In the course of interviewing WoW players from the mainstream to the niche and from the casual to the hardcore, 15 Minutes of Fame has developed an intriguing little theory: players who confess to being "obsessed" with WoW actually have a pretty down-to-earth approach to the game. Oh, they love WoW, it's true, and devote hours and hours to it on a regular basis. But it seems that the players who profess their love for the game the loudest have given themselves permission to indulge in WoW as a hobby. While they dive into the game and related activities with complete abandon, they also seem to recognize that it's merely one part of their lives (albeit a fairly big one). In a nutshell, these aren't your fabled antisocial basement geeks; in fact, we find they tend to be downright warm, funny folks with a lot of interesting ideas and activities on their plates.
Take Kooz, the main tank of Fractured on Euro realm Bloodscalp and one of the creators of the O'RLY Show (seen at WoW Radio, along with the WoW Insider Show). Kooz's energy virtually leaps off the page, even long distance from The Netherlands – he's a fun guy to talk to who sounds as if he's building himself a fun life centered around his passion for gaming.
Kooz wears a lot of hats: student (headed toward work in the media, video production, business presentations or corporate web sites), raiding guild MT, significant other and gaming partner, ORLY podcast producer ...
15 Minutes of Fame: When you first wrote in to 15 Minutes of Fame, your guild was about to start working on Illidan. How's that coming along?
Kooz: We've just had our second kill on Illidan. A long and heavy focus, in my opinion, but it's "game over" now, for as long as it takes 'til the Sunwell Plateau is opening. We're really looking forward to that instance. Hopefully we can get a server first in there, even, as long as people do know how to behave and focus ... something Fractured seems to fail on quite a lot from time to time. ;)
Is Fractured primarily for players of a specific nationality? What is its primary language?
We talk English in guild chat, but we've got a lot of different nationalities: Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Hungarian, Greeks, Dutchies ... We have it all. :)
Do you PvP?
Yes, I do play PvP, but less (now) than on my shaman back in the days when AV, WSG and AB just arrived. I rerolled to my warrior when I was still playing my shaman. Our guild at that time was falling apart due to tanks leaving to better geared and progressed guilds -- something I call natural progression for a long time. Our guild is known to gear and teach people a lot, (who) then get invited into higher end guilds. But on topic, PvP is not what it was anymore, thanks to the wellfare epics, insane amount of resilience and my personal lack of it. ;)
What do you think about Blizzard's attempt to balance PvP versus PvE content? Are they making things better, worse ... or just different?
Taking PvP weapons into the PvE equation is really making things a bit different, perhaps easier for people to get along into the higher tiers of PvE. Just get some kind of tanking weapon in there and every class can be happy. :)
The other way around is a lot more difficult, though. There are some decent PvP weapons around, but most of the armor became obsolete due to the lack of stamina and survivability, thanks to resilience these days. Then again, a protection warrior (although there are exceptions) is just not done in Arenas but fun in WSG. ;)
Did you read the recent news from Risen about dropping out of the raiding scene? What's your take? Is Blizzard off base with their focus, or is this just more QQ?
I've been putting myself up against Blizzard's decisions on guild multiple times, but it won't change a thing. As in all things in the world that go on, changes happen but people adjust. I think Blizzard is putting up new guidelines, rules and abilities to get loot, just to let casual players enjoy the game to its full potential as well. With that, you'll see others leave. But as they said, they'll be back with WoTLK. Just some media attention, then, for them. ;)
Tell us about your adventures GMing a guild. Was this with Fractured, or another guild?
I rolled a shaman (KeeZ) back in vanilla WoW and started raiding in Zul'Gurub as enhancement shaman -- back in the days, a not-so-ordinary spec, seeing all healing possible classes pigeonholed into their healing role. After a while, I realized I couldn't keep up with the DPS of pure DPS classes like rogues and warlocks and what not. I rolled healer and became quite good. Keeping active on the forums, in guild chat and helping out people with different problems, I became an officer quite fast. With the first big guild breakup of Bomen Zijn Relaxed (Dutch-only guild), on the 13th of December 2005 I was asked to become GM, due to the previous GM's not being online that often. What did I get into?...
Clearing Molten Core and Zul'Gurub was our first big act, with around seven months of attunements, gearing (fire resist) and teaching people to handle certain basic tasks in the process. I invested a lot of time and money into the guild, building a website, maintaining cross-guild relations and establishing a solid recruitment and officer crew, with whom I still have a good relationship.
After killing Ragnaros, I decided it was my time to go venture into the bigger instances, but without that guild that almost burned me out as well. Raiding four times a week, school, work and real life -- it is a hard task, especially with raid groups of 40 people to keep satisfied. But killing Ragnaros was all worth it: 40 people (getting) heavily emotional on Ventrilo. I remember our main heal officer screaming on Vent, "Priests go damage!" And his wand got the killing blow! My first big kill, and the best ever since. :)
After raids I often joined Fractured to go into ZG or AQ20 for a nightly raid, often till 3 to 4 a.m. in the morning. I had fun, and they wanted me in their guild quite fast, although I was heavily under-geared in comparison to their main healers. I joined them, and my first relations with them started blooming. I left after three weeks there; didn't feel like "home," missing Dutch guild chat and fun times on Ventrilo.
With TBC coming out, I took a break of three months before and started actively leading Bomen Zijn Relaxed again with Nozzeh, former warlock and still a good friend. We ran through Karazhan remarkably fast for a guild of our size and skill, starting a second team quite fast. A Hordeside fourth or fifth Gruul kill was our main act. Then some main tanks put their shield on the wall and quit playing ... The moment I had to re-roll.
You're the MT of Fractured. That's a heavy job. What kind of time commitment does that mean for you? What about farming and support time and costs – do you end up putting in a lot of "extra" time outside of raid hours?
Thanks to the profession system, mainly jewelcrafting, I can keep up with Illidan wipe nights (often leading up to 50-60g repairs for 100% durability), and the Shattrath flask system keeps my raid expenses mostly around 100-150g a night, depending on content.
Of course I'm class officer as well, trying to keep up with the forums, browsing strategies and pointing out people what they did wrong is a big part as well. And thanks to an excellent officer team, we mostly split tasks, updating DKP, maintaining rotations and raid leading is split up nicely as well.
In the end, I'd say 50 percent of my playtime is dedicated to raiding, the rest to heroics, guild management and other stuff. Not too bad, considering this balance was round 20%/80% back when I was GM in Bomen Zijn Relaxed.
Are you one of those players who respecs when he wants to play other parts of the game, or do you play alts -- or do you simply stick with tanking?
I have a 70 shaman, 70 hunter and 62 'lock to play on, but I enjoy warrior the most. Farming my respec money and a bit more is easily done within an hour, and the addition of daily dungeons and quests made my job and money a lot easier.
I do love to test out different specs, to keep it versatile. There are so many little tweaks to find for every build, really fascinating to find that out and to be able to advice my class members what spec is best for what situation.
Mostly I'm protection, though -- I'd say around 80 percent of the time. I spend the other 20 percent as fury while farming, but I'm leaning towards a more hybrid arms/fury build for grinding, DPS and PvP from time to time.
What's your gaming background? What other MMOs have you played in the past? What other games do you currently play besides WoW?
I've been gaming (and developing them) since I was around 6 years old, first just copy pasting in code from books (no Internet in the '80s ;)) and trying to change the code the way I'd like it (now that sounds Matrix-ish) to be. Next to that, I had several Nintendo consoles; played those games mostly for fun but checking out gameplay elements and "why is a game good" methods in the back of my mind.
From my 16th to 20th (years old), I've been playing a lot of different games, mostly attending LAN parties involving booze and drunk fragging (fun!) in RTS and FPS games.
Planetside was the first game that pushed me into the MMO world, after spending countless hours on IRC with a distributed computing community called "Dutch Power Cows." Planetside was fun, but not the addiction WoW now is.
I have a PS3, a Wii and of course my PC to check out several games. I hack and slash a lot around in Devil May Cry 4 and stroke the Wiimote from time to time in a head-on tennis match with my girlfriend. She still keeps beating me in boxing, though. :(
Great to hear that your girlfriend plays WoW, too. Did she game at all before you two met?
She actually started playing 10 levels on her own character on my account and found it highly attractive. I bought her a WoW account on an anniversary (could be our 1.5-year anniversary or so) and she started playing. Although our own server (Bloodscalp) was full at that time, she did start out on some other server, but when Bloodscalp had some spots again she rolled a shaman here, leveled it to 60 and ventured into raiding with us.
After TBC came out, she didn't feel comfortable at all playing a shaman, so in the summer of 2006 she decided to re-roll mage and we spend a big heap of that holiday leveling/gearing her mage. It was fun, but we didn't see a lot of sun that summer (was drowsy weather here anyway). With the launch of TBC, she continued playing on her mage and had some fun in Karazhan with the second Karazhan team of Bomen Zijn Relaxed, but with the guild split up and my re-roll, she decided to quit the game for a while.
She came back last Christmas, she re-rolled tailor -- guess who could pay that -- and got her epic mount farmed in two weeks' time. She's really dedicated once she knows what she wants! She hops into Karazhan and Zul'Aman with us from time to time, and if we do SSC or Tempest Keep we usually take some hangarounds -- that includes her.
How did you get into WoW Radio?
Totalbiscuit, the big gun from WCRadio, saw our ORLY show and offered us an option to join WCRadio, carry their name and get help and knowledge from their side. After seven shows on WCRadio, we decided to temporarily drop out of the podcasting scene, just to come back a lot stronger!
Tell us about the ORLY Show. What's its point of view on WoW? When can we expect the next show, and how do readers/listeners find it?
We're trying to make an amusement/infotainment show with WoW as its main subject. The new show will feature more of a late night show style and some human interest subjects as well, next to us trying to attend real life happenings like Blizzcon and the Worldwide invitational in Paris. We try to keep our language barrier as low as possible. That might sound a bit simplistic for most native English-speaking people, but we got a lot of interesting feedback from eastern European and eastern Asiatic people that saw our show, and we're really enthusiastic!
We're hoping to finish the new show within a month from today. We've been talking with a company called Gamenations to launch our shows on their network, which is an e-sports magazine for Dutch gamers -- but of course we will launch the ORLY show in both English and Dutch.
You'll probably find us on Gamenations, but an announcement on several blogs should follow as well, next to an addition on the iTunes store! Hope you guys like it this time. :)
It sounds as if the whole WoW social culture is a major fascination for you. What do you think makes this community different from other MMO gaming groups?
At first I started playing this game as a gamer. Now, I'm more interested in the social things happening in this game (guild relations, drama queens, emo kids) and psychologically analyzing people's behaviors, inside and outside of a guild. The Planetside community was a small one, but WoW has quite a different social structure, from very small (personal relations between players), growing (guildwide, cross-guild, faction-wise, server-wide) to really big (battlegroups, forum community). Those are very interesting demographics, marketing-wise. I'm currently graduating as well on the subject of (internet) communities, and WoW is again a big part of my research. With 10 million players, it's an extremely interesting market for marketeers, and so far only the gold farming companies are making their money from it.
Next to that, the WoW community is always evolving: adjusting to changes Blizzard implements, the speed those changes get processed by the community, already kicking warlocks out of arena teams when they heard the Lifebloom nerf, opening recruitments for healers except resto druids, etc.
And of course, our guild could use some decent geared players as well ! We don't mind about classes and talent specs; please apply. :D