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It seems to me that nothing ever meets expectations, not a hundred percent, and when you combine those expectations with a community .. things go from one extreme to another. In the end though things need to be looked at as opften as possible from as many different states of mind as can be done.

For example on my first trip to Egypt I was hearding 70 tourists around .. and at least a third of them were a pain in the backside, and when we finally came to the Pyramids of Giza I took a look and my mental reaction was “oh, yeh pyramids .. why did I come here again?”, which may sound laughable considering the Pyramids are a higlight of many peoples trip to Egypt. Anyway three weeks later having sent the group home and then spent time touring Libya (which was fantastic by the way.. visit it now before huge numbers of tourists take away its charm) I was back in Egypt, and with one of my local Guides decided to go out and see the Pyramids again. My reaction the second time around was nothing like the first .. I was floored by the immensity of the constructs, the scale of the operation that would have been required to build it and I was filled with all around awe. I have seen the Pyramids several times since, and for the most part the second feeling is what I come across the most in myself when I am there.

Why though? Well the first time I was there like any traveller I had built up expectations, as well as the fact I was with a group of matyrs that were refusing to enjoy themselves. I’ve been with groups wich have travellers since that many of the group find disturbing but I have since myself learn’t to deal with these sour travellers as best I can … even to the point where I can innoculate the rest of the group in part from them. The fact is though my state of mind between the first and second visits were hgely different, and subsequent visits have brought a familiarity of awe that while it persists isn’t as high as the second visit.

Expectations, Reality, State of Mind and Familiarity. These four things can be applied to almost anything. The first time I went to read David Brin I thought he was a hack, but a few months later in a different frame of mind I not only enjoyed his book but burned my way through eight of them in a two week period. Warcraft has an upcoming expansion, at first i was all hyped “ooh new expansion”, then announced changed came out and I felt like they were taking away my favourite toys .. I expect a month or two into the expansion I’ll be enjoying it and my doubts and fears will be gone.

This is probably better seen in movies, for instance you may have loved “The Never Ending Story” as a Kid, hell I know I did. Watching it again decades on and you wonder what it was that held you enthralled. As I said Expectations, Reality, State of Mind and Familiarity.

So if you are off to see or do something new try to keep your mind open and enjoy the experience for what it is rather than what you had hoped. If you are off to revisit something you haven’t seen or done in a while do the same and hopefully in either event you will enjoy yourself more.

So Blizzard have released their “Raid Ethos” overview for Cataclysm .. and while I am still in the virtual picket encampment outside their offices over the terrible things they are doing to my beloved Restoration spec.. I do like what I am seeing. Namley that 10 mans will be equitable with 25 mans for the upcoming expansion. Check out the full post here

From my biased point of view I like what they have been saying, but there are ups & downs.

Pro’s:

  • 10 Man raiders will finally stopped being punished for not raiding 25’s – Also means (time permitting) that it should be easier for us to run several groups
  • Means that smaller guilds will still be able to compete with larger guilds

Con’s:

  • Means we need to make a weekly choice between 10’s and 25’s. We couldn’t for example clear a run with 10 then say on an unusually busy night “oh lets go do a 25”
  • Will mean our pool for “progression runs” will be even more broken if anyone decides since they didnt down the first x number of bosses last night so they pugged, which is the same problem we faced in TBC
  • May also mean a slow death for 25’s when people decide that it is just all to much effort for 1 or 2 extra pieces of loot a week

Unsure:

  • Of the fact that they dont want the intro raids to overshadow quest & heroic gear/highlights (I will come back to this)
  • Gating. Yes it means content is streached out. For a bottom rung raider like me .. who cares. But it does extend the top end who might be able to get it done quicker. I don’t see why one play style should be cramped to accommodate another.
  • Smaller multiple raids vs longer involved raids (again I will come back to this)

I like the idea of equal loot mostly because it will allow players to play the type of dungeon they enjoy without feeling penalised for it. But having 10 man & 25 man share a raid lockout is not in the best interest of small, casual or social guilds either.

Smaller or Casual guilds often require that their members be available for one type (10 or 25) and that barring that selection they are free to pug whatever they want. With those guilds they often have more playeyrs then spots but the players don’t mind missing a week in 10 or 25 because they know tey can pug the other.

In a situation where it comes back to don’t pug at all .. I think that we will see more problems erupt in smaller guilds or casual guilds then you did at any time during Wrath, I forsee rampant Guild breakdowns and poaching like was seen at the end of TBC because by being withheld from the main guilds run one week or two in a row will become a much much bigger deal than it is currently.

With Wrath guilds can still progress and players not in a progression run can still hold themselves in reserve for the team/guild without being unable to raid at all that week .. from what I am hearing Cataclysm will change that, and I don’t think its for the better, at least with what I know so far.

Smaller multiple raids vs longer involved raids

To Quote Blizzard: ” We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week. “

On this topic I am torn, and it will of course be determined on how things turn out. For example .. say we head into a short run, its over and done with quickly. 4 or 5 bosses feels more like an instance than a raid and any raid with only 1 boss always feels a bit like a pinyata prize party. So shorter raids, even if there are multiple raids .. feels less like an epic experience than it does an easy way out to make things easier on all involved. But personally I enjoy the longer Raids, even the longer instances for that matter. To this day my Favourite all time instance is Blackrock Depths, it was truly an epic experience .. now granted I wouldn’t want to run it as a daily random everyday BUT as a dungeon it is still one of my favourites and the same holds true for longer raids like Kara & Ulduar.

In Wrath they gave us a great tool for longer raids – the ability to extend dungeon lockouts. Blizzard gave us a way to extend raids and our progression through them. You could extend it week after week so long as you killed at least 1 boss in the intervening week. Great Idea for longer raids. Then, I think it was one patch later, they introduced Raid Weeklies. Considering the bosses to kill for these were usually the first or 2nd boss .. and you would never know what was coming, made it a worry to extend raid lockouts .. BUT it didn’t make it impossible since you had options between 10 & 25 man. Having said that should they keep “raid weeklies” this will make it easier with short dungeons then longer ones as you should be able to clear 4-6 bosses far more quickly than 11 or getting to a situation like “aww crap its gonna be Marrowgar .. and we had extended our run last week at Sindragosa”

I hope that Blizzard makes a decent mix between Epic and “Time Constrained” (TC) dungeons and raids so that everyone can be kept happy. While Blackrock Depths is great (and something like I would love to see implemented again) I would rather do Utgarde Keep as a quick dungeon before I go to work as my daily. Wrath has had a fair balance of Epic vs TC raids – you have the longer Naxxrammas, Ulduar and Icecrown and 5 shorter raids. Its dungeons like all those from TBC though are all TC friendly with no really epic feeling dungeons. When you invade a keep or dungeon filled with multiple bosses and sprawling labrynths it feels like the adventure you immersed yourself in to play .. you are the hero with his band of caompanions taking on all the odds. On the other hand I don’t get that feeling when I do Onyxias Lair, Gruul’s, Eye of Eternity or Trial of the Crusader – they hold nothing to give me that “epic feeling”. Lets hope that Cataclysm can balance out the two

Of the fact that they dont want the intro raids to overshadow quest & heroic gear/highlights

Blizzard Quote: “In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don’t want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We’ll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience. ”

As a player that loves to follow each and every questline I heartily approve of the fact that they want people to enjoy this experience and to see a decent reward from a leangthy or challenging questline. But the fact is not everyone agrees with me. Some people just like to get to the top and then max themselves out – like those who laugh at people who do older raids (ie Classic or TBC) because it is no longer top content. Having a clear structure of gearing Such as Raids > Dungeons > Quest (on average) allows those who are not interested in everything else to simply shoot up to what they are after.

Still even if we disregard how people like to level or gear .. Raids should promote better gear and they should overshadow heroics and quest rewards. Because as fun as 5 mans and quests are they can be done at your liesure whenever you want, where raids require at least a minimal amount of concerted effort, a greater challenge overall than what quests or heroics provide, and simply more people. If people are already ignoring stuff now because its rewards are not as great as the raids they can do what will happen when the raids they can do are not as good as a quest or dungeon upgrade?

We have a paladin tank in our guild, hes been with us for quite some time, hes friendly and otherwise harmless. WE know that when we do a run with him we are in for some pain because despte repeated attempts he doesnt seem to quite grasp what he is supposed to do. Then again he is a mentally handicapped person and even the simplest of things become problems … for example after 40 minutes of us trying to get him out of ungoro through talking someone ended up having to fly down and escort him out. Thats the sort of person he is.

Now some obnoxious prick from another server got him in his random daily .. yeh painful run ensues and in the end our pally rage drops and leaves them. Then Mr Prick has the nerve to come to my server to create a new toon to rant at me about our pally and then delete his toon before I can respond (mailed rant btw) and he doesn’t give his name.

having seen the behaviour of pugs for the last 4 years I can imagine that they didn’t try to be helpful at all as he puts it but rather blasted the poor pally for every loose mob until the pally in sheer frustration quit.My problem his is not that it all occured .. but that Mr Obnoxious Prick didn’t even leave me a way to respond to his accusations and left of saying I was a bad GM, My Guild Was Full of Assholes and that none of us can play for crap.

Well I don’t know who Mr Obnoxios Prick is … but he can go screw himself. I know that at least the Pally involved would have had the balls to say who he was .. no matter the situation. As it is I have no recourse but to simply ignore the matter because the Pally can’t recall when he last logged on let alone who he ran with in a dungeon, and Mr Obnoxios Prick didn’t leave me with anyway to address him over his concerns.

So for those of you out there who wan’t to whine and whinge about other peoples playing ability get a backbone, do so in a way you can be responded to  … or be deemed as irrelevant trash talkers who can’t see past their own self epeen.

As someone who has made connections with people world wide due to my love of travel I have become more aware of the world around me, more tolerant of other cultures and in general (I think) a better person for it. Even if I still do poke fun at them.

Today a friend brought to my attention the “Playing For Change” which brings people together world wide through music, and  the resulting “Playing For Change Foundation” which helps people in varied areas to acheive something they love, which normally may not have been acheivable. While this may not be new, it is the first time I have stumbled across it .. and I approve.

Some of the companies I work with in places like India and Vietnam have close relationships with local orphanages where they help to try and improve the futures of the young children – and the truth is it is amazing how some things can help so much. “Playing for Change”  has a similar vision of helping out those who are less fortunate and I think it may be something worth while everyone at least looking at in one form or another. Whether or not you like “Playing For Change” I would encourage anyoen to become involved with an organisation that helps improve the lives of those less able .. whether it is something local like Lions Club, or larger and more international.

Remember life is full of good intentions, but it is one act of kindness that will get you started.

When something goes wrong everyone wants an immediate fix, and sadly this is not always possible. Last week we saw an eruption of a volcanoe in Iceland that sent an ashcloud up large enough to stop flights accross Europe. In the following several days many eastern ports started opening but until today London and Paris, two of Europes largest airports, have remain closed to flights.

To all those stuck, please be patient, and if possible try and enjoy your extended stay .. the local offices of airlines are doing what they can to help. As the airports open they will slot passengers on the first flights they can, and some airlines are even looking at trying to get extra planes over to Europe to help get the stranded home. To those airlines that are doing all they can you have our thanks.

Also if you are stuck in Paris or London .. this is why you have taken out travel insurance. In most cases your Insurer will cover you for extra accommodation, travel and meal expenses once you make the cliam. So make sure the airlines know how to contact you, make sure you check in with them daily, but otherwise get out an enjoy your extended vacation .. do some shopping or take time to see the sights you missed.

On the other hand things must be able to be better handled by the airlines. IF the passengers home port can’t deal with the changes because the office in London or Paris are making the minute by minute decisions then those offices must be contactable. If your clients can’t reach you via phone or physical visit it is not an acceptable level of customer service .. these are the times when it pays to have more than person at your customer service desk! Nothing is more reprehensible when you are stranded and nobody is there you can speak with to make sure  of whats going on.

To all those stranded I hope you reach home soon, and to those now departing on their voyages I hope that yours go smoothly!

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