Friday, June 20, 2008

Progression vs farm raiding and laziness

Throughout the history of the DB guild Jez has always been in progression raids. By that I mean that from the moment we started Kara way back when it has always been a new content experience for Jez along with the rest of the raiders in the guild.

Not so long ago due to having enough Aussie time zone folks in guild we were able to start running a week night Karazhan. Initially Jez went on this raid, primarily to help out and then when 2.4 came out, for badges as well. Several of the people in that raid were/are T4/T5 geared which really helped out the other 'Kara entry level' players. Now that Sephiroh is 70 I am running her rather than Jez for these groups.

One of the things that several people have noticed about some of the members of our Kara raid is that they don't seem to bother to get their gear enchanted, or gemmed, or even work on gearing up outside of Kara. Since I'm now taking a newer 70 through Kara I'm wondering whether the fact that these people were able to pretty much get carried through Kara as they geared up hasn't given them a sense of urgency or feeling a requirement to do this. On Jez I do everything I can to make sure I can perform to the level the content demands - gems, enchants, consumables etc. On Seph I haven't felt this pressure because the raid group is already strong.

It's got me thinking. If a player experiences their own progression via farm raiding does this lead to a tendency towards laziness in terms of gear itemisation and etc?

I'd just like to point out that I'm definitely working towards getting enchants and etc on Seph hehe. I put good blue level gems into the epics she has and I use armour kits since I don't have enchants yet, which I'm working on farming the mats for. One symptom here is also that once I levelled her I took her straight into Karazhan and therefore I'm still working on the rep I need for things like the shoulder and head armours etc. The other people who I'm talking about though have been 70 for months now.

It's just a different experience for me to have a second 70, perhaps other people have different experiences? Perhaps it's also a playstyle thing, perhaps these people just aren't interested in progression style raiding?

In terms of the regular Kara group it is somewhat frustrating for me since I would much prefer to be doing ZA rather than Kara but I'm concerned that the group will not have the chops to succeed there - and part of this is definitely due to the sort of apathy I'm talking about here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Add-on awesomeness or mod madness? You decide!

I've been meaning to do it for, well forever it feels like, and the questions of a guildie who reads this blog *waves to Mckildy* have given me further motivation. Therefore I present to you the various mods I use within my UI. Some time ago now I posted about the development of my UI over time and mumbled something about follow up posts on the specific subject of add-ons. You can see a full screenie of my UI there or in my previous Vashj post if you are so inclined. I use a lot of mods (hence the title of this here post) so I suspect that this post will get too ridiculously long before I've covered them all hehe and I may need to do a couple of posts on the subject.

To recap what I'm looking for in a UI and mods:

  1. Low memory footprint
  2. At a glance information that doesn't require me to click on panels to see it
  3. Minimalism in layout (which is tough given my above penchant)
  4. Mods that are well-supported - ie. regularly updated
  5. Easy to update

So straight away I'm going to tell you - ACE - get it, use it, love it. Ace framework based mods are generally lightweight and using the Ace updater utility makes updating and installing a breeze. It's possible to run the updater while logged in and then /reload ui to get immediate effect. Handy when you're about to start raiding and there's a new Omen update *grin*. That said, I do use a bunch of other mods that aren't Ace based but which I find I can't live without. As it is many non-Ace based mods do have Fu-Bar plug-ins and FuBar is Ace based.

Fu-Bar can be classified as an 'action bar' mod and allows you to place thin panels at the top and bottom of your screen (or both at the top, or more than 2 etc etc). You can then download an absolute plethora of fu-bar mods and plug-ins for other mods which you can place in your panels. I'll list out all the ones I use later, first I want to cover some of my other mods.

  • X-Perl UnitFrames

    Replaces the default unit frames. For you character, party, raid, focus and etc. I like them because you can get quite granular with their appearance, they have support for an MT and OT pop window which is great for quick focus fire targeting in raids and there is a fu-bar plug in available. Some people swear by Pitbull and it looks good but so far X-Perl is working for me.

  • Bongos2

    Action bar mod that replace the default in game bars. You can arrange them however you want including number of columns in a bar, size and have access to more bars than the standard UI allows. You can control their visibility and they also have built in stance/form changing for druids and the like. Bongos3 is now available but since it requires re-building your bars since it's structure has changed so much I haven't gone there yet.

  • Quartz

    Beloved by hunters everywhere this mods displays a shot timer with a 'swing' bar for auto shot and also displays latency which is important for me as a player in Australia experiencing higher than typical latency. Especially since I'm a hunter and getting your shot rotation right is key to maximising your DPS.

  • Baggins

    Replaces the default bags including for your bank. Separates items into different categories, including allowing you to define your own. I particularly like the 'new' feature which shows you all items that are new to the bags since log-in, very useful for when I 'borrow' Emelin to do some disenchanting. I don't think feign death would save me if I accidentally DE'd a purple.

  • Elk Buff Bars

    Highly configurable display of your buffs, debuffs and also things like mana oils. You can configure to show just the icon or include the name, rank and of course, a timer. The bar size height, and font can be set to whatever you prefer.

  • Countdown Timers 2

    Display bars showing as many types of cooldown as you want. I find if handy to display this information - particularly for things like traps, Misdirect and TBW. I have recently started using Omni CC again which shows a timer on the actual bar button so I may reconfigure Countdown to only display for those buttons I don't have displayed on my bar (I have them on a bar set to invisible and hotkeyed). This is an Ace mod, it doesn't have a wiki page but you can grab it using the installer.

  • Omen2

    One of the 'if you don't use any other mods use this one' types. In a raiding situation it's crucial to know what your threat is compared to the tank. Omen2 has a bunch of different views but since I'm a DPSer I just use the single target view. It's also great for me when soloing, I prefer Snaggle to get beat on rather than me *grin*

Phew ok that's it for now. I have plenty more mods to talk about though! It's taken me a while to try and make this post format how I would like it to. WYSIWYG editing tools plus HTML interfaces = teh devil! I'm still not happy with it either. Time to learn about divs :P

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The pictures tell the story

Woooooohooooooo! This weekend the DB raid successfully downed Vashj for the first time. Not only that but downed her with all 25 people still standing, although two Battle Rezs were used during the fight. We had made our way straight to Vashj after downing Hydross and Lurker as has been our pattern over the last couple of SSC raids. We usually spend 1.5-2 hours on attempts and then move on to clear the rest of the bosses. On this particular occasion though we could all feel it, we knew we were close and everyone agreed to keep trying. We got her on the tenth official try (accidental moonkin suicides don't count). To me, downing a boss for the first time after the weeks of strategising and many attempts is the absolute pinnacle of the game. The screams and cheers of excitement over vent when she went down were awesome.

And in true Badger style after handing out loots and patting ourselves on the back we decided we had time to take on Leo, and proceeded to wipe on the first trash pull. Go Badgers!

And here is a screen shot taken before the Hydross pull at the same raid. Mmm-hmm I love me some raid buffs! Look at all that lovely DPS and RAP and crit chance. Yummy!

Pictures not resized so you can click on them and see the large version.

So no loots for Jez this run but who cares we downed Vashj!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cat Fight!

As I play Sephiroh more and more, and I really am enjoying playing a druid a LOT, I have been looking around here and there for some good information on being kitty. I've got the bearkin and treekin side of things pretty much sorted in terms of great resources but hadn't seen much on kittykin until I came across Mostly Kaldorei and Flyv's Warcraft Blog. Both are now in my feed reader and on my blog list and I look forward to further reading. I've already learned that kitty was being a noob and gemming for strength when agility is much better. Quickly remedied and hopefully I'll now see better results when the cat suit is on mrowr!

Monday, June 9, 2008


Oh wow! Everyone you are just not going to believe this! *bounce, bounce, bounce* Yep it's me Seph again and I had an even more fun and exciting adventure! Not only that but Miss Jez approved too. Yep, she really did. She's not all that mean, I felt kind of bad after what I said the other day *shuffles feet* I mean, I know she means well and she's just trying to look out for me and all, and she is kind of like a big sister to me. But, well, you know what big sisters can be like right? *grin*

But after my adventures in Karazhan and even though I did leave a big mess because I fell asleep because I was so tired and sort of left Wild Quillvine in the bottom of my bag and it got all mooshy and stuff, Miss Jez just smiled and sighed a little and told me that I did good in Karazhan and I could just tell that she was working really hard on not giving me a lecture and she didn't. I felt really good about that, like she's maybe going to start trusting me a little more to not mess up. I mean sure there was that one time where I got into a bit of trouble with Dirty Larry from the lower city and Emelin had to come resc.. er... help me but I'm much more responsible now! *wide eyes*

I guess Miss Jez really must be starting to think so because she asked me if I would like to make a visit to that troll infested place Zul'Aman in her place, something to do with needing to stay home and polish her new shoulders. I was to go with some really nice people from the guild and they were all ready to get me to put on my bear suit and help out Mr. Troa the paladin with tanking duties. I felt so honoured that they would trust me, and well kind of overwhelmed *blush* but I wasn't going to say no to an exciting opportunity like that. No way!

And because I wanted to show Miss Jez that she can put her faith in me I straight away made sure to get my leather pants armoured up nice and strong so I could be just a teensy bit more durable, and I made sure I had lot of reagents and some yummy stamina food. I guess I kind of forgot about elixirs but Mr. Troa kindly helped me out and I gave him some gold straight away and we made a pact between tanks not to tell Miss Jez which I thought was really really awesome of him. I guess he understands what it's like to have an older wiser person looking over your shoulder.

I'd never been to see the trolls before and I can tell you I was nervous! Everyone was very relaxed though and nice and no pressure, we're just going to see if we can beat some timers. I was all... uh... ok *shaky grin* sure. Mr Troa was very kind and was talking to me quietly and letting me know what I needed to do and that really helped. I was still a little worried though because even though I'm very strong now sometimes I don't think I SMASH things as hard as I can and then whatever I'm hitting might not think I'm hitting them hard enough and go see what someone else is doing and whether they can hit harder and you know when you are a tanking person that's not very good. No. So I was making very sure that I was on my toes and ready to GRAWR at anything that looked like it wasn't interested in me anymore. A girl has her pride you know! It's kind of insulting when a big ugly decides to lose interest in me. I should to get to choose when I've lost interest in them! Like when they are smooshy bits of clawed up bits on the ground!

As I had never been before I didn't know the way but the guildies kindly summoned me so that was fine and I was able to get future directions straight away. We climbed up the big stairs into the entrance and then we spoke to this explorer fellow and he told us we had to bang a gong. That was fun! I put on my bear suit and was head butting it!

Once we got inside we were only interested in the really big baddies of course but we had to fight our way through a few annoying trolls. I got to practice my animal soothing skills too! I've never really bothered with soothing animals before. Why bother when I can CLAW RIP SHRED and then skin them *big grin*.

We went to see the big bear troll guy first. Mr Troa explained that pally on bear and bear on troll which sounded funny but I was too excited and nervous to laugh, but that was fine because I didn't need to be. We smooshed that guy real quickly and were able to rescue the prisoner too! Well we would later, we wanted to see if we could save some of the others too, because that's the kind of adventurers we are!

Next we went and ran through this gauntlet thing and up to the top of this platform where there is this big birdy nasty. Mr Troa told me to put on the kitty suit for that fight so I did and had lots of fun and it was neat because I didn't have to remember to run in for the storm thing he does. Miss Jez has told me stories about that fight and it felt much easier to me to just keep clawing at Mr ugly birdman and not have to worry about running in. We managed to save the prisoner here too so that was great!

Then we headed over the top of this big waterfall and snuck through a hut and around some ruins and then swam across a lake and killed a few big lynxes and I was looking at their pelts and wanting to skin them but there was no time if we were going to save the next prisoner and when you are on tanking duties that means being up front and ready to take on all comers and I wanted to make sure that all reports to Miss Jez would be good ones! We got to the next big meanie and Mr Troa explained that I would need to stand right next to him and when the meanie called his spirit cat thing I would need to make sure it didn't try and play with the other people. We had a few mishaps but by the time we'd smooshed all the lynxes and such in our path to get to him we'd missed the chance to rescue the prisoner anyway so that was no drama and we got him down after a couple of attempts and Mr Troa told me I did awesome! *blush*

We pushed on and went and killed some more trolls on the way to the last priesty boss - a nasty dragonhawky flame ball throwing baddie. And then the most exciting scary thing of the wholeadventure happened. Mr Troa told me that I would need to be the main tanky person against him! *big eyes* Wow! I was sooooo nervous! When everyone was ready I charged in and SMACK MANGLE LACERATE and so on and on and on and avoid the flame ball things. It felt like I stood there for a long time telling that guy to pay attention to me. We got him though yep! After a few difficulties with the hatcher guys anway. But it was awesome! I was so exhi... exhilar... happy afterwards that I couldn't help dancing about in my bear suit. I think perhaps, even though it wasn't very dignified, that Miss Jez would understand.

Oh and I guess because I was a good bear I got to take a souvenir of my trip home with me too! It makes me look a little bit like a troll but it will be fun for dress ups! And for helping out with healing too *grin*

(boss images courtesy of wow-wiki)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Is you like a nice hot cup of mangle?

Hello! It's Sephiroh here, you can call me Seph. I had such an exciting day yesterday that I just had to come and share it with you. I hope Miss Jez doesn't mind, I sort of didn't ask her or anything. I mean she's a pretty decent person for a hunter and all but she can be a bit... persni... pernikc... funny about things. Sometimes I think all that time fighting the Burning Legion has made her lose what sense of humour she has. Oh! Did I just say that? *blush*

So um anyway! *bright smile* I'm only a young druid but I've been working very hard on making sure I can do my best and help out my friends visit nasty places and beat on nasty people. See that's what Miss Jez says, that you have to stand ready at all times. She says that a lot actually, along with how I really don't know much about the world yet and what was my family thinking keeping me so sheltered and then she starts muttering about some lady called Vashj and then I just know that she's going to disappear for hours into the Lower City and come back later grumpy and smelling like Dwarven Lager. Oh wait, I shouldn't have said that either should I? *blink*

Soooo, yesterday I was talking to some of my friends in the guild and we decided that we would like to go do some adventuring and that the Shadow Laboratory had been causing problems again and we should go and sort them out! We were organising to get the best group and all the important things we would need. You know, like beer, oh but um don't tell Miss Jez about that, she says I'm too young to drink. Unfair I call it! *humph*. Yeah so we were getting organised and then everyone is all 'so Seph will tank' and I was so excited! I've been working really hard at my leather working so I can make myself some nice tough leather gear. I guess my stitching isn't the neatest but that rune thread is nice and strong and I put lots of stitches in! I'm such a lucky druid too since Loa gave me a vest and Mr Mogri who is a very important tanking person gave me some boots and with my leggings that I made it's a matching set! Even Miss Jez was kind enough to make some gems for me so I'm feeling very strong RAWR! Although, with the stuff being so new and all the clefthoof leather is kind of stiff and pokes you uncomfortably sometimes *wince* but I'm all uncrittable and stuff and that's important.

We made it down to Auchindon and into the Shadow Labs and were ready to start. I was a little uncertain at first but I put on my furry bear suit and tackled the nasties that my friends told me to and GRAWR SMASH MANGLE!! It was sooooo much fun!! I know I should probably have a more serious attitude, Miss Jez would say so, but I just don't think she understands what it's like to be a young strong druid and testing your abilities for the first time! I guess there were a couple of moments when I got a little carried away and um my rage got the better of me which caused a little inconvenience *blush* but I soon learned from my mistakes and we made it all the way through and showed that Murmurer thing yes we did! I guess I must have done a pretty decent job because after we finished I got asked to wear my furry bear suit to Karazhan and help out with some of the tanking duties there! *bounces*

I'm sure it wasn't because some of the regular people were missing. Nuh-uh, I don't care what Miss Jez says *pout*. I made sure I had some yummy food and washed the blood off of my leathers and re-oiled them and was ready to go. I even made sure to go and get my shiny new gloves from the nice man on the Aldor Terrace which I got the last time I went to Karazhan in my kitty form. Yep I've been to Karazhan before, I'm not like... you know... completely naive! Just never in the bear suit *grin*. Miss Jez was muttering away but I think she just doesn't understand what fun it is to be able to claw as Kitty or mangle as bear or even put on my pretty robes and help with healing!

I had lots of fun in Karazhan, we finished off the last of those nasty people including the big demonic guy at the top. He sure thinks he's someone, well we showed him, smooosh! We were feeling pretty good after taking down the Prince in one attempt and so we thought we'd go make a call on the ghostly dragon Netherspite. This was my most nervous moment of our adventure since I'd have to help out with handling the red beam and that would be the most important thing I'd done apart from helping those cloth wearing spell caster people not get squished. Our paladin tank kept talking about dancing with the beam which I thought was a little funny and couldn't help giggling but once we started I saw what he meant and I just danced my furry butt off! I even helped out with the green beam when I wasn't doing the red beam shuffle and although it took an attempt or two we got him in the end! Hah! Take that Mr Grumpy ghostly kind of reminds me of Miss Jez on a bad day dragon!

I hope I get to wear my bear suit to Karazhan again soon! It was such fun although I was a very tired sleepy druid afterwards and I slept in and left my leathers in a big smelly pile on the floor, so I'd better go clean up before Miss Jez sees!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Revisiting Night Elf lore and culture

I got such great responses from Andrew and Cynra to my post on night elf culture that I really felt I wanted to follow up with a 'response' post as it were.

I'd like to clarify my position. I wasn't arguing that elves aren't presented as namby pamby anywhere but specifically that, (in my opinion) elves are not presented as namby pamby in Tolkien and Warcraft. I guess as sub-text to that I consider Tolkien's work as seminal in regards to how elves are presented in fantasy fiction - for the most part.

Yes there are a lot of people whose perception of elves is that they are 'light as thistle down' airy-fairy types.

I don't think these people know anything much about celtic mythology or read much fantasy fiction. I do think they probably have seen quite a lot of Disney though.

As regards comments on Faerie, I almost included a whole section on the Tuatha De Danaan in my last post (often referred to as the Sidhe, which is the name for the barrows they agreed to inhabit but not originally of the folk themselves) but the post was becoming quite an essay. I'd argue, as Cynra does, that the Sidhe are not at all benevolent or child-like. Disney AGAIN. 'Popular culture' tends to 'sanitise' mythology. Look at fairy-tales for instance, the tale of Red Riding Hood is at it's root the story of a girl's journey to womanhood (ie menustration) - but over time has been diluted to it's present form. I'd argue that the same thing has happened to fairies. I could get a little more 'I was a humanities student' and argue that the main sanitising factor in western culture is the Church - to increase it's relevance and power it devalues and dilutes alternative values and beliefs. But I won't because this is a blog about Warcraft not cultural theory and I would have to get seriously academic on you all and riddle this post with citations and a biblography and I've got motes of water to farm! Heh.

Suffice it to say, I firmly believe that the lore within the game does not by intention present night elves in the mold of 'Disney' and that it is instead, the perception of players and their interpretation of elves through the filter of western culture that interprets them as such.

Is where I level my geek-fu

Amongst the things that I love are my computer (not in an unhealthy way thanks!) and the internets. When I manage to learn something new in regards to both that makes me happy. I like learning new things period so learning something new about stuff I'm really interested in is a bonus.

I've mentioned in another post that I have been experiencing some nasty frame rate issues in 25 man raids and I'd been looking into updating my PC. I had the plan in train when Emelin's PC decided to die a nasty motherboard failure kind of death. I swear it was a plot since it meant that Emelin's PC got rebuilt and I had to spend the weekend listening to him drooling over the awesome smoothness and beautiful appearance of the game with everything cranked up whilst I dealt with staring at the floor during the Tidewalker fight with every setting down to try and deal some decent DPS.

You can be certain that Monday morning I immediately proceeded to arrange the upgrade of my PC! I am lucky enough to work in an industry where I can get my hands on hardware at a cheaper cost than retail and prevail on an awesome helpful workmate to help me rebuild my PC. I opted for an Intel Core2 Quad CPU, gigabyte motherboard with both DDR2 and DDR3 slots (for future upgradability) and 4 x 1gig sticks of DDR2 RAM. I'd recently bought a new Gigabyte nVidia GeForce 9600 GT card so I naturally hung onto this. My mate installed the hardware for me and in an absolutely unheard of unbelievable act of god was able to reboot into Windows afterward - so no reformatting/reinstall needed. Crazy! There was one small hitch however - I didn't have a spare IDE cable for my DVD burner - solution grab a new SATA one. This is where my opportunity to improve my geek-fu came in as it was the end of the day and I was to pick the burner up on my way home and install it myself and then install the motherboard drivers.

Computers are generally like cars for me - I know how to drive them, I know how to maintain them but I'm not down with the stuff 'under the hood'. For me this was the equivalent of learning how to do an oil change - not rocket science but not something I was familiar with. So now I know the difference between IDE and SATA cables and would feel comfortable installing something like this again. Yay me! I can also happily report that after a few bumps I got my baby up and running again and was able to log into WoW, crank all the settings and enjoy frame rates of around 90 in Shatt. Of course the real test will be this weekend in TK. Fingers crossed!

Can I just say that, although I will always consider game mechanics more important than shiny graphics in a game, warcraft looks really gorgeous when you can see all the nice graphical touches. Yay! Shiny!

The other area where I was able to level my geek-fu was with a little CSS. I think I've mentioned before that I work with a bunch of web-designers and that, plus having my own blog, is causing a little design-fu to rub off on me which is great. I was able to use this power for the good by helping Grizz with some small formatting changes on his wordpress blog. All hail the power of Firebug!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Do you choose the spec or does the spec choose you

As usual I'm woefully behind on my blog feed reading. I usually manage to get caught up on the weekends but with this weekend being particularly full of in game action I didn't get around to it.

I was just reading Cynra's thoughts on Pike's Feelin' it manifesto (and it's well past due that I added you to my blog roll/feeds Ms Pike!) and it sparked an immediate reaction in me.

In my case I think the spec definitely chose me. As a young huntress with no knowledge of the intricacies of the different builds or really any knowledge of the broader game at all I went Beast Master. My reasoning was that since you have a pet you would surely want to get the most out of that relationship. Even when I was more knowledgeable about the game and knew that Marks was 'the' choice I still stayed true to Beast Master.

When I consider this choice from a role playing perspective it is because I see Jez and her stable of cats as having relationships of mutual respect and love. They operate as a partnership of two equals. In no way does Jez think of Sooty (or Snowfyre or Snaggle) as pets. The relationship is symbiotic. Jez would never be able to be as effective without her faithful companion by her side. If there is any kind of dependency it is of Jez on Sooty.

Some of my favourite fantasy fiction stories (or series) are concerned with characters with animal companions such as the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey and the Assassin Trilogy by Robin Hobb so that no doubt contributed to my choice as well.