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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Aggro Interview: Gaige

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When I heard the name Gaige at the Community Summit I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I really knew was that he was one of the most prolific posters on the official forums. But when I got a chance to hear him talk EQII, I realized he knew the game inside and out and argued his points convincingly. I also learned a lot about the high-end raiding game just from listening to him and some of the other hardcore raiders in attendance.

I’m not saying I don’t raid, because I do, and my guild is working hard to be able to handle any raid in the game. But we’re just not on the level of the top raiding guilds, yet. That is okay with me, it gives us something to strive for. But, I knew that Gaige was a person I wanted to interview here to give you a perspective on the game from the point of view of a hardcore raider. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I did.
Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. You have the title “Posts Way Too Much” on the official forums. Why do you post so much and when do you usually post?

I've been a pretty avid forum and irc user since 1995.I have a little over 5k posts at
www.sharkyforums.com and had about 6k on the official SWG forums. To me the forums have always been a part of the MMO experience and the community. I usually post whenever I'm not working or even when I am if I'm doing computer hardware stuff.

You recently had an actual in-game item named after you. What was your reaction to that?

Ha Ha. Funny story about that. It was the second day DoF was live and I was grinding with some guildies when my friend Ledbetter (of Vagabonds) said "Hey Gaige since when do you have your own potion?" This was the first I had heard of it. I thought he was joking obviously, because I get a lot of people throwing "favoritism" in my face on the forums. He tried to convince me it was real though, even told me which alchemist book it was in. So I pm'd Moorgard to ask him, but of course he wouldn't tell me. I think it was a week or so later when I found out for sure, when a guildie bought the book from Maj'Dul. I believe our alchemist, Hagann, got the Permafrost server first of it, but he wouldn't give it to me :( Anyway, the only thing I feel about it really is appreciation. I'm not sure what I did to deserve it, but I think it was a really amazing thing for the devs to do.

What class do you play and how do you feel your class is currently in terms of balance?

I play a monk, currently 56th lvl (my work schedule in October is horrid). I've played a monk since beta. I was the 11th to 50 World Wide, sometime last January. I played through the agility nerf, the light armor mitigation increase and a lot of other class specific and archetype balance problems. I truly think now, aside from some minor tweaking, that the monk class is right about where it should be.

Can you describe the commitment required to be in a hard-core raiding guild?

I'm sure it varies for all the guilds out there, but I can tell you a little about Fires of Heaven. Pre-DoF launch our required raid schedule was 5pm pst until 12am pst, everyday. We normally did every instance that we weren't locked out of every single night in order to equip everyone. Aside from that we had about a four hour block on Thursdays that we devoted to the Spirits of the Lost raid. In addition we also try to be online as much as possible so that we can kill every contested spawn on Permafrost. I'd say people like Noah easily put in 60+ hours a week. When I'm under a normal work schedule I routinely play anywhere from 40 to 80 hours a week. When new things go live we of course commit even more of our time to the game trying to be the first to finish new raids or zones.

What is your answer to casual players who say they pay the same price per month as you and they should be able to defeat every raid in the game?

Players pay SOE for access to the game and all the content it has to offer. What they do with that access and content is up to them. I understand the mentality. I never played EQ1, FoH is my first raid guild, and EQ2 is my first raid game. Up until I joined FoH on May 12th, I was in a "family guild" where I had about 25 levels on all the members. I helped them quest, harvested, etc. I became interested in raiding and through some ingame conversations with Noah I became a part of Fires of Heaven. So I guess you can say I've done it all. The difference being when I decided I wanted to raid and defeat all the encounters in the game, I made a conscious decision to do what was necessary to position myself for success. I didn't try to change the game to suit my needs. I try to be open minded with all issues, even those that concern raiding, but I think a lot of the casual players who deem us selfish are just being selfish themselves and not seeing it. I think anyone would be hard pressed to say that EQ2 doesn't have content for everyone, from the hardcore raider to the ultra casual player. Like Scott said at the summit, the ratio is about 60/40 instanced to contested, so even players who would like to raid on their own schedule can do so.

What was the hardest mob in the game your guild has defeated and how many tries did it take?

Lord Nagalik. I lost count but I'd say it probably took us 25 to 30 tries or more to beat him after the contested raid revamp. We easily spent 4 hours or more down there one of the first nights wiping, rezzing and repulling trying to get the strat down just right. There were numerous half hour trips down into Sol Eye after gating to repair, fun stuff! The Kra'Thuk and Brutal Acts of War were right up there too, but Lord Nagalik was the hardest mob pre LU13 in my opinion.

I recall you saying at the Summit you were actually a full-time crafter in SWG. Can you explain why you don't craft in EQII?

Sure in one word: subcombines. I hate the "reverse engineering" aspect of crafting, I hate the tedium of subcomponent crafting and therefore I refuse to utilize the system. I loved crafting in SWG for numerous reasons, but mainly because it utilized a factory system which allowed you to mass produce all the subcomponents you needed while you were doing other things. I'd really love to see EQ2 move its crafting to be more focused on harvesting, final combines and playing the market. I somehow doubt I'm alone in this sentiment ;)

Could you give us a non-spoiler review of some raids in the expansion we may not have seen?

All I'll say is that I seriously doubt anyone will be disappointed in the raids offered in DoF.

What kind of raids do you want to see in the future?

I would love more contested. I would be thrilled if we had more instances like Spirits of the Lost and Brutal Acts of War. I want contested raid mobs to continue to be the hardest mobs in the game (without WoF!!). I want to go against a raid mob and wipe over and over. I want it to take awhile before we are able to defeat it. I don't want the same strategies to work on every raid in the game. I want to be on the edge of my seat when we fight dragons. I don't want to know if we'll be able to win before we even pull. Basically, I play this game to raid with my friends. We enjoy working together to do things that are pretty damn close to impossible. So anything they can throw out there that can whip our asses a few times is fine by me.

How is the itemization in DoF?

From what I've seen so far its decent. Not quite what I was expecting but they have a lot of time to work on that. I'm sure once everyone starts raiding full time we'll see a lot of nice loot.

Do you feel the combat changes were necessary? Do you feel they were successful?

I think they were 100% necessary. Combat pre LU13 was absolutely broken in a number of ways and the majority of the game was trivial because of it. My opinion so far is that they were successful, yes. Sure not everyone likes them or is happy with them, but you can't please everyone. I do not miss anything about the old combat system at all.

What do you feel EQII needs most outside of the tradeskill/raiding areas?

I'm pretty content with EQ2 really. I've played a lot of MMOs and EQ2 is the only one that successfully addresses various playstyles. As long as they keep adding content throughout the game, I think it'll be just fine. I'm also excited to hear about the team looking into the IoR and various other newbie experiences, to ensure that EQ2 remains accessible and fun to new users. It always difficult to manage the game when the majority of the population reaches the higher levels. So I'm hoping that whatever SOE has in mind for the new user experience works out.

What would be your advice for guilds who want to improve their raiding?

Practice. Be willing to put forth the time and effort it takes to succeed. Don't get discouraged after one wipe. Raiding is about teamwork, strategy and dedication. If your guild wants to start raiding the easiest way to do it is against the various x2 mobs. Learn how to coordinate two groups and what group setups work the best. After you feel confident against those mobs move up to some of the easier x4 instances. I think the main difference you see in successful raid guilds is the willingness to keep trying, no matter what.

In closing I just want to say y0 to everyone in Fires of Heaven. I wouldn't want to raid with anyone else.
A big thanks to Gaige for taking the time to share his insights into the game. I happen to agree with him on the tradeskilling, raid difficulty and combat change issues.

You can expect more interviews in the coming weeks to give you different perspectives on EQII.


Blogger kirkgibson said...

Great interview, Aggro (and good answers Gaige). I am a casual player and it's cool to see someone else play the same game almost like it's a different game and still we both enjoy it.

Do more interviews aggro me.

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice interview..Getting the game perpective thur a hard core gamer has really opened my eyes to what it means to be hardcore. Wow is really all I can say. The amount of time and effort you and your guild puts into EQ2 is unreal. It has made me realize being a casual gamer that I really have no chance what so ever to see the mobs you guys go after. Does it disappoint me..I say no..Does it make me want to be a hardcore gamer..Sometimes but I realize I wouldnt have the time to even try one of these raids. If EQ2 wanted to add more of these epic raid mobs for you guys it wouldnt matter to me one bit, I'd just hope they would take the time and think about the casual gamer and give them some love also when its considering new expansions. Great Read and thanks again for the insight.


6:54 AM  
Blogger Anskiere said...

good interview, though all I could think of when he said "FoH" was "Flowers of Happiness" :(

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Scott Adams said...

Excellent interview! Really insightful and fun to read!

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great interview Aggro. I enjoyed reading Gaige's comments from the hardcore player perspective. I hope you have more goodies saved up from the summit coming :)

And Yes I'm still reading your posts daily even if I've become literally invisble on the forums :)) I'm gaming too casually to comment on anything now haha

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Signed: Wargut (Hit the wrong button)

9:44 AM  
Blogger Fonix said...

Keep up the interviews! Is someone posting raid video somewhere? I'm also a casual player who'll never see those mobs... except maybe with the help of video capture.

(Disagree with Tradeskilling comments {was also a full time crafter in SWG}. I think this is more engaging... but then again, I'm a Provie)

9:47 AM  
Blogger cyan said...

One thing I love abotu EQ2 is the ability for people like Guage to have purchased the exact same game as I have and look at it from a completly different perspective. It basically is a completly different game to people as high as him, and I think that is the beauty of EQ2. Gets sick of somthing with your main, go start and alt in a different archtype. The premise is the same, but the game will shift a lot for you. Then there is the whole end game and guild raiding, thats another game in and of itself. Same thing with tradeskilling. It's endless.

EQ2-Daily Podcast

10:33 AM  
Blogger jaipehg said...

Makes me wish I had an active guild so I might have some chance of raiding, sigh!

Nice interview, too, Aggro. :B

11:23 AM  
Blogger Hirebrand said...

I grouped with Gaige's alt once opon a time long ago. I remember being impressed with his alt's complete set of rare-harvested-crafted armor and weapons. Glad to see he's got something new to do besides harvest all day now!

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job, Aggro. (Sorry, had to add my hackneyed line in, too!)

Fonix, if you want to take a look at some of the raid mobs from t5, most of the hardcore raiding guilds have movies up of some of their particular favorites. I know my guild, (Shadowed Strife of Befallen) has a couple on stream if you want to look at them. (www.ShadowedStrife.com)

There's a pretty corny, but funny, one from when we freed the Frogloks. It's never as fun as actually doing it though. Good luck to you guys, and absolute respect to Gaige.


11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Aggro! Nice job. I'm really pleased to be able to hear about other raiding guilds. It's nice to see how the community is made up.

Fonix: Most high-end raid guilds have frap-videos of some of their favorite raids. My guild has a couple up, if you'd like to look at them. I think the one we're showcasing now is from when we freed the Frogloks, just because it was so much fun. (www.ShadowedStrife.com).

Spritis of the Lost raids were really a blast. It's great to see that people like Gaige are appreciated and down-to-earth. It's horrible when people assume everyone from a raiding guild is some type of egotistical jarheadded asshat.


11:17 PM  
Anonymous TacoSalad said...

I read people talk about playing a game for 80 hours a week and it really makes me sad. Someday these people will wake up and look back on all the time in their life wasted. My brother is one of them, I can see his life wasting away, but he can't. I like gaming and all that, but there is so much more to life than this.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice interview.. some good points .. the only thing disapointing to me and I say this respectfully as will any of his foh guildmates that were in EQ live.. you really can not be an expert on raiding if you did not play EQ1 and I was really surprised that Gaige had not played it.. thats not a knock..its just a comment on the world of difference (albeit a sucky one) in the original EQ's raiding.. horrendous was more the word.. even common planes raids could take up to 8 hours.. I really think that if Gaige enjoyed the raids in EQ2.. just for the sake of raiding and really liked getting his butt kicked occasionally its a shame that he missed out on the old EQ..not the way it is now perse.. but 4 or 5 years ago.. he would have really enjoyed the challenge involved then.. especially when some mobs were once a week or month even spawns.. and every guild on the server was vying for them.. I personally hated that but if you like raiding and challenges.. the old pre-cleric, chain healing, before Kei, zergfest EQ raids had them.. good interview.

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Rotacidare said...

Good write up. I enjoy hearing about the high up raiding, but it's a little daunting thinking of playing 6+ hours a night. Will menton this interview on this weeks podcast.

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