Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Altitis: Blast it, Blogger! Get your posting dates in order!

Nah; I don't post the WordPress link in comments. ;)

Monday, August 27, 2007

We've Moved!

I am not a patient person, a lot of the time. And once I've made a decision to do something, I want it done yesterday (if not earlier!). So after reading Mania's comment in my earlier post, and remaining conflict on where to set up shop was resolved.

As a result, I'm happy to announce we've relocated the Aerie to a new permanent home.

No house-warming gifts, please, but if you've a spare twig, a piece of twine, or maybe a chewing gum wrapper ("Ooohhh...shiney!") to contribute, I thank you in advance.

Hopefully, I can get this site's content exported in the next day or so; otherwise, I may just do a tedious copy/paste routine. (My head aches just thinking about that...)

Finally, bear in mind the new Aerie is most definitely under construction. I think I've found a theme I prefer to the current one, among other things. So expect some more changes, but at least they'll be positive ones!

We're moving...somewhere...I think.

Last week, for some inexplicable reason, my corporate firewall/filter started making it insanely difficult to access Blogger. Reading posts is fine, but for authors, there's a top-line toolbar that is blocked on the main page--the one with the "Create post" button. So, I'm forced to use the kludge of clicking "Blogger" from the Gmail "More..." button, and starting a post from the Dashboard. Aggravating is what it is.

And reading other blogs is just as bad: I sit and watch a blank window for up to a minute while one line is blocked, before the rest of the blog appears.

So on Friday I created a WordPress account. I also installed WordPress 2.2 to my guild server (which I pay for). So I have two WordPress blogs. Right now, I'm undecided as to which I will change. It's going to depend on whether I can have the same flexibility on each--and that's going to mean I need to get some time to play around with the self-hosted version (themes and such). Once I figure that out, I'll post here and let those of you who have done me the honor of linking me on your blogs know our new address.

I'm also having a problem importing my Blogger posts & comments to WP. (If any of you WPers know of a workaround, I can promise mad props if you'll pass it on!)

I do want to emphasize that I'm not unhappy with Google's Blogspot--it's very easy to use, fairly easy to modify, and I'm sure will only get better. But as I do a lot of my blogging from work (yeah, yeah...shame on me), I don't need the frustration I'm currently encountering.

So again...stay tuned, and as soon as I have things resolved (or by the weekend, I hope, at the latest!) I'll post the new address here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ouch! -- Spanked in Botanica

As you may know, last night we planned to tackle Botanica, in Netherstorm. Our GM is an alchemist, and our goal was to help her complete her potion spec quest (or is it elixirs? I can't remember).

Our group included a Fury Warrior tanking, BM Hunter (raptor bird pet), Combat Daggers Rogue, Frost Mage, and myself, Holy Priest (23/38). The group worked well together, although we misjudged aggro range a couple times. One of those times resulted in the mage & rogue dying (*grumble*...I lost LOS on the rogue, or she'd have lived--my heal was timely, and she died about 1 second before the last mob went down). We had one death on one other trash pull; not sure I could have been more timely there or not. And on the last trio before the first boss, we got cocky and had a real messy pull, leading to a wipe. No problem--we knew exactly what we did wrong, and the subsequent pull was a thing of beauty.

So then we get to Commander Sarannis (Boss #1). We ate, drank, renewed any needed buffs, and I coached the group on the fight from the WoW Wiki page. We actually did pretty well, getting her down to where she summons her friends, and I got off my AoE Fear just as planned.

At which point things went to hell. The mage couldn't get a lock on the elite healer to sheep it, I got distracted by the returning feared mobs beating on me (and of course, timer wasn't up on Fear, either). And the tank took a horrific beating--I was spamming GH and PoM, and the tank's health bar kept getting shorter and redder (yeah, I checked: I had her targeted, and not someone else). Of course, once the tank went down, the rest of us followed in short order, although I kept up healing as long as I was alive (well, and a bit after, too!).

We tried three more times; each time was uglier than the one before (which I think is strange). Finally, we decided to call it a night--repair bills were starting to become a sore spot.

In a short post-mortem, we decided our problem wasn't the composition of the party, or our tactics. We are simply undergeared. This was a "well duh!" moment for me, as I realized that most of us have done Ramparts, Blood Furnace, and The Underbog...and that's it for Outland instances (and not all of the characters we played last night had done all three of those. (I think I've mentioned we're a pretty casual guild?)

So, it was pretty easy to decide we need to run a lot of people through the Zangarmarsh and Telredor (Auchindoun) instances, before we head back to Tempest Keep. A painful way to learn, but at least we did figure out this on our own...kinda.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

And this is why I blog for the "casual player"...

...or perhaps more accurately, why I am a casual player:

Over at Priestly Endeavors, Kirk's put up three articles comparing the relative merits of (1) Divine Spirit (and ImpDS) vs. Empowered Healing; (2) Improved Power Word: Fortitude vs. Silent Resolve; and (3) Holy Concentration vs. Healing Prayers, in the context of developing one's Holy Priest build.

Regardless of whether one agrees with his premises, support, and/or conclusions, the analysis is detailed and (to me, at least) interesting. But there is simply no way I could ever write any of those three articles. There's simply too much math--and I really don't know where to go to even start such a discussion.

Of course, I already know I'm not a min/maxer--and I while I don't simply choose my talents based on "Ooh...that sounds cool!" (after all, I do read all those blogs I list to the right!), I'm not going to ever try to tell you why to take one skill or talent over another (of course, that doesn't mean I won't proselytize the wonders of the BM spec to my guildies).

Maybe at some point, I'll put down why my builds are the way they are...but not this week.

Best of the Blogs

...or, what I've enjoyed this week. And wow...LOTS of good stuff to share!

(Note to bloggers: my intent is to use trackback links wherever possible. If you notice that I didn't in referring to an article of yours, please let me know so I can correct it!)

As I said, lots of good stuff this week. Definitely an emphasis on the priestly side, as I've raised Osprey to 70 this week (and 355 tailoring--Primal Mooncloth Belt this weekend!). But now that goal is reached, I need to get Talonis to 70. And I may have forgotten how to play a Rogue--oh noes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

About my characters...

I started playing WoW during open beta, in a guild made up primarily of forum moderators and staff members from IGN’s Vault Network, where I was a moderator/forum manager. When WoW went live, the guild was established on Icecrown (Alliance).

Around January 2006, a few of us had serious problems logging into Icecrown when we wanted to play. After a couple fits and starts, we ended up playing on Kul Tiras, shortly after that realm opened. It wasn’t long before we decided to stay on Kul Tiras—we were all of the more casual, non-raiding stripe, and our Icecrown guild was doing a lot more raiding. So, we started our own little guild, "Are we Done Yet". The name came from our common refrain during the earliest days on Kul Tiras with our 4 lil gnomes (Skippy, Sassy, Sneakye, and Sparkye) as we trudged from one "kill 10 baddies" quest to another "collect 12 widgets" quest.

It wasn’t that we weren’t happy in the guild—we had lots of friends there still. But our type of “casual” is that we (there were four of us at the beginning) generally quested together, so leaving didn’t really cramp our gaming much. All of us left level 60 characters on Icecrown, and eventually, three of us brought one or more of those characters to Kul Tiras.

That’s how I happen to have two Level 65+ Hunters (both BM spec) and two level 70 Rogues (currently, both are Shadowsteppers, but at least one is about to revert to Combat Daggers). One of each of those classes was a 60 I transferred. In fact, it took almost exactly 2 years to get Sparverius (the original Kestrel) from level 60 to level 61. I also just dinged 70 with my Holy Priest.

So here’s my current all-male lineup:

Kestrel – 70 NE Rogue

Falken – 70 NE Rogue (transfer from Icecrown, where he was Falcon)

Talonis – 67 NE Hunter

Sparverius – 65 NE Hunter (transfer from Icecrown, where he was Kestrel)

Osprey – 70 Human Priest (23/38/0)

Peregrine – 40 NE Hunter (what can I say? I love hunters!)

Raptor – 37 NE Warrior

Earendil – 24 Draenei Paladin

Falconer – 20 Human Warlock

Owlhawk – 4 NE Druid

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So you want to modify your UI? Part 3: Your first macro.

Elsewhere on this blog, I've pointed you to WoW Wiki's "How to write a macro" and in future posts, I'll link to specific macro sites (for hunters, rogues, etc.) and other pertinent blog articles. But today, we're going to keep things simple. Really simple. Even simpler than "your first macro for your Rogue/Hunter/Priest/Whatevah".

This is your first macro for running an instance. Any instance, any time. It's an assist macro. Why? Because the point of any group--2-man grinding-for-faction, 5-man instance, 25-man Outland raid--is to survive and get phat lewt. Generally, this means someone is the tank, and someone else (in this case, YOU) provides support.

So type /macro to bring up the macro page. Because every single one of your alts is going to use this macro, keep it on the general page. Pick an icon--anything will do: just make sure it's something whose purpose you'll remember. Give your macro a name. "HELP" works; "Assist" will probably show up as "Ass..." in your hot bar, so maybe you want to go with "Asst".

Now for the macro itself. And here's the only difficult part: You'll have to redo this macro often, depending on who your tank is (until Blizzard gives us the capability to "tag" a player as "Main Tank", "Off Tank", "Main Assist", etc.). So today, we'll assume your tank is a big ol' Orc warrior named Hank:

/target Hank

That's it. That's the macro. Now, drag it to your hotbar, where you can get to it in a heartbeat (or less), and when ol' Hank is getting beat on by a few mobs, you've got your helper macro to keep him--and you--alive.

Friday, August 17, 2007

So you want to modify your UI? Part 2: Your First Add-On

Over at Priestly Endeavors is the article I wanted to write to introduce add-ons, but Kirk did a much better job than I could, so check out the link and then come back here. Go ahead...I can wait.

Welcome back. Hope you bookmarked that blog--it's a good'un--even if (or perhaps especially if) you don't play a Priest. (If you didn't bookmark it, I've got you covered.)

Okay...so now you know how to install add-ons. And if you check my list of resources, three excellent and very comprehensive sources are listed. The WoWAce site can be a little daunting (at least, it is for me, since I'm not real wiki-savvy), but the other two are pretty straightforward. Spend some time looking at all of them.

How do you know which add-ons to get? Do you need more than one? (*chuckle* I currently have at least three and maybe four different cooldown timer mods installed!)

If you read part 1 of this series, you're totally down with modding your keyboard bindings. Right? Of course you are! And I'm betting you tried to find something in the Interface settings or Key Bindings to do X, Y, or Z...and couldn't find it. Or, you thought the default implementation was rather inelegant.

(Note: This blog is not intended to criticize the default UI. Scroll down a few posts to read my initial discussion of the WoW UI. In short, it isn't intended to be the be-all and end-all of UIs.)

There's no way I can recommend a specific add-on to be your first. That's a completely personal decision based on what you would prefer your UI to do for you. But I can make some suggestions on things you might want to consider. In later posts, I'll address specific add-ons, and tell you why I use them.

Perhaps you don't like a bunch of separate containers for your inventory. There are lots of add-ons designed to consolidate your bags into a single container (visually, not actually). Being a Virgo, I keep my separate bags pretty well sorted and organized--the visual clutter of a single bag is too much for me to handle. Among add-on aficionados, I think I may be in the minority.

Are you a crafter? Do you have alts who also craft or gather, or both? What a pain it is, having to log in each charater to find out where those Star Rubies are: Miner, Jewelcrafter, or Blacksmith? (Or did your Leatherworker/Herbalist loot one, and not send it on?) There are add-ons out there to let you open a window to examine your alts, without having to log them in.

How does that new piece of armor you just looted compare to what you have on now? Or that weapon that only costs 2g in the Auction Hall--what does it really do for your hits & crits? Add-ons that compare equipment are available too.

Want to know exactly how much XP you've earned this level, and how much of it is Rested XP? Yep...plenty of ways to display that as well.

Wish you had a better way to know when your Fade ability was available again, without having to constantly look at your spell bars? Guess what... *grin*

I hope I've opened your eyes just a little bit to the possibilities that are available. And here's the best part: They are simple to install, and most of them are just as simple to use. (I adhere to the KISS principle when evaluating add-ons: Kestrel Isn't Super Smart.)

Come back soon, and we'll start looking at specific add-ons. But first, Part 3 of this series will address Your First Macro. Talk to you soon!

So you want to modify your UI? Part 1: Key bindings

First, I'm going to assume you're familiar with the basic WoW interface (hereinafter called the "UI"). If not, go play with the different options to see what they do. One much-overlooked aspect is the ability to bind keys to almost everything. Personally, my key-bindings are pretty extreme: I start with remapping the directional keys--WASD, etc.--to the numeric keypad (numpad), and go on from there. We'll keep things simpler here.

So the first question you should ask yourself is, "Does there exist a key-binding I can use to do 'X'?" It's a long list, and while you can pull the info out of your \wtf folder, there's no simple way to see everything at once. This makes it a bit of a challenge to avoid unbinding a key if you find an action you want to bind.

For example, let's say you want to bind the space bar to your "Attack" button. When you do, you get a message along the lines of "Jump no longer bound to Space." (Sorry; not at my gaming computer right now, so I'm sure that's not the exact message--I'll fix that asap.) Fortunately, there are two keys bound to the Jump action: Space, and J. So, you can still jump. But...maybe you're a Night Elf, and you are in the habit of hitting the space bar every three steps to execute a flip. So, binding Attack to the space bar isn't such a good idea. But, you think, neither is binding Attack to J.

And now you see why my key bindings tend to get a little, shall we say, exotic? :-)

However, there probably are a lot of things that are keybound, for which you never, ever use the keyboard. Do you always open ALL bags (B) rather than just your backpack (I)? Nothing says you have to leave the defaults as they are (remember my numpad?).

One more example before I cut you loose to totally screw up your life (for a few hours) messing with key bindings: F1-F5 are usually mapped to your group members (F1 being yourself). F6-F12 are mapped to different panels--but there's no reason in the world why they can't be mapped to actions you use often--for example, an attack/shot/spell rotation.

Now go forth and remap. Just don't go too crazy: One or two changes at a time, until they are ingrained in your muscle memory. Then maybe a couple more. Soon, you'll be fully assimilated!

Stay tuned for Part 2 - your first add-on!