Once upon a time

Once upon a time, about 5 years ago, a player recognized the future of social interactions and gaming.  He created an online persona which is very true to how he is as a person.  He was very active in Guild and Server forums, set up accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and set out to surround himself with great people.  Along the way he talked to people, interacted with them, made friends and dare I say it, had fun playing a game.

The story never ends, it continues every day.  New friends are made, new ideas are listened to, ideas are put out there for others to read.  It is a happy tale, it has some bad times, some really bad moments, but the good times always triumph over the bad.

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I saw this

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It may be from a long way back seeing Attunements as shown as a Banana peel ready to trip us up.  But after reading the Development Water Cooler blog about gear, it was the first image that came to mind.

Offering more and more powerful gear to entice people to try harder and  harder content is just a carrot on a stick that we will never get.  We chase it tier after tier, expansion after expansion, a never ending cycle of gear up, raid, to gear up, to raid.  The big problem with having a carrot on a stick, constantly driving us forward, is you are not giving us a chance to eat.  There is no pleasure in getting that piece of gear, in 6 months or less, it will be a sharded crystal of some sorts.

The whole design philosophy, raid to get gear has always been at odds with me.  I get gear so that I can raid with friends, and share the triumph of killing a boss with friends, and people in guild, I do not raid to get a gear reward.  The gear is just something that will be replaced, as shiney as you ay feel it is, I know it is tarnished by the fact that it will be sold off soon enough, and that the effort to kill a boss over and over to a point where it is not,

Woo Hoo!!! we downed him.  Grats everyone!!

but more,

Oh thank god we don’t ever have to do him again.

That is a problem.  Introducing more steps to get to the hardest difficulty, or adding more and more difficult versions of things is just prolonging how long we have to stay doing the same thing over and over.  Everyone has a level of difficulty they prefer to play, I use to enjoy raiding, I truly did.  But there came a point where I stopped following the gear carrot and saw it for what it is, a rotting vegetable on a string.  Instead I now stop to enjoy eating things along the way.  There is no point putting the best food off in the distance, if by the time everyone gets there it has turned rotten.

As much as many feel that nerfs to content after a time is a bad choice to make, I kind of think it may be necessary.  There comes a point where people just say,

I have had enough. 

And that applies to all part of the game, be it months of doing repetitive tasks in Garrison, to running the same raids over and over.  At some point we all have to either branch out and find new things to do, or take a break from playing.  8 million players 8 million different desires of things to do, 8 million different levels of skill.

The one thing that can hold it together, is a good story, a good reason to go in and do something, even if we do not particularly enjoy it, a motivation, not just a purple reward.

The end of that Worlds first Garrosh kill, with all of the raid dead, the last man fighting till the end, and the cheers to everyone that they did it.  That is excitement.  The 14th or 15th time downing the boss so someone can get that last BiS item, is more,

Oh yay, we downed him yet again

The system is 10 years old, it is time for a new way to look at the Why we do something.

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Will we welcome you with open arms

Everyday I see comments about guilds cutting back raiding schedules, passing on 20 Mythic because of roster restrictions, even people just walking away from the game.  But mostly I see comments like, we are going Casual.

And I got to thinking.  You have been the ones telling those of us with a more casual take on the game, that we need to adapt.  Well, it works both ways.  Don’t look at taking a step back from the insane schedules that Mythic or high end progression require as a down side.  Look at it for what it is.  You still have a desire to play this game.  So your life is taking more of your free time.  You are still playing.

So for all that have looked down upon folks like me.  Made comments over the years about how the casuals were destroying the game, that it was better back in the day.  We are still here.  And we welcome you with open arms.

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We don’t care if you feel like we are the baddest baddies in the game, we just want to play like everyone else.  Maybe we are not pushing content on release, maybe we are having fun doing older content solo, or with friends.  Maybe we just like to goof off and do silly things like make a guild for a guildie having twins.  We just want to have fun playing, and if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, we will enjoy playing with you too.

Playing video games in any form has always been about challenging yourself to do better, but also to have fun doing it.  WoW is a great place to meet people from all walks of life, from around the world, if you just take the time to look around and talk to people.  Someone you may feel is the servers worst troll, may be such a great player that they troll because they are bored and really just want someone to talk to.  That person you see online all the time at 4am, may work late shifts and has just gotten use to playing alone.  The game is meant to be played with people.  It is the people that keep the doors open, that keep paying the bills.  Instead of flipping a table and saying you are done, Casuals ruined the game.  Why not just keep playing, but instead of stressing yourself out that you are not pushing top 50 end game Mythic progression, you just play for the fun of playing.  A lot of us do just that.

Yeah we sometimes grumble about the state of things, but we are on everyday, plugging along, doing what ever we feel like doing.

Sorry if this is non nonsensical rambling, I’ve been up for 17 hours, have not had enough coffee, and need to get up at 5am tomorrow.

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Blog Post #139 Was trying to think of something positive to write about

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taking on the guild interface.

I am sure if you ask anyone that has run a guild for any length of time what they thought about the guild interface, they would either /facedesk, or say, where do I begin…

Lets talk about the current guild interface.  It is fundamentally unchanged from where it was years ago.  Yes they have added the option to require an authenticator to ranks, yes they have tweaked a few things.  But I think it is time to really give it a good look.

Lets start with Ranks.  Currently we have a maximum of 10.  And for the most part that may be enough.  You have your GM spot, Officers, Members, Inactive.  And that may be fine for a good start to a guild.  But then it can become more complex.  When your Officers have Alt’s that you want to give certain permissions to, but not all, so you add a rank.  Then you have people that have been in guild for years that really do a lot, you want to reward or give responsibility to, so you add a rank, then you have Raid Leaders, Raiders, PvP leaders, people that PvP exclusively, your people that get deployed in the military or with health or financial issues that you want to make sure they don’t get removed, new trial members, just normal members…. The list can become daunting when you try to limit to just the 10.  I would think increasing the maximum to 12-15 would be adequate.  But I can also see that adding too many could become even more of an issue.  So lets just add a couple.

Now, what I would like to see as additional options.  Instead of the default rank a person is added to the guild being the one on the bottom, that you be able to assign with the check of a box the rank new members are assigned.  Maybe you want new members to be brought in at a position that can only be removed by an officer or only buy the GM.  The structure of having responsibilities running downhill can get a bit confusing unless you thoroughly plan out your ranking structure.

I would like to see an option to set an inactive time to ranks for a character to be automatically moved to an inactive rank.  An option to automatically move a player inactive for 6 months as example, or a year, or even weeks.  I would like to see the system recognize when people have left the game.  I know people in guild that have closed their accounts more than a year ago, but still show in the guild roster, but a check of the armory shows them as 404.  This should be an automatic update to a guild roster when an account goes 404 the character is removed.  Also to have included if a person comes back after years of not playing to be placed automatically back into the guild they were a part of, but at the new member rank.

I would like to have more options in the Mobile app for GM’s or high ranks with the ability enabled.  An ability to approve or remove people from the guild.  The ability to adjust a characters rank in guild too.  How many times have we gotten emails, hey so and so’s account may be compromised, they are higher rank than anyone online, can you do something?  Sorry, have to wait until I get home.

These few things are a good start.

As for the looking for guild feature.

It is a behemoth of guilds listed.  Normally in the order created and that is it.  A scan through can take a significant amount of time, and there is a high percentage of guilds listed that are inactive, people that created guilds that never did anything with them except check that box to list, ones that are just banking guilds, the list is so large that after a time, I am sure people just pick one with a bunch of people.

I would like the system to filter into categories;

Large/Medium/Small guilds  500+/250-500/less than 250 members.

Sub lists showing activity if possible, ie, Such and Such Raid masters  25 player average online/weekly.  Just something that scanning through you could see quickly, oh, they only have 1 or 2 people on, that’s not for me, or oh, they have 45 on, that is too much.

The ability for guilds to list links to their web sites, and directly to applications if required.

The ability to approve a request to join, even if they are not online, with an in game mail message that they have been accepted, click on this item to confirm your choice.  Because we all like to get things in the mail, and having a nice letter pop up saying thank you for choosing our guild, we are pleased to let you know that you are most welcome when you are ready.

An option for a guild to choose to have themselves listed as a new player guild.  This was a tough one to consider.  I can see how that initial experience in a guild can shape how you associate belonging to one in the future.  Also the issues of a constant stream of new players asking the same questions over and over, asking for help with quests, dungeons.  It could be a large problem, and it has been suggested that perhaps there should be a Game Masters guild.

I kind of like this idea.  When you initially join World of Warcraft a quick question, have you ever played before.  If you say no, you will be placed in a GM guild for the first 20 levels.  At which time they can offer suggestions to the type of server may be best suited to you.  So it would be eliminating that initial bad experience some may have by choosing the wrong server.

I am sure these ideas are full of pitfalls, and problems that I don’t see, but it is time the feature gets a good look at.

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what if we just win the battle, but it is only the start of the war

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Every expansion we work our way to the end to fight the bad guys and we beat them, only to find there are worse bad guys, tougher challenges.  It occurred to me this morning that we keep winning battles, but the true war is still coming.  We see the way the game is unfolding, that regardless of our actions, the destiny of events has a way wanting to come to fruition.

While we may have changed the protagonists from our original history, history has it’s own idea of what it wants to happen.  I thought about this whole Timewalker thing coming, and I had a disturbing thought.

What if this is the end of WoW.  What if once we beat the bad guy, this is it.  We do not stop Draenor from destroying itself, and in the end we fracture time even more, what if all of this, sending Garrosh back to prevent the drinking of the blood, was an attempt to fix the future, and we came along and mucked it up.  What if there was only one opportunity to fix all of time, and what we have done has just made it worse.

The next expansion will be us heading back through alternate timelines to fight battles long done by us, but with different twists.  Fighting on a world where the Gate was never opened, fighting all of the old raids over and over with variations to the bosses, new mechanics that were in flux, ever increasingly difficult challenges, repairing the damage we are doing now.

What if WoW was just all the content created to date, but you had alternate realities of it to play for as long as you want.  But there would be nothing truly new.  Just variations of old content.  A world where Sylvanis was the Lich King, where Jania Proudmoore was the King of SW.

There will come a day, when they admit to us, that they can no longer make new.  That they have reached the end of what can be done.  and we finally win.  May it be a day long in the future, long after I am gone.

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no fancy titles

Not going to try to speculate or make accusations about corporate greed etc.

I am the generation that has been here from the start. Those of us in our late 40’s to early 60’s. We have been here from the early days of public internet. I remember having the $400 or more credit card bills from AOL, playing online games, playing console games, at a time when that was more than 2 weeks pay. I have been here. Seen many companies start up and grow. Seen the changes in advertising methods. To those early days when you paid fees to send email, to having to sit through 15-30 second commercials so you could get to what you wanted.

I see now, here in our gaming corner of the world what I have seen in my job for years now. Years ago in my line of work, it was done and run by people that knew the job. We liked being able to look at a building and say yeah, I did that. We were creating something. And that had value to us emotionally. Much the same with gaming. It was never really a job. But corporate culture has changed quite a bit over the years. Where we would once send things out by mail once a week, we now do emails multiple times a day. Where we once spent months we now spend a few short weeks. It became a culture of instant gratification.

But even that is not enough anymore. Awhile ago I started seeing those I worked with for years advancing from being the hands on people, up the corporate ladder. Now they were no longer the hands on people. They were in the part of business that looks at the numbers. No longer could they just say do this or do that without having to worry about the bottom line. Now they were part of a business world where they did not have 3 or 4 competitors, they were competing against dozens or more. And i see that in our gaming  culture. We have thousands of talented people that have been a part of something from a young age. But now are a part of the bigger picture.

I remarked last night to someone that I was once told, don’t ever let it be a job. That applies to work also. When you do something you enjoy, it never seems like a job. But when it becomes a part of your livelihood thing change. Subtlety at first. But eventually, it no longer becomes something you enjoy doing. It becomes work. And the world all around us is becoming work. I have seen the people that are running things now. They have business degrees, degrees in marketing, and accounting. And they are just like you and me. Except their job is focused on the bottom line. Where is the money going. Where can we improve, how can we do more with less.

I do not fault anyone for doing their job well. It is just the way our culture has evolved over the years. The bottom line, what can we do to ride this train for as long as possible has replaced the desire to create without being compensated. Because it had to. My generation is at the end. The new generation has grown up with instant access, jumping from one thing  to another. The old ways of doing things are being replaced with people that can do them faster and cheaper. Where once you had companies that would say take my money. I want to have my presence associated with you, to a climate we see where you have not 1 or 3 or even 5 places with their hands out you have dozens, hundreds.

Here is my Kickstarter, here is my Gofundme, my Paetron, it has become a new way to do business. Where once you needed massive banks of servers running 24/7 you now have individuals that can create and do things from their home. In my line of work we had a major slow down years ago. There were massive layoffs. Companies went under. Former employees started working from home. To compete against someone working from their home, meant we cut prices, cut salaries, cut expenses any way we could to survive. It has taken years for things to improve. I have not seen a raise in near 10 years. For a few years I took a 20% pay cut. Just so I would have a job.  I went for 5 years with no vacation or sick time. I worked 50 hour weeks, it has taken a long time to dig out of the financial hole and just survive.

I will share something with you all. Getting older costs money. You get married, you buy a home, you have kids, you start looking at that day when you retire and have no income. Gone are the whims to buy it now and pay for it later. Later is here. If you managed to do something for a few years of your life that gave you joy and satisfaction, and even were able to earn a living doing, count yourself blessed. The world many live in revolves around wondering if we can pay our mortgage on time, or will we have enough to buy food this week.

We as a culture need to find ways to foster creativity in people. We need to support those that provide a means to look at something in awe. Be they painters, writers, people that create things for us to find joy in our lives. However we also need to beware those looking to just jump on the band wagon, looking to cash in on the trend. I can’t tell anyone you should support this person or website over another. That is a choice left to the individual. There is no one better than another. What may be the most popular today may be replaced with something new in the future.

Be happy for the time you may have in the spotlight. Enjoy what you are doing. But know this. It will never last forever. Do it because you want to. Because you enjoy it. Not because you found a way to get paid doing something you like. Because there will come a day or be days when you question why you are doing something, and people don’t appreciate all you have done. All you have given. And it will show. It will give people the impression that you only did it for the the pay check. I don’t write this blog for fame and fortune. I write it because I like writing. Over 20+ years I have probably posted thousands, more likely in the tens of thousands of forum posts for games. Be it Magic the Gathering, D&D minis WoW or dozens of other games I have played. If there was a forum to write and talk about things I did. I write not because I think I have some great mind and all the answers to life’s problems. I do it because I enjoy talking g about thing in written form.

My generation has seen great and wonderful advances. Things we never could have imagined. Things many now take for granted. My era has come and gone to be replaced with the new. Yours will come and go also, with a speed that may shock many of you. What was once something only a small percentage had the skills to do has been replaced with technology that can do it faster and cheaper. But that does not necessarily make it better, or worse. Its just a new way to do it. Much like we say in gaming that you need to adapt to change. So to do you need to with what you do in your life to survive.

There is a battle brewing. We may only be seeing the initial skirmishes in our corner of the world. There is a fight coming in the world of digital media. At stake are billions of dollars to promote things. And the big players are digging in for the fight. They are consolidating their positions. And waiting on opportunities to acquire what ever they can for the best price. A lot of people are going to be hurt financially in this war. And the few that survive will be very powerful indeed.  I feel for any that have lost their jobs. It is something I have faced several times in 30 years of working. It is never easy. It happens. It will happen again. Never take it personally. Never lash out at those that survive cuts. There may come a time when you find yourself not working with someone, but working for them, or perhaps they working for you.

Life is not easy. We are constantly forced to face difficult decisions. Forced to make compromises. Do your best to remember to have joy and satisfaction in your life. Because life has a tendency to make you work for it. Done take things personally. Even though it may feel like a personal attack. It isn’t always. Some times we find ourselves having to make the unpleasant choices to save as many as possible. Sometimes the need of the many do outweigh the few or the one. Perhaps choices are made because they feel you will be ok, you will have opportunities others may not. It does not sting any less.

I am sorry that anyone ever has to walk away or is cut from doing something they enjoy. The choice is yours in how you deal with the circumstances.

Have a good weekend.

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