Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guild drama!

I think I've mentioned before how sometimes I think about what it would be like if my blog was completely anonymous. Sometimes you just want to vent or say things. Hmmm maybe there should be a common place/site/blog where all bloggers can go and post completely anonymous posts.

Thus, it's not that common that I feel comfortable blogging about guild drama, not that drama happens that often to us anyways. But alas! Guild drama! That I can blog about! Hooray! Though I'm not sure that I would even give this incident a proper drama label. It was too amusing and small... perhaps I shall call it guild dramette?

So about a week ago we had a new addition to the guild. He ran one raid with us before we ended up extending him an invite. Now immediately after he joined, I picked up on a couple things. This guy was incredibly chatty. Chatty on vent... chatty on guild chat... just chatty.

Now its not like our guild is full of cold bitches, but we're not a particularly chatty guild. Meaning we talk when we talk, and there are many of us who know each other really really well. But no, not every single person logging on has to get a hello. Not every single achievement has to get a million grats. And people don't get offended if they don't. It's just the way we are. We talk when we talk, and we don't when we don't. A lot of times people are just doing their own thing and there isn't constant guild chat.

Now this guy had also asked me a couple of times to come on vent to chat with him... and turns out he did that with another female guildie. I made up lame excuses each time... but uh... WTF?

Look, I understand that it may be a bit difficult to come into a small tight knit guild of people who have known each other a long time. And its not that we are elitist bitches. But a relationship of the depth that I have with people in the guild... a relationship of that sort takes time to establish and develop. It doesn't just happen overnight. You can't just ask me to come and chat on vent... like Jess or others could. You just can't.

So the final straw was that on Sunday this guy logged on and said hello, to which some folks responded. But then he asked how everyone was doing, and no one responded to that. About half an hour after that he guild quit, then logged off. Later that night it turns out that he also changed toon names.

Oh my goodness I was so amused by this. I mean it was clear that our guild culture may not have been the best fit for him. Through no fault of his own, we could have acknowledged that if he wanted a particularly social and chatty guild, perhaps we weren't the best place for him. Also if he was looking for a bunch of attention or to flirt with girls, we definitely weren't the right place for him.

But to not only guild quit erratically and not have the balls to actually say something... but then to be so "whatever" over all of this that you have to do a name change? Lawl. My guess is that he was a young kid... perhaps early 20s... clearly too immature to be able to man up and say when things aren't working and leave like an adult. I am just so so amused that he had to name change though... so that what we can't track him down?

Thanks bud, for a good laugh and the opportunity to blog about guild "drama".


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Social network analysis of The Left Claw*

I've always been intrigued by the social networking aspect of this little game of ours. And perhaps since I took a number of managerial and organizational behavior courses in business school, I decided to do a little bit of social network mapping/analysis to show how our little guild came to be.

Names in blue denote current raiders and names in red denote folks who no longer play this game. Where I knew the relationship between two people, they have been noted.

Couple things you see here. Jess and Rap were the two main intergral hubs in terms of bringing in future Left Claw folks. Also you see that we would have never met Rap if it wasn't for Wut pugging healers for heroics back in the BC days. In those days I was the only healer in the guild and if I wasn't on or in the mood to run a heroic, Wut would have to find someone else on the server.

This is how he met both Rap and Heidi. I'm telling you, the whole cross server feature of LFGs these days has had a significant effect on how people meet new folks on their servers. While pugging runs the old way definitely took more work, the results of it were much richer, in that it allowed for deeper relationships to form.

The other thing you see is that most of the people who came in the guild were people who knew each other in RL or through a past guild. You also see that I really haven't done much in terms of bringing people in the guild (though I must get credit for bringing in awesome pally healer Nico!).

But look at sad slacker little old me on the left there. But perhaps this isn't too surprising since I'm not a particularly friendly person with people I don't know, plus I've really only been in this guild, for over 4 years now, so it's not like I know anyone from a previous guild.

It's also nostalgic to look at some of these old names of past guildies who no longer play this game... and to think about how they introduced us to some pretty awesome folks. It's interesting to look at it all this way though.

I met Adamas questing in Darkshore, who then introduced me to Jess... Jess who already knew Wut from real life... Wut who randomly pugged a healer for a BC heroic and happened to meet Rap... and Rap who was in a previous guild with Nkm and Kal. You take out just one person from that equation and its quite likely that I wouldn't know Nkm or Kal today.

Hmmm maybe I'm being particularly sappy and sentimental or maybe I'm just a geek that this social network stuff intrigues me. :p

*Edited 4/22: Lorosia and Chanti tell me that they did find us through Jess and I's blogs. So now my box doesn't look so sad anymore.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Terrorists in virtual worlds?

I came across this article in Computerworld the other day that starts by talking about how the FBI (yes, the freakin' FBI) raided the apartment of two University of Michigan students to investigate "potentially fraudulent sales or purchases of virtual currency that people use to advance in the popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft."

An article from annarbor.com provides some more details, saying that:

"Investigators seized laptop computers, hard drives, video game systems, credit cards, a cell phone, paperwork and other computer equipment, documents say. Investigators were seeking records of any online transactions with WOW, the Chinese-based gold-farming website www.gameusd.com, eBay, PayPal and the United Services Automobile Association, which offers services including online banking."

"No arrests have been made, FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold, a bureau spokeswoman in Detroit, said Wednesday. Berchtold said she could not comment further on the March 30 raid because many documents in the case remain sealed."

What in the? The FBI involved in something like gold selling? Really? Doesn't this seem kinda, what's the word... excessive to you? I mean shouldn't the FBI have more important things to investigate? But the computerworld article goes on to talk about a Canadian study that apparently found:

"a 'dark universe' where terrorists or 'targets of interest' have moved their operations. Virtual world terrorism facilitates real world terrorism: recruitment, training, communication, radicalization, propagation of toxic content, fund raising and money laundering, and influence operations."

This Canadian report also refers to something called the Reynard Project. The proposal for the Reynard Project was released in 2009 by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an agency of the US federal government. The proposal says that it is looking for research to help them identify how behavioral indicators within virtual words are predictive of the real world characteristics of the users.

Some intriguing sections I found in this proposal:

"A new channel for information exchange and social interaction is emerging with the growing popularity of Virtual Worlds (VWs) and Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). Industry experts predict the number of VW users will exceed a half billion by the end of 2009. As participation in these VWs broadens and deepens, the need for understanding the nature of interactions in these worlds arises."

It asks proposers to consider the following sections:

Avatars and Representation: What characteristics of an avatar may reveal something about the real-life person behind it? What motivates avatar choice, and can we predict when an individual might select certain characteristics over others? Does avatar selection reveal something about an individual’s real-life personal characteristics, attitudes, customs, groups, or culture?

Communication: Communication mechanisms in VWs may be both verbal and nonverbal. Verbal: Today the primary means of verbal communication in VWs is text-based chat and messaging. Unique language patterns have emerged in chat and texting, characterized by use of abbreviations such as LOL (laugh out loud) or BRB (be right back). Can we determine whether the person is a native-language speaker of the language (e.g., English) being used?

Can the path of “viral ideas” be traced through the chat history of the residents, as it apparently can in exclusively text-based media, which may then allow inferences about the degree of influence of the propagators of the ideas? Nonverbal: When and why is nonverbal communication used?

Things Avatars Do: Individuals inhabiting VWs engage in a variety of activities... to what extent might cues in these activities provide indicators about the RW person?

Group Formation and Dynamics: The massive multiplayer nature of VWs leads to extensive social interaction among its inhabitants. As in the RW, individuals form social bonds with others, usually after some period of interaction and trust establishment. What types of groups form, what are their characteristics, and what supports their continuance? Does group membership reveal anything about the RW individuals who belong to them? Do individuals recognize others as from the same culture or different cultures? If so, what factors or characteristics do they use to recognize each other?

Economics and Money: One of the most important modes of human and group interaction is bartering and exchange. Do certain economic decisions or activities vary depending on the culture or nationality of the user? Does handling of VW currency vary depending upon the RW culture of the user? What inferences can be drawn about the RW individual based on their treatment of VW goods and currencies?

Cultural Differences: Very little research has been done to date comparing the similarities and differences in motivation, usage patterns, and behaviors of VW users across multiple cultures. The Reynard program is interested in understanding possible cultural differences in VW usage, and encourages researchers to study non-U.S.-based players.

I find these topics and questions that the Reynard Project is asking to be really quite interesting. But for an agency of the federal government to be interested in this kind of research, there has to be a reason right? I mean they can't just be interested in game development or the proliferation of virtual worlds in our society or whatever. So are they really asking for research on these subjects so that they can really track down terrorists within these virtual worlds?

Finally, on a related subject a recent book was released by Emile van Veen, a WoW player. The fiction novel is called MMORPG: A World of Fun and Games... and Terrorism. In the book terrorists are using WoW for secret communication, to rehearse strikes, and to elude any possible electronic surveillance by intelligence agencies.

I'm intrigued by this book (interview with the author here), but also a bit freaked out by the possibility of federal intelligence agents tracking behaviors in game.


Monday, April 18, 2011

A master, a trinket, and a candle

This past weekend, I finally ended up getting Master of Isle of Conquest! Woot. The tabard you get from this is actually kinda pretty I think:

Jess asked if the madness was now finally over. Not really... because now I am onto grinding out wins for Master of Alterac Valley. Its going to suck because AV matches take much longer than Isle matches. But grind, I must... and I will!

I also bit the bullet last week and bought Darkmoon Card: Tsunami. Does this mean I've given up on Tyrande's Favorite Doll? Mmm probably (screw you archaeology). I honestly can't remember the last time I did archaeology. Anyways, from raiding with this trinket twice now, I absolutely love this trinket. LOVE! In retrospect I probably should have bought the tsunami card earlier.

Strangely enough, with all the gold I have, I'm generally quite cheap in game with buying stuff. Perhaps I like seeing the summary gold total on Altaholic keep going up. But given that I was at 280k gold across my toons, I figured heck, maybe I can afford it. It was funny though after I bought the trinket (for 18k) because I freaked out a bit to see my gold total go down, and did some frantic AH-ing over the next couple of days to bring it back up to 275k. Yes, I know... I know... its a sickness.

I can tell that things have slowed down in WoW through my dealings on the AH. Just from my experience in selling things, I think a good number of folks have left the game, less number of new folks are joining, and raiding seems to have slowed down. I'm actually looking forward to 4.1 so that people get new gear from the new 5 mans, thus needing to buy gems again.

Finally, when I have extra time, or more precisely, when I need a break from going for pvp achievements, I've been working on doing zone quests for Loremaster. I was doing Westfall over the weekend and I thought the quest stories there were quite well done.

But I came across this quest which was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. I immediately thought about Tam and Gerard because the quest reward I chose was:

I'm now carrying the candle around in my bag. And it makes me smile every time I see it.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another way to level

PC Gamer has a story about Everbloom, a toon that leveled all the way to 85 without killing a single mob or completing quests. The leveling was completed by exploring and professions alone.

Now that is some major patience. He started this feat back in November and says:

"Being on the ground and sneaking around mining and herbing and eventually archaeology, going everywhere to get every single point of discovery xp that you can, really gives you a chance to see an amazing world up close and personal".

I can't see myself ever doing this... but I've got to give him major props! I wondered how many times he might have died trying to explore new areas and mine/herb with possibly getting aggro from higher level mobs. His statistics show that he has died only 25 times.

A forum thread he started is here, as well as his character profile here.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Off nights and other things

Hahahaha, I love this. Please don't tell me if you are too young to know where this comes from. If that is the case, I hate you, but you also missed out on an awesome decade. 80s love.

So hello. Last night our raid had one of the worst off nights I can remember in a long time. Stuff that wasn't an issue 3 nights prior became issues. Everything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong... stupid mistakes, inconveniently timed DCs, unexplainable deaths, and so on.

Where the hell do off nights come from anyways? I mean what Blizz related stars have to be misaligned in the Blizzard cosmos to constitute an off night? Some possibilities:
* Was there more than 20 people at once in Exodar?
* Did Alliance successfully defend Tol Barad across multiple servers?
* Were 100 pugs for the daily heroic just successfully completed where everyone knew what they were doing and no one bitched?

Or maybe all of the above events have to happen at the exact same time to create an off night? I don't know what the hell it is, but we had it last night. Bad. At the end of the raid I think I said something to the effect of, "This night just needs to end".

I know that every raid has their off nights. But I should probably be a little better about accepting and dealing with them. While I know everyone else was frustrated, I was the only one throwing around f bombs on vent and my good old stand by favorite, FFS. FFS!

Since I was in an irritated and f bomb laced mood at the end of the raid, I figured I might as well put it to good use and pvp. So I immediately entered several BGs and low and behold, I finally got Alterac Valley All Star! Woohoo! Now that I have that achieve, Master of Alterac Valley is doable once I grind out the wins. It's kind of irritating that if it were to track all of my wins, I would have it by now, but since it only started tracking since October 2008 I'm still a ways away.

Some other things to share from past raids:

It's not as bad now, but when Cata first launched and cloth was at such a premium, it would be a guild joke for tanks or melee to make bandages in the raid just to needle the tailors. But when they did, the tailors would (and still do) retaliate by making bolts of cloth. I call it a cloth off:

I think we were doing some trash somewhere... what was it, BWD? And Chanti all of a sudden calls out for me to soothe the trash. Soothe? WTH? I mean it sounded like a vaguely familiar spell, but I didn't even have it on my spell bar. When I did find out what it was, I think my reaction was something like "What? That is what we have the hunter here for! I mean, its not like the dps is asked to use bandages on the tanks!"

Though perhaps Chanti asked because from all the pvp I do, I tend to be very fast on the CCs... whether that is cyclone, root, or hibernate, I'll often do it instintively without being asked if some CC breaks or things go awry. I guess I should put soothe on my bar? But don't tell Chanti because then he'll ask for me to do it again.

A more recent guild joke has been that I will not be the designated dispel person. Seriously, why should I dispel and spend like 3k mana for each dispel when we have a pally healer with endless mana who can do judging stuff (whatever the hell that is) to regen? Amirite or amirite? I mean, I will dispel someone if I see that they need it, but yeah... don't make me the designated person.

With Lorosia out this past week, I volunteered Jess' shammy Makawee dispel... but then told him to dispel faster because on one attempt I had to dispel a couple of times. The horror! =)

Finally, a screenshot from raid convo a while back... which was clearly a joke because I would never give our pally healer Lorosia my innervate:


Monday, April 4, 2011

PvP achievements - Have I gone mental?

Yes, the title of this post says it all. I've actually been on vacation in Chapel Hill for a week so one of the things I've been working on this past week was pvp achievements. I've gotten 11 pvp achieves in the last 5 days, though a number of those were ones that I've been working on for a while. I actually have finished all of the Isle of Conquest achievements so that I now only need 22 more wins for Isle of Conquest Veteran to get Master of Isle of Conquest. Perhaps I'll do a separate post on how to get Master of Isle of Conquest, which I feel is the easiest BG master to earn.

Anyways, some thoughts on grinding pvp achievements. First, grind the achieves during the battleground weekend. The reason I've been doing Isle for a couple of days is because it was the bg this past weekend. Thus, queues are going to be short. Also it seems that when you run the bgs on its bg weekend, you're more likely to get in a bg that is going to run either side of the spectrum. Meaning you're going to trounce the other side (and thus get some of the harder to get achievements) or you're going to get trounced.

I found that in some ways running the bgs for achievements made the losses less frustrating, because you're at least working towards some goal. Though yes, having a bg end when you're just one step away from finishing one of the All Star achievements does make it frustrating. I can't tell you how many times I came one thing away from Alterac Valley All Star.

It's also quite frustrating that a lot of the achievements are very difficult for healers to earn for one reason or another. I tried to work on To the Rescue, but when Horde is always focus firing healers first, its really hard. Grrr. And add to that the fact that some are more difficult for alliance (for example the fact that Horde always take Workshop in Isle, at least on my battlegroup).

However, what I found the most difficult about going for many of these achievements is that it goes completely against your purpose and role in the bg, particularly if you're a healer. I wrestled with that in some of the bgs, especially in the smaller bgs where you're making a bigger difference. There were some achievements that I only went for after it was clear that my side was going to lose, though even then I felt a bit guilty because there is always the possibility of a come back. Even in the large bgs, like Isle, it just made no sense for me to hang back to finish Cut the Blue Wire... No the Red Wire! when I should have been rushing and defending docks.

Anyways, we'll see how long I keep up with this push towards the pvp achievements. Hopefully I can keep my sanity in the process.