Archive for the ‘Deep Thoughts’ Category
One of my favorite musicals of all time is Les Miserable. I go to see it every time that it is within a two hour drive from me. In case you aren’t familiar with it, it is based on the book of the same name by Victor Hugo (the musical starts about 700 pages in). There are many fantastic characters in the story, but one of my favorites has always been Fantine. A women who was a single mother in revolutionary France trying to make ends meet to keep her child well cared for. She tries to earn an honest living, but eventually is turned out into the street where she must resort to prostitution to continue to pay for the people caring for her child.
She’s in less than 1/3 of the show, but I feel that her story is one of the strongest – even if it fades out very early. There is a gut wrenching scene where she bares herself, and tells the audience about her dreams. How she came to be a single mother, how she holds out the hope that the father will return to her, how every last dream she had is devastated. If done well, the scene is breathtaking. In the end Fantine ends up giving away almost all of herself to make sure she can send money for Cossette. But you see the glimpses of her remain. She is devoted, determined and will do anything it takes to shelter Cossette. In the end, it kills her, but she didn’t let people’s perceptions of her drag her down and she held on to what dignity she could, considering she was a whore at the cusp of the French Revolution. She fought for what she wanted, at any cost.
Oddly, there is another character in the story who is a jailer named Javert. He is also one of my favorite characters in the story. He also clings so strongly to his beliefs, and his actions reflect that. Every thing he does is done because he believes that it is right, and from time to time he is blinded by what he perceives to be justice, but makes the folly of never giving it any of his own thought. He is devout in his perception of right and wrong, and draws a very black and white line that distinguishes the two with no grey in between.
As you watch his story unfold, you see that he and Fantine really aren’t that different. They both have something that is precious to them, and they will both do anything – no matter the cost – to get there. The difference between the two is that when Fantine is faced with challenges she accepts them and meets them. She is flexible, and puts her pride away. Javert on the other hand cannot bend. There is right, and there is wrong. There cannot be anything in between. And, in fact, when he is confronted with an in between, unlike Fantine, he cannot bend. And trying to do so ends up breaking him. Another scene that, if done well, is incredibly moving.
At this point, you are all probably wondering where I am going with this. Read the rest of this entry »
So, this weekend I saw Cowboys vs. Aliens. I will come out and say right now that the only redeeming thing about the movie was getting to see Daniel Craig in chaps for two hours. In fact I’d even go far enough to say that I got more enjoyment out of wiping to Alysrazor all night on Sunday than I did watching that movie. I mean, to be fair, I really didn’t have high expectations for the movie from the start. I mean, the concept just seemed…off to me. Be that as it may, even Brade rated it as “wait for video”!
We have been working on Heroic Alysrazor. Contrary to what my raid may believe, I find it a really fun fight, but that might just be because I get to run around and cast ALL my heals while doing so. Feathers own. Anyhow, we’ve been working on the encounter and have pretty much narrowed a kill down to “everyone surviving”. If people live, we will win.
We had a 7% wipe last night, after just a night and a half working on the fight.
People have died to any number of things during the fight. Worms, brushfire, tornadoes, meteors. You name it, someone in our raid has probably died to it. Unfortunately, a kill on the encounter will boil down to individual play and survival. If our raid can live, we will have a kill. If our raid cannot live, we will wipe.
We are sub 50% after the first burn phase. We are usually low 30′s for the second burn phase.
As a leader, I feel somewhat impotent on this encounter. It’s mildly frustrating to have nothing to offer your raid outside of “just please, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, stay out of the bad”. It’s not something that can be fixed on the macro level of the raid, but rather needs attention at the micro level of each player. Of course, after a few hours of the fight when I see someone die my inner monologue goes something like this: COME ON! I can bloodly well heal the tank, heal your brushfire eating ass, heal your tornado hitting ass AND still dodge the bad. WHY IS IT THAT YOU CANNOT DO YOUR JOB AND DO THE SAME?!?!? RAWR!!!
Of course, it’s just a few minutes after having such thoughts that I usually do something stupid and am forced to eat the words of my inner monologue. I guess that’s karma for you.
I think we will probably spend an hour or so with the fight tonight to see if we can net a kill out of her. We have a working strategy. We aren’t failing at the DPS check. So ultimately, it’s going to be up to each individual to determine our success. We will either get it done tonight, or we won’t. I’d like to think that we will – but I watched too many hours of people standing in the bad for it to be a sure thing ;)
Read the rest of this entry »
A while back when Larissa and Tam announced that they were going to close the doors on their respective blogs, they both kind of said the same thing: I just woke up one day and knew I was done. I often wondered what one thing, one post, one comment, one email, was the catalyst to them walking away. What was it that, intentionally or unintentionally, ended up being the straw that ultimately broke the camels back. I’ve always kind of believed that the straw the breaks the proverbial camel’s back would be tiny. So small that no one would truly realize that it was the thing that caused everything to tumble to the ground.
When Tam left, I sent him my own private goodbye. I always felt close to Tam because we entered blogging at the same time, and in those early days often supported each other quite a bit. Eventually he went left down the road, while I went right, but I always remembered those early days when we kicked at rocks together. Anyhow, when Tam left one of the things that I shared with him was that I was tired. And when we responded he told me “I can tell”, he then proceeded to give me some fantastic advice that I have summarily ignored, but that’s really neither here nor there and I digress.
Let’s get back to this camel should we? Read the rest of this entry »
The other night Brade got a whisper from someone about recruiting. He advised this person what our current needs are – but also added in that we will always consider exceptional applicants. To which this person asked “what do you consider exceptional?”. This was a very well-timed question, because Brade and I had just had a conversation about this very topic based on some commentary that I offered to someone and was worried that I had offended this person, so I had rehashed the conversation with Brade for his feedback. But the question from the app really got me thinking.
What is exceptional?
I think the definition of exceptional will likely vary from person to person and circumstance to circumstance. But in light of my recent conversation and the question posed by a potential recruit I thought that I’d give you some insight into how I view exceptional. I actually have some very firm beliefs on this, because as a player, exceptional is something that I strive towards every time I step into a raid. I also recognize that what I value as exceptional may not weigh the same way for someone else – and that’s fine. This is merely a look at my philosophy and how I approach the game. Read the rest of this entry »
Monday. You know, I often ponder why everyone hates Monday so much. Sure, it’s the start of a new week. Sure, it means that the long haul to the weekend is just beginning. But I think I’d love it if someone had a much more positive outlook regarding Mondays. How about a TGIM button? No? Alright, fine. I suppose instead I’ll offer my (somewhat) weekly brain dump here. RIGHT AFTER I GO TO KINKO’S FOR TGIM BUTTONS FOR YOU ALL!
On Raiding and Mistakes
We did well this week, and I’m quite pleased with how we performed. Mostly. We snagged a heroic Shannox kill in roughly 10 pulls on Wednesday night and then started to put some work on Heroic Rhyolith Thursday evening. It did not go as well as we’d have liked it to go, and it was clear that we needed to shore some things up in our strategy. So there was lots of conversation about what to fix, how to fix it, etc. And we decided that we’d take two hours of time on Sunday to continue working Rhyolith. Read the rest of this entry »
The other day on Twitter I was part of a debate surrounding 10 man Heroic Al’Akir. More specifically - killing 10 man Heroic Al’Akir if you were a 25 man guild. Now, needless to say, it got me pretty fired up. To the point I felt myself getting ready to say some very nasty, un-Beru like things that I would not have been at all proud of later. (It really is amazing how little, yet how much, can be said in 140 characters). So even though I had so much more to say on the topic, I stepped out of it before I said something that I would later deeply regret.
Well, I publically stepped out of it anyhow.
At home I ranted, raved and lectured about it to anyone who would listen – with “anyone” being Brade and the dog. I stomped around the house as I made dinner jabbing my finger into the air everytime I wanted to hammer a point home. Because, dammit, I had points to make. Finally Brade, hoping to curve my ranting, looked at me and said “Why are you so worked up about an argument you had with idiots on the internet?”. He probably also threw around that saying about how you aren’t suppposed to argue with idiots on the internet because they’ll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience…or something like that. He tends to make blunt points that are hard to defend that way.
I shut up. Or at least ceased stomping and ranting and reverted to mumbling under my breath to the dog – at least she would give me her undivided attention…as long as I was with food in the kitchen anyhow. The truth is, I didn’t really have an answer to Brade’s question. Why was I so worked up about what these people thought? Read the rest of this entry »
Folks, I’m tired. Literally exhausted – as opposed to metaphorically exhausted. Although I suppose that there is a a little from the later as well. However, I was up most of the night with a toothache last night and so if I seem slightly incoherent or completely off my rocker, it’s because I’m pretty much fueled on 100% caffeine right now. I am also craving a calzone, but have no clue where to obtain said desire from my office. Anyhow, let’s move on to the musings, shall we?
We are currently working through out last Hard Mode – Heroic Ascendant Council. And I’m going to be brutally honest here, I’ve about had it with the fight. To the point that I almost don’t even care if we kill the damn thing. And here’s the kicker – our failing is 100% our lack of execution in phase 2. I find that I’m completely out of words to say to people short of “please just stop fucking up and pay attention to what is going on around you, because if you fail this mechanic one more time, I swear to christ I’m going to reach through my monitor and chew your ass in person”.
I mean, I’m at a loss. The second phase of the encounter is 100% about personal responsibility – and there is no one that can control that aside from the player responsible. And it’s frustrating the ever living hell out of me. And you know what, I’m going to just go ahead and say it: phase 2 of this fight is just fucking stupid. There. That felt pretty good. I get that fights should be challenging – and I enjoy that. But there gets to be a point where too much is too much, and encounters cross the line from fun and a “challenge” to ridiculous and frustrating.
I feel that this encounter has reached that point. Any fight where one person’s error can irreversibly fail your raid, is not fun. It’s just not. Should there be consequences for failing a mechanic? Yes. Should the failure of one individual cause the entire raid to end up on their ass, and running back for another attempt? No. I do think that consequences should be devastating - but I also think that you should have at least a chance, even if it’s tiny, to succeed with strong teamwork should an error occur. It is not fun for the person struggling with the mechanic (and knowing they were the reason the raid wiped), nor is it fun for the raid.
Not only that, but with Firelands breathing down our neck, I’m feeling incredibly pressured to push us through this monstrosity of a fight (pun intended, har). And to continue being honest, it’s taking its toll on me and I’ve found myself not only growing increasingly negative – but becoming a person that I don’t like in the process. After last night’s raid, I literally needed to step back and re-ground myself. Remind myself of my own goals, who I am as a person – and how I want to be as a leader.
I’m all ears if anyone has tips or tricks they use to keep people from blowing each other up during Phase 2. Lord knows I’m neck deep in frost orbs and chain lightning right now. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night we killed Sinestra. This did a several things for us – for the first time in our history as a guild, we can definitively call ourselves a “server first” guild, having snagged all three server first end boss kills. Additionally, depending on which set of arbitrary rankings you look at, we are debatably a top 100 US guild…for now (if you’ve been reading here for any length of time you already know how I feel about progress rankings). But in the aftermath of Sinestra dying, instead of being overjoyed I found myself asking “at what cost?”.
All, I am about to share with you things that I’ve not really shared to anyone, save privately to Brade.
Aside from the fact that this content tier has been excruciatingly long – I can honestly tell you that in my six years of being in guild management in this game I’ve never worked harder or felt more unappreciated and disrespected as I have for the past few months. And I find myself asking if it was worth it. Were all the hours I spent researching, reaching out to anyone and everyone I could for help when I found us struggling and crying myself to sleep at night because I was worried about if I was missing something or handled something poorly, worth it?
I don’t expect people to shower me in accolades, but every now and again a simple recognition for the work I put in or a thank you would go such a long way. You don’t even know. To be fair, a few people do occasionally thank me or say very nice things to me – usually when I need it the most and it shows I need it. And I’m grateful, because what they probably don’t realize is that they were the person that kept me going, that picked me back up when I was certain I wouldn’t be able to stand up again.
Last night after our kill instead of someone saying “man Beru, those tips you dug up these past few days were great!” - I was advised that I wasn’t the top healer for our kill. I’m sure it wasn’t meant maliciously, and I know that wasn’t this person’s intent, but I was pretty hurt by the comment nonetheless. I mean how do I even respond to that? “Sure, but I had 1mm more healing done to the tank than the other raid healers and was more of a team player?”. “Ok - but there was less than 500k healing difference and I still ranked on the fight?”. “Sorry, I’ll do better next time?”. I mean, seriously, what the fuck do I even say to that? Ultimately I opted to respond with (what I felt) was a gracious response: “It’s good for other people to outheal me, I shouldn’t always be at the top, plus it keeps my ego in check!”. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, that is. Because I’m going to admit to you, I was pretty upset by the comment. That after all of the work I put into the encounter, the only thing anyone said to me was essentially “you weren’t the best on our kill pull”.
I can’t help but feeling a little bit like this expansion and tier of content has changed my guild – and while it is for the better in some ways (progression), I’m not entirely sure it’s for the better in others (community). Perhaps I’m just being cathartic about it, I don’t know.
Recruiting this tier has been brutal, and it has taken a lot out of me. We’ve had more turn over in our raid roster the first few months of this expansion than we had in all of WotLK combined. And while I’m fairly certain we aren’t alone in that, it has been difficult to juggle that on top of everything else. I will also be honest – we have some personalities right now that don’t mesh well, and it’s been extremely taxing to keep them in check every raid. There’s been more than once that I’ve felt the need to actually ask “do I need to turn this car around”? Which is tough, because we built our guild on the foundations of respect – and to have people shitting on that pretty much just pisses me off. I’ve had to have more individual talks with people this expansion than I have….ever.
There are a couple of people right now that seem to come into the raid some nights with a giant chip on their shoulder – and I don’t have a clue as to why. Frequently these are the same people that get immediately defensive at the suggestion that they have room to improve or that they made a mistake. And to be honest with you, it’s not healthy for the raid – and it’s certainly not healthy for me. Their attitude is obvious, it does not go un-noticed by myself or others and it’s poisonous. It’s vital that I contain it and do not let it spread, or it will overwhelm what I am able to control. I’m trying to be patient. I’m trying to be understanding. I’m trying to be the bigger (responsible) person. But deep down inside I really just want to get up in their face and scream at them drill sergeant style asking “what the fuck is your problem?”.
Maybe I’ve also changed.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my guild. I am amazed and grateful at what we’ve been able to accomplish this expansion. I’ve poured so much into the guild, more than probably most people realize. It’s hard to watch something you put so much of yourself into grow, evolve and change. Everyone that takes their leave has left a footprint on the guild – and on me (ps I miss you so much, Chris, you have no idea). Just as everyone that comes into the fold creates a new footprint. Some will create bigger footprints than those that preceded them – and some won’t quite fill those that were previously left. But those footprints will be created and will remain, nonetheless.
I’m worried. No “server first” guild on our server has lasted the entirety of an expansion. They’ve all fallen down and broken apart. It was Rapture back in Vanilla. Pinnacle in The Burning Crusade. Anguish in Wrath of the Lich King. We’ve always acknowledged that the candle that burns twice as bright often only burns half as long. Monolith has always been the slow and steady turtle in the race – maybe we didn’t get server firsts but we always saw content and survived into the next expansion. So that leaves me to ask, is this Monolith’s flash of light? Are we going to burn bright and then fade giving someone else the opportunity to rise and shine? I’d like to think that after six years, we’ve got some stamina and can survive the curse of the “server first” guild – but it’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take true dedication. Which is something I’m not convinced 100% of our raiders have, and I have no doubts that there will be a need to recruit again as we continue through this expansion.
The truth is, I love the progression. I thrive on it. But the question I’m left with is: what cost am I willing to pay to have it?
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~Albert Einstein
Sometimes I wonder if Albert Einstein raided. Surely he must have, because he seems so in tune with how I feel sometimes on raid nights. Either that, or raiding really is rocket science and we just haven’t realized that fact as yet.
I’m not really one to go into doom and gloom type posts. And really, this isn’t meant to be one. Rather this is sort of a collection of thoughts based on observations that I’ve seen over the past month or so in game that have been floating around my head and I’m trying to piece them together.
Perhaps I should back up some and start this thought at the beginning.
I’ve been spending a fair bit of time outside of raids online lately, as archeology hates me and refuses to give me my Evil Dead hand pet (FU Archeology!). Now this isn’t all that unusual, as I frequently spend time online outside of raids. I mean, at the end of WotLK I had something like 7 or 8 level 80s, had finished Loremaster on Beru and done any number of other crazy achievements. But what all this time I’ve been spending online has brought to the forefront is that a lot of other people aren’t spending a lot of time online. Read the rest of this entry »