Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Post: Doing The 'Mog Right

I know plenty of awesome 'Mogeres but none who've decked out every one of their alts in awesome and unique sets like my co-tank and DK extraordinaire, Miss Maara. I've convinced her to write out her process and guide, and she was gracious enough to do a guest post. There are 5 distinct sets listed here, and they really show the breadth of her design, from a very practical outfits for her Priest and Mage to the more ethereal and gloomy outfit for her Druid. The 'mogs on the Shaman and DK are a blending of the two, with more flash and cool-factor built in. If you're looking for some custom and unique sets, these might give you some ideas. I love 'em - enjoy!

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My friend and fellow Turtle Saif has asked me to write a guest blog for Raiding After Dark on the subject of Transmogrification. Here's my go at it, but please don't blame me if it sucks. Blame Saif. It was totally his idea.


I guess the basic root of finding a good 'mog set is determining what, exactly, makes a look "good." This, of course, is extremely subjective. Some people love shiny sparklies while others prefer a more subdued look. Still others favor a look from an old raid set from the Days of Yore.

Buuuuuut, since Saif asked Yours Truly, you'll get my opinion and you'll like it!

Generally speaking, my philosophy for creating a solid 'mog look is to pick one or two items that you want to showcase, and choose the rest of the outfit around that. That piece can be thematic to the character, or simply awesome-looking, but whatever it is, the key is to make it shine (and I don't mean literally.)

To illustrate, I'll go though a few examples of this philosophy.


This is my shaman, Lumena. She's not my main, but she's my most showy 'mog currently. It took me a while to decide how to show her off... the draenei are somewhat under-represented lore-wise, so I decided on a look that was mostly "draenei" with less emphasis on the wild, shaman-y aspect. My starting point was actually the shield, though it was the last item I managed to acquire. It was uniquely draenei-looking, and the set flowed from that. I was lucky that the entire [Steadfast] set fit well, with a sort of aged, yet polished look. The [Mantle of the Sea Wolf] are the dash of shaman, and I chose them for that along with the color scheme that fit so well. The [Vicious Spellblade] I chose simply because its ambient effect overwrites any enchant effect and Power Torrent gives me a headache.


An outfit doesn't have to "match" though, to be a solid look. My mage, Kaelie, for example, or my priest, Lilienne, both sport looks that are more subdued. My mage I picture as something of a woodsy, active sort of person. I started with the [Legwraps of the Master Conjurer], a texture I'd noticed and loved back in Wrath. The rest just sort of fell into place... so many chest items look great with them! Once more, I chose a dagger based on mageyness and the ability to nullify the Power Torrent appearance.


Similarly, with my priest, I wanted her to look like a priest-on-the-go. (She served at the Cathedral in Gilneas, but is now at home in Stormwind). Her mace was the main piece of the set, and I let it carry the rest, keeping her simple and (I hope) subtle.


The set I am most proud of at the moment is my DK's frost gear. I started with a shoulder model, [Chilled Shoulderplates], that I absolutely loved. I wanted to convey the idea of a frozen, fallen Sentinel, so I chose smooth armor that matched the plate of the shoulders. I also loves the pattern on [Permafrost Cape], so when weapons don't clip it, I turn it on. For the weapons themselves I am currently 'mogged to [Stellaris] because it feels almost like a Night Elf glaive, but I've also enjoyed the look of [Teldrassil Protector], because it is very much in keeping with Maara's theme and color scheme.


Most recently I've put together a look for my resto druid, who is something of a wanna-be-devotee of Malorne (and the self-appointed intern of Elrahd). The center item for her was the [Druidic Helmet of Second Sight] and the rest followed easily enough. I find that matching your cloak to either your helm or your shoulder piece allows for a consistent look while still contrasting nicely with any given look. I'm not entirely happy with it, but the ideal black leather pieces drop from ToC and will take longer to get! For now the  basic leather set works nicely and [Brutal Gladiator's Staff] is perfect to accent it.

Yeah, maybe I have a 'mogging addiction. Maybe it's some deep-seated girly urge to play dress-up. Whatever it is, I love transmogrification!

The next set on the table is going to be a tougher one to tackle: my little gnome Gnelly is convinced that she's a hunter and once she's 85 I'm determined to have her look like one. My plan is something along the lines of this, but I guess we'll see how it goes!


For anyone wanting to play with hunting down great transmogrification ideas, Mogit is a fantastic addon, if you have the space to run it. Otherwise, just find an item you love, and just choose everything else with it its awesomeness in mind! Even if you have a favorite pair of boots, or an extra lucky hat, you're already halfway to an awesome 'mog!

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If you're interested, here are the complete looks above:

Lumena (Shaman)

Head: Steadfast Coronet
Shoulder: Mantle of the Sea Wolf
Chest: Steadfast Breastplate
Wrist:Steadfast Bracelets
Hands: Steadfast Gloves
Waist: Steadfast Girdle
Legs: Steadfast Legplates
Feet: Steadfast Stompers
Dagger: Vicious Spellblade
Shield: Aldori Legacy Defender

Maara (Death Knight)

Head: Warleader's Crown
Shoulders: Chilled Shoulderplates
Chest: Heroic Armor
Hands: Truesilver Gauntlets
Waist: Grimscale Belt
Legs: Heroic Legplates
Feet: Vicious Gladiators Warboots of Alacrity
Axes: Stellaris
Back: Permafrost Cape

Lilienne (Priest)

Shoulder: Double-stitched Woolen Shoulders
Chest: Aurora Armor
Shirt: Rustic Workman's Shirt
Wrist: Archmage Bracelets
Hands: Heavy Linen Gloves
Waist: Bloodthirsty Embersilk Belt
Legs: Regal Leggings
Feet: Archmage Slippers
Mace: Mogor's Anointing Club
Offhand: Divine Companion

Celaen (Druid)

Head: Druidic Helmet of Second Sight
Shoulder: Hide of the Lone Hunter
Back: Proudmoore Cloak
Chest: Vest of Discovery
Shirt: Stylish Black Shirt
Hands: Infectis Puffer Gloves
Waist: Ghostwalker Belt
Legs: Golly Gosh Leggings
Feet: Grazle's Sandals
Staff: Brutal Gladiator's Staff

Kaelie (Mage)

Shoulders: Laughing Skull Shoulderpads
Back: Cloak of Insomnia
Chest: Mooncloth Vest
Shirt: Blue Lumberjack Shirt
Wrist: Laughing Skull Bracelets
Hands: Black Mageweave Gloves
Waist: Black Belt of Knowledge
Legs: Legwraps of the Master Conjurer
Feet: Kayser's Boots of Precision
Dagger: Jaded Crystal Dagger
Offhand: Globe of Moonlight

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Then & Now

Vidyala over at Manaliciou posted a "Then & Now" theme a couple of weeks ago which I intended to get to, but to find some screen-shots I wanted to use, I had to boot-up a machine that hadn't seen the light of day since 2007. Still, it was worth digging through it just for the one image I did want, and remembered, and yes, it was there.

Now, keep in mind that my Paladin who has been my main focus since the day Wrath launched was not my first character. Or second. Or third. But my Paladin is my main at this point, and forever more, and that's the history I'll be tracking.

I rolled my first character, a human Mage, in the summer of 2007, got him to ~50 or so and shortly thereafter, a human Warrior and got him ~40 or so, before my wife who was my leveling partner took a break in late 2007. I decided to wait for her, and rolled a Night Elf Druid to play on my own and got him all the way up to 70 in early 2008, before the other two even reached Outland.

My Druid was my first love, and I played the hell out of him all through TBC, and sometime in mid-2008, while rolling through Z'A on my Druid, I rolled my Paladin to pass the time after raiding with a couple of them and enjoying their flashy spells, especially compared to the dull bears (remember, this was pre-reskin, when bears were horrifically ugly and boring to look at). I loved the Druid class, but didn't enjoy being in a shape-shifted form all the time and I wanted to look at all my shiny Tier 4 stuff, damnit!

Paladins pre-Wrath were a very strange affair - there were multiple Judgments and multiple Seals which interacted with each other in strange ways, the Seals had a very short duration and there were just an insane number of Blessings, no taunt other than Righteous Defense, spell-power was a think we had to worry about... anyway, it was a pain, but I enjoyed the look and feel of the class regardless.

Here's the oldest picture I could find of Joachim, somewhere in the late 40s, early 50s, having chopped off the head of an ogre and stuck it on a post while giving a thumbs-up. As you do.


I liked the look of a baldy-face and I had to have a Van Dyke just to hide that horrible lip-curl that Human males have. When patch 3.0 hit and all the huge Paladin changes came down, I just fell in love with the class and despite myself, leveled him to 70 first and began raiding in earnest, even joining my first hard-core 25-person raiding guild during Ulduar. Here he is, having grown a lot of hair and letting his beard down for the cold Continent, decked out in a set of T9, hanging out with some Sentinels.


During T10, I made a brief, ill-advised foray into Horde territory, though I have to admit, Joachim looked pretty damned hot as a Blood-Elf.


But that couldn't last and he reverted to his dumpy human self shortly thereafter. Here he is, with the Turtles guild, all surrounded by friends and, um, turtles, at our first guild kill of Lichy. It's so heartwarming to know that I still raid or know the majority of the people in this picture.


After playing a Blood Elf and seeing the awesome animations and smooth textures of the higher quality model, humans became even more difficult to put up with. Besides, my RP days were behind me, I had a lot of trouble staying with the character, so I wrote him a farewell and with Cataclysm, made the biggest change yet.

Joachim was dead, and I created Innana a female Draenei. I loved this look and honestly wish I could have stayed with it.


Alas, it was not to be. With no lore forthcoming for the Draenei after the announcement of Pandas, I had to revert back to the base race for the Alliance for the sake of story and immersion. I need to feel like my character (and I) have a huge, vested interest in the world and setting, and are really, really committed and I don't feel like the Draenei have that going for them at all except for Valen saying "Trust me."

So back to the base races again but which one? The Dwarves were too silly for me, so I elected to became human again. Only human again.


This is how I looked last night when I logged out.

I think I've finally settled on something that makes me happy - being Alliance feels like home, and being Human give me plenty of immersion and story and incentive to do things in game. The human female is a world better than the human male and my armor looks fantastic.

For the first time since I faction-transferred to the Horde, I'm finally satisfied with my character. I can't imagine changing again, but based on my past, who can say!

Thanks again to Vidyala for an awesome theme. I had a lot of fun parsing through tons of screen-shots to make this.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I don't care about 25s

Harsh toke, guy!

Maybe it would be more accurate to add a suffix to my title. Maybe "...and that's okay!" or something, but the point is a very real one for me.

I have been raiding since TBC, and I remember just how difficult and harsh it was to try to get into a 25 group. After doing Karazhan and Zul'Aman, my guild had two 10 groups but were incapable of getting a 25 group together even for the rest of T4. At one point, we managed to get a group together (between three 10-person guilds) and do Magtheridon but that took an epic effort to find enough people who weren't already spoken for by the 25-person guilds. Trying to get into 25 guilds was nigh-impossible (at least on my server) as by the time I started raiding, Black Temple was the flavor of the day and nobody wanted to have to gear up a new tank through T4 and T5.

As a raid-officer during TBC, I know exactly how hard it is to put together 25s. No question there.

When Wrath came out, the idea of choice was a superficial one at best - 10s were both vastly undertuned, the gear was a hand-out and in many cases, inferior to the gear you got in 25s. How many 25s raiders do you know who ran 10s to fill in that BIS piece vs. 10s raiders who ran 25s for BIS trinkets? 10s were absolutely the red-headed-middle-step-child of raiding in Wrath, but there was a lot of potential there, and it allowed for guilds and smaller groups to see end-game content.

Cataclysm went further in consolidating the 10s and 25s by rewarding the same gear from both while providing a small incentive to do 25s over 10s. The main controversy here was that both raid sizes shared a lock-out, and trust me, this was an incredibly good thing for many of us.

In Wrath, as a competitive raiders, I had to do both 10s and 25s every week, to maximize my badge count as well as getting a shot at the BIS loot that I had no access to in 10s. This made raiding a chore, and seeing the same content multiple times in the same week was incredibly frustrating in addition to having to do daily dungeons and weekly raid challenges. Anyone who did T9 in 10s, then H:10s, then 25 remembers just how stressful, frustrating, and time consuming it was to stay competitive.

So, what do we have with Cataclysm?

- 10s and 25s share a lockout
- 10s and 25s share the same loot-tables
- 10s and 25s provide (roughly) the same difficulty level
- 10s and 25s share the same content in terms of raids, bosses, cut-scenes, etc.

In this kind of environment, there are still a few factors that matters in making a decision about whether you do 10s or 25s:

- Prestige (25s)
- Intimacy (10s)
- Competition (25s)
- Ease of organization (10s)
- Speed of gear acquisition (25s)
- Difficulty of execution (25s)

Given this - why do we still see 25s dying and 10s thriving?

Because raiding in Warcraft is driven as much by developers as it is by the open market of ideas. Blizzard created the environment, and the WoW player-base chose 10s overwhelmingly as the raiding size of choice in Cataclysm. From hard-core progression oriented 10s groups that pushed content and finished the hard-mode raids in a competitive time-frame with 25s to casual raid groups that worked for five or six months to clear a raid on normal mode, 10s was where it was at in Cataclysm.

Given that 25s are more difficult to organize and execute (issues that are Human Resource problems in nature), and 10s are easier in that sense, I have a lot of sympathy for 25s. Officers in 25s are much better at wrangling their staff together and explaining and organizing their fights than officers in 10s. I've been in both situations and I know exactly how much easier it is to build and train a 10s group.

So, do I actually care about the woes of 25s? I'll be honest: I kind of don't, but that's okay.

I'm sure 25s don't really care about 10s complaining when we complain.

- We can't class-stack as easily
- We don't have access to all the buffs and debuffs
- We wind up wasting tier tokens due to a lack of class diversification
- We have such difficult recruiting due to the number of 10s guilds raiding
- One person's performance being 10% of output makes it nigh impossible to carry on progression

They don't see these things as an issue for them, their deep rosters allow them to overcome these issues much more easily.

We can both complain about our individual raid-size issues and with the decline in the number of guilds tackling 25s, recruitment is certainly a huge, huge problem for them. You have my sympathies, but I certainly don't think 10s are the reason for it in a deliberate or malicious way - it's a market-place of ideas, and ideas sink or swim based on what people want.

If the general player consciousness says 10s is the way that a majority of raiders want to tackle content, there isn't a whole lot Blizzard or the 25s can do to make a change. This has happened before - 40s became 25s, and now are becoming 10s. Fans of the 40-player raid-size still complain about how 25s aren't like how it was, and 40s were the truly epic raids. At least 25s are still around, provide challenging content, and remain the tier of competition across the world.

As a 10s raider, I enjoy my raid-size and don't really want a whole lot more than what I have. The problems of roster management in 10s is very different, but I'm not going to blame it on the 25s - they have their own problems to deal with and I wish them the best of luck. But I do hope that they don't feel it necessary to demean and ridicule 10s in order to make their point - I'm sure that's not their intention.

I might not care about your problems, my brothers and sisters among the 25s guilds, but I still love you as fellow raiders. Even if you might scorn my affection as a lowly 10s raider. ;-) <3

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Profanity

Last night, we were short a lot of folks, but managed to fill up anyway, and clear through most of both FL and the later half of DS in about 3 hours so yay, but about half-way through the frantic rush to get things done, I went a little bit nuts.

A bit of story to start off with - back when the profanity filter was broken and would reset every time we logged out, my guild discovered that they could no longer understand me because every second or third word was blocked out by the filter. Soon, people took to calling it the "Saif filter" as they often wouldn't realize the filter was on until I logged on and began to talk. My language is a rather off-putting shade of blue, but, I think, it's inoffensive, except if common vulgar argot offends you, I suppose.

It's somewhat difficult for me to write here while keeping language in mind - I tend to think of blogs as a way for me to just sprout off on whatever I am thinking about but I do think that because I also write guides and fiction and commentary, I should maintain some sense of decorum, and it's a good constraint to have. I find my work benefits when I place more and more constraints on it or I tend to let things wander and get out of hand easily... like now.

Anyway, so I'm a fairly profane person with my friends, in my every day life, at work, at home, and I don't think it's a big deal. And if I do meet someone who is genuinely offended by my language (and there have been cases where this happened) I will respect their wishes and mind my tongue. When I was younger, it wasn't as easy, and I would obsess with the thought of filtering myself, and often slip into even worse language which led to greater amusement and/or embarrassment depending on which side of the aisle you were.

My language, then, make acclimating new guildies a bit odd at times, especially when I log in unaware and begin to talk as I normally tend to. And especially since many of our members are brought in with the expectation of entering a mature guild with mature people who converse like adults. But last night was a one-two punch of profane amusement.

About half-way through the raid, we were about to pull Ultraxion, and we had just picked up a casual raider who was pugging as a fill-in, and another new social member had jumped into vent and logged in to chat, and we were discussing guild policy, making sure the new guys knew what it was (in a nutshell: no sexism, racism, homophobia, or drama) when one of the established members added onto the tail end of the rules, "And no cursing."

For the first time in two years I typed, "/gquit".

There was a moment of shocked silence before the half-doubting voices began to laugh and ask if I was joking,  and a few horrified squeals erupted chiding me for loosing all my guild rep, and the officers began to yell, asking why I kept rejecting their invites. I had, of course, auto-decline guild invites checked by default. And maybe it didn't help matters that I started the dragon trash in the middle of the hysteria.

The stunt reduced many members of the raid into laughter and also into indulging profane language that normally only comes from me, and for that alone it would have been worth it to re-grind all that reputation.

You're welcome, guys. <3