“Selling yourself” works two ways ..

Alternative Chat made a blog post recently that was a bit of a departure from her usual posts, in that it was a request for readers to “sell” their guilds to her, in the hope that she would join them.

Which is fine, but I did wonder if perhaps she was selling herself short in the process (or perhaps failing to sell herself properly!).

When you’re looking for a guild, you’re basically looking for a new home whilst you’re in-game – people will spend hours playing and the guild you’re in, the people you interact with, can make a huge difference to how you perceive and enjoy – or not – the game itself.

In order to find a guild that enhances your gaming experience, you need to find one that “matches” your personality and play style.  There is really no point being in a casual guild that fishes for fun if your passion is PvP or raiding.

One thing that didn’t sit right with me on that post was firstly the overall feel that she felt she would be a “catch” for any guild – that guilds should be falling over themselves to have her join them.  Yet she said virtually nothing about what sort of guild she was looking for.

So take note … guild leaders and those recruiting for guilds are, usually, not just looking for warm bodies to fill the guild – they’re looking for people who have the same general outlook and enjoy similar things to current guild members; the same approach to the game.  And to ascertain this, they need information from the potential recruit.  A little bit about your real-life situation, how it may affect your time in game, whether you’re a focussed individual who has specific goals in-game or is just happy to dabble in various aspects; what times you normally play and how regularly; if you want to join in events, what days/times you’d be available.

The other thing that would ring alarm bells with a recruiter are saying things like “I’m in a dead guild, and it’s my fault”, “I don’t make friends easily” and “I have a L100 character who’s gear isn’t useless”.

The fact that there is also a proviso to her joining any guild, that she will write blog posts about it too, would also be off-putting for many.  I’ve seen her posts and, although they’re entertaining and often to the point, they’re also often a bit on the negative side.  Which I understand in a way – after all, people more often tend to write about things that annoys them, than stuff that doesn’t – and that type of post is more likely to gets responses. So the assumption is that the majority of blog posts regarding any guild she joined would be negative – and very few people enjoy bad press.

So I’m hoping Ms. Chat finds somewhere to hang her WoW hat and call home – somewhere she is comfortable, can let her hair down and be herself, with people who can accept what she is and what she has to offer (whatever that may be).

For others considering looking for a (new) guild, I’d say the following:

Be honest with yourself first and foremost.  Know what you want, what you enjoy and what sort of guild will suit that.  If you cannot work that out, you’re going to be exceedingly lucky to find a suitable guild straight away – and the more you “hop” from guild to guild, the less attractive as a guild member you’re going to be.

I do the majority of the recruitment for our guild and the first thing I’m looking for is an open and honest application.  Sometimes I can simply tell, from the amount and content on the application, if people are going to fit with us.  There is a specific demographic that has a much higher chance of “fitting” with us.  That’s not to say that those outside of the demographic will not fit .. but just that there is less likelihood.  And that’s not saying anything negative about them – it says something about us.

I’ve found that a much higher proportion of younger applicants tend to lie or mislead on their application forms – either by omission, misunderstanding or simply because they think the information being asked for is irrelevant.

A lot of questions we ask during the application process are solely to understand the person applying (and we always base our decisions on how we feel an individual will fit in .. it’s nothing to do with the character you join with – the character does not interact with others, it’s the person behind the character that does that).  One way we understand people is by doing an honesty check .. if you can’t be honest on your application, when you’re supposed to be showing yourself off in the best light, then you’re not going to be honest in the guild.

Now .. I’m not expecting anyone to come online and blurt out everything that happened that day, or tell everyone their deepest darkest secrets.  I’m just checking to make sure people are able to be honest WHEN IT COUNTS.  For example when we organise raids, we expect people to self monitor and be honest if they muck up – it’s much easier (and causes less drama) if we know why a wipe, for example, happened – because then we can work on it, try alternatives, try to avoid it happening again.  If there is a disagreement in guild, that people can be honest with themselves and each other – dishonesty leads to exacerbation of problems and drama – which we don’t like.

Once the honesty hurdle has been overcome, it is simply a matter of assessing if the person applying would fit.

Sometimes it’s an obvious rejection – we’ve had people apply from the wrong realm or faction (with no intention of moving), we’ve had people applying who are looking for a raiding environment we’re unable to provide – we’ve even had one person apply to join for a completely different GAME!  Other than the fact that quite obviously these people had not researched us properly before applying (and the first page of our website would provide all of the information these people needed to realise we were NOT the place for them), of course they were rejected because we were the wrong place for them.

Other times decisions take longer .. during which time I research their previous guilds, what sort of guild environment they were used to; their achievements – what they enjoy doing in-game and, sometimes, speak to previous guilds to find out more.

So all of that is worth bearing in mind.  Not all guilds will go to that trouble – some will do no research, some will do more – some will require voice chat interviews and “trials” before they will accept you.

This leads me to the second thing you should be doing if you’re looking for a new guild: research.

Once you have established what you want out of the game, what you have to offer, and what you’re looking for – you need to research guilds.  Don’t just accept the first offer that comes your way in trade chat – do a bit of homework.  It will save you time, effort and possibly upset in the long run by knowing what you are looking for, and then actually LOOKING for it, rather than keeping your fingers crossed and jumping from guild to guild.

The resources I would recommend are the Blizzard forums – check out both your realm and the “Looking for Players” forums.

If you’re interested in raiding, check out the Wowprogress website – for realms that are suitable for you, then the guilds suitable for you – often guilds will have recruitment posts describing themselves and links to their websites.

Take your time – watch trade chat, watch who talks on it, who advertises, what those adverts say.  Shift-click on character names in chat to see their guild name and then do a /who for that guild name to see how many are online – if there are only one or two online at a peak time for you, then it’s not the guild for you.

Have a look at the in-game guild finder (type /gf in the chat pane) and take note of guilds that look suitable.  Again do a /who for those guilds during your peak times.

Any that still seem suitable – search for them in your browser (use the guild and realm name) – you may come across websites for them and more information about them.

If they’re still suitable, speak to one of them in-game (check first to make sure they’re not in a raid or dungeon).

Make sure you find out all you need to know before you start an application process, whether that be filling in an application form or simply contacting someone in-game.

The Needs of the Many

I’ve not written anything for a looong time.  I’ve jut not had the time.  In theory, what with me only working part time, term times, I should have bags of available time rattling around, just waiting to be filled.  But either I’m just really bad at time management or somehow I’ve managed to fill that extra time with “stuff”.  I also know that in order to write anything here, I need to devote a decent sized, uninterrupted block of time and that just doesn’t seem to happen that often.

My brain is basically a shopping list full of things that have to be done.  Most of it is highly mundane – some of it I’m avoiding (ironing, again!) – and most of it just never ends.  It might get dealt with “for now” but then it just drops a bit further down the list waiting to sneak it’s way back up again.

This week, for us, it’s half term.  The schools are off and therefore I’m off work.  I tend to use this time to help catch up on stuff that’s been lurking on the list for a while, but also things that are more difficult to arrange during term time – stuff that requires the kids to be involved.

Unfortunately, so far this week, most of my time and concentration has been focussed on the guild.  And not in a good way.  I was hoping to sneak in some time to just learn to enjoy playing WoW again.  Recently it’s just felt like a job – logging in, doing maintenance (keeping the roster tidy, website up to date, guild vault sorted), trying to plan and organise raids, being online enough to be approachable if needed whilst getting dailies done.

A few weeks ago I bought the Legion upgrade and I’ve had that big “level up” button just waiting for me to select a character to boost.  I’ve just about settled on one, but despite that, so far it’s taken me two weeks to get to that character only once to start looking at it again.

Yet one person in the guild seems to be needing my time devoted to him.  This one person has had more of my time and attention over the last few days than my own kids.  For which I feel really bad.  And rather annoyed.

This one person has somehow been involved in virtually every problem that has happened in the guild over the last 18-24 months.  The amount of hours that have been devoted to dealing with “problems” that looking back on, weren’t actually massive problems until this one person got involved, is completely stupid.

Admittedly some of the problems that he has brought to our attention have been a slight problem – but the old adage “mountain out of a molehill” springs to mind.  There was no reason why spending a few minutes dealing with them would not have sorted them out.  Yet once this person gets involved, they suddenly spring into a size out of all proportion – things happen, people leave, drama occurs, massive amounts of time and effort are put into dealing with them.

Our guild prides itself (or tries to) on being an inclusive guild.  We cater to the casual player, the casual raider, the player who has never raided but would like to give it a go.  We base our whole rulebook on being nice to others, considerate and honest.  Being able to utilise common sense, being a grown up and knowing what is right and wrong, and speaking to an officer if there is a question or problem that relates to the running of the guild or raids.

Over the last year or so, this ethos has been increasingly more difficult to honestly use as our strapline – seemingly because of one person.

I have no proof that this one person has CAUSED problems, but the past speaks for itself.  He is either someone who has a remarkable knack for attracting and growing little seeds of a problem into something big without even knowing it, or it’s happening deliberately.

In virtually every other way, he has been an asset to the guild.  He organises events, takes part in events, helps out with advice to others and takes part in guild chat.

191026-johnny-awesomeBut he also has an ability to rub people up the wrong way – not a day goes by when he will say something that subtly puts someone else down or suggests that he is better than someone else.  I suspect at least one person recently has left because they could no longer deal with this, and several other people have alluded to it in passing.

He causes problems by either trying to avoid them, even when he is involved in them, or by sending us a little “oh just to let you know” message where someone else has spoken to him about something, and then he decides to pass that information on.  But he’ll do it in a manner that makes it impossible to act upon – vague information that “some people” are having “some problem”.  He views himself as the guild information gatherer, where in fact he appears to be gathering little snippets of chat, sometimes not even directed at him, focussing them and making them into something they’re not.

Even when drama has been dealt with and over for some time, he still likes to quietly tell people all about them, re-writing history so that he’s the victim or the bystander that just somehow got dragged into things that he couldn’t control.

But as I said .. I have no actual proof – I have hearsay and huge amounts of circumstantial evidence stacked up, but no one event is enough cause in itself to say “enough is enough”.

But we are getting to the stage where enough IS enough.  WoW is a game that should be enjoyed by all.  I realise that as I’m in the position I’m in, a certain amount of “non-fun” things need to be done, however, this one person is sapping my will to do any of that – which I’ve just realised is actually horribly disrespectful and unfair to all of those people who actually do enjoy the game, do enjoy being part of the guild and the events we organise.

We’re getting to the point where, unless this person grows up very rapidly, can look back at what has happened and be TRULY honest with themselves, they’re going to have to go. There is only so much leeway we can give in the hope that it finally dawns on them.

Because I still can’t believe that one person can deliberately cause this many problems yet still want to stick around, so my only conclusion is that they just don’t realise – that perhaps they have such an inflated view of themselves that they just cannot believe it has anything to do with them.

But it is causing problems for the guild as a whole, and for the officers and myself specifically, together with anyone else caught in the middle.  And I’m losing the patience to wait for the time when they understand their role in everything that has happened.

Until they can truly understand and be honest with themselves about their role in past problems, they’re not going to be able to control themselves to prevent it happening again in the future.

I feel I have some responsibility towards this person in order to help them understand what they want and need from the game, and how they interact with others, but there is only so much I can do, or am willing to do, especially when it has such a large impact on the guild as a whole.

And the needs of the guild as a whole outweigh the needs of the one person.

giphy

Easy Courgette Pasta

We’re currently in the middle of a glut of courgette (otherwise known as zuccini) and trying to find all sorts of different ways to use it.  This is a recipe I came across recently (and then amended slightly) that is quick and easy.  Obviously you can amend it to suit your taste .. and if you want something REALLY quick, substitute the beetroot for something else.

You will need:

  • Enough pasta to serve 4 … I use pasta twists, but anything will do.
  • 2 medium courgette, washed and ends chopped off.
  • 1 large beetroot, rinsed and ends chopped off.
  • about an inch long piece of chorizo (I use the spicy type)
  • Some grated cheese, to taste.

To prepare:

  • Pre-heat the oven to around 190c.
  • Chop the beetroot into inch sized chunks.  You don’t need to peel it.  Place the pieces on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.  Normally you would cover with a bit of oil, but I forgot and it turned out that dry roasted is very nice .. so I would recommend leaving out the oil.  Put in the oven for around 30-45 minutes, until it has started browning on the edges and is fairly soft on the outside, but still a bit of bite in the middle.
  • Grate the courgette using a fairly large sized grater, and place in a colander over a bowl.  Sprinkle some salt and give it a mix, then allow it to drain some of the moisture off for around 10-20 minutes.
  • When the beetroot is done, remove and allow to cool a bit, before chopping into smaller pieces .. around 1cm in size.
  • Once the courgette has had time to drain, give it a good squeeze to get as much moisture out at possible.
  • Prepare the pasta as per the packet … usually boil for around 7-10 minutes.  Then drain.
  • Chop the chorizo into little pieces, add to a hot dry non-stick frying pan and fry until it starts to brown and the oil is coming out.
  • Add the grated courgette and fry for a few minutes, then add most of the grated cheese.  Keep cooking until the cheese has melted, and add the beetroot.  add in the cooked pasta and give it a thorough mix.
  • Serve in bowls with a little more grated cheese over the top.

Comments:

I added beetroot simple because we had some in the garden that needed eating, but it added a nice sweetness to the dish, and offset the spiciness of the chorizo.  Our beetroot were golden ones, so didn’t “bleed” – I haven’t tried it with normal red ones, but I’d expect the red to colour the dish somewhat.

You could simplify the dish further by not including the beetroot .. I would suggest instead either red or yellow pepper to add colour, added just after the chorizo.

I used the spicy (picanté) chorizo, but if you find this too spicy, feel free to use the mild version.

VonFeasel and Feasel .. the Dodgy Darkmoon Duo

WoWScrnShot_110614_091032

There is a new Feasel in town, so I thought I’d let you know the team that I use.  This team works for both Feasels .. for the original one, you could probably swap a levelling pet in too – it just depends on luck, really.

This is the team I use:

WoWScrnShot_110614_090958

Personal World Destroyer: Metal Fist, Repair, Quake

Fluxfire Feline: Pounce, Flux, Supercharge

Darkmoon Tonk: Missile, Shock and Awe, Lock-on

As you can see, they’re all mechanical.

For VonFeasel, I find the best tactic is group damage .. I prefer to kill them all, slowly, than have to pick them off one at a time .. not least because his second pet, Mr Pointy, does a lot of damage, so taking most of his health before he even gets to attack seems like a sound plan!

So I start off with the PWD and Quake.  This lasts three turns and does damage to the full enemy group (although Syd may avoid most of it).  Once that has finished, I’ll go for Repair, which also lasts three turns.  You will probably find that on the second turn, PWD dies .. but being mechanical he comes back and then repairs up to full strength.  Do another quake, and then a couple of Metal Fist.  He will probably die at this point.

Next I bring in the Fluxfire Feline (who has always been my go-to pet for Darkmoon Faire anyway).  if Syd is unprotected, use pounce first to take some health off him, and then use Supercharge and Flux (otherwise go straight to Supercharge and then Flux) .. remember, we’re trying to take as much health as possible off the back-line pets.

After that, I just play it by ear.  Syd should be about dead by this point so finish him off with Pounce .. if you’re lucky the Feline will still be alive to take out Mr Pointy and start on Otto – once the Feline dies, bring in the tonk and use Shock and Awe and Missile.  It should only take a few shots to finish Otto off.

You can then heal up your pets and take on the original Mr Feasel – and I basically use the same tactics for him.  If you’re careful, you can probably bring in a lower level pet (but not too low) in order to gain some experience .. I’d recommend starting with the lower pet, as the Darkmoon Eye (Judgement) doesn’t do a lot of damage generally .. then just swap him out for the PWD and continue on from there.  You may need to bring your levelling pet back in to finish off  Fezwick but it is just a matter of experimentation.

Enjoy😉

10 Years, 10 Questions

 

I’ve been slacking recently .. having been horribly busy both in and out of game and, as usual, the blog has suffered because of it.  I’ve just been catching up on some other bloggers and came across this, and decided that, as I was filling in the form anyway, I might as well actually publish it here:

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

I bought the game for my husband as a gift many moons ago and got so engrossed watching him play, that I bought it for myself only a few days later😛

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

A night-elf hunter.  Poor, misguided girl … she took ages to work out auto-shot, didn’t use a pet and eventually got chased off a cliff and died ….

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

Initially it was just automatic for me to pick alliance, but as I tend to like to try everything, I went from one extreme to another .. going from a sexy, bouncy night elf to an ugly undead with her jaw hanging off … I’ve stuck mainly Horde since then.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

Oh gosh … so many.  That first night elf falling off a cliff and dying was one .. I didn’t know about hearthstones then, or graveyards, so when I made it back to my body and resurrected, and couldn’t find my way back up the cliff, I just abandoned her.  She’s probably there still …

Another was when my husband and I were out questing with a friend and she fell part way down a cliff in hellfire (right on the side of the “world”, before we could fly) .. and my husband jumped down after her to try and save her .. and they both ended up falling to their deaths …😛

There’s a bit of a theme developing here …

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

The massive range of things to do.  One of the big draws for me is that I NEVER have time to do everything I want to do, meaning there is always a reason to log in …

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

Hmmm … probably “collecting” … achievements, mounts, pets …  *

Edit .. I’ve just realised this could be read two ways!  A specific location in game I tend to gravitate towards when levelling, at least, is Nagrand.  I love the area and the quests around there.  In fact I like most of that continent .. if only for the gorgeous skies😛

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

On my main character, my /played shows as 204 days, 16 hours …

As for whether or not it has been continuous … I’ve never stopped my subscription.  I’ve been paying for WoW continuously since Christmas 2006.  There has been the odd day here and there when I haven’t logged in .. or the odd week when I’m on holiday, but WoW is part of my usual routine and has been for years.  I don’t always play the same character, but my current main has been my main for the majority of my WoW-playing life .. the other characters get less than half the attention she does ..

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Sometimes … it depends on time constraints.  I don’t generally read it if I’ve done the quest before on another character, but I try to read most of the new quest text.  I’m less inclined to read it now that the map “helps” us so much.  Once upon a time you had to read and re-read some quests in great detail just to work out what/where/how.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

I sometimes wish that I was in exactly the same position as now, but someone else was running things.  Running a guild (even a casual one) is very time consuming and can be rather stressful at times.  Unfortunately I have a specific view of how things should run, in my head, and it just doesn’t seem to allow for myself to sit back and let someone else do all the work.  I’ve tried a few times to delegate, but I always end up having to do it myself again in the end, so it’s just not worth the hassle.  This may cause problems come the next expansion, as we’re in the process of creating a second guild for the opposing faction .. once things get busy I’m not sure how things are going to pan out … watch this space!

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

It has actually made me more confident.  I remember the first ever time I joined voice-chat with a bunch of people I’d only ever “spoken” to through text in the game …. I was terrified.  Since then I’ve become a lot more confident dealing with strangers and it has increased my ability to organise and multi-task.  I simply view trying to organise or interact with other people “real world” as a type of raid or guild I’m organising “in-game”😛

A Change of Pace

Here in the EU, we had a very long maintenance on our WoW servers last Wednesday and, while Blizzard were fiddling with the undercarriage of their servers, something happened to curtail my play time rather considerably.  From that point until now, so far, I’ve been unable to log into my home server (ie, the one I play on most often).  Following experimentation, there are lots of servers I’m unable to log into, but weirdly, some I can.  Most of those I can log into are in the same few battlegroups, but just to make things more interesting, that isn’t always the case.

Strangely, I’m also unable to view my main guild information on the Armories whilst on the profile of a character in that guild.

WoWScrnShot_070714_071737

It’s a lie, I tell you

Apparently all I’m able to do on my main realms is successfully view the realm list and see that others are able to log on … *sigh*

In the meantime, I’ve had an enforced change of pace … the ironing pile hasn’t been this low for quite some time, I’ve been bugging Blizzard on the support forums and I’ve been having a play in the Warlords Beta.

I do kinda feel like I’ve arrived at the Beta in the middle, as there are a lot of “regular” people this time that were invited to the Alpha (ie, not a “private” friends and family test) … so people are often referring to places I’ve not seen.

Beta is very obviously still Beta … there are graphical glitches all over the place, NPC’s in positions and places they obviously shouldn’t be, “placeholders” for everything from NPC’s to quest items and fairly major phasing issues.  However, it does still delight at times.

Weirdly .. it’s the small stuff often that surprises me.  A couple of expansions back, Blizzard introduced a change that blew my socks off and I still marvel at today – the change in the way water looked and reacted.  They changed it so that it acted more like water … you walked through it and left ripples in your wake, it reflected the area around it.  Even now I often deliberately change my route so that I’m able to paddle through water!

Beta introduced a new effect …. now, when you walk through tall fronds of grass or fields of flowers, they are pushed to the side.  This was the first moment in Beta when I did a little “squee” out loud.   I also spent a considerable amount of time walking forwards and backwards through flowers .. mounted and unmounted .. in fact I was concentrating on flowers so much, that I didn’t notice this in the background:

What the ...

What the …

Next thing I knew, I was dead … so of course I got back up and tracked it down:

Yes ... that is me hiding behind the building .. !!

Yes … that is me hiding behind the building .. !!

I ended up in a secondary raid group to try and kill this world boss … meaning there was already 40 in one group and ours filled up fairly fast too … but someone may have been watching, because about 5 minutes before we would have killed it, the server died.  A couple of days later I WAS in a group who managed to kill it, but obviously no loot table has been assigned to this guy yet.  Be aware, when you do come across him … he hits hard at long distance .. the best tactic seems to be to stay at range in front of him.

Other than that, I’ve been having a play with the Garrison, which is a new feature of the next expansion and a version of “player housing”.

I used to play, many moons ago, an MMO called Ultima Online – that is the first and only time so far that I’ve encountered player housing and that was TRUE player housing.  Everyone could buy and place their own house, or club together and buy a bigger house – up to castle sized.  You could pretty much place a house wherever you wanted, where you found the right sized space – the “house” started off simply as a building plot of a specific size and you made your own design – you could decorate it how you liked, you could make or buy the furnishings, you could place chests to put your treasure in, and you could lock the house up or leave it open.

I’d love if Blizzard could do something like that, but for now, we have Garrisons.  My experience of the Garrison is rather limited at the moment, and plagued with bugs on the beta – mainly due to phasing issues and a problem with the follower quests, however, it does have great potential.

One of the major problems I’d seen in Ultima was the eventual lack of buildable space – Blizzard combats this by making the Garrison phased.  Only you (or someone you are grouped with) can see and enter your garrison.  Everyone’s Garrison is on the same plot, but phased – so you can only ever see one at a time.

In Warlords, the Garrison is more of a village .. you have various NPC’s wandering about, you have a couple of basic plots already occupied and then you have to go out into the world and discover the plans in order to build more buildings.

Your new "home", should you choose ..

Your new “home”, should you choose ..

Planning your Garrison layout

Planning your Garrison layout

Hurrah!  New building plans ..

Hurrah! New building plans ..

Did you notice the hippo-type creature in the background … you can tame those with your hunter!  Very cute looking, but rather heavy on their feet …

Hip-hip-hipporay!

Hip-hip-hipporay!

On my travels I’ve also found numerous “treasures” .. similar to the chests on Timeless Isle or the Treasures of Pandaria, these are one-off finds per character than will give you various goodies .. sometimes it will be a trinket, a piece of armor or a useful item of some sort, other times it will be professional materials or stuff to help build your garrison.  Depending on your highlighting options (as default, currently, there is now a “highlight” around “useful things” … NPC’s that you are needing to talk to for a quest are often outlined in yellow, for example) … the “treasures” are outlined in purple.

I’ve also encountered numerous “rare” mobs .. the ones with the silver dragon around their character plate.  These are shown on your minimap, when nearby, with a skull – some are fairly easy to kill, others sometimes require a little help – they currently don’t seem to be “taggable” meaning that anyone who helps with the kill gets some loot .. and they ALWAYS drop their specific loot for anyone who loots them.  Another change is that they are only rare the first time around .. if you spot them again later, they will no longer be “rare” and will just be treated as a normal mob as far as loot is concerned .. however, they do still seem to retain their “rare” attacks and health (or at least the couple I’ve killed twice, have).

Speaking of loot, there now appears to be an extra possibility when killing mobs … there is apparently now the chance that, instead of getting a “green” quality item, it may be upgraded to a blue or even purple quality.

Another change, which may be a nod towards Rift or Wildstar, is the bonus quests.  As you are exploring, entering certain areas will just pop-up bonus quests for that area – which I suppose is an upgrade to those quests where you used to kill something by chance, and it would have an additional quest as loot.

Finally, for now, one of the first things I did when I got into the Beta, was look to the skies.  No .. not because I was soooo greatful!! ….. because one of the main things I loved about outland was the sky, and the moons in it.  The sky still looks pretty impressive …

Oooooh ... pretty!!

Oooooh … pretty!!

Wildstar .. first thoughts

There seems to be a lot of hype and excitement around this new MMO, so when I was offered the opportunity to try it out during one of the beta weekends I decided to have a go.

The basics seemed fairly simple .. two factions, each with various races to choose from.  Each race has multiple classes (various different damage dealing, protection or healing type classes) – and some of those classes were restricted to only some races.  In addition to this, there is also an extra choice .. your “path”.  This is related to how you want to play the game … explorer, scientist, soldier or settler.  The path you choose influences additional bonus quests you receive.

My first Wildstar character .. nicknamed "ewok" ...

My first Wildstar character .. nicknamed “ewok” …

First impressions showed the graphics to be slick and high quality, if rather “cute” and cartoon-like.  I found the controls to be easy enough to understand (very similar to most other MMO’s), although I found that turning my character on the spot using the keyboard was very slow, compared to doing the same thing with the mouse.  I also found that, during the first beta weekend I attempted, the quest system was overwhelming.  The main problems I encountered were failing to understand exactly what the quest required of me, and failing to understand how to find the quest location.

The combination of these rather put me off the game and, when invited to try out the next beta weekend, I made very little effort to get there.

However … as there was one final beta weekend up for grabs, I felt I should have a proper go at it – not least because others had said that, although the initial quests weren’t brilliant, things really opened up once down onto the main planet.

So I headed back into the game and created a new character .. this one even more “cute” than the last, with very improbable dimensions.

Cute cat girl

Cute cat girl

I found the game to be improved from the previous time I’d played .. either the interface had become more intuitive, or I’d just got my brain working this time.  However, I did still think that the learning curve was still pretty steep.  In one way that is a plus .. there is so much to learn and master that it’s certainly not a short-term thing – it encourages you to play more, to delve more deeply, to read up on it.  But I suspect some could be completely put off by it.

One of the main problems I’d had the first time I’d played, was trying to work out where quest locations were .. this time I discovered that you could simply click on the quest shown on the screen and a temporary arrow would appear to give you an idea of direction, complete with a distance indicator.  Of course, you still have to work out the best way to get to that location, and it’s not quite as helpful when you’re operating on multiple levels, but it gives you a starting point.

Once down on the planet, after completing the starter quests, the landscaped improved .. the vistas were lovely, although I did feel sometimes that it could do with being toned down a bit .. some of those colours were VERY vivid, especially when you were subjected to random bright flashes (which happened regularly as part of some of the earlier quests).

landscape2landscape

A few things surprised me about the way the world worked .. after playing one MMO for so many years, I’ve gotten used to how things work .. so when I was almost trampled to death by a load of non-aggressive but stampeding animals it was a bit of a shock to the system .. almost pleasantly so (despite the close shave).

Another example of this was when I decided to swim across a river near a waterfall … and discovered the pull of the water has a massive impact on you!

swim fast and hard, or you're going over!!

swim fast and hard, or you’re going over!!

I did find the number of quests overwhelming at times .. possibly I was greedy trying to complete everything offered, but not only did you get the standard quests (quest givers asking you to do stuff for them), but you also had “path” quests that related to your chosen path and bonus quests that related to something you’d just done.

For example, the path I’d chosen was Explorer (considering the amount of times I fell off trees, mountains and over waterfalls, possibly not the best choice, in retrospect), so I got additional quests that were either general (explore an entire area) or more specific (reach the top of the mountain to put down surveillance equipment).  So at one point I was trying to carry out a traditional quest, that took me close to the mountain needed to climb for the Explorer quest, so started up there, only to be given a bonus quest to use bouncy mushrooms to fly through the air, to catch little moths (on a timer).

By the time I’d finished that, I’d died three times falling off the mountain/over a waterfall/off a tree, managed to complete the bonus quest but neither of the other two, and become completely lost in the process.

I suspect there are also “world quests” of some sort, as I often saw special notifications stating a certain area/stage had been reached – but as I spent most of my time lost, I didn’t get that far :p

I did level up a few times and got to explore the Wildstar interface .. the character screen was fairly familiar, although some of the stat names were rather strange:

Moxie?  What sort of word is that?!

Moxie? What sort of word is that?!

As you gain levels, your stats improve, but you also get the chance to improve them yourself – primarily through gear upgrades.

HOW much choice?!

HOW much choice?!

You can also improve yourself using the “talent tree” … which seems rather overwhelming in itself.  I didn’t explore any talent trees for other classes, but suspect they are similar.  It has three primary role options, and three hybrid options … each with multiple paths and choices.

Each of those little gold buttons is an available choice, each of the padlocks showing what needs to be done to unlock those choices.

Choices, choices ..

Choices, choices ..

As your level goes up so, often, does the number of abilities you can choose from.  These abilities are sub-divided into types however, at least at the point I got to, you had more abilities than taskbar space to put them, so you have to choose wisely.  Your taskbar slots do slowly unlock as you increase in levels but, although there were additional task-bars to either side of the central interface, these seemed to be unable to hold your actual ability buttons .. only items from your bags, such as food.

Combat is rather interesting although, especially for the class I chose (Esper) it could be rather slow, as it required a build-up of a spell prior to casting it.  I suspect this the same for a lot of the combat, as Wildstar uses “telegraphed” moves .. basically for a lot of the high impact moves, the area it will affect is “telegraphed” on the ground prior to it hitting .. showing where it will hit and when.  This gives you the opportunity to move out of range or shows when to use interrupts/absorbs.

Combine that with the various spell graphics and floating combat text, I do wonder if this could make combat rather over-cluttered at times, although I’m assuming there will be options in the interface to tone it down some.

Here it comes ..

Here it comes ..

Overall, I enjoyed playing Wildstar and, if I had the time and money, I’d certainly consider playing it alongside World of Warcraft, not least because there are lots of it that I’ve not experienced and would love to try.  However, currently I have neither of those things, so WoW still wins out.

But it’s certainly not a cut and dried choice anymore, and I could imagine a lot of people would consider Wildstar a major contender.  Let’s just hope that Blizzard picks up some pointers from Wildstar the same way they have done in the past with other, newer MMO’s than WoW.