Monday, January 21, 2013

Constant Criticism

My experience with each expansion in WoW has been very different, both because of the content involved and my own personal situation at the time.

In Burning Crusade, I fought my way solo as an unfavored Balance Druid, left out of everything because of my spec.  It was aggravating and dark, and I was so upset when I thought of dealing with another expansion that I quit WoW for a month when Wrath was announced.

In Wrath of the Lich King, I enjoyed the adventures, once I discovered the Nordic land of Howling Fjord.  This time, I was in a friendly guild (Tempest) and looking forward to reaching raiding status.  My BC raiding gear was not immediately replaced--some didn't need to be replaced until we started our first raids--and I found myself never in want of a group when I desired one.

Cataclysm . . . well, . . . I was back to grinding.  At least, that's what the content felt like to me.  (Ho, hum, here we go again, complicated by the fact I had to end-game grind to get pre-raiding gear.)  What made it worse was the nerfing of the Druid healing class, which again made me less popular.  The instance queues meant people couldn't just deny me groups based on my class, as in BC, but I frequently found myself exasperated and annoyed, feeling as if I were fighting against my class.  (Only my experience and skill managed to carry me through some of those situations, often to the great surprise of the others in the group, who grumbled they were dealt a Druid.)  I recognized fairly quickly I was not having fun and determined it would be my last expansion.

For all intents and purposes, it still is.

Although I will not be able to comment on raiding in Mists, I can say something about my limited leveling experience so far.

Does the criticism ever stop??!

From the moment Anachan stepped on Pandaria, she's been bombarded with messages of how awful the war is between the Alliance and the Horde.  OK, war is bad.  I get that.  But do I have to have almost every single Pandaren tell me that I am awful, that I have dark things in my heart, and that life was much better for them without me?  Who made them so superior that they can look down their furry noses at a situation they do not completely understand, despite their self-perceived omniscience?

Years ago, when computers were XT clones and everyone typed out DOS commands, I made a little program for my computer which ran upon start-up.  It asked me how I was doing and allowed me to select a choice.  Depending on my choice, it chose from a limited random selection of phrases to respond, some of which were a little sarcastic or snarky.  Well, I learned pretty quickly that having a computer be snarky to me was just about as hurtful as having a person be snarky to me.  Those phrases were reprogrammed in short order.

So here I am, running around a beautiful land, full of myriad color and wild monkeys, and every time I turn around, a computer is trying to verbally beat down my mood by picking away at my inner character, so to speak.  If I wouldn't want people treating me that way in real life, why would I choose to take my scarce and valuable free time and let pixel pandas do the same thing?

And worse, I cannot answer back.

A redeeming aspect about conversations in Star Wars The Old Republic is that you can answer back.  If someone tells you that you have brought darkness into his life, you can choose to respond, "I'm sorry, Master," or "Sir, there is information about this you do not know," or "Who died and made you the boss of me?"  Your response may even change the nature of your assigned quest.  (Whether you will be killing your target, for instance, or bringing him in captive.)  In WoW, all you can do is meekly listen (or grumble under your breath) and go do whatever quest they send you on.  (Or skip it completely, which, given the chained nature of many WoW quests these days, may make life very difficult.)

I still love the people in my guild, and there is a part of me which would love to return and raid.  (Even though I know that, with my current familial and professional responsibilities, it is an impossible dream . . .)  But WoW, itself, no longer holds the story line fascination for me to scratch out from my meager finances $15 ($16 with taxes) a month to be looked down upon and lectured.

Anachan explored the beginning area of Pandaria, earning enough xp to be level 86, if the game would have let her do that on "free trial" status (which it doesn't.)  She sent the stacks of fish and herbs she just couldn't keep herself from gathering to her guild.  (Believe it or not, I actually miss fishing.)  And when the last night of the trial came, she bid a sad farewell to those old friends who were on-line, donned once more her sentimental T-8, complete with Val'anyr, and teleported to the Moonglade to return to her interrupted sleep in the Emerald Dream.

To those who are interested, I have updated my Vuhdo guide with appropriate screenshots and spell updates, as far as I could tell them.  Good luck to all Restoration Druids in your healing endeavors!  Show everyone that, despite all the efforts of Blizzard to make it otherwise, it's still the best class in the game!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stumbling Around

Monday evening, I logged on Anachan to begin my Vuhdo investigations.  Standing in Stormwind, I checked out the configuration interface and clicked my keybinds to ensure the countdowns were showing properly.  It seems amazing I would still remember most of my keybinds, after a 15-month break, but then again, I was using the same keybinds for over 3 years before that . . .

Amazingly enough, I discovered the basics are still pretty similar!  There are some configuration differences, which I will explore, but by and large, nothing overly drastic has happened to the configuration interface. (At least I can still recognize it.) So updating my Vuhdo guide may prove to be less of a task than I feared.

For the giggles, I went ahead and started Anachan on her adventure toward Pandaria.  Upon arrival, fighting Horde mobs, I realized something was definitely wrong:  Starfire was not on my action bar.  This was only a problem because the Horde kept Nature locking me, and the only Balance spell I could find was Moonfire.  Much as I enjoy Moonfire spam in battlegrounds, it's rather counterproductive to just Moonfire the same mob over and over.

My 14-yr-old, pointing at the ability icon, said, "Click this."  I did and after a bit of hurried reading, discovered that I wasn't imagining things:  Starfire was not available to a Resto druid.

With a sigh, I decided I'd better read all five pages of abilities, rearranging my action bars a bit in the process to better display things.  A quick look at Lissanna's guide helped me chose some talents I thought might be useful.

This research process was hampered by the fact that I was still standing in the path of oncoming Horde mobs.  With half of my brain, I was fighting the Horde mobs, which appeared in one's and two's in fairly rapid succession, while with the other half, I was trying to analyze the changes made in the last year or so to the Druid class, changes I had only kept half an eye on and so hadn't remembered terribly well.  It got to be absolutely laughable after a while, reminding me of "The Court Jester", where Danny Kaye's character fences with Basil Rathbone while first pouring and then drinking a goblet of wine.

I thought about moving to stand next to the questgiver--most likely a safe location--but then chuckled.  After all, despite the aggravation, I was gaining brainless xp . . .

At any rate, I think I now know what I can and cannot do as a Resto druid, and I'm ready to jump in again, tackle some more stuff, and explore the new or remade options on Vuhdo.  Should be fun!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Quick Update

Not too terribly long ago, Blizzard sent me an invitation to come check out the Panderia expansion for 10 days for free.

Now, checking out the pandas, themselves, is not something I need to do because, well, I have already done it.  I made a free-to-play-to-level-20 account and created a Pandaran Priest, just to see the starting lands.  It didn't take 20 levels before the character was merged completely with the Alliance or the Horde (did both, so I could see what happened) and therefore ripe for deletion.

So if the only attraction was the pandas, there really wasn't any attraction.

But with all the people who come to this blog for information on the Vuhdo addon (yes, I keep up with the statistics on this blog), I really felt tempted to accept this invitation, install the latest Vuhdo version, log in, see what major changes have happened, and see if I need to update anything on my little guide.

After a lot of thought, I decided to do it.  So this week, I'll be waking up Anachan for the first time in over 14 months, ready to see what has happened to Vuhdo in my absence.

If I'm lucky, not much will have changed, and I'll be able to just tweak things here and there in my guide.  If I'm not so lucky, the interface will look completely different, and I'll be spending hours staring at my screen, trying to figure out what is going on.

As Anachan has never been removed from Tempest guild, I'm mildly curious to see what will happen (if anything) when I log on . . . Given the turnover typical of most raiding guilds, I know there are really only a few people remaining who remember me, so I don't expect much.