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Saturday, November 23, 2013

And They All Stink

We're not even a full two weeks removed from the euphoric experience of Blizzcon, and it's already business as usual again.  Back to our groups.  Back to our lives.  And back to the QQ about planned changes to the game.

I was excited about my re-roll (which ended up on Aerie Peak, for those of you keeping track) and positive about finding new friends to run with.  Heck I still am - who am I kidding.  I'm just distracted already - by the usual stuff.  You know, change is announced, not everyone likes it, and the community decides to either stick up for their beloved game or the feelings of betrayal that the game has stirred within them.

And thus the World of Warcraft community is turned against itself, as a marooned crew of compatriots left without any content to sustain themselves on an island of tired gaming.  Nerves withering as the hunger sets in, ultimately resorting to cannibalism. 

If you're reading this, you're a nerd.  Your nerdiness registers somewhere on the nerd scale.  You are a unique nerd, never fitting a single stereotype, but those stereotypes exist for a reason.  Nerds tend to be passionate about the things they enjoy - be it sports, video games, fishing, etc.  Many types of nerds in the world. 

Usually it's good to be around folks that share the same interest.  So why are so many of my fellow WoW nerds fighting about flying in WoW?  Why are they getting tactical over the lack of strong female characters in the game?  Well, folks are different - even like-minded nerds.  And their passions flare over different things. 

If we didn't love the game, we wouldn't play it.  And that's what makes changing it so dicey.  Balancing boredom with new experiences necessitates some level of change.  But inevitably, there are changes that crunch on somebody's toes.  And, like any nerd that feels their fun getting taken away, that gets folks fired up.  The problem gets many times worse when that initial set of folks voice their displeasure, and those who love the game and don't feel the same way feel it's being attacked and rise to its defense.

Within a week we go from an awesome community of one of the greatest games ever, to fueding factions, tossing about pronouns like "you people" and "those guys", among other less savory colloquialisms.  And this starts a cycle of back and forth that brings some element of the Middle East to the World of Warcraft.  And honestly, it's kind of depressing.  Because I like most of you guys, and I don't have a dog in the current fights.  And I'd like nothing more than to get back to having fun with all of you.

Those upset about the changes - you should be able to voice your displeasure without taking shots at anyone.  Your thoughts and feelings are valid and should be represented and heard in a civil manner.  Had I personally not done likewise when automatic bans were going out for transferring 100k between my accounts on the same Battle.net account, then the practice might still have carried on to this day.  But you've gotta be civil about it.

To those upset about the perceived and possibly real attacks on the game you love - understand those guys are nerds just like you.  They want to have fun, too.  To try to tell them they have no right to feel something, is to deny the very nerdom we all embrace that makes this community great.  Folks are going to disagree, and it's up to us whether we let it divide the community.

And to the Community Managers - I think your company's stock is better served by being more understanding, rather than kicking up embers as you "take a stance".  All that happens when you do is one part of the community becomes alienated - and if you misjudge the size or impact of that community, then you've bought the farm with that stance and you're stuck pissing folks off no matter what you decide.  Your developers are going to do what they're going to do.  Your job isn't to make the community deal with it, it's to get them to buy the finished product and have fun.  If you're not going to win when you engage a customer, maybe you shouldn't engage them.

These schisms inevitably devolve into the sort where folks start plastering their opposition with generalities that don't really apply to the individuals.  And at that point, it's very hard to stop the cycle, and it has to simply run its course.

I thought this would run its course, but it's still kicking around.  I doubt this post will help.  If you've hung in there this long, you know this isn't a gold post.  I try to stick to goldmaking here, on the podcast, on Twitter.  I try to stay away from politics, current events, and sports - I try to focus on what bring us together.  And maybe I should have left this alone and stuck to gold here.  And you've every right to think & feel that, and I'm okay with that as long as you don't take a shot at me. 

At this point, though, somebody has to decide that enough has been said, and I have to quit writing about a topic that keeps me away from playing the game with you guys - the folks who want to keep flying, and the folks who don't - the folks who want strong female characters, and the folks who don't.  You're all cool, talented, folks, and I've been there, and I get it - but I think that's been enough for now.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 009

Following a two month hiatus, returning co-host Kathroman of WoW-GPS and The Consortium Forums do a show focus on the news from BlizzCon and the upcoming expansion.  Topics included garrisons, changes to flying, jewelcrafting, and enchanting, and the overall feel of Blizzard's design intent as it relates to goldmaking - Enjoy!

To listen in, just use the Stitcher App in the sidebar!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Post Blizzcon Storytime - Finding Enjoyment

It's been roughly six weeks since I showed any activity here on the blog.  I needed a break from all things WoW.  I had cancelled my sub, but re-upped before I ran out of time.  I do that when I don't login for a couple weeks, but I've never had a sub lapse between all my accounts since I started playing.

I went silent for awhile, then Blizzcon happened.  I re-upped, re-rolled, and bought a virtual ticket after Blizzcon had ended (as crazy as it sounds!).  I'm excited about the new expansion Warlords of Draenor.  I'm excited about Garrisons.  I'm excited to so many folks on twitter and on streams that are honestly excited about the game.

Those of you who've followed me for awhile know that, in addition to being a blunt, elitist jerk of goldmaking, I've also had a bit where I was a grumpy curmudgeon about all things Blizzard / WoW.  So, all this may seem rash.  You may expect that by Christmas-time, I'll be back here or on the show ribbing on Blizzard for one thing or another.  And I've thought about that disparity of attitudes, too.

Two years ago, when Mists of Pandaria was first announced, and details started flowing, I snatched an Annual Pass and went to work preparing.  Eight scribes, seven alchemists, full professions coverage over my three accounts.  At launch I was shuffling 500 stacks of ore almost daily.  Gold was great, and I was one of the top-geared toons overall on my server for the first month.

But the month before MoP is when things started going south for me.  I was the the raid lead for my guild on US-Emerald Dream.  We weren't super-serious, but we had fun and made decent progress.  My GM and his girlfriend (co-GM) were our Main Tank and Main Healer, respectively.  They played well at their class, and I was friends with my GM - I honestly can call Alex a friend - I'd have helped him out in real life and chilled with him if there weren't 1500 miles between us.  But, the month before MoP, he & our co-GM started one of those long, drawn-out breakups.  He didn't see it coming and took it hard.  He told me he might quit the game.

Understand that these two dated IRL - they were together outside the game and lived in the same city.  Seeing her online everyday and not being able to do things together - even in game - it hurt him.  Seeing the uncertainty on two key spots of my roster was hard.  I'd worked to get us ready to roll out of the gate, and there was nothing I could do for either the raid or for my friend.  Subbing in for these guys would have been tough in the beginning - and you know you gotta bring em in when they're available - it's the GM - your friend.  So then you have to sit the sub and deal with whatever drama ensues.

I saw the handwriting on the wall.  I've read this story before, and there is no happy ending.  He took a few weeks, but Alex inevitably quit wow, passed GM to an officer, and went out in an RP event in Trade District with 7 guilds and hundreds in attendance - it was a big deal.  And WoW was honestly never the same for me after that.  Rather than patch my raid group together or butcher the second group for mine, I stepped down and found another guild to run with.  I needed to take a break from organizing and leading and wanted to just be a raider.

It started out okay - my brother and I were the first 90s in our new guild.  The GM seemed like a good guy.  But eventually, raids were running 4 days a week on an impromptu schedule and I was missing raids I didn't know about and getting dissed on for it.  Which sucks because my biggest concern that I addressed clearly with the new GM before joining was about the schedule.  It didn't take long before I chucked the deuces and gquit.  That guild eventually fell apart.

I fell back on running Arenas with friends, but rogues weren't in a good place in 5.0 & 5.1, and when I found some to run with on my rDruid and got geared, one of my buds decided to go Holy over Ret for 3s, and eventually xferred off server before I could gear Feral.  I never was able to catch up.  I xferred to Tichondrius to raid with some older buds, but that guild fell apart over the Christmas break only a few weeks after I got there.

Nothing was working out, and I got pretty bitter about it.  I started doing other things - playing EvE Online for a few months before hitting a wall of lifers that I just couldn't make friends with.  The annual pass I had so enthusiastically signed up for not even 12 months prior became the only thing keeping me subbed.  Eventually, I came back to WoW and started a long goldmaking project rolling on a dozen or more servers.  Turned out to be a lot to keep up with - especially when I changed jobs and life got a lot busier.  The rest brings us to now.

I've said before on The Consortium forums that WoW is an amazing social game.  But, as a solo game, it's slightly below par.  I believe that now more than ever.  When that social element started slipping away from me, WoW just wasn't fun.  And all my attempts to enjoy WoW again have been chasing after getting back to those good old days when all my friends and I would do all sorts of cool stuff together.  But nothing is ever as constant as change - our schedules changed, the game changed, we changed, and some of us don't even play anymore.

That's life - not to sound trite, but it's a fact.  A lot of folks in this game have issues with something about it.  For some, it's game changes; for others, it's people.  In a game this large and a playerbase this enormous, you will find all kinds - the good, the bad, the ugly.  The trolls, the cool folks, the cancer.  When you run into the zero-fun stuff a lot, it doesn't really make you wanna log in.  As we've learned with each expansion and Blizzcon - good stuff comes, and it goes.  So does bad stuff.

The challenge is to be able to enjoy the good and leave the bad alone.  And, tying in to what I said earlier, the best part of the game is the social aspect of it - I feel without that, the good is just okay, and the bad is utter garbage.  But that slips away just like the OP-ness of rogues with each new round of patch notes.  People move on.  And so to continue to enjoy the game, and not become a bitter old solo goldmaker lamenting the good old days via whispers with former guildmates years later - you've gotta find new folks to enjoy the game with, and focus on the good stuff. 

There's a lot lined up for WoD - and there are sure to be plenty of folks who are more critical than excited.  But if just being on Twitter around Blizzcon showed me anything - it's how much excitement comes from playing the game with others who are excited about it.  That's the real key to enjoying the game - from a guy who's been on both sides of it all.  Hope to have some more podcasts episodes for you guys and some more blog posts in the coming weeks.  And if you any of guys ever find yourselves on US-Moon Guard (Alliance) - shoot me a message on Twitter - I'm looking for new friends here :)