Does Your Blog’s About Page Answer These 7 Questions?

Does Your Blog’s About Page Answer These 7 Questions?

Bloggers who are just starting out tend to either write one of these About Pages hastily or outright forget them entirely. Some of the reasons I’ve seen include this type of thinking:

“Readers are smart! They can figure out what kind of person I am by reading all of my posts if they want to.”

The problem with that line of logic? You run the risk of readers not caring or not interested in you long enough to read your posts in the first place. Having an informative about page can go a long way. It gives you a chance to be transparent about your intentions and let your players know a little more about you.

Who are you?

Include the online handle you’d like to be addressed by. Unless your name is actually admin, you’ll want to reflect an identity that you wish to use. Some people like to use their real names. If you’re a gamer (and I bet you are), add a little information on the games you play and the classes or roles that you stick with. If you’re a part of a guild, tell us a little bit about them.

What’s your gender?

Now before you pounce on me, I’m not saying that it’s significant. Being a dude or a woman isn’t going to affect your blogging skill. But, I’ve been burned before in the past because I used the wrong noun when I’ve linked to or wrote about other bloggers. You can ask Cynwise and Lilpeanut. Otherwise, you may end up being referred to as an it!

Have any social media pages?

If you use Twitter or have a Facebook page for your blog, consider including those. Other solid choices could be your Pinterest, Google+, or your stream page (Own3d or Twitch, for example).

What is your blog about?

Lay out your primary focus. It’s not a problem to deviate once in a while and add a personal post or two that isn’t related to your main niche. But if you have a home and garden blog, I expect to see more posts about that instead of fashion related topics. You don’t necessarily have to restrict yourself. But if your best friend asks you what your blog is about and you can’t explain to them in 10 seconds, then you might want to refine that some.

Why should we read it?

It’s a similar thought process to the above question. You can say you write for entertainment. You can say you write to teach others. It can be as something simple as offering your personal insight or perspective about a game or something structured like full guides and tutorials on accomplishing a specific goal.

What are your interests?

Add a bit of personality! If you’re comfortable with it, share a few interesting things about yourself. It’s cool to find out that both you and a blogger share an interest and a similar past time. Do you play Magic? Do you watch Community? Own a Mac? You get the idea.

Do you have a picture?

For privacy reasons, I don’t suggest sharing your own photo unless you’re really comfortable with the idea. But since you’re on this blog with an interest in blogging, I’m going to make the presumption that you’re interested in some form of gaming. Consider using a digital avatar of your main character in your game in a wicked pose. It’s not a necessity, but don’t underestimate the little things.

Going to cap off the post with a few examples of excellent About pages.

Examples

forthelore

 

healbot

 

bossypally

 

pon-about

 

about-jared

WordPress Plugins for your World of Warcraft blog

WordPress Plugins for your World of Warcraft blog

If you’re running a WordPress installation of a World of Warcraft blog (which you should, since WordPress is a beast), you might be looking for different ways to customize it. The WordPress repository has thousands of plugins and it’ll take a long time to sort through and figure out what you would benefit from. With that in mind, I wanted to recommend my own list of plugins for any aspiring bloggers looking to make life easy for themselves.

Security Plugins

Take it from a blogger who has been hacked. Never skimp on security.

Akismet: Best anti-spam protection you can get for your blog. You might think to yourself that your blog will never get spam, but as your audience grows and your popularity increases, so will your spam.

Login Lockdown: This plugin limits the amount of failed logins from any range of IPs. If someone can’t login after say… 5 attempts, it automatically prevents any further attempts. You better make sure you get your login right the first time!

WP Bans: Tired of trolls? You can whip out bans based on IP, range, host name, user agent, and referring URLs.

SEO Plugins

All in One SEO Pack: Whenever you write a post, it’ll optimize your titles for search engines and create META tags automatically. You can use it right after it’s installed without having to configure anything. But, you do have the option to override certain aspects. People keep asking me how do I get people to find my blog? This is one solution.

WordPress SEO by Yoast: Another excellent SEO alternative.

Advertising Plugins

AdRotate: Should you feel the need to run advertisements on your blog to help support your expenses, I highly recommend using AdRotate. It’s extremely convenient and easy to use.

Mobile Plugins

WPtouch: Formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors using touch-based smartphones.

Mobilepress: If you really want to make sure your site works on all mobile platforms, look into Mobilepress.

Utility Plugins

Jetpack: Adds various additional features to your blog. If nothing else, get it for the After the Deadline aspect which checks your style, grammar and spelling before you hit the publish button and prevents it from going live until you’re happy with it.

Broken Link Checker: As you add more and more links to your blog (you are linking to other posts and blogs right?), you’ll notice that sooner or later, blogs will die out or their URLs change. This plugin helps you by constantly scanning your blog for broken links. I wish I had this earlier. I have over 2000 broken links throughout my entire site somewhere.

Livefyre Realtime Comments: Completely overrides your comment system and uses theirs instead. If anyone tweets about your post or mentions it on Facebook or something, those conversations will show up here. Even does it in real time. Tr

Smart YouTube Pro: Allows you to embed videos and galleries from YouTube, Vimeo, and others more conveniently.

W3 Total Cache: Big time performance increasing plugin. The more you write, the more readers you get. Eventually your blog’s going to slow down a little. There were days were my site was sluggish before I switched to W3 Total Cache.

WP Maintenance mode: Throws up an emergency splash page in the event your blog needs to get taken down temporarily. Very handy for any upgrades or theme changes.

WP Polls: If you ever need to poll the audience, you can use this to help.

WordPress Popular Posts: Your blog posts are often timeless. Sure you’ll be writing patch specific or instance specific content. But every once in a while, you’ll write content that’s relevant no matter what expansion it is. Don’t bury it. Have a sidebar widget rotate through previously popular posts.

WordPress Editorial Calendar: Great scheduling and planning plugin for any serious power blogger. Use it to track and schedule posts throughout the week.

Are you a WordPress user yourself? What plugins would you recommend for newer bloggers?

Attracting Gaming Sponsorships

Attracting Gaming Sponsorships

If you’re reading this, you have a blog, a podcast, or an event that you’re looking to drum up some kind of resources for.

Maybe you’re an e-sports organization looking for some help or a guild that’s looking to ease a few financial burdens. I know how costly and expensive it can be.

One of the questions that often get asked is how do I attract and get sponsors for <something>? I can’t offer you a definitive step-by-step guide or formula on how to get sponsorship. But having been on both sides of the sponsorship question (both reviewing sponsorship requests and negotiating with companies for sponsors for events/organizations), there are a few things you really need to keep in mind to make yourself more attractive to them.

Not all sponsorship arrangements have to involve money. Instead consider things like:

  • Gaming peripherals
  • Hardware
  • Voice servers
  • Guild hosting websites
  • Web hosting services (For your blog or podcast)
  • Discount agreements

Know your audience

If you write a blog, do you know what the demographics of your readers are?

How many of them are male?
How many of them are between the ages of 16 – 25?
How many listeners does your podcast get?
What your RSS subscriber count is?
How many page views you get per month?
What your top 5 most popular articles are?

Having this data is extremely important. The question you need to keep in the back of your mind is how does sponsoring you help them with their message?

Provide evidence and data. Interested potential sponsors will ask for data about traffic and page views. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up, start with that.

Case Study: World of Matticus

Not many of you may remember this, but years ago I came really close to shutting down WoM. Hosting bills were gradually climbing up. It got to the point where I almost had to pay $300 a month to keep the site going. Luckily, I was able to negotiate a web hosting sponsorship. Having traffic information allowed the two of us to come to an agreement because they were able to allocate the necessary resources needed as the audience (in other words, you guys) continued to scale and grow.

Know your sponsors

What is the goal of the company you want to partner with? Are they trying to raise subscriptions? Are they gunning for increased awareness and exposure? Do you know what kind of players are interested in their products? If you have an idea of what their sales goals are, you can help factor that in with your proposal in how you can help them with their challenges.

What can you offer?

Business is still business. You need to be able to exchange value for value. How can you ensure that your sponsor’s message reaches the desired audience? There’s a few ways you can do that.

One of the easiest methods is to place a logo and a link to your sponsors anyone on your site. Graphical banners do the job. Logos can be placed in the site header. Another good spot is to place them on the background image of the site (and it’ll appear prominently to anyone on widescreen monitors).

If you have a podcast, mention here and there (“We’d like to thank our sponsors …”).
If you run a livestream, place their logo on the stream itself somewhere out of the way or change the background image of the page your stream is on to reflect them.
Work with videos? Place their logo at the front and at the end of your productions.
Attending events in person? Have any custom gear? See if you can get their brand embedded on your shirts.

Does your guild run a ton of pickup raids or organized PvP? If your group gets a ton of pickup or cross realm traffic, create a message of the day in Ventrilo that mentions them. Consider changing the name of the waiting room channel. Think of different methods to help your sponsors with their message.

Case study: Fnatic and Team 3D

Fnatic.RaidCall changed the name of their organization to help draw awareness to Raidcall. Years ago when Counter-strike was at it’s height, I believe Team 3d changed their in game tags from 3D.KSharp to 3D.nVidia :: Ksharp. This was during the finals of one of the CPL events where thousands of players were watching the game live. Can you imagine the exposure nVidia received?

Image matters

Sponsors will associate with organizations that project a certain image that they are trying to appeal to. Be mindful of the targeted demographic that they are trying to reach. Be mindful of any negative or abusive language. Adjust your tone so that it falls in line with what your ideal sponsors are looking for.

Case study: Capcom and Tekken

There was an incident several weeks ago when rampant trash talking between two competitors during a match resulted one of them dropping out. Miranda forfeited due to mental distress from the verbal abuse that Aris was delivering. Penny Arcade had an excellent editorial piece about some of that verbal abuse. I pulled off a double take when that same individual then said that “The sexual harassment is part of the culture [and] if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community”. While I don’t know if there was any fallout after those comments were made, I’m pretty sure potential sponsors would be wary of associating with any organizations with that type of mentality.

A better example might be that Conservative radio show guy. How many advertisers pulled out again?

Anyway, the above points are a topic for another post entirely.

Measure it

Make sure you have a way to help your sponsors measure any positive benefits. Can’t attract any sponsors unless they can determine how well the exposure is doing them for them. One such example would be a customized link which tracks how many referrals came from your site and how many of those referrals signed up for a product or service.

Look out for them

Your job is to ensure that your sponsors are taken care of. Help them out with whatever they need. Make sure you deliver on the terms that you have agreed upon. Cultivate those long term relationships. Get and provide feedback on what worked and what didn’t. If you’re running an event such as a tournament, invite them out again next year while the whole ordeal remains in the front of their minds.

Most importantly, remember to thank them!

Good luck in your efforts!

How to be a Purple Kodo

How to be a Purple Kodo

Making the decision to become a blogger about your favorite game can be a daunting task. There are a lot of things to consider before jumping into the project. Even then when you enter into the race, it can sometimes be hard to stand apart from the pack. Matt and Joe will teach you how to be the Purple Kodo in the herd.

Starting a blog, website or forum is a big task. Let no one tell you differently. You shouldn’t be afraid of it though, it’s a rewarding experience. It is something though that you should not be afraid to ask for help or advice from the community. To that endeavour Matt and I have decided that we’re going to be offering our assistance for those looking to get started in blogging, forums or just generally joining the community. Crafting a successful site and becoming a part of the WoW Healing Community can bring with it a lot of questions, and being people of the community we like to help out. So here is our first official post to help you become the fabled Purple Kodo.

Questions For the Pros

Hi,

After being promoted to healing officer for my guild, a lot of people, not only in my guild, but in the community on the server have been asking tips of me of late. So, in my mind, I decided to make a website to help these people by making guides, writing blogs, etc. Thinking that this would be relatively easy, I began looking for the materials that I would need, get ideas from other sites, like yours. After deciding that I was crazy and I would need help, I would like to ask for any advice that you guys may have in this be it free video editing software that is pretty solid, how to get my site out there, etc. Thanks guys, and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Mylindara
Resto Shaman

Mylindara,

Writing blogs and creating a website is a great way to consolidate your tips, tricks and information for healing. Your story is pretty much exactly what prompted me to start blogging. I had recently been promoted to a healing officer position and people from within the guild, and around the server, started asking for advice. Before I get started with offering up some advice on pulling it all together I need to issue a warning here.

Starting, maintaining and producing a website or blog is a lot of work. By undergoing this you are basically inviting yourself to another part-time job at a minimum. Take it from someone who has started quite a few forums, websites and blogs. You have to ask yourself if you’re willing to put in the work that it will require in order to not only consolidate the information, but keep it up to date, accessible and clean from spam and flame. You’ll also want to make sure that content is updated at much as possible to keep it fresh in people’s RSS feeds.

Still with us?

Matt’s comments in blue while mine will be normal.

Getting started

OK here are some pointers on getting started. WordPress.com does free hosting for blogs, as does Blogger. WordPress.com and WordPress.org give you a little more choice for themes, and offers some pretty good tutorials on the basics of blogging and setting it all up. For video editing tools, your cheapest bets are pretty good. The free windows live moviemaker is pretty darn good for simple editing of videos, as is iMovie that comes with an apple computer. If you want to get any fancier than that you’ll have to spend some cash, but those should do just fine. Also pick a name for the site that is both catchy and sums up what you’re all about (World of Matticus, TotemSpot, Way of the Totem for example).

Don’t make the jump to self-hosted right away. It requires a little advanced technical knowledge on your part when it comes to websites and site design. My first advice to you is to see if blogging is something you actually want to do. I’m not referring to intention here. Actually write it and see if you like. I can’t emphasize how much work is involved at times. In fact, as I’m finishing my side of this post up, it’s almost 1 AM here in the west coast. Don’t expect this to be an easy, overnight project. It’s taken me 3 years and I don’t think I’m done yet.

Be patient when it comes to results. Let me show you a screenshot of the first year.

analytics-0708

This site was getting an average of 200-300 hits a day. It wasn’t until about a year later before traffic exploded and the numbers became fairly consistent. Hey, if you’re not in it for the views, no problem. If you are in it for the views, then you’re going to be in for a long rep grind with the internet.

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.”

- Ross Perot

Getting out there

As far as getting your site out there, get active in the greater healing community. I earned a reputation through posting frequently on forums like Elitist Jerks and PlusHeal. Add your site to your signature, post often, and participate in the community. You represent your site in all facets, and the more people think of you, the more they’ll think of your site. If you don’t have a twitter account, get one. Matt pushed me into it a while ago, and it’s still very true. Twitter is a great way to get your posts out there on the web and let people know when new posts are active. There is a strong healing community present there, and a strong WoW community in general. I know that I’ve gotten into plenty of healthy debates over twitter and gotten a lot of great information through it as well. In the end it’s the writer that makes the site. Not just through the content they produce, but how they represent and conduct themselves in the community. Keep the word community in mind, I’ve seen good sites with great information die because the person wasn’t present in the rest of the community. Also remember that it is OK to ask for help from the community. I’ve had another healing blogger help me with my own private hosting, and I wouldn’t be writing on WoM alongside Matt if he didn’t make a call out for help with blogging and content. You should still keep your content up to date, and try to post on a regular schedule. If you’re writing alone, once or twice a week is a good pacing to make sure you always have fresh content, without letting yourself get burned out on it.

Link out. I cannot emphasize this enough. Find ways to link to other bloggers. I know it defies logic, but other bloggers do look at who links to them (there’s some blogging code and mumbo jumbo built into most major blogging platforms that show this). The point is to catch and attract their attention. Your goal is to develop readers first and that’s one way to start. Write a fantastic blog post? Chances are, it’ll get linked to as well. Blog Azeroth is another excellent resource to turn to in order to get started. Check out this post at Disciplinary Action for additional pointers.

This has gotten a little long winded, so I’ll round it up here. It’s a lot of work to put it together, but if you’re willing to put in that hard work it can be a very rewarding experience. I know for me every person who tells me my post helped them down a boss, or top the healing charts or even just get their guild a little further along, I count each of those as a victory in and of itself.

We all blog for different reasons. Your goals are going to be different from that of others. Blogging is like playing WoW: There’s multiple ways to go about it. If you’re trying to achieve something specific, then it takes a certain mindset and methodology to go about it. Larisa at the Pink Pigtail Inn uses different measurements and has different goals than I do, but that doesn’t make it any less valid in any way. She writes about life for her in Azeroth and her personal views about WoW and the community. We write about how to kick ass healing along with raiding and guild management tips. Although we may not see eye to eye, that doesn’t change my deep respect for her and her work.

Some people just find pink pony tailed gnomes more appealing then grey bearded dwarves, I suppose.

Good luck in making your new site, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!

~Joe and Matt

There you have it folks. If you have any questions at all about blogging, feel free to contact us here at the site. We’d love to get your questions, and to help you out!

Reinvigorate Your Blogging Self with These Ideas

Reinvigorate Your Blogging Self with These Ideas

reinvigorate-blog-ideas

New site design is coming along extremely well and I’m very pleased with the progress so far. It’ll definitely go up within the month. Check the bottom of the post for a sneak preview. School begins for me tomorrow which means I’ll have more time to write since I won’t be working as much.

So what’s up, fellow bloggers? Got the no-beta-key blues? Running out of things to blog about? It is definitely the calm before the storm. I know several blogs are hitting that hibernation period where they’re just waiting it out until there is stuff to write about. I suffer from the opposite. I have too many ideas but not enough time. But if you’re stuck and still learning for something to blog about, let me try to help!

I have something called an inspiration file. Its basically a jumping point that I use whenever I’m in need of post ideas. Any idea I ever have whether it is good or bad goes in there. If I hit a snag one day where I’m stuck, I’ll pop it open and see what’s in there that I can use. Sometimes you can chain one post idea into another idea or break it down into multiple posts. I’ve had a habit in the past of trying to be too complete when it comes to posts and this is one way of breaking them up into smaller chunks.

Don’t even worry about credit. Take an idea, twist it, manipulate it, turn it into whatever you like. Its yours to use and abuse as you see fit. Let it grow and evolve.

Your guild

It doesn’t matter if you’re a GM, an officer or just a guy within the ranks. There will always be players interested in policy making and guild experience as a whole. Are you satisfied with it? Any changes you’d like to see made? What are some other day to day observations?

  • Making Roster Changes
  • Lessons You’ve Learned
  • A Shift in Loot Policy
  • How not to Evaluate Potential Applicants
  • A Day in the Life of Your Guild
  • How to Break the Ice with New Players

Your Class

Everyone loves to read about class news and class mechanics. With the expansion months away, there is still time to teach new players (or alts) the fundamentals of playing. Or heck, if you have a burning question about a specific class, throw it to your readers. There just might be someone out there who can give you a hand with it.

  • How to be an Expert <Class>
  • Being a <Class> in a Raid
  • Mastering <Class> in PvP
  • Common <Class> Mistakes
  • Why You Picked Your Class Instead of a Different Class

You

Time to dive into some introspection. This could range to just about anything in regards to you. Is there something you wanted to get around to but couldn’t? For me it would playing Shadow. No matter how much I try, I just can’t seem to do it. Maybe you’ve had a problem during your experience in WoW like an argument with a player or managing loot. How did you resolve it?

  • Things You Wish You Knew How to do but Couldn’t
  • One Shotting Procrastination: Your To-Do List Before the Expansion
  • A Personal Guide to Staying Happy in WoW: What Does it for You
  • Are You a Socially Responsible Guildie?
  • 5 Tips to Never Be Late for a Raid Again
  • Managing Your Server Reputation

Your blog

Your blog is your soap box. Take good care of it! What are your future goals? What type of readers are you appealing to? If you’ve been around for a few months and have developed a steady readership (which doesn’t have to be enormous mind you), ask them what they want to read about. Do not under any circumstances accept “Whatever you want” as an answer. At the same time, it does have to be a topic you’re interested in writing. Lastly, ask yourself if you would read your own blog. If you wouldn’t, figure out why.

  • Upcoming blog plans
  • What Would You Readers Want to Read About?
  • Your Blogging Goals

Fill in the blanks

Here are a few generic ideas that you can take and apply to any topic of your choice. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and come up with something, right?

  • 15 Tips to …
  • The Truth Behind …
  • How I did …
  • How to <do something> Like …
  • A Constructive Criticism of …
  • Myths About …

Other miscellaneous ideas

Tell a story about yourself or your activities. Everyone loves reading about humorous stories (They Laugh When I Wanted to DPS – But When I Rolled a Ret Pally…).

Interview someone in the community. There’s a whole slew of intriguing personalities around the WoW blogosphere (or podcast crews as well). What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they say no? Plus its a great way to develop friendships. I should fire up my 20 questions series again. Those were so much fun.

Ask a question. You never know what will happen when you ask a question and let the comments write the post itself. Then you can cherry pick the most insightful and turn that into a post.

Bonus: 10 Questions for a Blizzard Developer. You have a chance to sit down with a dev. What do you ask them? What do you say to them?

If you’re really stuck for post ideas, you could also write your own idea post ;). Anyway, this list is just the tip of the ice berg. I didn’t even go into detail about addons or raiding yet.

But hey, if you do take inspiration from any of these, drop me a line. I’d love to read it (and link to it in the future)!

And yes, the preview I promised you.

wom-50

All I can say is just wait until the entire thing is ready. WoM 5.0 is almost here!

An Instance of Fail

An Instance of Fail

**Image courtesy of Universal Studios**

Matt’s note: After an actual good night’s sleep and further deliberation, I’ve exercised editorial control and removed the quote that was at the end of post as I determined it was unnecessary. The team remains committed to delivering honest and thoughtful opinion on the subject and content around the community, and it is never our intention to go after individuals.

I, like a good number of people that I play with, listen to The Instance, a WoW-based podcast featuring Scott Johnson and Randy Deluxe.  They’re an incredibly entertaining duo, and their show is produced remarkably well. Since their fame, they’ve been able to amass the largest guild in WoW, A.I.E., a Horde fan-guild on Earthen Ring.

Needless to say, they’ve developed quite a following. They score interviews with members of the Blizzard staff, host their own Nerdtacular Expo, and have even coined the famous “Obey Henry!” (a reference to Scott’s Hunter pet) phrase on bumper stickers and websites. They’ve got sponsors galore, and it shows.

A lot of people have been given the oppotunity to contribute to the success of “The Instance”, via the podcast or their blog.  Because of the “bragging rights” that come along with such an honor, it’s expected that people probably flock to get a chance.

Well, just because you get the chance, doesn’t mean you should take it.  Living in downtown Chicago, I have the chance to jump off bridges into the water below. Doesn’t mean that it’s a smart idea.

The Culprit

I try to keep a good grasp on what blogs are out in the WoW world.  A lot of us on Twitter are really good about tweeting and re-tweeting blogs that we think are relevant. I find some great articles that way, and some real duds.  That’s what brings me to “The Instance”.

I came across an article posted by someone named Dills. I checked out some of his posting history. He seems like a fairly new blogger. His posts are succinct (good), and touch on relevant topics (also good). The article I read, however, hurt my soul.

In the “calm before the storm”, we’re learning what spells are going by the wayside.  Some spells like Sentry Totem are easily justified. Their mechanics make no sense. Other spells however, will make a lot of us shed a tear upon their departure. Dills, lacking the eloquence he usually displays, delves into his opinions of what should be on the chopping block.

First Offense

Although in the healing community we beg for the repair of our beloved Lightwell, Dills calls for its demise. It’s not really the call for the demise that bothers me as much as the poor thinking that it’s derived from:

The idea is not horrible but in today’s raiding environment does anyone have time to stop their rotation for a moment to click on something for a heal?  I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.

Wrong, sir. When you gear your tank to 540 Defense (or spec into Survival of the Fittest), you’re thinking about healing. When you gather your 251+ gear for your tanking set, you’re thinking about healing. If you’re NOT thinking about healing when you’re going through your “rotation”, then you’re just a bad DPS.  It is every raid member’s responsibility to contribute to the raid as a group effort. This is why one of the quintessential rules of WoW is:

  • Don’t stand in the bad; Do stand in the good.

When you stand in the good, you’re not just “upping your numbers”, you’re assuring that the fight will progress quickly so the healers won’t run out of mana.  With Blizzard’s desire to make mana an issue for healers, this will become paramount.  When you avoid standing in the bad, you’re doing the exact same thing by saving the heals for those that really need it.

But wait!! There’s more!

That’s what the healer is for.  I’ve got a great idea.  How about we put a little Shadowwell on the ground and the healers can click on it to dps things?  Dumb right?  Right.

Wrong again, sir.  Wrong.  How many times have you been working on a progression boss and you hit that last 5% with an imminent enrage timer, then wipe?  I’m willing to bet money that part of the reason you got to that 5% in the first place is because of your healer(s) Smite-ing/HolyShock-ing/LightningBolt-ing/Wrath-ing the boss when they had the global cooldowns to spare.  I can’t tell you how many times when I raided with Lodur’s guild that the whole raid (healers included) threw everything they had at a boss in the final 10%.  I’ll use Blood Queen Lana’thel as an example. One attempt ended in our guild first, with only 2 people alive, the other 23 dead. Healers DPS’d the boss, too. “That’s what the DPS is for,” right? So does that mean the DPS wasn’t doing their job? Nope. We succeeded, which means the raid did it’s job.

Secondly, it’s obvious that Dills hasn’t been following the new game mechanics, namely that Healers will be nudged to DPS in order to regen mana. In the current build, Priests have the following talents:

  • Evangelism – When you cast Smite, you gain Evangelism increasing damage done by your Smite, Holy Nova, Holy Fire, and Penance spells by 4% and reduces the mana cost of those spells by 6% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Archangel – Consumes your Evangelism effect, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana, and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack.
  • Atonement – When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target within 8 yards equal to 15% of the damage dealt.

So, sir. If we can DPS the boss, you can help with healing.

Second Offense

Although Amplify/Dampen Magic is getting tossed onto the cutting room floor, Dills seems to think it’s welcome. His primary reasoning:

I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.

How about Valithria Dreamwalker? Ever think about throwing Amplify Magic on her? And Dampen Magic, what about throwing that on your ranged tank in Blood Prince Council? I can think of a myriad of ways that this can be used on a case-by-case basis. Just because it’s not mandatory for each fight doesn’t mean that it deserves to go away.

More you ask? Sure…

I also don’t know a single Mage who is excited when I remind them to please “give amp magic to the raid please”.  They all have the same reaction, “Ugh”.

Wrong, sir. Any mage worth running with (in my opinion), is more than willing to buff the raid, if it’s necessary  or will aid in getting that solid kill.  To any player that gripes and groans because they have to buff the raid, I tell them essentially what they’re saying is “Oh noes! I have to give the raid a (possibly) better chance at downing this boss! /cry”.  It is these people that I don’t like playing with.  Our mage (also our DPS captain) always looks to see what little things the DPS can do to help out the rest of the team.

Three Strikes; You’re Out!

Last, but not least, Dills brings up Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. These are spells that I’ve become quickly familiar with through my raiding days.  Remember when CC used to be essential to getting through a raid?  Remember packs of mobs that needed to be Slept, Sheeped, Sapped, Hexed, Repented, etc? Does anyone recall Blizzard saying they’d like to see CC brought back in? I do. I welcome it. It actually makes it more interesting than “nuke da mobz wit aoe”. Let’s start at the top:

Priests can Mind Soothe which I guess could be useful while questing but if you can’t kill a mob reliably you got bigger problems than Mind Soothe can fix.

Dills, did you read the spell? Mind Soothe has no impact on the level of damage a Humanoid mob takes. It reduces the aggro range that the mob can detect you. For leveling, this means you can Mind Soothe a mob to grab that quest item you need. For dungeons, it’ll help you sneak by that one mob patrolling right near you or near a party member that was lagging behind.

I’ve heard of Priests using Mind Soothe on the Instructor Razuvious fight but I admit I have never confirmed that it really works.

Here’s some confirmation for you. In the Razuvious 25man fight, you need two priests to Mind Control.  Without Mind Soothe, they have to mash the Mind Control button as fast as they can to grab hold of the Understudies.  Why? Because when the Priest gets into range to cast the spell, he’s already in the Understudy’s aggro range. The mob starts running at the Priest, alerting the other students (and Razuvious) that he’s there. If the tank’s not fast enough, or the other Priest can’t get off Mind Control on time, the Priest is dead.

Now, with Mind Soothe, the Priest settles into this spot, casts Mind Control with ease, and there’s no mad dash to get it done. The tank can run in and get aggro on the other Understudies without fear of them charging after the Priests.

This works for any time you have to set up CC assignments before a pull. With the need for CC coming back stronger in Cataclysm, you’re gonna need Mind Soothe until you really outgear the content.  And guess what? Soothe Animal is the exact same thing, except for Beasts and Dragonkin!

I do like the idea of these spells upping the targets vulnerability to other spells though.

Where, oh where, did you even get that from the tooltips of those spells?  How does “reduces the range” mean “makes more vulnerable”?  Both of those spells are designed to help prevent face-pulling mobs by anyone other than the tank.

Head to the Dugout

In the end of Dills’s post, he says:

Leave a comment with any spells you hate or think should change or tell me how wrong my analysis is.

Gladly, sir. Let me say first that anyone is more than welcome to have their opinion. I encourage it. However, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth if you’re looking to spur a debate. The examples provided above show a poor thought process on your part.

Your thoughts on how healing is “not your job” is an insult to the people you depend on to keep you alive. It is your duty to make sure the raid succeeds, however you can contribute to it.

The ability to think outside the box on certain spells is something I highly recommend checking out. Simply because one raid leader said to use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang encounter doesn’t make it useless everywhere else. You’ve got raiders that groan at increasing chances of success? Get new raiders.

I can certainly say that I don’t like apples because they’re fuzzy and blue and taste like feet.  You’d say I have no idea what an apple is. That’s my opinion of you regarding Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. Try Soothe Animal in Ruby Sanctum. You may be surprised.

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Preparing for Absences

Things get a little frantic on my end during events where I’m cut off from both my guild and my blog. Everything needs to be planned out to make sure there’s enough stuff to do.

Tomorrow, I’ll be driving down to Laguna Seca in California for work and to check out these motorcycle races.

Remind me to bring ear protectors as we’ll be next to the track. I’m also going to need stuff to do on the way down. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m bringing a few books and I’ll have my Macbook with me. I’m not going to get much in the way of internet. I suppose I could collect some Sudoku or crossword puzzles from newspapers.

From the guild side of things

Knowing when you’re leaving and how long you’ll be gone for is a big plus. It’s good to take stock of the roster during the 6-8 weeks before leaving to see what sort of gaps need to be filled. Knowing that my guild will be down a healer, it’s smart to have an idea of who can step in to fill that position temporarily. I recruited a couple of extra players (who can play multiple roles adequately) so that the raids will continue unaffected.

For my raiding guild, the bottom line for me has always been that the raid must go on.

The next thing to do is to delegate any extra responsibilities you have to other people who both can do it and want to do it.

I usually direct the healers. Someone will need to liaise between the healers and the officers. I picked one of my Priests to do that as he’s done the job before.

Lastly, you also need someone that can cover your position and roles in raids. When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll try to rotate and shuffle healers around. I might put a Resto Druid on Infest healing or a Shaman on tank healing. I’ve placed my number 2 Disc Priest on Infests while I went Holy and raid healed. The goal of the exercise is to give everyone one or two shots doing something that they otherwise normally wouldn’t be doing so that in the event they have to, they won’t be confused.

Always build redundancies.

I think the greatest fear of every guild leader when they need to step away for a while is that they return to a smoking ruin with a pillaged bank and the guild in complete disarray with half the roster size.

And for crying out loud, designate a de facto number 2. Make sure you have witnesses. Tell them something like “This guy’s in charge while I’m gone. Treat the words coming out of his mouth as if they were mine. He’s got my full support and I trust him to do the right things for the group.”

Guildmasters, what’s on your to do list when you know you’ll be gone from the guild for a while?

From the blog side of things

I’ve pre-written a bunch of stuff. I think I’ve written more in the past few days then I’ve had in the past month or so. With more beta information released, there’s been more ideas and stuff to discuss.

I also updated our About page (finally) to include the new guys to the team as well as add some interesting facts and tidbits about ourselves. You might actually find it interesting! 

If you’re interested in being a part of the team (whether permanently or just want to contribute a guest post), check out my guidelines, and then contact me. I love guest posts. And I’d certainly love to feature some over the next week and a half.

Thespius and Matticus featured on “Power Word: Fail”

Thespius and Matticus featured on “Power Word: Fail”

Image is courtesy of Brian Hough.

Kind of a fun title, no?  I’m ready to let the “fail” jokes ensue!  Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

In all seriousness, the folks over at Raid Warning (xSeven and Epiphanize) have assembled this special podcast (scheduled to be released March 1st) – a roundtable of some of the community’s most prominent priests.

Raid Warning’s last roundtable, Wild Shots, was a huge hit.  It was a roundtable of some very well-known hunters in the community.  You can follow links on their site to listen.

As for Power Word: Fail, I cannot be more excited for this event.  I’ve been recording with these guys for a while, and it’s always a blast.  If Wild Shots is any indication of the level of discussion we’ll have, then you’re sure to get some detailed insight into “The State of the Priest”.

Here’s who you’ll have the pleasure of hearing:

This podcast is going to center around questions you provide by emailing Raid Warning here.  We take your questions and discuss them throughout the podcast, as well as current news and speculation. 

I hope you’ll all submit questions, and check it out on March 1st!

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Hello 2010

Hello 2010

dawn-2010

First, congratulations to the US team for beating the Canadian team. We’ll get you back in the Olympics (seriously, that Canadian roster looks stacked with the top line from San Jose and with others).

As with every year on the blog, I try to make an annual thing out of reviewing the resolutions from last year for myself personally, the game, and the blog.

Let’s start with that. Did I meet the goals I set out to do last year?

2009 resolutions

Blog

Resolution: 3000 subscribers – Thanks to your readership, I have exceeded that and have managed to entertain 5000 bored players at work or school.

Resolution: 1.5 posts per day – Nope, not quite. My responsibilities have increased and I have not been able to fulfill that resolution. I’m working with a great crew that’s as diverse as it can get. With Lodur, Thespius and Mimetir, the blog provides a variety of insights.

Still could use that elusive Holy Pally contributor.

Game

Resolution: Top 10 server – Nope, Ner’zhul is a ridiculously competitive server. We’re barely breaking into the top 20 overall. According to Guld Ox, we’re exactly 10th Alliance side.

Resolution: Avoiding Burnout – Still here and I’m still not close to feeling any burnout. Thank goodness for cheap steam games in keeping me occupied.

Resolution: Raid achievements – Managed to pull off some of them but not as many as I’d like. The focus continues to be on progression. We’ll look at some of the other stuff later on.

Personal

Resolution: Let things go – Yep, I’ve learned to keep my distance on topics that I would have commented on in the past. Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it.

Resolution: GPA to 2.5 – Nope, holding at around 2.2. I learned that distance education courses and myself just don’t agree with each other. I lack the discipline on my own. I need to actually be in a classroom where I can directly ask for clarification on stuff that just doesn’t make sense to me.

2010 resolutions

Time to set some goals and tasks for this year.

Blog

Resolution: 10000 subscribers – A bit ambitious and it will be double the current amount. It’s how I measure the progress of my blog. Page views have remained increased slightly (not in the same ratio). I’m more concerned about being read then I am with just page views.

Resolution: Consistency with NSUI – It’s a great blog and a great idea. I just wish I had more time I could devote to it. I blog about different addons and ways to help players when I can. I’ll try to start with a consistent update time on a weekly basis.

Game

Resolution: 8000 achievement points – Slowly but surely, I am getting there.

Resolution: Arthas hard mode (25) – That’s my ultimate goal.

Personal

I’m not quite sure what to do at the moment. I feel rather lost. Undecided about Crim and Communications (or Journalism) is unavailable to me. Maybe I should just finish with a BA and get out of here and start working.

Get the heck out of school would be a great resolution but I won’t be able to pull it off this year.

Poll results

Last week, I ran a poll asking if you cleared out all bosses when running heroics. Here are the results:

poll-heroics

I resounding 47% of you do go after each and every boss in the instance. The next chunk of players are indifferent and go with the flow. A staunch 16% won’t knock out all bosses if they can get away with it. I suspect those might be the players where nothing attractive remains in current heroics or from Triumph badge vendors.

Guest posts

I promised I’d write them and they’re on the way. Bear with me. If it takes me a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, I will get them finished.

WoW.com is hiring again

I stepped down from handling Spiritual Guidance to focus on more general work and Raid Rx on wow.com. The site is expanding. A healing priest and a shadow priest have been brought on for twice the priestiness.

Yes, our class is so awesome, we get two columns featured.

They’re also looking to expand again. A Resto Druid, a Holy Paladin, an addon specialist, and a lore specialist.

More healers would indeed be awesome. Now they can heal me through the various PTR runs!

Quick application tip: I’m just going to use an example on the blog here when I look over contributors who want to work with me. Don’t bite the hand that feeds. If you’re applying for a position, don’t talk trash about the employer and then apply to them expecting to be successful in your application. I’ve seen people trash my blog and the work I invest into it on their twitter or their blog  and then they get in touch with me asking why I never link to them or highlight their work.

Like, seriously? I didn’t realize there were people that dense that were out there. Blogs are google-able. Everything is accessible. Nothing is hidden.

There is a line between constructive critique and being a dumb troll. Dumb trolls don’t get very far and they never will because they just don’t learn.

In any case, if you’re even remotely thinking about applying, just give it a shot. If you read the blog on RSS, you’ll notice I insert a quote by Wayne Gretzky:

“I miss 100% of the shots I never take.”

So take chances and shoot more. You just might score one. If you’re unsure or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. There are some questions I won’t be able to answer but I can try.

It doesn’t hurt to know every pop culture reference and cult classic known to man. I was ridiculed for the longest time when I didn’t understand the Monty Python and Princess Bride references.

Which by the way, I finally watched. To be honest, I didn’t understand much of the humour. Probably a generation gap thing though.

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.
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