Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Archive for May, 2012

Tuesday Art Day: Avatars

First off, thanks to everyone who contacted or linked to me regarding the previous commissions post. If you have contacted me and not heard back (and there are a few people I haven’t gotten to yet because I got a bit inundated and this week is shaping up to be a doozy) thank you for your patience. I’ve added a commission status page; so if your name is on the list I have received your inquiry/info and you will hear back from me soon! I’ll update the list as I progress.

That stuff aside, this IS a Tuesday Art day post and so here is some art.

This is the first avatar I did (in this batch, of course, I have done them before). It was commissioned by Itanya for her other guild leader (I’m not jealous, I swear), an orc resto shaman named Ghaar.

And here is a second avatar I managed to do last week before the weekend, for LeGameJunkie. This one was fun because it wasn’t a WoW character, rather she wanted herself (from photos) reinterpreted as an elf.

It really wasn’t too hard to do, she had a face well-suited to being an elf (and the bright red hair that she had in the picture didn’t hurt, either!)

So there are some avatars for you, now if you’ll excuse me I have From Draenor With Love to finish and then many e-mails and more art to do (huzzah!)

Hoard of the Rings

A month ago, in the culmination of an epic year of decluttering and cleaning, I hired a maid to come to our house for one day. A bunch of folks were coming for a pot luck before the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, Rades was going to be staying with us, and the peace of mind that someone else would come and do all the hard work was worth it for me. So I planned to be out of the house for the day (with the dog in tow) and went over to my parents’. Before we left, I said to Voss, “What should I do about my wedding rings? They are the only thing I own that’s really irreplaceable. I think I’ll take them with me just in case.”

The next part is a bit fuzzy. I think he said, “There’s no need to do that, just hide them somewhere,” I might have said, “Okay, you’re right,” or I might have said, “Nah, I will just bring them with me.” You see, the thing is, I can’t actually wear my rings right now. In the eight years since my engagement ring was made, I have gained a bit of weight (which I think is pretty common). So I kept the rings in a jewelery box, occasionally taking them out to see if they fit any better (recently I could get them past my knuckle, so they really did almost fit again). Little did I know, that by trying to keep them safe I’d somehow manage to lose them. The problem is that I can’t remember exactly the events of that day. Did I take them in my purse? (They aren’t there, or in any other purses I own). Did I hide them cleverly someplace? I’ve torn the house apart looking. I emptied my sock drawer. I unfolded each and every sock just in case I’d tucked them into a sock. I’ve looked in teapots, bowls, taken all my clothes out of all my drawers, dumped the contents of my night table drawer onto the bed and sorted through it. I looked in Voss’ backpack and cleaned out the hall closet in case it was with my mittens, hats, shoes or jackets. You can see where this is going.

Voss was never for a moment upset at me, because as soon as I realized I couldn’t find the rings I started panicking, and looking, and panicking, and looking some more. It’s been three days now and I am not any closer to finding them than I was. These rings were indescribably precious to me. When Voss proposed he didn’t buy a ring because he knew that my tastes were unpredictable and probably not like his own. We went jewelry shopping together. I tried on so many rings my finger was sore afterwards, and not a one of them felt right to me. So we went to a goldsmith and she and I designed this ring. It is white gold with a vibrant blue star sapphire and a fluid design. Initially I hadn’t intended to get a wedding band, but I later changed my mind and the goldsmith designed one of those for me, too. I chose the stone for all of the things it symbolizes – truth, fidelity and clarity of mind. My ring was like a little piece of something intangible that was just mine with Voss and I. I can’t believe that I lost something so important to me. I’ve been pretty much inconsolable since, passing from the loudly upset/angry phase into a dull funk that made me withdraw from everyone. I just want it back, but I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that this might not happen.

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty large unplanned expense. But I figured I have two options: keep whining and feeling sorry for myself about it, or shut up and start working harder to save up and replace it. The goldsmith who made the original is still in business, and I have pretty detailed photographs of it. I think she should be able to reproduce it. If there’s a lesson for me to take away from this, it’s pretty simple: I held onto my ring without wearing it for YEARS without having it sized to fit. People had told me I shouldn’t have it sized because I’d lose weight and it would be too big, or it would fundamentally change the ring itself and it wouldn’t look the same. That scared me, so I just kept it in a box. If I had my rings in my hand, I wouldn’t wait. I would go to the jeweler TODAY and have it sized to fit me the way I am now. I wouldn’t wait for that magical day when they would fit again. As a friend pointed out, the difference between a ring fitting and not fitting is miniscule. It’s millimeters. I let myself feel miserable because the rings didn’t fit (which made me feel awful about myself), but more than that, I didn’t get to enjoy something I truly love, something that is meaningful to me. So I’m not going to wait around and hope I can get my rings back (although I’m going to keep looking). I am going to do what I can to have a replacement made, one that fits me. I truly believe if I’d been wearing my rings, I wouldn’t have lost them. They were made vulnerable because of their tentative status as ‘non-rings,’ waiting for the day when I would put them on again, and because of that they slipped through my fingers.

This is the part where you come in. I don’t usually solicit or even advertise my art services on the blog, but this is a pretty strong impetus to start. Now, I’m not asking for charity from anyone. I’ve always done custom avatars and other commissioned artwork at this price. I’m just increasing my reach, and if I can make more art than I have been doing, I hope that I can reach my (possibly lofty) goal of 100 custom avatars (or other art) in the next few months. Again, as I said, this isn’t charity. And who knows, maybe my rings are not lost forever, and if I find them you will still have my gratitude, and some art that you like. So it’s really win/win for both of us. Here is what I have to offer you.

Custom Avatars

$30 CAD

-One avatar (600 x 600 pixels) in full-colour of a character of your choice from any franchise; World of Warcraft, SWTOR, LOTRO, Diablo, etc. Original characters are also welcome! Heck, nobody has ever wanted it but there’s no reason you couldn’t have a cartoon version of you, the really original character. (Your true ‘main.’)

Watercolour Postcards

$40 CAD + shipping

-One character of your choice rendered on a 4 x 6″ watercolour postcard, as shown in the postcards below (more characters would cost more, please contact me for more detailed quotes). A miniature piece of art to frame and put on your wall!

Note that these don’t have to be character specific. I’m also completely open to an image of an actual person, pet, or child. I might make them draenei blue, though. (I’m kidding).

Black and White Sketches or Avatars

$15 CAD

-One avatar (600 x 600) or sketch of a single character (more characters would cost more, please contact me for more detailed quotes). A great option if you want some art or an avatar of your character on a budget. These can be lineart with very minimal (black and white) shading, or simply lineart, or something more stylized.

Full-Body Character Commissions (With or without backgrounds, digital or watercolour)

I prefer to quote these individually as they vary depending on complexity, background and number of characters. I am available for these types of commissions but they take longer and are naturally costlier than any of the options above. If you are interested in a larger commission, do fill out the form below and contact me to discuss details. Examples of these are not shown here, but you can see many of them by viewing the “Art” category of the blog.

How it works: If you’re interested in commissioning me for any of the above, please fill out and e-mail the following to puggingpally@gmail.com. Note, I have a section for more RP type info which may not be relevant to all people, feel free to leave it blank if it doesn’t apply to you, but I often find that even non-RPers have some idea about what their character is like!

Once I’ve received your information, I’ll add your name to a “first come, first served” style of list to be published on another page here on the blog. When I’m ready to start on your commission, I’ll send a Paypal request to your provided e-mail address. When I’ve received your payment in full, I’ll start working on your image! I’ll send you at least one sketch and you’ll have the opportunity to request minor changes. You can expect to have your image in twenty-one business days from the time I begin provided you answer me quickly if I have any questions. For watercolours, please allow additional time for delivery.

Character Commission Form

Commission type: Colour avatar, watercolour image, black and white avatar or sketch (choose one)

Please note: for watercolour images include your mailing address so that I can calculate shipping. I’ll assume you want “normal” shipping and not any rushed type.

Character Name:
Race:
Class/Spec:

Physical Description: Skin, hair, eyes, any other defining features. Particularly helpful if including any details which may differ from “in-game” models or screenshots. Write as much as you like.

Weapons/Armour or Clothing: Please be specific (e.g. item names) especially if you would like the character to be wearing clothing/armour that differs from armory profiles.

Personality Description: Whatever you care to share about the character’s quirks, history, etc.

Suggested Expression: Facial expression or general mood of the image.

Suggested Pose: Less relevant for a bust-style image but you can indicate a preference here for straight on, ¾ profile image, or profile image.

Desired Background: What colour background would you like? If you’d prefer a specific background (Nagrand, any area in Star Wars) please include a reference image for this as well.

Miscellaneous: Anything not covered by the previous topics that you think I should know.

Screenshots and references: Please include a minimum of two screenshots of the character; one close-up of character’s face and a second showing from the torso up or full-body for full-body drawings. Screenshots should be taken with a fairly plain background in good lighting (Sides of buildings work well for this and areas/zones where the lighting is fairly neutral. Think Stormwind/Dalaran, not Icecrown). If your character is using an in-game area as your preferred background, you can include a screenshot taken there.

Thanks for reading and your consideration, and if you so choose, thanks for your interest in my art!

Solitude and the Advent of Battle Tags

I was a pretty late adopter of cell phones. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and phones at the time were just that – a bit big and clunky, nothing like the smart phones of today. They didn’t have games or any other distractions. I finally gave in to the cell phone trend when I moved away from home to go to college. My Mom insisted I needed one since I was moving to a larger city, as a safety measure. I got a “Pay as you go” type and hardly ever used the minutes on it.

Moving to the city was in itself a transition for me. I came from a town of about 70,000 people and moved to my city just as it was marking its millionth citizen. It’s not the biggest city, but it was a pretty large adjustment! As I made my way around my new city, exploring the downtown, taking the train and the buses, I was struck by a feeling: No one knew where I was. This wasn’t a scary realization, rather, it was liberating. In my old town, you couldn’t go to the grocery store without running into at least three people that you knew. This used to drive me crazy, especially because my mother worked at a school and knew hundreds of kids and their parents. It used to irritate me because I just wanted to go through the cereal aisle or whatever without having to always stop and chat. In my new city where I knew so few people, I could have a coffee, go draw in the botanical gardens, spend hours wandering around on my own and no one would bother me. I loved it.

I still carried my cell phone with me. But my distaste for it was driven home after an altercation with my father. Frustrated that he couldn’t reach me, he complained: “You never answer your cell phone! What’s the point of even having it?” I told him in no uncertain terms that I had a phone for emergencies and in case I needed to reach anyone. It was not a guaranteed way to get in touch with me. I wasn’t going to be at anyone’s beck and call. This was over ten years ago, mind you. Since I first reluctantly brought my clunky phone in my purse, smart phones and constant internet access have become an expectation. Twitter, e-mail, text messages, Facebook messages, instant messages and cell phones give people almost immediate access to each other. The introduction of Real ID into the Blizzard family of games lets you play with all of your friends – and don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic. But there are a few drawbacks.

The stoic refusal to introduce an invisible mode into Real ID (and now, I assume, Battle Tags within Diablo) has been a constant thorn in my side. Like when I first explored the city unattached, sometimes I want to play a game without someone knowing where I am. Suppose I wanted to roleplay on another server for awhile – all of my Real ID friends can see my character name, server, and zone. If I want to login to my bank alt and just spend some time auctioning, everyone can see that too. Even if I just want to make a silly lowbie alt and play quietly by myself, I can’t do that. I’m far from the first person to bemoan the lack of an “invisible” mode with Real ID. The counter-argument is, “Why are you playing an MMO if you don’t want to talk to people? Just don’t use Real ID if you don’t want anyone to bother you.” But that seems really ridiculous to me, and overly simplistic. A person might go to a coffee shop by themselves in real life and read a book or just sit. It’s not expected that anyone will just walk up and sit at their table and talk to them. “But why did you go to a coffee shop if you didn’t want to talk to people?”At another time, you go to a coffee shop with a friend to chat and catch up over a hot drink. You shouldn’t have to choose that you ALWAYS want to go for coffee only with friends, or that you always want to go for coffee always alone. If it wasn’t for Real ID, I wouldn’t be able to run five-mans and raids with friends from other servers and factions. I love Real ID. But there are times when I also hate it.

Because solitude doesn’t necessarily have to be anti-social. There should be room for stillness in every day life. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometimes. I really struggle with this because I get messaged a lot in Real ID. And the people I have in Real ID are my friends, so it’s not that I don’t want them there. But sometimes I just don’t feel like talking – and this even applies in real life. Voss knows more than anything, because he is more extroverted than I am. Sometimes I’ll be reading something quietly and he’ll be talking to me and after a few minutes of “Mmhm,” or me not responding he’ll say wryly, “You’re ‘peopled’ out, aren’t you?” He’s usually right. Being social takes energy from me. It’s possible to overdose on it. At those times, I really wish that Real ID had an invisible feature. It’s possible to manage your status with “Busy,” and “Away,” but that requires that people pay attention to your status and also respect it. It can be hard to tell a friend, “I just don’t feel like talking now,” without hurting their feelings or making it seem as if it’s something to do with them.

Now that I’m adding Battle Tags in Diablo III, it’s my understanding that the tags will carry over to the Real ID system in WoW, and I’ll be honest, I’m wary. I’m not quite sure why I need to be able to connect to Battle.net to be able to just play Diablo by myself (as sometimes, I am going to want to do just that). Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to be able to play with a wider range of people than I had available to me on Real ID. I’ve met so many great folks via blogging and Twitter that I’d love to game with. But if I have you on either of those systems, don’t be surprised if someday I’m set to busy and I don’t respond to your messages, or I don’t tweet back at you right away, or immediately answer your e-mails. Sometimes I may deliberately let my phone go to voice mail, close my Twitter client, and sit quietly by myself. Since the days when I played Super Mario Brothers and Bubble Bobble, gaming has been an escape for me. I could sit for hours and play – and sometimes I’d play for hours with my Mom or a friend, too! I love shared gaming experiences, and I love solitary ones. With our current expectations of connectivity, it can seem radical or selfish to say “I’m not available at the moment,” but trust me – sometimes everyone needs a little space to get lost in the world, virtual or otherwise. Diablo III seems like it’ll be a blast to play with other people, and also solo. I promise to respect your “Busy” tag if you’ll respect mine, since it doesn’t seem like invisibility is on the horizon anytime soon.

There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Yours

At the beginning of Firelands, I made a mistake. I’ve acknowledged it before, but let me go on the record here to re-iterate that it was a mistake. It wasn’t the first time I’ve made it, but it was definitely the last. I switched characters so that I could play what I thought the guild needed instead of what I wanted to play. I’m not going to belabor this point because I’ve discussed it here, but I think this is seldom a good idea. Unless someone is really and truly unattached to any character and willing to play whatever (and I know there are people who are this way), you should always play what you want to play. Except that I didn’t.

So I took myself out of the running for a Dragonwrath. I was thrilled for the very deserving Fsob who received it, but selfishly I was always a bit sad. I’d danced when the legendary staff announcement came up at Blizzcon. I wanted to see the accompanying lore, I wanted to carry a piece of Warcraft history, and by gosh I wanted to be a blue dragon with jewelery. But I had done it to myself, and I told myself I would just have to suck it up. Except that Blizzard changed Real ID to allow people to run raids. “It would take too much time,” I said. “Isn’t it selfish?” I told Voss. He said, “Maybe it is, but you deserve it, and I’ll be there every night if you decide to do it.”

So on February tenth I posted on our guild forums to say that I was going to organize a Firelands alt run, probably normals, just for kicks. Anyone who wanted to could attend, and I’d find Real ID friends to fill in where necessary. I had big ambitions at first because interest seemed high so I thought I could organize a 25-person run. That didn’t happen the first time (although I did organize one 25 during the course of things!) But that Saturday we headed out to Firelands and we killed some fiery things. I didn’t realize at the time just how fortunate I am. Over the following three months, at least three people never missed a single Firelands run. Several more missed perhaps one or two, but were there for the majority of the runs. Voss held true to his word, and he never failed to tank the Firelands bosses for me. On weeks when Saturday wasn’t possible, we did it on Wednesdays because it was the only day that worked with everyone’s raid schedule.

For twelve weeks, a mixture of close friends and acquaintances came to Firelands because they wanted to help me and because I asked them to. Our little Firelands raid went from a “let’s clear through here on normals” to “let’s clear this thing on heroic every week” to “why don’t we pull heroic Ragnaros?” over the course of that time. We got to know each other better. I’ve had the chance to raid with friends who might not be in the guild but who are really fun, great folks. I organized that 25-person raid and it was nerve wracking. I’ve never organized a 25 for anything before; the sheer amount of organization and coordination required made me admit that I gained new respect for 25s folks (not that I lacked respect, but walk a mile in someone’s shoes, etc.) Each week everyone got together to do this and I couldn’t articulate my feelings about it. I experienced a mixture of excitement, guilt, awkwardness. Part of me couldn’t believe that I had friends like these, who would devote so many hours of their time to get me some pixels in a video game – because they knew it mattered to me, and so it mattered to them.

I don’t want to sound at all pompous or overstate the importance of Dragonwrath itself, though I will cherish it forever and it is my most prized virtual possession. There are many Dragonwraths out there, and many casters wielding them. But this one was pieced together by Fsob’s fireballs, Voss’ shield slams. I imagine each piece to have healing powers from Nowell, Itanya, Karanina, and sometimes Yahwen. It has Shaen’s elements, and Tassager’s bear butt, Bittersteel’s howling blast and Sara’s daggers. It even has some fel magic courtesy of Supplicium and DarthRegis, but we’re going to pretend otherwise. Apple Cider and Kurnmogh DPSed for me one night when we were really stuck without a tenth person! Solard and Cutaia and Rooster helped to tank, Beru, Tikari and Jasyla all had a hand in it. Killskillz, Priggle and Nyxy all helped to DPS. When I did my 25-person run, Korixa, Cordella, Oathblade, Luthvian, Tsunomi, Maelinixi, Fyriat, Rhuanious and Pix all came along. That’s a total of 31 people who helped out with Dragonwrath. I tried to be comprehensive but unfortunately I didn’t keep a running tally so if I have forgotten you and you attended, please know that I am so grateful to you and didn’t mean to leave you out. (Incidentally, there is going to be a special surprise for you Wednesday, May 23rd. Just check From Draenor With Love).

I do want to mention especially the people who were most instrumental in this endeavour: First of all, Vosskah, without whom I probably wouldn’t have organized the runs at all. As always, anything I do is made more fun when you’re by my side.

Nowell/Walks: You said that you would heal for me and you meant it, and you never missed a single run or complained although I know you weren’t really interested in Firelands at all. That means you were there especially to help me. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friend like you.

Karanina/Snack: You said that you’d heal for me and made it clear that you weren’t taking no for an answer! It’s been a blast to rediscover Firelands with you alongside. You are an outstanding healer and a great friend. I’m thankful to know you and I hope someday I can repay your generosity of spirit.

Fsob: You are an indispensable part of Firelands for us; despite the smallest stature you never shirk from the largest tasks. Thank you for driving Rhyolith, assigning Baleroc, dog wrangling and flying through all those hoops with me. There’s no mage I’d rather have by my side. Mage mage, my friend.

All of my guildies: I hope you won’t mind me lumping you together, but I happen to think we operate best that way. For coming to Firelands to help tirelessly for so many weeks, I can’t thank you enough. You kept it from ever feeling like a chore to me. You are a fantastic bunch of people who brings excellence to everything you do. Thank you.

Last night when I siphoned that last essence from Baleroc and the moment approached when I’d be reaching the end of this three month task, all the words flew right out of my head. As I said, this is more than pixels, it’s more than a Dragonwrath. To me, it’s like carrying something that is a piece of friendship, kindness, and team work. I think it’s going to make me smile whenever I think of it. I don’t care that it’s a tier late, or that there are many other people out there with one. Dragonwrath itself isn’t unique, but the experience was unique to me. I’m left with only gratitude to everyone who had a hand in it, and most of all for Blizzard: who made the world that allowed me to find all of the people who gave me this great gift. Some of you I’ve met in real life and some I hope to meet someday, but it’s not geography that determines friendship. Last night culminated in a Stormwind rooftop party including a bunch of off-server folks who had seen the Dragonwrath ceremony a million times but they wanted to see mine. You all helped to make it special, and we created enough of a rumpus that random people flew in and said, “What is this?”

This is my friends helping me celebrate something we made together. It’s the spirit of this game for me, and everyone who helped is an indispensable part of that.

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