Camping & Comrades in Misery

originally posted on 12-18-16

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Bor’s Breath Spawn spot. Yay.

I understand the pain, the struggle. Camping Rares is not unlike applying for a job. You read about something, you want it, you put in the work and research to better understand what your position is and what’s required, you go for an interview, and there you meet a bunch of people who are hesitantly nice because you’re all in the same boat. You’re all together in your anxiety, yet competing against each other. It’s kind of a weird experience actually.

In World of Warcraft, camping Rares is a similar experience. Here’s the deal if you don’t understand: there are a few rare Elite mobs (translation: heavy hitting monsters that you don’t normally see) that pop up around the different areas. Each one typically spawns (appears) on a set timer, and in some cases only under certain circumstances. There are also numerous reasons to hunt these down: some of them count towards an “achievement” if you find and kill all the existing ones in a area, some drop cool stuff that gives you bragging rights and everyone you pass will tell you how lucky you are. The latter are the ones that are the most sought after. Sitting and waiting for these to appear is what’s referred to as “camping.”

There is one particular rare that holds a special place in the minds of a lot of WoW players. It’s called the “Time Lost Proto Drake,” who spawns in a snowy area called “the storm peaks.” He’s essentially a mustardy colored flying dragon that drops a mount (something you use to travel distances in WoW) that looks like him. Actually in my opinion it’s actually kind of ugly. So why is he so sought after? Why is it that when you ride him into into a populated area you’re guaranteed at LEAST one person asking you how long it took, or congratulating you for your patience and dedication, or how jealous they are. They may even tell you their camping story. It gets a conversation going.

If you read my last post, you know my TLPD (time lost proto drake) experience, but I’ll give you some bullet points to show you why he is a ridiculously hard and painful rare to hunt.

1. He shares a spawn timer with another rare elite, a blue dragon named Vyragosa. I believe the numbers are that there’s a 1/6 chance the TLPD will appear instead of Vyragosa. It’s a waiting game left purely up to chance and luck

2. The spawn timer has been recorded to be as low as 4 hours, to as high as 12 hours (years ago this was even higher). Let’s say you kill Vyragosa at 12pm. That means from 4pm-12am you have a chance to see either Vyragosa again, or the TLPD. If it’s not the TLPD and it’s Vyragosa, you kill her and start your timer again. That’s a lot of time just sitting.

3. There are a total of 4 different spots that either can appear. They’re fairly spread apart, and if you leave your spot to check another, there’s a good chance someone else will swoop in and take your spot.

All of these reasons make him a rare find. Some people are just plain stupid lucky and run into the TLPD by accident, some people go years before they see it even once. The problem is, it gets competitive out there. WoW is a very heavy mix of people looking to show how much better they are than everyone else, people who like collecting cool stuff and like a challenge, and people who play casually and like making friends. This makes for the storm peaks to sometimes turn into a toxic place to be.

Which brings me to really the main reason I started writing this. Years ago, someone named Ponderance (his characters name) started doing the heavy work and research on the TLPD for the benefit of the rest of us. He realized that the best way to go about this was to get a group together and have people post up at each spot, so you could have all your basis covered. He preached etiquette and respect for your fellow campers, even if they are of the opposing faction. He talked about how it’s important to be cautious of people in the area, how to judge if they’re serious or not. We have him to thank really for compiling the most essential and important information needed to get the TLPD.

On the 26th of December 2016 I finally got mine after starting the journey im 2011 (although I quit WoW for 3 years so its not as long as the numbers suggest). While excited that I finally got it, something slightly hindered the experience. When I rejoined WoW in 2016 (I had quit in 2013), I decided to try again for the TLPD, but I was going to casually go about it and hope I could be one of the lucky ones who randomly runs into it. While out there one day I met someone camping, same as me. Except he had been out there for about 4 days, diligently camping. We struck up a conversation and shared our camping stories. He’d wanted the TLPD for about 3 years. He once had it appear right in front of him, and hesitated just enough to have someone swoop in and steal it. I had logged in directly on the TLPD’s corpse and watch someone fly away riding it, probably laughing at me. We had lost sleep trying to get this thing. We had both given up at some point. We were comrades in misery.

From talking to him I immediately understood that he knew what he was talking about and was truly serious about getting it. He had an optimism and determination that I found admirable and endearing. So we decided to try together. He shared with me his logs and the times/dates at which he killed Vyragosa (remember, the blue one who appears so much you want to kill her after you’ve killed her out of spite). We started the cycle. We killed Vyragosa that afternoon, noted the time, and agreed to meet there again in 4 hours. We had our set spots. We had our system of checking the other spots while the other covered the one we had vacated to do so. We would wait and chat, or sit in silence and every hour or so announce what hour mark we were nearing. Occasionally someone would come along who we deemed trustworthy enough to join us, but I think we ultimately knew it was more about that it would be so much easier with more people. He had friends that wanted the elusive TLPD as well so they’d join us for a time, but at the end of the day, it always ended up me and him.

So when it finally happened two (maybe three) days after we met at 5:30am EST and the big mustardy bastard appeared, I had a minor heart attack and sprung into action. I got to him as fast as I could, almost frozen in disbelief that the TLPD was actually right on front of me, alive. But as I was composing myself I came to the realization that my new friend, my camping partner, my rock of undying determination and optimism, was more than likely asleep. He wasnt responding. If he had been awake, the second he read “ITS HERE” he would have sprung into action and probably flooded my chat window with a string of “OMG”s. This wasn’t someone I knew in real life. I couldn’t call him to rouse him, there wasn’t much I could do, but I also knew I couldn’t wait. So I did what had to be done. He still wasn’t responding. I had gotten my prize. But felt horribly guilty in the process. I still do today.

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Literally not breathing during this timeframe
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Still can’t believe I got it

When I spoke to him the next day, he was notably depressed. I was right, he had fallen asleep. He knew it was technically his fault he missed it. I told him to get a few good night’s sleep and we’d go at it again. If you interpreted my bullet point about timers earlier, you worked out that when you camp, you lose sleep. You have to be alert. You’re essentially allowed a 4 hour window in which you can sleep. You lose track of time. Thus the name “Time Lost Proto Drake.” But not him. Now he was more determined than ever.

I’m the type of person where I’ve always felt that my self esteem is directly related to helping others. Ponderance, the guy that compiled all the TLPD info who I referenced earlier, spoke about how if you get it, and others helped you, it’s your duty to help them get theirs too. I understood this and connected to the sentiment. So naturally I told my friend his time will come, and I will be there when it does.

Compiled information states that the TLPD on extremely rare occasions can appear consecutively after he’s been killed, but more commonly you won’t we him for another few days, and in some cases even months. This is what keeps people out there; the CHANCE that, no matter how rare the occasion, you’ll see him 4 hours after he’s been killed.

Two days after I got my TLPD, I’m out there with my camping partner and another of his friends who had wanted it for awhile now. As the only member of our group to have it, I felt it was my responsibility to see that they got theirs. There was an air of cautious optimism in the air. We were chatting and joking around, but on our toes. We had killed Vyragosa 6 hours earlier and keeping an eye on time. Or course, being only three of us, we only had 3 spots covered so the nearest to the vacant spot would check it in intervals of 10-15 minutes. You’re probably now beginning to see how this is a taxing process. At around the 6 ½ hour mark I stated “guys I have a feeling. The 7 hour mark something will happen.” They appreciated the optimism. I keep saying optimism because it’s what keeps you going when you’re camping. You need it: it’s so easy to lose hope. That’s also why it’s important to do it with friends.

We were also a bit anxious because there were a few others silently flying around, starting trouble and mocking us by showing us their TLPD and then flying off. This is something that really bothers me. With bragging rights also come the people who abuse them and use them in unacceptable ways. Let’s say you know someone who’s has been searching for years in agony for a particular something, and it just so happens that you have it. Would you wave it around in their face, mocking them about it? No, you probably wouldn’t. But that’s a portion of the WoW player base. Gutless selfish people who have nothing better to do than try to show they are better than anyone else and make others’ lives miserable.

At right about the 7 hour mark my friend went to check the one spot we weren’t covering. We both use a program called “Silverdragon” that alerts us when elite Rares appear, and also logs it along with times in the chat window. So when he said he was going to check that open spot, and my alert for TLPD went off, I got excited. But when he said “It’s dead. That guy flying around earlier killed it,” my heart sunk. What I didn’t mention on purpose is that Silverdragon goes off when that particular rare is found, even if it’s dead. This guy, who didn’t even need to kill it, just so happened to find it before us, and killed it solely because he knew we were looking for it. I’m not assuming that, I know it’s true. It’s the only reason he was out there. I was livid, but I was worried about my faithful camping friend. I could feel it in his typing; he was devastated. 2 sightings in 2 days is a fairly rare occurrence, and he just barely missed it both times. He promptly stated he was giving up and logged off without saying goodbye to me or his other friend. She (I didn’t say it earlier but yes she’s a she) and I stayed for a bit and talked. She too was disheartened by it, but was more worried about him. Given that they had been friends for a while and I was a new friend I urged her to talk to him. Try to convince him to get some good sleep and when he resets himself and needs my help again, I’ll be there. She thanked me for my help and kinds words and left.

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Important Note: this was NOT our kill.

So as I sit and think about all this I can’t help but think about how something as crazy as camping a rare elite in World of Warcraft has brought me new friends. But thats what it does. Getting the TLPD is marked as not only a tremendous achievement, but you bond with people over it. It’s so interesting how you can find one thing in common with a total stranger and bond over it. He and I haven’t spoken since (its been less than 24 hours), but he knows that when he’s feeling up to it, I’ll be there to help him. It’s in my nature, its just how I’m built.

So if you’re planning on camping the TLPD, I have a few pieces of advice.

1. Know your camping etiquette. Don’t be rude or mean, remember that you’re all out there and you don’t know others’ stories.

2. Do the research, be prepared for what you’re in for – you may be in for the long haul and it helps to know the situation.

3. Take care of yourself. If you’re camping seriously, you’re going to get on an awful sleeping and eating schedule. You’re going to become irritable and your friends will probably worry about you. If this starts to happen then…

4. There is a difference between giving up and taking a break. If #3 starts to happen and you start to lose it, there’s no shame in taking a break and resetting yourself. Yes, you may miss it in that time frame, but your health is more important.

5. Maybe most importantly, brings friends. They’ll be what helps you get through it, and there’s nothing quite like going through an arduous taxing process and succeeding with others.

6. Don’t lose hope. Yes it can be an awful experience out there, and yes you’re going to lose your mind and probably get your heart broken at least once, but don’t give up.

7. NPCScan works, but get Silverdragon, especially of you’re camping in a group. Trust me

If you need help or advice camping, or just want to share your TLPD camping story, don’t be afraid to drop me a line.

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