Category Archives: Information

A Story of Two Guilds, Heroic Garrosh 25-man, & The Warlords Announcement

A Story of Two Guilds: Heroic Garrosh 25

Some of you might recall this post, borne from the frustration of dealing with a new guild that had recently transferred to our server.

That post sparked a, uh–conversation, of sorts, which ultimately resulted in a peaceful state of being between our guilds.

I posted that in March, and in the 5 months since, our two guilds have actually formed some sort of bizarre and yet completely functional bond–one that resulted in combining our two end-of-expansion rosters into a single 25m Heroic Siege group.

After an easy clear up to Garrosh and 40 wipes on the ugly orc himself, our band of unlikely compatriots cleared the instance on Heroic 25–the first group to do that on our combined Durotan & Ysera server.

Heroic Garrosh StupidCongrats, Chi Cerca Trova & Check Please. Thanks for being awesome and making beautiful raid babies together.

The Warlords Announcement

Whoa, the Twitter feed today–half-impatience, half-angst, full-on, non-stop tweeting about the Warlords of Draenor cinematic & release date reveal.

WoD

My thoughts? Cinematic was cool–not-edge-of-my-seat cool, but definitely a good start to the story that we’re going to see unfold in the expansion. Preview trailer for WoD features was mostly me saying, “YES, I saw that!” and “I’ve quested there!” (Something a few more of you will be able to say after attending the event!).

The most exciting part for me was the release date. I was predicting sometime in November, but I knew I was one of the more optimistic ones–right before it started, I asked some of my in-game friends for their predictions, and the earliest was the first week in December.

What did you think of the cinematic? Of the features and zones? Of the Ashran explanation?

And how is your end of expansion to-do list coming along? We’re so close now, guys. I can hear the drums of war, and they sound awfully sweet. <3

2 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Information

Twiiiisted!

Hey, guys! Just wanted to make a quick post to let you all know that the Twisted Nether Blogcast crew was foolis–I mean, awesome–enough to invite me to their podcast!

Image

Seriously though, this Sunday, 9/22, 11 PM Eastern/8 PM Pacific. It’s a live podcast with a guest chat room–I’ve listened to TNB and been in the chat room before, it’s good times! You can get to the show by clicking the image above or hit up their site here: http://www.twistednether.net/.

Hope to see you guys in the chat room; I’m looking forward to chatting with Hydra and Fimlys!

4 Comments

Filed under Experiences, Information

Why I’m Glad I Dropped 10k Gold on the Black Market Auction House

brawlolcatIt all has to do with the Brawler’s Guild.

I’ve had my eye on these invitations since they first appeared on the BMAH, but they were far too rich for my blood with auctions ending upwards of 50k. However, as Madam Goya continued posting the auctions and more and more people got their hands on invitations, prices quickly came down. Last night I grabbed one at just under 10k. I didn’t think I’d win it, and at first I had a bit of buyer’s remorse. Would it be worth it?

The answer is unquestionably, unmistakably: yes.

I fought through Rank 1 last night and Rank 2 this morning, and it has been the most fun I’ve had in game outside of raiding in a long time. Quick introduction, in case you’ve never seen the Brawler’s Guild, and then I’ll tell you the reasons I love it.

What is the Brawler’s Guild, Exactly?

Walk through a small door in the Deeprun Tram (Alliance–not sure where you Horde folks go) and down a quick ramp, and you find yourself in a bar with a huge pit in the middle. Inside this pit, bosses spawn, and competitors take them on one-on-one. If it’s your first night in the guild, here’s how you get in on the action:

  1. Talk to a Brawler Bouncer. They’ll have a chat option to join the fight.
  2. Wait in a (for me) short queue. Watch other competitors from your realm and sometimes others while you wait.
  3. When it’s almost your turn, you will get an ingame announcement proclaiming “You are next in line!” Get ready!
  4. When the current fight ends, you will be ported down and take on the first Rank 1 boss. There are 4 bosses per rank.
  5. Kill the boss or die trying! If you kill the boss, you get a Brawler’s Purse with some gold and a gray item worth some gold, as well. You then queue again to move onto the second boss. If you die, you can queue to try again until you get it.

The bosses get progressively harder and go from Rank 1 to Rank 8. There are boss mechanics and enrage timers, so you will need to be on your toes!

Why I Love It

The Challenge. Prior to this, my most favorite thing I’d done in-game was the staff quest from Firelands, in particular, the part I had to solo in the Nexus. After a raid, the second thing I love most is a solo challenge that really tests my skill. How well do I know my class? How good am I at handling mechanics when there’s no safety net? This is that kind of challenge, and it’s exciting!

The People. I might just be lucky, but the people I’ve run into so far in the Brawler’s Guild have all been incredible. I was scared the first fight, worried that someone would call me a noob or yell insults at me if I did something stupid, but that was directly the opposite of what actually happened. Instead, people cheered me on, buffed me, joined groups with me so we could buff each other, rezzed me, and whispered me to encourage me and give me tips. I hope this experience continues, because it has been extremely rewarding so far.

The Experience. The whole setup is just fun. It’s fast-paced, you can watch other competitors, you feel like you’re progressing through the levels, you’re testing your skill–it feels exactly like what they described: a Fight Club for adventurers looking to test their mettle.

That is why I love the Brawler’s Guild. If you can get an invite grab one and step into the pit. You won’t be sorry!

I’ll be posting the December Challenge later this week, by the way! 

3 Comments

Filed under Experiences, Information

SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: The Resolution

Okay. This, for real, should be the last post about this, but I make no promises, because that’s what I said last time.

If you’ve followed my story (Part 1 & Part 2), you know that the most recent update was an email from a representative at Customer Service, telling me they were trying to get in touch with me.

About 20 minutes ago, I got a call from Johnathan, and the first thing he offered was a profuse apology immediately followed with the answer to the one question I’d had: in this instance, the program they use to catch ToS infractions brought back a false positive, not once but three times.

The computer said I was hacking. Out of respect for their policies, which I will explain in a sec, I won’t say exactly how. Eventually they realized the computer was wrong–it was our persistence (yes, all of you are included), that kept them looking at it, so thank you.

On a personal level, my account has been reactivated and I’ve been given free play time. In a couple of weeks, they’ll call me back to make sure everything is still going well.

I was also assured that this experience, my honesty in my blog, and I’m sure your input, as well, has made them take a new look at how they handle these types of situations in the future. The reason they didn’t want to tell me exactly what I had done is because (as many of you suggested) the developers who make the third party programs look for clues like that to improve their programs and make them harder to detect.

However, that doesn’t excuse the impersonal, form-letter replies, or the amount of time and effort it took to get someone to really figure out what was going on, and he agreed. I told him that if I could pass on anything from this situation, it would be that anyone who appeals, especially repeatedly, deserves the courtesy of a personal email, even if it says, “This might take a little while, but I promise we’re looking into it and we’ll let you know as soon as we know something.” And then actually do. Keep that line of communication open, because in the end, we just really want to know we’re being heard. Continue reading

59 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Experiences, Information

SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: Part 2

The other post was getting lengthy, and as this is the last update I foresee posting (and also, a longer one), I’m writing it in a new post. If you don’t know the story behind this, you should read SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: A Cautionary Tale. Context is everything.

Update: The Resolution

Update, Wednesday, June 20th, 9:02 p.m. I know I said I didn’t foresee updating again, but we might have a breakthrough here, guys:

Dear [...],

I am J– of Star Wars: The Old Republic Customer Service.

I have been trying to contact you over the phone today to discuss your accounts suspension. Unfortunately I believe we may either have an incorrect contact number or have been calling at an unsuitable time.

If it is appropriate for us to call you, please provide us with a time which suits best and phone number that will reach you.

If you do not wish to discuss this over the phone we can always correspond over email.

Thank you for your time.

If you have any further questions about this, or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Sincerely,

J–

Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Customer Service

I sent him back my phone number and the best hours to call. I’ll let you know what happens.

—————————————————

Here is the email I received today:

Dear [...],

I am J– of Star Wars: The Old Republic Customer Service.

I am contacting you in relation to your one week suspension as a result of a Terms of Service violation.

I am very sorry if your suspension has caused any confusion or frustration. Terms of Service have examined your case in detail over the course of your dispute emails and have found that the suspension action on your account still stands. This one week suspension will be lifted on the 22nd of June.

Thank you for your patience in this matter, and if there’s anything further we can help you with please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Sincerely,

J–
Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Customer Service

We would love to hear your feedback on our Customer Service and invite you to fill out the following survey which will help us to continually improve our support!

There are so many things wrong with this message in light of everything I’ve already experienced, I don’t even feel like listing them out again. I have faith that those who have kept up with this rollercoaster ride can find all of its irony and frustration on their own.

I was on the fence about canceling until I got this. I’m not canceling because I got banned for a week. If I had knowingly done something wrong–or even if I had unwittingly done something wrong and was told what had happened so I could prevent it–I would have accepted the ban with no question. No, I’m canceling based on the principle of this whole experience. No customer should ever feel like this.

Here is the message I included when I canceled my subscription:

You can read the full account of my experiences here: http://battlechicken.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/swtor-my-unexplained-ban-a-cautionary-tale/. Not that you will, but you’re certainly welcome to.

This is why I’ve chosen to cancel my subscription:

I have been falsely accused of cheating four times now in the course of three days. I realize that whatever you’re seeing on your end must look very convincing, but whatever you’re seeing is wrong. If I did use a third party program with SWTOR, I am STILL unaware of what program I used, and I didn’t use it intentionally.

No one will talk to me. If someone would have an actual conversation with me, asking what programs I’ve used, what happened to me in game, getting details about what I have been doing, then maybe we could clear this up. I refuse to be treated unfairly and then get form letter after form letter telling me that I’m wrong without any actual discourse with your company.

There has been no legitimate attempt by your customer service to help me figure out what happened in this situation (exception given to JJ @SWTOR on Twitter, who did actually reach out to me). You have, in essence, treated me like a guilty liar without attempting to find out from me personally if there could be any truth behind what I’ve said. Based on the responses I’ve gotten, I’m still not sure anyone has actually read my emails.

I have been patient and thoughtful in all of my responses. I have tried to create some kind of communication, first by earnest emails and then with public support, and I’m still getting the exact same email over and over with absolutely no personal recognition of my experience or frustrations.

I still hold a faint hope that this could be resolved, not only for my sake, but for my husband, who is extremely upset that the game he’s waited for so long is being ruined for him with my issues.

Also, I hope you resolve your Customer Service issues in general for the sake of all of those others who have experienced this or similar and haven’t had the platform to voice their opinions and garner the support I have. I might have felt downright bullied were it not for the wonderful MMO/blogging/Twitter community that has consistently had my back through this situation.

However, my subscription is set to renew tomorrow, and I refuse to give that $15 to a company who treats their customers like liars and declines person-to-person interaction in a situation that has escalated to this point.

For this reason, I am canceling my subscription.

Good luck to you.

Sincerely,

[...]

C’est la vie. 

I’m sad about not being able to play a game I enjoy, but my principles will not allow me to sit down and accept this. Maybe there’s still some resolution to be had and I can come back. I hope so.

45 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Experiences, Information

SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: A Cautionary Tale

I have checked and double checked these emails for privacy warnings, and I don’t see them. Unless they contact me and ask me to take this post down, it will stand. I have removed my name, my account name, and the SWTOR customer service identifying username, otherwise, the emails appear exactly as presented.

Update (again)The Resolution

Update: SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: Part 2

Update, Sunday, June 17th, 7:04 P.MI don’t think I even need to comment on this. I’m pretty sure it speaks for itself.  (But of course I’m going to anyway). If you’ve read this post in its entirety already, you know what the emails I sent requested. You might know that I requested the same things through Twitter, and those of you I’ve spoken with agree that the pivotal thing they’re not answering is the only question I really care about anymore: what is the name of the third party program used? And honestly, a follow-up, what was it used for? This is the email I got today:

Dear [...],

Account Name: [...]
Email address: druidambermist@gmail.com

Thank you for contacting us regarding your complaint (ticket number [...]).
We have carried out a subsequent review and investigation into your complaint and in particular the actions taken on your account. We can confirm that your case was acted on correctly, in full compliance with our policies and procedures.

Please note that we do not provide any details regarding our internal procedures.

We will not be pursuing this issue any further, and as such we consider this matter closed.

Yours sincerely,

K–
Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Terms of Service

Either they are a) entirely missing the point everyone else seems to get, or b) still shooting out automated responses. In either case, it’s not good. No tiptoeing around it anymore: it’s incompetence at best, and I have to assume in either case they don’t care about my status as a customer.

The good news is, if they don’t care about me as a customer, that will make my decision to cancel my account that much easier. My $15 monthly might not matter to them, but if this is the type of customer service they’re providing to everyone (and I doubt I’m a special snowflake), they’ll lose other people’s $15, too, and future business.

Oh well. I liked it while it lasted.

Update, 2:20 p.m. ESTEarlier this morning, some people on Twitter and some commenters here suggested I check for hacking. At around 10 or 11, I ran a full Malwarebytes scan (gah, forgot how long that takes!), and came up infection free. There’s still a possibility, but unfortunately, it’s something SWTOR will have to check through the IP that was used at the time of the infraction. I only ever log on to the game from my computer or my husband’s, so if it’s an IP different from one of those two, it should be plainly obvious. It seems unlikely, as well, since my password and account information hasn’t changed. I would expect a good hacker to change the password immediately.

I also received a Direct Message on Twitter from @SWTOR, and from what I can understand, my ticket has been escalated and they’re looking into it. It might take a little while since it’s the weekend, but I have patience. I never minded a wait as long as the responses I get are fair and reasonable, which, until I was contacted through Twitter, certainly hasn’t been the case in my opinion.

Update, 9:30 a.m. EST: I called SWTOR Customer Support. The first time I called, I went with the option that included “violation reports,” but that didn’t take my anywhere useful. In fact, when my issue wasn’t mentioned in the sub-menu, I chose “all other queries,” where a recording told me to submit an in-game ticket and hung up on me.

The second call I put in to billing, and I did actually get to speak to a rep. I explained the situation, and he told me that I had done the right thing by emailing. He then informed me that there is nothing he can do for me except send a notice to the appropriate department that I called. I asked him if there was a number I could call to speak to that department directly. According to him, the only way to contact that department is by email.

I will wait for a response to my email. If it doesn’t contain the reason I was banned (and preferably an apology), I will be canceling my account today.

——————————

This is a World of Warcraft blog, although I have certainly dabbled in MMOs, especially lately with the Newbie Blogger Initiative. One of the games that I personally play outside of WoW is Star Wars: The Old Republic. Up until the past couple of days, it has been an enjoyable experience. I got into a guild that welcomed me and my husband and employed our sniper and bounty-hunter services to great ends, or at least to defeating several bosses.

I PvPed, and though I was slow progressing, I was getting very close to Battlemaster. I crafted, I cajoled, I server transferred with my guild. I was especially looking forward to playing after my server transfer, because suddenly I had a lot of friends all on the same server.

I became an officer in my guild. I managed the guild website, took screenshots and videos of our progress, and was, as far as I can tell, reasonably well-known in my guild. Believe me when I say this came as much of a shock to them as it did to me.

Yesterday, I attempted to log into SWTOR when I had a moment of peace in what had been a busy day. I was told my access had been denied, and to read the email that was sent to me. This is that email:

Dear [...],

We are contacting you to notify you that we have found your Star Wars: The Old Republic account, […] , to be in violation of our Terms of Service.

After completing an investigation of your Account, we have identified the following violation:

Violation: Use of an unauthorised Third Party program

Due to the severity of the violation, we are suspending your account for 1 week (168 hours) effective immediately.

Our penalty system is cumulative. This means that if you continue to violate our Terms of Service in this way, the next penalty applied may ultimately result in permanent account closure.

It is our goal to make the Star Wars: The Old Republic experience as safe, secure and enjoyable as possible for all of our players. As such, we take any violations of our Terms of Service very seriously.

Please ensure that you are familiar with our Terms of Service as repeated violations may result in your account being permanently closed. Our Terms of Service can be found here:

http://tos.ea.com/legalapp/WEBTERMS/US/en/PC/

Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

If you feel you have received this suspension in error, please contact us at swtoraccountdisputes@bioware.com.

Yours sincerely,

Z–

Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Terms of Service

I have never in my life been banned from any game or website. I’ve never even been accused of anything. I’ve never received a warning or even a questioning glance in my direction. My behavior has always been above reproach to the best of my knowledge and ability.

As you can probably imagine, this email made me extremely upset. The fact that they didn’t identify the third party source meant I couldn’t even figure out if it was something I had knowingly done without realizing it was against the ToS. So I responded to the email they provided for the appeal.

Dear BioWare Customer Service,

I received an email today notifying me that my account (under the username “[...]“), has been banned for being in violation of the Terms of Service for use of an unauthorized Third Party program. I would like to be immediately notified of what this supposed third party program is.

The only program I have ever used in tandem with SWTOR is Bandicam in order to capture videos of my guild’s progress. If that’s in violation of the Terms of Service, I think you’re doing yourselves a disservice, and I will most certainly be canceling both mine and my husband’s account if this is the case.

The only other thing I could possibly think that I have used recently is LastPass, which is a well-known, highly-regarded password security service for websites (and websites only). I use it on every website into which I sign in in order to a) remember my passwords, and b) keep them secure. If you REALLY have a problem with me using a security program for this purpose, then I will remove the SWTOR account website as part of its programming, but I will do so with great dissatisfaction.

If either of these is actually a violation of the Terms of Service, please let me know. If not, I’d like to be informed of my violation specifically, since I have no idea to what it could be referring.

Let me assure you that the next email you send to me will be very important in my decision to continue playing–and thus paying for–SWTOR. I appreciate your prompt reply.

Thank you,

[…]

I waited for a response, sure that they would at least tell me where they thought I had acted incorrectly. Since I haven’t knowingly done so, I expected them to come back apologizing for their error or at least telling me what I had done so I could decide if it was something they had gotten wrong or something I had unwittingly done (as in the case of Bandicam or LastPass).

Instead, this is the email I received:

Dear […]

Account Name […]
Email address: druidambermist@gmail.com

Thanks for contacting us regarding the strike that has been applied to your account.

We have now completed our investigation into your complaint. After reviewing your case, we can confirm that it was acted on correctly, in full compliance with our policies and procedures. As such, we will not be pursuing this issue any further.

We can confirm that your character was observed working outside of its intended capabilities. For security reasons, however, we are unable to provide any information about methods used to identify the use of unauthorized 3rd party software.

Thank you for your diligence in bringing this matter to our attention. As a valued customer, your feedback is very important to us.

Yours sincerely,

A–
Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Terms of Service

My shock, hurt, and disappointment at this is far beyond what I have the capability to express right now, but know that it is great. To accuse someone of something without giving them any details of the charge is unfair, at best.

This is my response to the above email:

Dear A–,

I am sorry, but that is completely unacceptable. I have not intentionally or knowledgeably used any software with this game, and certainly not maliciously or with the intent to cheat. Anyone who knows me in game or out could verify that. Not at least providing me with what my supposed infraction is unquestionably unfair. How can I appeal that which I don’t even know?

At this point, I have to wonder if you even read the email I sent, or just marked it as an appeal and answered it accordingly. I have been a consistently reliable customer, and as such, I believe I have the right to know the details behind my ban, and “security reasons” does not seem like a valid excuse for keeping a loyal, well-behaved, paying customer in the dark. I do not feel like a “valued customer” today.

Telling me your investigation was completed gives me no insight into what actually happened, and I have no knowledge of what third party program you are referencing. I’ve never actually been banned from anything and have a spotless record across the board, so to say I’m angry, hurt, and disappointed is an understatement.

I will be discussing this with my husband today, and this will likely be the end of our time with SWTOR.

I would say thank you, but I am feeling understandably ungracious at this time.

Sincerely,

[…]

Beyond this, I don’t know what to say. I am floored. I will be discussing this with my husband when he gets up, and we will be deciding where to go from there. Without a doubt, there will be a phone call to customer service, at which point either our questions will be answered or we will probably cancel our accounts.

Good luck, out there. I’d say keep your noses clean, but even that’s not a guarantee that you’ll receive the service you pay for, apparently.

51 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Experiences, Information

Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

We’re over halfway through the month, ladies and gentlemen! I am beyond impressed with the effort our NBI participants have put forth. New and sponsor blogs alike have lit up our corner of the blogosphere the past 3 weeks, and you should all be proud!

Week 3 Recap

I loved reading about your main character (or, for several of you, characters) this week. The responses ranged from storytelling to class breakdowns, and I enjoyed the different perspectives on what main actually means in our community. Also, several of you completed the bonus challenge and either joined Twitter or made some new friends there–nice job!

And please, if you haven’t already, check out these bloggers who participated!

  • Alts?! I have no alts! (Shards of Imagination) – A story of two characters: Goldheart the Dwarf and Rakuno the Ratonga, and how they came to be what they are.
  • What’s My Main Again? (Kemwer) – Kem tells us about one character who persists and reinvents himself between games; a reincarnation of sorts.
  • Wherein I Fangirl Over My Gnome (Image Heavy) – What’s better than a priest who absolutely loves healing? One who comes in puntabl–I mean, adorable gnome form!
  • I can haz main? (Flask Half Empty) – Ninevi and I had some kind of brain link–she had just written bios for all of her characters to put on her blog when I posted this challenge. Anyone else hear Twilight Zone music?
  • How Rav came into being (Ravalation) – Rav breaks down the ways in which her characters reflect her personality. I like it, because I see a lot of myself in my characters, too.
  • My main characters (Starshadow) – This is a full-circle tale of the evolution of Suzita’s characters. Translating a character name–that is pretty cool, guys.
  • See My Main @#$*& (Bloodthorne) – TJ tells us about Gaffa the Dwarf and his awesomeness–just don’t touch his beard.
  • The Silly and The Useful (Brazokie’s Blog Space) – Some characters you love for their functionality, but some characters you love just because. Brazokie introduces us to both!
  • What’s My Main Again? (The Daily Frostwolf) – Navi handed the blog post over to her druid, a scary proposition, to be sure, but she did a great job telling us her story!
  • Battlechicken’s Challenge (Musings of an Altoholic) – Lyrestra likes each of her characters for their classes and shows us what she likes about each.
  • How Killington Came to Be (WASD Way) – I’m a sucker for a good story, and this is good storytelling. Find out about how Killington became a fierce fighter (and why you shouldn’t play him in cards).
  • A Bit About My Mane–er, Main (Casually Vicious) – Fact: I love troll druid cat form. Fact: Cat durid is 4 fite, and Solajin likes being a cat. And a bear. And a bearcat. And a catbear. I am so confused.

Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

learning is fun poster

If you haven’t already, you’re going to write a post one day that requires you to look something up. Halfway through a post, you’ll realize you don’t actually remember what that ability is called or when the game you love was launched.

You’ll go scouting around Google for info, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find tangents that keep you tied up in Search Engine Land for an hour. I learn a lot of things that way.

No one knows every fact about everything, but we usually know a few facts about something. This week’s challenge is to test your research muscle. Pick a topic related to your game (or games, or MMOs in general, etc) and tell us about it. Maybe it’s something you’ve been interested in, but haven’t found a reason to explore. Maybe it’s that class that always looked cool to you or a game you’ve been meaning to try.

Maybe you just want to know what all the fuss is about–why is everyone so crazy about this game/blog/idea/class/mechanic/achievement, anyway?!

Whatever topic or form it takes, this is your challenge: find something you only know a little bit about, learn something new, and tell us what you learned.

If I were doing it, I’d tell you about WoW warriors. They have muscles and swords and they can jump. I’d have to learn more than that.

Three of our guild warriors (with muscles & weapons): Aadrelore, Jonnz, & Frenzie

Learning is fun! What will you learn?

27 Comments

Filed under Blogstuff, Information