Archive for August, 2010

31
Aug
10

Best Pet Name Ever?

As a true nerd, I have a habit of naming my characters after scientists and mathematicians.

When I started my hunter alt, I was faced with a new challenge.  I had to name a pet, as well.  My dilemma was to find a name that was suitable, without denigrating the name of a respected intellectual.

My pet, being a boar, lent itself to the perfect name….

What?  Too nerdy?

30
Aug
10

Killing Time on the Loading Screen

I run WoW on a pretty old computer…  2.2GHz Athlon 64 with 1 GB of RAM.  I also play with a significant handful of add-ons.

The game runs fine, even in 25 man raids, so I have no complaints.  The only time it struggles is on loading screens.  Between my low-end specs and all the add-ons that have to load, I’ll sit on a loading screen for a good 20-30 seconds or sometimes more when zoning into an instance or starting the game.

Usually I just sit there for that time staring at the screen, waiting for something to happen.  Recently I’ve found a couple of activities that fit well into that 30-second time span.


I loved this game when I was a kid (and it was state-of-the-art) and Mattel has faithfully reproduced it and re-released it.  I can get in 3-5 plays while on a loading screen, and then set it aside.  It goes to sleep mode when left alone, so its ready to be picked up again the next time I’m on a loading screen.

I keep about 5-7 games of Words with Friends going at once on my iPod.  Whenever I’m on a loading screen I check the iPod and its usually my turn in at least a couple of games.  In the 30 seconds I’m waiting, I can usually find a word and take my turn in one game.

I love to listen to The Instance podcast.  When I’m playing the game, especially when raiding, I’m too into what I am doing to spare my attention for a podcast.  On loading screens, I can listen to about 30-40 seconds of a segment.  Over the course of a whole night of raiding, that can add up to a good chunk of time.

Of course, I aspire to eventually get a new computer that will run faster and reduce my loading screens.  When that happens I guess my Words with Friends, Mattel Football, and Instance time will be cut severely.  Oh well, you can win em all.

25
Aug
10

The Perfect Age for WoW

Recently, Larisa at the Pink Pigtail Inn wrote a post about being an older player (which she defined as being in her 40′s).

I am the same age as Larisa, and the majority of the core of my guild is within +/- 10 years of that.  I don’t really consider myself an older player.  In fact, I feel like this game was written for my generation.

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This game has its roots set firmly in the high fantasy genre.  The presence of fantasy in literature goes far back in history.  While there are examples found as long ago as Shakespeare, the sword-and-sorcery archetype traces most directly to works such as the Chronicles of Narnia (published in the 1950′s) and The Lord of the Rings (also published in the 1950′s).  As these works gained in popularity, the generation that followed was the first to be regularly exposed to high fantasy authors.

Those who grew up in the 1960′s and 1970′s were the first generation that could easily find Fantasy sections in the bookstore and the local library.

Those folks would be in their 50′s now.  We see a lot more players in WoW in their 40′s than we see players in their 50′s.  I think that is due to a major development that connects the fantasy genre to gaming…

Dungeons and Dragons was released in the mid-70′s but really hit its stride in the late 70′s and early 80′s.  Dungeons and Dragons combined the high fantasy genre with interactive elements and created a game, much like WoW, where the players used magic and might to fight dragons and other creatures.

To recap:  anyone who was in their teens in the late 70′s and early 80′s had been raised  among the growing presence of high fantasy literature, and then had Dungeons and Dragons dropped into their lap.  That specific group of people would be in their 30′s -40′s right now.

But that’s not all.  People in that age group have had the chance to live through the rise of the personal computer.  The 1980′s saw the release of the Apple II and Commodore 64.  Before long, games such as Wizardry and The Bard’s Tale became extremely popular.  These games brought visuals to what had been a pen-and-paper activity before.  They had no animation to speak of, but the still images used to illustrate the action added a new aspect to fantasy gaming.

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To summarize so far:

If you were born in the late 60′s or early 70′s then you

  • grew up with readily available fantasy literature
  • were around for the creation and rise of Dungeons and Dragons
  • lived through the introduction of the personal computer and the creation of fantasy computer games which followed

There’s yet one more factor that I’ll throw into the mix here.  That same generation went away to college in the late 80′s or early 90′s.  At this time the idea of computer networks was young but growing.  There was no internet (as you now know it) at this point, but there were things like IRC chat and BBS forums.  And from that framework came MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons).  These were text-based games that could be played by hundreds of people at once from remote locations.  This was the progenitor of the MMO.  DikuMUD, in fact, can be directly traced as the basis for Everquest, which has obvious links to WoW.

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Now I can connect this to myself.  I lived the timeline detailed above.  In my youth I ate up fantasy novels as fast as my allowance could buy them.  When Dungeons and Dragons came out, my friends and I played a continuous campaign for all of my high school years.

I had a Commodore 64 as a teenager, I cut my teeth on programming with it, learned to love the fantasy games, starting with text-based games like Zork and moving up to still image games like A Bard’s Tale.

I played MUDs in college and was amazed at the added dimension of playing with hundred of other people simultaneously.

When Everquest came out in 1999 it was as if everything I had ever loved were wrapped up in one package and presented to me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or finances to play EQ, with a new job and new family at the time.  However, when WoW came out, I was on it immediately.

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World of Warcraft was written for ME.

My life experience is not unique, though, so I’d extend it to say that World of Warcraft was written for all the nerdy kids of my generation.  All of us who imagined ourselves as Frodo with the One Ring or Shea Ohmsford wielding the Sword of Shannara or Garion trying to learn his powers from Polgara and Belgarath.  Those of us who guided their fighter/thief through battles with bugbears in D&D, who sat in the tavern in the town of Skara Brae to get a new quest in Bard’s Tale, and who meticulously assembled their party in Pool of Radiance.

The younger kids who play WoW are certainly having fun, and I don’t begrudge them their enjoyment one bit.  But they are Johnny-come-lately to the party.  People in their 30′s-40′s are the ideal audience for this game.

P.S. – The stuff about older players having slower reaction time is nonsense when it comes to WoW.  This isn’t a twitch reaction game or a FPS.  A 40 year old can bang on the numbers 111111111222222222111111333333 on the keyboard just as well as a 13 year old.  Server lag is a much bigger factor than reaction time in this game.

20
Aug
10

No Pressure

I didn’t realize how obsessed I’d become.

In the weeks before my guild finally downed the Lich King, I was online a LOT.  I would make sure to log in every night without fail by 8:30 and stay on until midnight, on the off chance that a raid would happen that might get me some gear upgrade or Emblems or anything.

I passed up on chances to go out to the movies with my wife if a raid was happening.  I scheduled all of my weeknights around my WoW time.

Its not as bad as it sounds.  I’m a teacher, so over the summer I have a lot of unscheduled time.  I didn’t shirk my family or job or do anything damaging or unhealthy.  I just really, really wanted to do whatever I could to finish ICC.

Now that the task is complete, all the pressure is off.  I’ve taken a couple of nights off this week to watch TV or do some reading – something I hadn’t done in a while.  I’ve still been logging in most evenings, but I can log on a little later and log off a little earlier without worry that I am going to miss out on something.

This is not one of those “I’m leaving until Cataclysm” posts.  Far from it.  I still have Loremaster to finish, plus I’m working on getting rep with some old world and BC factions.  I’m still working my inscription business and prepping my stockpiles for Cataclysm.

In addition, it would be selfish for me to stop playing now.  Yes, my guild killed LK, but that only got the Kingslayer title for 10 of us.  There are a lot more players in the guild who want that title, so I would be remiss if I didn’t help them.

Plus, I need that title on my MAIN rather than my tank alt.

But its nice to be relieved of that pressure.

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As an aside, I’ll just say something about the idea of dropping your subscription until Cataclysm.

I guess I must be extremely lucky to be in the guild I’m in.  The people in my guild are truly my friends, even though I’ve never met most of them in Real Life.  I’d log into the game just to hang with them even if there were no content to do.

In my situation, I can’t imagine dropping my WoW subscription.  It would be like cutting off a huge piece of my social life.

For all the people who can casually drop their subscription for months at a time, I feel a little bad for them.  I guess they aren’t as attached to their guild or guildmates as I am.  Its not a criticism of those people, but rather a statement of how fortunate I am to have such a good group of friends in game.

19
Aug
10

Cataclysm Musings

When I saw that you would be able to get a Dark Phoenix mount if your guild got the “We are Legendary” achievement, I was excited.  Then I saw that legendaries obtained before Cataclysm didn’t count.  Boo! (not that we have any legendaries, but I think its a harsh decision anyway)

I can see the reasoning.  Its supposed to be a guild reward.  If you have someone in the guild who had the Warglaives of Azzinoth from when they were in another guild, then I can understand why Blizzard wouldn’t want your guild to get credit for it.

That said, if you’ve already gone through the grind to get some of those legendaries, it would suck to have to do them again.

On the other hand, I bet you’ll see people in Molten Core, Ulduar, Black Temple etc… pretty regularly, and that’s cool.

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The Guild Rank system is being overhauled.  As a GM, I can’t express enough how happy this makes me.  The guild rank system is so horrible that I’m amazed it made it this far without causing a riot in Irvine, CA.

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Its fascinating to see the other classes mechanics become more rogue-like.  I read somewhere a description of hunter Focus as being like rogue energy.  I also saw someone compare a paladin’s Holy Power to a rogue’s combo points.  Blizzard has always liked the rogue resource system, so its not surprising.

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What should I do first in Cata?  Level my toon to start endgame quickly?  Speed-level my professions?  Gather ore and herbs and make thousands on the auction house?  Decisions, decisions…

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Bummer that the glyph market is going away in Cataclysm.  One you buy a glyph, you’ll know it forever, so you can switch it in or out anytime without having to repurchase it.

I spent a lot of time and resources powerleveling my inscription.  I’ve made tens of thousands of gold with it, so I’ll be sad to see that easy path to riches vanish.

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Not much rogue news from Beta.  In fact, not many people are talking about Beta at all.  I suspect that since everything is changing so often, there’s no point in talking about the way things are since they might not be that way next week.

One note: Dirty Tricks was removed from the Subtlety tree.  That’s interesting, since it was one of the main reasons that Subtlety became the rogue PvP tree.  Instead of Dirty Tricks, they just extended the range and reduced the cost of Sap across the board.  That should be a good step toward making PvP more fun in all specs.

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Relics are being changed to be more like wands, in that they are essentially stat-hangers instead of being class and spell-specific.  That’s great for the relic classes (paladin, DK, druid).  I can imagine what a pain it is to have such limited options for one of your gear slots.

That said, I think that the relic slot was a big missed opportunity.  I always thought that a “relic” should be some amazing class-specific item with lots of RP-flavor, that perhaps required a class-specific questline to get.  Imagine if a paladin had to quest to get some piece of armor from a past leader of the Order of the Light , and that became his treasured relic.  Or perhaps a druid had to quest to get an item that had originated in the Emerald Dream.

Alas, Blizzard has moved away from class-specific content.  So relics become +crit/+haste stat items.  /sigh

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I wish I were in Beta…

10
Aug
10

Lich King

You know what’s good about the design of the Lich King fight?  It doesn’t matter how much Wrynn buffs your raid.  You still have to do it right or you’ll die.  There aren’t many fights in ICC that manage that feat of design.  Putricide to an extent, and Sindragosa for certain.  But the other fights?  They still need some strategy, but with the 30% buff a lot of the details can be overlooked or even ignored without penalty.

My guild finally got around to killing the Lich King.  We got past Sindragosa some time ago, and had cleared the rest of ICC well before that.  The strategy for Arthas had eluded us until this week when it just clicked, as often happens on these technical fights.

It doesn’t matter how much health you have, if the Val’kyr drops you off the edge then you’re dead.  If you stand in a Defile then the raid wipes.  If the Infest doesn’t get healed away quickly then its unhealable.

What the Wrynn buff does provide is the ability to kill the Val’kyr a little faster, maybe make the heals hit a little harder, maybe let the tank survive a hit that would have killed him otherwise.  It makes the fight more forgiving, but still far from trivial.

Our success brings me happiness, pride and sadness. My happiness is for my guild.  We have a very talented core, but our casual approach to the game has always kept us a little behind the most current progression.  This is the first time that we have killed the hardest available content, even if it took us a long, long time to get around to it.  I’m glad that my group of friends and I have had the opportunity to experience all that WoW has to offer.

My pride comes from the fact that I tanked the fight.  I had almost no experience tanking pre-ICC.  When one of our our main tanks stopped playing WoW, I took my paladin tank from tanking heroics to tanking ToC to defeating the Lich King in a very short time.  I’m glad I was able to do that, for the sake of my guild, since we are very short on tanks.  I felt like I did a good job and that my lack of tanking experience didn’t become a liability.

My sadness is from having the Kingslayer title on a character other than my main.  I really want the achievement to go to Dinaer, so we now need to gear up another tank and get him/her the experience so that he/she can take my place in the fight and let me in there on my rogue. I’m not going to display the Kingslayer title on my paladin until I get it on my main.

Maybe I need to write a tankadin guide to the fight  =)   That would be a change of pace.

Congratulations the The Dragons (Sen’jin-US) on defeating Arthas!  On to heroic modes!




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
August 2010
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