I have missed a sight like this in all its cluttered glory for a very very very long time.
I have missed a sight like this in all its cluttered glory for a very very very long time.
And the epiphanies come hard and fast all of a sudden.
Apologies for the clickbait-y title once more, but I got hit with a sudden revelation on reading the raiding retrospective on the GW2 website, posted by what seem to be the six primary members of the dev team responsible for creating ten-man challenging encounters.
(Of course, what they don’t mention is how many artists were utilized to make the concept art, scenery, boss designs, animations, textures, item icons, etc., programmers or engineers for whatever it is they do behind the scenes to make sure things work as expected, testers to debug and work out the kinks, etc. But I digress.)
The first post by Byron Miller is really personally eye-opening.
The language used is all about emotions. Creating some kind of emotionally thrilling experience, complete with really high highs and awful lows, so that people who enjoy going on an emotional roller coaster ride get the experience they’re looking for.
The trend continues in the later posts, briefly mentioned as an aside here and there, but the heart of it is in the first bit.
I look back on nearly eight months? of raiding and besides the really awful stressful emotional rollercoaster of the first two months or so, where I was extremely frustrated and fearful that I wouldn’t find and get into a competent enough regular team to even stand a chance at completion, I cannot say that the rest of my raiding time has been that emotion-based.
A fact of which, I have to add, that I am extremely thankful about.
No doubt, you can tell by my subjective choice to use the words “awful” and “stressful” to describe frustration – which, laughably, existed more in the LFG part of the equation rather than the actual raid encounter itself.
(And I really don’t want to experience it again, to be honest. I would be deeply tempted to quit than to jump through that hoop again. My commiserations to all those new to raids who -want- to get into raids and are struggling to find a regular reliable raid team. I can’t help you. I’m not sure I dare to wade out into that shark pool again myself.)
I think back and I really struggle to feel this crazy fiero that people keep talking about when they beat a raid boss encounter. I only get a sense of mild relief. A little high, a small peak on the emotion meter that is usually on even keel.
Low lows are when/if the raid group disintegrates into a ball of toxicity and blaming. I don’t like that one bit.
A minor low (more of a internal sigh of resignation) is when the team must show some manner of elitism, in order to actually be successful at a raid encounter.
Team wipes, mistakes made by random parties, don’t even register most of the time.
A minor low if I’m the one that made the mistake – just resolve not to try and do the same thing next time.
Pick self up and continue on. Rinse and repeat. Analyze a little more if my understanding is still not complete. Wait if it’s not my understanding at fault but someone else’s. Patience gets it eventually.
But I don’t get those big emotional swings, and honestly, I don’t -want- to experience those. So all that experiential design? I’m not the target audience. Thanks but no thanks.
I’m motivated by being able to see and successfully clear new content and by a sense of personal competency. The showing off part? Not really necessary to me. As long as I’m internally satisfied, aka I got the thing, I cleared the thing, I’m good.
(If the team cleared the thing for me, but I don’t know what’s going on, I’m less good, but I’ll take it. Expediency, you know. I will figure out what’s going on eventually.)
I want to pull out MBTI shorthand again to roughly describe what I think is going on.
My personality type falls into the somewhat rare INTP category. I am primarily a Thinker, I make decisions based on logical thought, rather than be influenced by the emotions of the moment. I am very much an analyzer.
The raid encounter is a puzzle to be solved. It is to be broken down into its constituent parts – what does this boss animation mean and what does it herald? What mechanic is in effect now => what must I do in response? what is the most optimal thing that I should be doing? => trial and error at the early stages to experiment and/or follow the meta guide when the group just wants to clear.
What triggers does the boss have, eg. at 75% health, what happens? Are those increments 75%, 66%, etc.? Of all the possibilities GW2 possesses, what does the boss aggro to? What does this mean for control options and ultimately, strategies?
As such, any raid encounter is most enjoyable for me personally when I can find a safe enough space to contently break it down until I fully grok it all, after which, it is just about performing and trying to execute what I now know and understand in theory.
“Safe space” in this case, mostly (75%) translates into, “won’t get immediately kicked.”
The other 25% of “safe space” means (to me) people not talking nonstop in a distracting fashion, not displaying rampant toxicity like pointing the blame finger, bullying tactics, or otherwise suffering from going on an emotional see-saw and causing drama, temper tantrums, argumentation and so on.
All of which I’ve witnessed while PUGing and on regular guild teams.
(The latter tends to be a more ignorable one or two random emotional events – which when you put ten people in a room with each other, is understandable that emotional fuses do get lit from time to time.)
I get it now, I suddenly get why these emotional events volcano up.
They’re being intentionally designed into the raid encounter.
It’s somewhat eyebrow raising from my quirky point of view, that the most disruptive things that could happen to raiding (feelings of divisiveness, of superiority and inferiority within a team that must successfully work together, etc.) are being triggered by the intent to create some kind of emotionally rewarding final payoff to those that crave such a thing.
Maybe the above isn’t quite phrasing it properly, I don’t know. The concept is not very clear in my head yet.
But I’m struggling toward articulating that it’s the emotion-based Feeling (in the MBTI sense) people who need that high high and low low to feel that “challenging content” reward triumphant payout…
…that probably also tend to be the most susceptible to becoming toxic… (due to emotions flaring up)
…or suffer most from becoming the brunt of toxic behavior (due to taking the feelings of other people seriously or being sensitive to the emotional mood of a group.)
A vicious cycle, in other words, that those who might be most drawn to raiding based on an emotional experience, might very well be the ones most prone to making it NOT an enjoyable experience for the very people they also need in order to clear an encounter successfully.
Kinda funny, and ironic, from a Thinker perspective.
Some people read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and have their lives changed.
I read the Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck and have an epiphany.
Mind you, most of the gist of the book is in the excerpt I just linked. The rest is good for a chortle if you have my kind of sense of humor and the occasional nugget of wisdom. Or some sort of nugget, anyway.
But basically, it’s about not caring so much about a) things that other people say you should care about – but you really don’t, in your heart of hearts – and b) things that make you mad and/or give you an ulcer.
Sarah Knight, the author stresses that one shouldn’t get that concept mixed up with “being an ass.” That is, you can stay polite, not say things that would trigger someone emotionally, and -still- not give a fuck.
Ie. guard your time, set your own boundaries, not get yourself worked up, while not intruding on someone else’s boundaries or working them up.
The term I really like, that’s not in the excerpt, and I’m shamelessly giving away here, even when it’s not mine to give, is “Fuck Budget.”
That is, you have a limited amount of Fucks to give, so spend ’em wisely.
The only itty bitty problem with that is my game time diminishes drastically while embracing that philosophy, and whatever and whenever I do play, I end up with very little to get huffy about.
With nothing to get huffy about, I ask myself, “Why blog?” “Do I want to blog today?” “Nah, I have limited time and limited Fucks to give. I don’t want to spend an hour making much ado about nothing. Let’s play a game. Or watch something on Netflix. Or tidy up.”
It’s still a haphazard practice that confuses me often though.
The odd thing about letting up on gaming (and specifically GW2) as the primary Fuck, is that my Fuck of the Moment has been jumping around wildly, and I’m no longer sure what I -do- care about.
I managed to focus my major Fuck Project for a week or so of scanning five IKEA Samla boxes of paperback books. A good 15-20 of ’em fit into one box, so do the math. It took a while.
But it was something that I’ve been aiming to do for a long time, and helps move my home one step further away from wannabe hoarder to actually having some negative space in one’s interior design.
I bribed myself (yet again) by putting a $10usd price tag on finishing each box, and giving myself permission to fritter it away in GW2’s gem store.
So far, I’ve only used $30 and took advantage of the current gold to gem price to convert gems into enough gold to treat myself to an entire set of Balthazar weapon skins, which were oddly quite cheap at 30ish gold per skin a week ago.
(I got stung with the last warhorn skin though, it shot up to 60g in the last few days and while someone is probably manipulating the price, I decided I couldn’t be arsed to wait patiently for another few weeks or months of waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. 15 days of dailies, a little less with node harvesting, total warhorn skin price in dollars = $4.50usd, meh, whatever. I’d pay five bucks for peace of mind. Starbucks coffee costs more than that.)
Oh, and I bought the shameless cash grab Phoenix wing glider, because fire.
I -was- planning on spending my built up 14 Black Lion tickets on another collection for fun. But then I see the headlines on Reddit about how this set of skins is mysteriously account bound.
While I don’t really have much sympathy for skin flippers, I also don’t think it’s right that people who want the skin should be encouraged to play the Black Lion Chest lottery.
The established cycle has been that gamblers willing to take the risk for profit and/or whales with little head for probability buy the shit in return for (possibly empty) thrills, and the skins that get churned out are bought by people willing to spend gold on a sure thing.
It’s the ol’ Magic card loop. You can buy the gamble in a sealed pack or buy the desirable card that is already on display for a price tag by someone who opened lots of packs for it.
Kill the latter, and there goes the alternative choice. Haven’t we learned anything about reducing alternative choices by now? (Unless you’re selling 20 types of jam and encountering the paradox of choice, reducing two down to one = unhappy people.)
I’m not terribly bothered by it either way. See “Fucks to Give.” But eh, since I’m not craving for that particular set of skins aesthetically, it seems I may as well add some votes in the “not touching that with a ten-foot pole” direction.
Moral freefall indeed.
This travesty though.
I actually logged into the official forums to cast my vote.
Something I haven’t done since the first WvW poll (couldn’t bring myself to care that deeply about the other polls to get past the minor mental barrier of navigating to the page by clicking a link and logging in with a password.)
Moral freefall? More like escaped from orbit.
But what the fuck, right?
Maybe they’ll change it. Maybe they won’t. I can generate just enough Fuck given to express my opinion, and then it’s back to “shrug” again. Always been more of a heavy armor weight person anyway, and both of those are pleasingly cover-everything.
I dislike the divisiveness that raids bring, but when push comes to shove, I want to be on the side of the divide that can actually do shit.
So I play the raids while the conditions are still right and I have a regular team that can do them. Selfish? Yep. Ever so slightly hypocritical? Probably.
Not that I give a fuck anymore.
The operating principle is, do it while I still can. When I can’t, it’s time to not give a fuck and do something else. Like play another game.
(That, by the way, seems to be what 2-3 members of my current raid team have decided, since they stopped showing up for raids in favor of playing Overwatch.
Our raid leader is still exceptionally resourceful in finding replacements, which is why the raids continue, but I fear the day he vanishes.)
It’s a lovely text adventure game that lets you play John Watson to a renamed Sherlock Holmes (or take Watson in a completely new and less doctoral direction) in a convincing fictional universe that draws from Victorian steampunk, Jack the Ripper and Holmes mythology, mixed with a dash of unique magic – healers and vampires are on the same spectrum here, depending on if you choose to give or drain “light” from another.
I binged for two to three days straight on this game, exploring all the tons of story paths, to the point I bought it for my iPad so I could play it while not home.
Still on a Sherlock Holmes kick, I ended up drawn to watching Elementary on Netflix, a slightly cheesy modern adaptation where Watson is a woman, aka Lucy Liu.
Despite the slight weirdness of these people existing in a parallel world where no one appears to have heard of the Victorian Age Sherlock Holmes, and thus don’t blink an eye when names like “Moriarty” cross their lips, the story of the cases and the Holmes style reveals are fun and entertaining enough for me to enjoy the series.
Just about finishing Season 1, and there’s a healthy amount of seasons and episodes to go, so I think my TV watching Fuck budget is set for the next month or thereabouts.
However, it’s hard to give a fuck simultaneously to Elementary and the next game I ended up messing with. Because that’s just too much story going on in two separate monitors… impossible to focus on. Shadowrun: Hong Kong is one hell of a story game.
Seeing it pop up on Humble Bundle reminded me that I’ve already owned it for goodness knows how long, and -haven’t- played it, despite enjoying the first two Shadowruns.
So I started playing it, and it’s still an excellent Shadowrun style RPG, with an added twist to the decking minigame so that it allows for both sneakiness and pattern-recognition to evade trouble, rather than devolve into yet another combat sequence, except only with your deckers. Now, combat is the last resort.
The game feels very hefty in terms of content. There’s tons of text to read, what seems like many conversation options with NPCs and your teammates, and it takes me the greater part of a night to get through one job (gotta talk to my NPCs after each job to see what’s changed, y’know?!)
And the jobs don’t seem to stop coming. Yikes.
Also on the “maybe someday soon” list is Witcher 1 and 2.
After watching Cohhcarnage stream Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC, where I greatly enjoyed watching someone else play, I am a little tempted to give the series another try again.
The minor little stumbling block might be my perfectionism and desire for a good ending. I was crazy enough to save, re-load, and move back a day or two in saves in Shadowrun because I didn’t have a skill leveled up high enough to get a good ending on a job (where you earn an NPC teammate and still keep some other NPCs alive.) So I played another job, earned enough karma to level the appropriate skill, then replayed the job.
I understand that really doesn’t happen much in the Witcher series, and is more “get one thing at the cost of something else going awry.” It’s why I got depressed by Telltale’s Walking Dead after a while too.
And the whole reason I was off watching Twitch streams was because I was trying to learn more about Total War: Warhammer. (Which is currently on hold, but rest assured, I avenged Hack Leg-Biter quite a bit already before I stopped.)
Gaming Fuck Budget = Overflowing.
Still taking plenty of attention are Fucks I Have to Give About Work (so that I have money, which I do very much give a fuck about having enough to suffice) and Fucks That Immediately Push Aside Everything Else Because Your Body Feels Like Shit (aka caught a cold, got a bacterial infection on the tail end of that viral cold, got given antibiotics that probably wiped out most of the usual gut bacteria… with the expected gastrointestinal distress that results, added insult to injury by eating something I really shouldn’t have, threw it back up at 2am…twice, and am now resolved to do the mild soup and nibbles of toast thing for the next couple of days until things go back to normal.)
Except the doctor did a blood test and is now hinting at scary words like “prediabetes,” which makes me think I better shove the Exercise Project and Healthier Diet Fucks a little higher up the priority list in the next couple of months and create a better normal.
I’m still nowhere near complete on the Fuck Clutter project (or is that Clutter Fuck?) either, and my arbitrary July deadline looms.
Yep. Definitely scattered. Decidedly haphazard.
Nothing I can do except not give it too many fucks and take things a day at a time though.
I’m an orcy kinda person. I’ve always liked playing the big hulking muscular brutes / monsters in MMOs, regardless of whether they fulfill the stupid and dumb stereotype or have a set of brains behind the brawn, a la Beast from X-Men or Winston from Overwatch.
I’m a lot more particular about the smaller races.
Sturdy stout ones like dwarves, quick skittering clever things like skinks or skritt, smart arrogant bastards like asura are fine.
Cutesy ones *dead eye stare at gnomes* make me shudder.
Hobbits are completely neutral, caught between soft rounded cutesiness, yet with the weight of Tolkien epicness and the fondness of feasting and relaxing at all hours of the day on the other side of the scales.
I have never really given GOBLINS any time of day.
Sure, they’re ugly gits, but they’re also scrawny, smarmy, generally unlikeable anklebiters who cower, run away, get et, and try to stab people in the back when they’re not looking.
The only thing going for them is that they come in a huge throng, and that there’s always more gobbos to replace those that get used up and thrown away.
Or so I thought.
I started a second Greenskins campaign, y’see.
This time, Azhag the Slaughterer – a by far cleverer orc than Grimgor Ironhide – went straight south and west for the Top Knotz’ throats, while rounding up and intimidating all the other weaker orc tribes along the way into confederacy with him.
Gotta get your own house in order first, y’know. The rest of the world can come later.
Confederating handed me a second army really early on, which was thankfully supported by the vast Badlands regions I was also swallowing up.
Just one teeny little itty bitty problem. The lord of that second army was a goblin wizard named Hack Legbiter.
Something I would never ever choose if given an alternative, any alternative. Wot do I do with dis? Ain’t an orc. Can’t fight. Just casts spells, assuming the Winds of Magic are favorable and his head doesn’t explode? Can he even be inspiring, given that he’s not going to go charging into battle and go mano o orco with the most powerful infantry/general on the other team?
Oh, whatever. Goblins are throwaway, right? It’s a second army when I wasn’t planning on having one. It can be a whole throwaway army.
So I recruited some 8-9 cheap Sword Ork Boyz to form the infantry core, hired a whole bunch of even cheaper goblin archers, and let Hack take them along with his small retinue (two goblin spearmen and one set of goblin wolfrider cavalry) adventuring.
He did the usual second army things. Sometimes he came up to support Azhag’s stack as reinforcements, sometimes he was delegated off to take out a minor settlement while Azhag and his now Waargh-in-attendance took out the main province capital.
He did his share of leveling up and raiding and sacking/occupying settlements.
Then it came to pass that Azhag was extended deep into Savage Orc territory, aka far southwest into the boondocks of the world, trying to exterminate the Top Knotz and bring the rest of the Savage Orcs under his banner.
Hack had been ordered up west to wrest Gronti Mingol out of Top Knotz hands, and from there on, northeast to Ekrund to cow the Orcs of the Bloody Hand into confederacy.
Then the dwarves began boiling out of the mountains and rolling down the slopes to the original barely defended starting settlements.
Thorgrim Grudgebearer of the Dwarfs smashed into Iron Rock (where the initial Red Fangz rival tribe holes up, often the second settlement taken after Black Crag) and it was lost.
Kazador Dragonslayer of Karak Azul ripped through Karak Eight Peaks and sacked it, cleaning out my coffers of 5418 gold.
I can only imagine the greedy dwarves gave up the thought of occupying that ancient dwarf fortress (cleaning out mountainous piles of orc poo must have been a lot less enticing) in favor of running back home with armfuls of treasure.
Hack was thus a lot -nearer- to respond when Thorgrim Grudgebearer started sniffing around hungrily at Valaya’s Sorrow (the other settlement nearest to the Orc capital of Black Crag.)
Azhag, of course, had turned around immediately once he’d finished with the Top Knotz and was racing northwards through the tunnels with no regard for any possibility of interception whatsoever. “Anyfing what gets in my way is goin’ ta be sorry.”
He was, unfortunately, just too far away.
So was Hack too, for that matter.
Normal marching would not reach either the dwarf army or Valaya’s Sorrow to reinforce it.
Forced marching would extend the reach of the army, but leave them tired out and exhausted and unable to initiate combat. They couldn’t reach Valaya’s Sorrow even with forced marching, but they -could- get in threatening range of the dwarves.
The dwarves took the bait.
They attacked a tired out, worn down force of 17 orc and gobbo units, led by a scrawny goblin, with a full 20-stack of dwarf warriors and quarrellers.
It was a day of slaughter. For both sides.
Convinced they were going to die anyway, Hack prepared to sell his army dearly and take as many dwarves with him as possible. The less dwarves that remained on the battlefield, the more the Valaya’s Sorrow garrison would have a fighting chance to hold off, until Azhag got there.
The battle ebbed and flowed and there was a great routing of orcs and goblins in many directions. Incredibly, the scattered remnants kept pulling themselves back together.
One side would flee, but then seeing the fighting going on elsewhere, recover long enough to ordered back to fight and flank the dwarves who had started out fresh but were by now, just as bone-weary and exhausted as the greenskins had been in the very beginning.
Running away would just get them cut down by the dwarven quarrellers anyway. Their only chance was to smash into the missile infantry and overwhelm them, and crush the hardy dwarven warriors with the weight of their bodies and corpses.
Thorgrim had been busy smashing holes in the Orc Sword Boyz ranks, even as the rest of his army had started crumbling around him from goblin arrows and orc sword casualties.
Hack valiantly tried to hold him off in single combat for a while, but knew he was going to get overwhelmed. A frickin’ Dwarf King versus a gobbo wizard, fer Gork’s sake.
The loyalty and ferocity of his gobbo archers was amazing to see, though. Many of them, having run out of ammunition, pulled out wicked-looking stabbas and swarmed Thorgrim. They died in droves, but there were a hundred of them and one of Thorgrim, and he was locked into this battle for good.
Hack kept buying time, waiting for the Winds of Magic to recharge, wherein he would let off Magic Missiles straight into Thorgrim’s face, probably blowing up several goblins in its path, but at least wounding him a little more. That throned bastard wasn’t likely to break or die anytime soon though.
All across the battlefield, scenes like this were happening. “Deyz gonna kill us anywayz. Dere’s more of us than dem. Lez make sure dere’s a few less dwarves in da world before we go to da big WAAARGH in the sky.”
Success was starting with 5 dwarves (six if ya count the dead one), and now there were three.
Eventually, Thorgrim wounded Hack and forced him off the battlefield. With their leader gone, that was it, the green tide that had been making the dwarves fight for every inch of ground up and evaporated.
The game called it a Close Defeat.
I look at the ranks of dwarf units reduced to one or two dwarves apiece, and I call it a fucking victory for a goblin.
Would you believe it, Thorgrim was NOT satisfied with this and pursued the bedraggled remnants of Hack’s army with his bedraggled remnants a second time, hoping to wipe them out for good?
“Well, boyz, let’s do it all over again. But dis time, dey’s as beat up as we wuz. We’s da onez dat are left. Wez da tuffest, fightiest, cunningest gits dere iz on dis side of the hill.
Oh yes, did I ferget ta say? We’s here fer a reason. Dere’s a hill here. We goin’ up it and lettin’ da dwarves run dere stunty lil legs out comin’ ta us.”
The second battlefield had blessed high ground.
There was a lot of shooting. A lot of soon-to-be-dead orcs and dwarves going at each other. Plenty of greenskin flanking the severely outnumbered dwarf warriors climbing up the hill. An immense hail of crossbow bolts from the quarrellers at the bottom of the hill as the remaining orcs screamed a defiant WAAARGH and charged down at them.
The dwarf melee frontline crumbled, the quarrellers lost heart and retreated all the way back to the zone boundary.
The downslope victory celebration charge.
Thorgrim was on the back foot.
Hack managed to slip into Valaya’s Sorrow, in part to reinforce the garrison from potential siege (there was one more smaller dwarf army of 6-8 units in the neigborhood, apart from Thorgrim), and mostly to lick his wounds. He was down to some 4-5 accompanying units now.
The problem was fightiness.
The lost battle and the immense casualties meant that his army’s fightiness had taken a very bad hit. It was 47 (aka not great to begin with), going down 23 (near catastrophic), that sort of thing.
He could not sit in the garrison for long. His army would tear itself apart. What remained of it. Which was barely an army and more a warband, maybe.
It was going to be impossible to knock heads together to quell animosities, it’s not like the ragtag gathering needed any -more- casualties.
He managed to wait one more turn, whereupon Azhag finally came running up to the vicinity of Valaya’s Sorrow bellowing at the temerity of the dwarves, but out of breath to actually catch either the retreating Thorgrim (down to 4 units) or the second dwarf warband which was busily raiding in Valaya’s Sorrow territory.
There was no more chance to stay passive one more turn. It would be the end as his unhappy orcs turned and ate his gobbos or the other way around, if the goblins accused the orcs of being less fighty than the vicious archer gobbos.
There was one more chance out of this mess. Winning battles and getting revenge on the dwarves.
Hack tore out of Valaya’s Sorrow with his ragtag band, having rested enough the prior turn to recover their movement capacity, and leapt on the second army of dwarven raiders – knowing full well that Azhag was in the vicinity to reinforce.
Sure enough, the battle was a foregone conclusion, and I was only too happy to auto-resolve that. Dwarf raiders. Wiped out to a man. Er, dwarf. Whatever.
Rank Gained. Hack Legbiter was now Hack da Cunning and gained a Monster Tracker trait.
With a sudden surge of morale, Hack decided to use the remainder of his movement to chase down the fleeing Thorgrim and -his- ragtag band of dwarf survivors.
Unfortunately, there was a miscalculation in reinforcement capability and Azhag did -not- show up as reinforcements to this second battle.
I was left staring at a battlefield screen that showed the odds at half yellow and half red, and out of laziness and
a willingness to gamble being tired not quite being in the right frame of mind, I hit the auto-resolve without thinking.
With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I read the cold words “Killed in Battle. Hack da Cunning.”
That bastard dwarf had wiped out the valiant warband. That “throwaway army.”
My goblin wizard that had pretty much felled 800 dwarves with a group of greenskins that latched on like bulldogs and refused to run away.
And I didn’t even give him the chance to go out in a blaze of battlefield glory.
I saved the game. That was it for tonight.
Tomorrow, there would be time for Azhag the Slaughterer to take his vengeance on the impudent dwarves and take all the dwarven strongholds in the process.
Tonight, well, tonight there was only a sinking feeling in my gut, made up of guilt and a little bit of mourning.
I admit it, I was wrong about gobbos.
Rest in peace, Hack, ya plucky git. I’ll miss ya.