Friday, November 28, 2008

Node stealing, inner moral compasses and a true story

Recently there has been a lot of talk on the blogs about player behaviour. Some players have complained about supposed “ninja actions”, when players “steal nodes” from other players, who have cleared the way to the node, killing the mobs around it.

Others have witnessed about the opposite – how easy it is nowadays to group in player heavy areas instead of fighting over a certain named, slow spawning mob, needed for a quest. People help each other because it benefits everyone in the long run.

Goblin philosophy
Gevlon at the Greedy Goblin took another approach to it the other day, pointing out that there is no such a thing as a rule that you “earn” nodes or certain mobs. With his usual goblin logic he showed the futility in doing such claims. Not surprising he got quite a few comments on this post, including one from myself.

Something in me revolted against the idea that only rules that are written down and decided from an authority should be respected. Life – in Azeroth as well as outside of it – is full of unwritten rules, conventions and agreements people have made since hundreds and thousands of years. Of course some people don’t care about them, but most do, and that makes life a lot easier and more pleasant than it would have been if they hadn’t existed.

The idea that you “earn” a node by killing the mobs around you comes out of a feeling of justice, no different from real life. If you work you expect to get the fruit of it (with the exception of taxes of course.)

Differently tuned
Now comes the inevitable question: how do I know what is fair? Well, I think I have a sort of inner moral compass. A feeling of what’s right and wrong, coming out of some kind of humanity dwelling inside of me in my brain, my heart or perhaps an organ yet to be discovered by scientists. And I think I share this feeling with many people, no matter of what beliefs they may have and not have. It’s not about religion. It’s about being human.

What I think causes some problems in the game is that for some reason the inner compasses of some players are differently tuned in the game than in real life. I doubt that the guys who grab the opportunity to snatch nodes from others would do the same thing if they were out in a forest picking mushrooms. “Hey, someone else found a spot of mushrooms over there, I’d better rush and pick as many as I can in front of their eyes. After all there’s no law against it”. You don’t see that often, if ever. But in the game you do.

Where does this difference come from? Well, maybe our inner compasses aren’t telling the whole story after all. Maybe we all carry more features of selfishness or even evilness than we want to admit, even to ourselves. There’s an additional arrow in our compass, pointing in another direction. And the game provides an anonymous arena where we can try it out, obeying those less flattering sides of ourselves. Maybe we need it, as an outlet.

This is an attempt to explain it – but still I still don’t think it’s a valid excuse for behaving like a moron. If you want to explore your aggressive and mean sides, you can do that in PvP and no one will whine about it the slightest.

How to handle it
However, even if I do disagree with Gevlon – in the aspect I think that we as civilized citizens have moral contracts apart from the written laws – I do agree with his conclusion:

Of course you can call the people, who don't follow your non-existing rule "asshats" or "jerks", but it does not change anything. They most probably don't even know what you think, and if you /w it to them, remember, you are just an /ignore away. Calling them anything won't stop them taking "your" node. It increases your blood pressure though.

How true isn’t this! Getting angry won’t change anything, it will only make you more miserable – and what’s the point about that? Stay calm. Turn your back to hate and blaming and keep your eyes open. When you least expect it you’ll find someone with an inner compass pointing in the same direction as you and it will make your day.

A true story
I’ll end this quite messy, ranting post (which I apologize for, for some reason my mind seems to wander more than usual today) with a sweet – and true – little story. It all took place in Sholazar Basin, where I was questing the other day. I was on a mission to make a quest where you’re supposed to kill an elite by using a ward, reflecting his nasty deathbolts. When I arrived at the spot the mob was dead and I saw another guy waiting there. Now this was a hordie, so we couldn’t group. Since he was first on spot I waited to see him take down the guy first. He didn’t. He died, even though I tried to help him. When he had died, the tag went over to me, but of course I died too. (This quest was a bit tricky until you understood the drill). Corpse run back, followed by a new try, which also ended up in both dying. The third time however I managed to help him take down the mob. Conversation was impossible, for known reasons but he thanked me in gestures and I happily hugged him back. Then this hordie stayed around and waited for the mob to respawn and returned the service, helping me out.

There was no written rule that forced me to help him in the first place. And certainly no law told him to return the service. Still we partied in the way we could, since our inner moral compasses were synchronized. And you bet the warm and cosy feeling I felt in my stomach after this short encounter was a much bigger reward to me than the xp, gold and gear that the questgiver gave me.

So my final words are: keep listening to your own inner moral compass – no matter what the formal rules of Blizzard say. Do what’s right and don’t feel as a looser if other players take advantage of you because you’re “soft hearted”. Sooner or later you’ll run into likeminded players and in the long run I think you’ll end up as a winner, one way or the other.

If nothing else you’ll have a warm tummy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Unprepared and utterly happy

The other day I experienced one of the most enjoyable instance runs I’ve had for a very long time. What made me so happy wasn’t only the fact that I was in a nice and competent group of guildies. What made this run special was that I broke one of the basic rules, known and accepted by all players. I was NOT prepared. And even more: no one else was.

We entered Halls of Stone without having the slightest idea about where to go and what to do. We barely knew where to find the entrance in the first place. And the rest was an unknown territory. No one had ever been there; no one had read a single strategy. How many bosses were there? We didn’t know. What abilities would they present? We didn’t have a clue.

For once I really felt like an explorer in the game, a feeling I can’t remember when I last had. For all of those titles and achievements about exploration – who can honestly call himself an explorer in its real sense these days, when many players will consider you noobish or plain stupid if you don’t read strats, follow guides or at least have the proper addons to help you?

So we did what a true adventurer does – we looked for mobs, grabbed them and nuked them. And every now and then we stumbled upon a mob which seemed harder and evidently was a boss. When we saw what they did, we improvised, which honestly wasn’t that hard. “Oh, this one makes black holes. Better stay out of the black then”. “This seems like a sort of miniature Gruul, remember what to do?”

Suddenly we met an npc which obviously had a quest to offer us. We thought it over a bit suspiciously. Quests you find in instances normally are about some kind of escorting. And the experiences from TBC have been that you should save those escorts to the end, when everything else is done. Had we done everything else yet? We didn’t know; we had wandered around and cleared whatever we had found pretty randomly. But having those adventurous minds we thought: “What the heck” and picked up the quest.

A couple of events followed. It started as a normal escort quest, killing some mobs popping up, and I thought: “won’t there be anything cooler than this?” The most dramatic thing that happened was that the questgiver suddenly disappeared, running off like a speeded nightelf. “Where did that bugger go?” we asked ourselves, worried to fail the quest. But finally we found him and could enter the final stage.

I won’t tell you what it was like, but the setting surely made us go “ooohhh”. It was cool and beautiful and entertaining. And it was a once-in-a-lifetime-event. Next time I’ll do this instance it won’t be half as fun, because what made it so enjoyable was the surprise factor. We never knew what would happen next and when or where it would end.

Breaking the rule
I’ve still got four instances undone in WotLK. It remains to see if I’ll be lucky enough to end up doing one or more of them in an unprepared group, doing its virgin run. I’m afraid it isn’t likely since people have done most of the instances by now, and for every day that passes, the chances will decrease.

So is being prepared a bad thumb rule? Of course not, not generally and definitely not if you’re into raiding. But I can’t see the bad in it when you’re levelling and running instances on normal mode.

By breaking the rule I had a far more fun experience than I would have had if I had read wowwiki or other guides on beforehand. And since every boss was oneshotted our ignorance didn’t cost us any gold or time.

It doesn’t hurt to be unprepared from time to time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guild applications – secret or public?

When you apply for a job you don’t expect your possible future employer to make your application public, available for anyone to read at a website. But in WoW, for some reason, it’s more or less standard procedure when you’re applying to a guild. I would say that a majority of the guilds which are serious enough to require applicants to answer a bunch of standardized questions choose to handle it in the open.

If you consider applying you have to count on that anyone on your server, former guildies and friends as well as possible enemies you’ve made on your way, will be able to read it and react on it.

Advantages of openness
So, how should you regard this habit of open applications? What are the reasons for it?

If you see it from the guild side, the future employer, it’s quite handy to keep track of your appliances. You get a good overview and can easily see which ones have been handles and which are in pipeline. The whole guild can take part in the process and add comments if they know the wanna-be-guildie. Everything is transparent, which shouldn’t hurt as long as the applicant is honest about himself. If the person is lying on some point it’s less likely that he’ll get away with it.

From the applicants point of view, reading what other have written and seeing how they were received by the guild, will give you a lot of information. Judging from who was accepted and who wasn’t, you can get a good picture about your own chances to pass and make an informed decision if you meet the requirements or if you’re just wasting your time applying.

Advantages of secrecy
What about the other way round? Are there advantages in offering people the possibility to apply to a guild away from the public eye, by sending an e-mail? I think there are.

From the guilds perspective you don’t risk that candidates will be inspired and more or less copy previous successful applications. People will be forced to think for themselves and make an effort of their own applying, especially if you have some questions which are open in their character, not only the yes/no-sort of questions.

Another point is that you won’t miss applications from players who for some reason wish to be discrete about their plans to switch guilds. You don’t add the unnecessary obstacle of publicity.

For those applying I think most will appreciate not having to expose themselves to the public. It can feel pretty awkward “selling” yourself with other readers; it can easily be regarded as gloating. Maybe you’re not quite finished yet with your old guild and feel guilty showing the world you’re applying for something else. (That said I DO think that it’s best for everyone if you can leave your current guild before you’re applying to a new one.) And what if your application is denied? It’s a lot easier to cope with if you don’t have to inform the world about your failure.

A solution
If you sum it up I’d personally vote for the second, discrete strategy for guild recruitment.

But you can ad a twist to it to make it work a little better and involve the guild, without exposing the applicants to anyone on the server. This is what we’ve done recently in my guild. From now on the applications will be published on guild forum, which only is available to guild members. In this way guild members who have valid information will be able to comment and thus help the officers to take a wise decision.

Another advantage about this is that not only the officers, but the whole guild, will know a little bit more about the newly arrived team members. It will make the process of getting to know them smoother.

The only thing to remember is to take away the thread of evaluation once the applicant is let into the guild. If there have been discussions for and against the candidate, there’s no reason to let him or her read about it, once the decision has been made.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Proud BC Baby greeting the Children of Wrath

I’m a proud BC Baby! I didn’t know I was until recently, when Starman of Casual Raid Leader wrote a post about the next generation to enter the game for the first time: Children of Wrath.
In his post Starman asks us: What things will the Children of Wrath never see? What aspects of the world will they miss? What aspects will have changed so dramatically that they have no concept of things we speak of? He gives us a few good examples and wants us to write posts and add some more.

Here are a few that came into my mind.

The Children of Wrath will…
  • never experience the frustration of clams from nagas invading all of your bag space unless you stick to a strict open-them-at-once-routine.
  • get all their achievements recorded from the beginning. They won’t have to do Dead Mines over again just to proof they were there.
  • probably never do the TBC instances in heroic mode unless they’re very addicted to achievements.
  • unlikely set their foot into Shattered Halls, Shadow Labs or the Tempest Keep ones, for the same reason as I never cared about doing Dire Maul. Northrend is waiting for them at 68.
  • be utterly spoiled when it comes to bagspace, considering that BG tokens, mounts and pets have been removed from it.
  • be more likely to collect pets and mounts since there’s no problem to host them.
  • have other expectations on how quick and easy levelling should be, considering how spoiled they get on their way to 70.
  • not suffer from the monotony of doing the same instance over and over again for reputation. They’ll just wear the right tabard and pick any instance they like.
  • become used to carry smaller stacks of arcane powder, if they’re mages, and not know what it’s like to empty your mana pool right before a pull just because you need to buff five raid groups.

Yes, they’ll become spoiled little kids, those newbies, won’t they? But I’m so happy they’re joining our ranks. I haven’t met them yet. I think, they’re probably still levelling, and since I, like many others, am more or less permanently stationed in Northrend these days, it’s unlikely that our paths will cross.

However, the very knowledge about their existence made me smile. Their arrival means that I’ve moved up a step, gaining a veteran rank! It’s the same thing as in school when you moved from 1st to 2nd grade. Suddenly there was someone else who knew even less than I did, who couldn’t find their way to nurse, cafeteria or school library, someone who sneaked along the walls, watching all the Big Kids in awe and fear.

Time has come when I’ve been around long enough to understand most of the code words thrown around by the other veteran players. When someone described one of the bosses in a Northrend instance I did like “a little bit like Leotheras”, I knew exactly what he meant. If I had been a Child of Wrath I wouldn’t have had a clue. It’s like I’m part of a secret society.

Of course there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve missed being a BC Baby. I’ve only seen the old raid instances in an overpowered rush-through-them-at-level-70-for-nostalgic-reasons-mode, not as the huge challenges they once were. I’ve never stepped into Molten Core. And there’s really no way to make up for it now. I’m still locked out from the Inner Circle.

But now at least there are some fresh newbies around who knows even less than I do.

Sweet little Children of Wrath – welcome to our world. And who knows, in a year or two it may be your turn to climb up one level on the ranking.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dealing with the fear of falling behind

Levelling in Northrend reminds me of participating in on of those huge sporting events for joggers. They always have a common start, but soon enough the crowd will split up and the best and most competitive runners will disappear in the far horizon. At the point when they’ve reached the end of the run, I’ll find myself with at least 2/3 of the distance left. It has become painfully clear that I’m stuck in the “fun run class” where no one will clock you unless you do it yourself.

If this really WAS a jogging run, I wouldn’t have any problems ending up in the tail. I know my strengths and limits too well to measure myself against younger, better trained runners. Their success won’t diminish the value of my own achievements. I would focus on reaching my personal goals and be very happy about it. But for some reason I find it harder to cope with the same situation in WoW.

Left behind
As long as I don’t know the player, I’m perfectly fine with others levelling much quicker. The frequent messages the first few days about the first priest or shaman or gnome to reach 80 didn’t affect me. They play their game and I play mine.

But seeing friends in the guild dinging 80, while I’m still doing the first few levels in Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra, is different. They will no doubt be ready to start raiding and gearing up in Naxx, while I’m still stuck at killing mammoths. I already see them entering instances where I don’t have access, at the same time as they have no reason whatsoever to run the ones I need to do.

I can’t free myself from the feeling of being left behind, which is extremely childish, and of course I feel ashamed about even having those feelings. It’s way below my dignity.

No hurry
There’s no reason for me to panic when I think about it. The first official raid of the guild isn’t scheduled until the beginning of January. Even though I have a lot of real life obligations this time of year, limiting my gaming time, I should be able to ding 80 in due time for the raid if nothing unexpected happens. Maybe I haven’t yet capped my professions and maybe I haven’t geared up in heroics properly, but I should be OK since the first raid instance is supposed to be pretty easy.

The early runners probably will be better geared than me at the raid premier night, but so what? I’m in the raiding team and I guess I have the same chances to get a raid spot as anyone else.

But try to explain this to my inner child, who keeps whining no matter what I tell her. I think she somehow recalls times of loneliness in the school yard, watching other kids playing a game where she wasn’t qualified to participate. What I THINK about being left behind is one thing, what I FEEL about it is something different.

Behave like an adult
So what do I do? I try to see the next fem months as a trial of the level of my maturity and independence. I don’t want to get my levelling process spoiled by the constant stress and feeling that I need to speed up to catch up as soon as possible. It’s about time I start behaving as the adult I am.

Stay calm.
Stay confident.

People ended up raiding for two years in TBC and I can hardly believe that the speed that people levelled up to 70 affected their possibilities to raid at any greater extent. When April comes, who will care or remember if I dinged 80 in the middle of November or two months later? Nobody. And levelling won’t be any lonelier than I make it. Northrend is crowded with people to group with for quests and pugging isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As you can see I keep fighting my inner demons and I’m afraid it’s just as in the Leotheras fight: there’s no one around who can beat them but myself. Wish me good luck.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buying food is humiliating

My era of self sufficiency is officially over.

It was humiliating and I hesitated for a long time but finally Larísa took the step. At level 73 she bought her first stack of food from a vendor. Ever.

Blizzard is playing a joke at the mage class in the expansion. While they did add new food to the vendors, they didn’t give mages any new rank for conjuring it. Our food is now only half as good as the sold one and won’t become any better until level 75, when we learn to conjure mana pies.

At first I didn’t believe my eyes when I happily went to the mage trainer at level 70 to train the new food spell. I took it for granted that they would give us one. But the trainer just stared at me with a blank expression in his face, offering me nothing at the moment.

Trying on my own
Until now I’ve tried to manage on my own, changing my habits slightly. There’s no point starting every gaming session conjuring food since it’s useless and I won’t eat it anyway.

In order not to leave Larísa starving, I’ve stopped throwing away or vendoring food dropping from mobs. Instead I’ve stored it carefully in my bags, swearing a bit over the fact that the diet is so varied; it takes up quite a few slots. I’ve also come into the habit of using evocation as often as possible – I gave it an inscription so it returns heath as well as mana.

But finally I realised that my efforts wasn’t enough. In my long journeys, following questlines all over the place and rarely getting to an inn, I saw there was a potential risk that I’d end up with nothing but the Mage Emergency Food. So for a few silver, but at the cost of my self respect, I gave in and bought my first stack of vendored food. It was a Salted Yeti Cheese and I hope Larísa enjoyed it. After all she’s had quite a few croissants in her days, perhaps it was time for a change, even though salt cheese doesn’t sound too tasty.

Still, on behalf of the mages, I’d like to grumble a bit about it. All classes have some benefits. Shamans can walk on water, druids can swim, warlocks can make health stones. Mages can make food, that’s one of the things that characterizes us. And why not let us make decent food then?
However, I wouldn’t be Larísa if I didn’t try to look at it from the bright side. Because in my misery, I’ve also noticed that the devaluation of the mage food has an instant effect on the demand of it. I don’t want my own food anymore, and of course no one else wants it either. In every instance I’ve run so far, I’ve offered the group a table, as any decent mage would do. But it’s always turned down.

Maybe we should view this period as a short vacation, when mages are free from their duties to cook? Soon enough we’ll be back to baking pies, not only for ourselves, but for everyone else too. Proud and independent of vendor food.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The lack of pigs in Northrend spoils me

My picture of Northrend was somewhat hazy before I entered it. I never made it into the beta and for some reason I haven’t been keen on reading about it and watching movies on beforehand. It wasn’t as if I avoided it un purpose, but I had enough of unfinished business in TBC to keep me occupied. I couldn’t put time and energy to explore the new game before it was there for real.

I only had two clear ideas about WotLK before it arrived:
1. I expected new landscapes, rather influenced by Scandinavia than by Africa. There would be ice and tundra and not so many jungles and deserts.

2. There would be pigs. A lot of them. I would be expected to kill them and turn in details from their bodies for xp. Perhaps the pigs would have a bit thicker fur to withstand the coldness. Perhaps we would cut out some other part this time – eyes or tongues instead of livers and snouts?

For some reason I had the idea that levelling would be rather tedious, a more or less monotonous sequence of barely disguised grinding sessions.

How wrong wasn’t I? Not about the landscape – as far as I have seen they’re quite much what I expected. But I was wrong about the pigs and the questing.

It had been so long since I levelled a main character, experiencing content for the first time that I had forgotten how fun it is. End game still is what I enjoy most and aim for, but the road to get there can be quite entertaining.

Up to now I’ve managed to get halfway to 74, questing my way first through Borean Tundra and currently in Howling Fjord. And what I’ve seen until now has been amazing. I haven’t encountered a single pig so far. The quests are far from repetitive – on the contrary, they’re varied and full of humour and surprises.

I’ve dressed up like a crazy murloc (try a few moves with it like jumping or dancing and I promise you’ll end up giggling). I’ve been flying all sorts of vehicles, including turning myself into a hawk. I’ve entered the spirit world and I’ve tortured people, which took my by surprise, but didn’t make me as upset as Rohan of Blessing of Kings.

Seeing all of this I’ve become a bit spoiled. Or at least I’ve got higher expectations than I used to have. Every quest now is like a little wrapped-up gift and even if I know that some of the quests still are in the genre “Kill 10 evil guys”, they still have some freshness in them and every now and then I know I’ll encounter one of those jewels that make me go: “Wow!”

So where does this leave the pigs? I think that the low areas in the old world really have lost their charm when you compare it to Northrend. It’s beyond my comprehension how anyone could go through the pain of killing pigs in Westfall or gnolls in Redridge in order to bring up another alt. I certainly know that I couldn’t.

It’s no wonder that they’re introducing the possibility to get alts ready to go at lvl 55. Blizzard wants to direct us to the newest and coolest content so that we’ll stay satisfied and not get tempted to try out some other MMO.

Are there any boars at all in Northrend, hiding in a corner? I don’t know. Perhaps the Vikings grilled them in a barbeque beach party. Anyway I certainly don’t miss them for a second.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why I’d rather not kill yellow mobs

I’ve always been a fan of budo sports, especially ones like aikido, which doesn’t really teach you any techniques for attacking, only ways to effectively take care about people who attack you. Be peaceful to the peaceful and remorseless to the aggressive ones. It’s easy to like the philosophy.

Maybe that’s the reason why I find it so easy to attack red mobs, which apparently hate me and will do anything to kill me unless I do something about it. And that’s why I also find it so hard to kill yellow mobs, which won’t attack me for other reasons than to defend themselves.

It just doesn’t seem fair to nuke an innocent, peacefully grazing clefthoof or mammoth calf, because some stupid quest giver has told me to. No wonder the poor animals get angry with me when I come there, tanking and spanking and wanting to cut out their intestines to sell to some guy for gold!

I know there have been some dedicated pacifist players trying to level their toons without killing stuff. I wouldn’t go that far. I kill they yellow ones if I have to. But I feel bad about it.

The level 1 critters
When it comes to the yellow level 1 critters, I’m even more reluctant to throw my spells. I can’t think of any good reason to kill them. But other players obviously can.

I’ve seen surprisingly many bloodthirsty players who won’t miss an opportunity to stab a tiny level 1 animal, and who seem to get happier the cuter the little creature is. “Yay, there goes another rabbit!”

Some of them refer to the damage lists. I don’t know if they’re joking or if it really would help them to climb. I’ve never tried it myself. But for some odd reason the most enthusiastic critter killers I’ve seen have been healers. I guess it’s the only way they can live their secret wanna-be-a-dps-dream.

Then there are others who make a sport out if it. In my former guild there were a couple of guys who had a little private vendetta every time we ran Karazhan. They both wanted to be the first one to reach and kill a rat dwelling in one of the last rooms before the Opera event. It was a race for life and death, much more important than getting the bosses down or topping the damage list. (Actually it was a bit fun to see, another idea how to get some excitement out of the game when you’ve done Karazhan too many times.)

Role playing aspect
The funny thing is that I feel different about killing critters on my characters. Larísa would never kill a level 1 critter, no matter if it’s a snake or a cow. She considers herself too enlightened and intelligent to do such a thing.

My rogue on the other hand, Arisal, is streetwise as a rogue should be, and only thinks about morale when she seems some way to benefit from it. Killing critters is a perfect way for her to improve her stabbing technique.

I guess it’s the closet role player side of me speaking again.

But since Larísa is the innkeeper and master of this blog, I let her get the last word in this post, while Arisal is probably sneaking around in the backyard, killing the rats.

Killing yellow mobs is wrong unless you’re forced to it by circumstance. Let the critters live. And maybe it’s like in the sf short story where the killing of a butterfly will change the whole future? You never know for sure what effects your blood thirst will have in the long run.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy expansion night

It turned out I was an outsider, an alien, an intruder.

As I told you before, I had decided to join the midnight party outside a game store in my home time. It was part of a ritual and a great opportunity to satisfy my curiosity and give answers to some questions I had been carrying.

Who are those people I’m bumping into in the crowd in front of the auctioneer in IF? What do those guys who instantly kill me whenever I dare to enter a WSG look like in reality? It was time to find out the truth.

Men only
Judging this two-hour experience I must admit that I was a bit surprised at the homogeneity of the player base. There were several hundred players around and of those only a handful of women. The age span was very small. In fact it felt like 90 percent of the people in the queue were young men, 17-25 years old, and I noted they were generally slightly more overweight than the average. In fact what I was seeing was pretty much the gamer stereotype, alive.

It was rather disappointing to be honest. The diversity among players is one of the things that I find attractive in the game. But maybe this event didn’t show the true face of the player base; maybe it just showed the special segment of players who are prepared to do such a stupid thing as to spend hours in a queue for a buying a game in the middle of the night, when it is so late that you need to go to sleep as soon as you have installed it anyway.

I never saw anything of the small talk to other people in the queue that I had anticipated. I turned up sort of squeezed between two parties, each consisting of a few young men, who knew each other in real life and had no interest whatsoever to talk to that odd old lady (who probably was only there to pick up a copy for her son).
So I focused on trying to snap a bit of their conversation. Apparently one of the guys played a mage and was in a guild which was first to take down Kil’Jaeden on the horde side on their server. He seemed to be pretty serious about his playing. For a second I hesitated – I would have wanted to ask him what spec he had picked for levelling and have an exchange of experiences between mages. But then I realized I was to shy. The effect that WoW has on me, making me socialize and talk to strangers without feeling awkward, seems to work best online.

One hour after the midnight opening it was finally my turn to pass the security guard and be admitted into the shop. And after another hour I was at home, smiling in triumph as I logged in. Success!

Like a happy school class
I had anticipated huge technical problems – a nightmare of mysterious error messages. And if I after all did manage to install the game I had not expected to be able to get into it – the server surely should be overloaded and unavailable. But none of those things happened and instead I joined the crowd standing on the boat in Stormwind, setting course for our new destination.

We entered the Borean Tundra with the same enthusiasm as a school class rushes into an amusement park right at the opening, taking all the merry-go-rounds in possession. I didn’t see anything of bad behaviour, whining or mob stealing. All I saw was happy, excited players, helping each other to orientate in this strange new world. I did a few quests just to get the taste of it and I felt instantly that I’m going to love this place.

Reluctantly I realized I had to go to bed. And that was the end to it – my wonderful, happy expansion night, full of promises and void of disappointments. It couldn’t really have been any better, except for the long and lonely hours in the line. But they were soon forgotten.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Saying goodbye to the old world

This world has come to an end. For the last few weeks I’ve loosened my mental ties to the game as I’ve known it until now. Every thing I’ve done has had an aura of “last time”. Last time in Karazhan. Last time running Black Morass. Last daily quest at Sunwell Island (but I must admit that was so long time ago that I don’t remember it and didn’t realize it was the last time when I did it.)

Tonight was the last time I would log on before the expansion and it was time to say farewell.

I had planned a little ceremony on my own on beforehand. I wanted to bake a Delicious Chocolate Cake. Then I would go to a dark coast somewhere, lit a fire and sit there, contemplating life under a starry sky, enjoying the fireworks and my momentary happiness.

It sounded silly when I shared my plans to a guildie of mine. “I know it’s pointless, I said excusing myself.”. “It doesn’t give me anything, not even an achievement.”

“It IS an achievement to make a chocolate cake”, he replied. Oh well. But that wasn’t my main reason for doing it. I only wanted to bring this part of the game to an end, turning my back to it, open and enthusiastic for all the new stuff awaiting us a few hours from now.

So I filled my bag with ingredients. (By the way, I wonder how that cake tastes. Eggs and flour are normal ingredients, but who would put flowers into a chocolate cake? And where is the cacao?)

I made sure I had mats to make a fire in my bags – this was one of the few times when making your own fire felt more appropriate than using one of the free ones in Ironforge.

And after having a look at the event in the Stormwind harbor I went on this last sentimental trip on my own. My choice fell on deserted coast of Darkshore, at Mist’s Edge.. And I it all turned out exactly as I had planned it. I lit my fire, I baked my chocolate cake on it and when it had cooled down a little so I wouldn’t burn my mouth, I ate it.

As I watched the scenery in the sky, I thought about the 1 year and 9 months I’ve been playing. Snapshots flew through my head.

My first time entering Ironforge, chocked to find such a huge city in the middle of the wilderness.

My first time in Zul Farrak, enjoying the mighty scene on the stairs.

I recalled how I slowly, painstakingly learned how to play my mage. All those endless corpse runs. All those “oh shit”-moments, pulling too many mobs or hitting the wrong button.

I remembered dinging 70 and realizing that the game was far from finished – in fact it was now that it started. I thought about my first stumbling steps in Karazhan, at a time when Moroes was HARD to conquer and nothing in that instance was a joke. A long journey had started, ending at the death of Illidan Stormrage.

It all came back to me as I sat there on the ground, watching the cliffs in the water and beyond there the unknown void. I heard the voices of all those wonderful people I’ve met, and the guilds I’ve loved and yet left, when my path turned in another direction. I remembered the hysterical laughter on TS after a ridiculous wipe in UBRS when a bunch of level 70s managed to hatch all the eggs at once. I remembered the insane hunt for The Suneater for a friend of mine. I remembered the first kill of Archimonde in the end of September, such a relief after all those wipes.

I thought about my present guild and the future that lies ahead of us. Our development the last few months has been amazing and I think it would take a lot more than a robbery of our guild bank to stop us. And I thought that I’ve been very fortunate. When I ding 80 I don’t have to face the hassle of going on guild hunt. I’ve already got my home and family in the game. I get my little piece of chocolate cake every time I log in.

1 year and 9 months, how quickly haven’t they passed? WoW has certainly given me a headache, trying to manage the delicate balance with real life and getting some sort of understanding and acceptance from people around me. Sometimes I wish I had never stumbled upon it. Life would have been easier and there would have been fewer conflicts around.

But it has also given me a ton of entertainment and even some insights about group psychology, management and about myself. Not to speak of all the people I've got to know. It has become a part of who I am, like it or not.

The fireworks lit up the sky and I smiled to myself.

Goodbye old world! Hello new world!

I can’t wait to see what awaits us on the other side of the ocean.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Are we swallowing the roast beef too quickly?

Once upon a time I knew a very spoiled Yorkshire terrier called “Pyret”, which roughly translates to “The Creep”. This dog didn’t settle for ordinary dog food. That was way below his dignity. He ate what his masters ate. (Here I want to point out that I wasn’t his master, so don’t blame me for his lack of proper dog training.)

Now there was one dish in the world that the creep loved more than anything else: cold roast beef cut in thin slices. He was treated with this a minimum two times a year: for Christmas and on his birthday. (And sometimes in between as well, his owners felt sorry for him whenever they had a party, why shouldn’t he be treated with goodies when everyone else was?)

I never grew tired of watching him as he was served this roast beef. They never cared about cutting it – they gave whole slices to him, which he somehow managed to swallow in one part, without chewing even once. It was gone quicker than a mage can blink. There’s no way that he could have felt any taste at all from it and many times he ended up coughing, all but choking, since he had eaten it too quickly.

When the meat was gone he always stared at his owners, unhappily, in distrust, as if he couldn’t understand where it had gone.

I can’t help thinking about “The Creep” these days as I read the WoW blogs and forums and listen to the conversation in the guild chat. Many players seem to have managed to make real life arrangements so that they can have a few days off this week. They’re planning to get a kick start levelling their mains and they’re loading up on the three necessary Cs to keep them going non stop: Coffee, Coke and Candy.

Will they enjoy it? Oh yes, definitely. I’m sure they will, in the same way as The Creep enjoyed his roast beef meals in his own peculiar manner. If possible I’d gladly join them in the power levelling instead of chewing the new content more slowly, in small chunks, as I’m forced to do, by circumstances.

But I can’t help smiling a bit at the whole phenomena. We rush like maniacs to get to 80 asap. Then we start conquering the new raid instances the quicker the better. When that is done the game will suddenly feel empty and we’ll start growing bored. Soon we’ll see the whining posts where players accuse Blizzard of not providing enough of new exciting content.

We’ll show the same facial expressions as the spoiled Yorkshire terrier – disapproving and slightly confused, wondering where that yummy roast beef, the new and shiny content, went all in a sudden.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don’t let the bad guys win

Today I’m writing a sad post.

Originally I had planned to publish a silly little post about why I hesitate every time I have to kill a yellow mob, being a bit of a pacifist. That post will have to wait a few days. Something came up that made it feel pretty irrelevant, something that upset me so much that I couldn’t possibly write about anything else. I had to get it off my heart.

The account of one of the officers, main tanks and sometimes RL in my guild was hacked yesterday. The guild bank was emptied instantly, of course. The thief didn’t only steal tons of HoDs, gems, recipes, consumables and gold. He took every tine little piece, including bandages. But the robbing of guild bank isn’t what bothers me – after all I know Blizzard will give us at least the items back.

What makes me so upset is that this guy didn’t only manage to hack the account of this skilled, highly respected and in every possible way awesome player. He hasn’t just stolen every piece of item from a bunch of characters, played since the start of the game and equipped accordingly. What is much worse is that he hacked himself into the heart of this player, killing his desire to play the game anymore.

Our officer wrote a heartbreaking farewell post on our guild forums, where he wished the guild good luck on our further adventures in WotLK, declaring that he won’t be a part of it.

“Yes Blizzard would be able to recover some bits and bobs, but they won't be able to get back the collection of items I've had since the game began. Worse then that it feels like you've had your own house robbed. Having been through that as well, all I can say is that the only thing you want to do is move out to somewhere that feels more secure and hasn't been invaded.”

I can totally understand his reaction and I sympathize with him deeply. I’ve never been robbed myself either in real life or in the game, but probably I’d say the same. Being hacked is to be invaded, abused. The feeling that someone has been walking around pretending to be you… it must be awful and take a long time to get over, if you ever can. Still I can’t stop hoping that his claiming that he’ll leave the game is written in a state of chock and that he’ll reconsider it.

If he sticks to his decision and leaves, it’s a way of giving up. I see a glimpse of a dark future of the game, like a Mad Max movie, where Earth is ruled by evil biker gangs. Is that what will happen? Will all the decent players leave and only gold sellers and hackers will be left to boil in their own stew?

I don’t want to see that future. I still carry my dream about this fantasy world where we grow friendships and have fun together. And I sincerely hope that my hacked officer will be a part of it.

Don’t let the bad guys win.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Planning for the Midnight release

Where will you be at midnight the 12th/13th of November? Will you be queuing outside a game shop in order to tear your box out of the hands of the retailer?

I will. Not that it really make any sense. I’m not having vacation the next day, so it’s out the question that I could spend the whole night installing the game and then launching myself into the Brand New Laggy Exciting World. At the most I’ll have a cup of coffee and START the project to install the game. But I don’t expect to make it work and to be able to enter the new version until the following weekend.

A ritual
So what’s the big deal? Why can’t I wait until the regular opening hours during daytime?

I think it’s because it’s a part of a ritual. By attending the release the event becomes more real to us. It’s a clear marker in time and space that this actually is happening to us.

And for all of us who haven’t been able to attend any Blizzcon event in US or Europe, it’s a chance to see a bunch of other crazy creatures that have fallen in love with this game – to feel the fellowship, to share the feeling of excitement and expectations.

It’s exactly the same thing that made me and my daughter go out and queue outside a bookshop for the midnight release of one of the Harry Potter books. Of course we didn’t expect the shop to run out of books the following day – that would have been plain stupid. The book stores are far to goblin minded to let that happen. But that hour we spent outside the shop was something of a party. Candles burning everywhere, plenty of girls dressed up as witches. As time went by we found ourselves speaking not only to ourselves, but sharing thoughts about the books with strangers. Because in those situations we don’t feel like strangers anymore, we’re more like sisters and brothers.

I wonder what kind of people will show up at the event in the town where I live. Will I be the oldest one? Will people even consider the fact that I may buy the game for myself and not for my children? Or maybe I’m the one who’s prejudiced. There may as well be bunches of middle aged people, what do I know.

Discretly staring
Since I’m going to the shop on my own, I expect spending most of my time in the queue discretely staring at other people, trying to listen to their conversations. Above all I’ll try to figure out what class they play. Can you tell it from their exterior? Maybe. I’m pretty short myself, so I don’t think anyone would be surprised if they found out I’m a gnome. So what else? Is it likely that a slim, tall person is playing nightelf? And how would you then expect the horde characters to look in real life? Hm. No probably there isn’t any evidence supporting a people-look-like-their-character-theory.

Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone going to the shop could carry a little sign, telling what race and class you’re playing, and maybe even server name? Is it possible that there are more players in the town where I live who’re playing at my server? This could be the one and only chance to find out.

Meet WoW Bloggers
There are a few WoW bloggers who have announced where they’re buying to buy their copy of the game, inviting readers who want to see them to come to the same shop and say hi.

  • Lassirra at The Hunters Mark will be in South Burlington Vermont (I guess it’s the US)
  • You can see Big Red Kitty in Orlando.
  • And Big Bear Butt in a place called Maplewood (I’m sorry to say but I have no idea where that is located, though it’s a beautiful name of a place).
I can’t compare myself in any way at all to those awesome, respected bloggers. Still I can’t refrain from mentioning where I will be, in case that there actually is any of my Swedish readers who happen to live close to where I live (which is extremely unlikely). So if you want to see the real life Larísa, come to the GameStop store in Uppsala. I know they’re planning some opening event in Stockholm, but that’s 70 kilometres away and I can’t bother to go there.

To everyone else I send you a warnning for this night. I guess our friends in Australia won’t be too bad off, since spring is about to arrive. But in Northern Europe we can expect to be freezing. Dress accordingly! I wish I could set up a temporary outpost of The Pink Pigtail Inn, providing a fire and some nice hot brew to keep up the spirits. Be assured I'll do it in my thoughts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Epic drops come with a good story

What makes a drop epic?

Is it the purple colour? Certainly not, especially these days when “purple rain” has got a new meaning.

Is it the extraordinary stats? Well it could be, but it depends on where in the life cycle of a game you are. A year ago a huge increase of gear stats would have felt epic, but now with the expansion around the corner we all know that it doesn’t mean much. The epics we loot now will be replaced if not on Day 1, at least somewhere along the road to 80.

No, what really makes a drop epic is the coolness of the item. It can be rare, like Ashes of Al’ar, the mount that drops from Kael’thas Sunstrider in TK. It can be have a look that sticks out from the crowd and is easy to recognize, like the Warglaives of Azzinoth, dropping from Illidan. (If you ever meet a rogue carrying two of those you’ll notice them, I promise.)

But epicness can also be invisible; the item can carry a story, be a part of the Warcraft lore. And if you ask me, I love this aspect of epic drops most of all. There’s nothing that beats a good story.

The story of an epic skull
Now, for the first time in the game as far as I know, I’ve achieved a truly epic item. It happened a few nights ago, when we killed Illidan once again and The Skull of Gul’dan dropped.

If you haven’t heard about this skull I’ll tell you a little more about it. According to Wowwiki it’s the same skull as Illidan is carrying in the cinematic opening movie of The Burning Crusade.

To make the story short, the skull originates from a warlock named “Gul’Dan”. Still containing a part of the warlock’s soul, it was used as a sort of totem, to evoke demonic powers, by which you could open portals and corrupt forests.

Finally the skull came into the hands of Illidan Stormrage and he “consumed” its powers (hm… how comes that “eating brains” comes into my mind?). That’s how he became half nightelf, half demon. Since this event, the power of the skull is “weakened”, but it isn’t entirely useless.

Thanks to those powers Larísa from now on, without fearing to be turned into a half demon, can tap the power of the skull every now and then, meaning that her spell haste rating increases by 175 for 20 sec.

Spending my dkp
Knowing about the existence of the skull (and the staff of Illidan, which also is cool - it looks like a vacuumcleaner with a beast in the end), I had saved dkp for a long time. In the beginning it was saving by default – my dkp simply wasn’t enough to compete with the veterans of the guild for any kind of loot.
But the last few weeks I’ve been deliberately passing on some nice bracers, backs and off hands and a bunch of T6 parts. In fact I haven’t had an upgrade for months. Not until now in the shivering last few minutes of TBC, in one of the few remaining raids before we’ll turn our backs to BT forever.

I could have saved my dkp for WotLK. But when it came to a decision I chose not to. I was prepared to give everything I had to get this skull into my hand. Not because it was an upgrade – it wasn’t impressive at all, according to Rawr, the tool I use to evaluate gear. But I wanted it badly since it came with a story.

A souvenir from TBC
To make things even better it turned out that my dkp didn’t only get me the skull this night, but also a T6 chest and T6 gloves. But even if these items are great upgrades, they can’t compete in any way. The skull became my perfect ending of TBC, my souvenir and trophy, summing up all of my adventures.

Even if I may have to replace it sooner than I want to, I know I’ll always carry it hidden in my backpack as a reminder of the long journey I’ve done, from being a totally confused newbie to raiding the end boss of BT and as a reminder about the rich lore there is in the game if you only care enough to look for it.

The only thing I regret is that trinkets aren’t visible. How cool wouldn’t it be if Larísa could take out the skull from her pocket, whenever tapping it for powers? Well, you can’t have everything, can you?
Some final thoughts about epics
Finalizing this post I realize that I failed to mention the most important aspect of epic drops. Of course the epic drops I appreciate most are connected to epic memories. Things you get from a guild first kill of a boss carry stories of their own, even though they're not in the annuals of the Warcraft lore.
But I still think that Blizzard should develop the stories about items a bit further. It would certainly add some epic coolness to them. There are many casual players who never will be able to get items such as the skull. Wouldn't it be nice if there were interesting stories about the things you can get from ordinary instance runs and the more advanced quests?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kungen and I - living in different worlds

Finally I’ve seen Kungen, the guild leader and main tank of the world famous raiding guild Nihilum. Not in real life, I’m afraid, even though we live in the same country. Nor in the game – he plays horde on another server and even if I was a bloodelf mage at his realm, the likeliness that we’d ever meet is infinitely small.

But I’ve seen him - in an interview in the latest issue of a Swedish Magazine called “World of Warcraft”.

Knowing that most of you don’t understand Swedish and probably never will get hold of this magazine, I thought I’d give you a few snapshots from it, together with my reflections.

Clean, fit and well cut young men
What first caught my attention in the article was the picture of Kungen and another veteran Swedish player in Nihilum, a druid named Marilyn. These two young men - staring into the camera, with a dark, riven sky in the background and some glimpses from the Stockholm archipelago in the background – are about as far as you can come from the stereotype of a gamer.

They look clean, fit, well cut and extremely well shaved (have they any facial hair growth at all?). They’re dressed in black and not knowing anything about fashion I think they’re at least not totally out of date in their clothing.

From the look in their eyes you can tell they’re serious and pretty focused. There isn’t the remotest sign of a smile, as a matter of fact it’s hard to believe that they ever laugh, judging from the pictures. They could easily pass for pop stars, singing sad lyrics and putting the hearts of teenage girls on fire.

So this is how they look, Kungen and Marilyn, or Thomas and Gustav as they’re called in real life. But what about the rest, what is behind the looks?

The article gives glimpses from their lives. What strikes me most is their uncompromising hunger for wins. They’re competitive in every fibre of their bodies. Now discussing the expansion they’re like horses waiting restlessly for the start to go. They’re full of confidence, claiming they’ve never been so prepared, convinced that they’ll win the race against the few other raiding guilds in the world that can compete with them.
They’re very cocky and I fall for it, even though I know it’s probably a part of a very conscious, smart myth building around them. They want to stay the icons they are to the WoW community as much as we want them to remain The Stars.

Same but different
What is it that makes us so spellbound? How come that there are thousands and thousands of players are looking at what they do, standing in queue at conventions for autographs, following their raids online whenever they come up? I think it’s got to do with the fact that we somehow can identify with them. And yet not.

It’s a mixed feeling; we’re playing the same game in one sense, while living in totally different universes in another.We’re obviously doing the same instances when you think about it. There was a first time to take down the Prince for Nihilum too. They too have been messing around with the things that are supposed to be passed from player to player at Lady Vashj. The difference is in the timeline. I killed Illidan for the first time the other day – they did it on the 5th of June last year. And in the meanwhile the instances have been nerfed heavily, not only in the last patch, but many times before.

Of course we’ve got completely different conditions while doing those instances. When Nihilum entered BT it was an empty sheet. They stepped out into the unknown and they figured out the fights and the strategies. When I enter the same instances I get it all served in dozens of strategy guides and how-to-kill-movies. I can read it, learn it and copy it the best I can and that’s how raiding looks to 99 percent of the raiders. Boring, if you would ask Kungen. What he really enjoys in the game is the analysis, solving the riddle that every new boss presents.

Theoretically it would be possible for a guild to agree about not reading forums, websites or watching movies before a new boss fight in order to recreate the Nihilum sort of challenge, to figure it out on their own. But in practice I think it would pretty hard to stick to it.

Little time played
Something that surprised me in the interview was the low amount of playing time. Thomas says that he currently doesn’t spend more than four hours a week in the game, clearing Sunwell once a week in a couple of hours, and then logging in just for a few minutes per night the rest of the week. I understand that this interview was made a while ago, during low season, waiting for the expansion. Probably their activity has already increased, as the release is coming closer. But still. How do they get their necessary supply of consumables and gold for one thing? I’m wondering.

Maybe they have some fans helping them out? In the interview they talk about how they fought to get the world first kill at AQ40 and how the whole server helped them to farm to make it possible. And that was way back, before they reached the height of their fame where they are now.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case, that there are fans or even groupies helping them out. Things seem to be insane at the Magtheridon server. Every time Kungen logs in he has some 40 people following him around, according to the interview. It must look pretty weird when he does his errands. I picture it like that scene in the Monty Python movie Life of Brian, with the growing number of followers joining him on his wanderings.

The Nihilum effect
I come to think of something I saw, not in the magazine, but on the Blizzard Forums. It seems as if the Nihilum effect has turned Magtheridon into a very special server. The ratio Horde-Alliance was about 90/10 if I remember it right. On a PvP server. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be to be alliance under those circumstances. I’m not surprised that most of the Alliance guilds have left the server. A few remaining players are making posts with desperate cries for help, urging Blizzard to do something about it. But so far they seem clueless how to handle it.

I must say I can’t quite get it. What are all those players rolling new chars at that server thinking? Do they seriously believe that Nihilum will advertise for new guild members in the guild recruitment channel and that their chances to get in will be higher if they’re already at the server? Do they expect to end up pugging with Nihilum, showing up their skills in order to end up as members? Wake up!

Not that I don’t admire them myself. I really do, as much as anyone else. Reading this interview was inspiring. I love the attitude, the winner instinct they show.
Would I want to be a part of their team? It’s hard to say. The question is so out of the blue. You could as well ask me if I'd like to be a part of the Olympic athletic running team of Jamaica. I don’t have the talent, I don’t have the skill, the life situation or the requirements it would take.

The proud father
Playing four hours a week doesn’t sound very demanding, but soon they’ll start another rush, first to 80 and then to conquer the raid instances before anyone else does it. The article tells the story about how Thomas prepared for the release of TBC, stacking up with crisps, soft drinks and fast food to last several days. He became first horde player in the world to reach 70. (Now the competition is harder, so he doesn’t seem all convinced that he’ll be world first.)

Gustav tells about how he’s been warning his girl friend and other relatives that he’s soon about to start another period of progression, with all that comes with it.

Nowadays though, his family seems to be much more understanding than it used to be when he was living at home and found it hard to explain what he was doing and what it meant. There's a touching story about Gustav and his father. Gustav was live commenting a raid of Nihilum at Blizzcon, standing on a stage in front of an audience of 7 000 people. His father watched it online and cried out of pride of his son. He had finally come to realize that he's outstanding in what he’s doing.

Rumours and speculations
What about the rumours then? There have been all sorts of speculations flying around about the guild, suggesting everything from bribes to connection to Nazis. Of course nothing about this is mentioned in the interview, but shouldn’t I be more careful before I start to write admiring rants about those players? Maybe they’re hiding some dark secrets?

Well, to be honest, your innkeeper Larísa is a somewhat naïve lady who insists of assuming that people are good natured until there’s very convincing evidence of the opposite. There’s a saying that “There’s no smoke without fire”, meaning that rumours don’t come out of nothing. I really hate that expression since it’s a lie. There’s a lot of smoke without fire going around in the world, smoke that comes out of people being envious, greedy or plain stupid.

As far as I can tell, Kungen (meaning “The King” in Swedish) and his knights are inspiring examples with an outstanding fighting spirit. We’re living in different worlds, but I too can strive for my own goals, even though it’s in a smaller scale.
Part two upcoming
This is what I wanted to share with you from the interview with Nihilum. I loved the reading. Normally the magazine that published it is rubbish, containing nothing but screenshots, nonsense articles and stupidities like poorly written instance guides which you can find better for free on Bosskillers. I think it's amazing they find anyone willing to pay for it.
But this interview was interesting to this curious gnome and you can bet I’ll try to get my hands on the next issue as well so I can read the next half of the interview, when Kungen and Marilyn will share their reflections on the TBC raiding and the upcoming expansion.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Suggested: Achievement set for WoW bloggers

“Bloggers should create our own set of Achievements”, Loronar wrote in recent comment at The Pink Pigtail Inn.

What a great idea! I thought and started to ponder a bit upon it. Why couldn’t we put up some goals for ourselves – serious and challenging as well as easy and silly ones? It could be about quantity as well as quality and impact.

We could also find up a few titles of our own. The fresh blogger could call himself “The Noticed” after getting his first comment from an unknown reader ever (an epic moment in the life of any blogger, trust me). After you’ve become established and made your first personal appearance in Twisted Nether Blogcast you could proudly introduce yourself as “The Twisted” And if you’ve managed to get noticed and get some link love from Matticus, you’re obviously “The Matticized”.

Here are a few more ideas, some of them connected with titles:

  • Get a link in the blogroll from one other blog
  • Get a link in the blogroll from 25 other blogs (Title: “The Linked”)
  • Get a blogpost cited by WoW-Insider
  • Get a request from WoW-Insider to become one of their regular column writers (Title: “The Star Reporter”)
  • Get 10, 100 and 1 000 subscribers to your blog feed (yourself not being one of them). (Title at 1 000: “The Bestseller”)
  • Make a suggestion at Blog Azeroth which is elected as the Shared topic of the Week
  • Write 10 Blog Azeroth Shared topic posts (Title: “The Shared”)
  • Get your blog listed at Twisted Nether Wiki.
  • Write one post in each of the following genres: List, Angry rant/opinion, Diary/personal, Educational, Humour/Silly. (Title: “The All-rounder”)
  • Write a guest post at five other blogs. (Title: “The Generous”)
  • Write a blog post in the form of a poem. (Write 10 poetry blogposts and you get the title: "The Poet".)
  • Get 1 000 comments on your blog.
  • Get 10 negative comments from one single post. (Title: “The Provocative”)
  • Go over to self hosting and get a web address of your own. (Title: “The Independent”)
  • Write 100, 200, 500 blogposts (Title at 500: "The Chatterbox")
  • Get 10, 100, 1 000 unique visitors a day (Title at 1 000: “The Adored”)
  • Celebrate 6 months, 1 year and 2 years as a WoW blogger. (2 years gives the title: “The Immortal”)
  • Get an invitation to attend Blizzcon for free as a media representative. (Title: "The Bribed" (nooo, just kidding :))
  • Get an invitation to participate in a panel at Blizzcon as an expert commenter (Title: “The Blizzed”)
  • Appear at the bloggroll of Blessing of Kings. (Title: “The Blessed”)

Further ideas
Have you any further suggestions for blogger achievements? Feel free to share your ideas in a comment! Perhaps we should award certain points to different achievements. And at 1 000 points you get a special greeting and applauses in Twisted Nether Blogcast?

We could also set up a set of achievements to be kept at the Blog Azeroth forum, as a source of inspiration and motivation for any blogger who feel that they’re running empty?

The idea came from Loronar. I’ve developed it a bit further. Now it’s time to turn over the baton to the next runner.