Linearity, Quality of Life and Advice for New Bloggers

Between the Newbie Blogger Initiative and Guild Wars 2, it’s suddenly a pretty vibrant time in the MMOSphere. Here’s some more great posts to round out your day –

  • Azuriel at In An Age is getting into the NBI spirit with some great advice for newbie MMO bloggers“Whatever articles/posts you have bouncing around in your head, write them, post them, get them out of your way. If you still feel like writing things after they’re posted, congratulations! You’re a blogger.”
  • The Grumpy Elf is pondering some no-brainer quality of life upgrades in WoW“Node tapping would be a great quality of life addition. If you started the gathering procedure and get interrupted the node is tapped to you for 30 seconds. That should be more then ample for beat any mob that interrupted you and it is more than ample on a PvP server to get your fight on.”
  • Hate hallways? You’re not alone. Klepsacovic of Troll Racials Are Overpowered is musing on just why he dislikes linearity so much“Linearity makes me feel sorry for the developers. I’ll see a really detailed, complex structure they designed and it will seem great. Then I realize that I’ll go there once. I’ll do the quest there and that’s it, never again. “
  • And Rohan at Blessing of Kings is considering whether the real money-purchasable PLEX are against the spirit of EVE Online“Ultimately, inconvenience is what makes a world a world, and not just a game. PLEX is convenient, but makes Eve less of a world, and more of a game.”

To get even more great MMO discussion, sign up for the MMO Melting Pot Weekly Digest

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Join the Newbie Blogger Initiative!

I’m continually impressed by how supportive and generous people on the blogosphere can be toward their fellow players and bloggers – and today’s no exception to that rule.

During the month of may, a huge number of gaming bloggers led by Syp of Bio Break and Massively fame are getting together to encourage new writers to join the MMO blogging community. Their effort is called the Newbie Blogger Initiative

“Are you a fan of MMO blogs, read them voraciously, and even comment on them from time to time? Do you look at the glamorous life of bloggers and wistfully imagine what it might be like? Have you ever entertained the notion of starting a blog of your own, but for whatever reason you talked yourself out of it?

All of that above? That was me prior to 2008. That was Syp before he worked up the nerve to start a blog of his own. And if that’s you right now, we want it to change.

May 2012 will be a huge month in the blogosphere, because it’s the month of the Newbie Blogger Initiative — and you can be a big part of it! The goal of the NBI is simple: To get prospective writers to come out of the woodwork and try their hand at an MMO blog of their own. We all know how hard it is to get started, which is why over 60 MMO bloggers have banded together to give you a HUGE measure of encouragement, advice, and initial traffic. ”

This is a great idea, and we’ll be following it with a lot of interest. Much respect to the sponsors, much support to the new bloggers.

Anyone who starts a blog on the NBI will get added to the Melting Pot’s feedreader so that we can do our part, so – if you’ve been thinking of joining the blogging fold, this is the month to do it!

Are you sponsoring or joining in the New Blog Initiative?

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Dear Matty

This is a guest post whilst Hugh’s away on holiday.

Dear Matty,

Long time reader, first time writer, but hopefully not for long. I want to start a blog, but am really nervous about it. What if no one reads it, or worse, read it and troll me? I really love WoW, and think some of the other blogs out there are so cool. I am wondering how to get started, and if I should get started.

Signed,

Pixel-back Writer

Dear Pixel:

When I ask my cross-dressing rogue for the time, he will tell me the history of clocks. I will try not to do that in my response, but make no guarantees. I know you don’t have all day.

As we all know, the term ‘blog’ stands for web log, and it reminds me of a Captain’s Log (ah, Jean-Luc, steer my ship to safe harbor, sir…), a form of writing that is frequent, reflective, informative, and entertaining. Consider the ancient log of yore, used for charting courses, weather, navigating those rough seas that were so critical to survival for crew and cargo. When you have your own blog, first and foremost, you are the captain. It’s yours to steer as you wish.

There are three primary considerations when publishing a blog: Fear, Content, and Time.

Fear: First, get over it. Okay, I am sorry. Let me rephrase. Recognize that fear is a healthy thing, and now get over it. Our own inner dialogues are the most damning. And the thing is, you may hold the fear that if you start a blog no one will read it. You know what? You’re right. But you guarantee that no one will read it if you don’t write. And you may also be afraid that readers will think it’s awful. But I’ll address that in content.

Starting this one, I didn’t realize there were so many bloggers out there already firmly established as the rock stars of Azerothian fame and glory. And I am not being self-effacing when I say I will never be as charming and genuine as Tome, or out-spoken as O, creative as Vidyala or Cymre, rambunctious and sweet as Navi, or hysterically funny as Bear, as irreverent as I Like Bubbles, or as amazingly analytical and enriching as Cynwise or Ironyca, or the folks at Sacred Duty. And thank heavens for Psynister who saved a poor wretched noob like me with his guidelines. All one needs to do is look at blogrolls to have access to too many wonderful writers to list. But that is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. I love their styles, and their voices. I hope, on occasion, they like mine. That’s what makes writing so powerful and damn cool. No one else has your perspective, insight, humor, or story. No one.

Content: Consider establishing a creed, philosophy or mission statement. Give yourself boundaries, and then permission to break them. To quote one of my mentors and dear friends, “Rule 10: Anything goes.” My own boundaries include not trashing others, not exposing too much personal information (you’ll just have to take me at my word that I’m awesome), and try not to be negative. Now, I have failed at this, a few times. When I joined my former-former-former guild, I was told not to tell this one player in particular that I had a blog because he would tease me for my “woman feelings.” I have called folks out on their shenanigans on my blog. That goes under breaking rules. But sometimes…I remind myself of Rule 10 and put the verbal smack down. Again, as captain of my ship—if it sinks, I go down, too.

And speaking of “woman feelings,” we have covered a lot of ground on that issue. (Ironyca’s post is the superlative analysis on this in my opinion.) From what I have ascertained, blogs seem to be very gender-free or sexist-free zones. The blog authors I read run 5050 male/female, with many having co-authorship of equal gender representation. It’s a big table, and we’re all invited.

So, as far as content goes, set your purpose. Do you want to focus on a particular aspect of the game, or a multi-layer approach? Like trying to classify genres of music, sticking to one main topic is nearly impossible. But those are what Pages and Blogrolls are for. Go-go widgets!

If you want to draw readers to your blog, I’ll tell you what my mom told me: to have a friend, you have to be a friend. Comment on other’s blogs, show them that they inspire you, and over time the traffic will build. And again, consider your purpose(s): if you want monetary gain or high traffic, you can definitely pander and use key words that will gain a lot of traffic. Just make sure it’s the kind you want. The old adage “sex sells” is not accurate: it should be “sell sex.” (Oh, key word searches, how you entertain me. And scare me.)

Now, there’s this, too:

There are hundreds of books on writing, and publishing, grammar, and more websites devoted to these topics. Consider your audience and how you want it to be a reflection of who you are. Typos happen, even to the best of us, but remember the impression you want to make is to not have bad grammar or too many misspellings get in the way of your story. I know I sound like a crabby old ‘get off my grammar lawn’ lady, but do try to give your words some polish.

Many great bloggers have written about their approaches to writing, and it is all great advice—and that is just it: advice. Use their intelligent insights as a framework for your own approach. Are you going to be one of those who never looks back, which hits publish and runs? Are you going to be a careful worrier (like me, occasionally) who goes back to posts and revises them? Is there one thing you may do that will make your blog unique? Those things usually can’t be answered up-front, but your style evolves over time, trial and error. Be patient with yourself.

Speaking of time:

Time: I am not sure this has happened to anyone else, but sometimes, I think about what I write before I think about anything else, including bodily functions and shaved legs. I mean really, I get so focused on writing I don’t want to do anything else. To me, it can be more addictive than, (dare I say it?) time in Azeroth. In fact, this morning I had this post so much on my mind I forgot to put on mascara before I left for work. Dude. Seriously. Ultimately, I am compelled to write. I’d like to think I look good doing so, but not always. You may find, as I have, that balance between work, playing, and writing is not easy. And you end up with hairy legs.

So, good luck, Pixel. I want to hear what you have to say.

Matty

Big Bear Butt

Manalicious

Tome of the Ancient

Psynister

Bubbles of Mischief

I Like Bubbles

The Daily Frostwolf

The Story of O

Ironyca Stood in the Fire

Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual

Sacred Duty

And of course you should also check out Matty’s own Sugar And Blood for more community-centered WoW blogging!

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Guest Post: 3 Voices To Follow

This is a guest post whilst Hugh’s away on holiday

I’ve been gaming since my early teens, which means I’m approaching thirty years of pushing buttons on keyboards. This makes me somewhat of an ‘Old Timer’ compared with a lot of you young whippersnappers other gaming types… it also means reading about my interests is sometimes more important than actually playing them. I am constantly adding to my Blogroll, and although there are always people I come back to again and again, I have begun to actively seek out new people on a daily basis. All these individuals possess distinct and enjoyable voices, whose opinions I love to listen to and whose personalities have become as much a part of my gaming experience as the MMO’s themselves. I can’t list them all (or we’d be here for a week), but I have three of the best to share with you.

Enough gabbing, let’s get to it!

If you asked me to nominate my favourite Blogger, after a great deal of due care and deliberation I’d have to say that Ratshag wins hands down. Need More Rage is unlike any other Warcraft blog I read, and frankly long may this continue, because there needs to be more actual characters writing blogs than real people (what do you mean, you people aren’t real?) As a perfect example of his unique style, Rat has his own distinct take on the question doing the rounds of the Warcraft Lorefiends: ‘Does Garrosh deserve to die?’ When put like that, frankly, death means that Garrosh gets off lightly…

Then I have to tip my cap to The Grumpy Elf. He’s another utterly distinct voice, and one which (quite frankly) isn’t best pleased sometimes. I don’t blame him either, playing Warcraft can often be a mug’s game. However even when he’s living up to his moniker he has a lot of extremely intelligent and thought-provoking posts, and nothing is beyond his critical eye. Don’t be deceived by his long and detailed posts either, it really is worth taking the time to immerse yourself in these trains of thought. There’s always something that makes you think (well, there is for me) He got an invite in the post too: sadly, Gromit, it was The Wrong Beta :(

Finally I have to mention Decoding Dragons. I’ve stalked followed Pewter for a while, and would like to make sure her relaunched site gets as much exposure as possible. She was the person who introduced me to the term ‘Geek Feminism’ for which I doubt I will ever find the opportunity to properly thank her for. Her site is the absolute right mix of news, opinion and thought-provoking individuality. I’m glad people like Pewter are about because it means that people like me don’t need to feel uncomfortable being what we know we are. Posts like this one only serve to reinforce that this is a site to get immersed in, and that dares you to think.

There are tons more places I hang out in, and many, many people who make my online experience a constantly enjoyable one. If you’d like to know who else I read/follow, there’s a handy Blogroll link on my own homepage.

*This was a guest post from The Godmother, who blogs at ALT:ernative on the MoP beta and the trials of having many, many alts!**

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On Honesty and Bravery In Blogging

We have an interesting pair of posts today, somewhat off the direct topic of MMOs, but focussing very strongly on the blogosphere around them. Two well-respected bloggers – Oestrus of Stories of O, and Windsoar of Jaded Alt – have posted two independent pieces on related topics today: the topics of bravery and honesty in blogging.

Firstly, Windsoar talks about honesty, openness, and what she does and doesn’t share on her blog, inspired partially by a friend describing her as “too honest”

“When my friend told me I was too honest, I really thought about what honesty meant, for me personally, and as it affected others around me. I came to recognize (and still struggle with coming to grips) that what I consider honest is sometimes wrong. Honesty is only really valid in a contextual sense, and depends on a multitude of factors. While this hasn’t fundamentally changed my desire to be an honest person, it has somewhat tempered what I consider to be a direct result of being honest: my bluntness.”

Windsoar covers a number of interesting points here, from how she deals with people asking her for help and suggestions to the extent to which she shares personal details on her blog. I found her discussion of how she writes particularly interesting – like several other well-known bloggers, she doesn’t edit her work for content, preferring to, in her words, “write, then publish”.

Meanwhile, spurred partially by her award for bravery at the 2012 Piggie Awards, Oestrus writes about bravery in her blogging, and how she feels the blogosphere could use more brave writing

“Nobody is brave anymore. I think the community could use a shot of bravery or two. People often times misunderstand me and think that I enjoy conflict. I don’t. What I do enjoy are people who are honest and who are unafraid to share their opinions. I feel that we learn more that way, when we don’t have anything in common, or when we are coming at things from different a perspective than we do if we all start off feeling exactly the same way about something.”

It’s interesting how Oestrus echoes another call to arms for bloggers in the recent past, from Gnomeageddon, who was also calling for more controversy and more debate. Oestrus has a particularly good take and argument here, arguing for bravery as clarity and as supporting the minority, saying things that need to be said. She’s writing partially in support of Effraeti’s post on feminism, which we covered yesterday – and in support of bloggers who weather storms of opinion in general.

Frankly, on that point in particular I couldn’t agree more.

Do you think the blogosphere needs more bravery? Or more tempered honesty? Or both?

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The Community Writes – Short Stories From Many Of Your Favourite Bloggers

As any reader of this site will know, the WoW and MMORPG blogging community is home to some fantastic writers. And like many people, I suspect, I’ve often been interested to see how their writing would translate to non-MMO topics.

Well, today we’ve got a really cool roundup post for you. You see, the Big Bear Butt himself organised a little challenge a few days ago – a writing challenge, involving specific words that had to be worked into a story or post.

I’ve seen these a time or two before, and they’re always interesting, even if they only get a few responses. But this time –

This time absolutely everyone responded.

If you want to see short fiction from Rades, Vidyala, Gnomeageddon, the Bear Butt himself, Kelpsacovic, The Grumpy Elf, The Godmother, Tome of the Ancient, Gnomeageddon, Resto Is Epic and many, many more, read on.

  • Vidyala of Manalicious tells a story of a Draenai struggling with her new home in Unfamiliar Stars“She unconsciously scanned the night sky seeking one familiar star, and finding none. These were not the stars of her youth. The atmosphere of this adopted planet, new home to her people, lay far from their last home. She doubted they could find their way here a second time. “
  • Fulgaralis of Killing ’em Slowly hits us with some flash fiction“Okay. I can do this. Flash Fiction, 100 words or less. Go!”
  • Gnomeageddon tells his story with screenshots and gnomes in Defeat: A Short Story
  • Red Cow Rise tells us the story of an Azerothian publisher of steamy literature, in A Steamy Romance Novel“It was a well-known fact that in exchange for her commitment to friendly and personal business transactions, Boss Mida Silvertongue enjoyed a fierce loyalty and genuine affection from merchants and assistants alike. It was slightly less well-known that she had an enduring penchant for literature of an erotic nature.”
  • Tish Tosh Tesh gives us 7005 words by thinking laterally
  • Katarnas of Resto Is Epic tells us the story of a feral druid searching for her cub“Quieter this time and barely audible, the mew was coming from behind the rock fall. Kat pawed at the rubble and tried to break through.”
  • Toys of Azeroth conjures up a young warrior in training in The Meeting of Doh and Amitiella“He had two options at the moment. Complete the test or withdraw from warrior training altogether. He would never be able to bear the silent shame of his tribe if he quit. A tauren, after all, keeps his word without fail. “
  • Geeky Peach hits a new mark for minimalism by getting the entire challenge into a single sentence
  • Giltharak introduces the main character in his new blog as part of the challenge“Giltharak sighed at the view of the shiny coin still on the table. He placed another one next to it, rose to his feet and slowly walked to the door. Many times has he tried to appease the fear his presence instigated in the heart of others, but in vain”
  • The Anxious Gamer gives us a homesick troll in Northrend, in A Letter Home“Da nights here in Northrend be unbearable. I hope for warmth, in vain for da truth: this be a cold place. Ah, what I give for a juicy slab o boar, rare an tasty. “
  • The Ancient has a solid rant at her character in The Juicy Bear Burger Of Love“That’s enough; I don’t want to hear anymore. Okay Druid. I’m logging off. What you do on your own time with your own money with WHOEVER is your business.”
  • The Grumpy Elf joined in with an entertaining story of unrequited Gnomish love“I decided I would woo her, as any dead sexy gnome in goggles would of course, by putting the goggles on my head, getting on my knees and opening my eyes as big and wide as I could. I figure if she would just see me for a few minutes she would uncontrollably fall in love with it. “
  • Sugar And Blood’s entry is decidedly highbrow – A Tragedy In Three Acts“She had come of age. Theleste’s mother arranged, at no small cost, between her husband’s business associate and a matchmaker, an appointment for a suitor, a quite suitable suitor.”
  • Azerothian Vignettes gives us, yes, a vignette, of a Night Elf in prayer“She moves slowly and sensually, slender pale purple arms swaying rhythmically as she casts her spell, summoning a shaft of moonlight, the gift of Elune, purifying the area. “
  • Revive And Rejuvenate tells a touching tale of a Tauren parent in A Story For Sproutling – _“

    Leesah laughed as she swung him up over her head and down again. “No, silly, you already had num nums. It’s time for a bath and sleepy time.” She carried him back inside their home and out to the hidden alcove that served as a bathroom.”_

  • MMO Compendium responds to BBB’s challenge with a quest

  • Amateur Azerothian tells the story of a doomed warrior“I look over at my star knife. The weapon he made sure was the first thing taken upon my capture. There is no point even trying for it now, even if it would be to slit my own throat in the moment and deprive him the pleasure.”

  • Ironshields gives us a warrior taken in by overly-optimistic stories of gold“All the treasure he had found was trash. The coins were some kind of cheap soft grey metal. The plate was painted, rusted steel, and the pearls and ivory clearly poor wooden imitations. Worst of all the massive diamond was plainly a lump of common quartz.”

  • The Godmother of Alt:ernative gives us a weary warrior in a moment of peace“They would sit in the room above her father’s shop talking by candlelight, or by day beside the Canals whist she repaired the never-ending stream of Military clothing with skill and care.”

  • Zwingli gives us two contrasting pieces – A Dragon’s Night and A Dragon’s Knight

  • Martha of Martha.net responds to the challenge three ways – in script, in scribbles and in song.

  • Navimie of The Daily Frostwolf responds with a poem that might be titled The Blogger’s Lament“Maybe I should write about how I think a blog should be / That what you write’s like a shaft of light, so a reader, they can see / Some titbit goss, a piece of news, or perhaps what you are doing / And write what you think YOU should write, not what gets you more page viewing.”

  • Klepsacovic writes – well, I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but I’m pretty sure it’s very clever.

  • WoWMidas writes about a topic close to his heart in The Ballad Of The Auction Baron“A juicy flip our mogul found / An epic cheap, a mere eight thou’nd / He happily put it up for 5k more.”

  • Rades combines his writing challenge entry with speculation about Garrosh Hellscream’s future in The Point Of No Return“Of course, now Garrosh knew better. Theramore continued to stand not because of Thrall’s leniency, but because Jaina was a damned monster.”

  • BBB’s own submission muses on the struggle of writing, in Word Warriors“I hope to grasp the words that will give perfect shape to what I feel, to bring back a true name. I hope. I get what I get. I never know what I’ll get. Each time, it’s as much a mystery to me as to anyone else. “

  • Pugnacious Priest writes a story of a mutual misunderstanding between an alien and a barmaid“Zea watched the Alien negotiate the tables on his way towards her. The glass held poised at her mouth. Her eyes narrow slits. She was trying to project ‘ go away’ but it didn’t seem to be working.”

  • Kamalia of Kamalia Et Alia gives us a pictures-and-words story of adventuring Gnomes, in S.A.F.E. In Tinkertown“Eventually, I convinced myself that Broglie had probably been one of the 80% of all Gnomes who had perished immediately in the Disaster. Despite what my great-grandmother had said, I had no heart for attempting to rebuild my family’s usual business. “

  • Serenity Saz is rather channeling Indiana Jones in the twisty Temple of the Lost Star“A faint, eerie singing slowly crept its way to her ears. Blindly she withdrew her daggers as the little hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Forward she crept, stone crunching beneath her feet.”

  • DE The Tank joins the surprisingly popular poetry party with The Bosses Of Firelands In Seven Words“Oh Shannox, I hate thee, and how you stay hidden/ And when you come out, to play with me, with your dogs I am so smitten”

  • Imperial Intelligence joins the “mini-fiction” group with a 54-word entry.

  • And Effraeti dramatises some Worgen lore in The Secret Of The Scythe““Milord, pray forgive the late hour of this intrusion, but the wolf-men have returned!” Rinald, shouted, waking both the Lord and Lady from their slumber. “Even now, they ravage the village!””

And if all of those aren’t enough, check BBB’s wrapup post, where he highlights the other entries from writers who contributed even more in comments!

Thanks very much to everyone who took up BBB’s challenge – it’s been fantastic to read so many people doing something different and interesting. And, of course, a huge thanks to BBB for getting the ball rolling in the first place!

If you’ve read this far, please consider sharing this post on your blog or on social media, so even more people can enjoy this fantastic event!

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Gnomeageddon issues a call to arms for the blogosphere

Six!

If you’ve been around the blogosphere recently, that number alone will probably make you twitch. Either because you’ve been tagged for the super-long-running “Six” meme (I’ll get to it, I promise!) or just because it has taken over your feed reader over the last month like nothing else in recent memory.

Well, Gnomeageddon, the gnome who started it all, has been thinking about what’s next. And rather than a meme, he’s issuing a manifesto – a call to the entire MMORPG blogosphere to do something new, interesting, and challenging

“Does some other blogger inspire you? Have you found a secret little blog only known to the author and their keyboard treading cats? Let us know, let us join in the mutual admiration of others writing. Let us inspire then to write one more post.

Let’s face it, all of you that joined into the Sixth conversation now feel like writing one more post… admit it. People came back from months of hiatus purely to post a screenshot… bullshit, they were looking for an excuse, for inspiration, for the touch of love that can only be felt through link love.

The hugging can go on long way after the linkage of course… I found myself dropping Larísa a line last night… some links are never broken.”

Actually, this post is more like a series of manifestos than a single manifesto, all linked around the idea of making people aware of other blogs, linking to them, and forming a community.

It probably goes without saying that we’re pretty enthusiastic about that idea.

Some of Gnomeageddon’s suggestions are going to be pretty controversial – he advocates blog wars and disagreements at one point – but even with them he’s got a very good point, and he’s speaking from a position of experience. Often people are too conflict-averse, and it’s true that a disagreement makes interesting reading. And his other suggestions – hug your fellow bloggers, link out to other blog posts as much as possible – are things that we can all get behind!

(And on that subject – thanks for all the links to the Melting Pot over the last few days, everyone! It’s great whenever new people discover us and suddenly realise there’s an entire MMO blogging world out there, not just a few sites!)

I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this post. Gnomeageddon’s got a track record of Starting Things in the blogosphere – I wonder what will get started this time?

Go! Link to something cool in the blogosphere!

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In which leadership is scrutinised, friends are missed, and Johnnie proposes International Officers’ Day

Today’s Pot has been mixed and stirred by Johnnie, while Hugh is on a break.

All being well, Hugh will be back with you tomorrow. Being the Pot’s caretaker for a few days has really made me realise how much effort Hugh puts in to writing and maintenance. This isn’t as easy as it looks.

In fact, this isn’t the only time Hugh’s taken on a job that I wouldn’t be capable of doing long-term: he’s also my WoW guild leader. Guild leading has never been something I wanted to do. It’s a tricky, intensive, skilled and often thankless job … but one without which most of us wouldn’t be able to play the games we love. Over at World of Matticus Lodur has been sharing his thoughts about the highs and lows of being a raid leader.

Truthfully it wears on you over time. You have to make a lot of hard decisions that are not always easy, and certainly aren’t popular with everyone. … Working out ways to do what needs to be done, and convey that the decisions aren’t personal, that the raid group as a whole is a larger organism thriving on everyone in the group working to the same means. It’s hard sometimes. It’s frustrating, and borderline infuriating some nights. But, it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s the officers who bear an incredible amount of burden.

This post is worth reading, particularly if you’re not an officer or a raid leader: it’s often good to see how much thought and preparation goes into raid leading. For those of us who are perhaps guilty of occasionally taking our officers for granted, this is a good opportunity to see what it’s like on the other side of the officer’s channel. Perhaps we should designate an arbitrary ‘Officers’ Day’ – when we buy our raid leaders flowers, tell them how much we appreciate them, and make them breakfast in bed? Maybe not that last part. That very much depends on just how friendly your guild is.

Speaking of friends, Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered has been discovering just how much fun WoW really isn’t when you don’t know anyone on your server:

Someplace before the well of eternity. I zone in and immediately the group is gone, hopping around trash and lava. I tried to keep up and hoped for no surprises in the bosses. There were none. How… boring.

It was quite fitting when I got to the last boss and his death yell includes, “You know not what you have done,” and all I could think was “Yea, exactly.” I grabbed a couple healing items because there were no other paladins and got some new DPS gloves from the quest. I’m not sure if I’m annoyed more by the easy loot or by the way I ended up stumbling through an anonymous and rushed instance.

I certainly sympathise with Klep’s confusion over rushed instances. One of the first times I ran Well Of Eternity was (stupidly) in a PUG rather than a guild group. We rushed through that thing like we’d left the oven on, and I was left utterly baffled at the end. Being able to peruse the content at your own pace is much nicer. MMOs, just like the MMO blogosphere, are at their best when they’re friendly, sociable, and mutually encouraging … on which note, I’ve just got time to squeeze in a quick shoutout to Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket who appears to have given birth to the Most L33t Baby Evar. Seriously, how cool is that t-shirt? Congratulations, Keeva!

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In which costumes are admired, digital items take up mental space, and Johnnie buys a pretty dress

Hugh is still on a break, touring exotic foreign cities and eating fancy food, so Johnnie is stirring the Pot once again.

Despite the fact that I’m a huge Tolkien geek, I’ve only ever really paddled around in the shallow end of Lord of the Rings Online. Recently, though, I’ve been playing a lot more, and I’m starting to get attached to my characters. One of the things I love about LOTRO is the costume system, which allows you to display one item whilst retaining the stats for another (similar to WoW’s transmogrification system, but better). The cosmetic appearance of my MMO characters is very important to me – it was only last week that I uttered the now-legendary phrase “Ooh! I can buy a pretty dress! I love this game!”, which caused Hugh and Rebecca no end of amusement – but I’m obviously not the only one. There are a lot of LOTRO blogs out there dedicated solely to cosmetic outfit design, and the best of them are really very good indeed. Take a look at LOTRO Savvy’s recent Scarlet Soldier design, for example. Absolutely top notch stuff.

The LOTRO Stylist has gone even further, and is actively redesigning her wardrobe during a raid :

As my Kin progressed through the different wings in Orthanc I often felt like my Rune-Keeper was not dressed appropriately. I usually switched between her casual dress outfit and her Draigoch armour. I personally don’t care too much for most of the Draigoch armour, especially the big emblems on the chest pieces. For Saruman, though, I finally put together a worthy battle ready outfit.

It might seem strange to attach so much importance to what is, after all, just a collection of pixels. For those of us who play MMOs and love our characters, though, it’s perfectly understandable. Perhaps Cynwise’s latest post goes some way to explaining why. Cyn’s trying to clean up some ‘digital detritus’, and has found some things harder to discard than they should be:

Characters weigh on my mind. Leveling characters, especially, but character in general. They take up mental space. They have … presence, even when they’re not doing things. I like having them around, I like having them available, I like trying out new things, but …

Digital things can take up space.

The Reluctant Raider certainly agrees with that assessment. She’s recently made the transition to a new server – a process which was surprisingly traumatic. Cynwise’s post hit home :

So. Now I’m in a new place, with new people. I’m hopeful and I’m generally happy. I miss people but that is normal. There will be new people. I need to remind myself that I don’t have a set number of people I can be friends with. I can be friends with more. It’s not like Blizz’s ignore list. I can befriend more then 50 people!

I spent some time reading Cynwise’s lastest post. And I loved it. This is exactly it. Cynwise GETS it. … My brain is filled with my characters. Each of them are unique and I feel different when I play them. My druid is the most comfortable but if I’m feeling sassy, I log my priest on. Who I’m playing says a lot about my mental space. It is like a canary in a mine. You can look at it and be ‘ah, she’s feeling alone or sad or anxious or happy or sexy’. I love that.

How do you identify with your characters? Do you have a particular item you just can’t bear to get rid of? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Valor Point Capping Makes The World Explode

Wow. Or indeed WoW. The argument about Valor Point capping has really kicked off in the blogosphere – and rightly so, because it’s an interesting topic.

Here’s a round-up of some of the key posts that have hit the blogs:

  • Killed In A Smiling Accident is getting his allegories on: “If each guild represents its own “nation,” then we’re discussing the virtues of having a state mandated religion. Namely, forcing a particular playstyle, a certain subscription, upon your guild members. “ (Also, +1 for the point about spending time on learning and tactics)
  • Looking 4 More is firmly on the side of less tightly-structured play: “I wonder, people who schedule their WoW time and run heroics for VP on a tight schedule, do you get annoyed with me when I have to afk for two minutes to change the toddler’s diaper?”
  • Stories of O feels people who say they don’t have time to Valor Cap are usually just inefficient: “I’m not really sure what runs people are doing that are so time consuming, but I work 50 hours a week, raid two days a week, maintain a social life, an active sex life, a family life, a blog, a podcast, and I still find time to be Valor Point capped each week.”
  • The honourable gentlemurloc (seriously, I love that tagline) from Murloc Parliament is pacing herself for a marathon, not a sprint: “No huge gaming sessions right after a patch release, but no totally slacking off a few weeks in, since I will still be needing stuff. “
  • Priest With A Cause warns of the dangers of Point Madness: “You don’t want to go crazy grinding them because you’ll burn yourself out, you’re putting yourself at an exceptionally high risk of getting grouped with rude and stupid puggers right now, and also… have you thought about 4.3 yet? There have been no news about that patch yet, but I reckon that it’s going to be at least another six months away.”

    • And Raging Monkeys believes that outcome is what counts: “Please, do me a favour: go see for yourself. Whatever someone else is telling you, take it with a pinch of salt. Do your best, but don’t let yourself be fooled or intimidated by talk and so-called guidelines.”
    Phew.

It’s an interesting debate, and highlights a common theme in the blogosphere – if you really want to get a lot of people arguing, suggest that they have to do something specific in their game time. (Tobold provoked a similar debate a while ago by suggesting that all tank-capable classes have a duty to tank in PUGs).

What do you think about the entire kerfuffle? Are you on the “screw that, this is a game” side or the “if you didn’t cap you’re letting your guild down” side? And have we missed any great posts?

All quotes taken directly from the relevant blog post

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