Saturday, February 28, 2009

Valuing Myself

If last Tuesday was one of the best days I've had in weeks, yesterday was one of the worst. I do my best to keep up the sunny, happy persona that everybody loves, but the truth is, I'm caught in a major depressive episode, triggered by the stress of dealing with my father's illness and all of the complications involved. The first part of an episode is always the hardest, because you remember how it felt to be happy. So, I keep myself going until I feel I can take the time to get help for myself.
During times like these, as much as I'm struggling, WoW becomes my lifeline. There are people there who ask me to run stuff, and people who make me laugh without acting like they're trying to cheer me up.
One of the things I struggle with is learning to value who I am and the contributions I make. I may not have stellar dps, but I do very well with what I have to work with. I'm willing to run instances to help people out. I'm willing to come in and step out depending on the guild needs. In short, I'm a member of a team of people, and I'm willing and able to support the team. That, in itself, is valuable.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Does Character Matter?

Two exciting things happened last night: my husband (and I, over his shoulder) got his first look at Hodir on the PTR, and I confirmed that I can consistently do 2.5k dps. The Hodir fight contains the most annoying parts of Keristraza, Gruul, and KT, plus some extras that will be fun to learn to manage. 2.5k dps would be acceptable and valued in a lot of guilds, and I know I can improve.
A conversation came up last night that got me thinking about the importance of character in WoW. I'm not going to go into details of the conversation, just my thoughts. In an MMO, you are playing with people from all different viewpoints, which is one of the things that makes it fun for me. Some people don't care about character, as long as bosses go down. I do.
When I look at character, especially as it relates to WoW, there are a couple of things I look at. The first is: do you put your ego aside when you need to? I play with people who have huge egos, and my ego is pretty large as well. That's how I made it through engineering school as a disabled female, and that's what drives me to improve my dps. However, if my ego gets in the way of helping the guild, or just being a decent person, I need to set it aside. Similarly, the people I value most bite back comments that they realize will be hurtful.
Secondly, how do you treat those with less skill than you? Are you willing to reach out to someone who needs help with advice and encouragement? If someone comes to you, will you answer their questions without being condescending?
To me, character matters because without it, you lose yourself. Plus, character is attractive. Do you want people in your guild because they like you and want to follow you, or do you want them just to kill bosses and pick up loot?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Staying Positive

This post is actually replacing the one I wrote first - decided I was tired of whining. So if you read my original post and want to talk about it, ask me in game. If not, read on.
I'm on the world's biggest emotional roller coaster right now - so much is happening in WoW and in life that it's a wonder that I am handling it as well as I am.
I remember early in my relationship with Bryan, I didn't feel like he deserved to have a disabled girlfriend, and that he could pick a better woman for his wife. I expressed that to one of my friends, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. His response was, "Stop that right now or you will lose Bryan. He picked you because he loves you and you are being unfair to him by questioning him on it." Ever since then, I've appreciated the love that we share, and the fact that Bryan was willing to promise to stand by me whatever happened.
I see a parallel between that and my current guild situation. I've been in guilds before where I felt like I was resented for making the guild deal with the effects of my disability. I don't feel that here, and yet, I keep asking, "am I being fair to my guildies?" That's when I take a step back and look at the times when I've gotten a tell saying, "We need you, will you come?"
I hate being carried, I want to contribute as much as anyone. However, I can only do what I can do and hope it's enough. Remembering the good times always helps when I get down. Being tenacious enough to get in there and bring it helps too.
Positive CRC memories:
1. Archimonde first kill - right before he went down, I was blown up in the air. I hit my tears, hit levitate, and healed myself just as Dev was saying, "Heal Carol, don't let her die"
2. Malygos first kill and feeling like I really contributed.
3. Patchwerk - Heroic: Make Quick Werk of Him Achievement.
4. Loatheb - Spore Loser achievement on 10-man. My poor imp felt so used, since I only had him out for Dark Pact.
5. The first time I made the jump on Thaddius, and the first time I survived the Safety Dance on Heigan.
6. The first time I saw Kel'Thuzad go down.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You can dance if you want to...

but you can't leave your friends behind, because then who would shield and heal you?
I didn't get the achievement, but I survived the safety dance on Heigan. I also made the jump on Thaddeus and survived it also. Plus, I'm seeing dps gains. Small steps, small victories.
Thank you to Bastianelle, Prynts, and anyone else who healed me for helping me take this step. Thanks to all the members of CRC for their encouragement. I'm not ready to look to Ulduar yet, and I'm not sure I'm ready to look to 3D, but I'm getting there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Destruction Experiment

I don't normally talk about playing a warlock here, because my issues are there no matter what class I play, some classes are just more adaptable to the effects of CP. However, in my quest to get ready for Ulduar, I spent this weekend thinking about whether the affliction warlock is the best class for me. Deep affliction has a great dps potential, but it is complicated. I asked one of my guildies who plays several toons if there is a class that doesn't depend as much on reaction time. He thought a mage might be better for me, as there are fewer buttons to push. I ran this by my husband, and he agreed (and he couldn't have said something when I was frustrated with the priest?).
Before I pulled my level 35 mage out of the role of designated bank toon, I decided to experiment with destruction, which is similar in play to a mage. I armoried a lock in my husband's guild who does very high dps, modified his spec to suit me, and asked his advice on spell rotation. Then, after getting Dev's blessing, I took the plunge and headed for the target dummies. I learned two things: (1) it's easier to keep up dots than keep track of cooldowns, and (2) if I switched my corruption and shadowbolt keys on the action bar, I can spam shadowbolt more efficiently. I'm back to affliction, but I'm noticing better and more consistent dps with the new configuration.
Will these changes give me 3.5k dps on drakes? I don't know. What I do know is that my warlock is better than my priest (thanks for the talk, Scott) and that the Sarth encounter with 3 drakes up is the best sensory integration therapy you can get for 15 bucks a month.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance?

I'm up early for work, checked the update website, and found that the project was cancelled. Bummer. I'm thinking about crawling back in bed, but I'm not sure I really want to wake Bry up with bad news, especially since last night I did what I thought I wouldn't, and told him that this wonderful 4-month respite from my depression appears to be over.
This weekend has been interesting. I've mostly been running with alts and pugs, and I've confirmed that damage potential is not infinite, and what the damage meter shows is how much of the pie you can snag. Yesterday, I got into a conversation with the main tank and one of the mages that made me realize that I don't know as much about neurotypical people as I thought I did, in particular, how fast they can react to things. I mean, I've watched Bry raid, but it didn't click with me somehow until they were talking about choosing spells based on procs without using a conditional macro.
This led me to an interesting conclusion: If I went to a more casual raiding guild, I would probably be one of the top dpsers, similar to the situation I was in when I left the last raiding guild I was in. There are probably people outside of CRC who look at my guild tag and think I don't belong there.
So I asked myself why I felt that I belonged in CRC. Truthfully, the last time I really wasn't sure if I belonged or not was when my guild rank was New Recruit. The officers saw me raid (and these were the Mount Hyjal/Black Temple days, where it was impossible to hide the effects of my disability) and promoted me to Raid Member anyway. My guildies know my limitations, and invite me to groups, the officers give me opportunities to get in and work on my gameplay when they can, and most humbling, I know of 5 guildies who read and/or follow this blog.
In short, I belong because they make me belong, and that's enough. I would not be happy in another guild, and I know it. So I muddle along, and push myself to be the best raider I can be. I do it for me, of course, but I also do it for them. /salute

Friday, February 20, 2009

DPS: what's in a number?

My daddy is 77 years old today. So much of who I am has been influenced by him.
To say that my life has been a bit stressful lately would be putting it mildly. I consider myself fortunate to have guildies that understand that, while I will come into a raid absolutely fried, I will probably not be at my best, and I need to not be yelled at.
After the raid last night, I went into heroic violet hold with a couple guildie alts, and two pug dps'ers. Other than the fact that I kept thinking I could tank in cloth, it went fine. During the run, Boom (who was healing) asked if I was running a meter. I always run a meter. I hate them, but they do provide a good measuring stick. My dps was the lowest i've seen it in a long time, and yet, I did about a third of the damage. That made me start thinking about the value of dps as a statistic.
In Elsia's FAQ about Recount on CurseGaming, he says, "DPS is a poor measure". So, I would say that for recount, I need to see how much damage I am contributing in the raid.
WoW web stats defines dps as damage done divided by the dps time, dps time being based on a 5 second window following each damage done. Anyone doing damage every 5 seconds or less would have 100% dps time.
DPS time is my biggest opportunity for improvement, and also my most challenging. Tuesday on Patchwerk, I had 95% dps time, and 3492 dps. That's my damage alone, my doomguard contributed more. I need to find those 5 second windows where I'm not damaging, and eliminate them. Here we go!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Looking to Ulduar

Well, yesterday was an emotional day to say the least. Turns out, my dad's surgery was postponed until possibly Tuesday to deal with some issues related to his bloodwork.
The big news in the World of Warcraft is that patch 3.1 will be released to the Public Test Realm soon, and there will be much rejoicing and testing on the part of the high-end raiding guilds.
For me, however, the prospect of Ulduar brings a mix of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it totally sounds like fun (siege vehicles in an instance! hard modes!), trepidation because despite all my hard work, I'm still not ready.
The questions flood my mind: Will I ever have the dps to do Ulduar? At what point do I ask to be demoted from Raid Member to Social Member? How do I approach those questions with the officers without seeming whiny, or like I'm looking for sympathy? Am I really in over my head and fooling myself that I can raid at this level with cerebral palsy?
The ultimate question remains: What do I need to do to get ready for Ulduar? I know my problem lies in dps time; comparing warlocks in WWS makes that perfectly clear. I'm confident that analysis of the combat log will show my the problem, it's the solution that I'm not sure about.
Two things I know: I will not leave my guild, and I will not go into Ulduar if I cannot bring it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We made quick Werk of him!

Patchwerk in under 3 minutes is quite a difficult task. It requires a mix of skilled, well-geared players, few or no deaths, and a few little tricks of the trade, such as warlocks using doomguards and a well-timed heroism. I was laying down my dots, sending shadowbolts in between, and remembering to cast drain soul under 25% after all my dots were up. Still, when I saw the achievement pop up on my screen, I was so excited! The little voice in the back of my head that says "you aren't good enough and you are holding the guild back" fell silent. My damage meter showed over 4k dps and 8th position, WoW webstats shows 3432 dps and 14th. The two mods calculate dps differently, obviously. At the end of the day, though, I'm happy.
As we were clearing to Grobb, the phone rang, and it was my sister giving me an update on how my parents were doing and last minute details on my dad's cancer surgery today. Without warning, "Grobbulus engaged" popped up on my screen. I somehow managed to concentrate on my sister's words while running around and throwing dots. Thank goodness I didn't get injected!
When all was said and done, I ended up 13th on the damage meter.
I can still see a lot of room to improve, but I don't know exactly where. I've downloaded a mod that will take a recorded combat log and digest the data into useful information. Hopefully that will allow me to see what spells i'm using where, and where I am losing efficiency.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

WoW and marriage

I've mentioned before that my husband, the uber-mage, plays WoW also, and we've been in three (well, technically four) guilds together. In real life, my husband is a wonderful, caring man who deals with a disabled wife and special needs son with grace and humor. In-game, however, he has quite the ego and, at times, little patience with those less skilled than he. This has caused some friction in our household, to the point that I often think of him as his real-life persona, whom I refer to by name, and his game persona, whom I refer to by his screenname.

It got to a point one night when, frustrated by my dps and his condescending attempts to help, I informed him that I was going to get through this with the help of my guildies and he was not allowed to offer any suggestions, tyvm. When I get frustrated with him in game, I go out of my way to differentiate the way I treat him IRL. Of course, there's always the factor of WoW life sometimes imitating real life, where the nondisabled partner sometimes seems to have all the advantages, and the disabled partner struggles constantly just trying to live a so-called normal life.

Something happened last week that changed the way he treats me with respect to the game. I was able to do over 3k dps on some bosses in both 10 and 25 man Naxx. It's almost like he realized after over a year, "Hey, Carol can really do this!" In return, I'm being a little more open to his suggestions, after all, he's known me for 17 years and has a better understanding than just about anyone of how my brain and muscles work.

So, we muddle on in this dance that is the life we made together almost 15 years ago, always remembering that when we turn our computers off, we belong to each other, no matter what our guild tags may say.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Raid Saga

Last night was my guild's first attempt at Sartherion with 3 drakes up, and since it was on a night that I didn't have to play Mom's taxi, I got to go. Bear in mind that I have only seen Sarth with 1 drake once, and have only killed him without any drakes.
To say that the fight was a sensory overload was an understatement. The intense colors, sounds, and flashing warnings were overwhelming to me. I died to firewalls or void zones on my first 3 or 4 attempts. The next attempt, I lived until the MT died which, in my world, is huge.
After that, our main healer came online and I had to be replaced. I wish I could say that when I got the tell, I happily left in very good spirits. I didn't; I was angry and feeling like I was slowly being pushed out as a raider, and I expressed my disappointment at being replaced just when I was starting to get it to my GM/Raid Leader. Dev's reply was, "Keep fighting, girl, you'll get it." If anyone wants to know why I stay in a guild where I so obviously don't belong from a dps standpoint, this is why.
So I signed off vent and went back to working on getting the permanent Peddlefeet pet :-(, and leveling jewelcrafting, which I dropped tailoring to pick up (32 SP gems FTW). A little while later, I noticed that a raid member dc'd and didn't come back on. I had shed my tears and calmed down, so I got back on vent and flew to Wyrmrest, deciding to do the daily and get some gold, if nothing else. I guess when I logged onto vent the officers decided it was safe to ask me to come in, because I got a tell from Boom asking me if I would come back in. I did, for one attempt, then someone else logged on and I got to leave again, this time, not quite as unhappily.
As I left the instance and did the daily, I got a tell from one of the guys in the guild telling me he saw me leave, come in, and leave again, and appreciated what an awesome sport I was to do it. I needed to hear that from someone I don't normally talk to unless we're running something, and I never confide in. I needed to know that my guildies did not see me in a negative light.
As I told Boom last night, I rolled a Warlock to be the answer to my difficulties. I'm so frustrated that I'm still having problems with it. After speaking with him, I decided to try learning to control my movements entirely with the mouse, and use the gamepad for casting. Self-buffed, using the gamepad on the target dummies, I was up to 2400 dps, which is what I should be doing. I just need to figure out why it isn't translating to running instances and raiding.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Swift Flight Form!!!!

I now have swift flight form on the druid, and the satisfaction of completing what was, for me, a difficult quest chain. My husband and an old friend ran me through heroic Setthek Halls last night (after I bought the key - I didn't play the druid a whole lot after 70 in BC). It feels good to get it done, now all I need is 3 more levels and I can use it in Northrend!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Psychology of WoW

The longer I play this game, the more I realize that the biggest part of it is in the mind. I don't just mean the parts of the brain that control reaction time and coordination, but there is a psychological component.

I know that my chances of hitting the Thaddius jump the first time are nil if what is going through my brain as Feugen goes down is "I'm not gonna make it." However, if I think, "you can make this, push your camera angle up, run, and jump," I land more often than not.

The safety dance is another one where I have to psych myself up, and one negative comment can throw me off. Before the Heigan fight starts, I say to myself, "this could be the night." I then make sure I am in the middle of the group when it's time to run. I'm really getting close to having that one down.

In the world of abilitycraft, these is an area where your guildies can make or break you. I can't tell you how many times I've been frustrated and ready to quit on myself when I've had a guild member either say outright or imply that I can do it. These are also the people to whom I can say, "this is a challenge for me, any suggestions?" or "are you having this issue?"

If there is any advice I would give to overcome the negative, it would be this: think positively, present yourself positively, and don't rule out the possiblity that your challenge may be something that nondisabled gamers struggle with as well.
Happy raiding!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I got all the epic flight form chain done up to heroic Setthek Halls. I'm not sure how many people understood why I was so happy to finish the Essence of the Hawk quest.
I loved doing 10-man Malygos with some of my guildies, and felt that I really contributed. Naxx 25 was fun, with some small victories, and some big mistakes. Since I prefer to dwell on the positive (and my guildies all know where I messed up, sorry), here are the victories:
  • my dps is getting better and more consistent (12k shadowbolt crit on Patchwerk trash)
  • I made the jump on Thaddius the first time
  • I didn't die very often

Am I ever going to be in the top 10 overall dps? Honestly, probably not, unless I go to a more casual guild, and I like my guild. Is my dps good enough? For now, probably yes, although everyone would like to see me do more. The good news is that I am improving, and will continue to do so.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Epic Flight Form quest

I was inspired by Thornstar to do the epic flight form quest on the druid. I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to run heroic Setthek Halls, but I am so tempted to give up!
There are so many things you have to do to get the Essence of the Hawk and I worry that I have neither the reaction time nor the coordination to do it. Could I ask one of the other druids to decurse me and cure the poison? Sure. Would they do it? Of course. Is there a benefit to me gritting my teeth and doing it myself? Absolutely. Okay, maybe not the gritting my teeth part, but still.
If I can't do this quest, how do I expect to maintain a spot in one of the top Alliance raiding guilds on the server? More importantly, doing these quests will help me play my warlock better, which will make it more likely that I will be a solid contributor in Sarth with 3 drakes, Ulduar, and beyond.
More to come...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Status Update

I haven't posted in a few days because I haven't had much to say, plus we've all been snowed in this week. One huge positive is that I haven't fallen, although keeping my balance when I've had to go outside has been tricky.

Just thought I'd update what's been going on with me WoW-wise:
  • got the Elder title on the warlock
  • got the Champion of the Frozen Wastes title on the warlock
  • completed the doomguard quest on the warlock (Blizzard has made what used to be used as a practical joke something viable for raiding)
  • levelled the hunter to 77 and maxed herbing and mining
  • started levelling the druid, and actually ran a couple of instances with her

Intangibles gained by playing WoW:

  • less stiffness in my fingers
  • improved fine-motor coordination
  • improved hand-eye coordination
  • a reinforcement of the idea that my disability does not define me