Sunday, July 26, 2009

Confessions of a gaming Mom

I worked a total of 10 hours yesterday, and then five today. Yes, I'm crazy, but someone called in, I was available, and we could use the money, so I went home for a couple of hours and went back in.
I don't usually talk about my kids in the blog. My older son (the aptly named Landsponge) has a elemental shaman that just hit 80 this week. I had played WoW during the break between shifts, and told him he could log in and run some heroics to get gear. Oct decided to get in on the weekly alt Naxx run that one of the raiding guilds does, and asked Sponge if he'd like to come. Now, the casual guild Sponge was in recently was absorbed by the guild I was in for CRC, and they have a very strict no-pugging rule. I don't think Sponge knew it, and Oct wouldn't remember or think about it, so in Sponge went, and did well. He followed directions and was polite, and was rewarded with gear and achievements. Unfortunately, the achievements caught the eye of his guildleader, who informed him he wasn't a good fit for the guild, and kicked him.
I heard all about it when I got home, and my initial reaction was of a mama bear protecting her cubs. That Sponge also has special needs really made me want to ask the guildleader to give him a pass, because he probably didn't understand the rule. Then I reminded myself that I had pretty strong reservations about Sponge joining my old guild, because I didn't think he'd be a good fit. Today while I was at work, Sponge found a guild with another teenager in leadership, and seems happy.
My reaction surprised me, as it's so easy for me to want to be Mom in WoW, and make things easier for him like I want to do in real life. I have to remind myself not to do it too much in real life also, knowing that my mom's support was good, but her rescues didn't teach me to cope with the effects of all my disorders.
In the end, though, the fact that he followed directions and was well-behaved made his parents very proud, puts him ahead of some adult players, and means that he will be welcomed back into pugs with elite players. That is win.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Doing great, but not good enough?

Day off today, after two straight days of working. I'm on my feet all day when I work, so after a couple of days, my hips start to feel like they are filled with sand. I try to keep pushing and get as much work done around the house as I can, but the question always comes to my mind, "how many years do I have left that I can do this?" When I was turning 30, I wasn't sure how much mobility I'd have at 40. Now with 40 just around the corner, I know I will greet next January able to walk, but I also know I'll be lucky to have 10 more years before it's time to look at mobility aids beyond the bright blue cane that I use around the house occasionally.

Like I said before, real life is intruding upon on the guild in a major way. Almost a quarter of our raiding core is in the process of some sort of positive life change right now. This means I'm getting to raid more, but it also means I'm finding myself in places I was never expecting to be.

Last night, the guild was working on Hodir hard mode. Dev and I pretty much had an unspoken agreement that I would not be in for this fight. However, since we had four mages, two warlocks, two elemental shamans, and two hunters, it made sense to go for it.

The Hodir hard mode achievement requires buff and debuff management and killer dps. Ironically, since breaking out the NPC's is a higher priority in hard mode, and standing in toasty fire is essential, I had that buff for most of the fight on all attempts, and that allowed me to do well over 5000 dps, and thanks to storm cloud, I had some shadow bolts crit for over 30,000 damage.

After one attempt, Dev read off the ranged dps in order from greatest to least damage, in order to see what the tops dpsers were doing that the lower dpsers were not. I wasn't really feeling picked on at first, although I had to stop myself from saying "this is my first night of hard mode" in vent. I hate being taken to task over the damage meter like I'm not doing all I can, and I had to say to myself, "Car, if you want Dev and Larry to treat you like a normal raider, you can't get defensive when they do." As Dev was asking what Flip and I weren't doing that everyone else was, I heard one of the guys say, "Wait a second, Carol did 5800 dps on that fight, she's doing great." There was not an ounce of pity in his voice, just an acknowledgement of the journey, and the fact that I worked just as hard for my 5800 as Tide did for his 14000.

As my and Flip's spec was being discussed (we play the same spec because we like it and it works) and Oct was increasingly getting concerned that I was going to get all upset and cry or raise my voice in vent, I was able to stay calm. Conventional wisdom says destro>affliction for that fight. Conventional wisdom doesn't know me or what I can do. Can I do enough dps for hard mode? I don't know. Will I get the chance to try? I hope so. Will we realize that we influence what other people can do on this fight? I hope that too.

There's a bit of "if I knew then what I know now" in my reflecting on the Hodir fight in general. When I was begging for help on the forums, no one said, "we can make the mages a priority so you should be able to get close to a toasty fire." A change made to benefit my dps would benefit everyone, not just me. Maybe I should have been more assertive, I don't know. It's just hard to realize how a small change could have made all the difference for me, and painful to feel like I wasn't important enough to help. That sounds harsh, I know, but take it for what it's worth.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's quiet, a little toooo quiet...

Not a whole lot is going on in the game right now. I'm still working on achievements on the lock and gearing up the boomkin. I no longer need to use WoW to escape the pain, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by friends who don't want to keep me in that place.

Summer tends to be a time when people want to pull back from raiding. College students often go home, where they may not have the quality of internet access or time to raid, homeowners have projects around the house, and people want to do more outside. We're in a lull right now, and it's giving me time to pull back and reflect.

I don't need the blog as much any more, so I won't be taking the time to write as often. I appreciate those of you who read it, and have let me know that you read it. I'll stay in touch with those of you I have met through the blog as well. Cheers!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Druids and Pugs, revisited

Well, another raid week has come and gone without me stepping foot in Ulduar, except this week it was work and parenting conflicts that kept me out. I've done a little bit of pugging on the druid this week, and got some good upgrades out of Naxx. I'm still fooling with my spell rotation a bit, and realized that I had part of it backwards.
Pugs are funny entities. On my server, a lot of the Naxx pugs, and even some Ulduar 10 pugs, are being run by casual guilds. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it does lead to some sloppy and inefficient raid behavior. I have some thoughts for anyone who wants to pug:

  • If you are the raid leader, checking gear scores on alts is a waste of time. Especially if the person is in a guild that has killed Yogg-Saron in heroic, they probably know what they're doing and their main could kick your ass.
  • Along with that, members of top raiding guilds are generally safe invites. They generally will respect others (as long as they aren't complete idiots who can't take constructive criticism), won't ninja-afk, and will roll only on upgrades. Plus, officers and members of raiding guilds have an image to maintain, so they take complaints about ninjas seriously (Boom and Dev, correct me if I'm wrong on this pl0x).
  • If you want to be the raid leader, step up and lead, or people will walk all over you and you will have a train wreck on your hands. I don't raid lead anymore because I have so many friends that do it better, I make them leader even if I start invites.
  • Don't post the damage meter in raid after every boss fight. Better yet, don't post it at all. If someone is struggling, putting him or her down won't help, and it's awfully annoying.
  • Run a boss mod, either Deadly Boss Mods or BigWigs. I don't care how bad your computer is, unless you have amazing reflexes, you need the warnings. If you computer can't support it, you have no business raiding.
  • If you need to go afk, don't do it right before a boss kill. That wastes everyone's time, and can kill a pug. Also, make sure you let the raid leader know, and apologize to everyone.
  • Fly to the instance. If you are in the old world and your hearth is down, you may respectfully ask for a summon while apologizing for the inconvenience. And if someone gets there first and summons you before you start flying, say thank you.
  • Remember your manners. The players I truly respect and admire in this game are the ones that are polite as well as skilled. I look very closely at how people treat me.
  • Only roll on loot that you really need, and if you are getting a lot of loot, it's time to stop rolling.

Happy raiding!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why, Carol, why?

Long maintenance today. Decided to stop procrastinating and completely redo my addons. I'm trying to make a more efficient UI for the lock, plus need a new addon to make managing eclipse easier on the boomkin. Yesterday after I respecced, a took a quick look at my character screen, thought haste was hit, and concluded that I was hit capped. It was only after Oct asked, "How can you be hit capped with no hit gear?" that I realized my mistake. Oops. Guess I'll be cutting some monarch topazes today and getting an icewalker chant on my boots. Still, I was able to get into a OS 25 pug and did 2021 dps on Sarth with a hit rating of 85. Hard to do leet dps when half your attacks miss, but it did give me an idea of what I can do once I get hit capped, especially since I'm not sure I did 2k on the last Sarth attempt on the warlock before the Ulduar patch hit.

Had an interesting conversation with one of my guildies a couple of days ago where he asked me why I would consider leaving the guild. It's hard to say, "because in other guilds, I wouldn't have to sit, and there are times when I feel like I'm holding the raid back when I'm in." I've said that pre-Ulduar, and gotten lectures about it. I'd be unhappy in a different guild, and I know it.

Anyway, the blog is where I say things that I don't want to say in guild because it could cause drama. My guildies and the leadership are free to read my blog, or not, and take it to heart, or not. This is where I share my frustrations, not only about the game, but about being disabled in America. Gaming brings out awareness of barriers and attitudes that don't always come to the forefront in real life. This isn't always a bad thing - the hurt that I kept buried deep inside fed a horrible cycle of depression that I'm finally feeling free from.

When I look at different guilds, that's all I'm doing. I don't regret joining CRC a year ago, and I hope that Dev doesn't regret inviting me and making me a raid member. Given that I've given him ample opportunity to say otherwise, I don't think he does.

Monday, July 6, 2009

This wasn't what I meant when I talked about finding a balance!

Last night, Dev was talking to me before raid about possibly having to switch me out for the Yogg fight, and out of the blue said, "I want you to research boomkin. I think it might be easier and it might let me get you in more." So after raid, I went to Elitist Jerks and did enough reading to realize that this might actually work for me. I respecced and bought new glyphs today. In the little bit of playing around on the target dummy that I did (while realizing that my tier gear is all wrong for moonkin), I realized that this really does have potential. I'm not saying I don't want to play my warlock anymore (all those achievements!), but I'd like to explore the druid as long as it fills a need within the guild.