It’s a situation that no raider likes to be in. (No, I’m not talking about being forced to go out into the sunlight or being DC’ed mid-attempt …) I’m talking about having to reconcile travel plans with your raiding schedule. Maybe you have a boss that wants to send you to the corners of the earth. Or you have a family gathering that you didn’t know about until just a few days ago. Or you’ve been invited to a friend’s house to dog-sit while your friend takes a much-needed vacation (what a great friend!) But, being the dedicated raider you are, you decide to forge on ahead and get yourself prepped for raiding on the road.
Well, the good news is, I know how you feel—this past week I’ve been raiding from a hotel in foggy downtown San Francisco. And although it was a delight to be able to look out the window and see the bright lights of the city through the haze, all the while I was wondering if this remote raiding thing would work out like I planned. Sinestra cutters with a laggy connection = not fun, but I made it through okay after making a couple of adjustments. So, today I’m going to share with you some of my own tips and tricks should you ever feel the need to take your WoW on the go. And while your mileage may vary, this will hopefully make the transition from comfortable home setup to road warrior that much easier.
- Advise your team of your change of locale, so that they can make any adjustment necessary. And do keep in mind that there might be a time change to deal with, so the 7pm raid you’re typically used to could be 4pm or 10pm when you get where you’re going. (And yes, telling your boss that you have an … “online commitment” … that means you need to leave the clients’ offices in the mid-afternoon is just TONS of fun).
- Make sure your rig has the minimum system requirements for running WoW. Updated minimum system specs can be found on WoW’s tech support website, here.
- Confirm that the place you’re headed has DSL or cable internet; if it’s not listed on the online description, call them and ask to speak to their hotel IT manager. (Don’t worry, they’ll find it hilarious if you explain why you’re calling). If there’s no hi-speed internet offered (and you’re that dedicated), see if there are any internet cafes or LAN centers in the area that might be open during your raiding hours.
- Copy your Addons and WTF folder from your primary computer onto your laptop. The WTF folder is where all of your profiles are stored for the addons you commonly use; without it, you’d be starting your UI design from scratch. Remember to bring the flash drive with the folder on it with you on your trip—it won’t do you much good sitting on your computer desk at home!
- Don’t worry about copying your macros—those are stored server-side so they’ll be with you no matter what computer you log onto.
- If you use any peripherals (special gaming mouse, gamepad, etc.), export your profiles for each. Download any drivers or configuration tools onto your laptop before you leave. (I play with a SteelSeries mouse and Razer Gamepad, so getting these two properly configured was important to making sure my “typical” setup could work while I was on the road).
- Pack a video, monitor and/or HDMI cable if you know that your destination is equipped with a TV or monitor. Why suffer the effects of an 11” laptop screen when you could be enjoying the view of a 32” LCD? Okay, maybe you like hunching over your itsy bitsy tech like the Quasimodo of raiding, but for the rest of you out there … pack some of those spare cables you have lying around and reap the rewards.
- Update your laptop with any WoW patches *before* you leave, so that you aren’t left patching when you arrive at your destination. Encountering a 3GB download 15mins before raid time is not a situation you want to be in. Also, don’t be fooled by the one big patch and forget that there are several that come after it; after you’ve finished downloading the big multi-GB file, log into the game just to verify that there isn’t another patch to come.
- Install your UI onto your laptop before you need to raid; and remember: what looks great on your 24” LCD at home will not look as fantastic on your 11” laptop. Also, be prepared to drop a few addons if your typical UI is laden with them. Ones that bit the dust in my transition from my desktop to laptop—player frames (Pitbull), damage meters (Skada), and bag mods (Bagnon). Ultimately, although my laptop’s UI isn’t as clean and ordered as my desktop, aesthetics aren’t important while raiding on the run; functionality is.
- Don’t forget to bring a mic! Not being able to communicate during some encounters will really impact your raid team, and also make them think you’ve become complacent and no longer prone to the insta-rages you’ve been known for.
- When you log on for the first time remotely, be prepared to have you account locked (which is a precaution that Blizzard takes against hackers). To unlock your account, you’ll need to have access to the email address on file for the account and be able to answer one of the original security questions. You’ll also be asked to choose a new password, which stinks if you’ve been typing the old one for years, since you’ll inevitably type the old one in again and wonder wtf is going on.
- Under Interface > Video, drop your settings down to a level where you can consistently get > 30 fps in a major city. If you can endure exotic mount parade in front of the Stormwind/Orgrimmar auction house, you’ll likely be able to handle the chug-a-lug associated with AOE effects. Beware though, if you drop things like “Projected Textures” down to a level of “Fair”, you won’t be able to see certain ground effects like Healing Rain and Efflorescence, and Sonic Pulses just won’t seem as menacing.
- If there’s a fight where you play a crucial role (dispelling, kiting, etc.), see if someone else can shoulder the burden for the night. If no one is up to the task, take a page from this Shel Silverstein poem and make them understand—you shouldn’t be doing that crucial role any more. If that still doesn’t convince them, then just suck it up and resolve yourself to doing your job as best as you can.
So, in conclusion, if you’re sitting there, looking at this list, and thinking to yourself “that’s a lot of work to put in to make sure that I can raid while out of town”, you’re right. And I guarantee that when you sit down for the first time in that new location, whether it’s 10 miles or 1000 miles away from home, things will feel a bit awkward and off-kilter. (And you will feel slightly embarrassed if room service walks in while your guildmates are cursing up a storm in vent, and then slightly amused when he asks what boss you’re working on.) But let me assure you that, in the end, the extra effort will be much appreciated by your guild and your teammates, even if they never say as much. And sometimes … sometimes … the payoff is absolutely huge.
Sinestra down (about bloody time). 13/13 HM. ^_^