Alien Swarm with Gameolio - Four Player Co-Op Madness!

Ai-Phuong, Haven and Dan from Gameolio form up to tackle the Alien Swarm. Or at least try to! Thanks to Corey for joining us on our harrowing run into madness! Lots of "Noooooooooo!" action for all!

Dan's Guild Life: End Times - World of Warcraft

Well what a year it has been so far.

So inbetween this and my last post, quite a bit has happened in the World of Warcraft. Most notably, a large dragon had exploded onto the land of Azeroth and tore it up. Arguably he - what's-his-name... black dragon... Deathwing that's it - is the best designer the game has seen thus far. Re-arranging, replanting and remixing the world we've known for so many years to provide most of us a new playground to level our characters up, as well as giving us 'higher-ups' an excuse to attain a further five levels.

It was a fantastic start to the latest expansion, Cataclysm, and saw further dungeon and raids being made available to end-game. Guilds were given a reason to band together and contribute towards progression as the guild it self could now 'level up' and thereby provide their members with little perks (e.g. faster mount speed, increased reputation gains, access to a portable guild bank to name a few). Guilds were also given their own achievement system that could, again, reward perks or just boost the 'ego' of the guild as a whole. It was great in that it gave us another excuse to visit old content. New Player vs Player (PvP) areas were opened up to cater to that crowd to boot. Overall, and in implementation, the beginnings of a great expansion. However, that soon changed after the initial month.

You! The bad guy of Cataclysm.... that guy!

Our guild has always been a small group focusing on ten-player raids. During most of Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) we we're able to clear content and generally have fun. The difficulty in raids started fairly low and ramped up as we approached the final raid of the expansion. Personally, I enjoyed the crap out of WotLK. It provided the guild with plenty of content that I thoroughly enjoyed and provided some of the most epic moments seen thus far. I think a big one for the guild, and I, was travelling on the train in Ulduar for the first time to visit Mimiron (love the music in there). So, when Cataclysm erupted, I was hoping for more of that.

Certainly the first raid that we had entered into as a guild provided a step up in challenge as we saw a couple weeks of annihilation at the 'hands' of Magmaw. This is where the bulk of our problems began and continued right up today.

Magmaw, the tank eater

The guild was ready to get into another attempt at Magmaw when one of our members disappeared. We weren't sure what happened, but had to seek out a new member to fill that spot. This took almost three months to do. There could be plenty of reasons why this had happened. But one of the big ones seemed to be that folks were joining guild en masse. At least on our server it seemed that the small raiding teams were struggling to find members fill out their roster as people looking to join a guild were more concerned with being part of a guild that was already capped out (level 25). The result for was several large guilds, saturated with a variety of people, but not necessarily being a raiding guild. While I don't blame new players for choosing a guild that is at max level over one that can only offer half of the perks associated to guild level I am annoyed that this system wasn't thought through properly.

Certainly the idea of perks and guild leveling sounded great on the surface, but ever since Wrath of the Lich King there has been this push to cater to the casual players. Splitting raids into a 25 player and 10 player variation was a big step in that direction. Being able to take advantage of all raiding content in a 10 player team had the smaller guilds excited for every patch Blizzard released. Allowing gear, previously only attainable by raiding itself, to be purchased with a form of 'currency' earned by completing dungeons further closed the gap for newer players to be viable (at least at the entry level to whichever content was current) and made recruiting somewhat easier. Then Cataclysm hit and so too did guild leveling and it's perk system. With larger guilds able to burn through levels at a quicker pace then smaller guilds it certainly made them a more attractive place to be (who doesn't want all the perks?!) but in effect hindered the recruitment process. While the game does still have in place everything existing from the last expansion, the newly added guild leveling system somewhat stifled the process of casual, or smaller guilds, being able to reliably raid.

Guild Perks

While our guild did manage to hobble on and actually clear most of the content up to Ragnaros, it was a struggle. The story of how much bad luck we had could probably be enough for another post, but interestingly it wasn't totally uncommon amongst other guilds I came in contact with during pick-up player invites to fulfill missing member spots. Lag and real-life situations crept up continually for us and in one case, a guild members computer literally exploded.

So here we are at the tail end of the expansion and my will to push forward with the guild has somewhat diminished. Interestingly, with the introduction of the latest patch and the 'Looking For Raid' tool (essentially an auto-group arranger for raid sized instances tackling bosses and mobs at a lower difficulty) I am actually interested in joining a guild and becoming a true 'casual' player. Perhaps it is just more then bad luck and a reflection of how much time I can devote to running a guild and how little I have of it anymore, but playing World of Warcraft at a truly casual level just seems so much more enticing and viable with this latest tool. The patch was available for about two weeks when I had first cleared the latest raid via LFR. The big factor for playing together as a guild was a sense of community and above all that, fun, but the other factor was in seeing all the content that the game could offer.

Introduction of the auto-raid group arranger: Looking For Raid

With the 'Mists of Pandaria' expansion announced for World of Warcraft, I do plan to continue playing up until the release of the pack at a casual level and look forward to whatever direction the game takes me. A big part of me wishes the situation would be somewhat different and that the guild could have continued progressing, but another part of me is thankful for tools like LFR, that will allow me to step back a bit and devote time to other facets of life and gaming.

Till next time!