What is a turn?

| Friday, March 29, 2013
At some point, usually when they were young, most people learned to take turns.  But what is a turn anyway?

In the simplest sense it is "I go, then you go, then I go, and so on..."
Chess has this.  Make a move.  The other player makes their move.  Then you go.

Then there are multi-action single turns, where you may make a move that chains without the opponent being able to respond to the individual steps.
For that, imagine checkers in which you can hop over multiple pieces in a single turn.

Turns may have turns within themselves.  There are macro turns and micro turns.  On the macro level it may be your turn to make the first move, but your opponent can respond in some way, and you can respond to them, yet it is all considered the same turn.
Imagine Magic, in which you may declare attackers, then your opponent casts a spell, which you may then counterspell.  It's all your turn, yet they still make decisions.

A while ago I bought an iPhone game called Dungeon Raid.  It's a match-3 (or more) game layered with an RPG-style upgrading and leveling system.  It uses turns, which are triggered by connecting tiles (coins, monsters, health potions, that sort of thing).  Yet within these turns you can take actions.  I've learned to chain these together into combos that seem to exploit the concept of a turn.

First I use a spell that causes all new tiles to be coins.  Next I use another spell that collects all health potions but converts them to xp, which results in a lot of new coins dropping down.  I follow that with a spell that collects all coins, which are then replaced with more coins.  Finally I convert all coins into monsters.  At this point the turn is not over.  I've collected most of a screen's worth of experience potions and coins.  It is only when I've connected all the monsters to a sword that the game finally counts it as a turn.  Since the new turn hasn't started yet, the new tiles are all coins, so the next turn consists entirely of collecting a ton of coins.

Finally, there is Civilization V.  Against the AI things are pretty clear.  Each player goes in turn, giving build orders, attacking, and initiating diplomacy.  Since one entire side can move in a single turn with no ability for the opponent to react, this makes first strikes excessively powerful, particularly because siege units can attack without taking damage themselves.  The developers may have noticed this and came up with an ingenious solution for multiplayer: players go at the same time.  This lack of turn-taking results in a chaotic mess.  It's like kindergarten all over again and that is why we take turns.  And no pushing.

A dirty gypsy stole our monkeys for their circus

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Syl moved to a new blog and new name.  Or it has the old content imported, so really it's just a new template.  Let's all laugh at her for working very hard for little functional difference.  That is, until Google shuts down Blogger and I have to start writing blog posts using only tweets.  At that point she'll appear to have planned ahead.  Until then, I will cruelly mock her.  Here's the address, just in case your links haven't updated, such as in blogrolls.


Just like riding a bicycle, but totally different

| Monday, March 25, 2013
Think about riding a bike.  What do you remember?  Keep pedaling, since it's easier to balance when you're moving.  Balance is important because falling hurts.  Falling is an inefficient form of transportation.  Being inefficient means your parents force you to walk slowly but eat while jumping up and down for the rest of the day to show you why efficiency is important.

Beside all that critical information, you remember the muscle memory.  You remember how to pedal, balance, roll a fall and hide tears, and quietly run when no one can see you.

I started playing Starcraft 2 again.  Intellectually, it all comes right back.  I know to build a wall and what a bioball is and that I need to upgrade my units.  The actual actions are another story.  The rhythm is gone, so marines yell that they're ready to go and I don't have a second set already queued up a moment before.  The clicking is all wrong, with selection failure and consequently, control groups are all wrong.

Some people wish they could go back to the past and tell their past selves what they know now.  But as we all know, we didn't do dumb stuff because we didn't know better, we did it because we were stupid (the politically-correct term is "young").  The smart action is to go back and ask your past self what they know, since you're old and forgot.  Alternatively, kidnap them and force them to play Starcraft for you.

Join me and please go away

| Friday, March 22, 2013
When I play single-player games I often find myself wishing that I could bring my friends along to see.  We could go through the treacherous wastelands together, like companions but with slightly less scripted dialogue, at least until someone drops a Monty Python quote and we begin the verbatim recital (sad irony).  Maybe it's because of my tendency to play in wastelands.  Stalker and Fallout are not kind places and sometimes covering fire is the nicest gift you could ever get (and never do).

Then I get into an MMO and wish all those damn people would go away.  I'm trying to get my ten bear asses here!  Not bare asses, get your ERP out of here; there are children!  And I wish there weren't.

I wonder why this is.

Perhaps it's that in a single-player game, I have all I need.  Adding players is a bonus.  It's allowing me to create a shared experience, truly shared, in a detailed world.  In contrast, MMOs demand other players, and performance from them, so that they are a built-in aspect.  An aspect which can very easily and frequently break.

Semi-automated Starcraft

| Monday, March 18, 2013
Let's all recognize this as a safe space where we can all say that we're bad at Starcraft without fear of shame.  What's a noob to do?

In general, there are three aspects: economics, tactics, and strategy.  Economics involves securing bases, bringing in resources, and spending those resources in a timely manner for new units and upgrades.  Logistics wins wars.  On the tactical level, you want to manage the precise positioning of units, unit-specific abilities, movement, and precise timing.  And last, but should have probably been first, there is the strategy: when you're going to attack, what units you plan to use, where you're going to attack and where you're going to expand.

At the very least, you need strategy and economics or you're going to have no army and no ability to use it.  Tactics cannot fix a bad strategy or economy, though bad enough tactics can ruin even an otherwise good game.  Some people can manage all three.  Some people can barely manage one.  I can do two at a time, but at almost any time, one of them is being neglected.  The result is that players like me tend to lose a lot.  It's not much fun.

Of course practice would help.  I could play a few games focusing only on one aspect, get that embedded, and move on to the next.  If I had all the time in the world then that might be just fine, but without it, those "training games" are really just me getting my ass kicked.  The frustration and time wasted outweighs the learning.

Automation could help with this.  Allow the player to hand off to the AI a particular aspect of the game.  Such games would be considered distinct game modes, so that all players in a match are using the AI for the same aspect.  For example, in a game where the AI is set to manage the economics, you could tell the AI to keep a certain number of units built at all times and learn upgrades in a certain order as resources are available, allowing you as the player to focus on expanding and tactics.

This would allow players to focus on either their strengths, offloading their weakest skill to the AI, or their weaknesses, giving them the mental space to focus and learn.

Partial shapeshifting

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By some means give druids the ability to shapeshift partially.  If they retain more of their non-animal form, then they can display armor and weapons.  This would be purely cosmetic, with no effect on stats.  It would make transmogrification relevant for druids.  Full shapeshifting would remain for those who prefer it.

How do you transmog a hunter?

| Monday, March 11, 2013
I already have Wolfslayer Sniper Rifle, which is awesome.  But my gear looks ridiculous.  What hunter gear doesn't?  Other classes can look cool.  Obviously my paladin has an awesome transmog, but you'll have to take my word for it, which is as good as gold, since both are only worth what we think they're worth and have little intrinsic value.  Shamans can look cool.  Any cloth class can look cool, given the availability of cool robes in both windows and non-windows styles.  Rogues are of course awesome.  Druids turn into animals and could be naked for all I know.  Warriors and death knights can look badass.  And of course monks are all pandas and look ridiculous no matter what they wear.

Hunters though, hunters.  I mean, hunters.  Hunter transmog gear?  That's an oxymoron, by which I mean you'd need to be a moron addicted to Oxycontin to think hunters look cool.  Obviously there are a wide variety of guns and bows, even crossbows, but the armor is terrible.  Everything looks like a clown parade.  It's not that I mind some flashiness; my paladin certainly has some shiny army, but it is classy.  My rogue has a great hat, but it is classy.  Hunters don't do classy.

And yet, can I give up the hunt so easily?  No!  Well yes, but I shouldn't.  So I ask you, people who have registered for some sort of account in order to be able to comment here, what is a good transmog set for a hunter?

We are no longer being warned about BoP

| Friday, March 8, 2013
At least not when soloing Molten Core.  You're welcome.

Let's see, next on the list:
It's time to allow paladins to fly during Avenging Wrath.

Anyone who thinks the zombie invasion was not awesome is not awesome

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013
It was a day of the week, so as usual, I was thinking about how my opinions are better than those of other people and of course zombies.  Ambiguous grammar ftw.  Anyway, here's the part where I link something to pretend that I don't just think this stuff whenever I have more than five seconds.  Liore is an MMO anarchist, supporting all manner of terror and insanity, valuing chaos above order, apparently believing that that is what makes for great events and experiences.  I agree, to an extent.

A freer experience works better in games than in real life.  The consequences of the downsides are smaller.  It is a game and so the potential harm is limited.  Even further, our perception of the experience is different.  If you blew up my house in real life, I'd be rather upset and traumatized.  I'd do all manner of whining to the police and insurance company.  Do it in a game and I mind be upset, but it's also an opportunity to hunt you down and kill you.  Rather than being a disaster, it is an experience and opportunity.  You see, in the virtual world, that stupid cliche about Chinese about characters for crisis and opportunity is actually true (as opposed to being ignorant bullshit that fits well into the "wise old Asian person" stereotype).

There are limits though.  If my virtual house gets blown up every week it will lose the novelty.  Even if I'm playing Blowing Houses Up Online I might not want to have my house blown up every week.

Then there are the assholes who ruin it for everyone else.  They come in two types.  The first type, the obvious type, are the griefers.  They'll kill your quest giver over and over for an hour.  They'll cause content to be tweaked, such as making attacks on quest givers spawn guards, which may or may not help, but the thought is there at least.

The second type is the one that actually gets content removed.  These are the whiny babies.  They think that a zombie invasion is somehow not awesome.  Not a permanent zombie invasion, just a temporary one.  A completely novel event is apparently the end of the world.  They discourage new events and new ideas.

In their minds, the people spreading the plague are not participating in the event.  They aren't players playing the game as intended.  Oh no, they're griefing assholes.  Apparently playing the game in a way that is even the slightest bit disruptive or interesting, is griefing.  Even when it is a one-time event.  Never to be repeated, thanks to the whiny babies.

Everyone else is happiest when I am most miserable

| Monday, March 4, 2013
Protip: if you want me to help you in WoW, run into me at the end of a long, stressful, miserable day.  You don't even need to ask for help, just be in my general proximity and have the slightest interaction and odds are, I'm going to spend an hour or two helping you with something or other.

The first time I found myself flying someone from Undercity to Blackrock Depths on my back, then swimming through lava, so they could make a smoking heart of the mountain.  For good measure we killed the emperor.  This originally was going to be a post of its own, but somehow it turned into a long, boring post that just sounded like me bragging about how great I am (I am pretty great, fyi).

The second time I ran a couple through Blackwing Lair.  It all began as these stories often do: I was selling sulfuron ingots in trade when someone whispered me. Usually these are jackasses saying how they can get them for 10% of what I'm asking, or free, or how people pay them to take them.  Eventually I just started being rude back.  In this case, the person was merely attempting to haggle, but I misread it and responded with "why do I care?"  Noticing my mistake, I send another tell, explaining that I'd misread and asking if we could start over without me being a jerk.  Well next thing you know they're wondering where to get plans for a sulfuron hammer and we're flying to Blackrock Depths.  Maybe I just like going there...

After a brief bar fight we were standing outside, and for reasons that I cannot remember, I decided to run them through BWL.  This took a non-trivial amount of time because strangely-enough, 86 hunters in greens are less effective than 90 paladins in epics.

Once is an accident.  Twice is coincidence.  Should I be expecting enemy action?

I'm disabling anonymous commenting

| Friday, March 1, 2013
I prefer to allow it so that people can say their bit without needing to set up another account.  I don't recall having any problems with anonymous trolls.  But lately I've been getting a lot of spam.  Since posts older than three weeks are automatically moderated, I was catching all of it.  Then this week I saw it get through the filter and into recent posts.

Because of that, I'm turning off anonymous commenting.  I will turn it back on eventually; maybe the filter will have improved by then.  In the meantime, I'm sorry to anyone who cannot comment.

Do you reward timing on the AH?

By timing I mean whoever posted most recently.  The reward is getting the sale rather than the later person.  While this is not a black and white concept, I think it can be distinguished from offering a significantly lower price.

For example, person A posts a frostweave bag for 225g.  Person B shows up sometime later and posts a frostweave bag for 224.9599g.  The one copper only has the effect of changing the sorting, without any significant savings to the buyer.

Contrast this with person A posting for 225g and later person B posts for 215g.  10g isn't exactly a game-changing savings, being maybe half a daily quest of gold, but it is not trivial either.  You'd care about 10g but not a value 1/100,000 as large.

Is 1g a significant undercut?  What about 50g, but on a 1500g item?  I acknowledge that this is subjective and relative.  Yet I would still call it real, in the sense that I notice it in both my own behavior and that of other people.  I've bought the item that is 1c more because I think it is ridiculous to reward timing rather than actual savings.  Similarly, when I've seen my items undercut by trivial amounts, they have still sold, yet the competing items remain.  I cannot attribute this to other sorting methods such as time remaining, since items of higher price often bracket my own.

The most incident that inspired this post was the frostweave bags.  I had several up for 225g.  Seeing that they had sold, I went to post more, only to find that there is a bag posted at 219.375g.  The 6g difference in price was ignored for some reason.  Both were very long auctions.  The next highest bags were at a 238g buyout, so the 13g gap there was apparently large enough to discourage moving up further in the price.

Alternatively, someone misread prices and I am reading way too much into this.
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