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Statistics: Decline in Raiding Guild Activity

Statistics: Decline in Raiding Guild Activity

I’m still over the moon from this afternoon’s surprise – I’m getting an Alienware Aurora soon! It’s taking all my willpower not to turn cartwheels on the lawn, blistery hot weather be damned.

Anyhoo, I made the wise decision to stay indoors and enjoy the AC while checking out the latest in WoW Insider. This article sure resonated with me:

GuildOx Data Shows 50% Decline in Raiding Guild Activity
by Michael Sacco

This news probably shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone who understands the ebb and flow of WoW expansions, but GuildOx, a site that collects all kinds of data from the WoW Armory, has discovered that raiding guild activity has fallen 50% since the beginning of 2012. GuildOx site runner Polar tells us that a raiding guild is defined as “a guild that has gained a boss kill or raid achievement within the past month or those guilds that have completed heroic Madness of Deathwing.” Activity in this case is defined, obviously, as killing a boss that week.

Again, not a huge shock; we’re officially in Cataclysm’s twilight (heh) years, and drop-off like this before an expansion is to be expected. It’s worth noting in this case that the numbers for active raiders might be a little better than what’s reflected here — after all, plenty of guildless people have been able to raid thanks to Raid Finder, and that sort of activity wouldn’t be tracked by this metric.

One thing’s definitely for sure, though — the game needs a jump start in the form of Mists of Pandaria if Blizzard wants people to stick around. Thankfully, it’s right around the corner, but one wonders just how long this cycle can perpetuate. The end of Wrath and the lifetime of Cataclysm showed us that diminishing returns are already in effect, Annual Pass or no, but MoP’s endgame is decidedly different than what we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps things will be different this time.

But it was the comments from the readers that really hit me — a lot of them experienced the same thing I did: their guilds died, they lost members to Diablo 3, people lost interest. In short, even their own friends got bored. Nice to know I’m not alone in this.

I haven’t had time to feel bored, mainly because I was too busy running an interesting spectrum of emotions ranging from frustration to excitement to homicidal tendencies since transferring to a new server. The emotional roller coaster plus an unfulfilled bucket list have kept me going and wanting to play this game. The challenge is finding people who share the same bucket list, and so far I’ve been finding those people in pick-up groups (read: people who were also abandoned by their guildmates).

Misery loves company.

I’m just hoping said company keeps marching on and not cave in to pre-Mists of Pandaria ennui and frustration. At the rate things are going, it’s getting really hard to find interested and dedicated raiders who want to keep at it in spite of running Dragon Soul 137,478,075 times since day one of the tier. But if us like-minded people stick together, we can accomplish our goals and keep things interesting till MoP drops.

See you in the next PUG!

After Deathwing, Now What?

After Deathwing, Now What?

So with Deathwing dead and my little guild proudly at 8/8, what’s next for casual raiders like me while waiting for the release of Mists of Pandaria? Try T12 and T13 raids on heroic mode? At one point we did mull over the idea…for three seconds and said, nah, not this soon when we’re still trying to recover from the headaches of normal progression and related issues (and as a side note, Raid Group 2 has yet to down Deathwing).

Recruit more people and try 25-man normal mode perhaps? Ha! Try recruiting on my server where there seems to be a dearth of sincere folks with the skills and the right attitude we’re looking for. From what I’ve seen since Cataclysm was released, a lot of players want to join a guild only for the perks and in the hopes of getting carried to their shiny tier tokens and titles. And last year’s experience taught me that the bigger the guild, the higher your chances of discovering steaming piles of turd instead of gems among your roster of recruits, who will either sabotage your guild with their Machiavellian manipulations or quit in a hissy-fit all because they can’t become part of the core group right away. My GM knows what happened to me last year and even he is cautious about adding more people lest it turn into a circus of disasters. So until we find more reliable players willing to stick it out with the oldies, we’re keeping recruitment open only to members’ friends.

Roll another toon? That would be going against one of my New Year’s Resolutions. I am trying to correct the habit of rolling a toon only to neglect it and let it languish in lowbie limbo. But what I am doing these past few days is leveling a night elf druid that I swore I would level to 85 before Mists of Pandaria drops, as I have always wanted to play a druid at max level. She’s a resto drood named Louisa and I’m really having fun healing on her. It’s a refreshing break from playing a DPS spec as it’s from a different perspective; players have become mere health bars to me. LOL.

PvP some more? I’ve been PvPing twice a week with Marrok and company and I am far from getting my 25,000 Honorable Kills (I have only 13,821 HKs as of this writing). Battlegrounds are a nice break from raids but only if you find yourself in a really great group that believes in capturing flags instead of fighting mid-field.

Quest some more? Sure! I still have to work on my Loremaster title, however I foresee myself attaining it before the middle of this year…which means that’s one less thing to look forward to before Mists’ release.

Get the guild to do old tier achievements for more nice mounts? Sure! That ought to keep us busy for a while.

And should massive boredom and “Cata-fatigue” still set in way before the expansion, well, I could always take a sabbatical. Maybe you could too, if you find that nothing apart from raiding interests you and you’ve seen all the content.

When even revisiting old school stuff no longer gets the blood flowing, then maybe it’s time to hibernate till the Pandaren come calling.

Bigfist - WoW

New Gear Plus the Agony and the Ecstasy Of Raid Finder

New Gear Plus the Agony and the Ecstasy Of Raid Finder

First the good news: I got my first non-Looking for Raid tier gear today: Necrotic Boneplate Gauntlets plus Rockhide Bracers. Winning them made up for my ZERO wins in LFR this week.

Cloudrunner - New Gauntlets - WoW

Neat!

Now on to the wonders of LFR, where one can meet the most charming, well-mannered, cooperative, unselfish, unflappabe, cool, calm and collected people. I think I will let the image speak for itself.

Looking For Raid Chat - WoW

Afraid to Tank Still

Afraid to Tank Still

My paladin Charina recently hit level 85, and so far has tanked only two Cataclysm instances — Vortex Pinnacle and Grim Batol. In both instances, I had my dear friend Woody with me to act as heals. When he is not online, I don’t dare tank a random. Call it cowardly, but I simply refuse to subject myself to hostility from four unsupportive and rude people who act like they have never had a noob moment in their entire WoW life. Woody and I have a system in place: if more than one DPS is being a dick to me — i.e., pulling aggro ahead of me because I am “too slow”, refusing to follow my CC request, constantly whining about how the run is taking too long (to which I answer, “I like fast runs but not stupid runs”), we just watch them die, laugh and then leave party. That’s your tank and heals that just left, good luck with the wait time, you bastards.

I know I could just gather people from my own guild so I wouldn’t have to worry about random douchebags from different realms, but most times my guildies are either doing Tol Barad or not online…or the ones who are online have not even hit 81 yet. Weekends are devoted to 10-man raids, where my DK and hunter are needed.

Seriously, I have never been this afraid to tank. And it’s not because the mechanics intimidate me, but it’s the people you end up with that most often screw it up for you. In Grim Batol, I had a rogue who refused to sap and told me we’ll be fine, he thinks I can hold aggro well, and to just pull, pull, PULL. I was hoping they would be his famous last words but I had a good group with me so we (he) didn’t die (darn!).  My evil side was hoping he’d die on Forgemaster Throngus (I really hate impatient people) but we all lived…then the rogue dropped out of group without a word. Guess I still wasn’t fast enough for him. Luckily, DPS can be instantly replaced, and we got a really nice DK who was a fine addition to our little party.

It’s funny how I am so quick to encourage and guide tanks new to an instance by giving them tips and whispering to them ‘you can do it, see you did it, good job man!‘ but can’t bring myself to be my own cheerleader.

I guess I need more practice and experience to build my confidence.

But first, gotta wait for my pocket healer to get back from the road.  😀

Last I Checked, WoW Is a Game, Not a Job

Last I Checked, WoW Is a Game, Not a Job

Here is my two copper on the whole brouhaha following the 14,000+ comments left by readers on Ghostcrawler’s blog Wow, Dungeons are Hard!

Before I go any further, let me reiterate the obvious: I am not a hardcore player. While I would love to achieve the things that Paragon and  Blood Legion have attained for themselves, I’m realistic enough to know and accept that my circumstances won’t allow for a shot at such greatness. First of all, while I have an awesome computer, Internet blows in this country. Playing with latency dancing anywhere from 300 to 500 ms on a good day ain’t gonna cut it in a hardcore raiding group. I’ll just be deadweight to the 24 other players, and I really hate to be that kind of guy, erm, girl who stands in fire for a good bit only because I saw the fire two to three seconds after everyone else has seen and jumped away from it. Yeah, latency is the bane of my gaming existence.

Second of all, I am a mom of two girls – one with special needs – and in the middle of a maddening house renovation project. My duties do not leave me enough time for theorycrafting, watching every Tankspot video on every boss fight there is, and running every Cataclysm heroic dungeon only to see it fall apart because the tank or healer couldn’t keep up with the unforgiving mechanics of the combat. I value my free time. When I log into WoW, I expect to relax and have fun. (There are days when I don’t feel like raiding, believe it or not).

Casual gamer that I claim to be, nevertheless I did raid a lot back in Wrath, even when I held a managerial position and clocked 12 hours in the office. I did a lot of time in ICC, and Ulduar and Naxxramas on the side for shits and giggles. We wiped countless times, but it was a happy period for me because I was in a great guild (until that sorry incident which I won’t rehash anymore). Yes, we researched the fights and watched the videos, but I don’t recall it being such time-intensive research. Besides, we preferred to learn the fights hands-on, rather than dissect tutorials for hours on end. Learning by doing was how we got things done.

Casual gamer that I claim to be, I think I am a pretty decent raider. My DPS is not something to sneeze at. I show up at least 20 minutes before start time, and am at the stone to help summon people. I bring my own flasks and contribute feasts. I pay my own repair bills even if the GM is willing to shoulder the cost. I don’t clog vent or raid chat with the same verbal diarrhea that plagues most attention whores in this game. I’m there to do my damage-dealing job quietly and efficiently.

Casual gamer that I claim to be, I take raiding seriously and 5 man heroics less seriously, but I have always approached every run armed and ready and responsible and courteous, but always with this in mind: no matter the outcome, I’m there to have fun and learn something new while supporting the group to the best of my ability.

So what the hell happened in Cataclysm that not only ripped apart the old Azeroth but also created a bigger, gaping chasm between the casual and hardcore players?

First thing everyone noticed – and I pointed it out in this post – that the new heroics are not a walk in the park anymore. The Wrath zergfest is over.

Casual gamer that I claim to be, I am fortunate enough to have spare time to look up fights, wait in queue for more than half an hour, and maybe this has something to do with my age and being a parent, I have the patience of Job to sit through several wipes until we get it right. I honestly don’t mind practicing CC (on my hunter) or kiting the adds away from the party (at the expense of my DK’s DPS) if it guarantees a successful run.

But holy moly, I don’t recall spending 3 hours in an instance and wiping SEVEN times on a boss back in Wrath.

Casual gamer that I claim to be, I can deal with challenges that Blizzard throws in my face.

But Jesus H. Christ, I can’t do it alone if the four people with me are not willing to support one another and continue to bring that sucky attitude of quickly putting the blame on someone, anyone when a boss fight or mob pull goes wrong, and then ragequit after the second wipe.

We all make mistakes. Even the best players don’t get it right the first time and have to deal with a learning curve. So it really irks me when someone in a random heroic gets on his condescending high horse and rips apart the first-timer with irritating, snarky L2P comments.

My reply to the elitist jerk who simply won’t accept less than perfection from a first-timer: if you hate encountering so-called noobs, go run with your own damn guild. If you don’t want to extend kindness and tolerance to a stranger, then the Dungeon Finder is not the tool for you.

Oh, speaking about guilds, I really dislike what Cataclysm did to the smaller guilds. With a good number of people after the guild perks, who wants to join or stay in a fairly young guild? Why go for a Level 2 when there is a Level 11 guild recruiting? Now it’s all about the damn perks. What the hell happened to good old-fashioned guild pride? Cloudrunner was recruited by a GM who ended up disbanding his guild after a week because some of his core raiders moved to Level 7 and higher guilds. Sad. So sad.

Since moving to the new realm, it’s been a struggle to find a guild that actually does something besides killing a metric ton of critters to unlock more perks. I don’t dare apply for the hardcore ones, yet I don’t want to risk applying for seemingly social but “not so happening” guilds (where my hunter was until I pulled him out today, as there was simply no activity on the calendar). I’m looking for that happy middle, and earlier my DK joined a guild that looks to be somewhere there, so let’s hope I found THE ONE, and I won’t have to deal any more with PUG nightmares.

But only time will tell.

But I digress. So what is it exactly would I like to say to Ghostcrawler’s face if given the honor of his presence?

Ghostcrawler, I may be a Wrath baby but I’m no softie. I love challenge and I’m willing to put up with the unforgiving mechanics of your dungeons in this expansion. But while I’m no softie, I – and the majority of your customers – do not have the good fortune of having a strong guild to guide us (guide, not carry, okay) through our learning curve in Heroics, so we depend on PUGs through your Dungeon Finder to learn the fights. We could have pugged on Trade, but it’s not always a successful endeavor, so it’s back to the Dungeon Finder for us.

Ghostcrawler, I know your fanboys keep saying the Heroics are not that hard, and all it takes is some research and CC and whatnot. But watching a Tankspot video and reading Elitist Jerk articles alone don’t make a successful player. This takes us back to what I said earlier about Learning by Doing. It’s like what they say in those Nike ads. Just (effing) do it!

Unfortunately, Ghostcrawler, the Dungeon Finder is riddled with supercilious, impatient elitist jackasses. While that’s already beyond your control, we casual players are at the mercy of these people who refuse to help a fellow gamer. It’s bad enough the queue is 40 minutes long, it’s worse when you get into a group bearing that selfish attitude.

I play this game to have fun. I believe majority of your subscribers, the casuals who will never see end-game content in heroic mode yet still want a little challenge, play this game to have fun too.

But the very tricky mechanics of Cata Heroics that allow very, very little room for error, resulting in constant wipes and a lot of frustration and wasted time, is taking out all the fun.

Yeah, yeah I know, it’s all about reading up on your class, consulting the many resources available on hand, investing a bit more time, getting used to CC, and eventually it will all get better, yadda yadda yadda.

But last I checked, WoW was and is still just a game, not another one of my take-home assignments that were an extension of my 12-hour grind in the office. And not everyone cannot, or will not, commit to that extra task.

I know something is terribly amiss as I do not recall feeling this much tension every time I enter an instance back in Wrath, wondering if my next group would be just as nice as the ones I met in Heroic Shadowfang Keep, or just as impossible as the ones I encounter 90% of the time.

Now if my Random Heroic experience is miserable 90% of the time, in spite of all efforts to follow the kill order, practice CC, not stand in fire, et cetera, et cetera, then something is really off.

Am I suggesting you nerf the fights big time? Nope. Not gonna ask you to dumb them down like the Wrath dungeons, but maybe you could make adjustments to find that middle ground that will keep both the hardcore and casual gamers satisfied…and keep massive frustration at bay.

As I see it, the casual players are being alienated.

Sooner or later, my house renovation will reach its climax, allowing me to return to the workforce. By then, I won’t have much time to play during the week. We’re looking at probably two to three hours tops each day. With my time constraints, I certainly wouldn’t want to spend them in frustration.

TLDR? Eh, lemme then borrow a few lines from forum poster Wulfenserkyr to best sum it up:

“After leveling my toons, and running endless normal dungeons, I was then faced with the prospect of running endless heroics and more often than not failing with people who neither know nor care how the mechanics work. I understand the die hard ‘take it or leave it fans’, and at one point I even agreed with you. Problem is that most are not like you, and most just want to have fun….I want my games to be fun, not a lesson in tolerance with trolls, nubs or fail groups.”

14,000 comments and growing, Ghostcrawler. The proverbial ball is in your court.

Loving Cataclysm: A Gallery of Awesomeness

Loving Cataclysm: A Gallery of Awesomeness

The fact I haven’t posted for a week since Cataclysm launched says it all: the expansion captivated me so much, updating my website took a backseat to questing, exploring, leveling, and enjoying all the new challenges at hand. Blizzard outdid themselves this time, my heartiest kudos to Mike Morhaime and his brilliant team!

The initial Cataclysm experience helped ease some of the “new kid on the block” tension I felt when I arrived at my new realm Exodar. I came to the server feeling the rug had been pulled from under me — smarting from being separated for the first time from my best Borean Tundra buddy Denefblah (who went to Mal’ganis), guildless for the first time in ages, awed by the impressively-titled achievers that zoomed past me in Orgrimmar (and we are NOT talking Kingslayers here, okay?), missing my dear friends Catain, Snowcow, Shath and a whole bunch of others, missing Funnypiggy on Trade chat…you get the picture.

Well, good thing there was a bazillion things to do the minute Cata dropped. It was 4:00 in the afternoon my time when the OMG moment happened.

Since then, it’s been a joy ride filled with new achievements…plus a brand-new guild. Cloudrunner got an invite to join <Aces High>, a newly-formed guild with over 500 (!) members (yes, their recruitment officers are unbelievable). We haven’t done any real raiding yet but earlier I did my first Cataclysm dungeon guild run with the GM and three other members. With people leveling quickly and acquiring new and better-than-ICC gear, we’re looking to slowly form our 10-mans.

But in the meantime, there is no real rush to Realm First (we’ll leave that to the hungry, dedicated pros). I don’t want to get sucked into the We Got It First mentality; I just want to enjoy the new content at my own pace and not get all worked up over raiding.

Here are select screenshots of my adventures from the last seven days. Hope you like them!

(Where applicable, click to see actual size)

MY FIRST BLACKROCK CAVERNS PUG

Blackrock Caverns PUG

Blackrock Caverns Achievement

MY FRST FLIGHT IN ORGRIMMAR



FIRST FUNNY PET NAME I SAW

Kevin Bacon

THE SKY SUDDENLY TURNING RED IN TWILIGHT HIGHLANDS (DEATHWING!?!?!)

Deathwing Red Sky

EXPLORING NEW CATACLYSM ZONES





RIDING MY TURTLE QUESTING UNDERWATER IN VASHJ’IR

Turtle Mount WoW

THEN FINALLY GETTING MY SEAHORSE MOUNT

Abyssal Seahorse

BATTLING SLABHIDE IN THE STONECORE FOR THE FIRST TIME



HELPING THE EARTHEN RING BATTLE RAGNAROS



MEETING THERAZANE THE STONEMOTHER

Therazane

(That is one ugly mother…)

PLAYING MY GOBLIN MAGE

Goblin Oomlot Helm

(That’s my goblin Honestjack with Shath’s goblin Evocare. Dig our helms. Reminds me of those Imperial German World War I combat helmets. All that our goblins needed was a handlebar mustache to complete the look)

ENCOUNTERING FIERCE LITTLE OOMLOT WARRIORS



AND MY FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A GOBLIN….



RUNNING OVER PEOPLE!

Helping Uncle Vol’jin

Helping Uncle Vol’jin

My Internet Service Provider decided to go dumb on me again so there wasn’t much for me to do the last couple of days except answer the call of Uncle Vol’jin and his homies.

It was my buddy Denefblah who called my attention to the new quest chain in Sen’jin leading to the reclaiming of the Echo Isles.

“Have you heard about the trolls?” he said when I came online.

“Nope,” I replied.

“Pre-Cata quest line. Go to Sen’jin Village. Take back Echo Isles. You should have a letter in the mail about it.”

“Oh okay, Jesus, when you said trolls, I thought you meant the likes of Funnypiggy on Trade chat.”

“Haha.”

So yeah I got that letter in the mail from Vanira who told me to haul ass to Sen’jin, where I met Den and we did the quests together. So many players were there, it was like one big party.

(Click to see actual size)



We picked up frogs and turned them into mini-spies and hurled them from the air while riding this funky bat.

Sen'jin-2

We got volunteers to help retake the Isles.

Sen'jin-3

Sen'jin-4

Yeah that is one sexy belf.

Sen'jin-5

We got shape-shifted to battle some tiger babe who turned out to be a…chick Troll Druid in disguise.

It’d be odd seeing Troll Druids in Cataclysm. I think I’ll roll one for grins and giggles.



Dance party!

After an assload of preamble, it was time to battle Zalazane and his minions.





This is a beautiful shot:



And finally the achievement!

Zalazane's Fall

I am going to miss the Kalimdor I knew while leveling my troll hunter Anhur. I am going to miss everything about Durotar and especially the Barrens once Deathwing enters the scene and lays the lands to waste.

They say change is good, but…

Whatever the hell will happen to Barrens chat and Mankrik’s Wife?