Happy arbitrary excuse to have a party!

| Thursday, December 31, 2009
Looking back on the year, I wonder what I've accomplished.

Graduated from college. A semester late. But now I have a bachelor's in psychology and a minor in sociology. I think this means that if I insult you, you are legally required to take it as a fact.

Played WoW a lot. Got some titles. Made and then spent a ton of gold. The result is more titles than you can shake a stick at along with a traveler's mammoth and a mechanohog.

This is boring. Let's just skip to the good parts.

I want to thank everyone who has come here over the past year.
I hope you all had a good year and have a better one starting tomorrow.

Instances I never want to see

| Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Caverns of Time: Caverns of Time
The infinite Dragonflight has kidnapped you while entering the Caverns of Time. You must rescue yourself from their evil clutches. To ensure the continuity of time, you must save yourself, then slowly walk around the Caverns of Time. As a pre-requisite to entering you must complete the quest The Caverns of Time.

Hives of Ahn'Qiraj
While C'thun has been defeated and the Qiraji leadership shattered, the Silithid still remain. You must venture into their hives deep under Silithus and exterminate all of them. Including the ones at dead end tunnels 1000 yards long. And patrols. All the while you must fight to retain your sanity, not against assault from an Old God, but from the incessant buzzing.

Trial of the Crusader: Faction Champions
You may have defeated the rabble of the [faction], but can you defeat their fearless leader? And can you make the ultimate choice, the one which has no right answer, only two wrong ones? Can you pick between killing Varian for being a war-mongering idiot and killing Garrosh for being... a war-mongering idiot? Remember, you only have time to kill one before the other becomes friendly and leads your faction and world to its doom.

The ooze in Undercity has achieved consciousness and it seeks to destroy the world! Venture into the sewer under the sewers of Undercity and fight ooze. Search in for the leader of the ooze who drops loot or at least gives an achievement and maybe makes the stuff stop spawning. Alliance characters must fight their way into the Undercity and swim down to the undersewers.

Melted Central Location
A powerful fire elemental has been summoned and now must be defeated before he kills everyone. Battle your way through dogs which aggro across half the zone. Gather powerful materials to craft armor which will assist in defeating the elemental. Loot the dogs. Loot the fucking dogs or a GM will personally show up to wipe your raid and ban whoever was supposed to loot it. But before you can face the fire king, you must gather water; not from a quest, but from buying ten thousand stacks of spring water from the bartender in Orgrimmar. Then look in the window of doom.

Caverns of Time: Durotar
The Infinite Flight is once again attempting to interfere with your life, stopping you before you ever became a hero. Protect yourself against their attacks, knowing that even their 30 yard damage aura is enough to one-shot your character. But even if you survive, you must fix the timeline by killing 8 mottled boars.

Is LFD causing more guild turnover?

| Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Before LFD we'd find groups on our own server. Sometimes we'd find someone we liked and try to recruit them. People who needed guilds could run instances to find a guild that needed them. It wasn't formal like an application or realm post, it wasn't all-accepting like a trade spam ad, but it was somewhere in the middle and undeniably social.

Since you were already in a group and had a role and gear and all that, the focus was not on any of that. Instead it was on the person behind the character. Are they a good fit? Do they have the personality the guild is looking for? These are hard to find in a group, but even harder in an online application.

Ultimately they have to join and go through a trial period. Without grouping before, it's likely that more trials will fail.

Has anyone seen a trend of this yet?

Maybe gnomes aren't so bad afterall

| Monday, December 28, 2009
I have to admit, even if I don't play him a ton, really do enjoy my gnome DK.
And the Wondervolt transformer is... cool.
I don't think I'm of the proper mentality to play a gnome, especially since they lack paladins, but maybe I'll stop punting them. So often.

A day in the life of Iapetes

| Sunday, December 27, 2009
If you have no idea who that is, he's a friend I met on the forums who briefly was a co-blogger here. Then he stopped because he's illiterate, a condition brought on my excessive arena play. I thought I'd tell you about a typical day for him.

Wake up.
Put on pants with great difficulty due to attempting to put in both legs at once.
Log in and stare at his character for a while. Contemplate a hair change, but reject it as "too belfishly gay."
Get on IM and correct Klepsacovic when he says "Good morning" at 2PM. Note: This isn't because I get up late, I just have no real sense of time.
Talk to Klepsacovic and get overwhelmed by his brilliance.

(6:17:03 PM) klepsacovic: you know, if I sold my holy set, I'd have bank space for my PvP set
(6:17:15 PM) klepsacovic: and then I'd have more space for farming 60 isntances
(6:18:12 PM) klepsacovic: or I could destroy my PvP set too, because arenas are dumb, and I'd have even more space!
(6:18:52 PM) klepsacovic: or if I deleted all my gear, I'd have tons of space AND as I pick up greys I could wear them, and not take up any bag space
(6:18:59 PM) klepsacovic: I see absolutely no problems with this idea

Log out, taking ten minutes to stare at new epics before finally closing WoW.

P.S. Apologies if this is too inside joke. Short version: I call him an elitist for just about everything: arenas, raids, having gold, not having gold, buying gems, selling gems, being ret, having an alt that does more than craft and mail gold ot my main.

Saturday Superstar: farming it for free

| Saturday, December 26, 2009
"I farmed it, so it's free"
This is a common mistake. The problem is that it gives no value to the player's time and through that fails to recognize the cost of farming. But maybe it is for the greater good.

Those who make this mistake are failing to fully think through the value and cost of their materials. However this might actually be productive due to diminishing returns and the tendency of markets to trickle benefits around.

All players have a certain 'needed' amount of gold. Some only need very little and can get by with a few dailies a week. Any more gold won't do much for them. They have hit their 'gold cap' and any more would have huge diminishing returns on their additional happiness/fun. To put it in number terms, a player who only goes through 100g a week won't benefit much from getting 200g a week. What would they spend it on? If they are making so little gold it is unlikely that they are active in the player economy. More gold would be spent on NPC purchases, perhaps a few mounts. More gold for them would just vanish, converted into mounts which add little value.

Before I go to the other side of this, I want to make clear that I have nothing against mounts. I'm not going to call people moron socials for buying dozens of mounts and pets. However it is still worth considering that for a player without much gold, mounts have very little value compared to the relative cost.

Let's be more specific about the free herbs. A stack sells for 20g. They sold them for 15g, wanting a quick sale. They effectively lost 5g per stack. But this means that the buyer gained 5g per stack. It is here that we see the benefit.

The buyer is probably a crafter and will make something with the herbs: glyphs, potions, flasks, cards, etc. If he has cheaper herbs he can do a few things with what is for him literally free gold. He can charge less for his product and make the same profit. He can also charge less because he took on less risk. Or he can charge his usual price and make a greater profit.

If he charges less, a consumer gets a cheaper product. The consumer is active in the economy and having gotten something for less than he was prepared to spend, may buy additional goods as well. In other words, the herbalist has helped the consumer to get more for his gold and stimulated additional buying and therefore crafting. The consumer has gained a benefit from the 'free gold' more than the herbalist would have, since the consumer is buying flasks and nobles decks that will help him play better with others; bettering their experiences as well. The herbalist, by cheating himself, has enriched many others.

If the crafter charges his usual amount and makes greater profit, he has more free to buy additional materials and do more crafting. This means other gatherers have more sales. The crafter has more sales as well. Consumers benefit from a greater supply which allows more people to get the benefits of crafted goods.

The crafter and buyer both have higher gold caps. The lower diminishing returns on them having gold benefits the overall economy. They can work with greater amounts of gold, moving it back through the player economy, creating ripples of profit.

See how the herbalist who farms for free works for the benefit of all? But it gets better! If by chance the market price of herbs drops, he isn't going to switch to more profitable activities. Instead he will farm even more to make up the loss. This means that crafters get a double benefit of cheaper mats and greater supplies. Even better is if the herbalist is putting a very small amount of thought into the market, just enough to see that prices are going down, but not enough to switch to more profitable activities. In this situation he will undercut even more, attempting to outrun the drop in prices, but instead furthering their decline.

Is this bad for the other herbalists? Perhaps. But there are two types of herbalists. The first type is like our free farmer and isn't hurt all that much; they'll just farm more to compensate. The second type are more aware. When prices fall they will shift to other markets or possibly withdrawal from the herb market. While this will cut their income and for them it actually matters, they are capable of taking steps to mitigate the damage.

Next time you see someone say they farmed something for free, just smile and move along. If you're feeling nice, say thank you. Don't worry, they won't figure out what you meant.

VIdeo card fails: Dragon Age: Origins

| Friday, December 25, 2009
Okay perhaps the first fail is me. I asked for Dragon Age: Origins for Christmas, not realizing that my computer is four years old and wasn't exactly top of the line when I got it. So I didn't bother to check the requirements. The result is that I have the RAM, the CPU, the disk space, and my graphics card is a mere 128mb with a 256mb minimum.

And as these things go, I did not find it until I had installed the game and gotten the error "failed to detect a supported video card."
Current card: 128MB ATI RADEON X600 SE

A quick search finds 256mb cards for $30 or so. I might just get a new card. But I don't do all that much gaming anyway, aside from WoW, and that just fine. Okay Dalaran isn't perfect, but I think that's mostly RAM/CPU anyway.

I guess this is my noobish request for advice. Should/Can I get this to work as is? If I do upgrade, have any suggestions?

Merry Christmas.

P.S. At least I know WC3 will run, my brother also got that.


So far today I've tried to order a magazine for my sister-in-law but can't tell if I did. Bad websites ftl.

She and my brother are coming over soonish and then we can open presents. Some of which are jokes. We like humor.

Last night we had a grab bag sort of gift exchange where there was an extra gift as a joke, but not marked as such. My oldest cousin was not amused by the soft-focus bow-tie picture of my nearest cousin, printed onto a cake.

If you've never seen it, I recommend watching A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Then join in the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Christmas debate.

I'll tell you where I stand.

Merry Christmas!

Do mothers have magical powers?

| Thursday, December 24, 2009
I suspect they do.

A couple weeks ago I was struggling to find some articles to cite for a mock experiment presentation. So I sent an email to my mother whose job it is find information for researchers and whoever else. About five minutes later I got exactly what I needed: useful search terms.

She hadn't responded. She'd not even read my email yet.

This isn't unusual. I often figure out the answer to a question while I am asking it. But I figured it was some sort of parent-child telepathic link.

Then I ran out of topics to write about. Well, topics I could write about. I had a few, but they got nowhere. So I did what anyone else would do, I sent a sad email to Larisa about having nothing to say and requesting ideas. And then I had more ideas. But I never got a response. Never sent it.

Clearly mothers have the magical ability to tell us what we need to know, without us asking, as if they are some sort of mystical oracles.

And somehow, they always known what gifts to buy.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Which way would your emblems flow?

| Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Gnomaggedon wants to see BoA everything. This is why we take the word of gnomes with a bit of salt. But what if emblems were BoA?

Which way would you emblems flow? Would you play your main and gear up alts? Or would you play alts without guilt, knowing your main would still benefit?

What is your goal?

| Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Log in.
Select a character.
Loading screen... done.
You're in.

Now what? I assume you're not mindlessly killing random creatures with no purpose at all. Or if you are, you secretly have the purpose of trying to have mindless fun, in which case, I'd suggest a FPS, they're great for that.

Currently my goal is Insane in the Membrane. The goblins are done. The pirates are done. The elves are starting to honor me. The faire is fairly friendly (pardon the pun). And the rogues don't really care about me one way or another.

My activities are bent towards achieving this achievement. This means farming old instances for BoP mats and librams and if I'm really lucky, a pristine black diamond or two. Also gold. I send the greens for DEing and sell the runecloth here and there. My jewelcrafter and scribe are busy finding gold to fund the purchase of more diamonds. My scribe is also busy figuring out where to get the herbs, pigments, inks, cards, and eventually decks that I'll eventually need to turn in.

Also I started raiding again and want to do well at that. I can't say I have any specific goals. Show up, kill stuff, get loot?

What are your goals in WoW?

Dear Parents, Please Quit; you're ruining WoW

| Monday, December 21, 2009
To start off, this is not about parents going afk because their children set the house on fire. I don't like it, but that's not what is killing WoW.

Instead I refer to the parents themselves. Let's start with some facts:
Fact one: Parents are lame by definition.
Fact two: Parents do lame activities.
Fact three: Parents have children, again, definition.

These lead to the inevitable chain of inevitable killing of WoW. What parents do is lame and they play WoW, so therefore WoW is lame. They have children and they pass this lameness on. Every parent who plays WoW is another set of children who will not play.

Now that I think about it, maybe that's a good thing.

Dear Parents, please play WoW so your immature children don't.

P.S. Dear Parents, please raise good children.

Dear fellow blogger: ads

| Sunday, December 20, 2009
I like how you write. I like what you write. I like the layout of your blog. I want to read it.

But then you have gold ads. They're automatically generated, I know. Google is only making ads that fit your audience. You probably didn't choose to show gold and account ads, but you are anyway.

I'm not going to be clicking on them or buying anything. So despite seeing them I'm not making them any money. Does this mean I'm not encouraging them? Well by reading, I still am.

For every visitor, that's another hit on the blog, making it just a little bit more appealing for advertisers. And for you. I don't know if the adds go by number of people who click the ad, number of people who see the ad (visitors to blog), or some combination or something entirely different. But I suspect that the second one: visibility, isn't insignificant.

When I visit, it encourages ads. After all, what company isn't more eager to get ads to high-hit sites? They will want even more. The direct clicks might be low, but that's not the entire purpose of the ad. It's also to remind us over and over that we can take the easy way out, just hand over the credit card. It's so one day we get sick of grinding for this or that vendor mount and remember that website that we saw a dozen times before.

What I'm trying to say is, I want to read what you have to say, but your ads turn me off.

I usually don't see them since I run noscript and adblock, but often I use computers scattered around campus. And then I see them in all their shiny, glittering, corrupting glory.

Is it worth the tiny bit of ad revenue? I wouldn't mind a few extra bucks, but is that bit of money worth alienating people? Is it worth being one tiny part of the gold selling empire? Is it worth playing a little tiny insignificant part in some kid getting his account stolen?


Saturday Superstar: People who bought my ice cold milk

| Saturday, December 19, 2009
Call me crazy, but it might not be crazy to buy milk off the AH. Let's run the numbers.

Out of curiosity, I posted some for 25s each. This was a huge undercut from the next guy selling for 50s. I was wondering, do people actually buy it? Sure, Gevlon has his screenshots, but I'd not have been surprised if he was using alts on a second account to make those. After all, if you're going to ignore most of reality, you might as well fake the stuff you don't.

Winter's Veil started and Santa needs a glass of milk.

Buying off the AH saves time. You don't have to run to the vendor and buy it, saving maybe 10-15 seconds. You also don't have the 4 extra which have to be disposed of in some way to free up bag space. If you destroy them, you're taking another second or two. If you sell them, you get back a few copper but spend the time to go to the vendor (if you're not already vendoring something else). These numbers may be low if your bags are poorly organized. So let's be generous and say that buying off the AH saves 20 seconds.

The price increase is 23.75 silver or 0.2375g. Can you make .2375g in 20 seconds? That's .7125g per minute or a mere 42.75g per hour. Considering dailies would make much more than that, the time saved is worth it.

This does rely on a few assumptions though. The time must have actually gone to a profitable activity. So if you're just waiting around in lfg chatting in trade, you're not actually saving any gold-time because you weren't making anything in that time anyway.

There are two types of people who would truly benefit: those who are perfectly efficient and those who have barely any time at all, so saving 20 seconds is a big deal. In other words, crazies and casuals, in that order.

But does it make sense for me to sell it? The markup is 25c each to 25s, minus the AH cut for a net profit of 23.5s per milk. While it takes time to buy and post the milk, there is less time spent per milk than those who actually use it. The 10 seconds of travel is constant. Only the clicking of the milk increases and that's maybe a tenth of a second per additional stack, once the half-second has been invested to position the mouse over the milk. So to buy 40 milk and get to the AH is perhaps a one minute process if we're slow. 23.5s is .235g so selling 40 is 9.4g yielding an hourly rate of 564g. The 40s postings take time, but I can be afk during that, so what's the loss? Further gains can be made by buying more than 40, eliminating travel time. The limit of 40 is due to the AH only allowing that many single stacks.

Admittedly I am not actually making 564g/hour because I don't sell out every minute, but if I were to delay all trips from Orgrimmar by one minute to sell milk, that would be worth the delay. If I'm just waiting around for the raid to start, then it's closer to being free money. It's not truly free since I would normally be flying around mining and pulling motes, but it's still a minute well-spent.

So there we have it, folks. You can make significant profits from selling milk and you're not actually screwing people over because the small extra cost is offset by the tiny bit of saved time. Unless they waste all their time anyway, in which case, you're at least taking gold from useless people and putting it to a good cause: making yourself rich. I'm assuming that's a good cause because you read my blog and are therefore awesome.

So go forth and win-win, or at least win-lose to your benefit.

P.S. Since I originally wrote this earlier in the week, there's been a bidding war on ice cold milk. Prices have crashed to a mere 5 silver. I still post milk while I go afk to read blogs.

Why can't I play a melee hunter?

| Friday, December 18, 2009
Bear with me on this.

One of the nice things about WoW is that you can, to some extent, customize your character or even pick a different class to get what you want. Plan to sneak around? Rogue. Plan to be really good at sneaking? Subtlety.

But there are limits. These limits limit our ability to role-play. I don't mean it in an acting sort of sense. We're free to make our backstories and wear costumes and talk however we want. But actually playing a role, this is limited. The mechanics of WoW limit what we can do.

What I saw in my mind was a hunter who preferred melee. He would use his gun/bow to cripple the target; poison it, snare it, and draw it closer. Closer, to his trap. Once the mob was caught, he'd close in to finish it off by hand. He's still a hunter, he still uses a bow, but he's not the type to stand way back shooting away. He gets in there.

Could I do this in WoW? Sure. Concussive shot, close in and get up a wingclip, drop a trap. It could work. Except that it would be pretty ineffective, even in soloing. Let's not even imagine a melee hunter in raids.

It would be fun to see more flexibility in WoW classes. Imagine a warrior who uses his brute strength not to swing a weapon, but to throw stuff; a personal catapult. Or imagine a caster who focuses his magic through his weapon and acts as magical melee; throwing fireballs with his weapon swings.

This could make for interesting changes to the strengths and weaknesses of a class. The warrior would be amazing for ranged AoE, but melee could be a problem. Likewise the mage would be immune to interrupts and could potentially do more damage by combining attack types, but he'd be bringing cloth into a melee fight. The hunter would ironically be vulnerable to kiting, but in this case enemies might have extremely dangerous traps to watch out for.

This would make it necessary to add melee/ranged to LFG. Currently we can tell just by class if they are melee or ranged. Balance would likely be more difficult. The community wouldn't react too well either. Okay maybe the majority would like the flexibility, but think of the close-minded backwards assholes. Think of the warriors who demanded that druids and paladins be inferior tanks because for years warriors were the tanks. Can you imagine the conflicts about whether melee hunters should keep up with rogues or if they should have lower damage because they have more utility and the option to shift to range if there's a melee AoE? It would be a big mess.

But what change doesn't trigger flame wars? After all, Blizzard mailed us pets and people got mad. Free penguins killed WoW!

Pulling your weight

| Thursday, December 17, 2009
While I'm sure all of my readers are hard-working players in WoW who show up to raids on time with enchants and potions and don't go afk during pulls, perhaps you know someone. This post is for the lazy people. No not the M&S lazy. This isn't for people who hate grinding or who won't farm. This is instead for the leeches who drift along and aren't actively harmful and who might do just enough to not get removed, but they're leeches anyway.

I used to be one of them. Let's rewind to a few semesters ago (think a year and a half if you've forgotten what school was). I was part of a smallish project on campus required for graduation. Okay the project itself was not small. In fact it was way beyond our scope and horribly chosen. But the group was small.

The project was to design a city in China. A sustainable one, or as best we can do considering people seem to actively seek ways to ruin the environment whatever they do. Like I said, way beyond the scope of a dozen undergrads, a couple grad students, and a couple professors who were under specific direction not to lead or interfere too much with the students figuring it all out on their own.

There are a dozen dozen situational factors that hurt my performance. My subgroup was terrible. I wasn't in a relevant major. There didn't seem to be anyone really leading us. And so on.

But the fact was, I was useless. I showed up maybe 50% of the time and didn't catch up on what I missed. I barely did any work. Terrible feedback meant that I was never 'caught' and got by with a B. Objectively speaking, I should have failed.

Last semester I was in a similar project situation. It was a new group and a new project, but it was part of the same program; we require two of these to graduate. I remembered how I'd been useless. I'd felt a bit bad at the time, but when you're on a path of shittiness, it's surprisingly hard to get off it. This time around I decided to do better. I'd do my share and get others to do theirs and be active and show up and get shit done.

The situation was not in my favor. Our professor was a fast-talking moron; the type who go far in management by 'leading teams' and 'innovation' and 'dynamic' and whatever other buzzwords you can think of which mostly turn into him taking credit for others somehow accomplishing something while he's actively harming their progress. Also the group had a non-zero number of lazy idiots. And a few foreign students who didn't quite fit into the process.

Well screw all that, I wasn't going to be one of those worthless people again. I drew in the useless people and got them to be of some help. I actively fought the harm of the professor, with varying success. I won't say I did the most work, but I did my part and I did enough to be proud of it.

Our results weren't all that much better. Once again the project was beyond our scope, especially for a single semester. But I knew that whatever successes we had achieved, I'd been part of them. I knew that I was useful. I had something to be proud of.

What does this have to do with WoW? What could a player possibly learn from the idea that it feels good to be more than deadweight leeching off the work of others?

Working isn't even all that much work. A few hours here and there, regular attendance, small things; these make a huge difference in individual usefulness and self-worth.

When to be uncivilized

| Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This would normally go on my other blog due to being almost entirely unrelated to WoW, but it's in response to a couple fellow bloggers: Elnia and Chastity

Ideally we would all be polite. We would rely on intelligent discourse. We would have emotion without being emotional. In other words, we'd use emotion to generate values, but not to drive argument.

We don't live in this world. Instead we have all manner of trolls and demagogues and liars. Again, ideally we'd never sink to their level. But sometimes that is the only way to be effective.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was a disturber of the peace, a disruptor of society, a man who spent so much of his time shaking apart society. In an ideal world he'd have never existed: been unnecessary. But he was needed. The disturbances he caused were needed to fix a major flaw in our society.

There are some times when civility must be suspended. There are times to argue, to fight, to kill, to destroy, to tear down all of society. Rarely do we see these times. They are the appropriate responses to tyranny and oppression, and just about nothing else.

Being uncivil has a cost. Presumably the cause you fight for would make the world a better place. But the process of the fight has some cost, some way that it makes the world a worse place. This may be a mere opportunity cost, of writing letters of protest to senators, taking time from other without causing any apparent harm. Then there's protesting, time-consuming and disruptive, but not truly harmful It runs all the way up to terrorism and war and assassination.

For all of these the person engaging in them must consider if the damage of the process is less than the benefit of the result. In real life terms this means that while I despise some politicians and regard them as harmful to America and the world, I do not kill them because the act causes more harm than the politicians would. It sets a standard of violence as a form of political voice when we still have available to us the ability to protest and vote. If there were to rise a more dangerous politician, an American Hitler (pardon the Godwin), then assassination would be worth the lost civility.

On the opposite end of the scale is World of Warcraft. While it is important to me, it remains a game, or more accurately, an alternative world, secondary to the real one. As such, any uncivilized activity should be taken carefully, since the benefit is so much smaller, so the potential costs are proportionally larger. In other words, there are times to be rude and profane and riot, but a 5% nerf is probably not one of them.

This does not mean that we should constantly run a calculus of civility in our minds for every action and opinion. But we should not forget that there is always a tradeoff. On the other hand, we must be careful to not use disturbance of the peace as justification for silencing opinions. All opinions will disrupt the peaceful tranquility of nothing being said at all.

As a rule of thumb, there's pretty much nothing you can say wrong if you say it politely and logically and start with reasonable assumptions. The civility cost is low enough to be nearly insignificant. In other words, don't censor yourself, just say it better.

[edit] To clarify, I did not mean to imply the Martin Luther King Jr. was rude. But he was not passive and he was not silent.

What to do with the social noobs?

They might know how to play their class. They might know the fights. They might not stand in fires. But they can't play the social half: they don't interact well with others. They are as incapable of being useful raid members as any noob; not because they fail at the raid, but because they fail at the social actions necessary to get into the raid, whether that means getting into a PUG or a guild.

Maybe they're selfish assholes. The guy who ninjas stuff from HToC-5 to vendor it. The trade chat flame-war-starter. They just don't care about other people. The solution is obvious: shoot them. Okay fine, maybe there aren't enough bullets. Or, that would be a horrible thing to do, pick one.

In actuality these people may not be universally horrible. Instead they may suffer from distorted perspective. They see everyone as a noob who deserves nothing. They think a joke was an insult. This is actually a growing view on the cause of bullying: bullies interpret nonthreatening gestures as threatening and react according to their misinterpretation. What's to be done with this? Talk things over with them, ask why they did what they did and politely point out the flaws in their reasoning and perceptions.

Or ignore them and flame them in trade chat so people know to avoid them. This is probably much easier.

Other people might be bad communicators. They are the anti-Reagan: can't communicate, but might have something worth saying, if only you could get through their online speech disorder. There's a place to start: don't flame them for bad grammar or spelling, but instead attempt to convey to them that poor writing in a text-based environment has the same effect as a speech disorder: it makes them hard to understand. Encourage them to slow down and enunciate, spelling out words and using punctuation when it will reduce ambiguity.

Some are such bad communicators that they might as well speak another language. They are the ones who don't type or talk ever. Or they are so delayed that they might as well say nothing.

Then there's the worst of all worlds combined: the guy who accidentally pulls adds during a boss, wipes the group, then goes afk and is unresponsive while everyone runs back. He doesn't respond to party chat about what happened to him. Instead it is only when you're all back and he's demanding a res that the situation becomes clear: he needed to go smoke a bowl. I don't mind the drug use. I might not even mind him going away to smoke and asking for a res. Maybe a little bit. What really bothers me is the non-communication. Disappearing, going silent, and then acting as if he did nothing wrong.

This is the final type of social noob: the person who is utterly incapable of understanding that his actions negatively affect others or of accepting any responsibility for problems. These are the people who I kick from the group at the drop of a hat. They are the people who refuse to run back from wipes, the people who justify ninjas with "it's just heroic", the people who show no consideration for others beyond taking the time to argue about how they have done absolutely nothing wrong.

WoW is more than just a game, it's also a social world. We interact with others. To get far we must interact with others. Those who can play but not communicate will not get as far as they could. Can we save the social noobs from themselves?

Are you also bad at making friends?

| Tuesday, December 15, 2009
There's my gnome running around and I see it, a friend! So of course I yell "friend!" in party chat and run over to go play with it. Iapetes says they aren't friends and I need to stop doing that. Maybe he's right and I'm just not good at making friends. They always seem to end up getting hurt and then they stop playing.

But I thought red = friend.

Part two: A delicate question about engineering
My gnome was doing some questing in Borean Tundra. I happened to see some mechagnomes and... well... I was attracted. They looked like they had something to offer me. So I explored a bit and found some parts and um...

Is it weird to tinker another male gnome?

The end... is here.

| Monday, December 14, 2009
Without even realizing it, I used BTW in an email to a professor. I was even thinking "by the way." I only noticed it after I saw an unusually long string of uppercase letters after I'd hit send.

What's next, substituting numbers of letters in my resume?

I submit my resignation from the English language. :(

How to make healers awesome

Pardon me being three months behind, but I inhabit a very small part of the blogosphere. A small piece of the WoW blogosphere. It's tiny. "That's what she said." Very mature.

Mordiceius asks Why can't healers be awesome? Good question! I suggest that it's because healing is innately not very awesome. And game design makes it even less so.

Think about what a healer does. They stand there as something smashes your face in. Then they heal you up again. And then JUST STAND THERE. Maybe they heal you again and again, but the main action of a healer is just standing there doing absolutely nothing to prevent your head from being removed.

Think about a tank now. They are the ones preventing you from losing your head. They scream their heads off and make the enemy so mad that it can attack no one else. They pull out shields and deflect the enemy attack. They turn into bears and just take the hit. Just like that. Or they dodge it because we all know bears have moves. They surround themselves with frost and use their weapon as a barrier, deflecting attacks and turning them right back (parry haste ftw? maybe?). Point is, tanks are fucking badasses.

DPS aren't quite as much. After all, they won't do much to keep you from losing your head, but they will potentially remove the enemy's head. They'll stab them. They'll swing a hammer that just knocks it right off. They'll set them on fire so their heads cease to exist. DPS aren't as badass as tanks, but they are as badass as the huge boss trying to remove your head.

Healers stand there and wave their hands and you don't die. And that's it. You still lose ten gallons of blood. You still lose limbs. While it is kinda neat to be making all that regrow, it's so reactive. At best they'll put a glowy bubble around you that will negate a small percentage of the horrible pain that is coming.

Can this change? Can healers be badass? They could be made into something similar, but more badass. I previously imagined making DPS more group-oriented by allowing them to return attacks from enemies. But you know what? Screw them! Let's give that to the healers instead.

How about instead of Sacred Shield absorbing some tiny bit of damage every 6 seconds if it instead gives the tank the equivalent of a second shield, or a shield at all, which they can use to block more and increase their damage. Yea, let's see that, a BEAR WITH A SHIELD. You think getting mauled by a bear claw hurts? Imagine if that is backed up with a magical shield tearing across your face. This would be temporary of course, but healers would be a bit cooler if they could at least play the person who throws the gun to the hero.

Let's up the ante. How about healers healing vengefully? Ultimatums. "If you dare touch him (the tank) you will suffer the wrath of [Naaru, Elune, the elements]." Think the disc talent for a reactive shield, but times a hundred. The healer would magically contribute his or her weapon to the cause of the tank, fighting along with it. They would parry attacks and swing right back.

At the least they could play the martyr. Take the damage suffered by the group into themselves; perhaps at a 10% rate, and then recovering it over time. Healers would act in rotation; absorbing damage until near death and then recovering while the next takes over. Think of it as divine sacrifice/hand of sacrifice, but more powerful, combined with an automatic HoT on the healer when the effect ends.

I must admit, I rarely heal. I hate the reactive nature and the stress of it. I have no confidence in my ability to heal. So I leave the final word to the healers: What would make you more awesome?

Can we have long instances again?

| Sunday, December 13, 2009
What's wrong with long instances? Well first off, they take a lot of time. This means more chance of failure partway in and a smaller pool of players who have the time to run it. The reward for the time spent may be lower, though this isn't always the case; an instance can be long because it has tons of bosses.

Then there's the time required to run the instance which isn't actually part of running the instance. There's the time to find people and to get to the instance. A gambling person can run to the instance first, thereby making double use of their time. But this can be a false savings, stopping their questing for a reward which may not pan out, since if the group doesn't form, the travel time will be entirely wasted unless it's a first run there grabbing FPs.

It's this second time which often kills groups. I have often planned out my time as, more or less: I have an hour until I have to go, the instance takes 45 minutes, if I get a group in 15 minutes I can go. And so I go forth with the expectation of spending 1/4 of my free time to find a group. If by chance we take 20 minutes to form and get there, I may still go depending on how bad it is to be late. But imagine if it took 25 minutes. Suddenly you really can't afford to go.

In short, we could run the instance, we just couldn't get the group needed.

Cross-server LFG helps with that. The larger pool of players means that even an unpopular instance is more likely to have people looking to run it. A minority can become enough if you get a big enough total population. This means finding groups is faster.

Teleporting to the instance also saves time. And it saves annoyance. How many people are discouraged from instances by the travel time? I'd guess quite a few. I remember how difficult it would be to get a Horde raid to UBRS when it involved running to a zeppelin, taking a FP halfway up the continent, and then running over there. On a PvP server this meant a fair bit of dying. This made Horde groups harder to form and harder to get there. In contrast the Alliance was easy to form groups with since Ironforge is practically next door and SW isn't far either, especially considering the tram.

Teleporting will get more people running instances. That means a larger pool of potential players and faster queue times.

These all add up to more people available and faster queues. As a tank, I get any group about instantly, depending on lag and my clicking speed. Healers are a bit slower. But I've heard that even DPS are sped up a bit. Cutting out a lot of the LFG time and all of the travel time means more time for the instance itself. That hour can be used more for the instance.

Does this mean the return of long instances? Can we have an hour-long five-man? I don't believe it will be as popular as the shorter ones. But could it be popular enough? With the better LFG tools, I believe so. Maybe someday we'll see the vanilla-style super-long instances return: BRD, LBRS, and Maraudon. Maybe those are already being run again. Sadly, my alts are past the level for them.

Could this also mean a revitalization of the near-cap instances? The level 57 and 67 instances are so often ignored, barely worth the time as we race to the fateful 8 and the next expansion. I think we'll see some of the instances run again. Perhaps not the 60 ones, but a bit before then.

Saturday Superstar: DPS in LFG

| Saturday, December 12, 2009
I admire you guys. Your dedication is truly amazing. I could not do what you do.

No really, how the hell do you wait for so long to find groups? I had the urge to try out my shiny new Quel'Delar so instead of my usual tank/DPS checks, I picked only DPS. And then I waited. And waited.

After five minutes I decided to make a MC group because if it's going to take forever to form a group, I might as well get a shot at a worthless mace. An 80 rogue asked if he could come. And told me his gear score.

Yep, apparently MC has gear checks now. At level 80.

Then I queued for an instance as a tank and got in instantly. During the run someone went all glowy and light poured out and wtf was that? It was like when someone gains rep, but white instead of green. And why is that priest only 79? I know heroics are easy these days, but I didn't know sub-80s could get in.

Yep, turns out I'd done a random instance instead of heroic. Fastest UP run ever. At least I got a badge out of it.

Why we are not dead yet

| Friday, December 11, 2009
Spoiler alert. Stop here if you've not done the new heroics yet.

Arthas is holding back the Scourge from annihilating all of us. At first this makes no sense. He cut out his hard and it was destroyed. Tirion said there's nothing but a monster left. How could Arthas be protecting us if he has no good left in him?

Arthas the Lich King is not. He's trying to kill us. But Frostmourne on the other hand...

Arthas, the brave paladin who would sacrifice anything, even his own soul to save his people, he had his soul taken by Frostmourne. He's in there. And along with all the other souls, they may be able to restrain the Lich King.

This may also explain why Arthas would leave Frostmourne somewhere else. He may know that the blade is holding him back. But he cannot reject it or let it fall into other hands, for then he'd lose power. So he leaves it in the Halls of Reflection. As an added benefit, it acts as bait, luring in irritants like Jaina and Sylvanas where they can be destroyed or enslaved.

In light of recent spam

| Thursday, December 10, 2009
I'm not turning off anonymous commenting or turning on word verification. But If I notice that a particular post is getting repeatedly spammed, I will lock commenting on it. If by chance you still wish to reply, feel free to send an email or reply in a more recent post.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but it's either this or word verification. You can blame Gnomegeddon.

Loss of community? What loss of community?

Earlier I'd predicted some loss of community from the cross-realm LFG. We'd see more ninjas and rudeness and people dropping after the first wipe.

I seem to have been wrong. I have run into very few problems. There was a mage who went afk for a long time without saying anything who we couldn't kick because we'd not gotten saved yet. And in the same group a rather impatient shaman.

But ninjas? Not that I've noticed. I am of course assuming that the people rolling need on orbs just come from different server norms. This doesn't seem like a flawed assumption given that they weren't rolling needs on the drops. Maybe that means they preferred a 20% change at shards vs. a 100% chance on a few gold vendor; but let's not start assuming ninjas are rational!

Early leavers? Only on the first night when the servers were horribly buggy anyway.

But people have been polite, even friendly. Joining and saying hello and asking how people are doing and seeming happy to meet totally new people. They say thanks for the group and nice to meet you and good run.

How surprised the pessimist can be when assuming the worst in others!

Part Two: Loot
I've been running random heroics all day. Well not quite all day since I hate to eat and take a final and have nerdy conversations with friends; but enough that I've done 11 heroics; three of them the new ones. But that's 8 totally random. Why? I don't need any of the loot.

I've not been counting badges to save up for something. I'm not farming shards or rep or gold of any sort. I'm just... running instances. They're fun to do!

Maybe we actually weren't all completely sick of heroics. Maybe we can have fun running the same instances over again. Not as much fun as the first time. Nowhere close. But if we cut out the travel time and make it quick and easy to find groups, we're still in positive territory for fun.

The loot has become a nice bonus. And I've gotten a few nice bonuses already. :)

Creating War

| Wednesday, December 9, 2009
If Blizzard could go back to before they released WC3 and rewrite it to remove the redemption of the orcs, would they? I don't think so, but they'd think about it. It would be a hard decision. Why?

Intelligent, rational, kind, almost human orcs are not good for starting wars. Thrall doesn't want war with the Alliance. Jaina doesn't want war with the Horde. Other leaders don't want war either; they see that it is devastating. More importantly, now that the orcs are more than violent savages, peace is possible.

Imagine if there was no Thrall. Imagine instead that Garrosh had been leading the Horde, that he had been the one to liberate the camps and lead them to Kalimdor. It would be a much different Horde. It would be one in which we'd see much less problem with war. The Alliance would be justified in attempting to wipe out the Horde and in the same way the Horde would be justified in fighting for its survival. As it is now, the Alliance cannot justify war with the Horde, especially with immediate problems such as the Scourge and Old Gods.

As I think about it more, there's a lot of potential in an evil Horde. Much lore would need to change, but I think it could be for the better. Blood Elves would find themselves picking a side in a three-way war: Horde/Legion, Alliance, Scourge (who are now free of the Legion). They could still join the Horde, in order to fight the Scourge together, the Horde doing it to regain control of the Scourge. With this new lore, Kael'thas would not need to betray his people to side with the Legion, it would instead be the normal progression of increasing evil.

There are some bits of lore that would need touching up.

Fighting with the Old Horde in Azeroth would have to be more of a factional conflict with the New Horde trying to reunite those who had fallen under the sway of the Black Dragonflight.

Killing Kael'thas would be part of an internal conflict, a power grab by the leaders of the New Horde attempting to fully subjugate the Blood Elves and install a puppet in his place. Or it could actually go the other way around; a noble Kael'thas would see the terrible things he'd done and turn against the Horde and Legion in order to save his people from corruption. The Alliance can kill him because they don't know he's turned.

Fighting the Old Horde in Outland might be tricky, since it would still be allied with the Legion. I suppose something could be figured out: internal power struggle, regarding the Outland orcs as cowards for having been left out of the recent wars, maybe even replace Kargath with 'Thrall' and have the fight be one of the savage vs. the redeemed.

What would you change to make it easier for us to kill each other?

Reverse rose colored glasses

| Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Every now and then I reminisce about Scholomance. I remember how it was a tricky place with some pulls that you could not afford to screw up. I remember the first pull down the stairs to the left and how that could wipe groups. We had to sheep this and sap that and seduce that and WATCH THE PAT! Wipe. Scholo was hard!

Then I run into someone who says it wasn't. They say it was easy. I get confused. Do I have reverse rose colored glasses, somehow remembering fondly how things were harder than they were? Is this just my latest and strangest strain of nostalgia?

Sometimes I run into contradictions in my memory. For example: hunters. Idiots, right? HUNTARDS! Let's look at Upper Blackrock Spire. The second boss (or third if you do the optional event) requires you to drop down a ledge. Pets follow, around a ramp that aggros a lot of mobs. An absent-minded warlock or hunter can easily wipe a group by leaving their pet out when they jump. They'd be told to dismiss their pet and often fail. The smart ones would use eyes of the beast and the stay command to move the pet off the jump and leave it there.

Somehow I don't remember too many problems with the last boss. The standard strat was to drag the boss away, a hunter kiting it all the way to the beast's room and keep it there as long as possible. Hunters seemed to have never done it before (they'd say they hadn't), but after only one or two attempts we'd have the boss down. I don't think it was an especially hard task and buying only a minute was about what we needed. But I can't imagine a boss now that we rely so heavily on a DPS class to survive. Am I just not remembering tons and tons of wipes? I'd expect I would, but I don't.

Is this all just another "back in my day" rant about how the community was so much better and we were awesome and you're all noobs these days?

P.S. Why do I not yet have a tag established for nostalgia? I'd expect that to be on half my posts!

"Where do bank alts come from?"

| Monday, December 7, 2009
The dreaded question... How do you answer this to a new player? Their eyes are so full of wonder and curiosity and they might not like or understand the truth. But what else can you say? They wouldn't believe you if you said that Blizzard sends them.

Well you see, when a player and a character don't love each other very much they go to a special place called a city. Then the character stays there and the player sends him items. Sometimes the character puts them in the auction house. But sometimes, the items aren't something they want to sell, so they put them in the bank.

"I hope I never have a bank alt. They sound horrible!"
Oh, newbie, someday. You'll grow up and the auction house will catch your eye and you won't be able to resist. I know it sounds wrong, but it's a wonderful feeling to have bags filled with trade mats and you spend all the time to send them out at the mailbox and there you have it: a bank alt.

Why you should reroll

| Sunday, December 6, 2009
If your server is anything like the ones I've been on, trade chat is a cesspool of stupid. In a just world we would have the opportunity to beat them senseless.

You've probably had some horrible PUGs as well. Someone ninjaed. Someone pulled wrong. There are all sorts of ways for them to screw up and they've done them. Wouldn't it be nice to kill them the way they killed you?

And really, when you see the ten thousandth Aarthas or Killzu, do you not wish to killzthem?

There's a way! Reroll.

Last night I discovered something: It feels really great to see an undead rogue named Daballz and kill him. Over and over. Sometimes I get the drop on him. Sometimes he gets the drop on me. But he dies. And dies. And maybe someday he will realize: he wouldn't have died so many times if his name was not so stupid.

P.S. Apparently the rogue was someone's cousin's alt, so he cried and sent two 80s to camp me. I then wished I had my paladin on the server and Alliance-side so I could do horrible things to them, because by all indications they were garbage. The time between rogue dead and me dead was at least half an hour. So maybe be careful, people with terrible names have persistent friends. By persistent friends I mean "friends with absolutely no ability to spend their time well."

Saturday Superstar: Why you cannot defeat goblins

| Saturday, December 5, 2009
I had intended to start this series talking about the actions of players on my server that help me to make gold. It was intended to be a bit of a joke, chuckling at the strange actions of other players and how they help me to make gold. I suppose you could see it as a less insulting version of Gevlon's "morons of the week," since I don't plan to call anyone a moron. Instead I'm hoping to give a laugh and advice. But that got sidetracked.

Every now and then I read Greedy Goblin. A title on PPI will intrigue me so I jump over. Then I check a few posts, get a bit sick, and leave. But during one of my excursions I found a link to another economy blog by someone going by Markos. Let's carry that idea with us, that it was Gevlon who introduced me to this Markos guy.

Markos has gotten the idea that with bad accounting he can defeat the goblins on his server. This may be his way of getting back at Gevlon for, ironically, not being greedy enough to take part in his pseudo-scam. There are a myriad of problems with this idea. First is that what does Gevlon care? He's unaffected. If anything it's just given him another post to write.

But the bigger flaw is that he is attempting to destroy goblins. That is impossible. Here's why: goblins have nothing to do with Gevlon. He might have coined the word, but goblinism is not at all his idea. It is only common sense, the pursuit of profit which drives the economic world. Behind the avatar are more than just words and personality, there is an idea, and ideas are blogger-proof.

How would one defeat a goblin? Let's first define the goblin: He is someone working a market and profiting from it by optimizing all aspects which he can; keeping costs down and prices as high as is profitable. These prices may be very low since while a higher price might bring in more gold, it allows others to get some of that gold, meaning less for him. This might mean tiny profits, but lots and lots of them. Here is where Markos fails. He defines goblins as glyph-sellers only. That's stupid. What profit-driven person would contain himself to a single market? That's just asking for a temporary upset to ruin it all.

Brief lesson: diversify. Sometimes shit happens. A guide gets released that causes people to flood and crash your market. Someone levels up and has no understanding of gold. If you tie yourself to one market, you leave yourself vulnerable. Instead, be ready to work in any number of markets, finding gold wherever it is. Or as I've said it before: People want to give you gold, you just have to ask the right way.

Markos' scheme can be summarized as this: Use bad accounting to pretend he's making massive profits and then gloat about it. Rather than a TL;DR post, just think about the various markets he's going through to use cheap herbs to make cheaper inks and where he's losing profit along the way. Your homework will be due at the start of class tomorrow at 9:00 AM, not late work accepted.

Let's say Markos wins. He dominates the markets and is swimming in herbs and inks and most importantly, piles of gold. What has he won? Well he got a lot of gold. Profit! By attempting to defeat the goblins, he would become one himself.

Goblins cannot be defeated, only replaced. It's stupid to think they are some sort of Gevlon-created phenomenon. He was not the first or the last. But if you try to be anti-goblin, you just might become the next.

Part two: Having class
In the entire drama war between Gevlon and Markos only one person came out ahead: Tobold. He's a classy guy who seems to keep himself above all the mess. I gotta respect that.

But who gets second place? I say Gevlon. While he's a sociopath with little decency, he does have more than none. Simply compare blogs. Gevlon's is minimalist with no advertising except for those blogs which he thinks are worth reading. In contrast Markos' is covered with ads, include for his own guide. That sends the message: "You readers are not people to whom I have any loyalty. I do not seek to inform, entertain, or amaze you. Instead you are mere visitors, people who sometimes click ads so I can get a few pennies."

Oh but let's leave that aside. Here's the fun bit:
Besides being a proud American and an enterprising entrepreneur, I am also a member of the Roman Catholic Church (tithing ftl). This being said, I have always felt that getting to heaven was the number one goal to hold for myself. I apologize if you are atheist or of a different religion and that offends you, but I have no problem with you expressing your own beliefs anytime you want on my forums or blog. Although Gevlon's attacks against me were a planned (notice he waited 6 days to make his post on a Tuesday?), unprovoked, brutal and brilliant surgical strike against myself and my blog, to retaliate would in no way bring me closer to my number one goal. So therefore I am not going to retaliate, however I will do my best to provide a thorough explanation regarding what happened for you, my readers

His explanation is a counter-attack on Gevlon, in clear contradiction to his claim that he would not retaliate. But hypocrisy happens. I contradict myself all the time. What pisses me off is the religion and heaven bit. What the fuck does being Catholic have to do with any of this? Here would have been a better post: "I did not intend to scam anyone. I believe Gevlon misread my emails and overreacted. Sorry for the drama." Done.

But not, he has to bring in religion and pretend to take the high road. Here's the high road: not bringing in irrelevant shit to make oneself look superior. My own religious views can be found elsewhere and don't matter here, except for one thing: I get pissed off by people who pull shit like this and make Catholicism look bad. Is it a perfect community? Hardly. But overall I think it's a pretty good group of people with good leadership and intentions. Stunts like this hurt that image and reflect poorly on everyone.

Part of having class is about taking the high road, not for reasons of appearance, but because it's the high road. That means that if you say you won't flame back, you don't. That means not bringing in religion for no purpose except to put a halo over your own head.

I mean come on, how hard can it possibly be to take the high road when dealing with Gevlon? All you have to do is not endorse shooting poor people and you win. But somehow, Markos failed. Bravo!

P.S. Thanks, Markos, for some of your posts. I might not have thought of some of the markets I have now without your suggestions. You've made me just a little bit more of a goblin. Oops!
P.P.S. I realize this is days late. That's what happens when I read some blogs only infrequently.

Is bad typing the new accent?

| Friday, December 4, 2009
In real life we have these things called accents. What are they? By my own made-up definition they are regional of cultural variations in how words are pronounced and sometimes different grammar and word choice. In other words, since everyone has an accent, everyone is saying it ever so slightly wrong. Our grammar is hardly perfect either. This is partially because with English there is no perfect; it's too bastardized to have an ideal. And then there's word choice: bucket vs. pail and that sort of thing. I'm fortunate to be in a city in a middle area where we can hear all words and understand most, despite having our own accent and word choices.

Sometimes accents are used to distinguish status or worth. Southern accents tend to be associated with lower intellect. It makes otherwise intelligent people sound stupid, which is unfortunate. And there's often very little attempt by outsiders to distinguish the different types, so a Texan might get lumped with an Appalachian which is clearly all wrong.

But back to my point, accents may be used to tell some information about a person. Stereotypes, of course, but they aren't entirely worthless as long as the user can perceive when they are inaccurate. We classify people into Like Us and Not Like Us. Those who are like us speak in a way which we find acceptable and those who are not like us don't.

A new accent classification is emerging. It is not verbal, but written. It is the spelling, grammar, and punctuation of the internet. Who has not thought less of a person because they wrote /2 "hi can u run me thru sfk i tip u plz pst?" I might have responded to /2 "WTB run through SFK, paying Xg per run." Neither of these use proper grammar. Both fail to spell out all their words. But the latter is what I would say and it is easier for me to understand. It is more efficient as well, but in all honesty, efficiency is rarely a criteria used for judging accents. They both give the same general meaning, but the way it is said causes me to more highly judge the second phrasing.

I could say that it's because the first person is lazy. They didn't write out "you" or "through." They also didn't type out "Please Send Tell" or "Please," which would have been redundant anyway. But the second message is about the same length, compressing "Want To Buy" and "Gold." Lazy is a stereotyping explanation used in real life, even when some accents may take what feels like more effort.

Are two classes of accents forming online; those who type and those who do not? Or more accurately, those who use 'socially accepted' abbreviations and those who do not.

In related news, before I got stuck in a ticket booth, I was pointing out that someone typing deepz was spending more time and looking more ridiculous than if he'd typed DPS. Someone promptly argued that it's faster if we're talking rather than typing, apparently failing to notice that we couldn't hear him. Of course someone had to bring up that it's a game, not english class. My response, with a slight word change so it sounds better: "Life is applied English." My apologies to those who do not speak English, you can adapt it to your language. I guess they couldn't read that anyway.

For more posting about talking, try my old post on my other blog about why we should swear less and why I'm glad I'm not gay.

Has Blizzard given up on the playerbase?

| Thursday, December 3, 2009
Despite the pleasant words of the Blues, based on actions, it seems that Blizzard does not trust players to be anything less than rotten deceitful scum.

Auto-DE. Why? Arguably this is to help generate shards and spread them around to nerf enchanting profits. I don't mind nerfing enchanting. Okay I mind, but I don't think it's terrible awful game-killing stuff. But I don't think this will affect enchanting profits much. A few more shards will slip away, but in general enchanters are DEing and handing out shards at the end. This won't affect supply all that much, so prices won't change. In other words, this won't actually nerf enchanting.

What it does do is say "We don't trust enchanters with the choice of whether or not to use their profession. People get unhappy when enchanters don't work for them for free, so we're going to take away that choice." It's also saying that Blizzard doesn't trust players to figure out how to gather and DE shards.

I don't buy the "can't trade cross-server" argument either. That's a technical limitation that they could fix. Since they've not announced any plans to allow it at some point, it appears that they have chosen not to pursue this fix.

We also cannot roll on loot below our armor class. Why not? Sometimes it's an upgrade. But Blizzard doesn't trust players to not ninja. This restricts the potential loot that can be ninjaed. Again, Blizzard doesn't trust us to be anything less than scum.

Are these just ways to prevent mistakes? Perhaps. But haven't we taken care of that? BoPs can be traded for two hours after looting. That takes care of the "sorry, meant to hit greed" or "I forgot I already had a better [item]." Mistakes are covered, and I'm glad for that. But now Blizzard is moving into control over choices. That worries me for two reasons. First, it's a bit insulting to effectively paint the entire playerbase as incapable of being decent human beings. Second, where's the line? Will Blizzard move into the AH and other parts of the economy to control undercutting, flipping, and other events in free markets?

Maybe mages will automatically make tables, warlocks will make healthstones. When new loot drops the nearest JC's window will open, listing out the best gems to make and if the winner has the the right gem, it is automatically cut. Does this sound weird? Yes, it does. So do some of the current changes.

This isn't new either. Summoning portals were changed to no longer hang off cliffs. Why? Maybe people were griefing by making portals over cliffs and summoning people. Or they were summoning doomguards in the middle of cities and killing a group member in the process. Was that so terrible?

I'm not endorsing being a terrible person. I've made my position on this clear. But I believe in choices. These can be greedy or selfish. Or selfless. If we cannot make the wrong choice, we cannot make the right one either; there is no choice.

I don't deny that cross-realm LFG increases the chances of ninjaing and other antisocial behaviors. This tends to happen as communities expand. The solution isn't imposing more and more rules. It is to let the community adapt and create its own rules as needed.

Maybe I'm just crazy. Maybe I've been watching too much Glen Beck. And by too much I mean any, because there is no safe level of exposure to him. But isn't this trend a bit worrisome?

Maybe it's not entirely Blizzard. Maybe it's us. Are we incapable of self-regulation? Are so many of us such horrible assholes when we become anonymous that we cannot be trusted to show even the most basic level of selflessness required to not ninja? But some of our action is due to environment and Blizzard is the single biggest influence on it. They create the incentive structures, the expected rewards, and can influence the sense of or lack of community.

When do DKs get to Outland?

| Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Earlier I justified DKs going to Outland. They have their reasons.

Or do they? After the fact I started to wonder about the timing. Are DKs getting to Outland at the same time as other players? Or are they a little bit late? Or are they so late that Kael'thas has suffered a mere setback, Illidan is dead, and the Legion has been beaten away?

Obviously the player gets there in a fresh Outland with everything alive. But what about the lore time?

A - Portal opens and we go exploring
B - Bad things die and we get epics
C - Arthas betrays the DKs and they break free
D - DKs go to Outland

Obviously A is before B. C is right before D. But what about CD relative to A and B? I'd guess that CD is after A. But is it before B?

DKs might be breaking free sometime after B and then going to a zone which exists in a time of A-B. That makes no sense.

Normally I'd shrug this off as the innate time travel between zones, that they all exists in a certain time. However this doesn't work as well here. Normal classes are created at a very early time, before anything else happens. If you happen to do zones in the wrong order, that's a side-effect of being able to move freely rather than any actual flaw in the story. But DKs start at a much later time. They cannot exist in their current form before that time. So if a DK is going to Outland and the Outland expedition was completed before they broke free, then they are going back in time not because they left the 'rails' but because the rails sent them there.

I fear WoW may be doing a great deal of rewriting its own story for no good purpose beside refusing to tweak game mechanics. The death of Onyxia by our hands, then the death of her by Varian, then by us again is one of the strange changes to the timeline. DKs may be the next; a class created after events but sent back to replay those events. Is this mere game mechanics? Perhaps. But I'm tempted to break my rule of "don't call Blizzard lazy" and say that it is only laziness and lack of creativity which would require DKs to go to Outland if that breaks the timeline. They could have gone to a Plaguelands tweaked for their specific class and designed to give them the XP/time of Outland (a simple +25% XP for DKs in the zones might have done the trick) and complete it with a second quest chain, perhaps to tell more of the story of the cooperation of the Ebon Blade and Argent Dawn, as a way to dole out a gear set which would prepare them for Northrend.

Dear Bloggers, re: Gnomeggedon

| Tuesday, December 1, 2009

As per the orders of Gnomegeddon, I have removed word verification. And I also noticed that I don't allow anonymous comments. I changed that.

Now you can post without word verification and without having any sort of account. Please, don't use this as an excuse to start trolling, spamming, and flaming. I'm not too worried, since apparently my blog doesn't attract douchebags. That's something I appreciate, so I'll take this time to do something I don't do often enough:

Thank you, readers. You're awesome.

But please comment more. :)

P.S. Pretend there's ice cream here. If we all pretend to have it, we might trick the gnome.
P.S.S. I made this change yesterday morning. By last night I saw my first spam comment, on some post way back. When I find these I will nuke them entirely out of existence.

Did antisocials ruin MMOs?

| Monday, November 30, 2009
I remember doing a lot more grinding and waiting in WoW. From what I've heard, other games had even more. On the surface these things are bad. After all, grinds are repetitive and who likes waiting? But there are benefits to them.

Waiting around is a time for guilds to bond. There's not much time to chit chat during raids; there are more immediate concerns to be handled. Sure, there are a few minutes before pulls while you buff and summon and all that, but are you going to be friends from talking for five minutes a couple nights a week? Are you going to feel any loyalty? I doubt it. By my own experience, that chit chat is annoying. A handful of people who knew each other before talk about stuff no one else understands and it can be alienating. It ends up being "I wish we'd start so they would shut up."

Grinding on its own isn't very social. However if a grind is long enough and based on mass killing, it encourages grouping up. You get a few DPS and maybe a healer to go commit genocide. It's low-key so you can chat and do the sort of numberless theorycraft that can do a surprising amount to open people's minds to the mechanics of the world: "What if we used shockwave when those spawn and then they'll be easier to bladestorm?" "Really, those can be stunned? I didn't know that."

The activity itself isn't much fun, but it's a time to gather and talk. Think of it as the barn-raising of MMOs. Get together and build something and eat pie while the younguns try to hook up and make more younguns. Maybe that last part of the analogy only works in Goldshire.

So what killed boring stuff in MMOs? Maybe it was the antisocial people. They couldn't have fun with people despite the activity. They wanted to log in, get their pixels, and log out without having to deal with other people any more than necessary.

But you say "Isn't this really because people like being able to get things done in a short amount of time?" Maybe. But I wonder, would people be willing to spend more time if they were with people they socialized with more? Sure, there are the log in for an hour twice a week people, but why structure everything around them? Why are all the instances short and all the grinds based on an hour of dailies here and there? I remember people farming in guild groups or waiting for PUGs to form and talking along the way. I joined my first guild while waiting for a ZF group to start.

As I was digging through screenshots to find some for GIMP to grind up into a banner, I stumbled across some very old ones. They were of a few guildies and me on my warlock in Darkwhisper Gorge. We were farming the eye of shadow. I don't recall if we were farming it for a guildy in the group or if we were just farming as a group. Either way, I can't imagine that anymore. What could we possibly need to farm that we cannot do alone?

It's all soloable. Sure, these mobs were soloable, but they were tough enough that a group was appreciated and we were still in a mindset that farming was more than just a solo activity between raids; it was part of what guilds did. I won't pretend we didn't mine solo or hunt some mobs solo, but there was much more group activity outside of raids and instances. The bugs in Silithus used to be elite. Soloable, but still tough enough that it was smart to bring help. Part of the rep included summoning outdoor mini-bosses, which we'd pull together groups for, sometimes entire PUG raids.

These days I almost laugh when people group up outside instances. LFM TFA/cit? Heh. Noobs, learn2solo. That strikes me as wrong. These are supposed to be multi-player games, MMORPGs, and yet increasingly we demand the ability to solo. We push away any hint of reliance on others. Then when we join a PUG we wonder why everyone is so unreliable. We try to raid and wonder who recruited these disloyal idiots.

The other extreme was certainly bad, waiting hours for a spawn and needing a group at almost all times. But this extreme might not be all that much better. Why play online if we're going to play it as a single-player game?

Are we too antisocial to pass the time talking? Are we in such a rush that everything must be able to be done right now? Are we replacing slow-cooking with microwaves and losing all the flavor?

Did you know the tram has a ticket booth?

| Saturday, November 28, 2009
I just noticed this a yesterday. Since I was a gnome, I decided to jump through the opening. Then I got stuck and had to use my death gate to get out.

You read this?

| Friday, November 27, 2009
Every now and then I get completely surprised when I find that someone reads my blog. I think of it as a little tiny itsy-bitsy piece of the blogosphere that no one ever notices. Well sure, I know my favorite gnomes read and a few other people as well, but I'm no Tobold or Gevlon or one of those other names that is just... you know it. Even if you don't read it, you know the name, but odds are, you read it. A strange habit of mine: when I find a new blog I check their blogroll. If I see Greedy Goblin I frown and shake my head, and then go back to a slight smile because it's so much more fun to smile. If I don't see mine I smile a little big less. If I see Pink Pigtail Inn I say: "Well at least they have some taste."

Every now and then a real life friend of mine makes some comment about a recent post. I get confused. "What do you mean 'only I could make therapy disturbing?' Oh! You read that?" This recent exchange led to my idea for a post 'soon': Where do bank alts come from? Or I made a post on the general forums and someone responds that they like my blog. A druid of all types! Somehow this never struck me as a blog that a druid would ever read. Except Hana but she's a druidadin.

Of course once I get going on this line of thought I get all confused. What class would read this? I know because I've been told, that my blog address has pulled in some people looking for a shaman blog. Oops? My labels you might find this in a search for paladins. Or as I recently noticed: hunter BiS weapons. Yea, that's from one post a while back.

Not a class blog. Not a lore blog. Not an economics/gold-making blog. Not theorycraft. Not news. I actively avoid this being a "here's what I did yesterday" blog, though it still happens since what I did yesterday was so amazingly amazing and funny and omg leik can u believe wut dropped!? Sorry. Sometimes I feel like a knockoff PPI with some mix of social posts and commentary and general being a nice person-ness. That's right, I am being outblogged by a Swedish mother and her friend who I am not really sure but I thought was from Arizona.

What does it mean that when I try to write these sort of posts where I'm curious about my audience that they end up all self-deprecating? Oh you say you've never seen me write one of these? That's because I delete them because I hate that emo crap. Cheer the f- up!

Yesterday I learned that I can solo the tiger boss in ZG. I was worried that I'd not have the interrupts to do it. It turns out the heals are infrequent enough that I can damage through them and only need to interrupt close to the end. And it appears that the madness boss is the one I need, so unless it switched tomorrow, I think I'll be able to get it and complete my trinket. Truth be told, this is just a scheme to free up the bank slots. Oh damn, I just did one of those "read this and care about what I'm doing" type of posts, or part of one. That's so... social.

P.S. Just to ensure that I'm not ripping off Larisa by being a nice person, I plan to be an asshole for a while. I figure I'll make it a day or two.
P.S.S. I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. Or a Happy Thursday since I know you're not all Americans.

This seems broken.

Hunter armory. Ignore the gear and check the achievements. Specifically check the date of the Onyxia achievement. Compare that to when Onyxia level 80 came out.

BG attendance and RL seasons

| Thursday, November 26, 2009
Do people do AV more in the winter?
How about AB in the spring?
Is WSG a fall BG?
And who does not immediately think of glowing purple skies and capture the flag when the calender rolls over to summer?

I do think of AV as a winter BG. As it gets colder I think about it more. My first AV was in the winter. In the same pattern, my first WSG was in the fall. But these are not due to seasons, but simply that was the timing of when I started playing and the levels at which I could do the BGs.

Something about snow drifting past the window doesn't match with the sunny Arathi Basin. Nor does it match the torrential downpours. Those are spring weathers.

I imagine Blizzard has data on this, of BG attendance on a given day, and that could be matched up with the seasons. Maybe there's a pattern, but we don't have that data. :(

But I can ask you. Do you see any correlation between your BG attendance and the outside seasons?

A new approach to dealing with damage

| Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Currently damage is mostly dealt with by two types of players: tanks who mitigate it and healers who undo it. For tanks it's mostly about gear while for healers it's mostly about fast responses, anticipation of damage, and somehow surviving knowing that a single screw up can kill everyone. I admire healers for this. DPS don't do much in this process. You might see a ret throw up a sacred shield or maybe a mage or warlock throw up a specific absorb type, but in general DPS aren't involved in the damage control.

Let's change that.

I propose a way for DPS to increase their damage by protecting the raid. It would be a way to redirect certain types of hostile spells to themselves, absorbing most of the damage, and as they get more they accumulate spell combo points. These could be released for various devastating attacks.

Imagine you're on Thorim and Sif is throwing around a lot of frostbolts. You could throw up a resist aura and heal through them. Or, you could get a mage. They could redirect the bolts to themselves and with frost ward absorb the damage. After a while they could strike back with the absorbed damage. Other classes and specs would have similar abilities: shadow priests, warlocks, and DKs controlling shadow. Fire mages, destruction warlocks, and elemental shamans would control fire. Frost mages, DKs, and elemental shamans would control frost. Arcane mages, DKs, and warlocks would control arcane, though warlocks would retaliate with shadow damage. I spent too much time typing those out: the idea isn't meant to be so specific.

Lore-wise some of these might not make enough sense. A warlock protecting the group doesn't seem to fit, but maybe if it's boosting his ability to hurt other people? If it's a net gain in pain, a pain profit if you will, perhaps he'd do it. Other classes would seem to make more sense since several are healers or tanks and mages aren't social rejects (well, maybe only in lore)*. Hunters might have some sort of special arrow which they shoot at spells to catch them and then can be shot back, maybe this would tie into arcane shot.

What would rogues do that would help the group? They're not nice or even casters, so I'm not seeing any potential spell-control utility. Maybe they could have an anti-melee ability: looping a string around the enemy's weapon and pulling it taut, so when they swing at the tank it gets pulled back towards them.

* No crying, it's a joke, I have enough water for now.

DKs in Outland, perhaps not so ridiculous

| Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I've held the belief that Death Knights should not run off to Outland almost straight from their starting area. It seemed to make no sense. They break free of the Scourge and swear to destroy it, and yet right after they run off to Outland to fight an enemy which they may have never ever heard of. How could Illidan and Kael'thas possibly be a worthy distraction to their pursuit of Arthas? They have no vendetta with them.

I left out some factors. There are reasons for the Knights of the Ebon Blade to wish to venture into Outland.

The last thing you hear before leaving is the need for allies. The Alliance or the Horde is the ally. These allies seek to secure Outland. While it would not seem to be in the immediate interests of the DKs, to maintain ties it is worth supporting their allies.

Personal Strength
While DKs leave their area with powerful armor, a potent runeblade, and the might of Death at their control, they are hardly in a position to directly challenge Arthas. They've obtained the most powerful armor of the Scourge, at least as they can tell, so it is unlikely that further battles in the Plaguelands will yield much gain. In contrast Outland is likely to have many undiscovered items of power.

Furthermore, Outland has entirely new challenges. It has direct confrontation with the Burning Legion in addition to all sorts of unknown enemies. To battle against them will give needed experience and versatility of tactics. It is a training ground for when they take the fight to Icecrown CItadel.

While I claimed that the DKs have no score to settle in Outland, this is not entirely true. They might know that the Scourge was created by the Burning Legion. While Arthas may have been their direct enemy, the Legion is responsible for the existence of the Scourge. Depending on the DK, they may even have been veterans of the previous wars against the Legion. An elf in particular could have been fighting them for thousands of years and could regard them as their main enemy even above Arthas.

Arthas would expect the DKs to chase right after him. He would be prepared for them. For them to go off to Outland instead would give the appearance that they are afraid. From that he might underestimate them. Then when they return, it is as a surprise, and with greater power for their struggles.

This was all general factors, things that affect all DKs. What about our own personal DKs? My orc, Weisserose went to rediscover his identity as an orc by facing the fel orcs and hoping to discover the untainted ones. My gnome, Fizzledbang, is drawn by rumors of arcane and demonic energy which he might be able to craft into a new and more powerful bomb.

Why is your Death Knight in Outland?

I got a dwarf rogue!

| Monday, November 23, 2009
I was camping outside the Alliance inn in Dalaran and I saw another dwarf coming out. As I was standing I got annoyed and started complaining in gchat: "hunter... DK... paladin... wwwwwwww" And finally I caught up to it and nailed it with the turkey shooter that I'd stuck on one of my bars. I was prepared and it paid off.

The dwarf rogue was MINE.

Now I have two shooters left and only need Horde rogues: troll, orc, undead.

And I've cooked up the food for the next four days worth of dailies, so I can start at TB and work my way east.

Turkinator was tricky, took some patience to find a spot and time with no competition. My advice: don't be persistent. Give up quickly so you're not getting in the way of other people. Then they can finish and get out of your way. Eastern Tirisfal seems to work well, I guess people are too lazy to run over there, especially northeast. Actually I got the buff a second time while farming turkeys for the cooking.

Did I kill raiding?

Not your raiding of course, just mine.

Brief history lesson: A while back there was a troll shaman who had a strange attraction to paladins. He got into a lot of conversations on the WoW paladin forums and eventually developed a few friendships. One day that shaman rerolled with a trio of them. Stuff happened and one day they were on Zul'jin, making their own guild: Word of Redemption. I was an officer in said guild, though I must admit that I was not big on exercising power, in other words I was a glorified member, albeit a member with an unusual level of respect from the GM and other officers.

I loved this guild and the people who founded it. I don't mean loved as in "I loved that movie." I mean loved as in, these were friends who I respected and depended on and who I felt a connection to. The guild was our home; our treehouse, our fort, our sanctuary.

I doubt anything can match that, ever. I doubt I will ever again start a guild with a few friends and built it up into something. I doubt I can get anything close to that feeling in any guild that I join. People will have their cliques and habits and rules already. I will always be an add-on and will always be separate.

We didn't get especially far. Time just didn't work out for us. Christmas break took me out of the raids as my schedule shifted by an hour. Many others were reduced in attendance as well. This was while we were trying to push new content, TK I believe (we formed pretty late). Missing people while trying to advance leads to stagnation, and so it slowed and eventually stopped. People hopped off the epic train and eventually we were back to our core and left to pick between the slow process of rebuilding or merging. The merger killed off the guild and we ended up as an isolated clique.

I think this has left me with two problems: excessive expectations and a nagging thought of "we could have done it, it's not over yet."

I won't let myself settle for loyalty to any old guild that I happen to be in. I can't sacrifice for a bunch of strangers. I can't devote as much time and energy when it's not my guild advancing, but just some guild that I happen to be in. No guild culture is ever perfect because none of them are the ones I helped create. No loot system will ever be quite right and no officer will have quite as much trust from me, or the reverse.

And there's still that nagging thought that maybe it's not over yet. I could jump back and start recruiting and get it going again. I know this is ridiculous. The other founding members are gone. I'm still friends with two people who joined later and who I felt became part of the central group. We've been following each other from guild to guild (mostly me following them) and now we've been in the current one for... a while, over a year. We couldn't be the core of a reborn guild.

Maybe someday I'll move on to another game and be able to start over, but I suspect any attempt at raiding in WoW will be plagued by memory. I'll always remember my small town.

Part Two: The Joke
I'm sure we were all disappointed to see the worst blogger ever attack gold guides. Then to make it worse, he brought with his alternate personality. The result was a conspiracy to shoot down a brave entrepreneur. Well I say enough is enough. In a show of solidarity, I am making my own guide.

Unfortunately, I lack marketable skills in WoW. I don't make a thousand gold from five minutes in the AH. I can't get you to 80 in two days. My raiding skills leave something to be desired.

Well you know what I say: If there's no market, make one. With that in mind, for only $5 I can teach you how to live in eternal wistful nostalgia, yearning for days lost and irreclaimable. You can just stuff the money in an e-nvelope and send it here.

Here's a sample to whet your appetite:

There are two routes to take. The hard route involves being awesome and missing those days. But the Fast EZ-Nostalgia Path is faster and easier. The fundamental principle is unfinished business. You must be a mediocre raider with higher aspirations who is cut off from progression by the untimely arrival of an expansion. Forever after you will know that you're not done, that something was stolen from you. Over time you will 'remember' how much better the old days were.

Buy now, only $5 to ruin raiding and PvP forever after!

P.S. This is meant to be a joke, as the title indicates. Tobold is not the worst blogger ever; he's somewhere high up on the "Good Blogger" list.

Gnome Racials are Overpowered

| Sunday, November 22, 2009
I finally started leveling engineering on my gnome DK. This is after farming tons of mats, up to thorium, I have more farming to do to be ready for Outland. I based my mat collection off a guide I'd found and gathered a bit more than what was recommended. This means a few stacks of copper, a few of bronze, and so on.

Time to start leveling.

Okay first, I have to explain what a nerd I am. Playing WoW: check. Using 3rd party resources: +1. Copying the mat list into a spreadsheet: +1. Making that spreadsheet a Google doc so I can have it up in Firefox instead of having to run an extra program (Excel): +1. Moving on...

Oh, I'm at 16. Weird. Oh, gnome! +15 seems like it would save some gold near the end, not having to level the last 15. Oh but it's more than just that. +15 means that I can make items 15 higher than normal, but with the equivalent skill chance of the normal level. The result is that I start making powders at the normal level, but they last 15 longer. That's 15 fewer levels of needing expensive metals. The overall result so far has been to save me about 75% of my metal. Remember, it's often the last 15 before a new tier that is most mat-intensive.

Now I have tons of extra ore and bars that I can sell.

Gnome racials are overpowered.

Part Two: Am I a Carebear?
A conversation with a friend of mine, with his parts cut out for reasons of privacy and me obviously being so much more important.
I'm trying to decide if a recent action makes me a carebear
so I'm on a PvP server
I see an enemy druid fighting some elite
so I help him out, even taunting it off of him
and let him loot the quest item
then I promptly remove his last remaining health
does that make me a carebear?

Part Three: GADPVP
Gnomes Against Drunk PvP
so instead of a normal DPS plate hate
I wear this cloth quest reward
because it looks cool
and once an hour I can pull booze out of it
Brian: Horray!
well seeing as I lost to this DK and shaman with the DK living by only a few health, I suspect the hat got me killed
leading to the suggestion to not PvP while drunk

Part Four: Slogans
Escape Artist: I didn't have enough ways to kill mages as a DK.
Losing in PvP? QQ more! No seriously, my PvP trinket is bound to Q.
If it's red, it's not released yet so you can keep spamming emotes at it. Asshole.
Gnomish Engineering: Smaller explosions, bigger disasters.

Death of the Small Town: Part Two

| Saturday, November 21, 2009
Part two was supposed to talk more about AV, but that never got off the ground. Then a dev told me to write this. True story.

"That segues in nicely to this question: Cross-server gameplay. It's convenient, but do you think that it runs the risk of destroying server communities?"
As for the community question, I used to ... I think that 5 years ago, I would have answered this question differently than I would today. I was all about preserving the small realm communities, but already... Well, look at Battlegrounds, it's a good case in point, because it doesn't diminish social relationships that matter on a realm. Sure, everyone can bring up "that one guy" that they know, the ninja looter who stole his stuff. But I think your real community isn't the whole realm, but it's your guild and the friends you group with, and the cross-server LFG won't undermine that at all.

I'll start with a small bit of opinion: I don't mourn the death of small towns IRL. I am annoyed by politicians' pandering to 'small town America' as if it is some unrepresented demographic made up of honest, hard-working, moral people while everyone else is a big-city banker or homosexual artist, both of whom hate God and freedom. Why do I bring this up? Because then you can play "find the contradiction," since odds are at some point I'll get sad and nostalgic for the 'small towns' of WoW. Oh. I already did that!

"But I think your real community isn't the whole realm, but it's your guild and the friends you group with, and the cross-server LFG won't undermine that at all."

This is where I see risk: redefining community. As we join larger communities we tend sometimes define our community in reverse: making it smaller. While we always had our guilds and our friends and those were special, they were not the entire definition of community. We did have servers and guilds were influential on those servers.

As the community expands outward to include the entire battlegroup, our perception of community cannot keep up. We cannot know the entire battlegroup, we cannot even recognize the guilds. Our server is diluted. In reaction we invert our community and restrict it to friends and guilds.

The result is that if we don't have a guild, we're lost. We must find a new one or risk being outside the community. This risks isolating people. Isolated people are dangerous because they have no social institutions to follow and will tend to act out of short-term self-interest, with harmful effects on those around them. In real life this is theft and all manner of crimes while in WoW it is ninjaing and flame wars.

Sorry, this is getting too slippery slope. We're not on the edge of chaos. This mean that small towns keep us moral while cities encourage lawlessness. It does mean that we need to keep an eye on social institutions and be aware of the possible trouble from transitions between them.

The cities of WoW, battlegroups, can have the same benefits as in real life. These benefits overcome any losses. Sure the social structure gets rearranged, but I believe that this actually encourages involvement in stabilizing structures. In real life this takes the form of what would otherwise be unsustainable minority populations being able to concentrate enough to form a self-sufficient community and from these build themselves up and approach the outside world as equals. For a good example, look at Jewish enclaves in the US where they built themselves up into a powerful group whereas when they were out in the European countryside people tended to kill them as the most convenient cure for a poor harvest.

Cities allow small activities to gain the population they need. Can you imagine a grand art museum in a town of 10,000? It's possible when that's 5 million instead. Cities allow residents to poll common interests to do what they could not otherwise and in that process they create a more varied and valuable culture than the pockets of homogeneity of small towns. In WoW terms this means a handful of scattered lowbies can run an instance together. This means the smaller faction can pool together across servers to fill a BG. This means getting groups for something other than the latest raid and daily heroic.

Overall I'm glad to see the benefits of the larger community, but we must be aware of the costs of this community in order to minimize the downsides and get the most possible benefit. I'm not going to stop missing the faction feel of old AV and knowing the names of people on my server for something other than trolling trade chat, but I can accept that this are smaller losses than the gains of more frequent instance groups. And perhaps we'll even see the full benefits of diverse populations and options as more people find that the perfect guild was waiting on the other side of LFG all this time.
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