Saturday, December 24, 2011

Attention Whores

You know what grinds my gears?

This shouldn't bug me but it does. I ran into some of the more rude people I have come across in a long time at my brother's Christmas party. My little brother still hangs out with a lot of the people he went to school with from elementary through high school, and I met a few of them last night.

There was one girl in particular who was pretty stuck up and rude. I talked to her for about 5 mins about how she lived in LA, and she was a bank manager, and all about her, when she abruptly stopped the conversation and went out with her friends for a smoke. Granted yea it was a party, and people are talking and working the room but this chick was like a light switch. As soon as there was something else in the room to take her attention, she pretty much turned her back and not so much as a give a polite "Nice to meet you" or "I'll talk to you later". Even if you don't mean those things, it's still polite or nice to acknowledge that you were speaking to a person a moment ago.

This was fairly early on in the evening, so it kinda put me off on everyone else there. As the saying goes, birds of a feather...

I kinda watched everyone else from then on and I saw how much attention whoring was going on. Everyone was just saying and doing ridiculous things in order to capture the most attention from the room as possible. My favorite line of the night was "Could you feel my back pocket and see if my wallet is still there?"; while probably effective given the crowd that night, it's just a stupid line. At one point, some drunk chick dug out one of my brother's bright orange jump suits and paraded herself around and loved that all eyes were on her.

Is it just that easy to get everyone to pay attention to you? All this made me wonder, am I just not doing it right? I don't give two shits about having anyone pay attention to me, but the magnitude of everyone last night was just way off the scale. Am I just shooting myself in the foot by not being the loudest asshole in the room if there is a girl I want to impress/get to know/sleep with?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Safety Net

It's been no secret to those that know me that I have been pretty unhappy at my most recent job. About 6 months ago I left a warm, comfortable, and cozy job working for Tri-State and ventured out to take job working in Boulder, CO. While the new job taught me a lot about what I want to be doing with my career, it ended up being a casualty of that lesson. The work wasn't what I wanted to ultimately be doing, and it conflicted morally of what I want the world to be like.

So, like a lot of other people in the world, I am without employment. I'm not terribly upset, but it's nice to sleep in and be a do nothing some days. Other days I get really bored without a desk or cube to inhabit. I think it is helping me though. Having no responsibilities really lets me sit back and think: where do I want to go, what do I want to be doing, and who do I want to be with. I had a couple ex attacks, but I think they stem more from being by myself for too long than actually caring much about her.

My goal is to find that place/thing within about 3 months. I probably don't want to jump at the first thing that comes along, but being too picky may backfire. 3 months seems like a good amount of time before I start dipping too hard into my savings, and plenty of time to think about what I want and who I want to be ultimately. Finding someone to spend time and sharing my life with will probably be on hold while I figure all this shit out, but I won't turn my taxi light off entirely. I have to go pimp myself professionally and personally pretty hard in the next year it seems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holy Paladinning in Dragon Soul

So right now I am refining my play style and gearing for Dragon Soul raiding. Got the basic power auras rolling, getting some gear, but I am still in the dark in terms of what secondary stats I should be getting.

I think that paladins are moving on from spirit\haste build of the previous tiers now that we have a new toy to play with, Holy Radiance. The initial HR hit heals for a lot, but I am really underwhelmed by how much the HOT ticks heal for. Being that Dragon Soul has a ton more raid damage and fights that people are stacking up for, I don't feel bad at all leaning on my HR button for a majority of my healing.

So now I look at my secondary stats and scratch my head. I see other paladins going towards mastery, and I really want to go that path too but I feel like that would be pigeonholeing me in a really awkward place. The absorb bubbles will look good on the meters, but I'm not sure that it is actually doing much heavy lifting at all. I need to be able to figure out my "absorb efficiency" to see how much those absorbs are saving people's lives.

Mastery seems like a great stat to smooth out the healing needed by the raid, crit is awesome if you are rolling hot dice and like big numbers, and haste gets that healing our much faster. I am not sure there is a right answer since each stat complements another in some way. Crit can give you bigger mastery shields, but more unevenly. Haste lets you "crit" and "shield" more as you are casting more spells per minute. Mastery "looks" like you are healing more. It's this weird three legged stool / Triforce that makes everything complicated.

Which is good. Stacking one OP stat would be boring. =D

I think I want enough haste to GCD cap on Ultraxion. After that I think I am going to move into crit and see where that goes. Crit ultimately will make bigger heals which will beget bigger mastery absorbs. If healing gets too spikey, I can move more into mastery.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ensidia Shot First.

As far as I am concerned, this tier of raiding was over before it started. Ill gotten gear, boss exploits, and bugging out of encounters; this is all I have heard regarding T13 heroic raiding so far. The raiding community has shown just how far they are willing to go to get their name on the front page of, and I think the whole community is disappointed in how guilds have conducted themselves in order to get ranked kills. While there have always been exploits and bugs, this tier just seems to amplify and bring all this to the forefront with the breadth of how much foul play is happening.

There are some guilds that are worthy of their rankings and did things the right way to get where they are, but the vast majority of guilds have gotten their hands caught in the cookie jar, or done some other dirty deeds to get their rankings up.

Hagara has some encounter breaking bugs right now that probably make the fight a ton easier. Big Crits killed her on Heroic (World 10 woot) and used a strategy involving classes that can move while casting in order to make the fight easier. I'm not sure if this is a bug or not, or the intended way of killing her on heroic, but it still stands out in my mind that the fight was cheesed somewhat; while not as blatant as other guilds (Shattering throw comes to mind.) it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Nevertheless, our guild killed her dead before many many other heroic guilds.

Does it even matter though? The race was corrupt from the start. Many of the top world guilds were out of the race before it even started because they did things they knew were against the spirit of competition. Big Crits is currently ranked #14 in the WORLD. It's a perfect storm that benefits us greatly and spirits are sky high. Does all this diminish our acheivement? I don't know.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Raiding. Leading. Again.

About a month ago, I got that itch again to start raiding. I missed it, more importantly, I missed the people that enjoy raiding. The people that make new friends constantly, tell geeky jokes, make bad sexual innuendos and double entendres. You know, fun people. Not like all those stuck up people you meet everyday in real life.

Ishraaq, our fearless Da Crew chief approached me about leading another firelands run. Something simple, something 10man, something for mains/alts/those not raiding enough. I agreed to lead it. This has now morphed into a 25man Dragon Soul run with expectations attached to it. Yikes.

Let's talk about Da Crew for a second quick. Da Crew is our "casual" raiding rank for people just not up to snuff with the standards of the main progression team, but still wanting to raid with good people. The problem is that casual is a very grey word. Back when Big Crits was formed and the guild was starting to pick up steam, there were a lot of people wanting to be a part of the guild, but did not have the time/desire to raid in a progression environment. Couple this with the fact that pugging raids on Sen'jin horde was AWEFUL, Da Crew started joining up and became a casual group of people of whom the alts of the main raiders, and the casual folk could play and have a good time getting some phat purps.

Now, in my opinion, looking from my ivory tower of progression raid leader was that Da Crew never really found it's place in the guild. Was it a place for just the raider rejects? Was it a place where more social raiders could have a place to be? Was it a place where raider alts could come and snatch gear from mains? Are Da Crew raiders just in fact second class guild members and second class raiders? At one point or another, all the above could be true. This has always been a struggle for the people who wear "Da Crew" label.

I am interested in having more nights free than more nights raiding, because I will be unemployed shortly, and I would like to have some time to establish myself wherever I end up next year (Spoiler, I am moving out of Colorado). I am also single, which I need time to date and meet new people when the time comes.

So in coming back to raiding, I am not immediately interested in a progression schedule with progression commitments. Am I any less skilled at the game? I doubt it, maybe a little out of practice, but I'm not worried. So I want to take Da Crew under my wing and make them into the best raiders they can be, on a shorter time schedule. In comparison, the typical Da Crew person raids less than half the hours of the progression team in a week, and that's even not a lot of hours given most progression guilds raid 20+ hours every week.

I'm interested in where this will take me, since I have always pushed myself to be a US or even world class player. Will Da Crew be able to find it's voice and it's place in the guild, or even the WOW community as a whole. I am very optimistic.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From hell's heart I stab at thee!

Thanksgiving sucked.

I hadn't been back to South Dakota in about 2 years, and I was really excited to see my family and a ton of people that I hadn't been around in a while. Everyone was doing really well, and doing fun things, having babies, going to college, having boyfriends/girlfriends, and enjoying life. While hearing about all this and talking to everyone, I was having a hard time coming up with anything that I could tell them about how good things are with me. I have a very social, attractive fun family and I already felt like the black sheep, so this compounded my problems.

I feel like all I have is this big dumb brain, which inhibits me more than anything. I’m not especially good looking or friendly. Being social is hit and miss; sometimes I really enjoy myself, other times I just want it to end. This is all hitting me today. All the change I set up for myself over the last year seems to have been a pretty big failure. Crappy job, no relationship prospects, and my self-esteem has never been lower.

I hate my job, but as I look for a new one, I get scared of making another career mistake. Working for my company is stressful and unfulfilling. The work and the theory behind what I do is interesting, but the management at the company is nonexistent; they seem more interested in making money and jumping through hoops for new customers than getting the fundamentals right. Their software is just a bunch of hacks they throw on top of one another to keep the system going. It’s not a place for an electrical engineer; it seems like more of a place for someone with a finance or business degree. I have a pretty bleak opinion about commodities and financial trading, and this job isn’t helping.

Quitting outright seems like a better and better option every day, even if I don’t have another job lined up. Something in the back of my mind says that this experience is making me stronger, but I feel like it is just killing me softly. I still work with my old employer once a week, and they are always telling me I can come back, but this just makes things worse. It reminds me that my job is a pile of steaming excrement.

I want to move out of Colorado, but I waffle on that front as well. Where do I want to be? Will I miss having my family around? Will I just eventually hate it there as well and am I trapped in some weird cycle?

I don't want to be unhappy; every day I try to do things and think things that get me in a better mood, or cheer me up. The same old tricks and my tried and true methods aren’t working anymore: Upgrading my computer, playing video games, good beer, and sushi. First world problems I suppose, but they are MY first world problems.

This big down note is probably needed though. You need the bad to appreciate the good. It just sucks fucking ass when all the good and all the bad hits at once.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Addicted to Love

If there has been one thing that confused and interested right and left brained people alike throughout the ages, I think love tops the list. Whether it be chemical, spiritual, or soulful, love eludes us and tantalizes us even when you think you have a grasp on it. Whatever "it" is, its power cannot be questioned.

Love affects the brain in strange ways; many people have made the comparison that love is a drug. I tend to agree. I've been in love. It makes a person do very strange and uncharacteristic things. It can take many forms. I have loved family, women, friends, games, and other things. It makes you feel good about yourself to have something other than yourself that you can care about, and if administered correctly, love has as symbiotic effect that enhances that feeling tremendously if that love is returned. Prolonged exposure to this love substance has a high chance of addiction, and I think a lot of people who have breakups, lose a loved one, or can't interact with an activity in the same way suffer from serious withdrawal. Hi, my name is Eric, and it's been 18 months since my last hit.

This sobering period has made me rethink who I am as a person since the ex. We were madly in love, and this led to a severe withdrawal. There was a short period of downtime after we broke up, but my love addiction needed to be sated. I look back on the last year and I have been desperate for a fix, something to pick me up and keep me going. In retrospect, I was dating compulsively; I threw a lot of time and energy into seeking other people out, hoping to have the love demon quieted. I think I am recovered, but there is a long journey ahead. I feel like an alcoholic who has just discovered he has a problem with alcohol; he is not sure if he can trust himself with the substance that has caused him so much pain.

Is love real? You betcha. For all you nay sayers out there, you just haven't tried it, or are recovering like me and the only way to stay clean is the not acknowledge that it exists. That’s fine though. Do I want to stay clean forever? At the moment, yes; I’m not sure who I will meet, or where I will be but I’m confident that at some point in the future that crazy potion #9 will end up back in my system.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Right now Basek is getting on my nerves. I have the feeling that he doesn’t want me to raid with the 25man team in any capacity. It seems like he doesn’t want to bring me in as a backup, even on farm nights, and I have asked a couple times to do farm content with the guild and I have gotten no for an answer. Maybe I am asking too much from the guild to raid with the main team if I don’t have the time to dedicate to being a full time raider. I will talk to him and see if there is some sort of miscommunication.
He is very optimistic and charismatic, and also doesn’t take any shit from anyone. It seems to me he is much more of a cheerleader raid leader than I am accustomed to, but I think he is getting the job done.

Big Crits is currently working on heroic Ragnaros, and he and I disagree whether the guild could have downed him without the most recent nerfs on the boss. While I agree that we have a stronger raiding team than ever before, I doubt that we have enough raid comp flexibility and kill Ragnaros as it was designed initially. There are guilds out there who are more skilled than ours, who have been 6/7 since the beginning of August, and who still haven’t killed H-Rag yet. Unless Big Crits wants to bash its’ face in on a boss for 3+ months before killing it, I think that the nerfed version would be a better use of its time and not getting burned out on the game. Sure Basek doesn’t care either way, but attrition will set in and we will lose players to getting burned out or going to more progressed guilds; recruiting will get harder, and ultimately the guild will be weaker so that he can get that pre nerf satisfaction.

For that matter, neither of us have a choice in the matter, the nerfbat has hit, and none of us have control over it. Back in Sunwell, my old guild spent about a solid month and a half on Muru, and while it was satisfying to kill, nobody cares that we did that after all this time. It’s nice in my mind, and I can brag about it to people who are long time players, but ultimately I would have rather been 6/6 than beating my face against that fuckhead. Nobody will care if Big Crits killed a pre nerf Rag even 6 months from now, because the player base has the attention span of a gnat.

Snoz has been a big help to the guild in terms of recruiting and financing, and he is a lovable asshole, except when he is being an asshole to you. He keeps poking me that my 10man never got heroic Alakir. To that I say, his group was cherrypicked from the 25man team (mine wasn’t) and his group had 10 raiders that knew how to not fuck up phase 1 (mine didn’t).

Our 10man spent way too much time in phase 1 because we had a healer that continuously died to lightning, and the healers couldn’t keep up in Phase 2 in general. Snoz’s group had 2 shadow priests where our group had none, and due to the damage stacking buff with the healing done by vampiric embrace, this really provides a lot of raid healing to the group so that you can push the fight further. They also had Rationality who was hands down the best healer in the guild. For all I care, Snoz can shove his four winds title up his ass, I got mine first anyways.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Zen of Dating

I recently read a short primer on Zen and the theory, and I think it shed some light on how the world works a little bit. From what I understand, one becomes enlightened via meditation and disconnecting your mind from thinking about the answer to your question. Instead of reaching the answer from logic, deduction and reaching for external assistance, one turns the eye inward and reaching that outward answer via introspection. I think some of these concepts can be applied to dating.

Dating 101
Let me say from the start that dating sucks. For the most part, the act of putting yourself out there for other people to window shop, judge, critique, and nitpick whether you are worthy of their time can be a fruitless activity. Dating does have its potential upside (otherwise we wouldn't do it), but there is a lot of downside to go with it. Granted it does go both ways and you are continuously on the lookout for a higher number on the 1-10 scale.

Online dating in general I think is a pretty treacherous place. There are many unspoken rules, and every person has their own expectations and preconceived notions of how they expect things to happen. The thing with online dating is that it's becoming a more commonly accepted avenue of meeting people, so the pool of participants is growing; I'm not sure the pool of participants has the potential for shrinking anytime soon though.

It's a game. Dating is a game, and people want to win. All the players will naturally want to catch the biggest fish possible, and because of this the most attractive (physical, career, personality, potential) participants will get the most attention from the people in the dating pool, while the least attractive people will get barely any attention at all. It's kind of a vicious system, but I think that's life. This imbalance exists in many facets of life, but the online environment lowers the barriers of communication and reduces the social friction of approaching a potential date.

There is another dimension of attractiveness that is very intriguing, and it is very subjective. It seems to me at least that those who are the most eager to date and put the most energy into dating or starting a new relationship are the people who are the least likely to succeed. They are trying too hard, and end up having the least amount of success. I'm definitely guilty of this with a couple girls that I date. This may just be an indicator of how lots of different people behave, but I think there is some human aversion to others that overextend themselves.

My Dating Reflections
The last year has been unfulfilling for the most part. After my breakup with Erin, I waited a few months and then decided I was ready to get back out there and meet girls. Mostly this was because of loneliness, and I missed having someone else in my life. Looking back, this was not the best thing to do at the time; I am just now coming to terms with the breakup about a year later and being able to accept it and move past it .

Over the course of the year, I think I talked to dozens of women and went on countless dates but all I have to show for it are a few girls that I actually connected with. These girls were people that could be myself around, enjoyed their company, and were physically attracted to. I think it was these girls that I learned the most from, but in the end I learned something new from everyone that I spent time with.

Things I learned. Don't rush, love grows as people become closer; if you are forcing it, you are doing it wrong. Be true to yourself first; you are useless to a potential partner if you don't know how to be content without someone else. If you are doing all the leg work, and clearing your schedule for someone else, they probably aren't that into you or just like the attention. Don't assume you are the only person they are seeing, especially if you are seeing multiple people as well. Get outside your comfort zone once in a while, you will probably meet some interesting people.

The dating process has been more of a self education and introspection rather than bearing fruit for meeting someone else. Like I said, it has the potential of meeting someone who is awesome and knocks your socks off is always present, but I think nature of the system becomes an exercise in game theory; why commit to something when you can roll the dice one more time and see what else may come. While I may not have a woman to show for it, I think I have come out of the process a better person, and it was a lesson in catharsis.

The Online Dating Model
I said before that online dating is growing and becoming the new standard for finding the man or woman of your dreams. This may or may not be true, but I am of the opinion that the trend is that if there is something that can be improved by adding an online component, it is generally done and adds an efficiency to it. Whether the efficiency benefits the operators or the users is up for debate. It's a useful tool, but I think it becomes a crutch for the average John or Jane that is looking for that special someone. For the dating sites, it is of more benefit to get you to keep paying a subscription to that system, than to lose two customers who fall in love. That's probably a little heavy handed and cynical, but it seems plausible.

From my experience, a computer or some algorithm matches people based on similarities in personality and what their expectations are for a mate. From my experience, these sites aren't terribly good. To quote Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, "They claim to use heuristic algorithms, but it may well be hokum." Over the year I used eHarmony, I would say that only about one in ten people they matched me with seemed like we would actually have any potential. This may be my mental filter hard at work, but some just seemed way off. I would argue that having access the matching criteria turns on a lot of the mental filters that we have, and a lot of people don't get a chance before you mentally discard them.

Physical attraction is paramount. If you say different, you might be kidding yourself. It doesn't matter what your profile says if the other person isn't pulled in by that initial physical attraction. As I wrote that first sentence, I heard poets and scribes from the ages calling out in pain "Love is blind!"I really wish it was, but tragically we are human. I think it is beautiful when emotional chemistry and compatibility transcends the physical, but the rest of us are initially pulled together by physical attraction. Once that connection is made, we are then poking and prodding each other and evaluating the other person on an emotional level.

I think that one fault that the online dating system suffers from is that people have too much information available to them before they decide to get to know the other person. From a glance, you can know crazy amount about that person even before you decide to get in touch with them and see if the dating potential is there. This coupled with the sheer amount of people in the system makes the snap judgment a very effective tool. Maybe too effective.

Having too much information also makes getting to know that person a little awkward. Based on what the other person put out there, you most likely know where they are from, brothers and sisters, what they do for work, how much they make, if they want to have kids, and a whole slew of other things. Granted the other person isn't going to quiz you on what you put in your profile (and if they do, run fast and run far) but I think there is more value in the process of discovering these things rather than the information itself. This is one situation where I would say less is definitely more.

Dating might be a necessary evil though. While you play a game that may or may not favor you, I think it is important for people to date. You might hit the jackpot on the very first slot machine pull, or it might take you a few different machines to get the payoff, but I think the process is important. It builds character. Through meeting people and potential mates, you learn a lot about the world you live in, and you also learn about yourself. Spending time around people and situations that are unfamiliar helps you grow as a person, and as an extra bonus there is someone right there with you whom you are sharing the experience with; the bonus is that they might decide to keep you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ten Man Raiding: A Post-Mortem

After raid leading 25mans during Wrath, I decided to see how the 10man side of progression raiding would measure up to what I thought was the more stressful and chaotic 25man side of things. While it lived up to my expectations in some areas, 10man progression raiding underperformed drastically in some areas. Would I call it a win or a loss? I’d call it a wash. Both models have their warts, but as long as the Internet exists, there will be people from both camps lobbing grenades at each other. Let’s dive in.

The Good:
- Easier to assemble.
So you decided you want to raid, or want to put together a raiding team. Depending on how many friends you have (who play wow, know what raiding is, and aren’t that bad at the game and/or how many people you can pull from trade chat or the realm forums) odds are pulling 9 other people together is always easier to manage than 24. I still applaud this decision made back in Wrath.

- Less Loot
Less loot is a good thing? Whaaaaa? Loot drama all but disappears when there are only 1-2 people in the raid that can use a given item. Trinkets are still a wild card, as are tier tokens, but generally everyone stays pretty happy. Less loot = less complex loot systems, and all the crazy DKP variants are sort of redundant.

- Geometry
Need to spread out? There is an ENORMOUS space for you to do so. Generally spread out mechanics are trivialized by 10man raiding, but to be fair 25man raids pull someone back from the brink if “that guy” messes up a spread out mechanic. I’m still giving this one to the 10mans.

- Less downtime
From my experience there is far less time spend on raid chatter, and wipe recovery is a lot quicker when there are less people to manage. I think everyone does a lot more self-policing when the anonymity factor goes away. You are more accountable to the people around you because you have a much bigger effect on the success of the raid.

- Everyone’s voice gets heard.
Since the sea of voices is diminished, you might hear from people who don’t normally speak up and offer useful advice. As a raid leader, you will probably get a good perspective from other points of view during an encounter, and parsing the useful advice gets a little easier.

The Bad:
- Everyone’s voice gets heard…
As long as there are more than two people in close proximity, someone is going to have an opinion about something else. Raiding is no exception. There is less inertia for people to have their voices heard, and people are also going to take advantage of that and speak to an audience.

- Less Loot
Another double edged sword. While the boss does drop loot that is pretty much tailored for 1-2 specs, the boss loot tables are so big, that getting 2-3 pieces from a 15 item table can create a lot of problems and if you are really unlucky, you may never end up getting that piece that you want. 25mans get to sample the loot table more times, so there is a greater chance that something you want will drop even though the loot/raider ratio is the same.

- Fighting the raid buff boss
It becomes very difficult to balance a raid group and making sure that you have all the raid buffs possible, which will help your chances of success dramatically. Given the ridiculous amount of buffs/debuffs/auras there are available, all I can say is that I hope you have a hunter and a shaman to fill in the gaps. We ran for the longest time without the 3% damage buff in the raid, and while I am sure it didn’t make that much difference, it would have been a huge help. I even know some teams that ran without druids before warlocks and death knights were given battle reses. That is huge for an encounter and recovering from and RNG death.
Don’t even talk to me about raid cooldowns. 25man wins it flat out in that situation.

- One death usually means wipe.
Having one person die to an encounter means very different things when you compare the two sizes of raid. Losing 10% of your raid vs 4% of your raid is a big deal. I have raided a little bit with the Big Crits 25man team, Da Crew, as well as pugging 25man raids and you can usually limp through an encounter after losing 3-5 people. If you have a person die on 10man, the encounter is generally considered over.

- Thinner social fabric
This one I think is the most important thing. As it is much easier to form a 10man raiding team, it is equally easier to dissolve one. A 25man raiding team carries with it much more inertia with it in terms of people wanting to play together, and friendships forged. There is more team spirit and camaraderie in a 25man raid that stays together than a 10man. Another raider and I decided to quit at about the same time on our 10man team and it pretty much meant lights out for the team.

Lessons Learned:
The major drawing point for me to start 10man progression raiding was that smaller tight knit groups required less cats to herd, communication from raid leader to raider was more clear, and that the raiders would have a bigger interest in having the raid succeed. The density of raiders would be able to gel and everyone would be able to play off the other raiders’ strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately this was true, but the flaw in my plan was that turnover happens, and when it does, filling that hole becomes incredibly difficult. Tier 11 was really hard to recruit raiders for, especially given the careful class/buff/gear balance that 10mans have to take into consideration.

Ten mans also suffer from the daydream that you can have 10 and only 10 raiders, given all the other balances that need to be kept in check. Raiders want to raid, and sitting on the bench for a 10man seems like such a foreign concept. It’s not uncommon for a 25man to have a raiding roster of 35 people given people’s availability and boss encounter compositions. In retrospect, having a bigger bench would have helped tremendously. Real life happens, and when it does, it can cripple an entire raid night.

I suppose it doesn’t matter whether you are raiding 10s or 25s, but one bad apple spoils the bunch. Every raiding team has their “that guy” whether they can’t find his interrupt button, they can’t manage their sound on Atramedes, or they lack a functioning mic to warn that they just did something bad. I guess it is all relative, based on the perceptions of the rest of your raiding team; I have definitely been that guy before.

As far as the fun factor, I had a lot of fun in both environments, but I think that depends more on the people that you raid with rather than the size of the raid. To each his/her own in that regard. I hope to get back into progression raiding eventually, either with Big Crits or some yet to be found guild full of cool people. As for the moment, life is calling me in other directions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sometimes I hate iTunes much.

Why is this bothering me so much? Not iTunes, bless it's heart. She got married. Like a punch in the gut or a slap in the face. I turn on music for some solace and all it has to offer me is "You can't always get what you want" Really? That is what you have for me? Normally I don't mind the Stones, but come on.

I don't know what I want, but a little notification would have been great, even though it is none of my business. I guess you never really forget the one that broke your heart. She cheated, lied, and stonewalled her way half of our relationship.

I don't deserve any of it, not then, not now. I don't deserve feeling bad and still thinking back about her and being left with clues and mysteries about how she destroyed our relationship with another man, fooling around with one of her students, and disregarding me like a broken toy. How can you do these things and then tell someone to their face that you love them more than anything and that care for them and want them to be happy?

Why do I care? That's a legitimate question. Why can't I just be indifferent to her? I guess it really just gets my goat when people lie to me. Why can't you just tell me the truth and more importantly just be honest with yourself? She lied to me when we were together, what makes me thing she would tell me the truth that she was getting married after I left her. We sent emails occasionally, why not mention say, oh, I'm getting married.

Nobody can hide the truth, and especially not protect people from it.

Obviously you didn't want to stick around. So I learned from you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hard to Find

So, odds are you aren't reading this. That's probably a good thing. I don't think I would like you to see me like this. I'm a bit lost and having a hard time finding you. You sure don't want to be found very easily; I guess they are right, the chase is the best part. Hah. Yea.

I need a little help. Where are you? At least give me an indication where I can start.

You are probably hiding in a coffee shop or bookstore somewhere, but won't be there for long. You don't really tend to stay in one place. Heaven forbid, you are on the internet somewhere complacent in watching me squirm. Even if I found you, approaching you would be a tricky thing; I'm not great at first impressions, or even small talk. I don't peacock to try to get your attention, and the things I want to say can't be broken down into something very clever to say in a 20 second conversation.

I'm funny and interesting, I promise =) Oh those scars on my head? They are from growing up and playing rough sports. I'm not some frankenstein, not been in a car accident or something catastrophic. Just life.

Yea, I am nerdy, but it doesn't define me. I'm smart, but I have compassion. What am I interested in? Life mainly. Thinking about people and the world. I am reserved and sometimes like to watch things from afar, but I will try anything once. I'm not easily excited, sorry, but I am passionate about many things, and I wish they were tangible so that I could show people exactly what they were. It's hard to communicate ideas; they can only be learned or discovered, not told.

I guess I will find you when I am ready to. I hope your patience holds out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What to do from here.

So, new job is good.

It is good to feel challenged again, and to be truly over my head in a few areas. Time management is going to save my life at this job. Once I get the hang of it, it will be nice. One thing that will take some getting used to is the hours. I expect to be traveling and working longer hours than I have typically. This might put a damper on WoW, raid leading, and will probably make dating a little rougher.

Ah, dating. The cause of and solution to all life's problems.

Ugh. I despise dating at the moment. I am doing my damnest to date as many girls as possible, but all in all I am just tired of the carousel. I tell myself that by seeing a variety of girls, I will learn about what I am looking for, and meet new cool people. Fact of the matter is, I don't want to meet new and cool people at all; being an introvert is a little of who I am, and the thought of many people makes me a little nervous. I'm ready again to meet someone who I can build something with. I miss being with someone.

It's hard. I don't feel like I am being really picky, but it just takes a certain person who feels like they understand me; and likewise. I am just very discouraged at the moment. Things tell me I just have to wait for the perfect storm to hit me and shake me to my core. It's a paradox. I don't feel like I am ready to love anyone again, and there are still wounds that haven't healed. Catharsis I suppose.

I miss Erin. She was a big part of my life, and I learned a lot about myself while I was with her. I still have dreams about her, and think about her randomly, but I know that we will never be the people that the other wants. Maybe that's why we loved each other. She will be better off with some other hopeless jerk, at least I hope. A song lyric comes to mind:

"You want your freedom? Take it.
That's what I'm counting on
I used to want you dead, but
Now I only want you gone"

I'm done thinking about her, or at least I wish I was. I want to move on, and I want to let her go out of my mind. Right now, I want another person in my life whom I can share with, and build with. I guess I can go about it one girl at a time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

10man Raiding: Loot and Legendaries

A welcome change to 10man raiding this expansion was the attempt to make the 10 and 25man raiding feel similar. In order to do this Blizzard made the decision to have each flavor of raiding drop the same quality of gear. While I really enjoy this decision, I think some improvements can be made on the system.

Currently boss loot tables are very large. Every boss has a table that is 12 items large. As a rule of thumb, the 10man bosses drop 2 items per kill, and the 25man bosses drop 5 items per kill. I understand that this is a simple ratio of players per kill getting loot this model assumes 20% of your raid will get a piece of loot per boss. Assuming that the stars align and everyone gets what they want off the boss, you raid needs to kill the five times before everyone’s main specs are taken care of. This is a fallacy and only works in an ideal world, but the world (of warcraft) is hardly ideal. Yes I am still making that joke.

The problem we are running into on our 10man heroic raids is that we seem to be getting the same items a majority of the time, or never seeing items that several people in the raid could use. I realize that the loot is based on random numbers, but I feel that the 25mans raids get a better shake at the loot table for a couple reasons:

1) Representation. Every boss has loot for most combinations of class/spec, but a 10man doesn’t necessarily have all those combinations represented. For the longest time, we did not have a person in the raid that could use mail intellect gear in our raid for their main spec. If mail int gear drops, it immediately goes to waste unless someone could use it for offspec that they would play for 1-2 encounters. Given that the 10man raids are trying to balance raid buffs with class composition and tier token distribution it can be very difficult to have all the gear that drops go to people who can use it.

2) Tier Tokens. The 10man heroic bosses that drop tokens for tier gear all drop 1 token per kill, while their 25man counterparts drop 3. Compound this with the fact that the token can take one of three flavors and the classes that use these can be imbalanced based on raid composition. We have 5 people vying for Vanq tokens (which is half our raid). the 10man suffers a disadvantage not only waiting for RNG to drop the token that your raid needs for an upgrade, but also that the 25mans receive more tokens per player on every kill. 25mans have a better variety of drops, and get more per kill.

3) Probablity. In 25mans, a raid gets to sample a bosses loot table 5 times, and conversely 10mans get to sample that same loot table twice. In any statistical measure, the more samples that you can take from a set, the more likely those samples will resemble the how that set is distributed. If every piece of loot has an equal chance of dropping from a boss, then every piece of loot should see an equal distribution in those samples. Given that the 25man raid samples takes more samples from that set, they are more likely to see all the given possibilities that that set contains in comparison to 10man raids. A 25man raid will be more likely to get gear that is designed for a certain class/spec than a 10man raid will.

With 4.2, legendaries are going to enter the picture as well. Blizzard has stated that the 10mans will have access to legendary items, but it will take them ~2-2.5 times more time to create them via whatever shape the process will take. I am guess it will be a shard/fragment type acquisition process given that is the model chosen for Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel. I am disappointed in this that the 10mans are already suffering a gear gap in relation to 25man raiding (albeit much smaller than Wrath), and this gap is going to widen in Firelands.

I guess you can take this all as just QQ, but I am proposing a few possible solutions:

1) Have 10mans drop 3 pieces of gear per boss, but the 3rd slot has the possibility of being the same as slots 1&2. 25man raids already have this feature enabled, as our 25mans have seen 3 agility staffs drop off Heroic Halfus, and 3 caster maces off Nefarian. Having a 3rd available loot drop will help the 10man sample more of the loot table than they can currently while still giving similar probability that nobody needs the extra piece and it can be sharded. Also, seeing as Firelands is going to have less bosses than the current tier, I assume that the loot tables are going to be bigger, which gives the 10man even less access to the whole table over time.

2) Remove the Conq, Vanq, Prot type from the Tier tokens. It is frustrating seeing the same type of token dropping and being used for offpsecs when there are others in the raid who still need it for their main specs. Based on how this tier of raiding has gone so far, many would argue that 10man heroic raids are more taxing on the raiders and raid comps, and the extra gear could help 10man progression catch up to 25man progression. I would also entertain tokens that were binary instead of trinary; there are 10 classes in the game now, why not just split them down the middle and make a “of the X” and “of the Y” which serve 5 classes each?

3) Normalize 10man and 25man legendary acquisition. When I read that 25man raids would be in the fast lane in terms of legendary creation, it was a slap in the face to 10man raiding. It made me think back to when Blizzard stated their intentions to remove a lot of the parity between 10man and 25man raiding, and legendary creation favoring the 25man raid negates that intention. I realize that legendaries are supposed to be rare and unique and difficult to attain, but biasing the speed at which you acquire them is a bad decision. It takes a village (or a guild, or a raid) to do something great, why not include everyone in the raid in that creation process and then impose a cooldown on how often that process can be repeated? I realize that Blizzard is trying to bottleneck legendaries so that 10man raids don’t just become fragment factories, but there are more elegant ways of doing this than just hamstringing the 10man fragment drop rate. As stated before 10mans already suffer from bad probability of getting things that they want, this just amplifies the problem.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully we can have a good discussion about alleviating this problem.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Out to get me.

I'm having a difficult time acclimating into the world at the moment. I am a fairly naive person, in that I assume that most people are truly good at heart and will treat other people in their lives with respect and dignity. This is easy for me to understand and accept.

Where it breaks down is when people are kind or nice to me as a person. I almost immediately begin analyzing the interactions for malice, or looking for devious intentions.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Beef with eHarmony

I am sorry if this whole post comes across as bitter. I am enjoying the process of eHarmony for what it is worth, but there are some very glaring problems I see with this way of dating.

So, I've been subscribed to eHarmony for about 6 months; I signed up after my previous relationship ended, and I was looking for a way to alleviate the loneliness I was feeling at the time. I admit, it was probably not the best thing for me to do at that moment, but I was looking for a way to ease my way back into the scene and it seemed like a great way to meet people. So one late night (probably after a few beers) I took the personality test, and figured what the hell, let me sign up for a year and see what happens.

Let me say up front that eHarmony is not a great way to meet people. I have had various degrees of success with the model. I dated someone seriously during some of my tenure, I have sent numerous message requests, gone through the hand holding "guided communication" and had entire email conversations with people that eventually evaporate. There are artificial barriers up all over the place that actually prevent potential matches from communicating with each other, rather than getting people together. My main gripe is that by the time two people jump through all the hoops and stages of communication, reading reports on their personality, and speaking in messages, there is very little left to talk about between the two people; all the potential small talk has been smothered out of the equation. It is almost like I saw how the sausage was made before actually trying it.

One thing that differentiates eHarmony from other dating websites is the 29 dimensions of compatibility system that you are matched with other people. The matching system sends you several people per day that the system has matched you up with based on the personality profile you completed. After about 6 months, at a rate of ~6 matches a day, I now am matched with 340 women. I looked at that number one day, and thought "Wow this is depressing. There are 340 people that either I don't find particularly interesting or attractive, or they don't feel that way about me; either I am being way too picky, or there is something really putting off about my profile." I think self consciousness always sets in before rational thought, but now that I think about it, I am pretty sure the matching system isn't as good as they advertise.

When you set up your profile, you can setup a profile of likes/dislikes as well called "Something to Talk About." These are things like, what sports do you follow, what kind of music do you like, are you a dog/cat person etc. This profile is just the little goofy things that everyone likes/dislikes; It resembles a mini profile of you. What bothers me is that the system will match me with someone, and most of my matches will have zero or few matches in this mini profile. I would assume that if the system is matching me on 29 dimensions of my personality, almost every profile would have at least some of these little things line up as well.

The website also makes you choose your "Must Haves/Can't Stands" so that you can communicate to people you are matched with the things that you are unwilling to compromise with. I like this idea in theory, but I come across people that I start communicating with and as soon as I read their list and compare it with mine, I wonder why I was matched up with this other person in the first place. Is the model wrong? Is the model comparing or measuring the wrong things?

In fact, every other profile starts to look like a cookie cutter of the last one after a while. After looking at all the profiles I have seen, I can predict what the next girls are going to say: I love my friends and family, I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had in my life, and I want to meet someone who I can laugh with. It is starting to sound like these girls are writing to Santa. I think it has to do with the personality test that they give everyone to begin. You answer about a half hour's worth of questions and almost feel sedated at the end of it, so by then you brain can't really produce anything unique or expressive about who you are. Ok, maybe there is some hyperbole in there, but there also may be a kernel of truth.

There are some things that the website does pretty well. It is great at being a non-threatening place where singles can let a computer program take some of the burden off their shoulders in terms of looking for a date; however getting you in contact with another person is not one of those things that it does all that well. In fact I would argue that it does the opposite. I don't think that eHarmony has a real incentive to match people up with each other. They are a business after all. One of their motivations must be to make money at some point in the process. After 6 months in the system, it feels more like a trap than a place where I am supposed to be meeting others. Here are a few reasons why:

1) The system finds people for you, rather that letting you search out and filter people based on what you are looking for. This seems counter-intuitive to me.

2) The system delivers you a few new matches at a time, which keeps you coming back to the website every day, or at least frequently. It also delivers new people to you even though you may be getting to know someone, which could make you think the grass is greener somewhere if your current match starts to lose his sparkle.

3) The guided communication is actually a barrier to communication. It is fun the first few times to send lists with checkboxes back and forth the first few times. After you have been through it enough though, it get very tedious and starts to feel like jumping through hoops.

4) It is expensive. It can be argued that the cost of the service keeps it for people who are serious about finding a relationship, and keeps the lurkers out. I think that is very true, but it does cost much more than other services.

I would argue that the website has an incentive to keep you coming back to the website, impede the communication between people, and not allow you to browse and search the other people in the database, simply because it keeps you subscribed to the service and paying a monthly fee. Neil Clark Warren aint cheap.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Did Cataclysm shoot itself in the foot?

My spider sense is tingling lately about this expansion so far, and it boils down to the spectrum of difficulty in all of the content. It's not that the content is really hard, but that a LOT of the content is hard, and there is not much that one can coast and have some mindless fun.

My hat goes off to Blizzard. They did everything they said they would. There are no face roll player rotations anymore, heroic dungeons require a lot of attention (at least on the first few times through), raids are tuned and balanced (with some glaring exceptions on 10man) and the world and the stories are told where every zone is a nice complete package.

I was very excited going into this expansion. Things are going to be difficult again, things are going to be challenging I told myself. 10man and 25man are going to be equal progression paths, and I can lead a 10man with much less headache than I led our 25man in ICC. It's going to be great! I won't be a stressed wreck raid leader, and I am going to have a lot of fun!

While I am having fun with the raiders that I play with, I am already tired out by the raiding content. I am tired out given I am continuously recruiting replacements for raiders that flake. I am tired out by hotfixes and changes to classes and encounters that need to be relearned regularly. I am tired out by my complex rotation that I have to theorycraft and change when patches hit (I'm looking at you Holy Power CS/HOTR fuckery); compounding the problem is learning my new game pad which I specifically bought to combat the lack of real estate for all the new goddamn buttons that I have to push not just for my main spec, but for my offspec and my shaman's main and offspec. I'm tired of feeling like an inadequate raid leader when other guilds progress faster than we do, and I am tired of letting down my raiders when I fail.

So what changed? Why does this, the introductory tier of raiding, feel insurmountable? I think is has to do with the spectrum of difficulty in comparison to previous introductory tiers. In Vanilla and TBC, there was a LONG "training" you had to go through (leveling up) to get into dungeons and raiding and it was learned ad-hoc based on who you happened to come across in the "Looking for Group" chat. You have new abilities to learn and integrate, but the learning curve was pretty slow. I remember it taking months before I could call myself ready to step into a Karazhan.

Wrath took a little quicker pace. The leveling time was quicker than TBC, everyone got shiny new toys, learned how to use them and then jumped into raids. Rotations were more complex than TBC, but that was buffered by the ease of the first tier or raiding. A player could learn and hone their skills in an actual raid environment while getting that sense of fun and achievement.

I think where the breakdown for me is that Cataclysm is challenging for me on all fronts. Everyone got shiny new toys, and we got shot up the express lane to 85, reducing the time to acclimate to all the new hotness. Raiding has become juggling a 5+ button rotation/priority system, while managing your resources, while paying attention to boss mechanics and moving out of the bad. It is not that those things individually are terribly difficult, but doing them all at the same time is exhausting, not to mention the addictive nature of content progression "Oh grats everyone we killed that boss, now we learn the next boss".

I'm not sure what this means for the game as a whole. I'm not sure this translates to fun for the average player. If I am frustrated right now, I am not sure what this means for people that used to faceroll to loot.

I am having fun playing with my friends. I'm not sure I am having more fun raiding.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Failures of a Raid Leader

We pulled heroic Atramedes last night and failed. I think everyone was on top of their game and we did all we could, but at the end of the night my John Madden strategy just wasn't good. We all decided to stack the raid and move between two points to avoid sound discs. The problem with this was that if we were on the move avoiding discs and Atramades picked someone for Sonic Breath, that person had literally nowhere to go and either they died or the raid died. We even tried giving that person a speed boost and run it to safety, but even that did not work.

It really sucks to see something you thought about so hard literally go up in flames. I thought about it very hard, drew it up on a white board, heck I even put it up on Youtube for all my raiders to see. We all checked it out and thought it would lead us to victory. It also sucks when we tweak the bad strat and not get through the fight at all.

I felt really low at the end of last night. I felt like a failure, not only as a person, but as a leader. I didn't want to play this game ever again. I let myself down, and I let the people I play with down and wasted everyone's night. Nobody likes to fail. It stings even more to see other guilds downing content and bragging about how easy it is, when we struggle and have nights full of wiping. It's depressing how bad I feel right now because I feel like I wasted everyone's time.

Raiding is really starting to burn me out. I am taking way too much responsibility on my shoulders, and it the needle is getting dangerously close to the work spectrum of this game. Making raid strategies is really fun, and it is satisfying to see them work, and it grinds everyone's gears to fail repeatedly doing the wrong thing. I guess this is the part that frustrates all of us the most.

It's also fucking annoying when your 2nd in command yells at everyone about not fucking up, and the proceeds to wiping the raid with Sonic Breath. Good Job Burble.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life and Love

This is probably the first time in my life where I don't have any interest in a relationship, and I am okay with that. I've loved, been loved, hurt lovers, been hurt, played the game, been played, been patient, been hasty, thought about children, thought about 5 years from now, thought about moving, rearranged my life for someone, considered changing who I am for someone, laughed, cried, given rings, had them thrown back at me, broken peoples trust, had my trust broken, had one night stands, had relationships not reach first base, had soul fulfilling great sex, had sex for the sake of fucking, had bad sex, had dry spells, been jealous, been not jealous when I should have been, been reckless, been needy, worn my heart on my sleeve, pretended like everything was okay, been naive, overlooked people's faults, been too critical, clammed up, held a grudge, felt rejected, been in a position of power, escaped, lied, been lied to, felt lied to, listened, not listened, not cared, had adventures, had unexpected adventures, cared for someone else more than myself, carried the weight, been a burden, been obsessed, been infatuated, and it seems like it was all for naught.

Would I do it all again? I am not sure. Would I have done things differently? Probably. Has it left me a better person? I don't think so, but I don't think I am any worse. Do I wish I still had love in my life? You betcha. Am I optimistic? Romantically yes, practically no. People get into new relationships because their previous or current ones suck.