Sunday, October 21, 2012

FunCom Extra Life Campaign final results

Well folks, first and foremost, hats off to my wife Laura Roberts who worked 27 hours straight through on AoC to raise funds for the Extra Life 2012 campaign for children's hospitals charity. During that time she was able to raise $135 towards helping out with the Charity. This was great work and showed a lot of mental toughness and stamina to pull through the whole way. Originally it was supposed to be 24 hours but she got an early start so went the distance for 27 hours to make it to the finish line. Outstanding work from one of The Ghost Wolves!

Over all, participants from all FunCom games were a total of 211 people with the highest donation of over $460 USD. Total amount raised as of this time was well over $5,000. They were making a goal of $10,000 so maybe next year more will join in. The announcement came  a bit a go on The Voice of Crom for AoC players. With such short notice I think it was still a success and still helps some youngsters out. Perhaps next year we will see more activity on this subject.

This still speaks well of many community members who actually care about things beyond their own selfish concerns and it's a proud day to see any success. It is my hope that continued efforts will help band folks together for next year and the years to come.

Be looking for us next year, perhaps we will try to get more of our Ghostwolves involved into it and help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Extra Life 2012 Charity Drive for AoC

Hey folks,

Alot has been happening in the Ghostwolves. We have progressed throug all of W2 BRC and working on W3. Our raiding has been pretty constant so I've been busy as hell as a guild leader, sorry for the lack of posts. I will be discussing Patch 3.4 and my thoughts on the Bear Shaman which I have been very pleased with on the PvE side.

But on to my real topic here. Recently, my wife Laura who is also my co guild leader signed up for a charity game play marathon of 24 hours straight. This was to help obtain money for some children's hospitals across the nation. She is currently on hour 4 of 24 hours and we at the Ghostwolves are rooting for her success. I think it's important for the community to give back to others in need when possible, especially when it is for children in dire need of medical assistance. If you feel you would like to send a small donation (even $1.00 USD) to this worthy cause, know it is for youngsters who's family cannot always afford the medical care they need. Please support if you feel inclined, or even give a shout out in game to Pantherias of The Ghostwolves to keep her motivated to make it all the way through the entire 24 hours. Moral support if not monetary is a huge thing today and brings further awareness of what we are trying to help with. Thanks all!

Donations can be sent to the following link:

oh, make sure when you hit Donate button to search for Laura Roberts, that will take you to her donate point and you can send in whatever amount you desire!

Happy hunting out there in Hyboria especially with your seasonal quests!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

3.3.8 Patch ToS revamp, Sprint Revamp and known issues

First the ToS (Tempest of Set) Revamp:

Some of our long time guild members that are big into the ToS started doing some number crunching to see if the General tree was even necessary to deal with. The changes on the main tree weren't that significant but it did take a little tweaking. Our main ToS had to do some experimenting on builds, but he is now ranging back up into 1800 DPS without having to deal with the general tree. There are still mana issues across the healing board since the patch. It's significant enough that all healers and possibly spell casters need to take a look at their feat trees. Our ToS has been able to hold spell weave indefinitely with his current build post patch.  He still has to watch his mana a little bit but over all pretty decent parses have been achieved.

The Sprint Revamp:
 Got to say I love how this has worked. I notice a bit higher usage of my stamina when dealing with melee in raids though. It's not so much as to be unmanageable, but still it needs a little more watching. Now, FC say all swift mounts have been equalized, but I disagree. After testing with one of my guild mates; he on a Tiger, me on my Hyrkanian Horse....he still outstrips me in speed. Not sure how this works but I'm still not buying into the speed equalization of the mounts as yet. It's still nice though to be able to sprint much longer distances without worrying about combo stam issues. For that I'm pretty thankful.

Known issues to date:

Well, the patch overall was fairly smooth. BUT! there are some standing issues in game that have made serious play very difficult:

- Rubber banding and mini lag spikes in open world. Irritating but not game breaking. Still, combos are being missed or skipped. Makes it more of an annoyance.

- Lag spikes in Raids/instances: This is still infuriating. Patience has been our watchword, but it can be very very annoying. This has slowed out timing in combat seriously and has made it so when we should have won a fight, we lost it due to raid wide lag. It has also kicked some people out of the game.

- Adds bugged in W2: This was specific to our guild and not necessarily Server wide, but on 3 attempts at Suruah, 1 dusk fiend per run was bugged and would not die. Not a game breaker as it was frozen, but still an issue. Incubus/Succubus also had an odd bug. They wouldn't walk to each other on the regular proc. Instead at random interval, Inccy would literally RUN to Succi so it was a crazy race to get him back into his side of the room. Didn't break the encounter as we thought fast on our feet, but it was very annoying.

- Trade house not sending bought items. Now THIS is a real pisser. It is a server wide issue so be warned till a hotfix comes into play. Players attempting to collect items they bought from the Trader are not showing up in their mail at all. I think this is a by product of the game mail system changes that were put into effect so that if you mailed someone an item, it doesn't leave your inventory till they pick it up. Anyways, on one of my lowbie toons, I spent 6 gold for upgrades and have yet to see either the items or money returned. I dropped my Stonerune UI to see if that would change it and nope, it does not. GM said to repetition in a few hours if the items do not show up.

If you see any further issues you might want to add in, please post here. I's like to make a collection to send it up to FC to see what they can do about it.

Anyways, even with the issues which will prolly get fixed in the next week or so, I hope to see ya all out in Hyboria, slashing and hacking your way to glory!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Big Picture

A view from the Top.
I've been crazy busy of late. RL has kept me hoppin and poppin all over. The guild has seen some ebb and flow. Late summer as always seems to be a really slow time for guilds and activity in AoC. But fall is coming soon and hopefully we will see some of our vacationers return. Recently as most know in the game, Wiccana and Set servers have merged. This is supposed to be the first step in cross server tech, though I'm thinking FunCom will prolly just keep it as it is. However, this was a boon for the PvE community as far as increased activity. There have been numerous transfers from the PvP server over to Set as well. Most I see do a lot of trolling and then pouncing on unsuspecting casual PvPers but that is life on the battle field. I figure if you do go into the minis or take your chances at pounding rocks, well....that is the risk you have to deal with. I have noticed though that there has been an influx of Tyranny transfers that are really good folk. They have been helpful and fun to play with. So...not too bad of a deal I'm thinking.

The Sprint revamp and ToS revamp are both on live. So far I don't hear too many complaints about it. There have been a few issues though. Last night while running W2 BRC, 3 of our members all of a sudden had their Feat trees completely drop as we zoned in. Talk about a heart attack! Good thing we caught it before the mayhem ensued. It was only caught when a couple people noticed specific skills were missing on their hot bars. Anyway, I do enjoy the sprint and dash capabilities. It works pretty decent. ToS folks are still tweaking their builds and figuring out how much the changes really affected the class. The reviews are mixed at this point but I haven't noticed too many serious bad commentary on them. Given time, much like the PoM revamp they will get used to the new system and then drive on.

The troubles I have seen bug wise so far has been mini lag spikes from hell. We were able to compensate for them during raid, but the server side performance really sucked. FC did a hot patch yesterday to fix the issue, but it still remains laggy in raids and instances. Rubber banding still is occurring as well. This seems to happen with every major patch so hopefully it goes away in a week or 2.

Ahazu down, Awesome Teamwork!
Ahazu went down pretty nice after the fourth try for us. I think we got the mechanics hammered down for good now. Took a couple rounds, but we got him finished before 1 circuit of the halls were made. One thing that helped was having 2 guards on Stinky trading aggro. This made it much easier for the heal team to keep our tanks full up. The other thing that we finally tweaked was once the adds popped, the MT team used only irritates till the adds peeled completely off. It took a little patience but I think the strat is now perfected for us and shouldn't hit us up with show stoppers in the future. Incci/Succi went down fairly easy this round with minimal hassle or issue. Our next big project is Saruah. Hopefully we won't spend too many weeks on her.

The Trade house in all of its glory!
The guild city now has every building with the exception of the Tavern at T3. This was a long endeavor but well worth the effort. We are now working on the walls, towers and gates. Then...we are finished!The efforts were awesome by everyone and it's a damned proud sight to see. Friendships have been built, teamwork continues to grow. Over all...what a journey so far. Anyways, just some thoughts from me to all those that still read here. Sorry I haven't posted much but I'll tell ya, runnin a guild, a real life and a family aint easy, but the rewards are always fun!

The New Temple

Till next time, I'll see ya on the high ground!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What the Hell, Why dont he write???

Hi all, it's been a hot minute since I last posted. Honestly, I've been too busy both in and out of game. The guild has still been looking for a few more members for our raid force and we contiune to work on out T2 raids. We have downed Ahazu once, as well as Innci/Succi. We are currently working on getting Ahazu down to farm status. New level 80s are joining into the ranks of our raid force, though a few have moved on which is expected. We are working on our last two T3 buildings and then finally the walls, towers and gates. We did get the T3 Temple up not too long ago and are working through the long haul of the Trade of the most time consuming end material intensive buildings out there. We have kept in the top three server renown guilds for almost 6 weeks straight now with a focus on Valor (well one week we goofed off and the crafters saved the day lol). But over all we have a lot of hard working folk that continue to progress in a steady fashion with over all a friendly attitude.

Anyways, I find myself working hard in game to keep our guild going and moving forward as well as juggling my real life responsibilities. This of course has affected my blogging lol, so my apologies there. But I continue to strive to build a guild that sticks together and works hard together for the love of the game.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Current 3.3.6 issues and a quick workaround

Since the last patch, I have still seen quite a few game play issues. I thought I would list the persistent ones here that still require more fixes. For the most part, the game is back in order since the last hotfix for 3.3.6 . I figure it's gonna be at least another patch before everything gets back to normal. In the meantime here are a couple of regular issues we are seeing crop up int he game:

Raid Crashes: So far, by and large the raid crashes have been limited to W1 and W2 of BRC. I personally haven't seen them, but at least three reports have come back to me on this issue. One thing I would advise here, is don't have the whole raid zone in at once. Get your team leaders to zone first to ensure they all appear in the same raid instiance. Then cycle in the rest of the crew. You may want to go team by team. ie: Team 1 go, team 2 go, team 3 go, team 4 go. This seems to have less impact on the zoning process.

Khitai 6 Mans: team goes into different instances. Again, since the Hot fix, I personally haven't experienced or observed this activity. I still see some reports of this though. The only thing I can think of here is to go outside the instance completely, disband, then reform under a different team lead.

Choppy Screen/FPS borked: Here, the FPS monitor seems to show normal within the capability of the graphics card used. HOWEVER, the actual movement is severely decreased and looks about 30-40 frames LESS FPS. I also notice that the load on my computer system all of a sudden does a huge influx of CPU usage, almost taking up 50% of the CPU usage block. I have seen this same report on several forum posters as well as in the Global chat. Its a bug that isn't consistent. My wife plays online with me all the time on her beat up laptop and doesn't seem to receive the hassle that I do. However, I found a fast way around this. I always play in windowed mode. I simply minimize my screen for a couple of seconds then it goes back to normal.

Windowed No Bordered bork: Some folks are still having issues with this. What happens is that after the load screen is done, a tiny little spot appears that is the game. It's as if the No bordered mode tries to almost completely minimize the game. I'm not sure, but I think someone mentioned Alt+F or something. I can't seem to find the post now which is really annoying. I'll try to update that one down the line.

Anyways, if any of you readers are still experiencing these issues. Please post here. No flaming, just time of incident, location, and server. I am going to compile a list over the next couple of days and see if I can't push another set out for hot patching from the game team. I by no means think that I have any sort of pull. But the more information we can provide the better.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Annual Survey results and June Development Letter

Well if this ain't just an interesting set of results. First and foremost, you can read the full breakdown HERE . I won't regurgitate the results for you. I will let you as the reader interpret the results. Instead, I will offer my opinions on where I think the game is going.

PvE: We will probably see more solo instances and dynamic solo instances being rolled out in the coming year. This isn't a bad deal. It offers interesting things to do for players who enjoy solo content. More 6 mans and 6 man hard modes will additionally be rolled out. We may see less and less of the full on raid content. This will of course allow smaller guilds to see more action together with comparable rewards for their efforts. I don't see this as a bad deal, though I enjoy the big raids personally. There are plenty of main line raids at this point and really some of the epic gear being dropped from the 6 mans is comparable to a lot of the T2 gear, possibly T3.

The big revamp seems to be Onyx Chamber, with Sanctum and Black Rock Castle being 2nd and third.

What bothers me is the results for crafting. Especially since they have put such a huge focus on the crafting revamp for late this summer or early fall. I hope they still maintain a focus on it. If they half step, it really will be kinda a let down to me as I have been looking forward to the crafting revamp for quite some time. It is my hope they don't completely drop the ball on this.

Small things like player housing etc seem to have been low on the priority listing of the dedicated player base that answered the survey. Again, my own opinion is that player housing is a cool thing for the Immersion player/ RP play style.

Guild related stuff is also taking a backseat. I dunno about this, I think it is important to bring guild members together that allow everyone from different levels to participate in activities.

Class Balance: Well, HoX and Conq still rates last on the list for balance with other classes. Hopefully the dev's will rework the class to make it more viable and flexible. I'm a fan of the conq class. I hope they do more for the class a whole.

PvP: Mini games seem to still rate high on the list. I don't understand this as it's very rare for mini games to even pop. I don't think more of them will solve the issues of pvp content. As a matter of fact, I think it will be wasted resources. Interestingly, this is not at all what is reflected by the forums. Now, I grant, those posting there seem to be a very small but very vocal community, as is their right. What I gather from this is that the majority are probably PvE orientated players that want to see more minis pop. I don't think they understand that just because you have more fields, doesn't mean you will have more people participate. Sieges, which I thought would figure huge, seems to not play first fiddle here. There was a big indication that if the number of players were capped lower that more would participate. That is a possible fix, especially since the population of PvPers has dropped significantly over the past 3 years.

In a nutshell, what we see on the forums is largely different from what we see on this survey. Many are already calling the survey skewed but without us seeing the raw data, there is no way to judge it. We only get the final results. I have no way to judge the facts except what we see by the results. I will say I did take the full survey myself. For the record I personally voted for more open world pvp objectives, less minis, fix sieges, player housing, more dynamic solo instances, more 6 mans, revamp of crafting, and a strengthening of the Conq class over all.

Now, it appears their team will take the summer off, so I am wondering when the crafting revamp will be released. I don't expect to see another Adventure pack to open till close to December. While it seems a noble statement that they will take more time with AoC once the release of TSW is finished, I doubt it. On the technical end, I guarantee that they will need a ton of code support to deal with the inevitable bugs that will drop once the game goes live. Don't expect the support that they seem to project, that's just simple business and not them being callous.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on the whole subject. I am betting the forums to light up in a chaotic blaze any second now. Oh, for the next Xpac, check this image out:

 Now, I'm thinking we are heading back down to Stygia. Three Temples with a Eye of Set seems pretty obvious. The artwork kinda looks a little Mezo American which I thought interesting. But I'm guessing back to old Stygia. I never was fond of that sand blasted area, but it may prove to be interesting for awhile.

As an update, just got done with a quick tweet with Mr Morrison:

also is there a projected date before fall for revamp of crafting/sprint mechanic?
In terms of sprint that will depend on testing. Not going to rush it out. Crafting is still in progress

 That at least tells me crafting is a priority AND they are being smart about the sprint mechanic, not rushing it's release before more testing is facilitated. I'm ok with this.

Well, that's it for now. Guess the future will hold a lot of changes for us. Here is to drinking with fine friends, fighting and spilling blood of our enemies and having every bit of a righteous time as we can in Hyboria!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

3.3.6 is on Live, Future developments, Ghostwolf Building Progress

Ok all I can say is this is a huge bonus for getting raid gear on the Tier 1 and Tier 2 raids. 3.3.6 Patch comes out today. You can read all the details Here.
But the real prize is the following:

Raids / Group Encounters
Raid Tier 1
  • Yakhmar, Kyllikki and Vissitrix will now drop 1 guaranteed Simple Relic I each for all raid members when killed.

Black Ring Citadel
  • Yaremka, Sabazios, Seruah, Chatha and Leviathus will now drop 1 guaranteed Simple Relic II each for all raid members
    when killed.
 Why important? Well look, we constantly have alts that we want to push through raids and such. But also, of late, I am seeing an influx of beginning raiders come into the game. So this assists them in avoiding months of grinding for gear. Now, that won't do much for them SKILL wise, only time in the trenches does that. But, especially for young raiding guilds this helps them get their crews ready for that next level. I am VERY happy about that. See, do a T1 sweep once a week, pug or not and everyone is guaranteed to gain enough relics that in a month they have another piece to their sets. Furthermore, it's not sooo much that it becomes a total cake walk. I think the pace is just right and it brings new life back into the old raids. Yes, I expect some basic issues for about three days folks, but this patch is a boon to all of us young raiding guilds. Anyways I'm pretty stoked about it. It also means one more obstacle out of the way till the new crafting revamp.

In further news, the devs decided to listen to feedback from the TL players.  It's been put out that they will hold back the sprint revamp as they saw fundamental flaws in the system after extensive testing and feedback. While I know a lot of players really want this sprint mechanic to be released, FunCom did the right thing this past week and decided to hold back till they could properly fix the issues or scrap it. They are getting smart about avoiding bullshit new mechanics that could screw the entire system up. I would prefer that it get's scrapped now and then fixed than released into a mess.

T3 Barracks, can you spot the lil Ghostwolf pup?
Oh, for the Ghostwolves, we got our T3 Barracks up now and hit renown 11 this week. The guys and gals are hard at work there. Next project is the Alchemist shop, then the Temple and finally the Tradepost. Walls and Tavern will be placed last priority right now. Though we do of course have the ability to get the tavern to T2 upgrade level.

On the raiding scene, we are pretty comfortable with Wing 1 BRC, working on Wing two on Saturdays,  and have started to call out PUG T1 raids during the week to help our new raiders who want some action and of course help the server community. That's not an arrogant statement. The fact is, there are a lot of unguilded players or small guilds that don't have the raid capabilities to really host a raid. So, couple times during the week we hold 1 T1 raid a night. We get a few of our folks on that need gear as they are building their skills and reputation with us, see if any of our allies in The Walking Dead want in, then open the rest to Global and help those other players still working on their gear. I think this is actually a good policy for all guilds out there that can field enough to host a run. First, it's plain good PR. Yup, you as a guild build a reputation on being friendly and helpful to the rest of the server. Second, it helps your new lv 80 players when you have already progressed to the next level. Third, it's just plain fun to go beat the snot out of your old raiding nemesis's.

After the patch release there was chaos abound! The first day, no one could get into raids or dungeons correctly and there were serious log in issues to the character screen. So far, as of this writing, things are working correctly.. Tonight I take my crew on a quick Vissy run so we will see how it works out and if the relic returns are in place. Lag was initially an nasty little surprise but now seems to have tapered off. Same with the FPS meters. They saw all the issues at hand after I had dedicated a thread to listing the bugs encountered. Hopefully everything is fixed at this point. I'll update more if it seems relevant.

So there you have it folks, a bunch of happy goodness for everyone! Till next time, may you pave the roads you walk with glory, bloodshed and plenty of ale!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Forgotten City Unchained Solo

So I had the opportunity to go check out the Forgotten City Solo in Unchained mode. I would not recommend it for a fresh lv 80 toon without any critigation and only lv 80 blues gear. It might be obtainable but is kind of a rough run. I first tried my fresh 80 Conq (Mhorgrim) in Brute speccing and had to pull individually on the trash mobs just to have a chance. Needless to say, it did not go well, especially at the first boss encounter.

So I went in on Czcibor, my Bear Shammy that has a fair amount of gear both Khitai and raid. Much easier. It was still a bit of a challenge, and here is why:

The panthers hit for a ton of damage and occasionally a bleed effect that is pretty vicious. All trash Mobs are lv 83 so it take a little bit of doing. The Scorpians have a lovely poison DoT as well as an armor wreck that makes life a lil annoying. Still, not too bad of a fight. Just about all of the Mobs were dropping tokens of esteem, and a few dropped pouches that contained some 2k Mastery books. Handy. All of them were giving me between 475-540 mastery pts. per kill, which isn't too bad by the way.

The First Boss:

Most of the mechanics are the same, when he stuns you, the second you get un-stunned, run out of his AoE or you will hate life. Second serious ability is a Leech life which has a pretty serious range on it. This one I was able to heal through fairly decently with no major issue, but on my Conq...epic fail. Not that my conq is bad, just badly geared with no critigation. Anyways, it was sort of a kite fight so be on your toes with it. Just be aware of his casts and be ready to move out of the way fast. I would say the first boss for my Bear Shaman was the hardest. Drop included some nice potions and a 20k mastery book. Not too bad there.

Don't forget to pick up the scrolls on the ground at the entrance of the main city, at the base of the steps, in front of the second boss and at the base of the long stairway up to the temple.

The Second Boss.

Same fight mechanic on the ledge. Blue Typhoon casts a little faster though so be ready for a lot of back and forth. When you see him cast the Typhoon, haul ass (read SPRINT) and get behind the wall. His other spells had dps in them, but again I wasn't too hard pressed to heal through them. The white tornadoes seem to hover a bit longer and do a fair amount more damage than on easy mode, so I would do a bit of fast footwork to avoid them. Other than that, the fight wasn't too overwhelming. Again loot was a hefty Mastery book along with some nice pots, and he also dropped a blue healer necklace. Didn't really do me much good per se as I am more inclined on the DPS side than heal botting.

Trash from here seem to aggro up pretty quick and at range. Individually or in pairs, not too hard to over come. However, at one point I was dealing with 4 casters which made things annoying. Again, they do have some increased distance to aggro.

Mechanics from here pretty much the same, the tree of life hit before you aggro all the mobs, no issue what so ever. Don't forget to drop the blood you have collected from the scrolls quest at the center of the Temple before taking on the final boss.

The Third Boss:

Now I'm not sure if it was just my lucky day, or if the instance developers didn't increase the difficulty of the final boss fight. I had him down about 80% before he cast his first knock back and sprint. The tactic here is the same, get to the alter he goes after and right click on it before he finishes casting his spell to keep him down. Then it's the chase game to burn him down. Anyways, he was an easy kill for me. Drop included a jar for mastery, more pots, 3 Imp Insignia Boxes of 30 tokens each...very nice, and another 20k Book of Mastery.

So, while you won't see major gear rewards, it is worth it to get the Imperial Insignias and all the mastery that comes along with it. Occasionally these bosses will drop decent Lv 80 Blue Cloaks, Necklaces and Rings which will assist in gearing.

I recommend this run as it only took me like 20 min to clear through and the mastery returns as well as the Imperial Insignias were worth my time. Go check it out when you get the chance! It's at the Gateway to Khitai if you haven't been there already. By the way, Both the Forgotten City and The Breach are scaleable dungeons to lv with from about lv 30 all the way on out to 80. The Breach also has an Unchained GROUP instance that will keep you well challenged with new and interesting fights. Once I can get my teams in there on a regular basis, I'll come back and give a report on the Boss fights there.

I have yet to hit up on the Deadman's Hand Solo Unchained. Never was fond of the area, but it may appeal to some, so go check it out if you get the chance.

Monday, June 11, 2012

3.3.5 Patch and Progress

So its been a hot minute since I last posted but Ive been busy as hell. The new update seems to have gone through its cycle of patches to hotfix the hotfixes and for the most part, everything is running pretty smoothly. There are still a few issues with random game crashes but overall things have stabilized. What I'm getting at here is that every time there is a new major patch, folks just need to be patient till things get updated and fixed. It has happened every time and I got to laugh at all the forum whiners who scream bloody murder. So what did this huge patch bring us that is good?

The new Duel Spec, make sure to talk to Trainer
Well, first and foremost, the duel speccing system. This in itself has been long awaited for folks to really bring utility into their toons. I was jumping for joy when I saw this come out. I gotta say its been worth the game issues that the first week caused. anyways, to make sure you get your duel spec on, go see any of the trainers within any of the main cities. They give you a quick quest which is done right there and then you will have your primary and secondary specs at your disposal. Understand that there is a ten minute cool down each time you change between your specs so be advised to plan a little in advance the function you wish to serve as.

Of other interest, regular mode Khitai 6 mans now drop the rare trophies so it wont by quite as difficult to get your epic pieces from Khitai. Speaking of Khitai, you gotta go try The Breach instance on Unchained mode for 6 mans. The fights are a blast! A couple of quick hints: The first boss does 2 major attacks you need to be aware of: Slashing Hurricane (Melee AoE...when it starts move away fast as it hits like a brick!) and the Hyrkanian potency which gives him a fast heal. We used Finely Honed and Tainted Weapons to keep his heals and buffs down. they are fairly slow abilities so with a little practice you can get through them. The Second boss Is fairly easy INITIALLY. Hes got a couple of DoTs and Fears but nothing too outrageous. It's when he calls his minions that life becomes a total evil mess. The minions are actually full blown elite trash...not easy for a lil 6 man. How to avoid? Well, keep him fought in the center. There are 3 skulls in the center. Healers and DPS be ready to click on him when he makes his call for minions, it's like a 3sec cast so if you are fast enough, all three click the skulls then it will negate his spell and you continue to tank and spank. We haven't gotten much further than this so there is still a lot to learn but it's pretty damned cool!

Those are the quick highlights and I'm pretty happy with the over all patch this round. Still have a lot to figure out but I'm gettin there.

Nothin but Ghostwolves!
As for the Ghostwolves, a few highlights worth talking about:
T3 Library now up!
For two weeks now we have kept our T1 Raids completely in house, filled with our own crew, no pugging. W1 we are still muddling through and occasionally need a couple extra puggers but over all 90% of the raid is our people. This makes looting so much easier for us. Our two main tanks are now completely T1 geared and now working on healers and OT's. People are taking the time to go ahead and practice with our new lv 80s and things are looking pretty damned good. On average I see between 15-20 people on most nights with a peak of 30 and a low of 7. We hit renown lv 10 last night as well as put up our T3 Library. As a guild, the diversity and good natured-ness of the members has been really outstanding. I'm pretty proud of how things have been going. Our Senior members and returning veterans are making it happen every day. They are a great crew to be with.

Anyways, my small update in AoC. Till next time, may your belts be lined with Gold, and your Blades wet with blood!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ghostwolves Progress and watching your toon Grow

Czcibor in the Beginning
I remember a little whisper of a dream for our guild. It was so fragile, with just the slightest hope of getting it to go anywhere. We came into the game not knowing what to expect, just looking for a good time. Then the magic of a team came together, and the Ghostwolves have been growing ever since.

Guilds in general ebb and flo in activity but of late The Ghostwolves have done a tremendous job in moving forward with the game. We recruited a few longtime veterans who have a wealth of experience but wanted to simply enjoy the game with low drama and less stress towards progression. Hmmm...guess we fit the bill on that one very nicely. So, on average I am seeing between 15-25 members on at all times, with a raiding crew of 12 regulars. Yes, that's not a full raid I know, but it's slowly getting up there. Actually, come to think about it, we had 14 last night when we went in and downed Wing 1 of BRC. Every Friday we do a T1 sweep as a regular event, and now Saturdays we are starting Wing 1's with one of my veterans leading the charge.

Small Victories
Guild renown has been averaging around 15 mil a week which has kept us in the top 3 rankings for overall renown 3 weeks in a row. Every day I see new amazing stuff coming out of my crew. They work hard and yet have a great time together. Even with the release of Diablo 3, I haven't seen a huge decrease in daily population or guild activity. Indeed, we seem to have picked up a few more folks to roll with us this weekend alone.

After a long road, Czcibor today!
Czcibor, my Bear Shaman has picked up a more dps intensive build with less focus on
 healing. I decided to make the change as my older spec just was way below par. I still tinker with his specs though. Rotation seems to work fine and slowly he is becoming more competitive with his peers. As you can see below, he has done a lot of growing, just as the guild has grown and evolved. You gotta love vanity tabs, they make things sooo nice! Anyways, this is just a small update on the game. My posting has been spotty since I've been working in game and balancing my real life at the same time. But I'm out there!

 Oh yeah, bought a Nostromo Razer game pad...SO CHOICE!! When you are handling a ton of combos and spells from a Bear Shaman, the Nostromo is such a sweet addition. I reccomend it for any AoC Gamer whether pvp or pve.

Nostromo, a definite must have!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bear Shaman.... one of my Favorite Classes

Back in January when the Ghostwolves got their T3 Keep built I had been working on my
 Bear Shaman by the name of Czcibor. Oddly enough, one of my fellow Bloggers Slith informed me that the name as a whole meant "Worshiper of the Forest" in the Polish language I believe. Well, can't argue with destiny now can you? At any rate, I started leveling Czcibor when I wasn't involved with raiding on my barbarian Khadoc. Getting into the swing of handling a Bear Shaman is a bit of a challenge, especially with the numerous Manifestations, Claws, Combos and healing effects.

 As of this date, I got Czcibor up to 80, had him successfully participate in some T1 Raids and guild HoC runs. to work on his rotations, I did a bit of solo work in Khitai which was most helpful. My current build is pretty much a basic hit of Iron Hide/Booming Roar. To be honest, Booming Roar hasn't really had the huge effect I was looking for against casters in the PvE realm and I'm not sure I'll keep it on.

Key binding is the largest hassle out of setting up a BS on my UI. Rotations really aren't that hard to tell the truth. Everyone has a different technique, but so far I've set my basic keys as such:

1: Internal Bleed  2: Upper Mid Attack  3: Upper Right Attack 4: Ursine Brawl 5: Ferocious Smack
Q: Manifest Spirit W: Manifest Sun  E: Lyco Bite
A: Shrewd Blow 4 S: Crush A. 4 D: Crush A. 3 F: Crush A. 2
R: Blood Flow T: Renewal Y: Fierce Recovery
Z: Rune of Aggression X: Rune of Regrowth C: Ursine Crush V: Iron Hide

This isn't all encompassing but it's what I'm working with at the moment and I'm pretty happy with it over all.

Rotation wise solo I usually start out with Blood Flow and Renewal, then drop a Manifestation. I immediately slam into Internal Bleed to get the Vision effect on my targets. From there it goes to my crush armors followed up by my Shrewd Blows following up with the Ursine brawl as much as possible. Heals are dropped when needed but I keep renewal up all the time for the additional damage bonus and HoT. I also drop Lycanthrop bite the second I start taking damage, its a nice little life tap to work through.

I've only begun my AA tree, but currently working on that long haul of Steadfast Faith. I have a couple points in decisive strikes, and I'll also be working on Sleuth of Bears the second I can get my hands on it.

The class itself over all is good in just about any situation at hand. The great DPS along with healing skills is a bonus in any group or raid. When possible I try to team him with melee DPS to add into their damage pool.

Now some folks think the micro managing aspect is a negative factor. For me, I love the fact that I have to pay attention, be quick on my feet and have the right spell/manifest/rune or melee combo running at the right time. Now mind you I am still just learning what a Bear Shaman is really capable of doing. So all you long time vets can certainly chime in on what you see is successful in rotations and builds to post. I welcome all constructive criticism as it can only make my BS that much better.

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for dropping by and till next time, may blood flow like ale, and may your belt be lined with gold!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So, Ya Wanna Raid Eh?

I've often talked about the responsibilities of Guild Leaders and Raid Leaders. Today I wanted to take the time to talk to all you NEW RAIDERS wanting in on the action. For the old veterans, consider this as a basic refresher reading and if you have other pro tips, please comment as you will.

To the new raider:

Understand that life doesn't revolve around you anymore, you are a part of a team. This means you need to learn to act like a team member and show up in a responsible, timely fashion. For those that PuG into raids, you are not in charge, you volunteered. Therefore, kindly listen to your raid leader. If your raid Leader's Strat isn't working, respectfully approach through a whisper if you think you have a better suggestion.

Walking into a raid with a toon that you power leveled and have no idea how to use is a quick way to never get invited to a raid again. Take the time to practice your rotations and know your abilities. I personally hate power leveling, I think its the worst thing in the world. Besides, honestly it doesn't take very long at all to lv the regular way in AoC.  When I see toons not even landing a combo blow, I know for a fact they have not the slightest idea of how to run their class effectively. I'm all about teaching folks what they need to know and consider myself fairly patient. But I won't carry folks in a raid. That's asinine and it reflects poorly upon your guild in the long run. Take the time to research what your character does.

Come prepared. Don't ask for mana or stam or health pots. Buy the damned things. Most of you by now are in a guild. Most guilds have at least a rudimentary guild city started. That means if at least a Tradepost is created and you've hit at least Renown lv 3, there is a Brewmistress. BUY FROM HER!!!! Keep them set on your hot bars. Make sure your armor and weapons are as up to date as possible. Allow the Raid Leader to equipment check you if necessary and make recommendations. Also, if you plan on testing a new rotation or a new character build, do so BEFORE the raid so you know what you are getting into. Easiest way to do that is either get a target dummy to rate your performance or get out to Khitai and beat the shit out of multiple mobs. But don't go into a raid with an unproven spec that you just pulled out of your 4th point of contact. Get comfortable with your spell or melee rotations and make sure it works first.

I do recommend you at least use one of the following customized UI's. The stock UI in AoC sucks.
Stonerune, Fire, Plagued, Strange. Any of these are decent and allows you to map keys easily. It gives you a ton more slots to put your hot key abilities. I grant, the Stock UI can be used, but it's really not user friendly.

If you don't have ventrillo/teamspeak/mumble, you NEED to get it! Look, Raid Leaders don't have the time to type out strats. You don't need a mic. But you do need to listen in on the directions of the Raid Leader. Short of being hearing impaired, there is no reason for you to not have Ventrillo or mumble depending on what your Raid Leader uses.

Know and understand your raid's loot rules. READ the description of every loot peace and don't hit that need button unless it's for your class or the Raid Leader opens it up for the rest to roll on. If the Raid Leader says, only <X> class roll on it once the box pops, then only that class rolls. Don't rush your rolls. Take your time, no one is going anywhere till all the loot is distributed. But let's say for the sake of argument you accidentally won something that should have gone to someone else. Get the loosing party with you. Then YOU the undeserving bastard that accidentally won the item need to type the following:

/pet raid loot issues

Wait till a GM whispers you and then let them know the member standing right next to you should get the item. The GM will delete it from your inventory and then create it in the inventory of the deserving party. If I sound like a nazi about it, I have seen this happen in raids way to often. Don't like being called an undeserving bastard? Easy, be situationally aware enough to only roll on what you are supposed to roll instead of...OMFG SHINEYS YAYAYAYAAY, MINE MINE MINE!!!
That isn't a difficult concept. Yet I have seen it happen on more than one occasion. I promise you, there are a lot of guilds out there that have no mercy and will make sure never to invite you again. Not to mention they will Raid Kick you on the spot.

OK, this is a basic primer. Those who are old vets, I invite you to comment and add in your own pro tips to this basic set for the new raider.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guild Leadership...Training the Troops

It takes a lot to run a solid crew of instance runners and raiders. It takes basic knowledge of game mechanics and what each class can do or not do. Leaders have a daunting task ahead of them. A Guild Leader who wants to promote skilled players will find it difficult with new recruits and those just coming into their own at level 80. This is an unfortunate by product of every MMO where end game content is the only priority. It hurts worse when the game population is smaller than some of the big name MMOs such as WoW or GW series. So what do you do if you've worked so hard to form a guild of instance runners and raiders? TRAIN THEM!!!! But you can't do it alone. Here are some things each new Guild Leader that has started to get his band together should keep in mind. By no means is this the Bible, but it is taken from basic tenants of Leadership skills.

First and foremost, if you plan on leading those rough instances or raids, you have to think a little different than the average player. This means taking an active interest in what each class of the game can do on the basic level. It requires a fair bit of research and reading. Some of the information is outdated so you need to compare old information to what's current and what changes in each patch mean to your teams. Guild websites are handy to post experiences, but more so to post relevant information that can easily be accessed by each class. It doesn't matter who posted the information, just give credit to them for their work (mandatory in any postings on my guild site). Make sure your guildees know this information and READ IT. On top of class skills, tried and tested strategies should be posted and required for members to read if they intend to partake into a raid or hard instance. Research is every one's friend. Remember that many players solo level without every really grouping. Unless they are experienced with other MMO's you will find folks who have no idea on how to work as a team and within the holy trinity of tank, heal, dps. You should post some basic guides on this as well. Did I mention that being a Leader is actually work? You as the Leader are not there for others to cater to you. In fact, a good guild leader is there to serve as a facilitator to his or her membership base. You are the mitigator the listener and the mentor to all of them, even the experienced ones.

Train your troops. Get them working on easier end game instances, for AoC I recommend you take new 80s into Atzels Fortress. The fights there are pretty easy if you do careful pulling and line of sight pulls. Communicate with them and observe their behaviors as you run with them. Watch to see the combo animations, and have a fair knowledge of what they are, especially for melee dps. Keep your combat logs running to see effects. Cross communication as a leader is a must. I usually recommend that the leader of a team is some sort of DPS class, it's easier to track everyone else while working the fights as you can move in and out as needed. Tanks on the other hand have a tougher job as leads, healers are a toss up depending on how comfortable you are in healing and cross talking during your fights. New 80s often don't know just what is in their arsenal to work effectively as a team. Sounds stupid? Not when you solo play really doesn't stretch your abilities. A few combos at best, nothing really is experimented with. an example of this is Conq's. They are one of the easiest solo play classes. But often players wont use banners or wont experiment with formation effects to see how they react. What works easy on solo doesn't work so well in raids. I see it all the time. Walked into a raid where there were 3 conqs and NOT ONE frigging banner to help the team efficiently down their targets. Not very effective for a conq. This is but one example.

Can't figure out why your off tank cant grab and hold aggro? Take them to your guild city, have them run through their rotations on a target dummy and see what it is they are working. Watch the combat logs and see what they are doing. Mentor them on different means to grab and hold aggro. Also mentor them on how to allow their counterpart to grab it back. This makes your healer's life a lot easier.

Have training sessions for each major end job of the holy trinity. Nothing will piss your tanks off than a dps that goes into overdrive and destroys the aggro tables especially when swapping aggro. It becomes a rats nest of catch up rather than efficient burn down of your targets. Train your dps to hold off their combos when an aggro swap takes place.

Healers, train them on what their healing cool downs mean and how spamming a heal can be more counterproductive than placing the heal at the right time for fast burst heals that actually keep your tanks alive.

Positioning your healers for best effect. This is hard to do when some of the fighting gets moving around. Alot of the healing in AoC is CONE effect. Some is of course group, but if you aren't in that cone of healing, your screwed when it counts the most. Teach the tanks to be mindful of the position where their healers are shooting out heal spells. Teach the healers to compliment eachother in position so there are overlapping cones if the fight becomes a moving circle of madness.

Above all, keep your cool as a leader. Don't get hot headed or angry. I can't stress this enough. It breaks the team apart and shows you to be an ass. Remember, we all started out as dumb asses that did stupid noob moves. Keep your teams motivated and willing to keep trying. If you hit a hard point where nothing budges. Step back, revisit it on another day. This game will be around for a bit so don't rush. Also keep in mind that when you didn't lead you may have been number one on holding aggro or dps or heals. That isn't your job anymore. You may be last on all of those lists, but if the team wins, YOU win. Your job is to coordinate attacks, explain strats, make sure team make up is best for the job at hand, get the right team together and keep them trained. Your job is NOT to be the very best during the fight. Train the others to do that so you can make timely and accurate decisions which allows the teams to succeed.

These are basic ideas and I'll expound upon more of them later. Sorry no pics on the post yet, Ill drop a couple later when I got a few minutes. Hope this was useful. If you have additional ideas as leaders, by all means comment, I enjoy gaining and passing knowledge. Till next time, may your belts be lined with gold and may you crush your enemies as they are driven before you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tier 3 Weaponsmith and The Ghostwolf Pup from Kylikki

Our Tier 3 Weaponsmith Completed!
Well it's been a hot minute since I last posted. But the guild has been hard at work. First and foremost we were able to put up out T3 Weapon smith. This was largely due in part from one of our fine members Lonelyhatred. He donated over 10000 basalt and a ton of dusk metal and oak within a week or two of our last upgrade. Outstanding work from him! So I christened the weapon smith as The Lonely Weapon Smith in his honor. We got a good screenshot of it with senior members after our weekly T1 raid in Kylikki and Yakhmar.

The Ghost Wolf Pet (Our new Mascot)
Speaking of which, after a very hard-fought battle in Kylikki's Crypt, Kylikki drop the Ghost wolf Pet, so now we have a little mascot that I carry about. The pet is strictly vanity but its also damned near impossible to drop so I was pretty stoked about it. When it first dropped I mistakenly forgot to reset the raid loot table to mundane so it was sort of by accident that I got it. I feel bad that no one got to roll on it..seriously I do! But at the same time it was sort of fitting that we received it in the end.

To that end as always I thank our raiding allies The Walking Dead who help us tremendously in making sure we can run a solid raid or two. They have always been good folk and are starting pretty quick here to get into T3 Raiding themselves. Good folk to have around.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ramblings, Progress and Real Life...How it all Comes Together

I haven't posted in a hot minute. First an foremost, my apologies. Real life, which I will cover first has kind of had both my gaming and my blogging set aside on the back stove. No, I haven't stopped playing, but I did have to set my priorities a little different. Work in itself kept me on my toes all week long. Projects came up fast and furious and I was working a 13 to 14 hour day on a regular basis. This caused some dismay as I am the Guild Leader of The Ghost Wolves on Wiccana. I couldn't pay as much attention to the guild as I had to deal with work first. I don't begrudge this, it is of course my livelihood. But I felt as though I let my Guild members down and didn't oversee their success as I normally would. So..I have always had my concerns. I guess in a way, leading a guild is part of my social makeup as a person. Interesting how a video game can do that if you care about the people you play with.

Our Little Brandy
Additionally, we have a new family member. My wife Laura (aka Pantherias and Akantha on Wiccana) adopted a 7 week old Rottweiler mix. We named her Brandy. She has been a love and a handful all at the same time. But as a new family member we take a lot of time to make sure she is cared for along with our American Bull and our 2 cats. Needless to say I got a lot of work to upkeep lol. This is ok, because it leads into a point. We all need balance, both in game and out of game. Yes, we build relationships in the MMO world. But the real world is still just as important. It's a balance that we all need to strive for. There is nothing wrong with taking a break and doing Real Life things. This actually is important to strike that balance. Burn out is assured if you don't.

Our T3 Alchemy Tower
Ok, enough of the preaching, Other events in the Guild have been last week's raising of our T3 Alchemist Tower. This was a huge gain for us as a guild. It took us quite a bit of work to get the mats together to raise it up and I was damned proud to see it grow. We also completed a full T1 sweep as a guild with our primary allies. All in all, even with the work issues and what not it has been a very successful week.  We have gained new members, though a few of my key teams have been a bit spotty lately. Guess time will tell.

Some things I have noticed in the AoC community, there has been a lot less negative posting. Point in fact, I see more and more positive influences and helpful hints to newer players. The levels of toxic behavior has gone down significantly judging by the new posts that have been raised. I really like this. I do hope it's a trend that keeps going on.

So these are my quick shot points for the week, I intend on getting more into the upcoming crafting system and such in later posts. In the meantime, may your belts be lined with gold and may blood flow as free as ale! Good luck out there!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Guild Spotlight: The Knights of Ironspine

A while ago, there was this fine group of folks who came out of the original servers during launch. They called themselves the Knights of Ironspine, or KOI for short. I got the opportunity to raid with them one evening and found them to be likable, easy going and fun to work with. They seemed to often share the same goals as my own guild, The Ghostwolves, Drama free and fun loving. Without further ado, I present The Knights of Ironspine!

At Toth Amon!

First a little about yourself:

Give us a little background about how long you have been playing AoC, what is your favorite character class and what spurs you to continue playing AoC?

I started playing AoC shortly after launch, and have been playing ever since. I have 19 level 80 characters, and have played every class to 80 at least once, so I can't really say I have a favorite, but it would be a toss up between Necromancer and Tempest of Set if I were forced to choose. My "main" character is Greylaina, level 80 Necro and my primary armorsmith and weaponsmith. I love the story line of AoC, having been a Conan fan since reading the books and graphic novels as a young child. AoC also has, in my opinion, the best melee combat system of any MMO out there, and even 4 years after release still has some of the best graphics. These are the things that keep me coming back.
What aspects of the game are your favorite?

Raiding, in all the tiers, is my favorite aspect of the game. I love the challenging encounters and the need to work together, as well as the joy folks get out of obtaining epic loot to upgrade their characters!
Do you feel the game has progressed technically throughout it's lifespan?

Yes, I do. Frankly, this game was awful at release, but has steadily improved and grown, with the occasional step backwards here and there along the way. The content that has been added along the way has also been excellent. House of Crom is the best addition so far, with good challenges and rewards, and beautifully rendered scenery, thoughtful quests and great overall implementation. 
Give us an overview of your guild, what server your guild is on, how long has it been  established,  Guild  goals, accomplishments and recruitment policies?

Knights of Ironspine started at launch on the Ironspine server, and moved to the Wiccana server about 3 and a half years ago. We have an open recruitment policy. We raid frequently in the 3 main tiers available to us at this time, as well as running 6 man instances and the occasional siege. We are a friendly and helpful bunch, consisting of a large core of veteran players, and some new and returning players. Our current roster has about 50 active players and hundreds of characters.
Our guild city, in the scenic Laicesh Plains, is tier 3, with a tier 3 battle keep as well. Recently, we achieved level 20 renown as a guild. Our focus is primarily on PVE content, though we have players who pvp frequently, and players who like the role play and social aspects of the game as well.

What makes your guild stand out among the rest on your server?

Our frequent raids and our friendly and helpful attitude are what most people comment on. We really like to keep in mind that this is a game, not a second job for our players, nor a therapy session to air our personal issues. We like to keep things "low drama" as much as possible.
What things about your guild you are most proud of?

I don't think there's anything about KOI that I am not proud of!
How do you keep guild members motivated and keep new blood coming in?

Active raiding and recruiting. Keep exploring the new content, but don't let the old stuff fall by the way-side

What would you like to see in future patches and expansions?

I'd like to see player housing, contextual chat filters, settable pvp flags for open world play (on PVE servers), larger tradeskill inventories, and my hope is that with the coming crafting revamp they don't disenfranchise those of us who have spent a lot of time, gold and effort collecting the current recipes!

Where do you see the future of AoC?

I don't see the game going away anytime soon if that's what you mean. I think that it is a good sound MMO with a decent community, and still has fantastic graphics and game play among all the competition even 4 years out. As long as FC doesn't do anything to further alienate their player base, AoC is here to stay. Like many players, I love the game but am not as fond of the development and management of the game. All companies make mistakes here and there... but FC seems to have a penchant for spectacular ones. FC also has consistently failed to market this game properly. AoC could be so much bigger in the US market if FC would actually put some thought and effort into promotion.
Till next time, have a good run out there in Hyboria! Remember, we continually promote other guilds in the interest of finding good folks to play the game with. By all means, if you find any of the guilds in this blog and decide to join them, let them know where you found it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Raid Leadership PT2...Dealing with player issues

Ok, here in Part 2, I'll discuss some Leadership issues with problems that arise amongst players. This especially plays a huge part when having to recruit non guild/alliance members into a raid.

Let's face it, it takes a lot of troops with a wide array of classes to be competitive in a raid. Since getting 24 people of the right class combinations is a tough job for the new Raid Leader, you may find yourself dealing with numerous player personalities and issues. Non guild members and alliance members owe you no loyalty. They are in effect mercenaries looking for the pay off. Attitudes can be difficult at times to deal with. So a little planning goes a long way to keep people both motivated and civil with one another.

First and foremost, make sure your main crew of guildees and alliance members are on time and ready to transport to the raid site right away. I highly encourage that the raid leader has a website with a calendar for event planning in advance as well as sign up capabilities. There are plenty of free ones out there if you dont want to spend money, so don't fret the money issue. Guildlaunch allows for free websites, you just need to deal with all of the advertisements and a minimal amount of pic space for storage. Not a bad deal if you ask me. This mitigates the issue of late comers. Make sure everyone knows that if they can't show to post a few days in advance so you can shift priorities by raid day. Hey, real life can be a bitch at times, so don't get too bent out of shape...adjust fire and move on toy our objective.

Now on to the issues that can arise, I'll try to go point by point without too many tangents:

*LOOT~ Heh, the heart and soul of success is of course the loot at the end. Yes raiding can be it's own reward by simply downing the boss, but lets face it, loot is a huge component. So it is extremely important to post your loot rules in advance. Create a script with Shadowscript describing your loot rules in advance to so you can get it out of the way quickly. If the loot rules are simple and clear, you should have no real issue.  In AOC, it's also critical that you as the Raid leader set your loot options to Master Loot initially so you can pass the loot to those in need first, or be ready to roll off when it's two of the same class competing for the same item. This mitigates any bickering between people who might have misrolled. If a dispute arises, calmly talk to the parties involved and find an equitable solution. If it turns ugly, pull both parties aside in a different channel of your vent/teamspeak and find out the issue. Remind them there will be other chances and ask that they set aside the dispute in the interest of getting the raid moving forward. If someone received loot that they shouldn't have, get them to send a petition up to a GM to have them delete the item and give it to the appropriate party. Most folks who want to be re invited to raids are pretty quick to solve the issue. I've rarely run into puggers that will ninja loot then bail as word goes round real fast and they get banned quickly by every guild available.

* Overbearing Tactician~ Well, we always did it this way and it's the only way to fight it, so stop doing it wrong! Yeah Yeah, guess what, by luck or skill there are more than a couple strats to every boss fight out there, especially if you don't have the raid make up exactly to standard. Now sometimes, they can provide valuable insight when you are having a really tough time downing a particular boss. Listen carefully with an open mind before you start pulling out your bolt thrower. If it seems reasonable, try it worries. Your success as a leader is dependent upon the raid's over all success, not your ego. But what if they are being snotty, arrogant and not willing to even consider your strategy and then start flaming it in Raid chat or vent? Gently remind the aspiring god of raids that you are in charge of this, and if it fails utterly you will reconsider your stance. But until then, you are in charge...not them. Do so with a little tact and in whisper, or pull them into a separate vent channel to do so. If they still can't wrap it around their heads. remark that they may find a different raid team if they like.

*The Blame Game~ DUDE! Why did you screw that fight up? WTF? Don't you know your toon? It's your fault we wiped dammit! Yeah I still see this occasionally. Squash this firmly. Let the raid know, everyone makes mistakes and to take a deep breath then try it again. If there was indeed a fault, identify it, tactfully remind everyone of the strat again, then rest and move on. But if a harassment attitude starts to arise, Don't be afraid to let the rager to chill out, stop the arguing and move on. If that doesn't work, this is one of the few times I say kick them to the curb. There are still others who will want to take their place. In the meantime, give everyone a quick break while you find the replacement. Chances are, you might even be able to down your boss missing one member in the lower Tiered Raids.

*Adaptive Gamers~ Lets face it, there are folks who have special needs. Some may be deaf, others speech impaired or have physical disabilities which slow their reaction time. Identify what their obstacles are in advance. Discuss with them possible solutions ahead of time. You may need to set them as assist's until they can run the raid inside and out. That's ok, just work with them. Be patient on this note, remember they are valuable and can with a little practice become very effective indeed. I have read about players with bad arthritis, Cerebral Palsy etc still be effective raiders, once they find a class and set rotation that works for them. For those with hearing impairments, post the strats ahead of time, make sure they know the critical points of the fight ahead of time with minimal confusion as to thier role. Even though they can't hear, they can pick up on the visual cues of the fight and still be effective. There are also a lot of software programs that can help as well to assist their game play. I'll get to that in a different post. Point is, work with them, they can be the most stalwart and loyal members of your guild/raid team.

Ok, so I've gone over a lot of basic issues arise and some of the ways to mitigate them. By all means discuss and add in your own ideas or experiences to share across the board. Till next time, May Gold line your belt, and blood spill from your blade like a tankard of Ale!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Future Developments in AoC

So, I trotted on down to and listened in on a live stream interview with Graig Morrison,Joshua Doetsch and Lidia di Zazzo. It was an hour long live stream that allowed players to ask questions of the designers and get some feedback. Over all, the first 32 minutes of it was a recap of Deadman's Hand which is good for those just coming into AoC and want to know about the Turan Xpac. Since I already had this particular xpac, I skipped ahead to the future developments. For details, go to this interview.

What I got out of it was the development team is working to add new content within the next year that will appeal to all players. So lets get a quick recap here and you can go on over to get all the details. If I missed anything, or you have comments, by all means drop them in.

~ PoM Revamp- this is about to go live with the next patch. In my opinion it will mean relearning the class and looking at builds all over again. This isn't necessarily bad, but it will take a dedicated PoM to get into it and learn how to use the class to best advantage. I may try out a PoM from the start again to see how this pans out, then revisit my opinions.

~ Crafting Revamp- This one should come out around summer time. I am really looking forward to this. According to Mr Morrison, those folks who have horded rare materials should still have use for them for crafting though not necessarily in the same way. Materials that no longer have use are supposed to be given equivalents...well they will try their best too anyhow. There should be some new armor skins and looks to add in. I am pretty stoked about this. Hopefully they will be careful about release and make sure it doesn't totally bork the game up. 

~ New Content- This won't happen for a hot minute but they are trying to make some of the old dungeons at lv 80 for revisit. They are also trying to figure out a way to make some of those old favorites into scale-able instances so they can be revisited by teams as they progress in levels. I like this idea, but I don't expect too many to be created. Most likely they will release one to see if it works out correctly and then go for more.

~ PvP/PvE single server technology- Here is an interesting topic, but I don't expect to see results till Fall or Winter (MY OPINION). They are working towards allowing players to toggle pvp/pve on and off. so anyone can play in both on the same server. IF it works, it would allow greater populations and perhaps more interest in pvp. I see clouds looming though. The unfortunate tendency for players is to find exploits to personal advantage. It could mean quick and easy escapes for those on the loosing end. It could also mean griefing and utter annoyance for PvE folks who don't want to be harassed by PvPers looking to pick a fight. I dunno, I'm a little mixed on this. There are good and bad points to it so I guess we will see. They are also looking at making cross server switches easier to obtain for different players. This might be a good idea, we will see.

~ PvP Open World Content- Well, Craig had a point on this, with the failure of Bori, it is extremely difficult to create open world objectives that actually make sense and will appeal to the pvp community. They are working on it, but I think they lack direction at this point. This is a wait and hold item. They weren't very forthcoming on it but Mr Morrison did state he wanted to keep pushing his dev's to come up with valid ideas for this type of thing to come about. Personally, I think if they completely fixed the issues with Sieges that would solve a huge chunk of the PvP needs off the bat. The quick fix is to attempt to create more mini's. I dunno how many capture the flag sets with different maps I could bother handling. They were working on open world bosses, but Craig admitted that the feeback was mixed at best, so they are going back to the drawing board on that. The biggest problem I see though is, what exactly is meaningful objectives for PvPer's? I see a lot of wanting objectives, but no real valid ideas on it in the forums of hatred.

~ Duel Speccing- Yes, this is something they are working on coding for the near future. My bet is on summer/fall time frame before release. Most likely fall. They want to make sure this works so one can have a pve/pvp spec handy as well as different spec utilities for specific raids. What they don't want to see is being able to switch mid raid/instance to easy kill different fights. They also don't want it to be exploitable to fast switch during open world conflict. It's in the works to make though so I am looking forward to it.

~Future Expansions- YES, Hyboria will expand with new adventure packs possibly by the end of this fiscal year. I'll be very interested in what new lands we will see. But the developers aren't closing shop. They will release new stuff.

Ok, that's my recap. Get on down to the interview to get more detailed information. Remember that timelines are always I wouldn't hold my breath. But I would give the game developers a chance to get new stuff out. Remember, I invite all discussion, but keep it civil and constructive.

Leadership in instances and raids PT 1

One thing that draws most MMO players from the PvE side is the instances and raid end game content. There is a feeling of accomplishment and progression on some of the toughest scenarios that game developers can create. But it takes a serious calm attitude to lead anything from 6mans/6man hard mode, to the huge undertaking of Raiding. With the development of so many MMO's out there, it can be daunting to keep end game focus at hand, especially if new content is not forthcoming. But for the new Leaders, I have some thoughts and observations.

Newer guilds that wish to progress to raiding, take heed: build your team gradually, make sure they work together and know eachother's habits. Work towards getting more than one class so if substitutes are necessary, you can find them fairly quickly. Work on easier instances first so you and your team understand each other's rotations and what each class can bring to a fight. Leaders especially need to have at least a general knowledge of each class capabilities and how they effect one another. Once you have established at least 10 players with at least an alt a piece, you can think about hosting raids. Now there are some existing large guilds out there that pull their own full crew raids with the occasional spot for outsiders. Most likely with AoC's very niche population, you will have to resort to outside recruitment. I advise you make some alliance with some of the medium to large guilds to help each other out. This means using tact, diplomacy and good gamesmanship. It means bringing a small force to fill their gaps a couple rounds to see if the prospective alliance is a good fit together. Cross talk is imperative, and keeping an open mind critical. Learn different ways of handling strategies and don't interject your opinion immediately unless solicited.

Ok with those simple ideas in place, let's look at your Leadership. Leading a team is pretty daunting, especially when trying an instance for the first time or leading a raid for the first time. Keeping a cool head and not getting frustrated over failure is the first step to success. Look, even if you have reviewed the best strategies available, you will never account for Murphy dropping by. Someone missed a combo by accident, a lag spike locked one of your players during a critical moment in the fight. A wireless mouse battery finally gave in. Murphy will haunt you constantly. That's ok, keep the team positive and upbeat.

Hard fought gains through perseverance
Perseverance will keep them motivated to keep hammering it down. Make sure you plan in advance for a couple of wipes...possibly more. It is critical you read available strategies when possible. Make sure to explain these strategies before every major engagement. Divy out responsibilities and always be ready to review strats to new players. Have some scripts set up to quickly push out vent information (if you don't have it...GET IT!!!!). Shadowscript is what I use, and I have some quick handy ones at the ready for ventrillo info and loot rules or quick strat guides. That being said, be patient and non critical of your guild members on the fight team. Cross talk but don't talk down to your team. Let them know, it's alright when a wipe happens and the do a quick review of what needs to be done the next try. Keeping things light and fun is key. Now if after several tries you see your team becoming burnt out...take a break. If necessary call the instance/raid with the promise that you as the leader will do a little more research to see what can be done to mitigate the wipes. Also, if your outside recruits (puggers) have some insight, welcome it. They may have the key to succeeding where you are missing the mark. There is nothing wrong with this, and your open mindedness goes a long ways in solidifying your role as a solid Leader.

Scouting ahead
So what if you head out to an instance blind with no information on fight mechanics? Take things very slowly. Be cautious on your trash pulls and survey your way ahead. Get a feel for terrain and look for possible ways you will get hammered. Be very attentive to things that seem to one shot you out of the fight. Remember, the game is for fun so keep your anger at  minimum. Those first forays can be exciting and blood pumping. They can also be disastrous so don't take your initial reconnaissance too seriously. Just take it slow and remember it's all about being mellow. ABOVE ALL, REMEMBER NO BLAME GAMES! If someone owns up to a screw up, let them know its ok and good they identified what went wrong to avoid it in the future.

These are some basic things I have found that keep a team together. In the future I'll discuss prepping you members in pre gearing and being ready to saddle up for thier instances. I'll also be giving leadership discussions on dealing with chronic problem members. Again, this post was primarily focused on the new leaders. Experienced leaders can take this as a refresher or throw it away as you please. Hope you enjoyed this post and I welcome all comments. Till next time, may your blade be wet with blood and your belt be lined with gold! Happy Hunting in Hyboria!!!