2011: Best of World of Matticus

2011 was a fairly eventful year. Highlights included my new gig at Enjin, BlizzCon 2011, and Cataclysm. We saw a new expansion announcement while this expansion began to wind down. The new Star Wars MMO came out this month. We’ll see what the MMO market place is going to be like with two competing MMOs. I’ve already hit 50 after approaching it like a single player game with multiplayer elements. As I’ve always been more of an end game player then an “experience” player, I’m going to have to wait until the rest of my new SWTOR crew levels out. 16 players is a far cry from 25.

In a way though, this was a year where I just felt my energy had been sapped completely. Additional professional responsibilities and guild rebuilding takes a rather large toll. Unfortunately, the blog and my projects had to suffer slightly. I decided to close and consolidate different projects because I was stretching myself way too thin and I couldn’t possibly maintain the level of care required.

It’s a tradition for me every year to take a look back at some of my favourite posts published this year on the blog. Other bloggers, I encourage you to do the same!

Top Posts of 2011

Did Cataclysm Fail?

A provocative piece by Lodur who examined the positives and negatives of this expansion. Some elements were well received but others not so much.

How to Come out of Raiding Retirement

You’re feeling the itch again. You can feel your mouse and keyboard call you. Does your raid group even want you? Exercise caution if you make the jump back in.

Why Ready Checks Suck

“Ready checks are an opt-in system, and opt-in systems deflect responsibility.  Instead, we make the choice to assume that everyone is at keyboard and ready to play when we’re raiding – when they’re expected to be.” As quoted from the bible of Mel. Read on for the full interview with Mel and his take on raid leading.

Does Your Guild Need Social Media Guidelines?

With more and more gamers taking to Twitter and other social media aspects, it might be wise to lay down a set of guidelines that they should look over.

GMs Talk: Things We Share, Things We Do Not

When you take the rank as a GM, there’s a certain level of social rules that needs to be observed especially when conversing with other GMs. Don’t worry, some of your secrets are safe.

A Lesson in Guild Ultimatums

It’ll happen from time to time. It never hurts to be prepared for the occasion.

Topping Meters vs Assigned Role

Which takes priority? Lodur laid down the law. One of these elements will lead to personal glory while the other will lead to glory for the guild.

11 Suggestions for the New Guild Leader

Veteran guild masters and leaders share some nuggets of wisdom for new GMs. The great thing is that this post isn’t platform specific. Starting a guild in SWTOR can be just the same as in WoW.

Breaking Up With your Guild is Hard to Do

One of the highlights for me was when Lodur made the switch to come and join my guys. I knew it was going to be a difficult process for him but he’s still a champ.

Handling the Guild Dirty Work

It’s a crappy job, but someone’s got to do it. It’s a great way to demonstrate to the troops that you still have the spark and that you’re not just some suit leading from the rear.

11 Raid Finder Personalities You Will Never Escape

The raid finder is proof of the diversity among our player base. Which one are you?

The E-Book

I keep talking about it for years and it’s something I’ve really wanted to do. I keep getting sidetracked by different things (a job, games, etc). With a blog that’s 4 and a half years old, I’ve got more than enough material to put together an E-Book. The topic is going to be about guilds and raids. Anything from recruiting, to discipline, management, leadership and so forth.

Here’s where I’m stuck.

  • Design – I don’t have a clue about things like colours. Maybe I’ll just keep it simple.
  • Contributions – I would love to ask bloggers. I approached Kurn the other night with a basic idea. If you could only share one guild management related post with the world, which one would it be? She’s sitting on it and mulling it over. But who else can I approach?
  • Title – Coming up with blog post headlines takes up half my time. Can you imagine how much time an e-book title would take?
  • Technical – Do I use Word for this? Publish it to a PDF?

So yes, this is my first resolution. I’m going to write and finish this book.

Someone get me a post it note.

The first chapter’s almost done actually.

Hmm, maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’ll release a chapter a month. That’s way less daunting then putting together a book. Plus I can always piece it together after.

Alright team, I’m relying on you to make me honest. Poke me two days before the end of January.

Happy Holidays–2011!

What an exhausting year for me. Responsibilities tripled and which affected my ability to blog. For you aspiring bloggers, I’ll tell you a story about that later. Getting SWTOR and blitzing to end game also takes a toll. I love getting new games. I bought myself Chrono Trigger for my iPhone as an early Christmas gift (and something I can do while waiting in line ups).

For you bloggers, I’m interested in reading up on your New Year’s resolutions. This is the first time an expansion has closed and finished out in under a year. Cataclysm came out in December 2010. The last tier of bosses were released earlier this month. Now it’s just a waiting game until Mists of Pandaria. More importantly, did you accomplish everything you wanted to do for the year?

Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone! Don’t drink and raid (much)! Your guild leaders wouldn’t want you incapacitated after the new year, right?

(PS, what are your favourite drinks for the holidays? I’m looking to expand and diversify)

Flux and SWTOR Thoughts After Day 1

Flux and SWTOR Thoughts After Day 1

With the holiday season coming up, more and more of us will be staying up late at night playing video games. I want to take a moment and recommend a program called F.lux. It auto dims or brightens your computer screen according to the time of day it is. When it’s evening, it sets the display to appear indoorsy and when it’s daylight, it’ll return brightness to optimum levels. I highly recommend it.

flux-shot

The Old Republic

I received my early access today and spent a good part of my schedule playing and getting reaccustomed to the game. I rolled a Sith Inquisitor (Sorcerer). Just can’t stop healing. Level 13 after about 6 hours. SWTOR has been labelled as a WoW clone with Star Wars skins. I agree with this and I’m not opposed to it. It’s nice to have transferable knowledge and skills from one game to another. I compare it to how in FPS games, you don’t really need to re-learn how to find cover, strafe or aim. In SWTOR, it’s easy to break line of sight, kite and do other standard things. Those of you looking for a completely new gaming archetype won’t be satisfied with it.

Healing feels quite similar to WoW. The resources used though are the biggest changes. Having a healer that relies on energy or is a GCD healer is going to be interesting. If I wasn’t playing an Inquisitor, I would’ve played an Imperial Agent (Operative) instead. With so many instant cast heals, they felt like Resto Druids to me during the beta.

One thing I’ve noticed in SWTOR is that I’ve run into players who just plain aren’t familiar with the actual MMO genre or they’re just not very bright. I was speaking with a friend of mine who agreed. He shares with me a story of how he was running by a player who was dead on the ground. He resurrected him and that player proceeded to run into another pack of mobs. He took out two or three before he was overwhelmed. He didn’t release or let go. After a few more of these, my friend messaged him to try to find out what he was doing. It turns out he’s been at this for a while because he has no idea how to come back to life. He did not know about the button in the middle of the screen that can be pressed to trigger a med evac.

This whole time he had been relying on players running by him and resurrecting him.

My friend understandable became demoralized and just walked away while the player he was with decided to pull another 4 mobs.

So the dialog and choices stuff is cool. But I confess, I simply skip most of it. I end up reading faster than the actual dialog and conversations and automatically pick the choices that are the most negative. It’s neat with the interaction and all that, but I know I’ll get tired of it quick. This is especially true in instances because you may run into cases where someone takes a long time to make a selection or AFKs out or something. If you instance grind with a group of players you know who all space bar (or skip) their way through dialog, it feels like a quicker leveling experience. But once you’re on your 4th or 5th run through of Black Talon, it gets old fast. I suppose I’m not one for patience.

Conquest in SWTOR?

Speaking of the Old Republic, if you’ve got the game but are looking around for a guild to join, you’re welcome to join my crew and I. While I would love to be able to raid and try out their end game, the reality is that I would not be able to seriously commit to two end game raiding activities. I’d have to find another player willing to organize and handle that aspect of it. But it’s too early to worry about that. For now, if you’re looking for a home:

Server: Warriors of the Shadow
Faction: Empire

Just add Matticus to your friends list or post a comment here or use smoke signals to get a hold of me.

How’s WoW going?

We hit 6/8 normal mode last week. We ran out of time as players had to leave but there was enough for a 10 man to take a look at Spine of Deathwing. That fell over within 2 attempts. All that remains now is Madness of Deathwing. There’s been some debate between leaving Alexstrasza last or Kalecgos last. Personally, I’m in favor of leaving Alexstrasza last so that we don’t have to worry about those mini-tentacles and just DPS the claw down. Others say that the 25% damage increase is much more favorable. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer but I do believe one approach is better for our group than the other.

Still looking for Balance Druids, Shadow Priests, Warlocks, Mages.

11 Raid Finder Personalities You Will Never Escape

After running my alts through them numerously over the past two weeks, I think I’ve just about experienced every combination of player archetype that the raid finder had to offer. I wanted to post this as a guide for you to keep an eye out for them and conduct yourselves appropriately.

Raid Leader Randy

This is the guy who checks the “Raid Guide” icon when he queues up for the Raid Finder. He’s made a whole page of macros devoted to all of the encounters. Each macro spells out (briefly) the strategy being used to kill the boss. He also takes the time to mark targets or setup flares on the ground. Randy does his best to keep the 24 other strangers in the group in line and focused on the right direction. He’s got that personality where seemingly nothing is able to faze or rattle him. He just doesn’t give a crap because he has the ability to maintain a laser like focus on the prize: Boss kills.

CAPSLOCK CAROL

HER KEYBOARD WAS BROKEN AT AN EARLY AGE. DOESN’T MATTER SINCE SHE DOESN’T THINK IT’S RUDE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPITALS BECAUSE SHE BELIEVES IT’LL DRAW ATTENTION TO WHAT SHE’S TRYING TO COMMUNICATE. SHE’S ALSO KIND OF DENSE.

Carrying Chris

He’s the guy who is decked out in fall heroic raid quality gear. He just sneezes and stuff dies. He offsets the DPS from the bottom 4 players in the raid and manages to be the driving force which normalizes overall raid DPS. If the boss hits enrage and players are dropping one by one, you can count on Carrying Chris to get max range and activate reserves just before crushing the boss. (Thanks to Vashv17 for reminding me)

Lootwhore Larry

Out of all the players in the Raid Finder, Lootwhore Larry could very well be the worst. He need rolls on everything – even if it isn’t suited for him. I’m sure we’ve all come across him at some point. He could be the Warrior he rolls need on 1 handed Agility weapons. Or maybe the Rogue who opts for strength trinkets. Maybe he just doesn’t know or doesn’t give a crap. The only way to fight back against Lootwhore Larry yourself is to pray to the dice gods. Although, it is nice to see that this is being examined by Blizzard specifically.

Clueless Charlie

Poor Clueless Charlie. He just… doesn’t have a clue! Not only when it comes to bosses but when he gets picked on by the other members on the raid. He walks in, starts auto attacking and uses skills from time to time, but he doesn’t have the faintest idea what’s going on. He’ll attack another tentacle on Spine of Deathwing just because it’s dirty. He’ll stand there and take an Ice Wave before realizing that it’s bad. No matter how many times fights are explained, Charlie is just hopeless and is along for the ride. (Thanks to GottaHaveFaythe for this one)

Gogogo Gary

Gary’s gotta go! He’s on the clock and wants to pull everything! He’s always impatient and just wants to start trash pulls. Believes in maximum efficiency and not wasting time. Hates the players who are constantly AFK. Problem with Gary is that he’s a little too ambitious and ends up pulling two waves of Oozes in Yorsahj’s room or something. Whoops!

Elitist Ernie

Ernie frequently gets into raid chat fights with Recount Ryan. He’ll always mock the other player’s DPS or usage of cooldowns. “What’s that? You only used Ghost Wolves once? Well I used them twice!”. In the grand scheme of things, no one really cares. Ernie ends up being ignored because the rest of the raid is trying to concentrate on what Randy’s saying. Ernie tends to make a big deal out of 35 DPS. He’ll try to find a way to justify what he’s doing for either maximum DPS or maximum survivability. When pointed out that he does something wrong, he’ll try to find a way to reverse that as well.

Recount Ryan

Incidentally enough, Recount Ryan’s actual damage output drops on Ultraxion because he forgets to turn off Recount. Ryan is a fairly competitive sort. He’s always listing the top 5 damage done on everything. Yes, even on trash pulls. You see, poor Ryan is the youngest of 9 brothers and 6 sisters. He’s always been outshined in everything in life by the rest of his family. Mom doesn’t even remember who he is. So he seeks validation and affirmation in what he does by repeatedly linking meters so that someone out there might just say to him the two words he’s been hearing his whole life: “Good job”.

Tryhard Terry

This is the younger brother of Carrying Chris. He just doesn’t have that same level of gear. He idolizes him and tries so hard. He’ll interrupt the most redundant of abilities. He’ll always DPS the correct ad down (even if the other 20 players are on something else). Won’t have to worry about his cooldowns or anything as he’ll make sure they’re always being used. The trouble with Terry is that he is so focused on doing the right thing, that he sometimes might lose track of everything else going around him and tunnel vision. Because you see, Terry isn’t that great when it comes to adapting.

PvP Peter

Needs no introduction. Walks into raid finder wearing nothing but PvP gear (and still manages to out DPS certain raid geared players, but barely). Elitist Ernie will also pick a fight with Peter. But somehow, Peter just manages to destroy him anyway. Peter doesn’t really give a crap about what Ernie says. He’s also one of the few players that benefits from the implementation of the Raid Finder because he just doesn’t have the time to commit to actual raiding and prefers to PvP on his own time.

Pissing Contest Penelope

Penelope always has an opinion about something or some remark she likes to add. Even if the raid is going smoothly, she’ll find a way to bring it down. She’ll occasionally take a jibe at Raid Leader Randy even though he’s doing such a great job. Tends to be really snarky for no discernible reason. When Randy lays out a target order, Penelope is first in line to say “but my guild does it this way, and it’s way better” and tries to rally support from everyone else. It usually doesn’t end up working and she often gets placed on people’s ignore lists because they’re just tired of her being difficult to work with. She’d be much more enjoyable if she stopped giving Randy or other players a hard time and just stuck to playing.

Each of these players are unique in their own way. Together, this Raid Finder family manages to score boss kills against the most unlikeliest of odds. If you ever find yourself under any kind of abuse though, it’s best to just focus on your own responsibilities and don’t feed the trolls. The Raid Finder takes no more than 2 hours usually. If you want to get some upgrades and see some bosses, just grit your teeth and suck it up. You’ll be out of there in no time.

Running the Raid Finder as a Guild

Running the Raid Finder as a Guild

raidfinder

Today we collectively queued up for the raid finder. We figured that it wouldn’t take that long. We ended up clocking around 2 hours to clear out the whole place. I expect it to take much shorter next time around as we spent time explaining some of the later encounters and microing efforts. Despite the fact that many of the mechanics could be ignored, we simulated as many as we could. We could’ve just eaten those spikes off from Deathwing and healed through it, but we prioritized them anyway. Even on  Ultraxion, some of the players wanted to just plow through the Hour of Twilight without phasing out (and the healers concurred because they wanted to shoot their numbers up as well)!

The other benefit is that it gave us another lockout of item upgrades. We wanted to replace any Firelands normal gear (372) with Raid Finder gear (384s). Any Firelands heroic gear (391s) would be subsequently replaced with normal Dragon Soul gear (397s). For the short term, it would raise the average gear level of the guild and make progression on encounters that much easier.

Lastly, it gives the raid a chance to practice things like positioning and other assorted mechanics during different phases. Let’s us get a “preview” of sorts on bosses before the real thing.

Couple of advantages

  • Another way to accelerate acquisition of gear
  • Learning encounters on a far more forgiving setting
  • Way more relaxed and nice warm up of sorts

I don’t expect us to do this every week or anything. I figure it’ll be 2-3 weeks before we get to the point where no more upgrades are going to be possible from the raid finder. We’re temporarily cutting 2 hours out of the raid week as it is to do (what feels like) farm content for upgrades.

Except I feel dirty.

It really cheapens the experience. I understand the long term benefits but I feel a little queasy. It’s like I got robbed of something, you know? Of course, I know that I have the option of not utilizing the raid finder. I also know that players are going to run it on their own anyway because of the intrinsic desire to maximize their character’s gear progression (which is a noble work ethic to have). Now that I’ve taken down Deathwing on the raid finder difficulty, I’m worried that it won’t feel as… “magical” as it would’ve on normal. I remember spending hours and hours of wipes learning how to take down Kil’Jaden during Burning Crusade. Sindragosa hard mode and 3 drake Obsidian Sanctum all remain highlights for me in terms of difficulty and enjoyability. But the reason the kills felt like such a relief was because of the time spent learning it before finally killing it.

If the raid finder was cut off so that end bosses were not an option, I wonder if that would change things. But then I remembered, what about the player base that doesn’t have the hours or the stability to be in a solid raiding guild? They wouldn’t have a chance to take down Deathwing (or any other endboss). The biggest theme of this expansion was accessibility. Cutting off an end boss from the raid finder would go against that philosophy in place right now.

It’s like making that perfect hamburger after never having ever eaten one in your whole life. You’ve got the bun, the patties, lettuce and all of that stuff. You worked so hard to pick out the ingredients. After throwing out so many ingredients, you’ve mastered which ones to use. You followed Elitist Chefs guide to having the perfect bun to meat ratio down to the bite. But then you decide to grab a Wendy’s on the way home instead.

Maybe that wasn’t the correct analogy.

(PS, can you imagine what a hypothetical Elitist Chefs community would be like?)

Ultraxion Quick Thoughts

The trash pulls majorly suck. Reminds me of the old spider room before taking on Sindragosa. Just non-stop fires everywhere. We just barely managed to endure and survive long enough. I think 2-3 drakes on the ground at a time is the limit.

Ultraxion himself is not just a gear check for your character. It is a gear check for your computer. We suffered heavily from disconnects, lag issues and other general frustrations because of the way the encounter was set up. Make sure your Recount, Skada and other related meters are disabled. Shut down anything else that isn’t important.

Hell, I even dropped down to 50 FPS at one point (#FirstRaiderProblems, right?)

Alas, we were a few thousand DPS short. LF ranged and melee DPS <3.

Enjoy the weekend.

Dragon Soul Thoughts

I like the new raid. The pace is overall easier compared to Firelands. I know the Raid Finder makes it extremely easy to barrel through but I liked the way it’s turned out.

The Advantage of the Raid Finder

When I tried it out on the PTR, I was disappointed at the amount of time it actually took to get going. I endured 10 minutes of players dropping queue and requeuing on the PTR. But with a much larger population on live servers, it doesn’t take that long to get going actually. The raid finder came in handy during day one. It’s nice to see all the new writeups, strategies and so forth but it is another thing entirely to be in the instance itself. Granted, the raid finder difficulty is extremely forgiving. But to visually expose yourself to the effects, the abilities, and the terrain adds another dimension entirely.

I know that when Tuesday came around, a a number of players on the team just happened to get sick on the same day. At the very least, they were feeling just well enough to duck into the raid finder for a few hours to try out the tool and check out the place. We stomped through the place in around 90 minutes. Realistically, expect to spend between an hour to 2 hours inside there depending on overall raid skill. I’ve been really lucky with my groups as I’ve only experienced around 5 or so wipes through the entire night on my alts and such.

On epic gems

One thing I am not satisfied with is the way epic gems are handled. When you take down a raid boss, you get a Mote of Darkness which you can use to cash into a vendor. Depending on which way the dice rolls, you could end up with green quality gems or epic gems. And the prices for these things are outrageous. Red epic gems have skyrocketed to as high as 25000 gold already. Yeesh! During Burning Crusade, you could either mine them (Mount Hyjal) or loot them off bosses (Black Temple). In Wrath of the Lich King, I believe they were prospected and then purchasable via points or emblems. They’re trying something new this time around and I don’t know if I like the way it’s being done. In previous guilds, epic gems were handled from a collective standpoint. That is, we would bank every gem we get and then hand them out (master looted or a specific miner would get them). This time around, epic gems are now solely in the hands of the players and their own luck. I have difficulty asking players to give up any epic quality gems that they get to the guild. Perhaps the best way to reconcile it then would be to place the responsibility of epic gems back in the hands of the player.

Normal difficulty

The standard raiding difficulty should not be underestimated. Don’t think you can 2 heal this stuff yet on 10 man, for example (unless you’re rocking full Firelands heroic gear). For unprepared raids, it can still present a challenge. I’ve been a part of organized groups who just can’t seem to ping pong their way to victory on the Warlord.

Don’t get me started on the lightning phase of Hagara. As the wise Mel tells me:

Truism of WoW: When you have to avoid chain lightning, you can’t. When you want to chain, everyone is [perfectly] spread to avoid it.

So while coordination efforts are trivialized in the raid finder, expect it to be a little more punishing in the harder difficulties. Speaking of which, let’s not forget that this patch is supposed to last us until Mists of Pandaria. Either they’re getting close to a testing period or hard mode Dragon Soul is going to be really hard. Firelands went from the end of June until now (end of November). That was around 5 months.

Anyway, day one was capped off with a respectable 4/8 finish. I’m expecting Deathwing to provide much more of a challenge. I’d be thrilled if we can score a full clear during week one. I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. Just going to take it boss by boss and concentrate on the present.

How has your experience with the raid finder been? Are you satisfied or bored with Dragon Soul? Hell, do you even find it appealing at all with the stuff you’ve seen?