Wise words from a friend

“Players win games. Teams win championships.”

– Spencicus

Think about those the next time you enter a new progression raid. individual player skill will help you defeat dragons. But it’s the effort of the whole team that brings the glory of victory.

[Video] Endless Healer Proving Grounds

[Video] Endless Healer Proving Grounds

Here, watch this video of me in my first ever effort on the new healer Proving Grounds.

You can read more about the experience in detail on WoW Insider.

In other news, I spent money buying Spirit Guard Udyr in League of Legends this morning. Then the new transmog helms were available and I bought all three of those (I like the Crystal Skull helm one the best). Looks kind of odd on a Pandaren though, don’t you think? Luckily, there’s a guild transmog contest happening this upcoming Tuesday. The theme is blue! Now I need to find the rest of my transmog pieces I want to match up with the theme. Any ideas?

You know, I used to be that guy who scoffed at buying cosmetic and aesthetic gear. Who’d want to buy mounts? Why bother buying skins? What’s the point of battle pets? None of this stuff is used in the betterment of my character in anyway shape or form other than in looks, and even then, that’s subjective.

Five years later, I’ve sunk over a grand into League of Legends skins (alone).

Free to play game, they said.

Guest Post: It’s Okay to be an Ass

Guest Post: It’s Okay to be an Ass

This is a guest post by LabellaNotte who is co-GM of the Guardians of Fellowship (US The Scryers – Alliance) and author of the Heals Or Leaf blog.
When you hear the Doomsday Clock ticking, it’s easy to despair.  It’s easy to give up and take what you think is coming to you.  You can sink into depression thinking that all you and your officers have worked for is going the way of the dodo.  If this makes you feel like you’ve fallen in a well with no way out, let me assure you there is a way.
Be an ass.
No, not like your raid leader, this is a different kind of ass. Let me paraphrase a little fable for you.
There was this donkey. We’ll call the donkey Bob. He worked hard and took pride in his work. One day, in a fit of overzealousness, he fell into a hole being dug for a well.
Standing there alone in the well, Bob stared up and wondered what to do next. One of his buddies peered over the edge and told him that he was stuck in a well with no escape. In the process, he sent a cascade of dirt down on poor Bob’s head. A little annoyed, Bob shook the dirt off his back and stepped on it. It seemed he would never get out.
While he stood there, Bob realized he had two choices. First, he could simply wallow in misery over his certain demise.  Or, he could do something to change his situation.
Time and again, other animals came to look, comment, jeer, heckle, or offer helpful advice.  Over and over, showers of dirt fell on him. Bob made his choice, time and again.  Shake the dirt off, step on it, and realize that each bit that fell on top of him could be shaken off, stepped on, and used to bring him closer to freedom.
It wasn’t a fast process by any means, but Bob built himself a ramp out of that well and again got to see the light of day as a free donkey. One shake and step at a time, Bob repeatedly chose to use that dirt to his advantage to build a ramp instead of letting it bury him.

In other words

The seemingly endless task of running a guild, whether as a GM or an officer, involves running into obstacles.  Some obstacles are small, such as picking dates for events that aren’t convenient for everyone who wants to participate. Others are potential catastrophes. My guild, just like anyone’s, has had more than our fair share of them.  Looking back at the annals of our history, it amazes me that we have lasted as long as we have.
Back in Wrath of the Lich King, one of our officers left and half the raid team followed. In the same era, our OT’s wife got fed up with his gaming and forced him to quit raiding with us.  During Cataclysm we absorbed another Guild that was falling apart to benefit both Guilds, but eventually there was a rift in our own Guild that led to an officer, one of our best DPS raiders, and several awesome social members away. Also in Cataclysm, one of our other top DPS raiders decided he has finished the story and canceled his subscription. Just recently, one of our most consistent raiders (an officer to boot) and a backup healer decided to leave the server for greener grasses.
Each of these events made us in guild leadership look around and wonder if we could handle this blow.  We wondered if we would survive, no less continue with our regularly scheduled raids.  It wasn’t easy, not by any measure of the imagination.  Each time, we made the conscious decision to keep on trucking.
Matticus very aptly observed that each guild has its own Doomsday Clock ticking towards midnight.  There are outside influences that can stop, slow down, or even reverse it. You can look to those exterior forces he discussed to keep you afloat.  One factor he failed to mention is you do have one other option.  You can draw from your own strength and ingenuity to get yourself out of that hole.
Each time we’ve been faced with a challenge that could have ended us, our GM and officers have sat and stared at the hands of the doomsday clock speeding towards midnight. And each time, our GM, myself, and our leadership team have stopped, shaken off the dirt of the latest disaster, and built a ramp to get out of the hole.  We see and hear the clock ticking and watched the progress of those numbers slow, halt and reverse.
So next time that clock is ticking, think of Bob. Go ahead and be an ass, just like Bob, and you too can smile as the hands on that doomsday clock start to move backwards.
Have you watched your own guild’s doomsday clock ticking away and survived to tell the tale?  Share your experience in the comments!Until next time, long days, pleasant nights and happy raiding.

Heroic Ji-Kun!

What a rush. We finally hit 2/13 with a Ji-Kun kill that I never would’ve anticipated.

We had just hit 39% remaining. Our nest tank was dead and there was no point sending in groups up to the nests which had guardians because they were going to die. It would end up being a race between our DPS and Ji-Kun’s pools or other abilities. We managed to get it with DoTs ticking and a handful of survivors still remaining alive. Now that I know Ji-Kun can be taken down like that, I’m inclined to try that again and see if we can ignore and brute force our way through it. We definitely need to shore up a few things. I’m always worried about the second kill as it always ends up being the hardest. All I know is that Ji-Kun kill really took a huge toll out of me. Need a new raid leader, stat.

Iron Qon was next on the list. I think the progression order for Throne of Thunder pits either Horridon and Iron Qon in similar levels of difficulty. Our furthest Iron Qon attempt actually allowed us to see phase 4. Many of the strategies I read called for Dam’ren to be killed first in phase 4. I guess it’s something to do with the DPS loss from allowing the other two Quilen to land. We also need to become more consistent at running those Windstorms. I’m beginning to get a little antsy about them. Can’t afford to lose even three players on that first run out. I’m going to have to put that bench to use if the team doesn’t show any marked improvement in them. We’re doing what we can in dropping cooldowns to buy time. But all the cooldowns in the world aren’t going to save anyone if they get caught by tornadoes. I just don’t know what to do. It’s like Teron Gorefiend all over again.

As we get further and further into heroic modes, that bar is going to rise up. My only concern is what happens if the players aren’t able to skill up with it? I’m going to have to make some difficult choices. How long can I really afford to wait for people to nail that run? How much time do I have before tempers eventually flare or my patience expires?

Reminds me a little bit of League of Legends. I entered four promotion series going from Bronze 1 into Silver 5. I lost every single one of those on game 5. Maybe I have to accept the fact that I’m in the league that I’m in. Maybe some people just aren’t able to get any better. Maybe I hit my skill cap.

I’m at a bit of a crossroads now. Once the week resets and we knock over Jin’Rokh, we can start heroic attempts on Horridon. But we’ll have already committed 5 hours of learning attempts to Iron Qon instead. This is the issue with linear instances. I kind of like having winged instances. Firelands gave us quite the flexibility and how to plan our raid paths.

For now, time to enjoy the weekend and figure out what our long term game plan is.

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Liore

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Liore

Today we talk to MMO veteran Liore. She’s been around the block when it comes to MMOs (WoW, SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, Rift, you name it). Her blog has been around for a long time and she’s still going strong (Since at least 2009?). She has since started contributing to Rift Junkies and WildStar Junkies.

So who exactly are you and what do you do?

I’m Liore! By day I write user manuals and banner ads, and by night I make stuff for the internet about video games.

What do you feel are your strongest post types as a blogger?

I mostly write opinion pieces. I have a lot of opinions.

Where can we find your work?

The blog and podcast are at my site, Herding Cats. I’m also a Staff Writer for RIFT Junkies and WildStar Junkies.

Art of Productivity

How much time do you spend on a weekly basis just reading and researching for blog posts?

I don’t do a lot of research specifically for posts although I do read a lot. I listen to podcasts on my work commute, and watch Let’s Plays instead of television. My Twitter feed is full of game stuff, and I hang out on IRC all day with smart people who are also gamers. I guess you could say it’s kind of an organic research process.

How do you prepare yourself before blogging?

My mantra is basically, “Why am I writing this?” and if I can’t answer that in a sentence then I know the post needs to roll around in my head more.

How would you advise a blogger to beat procrastination?

Routine! Try to set a realistic routine, and accept that writing X times a week is just what you do now.

When is the best time of day for you to blog?

I do the actual writing at the office during lunch. It’s a good time for me — I’ve had coffee, I’m sitting in front of a computer, and I’ve warmed up my brain with work stuff.

How many hours a week do you spend actually blogging?

I don’t spend that much time actually writing. Maybe 20 minutes per post, with 20 minutes of editing. I spend way more time editing than writing.

How many days a week?

Ideally 3 times a week, or twice plus a podcast.

Who are your favorite inspirations and authors?

It feels silly to say my “inspirations” because, like, I write nonsense about video games, but the works of Hunter S. Thompson, Molly Ivins, and David Sedaris have strongly influenced my writing style.

What quote best defines you?

“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – The Beatles

What type of music do you like to listen to when you write (or none at all)?

For the most part I can’t listen to music when I write. I find the lyrics distracting. If I’m listening to anything it’s probably Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack because there are only a few words and it’s a hell of an album.

Are there any areas you’re looking to expand into as a blogger?

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Video. Seriously, I love the written word like crazy but I think in 10 years time we’ll all be watching videos instead of reading blogs.. which sucks because one of the best parts of blogging is that you can do it in your underwear while wearing a ridiculous hat.

How do you crush writer’s block (if you believe in it)?

Remember that not every post has to be a masterpiece. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay to just write 25 words and post a great video you found.

Follow up: Where do you go when you’re drawing a blank on ideas?

I only recommend this if you are in the direst of straits, but if I’m totally out of ideas I’ll go start reading some big MMO’s official forum. It usually doesn’t take long before I see something that irritates me so much I want to write a post about it.

Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to broaching potentially controversial topics?

Ooooh. You know, I try to not shy away from topics because it feels intellectually dishonest to me to not talk about something that I strongly believe, and I like to think that adding my voice to controversial topics contributes in some small fashion. That being said I try to write about them in an approachable way because that’s kind of why I blog — to participate in conversations about stuff.

Art of Blogging

How would you define a truly great blogger?

Consistent, opinionated, interested, and great with a turn of phrase.

What platform do you blog on?

Self-hosted WordPress.

Which blogs do you try to keep up with the most and why?

Kurn mentioned Blessing of Kings in her interview, and I think Rohan has been hugely influential in the MMO blogging community. The Ancient Gaming Noob (tagn.wordpress.com/) is not only an interesting read but also Wilhelm posts more frequently than the rest of us put together. Right now the blog I’m most excited to see update is In An Age (inanage.com). Azuriel plays totally different games than I do for the most part, but he always has interesting things to say and I like his style.

Is there a specific program you use for blogging?

Not really. I write into Notepad++ or EditPlus and then copy it into WordPress.

Other than using a focus macro, how do you stay focused on your task?

Honestly, I don’t. Hell, I’m watching a movie and playing Candy Crush while I answer this question! I just really enjoy writing and podcasting, so somehow it gets done.

What challenges or problems have you run into when blogging?

I’m too Canadian! Seriously, I have a hard time being forceful when I want to. It feels like I’m writing, “I think it’s really stupid when games do X” and then I read it later and it’s more like, “I’m sorry, I kind of don’t like X but it’s okay if you do because games are fun yay!”

Have any strategies on staying organized?

Inbox Zero. Love it. Live it.

How do you unwind after your day is over?

Foreign reality shows on YouTube! MasterChef Australia, Project Catwalk — everyone is always so nice and I like watching talented people do their thing.

Art of fun

What is your biggest annoyance right now (blogging or otherwise)?

Under otherwise: the lack of empathy in “internet culture”.

What has been your proudest achievement?

This is more “most recent” than “proudest”, but I just got confirmed for a Media Pass at PAX Prime. Putting aside for a moment the many complaints that people have about Penny Arcade (and I wouldn’t disagree with them), getting in a position to apply for the pass took good effort and I’m proud of it. They’re letting me interview developers! How crazy is that?!

Choose a celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to have dinner with.

Geoffrey Chaucer and Francis Bean Cobain.

What do you wish to do more of (or get started doing) this year?

I love doing the podcast, so I want to play with that some more. Also video! I have plans to do my first full-on Let’s Play in August with a partner (Saint’s Row IV, aw yiss) which should be a lot of fun.

You travel back in time to meet your younger self when you started blogging. What piece of advice would you offer?

I started my first blog in 2000, but I’d tell myself to start blogging about games sooner. I came in at the tail end of WotLK, and I’m perpetually sorry that I missed the glory days of monolithic WoW blogs.

Where can readers find you online?

Blog: http://www.lioreblog.com
Podcast: http://www.lioreblog.com/catcontextpodcast
RIFT Junkies: http://rift.junkiesnation.com/
WildStar Junkies: http://wildstar.junkiesnation.com/

What else would you like readers to know?

I once killed 24 of my guild’s finest raiders by starting the Magtheridon fight early and locking them in. And I regret nothing.

Thanks for sharing your battlestation with us, Liore!

lioredesk

 

Introducing the Mayron UI Compilation

Introducing the Mayron UI Compilation

Mayron UI is a fully fledged interface compilation for DPS, tanks, and healers. You can grab the whole package on WoW Interface. It centers around  Grid and ShadowedUnitFrames.

I chose the MayronUI because of the way it looks. Everything is centralized. It allows me to easily switch modes between Shadow and healing at anytime. It even has it’s own custom installer. Mayron UI is  really easy to install. The instructions involve you extracting the addons into your addons folder. There’s another set of files that you have to load within your WTF folder as well. Once you fire it up in game, you’ll get an installation screen. Veterans that are already familiar with custom UIs will have an easier time with it. Newer players just getting started with custom UI elements need not worry as the instructions are detailed enough.

As for memory usage, it comes in at around 40MB+ for me (but will spike upwards to about 60ish due to Recount).

WoWScrnShot_070813_095215WoWScrnShot_070813_095224

It’s built for widescreen resolutions (1920 x 1080, 1680 x 1050, 1600 x 900, 1440 x 900, and 1366 x 768). You need to play at full screen out of the box. I typically play in windowed mode and sometimes there’s a slight disruption on the bottom right with Recount (see third image below) but that can be solved by simply unlocking and moving it over slightly.

5 man view

WoWScrnShot_031013_195307

Not much really changes between healing and DPS mode. The above screenshot shows what it looks like when I’m healing. Frames are nice and centralized and they go horizontal. Those three circles in the middle are a different addon (NugComboBar for Archangel stacks or Shadow Orbs). Buff and debuff tracking on you appear in the top right next to your map. Action bars can be shown or hidden based on your needs. There’s some nifty tabs in the top left that allow you to access various panes (Spellbook, character stuff, etc). There’s a convenient area in the top left where the chatbox can go. I added another chat pane to mine and placed it on the bottom right to help filter and sort through the various channels.

Healer mode

WoWScrnShot_062813_111859

This is what the healer side of things looks like. The Grid raid frames are slightly off center. It might take some getting used to for players though as the bottom row is considered group 1 while the top row is group 5. I know many players prefer columns instead of rows for their groups. It continues to stretch upwards in order to accommodate 40 man raid groups. Your target’s buffs and debuffs appear just to the side of the action bars below. Raid debuffs continue to appear on Grid itself and you can customize and add certain ones as needed. Your peripheral vision will come in handy in case any offensive dispels need to be cast.

There’s a slight catch with the healing frames. The focus frame is the larger frame on the right. The target frame is the smaller one in the middle. You can keep the tank focused while healing other players in the raid. Let’s be real here, I don’t think many of us actually look at the target frame when we’re raid healing anyway. We can eyeball health bars and percentages off our raid frames fairly easily. Having that focus frame in such a prominent area is handy because it becomes plainly obvious if our tank is afflicted by something or has suffered a large amount of damage coming in.

DPS mode

WoWScrnShot_052413_092937

Switching between modes is simple. There’s a little button on the left side of the chat box that lets you toggle your views.

This is what DPS mode looks like. Raid frames are in the bottom left. Unlike healer mode, your target of target appears in the middle between your unit frame and your target unit frame. I don’t have anyone focused but they would appear just above them. Like healer mode, notable buffs and debuffs for your target appear just to the right side of your bottom action bars. One of my concerns as a Shadow Priest is ensuring that all my DoTs stay up. Tidy Plates helps with that here as there’s no other addon that lets me track multiple DoTs on multiple targets (ClassTimer is included and helps with timers from target to target but doesn’t do well with multiple targets like Council f ights). Activate nameplates and track them manually.

All in all, Mayron’s is certainly a clean UI to work with as a base. I customized mine slightly by adding other raid related addons like TellMeWhen to alert me when certain abilities were available.

Configuration

There’s no “master” window to configure addons from. It would’ve been nice to have a central panel but it’s easy enough to access the options you need to get to anyway.

/install – Opens up the Mayron Setup Window
/bonus – Opens up the Bonus Features Window
/rl - Reloads the UI
/ltp – This opens up Leatrix Plus which contains very useful general settings. Worth looking through.
/suf – Settings for the Unit Frames (Shadowed Unit Frames)
/bar – Bartender Settings (Action Bars)
/kgpanels config – Settings for all the graphical art panels being used – Can become very technical.
/classtimer – Settings for the timers on the top of the palyer and target frame – You can remove and add additional timers through this.
/align – Places a Grid over the screen so that you can align UI elements easily.

Full list of addons
  • ACP
  • BankStack
  • Bartender4
  • Broker + Plugins
  • ButtonFacade + Masque
  • Chatter
  • ClassTimer
  • ColorPickerPlus
  • Bazooka
  • Doom_CooldownPulse
  • DragEmAll
  • eAlign
  • ErrorMonster
  • Grid
  • ImprovedOptionsFrames
  • kgPanels
  • Leatrix_Plus
  • nibChatTabs
  • OmniCC
  • Parrot
  • Postal
  • Quartz
  • Recount
  • Reflux
  • ShadowedUnitFrames
  • SLDataText
  • Simple Power Bar
  • TipTac
  • Tidy Plates
  • Who Framed Watcher Wabbit
  • XLoot
  • XLootGroup

Notes:

You need to get your own boss mods. It won’t come with DBM or BigWigs. Pick the one you like. In addition, certain classes may want to pick up additional class specific addons. All in all, I think it’ll help provide many solutions for players looking for a clean UI that’s universal across multiple characters and roles.

It’s the first post I’ve done in a while that looks specifically at compilations. Leave any questions below, and I’ll answer them as best I can (and incorporate them in future UI compilation review posts and notes).

Buying Time

In the latest build of the PTR, a mysterious Enduring Elixir of Wisdom was discovered. Increased XP gain but for a price! Who knows what that price would be? Such varied opinions when word of this was released.

I admit that I am the world’s worst person when it comes to micro transactions. New mount? Sure. New pet? Yeah, let me whip out my credit card. Don’t even get started with me on League of Legends. I’m fairly certain I’ve redeemed over $1000 in Riot points just for new skins and champions the day they’re released. I’m pretty sure I spend more money on virtual vanity items than I do on real life ones.

But this ain’t exactly a vanity item.

When I was leveling my Monk to 90, I repeatedly stacked that daily quest XP buff. I think I built up a nice 13 hour stack at one point because I was unable to devote any meaningful time to it except for the periodic weekend or late night binge.

Years ago, if Blizzard had said they were developing an item like this and putting it up for sale, I would’ve been annoyed. But now that I’m working on my umpteenth alt, I have a slightly different perspective. I despise the leveling game. I love the end game. If I had an opportunity to pick up an 85 character, I’d do it and level it up the rest of the way. There comes a point where you’ve killed Hogger more than enough times. You’ve saved Redridge over and over. You’re tired of bailing out Corki infinitely from his own stupidity in Outland.

Anyway, maybe we’re just making a huge mess out of nothing and it’s going to be a region locked item of sorts.

Time to work on the ret pally! Almost 87!

7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

Are you suffering from an SAG?

That’s short for “Socially Awkward Guild”.

Most guilds have a site or some place to talk about stuff outside of the game. Forums are a great way to foster ongoing communication between your guild members outside of the game. For Conquest, the forums house information from strategy and feedback to guild sanctioned meetups. It’s difficult to get people to start using forums at the beginning especially if they’re not used to it or they’ve never been in a guild with active forums to begin with. Forum activity is one of those aspects of a guild website that takes a little time to grow and where success requires participation from other guild members.

The ideas you see below are common in guilds of all types. Don’t wait for someone else to start a topic. Seize the initiative and be social! I guarantee you that your GM will be thankful (or at least, grateful for the attempt).

Raid Attendance threads

Some raiding guilds prefer using a signup system while others stand by the sign out system. No matter which one you choose, it involves your guild indicating their availability for an upcoming raid. A signup system sounds a little tedious but can be managed with a group that doesn’t raid as often. Imagine raiding three times a week and being required to post a reply saying that you’re able and willing to come! It gets really draining fast. What happens if you forget and your spot gets forfeited? In contrast, a sign out system only requires you to post when you’re missing a raid due to an event that you can’t miss. I’ve had players sign out because of typical things like exams or overtime. In one case, I had a player put up pictures of raging wild fires near their house and indicated that they wouldn’t be able to make it!

Guild picture thread

We all want to know what the player behind the character looks like. The person who you envision when you hear them might not actually match up with what they look like. Mind you, this is all up to the discretion of the individual guild members and how they feel about putting their face out there on the internet. Also, as a word to the wise, there’s bound to be someone who’ll try to troll the rest of the team by putting a picture that isn’t actually them.

nph“I swear guys, I really am Neil Patrick Harris!”

Strategies thread

This is meant for raiding and PvP guilds. It’s great to consolidate all resources into one area. Members can share tips for struggling players or little nuances to squeeze out extra DPS. After every raid, I try to add any new modifications so that the players who weren’t involved in the recent attempts can stay up to speed on the changes. To keep things relatively clean and on topic, create a new thread for each boss that you’re working on.

What’s your job title thread

This one’s always at the discretion of the player and some people will choose to be as vague or as specific as possible. In the history of Conquest, I think we’ve had several Professors. We’ve had a police officer. A firefighter. Lots of IT and finance folks. Many players in science related professions as well. It’s a good way to break the ice especially a newer guild that’s just formed. Good way to find interests with other players outside of the game as well.

Post your system specs thread

In a WoW guild, chances are there’s enough tech geeks who would gobble all that stuff up. Some of the less technically minded might chime in asking for suggestions on upgrades or advice on how to get their system to run efficiently. Depending on how intense it goes, you might have to reign it in lest you end up inadvertently starting an nVidia vs ATI war.

Patch discussion thread

A thread like this will usually end up with a few people complaining dejectedly about the nerfs their class received. But it’s a good place for players to collectively spitball new ideas or discuss the new changes coming to the game. Bonus: Everyone enjoys a good “HA HA YOU GOT NERFED” fest.

Embedded chat room

With Enjin’s guild tools, I’ve added a little chat module at the very top of the guild forums. This is another way to bring people together as not only does the guild defeat virtual dragons as one unit but it functions as a place to to help people get through their day. Everyone loves to complain about something (in fact, I’m probably responsible for 25% of the whining on our chat about the most mundane things while my guild silently rolls their eyes at me).

This is just a start. The sign of an active and healthy forum correlates to an active and healthy guild.

What other forum topics have been successful in generating meaningful discussion? Have you incorporated any other cool addons or widgets to keep interest flowing?

The Time Bomb Every Guild Leader Holds

The Time Bomb Every Guild Leader Holds

The original Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clockface that first originated in 1947 by some really smart people (directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists). The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the entire world gets to a global catastrophe. Right now, the clock is at 5 minutes to midnight. As nations attempt to find ways to secure nuclear weapons, time gets added. If they’re unable to agree or if additional nations become nuclear capable, time gets removed.

Have you heard of the guild doomsday clock?

It’s this internal timer that GMs have. When it hits zero, the guild collapses in spectacular bits. The progression clock is naturally about raiding. If you recruit new players or get progression kills, time is added. If you lose players for any reason or wipe continually to bosses, time is subtracted.

This is not going to be apparent to most people. But every guild leader has that internal pressure on them whether they realize it or not. They have a mandate to uphold and goals to achieve. Every failure adds more pressure until they can’t take it anymore and disband. I’ve seen it to happen to guilds that I never would have expected to shut down. I run this organization everyday wondering if it’ll be the last and it’s been like that for the better part of a year. Fear is an exceptionally powerful motivator.

How does time get added and removed from the doomsday clock?

Subtracting time

  • Losing players
  • Losing officers
  • Excessive wiping on normal mode
  • Suspending progression
  • Missed raids
  • Drama issues resulting in splintering

Adding time

  • Gaining players
  • Officers who are stable and not burning out
  • Farming bosses in one shot
  • Meaningful, visible progression
  • Positive attendance
  • Overall satisfaction and happiness

Over the past year, I’ve seen the clock hands gradually tick forward to midnight. Officers have become burned out. Players schedules and their lives have changed. I’m not able to adjust fast enough. I still have no viable raid leader I can pass some of this load to. That alone is my biggest need and there’s no job board or recruiting forum I can go to for something like this. It’s hard to grow a raid leader if no one has the time, desire, or skillsets to do it. Stable raid leaders are a premium.

Thankfully, wee were able to raid with the bare minimum with 25. The fact is that there are still people here who wish to raid and see more of the game. I’ve almost all but written off this tier and am in the process of retooling for Siege of Orgrimmar. This is the time of year where it’s so hard to recruit because players are firmly entrenched in their raiding guilds or they’re taking a break to enjoy the sun. Thankfully, we’ve picked up a few more players in the past week and added some time to it but we’re still extremely close to midnight.

Senior man cutting grass with shears

It’s like cutting grass with garden shears, isn’t it?

Our current roster is just not quite there for hard modes. Some of the players don’t have the experience. Others don’t have the gear. I’ve had to make the unpopular decision to temporarily suspend hard mode progression until the bottom end can catch up appropriately. Everyone who has been here has been farming normal modes for months. We’ve been able to 22 man our way through most bosses past even Dark Animus. We took a player’s alt Ret Paladin which started off with a 460 ilevel and ended the night at 502. They didn’t really do much DPS, but they were a body and and an Aura Mastery. The fear? That people at the top grow impatient and have no desire to stick around waiting for the bottom end to catch up and repeating the cycle.

It’s pretty damn sad.

I’ve been in similar situations before in the past. But there was always a clear, well lit path forward. I had a large and familiar group of officers more experienced than I was at the time who helped steer me the right way (like Syd). But man, it’s super lonely right now. But like any true leader, you can’t show weakness. It’s easy to repeat that everything’s going to be okay. In the back of mind, I don’t like that because I like having actionable steps and plans to move up.

The best I can really do is recruit and pray.

A stable and sizable raid roster needs to be the first fix. But it’s going to be for naught if I can’t get a raid leader somewhere. Throne of Thunder may very well be the most disastrous showing for this organization since Ulduar. We’re an above average normal mode guild. But this roster has much to learn about heroic raiding. It’s the difference between the regular season and playoffs. Have to find that ON switch.

Tick tock.

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Kurn

Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Kurn

One of the first regular series I ran on WoM nearly 5 years ago involved interviewing WoW bloggers. It was a way to peer into their personality both in real life and in the virtual. Unrelated, I remember the Newbie Blogger Initiative that took place year. I offered my own advice for new and veteran bloggers both. This time around though, I’ll be conducting interviews with other established bloggers specifically about blogging itself. Everyone has their own style, voice, and habits.

Kurn continues to be a powerful authority in the realm of guild leadership. She has blogged about the different facets of running a guild dating back to as early as 2008. She is a prolific holy paladin and blogger who has hung up her mace and shield in favour of retirement.

In this interview, we’re going to look at her blogging side and how she breaks through the typically challenges that tend to stonewall bloggers.

So who exactly are you and what do you do?

My name is Kurn and I have a sociology background. I’m an expert in online communities and a halfway decent writer. I am a former WoW guild master, raid leader, healing lead and raider.

What do you feel are your strongest post types as a blogger? That’s a tough question. I guess my guide-type posts were always something I both really enjoyed as well as dreaded. On the one hand, I always enjoyed writing about how to play on a somewhat basic level and then graduating to more advanced techniques, but on the other hand, it’s difficult to just give out basic information without overloading people with more advanced stuff all at once.

Where can we find your work?

My blog is found here! (Or in Matt’s sidebar).

Art of Productivity

How much time do you spend on a weekly basis just reading and researching for blog posts?

That really depends on what the topic is. If I’m really familiar with it, not a lot of time at all. For the aforementioned guide posts, I could count on a solid four hours or so of researching and even more time testing certain things to ensure I know exactly what I’m talking about. Other types of posts are really just me retelling things or giving advice, so those tend to be less based on research and prior reading. In those cases, I tend to just let my thoughts spill out on to the page.

How do you prepare yourself before blogging?

I like to sit down during a time when I am not likely to be interrupted, preferably with a cup of tea, and just dive right in. Sometimes, I’ll write an outline, especially if the posts are comprehensive and long, but usually I’ll just start writing. The tea is helpful because I can sip at it while pondering how best to phrase something. (You can replace “tea” with any beverage of your choice.)

How would you advise a blogger to beat procrastination?

There’s no reason NOT to write what you’re thinking. Editing is part of the process, but worry about editing when you’re done writing. Sit down, just get the words down, then go back and see if it makes sense!

When is the best time of day for you to blog?

2 o’clock in the morning is my magic hour. I love blogging late at night. I used to be really productive in the early afternoon, but circumstances have changed such that I’m pretty busy during the afternoons these days. Late-night writing (including blogging) is great. No phone calls, no distractions.

How many hours a week do you spend actually blogging?

I blog a lot less frequently than I used to, but I probably spend about two or three hours a week dealing with my blog. By that, I mean thinking about writing blogs, responding to comments, tweeting about blogs and the like. I probably spend one or two hours a week writing specifically for my blog, unless it’s been a really busy week and I feel as though I should post more. More posts mean, of course, more hours spent writing.

How many days a week?

When it comes to writing for the blog, it’s really just one or two days a week at this point.

Who are your favorite inspirations and authors?

My inspirations generally aren’t people, but rather emotions. If something pisses me off, I’m going to write about it. If something makes me really happy, I’m going to write about it. If something happens to make me really think about things, I’m going to write about it. As to favourite authors, there are too many to name, but notable writers of late have been Chris Guillebeau, Chip & Dan Heath and Janet Evanovich (whose Stephanie Plum series of books is hilarious and great brain candy). I also really, really enjoyed Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series, even though it’s not great literature or anything. I think Rosenberg’s writing influenced me on a basic level because that series was the first fantasy series I’d ever read.

What quote best defines you?

That’s a tough one. I have a favourite quote, but it doesn’t really *define* me. So I’ll share this one by Mark Twain, instead:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

It resonates with me because I like to look out for the underdog. I always want to make sure people are being treated fairly. In my experience, once you’re in with the “majority”, that same majority will easily forget the problems of the minorities, even if they were part of the minority recently. When you’re in with the majority, that’s when you really have to examine everything from another perspective, I think.

What type of music do you like to listen to when you write (or none at all)?

My favourite type of music to listen to at all times is 90s alternative rock. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you.

Are there any areas you’re looking to expand into as a blogger?

I’ve spent most of the last several years blogging about intimate details about the World of Warcraft. Now that I no longer play (and haven’t, for over seven months!), I find I still have things to say about the game, but I have a much more distant view. None of the things happening in the game now affect me directly, so I have a different perspective. Due to that perspective, I find I can take a wider view of the game and gaming in general.

How do you crush writer’s block (if you believe in it)?

I definitely believe in it. Sometimes you just have to walk away from the writing and let it settle and percolate, as I’m fond of saying. I help rid myself of writer’s block by going for a run, playing silly casual iPad games or even taking a shower. Sometimes sleeping helps, too. Sometimes, just starting fresh helps. Don’t let yourself get blocked by what you’ve already written! You can *always* start fresh.

Follow up: Where do you go when you’re drawing a blank on ideas?

When I was blogging frequently, pretty much almost every day, I tried to look at everything I was doing as a story that I could then recount on my blog.

Bad LFG in heroic Halls of Reflection? Time to blog about it.

Hilarious search terms in my Google Analytics? Time to blog about it.

I’d also spend a lot of time thinking about what I would want to read about. One other thing I did was to think about what others might be curious about and then pre-emptively answering those questions as best I could.

Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe when it comes to broaching potentially controversial topics?

I’m loud. I’m controversial. I’m opinionated. Frankly, I can’t be any other way. I am passionate about a lot of things and World of Warcraft is still one of them, even if I don’t play any longer. (That’s weird. I know.) I’m happy to call attention to things I disagree with and I’m happy to bring attention to things I think are great and all of that is regardless of what everyone else thinks.

Art of blogging

How would you define a truly great blogger?

A truly great blogger needs to have new content on a consistent basis. Not every day, but something consistent, probably about two or maybe three times a week. They need to write something that, most of the time, will make me think. They need to write something that inspires me one way or the other, that may spur me into action or may just rattle around my brain for a couple of weeks. A really great blogger should also be timely when it comes to news, although there should be plenty of posts that have very little to do with the news as well.

What platform do you blog on?

WordPress, self-hosted.

Which blogs do you try to keep up with the most and why?

There are quite a few blogs I read, but the one I *always* read as soon as I can is Rohan’s Blessing of Kings. Rohan has a ton of great ideas and information and, most importantly, different perspectives on things. I don’t always agree, but I’m always left thinking more on the subject.

Is there a specific program you use for blogging?

Nope, just log in to my WordPress install in Firefox, Chrome or through the iPad app.

Other than using a focus macro, how do you stay focused on your task? I just try to minimize the distractions. I also discovered, while doing my university degree, that I work best in small chunks of 45 minutes. So I’ll set a timer for 45 minutes and will force myself to take a short break after the time’s up. Focusing for 45 minutes is easy compared to “an hour” or more, at least for me!

What challenges or problems have you run into when blogging?

Several.

Lots of people are jerks.

Lots of people are sexist misogynists.

The first thing I did to help myself out was write a comments policy.

You can disagree with me all you want on my blog, but you do it with respect, or I throw out your comment and ban you from commenting. I also dealt with feeling as though I had to censor myself, or at least write differently, when I restarted my guild at the start of Cataclysm. While my blog had previously commented on “idiot guildies” (from other guilds I’d been in during Wrath of the Lich King), I had to restrain myself from venting any frustrations about my guild on my blog and my Twitter, for fear of giving the wrong impression of myself and my guildmates. Most of these frustrations were very temporary in nature (oh God, why can’t this person hit Heroic Will properly?!?!) so it wasn’t too hard to restrain myself, but it was very different from how I’d previously written.

Have any strategies on staying organized?

I plead the Canadian equivalent of the Fifth Amendment. (Section 11 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in case you’re curious.)

How do you unwind after your day is over?

Generally, I like to watch a bit of television or Netflix or write until my eyes can’t stay open any longer.

Art of fun

What is your biggest annoyance right now (blogging or otherwise)?

People who don’t take the time to learn more about whatever it is they’re doing. There are resources out there for just about anything you could ever want to do. Go out there and LEARN MORE. Please. Pretty please.

Do you have a slogan that you adhere to?

Practice random acts of kindness. I’ve even got that printed on my cheques. (Not that I use them that often, but still.)

What has been your proudest achievement?

In Warcraft, probably getting server first Heroic Hagara, Hand of A’dal or my Rhok’delar. In real life, definitely getting my university degree. In terms of writing, succeeding at National Novel Writing Month twice. Choose a celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to have dinner with. THEEEEEEEE Matticus! ;) Okay, seriously, probably Anita Sarkeesian. I would LOVE to pick her brain about feminism, cyberspace, meatspace and various other things. If she’s not famous enough, let’s go with Felicia Day because I’d love to pick HER brain about writing, The Guild, WoW and how she used her WoW experience as a starting point for all the amazing things she’s had a hand in creating. Alternatively, I would love to sit across from the Stanley Cup during dinner…

What do you wish to do more of (or get started doing) this year?

Canoeing, kayaking and skiing. I love canoeing and skiing and have been doing those since I was a kid, but both of those (and kayaking, actually) tend to require my going to my parents’ cottage. So I’d like to do more of those activities, but I’m unsure if I can manage to get around the parents’ cottage requirement. Also, more writing. ALWAYS more writing.

You travel back in time to meet your younger self when you started blogging. What piece of advice would you offer?

Keep everything (addons, software, etc) up to date lest PHP injections hit your site and it takes six months for Google to remove the “This site may be compromised” tag from your listing. (Seriously.)

Where can readers find you online?

In addition to my blog, I’m also on Twitter.

Finally, a new site is in the works and you’ll be able to find some of my current projects at Kurn’s Guides.

What else would you like readers to know?

Three friends and I had to do the old Jailbreak! quest twice in a row for our friend, Majik, who died on the first attempt and thus failed the quest. Seriously. Jailbreak. Twice. IN A ROW. At something like two in the morning. Also, Wil Wheaton (and Stand By Me) is indirectly responsible for several of the most meaningful friendships in my life. Strangely, he is also aware of this fact. (Two very long stories.)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper behind the scenes without an actual look at their battlestation where they work. Thanks for sharing it with us, Kurn!

 

kurn-desk