Hard Modes!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Svenn has been working on hard modes a lot lately…sort of…well not so much. While his guild is 7/12 ICC 10 HMs, Svenn has only been raiding 1 night a week (25man), and so has been missing out on all the hard mode goodness. Not one to be left out though, Svenn found an alternate solution to lack of consistent raiding time; Angry Birds!

Angry Birds is an app in which you slingshot birds at pigs in order to “pop” them in retribution for them stealing your eggs. It is a very addictive game (much like WoW), gives achievements (also similar to WoW), and as Svenn recently found out, it has a worldwide ranking system. Having beaten the game for now (it sees periodic releases of new content, again like WoW), he is now engaged in his own version of hard modes; getting 3 stars in every level.

While Angry Birds is nothing like WoW in terms of game play or purpose, it has clear parallels in structure to WoW, a trend we are sure to continue to see crop up over and over again, even in as unlikely places as smart-phone apps.

A Tale of Two Squidies

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

It certainly has been. As you no doubt noticed, Svenn has been absent, AGAIN! As summer draws to a close here in Alaska, it is indeed the best and worst of times. This time of season represents some of the best Alaska has to offer: salmon runs are in full force on many local streams, hunting is gearing up, and of course , there isn’t much snow left to contend with. On the other hand, it portends the rapidly approaching onset of winter (Fall being an extraordinarily short affair here in the Northern latitudes).

Anyways, in and around fishing, grasping at the last days of daylight and warmth, and spending time with the kiddos before school starts again, Svenn has been working on the new mage. Koal has reached Outlands and is sitting at lvl 65 right now. Grayce’s DK, Circi, joined him there and it has been a nice change of pace to level with someone again.

As leveling with Grayce involves both of us being on at the same time, not always an easy feat to manage with 3 kids, Svenn has also begun to level a Shammy in his off-off-time. I KNOW! MASOCHIST! Hence the “2 Squidies” in the title (Koal is Draenei as well). This did involve running a heroic or tow to buy a second set of BoA trinkets, but I had most of the badges saved up so it didn’t take long at all.
Voller has hit the ripe old age of 24, so he is still not very exciting to play. He does have 3 of 4 totem slots filled already (BTW, why did no one warn me how painfully annoying the totem quests are !?!), and his mana is holding out a bit better now than at the earlier levels.

While Koal’s AoE goodness assures him the number 1 DPS spot every time (he’s no slouch on single target either), Voller has struggled to keep up. I am hoping things get better once he learns dual wield at 40, though he may go heals at that point….we’ll see.

To Recap: Svenn is still here. Life is busy. Leveling 2 toons at once is working out so far. Oh, and Ottar (the S-priest), my current raiding toon, is finally breaking 10k DPS consistently (Had to throw that in since he gets played the most and talked about the least). Now if only he could catch those pesky mages:)

Game On!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I like “Indian MTV”, Bollywood music videos to be precise. Strange I know, but allow me to explain. My affection for it began while serving in Iraq. To preserve manpower for combat missions we relied heavily on Third Country Nationals (TCNs) to provide various support functions (laundry, mess, etc.), the theory being that the fighting Soldier would then not be tied up doing sustainment tasks. Many of these TCNs were contracted out of Pakistan, some of them worked in the barber shop.

It started out harmlessly enough; I would go every 2 weeks to get my hair cut, it being essential to keep it short due to the heat and the infrequency of showering. While there I would watch whatever they had on their little TV while waiting, namely music videos. As time went by I was lured in by the driving rhythms, the haunting melodies, and of course, the sweet dance moves (described in one particular movie as “screwing in a light bulb with one hand while petting a dog with the other”). Soon I found myself getting a haircut once a week, then stopping in twice a week to have Chai with my new “friends” while getting my fix of “Tanak Tanakta”. I was hooked, and once you’re hooked there is no turning back.

Anyways, what does all that have to do with anything? Well, Codex (Felicia Day) and the rest of The Guild cast have done it again. Their second music video has been released

You can go check it out HERE, I’m sure you’ll get the connection once you do.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Why do we hate it when something we like becomes popular? When I was younger I was into Indie Rock, particularly the NJ Indie scene. I can remember going to see bands like Thursday, and Saves the Day in basements in New Brunswick and thinking to myself, “Man, these guys are good. They should be on the radio!” I remember sneaking into the Court Tavern, a few blocks from my house, to see E-Town Concrete and thinking “These guys should go on tour!” Yet, when they did in fact “blow-up” I remember thinking, “Man, I can’t believe so-and-so sold out.”

Despite the fact that I thought these bands were good enough to be national, beside the fact that I wanted others to hear them and know how good they were, I was resentful of having to share them out. That popularity must have come at the cost of some compromise, not out of a growing realization and through word of mouth that they were indeed good and deserved recognition. Even when I directly benefited from the explosive growth in popularity (I got my 1st apartment from Midtown band member Rob Hitt when he upgraded to go along with the growing success of his band), I felt somehow cheated out of a special secret that few others knew.

A parallel can be drawn in many ways I think, to WoW. A lot of the griping about the current state of the game grows out of those same root feelings held among the Vanilla generation. When the game was young it was much like an Indie Band, those small circles of folks “in the know” thought to themselves, “Man this is good. People should play this!” As WoW ballooned towards the 11 million subscriber mark, those same folks were left muttering “sell outs!” and pining for the days when they could go see their favorite band for a couple bucks thrown in when they passed the hat in some dimly lit ale soaked basement. They were left wondering what compromise was being made (and I don’t propose there weren’t any compromises along the way) and fearing that they weren’t going to be as special as they used to.

The same can be said about specs. A friend of mine played an Arcane Mage since BC. He swore up and down by the spec and proved he could be every bit the equal of the Fire Mages. Nowadays you can’t go 3 feet without tripping over an Arcane Mage, yet he switched to Rogue because Arcane “sold-out” on him. For myself, Svenn Pally tanked through BC when Pallys were not “real” tanks (Hyjal excepted). Once Wrath issued in the Golden Age of the Tankadin, I too was disgruntled. I switched to an aggressive Prot/Ret build, saw that it was good AND unique and thought “Man people are missing out. They should really try this!” Now, with the ICC buff up to 30% I am seeing more and more adaptations of that build as survivability can safely be traded in for more DPS…sold out again.

So, why do we hate it when something we like becomes popular? I’m not sure. I’m not even entirely positive it a conscious decision, maybe it’s more of a reflex action. In any case, even if the masses invade my inner sanctum of “RetProtadinism”, this time at least, I will try and enjoy the fact that something I am a fan of (read: DPS numbers from a tank) “blew-up”.

Death Penalties

Thursday, July 8, 2010

There has been a lot of discussion about death penalties in WoW over the last few weeks. From Rohan to Larisa, Psychochild to Wolfshead it seems everyone has an opinion.

Last week, I had the dubious honor of serving as a panel member on a Military Court-Martial. The trial lasted 4 days and we were sequestered (hence the lack of posts last week). Upon conclusion of closing remarks we were dismissed to the deliberation room to reach a verdict. Our verdict was to consider each individual charge and each separate specification (count) of each charge separately, with a guilty or not guilty determination being made in respect to each. In this way the Plaintiff could be acquitted of some charges, or counts of a charge yet be found guilty of others (not an “all or nothing” proposition). The verdict, once reached and delivered to the court, then determined the sentencing guidelines and deliberation began anew as to what punitive measures would be taken (if at all).
Leaving aside the particulars of the actual case, the plaintiff was found guilty on 5 counts each of 2 separate charges (acquitted on 1 count each of the same charges). The evidence was conclusive, guilt was apparent, all that remained was to determine the fate such a finding warranted. With all the charges piled up against them, one would expect a military panel to hang ‘em out to dry. Rather the opposite occurred; with the guilty verdict delivered, we (the panel) felt the message had been conveyed and so adjudicated the punitive measures rather leniently (at least in terms of maximum allowable sentencing). While there was still a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay and allowances for a specified time, and a term of confinement (measured in days not years- to give you an idea), there was nothing career ending or permanently detrimental to the Soldier: a speed bump on the road of life, not a brick wall.
I think the death penalty in WoW should and does function much the same way. The fact that you are a ghost with a bright white screen is the guilty verdict, message conveyed. The time spent on corpse runs (confinement), gold spent on repairs (forfeiture of pay and allowances), and reset of a mob’s health (reduction in rank, relative to the progress you made before you died) is the sentence; punishment enough.

Alt Independence

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one gamer to dissolve the bands which have connected him to one toon and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Azeroth and of Azeroth's God [Blizzard] entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of gamers requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to roll an Alt.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all classes are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of lvl 80.....

That is to say, in a way honoring American Independence Day, a determination has been made as to the next class Svenn will play to 80. There were some technical difficulties involving the poll widget which resulted in a second poll being placed in the field, and thus 2 sets of contradictory polling data were returned. While Mage and Rogue took top honors respectively, the Mage voters were far more vocal in their support (also, I'm pretty sure Inno stacked the Rogue votes).

With a four day weekend for the 4th of July and the added treat of 10% extra XP from the Fire Fest, Koal (Svenn's new Mage, and the only toon thus far to escape the Scandinavian naming convention) shot straight to the fantasy land of Dual-Spec/ Epic Riding goodness and is sitting at level 45 right now.

Leveling has been rather painless (4 deaths total according to the stats page in the achievement menu), fast (holiday quests/ riding at lvl20/ instances as often as the queue will allow), and full of DPS scunion (1k DPS at lvl 38 should be illegal - ty boatloads of heirlooms, AoE, and tanks who pull huge). I'm sure I will have more observations as Koal progresses into higher lvl content, for now Happy belated Independence Day!

Fire Festival Folksong

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This would have been the last instalment of the Holiday Parodies series (I started last year with Brewfest) however, it has been brought to my attention that I accidently overlooked one; Curse you Children's Week! Anyways, I will work on getting that one up retroactively. In the mean time enjoy the Fire Fest:)

As sung to the tune of "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel

Stormwind, IronForge, Westfall, Searing Gorge
Red Ridge, Dun Morogh, make sure you get 'em all

Burning Blossoms, Bonfire, summer flames, burnin' higher
Torch Tossing, Torch Throwing, never let it fall

Ashenvale, Silthus, Darkshore, Desolace
Mulgore, Tanaris, you better not miss

Flame Keeper, Lord Ahune, get it done, by June
Pole Dance, Holidays, you know are pure Bliss

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since Azeroth’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we don't get bored
But we fight the Horde

Blade’s Edge, HFP, Nagrand, SMV
Netherstorm, Terokkar, now I am lost

Sholazar, Dragonblight, Zul’Drak, got a light?
Slave Pens, insta-q, Ice Lord got Frost

Dustwallow, Ogrimar, Undercity, got far
Winterspring, Bloodmyst, Teldrassil, Azuremyst

Thunder Bluff, The Exodar, did I get Ogrimar?
Flame Smuggler, Torch Juggler, the trouble is I missed

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since Azeroth’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we don't get bored
But we fight the Horde

Burrning Steppes, Loch Modan, Elwynn Forest, Wetlands
Arathi Highlands, Eversong, How long can this go on?

Grizzly Hills, Howling Fjord, steal the flame from the Horde
Storm Peaks, Borean Tundra, and the Forest of Crystalsong

310 mount, Meta-Achyment, Twilight Hammer, got sent
Steal a flame, what a pain
Toasted Bun, Fiery Brew, last Holiday, I'm through
Longest grind on my main, 1year, its insane
And the Alts, what's in store? I can't take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since Azeroth’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we don't get bored
When we fight the Horde