Where are you?

| Tuesday, November 3, 2015
That is an excellent question that you left in a comment two months ago, Kring. I am not particularly anywhere. This blog has been mostly about my thoughts on WoW, with other non-MMO games sprinkled in because I can't always write posts that people care about. Lately I've not played much WoW, by which I seem to mean nearly a year. The rest of this post is pretty much going to be me complaining about Warlords of Draenor.

I have been playing WoW again, but only because it is free. Thanks to the token things, I can buy game time with gold. Gold is something I have. So I am playing, but rather half-heartedly.

In vanilla I often heard raid or die. That was, of course, stupid. There was plenty to do beside raiding. There were an abundance of quests. Leveling took a while, so it's not as if everyone had a dozen 60s. That is a slight exaggeration, I only have a paladin, two rogues, warlock, priest, and a death knight at 100. That's only 6 max-level characters. It's not the most I've ever had, but it's partly because I very much do not want any more. I barely play the ones I have.

The unfortunate situation is that WoD is pretty much garrisons, raiding, and LFR. And also Tanaan, which you need for oil for your garrison and gear so you can skip LFR. I don't find garrisons very rewarding.

Garrisons aren't much fun for me at max level. I enjoyed building it up. Then it becomes a static ore-printer. Occasionally I'll run through the garden and mine, set up another couple days of work orders, and then stop caring again for a week. I'll set up follower missions somewhat regularly, since they're mostly just "click button, wait to collect gold".

Raiding isn't really in the cards for me. My tendency to want to be prepared for everything, while useful at work, makes raiding far more stressful than it needs to be. Throw in a touch of social anxiety and I'm out of the raiding game for the foreseeable future.

LFR is garbage. I've complained about it elsewhere for years. It's not much different. This time it gave me a legendary ring. It doesn't even give me a cool animal head on my back.

Tanaan is fun on a weekend when I have some time to burn. I like grabbing a few dailies and finding a group for Throne of Kil'Jaeden.

So I play a little here and there. I'll play alts, but any time it starts to be fun I remember where I'm headed: for my seventh time through Shadowmoon, followed by Terrokar. Plantland to the north is terrible as Alliance, but seemed better as Horde.

So, that's where I've been: half-heartedly playing Warlords of Draenor because it's free. Who'd have thought I'd look back and think that Pandaria was actually a pretty decent expansion: Pandas got a whole lot of story, the plot made sense, and it didn't at all build up expectations for something great, so I wasn't ever even the slightest bit disappointed. On the plus side, I like Timewalking, though I wish it had more dungeons in it.

On the plus side, I started playing Minecraft again, finally got Dragon Age 2, and tried a few strategy games: Europa Universalis IV (now with 4x the Europe!), Crusader Kings 2 (twice as much murdering of babies for minor provincial gains), and Galactic Civilizations III (I never played the earlier ones, so for all I know it's only 2.5 times as civilized).

Men Only

| Friday, January 30, 2015

Ran across this ad while using the mobile (ad-filled) browser.

Not sure the warning label was necessary.

Sniper Elite 3: Shooting Nazis with a pistol

| Thursday, January 29, 2015
This is a terrible game.

The sniping is tedious at best. If you don't want a dozen elites shooting at you, you have to carefully time shots to kill isolated enemies while some source of noise is masking your shots. For example, every 15 minutes a plane flies overhead (slight exaggeration), and in some spots it's loud enough to cover shots. Otherwise, you might get to fire one shot; the second will get you instantly spotted and located. Thankfully, every generator in the game backfires very loudly if you kick it.

I hope you like reloading (the game) often. You'll miss a lot. The ballistics are realistic, or were in the mode I played it, because it seems pretty damn pointless otherwise. The shooting range, rather than being a useful place to practice, get a feel for what the notches on the scope do, was instead a place to shoot sandbags, which conveniently did not show an impact site. Eventually you can get a gun with a high enough bullet velocity that the ballistics are somewhat negated, which makes it playable, but perhaps not worth playing.

Thankfully, what the game lacks in smooth gameplay, it makes up for by constantly interrupting it for a kill cam. It's sort of neat the first time. Then it just throws off your rhythm.

The movement is terribly awkward. You can't jump, except in very specific horizontal circumstances. You can fall, very noisily. Those three foot drops are the best security system in the game, instantly revealing the location of enemies. The terrain is terrible. Short walls may or may not be of the type that you can hop over. If there's a drop on the other side, well guess where you're going? Meanwhile, slight mismatches or inclines in terrain may require you to go all the way around. You'll learn to hate three foot gaps, and one-inch pieces of debris on the ground.

The stealth and AI are just silly. Enemies see a dead body and get worked up about it for a while, then go back to standing around. I ran into an alarm twice, in the very last mission, and it wasn't triggered by people finding corpses. Nope, only explosions are a valid reason to call in reinforcements. Meanwhile hearing someone walking behind a foot thick wall is enough for enemies to not only identify you but also tell exactly where you are. Apparently Nazi guard training puts a lot of emphasis on identifying non-Aryan footsteps. But, rocket launchers sticking up behind boxes are not at all suspicious. Oh, and all that yelling that people do when they find you: no one cares, as long as there is no gunfire. I guess Nazis are just constantly playing pranks by saying they found a dead guard, so no one believes it anymore. Perhaps the best thing is how vehicles can see you from any angle. Crew of two, one driver, one gunner facing forward: they see you, anywhere.

Speaking of explosions: oddly ineffective. While bullets can go through thin wood, explosions are stopped dead in their tracks. Also, they use Hollywood physics, in which being more than five feet means you're maybe slightly staggered for a second. There is one circumstances in which explosions are very effective: saving. It seems that the game doesn't quite treat things as a binary "can explode" and "has exploded". Instead there is a binary "can explode" and "exploding". I blew up some exploding red barrels and found that it was a very noisy location, so I used it for some sniping. Since sniping is a terrible idea in this game, I needed to reload. I reloaded to the barrels exploding and killing me. The ones that I'd quite thoroughly blown up several minutes before.

This one time, I placed a trap. But first I needed to reload the game about an hour back, because I didn't yet know that it likes to fuck you over for using quicksave too much. I made the mistake of not knowing that I'd effectively failed a mission when I quicksaved. Turns out that "set up an ambush" actually meant "place TNT and a tripwire in the path of a halftrack, that you magically know is going to take that particular route." I figured it meant wait for him to show up and shoot him, since the game does tend to emphasize shooting people.

Not with the sniper rifle, of course. I already explained how the circumstances around the shooting make it extremely tedious. So I instead used my silenced pistol a lot. Not suppressed: this weapon was silent, except for the thwip that everyone ignores. It's not very useful beyond five feet unless you have a thing for shooting guys four times in the chest while they stagger around and everyone watches. It's essentially the stealth melee takedown for when they're already facing in your direction. However, it's still better than firing your rifle and having every guard within five miles decide to close in on your location using telepathic Nazi GPS.

The story isn't anything to write home about. You're tracking down a Nazi who is making a weapon that will turn the tide of the war: a really big tank. To make things interesting, they also made him psychotic and disloyal to Hitler. He once says that you (the sniper) and he are the same. This has no impact on gameplay, or plot. You never plant evidence against him, tell a German spy, or do anything to take advantage of your biggest threat in Africa being on the verge of starting a civil war, or getting executed for treason. Your best friend gets blown up by a tank, so then the game says that you have his blood on your hands. I'm not sure they know what that phrase means, or they're just complete assholes. It's not my fault that a tank knew exactly where he was despite being on the other side of a wall, and the bottom of a tower, and really in absolutely no position to know to shoot him. In their defense, that's pretty standard tank behavior in the game, so at least it's consistent.

Mixing stealth, sniping, and old fashioned Nazis-killing should have made this the greatest game of all time. That was not the case.

The Quick and Easy Way to Lose Gold

| Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Do you keep running into the gold cap? Are you sick of making alts just to store piles of gold? Do the GMs whisper you for advice? We've all been in this situation where we buy out the entire auction house and yet just can't seem to get rid of gold fast enough. Even cross-faction auction houses aren't much help when you're inexplicably good at being fabulously wealthy.

Thankfully, I discovered a sure-fire way to not just waste gold, but get less of it in the first place! It's very simple; just follow these steps:
1) Have an item that can be disenchanted.
2) Look at what it disenchants into: both materials and quantity.
3) Compare the item vendor price and the auction value of the enchanting materials.
4) If the materials are worth less than the vendor, disenchant it!

Now you'll have stacks and stacks of materials and you can waste tons of time posting them on the auction house, keeping you from spending time getting gold.

Not to give away all my secrets at once, but here's a pretty reliable trick to waste gold: disenchant Pandaria greens. You'll get spirit dust that sells for less than 20s each, but it uses armor that costs 10g or more. If you're really unlucky and get 7 dust, you're still destroying at least 85% of the value of the item. Even better, the market is flooded with the stuff, so good luck ever selling it.

Feel free to use this for any gold-wasting guides you want, just a bit of credit where it's due, please.

The Average Player is...

| Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Terrible, lazy, mindless, stupid...

But my guild isn't so bad. They work together and are pretty decent at the game. They're not perfect, but given how unimaginably awful the community is, it's impressive that I managed to surround myself with so many non-terrible people.

I bet you have similar experiences. I'm sure that readers of this blog are mostly in guilds that, while not always great, will typically not be described as bad. Again, it's remarkable that this blog has managed to attract so many people who are surrounded by non-terrible people, given the endless sea of horrible people.

Just look at LFR. I just want to go run something without having to coordinate too much or worry too much about mechanics and what do I get stuck with? A bunch of mindless noobs who don't listen and keep standing in the fire.

Molten Core: How bad could it be again?

| Saturday, January 3, 2015
[edit] My friend pointed out that, to accurately picture this group, every 75 seconds or so, everyone dies, and every 5 seconds, someone dies.

My friends hadn't done MC, so I got on my warlock and we queued up together. The queue took 45 minutes when we were all DPS, then two friends switched to tank/dps and we got in it 18 minutes, though seconds before it popped one of them gave up and left. Turns out it was lucky timing for him.

We zoned in to a fresh run. We pulled the two giants and that went okay, with some slight issues because I suspect the healers weren't awake yet. Shit happens. Half the raid promptly runs off to the side to try skipping trash. Against my better judgement I join them. They proceed to aggro a lava giant, annihilator, and two core hounds. And obviously wipe.

We come back and my friend, a tank, starts to single-pull trash. People yell that we should jump (because that went so well). Then, rather than waiting for the core hound to patrol back, or the surger to patrol back, we get a firelord. And then the next patrol grabs the other. And the other patrol. We wiped.

As we came back in we had about 3/4 of the raid and the core hound was near us. I ran up and grabbed it, before it could patrol away and right back into us again. One of the tanks suggested that someone - they did not specify who should do this - should engage in sexual relations with my mother in a particular fashion. I died; no one else did. Beside the pulls that I specifically directed my tank friend to make, this was the only pull that did not result in a wipe. People still yelled at me.

My friend continued on with the careful pulling until we reached a crossroads with two patrolling tanks and a bunch of trash ready to join in any bad pulls. The mother-fornication-suggesting tank proceeded to pull the two giants on the left, and then not pull back far enough. So we get the core hound from the bridge. And then the one from the right, which brings with the firelord and annihilator that we'd encountered while jumping to skip trash.

This was when I apologized to my friend for suggesting that we go. Then we left. This was the single worst experience I'd ever had in WoW, with a concentration of rudeness and poor play that I have never seen before.

I've run into rudeness and poor play. I've seen the degradation of PUGs over the years. But something about MC has taken this to another level. Does anyone have any theories?

The Problem with Night Elves

| Saturday, December 20, 2014
A giant crytals space ship crashed into Azeroth a while back. It irradiated a nearby lake and mutated the wildlife. The alien survivors set to work understanding the damage they'd caused. At times this was a violent process, gathering blood samples to study them. As they learned more, they found a way to clean the lake. Moving outward, they worked to inoculate nearby wildlife from the remaining radiation. In further stages they sought to understand the damage and limit further harm.

Contrast this with the night elf method:

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Sure thing!

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Huh, must be bugged.

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Third time's the charm?

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Could you clarify that pronoun there? I think we're having some problems with the "them" that you want me to kill.
Quest Giver: You have to kill all the bunnies!
Me: Sure thing!

I go off to kill a dozen bunnies and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill all the demons. And also some more bunnies.
Me: Why didn't we just kill the demons in the first place, then decurse the bunnies?
Quest Giver: Because I'm not secretly an ambitious demon using you to kill bunnies and my rivals.

Archaeologists should fight only three things: Snakes, Nazis, and Unimaginable Tedium

| Monday, December 15, 2014
Since I can't fly in Draenor and I keep forgetting that I can fly elsewhere and the ores there aren't worthless, I've stopped using mining as my chilling between missions/queues activity. Archaeology has filled that gap. I go somewhere and press a bunch of buttons on my mouse. Sometimes I press my keyboard. My screen fills up with various colors marking off where things might be. It's the world's slowest laser show.
In case you're wondering what prompts the grats in that shot: someone has an auto-grats addon, and I think the other person is being sarcastic about it. Also, I spelled you're wrong the first time. And while trying to write that. I am filled with shame.

But do you see that other thing? Over there. Left. Not my character portrait. Right of that. Up. Those are the words above the picture, not that far...

That's an elemental fighting another elemental. Not a problem, right? Except sometimes they have no one to fight, so they fight me. It's little more than a momentary distraction, but the whole point of this archaeology expedition is chilling. I'm just not in a mood to hit things with my sword.

Most days I don't have to fight to get my artifacts. And I don't even thing I'd mind, but implementation matters. I don't want to fight some over-sized bird or rocks that don't know how to sit still. If I'm going to fight, it better be a Nazi, crypt filled with snakes, or the crushing boredom which is slowly, very slowly, digging up a giant plot of sand, only to find a few bits of pottery from the early 21st century and a taunting note from Dr. Evelius, my archeological arch-nemesis.
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