Saturday, December 29, 2007

Music to WoW by ;)

Someone started a thread with suggested class theme music in the General forum a day or so ago. That inspired me, so I've spent roughly the last two days since then putting together a rather exhaustive list of music to listen to for all different elements of the game. Incidentally Pike, this is also why you haven't seen me in-game since then, possibly. ;-)

Some of this music is rare and difficult to find, although most of it will be searchable on Google by name, and you can then find how to obtain it from there. Also, in case this is necessary...I'm listing the names of songs only; so I'm not infringing copyrights.

This also probably isn't entirely finished yet, either...I'll keep adding to it for a little while yet.

BM Hunter:- Black Betty, by Ram Jam.
Night Train, by Guns 'n' Roses.
Mescaline, by 1200 Micrograms.
The Pokemon Theme.
Cotton Eye Joe, by the Rednex.
Gettin' Drunk, by the Beat Farmers.

Marks Hunter:- Moonlight Sonata 14, by Rave over Beethoven.
The Dominoes Fall, from the V for Vendetta Soundtrack.
Playing to Win, by John Farnham.
Batman Begins Main Theme, from BB Soundtrack.

Survival Hunter:- Baraka Spirit Zone, by Etnica.
Terminator 2 Main Theme, from T2 Soundtrack.
You Can't Kill Me, by Mojo Nixon.
Nurture My Pig, by the Reverend Horton Heat.
Swamp Thing, by the Grid.
Savin' The Day, from the Ghostbusters Soundtrack.

Druid:- Contradanza, by Vanessa Mae.
Power of Celtics, by Shiva Shidapu.

Feral Druid:- The Animal Song, by Savage Garden.
Cat Druid:- Whenever, Wherever by Shakira.
Send Me On My Way, by Rusted Root.

Bear Druid:- The Bare Necessities, from the Jungle Book soundtrack.
Resto Druid:- Night In That Land, by Nightnoise.

Boomkin Druid:- Ride On Time, by Black Box. (Semi-rare now)
Walk This Way, by Aerosmith and Run DMC.
You Spin Me Right Round, by Dead Or Alive.

Mage:- Attack - Plastix, by Bexta.
Friend Like Me, from the Aladdin Soundtrack.
Be Like Mike, by Gatorade. (Pyroblast ;) Rare - Email me if you can't find it)
Big Blue Dress, by Cranius (On YouTube)

Priest:- Mea Culpa, by Enigma.
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? by Culture Club.

Holy Priest:- Almost Unreal, by Roxette.
How Do You Do, by Roxette.
Hero, by Enrique Eglasias.
Bed of Roses, by Bon Jovi.

Shadow Priest:- Spybreak, from The Matrix Soundtrack.
Operation: Blade, by Public Domain.
Arabian Nights on Mescaline, by Infected Mushroom & GMS
First Impression, by Dave Joy.
Salvia Divinorum, by 1200 Micrograms.

Rogue:- The Last Ninja, by Magnus and Erik Band. (Rare - Email me if you can't find it)
Mortal Kombat, by Utah Saints.
Spin That Wheel, from the TMNT Soundtrack.
Punch In The Face, by Frenzal Rhomb.
One Jump Ahead, from the Aladdin Soundtrack.
Everything About You, by Ugly Kid Joe.
Bad Boys, by Inner Circle. (Troll Rogue)
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" by AC/DC (Suggested by Josh)

Warrior:- Working Class Man, by Jimmy Barnes.
All Fired Up, by Pat Benatar.
Thunderstruck, by AC/DC.
TNT, by AC/DC.

Paladin:- The Touch, from the Transformers (1987) Soundtrack.
Superman Theme, by John Williams.
Big Time, by Peter Gabriel.
It's Not Easy To Be Me, by Five For Fighting.
St. Elmo's Fire, by John Parr.

Warlock:- Isolated, by Chiasm.
Touched, by Vast.
Forsaken, by Disturbed.
Hunger, from the Transformers (1987) Soundtrack.
The Imperial March, by Metallica. (Orc Warlock)

Shaman:- Sweet Lullaby (Apollo Mix) by Deep Forest.
Earth Tremors, by Fractal Glider.
Red, by Endorphin.
Divine Moments of Truth, by Shpongle.
Arcazection, by LioZ. (Old, impossible to find, but awesome. Email me for it)
UK USA, by Eskimos & Egypt.

Orc National:- Barbarian Horde, from the Gladiator Soundtrack.
Troll National:- Dreadlock Holiday, by 10cc.
Tauren National:- Ly-O-Lay Ale Loya (Circle Dance), by Sacred Spirit.
Forsaken National:- House of 1,000 Corpses, by Rob Zombie.
Dwarf National:- Protect Your Mind, (Braveheart Theme) by DJ Sakin.
Gnome National:- Hook Main Theme, by John Williams.
Goblin National:- Space Pussy, by Hallucinogen.
Night Elf National:- Contradanza, by Vanessa Mae.
Human National:- Kingdom Skies, by Jase. (Old, impossible to find, but awesome. Email me for it)
Blood Elf National:- My Michelle, by Guns 'n' Roses.
Draenei National:- On Sacred Ground, by Yanni.

Zone/Area Music. (This is by no means exhaustive; just a couple I've come up with)

Hillsbrad Foothills:- And Then They Start To Dance, (Dumonde Mix) by DJ Snowman.
The Crossroads:- Egyptian Nile Music, by Soliman Gamil.
The Wailing Caverns:- The Cobra's Dance (Fallahi Rhythm) by Phil Thornton and Hossam Ramzy.
Camp Taurajo:- White Whisper, by Deep Forest.

Ratchet:- Deep Blue Sea, by Brian Eno.
Man of Colors, by Icehouse.
If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too? by Mental As Anything.

Tanaris:- Desert Storm, by Infected Mushroom and Holymen.
Bloodhoof Village:- Stomp Dance, by Music of the American Indian.
Desolace:- Baraka Spirit Zone, by Etnica.
Razorfen Kraul:- Shredder's Suite, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Soundtrack.
Stranglethorn Vale:- Suneater, by This Morn' Omina.
The Hinterlands:- Rain Song, by Myth.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seeing how the other side lives

I went and visited Pike over on Silver Hand this morning, which was fun. I got up to level 6 after Pike logged off, but then as well as being tired, I ran into a rather creepy gnome in Goldshire who first said my toon was cute, then asked where the Darkmoon Faire was, and then asked if he could "work for me." I thus logged off immediately after that. That's the down side of playing a female toon, I guess.

Although definitely not always, they can sometimes be rather sinister little creatures, gnomes. This one had a pointed moustache and the proverbial Fu Manchu beard, to add stereotypical weight to the impression.

Although they can also be fun to play, too...I had an alt a bit back, which was my first time playing one, and ran around Goldshire screaming, "I'M A GNOME! I'M A GNOME! I'M A GNOME!" for probably close to two full minutes or so, noticing how much more quickly I at least *seemed* to be moving, as well as what it was like to have a vantage point that much lower than other people's. Was great fun...although I think the other people in Goldshire probably thought I was insane.

In terms of Alliance races, I've now played pretty much all of them; I like the Draenei as well, but in terms of the Night Elves, I've never been able to get over my experience with them in Warsong Gulch enough to actually be able to play one myself.

*Eyes begin to glaze over* "Must...kill...Warm...sweet...Night Elf...blood..." *begins twitching*

Oh I have to go and clean up the drool.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jubei'Thos has free transfers!

I still won't have the money for gametime for another few days yet, but if I can get back in time, apparently Jubei'Thos is having free server transfers to help lower its' overflowing population. I think I will almost certainly transfer off if so...although I really haven't had much of a chance to play WoW in general these days, even when I had game time. Christmas is always busy, however.

What I was going to ask though, there any particular server where most of the people who read this blog have characters? It'd be cool if a few of us could meet up on one particular server and do some stuff at some point. Of course, even if some of you had to roll alts, the new experience discounts make doing so much faster than before.

So if we were going to find a server to congregate on, which would it be?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New forum thread

I posted the first thread on the forum, since apparently other people are a little shy so far. ;-)

The thread is asking for opinions on whether or not to take the slaying talents (+3% damage to humanoids or monsters) in the Survival tree. I noted that people in the blog comments have been suggesting to do so. Let people know what your opinion on this is. :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

The War on Vermin

Summer's here again, and for me, that means the mice, ants, and white tail spiders are too. I need to get the grass outside my house cut, as I think that is drawing the spiders.

I had to go to the supermarket here yesterday and get some surface spray insecticide, three insecticide fumigation bombs and some rodenticide bait stations. After having a mouse in my bedroom and nearly having a large white tail spider fall on my head near the back of my house, I'm fighting back. ;-)

The mouse hasn't been seen since, and on seeing another large white tail spider earlier this evening, I sprayed down my front door frame with surface spray. It seems I'm going to have to repel them room by room, pretty much.

I greatly envy people living at higher latitudes at this time of year...because not only do I need to endure the heat at this time of year, but I also find myself having to re-assert my position at the top of the food chain. ;-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another new Survivalist's blog

Got another new one here, Lienna's Log. She apparently just got started this month. Go look, say hi, etc. ;-)

My own forum

I decided to follow in BRK's example. Unfortunately this isn't hosted by me; it's a free site, but still seems to work fine.

The address is - Go make an account if you want, and start some topics up...I've got an initial announcement there, and will add some more stuff in time. I noticed though that I've been getting some questions in my comments recently, which is really cool...but at the same time, I thought a forum might make things a bit easier...they're a bit better for two way communication than blog comments.

Of course, I will still be posting here, and probably what I will do is copy some of the stuff I write over there back here, in order for it to exist here in a more read-only form...we can do actual discussion etc over there. This should be good though. :)

A few different Survival builds

Following my last post, I thought I'd put up a couple of different builds, for use when doing different things.

16/0/45. - The "phone booth" spec, dedicated purely to CC and wipe prevention. This is hard core Survival, it's unashamedly non-standard, and most people will think that it's utterly crazy, as it breaks a number of cardinal rules. It also doesn't work anywhere near as well these days as it actually did before 2.0, and prior to 2.0, this was my own full time spec.

The advantages though are rock solid trapping and CC, truly insane health, and a potential dodge rate of close to 40% with 700 agility. It also saved my life numerous times when I got jumped melee in either Desolace or Felwood; the Alliance trying that usually got a very nasty surprise.

The downside is utterly negligible ranged damage. You ideally only want to use this these days in a group support role, where you already have someone else designated as primary DPS, and you're focused on CC, safe pulling via the Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety, and Deterrence offtanking. For that however, it can work very well.

It however should not be used for soloing, particularly in Outland. I speak from experience there. Just don't; you will die, and it will be messy and horrible.

0/21/40 - Cookie cutter. From what I've seen, this (at least at one point) was probably the forum-approved MM/Surv spec. You get most of Survival's goodness, including the stuff needed for trapping. However, this build also doesn't come with Readiness, and without more points in Marks, before you get to 600 ag, your comparitive raw ranged damage is still going to suck.

0/31/30 - "Waiting for Agility." I was using this for a while (or something close to it) until I got my 600 ag, at which point I switched back to something closer to the 0/21/40 build. This is a hybrid, for use when you still want to do decent ranged damage, (which it actually does) but don't want to give up Survival entirely. Personally though, if damage is your focus, I'd probably go with BM in preference to this; simply because BM will still do more damage than it, and you're also not really getting enough of Survival in this build for it to be really useful in terms of utility.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New blog

Added the url of Nomakk, a fellow Survivalist, to the blogroll...his blog is called Scattered Nightmares. He's only got two posts up so far, but I'm sure he will probably add some more. Let's make him feel welcome. :)

More about the Survival role

(An mp3 I recommend playing in the background while reading this post, or particularly the latter half of it, is Like A Dog Chasing Cars from the Dark Knight soundtrack. It's a good song for listening to where Survival in general is concerned, IMHO...Creates the right mindset. ;-))

Thanks for posting this, especially the part about about knowing your role. I've been trying to adjust to the spec, and it's been frustrating. I know that it's because I just haven't figured it out yet, but I still feel like a dork when the BMs and MMs routinely out dps me. I'm not making the kind of impact you described when you described saving the priest and the party from a wipe.

I had this in a comment from Ardent attached to the post about SV mana efficiency. His frustration is understandable. The common belief among Hunters both on the forum and off is that our role, first, last, and everything in between, is pure ranged DPS. I suspect that also the venerable BRK himself would be nodding and saying Amen at this point. For a BM Hunter, (and to a lesser degree, Marksmanship) he's right.

However, I'll also say that from what I've been seeing him write recently, BRK is actually starting to display an intuitive understanding of what Survival is about as well, and that is greatly appreciated. Given the degree of prominence that BRK has in the WoW-related blogosphere, his depiction of Survival has a lot of potential for influencing people's perceptions of the spec one way or the other; so him understanding the potential value of our role is as important as us understanding what Beast Mastery can do for us in a group.

What BRK has been noting recently (if only in passing and by implication of course, as Survival understandably is not his main area of focus) is that the main area where Survival differs from the other two specs is that the other two specs are predominantly offensive. Survival, on the other hand, is predominantly defensive.

Hence, Ardent is absolutely correct when he notes that in many situations, a Survival Hunter is going to get schooled on the damage meter by a Hunter of either of the other two specs. That's working as intended, and it's just fine; I don't have a problem with it at all.

A point of reference; in WoW earlier, although I was beaten by one particular Alliance shaman, (also level 70) I won the next three out of four duels with a second, and also ended up beating off an Alliance cat form Druid who had surprised me and managed to get in an initial Mangle before I'd started my own attacks. I can also say with certitude that before the introduction of Vanish, Cloak of Shadows, and Resilience, I never lost a single fight against a Rogue as a Hunter, and that many of those were won via hybrid melee.

I also don't do that via greater damage output. Compared to just about anyone else I know of, my damage sucks. PvE, I have topped 1200 DPS, but I need to go close to breaking my wrist to do so. Again, that's just fine.

I do it by keeping the enemy where I want them, and by where appropriate, utilising those abilities (Immolation trap, Serpent Sting, that supposedly "elite" Hunters turn up their noses at) that can deliver regulated and gradual threat, rather than burst, and which also mean that even if I need to spend time dodging, I'm still doing damage to the target. I remember in one particular duel against another Hunter, I managed to first freeze his pet, then apply Wyvern Sting to the Hunter himself, and I then actually paused for a second before continuing to destroy him in order to allow him to appreciate just how utterly powerless he was at that point.

This is a perfect illustration of the exact point. Beast Mastery is about giving you the ability to win, via superior raw damage output. Survival is about removing the ability to win from the enemy, via the utilisation of various tools at the appropriate time.

Survival is thus not about winning a fight purely or primarily due to greater potential damage output than the enemy. Survival is first and foremost about taking inventory of every last one of your abilities as a Hunter, (and having an intuitive knowledge of when the use of each is appropriate) and secondly, is about controlling, in every detail, the execution of a fight from the first step down to the last. Another reason for my adoption of this spec was an early realisation of (and actual enjoyment of) the fact that initial planning is often far more critical to the successful end of a fight than the actual fight itself.

Solo, that means that initially the individual scenario is carefully analysed. Distance and the proximity between mobs (if there are multiple present) is assessed, as is the likelihood of the Hunter surviving the encounter. For this, a realistic assessment of one's abilities is critical, as is the mod Mobinfo-2. Strategy (in terms of a sequence of steps) is planned, a trap is laid in an appropriate place if need be, and the Hunter carefully chooses the appropriate position to commence the fight without drawing the attention of other mobs if they are present. After all of this has been done, then, and only then, is the first arrow let fly. Sun Tzu wrote that winning 100 victories in 100 battles was not the epitome of skill, but rather that winning said 100 battles without fighting at all was the epitome of skill. Although that can't be applied to WoW directly, where it can be applied is in realising that, with Survival anyway, you can actually be far more effective doing less overall damage, if said damage is applied in the correct way.

In terms of groups, that means understanding and accepting that in many scenarios, other members of your group may well have a raw damage output which is substantially higher than your own. It is vitally important to understand here that damage alone will actually quite rarely ensure that a given PvE fight in WoW is won. The most powerful melee character in existence, if outnumbered, will be worn down and crushed, and this is especially true in WoW because of the game tending to favour single mob combat.

Another example; if you've got a sympathetic group, you can ask them to wait for a few seconds while you go ahead a bit in order to find a safe pull. You find a group of three mobs in a room ahead of the current one, isolated from any others. Assuming hypothetically that you don't have a Mage, for a moment, you mark two of them as trap targets, and one of them for tanking and general dps. (Skull) You then tag one of the three with the lowest rank Arcane Shot, pull the three back to the group in the other room, (thus entirely eliminating the possibility of a wipe due to adds) let the tank taunt the Skull target, and draw the other two back to you behind the fight. Taking care not to hit either of the mobs melee, you drop a freezing trap, freezing the first mob. You then immediately hit Readiness, drop the second trap, and freeze the second mob. With talents, this means that both mobs are now locked down for a maximum of 26 seconds.

The tank and primary DPS now have only a single mob to worry about, which they can take care of easily. You can offer them supportive fire, while with the aid of the Kharthus' Hunter Timers mod, monitor the cooldown status of both traps. If you spec for utility rather than straight damage, you will get a three second reduction on the cooldown time of Freezing Trap, which means that you can drop a second trap on an already frozen mob ahead of time, allowing for totally seamless re-trapping.

Another hypothetical scenario. (although you will need an intelligent group for this) While you have mobs 2 and 3 locked down with freeze trap, and the tank and primary DPS are engaging mob 1, something bad happens. You get a patrolling add. Retarget from skull to the add momentarily, fire Wyvern Sting, refocus fire on Skull, and inform the group that the asleep mob is now the next mob to be killed after Skull, rather than the second frozen mob. If the second frozen mob gets loose while the Wyverned add is still being fought, use Distracting Shot and set your pet onto it, while also applying Mend Pet. If you've also got a boar, (the ideal Survival pet for a few different reasons) there is an excellent chance that it will survive until the tank can arrive. Note the intent here is not for the pet to be able to kill the mob, as for it to be able to do so alone is usually an unrealistic expectation. The intent is for the pet to stand as a buffer between the mob and the rest of the group, doing incremental damage until the tank has finished with the previous mob and can thus safely intervene.

Final example from the same fight; the fight ended up going south. The second frozen mob got loose, and it and the wyverned add ended up surrounding the tank. The tank and healer tried their best, but the tank and the primary DPS are now lying cold on the ground. The mob the tank was on is near death; the other has taken a fireball or two to the face as well but is also still alive. Because you've been using both your boar and yourself as a secondary shield, the healer is also still alive, but you're going to have to move quickly if you want her to stay that way. What to do?

Put your polearm away for the moment, break out a pair of these, switch to Monkey, drop an Explosive Trap, hit Deterrence, Blood Fury, and whatever other ap trinkets you've got, and emit a 10 second long primal scream. Focus on dropping the one near death before Deterrence runs out. Once it's gone, grab the other mob with your pet, throw Growl on, feign once the mob is firmly on the pet, and then jump back and kite/shoot.

The mob will die, the Priest will res the others, the BM Hunter or 'lock will still take home first place on the DPS meter, the Warrior will still think he's the most important class in the game, a few of them will still probably think you're a crazy gimp for rolling the low DPS spec that hardly anyone uses, and you'll be lucky if anyone explicitly thanks you. At the end of the group however, the warm, feral sense of satisfaction you'll have in the pit of your stomach will be a little different to that felt by most of the other people who play this game...because even if nobody else says it, (or actually, especially if they don't) you yourself will know damn well who it was that made sure that group finished the instance.

That's Survival.

Monday, December 10, 2007

LF1M Offspec?

Karthas has a post up about cat form Druids being neglected for raids.

We don't have this problem as much now as we would have. As I've said before, the changes to Expose Weakness (among other things) made Survival start to become mainstream in 2.1, and these days of course on the forum, all the cool kids are doing it. (Well, those of them who aren't BM, that is ;))

Even so, it can still be a bit of an issue, especially if you're more heavily trap spec. (Which I often have been)

As I wrote in my comment on Karthas' post, I accepted a boomkin Druid for an Underbog run once, which ended up being an awesome experience. As well as the trademark machinegun Moonfire, (which does enormous damage, albeit with rather terrible mana efficiency) we got the usual buff, as well as offhealing as well when the main healer was oom, which probably saved us from wiping on a couple of big pulls.

Personally when running a group, I'll take any offspec with a res (Ret Paladins, Shadow Priests, Ele Shamans, boomkin/cat Druids) since I like having as many members of a group being able to resurrect as possible; it adds a very powerful form of insurance against wipes.

Also, although they don't have any real range, an Elemental Shaman is utterly devastating within a radius of ten feet or so; an RL friend of mine with a main shaman was getting 2k+ chain lightning crits before 60. Then you've got the res and all their other usual good stuff; if as a Survival Hunter you've never played alongside a high level Grace of Air totem, it's an experience worth having, let me tell you. ;-) I had three or four shamans in my old guild, and I loved them.

Although probably not the first choice for some groups, the Warlock is also probably the single most overpopulated class in WoW from what I've seen, so you'll never have trouble finding one. Most people probably already know about their trademark, Soul Stone, but as well as that and their summoning for getting groups together, they can also give you elemental banishing, (VERY useful in the Steamvault in particular) AOE Hellfire, and the soulwell for major healthstones. While Voidwalkers/Felguards can't main tank the higher instances, they can temporarily seal a breach in a pinch as well.

Paladins; as long as you can trap around it, Consecrate tanking can be great. I've been with a couple of tanking Paladins in some Steamvault runs, and given the vast numbers of mobs in that instance, I'd actually take them in preference to a Warrior in that specific case. Nothing got past them. Defensively I've also always compared Paladins mentally with the cave troll that was fought during the first Lord of the Rings movie; facing them in Warsong Gulch used to be a lot like that. It's a degree of robustness that can be useful in groups. Then of course you've got the resurrect spell, as well as the awesome and much loved Blessing of Kings in some cases.

Shadow Priests; although a lot of people overlook these guys, that is unwise. The synergy you get with both a Shadow and Holy Priest in a five man is unbelievable; spot healing from the Holy, reinforced by HoT from Vampiric Embrace, with Vampiric Touch acting as a mana battery. Then on top of that you've got two people who are resurrect capable, for extra insurance against wipes.

In other words, if you're hanging around Shat and looking for two more for a group after you've got the holy trinity (tank, main heals, main dps) covered, and you see a hybrid or a Warlock looking lonely, call them over. If the player behind the character is competent, chances are good that you won't regret it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

BRK has his own domain!

Most of you probably already know this, but apparently BRK has a new site. I've adjusted my blogroll link accordingly, for those of you who didn't know...Go have a look, as it looks good.

He apparently also has some forums up, so I'm going to have to go and check those out as may well catch me over there. ;-)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

MM/SV Mana Inefficiency

Another post which is an answer to a blog post here, this time from BRK. *grin*

How does Survival avoid being mana inefficient? I can think of a few different things.

- Know your role. Survival to some degree is a couple of different specs in one, depending on what you're doing. If you're going healer guard/trap spec, for mana efficiency make sure you get Resourcefulness. 60% mana cost reduction and 6 seconds off the cooldown of traps.

- Pot. In most of the scenarios I've been in, I generally haven't had to pot too much, but make sure you've got some mana potions.

- Use a lower rank of Multi-Shot. I learned this trick from one of the guys in the forum. If you open up your spellbook and look at Multi, you'll see that if you use it at a couple of ranks lower, the actual damage doesn't go down much, but the mana cost does.

- Use a good rotation. Survival and Marks both can use the 1:1.5. Steady, Arcane, Auto, Steady, Multi, Auto, Steady, Auto, Steady, Auto. If you've got CC around, you'll save a lot of mana from not using Multi.

- Do not be a slave to the damage meter. BM is there to do max possible sustained damage. We on the other hand are there primarily to keep other people alive. If your healer dies because you're out of mana from blasting away at range, and didn't have enough left to drop a freezing trap, that's a fundamental failure as a Survival Hunter, IMHO.

Again, BM can measure their success by their place on the damage meter. As Survival, when you have one of those moments that you wish you had Fraps for...when everyone else in the group (including the main tank) is dead, and standing back to back with the Priest, you manage to kill the adds and avoid a total'll know how to measure yours. ;-)

MMO Gender Bending

Was just reading Pike's blog where she has a recent article talking about why people play opposite gender characters in MMORPGs.

As a couple of people here have inadvertently but correctly mentioned, I am a heterosexual male. Yet I play a female character who I have strong emotional ties to, and who I actually at times speak about in the first person.

As far as sexuality is concerned, I will admit that Mirshalak visually is actually fairly close to my own sexual ideal...or at least one particular element of it. Given the percieved lack of femininity in Orcish females, this could be taken as additional evidence to support the theory that I am, in fact, homosexual...however, I actually consider the character highly visually feminine...just not, perhaps, in a conventionally stereotypical way.

Hence, my initial motivation with Mirsh was as a straight male wanting a female character who I would be visually, and I would definitely even say sexually, attracted to.

However, as time went on and I developed more of a bond with the character, the situation became more complex. I gradually discovered that being a female character, Mirsh gave me the freedom to express certain emotional elements which, stereotypically speaking, Real Men are not supposed to express. These included compassion, empathy, and a degree of protectiveness towards other people which was entirely new to me.

Given the above, I have, on numerous occasions actually, been accused of homosexuality by people who I played the game fairly extensively with. The question of my sexual orientation is one that I've probably actually devoted a couple of years of total mental time to, all up. I eventually came to the conclusion, particularly given my degree of enjoyment of heterosexual sex, that I wasn't actually gay...but that I perhaps quite simply was unusually emotionally active and/or honest for a straight male.

The creation of Mirshalak as a character coincided with a period of my life where I had only recently been able to become free of parental authority; thus, this character served as a vehicle through which I've at least hopefully been able to attain a greater degree of self-knowledge. It had led me to discover that in some ways I actually am a very different person to who I'd actually thought...but then again, a lot of those characteristics which I think of as being radically different are actually the same as those I posessed when younger...they now merely perhaps take somewhat different forms. Mirsh has taught me a lot about myself, and I almost certainly wouldn't have learned at least some of those things if she had been a male character.

Hence, if a person who is playing a different gender character doesn't explicitly engage in sexually oriented behaviour, my own belief would tend to be that having an opposite gender character on its' own is not sufficient grounds for suspicion of homosexuality. As Richard Bartle has written, perhaps the primary redeeming function of MMORPGs is to allow for the attainment of self-knowledge through being able to adopt various different non-real, experimental identities, and then actually inhabit said identities in a relatively neutral environment. From this perspective, rather than accusing a person of being gay, I'd probably actually suggest that they are not fully utilising the potential for personal development that MMORPGs offer if they haven't got a character whose gender is the opposite to their physical one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Invoking Kali in Warsong Gulch - WoW as spiritual catalyst.

And now for something completely different. ;-) (Though still WoW related)

I realise this probably isn't something WoW players talk to each other about much...but over the last 18 months, I've undergone a massive change in religious focus, and WoW was initially a big part of how it happened. You could think of this as an illustration of how much WoW has actually affected and influenced my offline life.

I've already written about how I've tended to play Survival as a spec from a predominantly defensive point of view...and that part of that involved more or less trying to emulate a prot spec tank in many ways. I've also written about how passionate I could get about Warsong Gulch.

There were times when I would go into a WSG match where the Horde were losing. The Alliance was basically running rings around us, apparently somehow able to materialise everywhere at once, and the Horde team would be standing around disoriented and talking about how this could be another lost game. I wouldn't be able to do this every time...sometimes the Alliance had a particularly good team, and they took the match. However, I often found that if I used some initiative in going after the flag myself and asked a couple of other people to help out in different ways, I could help turn even 2-nil games around more often than not.

I could also at times become euphorically single-minded about slaughtering (as well as actually attempting to induce fear in) the Alliance. As a faction, I will admit that I've always detested the Alliance to a point where many would probably consider it unhealthy. (Although note that I'm not talking about every individual player's more a cultural thing)

I will also admit that killing them is one of the main reasons why I've missed being able to play the game recently. I was aware that some (not all) Alliance players at least used their perception of the Horde as monsters as license to attack us; given however the way I consistently saw some (not all) Alliance players treating both members of the Horde, and even each other, in time, I developed the mentality that if in the Horde they wanted and expected a monster, I was going to put all of my energy into giving them one.

I don't know how many of you who read this will have heard of Kali, but she is one of the major Goddesses of Hinduism. As well as something else which happened offline, I eventually came to know about her creation story, which you can read here. As well as fitting with what I believe is the role of Survival as a spec, as I've written about before, it made me realise that my purpose in creating this character, as well as, to some degree at least, the temperament I could go into while playing with it, corresponded closely with what I was reading about this particular Goddess.

Although I'm a civilian, and relatively physically passive in offline life, with both physical and certain psychological disabilities meaning that that will likely always be the case, being Mirshalak has given me the ability to live out and begin to get in touch with the more militaristic side of my personality...which up until a year or so ago, I hadn't even really known I'd had. Given that Kali is also very much about duality, and incorporating a number of positive aspects as well as aggression, to the degree that I am practically able, I have thus begun to attempt to worship Her within offline life, as a more concrete extension of what began within World of Warcraft.

It is interesting...Blizzard have written about people forming offline romantic relationships as a result of playing WoW...I find myself wondering if they've ever heard of an instance of someone finding God as a byproduct of this game. It proves one thing, though...don't ever let anyone try and tell you that what happens in WoW can't have tangible, positive effects on people's entire lives, including their offline existence.

I'm still standing

I'm still here, and am possibly going to start trying to play on a limited basis with my current ATI card...although 17-20 FPS really isn't likely to be enjoyable. If the guild hasn't already written me off, they well and truly can now, unfortunately.

I also have another gametime runs out in four days and I'm not going to be able to afford more for probably another four after that.

I really miss WoW, though. I miss being this character. I miss doing 5 man instances; I miss being a megalomaniac in Warsong Gulch pugs but us ending up winning because of it. ;-) It's hard to believe, but I think I also actually miss the festering snake pit that is the official Hunter forum, too.

Don't give up on me, guys...I am coming back. :)