Announcing: Reasonable Post Day

| Thursday, September 30, 2010
Back when I encouraged Whiny Post Day I found a particularly biting response: Having a Whiny Post Day among bloggers is like having a Fly Aircraft In The Sky Day among airline pilots. Point taken.

So this time I hope that we can all join in a Reasonable Post Day. On this day, by this day I mean that day, referring to the day known as Reasonable Post Day, I will attempt to write a reasonable post. This will be a huge challenge, but I might be able to write a reasonable post. Maybe. It's the effort that counts. So join me in this effort and for one day we might be reasonable. Reasonably so.

October 30th, before Halloween, let's all be reasonable. That's one month from now, not counting variation due to time zones and posting time. Note that a month is not a standardized unit of measurement, but strangely enough, it varies depending on the month. So when I say one month from now, I am using now to refer to September 30th, implying a date a non-standard month later of October 30th, which is supported by my earlier reference to that date.

Non-coincidentally, this corresponds with the day that a comedian is holding a rally to restore sanity while another comedian who used to work for him holds a counter-rally to keep fear alive. One could infer from this situation that in fact all sanity and reasonableness has been lost. I cannot assist in the sanity, but perhaps the reason, which is why I encourage all of you to for once, write something reasonable.

P.S. Thank you commenters who can tell the difference between 30 and 10. Your contributions have been noted and integrated.

This just in: Gnomes still short

| Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Dark Legacy Comics
Despite what the name would suggest, it's not a long-running vampire fanfic set in the upper crust of Stormwind. I know, it fooled me too.

And it's totally relevant to my previous post.

Are quests any better than a grinding guide?

Raise your hand if you don't read quest text beyond whatever you need to complete it. Okay now raise it if you don't even read that much and just follow the addon that tells you where to go.

Really, that many? Wow. Makes me wonder why they bother to make quests.

If a quest tells no story, which it effectively doesn't if no one reads it, then how is it any different than a grinding guide? Kill this. Kill that. Explore here. Kill there.

They're grinding guides with bonus xp.

How boring! But efficient!

If WoW had no quests and instead just had an in-game guide which updated for the most efficient mobs for xp, rep, or coin, would you still play it?

The most obscure quest in the game

| Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Taunting donkeys.
Donkeys with a taunt.
Plagued wildlife.

Are you confused yet? Are you wondering what the hell I am talking about? Do I make no sense at all? Excellent, I've been trying for a more consistent writing style.

I was reminded of this by Syl's post about a shoe shiner in Dalaran. Tip: be nice to him or he might kill you. "Now go home and get your fuckin' shinebox."

I only discovered this quest a month or so ago. By chance really.

Here's how it works: at Light's Hope Chapel there's a dwarf who leads a donkey train to another Argent Dawn camp, south of Plaguewood. He goes down and along that long scar. But here's the catch: there isn't a quest.

He just shows up at Light's Hope with his donkeys and immediately gets zerg rushed by a dozen Scourge and animals. Fight them off, save the donkeys and he'll rest up and head out again. Don't save them and he cries a bit. No quest to save the donkeys.

If you do save them, he eventually heads out. The donkeys appear to have some sort of pulsing, very long range AoE taunt. I'm talking 40-50 yards at least. Your screen with draw a mob and by then it's already running toward the donkeys.

Save the donkeys, which is trivial at 80. Earlier it wouldn't have been too hard even, but a bit rushed. Also, there's no quest to escort him.

Finally they get to camp and the dwarf gives you a quest. Yes, you get the quest after the hard part. Take the quest, wait ten minutes for someone to show up to sign the papers, and turn them in for your choice of an old currency.

The actual quest only shows up under very specific circumstances far away from the quest hub and inn, not even near a quest target.

Do you have a more obscure quest? Class-specific excluded.

The Death of Vanilla has been very extremely overexaggerated to a high degree

| Monday, September 27, 2010
You know what bugs me? Pundits. They are so full of shit. They get on their horses of above-average height and tell us not just what to think, but also try to redefine reality to fit their preconceived absurd notions of what the world is.

They're not even limited to real life media. They've infected the gaming media, including the blogosphere, with absurd distortions of what the world is. And for once I'm not referring to Gevlon. No, I instead mean the elitist vanilla-lovers who think that Outland starting at 58 destroyed the 'great late vanilla instances' and that the game is ruined forever now. They sit up there preaching about how no one ever runs stratholme or scholomance except a very rare random instance person or level 80s looking for achievements.

Idiots. Total fucking idiots. Have they ever actually tried queuing for those places? I bet they haven't. Idiots. Ignorant god damn idiots. Fuck. I mean get a fucking clue before you run your damn mouths. Especially you, person with the fake Russian name who whines constantly that vanilla was killed by the Outland gear reset. Yea, you. Try playing around level 60 before you form an opinion.

My mage is now level 63* and has never been to Outland. Since the mid 50s he's been playing in the Plaguelands and queuing for Stratholme and Scholomance. These are no longer available as randoms at 58, meaning that if players simply follow the path of quick rewards, they will either never pop or only be populated by players under level 58. Quite the opposite.

He's found a handful of groups, most of which were populated by players above level 58. That means that players who could be running Outland for bags of useful items, higher xp, and short queues, are instead specifically queuing for older instances. There are players specifically choosing older content with fewer tangible rewards (in a virtual sense). Why? Perhaps for achievements, but not all have been lacking the achievement. Maybe they are stupid. But stupid doesn't really answer much.

Players are specifically choosing to run these instances and are exhibiting unusually high levels of patience for pulling speed and tolerance for wiping. Also unimaginably low risk aversion. The other day my mage cleared live side Stratholme with a resto shaman and hunter. It took a very long time, certainly over an hour and a half. We had deaths and wipes and a whole lot of drinking and slow pulling. The hunter wasn't great, but damn was he persistent. Same for the shaman. This wasn't an isolated incident. There seem to be a lot of people dropping either at group formation or shortly after, leaving behind a small group that would not be expected to complete the instance. Yesterday I did Scholomance with a warlock, hunter, and my mage. It was slow and we all made mistakes that killed us, but we stuck in to the end. This sort of play has been a lot more fun than what I encounter outside of this 'dead zone'. The couple times I have run with a full group have been a bit boring, since higher levels and improved talents mean that the instances aren't hard at all without some extra challenges.

Players really want to do this content. They want it so much that they will endure queues which can go past an hour, runs that go even longer, and risky pulls often without a full group.


I'm sure many are like me: they liked the old vanilla content and they don't like hellfire peninsula. Leveling speed for leveling fun is a trade they are willing to make. Maybe with more enjoyable leveling they aren't so inclined to get it over with. And maybe they enjoy the inevitable challenge of content that they might otherwise not see.

Based on the very long queues, those who choose to do this content are unusually unusual. This doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that they exist at all. But why should it? I chose to and hoped to be able to do the content. Why wouldn't others?

I have to give some credit to the cross-server group-making tool. Without it I'm not sure there would be the population needed to form groups at all. And while an hour queue is long by current standards, it's not radically longer than it might take to form a group and travel to the instance in the vanilla days. I even enjoy the longer queue somewhat as it allows me time to quest, to relax, to play at my own pace and experience parts of the world which so often seem forgotten. As for the longer instances, it's remarkable how much more fun it can be to stop and smell the bosses.

Though I still want to point out that UBRS is considered a raid, since it technically is, meaning that people in the normal lfg tool cannot queue for it, instead needing to use the raid tool. I don't imagine that helps much with forming groups, but as of writing this I've not yet had a chance to try it, still working on Stratholme and Scholomance.

I'm almost dreading the time when my mage is too high to queue anymore or when he stops getting any experience. While I'm willing to trade leveling speed for more fun, if I stopped leveling entirely, I'm not sure I'd enjoy it much then. It is worth noting that I still have my UI which for whatever reason has no XP bar, meaning that I have little awareness of leveling speed beyond knowing that green mobs and green quests and no bonus random instance xp are slower than yellow mobs, yellow quests, and a bonus at the end of every random.

I know there are a lot of other players who are nostalgic for vanilla, who miss some of the aspects of it that we preferred, or who are just sick of hellfire peninsula. I encourage you to slow down and go where you want. You don't have to chase the xp. You can chase the experience instead. Run the instance you want. The more who do it, the shorter the queues will become. Vanilla will never come back, not with this, not with a old world raiding guild. If anything, come Cataclysm it's going to be gone completely. Naxxramas is happening again.

If you weren't there for vanilla, this is your last chance. Slow down and see what's around you. What you missed before. It isn't going to be what it was. But whether you run the 5-mans at 63 or go back for an achievement raid at 80, it's at least something. You will have some idea of how things were. And that's a good thing. It gives you ideas to pick from. You can see what was better and you can see what was worse. At the very least seeing what was worse can give greater appreciation for what WoW is today. Can you imagine a time when it was most efficient to not to any quests until honored, or even revered? That's just one of many absurd mechanics which pitted logical gameplay against the reward structure.

Vanilla is dead, short-live vanilla.

Quote of the before the week ends

| Sunday, September 26, 2010
Supposedly the week starts on Sunday. That's silly. So I say it is still last week. Just in time for this quote by Larisa:
In BRD no one says a word - how could you in the span of 20 seconds? Are we even sure that we're actually interacting with real players? For all I know they could as well be computer generated. It doesn't feel a bit like an MMO anymore. It's rather an MSO, if that term even exists? Massively Singleplayer Online game.

It's a bit depressing, but true in some ways.

A while back I took a class called technology and society. One of the ideas we touched upon was the worship of efficiency. We strive for efficiency. We want faster, cheaper, more, now! Somewhere along the way we lose track of why we're being efficient. The purpose is lost in the endless striving for efficiency.

WoW is an extremely efficient game these days. Downtime is the lowest it has ever been. Rewards are faster and more consistent. It is a finely tuned machine. But for what? What does it do efficiently and is that something we really want?

I have a theory that social interaction is a waste of time. Or more accurately, it is caused by a waste of time. You know who invented games? Farmers. These guys work their asses off a few times a year to prepare fields, plant, harvest, and sell. I'm understating it, but between those times, they have what to do? They can't punch a time clock to make the plants grow faster. Weeding, pesticide, and keep the rats away, those won't take up all their time. So they invented games, art, and society. What else is there to do?

We don't read books when we're racing. We read them when we're sitting and waiting. We read for the bus to come and we read for the bus to get to our stop. We read for the doctor to be ready. We read for the rain to stop and we read for the oven to heat up and we read for the bread to bake. And we talk, we whistle, we think.

In WoW we don't read anymore. We don't wait for the flight path and we don't wait for the boat. We don't talk when we're racing.

What does WoW do efficiently and is that something we really want?

I'll be at the bus stop with my book, if you'd like to talk about it.

Buy them! They look cool!

| Saturday, September 25, 2010
As anyone on a RP server (not me) can tell you, stats become obsolete, but appearances are forever. The funny hats, fancy robes, strange weapons, they are eternal. Or at least until Blizzard reuses the model. But still a BoE is more valuable than a BoP that people need to quest or raid for.

This leads me to Gnomeaggedon's woe: Got a pile of Tankard o' Terror. Shame there are 300+ on the AH already ranging from 13g to 700g. Hello vendor, can I exchange for a mount?

13g? Really, 13g? That supply will never grow once Brewfest is gone. They will go up in value. Not for the stats, and they aren't going to be selling for the thousands that they once sometimes did. The stats are outdated now. There's not so much demand anymore for a BoE 226. But for a giant mug that you can hit people with, that never goes out of style.

So if you see them ridiculously cheap and you have some spare bag space for a few weeks, maybe months, buy them up. Worst case scenario your shaman alts will look badass for a couple levels.

Dwism is stupid and European and I'm redundant

Have you ever noticed that Europeans are really unpatriotic? When was the last time you saw one salute the American flag or sing the anthem? NEVER! Except maybe when Obama visited them, which clearly doesn't count.

If you have to explain a joke

Apparently people, by that I mean, person, thought I was making fun of the Amish yesterday. In the future I will try to stick with more easily understood humor such as patronizing women.

First off, I want to clarify something: the Amish are not actually low-tech or anti-technology. They are instead a lone group (or really several groups with shared values) which has managed to maintain community and family by taking a hard stand against anything which would interfere with it. This doesn't mean rejecting technology, but it does mean approaching it differently.

Let's go ahead and look at the attempted humor and find who or what each part is making fun of.

When a trend sweeps the world, no one is left out, not even the Amish. They're really not so different from you and I, with many of the same concerns, troubles, and need to share really pointless information with people we know. But enough intro, let's get to the fun stuff: the technology!

The introduction is a parody of the usual "hot new trend that everyone is in on!" media frenzy. You can substitute anything from rappers using youtube to grandmothers using facebook.

We're all used to Twitter and its 140 character limit. But the Amish have jumped ahead of us with an impressive one-page limit. That's right, as many characters (make them tiny to fit more!), even drawings, that you can fit on a page. Amish teens, even adults, have been flocking to the popular service Letter, which allows users write, draw, or scribble anything they want on a piece of paper and then by adding it to a paper-thin 'envelope' and a CPU-sized 'stamp', send it anywhere in the world. Wow!

During work one day I was amused at how Letter and Twitter sound a bit similar and maybe Letter is a lower-tech version of Twitter. I figured it was a good opportunity to poke fun at the character limit and the death of carefully written letters. This wraps up with a reversal of the usual worship of small technology.

But as we all know, we can't tweet our entire identities. Fortunately we have Facebook. Not to be left out of the trend, Amish teens have adopted the compact technology Book which effectively binds together a collections of Letter messages, know as Lits, which can then be traded around and written in. However the most common usage is by the major publishing companies who are using Book as a medium to sell and share stories and ideas around the world, even beyond the Amish community. In fact, I picked up several Books just the other day.

We don't read as many books as we used to. Also it seems that any new technology is seized upon as the hot new way to sell stuff.

Ever innovative, they've even created a low-cost alternative to camera phones with a bundle of services known as Shouting, Long-Term Memory, and Descriptive Skills. It has even been suggested that extensive use of the LTM and DS services can improve test scores and life outcomes.

Comments were accurate: I was mocking a culture and that culture wasn't the Amish: it was our own. We forget everything the next day and no longer use words for any specific meaning, but instead to convey generic feelings of good or bad, such as fascism meaning really bad rather than describing a system of government (which historically has not worked particularly well).

I was unable to reach any Amish for comment due to range and connection difficulties with my end of the Shouting service.

This was just me being silly.

Besides, even if I was attempting to offend the Amish, is this really the best medium?

Tech News Focus: Amish Social Networking

| Friday, September 24, 2010
When a trend sweeps the world, no one is left out, not even the Amish. They're really not so different from you and I, with many of the same concerns, troubles, and need to share really pointless information with people we know. But enough intro, let's get to the fun stuff: the technology!

We're all used to Twitter and its 140 character limit. But the Amish have jumped ahead of us with an impressive one-page limit. That's right, as many characters (make them tiny to fit more!), even drawings, that you can fit on a page. Amish teens, even adults, have been flocking to the popular service Letter, which allows users write, draw, or scribble anything they want on a piece of paper and then by adding it to a paper-thin 'envelope' and a CPU-sized 'stamp', send it anywhere in the world. Wow!

But as we all know, we can't tweet our entire identities. Fortunately we have Facebook. Not to be left out of the trend, Amish teens have adopted the compact technology Book which effectively binds together a collections of Letter messages, know as Lits, which can then be traded around and written in. However the most common usage is by the major publishing companies who are using Book as a medium to sell and share stories and ideas around the world, even beyond the Amish community. In fact, I picked up several Books just the other day.

Ever innovative, they've even created a low-cost alternative to camera phones with a bundle of services known as Shouting, Long-Term Memory, and Descriptive Skills. It has even been suggested that extensive use of the LTM and DS services can improve test scores and life outcomes.

I was unable to reach any Amish for comment due to range and connection difficulties with my end of the Shouting service.

Are Wizards bad for fantasy?

| Thursday, September 23, 2010
As we all have never been told, the dungeon finder interface is powered by a wizard waving his hand. This is the same wizard who powers things like whispering across continents and respawns.

Most wizards are pretty good for fantasy. In some cases even essential.

But when a wizard waves his hand, anything is possible. Which means that perhaps nothing is possible. We're left with the troubling question: "was that a wizard, or just a vast network of servers?"

Too much hand waving makes us wonder if there's no hand at all.

Can I trust or even believe in the wizard off the screen who does everything? At some point I cease to believe that a wizard did it and all immersion is shattered. Maybe we need fewer wizards and more visible, potentially mundane explanations. Engineering, ancient ley lines, tears in the fabric of the universe, or even just a wizard who we sometimes see actually do something, even interact with.

Or maybe I should just start to worship him.

I want to talk to you about a personal friend of mine known as Wizard. Have you been waved at by his mysterious hand?

About Me

| Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I'm sure you've figured out something about my online persona. Maybe you could tell me what that it. But what about real life? Do you have any idea how awesome I am? Probably not.

But during a recent visit to Australia to campaign for the Australian chapter of the Tea Party, I happened to run into a priest of the pugnacious sort. As most foreigners are, she was eager to have pictures of my lovely image. So I allowed a short photoshoot of myself hard at work, writing.

Here are two of the best on her blog

Coming up tomorrow: Are Wizards bad for fantasy?

Fun Relativity Theory

| Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I wanted to highlight this excellent and relevant post over at Bio Break: Yes, they are better. Or not. Does it matter?

The last couple weeks I was considering 'better' in terms of mechanics and reached the conclusion that for all but the most extreme cases, there are not good or bad mechanics. Instead there are mechanics which fit a player or not. So better and worse are individual cases, not broad, community-wide truths.

Fresh Food

Why do we all willingly eat old, stale food? Do our characters have no taste? Are they Irish orphans who are glad to have stale bread crusts rather than their usual ration of however much grass they can get from the cows before the guards come and throw him in debtor's prison? He's going because his father died before his sentence was up, hence being an orphan, and someone has to fill the sentence. It was a very just legal system in those days.

I want fresh food!

But as we all know, the only way to get anything done in WoW is to give stats or achievements for it. An achievement for serving fresh food would only cause a brief bubble of good food, leaving us hungry for more. That leaves stats.

I propose that food cooked with ingredients less than one day old and then eaten within two hours grants a "fresh food" buff which is slightly more powerful than the normal buff from the food.

It's time we stopped accepted month-old fish feasts cooked with even older fish, which I might remind you was never frozen or even refrigerated, not even packed in snowballs!

A game designed for lazy morons

| Monday, September 20, 2010
There's a TL;DR in the middle, just in case this turns out to be too long to scroll to the end of. It is in the middle, not necessarily relevant to the context. It's the bolded part.

Isn't everything in LK mindless and easy? I mean really? When you look around how can you think anything other than "wow this is mindless and easy"? It was so much harder back in the day. Back then things were hard and complex and we had to do hard and complex things to get gear.

Lol. No.

Let us see what was so complex, so devastatingly complex in vanilla, that it kept out the idiots.

Shall we go first to the Blackrock Mountain? Yes. Let's go.

And here is Blackrock Depths. A marvelous instance to be sure. But let's find the hard part. Aha, here is undoubtedly the hard part: the Lycaem. I lied. It's not an especially hard room, it just requires having an AoE, which wasn't as common back then. Not harder in any skill sense, just more restrictive. But maybe morons don't like games that exclude them for seemingly arbitrary reasons.

Fine, let's go to MC. Let's see the many common forms of stupid:
Failure to loot core hounds
Living bomb in the wrong place
Using DoTs on the wrong boss
Not stopping DPS at the right times
Warlocks somehow failing at the simple task of keeping one enemy as their target.
These are trivial tasks. People often failed at them. I failed at all of them at least once. Am I stupid? I don't think so. But I know I sometimes do stupid things. Was everyone else stupid? Again, I don't think so. Or if so, no more or less than now. Instead the situation has changed and we should be wary of the fundamental attribution error.

If I sometimes seem nostalgic for a simpler time in WoW, know this: there actually was a simpler time in WoW. Stats were simpler. There used to not be spell power. Certainly no haste. Crit was an easy thing to calculate, with no ratings, just a straightforward percentage. 2% crit. 1% hit. Very simple.

These days we have haste caps, crit caps, armor pen caps. Talents fundamentally alter rotations. Set bonuses too. We have gems and glyphs. We have a hundred new complications. WoW is more complex and when you make something more complex, people will appear less intelligent. They didn't change, the situation did. Give an eight year old kid an addition problem and it's easy enough. Give him a really simple integral to compute and he's going to be lost, even if it is really simple*. He didn't get stupider; the situation changed.

You want lazy and stupid? Try making gold in vanilla. One moment, I need a tangent break.

Gold Elitists are Idiots

Dear people who think the gold cap is elite,
Good for you, now shut up, no one gives a shit. No really. There's been such incredible inflation that these days anyone can get the cap if they care. Just most people don't because it's pointless. You might as well collect strange hats or pets. Hell, the pets might be better, at least some of them are funny to see. As for how easy it is to get gold from 'morons', you're the true morons. You see, this is a game, and when gold is trivially easy to get, people justifiably don't care if an item is 50% above a 'fair' value.

If you think you're such damn economic geniuses, go play EVE. I'm sure you'll love it. Or you'd crash and burn horribly. Literally.

If you had gotten the gold cap in vanilla when having an epic mount was a big deal, then I'd be somewhat impressed. When 1000g was tricky, then the cap, something around 250 times higher, was impressive. Maybe even in BC it would be noteworthy. But now? Getting the gold cap now is about as impressive as downing Rag. Maybe less, since downing Rag would either require some moderate class skill to solo or social skills to get other people to go with.

I know you're not all self-aggrandizing egomaniacs with no sense of proportion. Some of you pass on useful information. But then there are the ones who cannot seem to avoid labeling people based on how they play a side aspect of a video game. I'm not saying I've never called someone stupid or never wondered about the intelligence or attention of someone standing in a fire, but I take the time to think, thereby gaining the ability to recognize that isolated cases of lack of attention or ignorance are a terrible foundation on which to build a model of the community as a whole.

Let's get back to vanilla.

Gold Farming in Vanilla was Boring-er

Farming gold in vanilla meant either mindlessly killing mobs for drops or mindlessly killing mobs for gold. There was no gold from dailies, not even from max level quests. As mindless as you might consider dailies, this was even lower.

I might sound as if I'm bashing vanilla. I'm not. Simpler or more complex are not better or worse, merely different. In many ways I preferred simpler fights. Needing FR, NR, FrR, they weren't 'fun', and they definitely caused bag problems, but they also acted as content slowers, so we weren't burning down a raid the week it came out, and kept older instances relevant in a form other than randoms for badges. It was imperfect, but that's inevitable. Looking back, I liked that when I got new gear, I could just use it. I got an enchant after the raid of course, but I didn't have to sideline an upgrade because I needed gems.

TL;DR: Vanilla was not some enlightened age of intelligent gamers taking on hugely complex challenges. For the most part it was a bunch of people bumbling around killing stuff and trying to feel awesome for it, just like now.

How about that, every single person in vanilla went to every raid with their gear ungemmed and most slots not even enchanted. We did have the enchants, but they were rarer, and less powerful anyway, at least until ZG.

Exclusive doesn't mean "no bads"

Raid content was more exclusive back then. Not because it filtered out the idiots. Trust me, they still snuck in. Instead because finding 40 people to raid the same place at the same time and with the right classes was a rather difficult task. It was even more difficult before easy server transfers and with a much smaller community. Throw in high consumable requirements and it's no wonder 95% of players never saw old Naxx. It's not that it was hard, which it was, it's that it was inaccessible to someone who didn't have all the time in the world. Having limited play time isn't lazy and it isn't stupid, it's the situation.

So wake up. If you have a higher opinion of vanilla than I do, you need to rethink your inks. And no, that's not an inscription reference. I did MC just the other night. Why? Because I enjoy the place. Yes, I enjoy MC. Molten Bore. It is quite possibly the least interesting raid ever. That is including ToC. I am an outlier. Frankly if you're further over in vanilla nostalgia than me, then I suspect you've been brainwashed. Like they literally they took your brain and scrubbed it with soap, destroying most of it.


Furthermore, if you think new MMOs pushing for a mass market is at all new, if you think that aiming for the lowest is new, should I remind you of the old EQ ads with the suggestion that hot women in bars want to hear about you killing internet dragons? Also, plate bikinis. They have become less common. Less common, as in, less blatant pandering to drooling misogynists. Or maybe that's just due to the radical feminist conspiracy.

Scholomance can be hard with three people, which acts as an incentive to play at a higher level than normal

For another bit of evidence that the community hasn't fallen entirely into some horrible wasteland of impatience and stupidity, I played my mage this weekend. I don't like Hellfire Peninsula much, so he's by now 61 and still has not set foot in Outland. Instead he's questing in the Plaguelands and queuing specifically for Stratholme and Scholomance. You know, the instances that take more than 15 minutes, can actually kill you, and weren't horrible butchered by LFD splitting.

First off, I want to acknowledge that this probably isn't a representative sample of the community. Nothing is, since every activity has some sort of filtering based on rewards. Someone queueing for old world instances after 58 (when BC randoms start) is clearly going for a different reason than the person queuing before 58. They are going to see the content. They are obviously gimping their loot and experience. However their mere existence proves something: the community is not homogeneous. Different players have different interests. This has profound effects on any attempted observation-based experiments.

Goals change behavior, not the player

A player who is after a bag of loot and XP has much different goals than a player who is after an experience. The loot bag and XP can be gained anywhere, so there is little incentive to stay for a slow or risky group. This isn't lazy or impatient. It's normal the normal interaction between incentive systems and goals. If a queue is short, then the threshold for leaving a poor group is lower. I know I am quicker to leave from wipes if I know that I can quickly get a new group. Again, not lazy, just normal, rational behavior. In contrast if someone is after an experience or achievement and the queue is long, then they need the specific place and cannot quickly get a different group. They will appear more patient as people when in reality they are simply in a different situation with different goals. This same person could be the one dropping after a single death in a random.

Observation bias is biased against you being right

But getting back to the filtering: When attempting to observe the community, don't observe one aspect that confirms what you believe and call it a success. That's bad science. That is the true laziness. So attempting to measure trends based on LFD is going to be measuring a specific subset of the community: the people who at that moment are trying to get badges, in other words people in a situation and goal combination where speed matters. I admit I've made this error in the past, claiming that LFD ruined the community. I still think it had negative effects, but what I was failing to fully acknowledge, despite the fact that I was saying it myself, was that LFD wasn't just changing players, it was changing their environment. Put those same players in a different environment and they will act different.

The observations we make in game are not only unrepresentative of the person as a whole, but do not even represent their entire in-game personality or capabilities.

So yes, LK did add a tool that promotes idiocy and impatience. That doesn't mean that LK brought in a million new impatient idiots. Similarly, vanilla didn't bring in smart, hardworking, disciplined players. It just had a system that rewarded patience. This is why I could do a multiple-hour full run of BRD a few years ago and a few days ago think a 20 minute instance was slow.

integrate f(x)=x from 0 to 2
2-0=2 zomg

Here are a few videos of really skilled vanilla PvPers

Did I say skilled? I meant overgeared and not quite balanced by class or mentally. God, I miss playing a shaman in vanilla. Holy crap was the honor system a mess.
If you're wondering what else there was to vanilla PvP, look up any rogue video of ambush-SS-CB evis-vanish, seduce-nuking warlocks, or PoM-pyro mages.

Truly a grand time of skill and patience!

Self-Righteous Sunday: Sanity and Reasonableness

| Sunday, September 19, 2010
Is this the end of our world? Is the only thing saving America from insanity... a comedian? A Rally to Restore Sanity put on my Jon Stewart of the Daily Show?

I don't think so. Or at least I would hope not. Surely we can think without having to laugh at the same time. Surely we do not need a comedian from a network called Comedy Central to rally us to a cause of reason and sanity.

Have we really fallen so far as a nation? It's insane.

What's next, a woman who supported wasteful government spending becoming the queen of a crusade against wasteful government spending? A perpetually unfaithful man attacking who even hints that family values is a nonsense phrase? A crazy man with Nazi-tourettes holding a rally to restore honor?

It looks as if we have fallen so far.

Then again, George Washington sent the militia to force farmers to pay whiskey taxes. After a revolution founded on no small part on the cry "no taxation without representation." Though it's worth noting that technically speaking the farmers had representatives. Maybe. I don't remember who could vote back then. But on a more reasonable note, as long as Obama doesn't send the National Guard to break up Tea Party rallies, he's granting at least as much freedom as George Washington. I would have said that Obama had historical precedent to use troops to break up Tea Party rallies, but it would be unreasonable to deny them their right to be unreasonable.

Maybe America does need a comedian to restore sanity. It's like in the movies when only a handful of teenagers can save the world. In this case the teenagers have been combined into one, both in age and immaturity. So uh, wish us luck.

As for the warlocks and priests, you may be more interested in the March to Keep Fear Alive.

For my part, on that day I will attempt to write a reasonable post. I encourage all of you to do the same.

Oh, and the date is 10/30/10. That's October 30, 2010 for those of you who find the American system of month, day, year to be ridiculous. Day/month/year is far superior due to automatically sorting dates merely by the number.

Gnomes and Goblins are perverts

| Saturday, September 18, 2010
From the 15th to writing this post, the highest viewed post is my note to Larisa.  Very close with second and third were Does "Blizzard need to hire perverts for their fan art section?" and "Naked Draenei in Blizzard Fan Art."

The days those went up had unusually high hit counts.

My two biggest sources? Pink Pigtail Inn and Greedy Goblin. Clear proof that people with short avatars have perverted reader bases.

So let me send you all a message: We, the trollish readers and writers, do not want your corrupt, perverse agenda taking over our decent space. I don't know if Pink is actually a veiled Communist code word or what the 'goblin' is greedy for, but whatever it is, it has no place here.

This is a space for good, wholesome fun. We have values. Real, old time, small town values. That means unquestioning valuing and worship of nostalgia, family values, and plate bikinis, just as God intended.

For the hell of it

For the f-word!

I'm now in the rebirth of Word of Redemption, known as Acceptable Losses of Zer'zhul. We hit the ground running with raiding, taking down Nefarian, C'thun, Ragnaros, and that guy in AQ20 with the funny head. Yes, old raids. We only have 6 people or so, what do you expect?

So we run and joke around on vent and generally have a good time. Why are we running these places? For the hell of it. Strange phrase, implying no reason at all, just going and doing it. No real rewards. I mean, I have all my rep from those places, I have my judgement set, what else would I want? Just for the hell of it.

Ah, the f-word.


We queued for some randoms to do achievements that we came across. Knocked out a few. Apparently I'd never ridden a bronze drake before. I think my groups always failed so I took over the red. Less-rabi somehow happened. Considering that's what I'd call the hardest achievement, sounds good to me!

They were running BRD to attune someone for MC. They wondered why I didn't go with. Don't I love that place? Of course. I said I was always with them, always watching. Sounded creepy. And I was nowhere in sight. So I waited. Waited. And as they ran toward Incendius and were wondering why I would skip BRD, I jumped. My cloak wooshed out above me and I slowly landed among them, wondering what had taken so long.
 We reminisced about lava hopping and the rhythm we had once known but lost.  I speculated that MC would have made a good five-man if sped up.  And we all agreed, there's something magical about Ragnaros.  No matter what level you are, go see him.  See him yell IN ALL CAPS about INSECTS running rampant in the hallowed CORE and being led to HIS LAIR, resulting in JUSTICE BEING MET INDEED.

Weapons look so much better on humans than blood elves, probably because they're big enough to properly see the detailing.

Do you ever suddenly assault people when walking down the street?

| Friday, September 17, 2010
I do. Sometimes I just do a quick rock to the skull. Whack. Very effective. Then I gloat at them. "Fucking pwned, bitch! Oh ho, did you see that? No you did not! I am awesome."

Kinda reminds me of the hackers who think they're so great for randomly attacking little websites or a blog here and there. Anyone can randomly attack that which isn't defended. That doesn't make it impressive.

Want to do something impressive? Go shut down the filters for Iran or China. Take on something that people care about.

This little random shit? Just makes you look like you wasted a lot of time.

Also your names are really dumb.

Better Immersion through crappy teleporters

For too long we've been teleported to random instances with random people with no sense of a world. We could hand-wave it all away and say that a wizard did it. Well screw that wizard, I want something more concrete. Specifically I want more faulty engineering devices.

For once this isn't me asking for another awesome engineering device, though I did have one in mind: Unique and Beautiful Flower. That's for another day. Instead I want gnome and goblin engineers to devise a system of Person Subspace Somewhere Near There Transporter Devices and Day Spas. These would replace the current wizard-based teleportation for instances. Instead of being teleported directly into instances, we'd instead be teleported to somewhere very near the instance. No one knows quite where, but it would certainly be near. Could be 50 yards away or 50 yards above. Maybe you'll be in the middle of a whole lot of angry enemies. But don't worry! Most of the time you'll be in a temporary immunity bubble. Or frozen in place. Possibly also phased out of the world. Temporarily.

What's the point?

The point is to still reduce travel time so people aren't scared away from instances and to not totally disrupt questing either, since I know it can be hard to pry someone away from just needing one more drop and they'll be on their way in a minute. But at the same time, to bring back the sense that instances are somewhere.

To prevent this being used as a travel method, movement away from the instance would not be possible beyond 100 yards or so. This is due to the uh, residual magnetic defluxualization.

Who needs wizard hand-waving when we can have less reliable engineer hand-waving?

Does Blizzard need to hire perverts for their fan art section?

| Thursday, September 16, 2010
Not the artists, the reviewers. It seems too often that something slips through. A naked tauren implying bestiality with her pet. An elf jerking off a human or possibly dwarf under he table. Of course things will slip through, but it's probably too often for some people, most likely management. Clearly the reviewers cannot catch every single hint or suggestion, but really, the tauren was naked. Not even in the standard string thong armor, just naked.

Maybe the reviewers just aren't dirty enough. Maybe they are mentally balanced people in stable, fulfilling relationships with no strange fetishes but nothing repressed either. People who can think a cigar is just a cigar and don't question why many of the greatest architectural achievements of Europe are gigantic penises. Expecting them to catch the innuendos in their arts is like expecting a blind man to evaluate color-blindness test materials.

To remedy this, I suggest that Blizzard hire at least two more reviewers. One must be a 15 year old male. The other must be of age 40 or above and found drifting in the park. There are risks that this new filtering staff will have too many false positives. But a few less thonged elves might be a worthwhile tradeoff for fewer draenei rubbing gnomes while getting stripped.

Shattered Halls: The Beginning of the End

Was World War I the first modern war or the last pre-modern war? Or is that the question for the American Civil War? Well we had infantry charges and cavalry charges combined with machine guns and poison gas. And a lot of Russians died.

And there we go transition phrase... Russians in wars are like that one room in BRD with the quickly respawning trash mobs that you can never kill, just outrun.

And trash GO!

Shattered Halls, was it the last good instance or the first LK instance?

On one hand I remember it was a very friendly instance to CC classes. It was filled with humanoids standing in somewhat spread out groups. So many of the most common CCs work most easily on stationary humanoids: sap, sheep, traps, blind, fear, seduction. Those can work on other mob types too, but humanoids are where they all come together. Being spread out a little bit means you can land a CC before they end up too close to safely thunderclap, consecrate, or death and decay (gotcha!). The pulls were big and could cause a lot of hurt, so CC was a pretty smart idea.

Then came the overgeared paladin tank. With minor line of sight breaks they could round up and hold an entire pack without getting torn apart or losing aggro to heavy AoE. And so began the end of the instance as a place of fun. Rather than nerfing paladin AoE, instead all classes gained strong AoE aggro generation. We quickly outgeared instances, far beyond what would have been expected in BC, and soon there was not a single trash pull that was not mindless AoE.

With our fancy new mechanics like being able to use thunderclap in defensive stance and it hitting more than a few targets, suddenly we were playing like this everywhere. Thanks to heirlooms our normally green-geared lowbies who drooled for blues were instead always up to date in multiple high-stat slots such as chest and weapon. It was as if Shattered Halls was gone forever.

Oh they tried! They gave us Magister's Terrace and it was a wonderful place. But we cried "too much CC!" and though it was true, they went too far. We cried that we hated the PvP fight as well, so Blizzard did what no one would do: they heavily nerfed the effectiveness of PvP gear in PvE, removing what had once been a major incentive to do PvP, and so that slowly dwindled.

We could blame that prot paladin. Or we could ask that prot paladin with heavily biased views formed during his vanilla years what he thought. And he'd say something more fitting of a 1950s racist blocking a school integration: it's them damn werriors! Yes warriors ruined everything. With their tanking monopoly and aggressive exclusion of the possibility of any other tank, the paladins and the druids grew angry and radicalized and caused terrible things and everyone denounced Paladin X but had this little nagging doubt about what was really going on. Then Dks came like a veritable flood of Mexicans and we blamed them for everything.

My point is this: I miss BC heroics. Even while they were sometimes too long to fit into the time I had, at least when I could run them, I was glad to be there. And I still got badges!

Naked Draenei in Blizzard Fan Art

| Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Now that I have your attention, I'd like to call your attention to pay attention to this image.
Is it just me or is the gnome pulling off the draenei's top and checking out what's behind the cloth? And she's clearly rubbing his nipple.

The drunk human cannot seem to move his eyes away from the elf's boobs either. And what in God's name is her hand doing under the table?

I mean come on, Blizzard. Have some standards. Okay? Let's run down the list.

Violence: Good.
Sex: Bad.

Just so we're on the same page: you're allowed to portray the senseless killing of strangers but not the sensual sexing of strangers. Got it?


I don't want to not be a blood elf

I have a terrible confession to make: I like playing a blood elf. It's the facial expression that does it for me. The slight sneer, a bit of annoyance, as if she can just barely tolerate whatever is going on. It's perfect. Not because I like stuck up snobs, but because it fits in combat and out of combat.

I'm going over to the Alliance soon. As in Blizzard soon. Meaning whenever it happens.

But what race? Dwarf is out. Males are out. I'm sorry, but the Alliance humans look silly. They just don't click with me. Trolls, those work. I can play male trolls. Or male orcs and undead. Tauren are tolerable. But obviously none of those are options, so my paladin will be a female human or draenei.

But female humans look weird. Their faces creep me out. There they are beating a wolf to death and they just sort of stare ahead. The eyes move here and there as if unable to focus on anything. They're animated barbies with those glue on eyes that you used in kintergarden for crafts.

Draenei faces work better. They have a serene vibe, which can work in combat with the understanding that they are 1) aliens and 2) utterly devoted to the Light. But their body shape is weird. I somehow cannot see them as spacegoats, but instead they appear to me as people horribly contorted in what is surely a painful way.

I wish I could play a high elf.

An Inconvenient Group

My mage needed to rescue a princess. A dwarf princess. Thrall wants to help out the dwarfs in a big way to promote peace.

So I'll just queue up and booya: blackrock depths. Also I appear to be at the throne room with the group starting to kill the Senate. How convenient. Or not. The shaman wisely decided to ignore my call to not kill her, ignore the party guide's call to kill the boss, and ignored all grouping concepts like killing the same target as the entire rest of the group. And common sense things like: If someone yells at you you should probably change what you're doing rather than do it even harder, with the exceptions of men in pornos who should always do it harder.

So the princess died.

But no worry, another queue popped and again Blackrock Depths, sent off to kill the Emperor. And again, she died.

Al Gore was absolutely right, he just had a slight typo in his movie title.

Azeroth Politics: Marwyn joins the Tea Party

I sat down for this interview on his decison to switch parties from Scourge to Tea Party.

Klepsacovic: So, Marwyn, what was it that convinced you to join Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement?
Marwyn: The master surveyed his kingdom and found it... Lacking. His judgement was swift and without mercy: DEATH TO ALL!
K: I see, so you're really more in the neoconservative camp?
M: Yes.

K: You've come out against the healthcare bill, what are you expecting to happen when it goes active?
M: Your flesh shall decay before your very eyes!
K: That's a pretty controversial stance.
M: Yes.

K: Going back for a moment, can you be specific on what was the straw on the camel's back?
M: Debt is all that you will find here!
K: So it was the budget imbalance that pushed you?
M: Yes.

K: But wasn't the budget unbalanced during Bush? What was your attitude back then?
M: As you wish, my lord.
K: Ah, mindless partisan following.
M: Yes.

K: You were a big supporter of the Iraq war. What are your thoughts on events since the invasion?
M: I saw the same look in his eyes when he died. Terenas could hardly believe it.
K: Taking down Saddam was your goal?
M: Yes.

K: You've opposed extending unemployment, also because of budget issues, what would you say to those who are still looking for work?
M: Choke on your suffering!
K: You feel that poverty and hunger are a motivator to find work?
M: Who cares?
K: That's not a message that will resonant with voters, budget concerns or not.
M: No.

K: It was good to talk with you. Have any closing remarks?
M: Yes... Run... Run to meet your destiny... Its bitter, cold embrace, awaits you.
Waste away into nothingness!
K: Marwyn everyone!

Wipes weren't what they used to are

| Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I ran across another person scared out of his mind of the dreaded "wipe" and the awful "trash".

How could you raid back then with the sheer amount of boring trash mobs all over? its awful... I was doing some Stratholme runs to maybe get the baron's mount and I was utterly disgusted by the instance: 20 million trash mobs all linked together so 1 miss-pull could spell wipe for the entire group.

There was a time when trash could accurately be called "Equally interesting yet non-epic-dropping non-bosses". Players had to pull carefully or risk the dreaded wipe. Yes, risk. What a strange concept! Next thing I'll tell you that bosses needed tanks and some weren't a pure DPS race.

Was there a lot of trash? Yes. But trash was different. First off, less boring since you weren't half-afk spamming AoEs. But there was also the incentive bit: trash dropped more interesting stuff. Sure there were the usual boring things like vendor trash and cloth, but also scourgestones and bits of bone that were desired for things related to Naxxramas floating above EPL.

When you're not planning to burn down an instance in 15 minutes on a slow day, a wipe isn't going to wreck your careful badge grinding schedule. Besides, how people reacted to a wipe was another way to evaluate people for possible recruitment. The guy who just lays there waiting for a res, maybe he isn't the best candidate. The first guy back, rebuffing and drinking, that's a potential keeper, assuming he's not the one who caused the wipe in the first place. When everyone is just a bunch of anonymous jackasses, wipes can say something. When we had to invest some time to get to an instance and complete it we also weren't so eager to ditch after one wipe the way people often do during their random instance mini-game.

And of course our gear sucked. Maybe a wipe hurts if you're in full epics, but only raiders had epics and if they wiped it was because they were trying for a speed run. Badass, am I right? Yea. When you're in half greens, a wipe isn't all that expensive. But no, these days we don't want to get our beautifully crafted dresses dirty and do you know how much these shoes cost!?

But I'm missing the true point: when someone is running a place for and only for a single extremely rare drop, then anything, whether challenging or trivial, boring or fun, cheap or expensive, is just an obstacle. Yes, a surprising new idea that I'm sure you've not heard a thousand times before: when you do something only for the result, the process is less fun than it might be otherwise.

Setting that idiocy aside, I want to clarify that I didn't enjoy wiping. I'd have rather not wiped. But they weren't the end of the world, the cue to spew rants about noobs, the cue to requeue with a new crew. And even while they weren't fun, they provided a standard of comparison, so that smooth runs were a reward for an instance well run rather than the trivially boring standard.

This isn't just vanilla nostalgia. It's also BC nostalgia. Even then we still played with our own server and weren't teleported directly into the instance. We'd wipe in SL and run back, rethinking our pulls. Or SH. Or Arcatraz. Okay fine sometimes in Arc we'd just give up and go home because that last boss was a bit too dependent on the group makeup.

Trial Respecs

| Monday, September 13, 2010
Have you ever wanted to try out a new spec, switched over, and ten minutes later wondered if you were temporarily insane? You know, things like a bored lowbie mage decides to try out fire and realizes that it's absolute crap at low levels. A crit-based spec with 7% crit, doesn't work. He only wasted 15g for the switch over, but it's going to be 20g to get back, meaning 35g to try out something bad. Not so good.

Rather than full permanent respecs, why not offer something temporary, a respec trial. Imagine if for 10g you could switch specs for a few hours. Pay the 10g, talents are wiped, and then once you spend points, the timer starts. Once it ends, talents revert back to what they were before the trial.

This could be a great help to the hybrids as well. You know, holy-curious paladins who aren't sure they want to commit to a full spec right away. They just want to test the waters. Put on a dress, use their fingers a bit, be a bit less assertive than a tank or DPS. You know, back there. I mean, it's not weird or anything to just want to see what it's like, you know?


What I'm trying to say is that I was a little bored with frost and wanted to try fire, but now I remember why I switched away from fire: it's garbage at level 37. This guy is over on Arie Peak, the server that my shaman and paladin abandoned. He's all alone, having to beg for gold from other alts who aren't much better off. This respec stuff is making him broke. It's like some sort of terrible addiction where he keeps wanting to get out of the game but he has to keep putting more of himself in, gotta keep investing, or it's all going to collapse and he's inevitably going to be stuck holding the bill for 35g and then what? Glyphs are 20g or more, he can't even afford those, and now he's wiped out. The poor guy would cry if his tear ducts hadn't rotted away. What is the point of ignite when you can barely get a crit? What is master of elements doing? You can't burn down an enemy in a couple seconds when you need four spell casts to kill it and it's running at you at full speed. He can't AoE grind. He can't even kill one mob without getting slashed in the face. It's a hard undeath.

Please, offer some relief to this poor soul: offer trial respecs. They won't save him from his bills, but at least he can no that no one else will have to suffer through this.

Also it would be great for people who would get 10g worth of utility from a few hours of a different spec, like arena people or raiders. And me. Please, whatever else, no matter how heartless you are, just ask, "what's in it for me?" And by me I mean me, as in Klepsacovic the person who writes this blog. I'd say think of him, but that's me speaking in the third person and that gets confusing.

Where science, society, and politics meet: Neanderthals

| Saturday, September 11, 2010
As more and more evidence accumulates for an African origin of humanity, a new social movement has arisen which worries many social observers in Europe. Several tribes of Neanderthals, dubbing themselves 'Nativists', have begun pushing for the removal of all humans from Europe. Urgso, the leader of a tribe in northern France has released a three hundred stone slab manifesto which details injustices and grievances and has become a symbol of Neanderthal discontent with African presence in Europe.

At a press conference earlier today, Urgso refused to speak English or French, instead using what he called "the spirit-given speech" of waving his hands in circles while hooting, which he praises as the "poetry of the dirt and rock". Rather than taking questions, he gave a two hour speech in which he encouraged "all them light-skinned hairless moneys to go back to Africa where they came from" and encouraged supporters to vote for candidates who would legislate in favor of his agenda, which he says is founded on the foundation of "rock, eyebrows, and ship them back!"

The movement has met with fierce opposition from all sides. Far left groups have claimed it is going to cause a "second round of imperialism". Far right groups have protested against "living side by side with sub-human beasts. No not the Neanderthals, they're the ones kicking us out. I mean the ones we're usually angry about." Members of the African political elite have also sided with the socialists and racists. Members of the ape political elite have also sided with the socialists, racists, and corrupt dictators saying "eek".

Only the future can tell what will happen, but the Neanderthal political awakening is sure to have a dramatic effect on the outcome of upcoming parliamentary elections.

We miss the good parts of WoW

| Friday, September 10, 2010
Remember the epic Onyxia attunement chain and how fun that was? Oh you didn't like looking for Rexxar? Let me show you something.

*opens door*

This is my Nostalgia Room. In here I only put Good Things.

*opens other door*

This is my Stupid Design Room. In here I only put Bad Things.

As you can see the idea of an epic chain to attune to Onyxia is in the room with Good Things, but wandering for an hour to find a patrolling NPC is in the room with Bad Things.

You see, not everything has to exist as the total package exactly as it is. For another example, I liked the idea of needing special water to douse runes in MC. But that doesn't mean that needing 8 or so people with water, or 8 trips to an inconvenient place, was a Good Thing. The ideal often does not exist, so we have to pick those pieces we like.

Another example is Drak'theron Keep. I like the Drakuru finale. I like how it has a different scene in each area. I like that it looks out into the world, making it seem as if it were not isolated. That doesn't mean I like that it is so short and has only a single path.

Or let's look at Lower Blackrock Spire. I think the layout is almost genius. The visual appearance is one of a place which has been constructed with many paths and nooks and possibilities. And in fact there are many ways to run through LBRS. But the true genius of it is that a single path does emerge to clear the entire instance in one sweep, with only a short backtrack in a couple spots. This doesn't mean I liked the terrible drop rate for the UBRS key gems or the frequent long strings of trash.

So when I say I miss something from vanilla, I don't mean to imply (though I often do anyway) that I miss every single aspect of vanilla.

I know I don't miss the way hybrids were mishandled. I don't miss single-class drops which were frequently wasted. I don't miss people not looting core hounds.

I liked the multi-class tokens we saw in AQ which were part of quests. The BC tier token system was less 'fun' and clearly had problems with trending in drops, but it felt more interesting than the badge+token system we now use for tier gear in ToC and ICC. If I had to create a system, it would use a generic "rare item of awesome" combined with quests and some sort of tradeable token (like the AQ scarabs), so that classes could have that bit of differentness without the problem of useless drops.

Yes, I am cherry-picking and picking and choosing and only taking the pieces I want. That's the point. That's a much better idea than picking every single aspect of each expansion as an indivisible whole.

*opens yet another door*

And over here are the things that I like and you don't and aren't objectively good or bad but instead are fun for one person or another.

P.S. Bring back sentry totem.

Larisa, we're glad to have you

A few days ago Larisa made this sad comment.

I don't know how to put this without sounding a bit... whiny. Which I don't want to be. But sometimes I wish there was some warning sign on those "It was better in vanilla, the game sucks now" posts. Because as a TBC baby there's nothing I can do about it. It's like listening to someone going on and on and on about what a fantastic party you were to last week and you missed it. So. What am I supposed to do about it? And then the player adds - "it was so fantastic because it was more exclusive back at that party. Nowadays everyone is invited including you and that ruins it".

I wonder if I'd ever started to play wow if it had been more hardcore. So basically I guess... it's my fault?

I don't know. It's a great post but somehow this kind of reads sadden me. :(

First off, the "the game sucks now" bit is tainted by nostalgia and our own biases. We've learned something different about what WoW 'should' be. New players should jump in and enjoy whatever they can. It's their game too. Old players should do the same, but I can understand, having experienced it myself, that it can be difficult to cope with the change and how the kids act these days with their rap music and baggy pants. "Do MMOs cause premature being a gumpy old person? We'll find some answers, after this brief two minute commercial break." The players haven't move on from you, Larisa, because you are the players.

Don't worry about the indisputable fact that everything used to be so much better, excluding the many things which were so much worse. Don't worry about the party last week. The fact that they are still hung over a week later and apparently have nothing else to talk about aren't necessarily good signs.

As for "it was so fantastic because it was more exclusive back at that party. Nowadays everyone is invited including you and that ruins it" Well first off, based on your kills of all sorts of hardmode heroic hardcore stuff in ICC... you'd have been somewhere up there in vanilla. No really, it wasn't all grinds and cliques. At the end of the day guilds needed solid, reliable players who could play with the best. But even if you were as terrible and casual (I am not linking casual and terrible) as you seem to think, you'd still have a game to play. I wasn't particularly good in vanilla, not that I can remember being especially bad either, but I didn't know much and it showed. I'm sure I'd have flamed my armory if I saw it now.

Except for total douches, not many people are so annoyed with who is playing, and as I've explained, would like you anyway. Instead complaints about the degradation of the community spring from how behavior is shaped. We're encouraged to ignore those around us or even be actively hostile. Anti-social behavior, which despite propaganda from sociopaths, isn't a good thing, but is encouraged by a system which prevents any recourse of any sort for ninjas. While we don't wish to wait around for things to happen, that waiting time is a powerful incentive to interact with people around you and start to form communities. For all the talk of the idiot scum who are joining WoW these days, what I've seen are a whole lot of long-time players who are acting different.

So don't feel bad when us old grouches start going on about vanilla. Sure, you missed some great stuff. Well we're missing some great stuff in LK and did in BC, since rose-colored glasses make it really hard to tell the difference between a red and white flower.

Does WoW have any replay value?

| Thursday, September 9, 2010
Of course it does, right? We make alts and more alts and there's so much we haven't even done yet. Right?

Recruit a Myself, heirlooms, and badge farming say otherwise.

Sure, we make alts. But do we play them? Perhaps. But we certainly aren't replaying WoW. Or we're trying very hard not to.

Once upon a time I thought that people rushed up because their guild needed that class and rerolling was a way to fill that. They didn't necessarily want to rush through the game, but they didn't want to keep people waiting. I don't think that's the case anymore except in the most hardcore of guilds, where they are most likely to have an attitude of "bring the player, but they must be of the ideal class". Of course some people do still reroll when they realize that ICC raids aren't exactly starved for this or that overplayed class.

What does an alt do these days? It loads up on heirlooms and RAF and tries to hit 80 as fast as possible. In other words, attempting to skip as much leveling content as possible, which is a massive part of the game. So much for replay value, if we actively attempt to avoid it.

Then at 80 they avoid Naxx and Ulduar and ToC and the mean dragons. They ignore quests. Instead they rush into heroics and rush through heroics for badges so they can skip a few tiers up to ICC. Apparently nothing except ICC has any replay value.

MC, BWL, ZG, AQ, Kara, Gruul, Mag, TK, SC, BT, and Sunwell had no replay value either. When was the last time you ran any of those?

Based on how players play it, or more relevantly, don't play it, WoW has almost no replay value with the sole exception of an awesome last boss fight. Everything else we try as hard as we can to skip. Sometimes we say we've done it a million times already so it's boring, and I can accept that for any raid and any instance.

But how many times have you done the quests in the Barrens? Teldrassil? Badlands? Are there possibly races that you've never even played, zones you've never seen? I'm sure that whoever you are, there are probably hundreds of quests that you've never seen, never done, possibly never knew existed, never even seen the quest giver. At this point replay value isn't even relevant anymore, since it's not replay, it's new, but ignored.

Can you imagine getting a new book, reading every other page, and then re-reading the last chapter a few dozen times? Have you ever done that? If yes, are you crazy? What the hell is wrong with you? Do you have no concept of plot? Or wait, let me guess... you're one of those elitist pricks who thinks doing things in absurd ways is somehow better. I bet you say "good morning" after midnight, just because you think it's 'interesting' I bet you insist on listening to arrhythmic jazz and tapping your foot in the most irritating manner possible. I bet you pay good money for art painted by monkeys so you can point it out to guests while wearing a turtle-neck and drinking wine about which you will make absurd comments such as "fruity with a sour hint at the end." Yea, that's called grape juice that turned into wine and then went further into vinegar. But you don't mind, you think that's just a special aging process.

Where was I?

What's Under Scarlet Monastery?

| Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And here's a mage fleeting from his attempt to solo some trash in Maraudon. Don't worry, he survived.

Then he got ported out into a half dozen angry air elementals with only 50 health left.

Full version: The Limitations of Text as Contributors toward Miscommunication and Reciprocal Incendiary Comments

| Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Here's the full paper for anyone who was interested. Sorry for the odd formatting.
Or if you were directly linked here and just want the bits I pulled out, here's that.

The arrival of the Internet and online communication offer great potential for society. On a global scale it offers the possibility of communication across national boundaries, connecting people who would otherwise be separate. The anonymity of it means that persons who might otherwise refuse contact due to ethnic divides or otherwise, can meet and discuss ideas in a medium free of bias and borders. For already existing social groups, whether they are friends or coworkers, electronic communication offers the ability to communicate from almost anywhere. This allows networks which might otherwise be severed or strained by distance to retain connections. While phones already offered this possibility, once an internet service has been paid for, the potential volume of email communication is nearly limitless.

However this enlightened online utopia has failed to materialize. Instead a new form of conflict has emerged: flaming. Exact definitions are hard to pin down, but a general consensus is that “flaming consists of aggressive or hostile communication occurring via computer-mediated channels.” (O'Sullivan and Flanagin, 2003). A flame war emerges when attacks are reciprocated and can even involve additional members. Flames can take many forms with no limits to their absurdity or lack of basis in fact. Part of this is due to the inability to verify the accuracy, or more often, inaccuracy, of flames. The same anonymity which allows for anyone to freely express an opinion also allows that individual to express negative or hateful opinions.

I will focus the effects of limited communication and how it may contribute to flaming. This is in contrast to theories which suggest that flaming or trolling (another incendiary behavior which often overlaps) are caused by personal factors. My goal is not to disprove these theories, but instead to look at another factor. While personal factors are important, the environment is more easily changed, so I believe that a focus on the limits of text offers more practical value for prevention of flaming.

In face to face communication, misunderstanding may be readily apparent. This allows it to be corrected. The correction begins with the speaker noticing that the listener misunderstood; either by failing to draw the same information as the speaker intended or by receiving nothing at all. Noticing can be a simple matter of seeing a confused expression, a non-verbal and automatic form of communication. Verbally, the speaker may notice a disconnect between expected feedback and actual feedback. The speaker can then attempt to correct the misunderstanding. The correction may or may no be understood by the listener, but through an exchange of words, non-verbal cues, and feedback on each, the two individuals, or a larger group, can eventually sort through the misunderstanding (Bazzanella and Damiano, 1999). This process is more likely to fail in online, text-based communication. It is this failure to notice and correct misunderstanding, along with increased chance of misunderstanding, which set the stage for flaming.

To understand the sources of misunderstanding, it is necessary to know the limitations of text and how it differs from face to face communication. There are no non-verbal cues in text; this means no facial expressions and no posturing or gestures. In addition, there is no tone of voice. To be more accurate, there is no defined tone of voice, instead the reader uses whichever tone he chooses, regardless of the tone heard by the writer. Timing is different as well. The writer cannot use pauses or changes in speed to modify his message. Messages are more spread out as well because rather than formulating a response while listening, the reader must wait for the entire message to be sent before he can respond to it. The difference in timing also means that non-verbal cues such as long, awkward pauses are much less noticeable. All of these limitations restrict the way in which information can be transmitted, increasing the likelihood of a failure to communicate.

Despite the limitations of text, both writers and readers frequently overestimate the completeness of their communications. Writers overestimate their ability to transmit sarcasm (Hancock, 2004), causing the reader to receive information which is the opposite of the intention. Because of this overconfidence, writers fail to compensate for the limitations of text and readers assume they understand (Kruger, Epley, Parker, Ng, 2005), together eliminating the feedback cycle which detects and corrects miscommunication. Writers may use too familiar of a tone, communicating as if there was greater mutual understanding than actually exists. This is seen often in emails which tend to be short and assume familiarity with the reader (Baron, 1998). In addition, while profanity is held to be an indicator of flaming, it does not always carry the intent. However despite the lack of intent, profanity may be interpreted in a hostile manner if unaccompanied by mitigating context or mutual understanding (Turnage, 2007).

Sarcasm can easily create the impression of disagreement. Failing to detect sarcasm will lead a reader towards a literal interpretation of text, causing a contradiction of the intent. If they lack previous experience the reader may not recognize that the statement is unusual for the writer and will instead base replies off an incorrect start. This can be especially conducive to emotionally charged flame wars since sarcastic statements may not only contradict belief but also be completely absurd, as I have personally experienced. On the other side, sensing sarcasm where there is none can cause two problems. The first is contradiction of intent as seen with failure of detection. Sarcasm may also be interpreted as rudeness, so a false positive creates a mistaken perception of rudeness on the part of the writer (Byron, 2008).

Humor and its failure is similar to sarcasm and its failure. Failure of detection will lead to misunderstanding between the reader and writer. Both humor and sarcasm detection failures are promoted by the lack of non-verbal cues in text. The smile which would indicate a joke is absent in addition to the pacing required for proper telling of most jokes. Because the writer does not provide a voice, jokes can end up with a dull delivery, leading to a gap in perceived humor Kruger, Epley, Parker, Ng, 2005).

Even if the reader does recognize and enjoy the joke, when responding he will become the sender and will be subject to the emotional limitations of text. There are several trends of failure when transmitting emotion through text. Due to the lack of voice or facial expressions, messages which are intended to carry emotion can be perceived as having neutral emotion (Byron, 2008). This causes praise to seem muted or non-existent. In extreme cases, praise which does not carry emotion may be perceived as sarcastic. These tie in with negativity effects. In face to face communication negative information can be tempered with consolatory gestures such as a hand on the shoulders or expressions of empathy such as matching of facial expression (Derks, Fischer, and Bos, 2008). Lacking these moderating gestures, negative information from the writer to the reader can be perceived as personal attacks.

At this point the communication between writer and reader is not entirely lost. Having received feedback, the writer has the opportunity to recognize his failure to clearly transmit moderating emotional information. However overconfidence suggests that he is more likely to think his message was understood and that he is the one being attacked, escalating the conflict. Alternatively, he may exhibit a positive affect bias, failing to recognize the emotional distress. This tendency has been found in comparisons of text and video expressions at cancer support groups (Liess; Simon, Yutsis, Owen, Piemme, Golant, and Giese-Davis, 2008). The reader may continue with his side of the discussion, oblivious to the miscommunication and therefore failing to take corrective measures to stem the tide of negative emotion. In a face to face encounter the imitation of expression combines with self-moderation based on social queues to limit socially unacceptable anger. Without these moderators, anger in text-based communication can spiral out of control (Derks, Daantje; Fischer, Agneta H.; Bos, Arjan E. R, 2008).

Anonymity causes many problems for communication. The lack of previous experience makes it difficult to predict responses from readers. Similarly a lack of background information makes it difficult to detect social norms (O'Sullivan and Flanagin, 2003), leading to unintentional rudeness. However, reducing anonymity may only trigger use of misinformation. The reduced information in text leaves more gaps to be filled. Comparing phone and email communication it was found that small amounts of cueing information, such as race, heavily influence perceptions of email messages, even with the exact same words. Small amounts of identity information allow for stereotypes to be activated and fill the gaps (Epley, Kruger, 2005). The irony created is that the potentially race-blind online world of text can instead become focused on nothing besides race and potentially negative stereotypes.

Other forms of stereotyping can come from the writing. Poor spelling can carry many inferences: the writer doesn’t care, the writer is lazy, the writer is stupid. Grammar carries similar potential labels. It is another irony in the online world that a poor speller is criticized for poor communication while the reader activates a set of preconceptions which may be entirely inaccurate and certainly not based on any known qualities of the writer. This is a clear example of how understanding is based not only on the writer’s intention, but ultimately on the reader’s interpretation (Byron, 2008). In the middle of a flame war though, no one is safe, and so the readers who give feedback based on spelling or grammar may be labeled Grammar Nazis. This does not elicit kind responses from the labeled.

Together all these limitations and miscommunications contribute to the formation of flame wars. The non-verbal cues which normally add emotion and subtly to speech are absent and writers often fail to compensate (Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng, 2005). Missed or unintended sarcasm can cause perceived disagreement, and while contradiction is insufficient for a true argument, it forms the foundation of a flame war. Failing to convey emotion leads to mistaken personal attacks and if the writer does not notice the hostility he may continue with the content or writing style which triggered the negative reaction. Stereotypes distort the perspectives of readers, causing them to twist the words of the writer to confirm their beliefs, regardless of content. The overall effect of the exchange is a reduction of whatever respect may have previously existed and “promote widespread depersonalization” (O'Sullivan and Flanagin, 2003).

Despite the limits of text, it is possible to compensate partially for its limits. Adding clarifying words, using fewer ambiguous words, employing emoticons, and monitoring tone from an outsider’s perspective will improve the writer’s ability to deliver context along with content (Turnage, 2007).

Emoticons attempt to mimic human faces as a way to convey information. They are limited in their range of expression and beyond simple smiles and sad faces become harder to interpret, reintroducing the difficulty of communicating emotion. In addition, emoticons are slow and deliberate while facial expressions appear almost instantly and without effort, making them weaker as accurate indicators. However, emoticons do still approximate the pattern of facial imitation as an expression of empathy (Derks, Daantje; Fischer, Agneta H.; Bos, Arjan E. R, 2008) and so can be useful for showing and moderating (through the feedback against excessive negativity) emotions. The adoption of emoticons is limited, within businesses they may be considered unprofessional despite their usefulness and are still limited in their purposeful use (Baron, 1998) (Byron, 2008).

Self-monitoring may be the most effective means of improving communication. Writers and readers can both improve their accuracy by rereading text in order to check the tone (Turnage, 2007). Reading out loud in a neutral tone has been found to reduce overconfidence in text-based communication. This prevents the writer from using his own mental voice to add his interpretation to the words, allowing him to better see how his words will be read (Kruger, Epley, Parker, and Ng, 2005).

Flaming is wasteful in many ways. While responses may be hastily written, they nevertheless take time and watching the progress of a flame war takes even more time. Attempting to moderate such wars can be time-consuming, if they are even noticed before they’ve wasted time. Outside the context of a flame war, electronic miscommunication can be damaging to relationships and productivity within business. Preventing miscommunication by altering the way in which text is sent and read would benefit everyone and increase the effective use of electronic communication in both email and online discussion.

Emoticons can increase meaning, but are limited by their expressiveness and ability to be interpreted. They may appear unprofessional as well. As an alternative way of adding tone and emotion to text communication, I propose a richer style of writing to be tested. Rather than leaving emotion to luck, the writer instead actively writes to convey emotion, using phrases such as “I am happy with ___.” Additionally, the writer explicitly states the intended tone and acknowledges the limitations of the text: “I do not intend for this to be read in a sarcastic manner, instead it should be read literally, as praise” or “my intended tone is positive, though it may fail to be conveyed by the blandness of text.” Repetition with modification would be employed as well, giving the same point in different ways in order to proactively imitate the rephrasing which is used to correct misunderstandings. Used together these changes will make text-based communication significantly longer. This is actually a good thing as it will help to change emails or discussion posts into a more deliberate form in which there is more time to consider one’s words and potential reactions from readers. While readers might be impatient, they would find it worth the tradeoff when they, as they perceive them, receive more positive and less ambiguous information from the writer.

The Limitations of Text as Contributors toward Miscommunication and Reciprocal Incendiary Comments

You may be familiar with the debate over net neutrality. This has nothing to do with that.

Instead I just want to give a little reminder: there is no tone of voice, facial expression, and very often little to no context when communicating on the intertubes. This means that irony, sarcasm, parody, and just about anything other than being a total asshole will often fail to be communicated.

Here are some bits that might be relevant to whatever is going on.

In face to face communication, misunderstanding may be readily apparent. This allows it to be corrected. The correction begins with the speaker noticing that the listener misunderstood; either by failing to draw the same information as the speaker intended or by receiving nothing at all. Noticing can be a simple matter of seeing a confused expression, a non-verbal and automatic form of communication. Verbally, the speaker may notice a disconnect between expected feedback and actual feedback. The speaker can then attempt to correct the misunderstanding. The correction may or may no be understood by the listener, but through an exchange of words, non-verbal cues, and feedback on each, the two individuals, or a larger group, can eventually sort through the misunderstanding . This process is more likely to fail in online, text-based communication. It is this failure to notice and correct misunderstanding, along with increased chance of misunderstanding, which set the stage for flaming.

Comparing phone and email communication it was found that small amounts of cueing information, such as race, heavily influence perceptions of email messages, even with the exact same words. Small amounts of identity information allow for stereotypes to be activated and fill the gaps. The irony created is that the potentially race-blind online world of text can instead become focused on nothing besides race and potentially negative stereotypes.

Due to the lack of voice or facial expressions, messages which are intended to carry emotion can be perceived as having neutral emotion (Byron, 2008). This causes praise to seem muted or non-existent. In extreme cases, praise which does not carry emotion may be perceived as sarcastic. These tie in with negativity effects. In face to face communication negative information can be tempered with consolatory gestures such as a hand on the shoulders or expressions of empathy such as matching of facial expression. Lacking these moderating gestures, negative information from the writer to the reader can be perceived as personal attacks.

Yes, the paper is about flame wars.

Unlike the previous Tech News Focus, this one isn't made up.

Alts? Leveling? Raiding.

A few friends and I decided to get together for a trial run of being in a guild together, to see if we still hate each other. So we rolled up our alts. Then I rerolled because hunters are dumb and we needed tail. Literally. Don't ask. And so was headed off to Elwynn to complete the attunement. Teamwork. That's what it's about.

Well let's just say we one-shotted Hogger.

Clearly we are destined for greatness.

Along the way we ran into Mykaljaxxon. He whispered me, asking, "lvling guild? alts??" I of course responded with, "raiding guild." Then we killed a gnoll and I hit level 10.


He said his main was a holy paladin. I had to let him down and inform him that we were full on paladins. He seemed to understand.

Goldshire was under attack.

Americans, it's time we started showing it

| Monday, September 6, 2010
The Europeans are loud and obnoxious and obvious. We can't have that. Oh no. That's our modus operandi. Which we can no longer say because it's time we dropped the French words and started talkin right! They've got a mafia! It's time for the American militia, just like our English-born Founding Fathers intended.

The first step is to take those foreigners down a notch. Point out that they ruin everything, including words. Call them losers.

Return to God.

America. Fuck yea.

Running screaming in terror

What are your strongest memories from before the level cap?

Mine tend to involve running in screaming terror.

A young shaman was wandering the Barrens, lost, which is a local term for "being in the Barrens". He was being attacked and attacked, so he did the sensible thing: he ran. Specifically, he ran south. As a general rule, mob levels go up as you go south. So I was not helping my situation. Finally I saw safety: a gigantic hole, into which my enemies surely would not follow. I'm not sure if they did.

Oh, I survived the fall. Don't worry about that. What I didn't survive were two dozen angry dwarves throwing torches at me, which due to my high rate of speed, since 40% was a big deal back at level 20 or so, appeared less like torches are more like rockets. I begged a friend to get on his main and save me from the "dwarves with rocket launchers".

I eventually moved on to Ashenvale, a land of birds and bears and dark purple trees. Also hostile elves. Well, mostly they stood around. But they didn't seem to react well to me going near their bases. I somehow managed to find somewhere around ten dozen hostile-elf-defended places, from which I would then run, screaming in terror.

If I knew the lore, I'd have also had some vague idea that to the north of Ashenvale is a land scarred and corrupted by demonic invasion and bombardment. Said land and its corruption results in various forms of diseased wolves of the 40s range. These wolves take great interest in shamans half their level running across the border into Felwood. By take great interest I mean "bite". And so a low level shaman found his corpse and ran screaming in terror back across the border and did not stop until he had run into another camp defended by hostile elves.

Of course I never ran from the devilsaurs. I never had the chance.

The Barrens are never a finished story. while running around the south, this time at the proper level, a young shaman stumbled across a small group of Alliance. Very suspicious! He went to investigate. At which point they got off their mounts and killed him. Thus he was taught what an elite tag means.

This shaman was one day sent to Swamp of Sorrows, a place reachable only by a trip through Duskwood, and the town of Darkshire. He ran and ran and ran. But he was not yet screaming in terror, for during most of the trip he was along a lonely road. An Alliance happened to run by and appeared to scream in terror while running, but the translation was spotty. So he ran along his way until he saw a town. He tried to go around, but the guards were less blind than might be expected given the dark and his semi-transparent state. And so he carried on tradition, running, screaming in terror, out of Darkshire while followed by a dozen or so Watchmen and guards.

He saw Deadwind Pass and he saw a Sky Shadow. He ran screaming in terror.

Where else have I run screaming in terror?
Theramore, Ratchet, Stormwind, Elwynn, Stonetalon, Wailing Caverns... perhaps I should ask where I have not?

I also remember being afraid to respec because I didn't want to unlearn everything. I wasn't sure what it meant. It meant I was part resto for most of my levels before finally ditching all my points in elemental the day I realized that I was afraid to cast, since I might need the mana for casting. I tanked Scarlet Monastery: Cathedral more than once. Oh glorious aggro-added rockbiter weapon and earth shock.

What are your strongest memories from before the level cap?

Speaking of running screaming in terror, here's a blog which seems to have shown up recently: Raging Monkeys. You've probably seen her commenting EVERYWHERE. It appears to be an utterly useless blog, which is why I am willing to endorse it.
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