soul, telling a tale of the past while also being a product of the present and growing towards the future. It was created by a group – it was them, and they were it -, and over time, the group had grown. The more brightly colorful and visible parts of the mural attracted many people who marveled at it, and many who wanted to join the artists creating it.

Many artists had joined before, and have contributed to this project. Some had grown the greater image and helped to shape what it was, others took their colors and moved somewhere else in time, others sort of fit in but never really became artists.

Everyone loved the mural.

Those who were the newest, however, began to feel as if those who had been drawing since the beginning, the old guard, was harrumphing and standing with a sheet of glass. The new artists felt that what they had seen that called them over was not what had been painted. They also felt as if they had been invited to a group project, only to discover that the project was at an end. They felt the Old Guard, even if they were some good people, people they could like, were… happy with the mural. And defensive of it.

They felt that that the whole image was not shown and that the visible parts told a completely different story, one they did not like, and felt lied to when the promise and beauty that they had seen seemed to be an illusion. They felt excluded, that the Old Guard was refusing to let the mural grow anymore, to change to incorporate their voices and their paints.

Why had they been invited, had they been welcomed, to this collaboration that did not want to add their voices to the choir and their paints to the wall?
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Both of these stories are true … and both of these stories tell the true history of the same incident.

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Lok’tar ogar!

August 29, 2010 at 4:25 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Let’s get down to business
To defeat the Scourge
Did they send me Murlocs
When I asked for Horde?

You’re the saddest bunch I’ve ever met
But you can bet, before we’re through,
Mister, I’ll make a raider out of you…

What do you know, I think I found my voice. I never know how to begin a blog post, I’m no good at a preamble that leads into my topics, so let’s just jump right in. I can’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say, so I’ll just talk about what I want to say.

I believe that in raiding, I have become a better person. I don’t mean that raiding makes me a better person than you, I mean that it has made me better than I was before. It demands, at least of me, certain skills which I have had to develop and to leverage to achieve the success I have and to believe I can achieve the successes I will get later. Skills that translate absolutely outside the game. My accomplishments in WoW should be able to go onto my resume.

I play my classes well. Why? Because I put thought into them, and because I seek out education. I gather extra information, and bring it together. I use tools, be they spreadsheets, or forum discussions, or math, or guides. But I don’t just blindly consume this information: I read the discussions and watch the objective science (or, at least, math) behind a lot of it, and from there formulate my ideas of what I’m going to do. And then, with all that information, I think I execute it… fairly well.

I raid well. Why? I pay attention to my surroundings and can juggle multiple task-components while still thinking about what’s going on and keeping my mind on something like my rotation. This is a skill that has developed as I played the game – I started out oblivious, but then I learned not to stand in bad, and then to keep moving out of bad while still doing what needed to be done. Going from dps to star dps in heroics to a raider, then a raid tank, and now working on heroic healing, it has all made me more aware and able to collate, process, and act upon, more and more information. As I move into tanking and healing, I am developing a cooler head even as things go pear-shaped.

But at the same time, raiding is a group effort at-level. I cannot succeed alone, and other cannot succeed if I am slacking off or performing poorly, both from an individual-component standpoint and from a group membership standpoint. And speaking of group membership, let us not forget that WoW is a social game, one we play with other people.

In raiding, I have developed greater skills to work as a member of a unit, both in a set group set to a purpose, and also a unit that has members rotate in and out of a bigger set. A lot of people, I find in life and in raids, cannot do this. This isn’t just working together by doing it, but two things that transcend merely being in the same zone and slamming on the same boss. Functioning with team happens on two factors: in the gestalt operation of a truly well-oiled group, which has worked well together, where they come together to play at a higher level than normal, to draw out the best and truly ‘work as one raid”… but also to function, socially, with people who I don’t necessarily always like – we are still able to focus on our task and to get it done. Skills that, again, I didn’t have as much as I did before I started raiding.

And what is a raid, especially in a group? It is a commitment of time and of energy. Dedication. As an accomplished, reliable, and skill raider, I have demonstrated my ability to dedicate my resources to a group effort that is both bigger me and, sometimes, not entirely perfectly reflective of what I want – but I still do my best to help it accomplish its goals. I can even set aside time out of my life fairly regularly to make a committment and to contribute.

There are more skills or ways of thinking that I already had, and that in raiding the way I do become apparent.

I have to be adaptable. And I have been flexible, as how to play my classes has changed, as I’ve needed to adapt to new fights, or to changes in a current fight either built-in or due to something going wrong or different. If I wasn’t already, I would have had to develop it, and if I wasn’t or didn’t, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.

I believe that being good enough to do something is not, usually, good enough. A sloppy kill is a bad kill, and it should be tightened up and cleaned up next time. A raid plan that eventually kills the boss but does so slower or at greater risk of failure or with artificially stricter fault tolerances is not a good plan. Even if we kill the boss and get loot. Even if I stay alive as a tank and hold agro. Even if bosses die to my arrows or players live via my heals, there is probably some way I could have done it better, made the raid go smoother. I actively look for ways to improve my performance above mere necessary thresholds of “good enough.” The ongoing process of this motivation is, surely, a factor that contributes largely to my skill now.

I have failed many times. I have failed personally. I have failed on the whole as part of a unit, even when it was nothing within my control or influence. It is frustrating, yes, but my response to these failures is not to get frustrated, or find something discouraging on its own. No: what I do is I believe that it is still something I can do. We can do. And so I ask: “why did we fail?” I seek those answers, and I use them to then answer the question, “how can we not fail next time?” When I fail, I learn why, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When the group fails, I don’t try to blame or give up or get discouraged (until it seems a break must be taken, but it’s just a rest period, nto a surrender) – I try to figure out what to try differently (assuming it’s not bad RNG) so that next time it goes better. And better. And better. And then we will achieve victory. And then we will do it better. And better. And then we will achieve farm status.

Within WoW, I am a finely wrought sword. I have gone from a lump of newb ore to bars through the smelting proccess, and then come from the hammers and the temper of the forge, sharp and deadly and serving my purposes well. There has been fire and there has been blows, it has been forces from outside acting upon me and forces from within. Even outside of the game, what I have done and learned, I see how to generalize.

I leave this with two final notes: I believe these are all valuable tools. I said I would make a raider out of newbs, and this is part of how. I am not giving anyone a hand out. There are no handouts that will make you less a newb, only ones that will make you a newb with a high gear score. There ‘welfare epics’ and there is all the BoEs and crafteds you can buy and you know what? None of it teaches you not to stand in Defile or hug Spores or switch targets as the kill priority changes or how to deal with the grind of Progression. But this is a hand up: nothing I have done or do is really unique to me. Put my data together and figure out how to use it. Although this, I think, is wasted on many of my readers as most people who know about and follow this blog are as good or, even, better, than me.

Ultimately: there is one final component to being a good raider, that I keep taking to heart, and that I feel is, if not essential to a successful raid, or something proven by my personal ability as a player and raider, at least is vital to all of it: remember that everyone who plays WoW is a person. From my friends in my long list of guilds I’ve been in, to even the trade-trolls. Everyone I raid with, from the awesome people I meet in the random pug to the ninja looters, ninja loggers, jackasses, elitsits, and newbs both chill and angry, everyone is a person.

When I group with people, I don’t want my time wasted and my efforts to be put to naught, and as such, I also don’t want to waste their time and effort. When I raid, it’s anywhere from seven to twenty-four other people, and we’re all here to have fun. And to accomplish a shared goal. Part of dedicating myself to it is being mindful and dedicated to not fucking it up by being inconsiderate or stupid or wasting their time. When I show up, I bring it to win it, yes: but I also view the whole thing as a group of effort by people who depend, in part, on me, and do not want to let them down, or to make it an awful firestorm of anti-humanistic badness.

This game has made me a better person, and I rock at it because I am a good person.
This game has made me good friends outside of it, and beyond the context of playing a game.

Isn’t that cool?

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There Will Be Drama.

July 22, 2010 at 10:04 am (stories) (, , , , , , )

That was what I was going to call my blog when I had the first idea of blogging about WoW. Almost a year ago, now, when one guild was slowly falling apart as it was due to a lot of the core being somehow disillusioned with all the Cataclysm news, and leaning towards Aion.

“Hey, speaking of WoW-killers, what’s a one-word joke?” “Aion.”

I had no intention of going, especially because the beta left me thoroughly unimpressed and there was no endgame that I would appreciate. And so, knowing he and the other officers would leave the guild when we downed Arthas (at the very latest, when Cata came out), he said he would leave me to run the guild. Around the same time, the guild was splitting into two faction camps – ‘his people’, and ‘my people’, because our visions that we both founded the guild on, and the people they and we had attracted, weren’t working out together. And when eight of our members started spending no time in WoW except to raid and spent the rest playing the Aion beta or early release, those who remained began to feel disillusioned, that most of leadership was out of touch and just using those who remained to aggrandize their own raiding, it was suggested – and I began to consider – that really, he should step down now.

And when he did, there would have been changes. But that time never came, we just argued to the point that I couldn’t take what our guild had become, and then on the heels of a ridiculous argument, I finally gquit. I lurked for a bit getting my affairs in order, and then took Mathorvos to Alliance side and Azgalor.

I knew, though, that to run the show is to deal with drama. The blog was originally not going to be yet another Hunter blog, but rather a blog about picking up the gm hat to go with my officer’s stars and what that journey was like, and the drama that followed.

Why do I mention this, now?

Because I have left Brotherhood of Oblivion. The story is too much to tell here, because the story isn’t what happened in terms of who said or did what. The truth of the story is in how those involved perceived events that happened, and how those perceptions and mis/understandings colored their future perceptions and influenced those actions. And right now, there are two major stories who only agree on the most basic of facts and actors, mutually incompatible narratives about why it happened.

Ultimately, I left some friends behind. I left behind some people who’s company I enjoy. But I knew I did the right thing when, being sad that no one replied in farewell to my parting forum post, I was invited to Stands in Bad – and almost everyone whose reply would have meant a damn said in /g that it was nice to see me there.

I have been digging into the story and seen a relatively catastrophic clash of miscommunication and misunderstanding. I have learned a lot, both in the positive “this seems to have worked, albeit to little because it is far too late” and in the negative “this does not work.” My attitudes have grown and I have learned from these events.

I thought to use them, as I told the then-GM of BoO, and now-GM of Stands in Bad, to start my own guild. And that was when I learned that so much of what I wanted to do with a new guild was a part of Amber’s plan. Believing myself more to be an (excellent) officer than a commander, and not wanting to butt guilds on two very similar visions, I resigned my commission in BoO for a number of reasons I don’t desire to get into in public, and accepted a commission in Stands in Bad.

It is still Lieutenant Huntard. Just in a new guild. I am Mathorvos, and I Stand in Bad.

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WoW 2009 In Review: The Meme

January 13, 2010 at 7:50 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Normally I don’t really go for “old year new year” memes and such, but as I recently left a longstanding social group and a long line of Horde characters and a guild I helped found to change servers, change factions, and roll with a new group of friends, right at the end of the year. All things considered, WoW-Wise, I think this actually quite fits.

World of Warcraft 2009 Year in Review

What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Hardcore / Prog Raid. This one isn’t entirely true, as I started my raiding career just a few weeks before 3.0 back in … October? And we were a three+ raid/week guild, though we were “only” a T5 guild (no Vashj, no Kael) that got bumped up to baby!T6 with teh nerfings. Around the new year, though, we had the geared people to start going into Naxx seriously in 10s and even start 25s, but … it was around the new year, and fairly new. I was a good little four-nights-a-week, 8pm to 1am ‘hardcore’ raider – until I got seriously burned out on it.

What was your favorite new place that you visited?
You mean I have to pick just one? Then I’d probably say … hm. Wyrmrest Temple, ’cause I’m a big lore fanboy, and … c’mon! It’s ALEXSTRAZA. Or maybe the back half of Ulduar – the fights were technical, but also fun (unlike 2/3rds of Trial of the Crusader), without being as punishing as ICC is (right now), they were demanding but enjoyable, and the bosses were pretty cool. Plus, “holy crap, we’re wiping on trash? we have to take this seriously (until we get more gear)?!” was a fun notion for a while. Oh, and back in November, getting to run Onyxia at-level and face it as a serious threat that took us several tries to down (albeit more from massive doses of ‘doing it wrong!’ rather than Onyxia being HARD)… because … *deep breath* OnyxiaOnyxiaOnyxiaOnyxiaOnyxiaOnyxiaOnyxia \o/

… Ilikedragonsshutup.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Sartharion 25 with three Drakes up. This was back in the middle of February, back when the fight was punishing and demanding like nothing else (except Sarth 13). This took several weeks of learning the fight, a lot of work to get myself to the gear and skill necessary, and then in the end a lot of patience and luck in addition to the prodigious combined skill of Curse of Eminence. Mimiron? Ha! Anub’arak 25? Pff! This was the hardest raid encounter I successfully participated in at-level, and the sense of victory afterwards was immense. Almost a year later (holy shit! :o) I still toss on my title on for warm fuzzies.

Speaking of achievements, and warm fuzzies, I also helped a couple hunters, first with Beast Mastery and then with Survival, emulate my mad dps. I think one even exceeded his teacher. 😀 Seriously, a couple came to me because they saw me raid, our my raid leader pointed me out, asking for advice – which is something I’m always willing to give. We talked about gear, gems, specs, talents, other huntery behaviors, and then a few days or weeks later they came back saying that they’d become seriously better hunters. Actually, Twilight Vanquisher is one thing, but I think this is my favorite accomplishment.

What was your biggest failure?
Participating in the decline of PoV and not doing something about it sooner, by putting my foot down harder and raising my voice louder, or just by having quit one of the half-dozen times previous I was sorely tempted. I loved the people, but good god staying there was bad for me.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Cataclysm! This actually precipitated a lot of the dramaz in PoV, in one way or another. Half the guild really kind of died on that day, and was keeping going just for social ties and for to see Arthas die. A lot of people hated (with, I believe, little basis) a lot of the announcements regarding Cata. I was really the only one (who spoke up, at least) who was balls-out excited for Cataclysm’s release.

*runs around in circles*DeathwingDeathwingDeathwingDeathwingDeathwingDeathwingDeathwingDeathwing*runs around in circles*

98% of what I’ve read for Cataclysm gives me either cautious optimism (a new chance to learn brand new things – new gearing philosophy? A talent revamp? A whole new resource system – focus instead of mana – to learn to manage? – for my favorite class? This makes me go oh so very bwee) or outright excitement (guild talents! GOBLINS! WORGEN! DEATHWING! FLYING IN AZEROTH! MASSIVE CHANGES TO THE GAME WORLD!), and the last 2% is stuff that doesn’t bug me, but doesn’t excite me (stat simplicity on the whole – actually, that kind of excites me, too – I don’t believe selecting better gear is HARD, it just takes some work to find out which is the better, and it will be better, or worse).

What do you wish you’d done less of?
A bit less hardcore four-five night raiding. But, seriously, though I burned myself out for a bit on raiding, it was a good year. I don’t think I overdosed on too much, so – I’m sure after this gets posted I’ll /facepalm and think of something I should have said, but … it was a good year. I’m going to go with the silly, twee answer: contributed less to PoV’s guild bank, especially in the last couple months. 😛

What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?
Edit: Oh, Blog In General. I’d say, probably, Amber over at I Like Bubbles. Her blog is what poked me over to actually start blogging, and got me thinking, yeah, BoO will probably be a Pretty Cool Guy. Plus? We can blame her for teh flowcharts.

Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2009.
Enjoying the game, for me at least, takes both good company and a good organization, and no matter how much I might love one, if I don’t love both, I’m going to be miserable and go crazy.

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
-A high rank, or at least familial position, in a functional guild, more than two 80s (and while we’re at it, a couple level 85s!), a 310 Speed Mount other than the Violet Proto-drake, and of course: a moderately successful hunter/wow blog with something to say, that people enjoy reading.

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tl;dr: it’s hard leaving a guild you helped found.

January 5, 2010 at 6:51 am (Random) (, , )

This is going to be a long post, without some tl;dr at the end, sorry. 🙂

With it being the first week of the new year, and with some big shakeups having happened WoW-wise, I’ve been thinking a bit about the way the game’s been to me.

I started playing in early 2006 (wow)… I joined a friend’s guild (those that got me into the game), I played around. I leveled a Dwarven Warrior (Beardy) to 22, while levelling a troll Shaman (Farimu) to 31 on another friend’s server. That friend has since rolled a new toon on the former server. Neither really clicked with me, and I then dicked around on different servers, with different people, on different classes – Paladin (to 47), Mage (also to 47), Warlocks (two of them!) to 29, another Shaman (after TBC) to 22…

But I never really got into Burning Crusade. My brother got to 60, was raiding MC and Ony and ZG. My friends were getting up in levels, but I was just, nothing had clicked.

… But then came The Burning Crusade. Sick of pvp servers, and having always preferred Horde to Alliance, when TBC came out I was curious about the new starting zones, and rolled a Blood Elf, and a class I’ve never played – Hunter. For the first ten levels “this kinda sucks.”

Level 10? Dragonhawk. *bit of reading* … Dragonhawk sucks… KITTY.

kitty kitty kitty kitty this is fun kitty kitty kitty

Level 19? I made the walk from Ghostlands to Darkshore, died several times, corpse vaulted, running naked beyond my skivvies and a shirt, to Darkshore, and tamed Psyense, later renamed Spiffykitty, the Ghostsaber of Awesome. Then it was love.

I met some people, I joined a fun levelling guild of good people, and it was class love; but I was still kinda levelling slowly. It took me about ages to get to level 80. 😮 But it was kind of “meh” on the game. But then around level … 35? 40? February 2007. Something clicked. I suddenly started to play a lot more, and hit level 80 a few months later (this was back before they reduced the xp and all) (if I remember right). My guild was a casual social levelling guild, not a raiding guild, so I had no prospects on Karazhan, not even an easy job of getting a guild heroic.

Despite this I persevered, and managed to get about as well geared as you could GET from Heroics, a bit of badges, and from PvP (thank you, Season 3, for coming out with our Axe of God and making S2 Marks-and-Honor!), managing to pug-kill Magtheridon and Gruul before the nerf. Nerf game out, and thankfully I had the CotN quest even if I’d never managed to kill Nightbane… In a pug attempt, I met a couple people from a new guild.

Despite my love for , I talked some to the people from this new guild. Some of my friends from other guilds (who’d previously left Magnate) were getting into the same guild, and so I applied, and I got invited to .

A few weeks the big nerf hit, I killed Nightbane and got my title, and a month later or so I asked the GM why I made it in – he said that with a look at my gear, even with no raid experience, I knew what I was doing, and could gear a Hunter well. That, and I was kept because, as they used to say back then, “Jesus, Math, your gear sucks – how do you do such good dps?”

… Because hunters are broken, and because Kitty Eat Face. But even for a Hunter I’ve always been good, and ever since then, except for the patch when I had to switch to Survival and then get used to it, I’ve almost always been in the top 5. Hell, I’m used to Top 2, fighting hard for 1. 🙂 But that’s in the future.

Infinium was good to me. More good friends, fun times, a competent guilded hunter to hunter-talk to (yes. all hunters do it), and I got to see raiding, learn a lot, and find out, yes, raiding is fun.

Wrath of the Lich King came out a few more months later, and thankfully it was on winter break – I was level 80 in eight days, one of the first ten in the guild, and then wham! Naxx.

But not all was perfect – the guild fell apart, and eight of us expatriated to a new server, and a new guild – , somehow (though I don’t recall how) related, apparently, to “The Curse”. I continued to serve and raid with distinction, but we never quite fit into CoE, and after a while (half of naxx, and a few weeks of ulduar), four of us – latter joined by one or two more – who were quite good friends (that’s me, Quinloki, Thaern, and Briannas, the three of which who will probably on and off be referenced here a good bit) left from that server, to a new one, to form our own guild, .

It was a rocky start, and the whole time has been a rocky road. We’ve managed to kill everyone but Yoggalon in Ulduar 10, and gotten to Keepers in 25, cleared Trial 10 and 25 up to Anub, and even got a group who is getting on towards the 10 Achievement drake in Ulduar. So we did alright for ourselves, but it’s been a lot of seesaws, in grasping distance of 25s, then losing a lot of people and crumbling back to 14-18 people on around raid time, but we did, I think, alright.

Did. Past tense. I’m not exactly the sort to start grousing about what happened in public (much as some might say otherwise =p), but ever since September (jesus, four months I’ve delt with this) there’s been growing tension among the four officers (being the four friends who founded the guild), and I’ve been less and less happy with the how, and some of the what, of the guild being run. It finally hit a head over some asinine argument, and knowing that it was well past time to go, I finally walked away on the 29th. Took my deep breath. Said a bit in guild chat, and on the guild forum. It wasn’t my guild or what I wanted anymore, though I still liked the people and leaving them was the hard part.

And /gquit.

A week later, here I am, packing up my two 80s on the server (my <3'd Hunter, and my Shamanling), clearing out my bank alt of everything I can't carry in their arms, and preparing to go back home to my first server.

Already got a guild lined up and waiting for me (got local friends on the server with a good guild with a good schedule), and I'm ready, I think, to finally walk away from the server. Said my goodbyes, got e-mail addresses, tried my best, albeit mostly unsuccessfully, to get a few people to go with me, got my bags and purse loaded.

Hah. I feel sorry for Mathorvos. Tonight, he's going to go to bed a Blood Elf Male.

Tomorrow morning, he's going to wake up a Draenei Female.

*wipes a few tears away*

Here's to old friends, good times, and new experiences.

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