Because I’m dumb and wanted to do something different for #FollowFriday on Twitter. Here are some voice over tracks of me doing my movie trailer announcer voice. I hope you all enjoy my stupidity and make sure to follow these fine folks if your not already!

#FF to Metalskies. Follow her here: Twitter

#FF to Zack! Follw him here: Twitter

#FF to Ghemit! Follow him here: Twitter

#FF to Nicole! Follw her here: Twitter

Because this took longer than I expected, I still have one for @AlternativeChat, @Manabrownies, @ChaoticTimelord and @Gnoodles to create. They will be coming soon!

Proving Grounds: Going for Gold

Posted: March 7, 2014 in General

Proving Grounds is a feature that was added with Patch 5.4, which released on September 10, 2013. This feature was created for individual players to test and improve their Player verses Environment (PvE) combat skills. Here is the basic overview of Proving Grounds for Wowwiki.com:

  • At the Proving Grounds, players may undertake trials, designed for Damage, Tank, or Healer roles.
  • It provides a great opportunity to learn how to Tank or Heal, without the need of a group.
  • Each trial is available in four separate difficulties: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless. Harder difficulties include more difficult and varied enemies.
  • Endless mode allows you to test your mettle against increasingly difficult enemies. Compare your best scores to friends and guildmates!

Now that I dropped my cut and paste skills on you, it’s time to dive into what this whole blog post is about. In a recent Warlords of Draenor developer interview, Ion Hazzikostas said this interesting sentence. “Proving Grounds will be updated and expanded, making it a requirement to queue for random heroic dungeons.”  [Source] This one sentence has sent most of the World of Warcraft community into a frenzy. I wasn’t going to take the time to write my opinion on the topic because I thought that it wasn’t a very big problem.

Boy was I wrong. I keep seeing Tweets about it on Twitter, and even people talking about it on Facebook. The forums are over run with rage, and people crying out for change. But I’m here to voice a less than popular opinion that will probably get me flagged as an elitist.

Proving grounds were put into the game in order for players to have a chance to learn how to play a spec or class in a closed environment. This environment is NOT what normal scenarios, or dungeons are like, but its a good understanding of how your class works out. You can learn about to play that new class or spec without people telling you that your bad, or don’t know how to play the game. And you can do it on your own time.

Having problems with Proving Grounds? The good news is, just like challenge modes, your gear is scaled to an item level of 463. So if you are a 496 or a 567, you become a 463 with no benefits from the legendary meta, or legendary cloak.

The proving grounds are a place for you to prove yourself against the mechanics where you are the only person to blame. RNG (Random Number Generator) is not to blame, since RNG is the same for everyone. It doesn’t make you a bad player because you can’t do it the first time. The first time I ran the damage proving ground silver on my Death Knight, I didn’t get it. I tried again, and made it a little bit further, and then I finally got Silver.

The reason I like this change is it proves that the people you are randomly grouped with in a dungeon or Looking for Raid have a basic understanding of their class. Proving Grounds teach you to move out of bad, maximize your offensive/defensive cool downs, and how to execute them quickly.

This doesn’t effect pre-made groups, such as guild runs, but it only affects the Random Looking for Dungeon que’ed groups. So if you are running with guild mates, or trade chat groups, this is not an issue.

I like to share the story of my guild’s Garrosh 10 man normal kill. We attempted him over 104 times before we got the kill. Every person on our raid team had to have perfect execution of their raid assignments in order for us to be successful. I believe our first kill took us 13 mins to kill him, and most of our attempts were at least 10 minutes long. We spent week after week just wiping on him over and over again for 3 hours a night. It took time, patience, and practice in order to kill him. And when he finally died we had a great sense of accomplishment. Can you imagine wiping on the same boss for 3 hours straight and then logging in the next night to do it all over again? The 9 other people on my raid team didn’t have a problem with it, even though it crushes the spirit more and more every pull.

We put our time in, and we finally got to see him fall to his knees. Only to turn around the next week to start wiping on Heroic Immerius. But we did it.

In order to see the content, players need to put in the time. Right now players aren’t required to know what’s going on during the fight before the fight starts. They go into the fight blind, and just go with the flow and get made when the group doesn’t go as well as they expected. With Blizzard requiring a Proving Ground Silver Medal in order to use the system, it eliminates the argument that the person doesn’t understand the basic mechanics of their class/spec. It also shows that they put their time in the Proving Grounds, just like I did, in order to be inside the dungeon/raid. But it doesn’t solve the issue of griefers, afk’ers and jerks.

I have always been a fan of gating content, not to prevent people to see it, but to make it so the content doesn’t get eaten up so fast that its boring the next week. If raiders could just jump right into heroic raiding, who would do normals? If you could magically get to max level without questing, who would actually quest anymore? If you could have the best set of PVP gear for a arenas without doing some Battlegrounds, who would do BGs?

Adding this requirement to the random que feature just means if you don’t like it, find a guild or a group of friends that doesn’t require the achievement to continue. When I was running Flex Raids at the start of this tier, I didn’t require that people had cleared Throne of Thunder in order to come along. I said bring a good attitude, have a 496 item level, and stick with me for 3 hours and we will kill bosses. And guess what? We killed bosses with people who had never raided before, who never did a single Looking for Raid, etc. Just last week I brought a warrior who had a 556 item level along for our raid because we were short a DPS. He had 4-5 normal bosses kills, but had done the fights on Flex difficulty. Needless to say he stuck it out with us for two nights, and we ended up getting him his Garrosh kill, title and new mount.

If having an achievement, or an item level prevents you from finding a group for the content you want to do, find another group that’s willing to take you. But know that you will have to put the time in order to progress with the content. Don’t expect a carry. Don’t expect them to keep you around if you are not doing your job.

Just like in real life, if you want something, work hard for it. Some have to work harder than others, but it doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you have to work harder!

I’m Alive…. I Think?

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Real Life (Out of Game)

Hello Internet.

I’ve been pretty silent lately on here. So I just wanted to do an update post about everything that’s going on. I know my New Year’s resolution was to produce more content on a more regular basis. As of late, Real Life has been too busy to actually even take the time to write.

For those that aren’t stalking, or creeping on me hardcore, I am in the process of moving out of the house I have lived in for the last three years. I was given a 30 day notice I had to move because my roommate (owner of the house) decided to sell the house. I have until March 1st in order to find a place to live. The problem with this is finding a place that I can afford 6 months from now. So I am extremely stressed, and freaking out because I have less than 2 weeks now to find a place and move. Nothing like crunch time huh?

Because of this unplanned move, all of my free time is spent packing, cleaning and trying to find a place to live. So I haven’t had much time to even get things off the ground like I have planned and some things I should be focused on aren’t getting the attention they deserve or need.

Hopefully within the next two weeks I will have a place to live and finally my life will be free of dumb roommates and I can just function on my own schedule and do my own thing. Not being confined to a 8×10 bedroom, or jail cell like I like to call it, I will be have more productivity time.

I will try very hard to keep blogging to keep you guys updated.

Besides with moving, the podcast I hosted before Epic Questions is done, and Kilroy and myself are actually doing a new podcast called Frozen Nerdz. It’s a podcast about all Blizzard games with our main focus still being World of Warcraft, but it gives us a chance to be able to talk about different parts of Blizzard games that we didn’t feel like we could previously. We are also featuring Free to Play Steam games, as well as talking about Indie games that we find interesting. Each episode we play games in the Starcraft arcade, highlight Diablo community creations, and random Heartstone combo plays. You can find the show over at www.FrozeNerdz.com.

But hopefully once things settle down a little bit for me I will be able to start streaming my game play, between things for the show, and streaming my guilds raids. And also focusing more on recruiting for my guild and increasing our social members and casual raiders.

But thanks for hanging in there with me while I make this transition in life, and like always I will see you on the other side of the log in screen!

There has been some buzz lately on the Blizzard forums about Blizzard having a Loyalty Program. Previously, they did have the Annual Pass where if you committed to pay for World of Warcraft for 12 months, you would get in-game exclusives like a mount, pet and even Diablo 3 Digital download for free. I know for myself that main reason for signing up for the Annual Pass was to get instant beta access to Mists of Pandaria.

So today, I want to talk about loyalty programs and my thoughts on what I think Blizzard could do in order to set up a loyalty program. Loyalty programs come in all shapes and sizes from going to the grocery store, to Starbucks, to even GameStop. Each place wants to give you a plastic card to carry around so that you can use this magical card to get special discounts the whole time it’s taking up space in your wallet.

Since Blizzard is an online company, they can easily look into how long we have been paying customers of their products. I’ve had an active World of Warcraft account since March 2006. Even though I don’t feel entitled to them giving me special treatment, I do believe that they should do something for people who have been paying customers for so long.

It costs a company 5-10 times more in marketing in order to get a new customer. A lot of companies do a reward systems where if you spend X many of dollars at their establishment, you get X many dollars back in free “money” to use that their locations.

The reason most of these companies do this type of Loyalty Program is because if you have a $5 reward coupon, you are going to spend twice as much in their store than if you didn’t have it at all. So if you are going to spend $25 bucks on a new release movie, you might end up also picking up something else while you are there. And because you had that coupon, you had to go to their business to get that $5 discount. Once they have you inside the store, you are more aped to spend money then going somewhere else to get products they already sell.

Blizzard could use a point system in order to encourage purchases of game time, in-game pets, mounts, and on services. They could also use a Tier System (play on words) to encourage more purchases from them. You could have a Copper, Silver and Gold Tier of paying customers. Each tier offers a different exclusive for being on that Tier Level, and it drives customers to want to get to the next tier of rewards in order to receive the benefits. The tiers could be set up based on current purchase history on the Blizzard Store, game time purchases, services or even the length you’ve had an active account. If you are a Copper Tier member, you get an exclusive discount 4 times a year on the Blizzard Store. If you are a Silver Tier Member, you get the Copper Tier benefits, plus you get a 10% discount on all subscriptions, games, and services offered by Blizzard. And the Gold Tier get’s all that and exclusive access to upcoming game content such as Early Beta Access, and an in-game vanity item like a Diablo Treasure Goblin.

Blizzard could also implement a VIP program that requires an upfront fee in order to get exclusive deals and discounts. Say you pay $75 a year and you get all of the Gold Tier member values. But it has a large start-up cost. The customer has to pay money that then gives Blizzard money to fund future products, or to create exclusives for those members. But in order to get customers to pay a large start-up cost, you have to really offer something that people feel matches the price of the VIP access. I believe one thing Blizzard can learn from the release of the Hearthstone Beta is that people are willing to jump through hoops to get their hands on a Beta Key.

Another option would be to do something similar to their Annual pass, but something that benefits ALL of the games under the Blizzard Universe. Not everyone plays World of Warcraft, or even Diablo 3 that they were given to for free. Bundle those games together and offer a discount if you purchase services or products across different Universes. So if I buy Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls from the Blizzard Store, I also get my choice of an exclusive Hearthstone card, or World of Warcraft in-game pet, or Starcraft 2 unit. Loyalty programs benefit both the customer and the business.

If I’m a Blizzard addict, like I am, and I must have all the amazing stuff they sell, then dangle a carrot on a stick in front of me and offer a VIP access program. If I invest $75 up front and can see the obvious benefits to spending the money then you are getting my money right away. If I’m going to save 25% on my purchases on the digital store, I know that I’m going to spend at least $100 a year on pets, mounts, Hearthstone Cards, etc. So its going to pay for its self.

I honestly do think that Blizzard needs to also do something for the people who have been faithfully paying for their product for years. No smart company wants to lose the $180 in subscription costs that I’m paying each year. And since I have been loyalty paying that cost on each account I have had for years, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add more offers or benefits to keep me around.

With the expansion coming to a standstill, and Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls coming out in March, there isn’t a whole lot keeping my attention in the gaming world right now. So when I get bored I start looking at other places to spend my money such as on Steam, or on League of Legends champions.

So what do you think Blizzard should do as a loyalty program? Give back to those that have been faithful, or make it so that you can buy your access? Let the rich get richer, or benefit those that have never left their side?

Let me know your thoughts. And like always, I will see you on the other side of the log in screen.

Real Life: Ice Fishing 101

Posted: January 13, 2014 in General

If you follow me on Twitter you probably see me talking about it all the time, but I figured I’d take some time to give you all a little run down of what Ice Fishing actually is.

Here in Wisconsin during the winter months, we are almost always below freezing (32 F/0 C). Just last week when we got hit by the cold air from Canada, we were below zero spending most of our time in -20+F.

Since “Winter” in Wisconsin started in November this year, when we had snow on the ground before Thanksgiving and it hasn’t gone anywhere since then. Right now we have about 8 inches of snow in our yards even after freak rain storm this past weekend. Our Winters usually run until April when it finally starts warming up enough that the snow is completely melted.

Because of the long winters, and cold temperatures we have to find things to do. From snowmobiling to indoor sports, but there are a few of us that like to venture out onto a frozen lake and rivers to fish.

Once the lakes have a solid 7 inches of ice on it, I feel comfortable enough to walk out on them with. Anything over that is safe enough to drive a vehicle out onto the ice.

The largest lake in Wisconsin is Lake Winnebago, this Lake is literally a 20 minute drive from my house.  Right now as I am typing this, Lake Winnebago has about 18 inches of ice about a mile off shore. The lake is about 10 miles across, and about 30 miles long. Due to the large size of the lake, it doesn’t freeze completely over during the winter months. Because of this the lake will shift and push ice shoves up on the points of the cracks.

This is an ice shove onto the shoreline and onto the road. This picture was probably taken in the Spring when the lake is melting. But you will actually see these out on the lake where the ice cracks. If you follow me on Twitter, I posted a picture of a crack forming a few feet from where I was fishing.

Ice Fishing is a lot like regular boat fishing. The main difference is that you drill holes into the ice with an ice auger. An ice auger is basically a large either gas, or hand powered drill that is designed to cut through the ice.

This is a picture of someone drilling through the ice with a gas-powered ice auger. They are probably 18 inches into the ice already. After the hole is drilled, you clean the hole out from ice and slush, and it’s ready to fish!

Ice fishing can be done in many different fashions, but I personally only fish using tip ups, and jig poles. Jig poles are short fishing poles, usually about 2 – 3 feet long with a small fishing reel on them. They are called jig poles because you will use a small lure and use a “jigging” technique to attract fish. Jigging is basically moving the tip of the pole up and down to bounce the lure either off the bottom, or somewhere in the water column you are fishing.

When fishing with a jig pole, you are going to be sitting/kneeling by one of the holes in the ice. You will be just focusing on fishing in that one hole and are usually going to catch smaller panfish such as perch, crappie, and blue gills. Lake Winnebago is known for its walleye/sauger fishing, and also for its large abundance of White Bass.

The other type of ice fishing that I do involves using a tip up. When looking at the picture below, you will see a bright orange flag. That flag is set up on a swivel mechanism that spins when a fish pulls on your bait. When it pulls line out, the flag pops up showing that your bait as moved. Just because the flag “tip’s up” doesn’t actually mean you have a fish, but its a pretty good indication. Tip ups are nice because you set it and forget it, and just watch for the flag. They are normally baited with a minnow or shad, and are great for covering a large area of ice looking for fish. With my friends and family, whenever we use tip ups, it’s who ever gets to the tip up first, gets the reel in the fish by pulling on the string. This results in full-grown men running as fast as they can across the ice to be the first one there.

For me, ice fishing is a great way to get outside in the winter and do something I enjoy. I love eating fish, so being able to go out and catch my own all winter long is always a great feeling.

For me there is nothing else more enjoyable than sitting out on a 5 gallon bucket on a frozen lake relaxing. I will try to get some pictures the next time I go out ice fishing. I have a pretty elaborate collection of gear. It’s easier to show you what it looks like then trying to describe it.

If you enjoyed this post about ice fishing, there may be more to come. But thanks for giving me a chance to teach you a little bit about what us crazy northerners do during the winter.

“Quests always have their ups and downs,’ rumbled the giant. ‘The point is never to give up, even if you’re falling off a cliff. You never know what might happen on the way to the bottom.” 
― Nancy Farmer

As we travel down the road of life, there are going to be twists and turns. No one ever said that life was going to be easy, or that we were always going to have a great time. If you were like me, you were never told what it was going to be like when you finally became an adult. Upon graduation from college, I felt like the sky was the limit and I could go anywhere, do anything. Graduating at the top of my class with a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice and another in Psychology, I thought life could only be on its way up from there.

But throughout life things don’t always go as planned. One day you are flying high on cloud nine thinking nothing can ever get you down. The next day you are on the bottom of a snake pit wondering how you will ever stand on your own two feet again. But like the quote says, “The point is never to give up.” Read those words again, one at a time and let them sink in.

“The point is never to give up.”

Never giving up is not something that comes easy. It’s not something that is just handed to you, or something you wake up in the morning feeling. It’s not something you can buy at a department store, or something that grows on a tree. It’s something you have to learn, something you have to cultivate, and something you have to work on every day.

You have to fight for what you believe in, even if you are the only person standing once the flames have cleared. You have to dig deep inside your body and soul,  the trip to the top, or the trip to the bottom, can be the same thing. It’s all based on perspective.

If you are too focused on falling, or climbing to the top, you are going to miss the scenery on your way there. We have to take time each day as they came and evaluate where we are in life, and where we want to go. But never be so focused on bettering ourselves that we miss what’s going on around us. We can’t live life with horse blinders on or we could miss opportunities that could change our lives.

But no matter how dark a day might be, or how fast we are falling, you have to remember what I said before. Those simple little words I told you to read again. “The point is never to give up.” We have to fight, we have to claw, we have to better ourselves, but we always have to remember to never give up.

The journey to life is better than we are. There is more to life than money, having a big house, a fancy car, or a million friends. Life is about enjoying the scenery as we are making motion; even when you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.

As I struggle with forward motion, I hope you are here for the journey. Through the good and the bad, I will always see you on the other side of the log in screen!

Over the last few weeks or maybe even months, I haven’t really had the desire to play video games. I honestly have been putting a lot of thought into it and I can’t seem to figure out why I just don’t even want to log into World of Warcraft anymore.

It’s not the content because I love the content. Even though I have done just about everything Mists of Pandaria has to offer, I just find myself logging in, sitting outside of a Capital city, and talking in guild chat, or  with friends via whispers. I haven’t really done anything in the last three weeks since we took a break from raiding due to the holiday’s falling on our scheduled raid days.

I love my guild, I love my raid team, and I love my friends in the game, but is that enough to keep be logging in every day? Lately, it hasn’t been enough. So, I’ve decided to sit down, and write-up a blog post about how I am going to go about rekindling the fire or the passion to play the game.

Reasons I play World of Warcraft:
1.) Complicated raiding. (Normals/Heroics; not LFR/Flex).
2.) Messing around in PVP.
3.) Sitting on Vent/Mumble talking with Friends
4.) Having weekly tasks to accomplish (Valor/Conquest capping, weekly raid quests, etc.).
5.) Pet Battles.

Things I Don’t Enjoy about World of Warcraft:
1.) Daily Quests
2.) LFR/Flex Raiding.
3.) Achievements
4.) Reputation Grinding
5.) Questing/Leveling
6.) Dungeons/Scenarios
7.) Transmog

To break down the things I like a little bit more to make myself think, most of the things I enjoy revolve around PVE content. I like working together with my guild to overcome raid bosses. Spending 60+ wipes on Garrosh is tiring, but when we finally get him down it will all be worth it.

I enjoyed having to go out and cap my valor each day, it gave me a reason to log in and do the daily dungeon, or scenario, etc. Now that Valor is only needed for upgrading gear, if I have over 1000 from raiding, or doing my weekly quest, then I have no other reason to do dungeons/scenarios/LFR/Flex Raids to get valor.

I haven’t PVP’ed this whole expansion just mainly because I don’t really have anyone to do it with. I’m not really big into PVP, but I do get a rush going into some of the battlegrounds and just messing around. I take it probably too seriously, but I love the challenge PVP presents. Some of my most memorable moments in Warcraft were when I was PVPing. But I take it a little too serious for the casual person, so it’s hard to find people to sit on Vent/Mumble with and just PVP.

One of the main reasons I play the game is the people within the game. I met one of my best friends inside of World of Warcraft. I love the social aspect of the game, but I also like to just chill and fly solo. I haven’t been able to find someone who shares the same ideals and sense of accomplishment as I had when playing with my friend. From going into a dungeon or smashing people’s faces in PVP, I always looked forward to logging into the game.

Maybe I just played the game because they were playing. I know there was a time when my guild was the only reason I logged into the game. They are still part of the reason I log in on a regular basis. So are the friends that I have gotten a chance to meet over the years.

But with Warlords of  Draenor on the slate to release this year, I’m not sure it can come fast enough. My fire and desire to play the game is slowly burning out. Since the days when I was hardcore raiding (Top 100 US), I have always thought of the game as a second job. Adding the amount of time I spend on a weekly basis podcasting about World of Warcraft, its like having two-part time jobs on top of a demanding full-time job. So how do I rekindle the fire to play the game?

I love podcasting about World of Warcraft. WOW has always been a passion of mine and being able to talk about it has been amazing. And actually having people listen and interact with us on a daily basis is also amazing. I know that if I keep looking at Warcraft as a second job, then podcasting will also be a chore and people will start seeing my burn out through my words and responses. But how do I make the shift from burn out to a blazing fire again?

Some people suggest a break, some say if it’s that hard to play a game, just quit. All of these are great suggestions, but at this time I am not ready to walk away from podcasting or from playing the game. I need to sit down and refocus on what makes the game fun for me and what drives me to play the game.

Maybe I need to refocus on PVP and enjoy destroying the gnomes on the battlefield again. Maybe I need to go out and start raiding more often on a second character so I always have something to do. It’s hard to say what will really draw me back into the game. Because I take playing Warcraft a little too seriously, maybe I need to just do some stupid stuff and have fun.

So I leave you with this…
What keeps you playing World of Warcraft?
What fun/stupid things do you do in-game that keeps your fire burning?

Let me know through any type of social media, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Who knows maybe your suggestion will be the reason I start wanting to play Warcraft again instead of feeling obligated to play it.

But either way, I will most likely see you on the other side of the log in screen!