I have to come clean about this

| Monday, October 31, 2011
I want to start off to make sure we're all in the right context with this: this isn't a long-term thing. Not yet, at least. It only started recently. But it's so good. Not good good, but it feels good, you know? While I do it, it's pretty nice. I know it's not doing me any good. It's not helping those who rely on me. It's probably just annoying to anyone else. Laughable, really. Well, if it wasn't a problem.

I like to think of myself as a gamer. I like the sound of it. But maybe that's not an accurate term anymore. Maybe if I can kick this, but that's a maybe, an if, and frankly I'm not sure how likely it is.

I asked a friend who know a bit about this stuff if he could help me try it out. His girlfriend knows more and maybe she could have helped me, seen what was going on before it was too late. But maybe it was too late the second I considered it. Once I took that first step, it's like the final road with no sidepaths. There certainly isn't a high road. I'm not saying I blame my friend. He did what he could with what he knew. He didn't know better and I should have known that. I'd just wanted to try it out. Something different. A new experience, you know?

And no, this isn't some long-winded roundabout joke about how I tried another MMO. It's about something more real. Or at least something that we see the financial aspects a bit more, with the few big-timers who can get rich off it while the rest of us, well we do what we do.

I made a void ray. I liked it. So I made another. And another. Pretty soon I had a dozen void rays and not much else. But it did the trick. And then I started another game and a dozen void rays got someone scared and hiding behind a wall of turrets with their command center already destroyed along with the expansion. That was supposed to be the last game of the night, but then I started another one. This didn't go as well. Considering my almost total ignorance of protoss mechanics, I think I did okay. With a bit more care I might have pulled off a win, thought it would have been close.

They might be expensive and terrible against lots of small enemies, but damn; they're so flexible. Air or ground, they can hit it. They can fly. I'm so used to terran armies, mostly based on the ground, since while their power isn't weak, it is the ground that they rule. Well, and any air that has marines under it. They are powerful, but harder to move around. Voids rays, those can go anywhere. And wow are they impressive against buildings.

Maybe I can shake this. I hope I can, because I don't think there is any future in it. Maybe you can take this as a cautionary tale. Void rays are not "one-time fun, one time and done. They are not a one-time thing. Maybe they're fun once, but when you find yourself sucked in and trapped, that fades.

I hate that I almost like this expansion

| Friday, October 28, 2011
I know almost nothing about MoP. I haven't cared much. I looked up one of the talent trees, thought it looked ridiculous, and that was about it.

I want to keep it this way.

In my mind there is a picture, a vague stort of picture, but a nice one. In this picture in WoW the sun is out and the grass is green,. There are vaguely Japanese buildings in the background (yes, I know where pandas are from) and everything is peaceful. But not like a nelf elf area where everything is peaceful but strangely purple. Maybe the picture is Nagrand (I loved that zone) with some paper houses and no floating rocks.

I really like this picture. This picture makes me want to spend $50 and log in to do... something. Maybe I just ride around and look in the buildings. Maybe out of view is a cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there is something to fight. But not something demonic or undead. Maybe it's like the cats on Quel'Danas, unchecked growth but not corrupt.

This picture is entirely in my head. It has almost no basis on what will actually turn out. It's internally-generated hype that will only lead to disappointment as I learn more. And I hate that.

Pandaren are fine, l2p

| Thursday, October 27, 2011
I'm not sure how Blizzard will make an entire expansion of it, but we can worry about that bridge when people are whining a week in with no content. In the meantime, I want to address the panda-haters.

You think they look silly, are a joke, and do not at all fit in? I agree. You know what else looks silly and is a joke? Gnomes. Incidentally, the biggest problem with gnomes is their inability to be druids and turn into even more cute bears. Let's all picture a gnome bear form and say daw. Dawwww! So cute.

Warcraft is a flexible franchise. It isn't quite clear how it does it, much like the typical super-power battle in anime where everything is driven by shouting and angry faces. Somehow it works. It will be weird for a while. I don't recall having a particularly positive reaction to draenei, especially with the retcon, but they work. They fit in now. Maybe it took some mental rearranging on my part, but it happened and now draenei are just fine. Don't worry about whether a race fits in; it will, eventually.

Maybe the lore will be awful. Maybe it will be great. Maybe the starting area will be the greatest or worst thing ever. We don't know. My assumption is that it will be like most of WoW: fairly fun in general, but possibly hit-or-miss in terms of any sort of emotional reaction, regardless of the 'legitimacy' of the race in question. Just look at my thoughts on the starting areas recently. The gnome story was a good one, but the initial area was just terrible. In contrast, the orc story wasn't particularly great in any way, but it sort of worked out into a bit of fun, and I still got to beat sleeping peons. My prediction is that if you play the pandaren starting area, when you finish you will not think "what a waste of time", and will instead be annoyed that you got dumped into some boring nelf area, like they did with the worgen.

I'm not suggesting that the expansion will be worth your money, or a sub either. I think the expansion will be good and the added content will be good, but it may very well not be good enough. What is good enough? That's something for you to decide. For example, I think that Coke is a good drink; it tastes good, it has sugar and caffeine that make me nostalgic for my hyper younger days, and on top of that it's very cheap. But the health cost, and low but still relevant financial cost, mean that I don't drink it very often at all. It is good, but not good enough.

Speaking of sugary water, did the Mountain Dew tie-in ruin WoW for anyone? It sure ruined it for me, for a very short time, and then I went back to doing whatever it was I was doing and complaining about my usual things. See? Warcraft is flexible and durable. It can withstand just about anything. It's like some mutated slime that devours all, turning it into a homogeneous goo of rat genocide. Maybe you don't like slimy rat genocide, but I'm not sure a few pandas are going to make it any worse.

The problem with confidence

| Wednesday, October 26, 2011
No one else was standing up to tackle the problem. The professor waited and waited. So I stood up. I would take up the chalk. I went up, took a bow for the applause, and began. In correctly. Yep, misinterpreted the problem from the very start. After that I got along a bit better and stumbled to the final number correctly. Which I then read backward and again was wrong.

Now everyone has another bit of argument against standing up.

I suppose I could tie the baseline psychological phenomena here to more important things like protesting tyranny, but somehow the a+b=c -> 10a+10b+10c thing never quite works.

Buying classic content

| Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Yesterday Tesh said this, responding to my "what would get you excited?" post.
I'm with Leah; drop the stupid subscription already and run with a GW business model. I'll pay for content, but paying for time pisses me off.

That would even allow for classic servers; players only play the "chapters" of the game that they have paid for, including the mechanics for those chapters.

I wonder how the pricing would work with that. If it was just content, then a base + expansions model would work well. But if each expansion has the corresponding mechanics, then I think a lot of players would be inclined to play an earlier tier, which I suppose works out. But for people playing BC or later, what do they buy and play? Do they start at level 60 outside the Dark Portal with BC mechanics? Or do they play up through vanilla with those mechanics and then suddenly have a dramatic shift at 60?

I'm not saying a system where we buy/sign up for an older mechanic-content bundle couldn't work, but it sure sounds hard to implement. I wonder if Blizzard even has the old mechanics locked in a safe somewhere, or if they are doing a Lucas and actively destroying all earlier iterations of their work. Then there is the problem of which mechanic set to pick. Are we going with the mechanics of the day before the next-expansion patch? By that I mean, vanilla would be patch 1.9.whatevertheydidbefore 2.0 and BC would be 2.9.before3.0, and so on?

It's not an easy thing to decide. WoW changed within vanilla. You can find people who are, or at least were, furious at how BGs destroyed world PvP. Ditto for guards, and the various ways they've been buffed over the years. Maybe we should have beta WoW. Or post-release but before all the class-fix patches. I wonder if any paladins are still mad about 1.9... Once upon a time there were no raids and dark iron ore was only found in one zone (rather than the generous two!) and before that maybe only instances. Should the vanilla server remove that dumbing-down casualizing killing of the hardcore running BRD for a handful of dark iron ore nodes? Should shamans get the good version of sentry totem or the one with marginal usefulness in WSG? Can fear still run players off cliffs?

Moving forward, should BC have the second tier of badge rewards? Should LK have the Dungeon Finder or not? In the mists of time I think we forget how late it was added, which, by the way, was at the same time as ICC, the last raid, not counting that place no one did. Should Cataclysm have uh... some major upcoming change or not? Will the Mists of Pandaren pack have the original Pandaren or will it use the 5.6 re-write where they are revealed to be the first wave of the Burning Legion's next assault? Write that one down, or you know, copy-paste, I called it here first.

I'm not trying to say that a pay-for-content and pay-for-mechanics system couldn't work. I think it could. But it wouldn't be easy. It wouldn't be cheap either (though "not cheap" is vague and relative). Could it generate the revenues to be profitable? I think I'd buy a vanilla pack for $40 or so, maybe add on a BC pack for $20. But is $60 from a few weirdos here and there worth the cost to separate out the content and mechanics and maintain them? Or even if we don't try to do the mechanics, if we just have a "pay for a higher level cap" system, will a few people paying $40 to play in old Azeroth (Cataclysm just made that part a lot harder) bring in the money to justify the coding and maintenance needed?

I suspect it could be profitable, but that isn't enough. It must be profitable enough to keep investors happy. It must also be profitable enough to offset the risk of subscribers switching to the potentially cheaper system. I don't think that last one is true just yet. Maybe when WoW losses a few million more they will try something radical, but I don't see that for a couple years or so (and that is assuming the downward trend continues).

Poll about BC

| Monday, October 24, 2011
I've moved the poll on to BC. At the current rate, we might get to Cataclysm before MoP has been replaced with the Oceans of Fish expansion. Yea, it's a fish-based expansion. I'm not predicting big sales on that one.

Anyway, there's the poll up in that corner. At some point I'll be getting relative fun polls, such as "did you have more fun during Vanilla or BC?" and "BC or LK?" and "LK or the past year of Cata?" Then we can make an ordering for them which I can then casually dismiss with some handwaving and bad statistical analysis if it doesn't support my views.

What would have gotten you excited?

I'm cautiously pessimistic about Misty Pandarens and I have a strict policy of never talking about anything when it is relevant, so I am withholding judgement beside the first words of this post and what I said Friday. But let's imagine that hypothetically I was not particularly excited by the announcements and possibly other people were similarly not enthused.

What change to WoW, big or small, would get you excited? I mean resub excited, finding time on your calender excited. I don't mean "I guess I won't unsub yet, it looks good enough."

For myself, I'm going to add the pre-condition that the sub price drops to $1. This is purely to get over my strangely arbitrary cheapness and is not a reflection of what WoW is actually worth. I'd bet that at the current time it would still be worth $15 a month to me. I am not a rational consumer.

I'd like to see massive raids again. While we're at it, old AV or something similar, which mixes large-scale PvP and PvE. That type of content was something I loved, almost a microcosm of WoW, with everything going on in it: rep, questing, PvP, raiding, leveling, even farming for a time.

Dynamic zones. I don't think the unbalanced factions and players would work well with an entirely dynamic world. If we wanted EVE we'd play EVE. But it would be neat to see zones that players could change for a bit of time. Maybe we'd have an outdoor raid to unlock something, like another raid, or a really great farming area. That too, get rid of most daily quests and bring back farming, materials and mob kills, as the primary way that players actively generate income.

My first take on the new talent system

| Friday, October 21, 2011
Klepsacovic: I expect it will fail terrible
ah, irony

It's a big change. But it's not a big enough change. WoW needs a lot to change for talents to ever be truly choices. These changes are beyond just tweaking talents, or even redoing the system entirely. Raiding must change. Classes must change. Groups and soloing would need to change. Core mechanics like aggro and the near-universal immunity to CC and impairments that bosses enjoy would need to change.

I was exaggerating to say it will fail. I'm sure the new talent system will be fun enough and I doubt it will kill WoW. But the new system won't "fix" talents. I believe that is impossible.

Leveling is too slow

You might have noticed me complaining that my warrior was too high for the Barrens by the time he got to them. Well that was stupid! Leveling is too slow, always too slow.

Even if level 13 was too high for Barrens, it was too low for instances. That's what I was interested in. I already knew the leveling game was a mess and hadn't been fixed, but what had changed in the intervening months on the grouping side, that was my real interest. For this, any leveling speed was too slow.

Leveling just gets in the way of the real game, by which I mean grouping at level 15.

Maybe this same lesson can be extended. Possibly it applies to level 85 and grouping then as well. That means that there are not merely 14 barrier levels, but an entire whatever that math would be. More than 14! Unacceptable.

But of course it's all just a trap. I rushed to get to level 15 so I could play in groups. And I did. But before I knew it I was level 20 and geared like a boss. Suddenly all that previous questing stuff was not just a waste of time, it was a really easy waste of time. So of course I stopped doing that. But then there I was, capped out at 20 and gearing up, but gearing up is really just a two-word way to say "running the same places over and over again with various random people who don't want to be there much more than I do."

Damn. Now that leveling thing doesn't sound so bad.

Consistency of Play

| Thursday, October 20, 2011
Some people don't like that WoW starts off with success based on how you play. Then comes raiding, when your ability to play your class still matters, but progression is based on learning new dances, mostly meaning standing in particular places at particular times. They don't seem to think this is much fun.

They might be wrong. It could be that the problem is not the dancing, but raiding, that they as individuals have done it for too long. If they think the learning has shifted from class-based to dance-based, maybe they've just played that class for too long. Dancing may not be the problem at all.

I think they're right, though. I've found a similar pattern in other games. The core gameplay is one type, but some bits of content radically shift away from that.

Poor Rogues
Rogues may have it the worst. The sneaky types, maybe rogues, bandits, assassins, people who are supposed to be in shadows. For much of the game they can sneak. Much of the time they can stay hidden, strike for quick kills, and then vanish. Then come the bosses.

Bosses like to ignore stealth rules. They know where you are unless you're lucky and the devs specifically scripted the boss to be "dumb" and not always know where you are. Apparently not being omniscient makes you stupid. What all this means is that what your role is based on: quick damage from shadows, often with poor defense and health, is ruined. Rogues in WoW may have it the worst, but I have never run into a game that handles sneaking well when bosses are involved.

Minigames are stupid
I don't like minigames much. Maybe some here and there, as an idle distraction, but not much past that. I like to play the game I signed up for, not some gimmick that someone tacked on top of it.


If it is an RTS, I want base-building. I want to build buildings and units and if we're feeling really fancy, have upgrades and technologies. But the buildings and the units are essential. Given this, I don't like missions that give me a few units and tell me to navigate some strange maze of unusually well-planned and perfectly-timed traps. Does it require greater tactical skill to manage them perfectly with no economy giving room for error? Sure. But that doesn't make it more fun. Can you imagine a multi-player Starcraft game where everyone starts with a dozen random units are are told to duke it out? That might be cool, once or twice, but eventually it would get boring and annoying and we'd want our base-building maps back.

Economic management, so-called macro, is critical. Managing production and gathering, expanding well, getting units to where they need to be, these are critical to the gameplay, even before anyone has started shooting. It's like the American Civil War, in which big government accountants crushed the Confederacy, not through martial prowess, but through industrial might.

Splinter Cell
I like the sneaking aspect of the series. I like the finding paths through areas and better ways to kill everyone. I like when there are no bullets leaving enemy guns. Shadows and stealth.

The semi-recent one, Splinter Cell: Conviction is a fine game. I like some of the new mechanics and it was definitely worth whatever discounted price I paid for it. And at times it even gives a sneaky twist to the shootouts, with some shadows and enemies who remember last positions rather than just where I am always. But then there are the levels where I get dumped into a shootout. There is cover, but not much concealment, and of course since it is the middle of a fight, everyone has their flashlights out, so even if there was any space for hiding, I couldn't. These fights piss me off.

Let there be shadows! This doesn't mean that shootouts are bad by themselves. I've played FPS that were just constant bullets with barely any cover and they were fine. But those were what was consistent with the game. So within these games, it is often the sneaking levels that I enjoy less, and the vehicle fights even less than sneaking, such as the "we'll drive a truck and turn constantly so you can't aim, now shoot the tanks with perfect aim and hitscan shells" or the classic "enemy aircraft are coming, use this anti-aircraft gun with a painfully slow turn rate or we'll all die."

Last Bold Type
There is nothing wrong with a different play. Variety is nice. But when players expect, and are almost consistently given, one type of play, and then are randomly or unexpectedly pushed into a significantly different way of playing, that can be a major turn-off.

The Shocking Family History of Anthony Weiner

| Wednesday, October 19, 2011
It's not unusual to find that a family has changed its name since coming to America. Some do it to leave the past behind. Some have their names changed by immigration officials. Some change their names to avoid the latest fad in ethnic hatred.

I suspect my family was the second, but it could also be that we're more German than we think. But speaking of secret Germans: Anthony Weiner.

Once upon a time his family went by a common German name: Weimar, which is German for "German equivalent of smith". Then came the world wars, in which Germany took on the entire world, more-or-less single-handed*, but lost, due to not being America. In the process Germans became a little tiny bit unpopular in America, or perhaps a little tiny bit more so, considering Prohibition was partially driven by a desire to crush the Irish and German populations in America. Under these circumstances, the name Weimar was not a good one to have. Less so when Germany became known as the impressively incompetent (and mention economically oppressed) Weimar Republic, which gave us the face of hyperinflation (more media-savvy than Zimbabwe). So his family did the only sensible thing: changed its named to Weinar.

All might have been okay, but it appears that a prankster at the Department of Giving Ethnics Less Ethnic Names (DoGELEN (pronounced D-o-gellen, not dog-ellen)) decided to go one step further and change the name to Weiner. Since they still didn't speak English, they were unable to see the different between e and a, and did not question the change. It helped that at the time, while not many or for very long, there were still some German-Americans being interned during WWII.

He got the name Anthony after his equally-not-English-speaking parents (equal to his grandparents) mistakenly thought that Italians were not discriminated against.

D all this, he managed to rise to a fairly important political office, did some quality shouting, and then threw it all away by tweeting his penis, which sounds like a euphemism for something much worse. It just goes to show, Benjamin Franklin was right when he said,
“Why should Pennsylvania … become a Colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion?”

*Austria hardly counts and whatever gains Japan gave for the Axis powers were lost by pulling the US into the war directly. Hence the now-corrupted phrase: "don't mess with Hawaii."

In related news, Texas Representative Ron Paul is refusing examination by doctors to confirm if he is actually 105 year old Ayn Rand.

WoWing Around Again: Silverpine

| Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Turn on the music.

First impression: Looks like someone is looking for a war. Big big Forsaken army, with lots of plague launchers.

You're just in time, Octondenub. It is Octondenub, right?

Grand Executor Mortuus looks at a sheet of paper.

Yes, that's what the paperwork says: "Octondenub."

Grand Executor Mortuus points to your name on the sheet of paper.

Yep, that's a Forsaken.

Garrosh arrived as I'd expect: jumping in and yelling the second he arrived. Things went uphill from there, with him actually sounding quite reasonable when questioning Sylvanas' use of val'kyr. Perhaps she could have phrased things better, saying that the Horde would lose its grasp on Lordaeron rather than the Forsaken. Maybe all the skilled tricksters of diplomacy died when the Apothecaries revealed themselves.

"They won't take out land without a fight!" - Forsaken soldier and something between irony and hypocrisy

As would be expected, the first quests involve ingredients for plague. And killing worgen. For which I was giving a Nubish Cloak. Like a nub, I was happy to get it.

I'm still not sure of the point of plague. It doesn't seem to actually be contagious. So it's a chemical weapon. But then I'm still not seeing the benefit over explosives, since it often seems to disperse quickly. I suppose it's one of those examples of how cultural norms drive weapon development. They died to plague stuff, so they make plague. I'm an American so I lean toward nukes and drones. Or ideally, nuclear drones (Get to it, Obama! We know it isn't legality holding you back.)

It really is an act of brilliance for a Forsaken to hide in an outhouse. It hides his stench. Quite clever. Poor Yorik.

After that there is more running. I see a very tall Ettin. It is elite and it wanders. Being so visible, it is a poor substitute for the Sons of Arugal, but I appreciate the effort.

"Goblins got us drunk" may be the worst excuse ever for getting your ass kicked by a bunch of Twilight fans.

"Within the butt of this bush chicken is a stick of dynamite." On one hand this means that the ettins are just another gimmick quest mob rather than a sinister stalker of nubs, on the other hand, it's a Forsaken quest involving an exploding chicken which is also coated with diseased organs, so that's a point up in my book.

I was sent off to kill spiders and rescue orcs, with a vague hint of 'if you see the broodmother that would be a good time to kill her'. Then I saw a rare spawn spider, but that was not her. So I ventured into the mine to find the broodmother, and found her I did. I got some nice boots. Then I broke out the victims near her and killed another spider (but not the last one for the kill quest). At which point I got the quest to kill her. Yet another case where it would be great if quest credit could be gained for quests not yet given. Apparently completing either the kill or rescue will trigger the matriarch quest, which is an improvement, and something I did not know quests could do.

Kill the refugees. Okay. That just sounds like a war thing to do, particularly for the Forsaken, who are unlikely to be shown and mercy in turn. Bring with a val'kyr to raise them as new Forsaken. Well... okay, I guess. It didn't seem like such a horrible thing back in Deathnell. Also, mind control them. Uh... With all due respect, Ms. Sexy Corpse Lady Queen, those are not new Forsaken, they are merely tools. The Forsaken are the free-willed undead, not slaves. If you want to kill humans and raise slaves, I can see the practicality of it. But do not call them Forsaken!

I won't spoil it, though it probably has been many times already elsewhere, but let's just say, that was a surprise, both what happened and the reaction of Agatha.

Then Sylavanas gives a speech which seemed to consistent mostly of cognitive dissonance with the quest I had done five minutes before. This was interrupted by a dungeon queue for VC, which as a rogue meant ending the cinematic so I wouldn't miss it. That seems to have broken the quest and I did not get discovery credit, so no FP from the Sepulcher, so I had to run back, then abadon it to remove the phasing that was hiding Sylvanas.

Then I got a quest called "Honor the Dead." This was paired with the similarly hypocritically named "Excising the Taint." The followup was triggered by the worgen killing and had me find a book. I can find books. Or I thought I could. Searching all over the place with no luck. No named mobs in sight, nothing. Eventually I was just running around without stealth. And got attacked in the barn. Huh? I didn't see anyone in the barn and I checked it twice! I see what you did there, Blizzard; you made a quest mob that spawns when the player is close, but not if they are stealthed, meaning that rogues can only do this quest once they are frustrated enough to run around aimlessly unstealthed, as opposed to being the purposeful, sneaky types that they are supposed to be. That's just stupid.

On the plus side, my brief trip into VC didn't totally screw up the mob levels. They're still green rather than grey. I'm guessing another dungeon run will fix that terrible problem of mobs giving xp.

Now I'm at the Forsaken Front. Does it ever not rain in Gilneas? I seem to be missing a few objects, because the quest herb and catapult shots have been replaced with blue and white checkered boxes. The ettin throwing boulders was a nice touch.

Then everyone died and everything was ruined. I don't think I've ever spent so much time as a Forsaken running away from imminent defeat.

So yadda yadda transimensional portal attunement, you know,a typical day. And then I saw a Witchalok. "What is a Witchalok?", you ask. Click the damn links! Also, they have doomskulls, which have a very high magnitude of doom. And, armies of wolfoids. Unless you're looking to take on a nearly-invincible elite, you'll want to avoid the doomskull. To top it all off, they are immune to sap. Can you believe it?

Godfrey really likes shooting people he doesn't like. Including other Forsaken. He fits right in. Perhaps too well...

The zone ends with a battle, in which I took no part because my job was to run really, really fast after Sylvanas while she shouted at people.

And that's Silverpine.

WoWing Around Again: Forsaken

| Monday, October 17, 2011
Let's start not at the start, with a quest, a murloc quest.

An old Forsaken man is lonely. He has money, but wants a murloc companion. I guess all the dogs around are plagued. So I go to the beach with a leash and instructions to capture a murloc, which of course requires a bit of uh, let's just say pacification. Hit it until it is at low health and then capture it.

What do murlocs do at low health? That's right, they run. Where do they run? Of course toward other murlocs. But not just any murloc, oh no, to the much bigger and more dangerous rare spawn murloc named Muad. I'm not sure who named him.

But to get to the point: I died. Deadered. Then I ran back and found the a minor vilefin oracle has higher relative DPS than me. So I died again. So far I think Blizzard has done an excellent job with the new Forsaken starting experience.

Arise, Octonde, and with your new undeath, do what we tell you to do, because you have free will now.
I wasn't quite sure why the one guy whose name I forgot seemed to instantly fall in line. Sure, I suppose if I was undead I'd join the Forsaken. It's really the only logical thing to do if just about everyone would kill you and there is a group of people who will fight beside you. But the change was so quick, and the mention of the Dark Lady seemed odd. If I found myself undead, my first few thoughts would not include my obligation to help Sylvanas, even if I was planning to join her.

But whatever, at least the guy has hands now.

There is the usual stuff of killing non-threatening wildlife and whatever the local evil is, in this case Scourge who walk in circle.

The murloc almost killed me a third time. Maybe I should learn mutilate off-hand.

I might need it to take on this elite level 5 quests. EPIC FOUR POINT EVISCERATE FOR 43 damage and I live with only a few health left. Go me.

It felt good bringing him the murlock.

Oh hey, a Redpath. I remember those fellas. They're all dead, except maybe the one at Light's Hope, unless he somehow died too. My guess is that Varian killed him, because that's what he does, kill things to ruin everything. Like Onyxia. I'm still bitter about that retcon. Anyway, the Redpath decided to start a faction of Forsaken, but clearly failed at his goal of "having elbows" and so of course I killed him.

And then I went to go kill more farmers and steal their pumpkins, because sometime tradition is important.

A Scarlet Letter
Poor Lillian, scared to be undead. So stubborn. Why? Of course no one likes being killed and then raised as a walking corpse, but she seemed unusually resistant, without being one of the mindless types.

Hey, spoilers!

The daughter of the High Priest of the Scarlet Crusade. Wow. Now that's an interesting situation. The Crusade was at least nice enough to capture, until orders, from her father, ordered her to be killed. But what a strange thing to say "You were too dangerous in life, and now you're far too dangerous in death." What was she? He called her a witch, as if he knew of something. She killed him with some sort of dark energy. Yep, sounds just like the new Scarlet Crusade!
Protip: there are a bunch of sea cucumbers clustered under the big rocks.

Poor Gordo never got his gloomweed. Why do they keep sending him to pick herbs?

Somehow the rare spawn Lost Soul gave me 1200 xp. Unrested, no heirlooms, no hacked-in xp potions from the f2p future. For reference, level 7-8 requires 4500 xp. Looking it up on wowhead I learned that multiples can spawn, so of course I had to go find them. I found one and it gave 900xp. Hm. Less because it was lower level? I didn't check on either one. Or is this some strange diminishing return mechanic so we don't farm it for levels? I need a third one to see if I get 600. While I'm at it, a fourth and fifth to see if I can hit zero. For science! Log in the next day and kill one for 1237, obviously that includes some rested, but my combat log isn't showing the xp, so I can't subtract the rested. But clearly not headed for 600, or zero. A level 7 one was up and gave 1200 xp. They all give 6-slot bags. Totally worth killing! Except this science experiment has put me a level off the curve, plus whatever the screwed up leveling was doing anyway.

Apparently Lillian has been busy. By "busy" I mean "busy killing over a dozen Scarlet Crusade." That's pretty impressive for an NPC. Plot doesn't have that much killing very often. On the way there I was surprised at how many darkhounds carry small vials of blood inside themselves.

Dealing with the Worgen infiltrators was pretty neat. I liked that they didn't do the usual "they have stealth but really weak so you see them from across the town", but instead had some dust clouds to see them by.

Leper gnome! Aw, he's so cute. I wonder if he's being literal when he ask if I've "drained them of their ichor", I assumed the gnolls carried it in their pockets, not their veins. He's a smart little guy though. He knows that the offspring always seek revenge, so logically I should go scare... tadpoles. But why does it work while stealthed? Either they can't see me, or they can, and what is less frightening than a rogue failing a stealth check?

At level 11 the quests are still of a reasonable level. I hope that is maintained.

Lillian Voss continues to be a badass. I'll leave it at that.

Time for Silverpine!

Imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever.

| Friday, October 14, 2011
I didn't have to nuke France. I didn't have to nuke that city. It wasn't heavily defended. It wasn't of any strategic importance. It wasn't even a big city. It just happened to be in range and I just happened to have an atomic bomb. One of my own units was nearly killed in the blast. It was, by any reasonable calculation, a complete waste. The war was won and there was no one who needed intimidating. My vast and advanced army took care of that.

I have ruled this land for thousands of years. I have not been a kind ruler. Early on I decided that the English cities were in sub-optimal locations and burned them down, replacing them with my own settlers. Eventually I did it again, but never got around to building replacement cities. What you might call Africa has a vast empty area along the western coast. And what you might call Canada received similar fiery treatment as I rolled over the French army.

It wasn't always like this. We used to be friends. France was distant and did not threaten us at all. They had gold and I had resources. We traded together. We researched together. A war made no sense at all from any economic perspective. Even when their economy slowed and they had less to spend, they still were worth keeping as a friend. But then I noticed their culture. They could have been on the verge of cultural dominance of the world. This terrified me. All my land, wealth, and science could not stand up to the Utopia Project. So I did what I always did: I invaded. While their cultural power was without peer, their military strength was a joke. They did have a moderately effective air force, but fighter planes can only do so much against such a large army, and were helpless when they found themselves grounded when tanks rolled into cities.

All of it was a means to power. Friends are not friends, but friendly faces who ignorantly give us more power than we give them.

They should have saved China. China was the gateway. Once Almaty fell I had a route out of Africa and China in the Middle East was the first to fall. From China I could attack anyone. And I did. Persia was shattered and driven to the cold north. The Ottomans may be safe in the far east, but France looked safe on that distant continent to the west. On the other hand, I know they have the ability to create nuclear weapons. That war could be more trouble than it is worth.

If any courts existed with power, I'd be the first one against the wall, with a noose around my neck and poison in my veins just to be certain. I destroyed the greatest culture the world had ever seen. I killed millions. Maybe more. I burned down cities that did not conform to my vision, with no regard for the vision of others. Maybe I'd be against that wall, but I'm on the spaceship.

I wonder if Alpha Centauri has any alien life. They should be fun to kill.

Spaces, supplies, stats, and songs about shamans

| Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm a two-spacer. I'm not quite sure why. But apparently, two-spacing is wrong. Modern fonts are designed for single spaces after the period. And yet, I am still, as I write this, using two spaces after the period. It's habit. Period tap tap. My thumb cannot help it. My right thumb that is. My left thumb, as far as I can tell, is nearly useless during typing. Lazy jackass.

I'm a bit stubborn. This isn't to say that I am conservative, merely stubborn. I am dead set on how things should be, even if that is not how they actually are. Contrast this with conservative thought which is dead set that things are how they should be. And then for another perspective, try reactionary thought which says that things were best as they were. People aren't very consistent with these. They are conservative in some areas (I didn't want to give up Windows XP), reactionary in others (bring back vanilla!), and progressive in others (socialized gay abortions). Though the circular, or more accurately, helical nature of history means that while anti-Wall Street sentiment seems progressive today, it's actually a very old idea (and older if we look beyond the symbol of Wall Street to banking in general), or that once upon a time, the idea of capitalism was a radical new concept that was shattering the social order.

Anyway, I found an interesting article on spaces after periods. I'm not sure I'm going to change, mostly due to laziness and forgetting about this in a couple days.



I had my econ midterm yesterday. It went... well... ish. I knew the material, I just didn't know it fast enough, so I ended up rushing near the end and certainly lost some points due to that. But I think I'll still get a B, or as they call it in Canada, Zed.

It made me wonder if the problem was a matter of excessive intervention in the time economy. The professor set a maximum supply of time, and even made it impossible to exchange time among students, meaning that even if there were a few who had an excess personal supply of time, other students had a shortage of time. Perhaps we would be better off if we could instead bid for time. For example, give everyone the standard amount of time as one extra credit point. They could then trade time for points, so that students who desperately needed more time could give up some points with the expectation that they could get more through improved test performance, while students who needed less time could trade useless time for valuable points. Maybe I should send that idea to our professor.

After the example a few of us went to an Irish pub that I did not know existed. They had Guinness. This made me happy.

Stats midterm is next week. That worries me more than econ. Economics makes perfect sense: you take wildly false assumptions, plug them into an overly simplified model, and out fall answers that vaguely resemble reality if you don't look to closely. In contrast, statistics takes a vague stab at reality and can sometimes tell you if you're wrong, but stubbornly refuses to ever say if you're right. It's like a bad boss, but for analysis. And less readily understandable.

I'm not trying to suggest that I don't like statistics. I like statistics. I think we need more statistics and number-based analysis. But that doesn't mean that I personally am especially good at statistics or that I enjoy the work of fiddling with numbers to try to figure out what reality is. I take comfort in knowing that I am not a theoretical physicist.

A statistically invalid use of machinema to analyze the perceived relative effectiveness of shamans within the game World of Warcraft.
Uploaded Sep 12, 2010

Uploaded Jun 6, 2011

Happy Friday! Er. Thursday. Happy [this]day!

Google home page depicts shocking gay sex

| Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Here's the link to the infamous Google: http://www.google.com

The first G is a wooden block. It does nothing. Or does it?

The first O is a red ball of clay, which when activated, turns into a little red clay guy with a J on his head. He looks around. Then from the block pops up another red guy with a G on his head.

The G-guy jumps on the J-guy, with smiles all around. They wrestle and become one, in the process displaying the letters G and J, which clearly stand for Good Job.

Good job indeed Google. Is this the sort of shocking imagery that children need to see? NO! Those kids are at google searching for naked pictures of celebrities, wholesome, heterosexual desires but before they can do that you bombard them with this shocking depiction of gay sex, followed by a congratulatory message to those who managed to stomach the multi-second-long scene of depravity.

Also, Google, since I'm sure you were tracking, I only watched it multiple times to ensure that I was sure of what I was seeing and so I could give a full description, thereby saving my readers from the horrors to which you would subject them.

Let's see what Bing has.
Popular now: Demi Moore· World War Z· Zsa Zsa Gabor· NBA lockout· Republican debate

Those are all reasonable topics, though with a strange bias toward Zs.

Minecraft needs a badge system

I've been digging and digging, hoping to find some redstone. I'd like to make gates for my town and pistons are the key. Also I want a compass so I don't get quite as lost when I am searching for the redstone that I need for my compass. ... Damn. And a map. I recently learned that I can make maps, but maps require compasses, so I need a map to not get lost while finding redstone for the compass so I can make a map to not get lost while listening to the song that never ends. It keeps going on and on, my friends. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue singing it forever just because it is the song that never ends...

My point is that this is a perfect example of the central tendency of means theorem or something like that, which says that as we take more and more sample means we'll tend toward the population mean, and will create a normal distribution, such that I don't have my stats exam until next week so why am I worrying so soon? Anyway, spend an hour mining and your odds aren't so great, but spend ten hours mining and it gets better. Larger sample sizes decrease variance, which we could loosely think of as fairness.

It takes a lot of time for things to average out to on getting their deserved redstone ore deposits.

Clearly what minecraft needs is a badge system. Merely running through a cave, whether it has redstone or not, should give "minepoints" which can then be redeemed for a selection of desired ores. Early on players might just get iron or coal, but as they advance they could redeem the same number of points for nicer things like gold and blue dye stuff. Months down the road Notch could implement diamond ore purchases.

It makes sense after all. I mean, why should a player run through a dangerous mine and possibly leave with nothing more than a few bits of iron and possibly his life?

Or maybe this doesn't make any sense at all. While it is redstone that drives me underground, my actual enjoyment isn't in receiving redstone, but in the gameplay itself. The fun is not the reward, and certainly not when it is handed out for trivial tasks, but in the exploration and adventure. Maybe the really deep chasm I found under my town doesn't have any redstone (it may take days to fully explore), but that's not the point. I go there because it is there. I have fun figuring out routes, whether in or out or looping back on myself ten times over while fleeing skeletons and spiders before I finally find the waterfall that I used as a ladder on my way down.

Yea, I made a ladder out of a waterfall. I was facing a really deep hole and it was either jump (die), dig around and around (boring), or dump the bucket of water and swim down. I didn't actually know why I decided to bring the water. Certainly not for this. But I figured, you gotta have a bucket of water. Everyone has one.

Minecraft needs rope too.

P.S. I am going to try to make tomorrow's post about Silverpine. Or maybe Civilization. My point is that I want to mix things up and not go on a Minecraft post binge. But maybe today's post isn't actually about Minecraft anyway.

P.P.S. I did eventually find a decent bit of redstone. As is typical, I found it within seconds of whining to a friend about my inability to find redstone.

Minecraft: Upon Pillars of Sand

| Tuesday, October 11, 2011
NPCs are idiots. They built this really nice village, then apparently fled, despite having more than enough torches to keep away hostile mobs. Except in the biggest house which had one torch, not enough to prevent a creeper spawning inside. And what I suspect was their watchtower or church, or both (though it lacks bells), which also had insufficient lighting on the upper levels.

This isn't the full stupidity. There is also the location. I haven't fully explored it, but on at least two sides of it, there are caverns. This means that the sand that is the basis of the desert can, if disturbed, collapse, into a cave that players need to dig out of. I'm actually understating it. On one side it's a small cave, apparently too narrow for hostiles to spawn inside. On the opposite side, there is a larger cave system, mostly unexplored by me, which extends an indeterminate distance under the town. What I have found suggests that it goes very far in several directions. The sounds I hear under the sand in other areas suggest that the cave system may go entirely under the town, possibly at a very shallow depth.

The town is built on pillars of sand.

I'm currently leveling it all out, to get flat roads, though is a major slope on one side and so I have to let it be a bit higher. Stage two is going to be digging out the bottom of the town and adding a foundation of stone, layered again with sand and gravel. This is to ensure that I don't cause a major cave in while trying to explore the caves. Instead I'd cause the major cave-in while digging at the surface, which I think might be better.

Future stages will call for the repair of a farm plot that fell victim to a creeper attack and the dynamiting of some nearby hills that overlook the wall. I plan to fill the resulting irregular holes with water. The ocean isn't far away and I have a bit of iron for buckets.

In the meantime, while I work up the will for a major project like digging up the entire town, I built another small house for storage and added a basement to the biggest one, with lots of windows so it doesn't feel closed-in.

As part of the beautification effort, I will, someday, clear out the valley being created by my excavations, smoothing out the bumps and opening it to the sun. Then I will line it with dirt, drop some water in, and plant trees. It will be a valley of life next to my strangely deserted town.

Minecraft: A Retraction

| Monday, October 10, 2011
I would like to offer a partial, sort-of correction to my earlier post The weakness of Minecraft as an explorer game.

I had not been keeping up well with the changes coming out, partly because when Minecraft updates, unlike WoW, I am not stuck sitting staring at an update screen with ample time to read the patch notes (mage armor has a new, unique icon). So I miss stuff. And the new stuff often doesn't appear in old worlds, since they have already been generated.

Well, I made a shiny new world and let's just say I was wrong.

Minecraft locations lack a significant sense of uniqueness. While they are all different, most places of the same biosphere look essentially the same.
Let's see, to start off, I have never started in a tree. Or on top of a tree. In the middle of a very dense forest. I am going to have a hell of a time once I make a flint. From there, I wandered my way toward what I am pretending is north (this is not based on looking at the sun, but off what my subconscious decided; H0 d=north) and there I found mountains of great mountainousness. And cliffs. After some digging the night came and creepers came and my unfortified position got blown up and I fell very far. Somehow I thought the first night had been changed to be safe, so I'd not bothered to wall off my stairs.

So already stuff looks different different. That was before I went out to the desert. Not so far away I found a town. A town which I initially suspected was filled with zombies, based on the zombie sounds. It turns out there is a cave system directly underneath the town. I'm in the process of excavating it, a process I began because initially I assumed the sandstone was a sign of buried Egyptians (my world education is a bit limited, but as far as I can tell, Egyptians turn into sandstone when buried). If I had read the patch notes I would have known that sand compacts into sandstone after 4-5 blocks. Anyway, town with scary things under it, much more interesting than the usual barren world.

Minecraft doesn't do beauty. This isn't a knock on the graphics; it just isn't a game that generates beautiful places.
Sunrise over the dense forest actually seemed a bit beautiful. And the town was sorta nice. I'm surrounding it with sandstone walls in the hopes of creating a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Also, so I can dig out under it and just worry about scaries in the caves without also worrying about scaries from everywhere else.

There are no people in Minecraft. There are none before you and none after you. What you find is the result of chaos and is meaningless.
Technically still true (in single player), but the NPC towns do imitate some sort of people having been there. T addition of Enders, a new type of mob which moves around blocks and may decide to attack you if you stare at it [insert feminist joke] adds some sort of pretend intelligence shaping the world, albeit randomly.

A pile of rocks and ancient ruins are different because of the human element, even if both are essentially just piles of rocks.
The piles of rocks have been supplemented with pretend ancient ruins, and not just the empty villages (why are they empty? SCARY! Real answer: Notch is busy). There are also, or will be 'soon', secret stongholds of the Enders, places of mystery and unknowns, both known and unknown, as well as unknowns knows and known knowns.

Minecraft is still a randomly generated world of random stuff, but it doesn't look quite as chaotic as before and imitates the existence of intelligent life, becoming a stronger explorer game in the process.

WoWing around again: Holy Cow

| Friday, October 7, 2011
Yep, a tauren paladin. Or more accurately, a sun druid, but does anyone say that? No! Because people like to use imprecise terms and overgeneralize. This is one cause of racism. My point is that anyone who says tauren paladin is bringing the world one step closer to the Fourth Reich.

The tauren are under attack from highly aggressive quillboar, driven from their dens by the cataclysm, who are, of course, neutral. Blizzard really kept the original vibe of the tauren starting area and did a good job of layering the low-level paladin experience on top of it, creating a top-notch incredibly dull experience.

I turned into an eagle and then got bored and quit.

Coming soon: Forsaken!
Sneak Preview: Lillian Voss is a badass!

Did you have fun during Vanilla WoW?

| Thursday, October 6, 2011
There's a new poll over there in that there corner up there.

If you played in vanilla, did you enjoy it? You don't need to have played for the entire time, I didn't, but maybe a few months before the 2.0 patch, since the pre-expansion patches and changes can have a major impact on the fun of a game, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

I'm not sure whether to exclude people who only played a short time, as in a few days or less. In that case maybe it just wasn't the type of game for them at the time, regardless of what the game was, but maybe that's important too. If you played for a good bit of time and quit, that still counts as playing, but if you quit because you stopped having fun, put it as a no vote.

Maybe I'm trying to hard to make this an accurate poll when I know it won't be anyway. So vote whatever you think is closest to the truth. Then we can argue about it. :)

Dungeon depth, bag space, loss aversion, and diminishing returns on wealth gain

Value / Weight
This is the ratio that dominates my play in Fallout. I can't say I enjoy it very much. It's repetitive and best performed by a computer, except if all my loot came with a pre-calculated and displayed value/weight ratio, I don't think I'd enjoy that much. I don't know why I wouldn't. Just one of those human irrationalities.

But there is another problem: vendor cost may be lower than the value I place on it and the value I place on it is a bit murkier. Does a crafting material for my rail spike gun have a value related to the sell price of the gun? No! Well, sort of! No! If I valued the gun the same as the vendor cost, I'd be selling it, not firing it. So not only is the material vendor price almost meaningless, but the proportion of the material to the gun to its sell price is also meaningless. I still need to figure out what the gun is worth to me.

Picture yourself deep in a vault, dungeon, mine, or whatever else you can go deep inside and have a lot of trouble getting out. If you are a young child who knows Lassie, then you are in a well. With a bag filled with rail spike gun parts and boar spleens. Protip: empty your bags before falling in a well, noob.

Okay, you're deep in there and you don't exactly want to pull out a calculator after every kill to see what everything is worth and compare it to what you are picking up. Alright, 507/1.2 vs. 692/2.3 (yea, this one is obvious), but there is also an item of indeterminate value, aka the value I put on it, and weight of 7. Is 507/1.2 greater than x/7? I don't know. Okay let's see, if I can make that gun with this spike and a few other things, but I have extras of these, so maybe I should vendor them, but maybe later on I will run out and then I'll want these, and I can't really value something with an unknown supply...

Are you picturing yourself having fun yet?

We could easily bypass this problem by removing limits on bag capacity or in this case, carrying capacity. Everything would then have a value greater than zero, which given that there is always an empty space, zero is the alternative value to consider. Is this fun? I don't think that is much fun either, just running through the halls filling up bags that never fill up. There are no decisions at all.

Somewhere in here we want to decide a few times, a little bit, without being overwhelmed. By we I mean me.

Dungeon depth / Bag space
Here's the ratio to look at. Ideally over the course of a dungeon we want slightly more than we can carry, bags overflowing with valuable loot, so we're trying to pick out which items are gems and which are colored glass.

But what about the other two things?
Loss Aversion
People don't like losing things. Except bad things, but those are a special case. People don't like losing things that they like to have. This is not at all unreasonable. It is the opposite: very reasonable. And, we try to avoid losing things that we like to have, as an obvious extension of avoidance of negative experiences, in this case, the experience of losing things that we like to have.

I like having parts to make rail spike guns. I don't like dropping or destroying parts to make rail spike guns. I cannot quite determine how much I dislike losing parts to make rail spike guns because I don't have a value for them, so the bad could range from slightly more than none to infinite. I could, theoretically, be psychologically destroyed by the act of destroying a part for a rail spike gun. I suspect this is unlikely.

But beside this there is another set of words that I am going to put in bold type:
Diminishing Returns on Wealth Gain
Five bits of time into the dungeon I pick up an item with a value/weight ratio of 1/1. A pretty crappy item. I can also see that my value/time ratio is 1/5. Five bits further in I find a 2/1 item, but my bags are full, so I drop the 1/1 item for the 2/1. Now I have found 3 value in 10 bits, but can only carry 2 value, meaning that despite finding a more valuable item, I am still at a steady 1/5 value/time ratio. Another ten bits in and I find a 4/1 item, so I drop the 2/1 and now I have 4 value but over 20 bits and I'm finding that despite going deeper in, each unit of time I spend is not yielding any greater return than the one before.

"So where are the diminishing returns," you ask. Every bit I run in, I must also run out. But obviously all that is doing is doubling the time cost of everything. Now what if I'm also spending more time shuffling around these items and calculating costs, which is trivial with 1/1 items, but the 507/1.2 and 692/2.3 items are a bit more difficult, and we've not even considered the crippling indecision of the x/7 item.

Now consider that you run in and every bit you grab a 10/1 item. Then you run out of those and every bit you're finding 15/1 items. And then 16/1 items. You went from 10/1 value/time to 5/1 value time (replacing 10 with 15 rather than gaining 15) to a mere 1/1 time, as bad as if you were in that crappy first dungeon with 1/1 items laying around.

With generous teleporting you might just leave and come back, emptying bags each time, but that is effectively just the unlimited bag space with loading screens thrown in.

The Point
It's not fun to have really long instances with tons of stuff dropping in them, particularly when the relative value of the items is hard to determine. If there is a lot of 1/1 stuff but a clearly distinct set of 50/1 items, then players can more easily reject the 1/1 items as pointless. Absolute value doesn't matter as much as relative value. Choosing between a 1/1 and 50/1 is close enough to choosing between 50/1 and 2500/1 that it is probably better to start with the former scenario and only use inflation if you're trying to drive an economy or create the illusion of progress.

WoWing Around Again: Northern Barrens

| Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Doing no instances, and obviously with no heirlooms, I was level 13, with the mobs green, by the time I got to the Barrens. So there's that, the leveling is still screwed up. It got worse after I ran RFC and VC. Surprisingly, the RFC group stayed until the quests were done rather than ditching after the loot bag. I guess they all had the quests.

So the Barrens started off nicely. I got to kill plainstriders for their beaks, which of course they don't all have. I freed some wolves from a fire and killed some quillboar. Then I killed more quillboar, because, why not?

They wanted me to escort a caravan of kodo to the next hub over, which I assumed meant "slowly walk behind while the occasional quillboar causes every single NPC to stop walking for 10-15 seconds, then run back to where they started and give it another go." Instead I was given a big gun and told to shoot things from the back of the lead kodo. So of course I did, killing about as many passing zhevra and vultures as marauding quillboar.

Then I killed more quillboar and tortured one for good measure, which of course worked, because as we all know, hitting people causes them to want to give you useful and accurate information.

The Broken Body Parts Theory
There is a theory which attempts to explain the observation that body part quests have a drop rate of less than 100%. The theory states that "During the course of combat, body parts may be damaged, rendering them unsuitable for turn-in to the quest giver." This suggests that body parts always exist, but may not be able to be turned in. It held up to years of scrutiny. But I think its time is over.

I have obtained, from the same Zhevra, both "hooves" and a "broken hoof piece". The former are able to be turned in, while the latter is vendor trash. This seems to confirm Broken Body Part Theory, since the hooves with no adjective, which are presumably undamaged, can be turned in, while the broken piece cannot. But take note: these came from the same animal. Damaged and intact from the same beast. This means that zhevras not only have multiple hooves, but that some hooves can be damaged while others are not, meaning that, in theory, we could scavenge the few intact hooves from multiple zhevras to create full sets of hooves. More research is called for.

There is also the fringe "Probabilistic Theory" which claims that all items from creatures are randomly generated, independent of the combat state of the creature. This is obviously disproven by testing in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj, where different kill orders of a certain group of bugs yields, with repeated tests, different items.

Back to the Barrens.

It's a bit hard to evaluate the zone when I'm overleveled. It's not that challenge is lost, because frankly there wasn't much to begin with, but that the feel changes. At yellow I kill at a regular pace with some pauses. At green I rush from one to the next, fueled by victory rush. And then at grey I slow again, as I stop getting victory rushes.

On the plus side, the quests have a nice structure, giving a bunch for an oasis, then the next. This was possible to do pre-cata, but took a tiny bit of effort to be sure to have all the quests and keep track of where chains went. It appears that hunters have gotten what is certainly a justified gift: Echiyakee now must be "Slain or Subdued", which means that hunters can now tame him for the quest credit.

Jumping back, there is a chain from Durotar which used to lead into the Barrens and then send players up some godforsaken mountain for the standard vanilla quest reward for lots of travel: almost nothing. Now the chain hits the Barrens and ends, with the quest ender saying essentially "Burning Blade can wait, we have the cataclysm to worry about." This annoyed me. Thankfully, the Burning Blade does get picked up later on, with a bit of "kill a bunch of them" with a touch of "take their precisely manufactured bolts" because for some reason evil demon cults stockpile engineering components. Also,

Waaaahhh! It's raining orc!!

Yep, goblin teleporter, with the instructions of "Stand still. And hold your breath in case you end up over the ocean..." On the subject of goblins, the samophlange quests were streamlined a bit, probably for the best, considering what they used to be. But maybe something is lost. I mean, how can you grow to despite goblins if all they do is teleport you around a bit? In the old version you ran halfway across the zone and then they broke it, sending you right back where you were, to someone else to break it even more. That breeds a proper hatred for the mutated miniature freaks.

Then I went on a ride in a goblin rocket, which I won't even bother with spoiler alerts, because it's pretty much expected: it crashed. Since I was in the neighborhood, some orc who happened to live next to the crash sight sent me to kill harpies. This offended me, that he would have the nerve to send me to kill not just low-ranking harpies, but also lieutenants, and when they were dead, the head harpy. So not only was the run there and back much shorter than it used to be, I only had to do it once. What an outrage.

I noticed a recurring theme, at least in my own mind, throughout the Barrens: "Okay, this is probably the last hub." This might have been based on being sent to Stonetalon pretty much right when I got to Crossroads (after only two quest sets). But finally, I was back in Crossroads and being sent on a caravan up north. Time to go! Wait, first, someone got kidnapped by the evil orcs, so go free him and while you're up there, see if you can save the world, if the opportunity comes up.

But finally I rode out, with my gun not just able to shoot and bash people (I gained that second one riding into Crossroads), but also I had some sort of anti-aircraft gun. I guess I don't know how to aim at anything more than 6 feet off the ground. But anyway, bang boom, crash, riders on wolves and scary flying things and jumping on my kodo and I'm beating them over the head with my gun and shooting people at a rate that seems unreasonable given that as I recall it was a flintlock gun and would have a firing rate of much less than one shot per second and would certainly have some sort of ammo capacity. On the other hand, wizards.

I suppose you could argue that the stuff at the Mor'shan Rampart (or is it a Bulwark? No, that's near the Plaguelands) is Barrens, but I'm putting it in with Ashenvale, which I might do one of these days.

Serves you right, Tobold

| Tuesday, October 4, 2011
No Facebook refund?
Apparently I was real enough for Facebook to accept my money, until they decided I was not real enough to keep my account.

Sorry, Tobold, but this is actually 100% your fault. You should be glad if all you lost was a bit of money. Be glad you weren't real. You see, Facebook is not just a pointless platform for bad games. It is a world-wide attempt to sucker in everyone, get their personal information, not credit cards, but actual personal information, and then peddle it to the highest bidder. And the lowest bidder as well, because why not maximize profits?

When you deal with bad people, bad things happen to you. Too bad!

But while I'm attacking people I respect, Tesh, you're on notice again for lazy nihilism.
“Fairness” is a pernicious concept. Life’s not fair. Business isn’t fair. It just is, and as long as the parties to a transaction understand what is offered, nothing more can or should be expected.

There is a difference between settling and giving up. Of course life isn't fair, giving up is the wrong way to go. Well, okay fine, for those who are getting the upside of that unfairness, then of course it makes sense for them to want to keep things unfair. We have to settle for less than fair, but never accept it, never give up and throw our hands up sand say "oh well, it's unfair, too bad."

"as long as the parties to a transaction understand what is offered"
And that's just plain a ridiculous assumption. Of course it works quite well when we're dealing with apples and a hundred tons of steel, not so well with an intentionally confusing and misleading ToS. Efficient markets rely on equal information, which your average ToS is designed to prevent, both by information overload, poor writing*, and through those two, encouraging the consumer to just give up and click accept.

Oh of course the consumer doesn't have to click accept. We could refuse the terms if we think they are unreasonable or too long to be readily intelligible. Of course if I tried to follow that rule I'd be unable to write this, having no internet access, no browser, no operating system, no video card, no monitor, keyboard, or mouse. All I'd have is the desktop which was given to me by a friend, who herself probably accepted an unintelligible agreement years back. I'd not be in an apartment and would not have electricity. Not that I could pay for any of that, because I'd have no bank account or credit cards. I would at least have a job, but I don't think they pay in cash.

Our world is based on absurd amounts of legalese. And now I'm depressed to picture that. We're fucked. Totally and absolutely fucked.

Now Tesh doesn't seem quite so dumb. In the face of all that, giving up seems like the only bearable option. Either that or terrorism, and I'm not much of a fan of terrorists.

*Lawyers, admit it, you write like shit. Your entire legal writing method, while theoretically meant to be precise and unambiguous, instead just makes it impossible for a normal human to read, requiring more lawyers to act as translators. You should all be deported until you can learn to write in English.

My opinion has no value

The quoted section is outdated, but I'm including it because I think it is still worth thinking about.
I have no internet in my apartment and I am unlikely to do much online gaming from my laptop in a public space in the university. This makes me a non-customer for MMO companies. I am not a potential customer, regardless of the game, unless it could somehow cause a dramatic shift in the perceived value of an internet connection. Such a game is unlikely, since for me the cost is game + connection, while for the developer, the profit is limited to the game only.

Beside that problem, which has been solved, there is the time problem. I don't have quite as much time. I still have some, thanks to avoiding having a social life, but I don't have the time for my beloved all-day AV battles or full-afternoon BRD runs. I could run a random or two, maybe do some outdoor grinding. But I don't much enjoy quick runs. I want to play a long game, which I don't have time for. I don't want to play a short game, which I do have time for.

I want to play what I cannot. This is a pointless customer, like a poor man who wants a private jet. Companies should ignore them. They should recognize that there are fundamental problems with them becoming customers, things which will not be fixed by tweaks, because tweaks are too small and big changes would destroy the product the customer is after. It would be as if the private jet manufacturer decided to remove the liftoff ability to reduce costs, make the cabin smaller to only hold a couple people, simplify the cockpit controls, and change the wheels to a rectangular layout. In other words, replace their jets with minivans in an attempt to bring in poor customers who want jets.

Maybe this gives some perspective on my thought process, that whether I am intentionally considering it or not, everything I say is from the point of view of someone who is not a paying customer and will not be a paying customer.

I'm pretty sure that just makes me an asshole.


P.S. a full third of you don't play WoW and half of you don't plan to buy the next expansion. So you're all bad people too. We should form a guild! Maybe we can find a game to play together.

A developer who truly understands RPGs

| Monday, October 3, 2011
So before we do too much more with the [bad guys], we're first going to loot, because that's what we do.
-Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: Brigands Hall Demo*

My reaction: "NAILED IT". Then I made this post.

Aggro might be too easy

The scene is Shadowfang Keep. A hunter has pulled. The healer is afk. The warrior is in defensive stance and at low health, since he had been tanking. He pulls out a heavy wool bandage and starts to heal himself.

He gets aggro.
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