Vashj'ir: A lesson in unfinished content

| Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I'm glad you're reading this post today. It's an important one, about the future, and the choices we might or might not have in it. You see, there are people out there planning, developing, trying to make us do what they want. I know this might all sound crazy, but that just means you're hearing the same voices I am. Don't worry, I drew on a chalkboard. We'll be okay.

As you may have read, there's a gigantic shark in Vashj'ir. Also, goblins exist. This leads to a fairly obvious conclusion: Blizzard hasn't finished writing quests for the zone. Follow me, Azeroth.

This is a shark. It's a great big shark. HUGE.

And here are goblins. They're greedy and slightly insane. Also they have big noses. I'm not saying they're symbolic of Jewish stereotypes and that encouraging factional PvP is like redoing the Holocaust, but why is no one else asking these questions? And why have I not actually asked any questions before that one? Am I being silenced?

Am I the only one seeing this? Let's draw the lines.

Sharks are filled with water. It's science, because they're underwater. This makes them sink. But if they were filled with air, then they would float. The goblins know this. So what do they do?

They want to inflate the shark and use it as a zeppelin. This is sure to work perfectly.

Don't you see how it all fits together? This web is surrounding you. Let's keep going.

So now you're the one on the line. The goblins don't like to fight themselves, so they send you. First they came for the guy before you and you weren't there, so now they're coming for you. And that's it. That's how it happens. You think you're minding your own business and next thing you're all alone facing a shark.

The goblins are all gone or eaten. The mouth is coming. The tail, the fins, those are all the industrial complex that supports the military machine which is the mouth, and it is after you. That's it. That's the end-plan. Welcome to the future.

So the mouth comes and you dodge and twist and you think you've survived. But no, the shark swallows and now you're in its stomach. WWJD. What Would Jonah Do? It's sick. I know it's sick. But you're going to have to make tough choices. Make that shark throw up right back up and out. Sometimes you have to cross the line to survive. Take a risk and go for it, because there's no one left to get you out. Self-reliance. That's one of the values to keep. It will get you through this.

So you get puked out and in the clouding cloud of goblin bits and bile you swim to safety. Once back to base you don't get paid. That's the future we're marching towards, Azeroth.

That Bitch Ruined Everything

| Monday, August 30, 2010
Jaina Proudmoore is a god damn whiny pathetic bitch who ruined everything. Fuck her.

Once upon a time she was a leader who made hard choices to preserve peace and her people. She was independent. Her people were independent. They did what they did and no one got to fuck that up for them. No one. She more or less saved the world by being able to bypass long-standing hatred and mistrust to work with the Horde. Yes at times she seemed a bit too trusting, but in the end she was more or less a badass.

Then came WoW. Actually at first things weren't too bad. She did some minor world-saving, but for the most part was pretty much inactive. Not good, but not so bad either. Lots of characters got side-lined. Tyrande, Cairne, even Thrall wasn't the center of the world as he practically was in WC3. We were the new heroes, so it's all good.

Then came Wrath of the Lich King. Varian comes back. The strong, confident man who can kill a dragon in two hits. So strong and manly. Mmm... yes. Oh! Oh. Right then. Ahem. I'm not really a fan of him. But that's fine.

At least Jaina is back! Oh. Wait a minute...
She's turned into a spineless, overly-dependent, clingy, nothing. What happened to the powerful mage who went her own way to do what was best for Theramore and Azeroth? Now she's crying all over Varian and getting all angsty for Arthas.

She ruined it all.

Once upon a time there were significant and admirable female characters in the lore. Not a lot, but fine, let's pick and choose pieces of medieval stories and let it slide. Things were okay. Then Blizzard turns one of the most interesting female characters and turns her into... that. People notice major changes, especially for the worse. So it's no wonder that there's been more than a bit of chatter about feminism and sexism in WoW. Can you imagine if in Cataclysm Thrall started spending his time locked in his room crying or if Garrosh took over the Horde and sent the Orcs on their own path, only to one day show up on Sylvanas' doorstep saying how much he admires her?

I don't so much mind that there are few notable female characters. Most of WoW societies are patriarchies, with the nelfs as a notable exception. That's fine. But when one of the few who stands out is progressively wrecked over the course of an expansion, that makes for a shitty impression and a shitty story.

Someone called me a liberal today

Sjonnar says:
Klepsacovic: Pay attention, and maybe you wont look like such an idiot. Neither I nor Adam ever said that the story is perfect and shouldn’t be changed. We both said that the story should not be changed, and this is the important part, **solely for the purposes of kowtowing to a special interest group.**

Trying to put words in people’s mouths just makes you look like yet another slimy, manipulative liberal special-interest hack as well as an ignorant asshole who can’t read.

You want to apologise for that shit, I’ll accept it and we can talk. Otherwise, go fuck yourself. I’m done arguing with liberals.

Yes it's a glorious time for public discourse. The mere suggestion that more female NPCs could lead to a better story, more female subscribers, and perhaps a better society outside the game* is the call for all manner of of people to get very very angry.

* I'm not saying that I said that right in that post, but that that's what has been side in the blogotubes.

You see, feminists are a cancer that is destroying the world. I bet you didn't know that, did you? Yes, these poorly-defined radicals who may constitute well over half the world are in fact a dangerous and cantankerous minority, hell-bent on ruining your day. Those fucking bitches! But it's just like people said in Adam's post: "give into the PC crowd once, and they’ll keep pushing, and causing trouble, and finding ever more rediculous causes to champion, and you’ll never be rid of them." Yep. It's true. We should have never let those whiny bitches out of the kitchen. Next thing they wanted the vote. And then property rights. Can you believe it? They thought they could OWN THINGS, even land.

This isn't at all sexist. Not at all. It's not sexist of me to say that women should get the fuck back into their fucking place so that I can have my fucking narrative, god dammit. Let's rewind. I'm driving home. Make that being driven home, by a polite and well-spoken Negro man. He parks right at the step, opens my car door, then opens the house door as well. Of course for that second door he had to keep his eyes down because my wife is standing there with my cocktail. The smell of food gently drifts outside to tickle my nose. The Negro driver wishes me a pleasant evening and goes back to the car to drive it somewhere far away from where I live. He's a nice man and I'd almost trust him to visit my family, but he is Negro after all, you know how they sometimes get. I go inside to eat. It is a wonderful meal.

But no. That's no more. Now the Negro lives next door. I lost my job. But my wife has a job. Can you believe it? Some god damn fucking liberal asshole has ruined my day. Fucking communist prick.

Oh who the fuck am I kidding? If not for those socialist communist pricks telling people what to think, I'd probably in a collapsed coal mine right now, with no hope of rescue, because they can always get more Irish.

Get rich by taking money from women
Women are the world's largest special interest group. Incidentally they're also a group that might, in theory, play games. And give money to play those games. Perhaps there's some tiny chance that said special interest group would be more willing to buy games that had women represented as something other than either A) whiny bitches or B) Really angry sisters who cannot get along. Of course I'm generalizing, it makes for a more entertaining narrative. So these women, or girls, or females, whatever you want to call them, have money and might give that money to Blizzard if they thought WoW was a game and world they wanted to play.

Would a few female characters to attract more females ruin immersion? Really? Fucking think about it for a second. We're not talking about one day Kael'thas is now Cindy'thas. But moving forward there are just more females and they're more significant. Is that going to be an earth-shattering change? If so, then you're fucked up. Really, there's something wrong with you if you think that adding more female characters will somehow ruin WoW. Yes, even if they're added for a quota (which they wouldn't anyway). Blizzard does not have retarded writers who cannot tweak a story to make sense and to entertain, while still fitting in another pair of carefully rendered breasts. Er sorry, I mean a female character. Fear leads to anger, therefore anger implies fear, and frankly all these extremely angry people who are offended at the very thought of willfully adding female characters, I suspect they're either Chicken Little or the most overly sensitive beings since the Princess and the Pea. My god, they can feel feminist influence through five thick years of male dominance.

For more reading, see my next post: That Bitch Ruined Everything.
And don't miss tomorrow's post. It's an important one.

Come Cata, Choose Vashj'ir

Another post brought to you by Iapetes. I've been playing on beta for a few weeks now, and I thought I'd go ahead and tell you why you should think twice about skipping Vashj'ir in favor of Hyjal

TINY SPOILER WARNING: While I couldn't totally avoid spoilers, absolutely nothing here isn't also spoiled in this short teaser page released by blizzard, back in April.

Yeah Hyjal is huge on nostalgia and big, important characters. It's a zone a lot of players have no doubt been anticipating since WoW first began, already being an incredibly important zone in the lore, yet inaccessible for years. I was personally thinking I would surely level through Hyjal. Even though Vashj'ir sounded kinda cool too, I figured it'd be a bit like Howling Fjord vs Boring Tundra.

I was wrong. On beta I played through Vashj'ir instead of Hyjal, and it's one of my favorite zones in the game, if not my absolute favorite. It's competing directly with Storm Peaks.

I remember reading a post by... I think Larisa, concerned that the 3d space would be confusing and that it wouldn't be fun to play underwater. Let me assure you this is not the case. At no point was I confused about the locations of anything (granted, I actually read quests, that might help sometimes). Everything flows very nicely without any confusion about where you actually need to go.

And being underwater is one of the best things about vashj'ir. Very early on you get a buff that stays with you throughout the entire zone, giving you infinite breath and faster swim speed, as well as fast running along the ocean floor. Not long after that you get a very cool and very fast underwater mount, the Abyssal Seahorse. Yeah, I said it, the seahorse is cool. Anyway, the 3d combat and quick speed that you move around even on foot makes the whole zone feel pretty unique, and it really adds an extra layer to the exploration of the zone.

I could talk about the zone for a while but instead I think I'll bullet point the stuff I like about it:

- 3D combat makes for a really cool, unique experience
- Quests lead you slowly deeper and deeper into the ocean
- A regular 'cast' for the zone, NPCs who accompany you from hub to hub
- Insight into the culture of the naga
- The Alliance's first badass Shaman!
- A sense of isolation from civilization that WoW zones haven't had in a long time. Storm Peaks and Sholozar tried, but Vashj'ir actually felt like you were cut off from the surface.
- Great Exploration. Lots and lots of visual treats, and I love the way the quest hubs are always hidden from sight. You won't likely stumble across any of the enemy faction's hubs unless you go looking for them explicitly, for example.
- Always something new! Vashj'ir is actually split into 3 smaller zones(which should give you an idea of how large it is), and every one of them feels pretty different from the last one. So it never feels like the same visual ground is being re-tread (I think even some recent zones are guilty of this, like howling fjord which used up half it's cool points in the first 10 min).

I could say a good deal more, but not without big spoilers. The only criticism I could level at the zone is that the starting quests are bit of a drag, much like K3 in Storm Peaks. The Kelp Forest (the first zone of Vashj'ir) definitely feels like a training ground for underwater mechanics. Not that it doesn't have it's share of fun quests, but the storyline of the zone doesn't really take off until you move on to the next area.

And if all of this doesn't convince you, this video might. It's just a very tiny glimpse of the zone and hardly does it justice, but that's part of why I chose it. You can watch it without ruining the zone for yourself at all. Yet it's just enough to entice you. Or at least, it got me to try Vashj'ir, which led to this post!

It's in HD so it should look fine full-screen. I know the blog is weird and cut off the right side, but you can click the full screen button to the very right edge of what's showing. Anyway, that's my sell. Avoid the crowds in Hyjal, Vashj'ir will not disappoint.

PS: Stay far far away from the Whale Shark

Is Affirmative Action Evil?

| Sunday, August 29, 2010
Iapetes pointed out that the Old Gods have a very diverse set of minions: elementals, naga, cultists, the list goes on. Very diverse. Hm. Hm. Let's think about this. Hm.

Do the Old Gods practice affirmative action? Hm. I'm just asking the question.

Does this mean that the Old Gods are liberals? Or maybe that affirmative action is part of an evil plot? It's crazy, but why doesn't anyone ask? That is the truly crazy thing.

Self-Righteous Sunday: Redundancy Day

I'm not sure why self-righteousness is getting its own day this week, considering it's already had most of the week. Everyone from guys named like girls (Chastity) to guys named like guys (Adam) to women named like fake Latin (Miss Medicina) to gnomes named like weird untypable characters (Larisa) have weighed in on the issue of women, feminism, and their secret plot to take over the world while tricking men into thinking it's all about equality. For my own part I joined in on the female side, since I'm pretty sure they've been winning ever since we accidentally gave them the vote. I plan to blend in with my long hair and a falsetto voice. Then when they realize there are no men left and suddenly four billion or so women are incredibly lonely and desperate: there's my chance.

So I was thinking, isn't it rather insensitive of a white guy to give a speech in the same place where a black guy gave a speech and later got shot. I'm not saying he got shot there. But you get the picture. Surely it's at least as insensitive as a religious group building a cultural center in the same neighborhood where a lot of people were murdered by a vaguely similar religious group. In other words, not at all.

Which reminds me, why do we keep giving Catholics a get out of jail free card? The other day I was hearing about how the British government and Catholic Church teamed up to cover up the possible involvement of a priest in a horrific bombing in Ireland. Who's heard of that? Is anyone listening? That's on top of the many other attacks in decades of violence. Why does no one else seem to regard Catholics as sub-human monsters and persistently protest their places of worship? And by extension of somewhat vague similarity in regards to worship of Jesus, doesn't that implicate Protestants too? I mean, they're basically the same as Sunni and Shi'ite, except for a Pope instead of Mohamed's successor. They did some bombing too. Why do we keep letting them build churches and evangelize in poor areas such as urban America and everywhere else in the world? Their holy book advocates the stoning of women and their savior let himself be killed to cleanse the world. Isn't it basically connect the dots to see that people who advocate doing God's work are really just encouraging suicide attacks? We need to stop these radicals!

Speaking of which, why does Ahmadinejad refuse to wear ties? Does he think they're some sort of symbolic noose? Because if so, I agree. I think I can now officially start a list of things on which we agree.
1 - Ties suck.
2 - ???

The Natural Evolution of Games (Everything)

| Saturday, August 28, 2010
Adam is still uh... Adam. Flip a coin and spin the the offensive wheel. See what comes up. Throw that out. I'm not saying it's true, but as long as we're all getting offended over how reality is represented in pixels, we might as well go to the irrational extreme.
I am all for the natural evolution of a game and a gaming genre. But I will strongly resist the idea of change for the sake of making change in order to appease any outside special interest groups, whatever the change or whomever the group may be.

I'm all for fighting special interests. Except they're damn hard to define! Are gays a special interest? Women? Men who get a sex change to become women? People who add dried fruit to their otherwise bland cereal? People who eat generic-brand bland cereal? Cereal manufacturers? At this rate we're all going to end up as randomly associated individuals who do not easily fit into any category.

Women are a special interest and for countless years they've been manipulating society to achieve their special ends. Did you know that this special interest group was once held in check? Once upon a time they couldn't vote, so they couldn't advance their radical feminist agenda. Then the first domino fell and next thing they could vote. Before long it was illegal to beat them and next thing we knew rape was being blamed on men rather than on what was clearly a scarlet woman just asking for it.

For any group which is down, politely asking to be equal or waiting to become equal will not be enough. When women in all their feminist plotting gained the right to vote it came not from waking up one morning and seeing that the world had evolved. Instead they spent years advocating, fighting, pushing. Some gave up. Some claimed that women shouldn't act that way, that voting was bad, that rewriting voting laws was too dramatic.

Do I appear to be equating gaming and voting? That is intentional. As we all go deeper into virtual worlds and as they become more important (though still secondary to the real), representation in those worlds matters more. Games, as all media, are both mirrors and projectors. They reflect society and they shape society. So while we create a fantasy of a world of strong men and emotional princesses needing rescue, the game says back that our fantasy should be a world of strong men and emotional princesses. When games act as escape they also attempt to replicate some ideal aspects of a world. We like that our characters do not starve and likely would not enjoy if we needed to log in a couple times a day to feed them. The ideal world doesn't have so much daily maintenance and it doesn't have some uppity bitch getting out of line telling me what to do when I am the man here and I will fucking do what I want even if that means killing someone! See that last bit is a slightly dangerous ideal.

Why do minority groups so often seem to be striving to be more equal, in the sense of "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"? Because that's the only way to become equal. It sound paradoxical, but consider this analogy: if you start a race running slower than someone else, can you ever catch up by running at the same speed? This isn't the end solution though. Going faster may cause the other person to speed up as well, notice all the backlash to affirmative action? Once caught up, continuing at the accelerated pace will only cause the original bad situation to reverse, which is acceptable, so there must be a way to measure equality and even out the pace when it is reached.

We may be close to that point, as far as women are concerned, in the Western world. There is still a significant gap, but it is closing very quickly, though obviously that rate is too slow for anyone stuck on the losing end of it. The current economy seems to favor women as men lose physical jobs while women are actually going to college, and graduating, more than men. So in some areas the imbalance has flipped, and so it may be necessary to stop or even reverse the trend. But overall women are still behind. Maybe at this point time will fix that 'soon enough' if we leave things alone.

But what about those devious deviant fags and their radical gay lifestyle agenda? Let me put it this way: a parliamentary figure in Uganda is pushing a law that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality, and he's supported by many conservatives in the US, though they claim that the death penalty is a bit much, preferring the clearly reasonable approach of imprisonment and conversion.

Games shouldn't be developed just to represent this or that group, but the developers should ask themselves what sort of world they are creating, what that world reflects, and what it teaches.

Torchlight some more

I finally got around to playing Torchlight again, this time with respec potions. They're not trivially cheap, but definitely worth it. I fixed up my talents (couldn't do anything about my attribute distribution) and found that it made a big difference. My previous method was pure glass cannon with the exception of my obsession with health draining on my weapons. That wasn't working so well when faced with swarms and waves of enemies who wouldn't even die fast enough to my exploding shot. So I gave in, threw on a shield and equipped a stupid pistol (gun sound is irritating, I prefer bows). Now I don't get torn to shreds so easily, though enemies with seeking poison attacks still hurt a lot, though if I was better I could outrun and outrange them.

Next time around I think I'll try a melee-based spec, though I can't imagine how that would work. I suppose it would help if I hadn't spent literally every single point on damage, with not the slightest bit of defense (except a tiny bit so I could use a few pieces of armor) and armor weighted towards damage rather than armor or magic resistances. Moving forward I've been getting more defense, which is helping, but I'm still very much a glass cannon. Maybe I should have invested in some frost abilities. Or traps, those look awesome! I'm going to have a lot to try...

I'm not very sure how far in I am, which I think I enjoy. Nor do I fully understand every mechanic, which probably gimps me, but that's what normal difficulty is for.

I've heard that Torchlight is a Diablo clone and from what I've seen of screenshots and gameplay, that's pretty much true. It makes me think of all the talk of WoW clones. Maybe the problem isn't cloning, but cloning and ending up with birth defects. Sometimes I think I'd enjoy a WoW clone for a chance to see a new world, play a slightly different way, but without going too far out of my comfort zone. But it would have to have low graphics that my computer can handle and somehow be cheap enough that I could play it and WoW. Oh. Well maybe that's the problem: why pay all over again for essentially the same game?

That knockback attack seems like it would work really well for a ranged spec...

What is the ideal amount of time to play?

| Friday, August 27, 2010
Why do we run instances so fast? I know it cannot be purely desire for the reward at the end, because I know that even when I have been motivated by loot, I have no always run quite so fast. Some of it is instance design and gear, that we can steamroll the faceroll mobs. But I suspect some of it is a terrible spiral.

If you have a lot of time to play, what do you do? Play a lot! You probably run a lot of instances and thanks to unlimited randoms, you can just keep going and going. Queues are fast, so you can easily run the same place 5 times in a day. Do that for a few days, or a few months, and yes, even the best instance ever will be incredibly boring. If instead you had less time and so ran the instance less, at the same real life passing of time, you'd be less sick of an instance than the person who played more. In fact, I think that it's not merely amount of times running an instance, but also density, that once a day for a week is not as boring as seven times in a day. This implies that less time could be more fun.

In other words, there is an optimal amount of time to play. Any more than that and repetition sets in and you hit diminishing returns in terms of in-game rewards. The first random gives frost, then mere triumph, which while still valuable, are clearly much less so. The farming loop is profitable, but if you are flying faster than they are respawning, then you're going to gradually deplete them and again hit diminishing returns.

I think this optimum amount of time has changed over time, with significant shifts with expansions or notable patches.

When it could take hours to get a group, travel to, and complete BRD or UBRS, then it fit well with a lot of time. Someone with one hour won't have enough time. Someone with five hours might find themselves unable to complete two runs, and therefore hitting diminishing returns, but the general trend is that WoW once had a longer optimal play time. Also supporting this was the higher travel times, epic flying is faster than a FP and we used to do a lot of cross-continent travel, combined with more farming being done outside, particularly reputations. Someone could more easily play for long periods of time without repetition, though many seemed to just go with repetition. But even still, a player with lots of time has lots of activities to do, and may take much longer to hit diminishing returns on any of them.

In BC the optimal time went down as instances and travel to them became shorter. The implementation of dailies did reduce the relative value of endless farming, but there did still remain special materials or items to farm, such as marks of kil'jaeden or motes.

Now in LK the optimal time is even shorter with closely backed daily hubs, short BGs (R.I.P. AV), and even shorter instances, particularly now that we're so overgeared, which is itself partly a product of the short instance cycle which fuels our insane levels of badge spending.

Of course this isn't purely a factor of the game. Some players enjoy the game itself more, especially early on in an expansion cycle, and some are less susceptible to repetition-induced burnout.

Why do they keep getting offended?

| Thursday, August 26, 2010
I've been very slowly creating a MMORPG based on a magical space civilization. It's a pretty fun game so far, but every time I try to get funding for it or any hired or volunteer help, people run away screaming as if there was something so terribly offensive about it that they could not possibly be associated with it. I keep pointing out that it's fantasy. It's escapism. It's not a representation of the real world and only an idiot would think so.

But somehow no one can seem to immerse themselves in the hunting missions to catch Neggers and sell them. What is the problem? It's a fantasy world where you hunt dark-skinned aliens. I even added cool concepts like moral alignment and faction switching: if you side with the aliens ever you instantly join their faction and become a FFA PvP target.

It's just a fantasy game, why do people get so offended?

Speaking of which: Women.

A few months back I wrote a post titled "Are women just a fad?" I was trying to make a joke about how incomes are becoming more equal, women are gaining more power, and in general in the civilized world sexism is going down, at least gradually. So ha ha, women are so great, but that's just a fad. Ha ha. Well then I kept re-reading it and trying to find the funny part. Was it the part where I suggested that equal rights are just a temporary social obsession on par with Jar Jar Binks and Pokemon? Or maybe it was the part where I pretended that a male-dominated society was the historical, and therefore natural, situation. I suppose I could have thrown in some kitchen jokes while I was at it.

But I have no problems with Irish jokes. I love to joke about how 100 years ago I'd be missing a few fingers working in the coal-fueled underground textile mill and probably have black lung. It's totally relevant right? Sure one is "from the outside" and the other is "from the inside", I'm Irish so I get to make fun of us, right? No, that's not it. Other people can make Irish jokes as long as they're sufficiently not intended to be offensive and done with a proper sense of irony or sarcasm. So what makes that so different from women getting back in the kitchen?

Ah yes, current events. Irish orphans losing their fingers in textile mills just doesn't happen much anymore, at least in the US. So to joke about it doesn't degrade the situation that I could potentially end up in. On the other hand sexism is well, what's the word? Still here. Maybe it 100 years we can make kitchen jokes with no sense of irony and a weeping Jaina will just be yet another character as she weeps next to Weeping Gradosh, the new new Warchief.

Hype and MMOs: A Historical Perspective

Let's go ahead and take a gander at the Revolutionary hype engine for America known as the United States Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Pretty fucking awesome, am I right? I mean, let's check that out bit by bit. First off "We hold these truths to be self-evident", in other words: we will not backslide on this stuff, because it just is. "That all men are created equal" it helps to know the slang of the time, so men wasn't XY men, but humanity men, meaning that we're going to have some fucking amazing class balance, right out of the box. "Endowed by their Creator" selling to the male audience for sure with that phrasing. "Certain unalienable Rights" vague, but that's marketing, and the capitalization means business: these rights are yours. "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" Wow, what a way to finish on a strong note.

Who could possibly think this would not be the best country ever? I mean, check that shit out. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, equality, endowment from a Creator. Wow.

Then it actually ships and we're stuck with these shitty Articles of Confederation. Remember those? Of course you don't. They sucked. Every state did whatever it felt like and in general not much got done. The economy was a total mess with in-game currencies being all over the place, restrictive, and useless for most of what you wanted to but, only made bearable by them being tradeable, but at horrible rates.

So then after six years they right this Constitution. It was supposed to be a huge patch that would fix it all up and what does it do? Oh somehow it goes live without a Bill of Rights. That had to be thrown in a little bit later and we all know how vague those patch notes were. We're still figuring out the theorycraft on that. Don't even get me started on ranged weapons.

But even when it was fully going, this Constitution patch didn't quite match the hype. At all. Remember that all men being created equal part? Thrown right out the window with all sorts of restrictive mechanics based on race and class. The entire female population had no representation. The first set of restrictions took almost 100 years to figure out at all and the game practically died from the fixes.

Still, it did eventually get off the ground and despite ups and downs, has had a steadily growing population. Though it was followed by a few dozen Breaking Away From the British Empire clones. Right, as if we needed yet another England-killer.

What I'm trying to say is that hype and disappointment are an eternal part of life, from the governing of my country to the many disappointing presents of socks. Except for one year that I asked for socks because my feet were cold. That worked out well. But that was more than balanced out by the year that I realized that I would never again get legos as a present. Everything was downhill from there.

So, where's the next Old Republic trailer?

Why Hand of Reckoning should still do damage

| Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I've heard the most terrible rumors, that hand of reckoning will no longer have a damage component. This is an outrage.

Let's just go through a few theoretical scenarios.

Scenario 1
A mob is flying and a paladin needs to pull it. A ret paladin. What are they going to do? KICK ITS ASS of course. Except if HoR does no damage, they can't get it to come down to die. Oh sure, they could use their taunt, but that's just weird. Why would a taunt be used by a non-tanking spec to pull?

Scenario 2
There you are seeking out a fishing spot and right next to it is a bear. A BEAR. Think about that for a sec. There is a bear at your fishing spot. Normally you could just chop it in half, but you're fishing, you have a fishing pole. So a quick bit of damage from hand of reckoning, a judgement, followed by an exorcism and maybe a whack on the head and there you go. But without hand of reckoning, all you're really doing is taunting a bear while armed with nothing but a fishing pole, and that would be stupid.

Scenario 3
Imagine a rabbit. Imagine the most terrifying rabbit known to man, and imagine that you and only you know it's there. But how best to kill such a rabbit? It is at this point in our scenario that along comes hand of reckoning. It is a spell seemingly without limits, a spell for which the taunt always justifies the damage, and it is this spell which suggests that if the goal is a dead critter, the attack should not be a melee, but rather a spell. Three spells exist for such an attack: judgement, exorcism, and hand of reckoning.

Countless others exist and should be considered, but I leave you with these three. They are more than enough of a case. Though these are trying times, let us not be swayed by madness.

Why I enjoy exploring

| Tuesday, August 24, 2010
When was the last time you found something actually new? Possibly never. Whatever you've found, someone probably beat you to it. Of course I'm no different. The odds just aren't on our sides: too many other people.

We're not going to figure out the first strat, the best DPS rotation, the new loot, the coolest quest chains. Someone will get there first. Someone else will also find the troll village and the airport and the strangely obvious and trivial path from Swamp of Sorrows to Redridge Mountains. But there is something different.

It's useless.


So useless information is free to be found as we desire. We will never be steered to the wowiki page for the strat for jumping to Ironforge. We're free to not know it and until we want to know it, we won't. Words seem to be failing me here, let me take another shot at it.

If you don't know your spell rotation, you're a noob. Someone will probably say it. Someone beside me, I mean. It's negative information, in the sense that you don't reach a new peak by knowing it, instead you only are gimped, stuck in a valley, by not knowing it. Knowing it is the default.

In contrast exploration is mostly unknown. The default is to know nothing, so every little bit you find is new to you. And likely new to many other people. You'll never get rich off it or kill a boss with it, but you'll know it. It's intrinsically rewarding.

When I found that most of Icecrown and Storm Peaks could be traveled by land mount, I was excited. It was utterly useless. Who knew? Who cared? Almost no one at all. But I knew, and that was exciting.

Remember when you first started playing and everything was new? The most irritating quest could still be fun if it was new, if it took you somewhere new, showed you a new land, a new story, a new idea. That's hard to get anymore: newness. You've done it all, read the guide for it first, and it's old even before it's new. Except exploration.

Since I wrote this, over at That's a Terrible Idea a post has come up about fun, which I think is perfectly relevant to what I was trying to say here.

P.S. Having to spirit res isn't fun.

Filling up the Care Cup

| Monday, August 23, 2010
As an expansion comes to an end, people tend to stop caring, and start quitting. Their care cups are empty. Well this isn't about them.

Instead I want to talk about the care cup in normal times. I see two main areas of empty care cups: tabbed-out PvE and the auction house. In both instances, what might be otherwise intelligent and productive people are made significantly less valuable by their lack of caring and it hurts everyone around them. This is sounding emotional isn't it? I don't mean caring as an altruistic sort of caring, but instead seeing importance in something.

Why are we so often tabbed out, auto-attacking, /following, and generally barely even playing in PvE? The care cup is empty! A great deal of content has been trivialized, meaning that paying less attention isn't going to wipe the group. Perhaps more importantly: we are encouraged to do repetitive and trivial content (random heroics, the same raid trash we've cleared for months), and consequently are incredibly bored. We receive no internal benefit and we aren't externally punished. The care cup is empty, and understandably so!

I'm not sure what can fill it up. New content? We'd need to get it pretty quickly. I'll just leave this hanging here. Onward to the economy.

Earlier I advocated "killing the speculator", essentially paying greater attention to markets and pricing in order to maximize profits rather than leaving potential gold around for speculators to grab. I was intrigued by this comment:
Speculating and bragging about it is kinda dumb though. It's like kicking the ball into a net while people are lying on the grass reading or something and running around going I scored, I scored. Easy to make gold off people who don't give a rat's arse about playing Monopoly Online with you.
Clearly what we can see is that enough people (most?) don't care much. The economy isn't the game they play. They raid or quest or farm, they don't think about numbers on the AH.

Obviously this makes them poorer than they would be otherwise. So they farm more, run more dailies, and hold off on buying that crafted epic and instead hope that it drops. The result is people in worse gear, and worse still, doing activities which might not be what they really want to do.

What can fill the care cup? Numbers, of course!

Let's consider the idea of "fun optimization", attempting to maximize total fun. Obviously fun isn't easy to quantify, but for the sake of thought, let's pretend it is. We do this frequently in real life when picking between activities. We go to one movie rather than another, we work. Yes, work is part of fun optimization. While the money->happiness conversion has diminishing returns, there are still obvious case when more money is more happiness.

Many people work crummy jobs. But they do not quit and become homeless, despite a job which reduces the happiness in their lives. Why not? Because the money they gain more than offsets it. Optimizing happiness (thought clearly not very well) has resulted in them keeping a bad job rather than live in a dumpster.

The concept of working in a game isn't an easy one to handle. It sounds wrong, doesn't it? But taking on a virtual job could be beneficial overall. I often hear people proclaim a distaste for the AH and the sub-games within it. They're not particularly rich in game and often find themselves doing something else that they also dislike. Yet the AH would tend to give a higher income, meaning they could 'work' less, possibly have more gold, and therefore their remaining time could be better overall.

Or to put it in terms of arbitrary numbers, let's imagine that I need 100g a day to offset repairs and flasks from raiding. On the side I like to PvP and am building a set with honor (this is just to cut off honor gems as a source of income). I currently spend one hour a day farming ore and sell the result for 100g by undercutting whatever is up. If I instead took a few minutes to see what the other auctions are and how ore is selling, I could get 25% more for my ore, meaning I can spend less time farming and more time PvPing. Accepting an unfun activity for a short time allows the elimination of a boring activity in favor of a fun activity.

Let's bring this back to the random heroics now. When I tab out my DPS drops in half, slowing the run significantly. However I'm not getting a proportional gain in happiness, since I'm still in this boring heroic with terrible DPS (they're tabbed out too and think I suck). The slower heroics make me even more inclined to tab out, slowing them further, and before long I've decided the solution is to only run with people who are so overgeared that even tabbed out their DPS is high. Of course I'm failing to recognize that the tabbed out overgeared person is still wasting time. Why not instead tab back in and burn through the instance in 10 minutes and go spend the extra 10 minutes I gained to not run boring heroics?

Empty care cups lead to empty care cups. Let us instead have our cups overflow and get drunk as hell!

Attempting to maximize fun shouldn't be confused with the mistaken notion that people who aren't playing the way I'd play must be having less fun and are therefore doing it wrong. Fun is a personal thing, so perhaps that apparent moron camping your alt for two hours is actually having tons of fun and would be stupid to do something else. He might still be stupid, but he's at least being rationally stupid.

Self Righteous Sunday: Illegal Marriages in Mosquess are Gay

| Sunday, August 22, 2010
This has absolutely nothing to do with WoW, but since I've stopped bothering to post on weekends (barely anyone reads then), I figure this gives me a space to post my liberal socialist terrorist agenda.

The 14th amendment was written to ensure that the children of freed slaves would become citizens, since it wouldn't make much sense to have millions of non-citizens loose in the country, and even less to emancipate the slaves and make their children sub-citizens. Though obviously it didn't quite achieve that second goal. In a sense it was an anti-racism amendment. It seems ironic that now in a climate of anti-Hispanic sentiment people are seeking to repeal it. But obviously that's a purely emotional appeal and shouldn't carry any weight in what should be a fact-based debate.

On the subject of race, isn't it a strange concept? I cannot say I'm free of the idea, since I do see race, but it sure has a lot of arbitrary elements. The Irish were once black and Hispanics were white*; and now Irish are white as can be and Hispanics are somewhere in between. * If you wanted to try to apply genetics or lineage to race, a risky business to be sure, you'd find that most Mexicans have a huge portion of European blood. While Spanish settlement wasn't on the scale of the colonies further north (as far as I've heard), it's not as if they ran off to go intermarry, and even if they were so eager, so many natives had died that the numbers just wouldn't result in a population that was radically different from Spain.

About 8% of children in the US are from illegal immigrants. That sounds like a lot, and it is. But what does it actually mean? It doesn't mean that those 8% are 'anchor babies' who allow the parents to stay legally; they cannot petition for their parents until 18 or 21, making it damn slow. The number doesn't cover whether those children stay in the US either. The relevant numbers for the 14th amendment debate would cover how often parents are given citizenship with anchor babies compared to without (indicating abuse of the law) and whether birthright is causing parents to be deported while children stay here (indicating that the law might be encouraging children to be abandoned voluntarily or otherwise).

I don't think any state should recognize gay marriages. Why should they? Ah, I sound homophobic, don't I? Quite the opposite. I don't think government should care about marriage. It is a religious or cultural ceremony and should remain as such. Should I have any sort of special status because I'm baptized? That would be absurd and a clear violation of the first amendment. Well, at least on the federal level. Rather than state-recognized marriages, we should instead have civil unions, which give the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as the current legal aspects of marriage, open to any two freely consenting adults (I recognize that I'm being arbitrary in ignoring polygamy). Marriage would be a separate institution to be handled on a personal level. If a church wants to allow or deny gay marriages, I think that is the right of the church, but that it is not the right of the state to discriminate.

This not a mosque controversy is ridiculous. It is absurd that the same groups that advocate so strongly for Constitutional rights (they tend to focus on the second amendment) are so quick to throw out the first amendment. The not mosque has the zoning permits it needs. It is on private property (I forgot their defense of property rights). It breaks no laws. Is it insensitive? Hm...

Well yes. It is terribly offensive to complete idiots who are incapable of seeing that Islam and terrorism are not synonymous. But if we are going to throw out amendments whenever stupid people cause problems, we might as well ditch the entire bill of rights, excluding the quartering one, since that never seems to come up.

I'm curious if England had this problem with Irish or Catholic community centers during their much longer period of conflict with Irish and catholic extremists. Perhaps not, since we had the sense to build all our places of worship before some jackass ruined everything. Oh wait, there's already a mosque, a mosque mosque, near ground zero. How insensitive of them to build a mosque so close to the future site of the towers.

My governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, has made this ridiculous statement "I’ve been to Pearl Harbor. I laid a wreath at Pearl Harbor. I’ve been to Auschwitz. I laid a wreath at Auschwitz. I’ve been to Ground Zero, and I laid a wreath there. I do believe that there are special places on Earth that should have a zone of solemnity around them."

How is a place of worship not appropriate for a zone of solemnity? Should we ban all German flags near Auschwitz? Perhaps. And certainly we should make sure the Quinn didn't say any prayers when he was there. Furthermore, there should be no new sushi restaurants in Hawaii, in deference to those who lost their lives.

Terrorists cannot take away our freedom. They can kill us, but they cannot take away our freedom. That's not meant to sound defiant, only to be factual. Only we can only take away our freedom, by ignoring our rights and the rights of our fellow citizens. If this mosque is blocked for any reason other than legality, then the terrorists will have won.

Exploring Dun Morogh

| Friday, August 20, 2010
If you've played a dwarf or gnome I'm sure you're familiar with this zone. Or are you?

Did you know there's a huge area that you normally wouldn't go to, possibly not even see? Ironforge has a roof and on that roof are many things.

I'm sure you've heard of the airport. I'd gone there a while back, back when I played Xolithe and was assaulted by a paladin. Up there I saw a battle between trolls and dwarves, an endless struggle without end. And then I fell off the roof. I'm pretty sure I remembered to wear a parachute cloak.

The devs seem to put a lot of time into places they don't expect us to see, such as a certain troll village.

There's a troll save near the airport, that's where the trolls come from. But elsewhere, in the direction of Gnomergan (if I wasn't disoriented), is another cave with a few trolls standing around, and one on a wolf. A small operation with a couple cages and knicknacks. Elsewhere are a few explorers at a little tent, apparently exploring a campfire.

It's better to see than it sounds, a vast sloping up and down expanse of snow. Here and there a stone tower sticks up, yellow windows glowing. I wonder what the dwarves inside think of seeing Horde riding past. But at least they are warm and safe. There is a lone Ironforge guard who spawns up there, wandering the snow. I feel sorry for him. He must be lonely. It's inevitable up there, being alone and all, especially knowing that there's a busy airport not so far away, a city below, and gryphon riders going overheard, pooping on him constantly. Poor guy.

The wrong step will kill you, or at least drop you on top of some very confused Alliance lowbie.

I never managed to find a way to Gnomeregan. Perhaps some other time from some other direction.

Where have you gone?

Taking speed makes us not want to be around you

| Thursday, August 19, 2010
I know you like to go fast and furious and just bam bam bam, fast lane fast life bam bam bam, but it pushes us away. You weren't always like this. We used to have fun without it. We used to have fun. Now you're just...

You've changed. We can't keep up with you when you're like this. You're obsessive and pushy and rude. It's as if you cannot bear to keep still.

I liked it when we just drank. You know, fill up and keep it flowing and have some water so we don't crash. Good times.

We could meet people back then. Talk a bit. Sure it wasn't always coherent, but I feel like you can't even string a sentence together anymore. No one wants to be around you when you're like this. So we're all just rushing around trying to be done with it but it's never fast enough for you.

We all like to move, but you're just so damn twitchy. And if you see a gap you just, just go in, like you can't stand to be near us either. Like we can't even stick together.

Speed is messing you up and I can't stand it anymore.

Crafting, Tetris, and crafting in WoW is amazingly boring

| Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Do you like Tetris? I know I do. It's a simple game, but still fun. It's really one of those mini-games that devs keep trying to fit into this or that game, but somehow it manages to stand on its own. Truly inspiring.

In total contrast there is crafting in WoW. It is truly impressive for the sheer boredom and tedium which it creates. I might think death mechanics are dull, but at least death looks kinda cool and the spirit ghost was the avatar for a CM a while ago, named Nethaera; she was awesome. Crafting is far less interesting than death or nice CMs.

There's no skill to crafting. There is some skill in getting materials: knowledge of sources or markets, perhaps getting them from someplace difficult such as raids. There is some skill is selling: knowing markets, knowing addons, knowing what is useful. But the crafting itself is merely a click of a button. Thankfully it may only be a click of a button; it would be far worse if making three dozen copper bracers involved having to stay around for the tedium, as our characters do.

Tetris is my solution.

This will sound more complex than it would be in practice. Material cost would be re-expressed as lines to complete and the expected ratio of materials needed. So the copper bracers might have a 4 copper to 1 rough stone ratio and a cost of 5 lines. What that means is you'll need to complete 5 lines to finish the product. The material cost will be based on the number of blocks used, converted by the ratio to give the total number of copper and stone used. If you're good at the game, you'll create very compact arrangements which use a minimal amount of material to create the lines, but if you're not doing well, then you'll have all sorts of stuff sticking up: wasted materials. There could be savings after the fact for things like 2, 3, or 4 lines completing at once, so a skilled crafter can not only avoid waste, but actually recover some materials.

In other words, play Tetris, the normal incentives for good play are still there in some form.

Speed can be varied in two ways. Most obviously, the blocks can come faster. This makes it more difficult, but will save time, possibly a significant amount if you're attempting a long craft. The other variable is number of items to craft at once, so rather than doing a 10 line craft 5 times, you can instead do a 50 line craft. This could save time from less interruption, but also materials. A player who can keep going will get into a better flow and the leftovers sticking up will be a smaller proportion of the cost. For example, a series of 5 crafts of 10 lines would have 100 blocks (the bottom is 10 wide), and perhaps 4 blocks randomly sticking out the top, for 4% waste per run. However if that was instead a 100 line block and it retained the 4 extra, which is plausible, then the waste would be only 0.4%, a significant savings over many crafts.

The number of lines needed would need a lot of adjustment to be similar to current material costs and overall to ensure that a single craft doesn't become excessively long. Perhaps initial crafts would start at only one line, with the assumption that they would be done as multiple crafts, since I don't imagine we'll ever move away from making a few dozen copper bracers, but the process of making them could be a bit more fun and potentially rewarding.

Is it time to stop the Mexicans flowing into WoW?

| Tuesday, August 17, 2010
If you live in America or you hear anything about America, you might have heard about what the media portrays as a veritable river of Mexicans, a Nile of North America, streaming across the border into the US. Some are legal, many are not, and all get labeled with the same stereotype: They don't want to learn the language or assimilate. There is some truth to this, since immigrants frequently do not want to assimilate. They want their old lives but with more freedom and money, though 'by accident' they assimilate almost completely within only a few generations.

One key factor that makes Mexicans stand out compared to other immigrant groups is that they keep coming. This means that at any given time there will be a large non-assimilated population. Whatever the actual rate of assimilation, this will make it appear to be lower. For example, using arbitrary numbers, if 10 enter each year and 9 assimilate per year, that's a very fast assimilation, but it will still result in a 'surplus' of 1 per year. This creates an appearance of a steadily growing population which refuses to assimilate, even if any given individual will eventually assimilate. If there were only a few years of immigration, then once inflow slows or stops, the assimilation rate will take over, but if immigration is ongoing over a long period of time, as has Mexican immigration to the United States, then the reverse happens.

I suspect noobs follow a similar pattern. A new player joins, is terrible, and then we all make fun of him. After a few weeks, months, or maybe years, he is better. But in the meantime, someone newer has joined and as before, they a terrible. We make fun of them, but are wondering, why are there still so many noobs? Repeat as long as needed, until one day we conclude that there must be a large portion of the player population which is irredeemably bad. Since we're not tracking individual players, we cannot see the effects of 'churn', only the apparently constant and disturbingly high portion of noobs.

I left out a lot of factors in assimilation, on purpose, because they were taking up too much of the post and ruining my WoW analogy. If for some reason you want the rest of the post, you can email me for it, but I thought it would be too distracting here.

"I will never tank ICC"

| Monday, August 16, 2010
I used to think this. It seemed inevitable, impossible, partly due to circumstance and partly due to my own choices and priorities.

My main spec is retribution. This isn't purely by choice, but is an adaptation to a guild with way too many players trying to tank. Once upon a time I did some tanking, but it's been a while. Since then I've lost my identity as a tank, since I was relegated to PUGs or randoms. Well, at some point I realized that most randoms are so trivialized by gear that it's easier to just run as ret with a mix of tank gear, just burning things down. I have no interest in PUG raids, for a variety of reasons.

The result is that my tank set is mostly stuff I picked up in ToC 25, a handful of ICC5 items, and a couple unwanted ICC25 rings. It averages somewhere around 245, meaning that it's good enough for ICC10, probably even 25, definitely enough with the buff. But that still puts me way behind the expected inflated gearscore, not just in PUGs, but in guild runs. Since we have more than enough tanks, why choose the moderately geared person? Of course this builds on itself: a non-tank doesn't get much tanking gear and the lack of gear solidifies the position as a non-tank. I could catch up a bit with ICC10 runs, but I am sick enough of it already without running a second raid with a high likelihood of PUGs.

Last night we couldn't fill the normal 25, so I joined a 10 that someone had been saving at LK. That was tricky to fill and we ended up with no priests and two warrior tanks. It didn't work well. Adds all over the place. Well, I suppose they were mostly tacked up with only a stray here and there, problem was they were stacked on me. Turns out having no short CD AoE taunt and next to no ranged abilities makes it pretty damn hard for a warrior to get aggro on adds 15 yards away (don't hold me to that arbitrary number). So they tended to congregate on the next logical spot: the person with divine storm. Sure, vigilance on that person can help, but playing taunt ping-pong just isn't much fun for anyone.

So I whispered a silly suggestion: I would be the off tank. Picking between me tanking, wiping until we quit WoW, or leaving, we went with me tanking.

It took me a minute or so to remember what I have to do to be a tank. You know, things like gear, righteous fury, switching spec, drinking again, rebuffing, righteous fury, and standing somewhere other than next to the raid poised to dart behind Arthas. And righteous fury. With that complete, I moved onto my next task: freaking the fuck out because holy fucking shit I've not tanked anything in... months? And now here I am at fucking Arthas the Lich King the last boss of this expansion unless we count the dragon which I don't, though there is something to be said for internet dragons.


Then we started it up and I immediately noticed a big problem with me tanking: I was entirely used to standing on the inside ring, meaning that if I am standing on the outside and there is a phase change, it must mean that we all have to run inside. Fortunately I was quick enough to realize that this wasn't a good idea before Arthas could cold death cold freeze me into a block of cold frozen ice cold. So not a major problem beside looking really stupid.

I'll just get it out of the way and say that Arthas didn't die and Tirion is still stuck in a block of ice.

But damn was it fun. DPS was just boring. Hit boss. Hit boss some more. Stand here. Stand here. Hit other thing. Not very engaging.

In contrast while tanking I was actually watching things, needing to think a bit. As DPS I tend to go into a daze, which works well enough because I react by habit to bosses moving, even without dialog, as if it were a dance that I've done way too many times. This doesn't work perfectly when things change, as when I was tanking and therefore standing somewhere else, but that's an unusual situation.

I had to figure out how to grab three adds which spawn around Arthas and therefore in convenient range to get hit by the tank and the fury warrior. Ideally all three would glance at the fury warrior, at which point I can AoE taunt them off him with no mess. Less ideally, one gets on the tank, in which cause I use my single target taunt. If two get on him, it's a bit more trouble, since AoE taunt will bring Arthas, but I also need my taunt for the one still on the fury, and meanwhile I have stuff already on me, blocking my view somewhat. So I throw a shield and preemptively taunt for the damage while they're crawling up and constantly try to hit my macro to fire my rocket gloves which doesn't work because my tanking gloves have a couple inches or armor plating on them rather than a rocket launcher like my DPS gloves.

It's a more interactive process.

In the end I was able to control the adds very well, though I still had to be careful with target of target taunting. And my rotation was completely fucked. But I figure that was a lower priority than keeping adds from eating the other tank, the DPS, or the other DPS. Or the healers.

So you know what? I was wrong: I can tank ICC. Or at least one boss for a couple phases, and I plan to do it again next time we raid. Dead boss or not, it's fun, and that's what matters.

Underwater isntances are lame

| Sunday, August 15, 2010
I want an instance under lava.

As I was running out of Blackrock Mountain I had a revelation: It would be awesome to have an instance portal that could only be reached by swimming under some lava.

Out of curiosity I also did some fishing. Yes, of course in the lava. I got an essence of fire, some coal, and a few old skulls.

I want to want to die

| Friday, August 13, 2010
Why is death so incredibly boring in WoW? Religious, spiritual, and philosophical concepts for death vary, but most don't seem all that boring. A few say death is nothingness, which isn't so much boring as nothing. A few have various forms of reincarnation, which is the closest to what WoW has, but none that I've found predict a ghost run to the corpse. With all the inspiration that WoW draws from mythologies and faiths, you'd think they'd have managed to find something interesting for death.

But no, death is just a temporary annoyance. Annoyance. Not a challenge, not an adventure, merely an annoyance. Death doesn't even change anything beside your gear durability, which can be repaired and is therefore just a time sink. Annoyance.

Imagine if death was a place in which we did something beside run to a corpse.

Some afterlives are of feasting and glorious battle.
Some are of righteous worship of the Lord. This might also be boring, seems more suited to an end credits than something to do after every wipe.
Some are of resurrection to higher or lower forms, or transcendence out of the cycle altogether.
Maybe that's all too repetitive, too simple.

I want to fight someone when I die.

If I die near Scourge, I want to have to fight off valkyr. If I fail, then fine, I'll do my pitiful corpse run as my spirit runs fleeing in terror. But if I succeed (keep in mind my spirit isn't wearing any gear), I come back more powerful, at least temporarily. Maybe I do a bit more damage to undead or take a bit less damage from them, 1% or so, for a few minutes. Doesn't stack, so no wiping as fast as possible to trivialize a fight. Trolls will try to capture my spirit, while demons and servants of the Burning Legion attempt to steal my soul for use in their rituals. All will fight in different ways and all will give a thematic and useful, though tiny, buff.

I should care what happens to my soul after death. Even if the naked angel claims it's not my time yet, surely it's not so simple as just running from a graveyard. How did I even get to the graveyard? Why are those never under attack? They are clearly of great importance to us heroes and there are attempts to deal with us, why has no one ever gone for the true source of our power: our apparent invincibility?

I want to enjoy death.

P.S. I am aware of a few quests which take place while dead, but they are an extremely rare exception, often being obscure chains that few people will ever find, if they bother to do many quests even.
P.P.S. Timing is a strange thing. Who trusts coincidence?

The Time has Come for an Antisocial Networking Site

| Thursday, August 12, 2010
Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., these were all supposed to help people socialize and connect and have friends. These are the wave of the future and are not going away. Perhaps I shouldn't get my Internet predictions from scripted newscasters backed up by someone trying to sell a book.

My bets are on the other side. I don't mean that Internet networking will fail. Instead I believe the social aspect will die. As we all know, people on the Internet are jerks. Would you believe I'm friendly, if slightly awkward, in real life? I don't come across as a horrible jerk, unless I'm talking to some friends who also inhabit this interweb place. But this is the Internet, so fuck you.

The future isn't in making the Internet a nicer place for college students and lazy people at work. The future is in making the Internet what it was meant to be: a place filled with sociopaths who troll each other constantly and are either looking for porn or to trick someone into looking at what would be generously described as porn. The future is in a place for assholes to get together and be assholes, together. Drama will not exist, because no one will give a shit about what anyone else thinks or said about them.

There's also the demographic which was once the foundation of the internet but which has been ignored in recent years: losers. They just want to hide in their bubbles, or are too scared to leave them, and function best, or more accurately, only function, when left entirely alone. Even the fake social nature of Facebook is too much for them. Just as the Cataclysm expansion is sometimes claimed to be about bringing back former players, so will the new antisocial networking trend be about bringing back this lost demographic.

The only real question is what we will name this place. I imagine the Japanese will pioneer it, because they're weird (scientific fact), but Americans will spread it, because we like stealing ideas and trying to get rich off them. Maybe it will have a number in it. The Internet likes numbers, especially antisocial people who prefer to reduce others to numbers.

Would we want a player economy?

| Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Yes the title implies an understatement of the player economy in WoW. But I didn't make this blog to be reasonable.

How much do crafters really matter in WoW?

With a very few exceptions, the gear we make is equivalent at best to NPC drops. In other words, our gear, in the grand scheme of things, isn't making us any more power. At best it speeds up our power gain early on, before we start getting marginal gains from raids.

Enchants, gems, and armor patches are all enhancements, and are important, but how much? These are rough calculations, but are close enough:
My paladin has 5175 AP, 589 from gems, enchants, and patches. This excludes NPC items such as my head and shoulder enchants. Berserking can be calculated to an average uptime of around 170 (numbers I found varied, this was highest, making i the most favorable to players). That makes players a total of 759/5175
1014 crit rating, about 123 from crit (I am rounding up to 1agi=1crit), and 3% crit damage, which I don't quite now how to factor in, but let's just call it 3% to crit, worth approximately 120 (1000 accounts for about half my crit chance, so I doubled and took 3%). That's a total of 243 from gems and enchants.

In total the player economy contributes about 10% of my AP and 25% of my crit. That's significant. And yet, less than a shouting orc in ICC does. Compare that to what I gaineded from leveling and getting gear from NPCs and players look well, not very significant. Consider also that there are some items which would have fewer gems slots in favor of more other stats, reducing the real contribution of gems.

Did anyone notice that I ignored the much harder to calculate glyphs? Even those probably wouldn't kill us. They're not game-changers.

If there were no player crafters of any sort, we could still down bosses. We'd go slower, we'd have to farm more gear, but the sad truth is, player crafters are a convenience and not much more.

But what if player crafters were essential?
Players could be responsible for much larger stat gains. Enchanting could be expending to cover everything rather than a select few slots. Gems could be stronger or we could add more sockets. But still, this is all surface area stuff. Unless normal bosses were as hard as hardmodes, we'd still get them down. We'd still get our gear and that gear would still account for the majority of our stats.

Let's start with a middle ground, in which players are essential, but not the total picture. Imagine needing an enchanter to remove the evil in looted gear. No stat gain, but you can't wear it otherwise. Or a blacksmith, leatherworkers, or tailor would need to refit the gear. An engineer would need to adjust the sights on guns and bows. NPCs would still provide the gear, but players would be essential. Would we actually enjoy this greater influence of other players?

I don't think so. WoW has gotten where it is, and the community has become what it is, based on other players being mostly irrelevant. We level up alone. We gear up anonymously. We might get loot in groups, but it is our loot and we need no one else to be able to use it. Once we get our hands on it, other players can go screw themselves. Thanks to scrolls we can even use our own enchanter alt to enchant our gear. Who needs a community when you have a lot of time? Needing people to make our gear usable would interfere with our independence.

Let's go even more extreme: Players as the primary source of gear. Think of EVE where players make the ships, weapons, even ammo. If you want a new chestpiece, you don't join the scheduled guild raid. Instead you hope that someone is crafting them, posting them, and not charging more than you're willing to pay. We'll overpay for a few gems, especially when dailies can feed us more than enough, but think of that crafted piece you recently bought and if it had cost twice as much, and you couldn't go to the raid and pray for a drop.

It's a strange thing that player crafting would seem to create a guarantee of gear and therefore be desirable, except it creates heavy dependence on players crafting. Whereas the RNG of a boss feels safer, because we know he's supposed to drop the item sometime and he won't charge us twice as much this week. We prefer our bubble of NPCs to protect us from other players.

Dear Blizzard, Please End Our Loneliness

| Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The worst sort of loneliness is to be socially alone despite being surrounded by people. It isn't the passive loneliness of physical solitude. That is bearable because it has an excuse. But to be alone while not alone, that is oppressive, taunting, a whole room, crowd, world, mocking you just by their presence.

Adam is yet another story. Don't let him become a statistic.

This is the world you've made, Blizzard, with your dungeon finder. We are all as alone as if we were playing with NPCs, and yet we are not, so the world mocks us and our minds know it.

No more, I say! Or maybe more if it is convenient, but not to such an extreme as the current situation. I'd not want to change instances back to 90% finding a group, 9% finding someone with the UBRS key, and 1% actually running the instance. Incidentally, it was still completely worth it. UBRS is badass.

Add a one second delay.

Before a group is tossed into the instance, wait one second. Check the stew again for players from the same servers. Try to get two together. Three, four, maybe even at a peak time the entire group could be from the same server, and all it takes is one second. That's insignificant. We wait longer than that for DPS to remember how to press the ready button.

Or go a step further and add an option to only queue for one's own server. That player will have a longer wait time, but still shorter than the old days of manual queuing. It gives players a tradeoff of time and potentially higher social interaction. Maybe it wouldn't be used much, but for those players who are no longer alone, it would be worth it.

Dear spammers

| Monday, August 9, 2010
I currently am technically unemployed, doing part-time work, so attempting to sell me business cards is not going to be very useful.

Class quests and multiple leveling zones

Class quests are awesome. Yet, Blizzard doesn't seem to like them much. Well boo to them!

They claim that they are of limited value since only one class sees them. Yet having parallel leveling zones, unless you're looping back, you won't see them all in one go. They're for other characters and give crucial replay value.

I like class quests. They help make classes more distinctive, giving some flavor, without being the 'flavor' which was so often implicated in poor class balance and design.

Blast from the Past

| Saturday, August 7, 2010
Once upon a time I tried another random BG on my paladin. I got IoC, ran into a zerg, died, rezed, jumped in a demolisher, and then realized I didn't know how to get out. Yes, I tried that. And that.

So there I was, along for the ride. Thank god for rocket gloves and exorcism. And the druid who kept coming close.

And then I saw her...

Crimefighter of Magtheridon

Of course you probably don't know who she is. I don't think she's anyone. Except to me.

To me, she was the evil of evils. Except worse.

Once upon a time reputation wasn't from dailies and random heroics with ugly tabards. Instead we went to places and farmed things and summoned big bads and kill them and raided places. One of those places was Silithus and one of those people was the warlock Xolithe. He, I, would kill Twilight Cultists and steal their clothes, using them to summon templar and gather signets needed to summon much more powerful, and not at all soloable, enemies. The templar weren't trivial at the time, easy, but not like now where you can fight an elite with one hand tied behind your back, using the crippled arm to take on a dozen noobs at once. More annoying was the clothing issue, since it didn't drop as often as you'd think consider they all wear it.

Xolithe would look this way. That way. Wait a few seconds. Look. Nothing. This guy can safely cross a street like no one else can, because he knows looking both ways. He'd be the guy checking the sky too, just to be sure there isn't a plane trying to land as he's crossing. After his first time dying to the Scourge he's not going to let it happen again. Not counting the times he summoned doomguards and the dice picked him. My point is, you don't sneak up on him. Except that one time a hunter and warrior jumped him in the Plaguelands and had terrible things happen to them. Warlocks are fucking badasses. Did you know fear used to last longer, break less, and didn't even share DRs with the succubus?

Don clothes, summon, switch back before combat starts, start fight, get charged out of nowhere by Crimefighter's warrior friend. FUCK! But hey, no problem. Sure he's immune to fear and all that, but switch to a voidwalker and there's a bit more durability, or maybe set him on fire and try some draining. I have options. Until she shows up then I'm stunned and repented and he's getting heals and now I'm being hit in the face from both sides of my head at once.


On an unrelated note, I miss the days when people actually ran into other people. The 2v1 and wasted clothes weren't so good, but I liked feeling like the world was inhabited by something beside scraps of programming.

On a happier note, one of my old friends from Word of Redemption has come out of hiding. I might actually use RealID. Or we could just keep using IM or maybe our old vent server. It was nice to talk to her again. Maybe I could get her to join Collective Conscious.

Incidentally, time is going in a loop now

| Friday, August 6, 2010
This clip, I swear I have seen it before, but... why? I have no good reason to have seen it, nor with the exact same description. Either someone is plagiarizing old youtube comments, or time is going in a loop. Clearly the first makes no sense at all, because God knows there are much better sources of stolen material.

Yesterday I watched the Colbert Report for the day before and he was endorsing someone who had no problem with nutcases having guns. Colbert used a joke I remember about his word choice being politically correct. I remember this! It could merely be a reused joke due to conveniently re-happening news, which is itself just more evidence of the time loop. But to top it off, I was playing one of the Celtic leaders in Civ4 at the time. Not everything is exactly the same: I know the leader is different since I didn't have the needed expansion until semi-recently. And the circumstances under which I am meeting my new sister and my old brother at a local Greek restaurant are not exactly the same. But that's still more coincidence!

Time is looping, but it's slightly off. What's next an election? SHIT! A terrible summer job? Oh no...

Clearly this is a great opportunity. I can now predict the future by remembering the past. I can do it all right this time. Or will that screw up the future? Historians say that history goes in cycles and if we don't learn it we're bound to repeat it. Maybe I need to take some memory aids so I can escape.

P.S. Fox news is arguing against gay marriage because the benefits will raise costs on business owners, a cost which obviously wouldn't be a problem if they were all in heterosexual marriages.

Honesty in Gaming

I don't know if this game is good or bad. I don't really have much interest in playing it. But I do appreciate the honesty.

Gratuitous Space Battles

"Who needs backstory? Who needs resource-gathering? Diplomacy is so last year. Gratuitous Space Battles cuts right to the chase of sci-fi strategy games, and deals with large, completely unjustified space battles between huge opposing space fleets."

Professions are the fourth talent tree

Once upon a time the arcane tree for mages wasn't particularly good. It had some decent talents for enhancing the other trees, but it wasn't something you'd focus much on. It didn't have a distinct way to play. There were no arcane mages. But there were a whole lot of mages who put points in arcane. Presence of mind combined with a spell power trinket and arcane power and pyroblast... that was something everyone had to try, and then do endlessly through the BG as the only tactic they'd figured out. This is why God gave me grounding totem. This isn't the point.

Disc was also like this: an enhancing tree rather than something someone would actually play. In theory these are all gone. But one remains: Professions.

Professions are the fourth talent tree. Fifth as well. It sounds silly, doesn't it? How can I possibly compare professions to talents?

Imagine a tank skipping stamina talents. Or skipping jewelcrafting and blacksmithing. Both negatively affect their performance, but somehow the professions aren't so strictly enforced. Very few guilds dictate professions, instead they are usually handled voluntarily, sometimes for the benefit of the group, sometimes not.

Or there are the PvP talents, PvP professions, such as engineering. In certain situations an engineer may play significantly differently than a normal player, just as someone with PvP talents may have abilities which you do not expect. Some paladins can break out of stuns without a trinket (talent), stun you without a hammer (profession), survive cliffs without a bubble (profession), and sprint without rerolling a rogue (alchemy or engineering).

What are you doing with your fourth talent tree?

What's your favorite color?

| Thursday, August 5, 2010
As I was once again standing in ICC thinking about how much I've grown to hate it, I started thinking about the appearance of it. I realized I don't like blue. Or grey. Or dark grey. Or the dullness which defines places like ICC and ToC.

I decided to think about places which don't sicken me. And so I made my short list of Barrens, Durotar, and Molten Core. They're wonderful oranges and reds. Soothing in a way. Though it might be something other than color, since I don't care much one way or another for Redridge. But I also like EPL. Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes are good too, though that might be some sort of twisted nostalgia.

Of course some greens are nice. Un'Goro Crater is probably the greenest example, but I also like Hinterlands. Mixing in purple just makes it sickening, as in every nelf area ever.

And then there's Desolace. The problem isn't the poor layout, it may be the worst placed Horde FP in the history of everything, it isn't the seemingly random shifts in mob level, and it isn't the swimming quests. No, the true problem is that the zone makes you wonder if you accidentally switched your monitor to greyscale.

What's your favorite color?

We should go to Ravenholm

| Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I started playing Half Life 2 again recently. I don't know why. During it I've noticed a theme: I really like burning places with zombies. In WoW it's Stratholme. In HL2 it's Ravenholme.

If you're not familiar with HL2, here's the general concept of the zombies: these parasites called head crabs, which are about the size of a very fat cat, latch onto a person's head. They then control them. The person is still alive, and from the sound of it, quite aware of their situation and the pain involved. For the most part they are slow and don't hurt much, but they make the most awful sounds. The worst is the one carrying the poison ones. It sounds so sad, yet relieved when it dies.

Ravenholme is a town that got bombarded with shells filled with headcrabs, resulting in a lot of fire and zombies. And Father Grigori.

I've decided that WoW needs someone like this holy man. He is clearly insane, but clearly a strange sort of genius, and perfectly devout. He remains in the town to save his flock. This means killing zombies. I find him to be an inspiration, the kind of man I'd hope to be when the zombie/alien invasion comes. Oh yes, the Earth of Half Life has been invaded by aliens, alien bugs, and zombies. The hero is a physicist who more than once is sent to stabilize a reactor core (nuclear would be trivial compared to this technology) and whose appearance causes joy among all nearby. He's followed by a hot chick who is good at killing zombies with her bare hands or gun. In other words, it's a nerd's dream.

I created my paladin before I knew about HL2, but somehow I ended up on a similar path. I like to kill zombies, I'm an engineer, and my character is her own hot chick. She is a blood elf after all. But perhaps she could be a bit more like Father Grigori rather than Gordon Freeman. A 'moderate Scarlet', meaning just as fanatical and crazy, but not as prone to murdering innocents. Unless they wander into one of my traps.u

How to make a goblin jealous

| Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Step one: Gather up WoW gold-making ideas from across the blogosphere, drawing heavily from your own blog.
Step two: Attempt to sell this collection for money.
Step zero: Think of this scam before the goblin.

You might remember a little bit of a drama outbreak after Marko attempted to recruit Gevlon for some marketing of his gold-making guide. Marko came away looking like a scamming, petty idiot who brought up pointless arguments to defend himself. Gevlon was entirely unaffected, since he responded in his usual manner: screenshots and being a self-absorbed asshole.

At the time I foolishly thought that Gevlon had refused because there's too much free information or not enough money. This seemed to just be part of his friendly, helpful advice that he puts out now and then. But wait a minute...

If the guide is such a waste, such a scam, then who is affected? Idiots! Morons! The incompetent and lazy people who cannot find the free information. Surely Gevlon is not protecting them. He's never shown any inclination to do so. In fact he's bragged about his own in-game scams.

Clearly there wasn't enough money in it. Right? Let's think of the math on this. In all likelihood Marko would have made the ad for him, even making multiple sizes so it would fit perfectly. This means that the actual time spent is only a few minutes. Even if he only got 10% of the sale and had only a hundred sales ever, that's still $100 for five minutes of work, or about $1200/hour. It's not quite free, since nothing is, but it's in a strong competition with picking up $20 bills that someone dropped on the street.

There must be something more to it...
"I was somewhat pissed by his ridiculous claims."
"to bash him for annoying me"
"They don't work on goblins. They just get pissed"
Gevlon is angry? Anger is not objective and rational! It is social rage, the bringer of hatred, which is supposedly the opposite of love. All it takes is a tick of the metronome to become a flower-waving hippie.

Why so angry?

In the end it's quite simple: Someone else thought of and acted on it first.

On an unrelated note, as I was perusing the drama posts, I found these strange bits.

"On the other hand the risk is high. Most of my readers are not idiots and lot of them don't like me at all, they come here to bitterly argue and troll. They would love to catch me doing something like that."
That sounds suspiciously like caring what other people think or say. Surely an anti-social with comment moderation on is immune to any negative effects from this. So in fact there is zero risk, except for socials.
"It looks funny when you read it, but it does work on social people. They don't want their peers to have bad opinions about them."

"They don't work on goblins. They just get pissed, or see an opportunity to increase traffic"
Attention whore?

"That's not something that will lure me to risk my blog's credibility"
Credibility is a lazy mental shortcut used by people who cannot objectively evaluate information.

If by chance you're looking for a gold blogger who isn't a [terrible person], good luck. If you have found one, send a link. The closest I've found is a commenter, the Gnome of Zurich, who has not quite started his own blog. Maybe if I keep poking him he'll get going. Post or I will punt your tiny gnome ass so far, you'll end up far away from the location where I punted you from!

My first grind and exploitation attempt

| Monday, August 2, 2010
Once upon a time I was a teenager without much money to spend on games, nor the computer to handle new ones, so I spent a lot of time playing demos of older games. One which was particularly fun was a RPG placed in Roman times Britain called Nethergate. The demo ended with my party burning alive in a wickerman, due to a curse from some witches. It's been a while, so details are fuzzy.

I wanted to play more of the game, to explore an area beyond the witch hut, but to go past I'd have to deal with them. The obvious solution is to kill them (actually this is kinda dumb, since it's unlikely that the game mechanics were set up that killing the witches so early would just remove the curse). My party was far too weak to defeat them. So I did what anyone would do: I leveled up.

One problem: the demo wasn't designed for me to level up far enough to beat them. The game didn't have unlimited enemies, or it wasn't supposed to, but I wasn't going to let that stand in my way. Instead I found a triggered Roman patrol, which I could kill for XP. Except after defeating it, I would hit a wall, a message about "it's too dangerous to go any further".

Here I combine brilliance with stupidity. My initial logic, defeat witches to play the whole game, was flawed. But my solution to the XP barrier, well that was my first exploitation, or should I say "creative use of game mechanics".

Rather than fully defeating the patrol, I'd instead kill all but one and then flee from the battle. I got a depressing message, but I also got the XP from the kills. Retreating itself was somewhat slow, having to be done manually for 4 characters, and the battle itself only netted 4 kills, so it would take a lot of fight-retreat cycles to level up much. I did it anyway and got my characters to a much higher level than was intended. And so was my first grind, a process for which I did not yet have a word, and my first exploit, which also seemed to be nothing more than innovation.

I never did kill the witches. Eventually I got bored of the process, but I definitely spent many hours on it. I was encouraged by my ability to put a noticeable dent in their health, meaning 10% or so. And maybe that was only one of them. But it indicated mortality! Still, at some point I realized that the game wasn't written such that killing them would remove the curse, that the demo ends how it ends.

While I was trying to find this game, since I'd forgotten the name, I found that the company remade it, called Nethergate: Ressurection. I've not played that yet, but if by chance you're looking for an oldish RPG (original is 1999, so not old), I imagine it's a good bet. There's still a demo, which I've downloaded but not played yet.

Incidentally this was also where I first learned about class scaling. Somehow my melee characters were gaining power faster than my casters, though I think they were all gaining the same XP, but eventually they were able to spend point on cross-class skills, learning some casting, which was disproportionately powerful for the point cost, due to the other stats they'd gained from leveling.
Powered by Blogger.