Oct 122010
 

It was going to be about traffic. Specifically, how traffic was delightful yesterday and today was back to the usual ridiculous crap. No doubt, this was due to Columbus Day and people taking (or having) the day off of work, thereby decongesting the roads.

Had a fairly excellent weekend. Saw Easy A on Friday, which was surprisingly good. Going into it, we were discussing how we missed John Hughes movies. Lo and behold, this one is of similar spirit and directly references John Hughes in dialog a number of times. Good on them. Emma Stone is gorgeous and Stanley Tucci is brilliant. I shall say no more. Saturday, we spent the evening with Talia and Jeff at Talia’s parents’ lakehouse playing drunken Scattergories. Sunday was another WoW day. With Steve’s timely assistance, Cody got her Glory of the Hero achievement, and I whittled my own list down to 5 achievements remaining.

The three of us and some pugs finished off my Glory of the Hero last night! In before the patch!

Today marks patch day, which in turn means that massive, massive changes are occurring to the way some fundamental mechanics in the game have functioned for several years and, in some cases, since the beginning. Cody and I are both very excited about these changes, as they seem aimed at making gameplay smoother and more intuitive. Of course, the downside is that we likely won’t be able to log on tonight, since the servers are experiencing extended downtime while the patch is deployed. Further, there is already a list of known issues to watch for.

We still have no idea what to do for Halloween.

Mount Up

 Posted by at 16:44  No Responses »
Oct 012010
 

As it stands right now, Jakosta has 51 mounts. Cody and I are gunning for the Mountain o’ Mounts achievement, which itself rewards a mount for obtaining. The road from 51 to 100 is largely a matter of rep-grinding and spending “money” (be it gold, badges, honor points, or whatever else). Then there are the remaining few that have to be obtained through RNG1.

Why do this? With a few exceptions2, a variety of mounts doesn’t afford you any material benefit. They’re vanity rewards, offering little more than a wider selection of things to look at while you flit from place to place, and dubious bragging rights. The honest answer is…because accumulating stuff is fun, even if it’s virtual stuff.

Right now, I’m running dailies for the Argent Tournament, the Hyldnir, Netherwing, the Sha’tari Skyguard, and pursuing the Mag’har quest line. The latter three are in pursuit of reputation-dependent mounts; the mounts cost gold, but you can’t buy them without an Exalted reputation. The Tournament dailies reward Champion Seals, which are then used in purchasing mounts. The Hyldnir daily is RNG from the quest reward. After that, it’ll be on to the PvP-based mounts, which are fairly uniform in price and fairly quick to obtain. The most expensive mount cost 50,000 honor points. It’s a trivial matter to get over 35,000 honor points through a single Wintergrasp victory coupled with turning in the weekly Wintergrasp quests. The remaining 15,000 points can be gleaned from repeating Wintergrasp or doing other battlegrounds.

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  1. Random Number Generation, or chance. Think of it like a die roll. You have some percent chance to see something drop on any given occurrence of a particular event, such as a mob dying. The game “rolls” this chance when the mob dies. What you get from the mob in loot is the result. []
  2. There are a handful of very difficult to obtain mounts that are faster than the “normal” epic mounts. “Normal” epic flying mounts afford a 280% speed increase over the character’s base running speed on the ground. “Extreme” epic flying mounts afford a 310% speed increase. []
Sep 222010
 

If there’s one thing I really dislike about WoW, it’s assembling a PUG for a raid. If there’s one more thing, it’s that PUG just not being up to tackling the raid at hand, leaving everyone feeling like they’ve wasted their time. This happened last night after Cody, Kt, Steve, and I did Wintergrasp, in anticipation of running VoA-25. It took a while to assemble the group, with the usual one-off people randomly dropping throughout the recruitment drive phase. Once we had our group together, we get rolling…only to have Toravon curb-stomp us. Turns out a lot of our ranged DPS folks didn’t know you’re supposed to attack the three swirling frost spheres that Toravon generates.

As a general rule, I never mind having new people along on a group endeavor like this. Everyone’s new at some point. What I do mind is people not thinking to ask, “Hey, is there anything special I should know about this?” Granted, WoW has built itself a culture where asking something like this often results in being the target of scorn and derision. That sucks in its own right. New people end up walking a fine line between either asking when they don’t know and getting mocked (or even excluded completely1) for never having done something before, and not asking and getting mocked and derided after the fact for performing badly. Still, one of these is guaranteed to cause the group to fail, and that’s the one that’s inexcusable to me.

Once the whole “kill the snowballs of death” thing had been explained, we tried again. This time, two of our healers died immediately, but we still managed to persist on for quite a while. We got Toravon to ~15% before all hell broke loose. My Taunt missed, which caused Frostbite to build up to 5 stacks on the main tank. I managed to get Toravon off him once Taunt came off cooldown, but it was too late, and he died. I wouldn’t last long against Toravon alone—the fight requires two tanks, after all—and predictably dropped not long after that.

Then the group disintegrated. A good hour and a half or so wasted.

When Cataclysm comes out, the raid lockouts for 10- and 25-man raids will be shared. Loot will be the same between both raid sizes, with 25 simply dropping more. This is probably one of the things I’m most looking forward to. If there were no benefit to doing a 25-man raid over a 10-man, I would never do one again. Managing that many people results in too many assholes concentrated in one group and inevitably leads to failure. I much prefer the 10-man groups, which are much easier to assemble and tend to run much more smoothly.

  1. This is particularly stupid in the realm of things like ICC, where you’re required to post the achievement for having killed a boss to even go on the raid. How do new people break in? The raid runners don’t care. I’ve read up on every single ICC fight and probably know some of those fights better than multi-run veterans, but I’ve yet to step foot inside ICC. []

Tanking

 Posted by at 12:00  No Responses »
Sep 192010
 

Somewhere in the last week or so, my tanking confidence increased considerably. Some of that comes from suddenly going from 4-4.4k GS to breaking 5k. Some of it comes from a few small UI tweaks. Some of it comes from experience. Some of it comes from just manning up and doing it more. But there was a fundamental change at one point where I went from being self-conscious for the duration of a dungeon run, to being completely unconcerned about grouping with douchebag players. At some point, I decided that if anyone was being bothersome, they’d just go on /ignore and that’d be it. If they dropped group, oh well, DPS are a dime a dozen1. If the healer dropped, meh, we’ll get another. Armed with my newfound lack of regard for jerk-ass players, tanking became way more comfortable.

Then Steve suggested I be the main tank for the weekly raid boss, Sartharion. Eek. I had tanked dungeon bosses, sure, but I knew most of those fights through-and-through from having run the dungeons so many times with Deowyn. Even then, there were surprises in store for me as a tank that I never bothered to worry about when DPSing. And now, I was being asked to group with not 4 others but 9 others and successfully lead them through much tougher content that I was far less familiar with.

I did it, though. And what’s more, we didn’t suffer a single death. And what’s more than that, our off-tank was originally DPS and switched to tanking when we couldn’t find another one. I don’t think he was even adequately geared for tanking2. So, y’know, yay for successfully tanking my first raid.

Then on Thursday, just after Wintegrasp, Steve and Cody again urge me to try tanking a raid. This time, it wouldn’t be some chintzy Tier-7 raid boss. No, this time it’d be a full Tier-10 boss: Toravon. I would again be one of two tanks, this time taking the role of off-tank while a better-geared Paladin main-tanked. Once again, we breezed through with no deaths. Granted, the 10-man VoA is much easier than the 25-man version, but all the same. Two raids, two successful runs.

Confidence: boosted.

  1. Though good DPS, mind you, are decidedly not, and I’m always grateful when good DPS are around! []
  2. Which is to say, I suspect he was not raid defense capped []

Projects

 Posted by at 16:55  No Responses »
Jan 092009
 

It’s been a while, so it seemed high-time to talk about some of the things I’m working on.

Novel: Gold (tentative title)
This past November, I participated in and “won” NaNoWriMo by completing a 50,000 word manuscript.  It’s the story of a young woman that wakes up in a strange, burning office with an unfamiliar voice in her head urging her to jump out of the window…to save her life.  Once I completed it, I sent it to a number of people for a first review.  I haven’t touched it since, taking the advice of Stephen King to let the first draft sit in a drawer for a while before returning to it.  My parents have recently finished reading it and are going to be sending me their feedback this weekend.  I’m still waiting to hear Cody and a few others’ thoughts as well.  Once I have the combined feedback of everyone, I’ll set to work writing the second draft.  My hope is to publish it sometime this summer.

Film: Wec: The Sequel
Wec 2 has been in stasis for a while, superceded by work, more immediate hobbies and diversions (Xbox games, Fallout 3, novel-writing, etc.).  However, I do still plan to finish it.  It’s hard to bring myself to work on it specifically because it’s a film that deals with an entirely different era of my life.  I’m not that guy anymore, and so the movie’s personal relevance to me is greatly diminished.  However, with Ron’s help, I still think the movie itself is salvagable and will actually be interesting.  I recently showed Wec: The Movie to a co-worker of mine in preparation for a new project (see below), and I realized (again) how inane that first movie is.  I want the second one, as silly as it is, to actually be enjoyable for more than the sheer lunacy value.  I think it can be.

Film: Untitled Star Wars Fanfilm
I’ve played with the idea of doing a Star Wars fanfilm many times in the past.  A few weeks ago, an image formed in my head that caused inspiration to strike: an X-wing, floating “hidden” behind an asteroid, and then maneuvering like a real spacefighter (a la BSG).  This prompted the idea of creating a film based on a some X-wing pilots, in the vein of BSG.  It would play with established SW conventions (i.e. X-wings would actually maneuver like space fighters) and make a more “hard” sci-fi version of Star Wars.  

Co-worker and fellow SW fan Steve was intrigued by the idea when I told him about it and with a bit of convincing I’ve gotten him pretty enthused about the project.  We recently asked Ron to help us with the writing, and the last week has had us working through the first draft of the treatment he wrote up for us.  He’s now busily working on the second draft that Steve and I will use to write the first draft of the script.  Once we’ve done that, it’ll go back to Ron for a dialog polish (George, why didn’t you do this?) and we’ll start material pre-production (set building, costumes, etc.).  So far, the film will star Steve, Cody, and myself, along with a cameo by Steve’s wife and children.  

Other Novels
I have several other novel ideas that have been banging around in my head, begging to be written.

  • A mostly-hard science fiction novel dealing with the rammifications of space warfare after the advent of practical defense shields.
  • A science fiction novel dealing with the setting that I’ve had in my head forever, first implemented in any practical form as the UEDF Illustrious Defender e-mail RPG.
  • A sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel wherein a character joins a guild of assassins and uncovers a plot that led to her father’s murder.

There are more, but those three are the most fully-formed.

RPG: Vampire
At some point in the near future, I also plan to resume my Vampire game.  I’m not totally sure when this will happen, though it is likely to take place on Saturday evenings.  The timing is up in the air right now because many of the players are currently in unstable situations (as it pertains to regularly meeting on IRC, that is).

So, that’s about it from my neck of the woods.  Going to be a busy year!