Friends and Raiders: The Social Aspect of Warcraft

Friends and Raiders: The Social Aspect of Warcraft

social-network

Someone once said “Hey it’s no big deal, it’s just a game right?”. As a kid, those games of jacks or playing war were always competitive but the statement held true. At the end of the day it was just a game and you could walk away and go back to being friends with your nemesis of twenty minutes prior. The games we play evolved over time and became not only part of daily life for a lot of people, but a part of culture for us. Take a look at the Nintendo Entertainment System, even if you never owned one you know about it. Products bearing it’s symbol are still present.

Fast forward to the discovery of the MMORPG. I played Ultima Online for a good long while as a teen, and then moved away for other endeavors (see trying to be a rock-star). I came back to the MMO scene with City of Heroes and of course World of Warcraft. What stands out about these games is not just the amazing content they can provide and the hours(years) of enjoyment they bring you, but you get to talk and do things with friends and other people. Working towards a common goal whether it is downing a boss or capturing the opposing factions flag still feels great at the end of the night no matter what if you can do it with your friends. It’s that aspect of the game more then anything else that draws me into Warcraft.

Warcraft is a rare  and unique snowflake. Not only has it set the bar unbelievably high for game content and playability,but the community that has sprung up around it has gone beyond the normal social aspects of any other MMO. There is a feeling of comradeship and competition that spans millions upon millions of people. The first time the true scope of the community hit me was when I read the story of Ezra Chatterton, otherwise known as EPhoenix. He passed away October of 2008, but before that touched so many of our hearts with his visit to Blizzard’s HQ as part of a make a wish deal. Hunter season 2 crossbow? That was his idea. It was also a wonderful way for the company to give back to a kid who found true joy playing their game with his father. When his ailment was reported, the outcry and comments from thousands upon thousands of people wishing him well, making characters on his server just to say hi and see how he was doing and even digging in their own pockets to donate funds was overwhelming. It was one of the largest showings of concern and care I’d seen in a long long while. When he passed millions of players mourned together. We has lost one of us, and we grieved as one. That was just one life, one player, one character.

Think back on your own travels through WoW. Have you ever had a friend you made in game that turned out to have a large impact on your life? Did you meet your potential love in real life while running an instance? Do you find yourself making friends in game and then moving those relationships outside of the game? I’m guessing more then a few of you do. I know I do. Lets look at some of the social parts of the game.

Guild

The guild is the family unit of the game. You play together,craft together, and more often then not raid together. You share your victories and your defeats with them. You spend the majority of your time in a guild. Think about it, You spend your time with these people like a family or coworkers, and over time you develop strong bonds with some of them. Take a moment and look back on it. I’m sure you can think of a few people who you met through your guild that you considered a close friend or confidant. Like families your guild will also interact with other guilds on your server who are of a like minded direction. They tend to flock together. Top end raiding guilds all know each other, the “brass” so to speak knows each other and interact on a regular basis much like families in the same neighborhood would. I’m sure you know more then a few people from other guilds around the same tier as yours pretty well. Your guild also more then likely has some form of website or forum that lets you keep in touch, even with those who leave the game.

WoW Websites / Blogs

I’m a recent addition to this world in many ways, but it’s still amazing to me the sense of community you get when you browse private blogs and websites dedicated to the game. I have met so many people through these sites, not just as a writter here at World of Matticus but through reading other’s blogs, following them on twitter and even randomly finding them on facebook. Talking about the game has bled over into talking about real life. Sure there will always be exceptions but I find more often then not bloggers and people who put their WoW ways up on the Internet are a friendly bunch (in my case the term jovial has been applied). You yourself probably have had interaction with a blogger that has grown to what you would call friendship. Communities like Plusheal are great examples. So many people from all different servers sharing ideas, helping each other out with tips, strategies, loot ideas. You can even find WoW Twitters like Mine and Matt’s and in fact using such a site further highlights the sense of community. These sites bring us news of events like Ezra and highlight the triumphs and hardships of our gaming community. If not for websites like Plusheal I never would have met Matt, Syd and Wyn and lets face it, those three are pretty alright =D

The Friends list

Throughout your travels you’ve more then likely gathered a few friends that you’ve tossed on your list. Occasionally those friends are Real Life friends who happen to be in another guild, or sometimes ex guildies. Sometimes the game can cause a divide in a friendship and cause people to no longer speak out of game let alone in game. I’d like to share a bit about my friends that I’ve acquired through the game.

One of my best friends is a raiding warlock in my guild. We met through the game and found out we lived in the same city, all of 10 minutes away from each other. He has become one of my closest companions and is like a brother to me (talking about you Tim!). But I probably wouldn’t have met him if not for the game. In fact the vast majority of my guild. I talk to them outside of the game and look forward to events like Blizzcon as excuses to meet up with them have a few beers and share in a solid friendship that has be cultivated over the course of years. I miss some that have left the game to pursue other endeavors but I do try to keep in touch. And occasionally I’ll get a surprise like last night where friends of old that fell off all radars years ago pop back in the game with a fresh game card and their old level 60 toons.

One of my longest in-game friends left my guild a long time ago, but I always kept in contact. We talk whenever possible and its nice to catch up. She also listens to my rants which is a bonus and she helped me understand a lot about paladin healing when I switched over to healing lead and before I stumbled upon the websites here and Plusheal for information.

I met my girlfriend through the community as well. We started talking about being healers and the game and found out we had so much more in common. I recently made a toon on her server and was invited into the guild she is part of. Within minutes I was welcomed warmly and sincerely and was made to feel a part of the guild immediately. They are a great bunch of folk, and I never would have met her or them if not for the community surrounding WoW. I’m very glad to have met them and look forward to spending more time with them.

I lost a friend because of the game too. There was a disagreement over specs and honestly rather silly things. When the dust settled whether it was pride or whatever, I lost a real life friend that I had for years prior. It hurt but it’s just the nature of the game.

I’m in awe daily by the amount of people I get to talk to and interact with through twitter, this website and the game in general. That’s the part that really draws me to World of Warcraft, I love interacting with people. I find it so much more gratifying then say, just stomping goombas (although mario time will always be a treasured event). I think it’s safe to say that WoW has moved beyond being “just a game”.

So how about you? Have any stories of friendship gained or lost to share? Do you think the social aspect of WoW is what makes it such a powerhouse?

Until Next time, Happy Healing,

sig5

Image courtesy of www.yourmwr.com

Introducing the LilUI Compilation

Introducing the LilUI Compilation

One of the most frequently commented upon UIs belonged to Lilitharien. After much prodding, persuasion and begging over Twitter, she graciously agreed to do a write up and explanation of her UI as a guest post due to the overwhelming amount of interest.

Last Tuesday Matticus posted 33 screenshots of Healing UIs he’s collected via the PlusHeal forums. Since then he’s gotten lot of messages about the featured UIs, including (but not limited to, I’m sure) questions about my own, and I’ve even gotten messages on the PlusHeal forums about it. And there was some speculation in the comments, too, about whether or not I am using SpartanUI (For the record, I am not!). Thus, I jokingly suggested to Matt that I could write an article about my UI… and he said go for it. So, here I am!

For the link to this entire addon compilation, click here.

I’m Lilitharien, I play on the Thorium Brotherhood server in the guild and I’m a Discipline Priest.

Layout

This is my UI, taken during a Kel’Thuzad fight last Thursday (click to enlarge):

raid25_KT

And here’s a breakdown I whipped up in Photoshop (click to enlarge):

ui-explained

Frames

Unitframes For my basic unitframes (myself, target, target’s target, focus target, pet, and pet’s target) I use Pitbull4. It’s configured to show debuffs in the center-most side of the frame and buffs on the outter-most side. I show a maximum of 4 debuffs and 8 buffs on these frames to save clutter, and I have it filtered to prioritize buffs/debuffs that are caused by me or that I can dispel. Health bars for players are colored by class, otherwise they’re colored by hostility: Red for hostile, yellow for neutral, green for friendly.

For my raid or party frames, I use Grid. Grid is a little complicated to set up, but absolutely amazing once you’ve got it tailored to your needs. I have a few addons I use along with Grid, and I indicate those in parenthesis next to their function. You can certainly find more to suit your specific class/spec.

My set-up is as follows:

Entire frame changes size depending on size of party or raid (GridAutoFrameSize), and grows up from the bottom. Health frames are colored by class.

  • First text line shows first 4 letters of player’s name.
  • Second text line (GridIndicatorText3) shows health deficit and also Readycheck status.
  • Third text line shows Feign Death, Death, or AFK status (GridStatusAFK}.
  • Mana, energy, rage or runic power bars (GridManaBars) are aligned to the bottom of the frame.
  • Border around frame is colored white to show my target, red to show Aggro, green to show Disease debuff, or purple to show Magical debuff. Bottom left indicator is red and shows Aggro.
  • Bottom right indicator is golden yellow and shows Prayer of Mending.
  • Top left indicator is white and shows Power Word: Shield.
  • Top right indicator is green and shows Renew.
  • Middle icon shows Weakened Soul debuff and remaining time on it (GridCooldownText).
  • Left side indicator (GridSideIndicators) is colored 3 different shades of blue to show Grace stack (GridStatusGrace).

There’s a dark blue, medium blue, and light blue.

Buffs/Debuffs

For my buff/debuff display, I use ElkBuffBars. Buffs display above debuffs, and everything grows down from the top. Debuffs are colored red to make them easier to see.

Castbar

For my castbar I use Quartz. I’ve customized my bar to be hot pink (only because I like the color but, really, you can choose any color you like!) and to show total cast time, remaining cast time, latency/lag in red, name of spell and who I’m casting it on. It looks something like this:

[Name of Spell –> Target time-remaining/total-cast-time]

I have it set this way because I use Clique to click-cast raid targets, and this allows me to see where my heal is going (if it’s different from my current target) and when exactly I can click or use a hotkey to start casting my next spell. Being able to see the latency/lag in your cast time is very, very important as a healer!

Bars

Actionbars For my action bars I use a combination of Dominos and ButtonFacade. I’ve paired all my healing spells on one side of my screen (the left, between my chat box and minimap) and all my offensive/misc spells on the other side. I have all my buffs in a bar that’s hidden, and my mana potion, healthstone, and out-of-combat food has it’s own vertical bar on the right-most side of my screen. Every single one of my spells (along with my mana potions and healthstones!) are hotkeyed to something on the keyboard. In addition, some spells are assigned to mouse clicks via Clique, which I have configured to only work on my Grid frame. My minibar is situated underneath my minimap. I also have OmniCC installed to show the remaining cooldown time on my spells and DrDamage to show the average amount of healing or damage on each spell so I can make split-second choices at a glance without having to do the math myself. The current ButtonFacade skin I’m using is Apathy, but I’ve used Serenity in the past.

Minimap

My minimap is placed in the bottom-center of my screen and is configured via Chinchilla. I have it set to not show anything but the north indicator, calendar, and search bubble at all times. When I have mail, the mail button appears above my calendar button. When I PVP, the battleground button appears on the left-bottom side of the map. Current coordinates appear on the bottom of the map, above the minibar. To keep my minimap free from the clutter of all those little buttons from addons, I use MBB, or “Minimap Button Bag.” This appears as the little purplish button on the top-right of my minimap. When I click on it, it expands all my minimap buttons above it in a row.

Chatbox

My chatbox is situated on the bottom left of my screen, and the only addon I use for it is Prat 3. This colors all players names by class (you’re probably noticing that I love having things colored by class), adds a time stamp to everything and allows me to shorten my channel names. I also hide the chatbox buttons and enabled mouse scrolling. There’s a ton more you can do with it, but this is all I need. For whispers I use WIM, or “WoW Instant Messenger.” This pops up all my whispers in separate IM-like windows, which helps me keep track of all my conversations. While I’m in combat, however, whispers won’t pop up. They’ll just appear in the chatbox as they normally would.

Rings

Some people put things like their tradeskills, mounts, and buff food on their action bars. I used to do this, too, but I find this take up sooooo much excess space. Instead I use an addon called OPie. OPie allows me to create “rings” of buttons that I can call up with keybindings (or mouse clicks!). I have my buff food in one ring, my mounts and hearthstone in another, and tradeskills in yet another. OPie also includes a ring for quest items, so I don’t have to go digging in my bags everytime I need to use one while doing dailies. (There’s also a ring for assigning raid targets, but as a healer I don’t use this one so much.) The ButtonFacade skin I use for this addon is DSMFade.

Tooltips

I use TipTac to reskin my tooltips and move the tooltip anchor. I have it set to show names and healthbars colored by class. (More coloring by class! I know! I like consistency.) For extra information, I rely on Informant and EnhTooltip (part of Auctioneer Advanced). They add item numbers, how much the item costs or sells for, how many in a stack, how many vendors sell it, etc. I also use Bagnon_Tooltips (part of Bagnon) which tells me which of my alts have the item, how much they have, and where it’s stored. Combat: Threat Meter A staple for any raider, my threat meter of choice is Omen. I have it placed on the bottom-right of my screen between my offensive/misc spells and my potion/healthstone/food bar. It shows the the name of the target it’s calculating threat for; the top 5 people, their threat number and percentage; and myself, so I can see exactly where I stand.

Scrolling Combat Text

I used to raid without one, but I hated going to back into my combat log to check things. I’d rather have the information on-hand, when it happens. Thus, I use MikScrollingBattleText. I have this split into 3 different parts. The center “box” displays buffs, debuffs, procs, and things like mana returns during combat; They appear in the center and scroll upward before disappearing. The left-side displays things that are happen to me, whether it’d be damage, healing, or otherwise, and who it is being done to me by. The right-side displays what I am doing; It shows heals, overheal, and damage alongside with the name of the target it’s being done to. Both the left and right sides scroll down and outward on a curve before disappearing. I really like this combat text mod, too, over the default one because it uses icons to indicate which spells are doing what. So, for instance, when I get mana returns from Rapture, I see the icon for my Rapture talent.

Boss/Fight Information

For boss timers and information, I use Deadly Boss Mods. For player statistics, I use Recount. I don’t believe further explanation is needed for either. Dispelling I use Decursive to inform me of any magical or disease debuffs that I can dispel. However, I don’t use the addon’s miniframes. Instead, I assigned my abolish disease and dispel magic spells to shift+right click and shift+left click, respecitively, using Clique. Thus, Decursive tells me who needs what removed, and I use my mouse keybinds on Grid to cast.

Loot/Gear

I use a few addons to help me with loot: EquipCompare, RatingBuster, and AtlasLoot. EquipCompare shows my currently equipped item next to whatever I’m hovering over, and RatingBuster does all the math for me; It calculates and displays health, mana, mana regen, spellpower, crit, haste, and hit gains or losses compared to what I have currently equipped. AtlasLoot allows me to check out which loot drops from which boss in-game. I also have InspectEquip, which adds the boss/instance an item comes from to the tool tip as well as displaying a list of where someone’s items have come from when I inspect them.

Making It Pretty

Textures/Art

I use a rather old addon called DiscordArt to position my graphical textures. The textures, as some people have noted, make it look like I’m using SpartanUI. In fact, I am not using SpartanUI at all! I found that UI buggy at best and crashing my game at worst. But, I still really liked the art used for the bottom of the screen. So, I downloaded SpartanUI and extracted the art from it. Then, I placed the art in-game using DiscordArt. It was really rather simple.

Information Panel

I use TitanPanel to display at-a-glance information at the top of my screen. This includes my location/coordinates, money, bag space, current loot type, fps/latency/memory usage, whispers, durability, current signed-in guild members (TitanGuild), mail (TitanMail), volume, and time.

Lining Things Up

I use an addon called Align that creates a grid on my screen so I can line all my UI elements up. Obsessive compulsive? Maybe. I’m a graphic designer instead of a healer outside of Azeroth, so I can assure that everything is purposefully and aesthetically placed.

Typography

I use ClearFont2 to change the overall fonts in my UI, and I also make sure the text selections in my addons use the same font. I have everything set to use Calibri 0.9.

Miscellaneous Addons

  • AkisRecipeList: Adds a frame to my tradeskill window that tells me what patterns I have left to learn and where I can locate them.
  • AdvancedTradeSkillWindow: Expands my tradeskill window and adds a queue and materials shopping list.
  • Bagnon: Simplifies my bag and bank into one frame. Also allows me to view the items in my bank when I’m no where near one. As I mentioned before, it also tells me which of my alts has an item, how many they have, and where it’s stored.
  • Carbonite Quest: Quest tracking, information, and map. I mostly have the map not showing and the quest tracker minimized unless I’m doing quests or dailies.
  • Cartographer: World map mod; Allows me to see areas I haven’t explored, among other things.
  • CloseUp: Allows me to zoom in on things in the Dressing Room, Inspect, and Character/Pet windows.
  • FarmIt: Let’s me see how much of an item I have total in my bags at a glance, so I don’t have to go digging or do any math. I have this hidden or disabled unless I’m farming something, obviously.
  • FriendsFacts: Adds race, sex, level, class, and guild name of my friends to my friends list.
  • FriendShare: Global friends list that syncs between characters.
  • Gatherer: Keeps track of locations of nodes, herbs, and chests.
  • GatherSage2: Adds skill-level and other information to gathering item tooltips.
  • InFlight: Flight timers.
  • MagicRunes: Since Pitbull doesn’t include Runes on their unitframes, this is what I use for my Death Knight. They display right above my minimap.
  • QuestGuru: Expands my Quest Log window. Also includes a tracker, but I don’t use it since I have Carbonite Quest.
  • RecipeKnown: Colors a recipe green if I have learned it already, even on an alt. Prevents me from buying duplicates and wasting money/tokens.
  • Reputation: Automatically switches which reputation I’m watching based on the last reputation gained.
  • SendSelf: Adds my alts to the send-to autocomplete feature at the mailbox without having them on my friends list.

Other Screenshots

Solo questing (Click to enlarge):

solo_casting

Solo questing with OPie Quest Ring (Click to enlarge):

solo_opie

Download

Now that I’ve explained to you the exhaustive list of addons I use, you may or may not like my set-up. If you do, and it seems enough people do considering the feedback I’ve gotten, I’ve decided to package everything for your convenience. I call it Lil UI

Download LilUI now!

8 Questions Your Guild Should Ask Itself

8 Questions Your Guild Should Ask Itself

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I have to share this. I saw an excellent post on Plusheal asking for advice about a fresh and new guild trying to find it’s legs (actually it was about how to democratically disagree, but that’s a topic for another time). One of the Plusheal acolytes, Caveat, replied with a great list of questions to help “reality check” your guild. Here it is!

  1. Do you have a clearly defined identity?
  2. Do you have a clearly defined schedule?
  3. Do you actually FOLLOW that schedule? (some of the best recruits we have had recently left a guild whose raid times started the same as ours- but while we start pulling within 5 minutes of that time, the other guild routinely failed to pull for 45 minutes or more. We went thru that stage, and figured out we were shooting ourselves in the foot )
  4. Do you have legitimate and fair looting system, with defined rules that are followed?
  5. Do you have a plan for progression?
  6. Do you have fun playing together?
  7. What is your vent environment like- are you foul mouthed teens or boring old geezers? (Each is ok, but appeal to totally different players)
  8. How are you with female players?

What would you add to the list? More importantly, how would you answer these questions about your own guild?

Image courtesy of OwnMoment