Patch 3.2: Crusader’s Coliseum Reactions

In case you haven’t heard, some details of Patch 3.2 have been released. The biggest change that appeals to me is the Crusader’s Coliseum. We’re not even done Ulduar yet and already there’s another instance being released.

What is it?

It looks to be the new instance hub that 3.2 will offer.

Let’s stop for a second. Lots of reactions on Twitter have been knee-jerk negative reactions.

“I don’t want to 25 man joust!”
“What? A PvP instance?”

Take a step back and start analyzing. We don’t know anything about this instance yet. All we know is that:

  • There is an instance
  • It will come in 5-player, 10-player, and 25-player varieties

I want to stress that we do not know what type instance it’s going to be inside.

Speculations

I love raiding. I love looking at the lore behind it and the mechanics, the environment and so forth.

I don’t think the Coliseum is any sort of PvP type instance.

What I think will happen is that a raid group is going to march in there and engage in gladiatorial combat against raid bosses. Think of an instanced version of the Ring of Blood quests that we first saw in Nagrand and then in Zul’Drak.

Are we going to see mounted combat? It’s a possibility. Maybe half the raid is on horseback and the other half is on their feet. I honestly have no idea.

New Battleground: Isle of Conquest

A new large-scale siege Battleground where Horde and Alliance have to battle head-to-head for control of strategic resources to lay siege to the keeps of their opponents.

Not quite death match. Sounds to me like it’s another control-the-point battleground with vehicles (large-scale and siege). Now I wonder if it means large-scale as in 15 player or large-scale as in 40 player.

Yeah. Alterac Valley in siege tanks.

Also, note that it’s called Isle of Conquest. (The island part, not the Conquest part, although it’ll be corny to jump in there and go “GET OFF MY ISLAND!”, because you know my guild’s name is Conquest, hah.). This leads me to wonder if we’ll get access to naval units. Maybe drivable ships or something to attack from the water in addition to laying siege on land.

Final Notes

Don’t perceive that this is what’s actually going to happen. Take a step back. We’re only seeing pieces of the puzzle here. There could be more stuff coming out. Actually, there will be more stuff coming out.

What do you guys think? How’s my reasoning? Sound? Terrible? Are you looking forward to any of these? (Bloggers can link and trackback here too!)

Healing Ulduar: Kologarn

Healing Ulduar: Kologarn

kologarn

For other bosses in Ulduar, check the Ulduar Healing Strategy Page.

Kologarn is the sentinel that stands in the way between your raid group and the rest of Ulduear. He is a challenging boss guilds that are new to raiding. Like Deconstructor, victory lies in the ultimate ability of individual players.

Abilities

Eyebeams: Two ways to handle this. Run out the door or run circles on the right side of the platform. More on this later.

Stone grip: He’s going to pluck three players in to the palm of his hand and attempt to squeeze them to death until they get broken out. The only way to break players out is by DPSing the arm. Once it takes 380000 damage, the players are released.

Execution

DPS priority is going to approach the boss in this order: Right arm, Elementals, torso. When any arm is destroyed, the torso loses the same amount of health.

It’s best to call out right arm health at 5% intervals starting from 20 so your tanks know when to switch. After the right arm falls, elementals will spawn.

Two tanks are needed to hold Kologarn’s attention. He’s got a Gluth-like debuff that requires two tanks to taunt off each other. Otherwise, the debuff becomes flat out unbearable.

kolo-beams

Dodging eye beams

When you get focused by twin green beams, you have around 2 seconds to start hustling before you get rocked. There’s two ways to handle avoiding them:

Out the door

Make a beeline for the door and down the stairs. The upside is that it presents minimal risk to the players in your raid group. The down side is if the player is too slow, they might die due to line of sight issues. As healers, we don’t have to worry about this.

Laps on the right side

Have beam focused players run circles along the right side of the room. The pros and cons are the exact inverse of the bailing-out-the-door method. Focused players are well within range of healers. But poor kiting can lead to multiple casualties.

Whatever solution you choose, drill it in the heads of the rest of the raid to immediately get out of the green. The beams are extremely hard to miss. Keep your head up.

The Elemental Tank

It’s happened before. I’ve seen the off tank gain aggo of all ads and get focused by beams at the exact same time. As a tank, he’ll live for a few extra seconds but not anymore after that. Use whatever saves you can on him to help lessen the blow. Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit and Blessing of Sacrifice work admirably.

Healing strategy

Around 6-7 healers is a good number to start with. Expect an enormous amount of raid damage being doled out. His left arm sweeps the entire raid for around 15000+. Pick two of your strongest tank healers and assign them to the main tank (this will vary as they’re taunting off each other). Be sure to have Kologarn’s target up so you can see which tank he’s presently on.

If you have access to two Resto Shamans, they can anchor the Stone Grips quite easily.

Healer items

Ironmender – OH (Priests, Druids)

Gloves of the Pythonic Guardian – Gloves (Paladin)

Robes of the Umbral Brute – Chest (Priests)

Unfaltering Armguards – Wrists (Paladin)

Which Came First? The Aegis or the Shield?

Which Came First? The Aegis or the Shield?

pws-vs-da

On my daily patrol through the Plus Heal forums, I came across this thread with one very important question by Sundotz.

If I proc Divine Aegis ( for 12 sec) and then apply PW: S (15 sec after absorbed), which shield is absorbing damage first?

I could have commissioned a study on this with the assistance of guildies. But I decided to take matters in my own hands and test it out only in such a way that true Dwarves would do it.

I’d tackle the Molten Colossus of Ulduar after activating both shields in an attempt to see which happened first. Here’s 5 combat logs with different cast sequences. Log’s been trimmed somewhat.

Test 1:

Mallet casts Power Word: Shield at Mallet.
Mallet is afflicted by Mallet’s Weakened Soul.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Borrowed Time.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Renewed Hope.
Mallet’s Flash Heal heals Mallet for 1977.(4306 Overhealed) (Critical)
Mallet’s Borrowed Time fades from Mallet.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Inspiration.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Divine Aegis.
Mallet gains 300 Mana from Mallet’s Darkglow.
Mallet’s Flash Heal heals Mallet for 0.(4185 Overhealed)
Molten Colossus’s melee swing hits Mallet for 18720 Physical.(8103 Absorbed) (3247 Overkill)
Mallet’s Power Word: Shield fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Divine Aegis fades from Mallet.

Mallet’s Power Word: Fortitude fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inner Fire fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Weakened Soul dissipates from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inspiration fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Renewed Hope fades from Mallet.
Your equipped items suffer a 10% durability loss.
Mallet died.

Test 2:

Mallet gains Mallet’s Divine Aegis.
Mallet’s Flash Heal heals Mallet for 0.(5915 Overhealed) (Critical)
Mallet casts Power Word: Shield at Mallet.
Mallet is afflicted by Mallet’s Weakened Soul.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Borrowed Time.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Renewed Hope.
Molten Colossus’s melee swing hits Mallet for 16490 Physical.(9530 Absorbed) (12804 Overkill)
Mallet’s Divine Aegis fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Power Word: Shield fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inspiration fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Weakened Soul dissipates from Mallet.
Mallet’s Borrowed Time fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Renewed Hope fades from Mallet.
Your equipped items suffer a 10% durability loss.
Mallet died.

Test 3:

Mallet casts Power Word: Shield at Mallet.
Mallet is afflicted by Mallet’s Weakened Soul.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Borrowed Time.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Renewed Hope.
Mallet gains 300 Mana from Mallet’s Darkglow.
Mallet’s Flash Heal heals Mallet for 2330.(1824 Overhealed)
Mallet’s Borrowed Time fades from Mallet.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Forethought Talisman.
Mallet’s Flash Heal heals Mallet for 0.(6049 Overhealed) (Critical)
Mallet gains Mallet’s Inspiration.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Divine Aegis.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Effervescence.
Molten Colossus’s melee swing hits Mallet for 16490 Physical.(9895 Absorbed) (6884 Overkill)
Mallet’s Power Word: Shield fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Divine Aegis fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inner Fire fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Weakened Soul dissipates from Mallet.
Mallet’s Forethought Talisman fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Renewed Hope fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inspiration fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Effervescence fades from Mallet.
Your equipped items suffer a 10% durability loss.
Mallet died.

Test 4

Mallet gains Mallet’s Divine Aegis.
Mallet casts Power Word: Shield at Mallet.
Mallet is afflicted by Mallet’s Weakened Soul.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Borrowed Time.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Renewed Hope.
Molten Colossus’s attack misses Mallet. (My agility and dodge is strong)
Molten Colossus’s melee swing hits Mallet for 16490 Physical.(7968 Absorbed) (13299 Overkill)
Mallet’s Divine Aegis fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Power Word: Shield fades from Mallet.
Ragadast’s Leader of the Pack fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inner Fire fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inspiration fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Weakened Soul dissipates from Mallet.
Mallet’s Borrowed Time fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Renewed Hope fades from Mallet.
Your equipped items suffer a 10% durability loss.
Mallet died.

Test 5

Mallet casts Power Word: Shield at Mallet.
Mallet is afflicted by Mallet’s Weakened Soul.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Borrowed Time.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Renewed Hope.
Mallet’s Flash Heal heals Mallet for 5654.(Critical)
Mallet gains Mallet’s Effervescence.
Mallet’s Borrowed Time fades from Mallet.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Inspiration.
Mallet gains Mallet’s Divine Aegis.
Molten Colossus’s melee swing hits Mallet for 15100 Physical.(7651 Absorbed) (21476 Overkill)
Mallet gains 300 Mana from Mallet’s Darkglow.
Mallet’s Power Word: Shield fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Divine Aegis fades from Mallet.

Mallet’s Weakened Soul dissipates from Mallet.
Ragadast’s Leader of the Pack fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Inspiration fades from Mallet.
Mallet’s Effervescence fades from Mallet.
Your equipped items suffer a 10% durability loss.
Mallet died.

So in conclusion, while not technically a scientifically valid test, I’ve conceded that the order in which the different absorb effects are used are based on which one happens to land first. If a DA activates before a PW:S, then the DA gets consumed. If a PW:S lands first followed by a DA, the PW:S gets chomped alive before the DA.

A simple, easy, and cheap test. 5 minutes. 45 gold.

Done.

But also incorrect. So take this entire post with a grain of salt.

Restoration Shaman – Ulduar 10 Gear

Restoration Shaman – Ulduar 10 Gear

It was requested that I do a post highlighting the gear for the 10 man raiders, so here it is!

It’s often easily looked over when your focus is on 25 man raiding, but 10 mans are there and are a wonderful thing. They allow smaller guilds to still be able to see endgame content and to be honest some of the best loot comes from 10 man raids. Lets take a look at the toys a shaman has available to him running around in 10 man Ulduar!

Head - Couple good pieces for your head come from 10 man Uld First up is [Helm of Veiled Energies] (XT-002) Haste, Crit and good spellpower, can’t really go wrong there. Second choice is your tier piece [Valorous Worldbreaker Headpiece] (Mimron). Your tier pieces are always a good pick up

Neck[Pendant of Endless Despair] (General Vezax) is a good pickup Crit and MP5 will help keep those mana stores filled and it has decent spell power to boot. Another choice is [Pendant of the Shallow Grave] (Thorim) Haste, Crit and Spellpower as well as a yellow socket. Not bad at all.

Shoulders - Not much for us unless you have some odd obsession with spirit (let’s hope you don’t) so I would say just snag your [Valorous Worldbreaker Spaulders] (Thorim) and say thank you =D

Back -  Here we have three choices, two of which are zone wide drops from trash. First up is [Cloak of the Dormant Blaze] crit and MP5 make this an attractive pickup if you’re lucky enough to see it drop. [Drape of the Spellweaver] this one has Haste and Crit. It’s a bit more of a dps cloak but it’s still good for us. If you don’t want to wait for trash to drop it, you can take a gander at [Shawl of the Caretaker] (Ignis). Good stats, if you see it drop I suggest trying to snag it.

Chest – Obvious choice would be the tier 8 chest piece [Valorous Worldbreaker Tunic] (Yogg). If you’re find yourself with time before you get to yogg you can always opt for [Firestrider Chestguard] (Flame Leviathan). Haste and Crit, its a good pickup.

Waist - [Belt of the Iron Servant] (Iron Council) is a great belt from the 10 man. Great smattering of stats, good regen. Well worth the pickup. Another option if you have the cash to burn, you can pick up [Blue Belt of Chaos]. Crit and MP5 as well as two sockets make for a good belt. Toss a belt buckle on there and it’s even better.

Wrist[Armbraces of the Vibrant Flame] (Ignis) are BoE so you can probably snag them on the AH if you don’t see them drop. Another option is after you snag 60 Emblems of Valor to pick up [Pigmented Clan Bindings], they should last you a long while.

Legs[Ironscale Leggins] (Razorscale) has good MP5, a nice smattering of haste and some good spell power. Worth the pickup while you wait for [Valorous Worldbreaker Kilt] (Hodir)

Feet - [Greaves of the Earthbinder] (Thorim) are a good pickup. Crit and MP5 as well as a blue socket make these very nice.

Main Hand – First up is [Pulse Baton] (Mimron) A solid main hand weapon and well worth picking up. Less conventional options are [Stormtip] (IC) and [Plasma Foil] (XT-002) they pack good spell power with either Haste or Crit respectively. The only problem with them is that they pack spirit, which is wasted on a shaman. If these are going to be sharded or offer a significant boost in spell power and either crit or haste they are worth grabbing as a transition piece. But its something I would avoid if possible.

Offhand[Ice Layered Barrier] (Hodir hardmode) is a best in slot item for even heroic level. It’s a rock solid shield with great stats. If you can get this get it! Another very solid option is [Pulsing Spellshield] (XT-002) Crit and Haste help it be a very nice shaman shield.

Rings -  [Fire Orchid Signet] (Freya) is a great pick up. The ring has all the right stats and a socket to boot. Another good option is to get [Renewal of Life] (25 Emblem of Valor) with your badges. It’s a solid ring and will last you a while.

Trinkets – There are three trinkets from 10 man ulduar that are worth looking at. [Energy Siphon] (FL) has great MP5 and the on use effect is nothing to scoff at.  [Eye of the Broodmother] (Razor) 87 crit (almost 2%) combined with essentially a 125 sp boost makes this an amazing trinket to grab if you can. Last up is [Sif's Rememberance] (Thorim) Good spell power and it gives you a chance to proc more MP5. If it drops there is no good reason not to take it.

Well thats it for today. Those are the items you can look forward to from Ulduar 10. They are really nice, and in serveral cases comparable to gear from Heroic Ulduar.

Until next time, Happy Healing.

sig2

Hello to wow.com!

I am no longer a contributing editor to WoW Insider. We’ve changed to WoW dot com! You can now find us over at wow.com (which is 7 characters shorter to type, I might add). I’ll still be anchoring Spiritual Guidance and Raid Rx (when the ideas come).

I received a lot of private questions about this and I wanted to get a post out about it quickly to help alleviate the strain of my inbox and Twitter DMs.

What exactly is wow.com?

It’s your same news and opinion blog coupled with some extra features. One of the biggest things is that it comes with souped up user accounts. Think of it as WoW Insider meets social networking. You can attach characters to your accounts. You can have your own wow.com blogs. There’s also an addon that you can download which tracks your activities in game so that you can share with everyone else who might be curious. There’s a nifty feature where screenshots you take in game can be uploaded for display on to wow.com as well.

Remember, it’s still in beta. There’s still more features coming.

Why can’t the Europeans get in on this? Do you hate us?

No. It was stated earlier in the introduction post and later on again that European support is on the way. Put it this way. Let the US server guys bust their ass and break things so that you get a better experience when it’s ready.

How did you guys get wow.com? Isn’t it Blizzards?

From what I understand of the story, the address wow.com was purchased by AOL many millennial ago during the War of the Ancients well before the events of World of Warcraft. They’ve had it for a long time even before World of Warcraft even came out. It wasn’t until recently that it was decided what it should be used for.

Why do I have to use an AOL login? I don’t want to

WoW Insider is owned by AOL Inc. It made sense to utilize AOL accounts. Facebook support is also there. Are there intentions to branch out and expand with other login types like Open ID? I have no idea. If you’re vehemently opposed to AOL or AIM or Facebook and don’t want to use it for whatever reason, you don’t have to. You can still access the news and posts that you would normally get but will not be able to set up profiles and such.

If you’ve noticed, the real estate of the posts themselves have actually increased widthwise. I find that much more easier reading.

What’s your WoW Profile?

I reserved the user name of matticus. You can also find Lodur there as well.

Looking Back at Raiding 1.0

Looking Back at Raiding 1.0

bwl-load-screen

I am not the most “old school” player in existence. The extent of my experience in Vanilla WoW extends to the first boss of AQ 40 after clearing out Ragnaros and Nefarion.

Often times, I run across players in trade or forums who want to try MC or AQ in their old state of glory having never truly “experienced” it themselves. Even now, there are players who are craving a return to the way raiding was. The game is more enjoyable and accessible now than it was years ago and I personally think of that as a good thing.

Let’s take a look back at history.

First we have raiding 1.0. This was the maiden year of World of Warcraft. We saw the appearance of Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Onyxia. Raids consisted of 10 really good players, 15 okay players and 15 “ugh” players. There was no Recount then. No sense of accountability. I remember a story where a healer received positive comments when all they did was heal themselves at the front entrance of Molten Core while the rest of the raid took down Lucifron.

Entry level raids Mid-level End game
Zul’Gurub Blackwing Lair Naxxramas
Molten Core Ahn’Qiraj 40  
Ahn’Qiraj 20 World bosses  
Onyxia    

Farming and raid preparation

Preparing for raids often took more time than the actual raids themselves. There were so many cooldowns and consumables that players could get. Higher end raiding guilds made farming of said consumables mandatory.

Whipper Root Tuber – Riding around Felwood really late or really early in the day and picking up these roots
Demonic Runes – Leveling Demon areas in Felwood
Dark Runes – Endless Scholomance farming
Blasted Land food buffs – Involved killing a billion Basilisks and Buzzards (Needed eyes and scales to turn in)
Various weapon buffs in the form of sharpening stones and weapon oils.

Sometimes it felt like farming for raids took longer than the raids itself.

Biggest pain in the ass: Blasted Lands buffs by a land slide.

Attunements

In order to enter some of the raid instances, players had to prove they were worthy in the form of attunements. This meant embarking on some long winded quest to get some key or item. My sympathies go out to Horde players. Getting attuned for Onyxia must have really sucked. Had to penetrate the depths of Blackrock Depths to get a core fragment. The entire world had to cooperate to open the gates of Ahn’Qiraj. Naxxramas required gold and other things in order to get in courtesy of the Argent Dawn.

Biggest pain in the ass: Getting Ony attuned for Horde.

Now lets talk about the actual instances themselves.

Pulling setup

I remember players having to assist Priests and Hunters to get targets. We didn’t have lucky charms to mark mobs with at the time. I believe that came later. But the pulls were so specific. Sometimes it took as long as 10 minutes just to set up a pull every single time. Remember Garr? Lots of Mind Vision while tanks assisted to ensure that all targets were accounted for. When organizing kills for Rag, players had specific areas that they had to stand in. The gauntlet leading up to Broodlord was demoralizing in Blackwing Lair. Rogues were a requirement to trip switches. If they weren’t, then players would suffer from a massive slowing debuff.

Garr

Summary

  • Longest fights: Chromaggus (30 minutes)
  • Most treacherous run back: The walk of shame to Nefarian’s room. AQ40 is a close second but at least you had mounts.
  • Guild breakers: Razorgore, Vaelstrasz, Patchwerk
  • Most frustrating fights: Twin Emps, Four Horsemen (Lack of 8 T2 geared tanks)
  • Biggest pain in the ass: Gothik (Way more mobs than what we know now)
  • Most unforgiving: C’Thun (1 or 2 players down spelled a whole wipe. Losing half raid on a BWL boss was still doable)

I don’t miss the farming or the raid preparation. I sort of wish some attunements were still present. Perhaps not in the shape of lengthy quest chains, but like an account wide “Kill these bosses” sort of thing. Guild wide attunements would be interesting to see where guilds accomplish a set of objectives to gain access to some area. I suppose that would see the end of pickup groups.

I will say this. The success of every boss kill felt magnified. Maybe it was because of the number of other people that were involved. But killing bosses felt much more satisfying. Can’t quite seem to place a finger on why.

Anyway, I’ll take a look back at raiding 2.0 sometime in the week.

Images courtesy of WoWWiki

Surviving Blizzcon! : Getting Ready

Surviving Blizzcon! : Getting Ready

checklist

So, the first round of tickets has come and gone, and some were lucky enough to get tickets to the grand old event. With the con rapidly approaching, it’s time to get things set to make the most out of the convention.

Clothing

First thing I want to talk about is the area the convention is taking place in. Anaheim California. Anaheim is a wonderful city, lots of fun things do to there and lots of great sites to see. The biggest concern is going to be the weather of the season. August is a hot time in CA. The average temperature in August is about 86ºF / 30ºC. It’s also  a pretty dry time, not a lot of rain. You’re going to want to make sure you pack some lighter clothing. Trust me, nothing says bad like showing up and standing in line to get in while being overheated!

On the topic of clothing, bring some really comfy shoes. I can’t stress this enough. There are a lot of lines, and a lot of the panels become standing room only. There is a decent chance you’ll spend the better part of the day on your feet. A couple of my guildies made that mistake last year, and there were a lot of sore feet and one of my guildies received an ongoing back issue as a result.

If you are planning to attend in costume, you may want to consider when you want to show up in said costume. Last year a few people came to opening ceremony dressed to the nines. The vast majority showed up in normal clothing, went back to the hotel before any good panels opened (usually about an hour after opening ceremony) and came back in garb. This seemed to be the preferred method for the majority of the people I ran into.

Accesories

This is for all the technophiles out there. Blizzard has a list of items that they deem acceptable or not acceptable to bring into the convention. This list is updated yearly and you can find it among the FAQs for blizzcon. You can bring video cameras and phones as well as backpacks into the convention, but there are a few exceptions. You cannot video tape any game play footage or the closing concert on Saturday. iPods, iPhones and MP3 players are premitted but are not allowed to be hooked up to any test machines. Seriously don’t try it. I saw someone get their iPhone taken away last year trying to hook it up to a Diablo 3 test machine. Laptops / computers are NOT allowed. Don’t bring them they will not let you in if you try to bring one in. Bring them if you want but make sure you leave them in your hotel room. If you are coming in costume, do not try to bring any sort of weapon with your costuming, it’s not allowed. Essentially don’t bring anything that may potentially hurt someone else.

I will say it’s a good idea to bring something capable of entertaining yourself with. Nintendo DS, Sony PSP and iPhone or iPods are good ideas. I found myself last year in line thanking the fact I had my guildies around me to talk to while waiting. If you’re not going to have that luxury I suggest bringing something.

Food

Anaheim has a wonderful selection of eateries very close to the convention center. Downtown Disney is also a stones throw away and offers restaurants like House of Blues. My suggestion would be to explore these places rather then buying convention food. Food at the con is good, but it is also very expensive and the lines are pretty long. Last year we waited in line for a sub for close to 45 minutes. In that same amount of time I could have walked to a Subway restaurant, eaten and stopped for an energy drink. I suggest checking sites like Yelp or Urban Spoon. If you have an iPhone there is an app for each. There’s so many places to list that I wont make suggestions on where to go, but I will suggest that in the mornings if you’re looking to do breakfast before the convention, to plan carefully. The places around the convention center filled up really fast last year, and this year with even more tickets being sold, I can only begin to imagine how this year will shape up.

This category should also cover post convention gatherings. Lets face it, you’re going to be amped up and not ready to go to sleep right after the convention, you’re probably going to want to find a place to honker down and meet-up with guildies  or just have a beer. There are several places that will be able to fill that role as meeting place. Again, I refer to Yelp or Urban Spoon or the Internet in general to help find places. Keep your eyes peeled here at World of Matticus, rumor has it we’ll be finding a place to group up with any of your readers who will be in attendance.

Attacking the Convention

Now that you’ve got yourself prepared with trinkets and clothing and a list of places to eat and drink, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do at the convention itself. First on most peoples list are the panels. There are three main intellectual properties that Blizzcon centers around. Lets see what each has this year.

Diablo3

  • Heroes and Monsters – This is a look into the design process of the monsters  and heroes of the game.
  • Lore – Fairly self explanatory here. You get the story so far, and some new bits of the story to come.
  • Art – Basically this is the entire process of creating the look of sanctuary.

Starcraft 2

  • Gameplay - The devs take you on a journey through making and tuning of the game mechanics. This is a great panel to visit if you’re planning on going into game design.
  • Lore - The story up to now and where the story is going to go.
  • Art - From designing the Protoss armor to kerrigan’s luscious (and deadly) curves, it’s all here.

World of Warcraft

  • Class Discussion – This is a great panel, it will explain how each class has evolved over time and how things are balanced and tweaked as time goes on. They reveal their big plans for classes here and how they view things as they stand now. This is a must I feel this year simply because Ghostcrawler has been saying that he wants to change the face of healing. If that announcement comes from anywhere, it’s going to come here!
  • PVP - If you’re big into battleground and arenas, this is your place of happiness. Last year they revealed the two new arenas and how they planed to balance things like ratings and match ups.
  • Art - A wonderful discussion of all that goes into making the World of Warcraft so visually stunning. There is lots of talk about how far we’ve come since the days of painted on armor. Artists on hand will tell you how they conceptualize different things from the landscape down to the tiniest critter running around.
  • Dungeons & Raids – This is the one I’m sure the vast majority of you are waiting for. Last year was the announcement of the Hard Mode encounter. Sarth 3D to be exact. There was much oooo and awwwww ing at this panel and for good reason. The devs explained the balancing of the instances from 40 man encounters of old moving forward to the 10′s and 25′s we have today. They explained last year how variable raid size would work. Needless to say there was little disappointment. This year comes at a time where Ulduar has dropped, by the time the convention comes around we’ll likely be ready for another update and I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll hear a bit about icecrown and then goal beyond. This is a must go to for the inquisitive raider. (pretty sure Matt and I will be fighting for seats on this one)
  • UI & Mods – This is a discussion about the evolving UI and mods that we’ve all come to learn and love for WoW. Last year centered around the creation of the Achievement window and the Rune pane for Death Knights. This year I think things will be a bit more exciting, and this panel may potentially run longer then it did last year. With all the changes to the Mod policy and the changes blizzard has informed us of (item rack built in for example) I’m sure this will be much more lively then it was last year.

Blizard Entertainment

  • Cinematics – Get to know the people who wrote the stories and created the movies we’ve grown to embrace over the years. (as a side note, all the cinematics play on a loop throughout the convention. It’s kinda awesome!)
  • Sound & Music – Interested in audio engineering? How about just composing vast symphonies? This is the panel for you. Learn how the scores and sounds were created and how it helped to shape the games. This will span all three properties. I liked this one a lot last year, hearing how they created things like the Lament of the Highborne and other very moving pieces in the game, gives you a different appreciation. After this panel I turned the game music back on.
  • DVD\Video Production – Much like cinematics you’ll get to see how the videos were created in and out of game. Here though you’ll also get insight into the editing process and how much work truly goes into making a final cut. I’ve heard some of the machinima makers found this useful last year.

That’s it for this installment of Preparing for Blizzcon. Check back often for updates as information is released. In the meantime I charge you with a task. Let us know what you want to know.

Have questions you want the WoM crew to ask at Blizzcon? Have any questions you need answered for getting ready to attend? let us know!

Until next time,

sig1

Syd’s Guide to Blogging Part 2: Getting Started

Syd’s Guide to Blogging Part 2: Getting Started

As I tell my students, Dame Inspiration is a fickle mistress. One of the hardest challenges any writer faces is knowing what to write about and then having the gumption to go through with it. Let me tell you, I face my own struggle with writer’s block every day. Sure, it doesn’t hurt me much in the blogging department, but in my professional life? My own anxiety about the quality of my writing keeps me from publishing as many articles as I’d like. As such, I’m writing this blog entry to coax both my readers and myself into happy, healthy writing habits.

My theory on creativity is that almost all writers or would be writers have a mountain of content locked somewhere in the furthest corner of their brain, just waiting to be set free. I know I’ve spent countless hours over the last year explaining to people (and myself) the entire plot of a vampire series I intend to write. . . someday. I’ve developed it enough in my mind to have first and last names for all the characters, an opening paragraph that I’ve now memorized, a good number of chapter titles, and a plan for every major scene in books one and two. I even dream about the heroine on a surprising number of occasions. Did I mention that the actual writing on this project comes to a sum of two pages? Why is that, do you think? I have absolutely nothing to lose by writing my thoughts down, right? Well, that’s not entirely true.

The Lure of the Possible

Four years ago, at the beginning of writing my dissertation, I took a seminar on how to begin. Yes, I’m the type of person who takes a class every time I need to know how to do something–I can’t help it, I suffer from academophilia. In that particular class, I learned something startling. Most cases of writer’s block are not caused by a lack of material or a lack of interest on the part of the writer. They are the result of fear and anxiety. One would think that a writer would feel better the moment that words finally hit the page–but it’s just the opposite. You see, any time I’ve actually written something down, I have to deal with my actual, real blog entry or short story, not the ideal one that I might have written under the most favorable of conditions. The truth is that the ideal is always better–it is a dream, a thing of cobwebs and shadow, to which the real cannot possibly compare. The major insight of this seminar was that writers actually feel more unhappy, not less, once their work has been started. How does one overcome the anxiety? I’ll tell you what I tell myself, and what I tell my students. It must have worked to some degree, because I actually did finish my dissertation on schedule. Recognize that first drafts are always bad. That is their purpose in life–to be utter, total crap that you can then toy with, rearrange, dismember and, if necessary, discard as you revise. I am sure there are some writers who publish their first drafts, but it takes a great deal of experience and expertise (and probably a mountain of past failed drafts) to get to that point.

For those writers who would like to get from the possible to the actual, the following strategies can help you come to see writing as a process, mostly mechanical, that has a lot more to do with hard work than inspiration.

Control Your Environment

The second thing that prevents many writers from producing as much as they like has to do with the environment they work in–and by this, I mean both mental and the physical space. Ideally, we’d all like to write in a perfectly beautiful, solitary space, carried on to verbosity on a wave of euphoric inspiration. That doesn’t happen. Writers who seek that out every time end up as hermits or drug addicts–or worse, both. Some of us can, like writer Annie Dillard, build a writing studio in the back yard to escape the world. I’m sure this is quite effective, but writers starting out won’t generally have the capability to set themselves up as modern-day Thoreaus (or worse, modern-day Van Goghs, permanently high on absinthe and turpentine). Instead of lamenting your lack of a rustic, solitary cabin with an excellent internet connection, work on the environmental factors that you can change. Believe me when I tell you that college students with their myriad distractions can write brilliant papers–but most of them can’t do so in a dorm room while their drunk roommate plays Xbox. I suggest the following steps to improve your writing environment. Physical space, after all, helps create mental space.

1. Find out what level of noise and companionship you like. As an experiment, take your notebook or laptop to a fairly busy cafe. There should be noise all around you–the hum of conversation, the clink of spoons against glass, the high pitched squeal of the espresso machine–but none of it is directed at you specifically. Now, set yourself a very simple writing challenge. Write a long, involved email or letter to a friend explaining everything you’ve been doing for the last two weeks. As you know, every one of us is behind on our correspondence, so this will be a useful exercise. Note the time when you start and when you finish, and after you sign off, write down a few words about the difficulty of the exercise. Did you write a good letter? Were you often distracted? And if you were, did those distractions help you think, or did they chase the thoughts out of your head?

When you’ve completed your public writing exercise, it’s time to indulge in some private writing. Set an alarm for an hour early–preferably at a time when no one will be awake. Write in a room empty of clutter, noises, interest of any kind. If you’re a student, I suggest a study room at the library on Saturday morning. If you’re at home, write barefoot and in your pajamas–with or without a coffee cup. Now, write a letter or email of the same length and detail as the public one, and time yourself. When you finish, reflect on the experience and note whether it seemed easier or harder, more or less pleasant, than your exercise in public writing.

The results of this little experiment should give you a baseline reading on how you best like to write. I chose personal correspondence as the assignment because it’s a type of writing that causes little anxiety for anyone. After all, our friends love to hear from us, and they couldn’t care less if we use metaphors or not. The only factors causing possible anxiety should have been environmental. What did I learn from doing this exercise myself? That both types of locales have their advantages. For me, I’m faster at home, but I’m more likely to work on what I’m supposed to be doing in public. Experience tells me that while I’ll abandon my writing for lolcats after five minutes if I’m sitting barefoot at my breakfast table, I won’t do the same at Starbucks. I choose my different environments based on my goals for the day and how motivated I feel. If I’m less motivated and I need to write anyway, it’s off to the coffee shop. I find that I don’t hear the distractions after a while–it’s white noise to me, below the threshold of notice. But the mere fact of being in a public place keeps my butt in the seat and my hands on the keys more consistently. However, I’ve got to confess that I mostly blog at home in my pajamas. Why? Blogging, for some reason, doesn’t hit my anxiety buttons like literary criticism or novel writing do. I think it’s the informal, personal nature of the medium.

Have a Writing Ritual

The horrible affliction of writer’s block has a great deal in common with insomnia. In both cases, the mind and body are out of sync, and we just can’t manage to do the thing that we most need or want to do. Thus, it makes sense that the advise that helped me overcome my own insomnia also worked on my poor writing habits. Once you find something that works, keep certain elements the same every time. Here’s what you might do.
1. Write at the same time every day. The more writing becomes a part of your routine, the easier it will be to make yourself do it. It’s not a terrible bother to brush your teeth every morning, is it?
2. Go to your regular writing spot(s). It’s time to put the knowledge you gained from our earlier exercise into practice. If you have an office or a rustic cabin, this is quite easy. If you’re a laptop user like me with no actual desk, you’ll have to get creative. I have three spaces that I work in: my office at work (suitable for research and reading), the leftmost cushion on the couch (suitable for heavy writing), and the Barnes and Noble cafe (suitable for reading and taking notes). I have a feeling though, that if I really wanted to write that vampire novel, I’d take the laptop to Barnes and Noble. For writing with secondary sources, I’m stuck with the couch, because no one wants to drag an enormous bag of books to the bookstore (from, of course, is another story entirely.
3. Have the same drinks and snacks every time. For me, it’s coffee or diet coke. I don’t eat while I write on the computer, as my last laptop got irremediably sticky. If you do get the munchies, I suggest popcorn, edamame, apples, or carrots. Cheetos are a really, really bad idea. Granola bars are also surprisingly crumbly. It’s not that you need a drink or snacks, of course. It’s just that, as it becomes part of your routine, your favorite coffee cup will help you write. I, for example, love plain white cafe-style mugs. All my mugs from home look like they could have come from a cafe (and now it really irks me when cafes use oversize or glass mugs). Even seeing a white coffee mug makes me think of reading and writing–which is a very helpful association if you’re trying to get some words down. Caveat–as I write with a coffee mug on my lap desk next to my laptop, or in the best case scenario, precariously balanced beside me on the couch, I’m sure I’m headed for tragedy and nasty laptop death one day. Perhaps at some point I’ll buy a couch with a built-in cup holder.

Practice Pre-Writing and Post-Writing

I would not expect even the best novelist to produce her best sentence in the first fifteen seconds of a writing session. You have to work yourself into it. For pre-writing, I suggest that you keep a separate notebook or document purely for your feelings and anxiety about the writing process. I used this technique for my dissertation, and I can tell you, my pre-writing scrapbook is full of every curse word I know and dire proclamations written in all caps. Somehow, a few minutes of writing anything will reconcile me to doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Post-writing is equally important. The idea is to leave yourself a plan for the next day’s work. Human beings write better in coherent chunks. If you can, it’s always ideal to write a whole blog entry or a whole chapter at one setting, but with lengthier projects, this just isn’t possible. For post-writing, I use my primary document. I append post-writing comments directly to the day’s work, and for me, it’s usually a one-to ten-step plan of what I need to accomplish in the next session. I know from experience that my maximum production in one sitting is somewhere around 4 pages double-spaced. This isn’t very much compared to the overall length of a dissertation (300 pages double-spaced) or a fantasy novel (up to 700 pages double-spaced). Like Hansel and Gretel, you have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind you. Now, sometimes I don’t follow the path I’ve laid for myself. Writing is a process of continual discovery, and when it takes a left turn, I like to follow it to its logical end. However, it’s comforting to have a to-do list. If I don’t accomplish a step in the plan, I save it until I do. At the end of chapter three of my dissertation I had five pages of excellent plans that just never came to fruition. I only deleted them when I was certain that I was done adding new material to the chapter.

Time to Write, Right Now

The techniques I’ve described have helped me tremendously. Even though I’m a “professional writer,” (it still feels odd to call myself that, though it’s in my job description) I still need them. I still wrestle with the angel every time I sit down to write–especially if my job is on the line. I urge all aspiring or current writers to see inspiration, and writing itself, as a mechanical process that obeys certain rules. If you put work in, you get results out. That work does not have to be brilliant–it just has to be present. A great second draft, after all, can be written from any sort of first draft, even the worst one possible. However, a great second draft cannot be produced with no first draft at all to support it. So, open up your word processor–today–and see what happens.
sydsignature1

What’s in a Name, Pt. 2

Who's that rogue?

Some of you who’ve followed the blog for a while (and remember when I posted regularly enough to qualify as earning the spot down there on the footer…..) may remember that my guild transferred from a vewwy, vewwy small server to one that had an actual population. When that happened, there were some…. sour grapes, shall we say, from the #2 guild on our old server. (I’ll make a long story short: to read the longer version, please check out my QQ post.) As a result, I had to use the name “Wynthia.” A small change, to be sure, but given my association with this blog, my twitter account, and my email address….not to mention my VERY IDENTITY, I was upset.

Enter my savior, a WoM reader named Corgii. (Shout out!!!) Corgii let me know that I could ticket a GM, tell them about the never-logged-on lvl 1 bogarting my name, and take it back. This had honestly never occurred to me. Oh, sure, I had the little usurper on my friends list… I even sent them 1 gold in the mail to see if they ever, EVER logged on… (they didn’t. My gold came back twice.) But actually asking Blizz to fix it? Hadn’t crossed my mind.

So I did.

And it worked!!!!

I got a free name-change back to my old self. The GM even stayed on to make sure it all worked properly. (Say what you will about Blizz customer service, I’ve only ever had STELLAR experiences with my GM’s. One even gave me a cookie!)

The only downside? Since UI settings are stored by character name, my UI ‘sploded a little, and took a few minutes to sort out.

But now I have a question: I used to be the only Wynthea on the armory. (There was a lvl 11 druid, but that was one of my alts.) Now there’s a rogue. Troll Female. Where did she come from?

Luv,
Wyn

Blizzcon Bound!

Matticus, Lodur, and Wynthea will all be attending Blizzcon ’09! We’ll be divvying up the con to make sure we get to see and hear everything, so here’s what we need from you:

1. Will you be there? We want to meet you!

2. If you won’t, but you have questions for us to ask on your behalf, we’d love to know!

3. There may be some schwag-related giveaways, so keep your eyes on WoM for upcoming contests!!

See you there!

Luv,
Wyn