Friday, July 30, 2010

Socially Awkward in Other Venues

Woe is me. I haven't logged onto Warcraft in a couple weeks now. What with a relocation and multiple parental visits, I've just been too blaaaaahhhh to want to log on and slog a character through randoms or trudge to 80 on my lock (a whopping 2 levels... maybe someday) or my hunter.

The good news is that socially awkwardness continues unabated. With many awkward interactions with new neighbors and with a new job starting come Monday, the opportunities for my foot to enter my mouth are limitless.

Hopefully I'll be back to WoW soon with renewed vigor.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Knockdown

So, just in case you haven't noticed, Moonkins are ridiculously socially awkward. They stick out in any crowd. Hell, we use them as easy 'stand here' markers on fights where raid icons are scarce, and people get mad when I use noggenfogger and they can't find the travel size boomkin. They're giant, covered in feathers AND fur, have horns/antlers and beaks and a tail, and they stand there looking from side to side, wondering why everyone is staring. They probably smell too.

Aside from that, they don't really fit in for other reasons. They make ridiculous noises in melee combat. They put their feet in the macaroni. They stand up in side cars, for crying out loud. Come on Blizzard, think of the baby moonkins that are going to be left motherless and fatherless by all the reckless accidents. I shudder to think of the moonkins with giant chunks missing from their beaks, broken horns and antlers, giant casts on their broken, giant feet! OH THE HUGE MANATEE! (get it?)


Of course, the agile boomkin would shift into flight form upon flying out of the sidecar. But until the flight restrictions are lifted from Azeroth, there's going to be many a maimed moonchicken running/limping around.

Anyways, time to get to the point of this rambling.

Moonkins are... well... different. And not just in looks, but in game mechanics. For those of you that have always played a class where the only thing you can do to change your appearance is get a new hairstyle or switch up your tabard, shapeshifting changes a lot of about the game. For a long time, mechanics like Bone Spike would have landed the moonkin not in a sprawled out posture like they are now, but either standing as they normally would or on their back in the graphic as standing. Moonkins used to just stand there after a /kneel emote. If I remember right, when the /cower graphics came out, the moonkins were left wanting for the first couple weeks. Granted cats and bears lack a lot in the same way, but quadrupeds don't kneel. As a biped, the moonkin is in a unique shapeshifting position (do they trees count as bipeds with all those roots?). A lot of this may be the same for trees, but as my healing days ended with the abandonment of MC, I honestly have no idea.

Now, this may seem like a pointless rant, but there actually is an aspect of game play that is affected by all this. As you may have keenly guessed by the title (good for you!), it's the Knockdown.

Now, this mechanic isn't particularly prevalent in boss fights today. Not a single boss in ICC has a knockdown ability, but there are a couple trash packs that have such tricks up their sleeve. And I'm not talking about knockbacks here, just plain ol' falling down due to a bosses ability. On Ahune, the Summer solstice special boss, it's caused by the ice. On other bosses, it's an earthquake type mechanic. Whatever the cause, though, if you don't play a moonkin (or perhaps a cat or a bear or a tree), you fall down. Moonkins, however, just stand there looking stupid. Usually it's accompanied by one of the idling side to side glances that a moonkin will inevitably do after standing on one spot for too long.

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't a big deal. It's just something that I notice when it happens. I don't usually realize there's been a knockdown, and as such, I end up pounding keys and screaming at my computer, wondering why I'm not casting. Inevitably, I think that I've turned my character away from the boss with a stray mouse click, that I accidentally hit R and I'm whispering someone "2222555543555555222222"(If you're curious, 2=Wrath, 5=Starfire, 4=Moonfire, 3=Insect Swarm), or that I'm DCing off the face of Azeroth. Whatever the case may be, it's something that I notice on a regular basis. It happens often enough that it makes me wonder how hard it would be to put in a falling over graphic for Moonkins.

Though perhaps without the mechanic of falling over, those moonkins tossed from the sidecars might not be so bad off after all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ants vs. Air Traffic Controllers

I thought I'd carry on a theme here from my last post. Today, let's talk about the situational awareness capabilities of raiders.

The Ant:

I was listening to a book (I won't mention which one, so that I can keep my nerdiness level as is, rather than elevating it to ridiculous heights), and I heard a quote that immediate brought WoW to mind: "The sound perception of an ant does not include thunder."

Now, I have no idea whether or not ants can actually hear thunder, but the idea is clear. Likewise, I have no idea about a lot of things concerning ants. But here's what I think I know about them. Ants labor industriously on one task at a time, concentrating on digging or foraging for food. They can even graduate to new tasks like defending the nest. An ant, however, cannot defend the nest and dig at the same time. They deal with a problem if it affects them (moving a stick out of the way of their paths) but have little care for much else.

Unfortunately, this type of mindset can also apply to raiders. Sometimes this can be a simple case of tunnel vision. The best of raiders occasionally concentrate too hard on one aspect of a fight, and end up missing another. However, it is often just simple lack of Situational Awareness.

The Air Traffic Controller:

Well, I really think the list of competencies from the Wikipedia article on Air Traffic Controllers says it all:
"Excellent short-term memory and situational awareness, good mathematical skills, quick and assertive decision making abilities, ability to handle stress."

As a mathematician, I, of course, think that good mathematical skills are a must in any situation, but the rest of the items on the list fit in perfectly with the point I'm trying to make. It is, of course, ideal that situational awareness is right there in the list without me having to bring it up on my own.

So what kind of raider are you? The Ant? or the Air Traffic controller? Be honest with yourself.
Here's a hint: If you get mind controlled on Blood Queen, I don't want you in the fucking tower when my plane is coming in for a landing. And please, be honest with yourself.

If you're not sure, well then, you're probably not smart enough to be playing the game to begin with. Go back to your cave.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Automatons vs. Replicants

I'm not sure about you, but when I think of the word automatons, I think of mindless drones, programmed to do one task specifically. Imagine the scene in the movie The Fifth Element with Gary Oldman calling out the army of machines to make his point about life from destruction. Here, I'll help you out:

The automatons gather up the broken glass, polish the floor, and replenish a new glass with fresh water and a cherry; but when things go awry, and Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg's life depends on the help of the robots (read: robits, Isaac Asimov or Zoidberg style), there is little the automatons can do to adapt to the new situation.

Replicants on the other hand are highly sophisticated beings with artificial intelligence that can adapt, learn, and by far outstretches the simple programming of automatons. Faced with new situations a replicant can improvise and thrive. (Just in case, you don't know where Replicants come from, go watch the 1982 film Blade Runner)

Perhaps you see where I'm going with this, but just in case, I'll go ahead and spell it out:

Raider classifications:

The Automaton: Your common raider, who can accept programming, from simple instructions sometimes up to complex strategies, but who can do nothing more than follow these instructions like a roller coaster on a track or one of those tabletop hockey games with the little paper hockey guys stuck to the pegs in the slots. Programming can be input from several sources: the raid leader, strategies from other guilds, or DBM. For example then, if the raid leader or DMB says "STOP CASTING" in big angry voices/letters, the brain of an automaton can receive that instruction and communicate to the frantic fingers to stop pressing buttons. However, if something unexpected happens, or they don't have the right programming source downloaded and installed in the add-on folder, the circuitry breaks down and the following melt down can be catastrophic.

The Replicant: The uncommon raider, who can not only follow simple programming, be it from the raid leader or an add on, but can also adapt and solve complex raid calculations. When the going gets tough, these raiders thrive and get tough right back. Replicants approach new situations with a wealth of experience behind them and open and evolving minds, which leaves them, unlike the Automatons, flexible and outside of the rigid rules and rigors of programming. Replicants also understand the underlying mechanics of a fight, where your common automaton blindly follows programming through it, never knowing or caring about the design of an encounter.

Which Raider are you?
Even if you lead raids on a regular basis, you may be only a mere Automaton. Take a long look at the way you raid.
If you've been having issues with a fight, do you:
(a) Keep try! Try and try again, practice makes perfect, cliche cliche cliche?
(b) Ask a successful raider how they do it/consult a strategy?
(c) Evaluate the situation and try something straight from your own brain?

If you said (a), you're probably an automaton, unless the issue is getting the hang of a new mechanic, or tweaking positioning.
If you said (b), you may be one or the other, depending on what you do with the information you receive.
If you said (c), you're probably a replicant, unless your programming is fried and you're trying something stupid like staying in the defile (because that's never ever going to work).

There are many such questions I could ask. In fact, with the experience of a math teacher under my Belt of Petrified Ivy, I'm sure I could come up with a long, boring test of the short answer, show all your work variety. But I'm too lazy for that crap.

On a side note, I raid with several (some of those from the former 10 man, not the full 25 man I'm a part of now...) Replicants. There are several models of Replicant; the replicant Rachael (played by Sean White, who, coincidentally, part of me is totally convinced does the voice for Lady Deathwhisper, though I have absolutely no proof for that) is the most advanced, but I think we're more like the previous models for one reason. In Wikipedia, they are described thus: "Normal replicants aren't very empathetic or "human" in character, and are emotionally unstable." Yup... That's us.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Upheaval

So I had all intentions of getting started on this blog and being all gun-ho about it. I know I have at least one fellow blogger who wants yet another blog to read at work (though I'm fairly certain it won't live up the expectations); however, recent events have provided me with little time.

Many things have been happening in server and out. Our little 10 man guild has fused with a 25 man, basically to give us more to do between now and Cata. My brain hurts from the cacophony of 25 voices on a vent server and from trying to be hyper aware to compensate for some lack of Social Awareness.

Anyways, I hope to have this set up a little more this weekend, and then bring on the Social Awkwardness.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Metamorphosis

From Sad Oomkin to SA Doomkin
4 years ago:

Once there was a young Moonkin, naïve and perhaps misguided. She raided in a spec that, at best, left her at the bottom of both the DPS and the healing meters. Slowly, she gathered T1 and T2 gear, though the 1 spec only (resto) set left much to be desired. But she never wavered, wearing what little craftable spell damage leather that was available in a mash of gear sets of both healing and spell damage back before the days of spell power.

It wasn't uncommon for her to spend a fight doing nothing but decursing or helping to heal a random offtank. With 40 man raids, a pocket decursing druid was common. Heavily dependent on the 2 minute mana pot cooldown, no innervate or mana regen to speak of, our Sad Oomkin was often caught simply standing there, waiting the last 30 seconds for the next mana pot, utterly useless.

Present day:

Enter the SA Doomkin. 2 Expansion packs later and my how things have changed. A member of the elite ranged DPS core of Parabola, a 10 man progression guild on the Bladefist server, our Doomkin has crawled up from the obscurity of the 40 man raid, gone through server and faction changes, and apparently a sex reassignment surgery (Female NE druid to Male Tauren druid) to a position in the server first 10 man (or any man, for that matter) Lich King killing guild. No longer sad and OOM, she's (for despite the apparent masculinity of the toon, she's still representing the fairer sex of gamers) matured into an 18k armor/3k SP sporting Panzerkin of Doom, raining blows and fallen stars down upon her enemies.


For the titling purposes of this blog, I am the Doomkin that is Socially Awkward. This stems from many things, mostly that I'm socially awkward myself, but also that Moonkins in general don't fit in. Also, I've been the solitary female raider in our guild until recently. I was the only chick there for the first Lich King kill. This unique situation occasionally leads me to say things on vent like "It's like that guy that comes out of your staff, Ed," and then realizing a second too late what it really sounded like. Not that I'm some prissy woman raider; I take pride in my loving nickname of .... Well, this is probably a good time to mention that I'm a foul mouthed tom boy who feels completely comfortable with a mostly male guild. My vulgarity knows no bounds, so if you've an issue with the harsher of the four letter words, including my most favorite word starting with c (coincidentally also my nickname in the guild and out), then kindly GTFO.

I'm used to a male dominated environment, since my majors in college were/are scientific areas still dominated by men. Thus I have no problems with vulgar vent chatter and no qualms with telling a guilding what a fucking, cock sucking douche bag he's being.

However, there are a few other things that fit in for the initials of SA. One of the most important for a raider these days would be Situationally Aware. I pride myself on being aware of my raid surroundings and rarely getting owned by falling balls of ice, puddles of inky doom, and generally not standing in the giant big.

I'm sure I'll come up with other SA attributes, but for now, I'm just Socially Awkward and Situationally Aware.