Flight of the Phoenix

November 14, 2009

The people who read this have always known me by my current nickname: Vaadren. It’s a name I’ve carried for years now, and suits me well. However, I still carry a soft spot for my “old” nickname, the time when I was known as the Flaming Phoenix.

I’ve grown a love for the Phoenix over the years. The majestic beauty of the fiery creature, the mythology behind it, and the symbolism.

But also because of its namesake city in Arizona. As a kid I spent several years there, and as a second home, the city and the creature from which it lent its name have been a very important part of my life ever since.

Enter World will be without updates for two weeks. I’m going back to my second home for a short visit, leaving me without WoW and with only sporadic internet access. There are several reasons why I’m going, but only one fits the symbolism.

I need a battery recharge. As the Phoenix, it is my goal to “end an era” and be reborn anew. And there’s no better place than what is, for me, the most inspiring and meaningful place there is.

I’ll return on the 28th, a new me.

A reborn Vaadren.

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And now for something completely different: Engineering

November 10, 2009

Ever since Burning Crusade I’ve been a miner and blacksmith. At first, I completely neglected the professions, thinking it’d take too much time. Later on I managed to level mining, making a fair amount of gold with selling the ores. Blacksmithing was still a pain.

It wasn’t until late into Burning Crusade when I needed a set of Ragesteel Shoulders, that I started leveling up blacksmithing. And indeed, it was painstakingly difficult. But I made it, got blacksmithing all maxed out and pranced around with those god-ugly, but effective, shoulders.

When Wrath of the Lich King came around, it became much easier to level both. And the profession-only recipes really made having a crafting profession worthwhile. Extra sockets for blacksmiths, ring enchants for enchanters, special prismatic gems for jewelcrafters.

Where does that leave engineering, though? Taking a look at its “added value”, there is actually some nice things to be said, but instead of profession-specifics it lies more in what engineering does best: gadgets.

Explosive sheep are fun, but hardly a useful tool. But who doesn’t like a Repair Bot after a wipe, or perhaps a mailbox in obscure places? Back in Burning Crusade the craftable goggles were quite powerful (much less so now, with T8.5 and T9 available at your local gear vendor), and while more a novelty item than anything else, who can forget the flying machine and chopper?

In PvP, engineering gets a boost. Enhancements like nitro-boots or rocket-firing gloves have more than once turned the tides in a battleground. The craftable explosives have never hurt either (except the opponent, of course).

But above all, I think engineering is a “boys and their toys” profession. And it’s frikkin’ awesome.

I’ve been wanting to level engineering for a long time, but I preferred the freedom of mining. I liked being able to get the mats for a blacksmithing recipe myself, instead of being dependant on a miner friend or auction house. But in the end, I liked engineering more.

I called in the aid of a good friend of mine, and together we went across Azeroth and beyond to farm all the materials needed for a massive powerlevel to 450. A few gold was spent on some hard-to-find mithril and random mats, but most of the materials were gathered by “me ‘n Sc” in a 7 hour straight grind.

It got me to 440, and now I’m at 445 with a bit of work. The last few points are always the hardest. And Sc is still helping me to get all the mats for the final stretch. 5 Wormhole Generators to go, and with him as the only miner left, a lot of the mats come from him.

It’s a courtesy I extend to a lot of guildies, helping them out or crafting things for them. But regardless of whether I find it common courtesy or not, I’m always glad to see such generosity. Therefor, I’d like to thank Langdon for donating some mats you had lying around (it helped a lot!), and of course my favorite Death Knight, Sc, for the long grind that has been and the help yet to come. You guys rock!

And if you’re ever on Lightbringer EU and you see a Paladin running around with a mechanical sheep following him, there’s a good chance it’s me.


The State of the Guild 2009

November 2, 2009

I promised the further explanation of the last post, a good two weeks ago. Here goes.

Samsara suffered some massive blows the last month. It’s unclear where it started to go wrong, if at all. What is clear is that we as the officer team made a decision here and there that we probably shouldn’t have. Either way, there was probably nothing we could’ve done to prevent it all, so I’m not about to whack myself over the head for it.

We’re seriously stripped to the bone now, and it doesn’t feel good. We’ve had most of our core members leave recently, reason being that the guild “didn’t have the right feel anymore and wasn’t what it used to be”. Our once thriving guild chat is practically empty now, and we’ve been reduced from an approximate 20 members online at any one time to about 4. 

Ironically, with Samsara’s second anniversary coming up, there’s not a whole lot to celebrate.

That’s no excuse to be down in the dumps, though. Call me naive, but I’m a firm believer of the “for better or for worse” mentality.

If you’re going through a rough patch in your life, what do you do? Give up and retreat? Or do you tie yourself to the deck, hold the ship straight with all your might and ride that big wave through the storm?

I’m one who usually goes for the latter, and this time is no different. I once made a promise to lead this guild in the best possible direction, to the best of my abilities. And I’m not about to forsake on the obligations I accepted.

Be it a relationship, soccer game or a Warcraft guild, everything you do will at some point throw you a curveball. It’s up to you how to deal with it.

And when the going gets tough, the tough get going.


The nail in the coffin

October 13, 2009

A tremendous wrong has been done. Something that quite possibly can never be undone.

I’m scared, trembling. Afraid of the thought, hoping it’s all just a nightmare. But I know it’s not.

It’s amazing how a game can have such an impact on a person, but then we are dealing with real people. Guilds are social groups, and how are they different from any other social group? Making out with your best friends girlfriend will get you a swift kick out of the loop, and you may walk away without a black eye if you’re lucky. Doing a tremendous wrong to someone in-game pretty much has the same effects.

Tonight will be remembered. Remembered as the day that we may have hammered in the largest nail ever into our coffin.


Fly fast while paying less

October 12, 2009

For some, getting epic flying is the biggest struggle of all. 5k gold isn’t easy to come by (although some might disagree), especially if you have a bit of a spending habit.

Luckily, you can get it for less.

Instead of going to Dalaran for your flight training, make a quick visit past Thrallmar. The newly appointed flight trainer there can teach you any kind of flying, but for the awesome price of…. 5k gold.

On neutral.

These prices go down following the reputation discount. If you have friendly reputation with Thrallmar it’ll be 4500 already, and 4250 on honored. Of course these prices will go down even further the higher your reputation gets.

Do the Thrallmar rep grind and save on your training costs.


Keeping Your Cool: Settling Disputes

October 9, 2009

We all play this game for fun. It’s our way of relaxing after a hard days work, a way to relieve some stress. But the greatest strength, as well as greatest weakness of an MMO like World of Warcraft is the huge amount of other real people you play with. There will be a good number of people you get along with, a good number of people you won’t get along with, and a huge amount of people you’ll never get to know. Guilds are usually a “sanctuary” for a player, allowing him/her to log on and have a group of people to talk with who he/she can get along well. But you can’t be bosom buddies with everyone, and even in your guild you’ll have a person or two who you can’t really get along with. Conflicts can always arise.

If you have an issue with another guild member, there’s always officers to be the neutral party in resolving your conflict. But what if your issue is with an officer?

I recently came upon a good article on what you can do if you have a conflict. It summed up your possible courses of action in a handy list:

  • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
  • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
  • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
  • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it?
  • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.
  • (Source: World of Matticus)

    Looking at the list, it seems very solid. That’s pretty much the things you can do if you have an issue with one of your officers. I’m just curious: if you would put a percentage of occurrance behind every option, what would they be?

    I can guess the outcome. 50% for the first option, 50% for the last.

    We keep saying it over and over again. If you have a problem, talk to an officer. Usually it’ll turn out to be an argument over nothing. Perhaps we made a mistake, perhaps you understood it wrong. Whatever the reason, we’re all human beings, never perfect but always willing to sort things out.

    I recently spoke with an officer from another guild. She agreed that “unless you walk up to a person and make him/her talk, you won’t hear anything”, and more often than not you’ll open up a huge floodgate of things they want to talk about. This is what makes me so sad. Why not come to us sooner? Are we frightening human beings?

    Leaving the guild is literally the last resort. The last ditch effort after trying everything else. I’m willing to bet that more often than not, a well-placed conversation will be more effective than a /gquit.

    I want this to be a general shoutout to everyone. If you have issues with another player, not necessarily an officer but anyone: talk it over! I understand you “don’t want to rock the boat”, but if you don’t blow off steam in an early stage, you’ll end up erupting like a volcano. And volcanoes break things.


    The group within a group: Guild Cliques

    October 6, 2009

    Sometimes, certain events make you think over even the simplest of things. A death in the family usually reminds you of the frailty of life and how we take a lot for granted. Watching a newscast about hunger in African countries reminds you of how good our own lives are. This is true for a lot of things in WoW as well. From a massive argument in guild chat to a silent /gquit, it can all result in a huge train of thought. The latter being my case.

    Guild members come and go. That’s just the way it is, there’s nothing you can do about it. However, I do find it important to know why someone chose to leave our guild. Was it something we did, something we said? Do the raiding times just not suit you, or is our current difficulty level too high or low for you? Whatever the reason, I just want to know if it was something we could have prevented. In order to improve, you need constant feedback.

    Not too long ago, one of our members left the guild without notice. I wasn’t online at that time, otherwise I would’ve taken action right away. I’ve been trying ever since to have a quick word with him. To find out why he left, if there were any hard feelings, if there was anything I could do. To no avail, unfortunately, as our playing times differ too much. Eventually I dug up some information about his reasons to leave. It was his belief that there was a kind of “clique” present, one which was hard to get in to. If you didn’t “belong” in that clique, you kind of sat on the sidelines.

    This surprised me a lot. I was once a newcomer as well, and I’ve never felt as if I had to work my way into a group, so to speak. Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time this point came up, and I started thinking about it. Was it possible that this clique really existed, or was it just a case of misperception? I decided to trace back all of the people who had left because of this, and take a look at the overall situation. I came to a few conclusions:

    • Samsara can be seen as an outspoken guild. Many of our members have their own view on things, and are anything but afraid to voice those opinions. I count myself as one of those people, although I usually present it with a fair amount of tact. It’s one of our charms and turn-offs, a strength as well as a weakness. Looking at the members who left because of “clique-forming” – let’s call them Bruce and Tina – it can be said that they were a bit quieter. Their participation in guild chat was less than the average guild member, they could be online for most of the day and go largely unnoticed and were more likely to be seen pugging heroics than trying to form a guild group first.
    • Bruce and Tina never came to me or any other officer with this issue, although I can only guess why. If it was such a big problem, why not try to fix it? Did they expect us, as officers, to notice their position and do something about it? It’s something I might try to figure out. I’d like to hear the reasoning behind staying passive when you have an issue.

    I’ll be the first to admit that there are indeed groups of people who stick together in Samsara. I, too, have people I like to hang around with online, even though I like to see myself as someone who holds good relationships with many guild members instead of just a few. I find it an inevitable fact. After all, everyone makes his or her own friends in a guild (and sometimes enemies) with whom he or she likes to hang out with. As officers we try to break those groups up every now and then, mainly by splitting them up in different raid groups. Everyone gets to raid with everyone, ensuring full-scale guild interaction. You don’t have to be a part of these small groups to fit in, as everyone still plays with everyone. Even the people outside of their own little group.

    Then it occurred to me: when are you truly part of the guild? It could very well be that there is a misconception in when you are a “part of the guild” which is the root of this issue. Are you part of the guild as soon as you’ve been invited?

    Many guilds, including us, hold a trial period of a week or two to see if the person fits in. After that time, if the person in question hasn’t left him-/herself a decision is made to either let that person go or promote him/her to member. In reality, many of the people make it to member. The bad apples show their true colors very early on, but most of the people applying are decent players who get along well with the rest. Some might be a bit quiet, some more outspoken. We don’t select our members on such a trait, and accept both with equally open arms. The advantage of this is that we get a large diversity in players and personalities (which can collide from time to time, I admit). The downside is that we get members like Bruce and Tina, who have a hard time truly fitting in due to whatever reasons, and eventually leave. This is unfortunate for us as a guild, who has to say goodbye to a few people, and for the people in question, who have to go on their search for their perfect guild again.

    I came to the conclusion that you can’t truly call yourself “part of the guild” until you feel comfortable in its community. It was exactly that why I never experienced this clique-forming: I felt an instant click with my new guildies. In reality, the guild itself is the clique. The misconception starts when you think you’re “in” when you’ve been invited to the guild. Sure, it’s the first barrier, but you’ll have to open the second door in order to truly fit in somewhere: the door to people’s hearts. As mushy as this may sound, it is a fact. As long as you can’t (or won’t) get along with the rest of the guild, it just won’t happen. This isn’t limited to acting nice or acting like a prick. It includes acting at all.

    Samsara won’t keep you out of raids if you’re new, we won’t ignore you if you say something or choose someone else over you for heroics if you called first. But we also won’t ask you every week if you want to come to Ulduar or TotC. We won’t try to drag a conversation out of you or automatically assume you want to come to heroics. Interaction is the keyword, and if you don’t interact you might indeed feel as though you’re on the sidelines.

    If you never ask that girl to dance with you, you’ll stay a wallflower.