Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: Euripedes

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

Critical QQ

Please take a minute and describe what your blog is about.

CriticalQQ is intended to be a blog focusing on mages and/or PvP, and any issues that relates to one of those two. Naturally, every post is not going to be specifically about mages or PvP, but the majority of them are.

Sometimes there’ll be posts up that have nothing at all do with my core focus, and in some cases, not even WoW itself. Those types of posts tend to be very rare, as I think most of my readers want to read about… well, Warcraft things, not the latest odd thing involving a bagel to happen in the men’s washroom.

But basically, my blog is the same as all the other WoW blogs out there. It’s my take on the World… of Warcraft, and as I primarily play a mage and focus my game play on PvP, that tends to be the subject matter of all my posts.

Your blog covers a very specific subject. How do you manage to keep coming up with meaningful content that others, obviously, find interesting?

It does take some brainstorming. Almost every post was inspired somehow either by a comment left on another post, something I thought of while playing, or something I thought of while thinking about the game.

I expend nearly no effort whatsoever to actually come up with new posts from scratch (this is probably pretty obvious to my critics). I just do my thing, play the game, live life, and inspiration strikes where it may.

This is why you’ll see things like a comedy post followed by an angry rant, followed by a philosophical musing, and so on.

Most of my posts are spontaneous. I know some bloggers like to plan what they blog; but for me, that takes away from the enjoyment of blogging in the first place.

I do have planned posts from time to time, and these are always guides to something. All my talent guides, the raiding guides, all those are posts planned way in advance, and usually take about a month from initial conception and preliminary writing to it actually being posted.

These types of posts are posted infrequently and take so long because I do not enjoy writing them. They are arduous, tedious, and boring to write.

I still write them, though, as I consider it my part in the battle to fight wiztards.

But I digress.

I’d guess about half of my posts are directly because of something Blizzard has done in the game. Either with new patches, new mechanics that need to be explained, and so on. I’m pretty sure if you really wanted to, you could trend the frequency of my blog posts, and see a marked increase of posts right around the time new patches come out, and a corresponding slow down when nothing new is being released.

What was your introduction to MMOs and what was that experience like?

Technically, WoW is my first MMO. I had played Neverwinter Nights online before WoW, but I’d hardly consider it an MMO.

NWN Online was, in retrospect, very dull. It featured a hopelessly long grind to level cap completely devoid of humor, both in the game and amongst the small player base.

The most fun I had in that game was venturing off to explore the “inefficient leveling” zones, just to see what was there.

WoW, by contrast, was bright, fun, filled with interesting quests, and highly entertaining.

And that was before I left Durotar. :)

When did you first start playing WoW?

I’ve been playing WoW since November 29th, 2005, at 7:20 PM. Sometimes I regret having started at all, sometimes I wish I had started earlier. Early enough to play a dwarf mage. Holy crap, I wish dwarfs could still be mages. I’d play one without hesitation.

At your peak, how much time per week would you say you spent playing WoW? How about now?

Per week? Well… I’d guess about 70 hours a week, at my peak. I know it’s a lot, but when I play, I really play. None of this pansy ass log in, play for an hour or two, log out business. When I log in, I’m in for hours and hours of quality gaming. Some of you are probably aware of my recent (successful) effort to play WoW for 24 hours straight. That’s just how I play.

And yes, it is quality gaming. If I’m not enjoying something, I don’t do it. I never, for instance, grind for the sake of grinding, and never have.

If I grind, it’s because I’m enjoying it for some strange reason. For instance, way back in my late twenties, there was this field filled with gnolls in Hillsbrad Foothills (the place you go for the huge blue mushrooms). I grinded those gnolls for three levels. It was incredibly fun, I don’t know why.

Usually, though, with these hours of gaming, I mostly just PvP. I wonder how many people can say they’ve had two toons at the honor cap simultaneously… good god, I need a girlfriend.

Nowadays, my WoW time usually clocks in at about… ohh, twenty, thirty hours a week? Something like that.

How exactly did you end up focusing on the mage class?

The friend who got me into WoW played a mage. So I rolled one too, eventually. I had a bunch of other toons that I tried out right at the beginning, like a warrior, shadow priest, hunter, druid, rogue, that kind of thing. Leveled most of them up to about, oh, somewhere in the 14-20 area, then deleted them. (The hunter is the only one who survived, and today is sitting pretty at level 73).

The mage was the only one to stick, at the time. Right from the start, it was a hard class to play. Compare to, say, a warrior back then.

A warrior leveled by selecting a target, pressing charge, pressing Rend, waiting a while, pressing Heroic Strike, then waiting some more.

There was no strategy, no deeper element, no tactical game play or positioning that had to be used.

Back when I played NWN, I had intentionally played builds that were difficult to play. I had created characters that demanded perfect timing of multiple abilities in order to be effective.

So when I came to WoW, I was looking for a class that did the same.

Enter the mage class, a squishy, cloth-wearing class with no pet to tank for it and no heals or shields of any sort. What it had instead were things like snares and roots.

It was a hard class to play, especially for a keyboard turning noob who’s best friend advised leveling mages should spec into Arcane.

Yeah, that didn’t last long. By level 20, I decided arcane was stupid and specced fire instead. My mage has been fire for the majority of it’s life, and is still a fire mage at heart even if it is specced arcane and frost at the moment.

Have you ever experienced burnout in WoW? If so, how have you dealt with that?

Yes, multiple times. Burnout is actually a really easy thing to deal with. Are you burnt out on a specific class? A specific spec? Specific area of the game? The game itself? Guild politics?

Just identify what is causing the burn out, and then cut oneself off completely from it. The easiest way is to simply play an alt. It’s a very serious change of pace from whatever you’re normally used to doing.

For instance, last expansion, I had burnt out on playing my mage, raiding, PvP, the whole thing. It was frustrating to do.

So I played my hunter instead. The poor girl was level 30, so I decided to rectify that. Two weeks later, my hunter walks into Outland, and I hadn’t even touched my mage for those two weeks.

Within a month of burning out as a mage, I was back, and loving it just as much as I was before.

If it’s the game itself I’m burning out on (which has happened thrice), you just gotta quit. Log out, exit WoW, and do NOT start it up again until you really want to play it again.

If my attitude is “well, I really should log in, and do some dailies…” I don’t log in. I’m still burnt out, playing more WoW will be detrimental.

I don’t log back in until my attitude is “I WANT TO PLAY SOOO BAAAD OMG I GOTTA HAVE MY FIX”.

The hard part of Burnout is recognizing when you’re burning out. Burnout has to be caught early, “nipped in the bud”, so to speak, to avoid a burnout that lasts months. Just consider what you’re thinking as you’re playing.

Let’s say the guild raid is forming up. Do you say “Hazzah Ulduar!” or “Ugh…”?

You’re looking at your character login screen. You bring up your main character. Is your gut reaction something positive like “Naxx run today WOOO” or something negative like “Uurgh… do I really want to deal with guild drama today?”?

Identify when you are burning it, then identify what is causing you to burn out, then excise it.

If you have to leave the guild or go play an alt with the chat log turned off for a few weeks, so be it. You are not beholden to anyone else.

Do you tend to supplement your MMO gaming with other PC, console, or tabletop games?

Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve played D&D, Cybergen and am actually designing my own tabletop style game entitled, imaginatively, “Sky Pirates”, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. Picture a weird amalgamation of Skies of Arcadia and Treasure Planet and you’ve about got it.

I haven’t been a major console gamer since the N64. Starcraft was the catalyst that started my jump from console gaming to PC gaming, and I’ve never really considered going back. I do still play some console games, like Rock Band, when I hang out with friends.

PC gaming, however, is where I make my home. I play a lot more games than WoW. For instance, here is a list of games I’ve played in the last 30 days, not including WoW:

  • Team Fortress 2
  • Left4Dead
  • Half Life 2: Episode One
  • Psychonauts
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary
  • Sins of a Solar Empire
  • Knights of the Old Republic
  • The Sims 3
  • Overlord
  • Audiosurf
  • Command&Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour

“So I created this blog, so I can rant and rave in public, and in peace.” This is a comment you ended your very first blog post with. Would you say this still holds true today?

To a point. The “in peace” part is a up for debate, but the rest definitely still holds true. I still rant and rave just as much now as I did then, though there are those who wish I’d didn’t. The only real difference to my rants now as compared to before is that I cuss less now than I used to.

Some see using a cuss/curse/swear a sign of a lack of intelligence, or perhaps an inability to correctly communicate ideas.

I disagree, of course. The odd swear word here and there carries a lot of emotional weight. If it’s used casually, all the time, it’s just a word. But used sparingly… it has a huge impact.

I honestly never expected anyone to read the blog. It was, really, just an outlet.

And now I have an audience of thousands, ranging from rabid fans and stalkers to mortal enemies and those who think I’m the Antichrist (seriously weird e-mail, that one. I never knew a cucumber was a satanic symbol).

Do you see blogging as just a hobby or perhaps something more?

At this point, it is still a hobby. It’s something I do because it’s fun. I enjoy it, so I keep doing it.

I don’t know if I could handle it as something more. Getting paid for it, it’s then kinda expected to treat it as a job and update regularly. Seems strange to do something I’m paid for which is entirely based on another hobby, where my interest could wane at any time.

I’m not doing this for money, and have never even considered transforming CQQ into something that makes money. I don’t have adds on the site, never will, and I just delete any of those “affiliate opportunities!” things I get in the inbox.

As with quite a few bloggers, I am hoping to use the skills I’ve learned as a blogger to try and become a professional writer at some point. I’ll see, I suppose. I still have about four years of University to head through before I’ll deem myself mature enough to come up with story ideas and characters that are not fundamentally retarded.

Obviously anything I write will be infused with my strange form of humor. I’ve tried writing serious things, it rarely works. Serious is boring.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

Not even sort of. I’ve tried in the past to have scheduled updates, or even something simple like “a new post every day”. They all fail within a week or two.

Setting expectations and then failing to meet them is far worse than simply not having specific expectations in the first place. You can say “I’ll update monday!”, then your readers will expect an update monday. And if there isn’t one, you’ve just disappointed a whole ton of people.

I follow a system of “I’ll update on someday!” that way nobody gets disappointed! Except, I guess, all the people who get mad when you don’t update, or even worse, update with stuff they don’t want to read.

Again, though, my blogging is very spur of the moment. If I blog, I blog, if I don’t, I don’t. It’s a very simple system that stays fun, fresh, and only frustrates half the readers.

Would you say there is some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you tend to cope with it?

I suppose there might be, if you try and set goals that you can’t meet. Say you try to get out a new post every day. You keep it up for a week, but then by week two, when it comes time to get a new post out, and you have nothing to post and no idea what to write.

Of course, because you made the promise to put out a new post every day, now there’s that obligation you think you have to meet.

If you blog when and what you want to, there is no grind involved. It’s fun, and remains that way.

Guides, of course, have a significant amount of “grind” to them. They’re long posts, filled with tons of information, massive amounts of formatting and copy/paste, especially those with gear lists. Those take FOREVER.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

Nearly everything. Writing posts is fun. It’s a subject matter I’m very passionate about, and I really like writing. And if that’s not enough, the fact that it’s a blog means other people can come by and leave comments. Discussions and debates spring up out of nowhere, and if there’s one thing I like almost as much as writing, it’s an argument.

This hearkens back to my trolling days.

Intellectual conflict is extremely stimulating and probably more fun than it should be.

Stupid arguments are trying and dull, but fortunately my blog sees relatively few of those. Instead, it seems to become the focus of opinionated, intelligent discourse, which is something I deeply enjoy.

If my high school had a debate club, I totally would have joined.

Would you care to share a particularly memorable moment from your days of blogging?

There are a few really awesome things. When I got a link from BigRedKitty, for instance, that was awesome. The first time I got linked by WoWInsider (when it was still called that) was also pretty neat.

A couple other really big things.

When I was contacted by Bre, then of Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick, and was asked if I wanted to be interviewed at the Twisted Nether Blogcast. That was HUGE, to me. At that point, I still thought I was living in obscurity, just this little corner blog that nobody really read. I still felt like a second-class blogger, if that makes sense. Just the little guy, hiding in a corner while all the big bloggers drank punch and joked around the chocolate fountain.

There was also this one post that I put very shortly after Lich King launched. It was a quick guide, hastily thrown together with a couple screenshots, about how mages could go about getting to Dalaran.

It turned out to be, at the time, the hugest post in the history of the blog. It drew tens of thousands of hits, was linked to everywhere, popped me into the top 100 blog posts of the day, raked in dozens of comments (positive, negative, and troll alike), and “how to get to Dalaran” is STILL one of the top five searches for my blog.

And all for something that took me all of seven minutes to put together.

More recently, my “On Elitism and Free T8″ post has drawn the most comments of any post in my history. I really struck a nerve, and struck it hard, though I think a lot of people misunderstood me. I’ve tried to clarify my position, but at this point I’m basically throwing rocks at bee hives.

Controversial bloggerdom, here I come!

Are you pleased with how your blog has been received in the MMO blogosphere?

Hah, I suppose. I’m not being actively shunned by anyone yet, I think, so that’s good, right?

Maybe it’s a little presumptuous of me, but I’m not all that concerned with how my blog is received in general. I rarely check the hard numbers of the blog, I have no idea what my lifetime views are, and I haven’t the slightest idea how many subscribers I have.

Honestly, I’m still a little bit in disbelief. I don’t really think I’m all that interesting, but the blogosphere in general seems to disagree.

Hmm… I wouldn’t really say I’m pleased with the reception my blog has received, more that I’m befuddled by it.

If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you do anything different?

I’d totally play a dwarf mage. That’s… about it really. Everything else is pretty damn peachy keen.

Maybe I would’ve gotten an editor from day one. I do make grammar mistakes and things, which people absolutely love to rag on me for, and due to my blogging being so spontaneous, usually quite a few mistakes get through.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

Do what you want, when you want. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, don’t set expectations you can’t meet. Ignore the trolls. Accept criticism gracefully. Don’t be a copy-cat. And for the love of all that is frijole, have fun!

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

I’ve actually nearly hung up ye olde keyboard four times now. The blog keeps dragging me back, though.

I suspect CQQ is going to keep going until WoW finally dies. Even if I feel close to quitting, I know now, from experience, that it’s just a slump, and I’ll be over it in, at most, a few weeks.

Usually it’s just a particularly exacerbated case of blogger’s block.

At this point, I don’t know if I could stop writing. It’s become such a part of me, that even if I didn’t blog, I’d still have to write something.

When I try to picture myself not blogging about WoW… all I end up doing is picturing myself blogging about some other game.

I’m just as addicted to this whole writing thing as I am WoW itself. But this, at least, is a good addiction. I’m addicted to flexing creative muscles and wringing understanding and entertainment from the typed word.

Much healthier than, say, being addicted to snorting ants.

4 Responses to “One shot: Euripedes”

  1. [...] 26, 2009 by Euripedes So I got interviewed over at Grinding to Valhalla, so you should probably check that out if you haven’t [...]

  2. Well done. I could never have put why I blog so eloquently and truthfully. Cool now I don’t ever have to write about this I can just link to this interview…
    Woot!!!

  3. [...] discovered some time back you are a closet Fire Mage, deceived into the wayward paths of Frost and [...]

  4. [...] Euripedes [...]

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