Lowtotem.com >> Risk vs. Reward and the Game Industry

August 30, 2008

(This is a pretty serious post from me, and since LowTotem.com isn’t being indexed yet, I’m cross-posting it here as well.)

I’ve got a couple of posts planned for the future, but I’ve all of a sudden gotten real busy at work.  For the first time, I really feel like I’m doing what I want to be doing, and that’s a good feeling.

Some pretty big changes have gone down the last few days at work.  Its unavoidable, I guess, especially in the world of startup companies.  That’s the real trade-off.  Risk vs. reward and all that.  I spent 2 and a half years working for 3 of the biggest names in the game industry.  Things were stable (in theory, when you are a temp, you never have job security).  But I knew my chances at moving up were limited.

I took a real risk when I left my last company to move into production for an unknown, untested, casual game startup.  As someone who’s taken a non-traditional career path, I knew the only way I was going to advance is by taking a huge risk.  I jumped right into it.

It seems crass to say this when people you’ve known and worked with have just been let go, but frankly, I’m not worried.  I don’t want to lose my job.  But if I do, I’m in a lot better place to deal with the situation than I was 2 and a half years ago.  Everything I do, I’m learning.  Every new day, I’m learning.  Success or failure, I’m learning.

Our CEO said something today that affected me deeply.  He said, “Be your own CEO.”  Think like a CEO.  Solve problems like a CEO.  And that’s exactly what I intend to do.  I’m not worried about failure, or making a bad decision.  Its all about risk vs. reward.  As a young person, you have to be willing to take risks, even at the expense of losing everything.

And that’s the advice I give to my friends still toiling away in the QA dungeons of the Game Industry.  You have to be willing to give it up at a moments notice.  Take risks.  Think like a CEO.

I know too many bright, intelligent people who are wasting away in QA.  They grow bitter, wondering why they can’t advance in an industry they love.  They grow complacent, willing to accept mediocrity because they aren’t willing to take a chance.  At some point, you have to be willing to risk it all.

So, I’m sitting here, still trying to process today’s events.  I wish everyone good luck and hope they quickly land on their feet.  But its time for me to start taking advantage of the opportunities each new day brings.

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New Site, New Name – LowTotem.com

August 28, 2008

SO, if you are reading this for whatever reason, please head over to the new and updated site at

LOWTOTEM.COM

Its totally cool, I promise you!


I Recruited Myself

August 27, 2008

I was out sick from the office yesterday. So I bit the bullet and decided to try out WoW’s recruit a friend system.

I sent an invite to myself from my WoW account. Then I registered a new account using the key I received. This linked the two accounts together. Then I upgraded the trial account to a regular account for 19.99 through Blizzard’s digital upgrade. Luckily I’ve had an extra copy of TBC since launch, so I used that to upgrade it to a Burning Crusade account, even though it wasn’t necessary and I probably just wasted a copy of TBC.

I decided to level a Druid and Warlock combo. Both have ranged attacks. The Warlock has a pet that can tank. And the druid can heal. Much to my chagrin, I found that Tauren are not able to pickup quests at the blood elf starting area. So, after completing all the starting quests, I had a level 8 Blood Elf Warlock and a level 5 Druid.

So I ported my Druid back to the Tauren starting area, then created an Orc Shaman on the same account as a the Warlock. I then summoned the Orc Shaman to the Tauren starting area (luckily the Orc can share quests here) and got both the Druid and Shaman to level 8 before I logged off for the night.

Overall, even though I’m level 8, it was much faster leveling using the Recruit a Friend bonus XP. Normally once you complete all the starting quests, you are around level 5-6. I’m about 2 levels above that, and when I reached the next quest hub, some of the quests there were green to me.

As far as the setup and everything, going by stuff I’ve read from Dual-Boxing, I purchased a copy of Keyclone. I have dual monitors so I run two instances of WoW on the same machine (though if I wanted, I have a second computer I don’t use). It took a few minutes to setup keys and macros. Basically, I hit X and the second account starts to follow the main account. Hit Z and the second account assists the main account. I set shadow bolt, wrath, and lightning bolt to the E key, so when I cast it on my main, the secondary account will also cast at the same time. I then setup R so that the druid heals my main, and Shift-R to heal himself. It’s a pretty crude setup right now, but I’ll probably setup a system with focus targets and junk over the next few days.

Questing is the most difficult part of this setup, as I have to switch windows to pickup quest items and to turn in and accept quests. Also, the mouse is a little janky for some reason, and I sometimes spin out, though I have no clue why.

It will be pretty interesting to see how this plays out and it’s a good distraction from getting rolled on my Paladin in BGs. I’m just trying to get these guys to 60 before the expansion at this point, and I’m hoping that the 70-80 grind gets the same bump old content did at some point so I can get them to 70 and then eventually 80.

I think right now is probably the worst time to play WoW. With the next expansion looming on the horizon, it seems like nothing you do really matters. While I don’t think that we are going to see people going from purple to green like we did with the release of Burning Crusade, I’m sure I’ll be able to pick up some decent new gear in Northrend, so I’m not too concerned with that.


Progress Update – Week of 8/24

August 25, 2008

I didn’t play as much as I thought I would this weekend. In fact, I played FAR LESS than I anticipated. I played for maybe an hour Saturday because, shockingly, I had real life stuff I needed to get done. Sunday, I got a couple of games in, but after being dominated by Alliance in almost every game I played, I got discouraged and threw in the towel after playing for maybe an hour or two.

I make mistakes. But I really think my game has improved from where it was just a few short weeks ago. I’m doing a lot better keeping my teammates alive. The biggest area I need improvement however is keeping myself alive.

I’ve said this before, but I suffer from tunnel vision – I tend to focus on health bars rather than the game unfolding before me. As a result, I sometimes don’t’ notice that I’m not actually getting heals off because I am stunned or silenced or something. Usually, the thing I tend to ignore is my own health bar. At first, my mentality was “keeping the team alive is most important.” Then I realized that if I’m dead, my HPS is zero. I try to be as mobile as I can (for a Paladin) and use Line of Sight to my advantage.

My other big problem is not knowing when to pick my battles. This is a big reason why Sunday was so frustrating to me. I found myself either alone with no support, or going into a fight with inferior numbers. Look, I know there are some players who can take on 4v1 or whatever and come out victorious. But I think 99% of the people who play PUG BGs are not that player. This is why is so stupid for me to see some idiot warrior charging into a flag room with 6 alliance guarding it. This usually ends with more dead horde and him crying in the BG chat about how terrible this group is playing.

Right now I need about 39,949 more honor for all the pieces of gear I want. I earn between 100 – 500 honor a game, for an average of 300 honor per game. At that rate, I figure it will take 134 games to earn the honor. So starting tonight, I’m just going to start counting down games from 134. Its situations like this where I can totally see why people AFK bot. I don’t think I would ever do it, but it is very tempting.


Holy Paladin PVP Stuff

August 20, 2008

So, I was reading a post on WORLD OF MING yesterday. While I don’t really follow the “arena” scene and all the top players and stuff, there’s a lot of good information floating around on GameRiot. Case in point, the above mentioned post.

Amid a bunch of other stuff, was footage of a 2v2 game from Zilea’s perspective. Zilea is a top ranked Holy Paladin. The footage can be downloaded here: http://files.filefront.com/DruidRogueRNGROFLwmv/;11528941;/fileinfo.html. It’s Pally/Rogue (Zilea’s team) vs. a very high rated Rogue/Druid comp.

Overall, I don’t really watch WoW videos because it’s just mostly people showcasing their sick crits and stuff. But in this case it’s a full 12min match from Zilea’s. I can’t say how INVALUABLE this was for me, to see just a normal game from the perspective of a top rated player.  I know a lot of it is just casting Flash of Light (that’s what we do, dawg), but the most interesting things to me are first of all, how he sets up his keybindings (one of my biggest problem areas) and how he handles bad situations and still keeps his partner alive.

I’ve been doing a lot of losing in BGs lately, to the point that I’ve been very frustrated. To the point that I haven’t been playing the past couple of days. But, I was motivated by that video. In fact, I was up pretty late last night trying to get all the games I could in.

I’m looking for more Holy Paladin PVP videos at the moment. I’m hoping someone can point me in the direction of some good ones.

My progress is stalled by 2 things. Playing with PuGs and being undergeared. It’s hard to learn anything when you are getting focus fire’d and taken down in seconds cause you don’t have 10k health. So until I’m on equal ground with other players, I’m not sure how much I can improve.

Farming honor is hard when you play on a limited time schedule. I earned about 3000 honor last night, and I played for about 3 hours. AND that includes turn-ins. I’m not sure if I want to go for the s2 legs or helm next. Either would be a huge upgrade for me. But to get the legplates means I’d probably have to suffer through 20 losses in WSG. I HATE WSG.


ZOMG WARHAMMER!!!!

August 19, 2008

This isn’t really a post about Warhammer news or anything.

So I guess the Warhammer NDA has been lifted. I was kind of hoping it’d be like opening the floodgates on Warhammer info, yet pretty much all the sites I turn to for MMO news/opinions are pretty silent. The majority of the posts are simply “NDA HAS BEEN LIFTED!” but no actual news/impressions/thoughts/concerns. So I guess I’d just add myself to the list of people posting that the NDA has been lifted.

GUYS THE NDA HAS BEEN LIFTED! LET THE INTERNET PIPES OVERFLOW WITH THE NECTAR OF INFORMATION.

I had a bunch of thoughts on PVP at this point. But I figured I’d save them for a future post I had planned on PVP theories and stuff. Mostly, I’m excited about RvR in WARHAMMER. I never played DAoC, and I’ve heard mixed reviews of that game, but it “sounds” cool.

I’m trying not to get too excited, because City of Heroes, Vanguard, Final Fantasy XI, Fury, Age of Conan, Hellgate London, RF Online, Guild Wars, and Star Wars Galaxies all “sounded” cool too. And I bought all of those. And I don’t play those games. ((Unfunny and costly story – I’ve got a 10 month veteran rewards for Vanguard even though I never played that game for more than 15 minutes.)

So yeah, here’s to hoping.


A Good Weekend (Crunch Time and Flying Mounts)

August 18, 2008

It’s currently crunch time at the office, which means sacrificing your weekend to GSD (Get Shit Done). For once, this did not include me. In my current role as a producer, I oversee one aspect of the project we are working on, mostly working with an external developer who makes the majority of our art. The real bottleneck of my workload is waiting for this external developer to send me art files. They are currently about a month behind. This means I have very little work to do right now. So, there was no reason for me to come this weekend.

This is both good and bad. It is good because I had a relaxing weekend. I’m pretty motivated right now to GSD, and as such I’ve been blowing through the few lingering tasks still on my plate. This is bad however, because I am now an “outsider.” Every job I’ve worked in the game industry, crunch time is when a team really comes together. This is because everyone shares a common experience of suffering through long hours, exhausting, and fits of insanity. My favorite memories of past jobs are the result of crazy things we’ve done during crunch time. You don’t know true suffering until its 5am and you realize you’ve been quoting Street Fighter: The Movie for the past 6 hours.

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