Inside Paragon - Xaar
Hello and welcome to the second installment of the Inside Paragon series. Sorry that it took so long since the last (and first) one, but I am currently trying to get this thing called University finished which can actually be time consuming for once. This time I had the pleasure to ask questions to former Resto turned Boomkin Druid Xaar who is also the relations contact to sponsors and has the pleasure of seeing Xenophics without her epics. While Baltha was treated gently with ten questions, Xenophics encouraged me drop a lot of questions on Xaar... and I did. Enjoy!
PS: Questions were asked before the China trip was announced.
Hi Xaar, thanks for taking the time for this interview. How is the weekend for you so far? Loads of StarCraft II and little WoW?
Exactly, with a little schoolwork sprinkled on top :) Got to work on that degree too, before I get as old as Kruf
With the content on farm, do you do much in-game besides the weekly main and alt raids?
Not really, I only enjoy raiding right now, so I don't really play (wow) otherwise.
Looking back at the first tier of Cataclysm encounters, what do you hope / wish for the next tier in Firelands?
Well, I expect the encounters to be good and well tuned, I think Blizzard delivered that already so they'll have to keep it up for the next tier. I do hope that they thoroughly test the encounters though. At the very least all the bugs reported during PTR testing should be fixed on the live servers. Generally though I have pretty good expectations, and the fact that 7 bosses is unlikely to turn into a months-long grindfest certainly helps :P
During Wrath of the Lich King your spec was pretty much Resto all the time, but in Cataclysm you seem to be Balance mainly. Is that the case and if so, do you like it?
That's certainly the case; I ended up healing in less than half of our first kills. I don't mind filling multiple roles, as that brings variety to the game, but at the same time it's a hassle to manage multiple item sets and UIs during progress. I'd also be a lot happier if it had been just about moonkin being awesome instead of that + resto being rather crap.
What changes / buffs / tweaks would Restoration Druids need in the current stage to be more competitive against Priests and Paladins?
They've done some good things already since the progress and in 4.1. Though I do think that the niche of steady, long-term throughput, and only that, is somewhat dangerous. The usefulness of that fluctuates a lot between encounters. It's a thin line to balance to keep a healer of that sort viable in all encounters but not too overpowered in the suitable ones for optimal raid setups.
Right now I think the top healers will be decided mostly by the encounters, as it looks like even Shamans might be useful (*gasp*). We'll just have to wait and see, druids could certainly be a very good option in the next patch with these changes already if the fights are right. Overall I fully expect healer balance to be a lot better in 4.2 than for this first tier.
What alt do you play in Paragon and why did you choose that class?
I play a healer Priest. I think I originally meant to roll with a Holy Paladin, but our alt healing roster was looking quite pink as it was. Priests seemed to be rather OP at the time when some gear started rolling in, so changing to that seemed like a good move.
Some time ago Paragon officially announced a sponsorship deal with ASUS and you are also supported by SteelSeries. What does the guild or individual members actually gain through the deals?
You'd like to know, wouldn't you! We don't reveal the details out of courtesy to all involved parties, but in essence they're deals that help us cover the costs of doing our thing. Most importantly we get partial hardware/gear support and the opportunity to attend live events through our sponsors. Those who think we make a living out of this couldn't really be further off :P Shoutouts to ASUS and SteelSeries for supporting us!
How did these relationships started and how long did it take that they became fixed deals? I got the impression that you cultivated it very carefully and without any haste to act.
They've certainly been long in the making, which I think is good. Sponsoring MMOs is a very new thing to them as well. We've built these deals on lasting relationships, trying not to get ahead of ourselves as we're still trying things out. We're trying to show that WoW is worth investing into.
Are you surprised about such kind of support, since sponsoring usually occurs only in eSports. Is the race for World Firsts the same level of competition as a SCII or Counter-Strike tournament is in your eyes?
As eSports to me means competitive or professional gaming, I do think the top WoW PvE scene is in that realm. It is of course very, very different from games like SC2 or CS. The main competition is indirect and happens only when new content is out.
The fact is though, that there is a huge playerbase who are very interested in following top raiding action, especially live. Our videos have millions of views. And we have yet to play a progress raid live, which I'm looking forward to if we can ever make that happen. There is a lot of untapped potential in WoW. I'm actually very much surprised about the level of interest, but in the completely opposite way that you suggest. I think a lot of companies are completely failing to see the potential here and just waking up to it.
What are the plans for the near future in the co-operation between you and the companies? Any events where we'll see you?
We're of course keep developing our relationships. In the short-term we'll try to attend all the events that we can. You should most likely see us in China, Germany, and Sweden in the next few months. We'll always announce the events when our presence is absolutely confirmed to avoid any misinformation :)
Paragon appears to be a very organized guild, despite the mayhem in TeamSpeak. Would you say that in terms of sponsorship deals and communication you treat it a little bit like a company? Or is your way of doing things very "Finnish"?
I'd like to think we're quite organized in terms of corporate contacts and that side of things. It's of course slightly challenging at times, since everything out-of-game runs on volunteer power as well. While 50s style negotiations in the sauna over a vodka bottle sound very tempting, that's not how it goes in practice :P
Now lets go a bit to personal life. You are, as people might know, dating Xenophics and live together with her. Being a woman in a world class PvE guild sure gave her a lot of exposure and fans, do you enjoy that as the man on her side?
I'm happy that she gets appreciation as she's really spending a lot of effort into this. I'm of course having a blast, but that has very little to do with her fans!
And how is the life of a WoW couple during progression - are you still a couple in the sense that you communicate between each other or more like two individuals, only caring about oneself and the game?
We sit about two meters apart, so it's a bit hard to completely detach ;) When we're raiding, the focus is on the game though, and all communication except maybe the odd comment goes through TeamSpeak. It's also a matter of practicality, since we have A LOT of chatter going on in TS constantly, and it's a bit hard to focus on people talking in and out of TS at the same time.
Xeno told me that you are the cook in the household. Where does the interest come from? From the parents or more from the idea of eating more healthy?
I love good food, sometimes even a bit too much :P It's just a mixture of that, hating prepared food, and living alone for a while.
What games did you play before WoW and were you as competitive as you are now? On a sidenote: Do you play Arena or is that not your thing?
The first game I played seriously was Ultima Online, when it was still golden. From there I moved on to Warcraft 3, which I played quite competitively at the time, even making a small amount of money. DotA robbed me of all 1v1 though, and that I quit for WoW before there was a really proper competitive scene there. I'd very much also like to play SC2, but I'm quite busy as it is.
I only play WoW PvP when it benefits my raiding; I really don't like the style of PvP that this game offers, even if I'm otherwise competitive to the heart.
You are listed as the relations contact on the website - what does that function include and how much time is needed?
I do a lot of stuff related to out of game managerial side, e.g. taking care of sponsorships, events, and PR. I'm certainly not doing it alone, but it helps to have a central contact in those. The time needed really depends hugely on what is going on and how much I can spare. At least it takes up more time than playing WoW during farm :P
Are you someone who is somewhat attached to the character he plays or would you re-roll to another class if it guaranteed you a raid spot and helped the guild?
I'm absolutely not attached to my druid; I'm strictly a player, not a character. Practicality of course dictates that oftentimes these two are one, but still. I'd reroll in an instant if it was an optimal move.
Like Korean StarCraft II pro-gamers, Finnish elite raiders are also effected by the compulsory army service that everyone male has to do. Did you do it and what did you do while being there?
Yeah, I served the full 362-day sentence a few years back. I was an assistant mechanic working on F18 fighter jets.
You study to become an engineer one day? How far are you with the education and can we assume you approach things very methodical and scientific?
Yep. I'm essentially studying a mixture of media technology and related economics stuff. I'm about 80% done with it, not including my master's thesis. I do have a very rational approach to most things, so I guess I fit the stereotype :P
It might be prejudiced, but Finland seems to be a land of programmers and engineers. If that is the case, would you say that gives an all Finnish guild a different approach to problems like new bosses?
In the personality research we participated in, much of the guild seems to be of the 'engineer' type INTJ. A higher percentage of that personality type correlated with a guild being 'elite' (on the axis casual-hardcore-elite), so it's at least not just a Finnish thing. We did have an abnormally high percentage of those, though. I don't really know what to make of it, you could argue for both strenghts and weaknesses in that type of composition :P
What is "Sisu" and does it also affect how you create strategies and approach bosses?
You could loosely translate it as strength of will and not giving up. That's certainly a mentality you have to have when you're banging your head into the wall that is progress raiding.
Xeno, Kruf, you and several others joined Paragon during WotLK as a group that came from Underground Kosmonavts. Who approached whom and how was the welcoming and support once you had joined? Hello powerleveling!?
Seita and I knew each other back from WC3, and we reconnected when xeno and I randomly moved to an apartment in the same building. Small world, huh? I knew Paragon had member problems through our IRC conversations. When UK started having issues, I tipped Synti off that there might be a possibility there, and he and Seita took it from there. Powerleveling ensued. Fun fact: they announced faction change like a week after we had dinged 80, rerolling from Ravencrest alliance to Lightning's Blade horde.
My bad jokes melt every heart and face, so I've always felt welcome from the get-go. Things were of course very different at the start, as is the case with all guild changes.
Did any of your switched class or spec with the joining process or did you applied class/spec combinations that you had played as Alliance?
The classes and specs were chosen based on what was needed and what we wanted to play. They did remain surprisingly consistent though.
During the last interview on Nordrassilradio we learned that Paragon does not only play WoW together but has had real life meetings on lans and also rented a summer cottage in the woods last year. Do events like this help the guild to play and function better or is it just nice to get to know people?
While we are quite performance-oriented, it's never a bad thing to know who you're playing with better. That's just a by-product though, the goal is just to have a good time :)
Are there any projects or groups that have been made by people who met in Paragon? For other games, other hobbies or even work related?
I'm not sure actually. Probably not any notable ones right now, at least from people who met here for the first time. Though I hear that Liha is making a fortune for the local cigarette vendor, if that counts as a business project. It's totally plausible though that some projects worth mentioning rise at some point.
You come from a country with a small population and you don't recruit actively. How often do you get applications that are worth considering and are there more during progression time or farm time?
Recruitment isn't really my piece of cake as I'm just a member, but judging from everything, good applications happen rarely. We have pretty high standards though with our current member count, so. Most applications come during farm, both because it's a pain to recruit during progress, and because the farming period is so much longer than the progress one.
Do players in Paragon do stuff outside of the guild like the random daily HC or do people tend to basically do everything within the guild?
That depends from person to person, I guess. The vast majority of the guild seems to stick to playing with friends, though, including me. I have done one random HC in Cataclysm - with Lazeil and 3 randoms in January. He gave up after the first boss (and boe epic...............), and I gave up shortly after him. Playing with alts is another story though, as you can't usually expect to form a guild group below max level, and no one wants to do random HCs now.
What do you hope for the future in WoW for Paragon and in real-life for yourself?
I hope we stay on top and have a chance to develop competitive raiding into something that actually helps Geru with the ladies. After I graduate I wouldn't mind an actual career in eSports, as I am hugely passionate about the field and already doing this stuff. I do have a number of other options too though, as my interests are more like a buffet table instead of a fixed lunch.
Who should have your children? Artosis, Tasteless or Day9? (Note: Well-known StarCraft commentators)
That would probably have to be with the Casting Archon, as Artosis seens like a really good mother figure :D Two for the price of one, anyway!
One more SCII question: The GSL has seen a lot of fluctuation with champions dropping to Code A and so on, if you would have to name the three best Korean players and the best team, based on the overall strength of the roster, who'd be your choices?
Very hard to say. Out of the very strong players I enjoy watching MC, July, and NesTea the most. The team question is even harder with the recent results from GSTL, so I wouldn't even know how to being picking three :P
So we know now what you study, what alt you play, who you are dating and that you like to cook. If I'd ask now "Tell us something about yourself?", what would be left to tell us?
My table is always cluttered, but I don't mind. That's just how I roll. Order within chaos, or something.