Sometimes, WoW feels like a sprint for the next hot instance, the next hot gear. Just look at the flurry of interest in the details of patch 2.4 -- and the content's not even on the live servers yet! But something odd is happening: Even while Blizzard is funneling players into end-game content with accelerated XP curves and more gear than ever that can be purchased with badges, plenty of players are picking their own paths. These "softcore" players play on their own terms: shorter raids, smaller raids, alternative character concepts ... WoW's definitely big enough to hold it all.
One of the more intriguing trends to appear on the scene is retro raiding – going back to cover all the Old World content, from Dire Maul to Zul'Gurub, from Molten Core to Naxxramas. Even though some of this content will be retooled in the future, much of it is simply outdated. Why would anyone want to run old instances that are no longer any challenge and don't offer any gear worth saving? Some want to see if they can short-man Onyxia. (Answer: They can.) Some want to see all the sights, all the sounds, all the bosses that have sent chills down the spines of so many raiders. This week, 15 Minutes of Fame talks to the GM of a guild that's forming up with the specific intent of hitting all the golden oldies.
15 Minutes of Fame: When we first spoke with you in game, you had a group just finishing up Scholomance -- so we've obviously caught you early in your development as a guild. When did Spectacular Death form?
Gimmlette: Dec. 1, 2007, was the incorporation date for the guild. I want to say that Scholomance is my favorite instance in WoW. I have always liked that place. It's well done and, if you aren't careful, you die. Even a 70 can be killed (it was spectacular, I can assure you). If someone in the guild says they need Scholo, I am right there.
So what exactly is SD's goal? Do you intend to farm a decent amount of gear from each of the older instances and raid dungeons toward your overall progression -- or is your approach more that of tourists in fully equipped buses going back to see the sights?
Our guild purpose is to experience all WoW content and to have as much fun as possible in this game as we do that. The old instances were very well done and almost no one goes to them. That's such a shame. Our goal is to provide a place where you can see those instances and many others. Our philosophy is, if someone gets gear they can use, great, but we are here to see the sights. It's all about the adventure.
How did you come up with idea for retro raiding?
It was a bunch of people with the same idea. "Gee, I wish we could go see Molten Core/Naxxramas/Onyxia, etc." There's a tremendous push to get into Kara, and I felt as if I'd missed things along the way. I must mention that my second in command, Superkind, pushed and prodded me to actually do the work to get the charter and the signatures. I was worried no one would come if I made a guild.
Is Spectacular Death founded on a core of guild officers or members who've played together in the past?
Current guild members are people I've known from previous guilds or they have some close connection to someone in the guild. We have real life friends and family here.
Are your members new players, rerollers -- or a mixture of both?
We have new members, rerollers and casual, slow-progressing players.
Do you ever really "beat" an instance? Isn't there something you could have done differently? There will always be people coming up who have not seen pre-BC instances, so we anticipate always being available to run these. That's part of the purpose of the guild. I don't see a time where we will say, "No, we aren't running X anymore." Depending upon guild make up, these instances just might not be in heavy rotation.
Of course, nobody knows an exact release date yet for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion -- but do you have a feel for whether or not you'll be able to cover all the available material before the expansion finally hits?
My goal is to have fun and see whatever we can before WotLK comes out. But, I am not setting a goal such as being in Mount Hyjal or Black Temple by WotLK's release. I think if I set a goal such as BT, I'm liable to stifle guild members and lose the fun. We are never going to be the first any place we go, but we might just have the most fun.
What about Burning Crusade content? Any plans to eventually reach BC raiding? Are you artificially holding off on BC instances until you've completed the Old World instances and raids first, or are you working everything in at once, time permitting?
Of course we will do BC content. It's part of the whole WoW experience. Depending upon the mood of the guild at any given time, we will look at what do people need or want to do this week. I'm trying to have a guild event every week, from instances specifically for attunement to guild snowball fights where everyone gets to participate.
As for working on specific things, well I have an officer, Ardulshalee, whose job it is to help me keep track of who is attuned for what. We are doing anything anyone wants to do and work on things as people level. Currently, I'm reminding my level 53 and up they can start Onyxia attunement and we have people available to assist with the quest chain.
I need more 70s to be able to run Kara, for instance. Often, the pressure to get into Kara and beyond can sour some people on the game. It's supposed to be fun. That's why we offer the chance to vary the view and go places they might not have seen.
You mentioned that you think the Old World raids can all be accomplished with 15 level 70 players. Can you tell us a little more about how you think this will all pan out?
It's not that 15 level 70s is a magic number. The pre-BC end-game instances were designed for 40 level 60s. If I were to get 40 level 70s attuned for Onyxia, we could see if we could set a speed record for killing her. That might be YouTube-worthy and very funny.
The idea is that with characters level 61 and higher, in theory, you can run pre-BC instances with fewer people and have lots of fun. Again, it's not about numbers or the mob you just killed; it's about running with a fun group of people, friends, how ever many you have in the run with you.
What kind of raid experience do you and your officers and raid leaders bring to the table? Are you coming at this under the guidance of experienced old hands, or will this be fresh and new to everyone involved?
I am Kara keyed and have done all available five-man instances. My raid instance officer, Brisse, has a troll shaman on Laughing Skull server. His guild is currently in SSC and TK. Pre-BC, his guild called it "Molten Bore" because they were there so much. He's done all pre-BC endgame instances except Naxx. My other officers, Superkind, Ardulshalee and Phold, have five-man experience but are not Kara keyed yet.
We are looking on every instance as a fresh and new experience regardless of how many times we've been in it. BRD is the prime example. If you have ever looked at Onyxia attunement, you spend a lot of time in BRD. Each time is new because different things happen.
And I just added an Arena/PVP officer, Superkind, in order to start running guild teams in both areas. Again, it's providing the total WoW experience to the guild.
It looks like most of your members are still finishing up the leveling curve. Do you plan to have everyone achieve a certain threshold of stats and power before tackling certain content?
It's not stats and power that matter to us for certain content. It's level and to a lesser degree gear, although you do have to run some content to get the gear to run other content. As guild leader, I am not about telling people how to spec their 'toon. In leveling, I heard a lot of comments about how I should be a Marksman hunter and not Beast Master. (Thank you, BRK, for all your guidance.) Based on how an instance goes, we can say, "We need more DPS" or "We need more healing" and hope someone will step forward to fill the need. It's a game and my philosophy is, you spec your 'toon in a way that you like to play. I'll work very happily with your spec and do my best to point you to resources if you want to change.
I turned this question over to Superkind, since he selected the name.
Superkind: Sure, it's an outstanding guild name, but it's more than that. It more a guild state of mind. What is a "spectacular death"? That would be a death where you pause, just a second, to say, "Wow. I just got crushed." But that's not something to get down or discouraged about. Don't be ashamed because you died; be proud because you tried. In our guild, when there is a truly spectacular death, it is announced in guild chat and celebrated -- because, after all, this is just a game. Don't take it too seriously and always, on top of all else, have fun. Sometimes it's the really spectacular deaths that we remember long after all the memories of routinely successful runs fade.
We first started using the term "Spectacular Death" to describe Gimmlette's exceptionally great ability to die in ways no one else has thought of. Most involved water, but she bought the only Talbuk on Llane server with faulty brakes.
How large do you anticipate growing, in terms of active players?
Gimmlette: We are a lot more about getting good people rather than good players. Good people translate into good players. We are collecting friends along this journey. The goal is to grow in numbers to run, consistently, all the content we want to run. We aren't interested in a specific size. What matters is having the people on at a time when you're going to run something. I can't foresee a time when, for example, we have a cap on hunters while we are recruiting warlocks. That's not what we're about. I want to know every name in my guild because I believe the personal, "Hello. How are you?" means a great deal to people.
This guild isn't for everyone. It's for the person who wants to have fun, see the sights and have a lot of laughter (and Spectacular Death) along the way.
Is Spectacular Death currently accepting new members? If so, is there a level requirement at this point? What about realm transfers?
We are accepting new members. We would prefer level 20 and above as that shows a commitment to building a character. We accept all classes and specs. Potential members should check out the web site at Guild Portal and contact me via web site mail or in game. We would accept realm transfers.
All potential members need to understand the purpose and goals of this guild. We aren't in Kara yet, for instance. It's a goal, but, right now, we aren't there. We want friendly, helpful, mature people who want to see all WoW offers. We want people without tunnel vision, who are willing to take the time to go help someone who needs help. Helping each other helps the guild grow and progress.
Do you know any guilds who raid without using strategy sites -- no wowhead.com, no Blizzard forums advice, no wowwiki.com, no internet strat guides? If you're part of a group that likes to figure things out under their own steam and avoids strat guides like the plague, let us hear from you at 15minutesoffame AT wowinsider DOT com.