Thanks to the many STO players who informed Stormstrike that STO player Katic has changed his avatar.

As we noted in our last post, Katic was using a stolen image by photographer Kristina Tararina. The photograph was of a Russian model named Lubov. We contacted Tararina directly, who confirmed the image belonged to her, and that Lubov is neither American, nor an STO player.

Along with the very serious issue of Cryptic-approved copywrite infringement, Katic’s behavior became a concern to the STO community because he was using his status as an “attractive female gamer” and popular forum poster to use Cryptic’s community managers as a blunt instrument: Several players contacted us to say they have been banned or issued account warnings at Katic’s behest, and those players provided screen shots.

When players revealed the photo theft, Cryptic quickly moved to ban or warn those players, while allowing Katic to continue to use the stolen photograph, even after it had been conclusively proven that it was stolen.

In response to mounting pressure, Katic changed his avatar, which now features a photo of a different woman. While we remain disappointed in Cryptic and its CM staff for allowing the fiasco to go on, we are very pleased to see Katic drop the image he stole from Tararina. We consider that matter closed.

However, it’s worth pointing out that liars rarely ever admit deception, and this case is no exception: Katic continues to insist he is a woman, despite other players pointing out that the new image bears no similarity to the old, and to quote one forum poster, “you can’t change bone structure.” It’s clear that the new photograph Katic is using as his avatar belongs to another victimized woman, and it’s a shame that yet another woman has had her identity co-opted by a player for the purposes of currying favor, free epics and a spot on elite PvP squads.

Because the original stolen image was revealed by a player who used the TinEye reverse image search service, it’s reasonable to assume Katic checked TinEye to make sure the new photograph could not be traced to its source. Indeed, TinEye does not have a record of the new photograph.

UPDATE: A commenter in our previous post points out that, while Katic retroactively claimed he was Russian when the source of his original avatar was reveleaed, Katic’s “Russian” is nothing more than a Babelfish or Google Translate product, complete with awkward grammar.



UPDATE:  We sent an e-mail to photographer Kristina Tararina, who confirms the woman in the photo is not the player named Katic, and naturally Tararina is not happy that her photographs were stolen. See the bottom of this post for the e-mail. In the meantime, Katic continues to antagonize players, while Cryptic Studios continues to take disciplinary action (including bans) against players who get on Katic’s bad side. More bad decisions by Cryptic.

The story is familiar: An outspoken, highly-regarded female member of an MMO community is outed as a guy.

Accusations fly, pulses are raised, and the resulting drama is delicious for everyone.

In this case, STO’s very own Ferraro is a player who goes by the name Katic. Like Ferraro, who posed for years as an attractive woman and authority on all things WoW, Katic lifted the image of a Russian model. Like Ferraro, who invented an elaborate backstory and often spoke about “her” personal life, Katic spun detailed lies about domestic bliss, pregnancy, and a military husband who was deployed to a war zone.

In both cases, their words carried extra weight in the community, weight that might not otherwise have been granted if they weren’t perceived as unusually attractive members of the opposite sex in communities dominated by male players.

Ferraro spun an even more fantastical tale when blogger Jagoex revealed Ferraro’s photos were actually tech blogger Sarah Townsend. Like Ferraro, Katic amped up his lies when another user revealed Katic’s photos were actually a Russian woman named Lyubochka Anisimova.

In this case, however, there were consequences for other players. From the accounts of other players, it seems Katic was highly antagonistic, employing his army of adoring followers to harass and ridicule players he didn’t like. It went on for months.

And, according to several players who posted on STO’s official forums, Katic’s words carried enough weight to get several other players the banhammer or warnings. Much like Ferraro, Katic positioned himself as the victim of stalkers, and Cryptic’s GMs listened, disciplining several players who got on Katic’s bad side.

It all erupted into delicious drama this morning when one player who had been on the receiving end of GM discipline made a lengthy post revealing the source of photographs Katic claimed as his own.

The thread erupted into a fount of drama until a Cryptic GM moved to quickly ban the player who complained.

We’re not surprised that a guy in an MMO would pass himself off as a woman. We’re not even surprised that a good number of STO players continued to defend Katic: folks tend to believe what they want to believe, and the thread is a classic example of fanboys upset and unable to come to grips with the fact that their revered gamer hottie has been lying to them for months.

But it does strike us as ridiculous that Cryptic would discipline players who complained about Katic, particularly after near-universal reports of Katic’s behavior and habit of antagonizing players. A look at Katic’s signature on the official STO forums says it all:

Yes, that’s me in my profile pick, yes, I’m 26, a girl, and I play STO, no, I’m not single, I’m married, to a Marine, no, I won’t send you any pictures of me, yes, I play both factions, Feds and the KDF, no, I won’t join your fleet. Now stop PMing me.

Why would an attractive woman post a photograph of herself in a male-dominated environment, then go to pains to insist she’s the person in the photograph, only to angrily insist other players leave her alone?

This is a bad move on Cryptic’s part, and the banned players found themselves on the receiving end of a player who remains popular, albeit with a dwindling number of reverent fanboys who still believe he is a she, in particular the she pictured in the photograph.

But forgotten in all of this is the fact that the woman in the picture is a real woman, living her life somewhere out there in the real world, oblivious to the fact that some guy pilfered her image and spun elaborate lies in a play to get…what, exactly? More attention? More credibility? A personal army of players willing to give him/her in-game epics and currency?

We don’t speak Russian, but if we did, we’d be curious to know what Lyubochka Anisimova has to say about all this.

UPDATE: Here’s an e-mail from the photographer who owns the shots Katic claimed as his own:


Unfortunately I’m not very good in English. Sorry for that.

Great thanks to you for not leaving this facts without attention. I am the true author of these photographs. And Model is a resident of Russia, her name is Lubov Ansimova.

The fact of violating my copyright by the United States citizen is really sad, but most likely i will do nothing about this, because it is useless.
Thank you again.

UPDATE: It looks like Cryptic reconsidered after locking the initial thread. It’s now deleted entirely. Screenshots coming soon.

UPDATE: A second forum thread on the drama has been locked by moderators.

UPDATE: Another player has been disciplined by Cryptic Studios at the behest of Katic for daring to get on Katic’s bad side. Mr. Katic has a long, distinguished record of crying to the community moderation team any time he wants GMs to silence and discipline a player he doesn’t like. As a loyal lapdog, Cryptic obeys. The players who find themselves the focus of Katic’s ire can be banned for things as innocuous as petitioning the developers for a Federation carrier ship. This is as insane as it sounds.

UPDATE: A reader notes Katic asserted he was a U.S. citizen in this thread from December, which directly contradicts yesterday’s assertion that he is Russian. (Hearty lulz.) Interestingly, the thread provides much of the reasoning why Mr. Katic became Mrs. Katic – in his own words, “I want to be wanted … I don’t want any kind of special treatment, position, or promotion. I’m just tired of soloing everything and having to PUG in STFs and PvP. I want a fleet that wants me, to play with me, to RP with me, to fly and fight beside me, to mail me crafting materials and requests.. To call on me when there’s a mission they need help with. I want to belong. I’m not interested in start-ups, or recruits for my current fleet.” How to get around that thorny issue of Ventrilo? “I’m mute, so.. Vent is not an option for me.”

UPDATE: As the above forum links make clear, at least four confirmed bans/official warnings have been issued by Cryptic on behalf of Katic. Several other players report similar incidents, but Cryptic has a policy of taking further disciplinary action against players who discuss moderation, putting those players at risk of permanent account ban if they complain. If you have been banned or issued point warnings on your account via a complaint by Katic, please take a screen shot, redact your account name and any identifying details with Photoshop, Paint or Pixlr, and upload a photo of your ban/warning notice with a link in the comments section. All commenters will remain anonymous: we will not share your identifying information with readers or Cryptic. On a related note, we have to wonder how long it will take the GMs at Cryptic to realize repeated incidents involving one player must have something to do with that player’s behavior, not the many innocent players who get on that person’s bad side. When players are receiving warnings for things as innocuous as lobbying for the introduction of ship types, it’s obvious the situation has gotten out of hand.

The idea of shaman tanking in Cataclysm doesn’t seem to be popular at MMO-Champion, or on the official boards.

But some people are asking: Why the hell is Blizzard giving us taunts and threat-generating abilities in some of our revamped skills and talents?

Here’s the tooltip for Rockbiter Weapon:

Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with the fury of the earth, increasing all threat generation by 30% and reducing damage taken by 5%. Lasts 30 minutes.
( Unleash Weapon : Unleashing this enchantment forces the target enemy to attack you for 5 sec. )

Aside from the fact that few people are going to be doing any serious content with Rockbiter as their weapon imbue, why bother giving a DPS spec a threat-generating ability?

Some point to nebulous rumors about a return to mandatory crowd control and kiting in heroic dungeons, and they argue that with the re-balanced Stamina pools, Shamans might be viable tanks or off-tanks. But that line of thinking got shot down pretty quickly:
“Shaman are not tanks. They are balancing out health pools between dps and healers and casters with *plate dps*, but not tanks’ health pools. Tanks will still have a higher health pool and more tools to mitigate damage than plate dps will.”

Of course, with re-adjusted health pools, forging, gems and careful use of talents, some players are guaranteed to try Shaman tanking, out of boredom if anything else. I tried it a few times myself, including a short-lived and hilarious – but semi-successful – stint as an off-tank on a Karazhan run a few years ago.

But one thing’s for sure – Shaman players don’t want to be tanks, and they’d rather have Blizzard’s designers use development time to fine-tune Enhancement as a DPS spec, rather than make a half-hearted stab at situational tank viability.

What’s the first thing you’d do after a five-month hiatus?

I headed out for a test drive. After picking up the Black Bruise and Keleseth’s Seducer in April, a new job and new time constraints meant I had no more time for raiding, and I decided to take a break.

When I logged in last night and checked the character pane, I saw the icons and remembered: Hey, I’ve got a pair of bad-ass fist weapons here!

Some old-school friends were starting up a late 10-man ICC run, and we ran a quick six-boss gauntlet. Here are the numbers:

Gear Score: 5784

DPS: 9772.3

Buffs: Improved Might, Kings, MotW (scroll), Fish Feast, Intellect, no flask.

For half the raid, it was an alt run, so the context may be a bit skewed. The 9777 DPS was good for second on the meter, behind a very solid Elemental Shaman friend who has a heroic weapon and the four-piece set bonus.

Which I still don’t have. But, hey, Cataclysm might be here in less than two months, so what’s the worry?

In this week’s Totem Talk, Rich Malloy points out using Shock and Awe’s priority system as a guide for our DPS rotation “is a net DPS loss for experienced Enhancement players.”

I’ll take it one step further and point out it’s a net loss for everybody.

Shaman priority system

Windfury: The ultimate priority.

We’ve had quite a few posts on this subject, and I’ve repeated it like a mantra — there is no DPS rotation. While the guys over at Elitist Jerks take math to the extremes (bless their hearts) and tweak on down to the fraction level, it’s been established since early in the expansion that the beautiful new synergy between melee and casting gave us a unique system that couldn’t be simplified in terms of macros or “rotations.”

Simply put, you can’t be lazy when playing this spec, and macros are only going to hurt your DPS contribution to your raid. While that’s fine for heroics and older tiers, DPS spots for current tiers are almost always competitive, especially at the 10-man level. In a 25-man there are always a few spots for people to get “carried” through content…but do you really want to be that guy?

For my own set-up, I use Shock-and-Awe for one thing: to flash a small bar bright red and give me an audio cue when Maelstrom Weapon reaches five stacks.

That’s really all the help I need for rotation-specific, real time information. I stick to the standard priority system otherwise, and DBM takes care of my other split-second information needs. Everything else is purely cosmetic, and my personal preference has always been a clean UI — I find clutter only increases my chances of missing something critical and letting the raid down.

If Enhancement players were the type of people who are bothered by having to do extra work, we wouldn’t have rolled Shamans. After all, easy as it is to forget, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we had to set up each individual totem on every pull. Hunters, Warlocks and Mages don’t have to do that, and they can open up as soon as the threat numbers look favorable.

Maybe we’re spoiled by the revamped totem system. Or maybe — and this is my suspicion — the awesomeness of the Enhancement spec in Wrath has lured in players who might otherwise have specced Elemental or Resto, or rolled a different class altogether.

But I try to look at it this way — the more control over DPS abilities we have, the bigger the upside if we work hard. And that’s a wonderful problem to have.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

We’re gotten some e-mail — and quite a few people searching — about Patch 3.3.5’s new raid instance, Ruby Sanctum, and gear of interest to Enhancement Shaman players.

The good news? There’s a sweet ring, the Signet of Twilight, that features AP, Crit, Hit, a ton of Agility and a yellow gem slot.

The bad news? That’s about all we know for right now. Although bits and pieces of the loot table (mostly for the 25-man version), have been pieced together by the pro data-miners over at MMO-Champion, the majority of loot drops are still a mystery. With news that Ruby Sanctum itself will be delayed (it won’t open immediately when Patch 3.3.5 drops), it’s possible we won’t have a complete picture of Halion’s loot tables for some time.

As a consolation prize, check out this Halion video from the PTR — and fair warning, like most other guild vids it’s heavy on the Eurotechno, so get ready to hit the mute button: