Transmutation

Trolls of Thunder

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Yesterday went pretty much as I had intended it.  I hung out around the house and ran first my Paladin and then my Shaman through a bunch of LFR.  Things went a bit slower than intended since I kept getting in on the end of a run and having to queue again to catch the first boss or two.  I managed to get both characters up into the 480ish range.  Still no real luck with the weapon drops, which seem to be the issue with catching characters up enough to be able to do Siege of Orgrimmar.  As a result my warrior, paladin and shaman are all using 450 level weapons still, and I have not really had much luck with getting spirits of harmony on the smith to be able to bump those up to 463.

Of the options I have at my disposal for weapons, none of them really seem palatable.  I could queue for heroic dungeons and have a random chance of getting the dungeon that drops a weapon… and a random chance on top of that of getting the weapon to drop.  This would only take me to 463, so not really great in the grand scheme of things.  I could farm timeless isle coins, but it takes 10,000-20,000 to be able to purchase a weapon…  and in those cases the weapon is only 476 which really doesn’t help that much.  So the best option still seems to be to queue for Throne of Thunder each week and hope, all the while trying to accumulate Spirits of Harmony for the smith.

Transmutation

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With all of my crafters going, I have really felt the lack of my alchemist.  There are some pretty sweet items you can make as a blacksmith that are 502 ilvl but they require lots and lots of Living Steel.  Once again the only way to get living steel is to get it transmuted by an alchemist.  As a result I have been directing my extra effort towards leveling Gloam my rogue high enough to be able to raise his way through the Pandaria alchemy.  Currently he is capped out at 450 and cannot progress again until I level 75.  As a result I have been working on quests out in Borean Tundra and I almost have him up to 72.  Thinking about just making a serious push to try and get him to 90.

Rogues are way squishier than I remember, and while they have recuperate it doesn’t seem to offer the level of survival I am used to with my other characters.  As a result leveling the rogue has been less than enjoyable.  I am not really a stealthy person, and I have always played my rogues more like a swashbuckler than an assassin.  However the only time combat goes really smoothly is if I make sure I stealth up and get my opening attack.  Hopefully with time I will get back into the swing of playing one, as in the past… burning crusade especially my rogue was my favorite alt.

The thing I find most humorous is that Paladins now kinda play like rogues.  I have been doing a lot of Retribution paladin, and the mechanics are almost exactly like a rogue.  Thing is in many ways it works better.  Instead of everything being based on 5 combo points, all of the attacks seem to be based on 3 even though your bar can fill to 5.  I keep thinking that rogues as a whole would benefit if most of the combo point dumpers capped at 3 as well.  I think this is why I enjoyed my warrior in rift so much as opposed to my rogue.  The three mechanic just seemed to work better, it made the game play feel more “in the moment”.

Too Many Choices

Right now I feel absolutely deluged with choices anytime I play the game.  At this point i have yet to run Siege of Orgrimmar LFR on Belgrave or Belgarou my two best geared characters.  I am 4 coins away from getting all of my sigils of power and wisdom, so I would not mind finishing that off so I can continue down the legendary cloak line.   I have not even begun to work on Belghast, so in theory I could get his gear in order and start doing heart of fear or something like that to get him high enough to queue for Throne of Thunder.  Additionally I really do want to get my rogue up so I can have a transmute spec person again.  I spent a good amount of last night prior to our 10 man catching his herbalism up so he can now at least harvest whatever I come across in northrend.

In the past when I have quit the game I feel like it has been because I lost sight of the things I wanted to complete.  I feel like I almost need to create a World of Warcraft Bucket List.  There are so many little things that I forget about that I do want to complete.  There are so many pets and mounts that I could be spending my time farming.  The entirety of all of this is really almost overwhelming.  I have never completely loremaster for example, and that’s a thing I have always wanted to do.  I doubt I will ever work on the Insane title like Rylacus, but I am sure there are hundred of other little bullet points that I would actually enjoy.  I feel as though if I had a list of these all, it would be much harder for me to lose sight of the progress I am making towards the total.

As a result I think I am going to add a new section to my site, similar to my beta list for my WoW Bucket list.  As I think of more items I will add them to the list and then as I complete them…  I will check them off the list.  Probably will keep it as a google spreadsheet for ease of use.  I’ve seen a few other players with these and I thought they were pretty cool.  All I know for certain is that I am having a blast with all the players that seem to be back from their own hiatus.  It is wierd to see my battletag/realid lighting up with players I have not seen in years.  At the end of the day, this game really is about the people you play it with.

Hot Coffee and LFR

Snowed In

Good morning everyone, hopefully you are staying warm out there.  Here in the central part of the country we had a mass of ice and snow dropped on us.  Generally my point of reference is when two school districts on opposite corners of town call schools the next day, I decide I am going to stay home.  Since this happened I put in a day of vacation for today and slept in.  Apparently my absence was noticed, since I have already received tweets saying that a snowstorm was no excuse for not posting.

I think we probably got an inch or two of ice last night and then over night that got covered up by three to four inches of snow.  Which to the northerners probably doesn’t sound like much, but here in Oklahoma we get glaze ice that is nearly impossible to drive on.  Additionally we really do not have the infrastructure to remove large volumes of ice and snow…  since we only go through this at most once a year.  Over the last three years we have had really mild winters that never really produced much in the way of an ice storm.  While this is nothing like the 2007 or 2011 storms, it is far more significant than anything we have seen in years.

Hot Coffee and LFR

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As a result I am snuggled up on the sofa with my fuzzy pants and my fuzzy blanket and a thermal shirt blogging away on my laptop.  I just finished off hot oatmeal and some hot coffee, and the only thing of any substance I really have planned today is to play some World of Warcraft.  I have five 90s in various states of gear and the easiest way to get upgrades for them is through the LFR system.  As much as I have railed against pugging in the past, something odd happens if I pug as DPS.  I simply stop caring much about the success or failure of the group.  As a DPS I can compartmentalize things and focus only on what I am doing and stop caring that the group is burning down around my shoulders.

As a Tank or a Healer… I simply cannot do this.  I have to care about the group and how stupid they might be acting.  My job relies on them doing their jobs.  When playing one of those group roles I simply cannot stomach pugging or lfr, it ends up stressing me out way too much.  However apparently as a DPS I have the patience of a saint.  I keep plugging forward towards the goal and right click reporting anyone who is too abusive.  It all seems simple and pure, and in an odd sense relaxing.  It’s like I have reached into my brain and flipping me into DPS empties me of “fucks to give”.  That is not to say that I don’t care about me keeping up my end of the bargain, but I simply don’t care as much about others not doing so.

So my intent today is to run as many LFR instances as I can this week to try and get my tribe of alts gear.  The hardest thing seems to be weapons, and as a nice side benefit from these runs my blacksmith seems to be getting quite a few motes which will help him upgrade the weapons of those who have not gotten their turn at the LFR treadmill.  That is still one of my biggest frustrations that I hope they will address in WoD.  Crafting resources like Spirits of Harmory should be bind on account.  I like the feeling of all of my characters working towards a bigger goal, its like I have my own little imaginary guild.  Anything that adds to this feeling is a positive for me, since you have earned the item on one character already.

Trove Patch

I am sure at some point today I will be hopping into trove.  Yesterday they seem to have had another patch.  I am really impressed at the speed at which they do updates.  This one seems to be mostly a patch full of tweaks but one of the more interesting points is that the block destroyer is no longer an item and no longer works in adventure mode.  This could have some odd ramifications since I know I used it in adventure mode quite a lot.  Another needed note is that they reduced the quantity of treasure chest spawns in the desert and frost biomes.  Normally nerfs like this meet a groan, but this one was really needed.  There were times I could see 6 treasure chests on screen at a single time. 

I wasted so much time chasing these down because seriously…  you cannot bypass a treasure chest.  I figure at some point over the next few days I will be making a new video as I am sure the server has reset again and I will have to collect more weapons and gear.  If there is anything you would like to see me cover let me know.  I am not above having a purpose for my videos even though they are mostly just me roaming aimlessly around the wasteland.  I hope you all are safe and happy and warm, and that if you did get the snow and ice I did, you also had the presence of mind to take a vacation day.

Trove Crafting

First Winter

One of the things about weight loss that no one really told me is the fact that I would go from being very hot natured, to freezing all of the time.  This is the first winter after losing roughly seventy pounds so far, and I have to say it is a pretty miserable thing.  I am absolutely living in this Carhart black zip up hoodie.  I pretty much wear it over everything, because it keeps me at least somewhat warm.   I keep hoping that eventually my internal body temperature will regulate and I will get used to having less insulation.  It is essentially the same feeling as you have when you have just gotten a long overdue hair cut… but instead of my head being cold it is my entire body.

I am not complaining, the weight loss has had many other tangible benefits.  However as “snowmageddon” barrels down on my area I find myself shivering quite a bit.  We are supposed to get all manner of icy nastiness dumped on us around noon.  I am hoping that either it gets delayed long enough for me to get home tonight, or that it is not nearly as severe as they are expecting.  I am not really looking forward my normally fifteen minute commute turning into an hour and a half as everyone suddenly forgets how to drive.  At least my coffee helps warm me up.

Trove Crafting

 

Released another Trove video yesterday, this time covering the brand new crafting system patch.  I have to say I am impressed with the game so far.  The biggest thing for me was the addition of the ability to craft health potions.  This has enabled me to make some really bad decisions and survive.  I think over the course of the evening last night I much have gone through 30-40.  Each time I saw a bottle plant I made a beeline for it just so I could make some more.  Right now everything tends to drop monster parts, which I am guessing is a generic placeholder material that will eventually be updated to be various specific things.  Currently a Health Potion is 1 bottle from a bottle plant and 1 monster part, which makes them extremely easy to craft.

Similarly they have made bombs extremely costly to craft, and as a result the world is not nearly as marred with bomb holes.  I don’t even make them anymore, because really I don’t find them that useful even in combat with monsters.  In the video I could not figure out for the life of me why I was unable to make bombs… but then upon re-watching it I face-palmed over the fact that I simply could not count.  I want to say I was missing fire flower parts, or something like that.  The crafting system is actually really efficient so far, and I like it overall quite a bit more than I did the Minecraft one..  especially when it comes to bulk crafting.

Acheesements

2013-12-05 06_18_20-Achievements - Community - World of Warcraft

Since today is ending up a bit of a mixed bag update post, I figured I would also talk a bit about what I am doing over in World of Warcraft.  A group of friends and I have been knocking out the various achievements needed for Glory of the Pandaria Hero.  I am within a stones throw now of completing it, but at the same time we are catching up a player that has next to none of them.  What is going to be most time consuming I fear is finishing off Polyformic Acid Science.  Right now I think I have 3 of the 6 kills.  However I just found out that you can go into normal mode, solo the instance, get the vial and then hold onto it to give you double the amount of time to get through all the mobs for the achievement.

Past that I am working on farming Motes of Harmony on my Paladin to make weapon upgrades for my various characters.  That is the glaring flaw I have seen so far with the timeless isle.  You get really nice gear to catch you up, but it lacks anything even remotely similar for weapons.  The weapons you can buy off the timeless isle vendors are only ilvl 476, which are the same as the epic weapons that drop from the early heroic instances.  I feel like what we are missing are the Icecrown 5 mans.  They were a really good way during Wrath of the Lich King to help catch alts up, and the weapons there were viable enough to raid with, at least until you can get something better.  As a result I have several 90s with full timeless gear, but walking around with a 450 blue weapon simply because there is no really effective way to improve that.

I am not looking forward to working through the halfhill farm again, but I am thinking that might be something I just need to bite the bullet and do on my characters that seem to be mote starved.  At least that way you get roughly one spirit of harmony a day guaranteed.  I really wish blizzard would apply a patch and make Spirits bind on account.  On Belgrave for example, I have 5 stacks of them in the bank… because there really is very little you can use them on as an inscriptionist.  However every other crafter is starving for them, and ends up spending them on something the moment they get more.  I hope in general as we go forward into Warlords of Draenor that more things become bind on account.  I feel like the ability to trade items freely between characters can only be a net positive.  The more alts someone rolls, the more time they spend playing the game…  which in generally makes them less likely to unsubscribe and go elsewhere.

Trove Feature Suggestions

Contest Complete

 

Over the holiday weekend I schemed up a contest as a way of getting rid of my spare Trove Closed Alpha key.  The basic idea was for folks to post in the youtube comments a feature they would like to see added to the game.  While I was not absolutely flooded with responses, I did get quite a few of them.  Of them quite a number of them were really insightful.  As I said during the contest I would be collecting all of the results and compiling them in a single post.  Since the contest ended late last night, here goes nothing.  I am leaving the content of the comments completely unedited.

Trove Feature Suggestions

 

XHeavenZX22

I would like to see pvp/duels

Zyckou

My thoughts will focus towards the combat system, even if I wanted a lot of things.  I think that Trion should make the combat system more dynamic.  Now, battles are way too soft and boring to be enjoyed.  If, as the developers said, they focus on exploration, the combat system is the core of the game and they should make it great and complete.  Imo they should AT LEAST:  – add the base of MMORPG battle:  physical and magical damage (and reduction), status effects (poison, stun, immobilize, knockback, etc…);  – add a dodge mechanism, this way you greatly improve the dynamism, and you can also for example allow bosses to have greater skills that you have to dodge;  – we should known the monster level we encountered, it seems pretty obvious but it not the case today.  – add different classes.  I think I’m not the only one to hope for this one, I think everybody want to play in various ways, for example to play a ranged character.  They should allow to customize the way we play our class, maybe with a classic tree builder system.  I also think that the M2 skill should be bind to the equipped weapon, and the other skills linked to your class, but these changes are not as important as the above ones.  Hope to test this soon to give you a more in-depth throught of the game.

Miz Ick

I think it would be cool if you could link cornerstones with friends, and they would become neighbours or something. Also, cornerstone options where you can adjust who can and cannot build/manipulate terrain in your cornerstone. I would like to see easy party systems to keep track of the friends you’re playing with. 
It would be really cool if they made content that needed a group to complete, AND had class/party dynamics similar to the trinity (traditional mmo) combat. What I’m trying to say is unique classes that work well together with other classes. 
I could spend all night thinking up fun stuff, lol . Good luck all! 
edit: I would love to see a pvp realm, where when you step out of "friendly territory" you go into pvp mode.. mua hahahahaahaa

Guitarstroke

I think player created instances would be cool. Kind of like being a DM, you could create a world for others to play and share

Vellauno

I would love for the cornerstones (private piece of land you bring with you from world to world) could be turned into massive vehicles like boats, ships, flying castles and/or moving fortresses.

Game By Night

Awesome video and thanks for the offer, Bel! There are two things I would like to see. First, is some kind of whimsical story with charming voice over ala LittleBigPlanet and Stephen Fry. The game’s art style just oozes charm and begs for good narration. Second is some equivent of Minecraft’s redstone. Building is great but could you imagine an MMO with player-built trollies and rollercoasters?!

Aymeric Bruzzo

Hello, Nice video :D; I’d like to see some building block ( that we can craft maybe?) that can float in the air and move back and forth, and maybe some that breath fire, for maze/ obstacle race etc :D

Lorenzokwant Kwant

I like having a key like all the another people who want a key to but my ideas are adding new weapons like a bow and a axe and  my another ideas is for blocks doors and signs so people can create a home where nobody can walk in because it have a door what only the owner of it can open and a sign is for tips or warnings (example) like you walk to a dungeon and there is a sign says danger across fearless

Jack Buxley

I’d love to see the game adapt more toward the play style of traditional ‘grinders’ and ‘builders’, to compliment the adventure aspect already implemented.
These changes wouldn’t need to be supremely vast, but small additions in all branches add tones to the longevity of the game. There could be simple additions such as rare minerals which spawn underground (and don’t alter those who don’t want to mine) to a crafting system for furniture and other miscellaneous items.
Looking forward to seeing more!

Bridget TruLove

I’d like to see unicorns. Or maybe just ponies. No wait, bro-nies!  Unicorn bro-nies.
Seriously, though, thanks for vid, Bel!  (And mail me that code ASAP. ;p
~GeekSprinkles

Nick Hoff

Dang, after reading through all the comments here, all the good ideas are gone! XD
I’d love to see customizable pets in the future. I think it would be really cool if you would have to sort of rescue them from dungeons and then they would be your partner. I live this sort of aspect most from Kotor, even though they are frok different genres.
I would like the key because I want to be a part of this game in early development but I can’t buy it as my financial situation sits, and I don’t have the time to sit around the subreddit all day hoping for a key.
Thanks, and good luck to all! :D

TheMagicRobot

Mounts, minions, guilds, custom capes, and crafting recipes out the wazoo!

Daniel Brown

This game looks awesome, and I’d love a key for the alpha!
My suggestion would be leaderboards/rating/voting on the structures and buildings. There could be different categories of awards; Aesthetically, decorative etc. leaderboards would work the same, you’d get a global and a local category here. The people with the number 1 position could get special rewards in their account to redeem?

Magneticsyndrome

Hey man, awesome idea with the random number generator!
I have to say, I’d love to see a lot of features.  One I was really hoping for is falling blocks, like if you destroy the bast of a tree, it falls down, I feel that really changes the perspective of the game.
I’d also love to see some flying type of item/class, like jet boots or a jet back, with some kind of a short burst of flight. 
I also want to see some really big world bosses, ones you’d need a few people to take down! That really appeals to me, I’d absolutely love something like that. 
Thanks for the added chance for this man, I really appreciate it! I’ve been having horrible luck with all the current contest, and I’ve been so close. Hope I’m lucky! haha

Kwongger

I really want to see some Town/City/Faction features. (MC I know, but I think that the devs could put a twist on it ;)   
I’d also LOVE to see a party/group system (with Private Text/Voice chat of course).  I think It would add to the community part of the game 😀
I REALLY want to WIN!     GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

TheTrueLasec

Awesome vid man! i already love the game but i guess i would like to see a rework on how the ingame avatar looks? his face looks so long. Another thing is mass quests, like a main story line different to each server or world, and then multiple quests creating a side story line like in various RPG’s! I really want this game too cuz i wanna make some vids on this too, it looks sick!

Josh Geoff

I think that having pets that follow you around would be cool.  I would also like being able to customize your weapons (such as color, name, designs). since i have not played the game i can’t know what is in it. but i would have many more things to say then too. I have liked and subscribed, so i’m all good, see ya’!

Grayson Soldahl

I would love to see programmable minions! That way you can build kingdoms like in adventure time. By programmable minions I mean npcs that you can create and determine a function for them such as crafting, building, security, etc. It would add a whole new way to play the game!

Michael McGlade

I’d very much like to see this game done right and one of the biggest gripes I seem to always have about online multiplayer games is the poor implementation of the chat and community features in game.
I’d very much like to see guilds/clans be a keystone of this game. Getting together to do massive dungeon raids, large scale boss fights, or even attack opposing guilds. It would help drive a real, true sense of community as players strike bonds with allies and clash swords with foes.
As far as the chat interface goes, I think World of Warcraft did it best. Have three separate tabs on the chat box; Chat, Loot, and Combat with the ability to create additional tabs and modify existing ones. Without this, servers would be filled with players talking over one another while messages pertaining to obtained items or money and critical strikes against monsters flood the chat logs even further.

Paul Zelano

crafting would be a great idea.  A talent tree of some sort would also bring it closer to the MMO side of things.  Its hard to really say what I would want, I mean its already a cross between two types of game genres (MMO and Building game) right now and that seems to be pretty good from my point of view.

Drumroll Please

2013-12-04 06_27_07-RANDOM.ORG - True Random Number ServiceFor the sake of fairness I created a Google doc that you can see here, and dumped everyone’s names into the list.  All in total we had 20 contestants.  I then went to Random.org a free random number generator and put the range in as 1 to 20.  I hit the generate button and the results ended up picking 10.  You can check out the screenprint of the results right justified in this paragraph block.  If you refer to the list that means that our winner is Bridget TruLove aka GeekSprinkles.

I want to thank everyone who commented greatly for their results.  I will be cross posting this over on the Trove Reddit so hopefully the Trion folk will benefit from your work.  Additionally it would be really amazing to do something like this again in the future.  So maybe just maybe they can throw me a few more keys over the months of alpha to do other contests.  I have a few ideas that might be interesting.  Basically I want the end result of any contests to benefit the community as a whole.  Additionally let me know what you think.  Was this a useful idea, or do you think I should have changed the prompt slightly?  I will be contacting Bridget TruLove to pass out her key, I doubt in any circumstance she will not accept it, but if she for whatever reason does not… I will be doing another roll off against the list I posted.

Quintessential Quintet

Farewell to Arts

 

I did another really quick video yesterday since we are supposed to have an impending server reset.  In the holiday weekend since the last restart folks have filled the server with all sorts of nifty stuff.  So I thought I would do a really quick video showcasing some of the cooler things.  The highlight for me is the alligator.  I am wondering who built it, because seriously it was perfect.  The server has essentially exploded with pixel art everywhere, some of it seeming to be freehand which is pretty amazing.  While this is all interesting I am hoping soon we get a bit more substance.

It was rumored that we would be seeing a new patch today or tomorrow and in it I am really hoping they introduce two things.  Firstly I want to see the crafting system and all the nifty things it can produce.  This is likely going to be a massive thing because this also means they will likely change they way the blocks work so that we actually harvest them instead of just destroying them.  Currently the game works a lot like Minecraft creative mode, where you have pretty much unlimited resources to place at your disposal.  While this is cool for free range building, the game however right now is lacking a “game”.  Wandering around and exploring, engaging in combat is fun but I feel like we need something to give us a sense of purpose.

The second thing I want badly is the cornerstone concept, aka your plot of lands that persists to each server you play on, and that no one else can disrupt.  Part of why I have not built much of anything yet is the fact that we still have way too many mad bombers on the server all to willing to destroy your hard work.  In fact I railed on Shawn Shuster of Massively a bit in the video as in his walkthrough that was posted yesterday… he was all too happy to blow up other peoples creations. 

There have already been some pretty epic works of art destroyed by some idiot who would not suppress their inner poo flinging monkey long enough to appreciate what had been created.  While I realize this is a side effect of having a game with no rules yet, it still depresses me to see the world as Swiss cheese.  I am sure once the new patch has gone life I will do another quick video showing off what it added.  So stay tuned to my channel and I will post something up there as soon as it is available.

Quintessential Quintet

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Also last night I managed to push my paladin Exeter to 90 and with it came an achievement that I was not expecting.  Apparently Quintessential Quintet is a thing?  I cut an odd path on this one, by the time I left Jade Forest I was already 87 thanks to all the mining nodes.  From there I made a beeline for Kun Lai, and critpathed my way through the zone until I reached the quest chain that lead to Townlong.  Similarly in Townlong I quested my way through the Shadopan chain until I reached the jumping point for Dread Wastes.  All of which was to set myself up perfectly to be able to start working on Klaxxi quests as quickly as possible.

Why you might ask?  This is my blacksmith, and all the nifty things you can create seem to be on the Klaxxi vendor.  Namely I wanted to be able to start creating masterwork weapons for all my other characters as I get them to 90.  That seems to be the big weakness as it comes to the Timeless Isle content.  You can gear your alts up with 496 extremely rapidly, but you have a few glaring holes…  namely your weapons.  Also I seem to have a much harder time getting Curios for trinkets, and the neck/ring slots to drop on the Timeless Isle.  So as a result I have ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to remediate their gear just so I can be able to queue for something.

Timeless Isle is nifty, but I really miss the equivalent of the Icecrown 5 mans.  I wish there were heroics that I could run that actually provided something viable for filling out a set of gear.  I feel as though they should really have put in a new 5 man that dropped 496 weapons to go with all the gear they are handing out like candy.  Even with epics…  a crappy weapon is still a crappy weapon.  Right now my paladin for example is using the treasures of pandaria BOA one handed sword that you find on the ground.  Which is better than anything he has gotten yet, but at least being able to create the masterwork hammer will be something slightly better.  I think those are 463 ilvl which is essentially what the heroic gear is.

What Next?

WoW-64 2013-12-03 06-39-31-95

I have to say getting Exeter to 90 was a pretty cool thing.  He technically was the very first character I created, and my intended main.  For years my internet handle was “Exeter” and quite honestly “Belghast” was my main over in DAoC, and it was not until late in Vanilla that I started to play that character as a main.  All the while through vanilla my main was Lodin the hunter, and it was an almost accidental occurrence.  I had a death in the family that pulled me away from Warcraft a few weeks after the release of the game.  As a result I got rapidly outpaced by the rest of the guild, and back then soloing a Paladin was a truly painful experience.

Hunters were the gods of soloing, so I started leveling Lodin just to be able to keep up with my friends.  Within a very short amount of time I had caught up, and when we hit 60… I got drafted into the raid group of a guild member as they wanted to replace a troublesome hunter.  I had no intent to actually play a hunter as my main, and in truth I am not terribly suited for the class… but I did for almost all of Vanilla because it was my “Raid main”.  Once you start playing a character in a raid group you are pretty much committed to always play that character until they no longer need it.  The positive effect however is that I met so many life long friends through raiding, and that the Late Night Raiders hunters were all such amazing people.

As soon as Burning Crusade was released, I saw this as my opportunity to leapfrog Lodin in gear and start playing Belghast as my main.  That is the awesome thing about expansions, the gear reset lets you change your focus.  From that point until the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King, I was a warrior main tank.  It was not until I needed a break from the hot seat that I switched focus to the Deathknight and fell in love with it.  All of this time I felt horrible for leaving Lodin abandoned in the dustbin.  It was not until Cataclysm that I actually managed to level him out of the outlands.  During one of my last sessions playing I pushed him up to Pandaria levels, so I feel as though it is probably his time to shine again.  I pretty much permanently run around in Giantstalker transmog in honor of the fun times I had with him raiding during those early days of Vanilla WoW.

A Guild Divided

Nostalgia Won

Wow-64 2013-12-02 06-07-51-21

If I remember correctly the last time I wrote a real post before my Nano recess, I was talking about the upwelling of nostalgia brought on by playing Hearthstone.  I fought valiantly to resist but before long  I was staring at the account section of the battle.net page and renewing my subscription.  I had put this off because really I assumed this decision would end in tears.  The odd thing is so far it has not.  I have been enjoying the hell out of playing, and have even resumed raiding a bit.  I don’t want to jinx it by saying I am back, but so far it feels like at least a possibility.

One of the awesome things about coming back at the tail end of the expansion is that Blizzard tends to give players many different ways to catch up gear wise.  I have spent a ton of time out on the Timeless Isle and have been collecting sets of level 90 heirloom gear for each of my alts I intend to level.  Since coming back I have caught my Deathknight Main Belgrave and Druid Belgarou up a bit in gear, leveled my Shaman Tallow and Warrior Belghast to 90, and am within a stones throw of 90 on my paladin Exeter.  There is part of me that wants to push as many toons to 90 as I can before the release of Warlords of Draenor.

I have to say despite all of the negativity flowing around it, I am really looking forward to the expansion.  They said during Blizzcon that the majority of the content would work more like Timeless Isle, and that was pretty much music to my ears.  I love the way the content on the isle works, and I can spend hours both there and on the Isle of Giants tearing about the mobs with Belgrave.  I think my happy medium is a mix of quests to give me purpose, and then found objectives along the way to force me to stop and smell the roses.  If they can strike a balance, I think the content will be just about perfect for me.  Not to mention that Garrisons sound amazingly fun, like a mix between player housing and the crew skill system in SWTOR.

A Guild Divided

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At the beginning of Cataclysm I got a serious case of wanderlust.  I would like to think it was because Rift was so amazing, but in reality I think I just needed a break from WoW.  At that point I had played it for almost eight years straight without significant pause.  But the sad thing is, that while I played it for seven years, I have yet to play a single game since for more than seven months.  When I wandered off so did a lot of other guild members who were feeling a similar drag on their time.  The untold story however is the fact that the vast majority of the guild stayed in World of Warcraft and in spite of my recruitment to other ventures… seemingly thrived.  In fact I would say that right now Stalwart WoW was experiencing a bit of a renaissance with folks coming back that have long been dormant.

You can say this is the “Blizzcon Bump” but it seems a bit different for some reason.  On my server Argent Dawn, I am seeing people showing up on my friends list that had disappeared years before I left the game.  Even seeing familiar names popping into channels that out of nostalgia I am still joining.  As much as I wanted to deny the fact, World of Warcraft is still thriving at least in pockets of players that have kept the embers of the community burning brightly.  In my absence Rylacus has done a phenomenal job of “not messing with things” as he puts it.  He has always been one of my closest and most loyal friends, and as I have been gone he has simply tried to continue on with what he thought I would do.  It seems to have worked, because on week nights we tend to have 20-30 or more people online and active in doing something.

The only problem is that this maintaining the status quo has only caused to further some divides that started back in Cataclysm.  When I said “A Guild Divided” in the section heading, I was not referring to the nomad gamers and the wow loyalists… but instead a rift that was always there but has deepened in my time away.  Essentially our guild right now is a tale of two raids, the haves and the have-nots essentially.  One raid has thrived clearing content and racking up the loot, while the other has floundered struggling to fill.  There has been no intended malice, but the lesser performing raid has lost a lot of its brighter members to the better performing raid as folks sought out the path of easier loot.  As a result there is more than a bit of bitterness and bad blood that has developed towards the alpha team.

Cleansing the Way

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In the past I had served as a bridge between the two worlds, a bit of a buffer to lower the frustrations and aggressions.  Rylacus has tried hard to fill these shoes but he simply does not have the volume of playtime that I do.  Now that I am back at least for a bit I am trying my best to bridge this rift and hopefully mend the way between.  As a result I have started tanking for the lesser progressed raid, and it seems like I am the difference between failure and success.  The first week we downed new content, and it seemed so easy that I had no idea it wasn’t already on farm.  The other tank is amazing to work with, and I am adjusting rapidly to this whole new concept for me of “no main tank”. 

Additionally I am trying to attend the events sponsored by the alpha team to build the social equity there.  The “big kids” have been gracious enough to host an open flex raid night on Mondays and this is getting betters of both teams in the same space.  It is a bit awkward at times, but so far I think it has been an overall positive experience.  The flex gear will help bolster both raids.  The holidays have taken a big chunk out of our schedules, but I am hoping this week we can return to normality.  In a sort of serendipity… several of my blogger and twitter friends have characters on Argent Dawn or are rerolling there.   Going to try and get as many of them as I can into the open raid nights.

When I had come back for Pandaria the guild felt wrong to me.  No one talked, no one worked together… and I really did not know how to fix it.  Now coming back things are just different.  Guild chat is full of lively conversation.  Folks seem happy, and willing to help one another.  Stalwart had survived all these years on a shared spirit, a feeling that we were all working together towards a greater good.  During Cataclysm it feels that this spirit lost its way as we absorbed so many of the smaller satellite guilds that made up our non-guild-based raiding alliance.  It feels though that in the midst of all of this a strong community has evolved.  Here is hoping that I can be a catalyst towards solidifying this community into something truly great.  If nothing else, I have been remembered and I still very much feel loved by my WoW family.

The Contest

Hello Self Conscious

I have officially finished my novel, and I say that in jest because really the hard part has yet to begin.  The whole NaNoWriMo process was extremely draining.  I almost viewed the past year of daily posts on aggronaut as training for the marathon that was Nano.  The thing I was not at all prepared for however was just how draining coming home each night and writing a chapter of original material was.  My blog is pretty much me just reacting or regurgitating “found material”.  Nano on the other hand was me giving birth to characters, plots, settings and for all intents and purposes a big unique world of my own making.

Now that it is over it is time for me to return to the normal daily blog posts… and quite frankly I find myself a little self-conscious.  For the last 29 posts I have simply dumped what I wrote the night before in private out onto the screen for you guys to read (or more than likely not read).  Now I find myself sitting here having to come up with things to write that are relevant and timely.  It is not that I find myself with writers block, because there are a month worth of topics backed up inside of me.  I just find myself a little nervous about the entire process.  I have to get back in the pattern of just dumping my innermost thoughts out onto a page for you all to pick over.

The Contest

 

During the month of my absence from morning posts a thing happened.  Well actually if we are most truthful about it a lot of things happened.  In this case two particular things happened.  Firstly Trion announced the existence of Trove their new game that melds Minecraft, Cubeworld and MMOs.  Secondly I somehow managed to get into the first wave of alpha invites.  Thirdly when I realized that I was one of only a handful of people in the game, and that the alpha process had absolutely no NDA… I thought I should probably do something to show off the game.  As a result I did a thing that I had thought about for some time… I recorded my very first lets play video.

  1. Test Video
  2. Episode 1
  3. Episode 2
  4. Episode 3

So far I have recorded four videos in total, the first of which only being a super short test video in which I was trying to figure out the kinks of using youtube.  I am completely new to this whole experience but so far the videos have been well received.  An interesting thing happened however over the extended holiday weekend.  I ended up getting a second alpha key.  So I thought about what I should do with it, should I offer it up to my friends over twitter or g+?  Then I came up with a constructive idea…  hold a contest.   The idea is to get people to provide feedback on features they would like to see in the game, so that I can compile this list in blog post form to present to the Trion folk.

The Rules

Since the video series is a youtube thing, I will be hosting the contest there.  The basics are this… go to the Episode 3 link.  Do the standard subscribe/like/comment youtube bs.  In your comment describe a feature you would like to see built into Trove.  The sky is the limit as far as features go since this is a melding of the traditional building game and an MMO.  I will only be accepting comments that actually provide a suggestion in them, and will be ignoring all “begging for the key” and otherwise trolling posts.

I will be accepting comments through 12/3/2013 and Wednesday morning I will be pulling together a list of all of the comments and the posters name.  I will be dumping this in a google doc and then using a random number generator to pick the winner.  Everyone’s comments will be featured on my blog and I will cross post that on the trove reddit as well.  Wednesday evening I will announce the winner over the various social platforms that I use.  May the random number generator be in your favor!  I just thought this would be a fun way to give away a key and hopefully provide some useful suggestions back to Trion in the process.

Pre-Endgame Game

Limited Time Stuff

First off I guess let me open todays post with a complaint.  I really had nothing much to talk about as I sat down at the keyboard, so I did what I normally do and sifted through my RSS feed.  I spent most of yesterday super busy and really did not have time to read anything much.  One of the first posts was over on Rift Junkies talking about how apparently there was a new mount available for only four hours on the Rift store.  They are apparently calling this unstable artifacts, which is a clever excuse to make something super limited that costs a hell of a lot on the store.

I am not against the 2700 credit price tag, but I am against the concept of limited time items.  I hate when something goes into game only to be pulled out swiftly keeping anyone else from getting the item.  I honestly don’t care about the red Kirin at all, because I think the mounts are ugly, but for me it is more a principle of it.  When a game starts doing one time only things, I really lose interest quickly.  I get extremely frustrated anymore when I am asked to play a game on someone else’s schedule.  With the recent rapidly expiring world event each phase lasting only two days… this seems to be the direction that Rift wants to move in.

The more of this type of content goes into the game the less and less interested I am in it.  There are so many things about Guild Wars 2 that I think I would enjoy, but the fact that content expires roughly every two weeks keeps me from wanting to dig in and try it.  I don’t want to ONLY play this one game, and in order to farm up every new thing in the world… I would really have to do just that.  The whole playing the same game every single night concept just seems foreign to me.  There are so many different games I want to experience, so knowing I will go into a game missing out on things… makes me think my time is better spent elsewhere.

Pre-Endgame Game

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I guess while I am complaining, I might as well not stop with Rift.  Onwards to FInal Fantasy A Realm Reborn!  We absolutely lucked out as a guild and had eight of us reaching 50 within a few days of each other.  Well that is not true I guess, we had one super impatient gamer rush through to the end game and sit there without any additional support for about two weeks.  However the majority of us arrived at the end game at roughly the same time.  This made the sequence of three eight man instances seem not that horrible in part because it was fresh content for all of us.  However now that we have another three characters up to 50, I am realizing what a slog it really is.

So much of the end of the main storyline in FFXIV reminds me of the trials and tribulations of having to key players for various raid instances in both EQ and WoW.  Be warned there will be some spoilers, so if you care about that sort of thing, I would stop reading.  I will try my best to do as few as possible, but it is going to happen.  Essentially when you hit 49 you start down a sequence of events that leads to the finishing of the main storyline.  The first of these is Cape Westwind, yet another trial.  We have done this now three times… and quite honestly I cannot tell you exactly how the mechanics work.  The biggest pain is getting eight players online at the same time.

Next you run through a few quests and end up unlocking Castrum Meridianum…  which is surprise surprise another eight man dungeon.  This takes a little over an hours time normally if you are not doing the speed run chicanery… and now that every mob in the instance drops decent money there really is no reason why you would.  These places are decent money.  Once you finish up in there, you do a few more quests and wind up stalled on The Praetorium… yet another 8 man dungeon.  This one takes quite a bit longer than the previous one and is a wee bit trickier at times.  Finally after finishing this sequence of events you can finish the main storyline and unlock Amdapor Keep.

We have been working our way through these for Cyl, Opo and Tivo… and the problem with an eight man dungeon is trying to accommodate eight different play schedules.  We really only seem to have time to do one of the dungeons in the sequence per night.  Last night we were trying to figure out when we could pull together a group next…  and the problem is we are unlikely to be able to get ALL of the necessary players online until next week sometime.  As we started going through the days, there was one player that could not attend on each of the nights.  While the final storyline is extremely cool… it just seems like a lot of bullshit to have to slog through to even begin the end game grind.

Norrath Calling

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Towards the end of the night I ended up logging out of FFXIV and popping into EQ2 for a bit.  I have said it before, and I will say it again… sooner or later I always return to playing EQ2.  I am not sure if I am ready to be back in it yet, but I did some questing out in Withered Lands and enjoyed the relaxed pace.  My friend that recently returned was telling me excitedly about the guilds plans to start doing heroics, and while I think that is cool I don’t want anyone to factor me in their gaming decisions yet.  I already have a game where I am a key resource for running instances… I really don’t want another one.

That is not to say that I don’t enjoy tanking dungeons, because I do… otherwise I wouldn’t keep returning to playing that role.  I just find that tanking takes more out of me than it used to.  I cannot chain run instances like I once could.  So I find myself needing something else to play so I can have a bit of peace and quiet… and more importantly downtime.  Everquest 2 has always been a good filler of this niche.  I would like to get my Shadowknight up to 95 so I can be prepared for the new content when it releases as well.  I still feel like in many ways I am running from WoW, because I know that will only end up in tears of frustration.  I continue to ignore its sirens call by playing other things… just not sure how long that will work.

How Diablo Ought Be

Hibernation Weekend

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This is one of those mornings when I really wish I did not have to write a blog post.  I guess in the grand scheme of things… there is nothing forcing me to do so, but I would hate to break my streak of daily posts.  This is one of those hibernation weekends when neither my wife or I really want to leave the house.  In fact I went out and got breakfast in my fuzzy slippers that look like shoes this morning and a hoodie.  Not like the folks at the convenience store really pay too much attention to what people are wearing, but it was a reasonable facsimile of “dressed”.

Yesterday I was completely all over the place game wise.  I started off the day by playing quite a bit of Hearthstone, this was a side effect of me wanting the gold from my daily quest and a new friend just getting into the game.  Once he got through the tutorial and unlocked a few decks we played a few games.  The first game he trounced me liberally, and the second two I managed to pull ahead significantly mostly due to him not getting the cards he needed when he needed them.  Playing against actual players has made me extremely aggressive when it comes to Hearthstone, and I am not really sure how to tone that back a notch.

Mixed Bag of Gaming

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After hearthstone I poked my head into Rift for a bit, but really didn’t find much enjoyment there.  I am not sure what it is but right now Rift is just not that fun of a game for me.  I am sure before long I will cycle back around to it and it will once again be the next best thing to sliced bread.  I have the same sort of thing going on with EQ2 as well.  I have a desire to play some, but when I actually log in I have no desire to do anything.  So in both cases I poke my head in and then log back out almost as quickly.

Right now I am still enjoying Allods quite a bit, but I have a feeling that very soon the bottom will drop out.  I have heard that after a certain point there are very few non-group quests.  Currently at level 8 I am still having no problem at all, and this is sufficiently scratching that World of Warcraft itch.  However I get the sense that I am nearing the end of the starter city of <Insert Russian Sounding Name Here>.  I am really enjoying the game, and it is extremely well crafted, but as a whole the storyline and missions are forgettable.  There is really little “special” about the game other than the awesome soviet era steampunk feel.

Forced

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After a bunch of mucking around yesterday, I settled into playing a brand new game with some friends.  Forced had been a title that popped up on our radar during the Kickstarter, and was subsequently picked up as a Steam Greenlight title.  Well it has officially released this week, and one of my friends decided to buy a four pack and distribute copies.  They describe the game as Diablo meets Left4Dead… and to some extent that makes sense.  However I do not think that description really explains just how much cooperation is needed to make it through the levels.  In many ways it reminds me of Gauntlet Legends… if Gauntlets Legends required you to use the NES Rob the Robot to make it through the levels.

Each of the gladiators chooses a weapon that will dictate their active and passive talent trees as well as set the overall flavor of the arena combat.  Above you can see an image of three weapons in the preparation room leading into any of the arenas.  I am currently holding the magma hammer and all of the attacks both passive and active are somehow fire based.  To the left of that pool is the green daggers, most of the attacks being about speed, stealth and health regeneration.  In a way they are the support class in that they can generate combo points on the target than the heavier hitters can then consume.  On the bottom left you have the Ice Shield, and this is the tank of the group focusing on being able to negate large amounts of damage.  Finally you have the D&D Animated series style lightning bow, with chain lightning and energy based attacks.

How Diablo Ought Be

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The controls are also extremely unique… or at least unique to me.  In many ways it reminds me of Ikari Warriors in that you have one set of controls to move your body and another to control your facing.  If you choose mouse and keyboard this means that WASD will move you physically around the arena and your mouse will choose your facing with Left and Right mouse buttons being your primary and secondary attacks to start out.  Later on you will pick up additional attacks Q being the first of these.   I assume with a controller one stick is likely your movement and the other your facing with your triggers being your primary attacks, but quite honestly I have not tried this out.

The pace of the action was so intense most of the time, that I quite honestly forgot to hit the screenshot last night.  However the gameplay revolves around using the glowing sphere of light Balfus your “spirit mentor” to move around the arena and active switches and traps for you.  As a team this gets super tricky since you have ONE balfus and each of you can call it at any given moment… so this involves a lot of communication to figure out who can use it next.  Additionally if your timing is right you can position the next person to call it as soon as one objective is done.  It is hard to fully understand how the gameplay works cooperatively without seeing it in action.  So as a result I am going to embed the trailer that shows quite a bit of play.

Challenging Co-Op

 

So essentially there are so many ways to fuck over your friends while playing this game.  There are maps for example where Balfus provides a protective bubble, and if you stray outside of that bubble you take large amounts of damage per tick.  So these force your team to be placed JUST right as you pay your way through the map.  It becomes progressively easier to abandon a player on the edges of the map and trap them.  So for us… access to voice chat was SUPER handy.  We kept communicating and I was generally the dullard that tried his best not to ever call the ball.  My job was to call down orbital strikes in the form of meteors upon the heads of the big baddies and consume combo points with my heavy hitting attacks.

You get a crystal for each objective that you complete.  On each map there is a completion shard, a time based shard, and one for getting a specific objective.  They have made these in such a way as it is super difficult to get all three within one run.  So as a result you can do each arena over and over to try and gain as many crystals as you can.  Last night in our little 2.5 hour play session we managed to rack up 15 shards.  The first world was honestly rather straightforward but as we entered world two… the frequency of cursing increased massively.

Downright Brutal

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Face it… you are going to be seeing a lot of this screen.  The game excels as forcing various no-win scenarios if you are not fast enough or clever enough to figure out the trick on the first attempt.  We would have probably continued on for another hour and a half had one of our players internet not taken a massive dump.  At that point we figured… it was a good place to take a break.  The gameplay is extremely frenetic, but also amazingly rewarding when you and your friends manage to complete a scenario.  If you too have a group of friends to game with… I highly suggest buying a four pack and distributing copies because forced provides an extremely unique gameplay experience for multiple people.  As a whole I give the game a big thumbs up.

Playing Dice with Humanity

Tribalism

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Yesterday my friends were having a long drawn out conversation that started out about the current Roma controversies, wound its way through discussions of any insular society… and like always an hour or so later ended up landing in the game world.  Namely discussion fell onto the concept that even within small groups, cliques and teams form and the number over players it takes before that happens.  Based on the discussion we agreed that likely the smallest number that really starts to occur is around seven people.

So none of this so far has any real bearing on todays post…  but throughout the conversation we started talking about the openness to new players.  One of the things that disturbed me a bit, is that one of my friends said that I was most likely the least open to new players, or at least the most suspicious.  This went against my own personal vision of myself, considering I am constant abducting people into my guilds on a regular basis.  So as I explored this line of thought further, he said that mostly it was due to my views on PUGs.

No PUGs Allowed

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While this is not necessarily the thing I would like people to think of when they think of me… my guild as a whole has known for years that if they want me to tank for them, my price is that we have a full group of known good players.  Usually this means that they are folks from the guild, but I am also completely open to friends of the guild in these scenarios.  Basically… I don’t want to enter the group finder and play dice with humanity.  The thing is… this did not used to be the case.  I used to PUG players in a regular basis both in dungeons and even raids.

This got me thinking… what changed, why did I no longer even consider finding players outside of my monkey sphere to fill groups.  I used to build groups on a nightly basis and even believe in it so much that I wrote a series of guides to covering the finer points of networking, communication and assembly of a winning PUG group.  This was not something that was limited to WoW, but something I had done in many games previously.  So I guess the question is… what changed to make me so fearful of the player base that I now refuse to pug even a single player into one of the groups I am responsible for.

Before the Dungeon Finder

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Without too many leaps of logic I landed on the specific moment it changed… The Dungeon Finder.  I have railed on the evils of the dungeon finder for years, but I don’t think I have really elaborated on that point enough.  Essentially in the world before the dungeon finder I regularly relied upon social channels, trade chat, and other guilds to find folks to fill out my groups.  I drew upon my friends list to fill the most basic elements.  As a tank I knew that all I needed to do was find one of my many amazing healers that I worked with regularly, and then the dps could be filled out in short order.

The key point here is that with each player I talked to… I actually took the time to exchange a few lines of dialog with them before throwing them a group invite.  It is amazing how much you can gauge about the personality, intentions and general character of a player from a few sentences.  There was a very human element to this discourse, and over the years I developed and instinct about who would make for a good dungeon run by the way they presented themselves.  To some extent I had learned to prune through the bad apples and seize upon the good ones only.

Additionally playing with players on your own server there was a bit of an honor code in the works.  As the guild leader of one of the larger guilds on our server, I knew the leaders of most of the other guilds.  So as a result if I had trouble with one of their players in a dungeon run, I knew precisely who to come to with those concerns.  This lead most players to be on their best behavior, since there were potential social consequences of making an ass of yourself in public.  Additionally I met a lot of really amazing people through this process, many of them that would end up in my guild or raid later on.

Playing Dice with Humanity

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The Dungeon finder was the first blow to this world, but since we were dealing with mostly players from our own server… it wasn’t really that bad.  I still regularly queued as a tank almost out of welfare to help the folks get those dungeon runs.  I continued to still meet great players, and the bad ones were quickly added to my ignore list never to be seen again.  However players complained, that the queues were still too long, and not enough tanks and healers were queuing.  So as a result Blizzard started the cross server queuing madness and this was the nail in the coffin for me and pugging.

When there are no social consequences to ones actions… the worst possible behavior can be expected if not assumed.  Periodically I would get convinced to queue with someone for a dungeon, and every single one of these occasions lead me to log out of the game frustrated and angry afterwards.  I learned quickly that if you play dice with humanity, you are always going to loose.  I met exactly ONE really awesome player through random groups, and that was only because the player happened to be on my own server.  I didn’t really mind braving the bullshit as a DPS, but I refused to tank the instances any longer.

Rift Happened

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So in a whole series of events I ended up leaving World of Warcraft, and entered a game without a dungeon finder system.  It is funny how quickly I fell back into the old habits of building groups from social channels.  Level 50 chat served as a launch pad for groups, and quickly within a few weeks time I had built up a long list of “known good players” that I could draw into dungeons.  As a result we were filling out Elite groups on a nightly basis and happily clearing dungeons.  I met enough people that there was even talk of merging in with another guild at one point… but we decided against it.

When the dungeon finder was released for Rift I watched the same events play out all over again.  The social channels dried up, folks no longer responded to calls for groups in Level 50 chat… and everyone went back to the wow-like ways of relying on the dungeon finder to make a group for them.  Additionally the community of the server as a whole suffered.  The same old wow-like behaviors came back and the chorus of “PULL BIG” and “GO GO GO” returned as well.  So once more.. I stopped grouping and resurrected a rampart around myself with a sign on it reading “No PUGs Allowed”. 

From that point forward my rule as a whole has pretty much been… I will tank any dungeon you want me to tank, but you have to make sure we have a full guild group before we do it.  I refuse to pug in any players that come from random dungeon finder systems.  I would literally rather not do dungeons, than have to deal with the random chance of finding a decent person in the system.  Most of the time this is not really a huge deal since I tend to bring a large group of people with me into whatever game we end up playing.  However I am running a lot fewer dungeons than I would like to, and I am not sure how I can get past my phobia of strangers.  So at the end of the day… after all of this… I guess I can see my friends point.