Blizzcon is My Kind of Home

The walk up to the convention center!

As I sat on the plane flying away from California, I was struck by just how absolutely wonderful my last couple days were.  Blizzcon 2019 was, frankly put, perfect.  Now, that’s not to say that the experience was without its bumps.  I think I got about half as much asleep as I usually do (and I’m not usually the best about sleeping!) and I had my wallet stolen on the second day.  But even with all of that, I have no regrets.

I think J. Allen Brack said it best in the opening ceremony when he said that Blizzcon is about people.  Totally, there are the announcements and the championships and the game demo stations. Absolutely, there are the considerations about Blizzard’s recent corporate actions.  But at the end of the day, the community itself is the true draw.

This year, as opposed to the last time I attended, I spent the majority of the time with my friends rather than family.  My guild rented a house together not far from the convention center, and we were able to walk back and forth very easily. Not all of our members got tickets to the con so we always had folks at the house watching the coverage on a virtual stream.  The end result was we had a veritable fortress of nerdom where folks were constantly hanging out.

Speaking of guildies, I, at first, was so incredibly nervous about meeting my guildies in person.  Sure, I’ve played games – both World of Warcraft and others – with them for a good long time now, enough that we have a plethora of in-jokes and shared experience.  However, there is certainly a difference between knowing a person virtually and knowing a person in the flesh. I was anxious that there would be residual awkwardness or, worse, that I would be unbearably annoying to everyone in person.  There’s something to be said about the fact that internet friends can be muted temporarily if you just need a brain break.

Unsurprisingly to everyone except for me, my fear were completely unfounded.  Even though I’d never met any of my guildies in person before, we instantly clicked together like a family. We joked about Sleepy being a giant, Weare T-posing, and Dame and Jules being memelords and it just felt so natural.  Heck, my guildies even brought me a grilled cheese sandwich when they came to pick me up (which was both a sweet gesture after a very long flight and a devious inside joke).  What was even better, I got a chance to get a lot closer to guildies I didn’t know as well prior to the convention (shout out to Mason and Niz!). Everyone was so incredibly funny and open and, most importantly, dedicated to each other.

Outside of my current guildies, I also got to connect with a number of old guildies and other community friends!  The Con Before The Storm party in particular was a perfect venue for me to speak to some of my artist friends (and totally gush in person about their artwork).  Shout out to Quel in particular, everyone should go read their webcomic! I also met up with some Perky Pugs folks for the first time which was incredibly awesome! So many names that previously had just existed on my Twitter feed or in my Discord servers were transformed into faces. I would go through them all if I could but there were almost too many to list off!

Inside the Darkmoon Faire area

As much as having my wallet stolen on the last day did suck, there were also silver-linings to it.  For one, I lost it at the end of the second day, so I wasn’t stressing about it until the very end of my trip.  However, the thing that truly humbled me was the outpouring of support I got from my guildies and friends. Immediately, I had multiple people offering to help in any way they could, whether that be checking in with Lost And Found, running back to the panel we had just come from, or offering financial support to help me get back home (since I had no money for food in the airport).  Shout out in particular to Weare, Mason, Shaedriana, Pug, and Dame, you folks are all absolute heroes. I cannot accurately put into words how much that meant to me, and I hope I can one day be there for you in the same way.

Blizzcon was so incredibly special. I had been expecting the convention to be fun (why else would I spend all that money?) but what I hadn’t been anticipating was just how… I suppose mending is the best way to describe the experience. Even though it was an action-packed couple of days, I feel invigorated and recharged.

The moment that truly captured it all for me was a simple one for me.  I was standing in line for the Overwatch demo with a guildie and everyone in the line had their heads cranked up to see the Overwatch World Cup match being played on the screen above us.  This part of the convention floor had fallen silent, all breaths held to see if the United States would be able to eke out the win from the prior champions South Korea. With a decisive combo, the American team took out the South Korean supports and then their key damage player.  The rest of the defense crumbled and a roar washed over the crowd. The words “United States Victory” flashed across the screen amid the cheers.

When this happened, I took a step back.  Surveyed the crowd. Experienced the moment as an observer rather than a participant.  What I saw made me break into the widest smile.

I loved that moment.  The nerdiness. The triumphant victory.  The uncomplicated happiness. Video games aren’t always that happy and that unifying but in that moment, everything was just right.  Even those supporting Team South Korea joined in that moment of cheering, for we all recognized that the game had been well-fought on each side.  And here I was, at the center of a bustling, excited, passionate convention dedicated to the community I call home. 

It was wonderful.

I truly didn’t mean to get this mushy-gushy in this post but I felt I had to write it.  Recent events, both in my life and in the greater video game community at large, have shaken a bit of my optimism and enjoyment in the gaming communities I am a part of but, at Blizzcon, I was reminded of why I fell in love in the first place.  Yes, we’re not perfect and I would never claim otherwise. But we’re still a home, and we always can, and do, strive to be better.  

Blizzcon brought me back to my gaming home.

A Path Forward

About two weeks ago, I wrote something along the lines that writing helps me clarify my thoughts.  The very act of putting words to a page, even if the words themselves weren’t the answer, would help me organize through situations to find the eventual solution.  It was also about a week ago that I was writing about my inability to decide where next in the game I was going. You see where this is heading?

Tongue in cheek implications aside, it seems I am no longer at the crossroads I wrote about previously.

I ended up choosing a version of Option 2 from our three choices of yesterweek.  Mythic raiding is on long term hiatus for me, but as I wrote about last week, I’m doing so in exchange for my absolute favorite thing about the game: my friends.

Shortly after writing the article last Wednesday, I reach out to my good friend Dame who had been the co-GM of Praetorian Guard/Objectively Bad.  The two of us talked and realized that, while others may be able to move on, we still very much missed playing WoW in a social setting. We reached out to the other members of the guild and found that not everyone had moved onto other mythic teams or other games.  Indeed, there were a number of people in the same boat we were in – wanting to play WoW but not wanting to find a new guild.

Dame and I realized that, within the end of the last guild was the beginnings of a new one.  No longer a mythic raiding guild – we didn’t have the manpower or inclination for that any longer – but instead something a bit less intense.  A casual heroic guild? We gave it a week of discussion and thought. This wasn’t just a pipe dream; this was doable. The infrastructure was there, the people were there, the only thing missing were the people to give the plan one final push.  The instigators, if you will.

What better instigators than a pair of friends so much on the same wavelength that we find the same Toilets With Threatening Auras twitter account to show each other?

All of this has been to say that I, Fussypants, and returning, not only to heroic raiding but also to guild leading.  And this time, I’ve got an official title.

Co-Guildmaster of Proudmoore’s very own Objectively Bad.

(Has a nice ring to it!)

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited.  Sure, I know this won’t be a walk in the park (as leadership rarely is!) but what Dame and I are doing just feels right.  We’re extremely good about communication.  We’re putting an emphasis on transparency. And we have a very similar goal – to reconstruct a guild family, partially out of the old and partially out of the new, that is friendly, funny, and inclusive.  Along with some raiding in there, of course!

So why this blog post?  Well, you know how I said partially out of the new?

*Cue elevator pitch*

<Objectively Bad> is a casual Alliance heroic raiding guild located on Proudmoore-US and we want you!  We’re an LGBTQ+ inclusive family that loves chungy memes and wholesome content alike.  Raiding atmosphere-wise, we stress a balance between progression and jokes, and we also understand that people have lives outside of the game.  Our raid night is Monday 9pm-12am EST (6-9pm PST) with a potential addition of Sunday 9-11pm EST (6-8pm PST). Additionally, we play a LOT of games outside of WOW, so if you’re looking for a multi-game community, we’ve got you covered!

If we sound like the group for you, feel free to reach out! You can message me on Discord (Fussypants#4821) or on Twitter (@TheFussypants).  Can’t wait to meet you!

A Crossroads

It’s been three weeks and I don’t know how to write this. I’ve tried multiple times, drafting about 5,000 words in total and still, I can’t manage to put my thoughts down on the page in a manner that I like and that seems true to my emotions. However, it’s been too long a wait at this point. I can’t hold out for perfect, I need to achieve ‘completed’.

Firstly, hi! Long time no see! In the months since I last wrote consistently, life has been totally crazy for me. I helped raise $36,255.17 for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital through the Perky Pugs Violet Spellwing campaign. I coordinated over half a dozen Herald of the Titans runs. I raided on mythic difficulty, and for real this time. I started college, moved across the country, joined my school’s debate team and was actually halfway decent at it. I’ve been writing and writing and writing, but almost none of it has made its way here.

Speaking of here, I’ve missed the blog. With a million other things all demanding my attention at once, I’ve found myself absent from my little corner of the internet. My dad and I both still play the game (more on this in a second) and we definitely still talk about it but we haven’t found the time to write much of anything. I can’t speak for my father, but I know for me personally, I miss writing greatly. There was nothing like drafting a blog post to organize my thoughts and light my creative spark. Writing made me want to play the game more and, as the writing has fallen off the way side, so has my gaming.

The bitter reality is I don’t play as much WoW as I used to. Much of this is due to straight up scheduling; I’ve sort of jumped into just about everything I could have at school – a jam-packed academic schedule, a number of intense clubs, and a job all at once – which leaves me with little time to do anything else. The other issue, however, is that I’m just not as interested in the game as I once was. Both I and my father still play but we almost never play together. I’ve been finding it harder and harder to motivate to log on with the massive amount of “wizard chores” that await me in-game. I’ve barely touched my alts, and those used to be my biggest passions. Perhaps it is me who has changed, and perhaps it is the game that has changed, but regardless of the cause, the effect is that I’m just not playing nearly as much as I was before.

That being said, I’m still deeply invested in the story and the community of the game. I actually quite like the lore of Battle for Azeroth – it’s much more of the actual in-game mechanics that bore me. And I would play pretty much any game so long as the people are friendly and funny, and I have been lucky to know tons of people like that in Azeroth. It’s these two factors (along with the sheer amount of time I’ve already invested) that have kept me from leaving entirely. I’m definitely not done with the game. However, that leaves me unsure of where I stand.

Throughout this recent period of low energy however, I have maintained my love of raiding. With my spectacular guild Praetorian Guard/Objectively Bad, I’ve gotten to see content I would have never thought and challenge my gameplay in ways I never have before. Additionally, I’ve gotten close with a group of people who are truly, truly, special. I am going to Blizzcon this year (side note: hype!) purely because I want to hang out with my guild. They are fantastic people and I am so blessed to call them my friends.
That brings me all the way back to the event which happened three weeks ago, the one I’m still struggling to parse through.

Three weeks ago, my guild met and came to the decision that we would be retiring from raiding for the foreseeable future.

The decision was spearheaded by our guild/raid leader who realized that he no longer had the passion for the game that he once had, and that he didn’t find it fair to us to continue leading the group by only giving half effort. His sentiments were shared by a number of our team. We are definitely not disbanding as a guild, but instead transitioning into a multigame friend group instead of exclusively a WoW raiding team.

It was the right decision to make. And, it was such a hard one to take.
As I mentioned earlier, tow of my biggest passions in the game are raiding and community. Since my enjoyment of raiding is largely due to the social, team-building aspect, that reveals my truest motivation to be the people I play with. I’m not my dad – I can’t play the game barely interacting. I love logging in and chatting with people. So where do I go in WoW when the people have gone?

This is the crossroads I’ve been stuck at for three weeks now. Do I go and find a new raid team? That option carries the baggage of having to make entirely new friends, which is a challenge I’m willing to undertake but one that would be a lot of work. Do I create a raid team out of the friends I have in the game? This option makes building relationships much easier but returning to raiding becomes a much more difficult task. Or, do I give up the game entirely? It churns my stomach to contemplate the last option but it is arguable the easiest path to take.

If I do choose to continue playing and continue raiding, that begets the further question of whether or not I opt for mythic or heroic difficulty. My school schedule begs for heroic, but my personal enjoyment of the game pines for mythic. I have the most fun doing mythic raids, but I’m not convinced I’ll have the available free time to complete all the out-of-raid chores that mythic raiding requires. Furthermore, the likelihood of me finding a mythic team that is flexible with my sometimes erratic college schedule are probably very slim. That being said, it is so hard for me to step down, knowing I have the skill-set (if not the time) to push harder.

I don’t have the answers yet. With the new raid coming, I should be settling on an option, especially considering the first two paths, but instead, I tread water. Maybe, hopefully, writing this all out with make things clearer, but right now, I just don’t know.

One thing is for sure though, I’m casting Resurrection on this blog!

For the Alliance Redux!

WoWScrnShot_030416_205223Many moons ago, I lucked into a group and got my For The Alliance achievement.  However, this was back in the days before the <oTQ> guild, before CRZ was a thing, before even Vol’jin sat on the throne in Orgrimmar. Since it happened so long ago, I figured now was the perfect time for a redux!

For two Fridays in a row, I have had the honor of leading two complete attacks on the Horde  capital cities.  The nights started out with me assembling all the guildies who wanted to come.  While everyone got situated and started heading to the meeting ground, I recruited more folks from the server’s trade chat to finish filling up the group.

Both nights, Orgrimmar was our first stop.  The grand fortress cities of the orcs was difficult for two reasons.  The first and most obvious reason was that it was the most populated out of all the horde cities.  Speed was our only ally- we had to fly in and fly out as quick as we could.  Luckily, the horde-side of my server is rather empty so we never faced too much resistance.  Most of the brave defenders of Vol’jin died as soon as they flagged themselves for PvP, so strong was the power of our AoEs.

The other tricky part about Orgrimmar is that it is the only horde capital city where CRZ is not enabled.  This meant we were limited to the people we could recruit from our own realm.  But really, with a guild of 1000+, we ended up being fine.  Each night we attacked the horde city with a force of about 30 folks and were able to easily crush the Warchief.

Back to the story! As soon as I finished up gathering a force, we all met atop a secluded mountain near the great city.  I briefed the plan to them: Fly as one, head straight to the throne room, and start pew-pewing on Vol’jin as soon as you could.  Once the troll was down, do not engage the enemy in a pitched battle- get out of there as quickly as possible.   With a great roar, we were off!

The flight into Orgrimmar was probably one of the smoothest of all the cities.  We flew in as one, entered the throne, and began our attack.  Vol’jin spammed his annoying mass hex ability but before long, the Warchief was dead! Our exit strategy differed on the two nights; the first night we took a portal away and the second night we jumped on mounts and flew out.  Either way, we were in and out quickly- we were professionals!

After Orgrimmar, I was able to fill up the group the rest of the way via the group finder and our force almost doubled in size.  We would meet up in a pre-determined spot, explain the battle plan, and attack!  It did get a little hectic here and there, as most 40 player groups do, but we stuck together for the most part and were able to down all the horde leaders both nights!

WoWScrnShot_030416_212702
One of the highlights of the night though was definitely the antics of Yotaan.  You see, Yotaan is a horde player at heart.  He might be alliance right now, but his allegiance is still with the red and black.  I purposefully did not inform him of my plans to attack the horde cities but I could not hide this secret for very long.  The first night he tried to distract me from my computer screen (to the amusement of my guild listening in on mumble) and the second night he stepped it up a notch and logged in game.

Unfortunately for Yotaan, the horde-side is pretty dead.  Yotaan bravely attempted to raise a force to repel our attack but a grand total of zero people actually came to his aid.  When his fellow hordies failed him, Yotaan has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. He followed us to each capital city, attempting to pick off people in the group (mainly me) with cries of “For the Horde!”.  Again unfortunately for him, he never lasted very long.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

The other nice thing about the horde attacks was the praise and positivity I got from the non-guildie people on my realm.  I had wanted to run this to get the achievement for the folks in my guild- I hadn’t even thought of what the other folks on my realm would think.  Needless to say, I was shocked and flattered when I got whispers from others on the realm thanking me for leading and even asking me to join the guild.  That was both unexpected and very heartening.  Server community isn’t dead at all!

But most importantly, we were victorious! Over the course of two Fridays worth of runs, we got somewhere from twenty to forty people their shiny achievement and bear mount to match. It was the perfect expansion lull adventure and I had so much fun taking part in it.