Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Game of Guilds (Part 2)

Welcome to my second part of this mini-series of my history of guilds in WoW. This part will offer a bit of the best and a bit of the worst of my guild experiences in WoW. You can read my first post here. Let's get right to it.

Mayhem was going to be my home for more than three years to come, and is still the guild I have the most and the best memories from. It started with my ex joining them because he was approached by someone in the guild who needed raiders who were also swedish, since Mayhem was an all swede guild. It turned out they needed a healer for their raid group for Karazhan and my ex asked me if I was interested. I was maining my warlock then because I was sick and tired of healing from Classic and just wanted to do some dps. For some reason or other I still decided to give it a shot and that is how the story of Zinn as a raider was born. The new 10 man system suited me perfectly and Mayhem was just a much better guild regarding raiding environment than any other guild I had been in. I realized I loved healing the way it had become in BC and stuck with it, all the way until now (and still love it, 5 years later).

Mayhem was filled with loads of great people of which most became close friends, especially since I ended up knowing most of them for years. I went to meet them in Stockholm and we spent endless nights raiding and instancing together. We did quite well in Karazhan (which I still consider one of my favorite raids) and I loved every single fight in there. We did Zul'aman, which was a really difficult raid, but fun. Malacrass is still top three on my list over most difficult raid bosses. Mayhem was far from a pro guild, but definitely not bad either. We mostly did 10 man raids, but occasionally had enough people for 25 man, allowing us to try out Gruul's Lair and SSC. The Mayhem raiding was a blast up until late Wotlk, when it became too much of a difference between the people who wanted to progress and the people who just want to raid every now and then for fun. Along the way we had lost a few really good players (the guild leader among them, although he was replaced by another really good guy) who just lost their interest in their game. Some had kids and had to cut down on their play time for those or other irl-reasons.

We were a few who still wanted to give it our all in the raids and who, especially, still had the time and energy to do so. We started clashing with the group of people to whom raiding just wasn't very important anymore, but we were a very good and solid raid group for years before this happened, and you probably won't see that often anymore. I spent my best and most fond times in WoW when I was with Mayhem and eventhough we eventually grew apart I still really love them and the people in it. I have so many proud moments in memory thinking of what we achieved. Finally downing Prince Malchezaar, Leotheras, Sarth 3d and Professor Putricide. We finished with a bang, finally managing to bring down Lich King on 10 man in one of the last really good raid groups that we managed to get together. Thank you for all those great years you Mayhemmers.

They eventually swapped server, long after I had left them and I think some of them are still playing, but I have very little contact with them nowadays.

When it eventually became clear that the people in the raid group in Mayhem wasn't pulling in the same direction anylonger, some started to look in different directions. When I got an invite to join the 25 man raid guild Dignitas, which by then was a pretty good and well thought of raid guild on the server, I had to take one of the hardest decisions of my life - leaving Mayhem that had been my home for several years and the people in it, basically choosing between friends or the game. I chose the game, mostly because I naïvely hoped that I could also keep my friends in the process by keeping alts in Mayhem. That didn't really work though, since playing together with your mains is a massive part of the glue that keep people together, as it turned out. It's not a decision I regret, but it is true that things started spiraling downwards from here. Maybe in a way it had already begun when we started losing raid people in Mayhem, triggering my move in the first place.

When I first joined Dignitas I remember the feeling of insecurity over my own capabilities, for the first time. Because I had been with Mayhem for so long, my place and role in the raid group had been firmly established for ages, and no matter what I was considered a veteran. When I first joined them I was a scrub and didn't know what I was doing, but neither did anyone else. I was allowed to make my mistakes and learn from them without anyone glaring disapprovingly over my shoulder. I can't imagine a better way of learning things, if you have people around you who have the time and patience. Suddenly I was thrown into a guild which had better progress than us and was a 25 man guild, they had (and probably still do) a much higher status than 10 man guilds in Wotlk. Going from considering myself pretty pro, I was ready to be humbled by the healers in this new guild. This never happened, allowing me to view myself for the first time as a really good player. I had always considered myself a good player within the Mayhem setting, but Mayhem was a small guild with modest achievements. Now I knew I could actually tag along with the "big kids". Unfortunately this led to a few problems. My decision to leave Mayhem had not been a simple one and I was hoping I had done the right choice. When it turned out Dignitas, announcing themselves as a hardcore progress minded raid guild, allowed people to raid without headphones because "they were uncomfortable with talking" I was flabbergasted. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if people use or don't use headphones. But if you don't, you can't claim to be a hardcore raid group aiming to get realm firsts, because heroic modes required (and still do) the use of headphones and microphones. I hadn't minded that raiding environment for more than three years, but I had left it for a reason and I felt like Dignitas had simply lured me in with false advertising.

Nonetheless I still had many months of good raiding with Dignitas, and shit didn't really hit the fan until a couple of raiders, who were also annoyed with the lack of progress minded raiding, decided to leave and start their own guild, called Astralis. Dignitas lost a handful of their very best raiders in a night, a blow that would strike the guild leader, a priest named Relgen, particularly hard. He had already irl issues and felt like the joy of guild leading had gone completely. He decided to quit WoW, and unfortunately left the guild in the hands of a megalomaniac.

I've already written many posts about my battles with the new guild leader, needless to say we didn't agree on very many things. If you're interested in some details, you can read about them here and here to mention a few. Eventhough I was invited to the new guild Astralis, which was run by my then boyfriend and a couple of irl friends, I decided to stay with Dignitas out of loyalty. Dignitas new guild leader had a different view however, accusing me of spying on them for Astralis. It might sound ridiculous, but it is true. At the time I had never heard anything so silly, but the guild leader was adamant. He eventually replaced me with other, way less skilled (if I may say so myself) healers and when I still refused to leave he simply kicked me.

I joined Astralis in the summer of 2011. Firelands had been out for a couple of months, and Astralis had been getting most of the realm firsts, making them the best guild on the server at the time. Since I hadn't been allowed to raid much in Dignitas I was well out of practice and was immediately thrown into heroic modes in Firelands where I barely had experience of the normal modes. Obviously my performance was way behind the other raid members who had been doing the fights for months already. The insecurity I had been ready for when joining Dignitas instead hit me full on when joining Astralis, and this at a point when I already felt like I had to constantly excuse and explain myself. This, coupled with all the issues I had had within Dignitas had made me lose a lot of the fun and enjoyment I had had with WoW and raiding. I had been in arguments in Mayhem as well, but this was the first time I was caught up in proper, and especially completely pointless, guild drama. I didn't see a good way to get back into raiding, since Firelands mostly required two-man healing and me, with my lack of experience of the fights, was never in the top with the other two healers to be chosen - further increasing my experience gap with them.

I still had some good times with Astralis,
albeit brief. Astralis enjoyed some 9 months as the kings on the server before another guild managed to recruit a bunch of really good players and most importantly increased their raiding days to 5 over our 3, giving us some really hard competition (I say us, although I was rarely in the realm first kills myself). When the winter holidays came and people went on vacation, they still continued raiding, and so beating us to many of the realm first kills in the new instance Dragon Soul. Although the reason for them beating us had less to do with skill and more to do with hard work and time, this killed Astralis. People left and I was left to go to a new guild again. At this point I was very close to quitting WoW all together. But I didn't.

Casually Addicted
Instead, I did something I had never done before. I advertised myself, in the hopes of finding myself a new, decent raiding guild. Hopefully one without too much drama, and some consistency. I got a fair amount of interesting suggestions on my forum post and decided to go with a guild called Casually Addicted. This meant having to change server and race, but the server I was on - The Venture Co. - was already bleeding out people. All the bigger guilds had left at this point (also Mayhem and Dignitas had moved) and most people I had been playing with were no longer there. But it still meant leaving the server I had spent more than five years playing on. It meant leaving all my alts (9 of them, one of each class) and all their professions behind. It pretty much meant starting all over, with just my Zinn.

I did it, knowing that it was either that or quitting WoW, and I wasn't ready to do that just yet. My first impression with CA was very good. The people were nice and fun, they received me in a great way and I actually felt at home. I joined them in January, managed to get a couple of months of really fun raiding out of them before the guild died, for reasons I don't know. All of a sudden some people had left, or at least the raiding stopped. I had decided to not be too involved in the guild politics at this point so I didn't have much of a clue as to what was going on. But there I was without a raid group again. I knew I didn't have the energy to advertise myself again, and by this point I didn't even have much to offer. My work schedule required me to work evening shifts, making my attendance dodgy at best. I couldn't promise my new guild much of anything, and so I realized I wouldn't be very interesting on the guild market.

A couple of people from CA invited me to join their new guild (or old guild, don't really know how that was, Defiance, and after a while I accepted (again I had trouble leaving the guild I was in, I always make sure I have exhausted every option in the guild before I go).

And that takes us to the guild I am in today. Because of my irl demands on me I was clear with the leaders of Defiance from the start - I couldn't promise I'd attend to many raids, but I'd sign for as many as possible. In return I only asked for the possibility to raid every now and then. They were ok with the idea, since they didn't really have room for me in the raid anyway (it was a 25 man initially, but eventually turned into a 10 man because of a loss of players, yet again) I was put as back-up raider, and it has worked well for me so far. I sign once every ten days or so, and most of the time I am allowed to join. It doesn't give me much raiding or phat loots, but it's exactly what I want - just some raiding every now and then, reminiscing the days when it was one of the most important things in my life, the hours I spent on it and the people I met doing it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Game of Guilds

I've realized lately that I'm a really sociable gamer. Well, I always considered myself as an originally sociable gamer, becoming the grumpy loner-nerd-gamer as I grew older, but thought that I had changed. Turns out, I have not. When I first started gaming I barely even looked at games that weren't outspoken multi-player games. Although I've been playing a bit of everything, the ones I enjoyed the most and put the most time into were games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, HoMM 3 and the like. Even most single player games I preferred playing with friends, taking turns (exception - Settlers 2). Games like Yoshi's Story or Super Mario World I rarely played on my own. I even played through a game like Final Fantasy VII with the company of a patient friend who, luckily for me, had nothing against simply watching me play. I also really love watching other people play, and this is how I've spent many fun gaming nights with the bf, cuddled up next to him playing Resident Evil together, where he actually does most of the controlling (and me being the wise backseat driver).

Forever alone

To me, WoW turned out to be something of the ultimate multi-player experience. Eventhough few memories can beat the one of me and 6 friends screaming at each other while playing Mario Kart (we took turns) in my parents living room on our 16 inch TV, WoW offered a whole new multi-player experience to me, allowing me to meet new and really great people from all over the world (well at least all over Europe). And I've spent so much time in WoW interacting with other people, I mean how can you not? Even when I've been logged on to a completely odd server just playing some little alt, I often had loads of friends logged whom I could talk to, I would talk to people in pugs and I would randomly group up with strangers for the harder quests.

I thought that now that my interest in single-player games had increased, maybe my interest in playing with other people had diminished. I was wrong. Eventhough I might be playing Kotor2 or Divine Divinity, I don't enjoy doing it when I'm just sitting home by myself. I want someone else to be there, even if they're not even taking part in the game. I want to be able to reflect over and share what is going on in my gaming, otherwise the experience feels stumped. I want to be able to point out interesting situations and funny things and have someone else take part in it, even if it's just a little or just with a smile and a nod.

Realizing this made me take yet another look back at my gaming habits in WoW. It's true that my gaming in WoW has gone from more than 5 hours a day to less than 5 hours a week, in average. I already knew that the sociable part, the fact that all of my irl friends and most of my in-game ones as well, had quit playing had a big part in it. But maybe I didn't realize just how big that part was.

It made me reminisce past acquaintances, looking back at all the people I have known, briefly or over the course of years and that are now mostly out of my life - leaving as quickly as they entered for the most part. And I felt like I wanted to remember all of them and all the things we accomplished together, always. This is something I do every now and then and even something I've written about before. This is my way of remembering them. They were an important part of my life at one point, and I shared loads of fun and loads of grief with these people. So here it is, my history of guilds and some of the most memorable people in it (although I am bound to forget one or two).

The Void
When I first started playing the game, even then as a little priest (although not the same priest as Zinn), I spent most of my time stumbling around, be awed by everything around me and having not the faintest clue as to what to do or what was going on. Somehow I managed to get recruited by what I remember to be my first guild - The Void. I am not 100% sure about the name, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that the guild, which was relatively small, was run by an Englishman named Jacques and he really took me under his wing. He escorted me from Tirisfal Glades to Orgrimmar and I still remember the feeling of walking through those massive gates and into the city and just not being able to think anything at all because it was all so awesome. The server I had chosen to play on turned out to be pretty unstable (this was back in the day when you still could en up in really long log in queues, and this server really suffered from it) and him and me decided to swap servers. We chose the more stable Stormreaver, which my brother also happened to play on. We also swapped from horde to alliance and he helped me get from Darnassus to Stormwind with a summon. I swear I would've spent hours, if not days, randomly running around trying to find my way without his help and he became a really good friend of mine. Unfortunately he was in the army and was shipped out before long and eventually our contact got severed. I've tried finding him since, without success, and he is still one of the friends I regret losing the most in WoW.

Swedish Kings
With my english friend gone from the game I decided to move on to other guilds. I probably tried many before I ended up in a relatively big guild called Swedish Kings, this is where I first met what would turn out to be my now ex boyfriend. I don't remember much of the guild, but I do remember the first conversation me and my ex had in the guild chat with me running around in Duskwood, talking about world domination. We eventually met up and were together for 6 years before we split up, and some 6 very good years those were.

Me and the ex also formed numerous of our own guilds, one that I remember the best was Lore. As far as I recall it was my first shot at being a guild leader, and I remember how stressful and personal I took dealing with guild matters. Eventhough the guild was really small, I was almost personally offended whenever one of the members decided to leave for something else and I tried very hard to keep everyone happy with guild events and what not. One of the most memorably members we had was a danish girl whom I approached because her character had the same name as me, which also was her name. She turned out to be quite special, saying the most profound things in guild chat. She also became completely nerd ragey when I once questioned the danish counting system (like the french they don't say fifty, sixty, seventy, basically five-ten, six-ten and so on like the rest of the world, but say half-three-twenty (50), three-twenty (60), half-four-twenty (70) in what for me at least is a very confusing system. We also had a couple of other guilds that usually ended up being a sort of hub for our own alts and friends characters while they didn't play much or just weren't in any "proper" guild.

Suicidal Spoons

This little guild would turn out to have massive consequences in my personal life long after I had joined and left it and even swapped server once more. Me and the ex joined the guild mostly because of the witty (or so we thought at least) name. The guild was run by a young, swedish kid whom also had a couple of his irl-friends in the guilds. I quite liked the guild leader, a warlock named Smedius, but didn't care much for the rest. Way later, when we both (me and the ex) had swapped many guilds and server, we managed to stumble across Smedius again (I instantly recognized his name) and invited him to join our then guild Mayhem (which I will mention later). With him he brought one of his irl friends and that friends girlfriend. This girl, who also was Smedius ex-gf, would later end up in a relationship with an irl friend of mine (who was also in Mayhem) and then eventually also with my own bf. It was almost like an irl soap opera in the end. It's funny how things turn out.

Aventian Exiles
I don't remember much about Aventian Exiles except it was run by a british guy with the character name Gravy, that name kind of stuck with me. This was back when twinking started to get really big, and his rogue twink was called Mockery. Considering how extremely annoying level 19 rogues were then I always thought that was a very suitable name. I remember Gravy as a funny guy, and Aventian Exiles as a nice guild. It was already a very big guild, this was before spam-inviting people for no good reason was implemented into the game (well, people still that, but a lot less than it is done now). Although AE already numbered in the hundreds, for some reason they decided to merge with one or two other guilds, forming Band of Exiles.

Band of Exiles

The merge turned these three guilds (I think it was three) into a mega-guild. Really big guilds are common nowadays, but they weren't back then. In fact Blizzard hadn't even thought of the possibility of a guild containing more than 500 members, meaning that everyone would not show up on the roster depending on who was logged on, because the roster only showed 500 people. Band of Exiles had somewhere around 700-800 members at its peak (obviously far from everyone were active and many were alts). If I remember correctly we used to organize huge treasure hunts for members, were usually loads of people showed up. Even if just a tenth of the guild came, it was still 70 people! I was quite fond of Band of Exiles and only swapped because I became interested in raiding in early BC. Yes, all of the above guilds I went through mostly in Classic WoW (and I haven't even counted them all then!).

This was originally going to be one post, but I realized it was way too long, so I cut it in two. Stay tuned for part 2 for the most important guild in my WoW-gaming and some of the more dramatic guilds I've been in! Now tell me; what guild experiences do you remember especially well?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Let's Go Back In Time And Play...

Maybe, just this once at least, this blog could be about something else than me and my thoughts. It's probably true that it takes a certain kind of people to write blogs, people who, at least somewhere deep inside, deem their own ramblings interesting enough to share with the rest of the world. Personally I don't really care whether other people like what I write, I am egocentric enough to enjoy it just for my own sake. Don't get me wrong! Having people reading and commenting on things I write is a great feeling and definitely adds a lot to the fun of doing this. But I did go almost a year of writing this blog with near to no feedback in the beginning. I kept at it for the fun of the writing itself. But look at me, I am talking about myself again. When this post was supposed to be about someone else.

A friend of mine, one of my best and oldest friends messaged me the other day telling me had started filming himself playing old games with his own comments. He asked me to check it out and tell him what I thought about it. This guy is the closest I've come to a "real" gamer in my vicinity. And by "real" I mean he plays basically any game and has spent so many hours at it it's ridiculous. What I especially like about him is that he seems almost incapable of disliking a game. He seems to always be able to see the fun in any game he plays, making it more fun for anyone who watches as well. This can be devious of course, just because he says a game is awesome doesn't mean anyone else will agree.

This is also the guy who really got me into gaming and showed me that there were other types of games than just Mario Kart and Mario Party out there. Some of my fondest memories are us sitting at his place, playing through some game all night with a soda and grilled sandwhich to snack on. Watching his play-throughs of Castlevania 1-3 and Zelda (so far, I think he'll add more) really were a nostalgic moment for me. It took me back to us playing together and I watched them through with a smile (yeah, this post is still mostly about me).

These are amateurish videos, in the first ones you'll have trouble hearing him speak because the in game music is too loud. In some other parts the editing is wonky. His english is hilarious. It is clear he is learning as he goes. But there is so much heart in these that you can't help but liking them and I really had fun watching them. I am obviously biased since they're made by one of my best friends that I get to see all too seldom nowadays because we live really far apart. But if you have any interest in "Let's Play" videos I really think you should give these a looksie. I especially enjoyed the play-through of Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, that's a recommendation (he even makes the game look kind of fun!). I hope you'll at least have some fun with these videos, made by someone with a genuine interest in old-school gaming (and any other kind). Because I am definitely not ashamed of plugging them, so there you have it - Let's Go Back In Time And Play.