Tag Archives: blogging

Time’s Up

22 Aug

I had originally intended to make what I’m about to say in this post a topic for conversation on the next episode of my new podcast, but I felt like it might feel better to get these words and thoughts out of my head and on to paper – or the closest thing to paper that I have, which is my blog.  I feel like getting things off your chest feels differently, depending on the method in which you choose to do it. 

Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed.  It started right around the time that the release date for Mists of Pandaria was confirmed.  The officers of my guild had decided that they would like us, the raiders to be 90 ideally within a week, but for sure within two weeks of release.  This coincides with the pre-release weekend for Return to Ravnica, a highly anticipated expansion of Magic the Gathering that I and many others are very excited about.  Since I have come back to the game, I have made it to the last two pre-release weekends without fail.  I had every intention of making this one, too, but with the race to hit level 90, I realized I may not be able to make it.  This really bothered me.

Then my boyfriend and I decided to reconcile and start down the path of giving our relationship another shot.  He lives in Chicago.  One of the issues that came up during our initial break up was the fact that we weren’t spending enough time together.  Back then we were seeing each other every other weekend, sometimes every third weekend, mostly due to his work schedule.  When we agreed to give things another try, it came up in conversation that we may have to try stepping things up to every weekend or three weekends out of the month.  This was something I was fine with at the time, but when combined with everything else that I have going on started to make me feel like I was suffocating. 

So, let’s see.  Three days a week raiding, plus Fridays for Friday Night Magic, plus my blog, plus my podcast, plus being a guest host on other people’s podcasts, plus finding time to socialize with my friends and to see my family, plus work 40+ hours a week, and have weekends to spend traveling for the occasional Magic tournament or other type of event, and manage to maintain a healthy relationship with my boyfriend.  How am I supposed to juggle all of this?

Even the first two weeks of Mists seem incredibly daunting to me.  The expansion comes out on September 25th, which is a Tuesday.  I’m not going to burn a vacation day on launch day, for various reasons.  I decided to take the one vacation day that I had available and use it on that Friday, instead.  So starting on Tuesday, I will be coming home from work around 4:30, eating dinner, leveling from about 6pm to 11pm, going to bed, and then doing the same thing on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday through Sunday would be spent primarily leveling, most likely missing the Return to Ravnica pre-release, and then doing the same 6pm to 11pm grind every day the week after until I’m level 90.  Then comes the grind for gear and rep, so that I can be raid ready.  I’m exhausted just typing this.

Let’s say that I eliminate World of Warcraft from the equation.  Admittedly, this clears up a lot of my week.  Let’s say that I play only Magic and podcast, while blogging occasionally.  I’m already only playing Magic one day a week right now and that’s on Fridays.  Every weekend that I spend with the boyfriend rules Friday Night Magic completely out.  Typically I take the Amtrak to Chicago on Friday afternoons after work and I get down there around 7:30pm.  Most Friday Night Magic events start well before then.  I could start playing Magic Online and play during the week, but I’m leery about having to build an online card collection, in addition to an actual one.  I also worry that playing Magic Online will simply become a substitute for World of Warcraft and I’ll find myself tethered to the computer again during the week.  It would be like substituting one addiction or vice for another. 

Then there is the issue of traveling.  One of the things that excited me the most about getting back into Magic again was the opportunity to play in more large scale events across the country.  I had originally intended to stick to states that were nearby, like Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, etc.  But I have been very fortunate to meet people in states that are a bit farther away from me that I could go visit and even crash with, too.  I could visit Seattle if I wanted to, or Los Angeles, or even New York.  The possibilities are endless.  I can’t do those things if I have a boyfriend, or a boyfriend that my weekends are pretty much devoted to.  Most of the Magic events I’m interested in take place on the weekends.  How would I manage that?

I’m pretty sure this would be an issue, even if my boyfriend didn’t live an hour or so away from me.  Even if I met a guy locally, what guy is going to be okay with a girlfriend who is essentially booked a minimum of three days out of the week (for a computer game, no less) and possibly an additional day or even a weekend (for a card game), and who spends most of her free time working on a blog and a podcast about said games, even when she isn’t playing them?  Having all of this going on doesn’t necessarily make me serious girlfriend material.  It all leads back to the inevitable feeling that I have that something has to go.

I talked about this a little bit with the boyfriend last night and he didn’t have too much to say about it.  He is someone who was a hardcore gamer for a long time and made the switch to being extremely casual, to the point where he now only plays a handful of X-Box games and board games with friends from time to time.  That was something he was glad to do.  He was happy to give up the schedules and the responsibilities and to make other things in his life a priority.  I’m not so sure that I’m at that point yet.  I like my life the way that it is.  I also like being able to do things to the level of satisfaction that I want to do them.  I don’t want to do eight different things, just to say that I’m doing them.  I want to do them and feel like I’m doing them well.  I don’t feel like I can do that right now.  Something is going to suffer.  Something would have to suffer.

I really don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how I can pull all of this off.  I like where I’m at and I feel like I worked hard to get here.  It would be one thing if I weren’t enjoying something anymore and I chose to walk away from it because I hated it.  It would be one thing if something was being taken from me against my will, like Blizzard was no longer making expansions or Wizards stopped making Magic cards.  I have so many things that I love to do and so many people that I love spending time with and seemingly not enough time to spend on everything.  That doesn’t sit right with me.  It feels like a cop out to say that’s why I would be giving up something.

It’s just like Moroes says, “Time… Never enough time.”

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Thursday Thoughts

7 Jun

Over the last few weeks I have really struggled with coming up with cohesive, relevant blogs that I can publish.  For the first time ever I have more than one draft sitting in my Drafts folder and I regularly add more, only to delete them a short time later.  I haven’t encountered a feeling of writer’s block this strong in quite a while and it only makes me feel worse when I see how other bloggers are constantly posting and how they seem to have no such shortage of things to write about.

To be honest, it makes me feel jaded.  Washed up.  I see myself losing Followers because I’m not talking about things that people initially followed me to hear me talk about.  I see myself not being able to relate to conversations that other people are having, because I either don’t agree with them and can’t find a way to word it eloquently enough or because I do agree with them and they have already worded things better than I ever could.  I just feel like I’m watching people, like I’m watching the community pass me by.  I’m suddenly overcome with ennui and I don’t know what to do about it.

Instead of talking about what I haven’t been able to do or haven’t been doing lately, let’s talk about what I have been up to.

World of Warcraft

I haven’t raided in two weeks.  Last week I posted out because I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I was really in no mood to raid or do anything that felt competitive or like I would have to really push myself to do.  This week I had the chance to go out and do something to take my mind off said breakup and so I took the opportunity to do that and volunteered to sit on the bench for the night.

I don’t miss it.  Let me be more specific – I don’t miss Dragon Soul.  I’m excited about raid testing being made available in the Beta.  I’m excited at the thought of grinding the 5 man dungeons to gear up for new raid content in Mists of Pandaria and then doing said content.

The Beta, as it stands right now, doesn’t have much appeal to me, either.  I have no desire to level a toon from 85-90 and then have to do it all over again when the expansion hits.  I would much rather wait until the premade characters are made available and then go from there.  That’s really where things in the Beta will start getting interesting to me.

Diablo 3

I have an Annual Pass, so I didn’t actually have to “pay” for or go seriously out of my way to get my hands on a copy of Diablo 3.  It’s fun.  I haven’t played it as much as most people have.  My witch doctor hasn’t even cracked level 20 yet and I’m not in much of a hurry to change that.

I enjoy the slow pace.  I enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of the map and breaking every barrel, urn, and spider egg that I see.  I don’t feel like there is a clock ticking that tells me I have to be this level or I have to be this geared in order to do this instance within this timeframe.  It’s nice to just say to myself “I want to kill shit,” and then I log on and do it.  It’s very simple and very mindless, which I really appreciate at this point in time.

Magic the Gathering

I have been playing quite a bit of Magic the Gathering lately and it has brought me the most enjoyment these past few weeks.  I find Magic to be very refreshing and so different from World of Warcraft in many ways.  Here are just some of those reasons:

The community.  Since I started playing Magic again, I have been trying to get a feel for what websites are the best resources for me to go to and which forums seem to have the most decent people posting on them.  I have started to Follow certain writers that I enjoy reading the most on Twitter, striking up conversations with them when I can.  I’m slowly trying to get involved in a community that is unlike what I’m used to and it’s intimidating and yet strangely exciting, at the same time.

One thing that really stands out to me about the Magic community is the sense of meritocracy or the feeling that people who are seen as authorities or who are the most respected have genuinely done something to deserve that.  Something that has really frustrated me about the WoW community lately has been the recent surge in people who have obtained this bizarre form of celebrity for seemingly doing nothing at all.

They don’t play the game.  They don’t raid.  But yet they’re in a position where people look to them to tell them what to do or for advice.  They exist solely for entertainment value and while I can see the immediate benefits of such a thing, it still feels sort of wrong to me.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask that someone actually plays the game that they write or podcast about.  I don’t think it’s wrong to ask someone to share their level of experience with you when they try to give you advice on how to do something.

This doesn’t seem to be the case in the Magic community.  The people who are writing for these websites and that you see out and about can genuinely prove that they have been there, that they are successful, and that they have a reason to be doing what they are doing.  They are there to entertain you, but that comes second to the fact that they have some amount of credibility going for them and I really respect that and I miss that.

The social interactions.  I knew that I was starting to experience some burnout once we had downed Heroic Madness for the first time.  I knew that I wanted to take a break from WoW before Mists of Pandaria came out, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with all that free time.  The possibilities were endless.  I could go back to Rift.  I could try out Star Wars or TERA.  I could throw myself into Diablo 3.

But then I realized that I really missed social interaction with people and I mean face to face conversations.  I started to feel like everything I was doing involved hiding behind a computer screen and like I was becoming very isolated and possibly even socially awkward because of it.  It seemed really obvious to me, maybe even too obvious to choose another computer game to keep me occupied until the next expansion comes out.  That’s when I decided to start playing Magic more and to relish those moments when I’m not tied to a headset or to a keyboard and mouse.

To my surprise, I had become really awkward around groups of people.  I found that I had a hard time remembering the names of the people I had started to play with regularly at my local Friday Night Magic events.  I noticed that I had a hard time looking people in the eye when I was talking to them.  I had to remind myself that I don’t have a push to talk key in real life and that I have to keep some things to myself if I don’t want someone across the table from me to hear them.

I’m getting better at communicating and I’m still not perfect.  I do still rage when people stand over my shoulder and make comments about the game I’m playing or someone plays a card over and over again that I don’t like.  I have to get better at being a good sport, for both when I win and for win I lose.  I need to be able to say that I did a good job, even when I don’t feel like I did or when I feel like I could have done better.  Coming back to Magic has helped me identify all of these things (and more) about myself that I don’t think I would have done if I had just moved on to yet another computer game to pass the time.  I’m really grateful for that.

The freedom.  I don’t feel like I’m bound to a set schedule with Magic, the way that I am with WoW.  It’s not the end of the world if I don’t make it to Friday Night Magic, or if I have to leave early.  I can go to a tournament at this store on Tuesday, or that store on Thursday, or do both tournaments and even a third on Sunday.

I find being able to say what I want to do and what I don’t want to do, without any negative repercussions very exciting.  I don’t feel like I’m letting anyone down if I don’t make it to an event or like I am lagging behind, like I would if I missed a raid.  I don’t feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again, like when you farm the same instance for several months at a time.  It all feels fresh and new and dare I say it – like a game *should* feel.  It kind of makes me wonder why I have been settling for something else this whole time.

Reading

I got used to bringing a book with me when I used to ride the Amtrak to go visit my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend).  One of the books that I had picked up was the first book in the “Pretty Little Liars” series.  Needless to say I was hooked.  I’m currently on the third book and I just started watching the television show that goes along with it.  It’s been much easier to avoid spoilers of the books than it has been the television show, but it seems like the show is radically different from the books, so it’s not really hurting anything.

Like I said, I’m hooked.  I squeal like a teenage girl when the cute boy takes his shirt off or he says something close to romantic.  I gasp when something sort of scary happens.  I panic when one episode ends and I have to get up to turn the next one on from my computer.   Completely hooked.

I know this post kind of went all over the place, but I’m okay with that.  Life is good – even if it’s not giving me a lot of things to write about.  I still felt like I should say *something,* so hopefully I’ve accomplished that today.

Thanks for stopping by!

Oestrus’ Top 4 Tips For The Newbie Blogger Initiative

17 May

I signed up to be a Sponsor as part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative earlier this month and I admit that I got sort of sidetracked between World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Magic the Gathering, and some pretty fun times in my personal life.  With that said, I did want to write some sort of post, in which I give some advice to either up and coming bloggers or bloggers who might be returning to the scene after a hiatus.  While I have covered this topic once before with Ophelie on an episode of the Double O Podcast, it still feels good to get all of this out in writing, for my own peace of mind and for those who didn’t get a chance to listen to the episode in question that we talked about most of these things on.

So without further ado, here are my top 4 tips or pieces of advice for bloggers of all stripes.

Find your niche

One of the first things I always tell people who are considering starting a new blog is to make sure that they carve out a niche for themselves or that there is something about them that sets their blog apart from the rest of the pack.  For example, let’s say you want to start a new blog and you’re a resto druid.  Well, she’s a resto druid.  So is he.  And so is she.  You have to bring something more to the table than just that, otherwise you are most likely going to get skimmed over in favor of others who have been doing this much longer than you have.  If you look a little closer at the three people I just mentioned, you can find very subtle differences in their writing style, their personalities, or other topics that they choose to write about which sets them apart.  While they are all resto druids, one of them likes to roleplay and writes stories in character, the other sometimes covers personal topics and tends to skew more towards the hardcore side of raiding, while the other is usually at the forefront regarding changes to druids and spends a lot of time interacting directly with the druid community in various ways.

Finding a niche or something that makes you unique will not only help define you in a sea of other bloggers, but it will also give you something else to write about when you can’t think of anything else regarding your primary topic or subject of expertise.  There will be times when there is nothing to report or when things are just sort of trucking along.  You want to make sure that you don’t spend too much time away from your blog, if this is the case, and having a secondary topic to write about can help you stay active and keep people interested in your blog during those slow periods.

Saturate the market

Do you ever notice that when an actor or actress is about to break out in Hollywood that you see them everywhere you go?  They are doing handfuls of movies a year.  They are on the covers of magazines all over newsstands.  They are doing interviews on any TV or radio show that will have them.  Then once they become a bit more famous or established they start to scale it back a bit.  They do one movie a year, maybe even one movie every two years.  I tend to look at blogging the same way.

When you’re just starting out in the business of blogging, like show business, nobody knows who you are.  You are but one blogger in a sea of other bloggers, all clamoring for Retweets and comments and space on other people’s blogrolls.  You have to make people see you, make them see what you are all about and exactly what you are up to.  Once you have established yourself as a presence in the community, you can start to scale it back a bit.  Post once a week.  Maybe once every two weeks.  People with established audiences can afford to take a break from time to time because they have such loyalty from their readers that they know people will wait for them to post something again.  When you are a new blogger, you don’t have that luxury.  You have to keep people’s attention on you and posting frequently is one way to do that.

Dare to be different

One of the things that attract me most to a fledgling blogger is when they take a stance on something that is different than what others feel about something.  It can be very tempting for you to want to fit in or to crave acceptance from others by falling in line with what they want you to feel or what they think you should write about.  At the end of the day, you are the one that has to be comfortable with what you choose to do with yourself and your blog.  Write about what you want to write about.  Make your blog look the way that you want it to look.  Put whomever you want to on your blogroll.  Moderate your comments as you see fit.  I think the blogosphere would be an incredibly boring place if everyone felt the same way and nobody dared to feel otherwise.  It’s important to give people some variety, in case they don’t agree with the status quo.  Who knows?  That opinion or that perspective that you feel puts you in the minority could suddenly turn into the new majority.  You never know unless you speak up or speak out.

Ignore the numbers

The hardest mental road block for any blogger, new or old to overcome is most often the one involving the numbers.  It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the number of page views that you accumulate, the number of subscribers that you have, the number of Followers that you have on Twitter, etc.  Ignore all of it.

The number one reason that I see up and coming bloggers give up on their blogs and on themselves is because they buy into the numbers.  If you are getting into blogging simply because you want lots of Followers and readers then you are blogging for the wrong reason.  Let’s get that out of the way right here and now.  There are bloggers with 65 Followers whose posts I live and breathe for and then there are those with a thousand Followers that I find to be the tritest personalities in the entire world.  These numbers have no bearing on the work that you do, the quality of your writing, your worth as a human being – none of it.  They are the last thing you should be looking at, in terms of viewing yourself or your blog as a success or something that is worth doing.

Another reason why it doesn’t pay to worry about your numbers is because there is no sure fire way to keep track of them all.  If you use WordPress, the site counter is going to tell you that the number of page views or referrals that you have received is different than what something like Google Analytics would tell you.  Different feed readers will give you conflicting information, in terms of how many subscribers that you have and Twitter has been known to randomly Unfollow people, through no fault of your own.  You would spend more time trying to get all the numbers to line up than you would trying to focus on churning out new and exciting content and it’s just not worth it.  Do not fall into that trap.

To this day, I still don’t know how many subscribers that I have and I choose not to know.  I don’t obsess over how many Followers that I have on Twitter.  I don’t sweat my page views like I used to.  And to be honest, I think I’m better off for not knowing or not caring.  I write what I want to write and it is great if people choose to tag along and come along for the ride with me.  But I think taking away the emphasis on other people and their validation helps me focus on why I blog and what really matters to me.  It is a very liberating feeling.

Short and Sweet

6 May

On Tuesday, my guild successfully downed the Heroic Madness of Deathwing encounter on 25m and thus wrapped up our time raiding in this expansion.  We spent Thursday night in Heroic Firelands and cleared up to Heroic Ragnaros, but decided that we didn’t want to spend all of tonight wiping on that (which we probably would end up doing because that encounter is still really tough), so we decided to take tonight off.  Next week will be spent getting people their achievements for the Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider achievement and then we are officially done until Mists of Pandaria comes out.

This is the first time that I have ever killed every boss in the current expansion before the next one comes out.  I was just shy of an Illidan kill in Burning Crusade.  I was a resto druid warming the bench on Heroic Lich King (because resto druids weren’t considered to be very helpful on the 25m mode of that one).  And don’t even ask me what the final boss technically was in Vanilla, because I don’t know and frankly can’t remember.  Suffice it to say my time spent raiding in Vanilla was mostly a blur and full of plenty of noob moments that I can’t help but look back on and laugh out loud at.

It’s such a weird feeling knowing that next week is my last week spent raiding seriously in Cataclysm.  I don’t know what to do with myself after that.  I’m so used to raiding and logging in solely to raid that those three days are going to feel sort of empty without having raiding to rely on.  Some part of me really wants to pack those three days with other things to do, like PVP, or more Magic the Gathering, and the other part of me really wants to enjoy having nothing to do those nights and getting a good night’s sleep or just doing something simple like reading a book.

Other than the Heroic Madness kill, not too much is going on in my neck of the woods.  The latest expansion in Magic the Gathering came out on Friday, so this weekend and the weekend before were filled with pre-release and release day events.  I got to try out some new formats and see some of the people that I usually play in Friday Night Magic with in a different light.  It’s nice to see people who come to Friday Night Magic with the most minimaxed deck possible trying to create something out of a couple of packs of cards.  I think it puts everyone on more even of an even playing field and it’s fun to see what people come up with for themselves.

I am still in the Mists of Pandaria Beta and I will also have Diablo 3 when it comes out.  I have never played a Diablo game before, so I’m curious to give it a try and see what all the fuss is about.  Diablo seems to have some pretty die-hard fans and I respect any game that can keep people interested and happy during long periods of time between releases like that and any game that has been around that long and helped pave the way for many games after it.  I’m not really going into it with any expectations.  I just want to poke around and see if it’s something I could get into or get the hang of.

Last but not least, I am participating in something called the Newbie Blogger Initiative that was started by the creator of a blog called Bio Break.  This is something that will be happening throughout the month of May and is meant to give new bloggers some motivation to start blogging or to welcome back retired bloggers who are thinking of getting back into the scene again.  I signed up as something called a Sponsor and I will be throwing up a post next week with some tips that I have for up and coming bloggers.  I really wanted to do this because I definitely feel that I have taken a more unconventional approach to doing things, which has worked for me, and I would like to offer up some different perspective, other than what most people would suggest you do if you want to be a successful blogger.

Leave a comment and let me know what you have been up to, or if you have anything to share or add about the end of raiding in Cataclysm, Diablo 3, the Newbie Blogging Initiative, or anything else that I have mentioned in this post.  Let me know what’s on your mind!

A Lifetime Of O’s – Then And Now

13 Mar

Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a second to look around and you think to yourself  “How did I get here?”  I have those moments more often than most people do, but I felt compelled to answer the question a bit more seriously after some other bloggers started a trend of writing posts detailing where their characters came from compared to where they are now. 

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to tackle this one.  The character that I play now is not the one I started out with, so I wasn’t sure if I should talk about the history that I have with my current main, or my previous one, or even the one before that.  This post could be as long or as short as I wanted to make it.  In the end, I decided that I wanted to go all the way back – back to the beginning.  How did I get here?  Let me show you.

It all started on a little realm called Thunderhorn, which is actually still around, and is considered to be one of the oldest realms in the game.  I was an Alliance healing priest named “Kemintiri,” in a guild called “Chosen of Valhalla,” which was run by Shoryl.  I was so green.  I didn’t know how guild politics worked.  I didn’t know anything about what it meant to be a raider and how to handle yourself as such.  I knew nothing. 

Thunderhorn was grossly overpopulated – so much so that before Burning Crusade was released Blizzard was thinking of either splitting the realm in two (so there would be a Thunderhorn 1 and a Thunderhorn 2), or they were going to offer free realm transfers to lower population realms.  The guild that I was in was part of an alliance of guilds and they all agreed that the free realm transfer was the better option, rather than staying on Thunderhorn and leaving fate to decide which half of the server we ended up on.  As it turns out, the split never took place, so we really had nothing to worry about.

Shortly after we arrived on Zangarmarsh, I was kicked out of the guild.  I was pretty distraught over what happened and what I perceived to be a betrayal from people that I thought I could trust or who I thought were my friends.  I really wanted nothing to do with the Alliance anymore at that point.  I decided to create a Horde character, but I couldn’t come up with a really good name for my character.  Codi was my roommate at the time and she had an encyclopedia of gods and goddesses that I used to borrow from her frequently. 

I remember browsing through the pages and the name “Ouranos” jumped out at me.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard of before.  Since I was thinking of making a Tauren druid anyway, the name seemed kind of appropriate.  Codi loved the idea and told me I should name my character that, so I did.  I had an issue with how the Tauren females looked, so I opted to make a Tauren male instead.  I thought it would be kind of neat to have such a masculine looking character and be someone seemingly so girly behind the screen.  I really got a kick out of that dichotomy. 

So I leveled Ouranos as a balance druid with some friends of mine and we even created our own little guild to call our own.  Once we hit level 70, the urge to raid came back strong.  We took the guild apart and joined a guild called “Resilience,” which was run by a rogue named Ricen.  Little did I know that the real person running the show was a warlock named “Raaziel,” who paid for the website, the Vent server, managed the DKP, ran the raids, etc.  I also didn’t know that Raaziel and I would eventually end up dating and that I would be part of the reason the guild fell apart.

Raaziel really didn’t want to be running the show.  I grew tired of hearing him complain about things that he really didn’t want to do and so I politely suggested that maybe he should do something that does make him happy for a change or maybe even take a break.  He went one step further – he quit the game completely.  Without having him on board to run the show, the guild slowly descended into chaos.  Raaziel and I broke up a short time later and the guild eventually split into two – half the guild chose to stay with “Resilience” to try and make the best of it and the other half formed a guild called “Ens Entium.”

One night, while partying in Halaa with some friends, I ran into a boisterious warlock named Joecmel, who was the de facto raid leader for a guild called “Big Tymers.”  Joe and I hit it off right away and he was amazed that I was guildless and not doing more with myself and my character.  Within days I had joined the ranks of “Big Tymers” as a raiding moonkin and he and I started to get to know one another.  Before we knew it we were dating and even making plans to move in together.  This of course didn’t sit too well with the guild.

I was constantly fighting off accusations that I was being carried or that I was using  Joe for status, or gold, or a raid spot.  He was coming off winning the Gladiator title during the first ever Arena season, so everyone on the realm and even some people outside of our realm knew who he was.  He was this sort of celebrity and I was a total nobody.  We became affectionately known as “O and Joe,” and before we knew it everybody seemed to be involved in our business.  It got worse when I actually did move out of state to be with him.

We decided to leave “Big Tymers” together and threw our lot in with a guild called “Scurvy Dogs,” a pirate themed raiding guild, where you would literally get greeted with a “Yarr” every time you logged in.  This is where I got my first real taste of serious raiding and I loved every minute of it, with the exception of one little thing.  It was a labor of love to be a moonkin back then and you either played one because you truly loved to do it or because you were a masochist.  

I felt like I had taken being a moonkin as far as I could go, or like I was starting to plateau in that role.  We had just started to break into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep when a couple of resto druids on our roster had decided to take an indefinite break from the game.  This left a huge gap in our healing line up that was going to need to be filled.  I felt like I needed a challenge, so I offered to respec and try out resto, to see if I could potentially fill that void.  My guild master, who was also named Void, took me on a Karazhan run to sort of test my mettle.  I two healed it with a holy paladin and I had never been more scared in my entire life.  Did I forget to mention that Void was wearing a wedding dress the entire time?  Petrified.

From that point on I was a raiding resto druid and things continued to progress nicely until Joe and I fell apart.  I used to say that we were the Ben and J-Lo of our realm and everyone wanted to know what happened and had started to choose sides.  I was miserable – crying on Void’s shoulder on Vent because I had nobody else to talk to and it all got to be too much.  I decided that Joe could have custody of the guild, while I went looking for more elsewhere.  Shortly before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I joined a guild called “Invalid Target” back on Thunderhorn.

Things with “Invalid Target” started out well enough.  I was able to finally clear Zul’aman (which was a very difficult 10m back then) and get an Amani War Bear.  I was able to see progression fights at a steady pace.  I was happy.  At least until Ulduar came out and the controversy over who was going to be awarded the legendary healing mace began.  There had been a lot of talk on our forums about who was going to get Val’anyr and the officers still hadn’t made a decision by the time we pulled Flame Leviathan for the first time.  I guess they thought that the odds of getting a fragment our first night on the first boss on Normal mode were rather slim.  They were wrong.

The officers were frantically trying to figure out what to do, and so they just decided to have all of the healers roll on it.  I rolled a 98 and was to become the first recipient of Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings.  Needless to say the other healers were not pleased at this and things only got worse from there.  One healer, in particular, felt very slighted and it didn’t help that she was friends in real life with most of the guild.  Things got ugly fast.  People were making comics about me on the boards.  I was being goaded into fights in guild chat.  It was not pleasant.

I decided to leave and joined the top guild on our server (Horde side, at least), a guild called “Lobster Brood.”  This guild had a great reputation and they really believed in me as a healer and as a person and I was very excited to be a part of their ranks.  It wasn’t until after I joined that I got to see the inner workings of the guild and I didn’t really like what I saw. 

The guild had an unusually high turnover rate and I felt like we were in this endless cycle of gearing up people, losing them, and then having to recruit more people that we would have to gear and train.  We could have gone a lot further, progression wise if we weren’t constantly losing people and then replacing them.  I started to resent having to repeatedly sit for new people again and again, just because we either couldn’t keep people on board, or because of a string of bad luck with recruitment. 

After that, I moved the now female “Oestrus” (who had her name and gender changed shortly after Naxxramas was released) to Khaz Modan, and joined a guild called “Retribution.”  The guild was serious about progression, but still home to a likeable cast of characters, including an openly gay GM, and a fantastic resto shaman named Natoro.  Seeing as how Natoro was also our healing lead, he was the one that I had the most contact with during my trial period, and he and I hit it off right away.  He began to court me and the feelings became mutual.  Before I knew it we were dating and he was flying in to see me over Labor Day weekend of that year.

Natoro and I didn’t make it much past that weekend, and so I left “Retribution” for a brief stint on the Hydraxis realm, only to return to Zangarmarsh.  Joecmel and I had long since made amends after our relationship ended and he was now running a guild called “Cause for Concern.”  Although the 25m raids weren’t very successful, he had his own 10m group and asked if I wouldn’t mind being a part of it.  I got most of my Heroic experience in Icecrown Citadel with these folks and it was a very enjoyable experience for me.  I had started to take on some recruitment duties for the main raid and I was happy.  Or at least I thought I was.

The truth is that I missed a certain standard of raiding that just doesn’t exist on Zangarmarsh.  It never has and it probably never will.  Zangarmarsh tends to exist in a bubble and what they consider raiding is very different from what I consider it to be.  I had tried to take more of a hands on approach to replace the bad players by handling the recruitment myself and it just wasn’t working.  I started to really resent the people I was raiding with who weren’t trying as hard to do well and I also started to resent the officers and Joe, who seemed to stand by and let it all happen.  The guild had literally become a cause for concern. 

I left “Cause for Concern” for a guild called “Scientific Method” on Maelstrom.  With their help, I was able to finally complete my Val’anyr and clear up to Heroic LK 25.  I didn’t really have much in common with them on a personal level, but I certainly enjoyed them on a professional level.  They got shit done.  That’s all I really wanted at the time.  Around this time I had gotten my hands on a Beta key for Cataclysm and I was very unhappy with the direction that Blizzard seemed to be taking resto druids.  I was pretty sure that I wanted to re-roll for the next expansion, but I wasn’t sure if “Scientific Method” would have room for me as the class that I wanted to play next.

I had begun to get to know Kurnmogh through my early adventures in the blogosphere and she was attempting to breathe new life into her former guild, called “Apotheosis.”  This guild sounded like a dream come true to me.  I really wanted to be in a guild that would allow me to see progression, but with people that I could genuinely like, and not just have to stomach in order to get what I want.  I moved my former alt priest (now my new main, Obscene) to Eldre’thalas, turned her into a Dwarf female, and spent the rest of Wrath and my time in the Cataclysm Beta trying to master my new class. 

I enjoyed being in “Apotheosis” immensely – from the leveling process, to the process of gearing up through Heroics, and then our first raids together.  Where I started to take issue with certain things was on a social or administrative level.  I felt like there were certain situations that I was bringing to people’s attention or that others were creating for themselves that could have been handled proactively and wouldn’t have turned into the firestorms that they had become.  They were molehills that were allowed to become mountains, so to speak.  There were situations that I felt I had to handle myself, because Kurn or the other officers weren’t doing anything about them.  This ended up being my downfall.

Eventually I had gone too far and I had received word that the officers basically didn’t know what to do with me, that they didn’t know if I really wanted to even be in the guild anymore (based on my behavior), and that they would need to sort of deliberate on what to do next.  I felt like I had been backed into a corner and I didn’t like the prospect of waiting for other people to decide my fate.  I felt like I needed to take the power back and that if I was going to be made to leave a guild that I was going to do it on my terms.  Before the officers could make their decision, I told Kurn that I was going to leave. 

I definitely could have handled that situation better.  I don’t know what the officers would have decided, had I stuck around to see the final outcome.  What I do know is that I still consider “Apotheosis” to be the guild equivalent of “the one that got away.”  I was never happier than when I was raiding with my two best friends, Dahrla and Hestiah.  I enjoyed Kurn’s long winded and yet necessary explanations and posts on the forums.  Those things became a distant second to the burnout that I was starting to feel, which would lead to my most dramatic outburst ever.

I had been in “Occasional Excellence” on Quel’dorei (now the home of both Dahrla and Ophelie) for about two months when we came up against the wall known as Heroic Nefarian.  I was tired of caring more about the fight than other people did.  I was tired of wiping due to human error – not even due to Nefarian himself.  I felt like there was a lot of fuckery going on in the raid and like that focus should have been put into our performance, not on Heavy Leather Balls and the like.  A couple people thought they were being funny and amusing and I wasn’t having it.  So I left the raid. 

I was given the opportunity to stay in the guild, if I would offer up some form of apology, and I refused to do such a thing.  I felt like I was owed an apology for the poor performances of others and that this was again a situation where people saw something like this coming and they did nothing to prevent it.  I made it clear that I was annoyed, that I didn’t enjoy the Leather Balls, and people still kept throwing them.  I told them they would be sorry and I wanted to make very sure that I stuck to my guns on that.  Was it the right thing to do?  Of course not.  Would I do it again?  No.  At the time I wasn’t thinking about all of that.

Somehow my priest (now known as “Oenomel”) made her way into “Serious Casual” on Mal’ganis, which marked my return to the Horde side of things.  Firelands had just been released and things were not looking good for holy priests.  I was very clear during the application process about the fact that I was predominantly holy and I assumed that the raid knew what they were in for.  I remember being told my first night there to “Go disc or go home.”  Eventually I was given an ultimatum by the healing lead at the time that if I didn’t go discipline when asked that I could be benched – possibly even permanently.  To me this was the final straw.

It was never being discipline, in and of itself that I had an issue with.  I took issue with the fact that I wasn’t given a say in when I got to go discipline.  I was never trusted to make that call for myself.  It was basically “You’re going to do this and you’re going to like it,” and I wanted no part of it.  After certain people in the raid found out that I had blogged about this there was a heap of drama and it all became too much to bear.  I was pretty sure that I was done with World of Warcraft for good and threw my lot in with some friends who were playing Rift.  This lasted for about four months, or until shortly after BlizzCon.

BlizzCon made me realize how much I missed the community and how much I missed having people with a similar interest to discuss said interest with.  I met a few folks from “Big Crits” there and was encouraged to apply for their more casual run, known as the “Da Crew” run.  I was told that they already had 2 10m runs under the “Da Crew” banner and that they were looking to recruit for a third one.  This sounded like a good fit to me.  I had been gone long enough where I didn’t have the history or experience to get back in with a more serious group and I wasn’t even sure I wanted something that serious to begin with.  I figured this would give me an opportunity to sort of get my feet wet again and to figure out where I wanted to go from here.

“Big Crits” ended up being nothing like I imagined.  If I had to describe my time in “Big Crits,” I would probably compare it to sitting at the dinner table with a really dysfunctional family.  You know – one of those families where everything looks perfect, but dad’s really an alcoholic, and mom’s having an affair with the tennis instructor, the daughter is secretly a lesbian, and the son is a pyromaniac.  But nobody talks about it – and as long as you don’t talk about certain things, and you don’t acknowledge that they’re actually happening you will get along just fine.  So there were a lot of issues that kept coming up that nobody wanted to deal with and because I did (although maybe not in the best way possible) I got a lot of flak for it. 

There were other issues, with regards to personality conflicts and such, but it all led to the same conclusion.  It just didn’t work out.  I took about two weeks off from raiding after I left “Big Crits” and had a one week stint in a guild that a friend recommended, which then led me to my current guild.  I enjoy the people I raid with now.  I enjoy the progression that I’m seeing.  I like that they trust me to make my own decisions, with regards to my character and my class.  I feel good.  I can’t say that I’ll be here forever, but I also can’t say that I’m looking to leave them anytime soon.  I’m just taking it one day at a time.

I have certainly come a long way and I have learned a lot in the five years or so that I have been playing this game.  There are things that I would do differently, if I could, and there are things that I would probably have never done – if I knew then what I know now.  It’s been a wild ride and I am proud to say that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. 

I really do believe that you can’t know where you are going until you have known where you have been, and so I encourage anyone reading this to really take a good look at what brought you to where you are now.  Relive the highs and the lows.  Remember the friends (and the enemies) that you have made along the way.  They helped make everything you are today possible.  Don’t ever forget that.  I know I sure won’t.

Shameless

27 Feb

Somewhere down the line I developed a reputation as being someone who will say and do nearly anything.  While this is true, there is one thing that I won’t do.

I don’t kiss and tell.

No, I don’t mean when you immediately run to your girlfriends and dish about that fantastic date that you just came back from, or when you write on your Facebook wall about just how much fun the conception of your first child was.  I mean the practice of bragging about or being fairly candid about the number of page views that your blog attracts or the number of Followers that you have acquired on Twitter.

Recently, a couple of posts sprang up in the blogosphere, which admittedly were very gracious and not immediately harmless.  I just want to stress that I have no personal issue with the people who decided to write these posts and so I’m not going to name names or anything.  What I do take issue with is the principle behind it, which whether they meant it or not, does reinforce the idea that on some level your page views matter.

I have met a number of people who have a very strong interest in starting a blog, but won’t, because they are afraid that nobody will be interested in what they have to say, or that nobody will read what they write.  I have also seen a number of bloggers who made a solid attempt at blogging, but gave up when they didn’t get the traffic that they were hoping for, or when they felt like nobody was listening.

Now you could argue that these people were blogging for all of the wrong reasons and so they were doomed to fail anyway.  I have gone on record a number of times to say that if you are looking for a reason to blog and you are doing it for the page views that you are doing it wrong.  That is not the reason to start a blog.  It is not worth getting wrapped up over and it really can turn into an endless spiral of shame and self-loathing if you let it.  But one could also say that you can’t blame people for being concerned about their numbers when they see posts celebrating these near impossible landmarks and the amount of admiration and praise that is showered upon people who do reach these heights.  You can’t blame someone for wanting to be a part of that and for wanting to feel that way, too.

I compare advertising your page views or how many Followers you have to boasting about the number of people that you slept with.  You may have slept with 25 people, but that doesn’t make you better in bed than the person who only slept with 2 people.  We should be judging ourselves and each other on the quality of our work rather than the number of people that it attracts.  I know quite a few up and coming bloggers that I have seen mentioned on Blog Azeroth that have written some truly riveting posts within weeks of starting their blog, which I can’t always say for people who may be more well established and who have been going at this for a while.  That blogger may have only gotten 100 page views or so, but I would much rather read what they have to say than that powerhouse blogger who gets thousands of views a day.

It really is not about that.  I have been blogging for a long time and I can honestly say that I was never happier than when I was blogging away on Livejournal, when nobody knew who I was, and when I was talking about how excited I was that the first season of “The Golden Girls” was coming out on DVD.  I wasn’t writing for anyone but me and it showed.  I didn’t obsess over who was going to take something the wrong way, or whether or not my facts were straight.  I wrote because I loved to do it and because it helped me clear my head and get a lot of things out of in the open that I didn’t think I could say to anyone else directly.

Somewhere down the line it gets muddled and you do feel obligated to keep going.  It’s hard not to feel that way when you realize that people are looking forward to your next post or when they do get emotionally invested in the things that you write about.  Blogging starts to feel less carefree, less effortless once you develop some semblance of a following.  I can take a look at the posts that I wrote when I had no Followers and nobody subscribed to my blog and see a huge difference in the tone or the quality of the posts from where I am now.  It really does change everything.

On a similar note, we say that we like Looking For Raid because it gets people interested in raiding, but then we criticize other players when they don’t perform to the standards that we are used to in our everyday raiding guilds.  We wonder how people could be so incompetent or how they could have gotten this far without asking for help.  I see elements of this in the blogosphere, too.  We make comments on Twitter that we have nothing new to read and that there are no blogs out there that pertain to a certain topic, but then we hesitate to click on a Retweet from a friend that just may have an article from a new and interesting voice that has yet to be heard.  Or we don’t think to write back to someone who sends us a Tweet or leaves us a comment to tell us that we did a good job on our most recent post, simply because we have never heard of them, or because they may have less of a following than we do.

Whether you mean it or not, that new blogger is going to read a post like the one mentioned above and it may deter from them even getting started, or it may convince them that they aren’t cut out to maintain a blog because they can never pull in numbers like that.  I think we should be doing everything we can to remove any sort of “Why bother?” element from people interested in getting involved in the community and be more inclusive, overall.  We all remember what it was like when we were first starting out and I think it’s important that we never forget that, no matter how successful we might become.  There really is enough room for everyone at the table, regardless of the amount of page views that you generate.  Let’s do a better job of communicating that, shall we?

Guest Post: Warcraft And International Relations

3 Jan

Happy New Year, everyone!

As part of Blog Azeroth’s Furtive Father Winter event, I recently received a guest post from Katarnas, over at Resto Is Epic.  Unfortunately, I didn’t receive it until I was well on my way out of town for the holiday weekend, but I promised that I would post it as soon as I got back and settled in.  If you’re interested in the post that I submitted, which was a gift for my friend Rilandune, you can check that out here.

And now, on to the lovely guest post!


 

So this year I decided to take part in the FFW event on Blog Azeroth. This was probably not my best idea ever, as over the last few weeks I haven’t had a lot of time to write stuff and so on (as it evident from the lack of blog posts, inactivity on twitter and the fact that it has taken me so long to get this sorted for Oestrus. Sorry O)

However one of the main reasons for the lack of time has actually been WoW related and given the time of year that it is, it is a rather good topic for this guest post;

Warcraft and International Relations

As grand (and pretentious) as that sounds, it really is very simple. At the core of Warcraft (and any MMO) is the fact that it is a social game. The degree to which you choose to immerse yourself in that aspect of the game is entirely up to you – you could level completely on your own and treat the game simple as some kind of huge single player game, or play in a group through LFD, LFR etc but remain totally anonymous and never interact with other players. I have seen people who have been in a guild for quite a few years, yet no-one knows anyone else’s real name. Then at the other end of the scale are the players who do get involved with other players, make lasting friendships and even meet up IRL when they can with people they have met in WoW. I am in this latter catergory.

Some of the more long term readers of RiE may remember that back in May I had a little break from posting as I had guildies staying with me. This has also been the case recently. Currently we are hosting a pair of WoW guildies, and have had them staying with us since the week before Christmas and they are with us until next weekend. Also, over the next couple of days, we are expecting at least two more to show up for New Year, and originally we had up to another four possibly showing as well, but they have had to cancel due to work etc. This got me thinking earlier in the year, and again now, about how we came to meet these people and how if it wasn’t for WoW we never would have meet them.

The marvels of the internet mean that we can talk as easily to someone on the other side of the world as we can someone in the same room. Combining this with an immersive environment such as WoW puts together a lot of people from different countries who have forged lasting friendships but who would never have met otherwise. Through my guilds, I have met people from Russia, Korea, South Africa, Australia, America and just about every country in Europe. These are people who I otherwise would never had the chance to know (I don’t travel a lot and besides; how many friends do you make on a holiday?) and some of whom I am now sharing my house with and have had an awesome Christmas with. I think it is wonderful that I can share something like this time of year with new friends from Sweden, Holland and Portugal. They say that friends are the family you choose for yourself, and I think that is very true.

On a larger scale, Warcraft in general has introduced me to a huge range of people across the world, both in game and out. If I hadn’t started blogging and then getting active on Twitter, forums etc I would never have met a whole bunch of amazing fellow gamers. As with guildies, maybe I will meet some of them some day, maybe not, but either way I have come across some rather awesome people and an excellent community – whatever people say (and is true) about the online community in general (and WoW specifically), those people who generally go that bit further to do something they love (such as a blog) are on the whole an awesome bunch of people and restore one’s faith in humanity when compared to the dross covering the forums etc.

I know this is a rather meandering post and not really going anywhere, but I just felt it really needed to be said how wonderful it is to be a part of a community like this, even this event itself – a group of random people taking the time to write, draw or whatever a little something for someone else they don’t even know.

While I am always thankful for the social side of the game, it is especially at this time of year and seeing all the FFW posts, greetings across Twitter etc, and sitting down to large tasty meals with guildies for company that I really think it is particularly amazing, and I am even more grateful for the people I have met and become friends with.

So to Oestrus, my guildies and everyone else out there helping to make an awesome community and contributing to new friendships and such throughout WoW

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!