Light & Leafy

Archive for the ‘ponderings’ Category

Everything is silent on vent. The raid is traveling in a band of spirits from the graveyard way up to the spire where we’ll face the same boss for the 9th time that night. Suddenly, somebody calls out:

“Ok, so who didn’t have their mini-pet out and caused that wipe?”

And in that instant, the tension melts away. Our warlock sheepishly admits that he forgot to summon his baby crocolisk, and we all share a giggle as we make the long run back to the boss’s lair. The discussion of the wipe doesn’t end there, but that small reminder of why we’re really here keeps it from turning accusatory.

Remember What It’s All About

I’m not sure about anyone else out there, but I play video games because they’re fun. They’re something that makes me happy and relaxes me, just like baking cupcakes or singing in the car on my drive home.

Raiding was something I chose to do because it combined two things that I enjoy: playing video games and spending time with friends. And, in the end, for me to have fun it meant for us to be successfully overcoming challenges (eventually).

Now, in order to do that, we had to be disciplined. We show up each week at the same BatTime on the same BatChannel, ready and raring to go. Vent is quiet during progression pulls, directions are executed without question, wipes are quickly called, and run backs are speedy with new strategies or tweaks discussed along the way.

And even among all that rigidity that keeps us on task, we still take moments to laugh. Some of our computers have slower load screens than others. Some of us have rocket boot malfunctions that paste our toons’ bodies on the vaulted ceilings. But those little distractions, those spaces where we can take a breath, are what keep us sane. Instead of releasing our tension and frustration on each other, we let go of it with a laugh. We chuck happy fun rocks at each other, and use /flirt more than necessarily needed. And then we all activate our Gnomergan Radiation Suites and charge into battle once more.

Not All Sunshine and Kittens

Now, I know I might come off as some hippy unicorn with rainbow braids and pink puffy cloud jewelry (which, let’s face it, if I could have pink puffy cloud jewelry, I would be ALL OVER IT), but the fact is I’m human. With a full range of human emotions, no less!

And being human, there are nights when I feel frustrated, underwhelmed, and downright pissy when a boss I feel should have been dead weeks ago is still taunting us. It’s perfectly ok to have those nights.

What is not ok is taking those feelings and aggression out on the rest of the guild. Its one thing for me to tell the group, “hey, I need to end early tonight. Or move to another boss because my frustration level is at a head and I really think that I’m going to drop kick that gnome if we wipe again.” (Sorry, Scott, it’s just easier to punt a gnome than say a draenei. Or plate-wearing dwarf.).  It’s a completely other dragon to blame my group and angrily dissect their every move. Or, worse, to leave the raid in the middle with little explanation and no backup.

If someone did either of those in my raid group, I’d think two things: One, they don’t really care enough about the TEAM if they’re not even willing to take the adult way out. Two, do I really want someone who’s liable to throw a hissy fit? I mean, I get the frustration, I do. It’s your choice on how you act on it, though.

In the end, the game is supposed to be fun. And I’d rather dance by the flaming brazier or toss paper zeppelins to my friends to lighten the mood than start despising people for wipes for which I was every bit responsible as them.


Before I get into anything else, I do want to apologize for my silence in the blog, on Twitter, and in the SAN community, I took over a former co-worker’s position, and not only has it been stressful, but it has also thrown me out of my normal rhythm of writing during my lunch break as…well…I haven’t really had a proper one in the last two weeks. I’m now trying to get into a rhythm of writing at home, which, until this post, I’ve utterly failed at doing. So bear with me during this transition. ❤

So it’s here! I didn’t see it until someone emailed it to me at 7:30 this morning, but when I did I just about let loose a raucous burst of giggles in my cubicle. I’m only going to highlight the discipline/holy portions of the preview because in my world, shadow priests don’t exist. Well, maybe they do. I’ve heard rumors. But really, they’re just warlocks that return my mana. This just in! Hardcore Holy Priest Edainne has gone to the darkside (sort of). After deciding to roll a newbie priest on a PvP server that has some of my long-time friends on it, I decided that I would level her shadow (with a healing offspec, of course!). I know. It goes against every fiber in my being. But I will not give up! That being said, I still know jack-squat about being an effective shadow priest, and as such I still suggest you go find a real one to fill you in on the shadow priesty changes announced for Cataclysm (though according to Cassandri in the comments, there’s not much).

Here’s the breakdown we’ve gotten so far from the WoW Devs. If you’re really interested in all three trees and spells, head over to MMO Champion for a complete transcript of what the blues had to say. As with anything regarding the new expansion, anything written here, including opinions, are subject to beta-testing and change.

Masteries and You

In Cataclysm, each talent tree will have three masteries associated it. Think of masteries as bonuses for the tree : the more points you place in a given three, the more benefit you will get from that particular tree’s masteries. As of right now, your main tree will be what you get your masteries from (edited as I had originally used old Blizzcon Information only to be corrected =) )

The discipline and holy trees both have two of the same masteries: Healing and Meditation. Healing is exactly what it sounds like – for every point spent in that particular tree, you will notice an increase to your healing done. Meditation is directly related to your mana regeneration (think of like the current discipline talent, only you get it with each point you spend!).

For me, this is exciting news! Instead of placing points in talents just to earn more spell power or more regen, we can put points into interesting new spells or buffs that will boost our individual playstyle. At BlizzCon, the presiding theme over talent trees was to turn them into something more exciting and less cookie-cutter, and getting rid of all the talents that passively boost your healing output (and thereby make them “mandatory” to take) seems like a way to allow players to be more creative with their spec choices.

Now, Discipline and Holy trees each have one more mastery that is unique to that particular tree. Holy priests will receive a mastery called Radiance which esssentially adds a heal-over-time component to your direct heals. Depending on how large the heal over time is, it could be nice to counter static raid wide damage (think of Queen Lana’thel’s aura or Garfrost’s stacking debuff) or it could be a huge source of overhealing. The Discipline tree will have the third mastery of Absorption which, omgawd nowai!, increases the amount absorbed by shields and aegis and barriers, oh my! It seems like a fairly straight forward concept, and while it might not be shiny exciting mastery of gloriousness, to me it’s still quite an appropriate and dare I say expected mastery for the bubblers. I’ll let a real discipline priest chew on that more though as I am most certainly a holy priest first and foremost and a discipline priest amateur.

New Spells (and Talents!) of Awesomeness!

Yoink! I mean…Leap of Faith

This might be my new favorite spell in the game, if it makes it through the beta-testing. As developers mentioned in their chat yesterday, Leap of Faith is a spell all priests would get at level 85 that on a 45 second cool-down would allow the priest to yank friends out of danger.. That’s right. You can force people to gtfo of the fires. It is the antithesis of Deathgrip!

I love this idea. I don’t know how it will play out, or if I’ll be able to really use it effectively if I’m in tunnel-vision healy mode, but the concept alone wins in my brain. I am going to LOVE yoinking stupid melee dps who purposefully stand in the gosh darn fire because they can’t BEAR to loose their precious dps for one millisecond and force me to heal them through avoidable damage. Ahem.

I also really appreciate it from a pvp standpoint (a flag carrier who’s getting focused on in Warsong Gultch mayhaps), though it makes me a little bit worried for my survivability. If you knew that I could life-grip a person on my team to me if they were in trouble, wouldn’t you just kill me first? I find we already are boosting a giant HAI KILL ME NAO PEESE sign for just being the squishy balls of lights we are. But let’s be honest here. I only pvp’d enough so that I would have to spend beau coup gold to gem all of my alts.

Power Word : Barrier

It doesn’t seem like they’ve fully fleshed out this idea, but I’m drooling over the idea of it. Then again, as only an honorary shield-spamming bubblematic, I may not have any ground to stand on when it comes to discussing awesome discipline spells. But placing a freaking barrier over my group of friends to protect them from harm is the first thing that has really made me think, oh! Maybe it’s time to switch Eda’s spec.


In Cataclysm, the idea for healers is to have one efficient spell that covers their basic healing needs while everything else has its own niche (Greater Heal being only for situations that really need massive healing and Flash Heal being only for situations where you need that heal quickly, mana be damned). We’ve had this spell before, it just needed some attention after being on the highest shelf in the broom closet of the storage facility for the last two expansions By itself, it’s kind of an uninteresting spell, but the implications that come with it should be very exciting once we get more details about how exactly healing will work come the expansion.

Inner Will

We get to choose armor types! Inner Fire will still exist in its current form, granting spell power and armor. Inner Will will increase movement speed and decrease the cost of instant cast spells. It gives us a choice to make each fight to decide which will be more helpful. Inner Will might be more helpful on future encounters like Saurfang where you’re constantly tossing instant casts (bubbles, renew) on the raid while running around from things like those icky blood beasts. I really enjoy having to assess situations and adapt for new strategies.


The developers described Chakra as a Holy Priest talent that would increase a certain type of healing after using a spell appropriate to that type of healing three times. So, imagine you’re healing a tank with Greater Heal. After the third cast, you would be granted a stacking buff that would increase your healing done to single targets. Or say if you did the same with Circle of Healing or Prayer of Healing – your area of effect healing would then be increased.

This was another theoretical talent that I really enjoyed the sound of. Sure, spamming the same spell from the same type may not be your typical raiding style, but being able to increase your specific healing niche for a fight seems like a very practical tool in a holy priest’s arsenal. One of the most enjoyable parts of playing my priest as holy is knowing that no matter the situation, I can handle it. I am the jill-of-all-trades healer, and Blizz seems to be supporting that style by allowing us to choose moment by moment what kind of healer we are.

Imagine if you will, a fight where a dedicated tank healer is needed. It’s you, a holy paladin (assuming they are still the undisputed kings of the single target heal), and a druid healing (assuming again that encounters need three healers). The holy paladin was just bludgeoned to death by a pack of marauding murlocs (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen). All of a sudden, the tank has no healer! Now, druids are perfectly able to heal tanks (I’ve done it. That’s the beauty of having so many healers I suppose), but you’re able to switch directly from healing the raid to healing the tank (with increased single target healing!) simply by casting a spell three times. It’s kind of like your very own ruby slippers. Only, instead of taking you home, they take you were you actually need to be.

In Conclusion

I’m EXTREMELY excited for the priest changes in Cataclysm. They seem to have read my mind and taken everything I loved about priest healing and just amplified it; well maybe not Life Grip — I was never creative enough to imagine that. To be honest, I’m just excited about healing changes in general – I like having to THINK about my choices rather than just spamming any and all of my spells with no consequences at all to my mana.

Before I really get to what I want to discuss, let me say this: No, this will not be about the quazi-recent events in our little corner of the internet.  I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said, nor do I feel any personal grudges towards anyone involved. I have had too much stress in my own life to involve myself in anyone else’s drama. That being said, I would like to take time to acknowledge Crankyhealer: Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Before you commented on my blog, I was pretty sure I was writing exclusively for myself and my numerous non-combat pets. You made me feel like I was part of the community before anyone else did, and I’m so very grateful for that. I’ll miss your blog immensely, but please stop by and say hi every now and again ❤

For the first time all week, I finally had a chance to sit at my desk and read the guild forums during my lunch break. My boyfriend had linked a post he had made on the official Blizzard forums discussing the new Icy Touch threat buff Death Knights got on Tuesday with the patch. Now, I don’t really know much about Icy Touch except that when he casts it, it makes him look like he’s a puppy shaking off snow. Cute, really, which is saying something for an undead draenei. Anyways, apparently he feels like it’s causing TOO much threat (as in, using his normal rotation he accidentally pulled off of our warrior and bear multiple times during our Tuesday night raid) and that it could easily be abused by others who haven’t had much experiencing tanking.

A pretty rational discussion followed; people were disagreeing and agreeing pleasantly, offering ways Blizzard might be able to fix the issue without completely gimping their threat. And then a level 80 orc from Illidan said something that made me sick to my stomach.

“we needed the threat buff. also, anyone who says “i’ve been playin a roug since vanila and a dk since then to” needs to die.”

That “roug” was my boyfriend. He had mentioned his experience in WoW before suggesting any of the changes he thought would balance Icy Touch.

What bothers me about that sentence is the “needs to die” portion. I don’t really care too much if you’re a random stranger who comes to a discussion with no proof and simply disagrees. Call him names, if you’re really so upset at his rational argument.  Anything would be better than telling another human being that they NEED TO DIE.

Why is this such a casual phrase? Why is it in the same vein as saying someone isn’t qualified to approach a subject?  Why are people trivializing something that is incredibly sensitive and emotional?

You, who knows NOTHING about the person behind the avatar, thinks he should die. How devastating do you think that would be for his girlfriend? His mother? His father? His siblings? Do you care?

My issue here is that this is what we’ve devolved into as a society. You don’t agree with me so you should be wiped off the face of this planet. You don’t agree with me so you don’t deserve to live.

And before someone out there gives me the excuse that “everyone’s saying it so it’s ok; he doesn’t actually want your boyfriend to die,” I get it. But just because a phrase has been shoved down our throats as a gaming colloquialism, doesn’t mean it’s ok.

Where is this rage and utter disregard for other human beings coming from? Is it, like Tam mentioned a few days ago, stemming from the repressed emotions that are stagnating in our testosterone-laden gaming community? Is it because there’s a level of detachment between our avatars and our corporeal selves?

I don’t have a degree in Psychology (yet…) or Sociology, and I certainly can’t explain everyone’s reason for acting this way.  But imagine you were me, and you were reading a fairly classy (as WoW forums go) post and its fairly classy responses, and all of a sudden some stranger is saying your boyfriend should die. No reasoning. Just annoyed.

I try really hard in anything I leave public to be as respectful and tactful as I can. I’ve refrained from mentioning many horrible pugs or naming-and-shaming on my blog because some part me hopes that if I can write positively and keep a cheerful attitude that it’ll rub off on me and my predilection to be somewhat of a pessimist will dissipate over time. Maybe that makes me a less fun read, but I would never want someone to come here to feel abused or to feel pain on behalf of a loved one.

Yes, this genuinely upset me. No matter how angry someone has made me, no matter how much pain they have brought upon me, I have never uttered those words. Not once.  Because I would NEVER wish death upon another person. I’m kind of a hippy – I want the world to be love and cuddles and puppies. I want to treat others nicely and I never want to intentionally hurt someone. Heck, when I unintentionally hurt someone, I’m wrought with guilt and I’m probably pretty annoying after the ten thousandth “I’m so so sorry.”

Basically what it boils down to is this (and I’m fairly certain that if you’re reading this you’re not likely to be one of those people who casually tosses death wishes around): Your fellow players are human beings.  Even if you think it’s common place, wishing death on someone you don’t know just isn’t friendly, and probably is a pretty unhealthy way to live. Just because you’re nonchalant about it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect the other person. Say what you want to say without resorting to a stinted vocabulary that resorts to profanities and death when you’re feeling upset about something.

I don’t feel like I have a good way to end this; it’s been something that’s bothered me for a long time now and this was kind of the straw that broke my blogging camel’s back. He’s now in traction and seems to be doing fine.

*hugs & love*


That was the defeat that wasn’t supposed to happen. See those 9 people up there?  Yea, they were the only ones alive since the second champion was dead. So why didn’t we just call it a wipe, instead of trudging on for an agonizing 15 minute battle?  (Did I mention all the pallies in the picture but one were holy?)

Trust. The raid leaders trusted their guildies to do something that seemed impossible. It started as a “Let’s give them a few more minutes; at least we can see some more of the fight.” to “Holy shit,  you guys can do it! Only 4 more left!” to *unintelligible screams and cheers*

A conversation last night got me to thinking:

How much do you trust your raid team?

So, my friends, what are your answers? Do you trust your team to the ends of the earth? Do you only trust certain members of your team? Why do you (or don’t you) trust the other players you’re spending 4-20 hours a week with?

Make a post, then link back to it in the comments. I’d really love to see how everyone feels when it comes to their teams.  Next Saturday, I’ll create a post with all the links to others’ blogs to see just how everyone feels about the teams their playing with =)

Happy writing-


Living on the coast in Southern New England generally exposes you to three types of snow: fluffy, sludgy, and Hallmark calendar perfect. Sludgy is the most common, with snow melting when it hits the ground and mixing with the mud and city grime to create a thoroughly icky experience. Fluffy snow usually happens in the beginning of the winter, with huge flake floating through the sky, but melting before they turn anything into sludge.  And the Hallmark snow? Well, it’s rare, but when it happens it turns everything into the cozy scenes you can find on most Christmas cards.

The only problem with that perfect looking snow is that it creates treacherous driving conditions.  Take yesterday afternoon, for example. A storm that was supposed to hit us the night before moved much slower than the forecasts had predicted. I bolted out of my office as soon as I saw that the giant flakes were sticking to the roads and didn’t show any signs of slowing down.  I managed to get home before it got really intense (dumping a good 7 inches).  While driving home, I did what I normally do on Tuesday commutes: I made a mental checklist of what I need to do before raid time. I was being continually interrupted, however, by the need to pay attention to my surroundings. Driving in the snow is a lot different, I find, that driving in any other kind of weather.

And that’s when it hit me like a slushy snowball to the face! Driving in the snow is actually a lot like raiding. And to drive successfully in the snow, you really need to remember a few simple rules:

1. Your car has more than one gear. And so does your raid team.  Some encounters you can rush in all willy-nilly and still manage to emerge unscathed. Others, you need to shift into low and slowly make your way through. As a great driver (or raid leader), you know which roads are safe and which need some extra attention.

2. Go the same speed as traffic.  Driving faster or much slower than everyone around you is a recipe for creating an accident, especially when visibility is poor.  Pushing your friends to go faster than they can may make them feel uncomfortable, especially if they’re having a rough time learning the fight. On the other hand, you really don’t want to spend 20 minutes explaining the precise details of each fight to a team of veterans who have all already experienced it.

3. The on and off ramps are the 2nd most dangerous part of your trip. Issues always seem to abound at the beginning and end of raids. There are too many people signed up, there are too few people signed up, there are problems with the loot system, there are problems with the strategy. Chances are, if you’re going to have a blowout, it’ll be when emotions are riding high (usually at the frustration of a late start or lack of people or after people have been wiping repeatedly).  The best way to avoid an accident, at least that I’ve found, is to always approach the beginning and ends of raids cheerfully and patiently.

4. The most dangerous part of your trip is your driveway. The reason driveways and back-roads are usually so hairy to travel in the winter is because they simply don’t see as much traffic as the main roads. They can be plowed just as often, but without the friction of tires melting the last bits of snow off the road, they’ll still feel 10 times worse to drive. In my mind, these are the fights your team barely sees  because you only get to them at the very end of the raid night. Because of the limited attempts you squeeze in each week, the encounters begin to feel impossible to defeat. And this is where I become grateful for alternate routes. Taking out farmed content is great for gear and badges, but when your team is crunched for time, it’s sometimes helpful to shake up the routine a bit and focus more on fights you normally leave aside for later.

5. Take corners slowly. Actually, I mean this literally in raids too. Funny example: A bunch of us went into Sunwell for the first time, and seeing as we were all level 80 BA’s, we could totally handle anything.   We were bouncing around, most of us not knowing where the hell we were going,  when we got to this room where the path spilt, kind of like the hallways leading to Lady Deathwhisper after Lord Marrowgar , but you could also just jump down into the lower part of the room blindly. A hunter decided he’d just go for it, thinking at worse there’d be a pack of 70 mobs he’d have to solo. He landed on top of the twins and got the first conflagration debuff while everyone was still grouped together. We downed them, but everyone but a tank, a ret pally and a tree were dead by the time we were looking at the loot.

6. There’s always a chance that underneath that fluffy snow is black ice. Just because you have an encounter on farm doesn’t mean it’s time to get sloppy. Raids are full of encounters that can make the RNG monster rear its ugly head and send you fishtailing into a snow bank.  Sure, Lady Deathwhisper is easy…until all of your healers are blacked out because no one took the time to dispel curses. And gunship is not a loot piñata when someone has disconnected while still on the horde’s ship, causing Saurfang Sr. to stack 19 of his special buff that you then have to heal a tank through.

7. Stay calm. I think this is the most important rule to follow. Tensing your shoulders and your neck and gripping on the steering wheel for dear life will not make you feel any calmer. In fact, you’re probably just contributing to your own panic. Raids work similarly; if you’re frustrated and you act upon your frustration, you’re going to influence the other team members. So relax, take a deep breath, and remember eventually you’re going to get home safe and sound.

I have a feeling all the sparkly dust will probably be melted by this weekend. But maybe I’ll stop driving long enough to appreciate the frost covered branches and saronite architecture.

Last week, I decided a break from WoW (and especially raiding) was in order. The lag had gotten so bad that even playing around on my hunter (who has now made it out to Hellfire Peninsula with Osy’s adorable gnome) was impossible. Thankfully, those issues have been resolved on Terenas, but I still felt a bit worn out raiding most nights. So I found this website (it’s safe, I promise), and after downloading and tinkering with DosBox (well, after Osy tinkered with DosBox – it’s pretty user friendly –like you-drag-the-game-onto-the-program-and-you-play friendly -unless you have an LCD monitor like I do. Then,  I hope you know more about DosBox than I do or can, you know, read a wiki and follow instructions), I played some really, really old games. Like SimCity old.

I think my main grievances are lack of commitment and the feeling like my 25 man team has hit a wall. It wouldn’t be so bad if that wall was not Festergut. But what it boils down to is that we simply don’t have enough DPS to meet the enrage timer (according to some math I did, we’d have to average about 7k dps per dps player, and we’re not close to that yet).

I get frustrated when I can’t fix something for my team. I really don’t know much about dps, having really only played healers, and consequently, I don’t know how to get my team to crank out bigger numbers when they’re all seemingly following their ideal rotations. Maybe the ranged isn’t spread out enough? Maybe we were range-heavy the last time we tried?

10 mans are going well though, and usually cheer me up enough to go back into 25 man with an optimistic outlook. My druid’s team is getting progressively more cohesive (which I’m continually impressed with because before 2 weeks ago we were essentially just a group of strangers), and my priest’s team finally got Valithria down (I’m going to get around to posting suggestions for that fight, even though I kind of feel like we cheated because we brought a 4th healer in and single-tanked the waves of trash).  The priest’s team always feels like a challenge though. It seems like we can’t always get the same 10 people, though we always are playing with close friends and usually 8/10 are consistent.  We’re super close, and we play exceedingly well together, but actually finding a time to meet is like pulling teeth. From a lion. Who may or may not be cranky. And who definitely hasn’t been given any nitrous oxide.

I wonder if I’m the only one who’s not excited for Cataclysm yet. I mean, I’ll be plenty excited when I get to create a Worgen rogue and level through all the new content. And I’ll be plenty excited to revisit my healers and re-figure out how everything pieces together. But I’m not excited YET.  I know it’s a ways away, but I secretly fear I’m never going to see the end of this expansion. That for some reason or another I’ll never get the closure I’m longing for in Arthas’ storyline. Lore is part of the reason this game is so fulfilling for me; to be so involved, and so close to true end-game progression (and lore progression) , it would be really disappointing for me to have to find video of the conclusion of Wrath of the Lich King rather than experience it first hand.

I don’t want to jump ahead to Deathwing and speculating about the new world order before I finish what I’ve started.

I can’t get too pessimistic though. I know deep down that my teams will conquer the Lich King (even if it’s not zomg-rite-nao!). And our 25 man’s have just been getting stronger and stronger. We’ll be able to smush Festergut someday, even if we need to conquer other encounters first.  We’ve had these roadblocks before (Razorscale wipes for 3 weeks? Why, yes I remember that!)

Oh, and the trash after Valithria? That made me happier than a peanut-butter and banana and nutella sandwich.  And that’s a pretty happy sammich.  I would know. I made them for lunch during our Saturday alt raid.


PS. Both my 10 mans got the weekly quest to kill Festergut and Rotface. Both my 10 mans one shotted Rotface (who we attempted first because we figured we’d be more likely to wipe on him) and wiped on Festergut.  The first group had vomit on the melee group because we only had 3 ranged situated around the room and one died because he didn’t get all the spore debuffs he needed (I had offered to stand out so we’d have a backup range, but people said that was unnecessary and dangerous….) . The second group, and this was shitty, wiped around 25% because the second tank’s taunt wasn’t working and Osy blew up the entire raid. I felt horrible for the second tank because it was pretty clear that he was beating himself up over it.  All in all though, I had to laugh, because we never wipe on Festergut.  Talk about performance anxiety.

PSS. I do this sometimes on my guild forums, but I might MIGHT start publishing recipes for foods you find in game. I was motivated by this because my office friend and I have decided the 18th of every month is National Cupcake Day (we found like 5 different sites all claiming a different month, but interestingly the same numerical day, as National cupcake day). So the first recipe will probably be for Tasty Cupcakes. If what I make for Thursday is tasty. Which it might not be. Who knows?

/hugs for listening to my rants


Posted on: January 25, 2010

Who’s ready for a science lesson?!?


I said, who’s ready for a science lesson?!


Well, since it’s my blog, you’re going to get one anyways! HA! See how I tricked you there?

When humans are under stressful, threatening, or incredibly exciting conditions, we tend to respond with a basic “fight or flight” instinct. We either run away from our situation and regroup ourselves accordingly, or we take the bull by the horns (metaphorically, I don’t actually suggest trying this at home) and face our situation head on. No matter what we choose, our bodies are already beginning to prepare themselves in case of an emergency. The adrenal and pituitary gland are secreting epinephrine and endorphins into our blood stream, while our brain is sending signals by way of norepinephrine.

Wait. Back up. This is a WoW blog. Why are we using big words pertaining to our REAL bodies when normally we’d be healing the animated bodies around us. Well, it’s all connected.

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), norepinephrine, and endorphins are all different types of hormones released in our bodies  during times of stress (stress, in this case, meaning any thing physically or mentally dangerous or exciting; this can include pain, being scared, the sensation of falling, high tension situations, etc.).  Epinephrine is released through our adrenal glands right above our kidneys, and is responsible for increasing oxygen supply to our brains and muscles. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter, or a messenger, for our brains, and in addition to telling our hearts to beat faster, it is believed to increase attention/focus and our ability to make decisions quickly. Endorphins are controlled by our pituitary glands, and are released during times of stress and physical pain; they promote a sense of well being in the body and control the amount of pain our brain picks up.

So, now that we know a little bit about them…

The three hormones we’ve briefly touched upon usually combine to form what’s commonly known as an adrenaline rush.You know the feeling. The sense of euphoria you get when you’re screaming your lungs out on that new 90mph roller coaster. Or the jittery insomnia you experience the night before a major exam.  Maybe the exhilaration of an encounter you just can’t seem to beat…

That’s right. You don’t need to (thankfully) pull someone out of a burning building to feel the rush.  You can experience it in a controlled environment with nothing but a few hours of your time at stake.

I think that makes certain boss fights enjoyable:  the thrill of not knowing whether or not you’re going to succeed. If you were to go into Naxx and wipe repeatedly on Anub’Rekhan, well maybe you’d just get angry or put it aside. And once you finally DID succeed to kill him, chances are you’d be excited, but not euphoric.

Now picture yourself in Ice Crown Citadel, facing Professor Putricide with only 3 more attempts before Tirion comes in and tells you its time to throw in the towel. You can’t spend hours more wiping, you can’t even come back the next night to finish.  The pressure is tangible. And that’s when the rush starts setting in.

Now maybe some raiders come to the table with the cool, collected attitude that I’ve never had. But I’m pretty damn sure every single one of us last night was hopped up on the experience. I don’t rightly remember the last time we all raided in nearly complete silence, so intensely focused on our jobs. I don’t remember the last time me and my tree friend couldn’t find the words to describe the intensity of healing the last phase of the encounter.  The B.F. and I were up until ungodly hours of the night going over and over the fight, gleefully picking through every detail, too excited to even contemplate going to sleep. Just thinking about it, nearly 15 hours later, I can feel my heart start to race and the energy start to well up inside me.

And I can’t help but think that it’s a great mechanic of the game. Theoretically, we should perform a bit better while under the effects of the rush: all our attention is focused on the game. I know I did. I poured every bit of mana I could into the green bars on my screen. I pre-hotted, pre-casted. I stopped being overly concerned about my mana pool, relying on Sneaky the shadowfiend, and innervates, and *gasp* even mana pots! I felt completely in tune with Edainne at that moment, even though after years of healing on her I know her like the back of my hand.

And, in a way, it’s cathartic. We get to experience and release the emotions we don’t normally deal with in our day-to-day lives.

So, my dear readers, when was the last time WoW gave you such a rush? I’d love to hear others’ stories, maybe commiserate over fights that got my blood going, so to speak.

Last post, I started postulating about the idiosyncrasies we imbue in our characters.   I barely scratched the surface of the physical when I started realizing that maybe, just maybe, I should separate the physical habits from the mental ones. Not that I believe they’re separate entities; they are very much connected. I just thought it would be easier to explain my thought process this way.

The way I look at it, the social and tactical ticks we gain while playing are interwoven.  Sure, I may not as bounce as much when I’m grumpy, but my play style will drastically change if depending on how I’m feeling. The interesting thing about these little nuances of human behavior is that most of the time, we don’t notice we have them; at least, not until they’re well ingrained into our brains.

For a real-life example: every time I have to answer a question that requires a lot of explanation, I tend to pause, and lift one of my shoulders as high as my ears. My death knight companion always knows when I’m fielding a heavy guild question, or trying to formulate a logical argument simply by seeing the change in my body’s position. I never noticed this about myself until he brought it up.

Getting back to how this relates to the social/playstyle interwoven meta-thought of doom (it’s not really doom-ful per say, I just wanted it to sound dramatic), let’s use the oh-so-common example of the new dungeon finder. Each day, you have the opportunity of playing with hundreds of people you would otherwise not even know existed (except, maybe, in the form of a statistic). You have the opportunity to be exactly the same to each and every one of them, but if you’re anything like me, you’re not. Some of the people you run into will elicit camaraderie, some annoyance, some apathy (EEK!).

How do you react? In terms of play style? In terms of social interaction?

For me, my social response typically dictates my play style response. I’d love to say I give my 100% to each and every single instance/raid I run, but that would be a lie. If I’m not feeling the situation socially, my performance goes straight into the metaphorical toilet.

When I’m in a group of strangers, and everyone is using l337 speek and generally acting as if their gigantic e-peen is the only thing important in the whole wide world, I become reserved. I won’t bother answering questions or giving strategy suggestions. And my play style reflects that.  That lock that just life-tapped will get a single renew, rather than a greater heal. The hunter’s pet won’t get buffs after it dies from negligence. And forget about me using cool downs. I don’t even think about them.  Consciously, I’m not acting out of spite. I don’t want to wipe just to teach these bozos a lesson; I want to get my badges and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. So I will heal, but I will not be the super duper healer that everyone loves.

Now let’s take the opposite scenario: I’ve had quite a few legitimately pleasant groups. They may not be pulling 80bajillion dps every fight, but they’ve shown that they can type more than “sup” and they have a degree of friendliness. These people I will do anything for. Want me to rez your pet? You got it! Here, have some extra buff food that I happen to have lying around. If you want to stick around a little longer, I can help you try to figure out the next instance you’ll want to hit up for a chance to replace some of the blues you still have.  You’re leveling a healer? Well, here’s my guild’s vent info! Stop by so I can chat your ears off!  I will use divine hymn on cool down, I will guardian spirit the mage who pulled the extra pack of mobs, I will even run myself out of mana trying to heal a tank through preventable boss enrage-esque buffs, all because I like you. And again, not thinking about this consciously. I just go straight into Mega-Leet Healer mode. /hug.  For instance, the first time Sairyn got Halls of Reflection as her daily heroic, I almost bolted on the group. I didn’t want to waste their time wiping. The  group reassured me that they were ok with wiping if it helped me learn to be a better shaman healer. I stayed, and it was the best Halls of Reflection run I had up until that point (even the ones with guildies). I played my heart out for the people who cared enough about me as a person to give me a chance, knowing I may fail.

All in all, I think our moods seriously impact our performance, even if we don’t recognize it. Sure, some people may be driven to succeed when everyone else around them is facerolling huge numbers and are being general asshats about it. I can understand the desire to be better than one’s peers. But for me, the biggest motivator is love.  If I love you, even if it’s only for a brief 5 man pug, I will play my best for you.  Everyone may deserve the best from me, but you will elicit it.

So what about you all? How does your play style change on your mood? Do you heal people less? Do you go to further extremes to prove people wrong?

*This post brought to you by the warm fuzzy kittens that romp around with other cute creatures that live in the quintessentially feminine/childish part of my brain*.

While battling the Midweek Meeting Boss (fyi: we came thisclose to wiping), I noticed something very interesting about our Snottidin-esque raid member: every time she was making excuses for her (lack of) performance, she completely closes her eyes. It’s like adverting her gaze to the extreme. Because all I really do in this weekly encounter is sit in the back and wait for someone to call out for my limited dps, I had time to compare this unique behavioral tick to ones exhibited in another game I frequently play!

Of course there are levels to these ticks: how do I respond socially? Does my character display any of my ticks? Does my play style change? The answer to each of these questions is a resounding YES!

So, today, let’s  explore Character Ticks.

I can’t say I do this much on my paladin, though I think this solely rests on the fact that she’s not so geared yet that she can simply look at a health bar to make it green, but on each of my other characters, I bounce when I’m happy. And I’m not talking about the Night Elf idle motion.  My draeneis and my tree bounce in place. Eda bounces while she’s punching someone with in the back with prayer of mending. Sairyn bounces between chain heal casts, pretending she’s playing connect the dots with her team mates. Fluffikins bounces around the edges of fights, tossing out hot’s and giggling as she effectively emasculates the mobs. Sure, some of the constant motion comes from boredom, but honestly, it’s just way more fun to heal when you’re bouncy. I think the reason I excel at fights like Hodir and Keristrazsa is because somewhere it was seared onto my brain that bouncing is the path to winning.

Now, sometimes I need to stop bouncing. The pull might have gone a bit roughly (like last night in Ice Crown where we pulled the group on the side, the middle group, and set off one of the Bone Warder’s trap), or maybe I actually have reason to use a spell with a cast time. Or *gasp* I have someone talking to me (rare, I know). But, generally speaking, I’ll resume full-force bouncing unless I’m being a grouchy pants.

Now, character ticks are fascinating because you’re essentially breaking the barrier between yourself and your toon. You’ve developed muscle memories  and situational response mechanisms above and beyond the ones needed to successfully play the game (movement, spell keybindings, etc.). Do I need to bounce to heal people? Well, perhaps for a few specific fights, but generally speaking, no, bouncing will not regen mana, or make my hot’s heal people for more, or make people feel like they’re being lavished with hugs. Well, maybe that last one.

Originally this post was going to cover all three types of idiosyncrasies I outlined above, but then it just got too long. So, more tomorrow! Until then, what kind of physical idiosyncrasies do you catch yourself having in game?

I’ve always been soft-hearted. Maybe it’s a result of the daily dose of cute kittens and puppies I find in my inbox every morning.  I mean, my favorite quests of ALL TIME in the game are Oh noes the tadpoles! and Help Those Who Cannot Help Themselves.” Freeing innocent baby creatures from certain doom? Yes please! I’m not so soft-hearted, however, to feel guilty about killing their captors.

It’s an interesting moral crisis I find myself encountering every so often in game. I have no qualms about killing an aggressive beastie who charges at me, but I’ll spend hours farming the bull rhinos in Borean Tundra for meat without even TOYING with the idea of killing the baby ones. Did I ever regret killing Kel’Thuzad on numerous occasions? Heck no! But every time I enter Gluth’s room, I feel my heart sinking a little more knowing I have to euthanize a creature that had no say in its creation.

Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader made me forget about my moral ambivalence. In Ulduar, I rationalized that anything I broke could be put back together. XT -02 Deconstructor was my favorite fight because of his adorable quotes and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that as soon as we had freed Mimiron he would go out to the courtyard and put XT back together again. Clearly, I have an active imagination. And everything in ToC, except the champions, was so dastardly that I didn’t feel too upset ransacking the corpses.

Now we’re raiding Ice Crown Citadel. Here is the pinnacle of Warcraft immersion. Everything we have faced has led to this moment.  And now, more than ever, my conscience has started to rear its head.

Most of the instance, I feel like I’m saving the world (or, at least healing my comrades while they save the world). Lord Marrowgar and Lady Deathwhisper are just evil. I know that even though we might have sunk the horde’s battleship, in the end they’re ok. We didn’t kill them, just thwarted them a little bit. And while Saurfang’s story is tragic, we are not killing the hero of the Orcs, merely his reanimated body that has been thoroughly corrupted by the Lich King.

It’s the Plague Wing where my confidence, my security of toppling the evil festering in the Lich King’s castle, comes into question. I haven’t killed Putricide yet, but I KNOW that I’m not going to regret it when I do. He’s a happily employed agent of the Lich King, and he’s fully aware of the destruction he’s helping create.

Killing Festergut and Rotface is where my heart starts to feel a little heavier. Are they nasty, challenging little buggers to fight? You bet your sweet honeymint tea they are! But that’s just it: as exhausting and terrifying as they can be, they’re also little buggers. They have the mentality of a child. They don’t seem to actually care if they kill you or not; they simply are doing what Daddy told them to do. They want to make their maniacal, vile father proud, not having the wherewithal to realize they’re simply experiments to him. And as a raid group, we’re chillingly cruel to these young abominations. We kill their puppies, for goodness’ sake! (Which in and of itself makes me a little sad).

I won’t lie, I was ecstatic the first time we killed Festergut. Our team savored and shared that victory just like all the others before it. But after the celebrating, I realized that I wasn’t completely satisfied with my kill. I realized that a part of me truly was sad at killing a rather innocent creation (even if he was intended to be used for malicious purposes, I don’t believe that either abomination would kill unless following a direct order from their creator). And I know it was inevitable.  I’m not a roleplayer (though sometimes I’ve toyed with the idea); I recognize I need to kill Festergut and Rotface before I can kill the Professor, before I can finish the instance. Even from a lore point of view, Festergut and Rotface probably would have to be exterminated after Putricide’s demise; they love Putricide so dearly that they would probably fly into a catastrophic rage if he were hurt.

Honestly, all of this leads back to the dedication and talent of the Blizzard teams.  It’s one thing to create an encounter that people are excited to beat; it’s another thing entirely when you create an encounter that actually make people experience a bittersweet victory.

So, thank you Blizzard designers for making me feel.

And to Rotface and Festergut: I’m secretly rooting for you. You’ll always get a /hug from me.

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