WoW – Stompin’

Draenor mapI finally followed the Nagrand breadcrumb quest on Alouette (my paladin) this morning, and was riding over to Telarii Station, minding my own business, when I saw a hunter kiting a big old elite elekk (elephant for the non-WoW peeps) all around a field. I jumped in to help, as one does, because this expansion finally rewards jumping in and helping in the open world (unlike the 10 previous years of World of Warcraft). So anyway, I tanked away as best I could as a level 99 98 against a level 100 elite critter, and as the seconds trickled by more people joined in until eventually Luk’hok lay dead.

And everyone looted, as one does. I was expecting some gear, maybe an upgrade, and some decent xp, and instead I got… A MOUNT!!!

This is a big deal for me. So in response to Atherne’s comment the other day, I now have the silly animal headgear, the plushie (oh, and I made Soul of the Forge too), AND a mount. All the important stuff.

meadowstomper

Which is still just as well, because I’m still out of garrison resources. And money. If there are any WoW-playing sugar-daddies (or mommies, I’m not picky) out there, do let me know. If all else fails, my night elf does a mean mailbox dance.

Bloggy Xmas 11 – Nothing New Under The Sun

So, #bloggyxmas Day 11, it’s just you and me…

…and the score of other bloggers who came before me and said everything good, right, and interesting *I* was about to say. No, really, I was. Except now I can’t and you’ll never know, because they already did and I can’t possibly copy what anyone else said. /ragequit

GRRRRR!

GRRRRR!

Okay, I lied. No /ragequit. Because that’s partly the point of community for me, especially the gaming community but probably, to be honest, any community that’s passionate about whatever it is it’s passionate about — we all share this gestalt mind that pursues the same subjects at the same time and says very similar things. And subjects come around again every so often (in my case, Solo vs. Grouping and Why Dungeons Are Horrible), get hotly debated, and then die back down for six months or a year.

For a while — which coincided with me not blogging a whole lot, so the past 2-3 years or so — I wasn’t so sure, but now I think this is A Good Thing™. I started this blog back in 2008 and for a very short while it was going to be a blog just about Warhammer Online, because that’s what I was involved in when I started it. It’s all the fault of Casualties of War, you see (and they appear to be a casualty of the internet because the forums have either moved or are no more) — a bunch of people I met online and don’t even remember how I met, because that’s the cool thing about gaming: you meet people all the time while playing games and while many of them fall by the wayside, a not-inconsiderable number of them end up sticking as acquaintances, friends, possibly RL friends and sometimes even spouses.

cropped-casualties_2.jpg

Casualties of War – Warhammer Online group shot

I am now RL-friends (and neighbours, as it happens) with people I met in Asheron’s Call almost 15 years ago, not to mention having changed continents in order to get married to one of those met-in-an-MMO people. Back then it was weird, and people kept telling me I was going to meet axe-murderers; it’s not so unusual these days (meeting people online – not meeting axe-murderers). So I probably met someone in Casualties through someone I knew who knew someone who knew someone who was involved. And Casualties was chock-full of blogging types who encouraged the rest of us to try it out, and many of us did, and most of our blogs went from “this will only ever be about Warhammer, I swear!” to “games rock! let’s talk more about games!”, which is entirely predictable given that most gamers are passionate about more than a single game.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, because I’ve lost the blogging habit these last couple of years and anything other than stream-of-consciousness is hard work. But at some point — and many bloggers have encountered the same thing — I felt as though I’d said most of what I needed to say, that others were saying it much more cogently and with a fresher perspective anyway, and that I was just rehashing stuff nobody would care about. So I stopped writing, and told myself it was because life had become very busy (which it had) and I had many other things to do (which I did) — but when you’re passionate about something, you find time for it no matter what. That guy who never calls you back because he’s ‘too busy’? He didn’t want to call you in the first place. We make time for the things we care about.

Kittens make every post 1000% better. True fact.

Kittens make every post 837% better. True fact.

And I care about gaming, so here I am. I’ve always stated that I blog primarily for myself — and I do, which freed me from caring about how many people clicked this or how many people commented on that (though the stats are kind of fun and the positive attention is freaking awesome, especially when it’s from people I admire). But blogging for myself doesn’t mean I’m not part of a community of other people who blog about games and a whole host more people who read blogs about games. And yes, we’re terribly incestuous. We share ideas, we all post about the same thing pretty much at the same time, we have storms in teacups and get our knickers in a twist and make up and write posts about how awesome the gaming and game-blogging community is. Because it is.

Because despite (or perhaps because of) being an introvert I can connect, whenever I want and to whatever extent I find comfortable, with folks on blogs and all the other social media out there now. We all have different lives, we all have daily triumphs and tragedies and challenges, and although we don’t necessarily talk about them (though I find I share that stuff a bit more nowadays than I used to, and it can be a comfort), we share a bond that somehow makes life a little better. Because we’re passionate about that one thing. It can lower barriers and build bridges between people who otherwise wouldn’t acknowledge each other in the street, for whatever political, religious or cultural reason. It’s not a panacea, but it is A Good Thing. And whether it’s reading blogs or writing them or simply making friends through gaming and Twitter and Facebook and MyLifeHasNoPrivacy.com, we should continue doing it.

Thanks to Syl for running this initiative, which has reminded me why I started this blog in the first place. Alone but not lonely, I game.

Happy holidays.

xmas

 

 

BloggyXmas? Thieves, all of them!

I’m getting this whole THEY STOLEZ MY IDEAZ!!! rant in before it’s too late, just so that when I post on the 11th I won’t have to open with it. I probably will, mind you, but this way I have a choice.

You can find the bloggy advent calendar here, and in the sidebar, probably until next July because it’ll take me that long to remember to remove the widget. In case you’ve never had an advent calendar before, click on each day to reveal adventy bloggy community goodness. And chocolate.

Oh wait, no, that’s only if you get a REAL advent calendar. Silly readers.

I was going to include the daily links for the supremely click-lazy but I changed my mind, because like Mr. Burns I am unpredictable and fickle. And also because Syl deserves much click-love for the idea.

And now for something completely different: a baby platypus. Happy holidays!

baby platypus

No Google Reader for YOU!

Yesterday when I went to read my RSS feed, I got the same popup most other users of Google Reader got: the service is going away in a few months, apparently for lack of users.

Which is mildly ironic. I have a blog, a lot of people I know have blogs (which is how I got to know them) and a pretty large proportion of us seem to use G-Reader to keep track of each other’s posts. According to one article I read yesterday – I didn’t bookmark it and can’t find it now, so you’ll have to take this on faith – RSS feeds are for nerds and nerds don’t need dedicated stuff because they can find other ways to do what they need. And they’re nerds, so they can suck it up. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, direct RSS feeds aren’t “sexy”, apparently. Ah, right. I never realised that what I want from my software is sexiness.

The author did have a point. RSS is kinda nerdy and there was no easy way to explain what Google Reader does. Or did. But just because something isn’t easy to explain (or grasp) doesn’t mean it’s useless or that it shouldn’t be used. If that’s the equation we’re making today, then it’s not just MMOs that are dumbing down.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for alternatives. A friend kindly pointed me in the direction of Feedly, so I’m trying them out first. They were slammed yesterday but seem to be doing a little better this morning. I have to say, I do kinda like the magazine-like presentation. I could like this service. And if not, there will be others out there.

Because if there aren’t, I’m not going to be reading very many more blogs. It may work for some, but I cannot and will not use Facebook and Twitter to keep track of what 100+ people post and when. Yech. I want my feed to be there when I need it, and I don’t want to have to ‘llike’ a bunch of FB pages and trawl through my timeline.

If you ask me, it had nothing to do with popularity, or not directly. Ultimately Google Reader went away because it couldn’t be monetized.

SimCity – mea culpa

While lots of people are probably going to say this isn’t enough, it’s still nice that they’re trying to do something.

The full post is worth a read – it’s pretty short, but I don’t want to reproduce it verbatim. TL;DR below.

So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.

OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.

So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.

And, by way of apology, “we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio”. Again, lots of folks will say that’s like piling poo on top of crap, but I like that they’re trying to do something, even if it’s not something that costs them all that much in terms of bottom line. ANY effort to make things right is better than no effort at all. Mistakes (or major screwups) happen – what matters to me at the end of the day is acknowledgement and some attempt to fix things down the line.

Survey: Avatars

Another email. I actually got the first one a few weeks back and forgot all about it (work having been what it is) other than spending a couple of minutes checking credentials. Even a little blog like this one gets some weird monetization or advertising requests – I dread to think the crap the big blogs have to wade through.

Anyway, this appears legit and could help someone’s research project. I’ve not done the survey myself yet but I enjoyed taking part in Nick Yee’s Daedalus project work a few years back and hopefully even provided some useful data at the time.

Dear Ysharros

I am involved in a psychology project at Charles Darwin University, in Darwin, Australia. We are looking for male and female participants to take part in a project exploring avatar use, in particular – why people do or don’t choose avatars of the opposite gender. In gaining participants we were hoping that you could possibly put a post up on your site regarding the study, along the following lines:

“We are conducting an Internet based psychological study at Charles Darwin University and are seeking male and female participants who are over 18 years of age, are able to read and write in English fluently and who use avatars. The study will examine participants’ identification with their avatars as well as explore why people may use, or not use an avatar of the opposite sex. The study will examine psychosocial functioning in the real world, personality factors as well as sex role identification of the participants’ and their avatars, and will take around 20 minutes to complete. Please go to http://cduhes.asia.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_brQ0uYKeagINqo4 for more details. You are not required to provide any identifying information in order to participate. All information given will be anonymous and protected. Ethics approval has been obtained for the conduct of this study. Thank you.”

[snip – query email addresses]
Thank you for your time.

Kind regards

Amalia Badawi, for Dr. Jon-Paul Cacioli

 

I draw the line at posting people’s email addresses, but if one of you reading this would like to mail the people involved for whatever reason, leave a comment and I’ll forward the relevant info.

Protecting Paragon City

Since it was covered extensively elsewhere, I didn’t comment on last week’s news that City of Heroes is being shut down by NCSoft – you know: work, travel, yadda yadda.

Dusty Monk, however, has an excellent and personal reaction post to the news, and it seems the fanbase are getting organised to try and prevent the game from closing its doors. Go read it. Snippet:

I don’t usually participate in fan or community organized movements.  I’m keenly aware that businesses are businesses, and once a decision has been made, most of the time no amount of fan outcry will change that.  But this is important to me.  And there are some cases where the community did make a difference.  Perhaps this time it’s different – perhaps we can show that are making this decision that it does matter, and that there is still money to be made here.  So I’m getting involved, and I hope that perhaps you will too.

I agree with Dusty that once a business decision like this has been made, it’s usually pointless to Canute the inevitable – but I also agree that when we care a great deal about something, we should be prepared to speak out for it. I could make political parallels… but I won’t (other than saying: whatever you believe, politically, GO VOTE; democracy doesn’t work if people don’t show up).

I played City of Heroes at launch, leaving a still-buggy (if enjoyable) Star Wars: Galaxies to do so, and still remember my friends making fun of me for spending literally 3 hours on my first character’s costume. Actually, it may have been 4. I didn’t play it for more than a few months, because that was the Year of Major Game Launches (WoW, EQ2), but a bunch of us had a blast for the time we were there, if only because of:

- KAPOW; come on. No combat beats KAPOW!! combat.

- FLYING; ’nuff said (but boy CoX did it well).

- COSTUMES; also ’nuff said. Actually, that one needs to be COSTUMES!!!

- FLEXIBILITY; alone, in groups, in duos – didn’t matter how you wanted to play, you could do stuff and you could usually get to doing stuff pretty quickly.

Flying!!! … in COSTUME!!! … soon to KAPOW.

I returned to CoX a couple of times over the years, and always enjoyed my stay. It didn’t grab me, truss me up and enslave me the way some of my other games did, but it was there, it was fun, and it tried to do some interesting things. I wrote about the Mission Architect system a few times in 2009, and although it was immediately picked up by players as an excellent venue for exploiting xp and whatever, the idea was still brave and I’m glad they tried it. I still think we need some way for players to create some of their own content, and I’m sure it’s something we’ll see more of in games as the years go by.

So when I heard the news last week I was a little shocked, though the game is over 8 years old and we all know no MMO lasts forever (especially not at NCSoft, it seems). I’m not much of one for post-mortems, but I am interested to see if fan reaction to this news can actually make a dent in a decision that was probably made thousands of miles away and based purely on numbers and finances. What if the game were concatenated down to a couple of servers, instead of however many they currently have? Could it be run by a skeleton staff? Is it worth it? We don’t know that, but we won’t find out if we don’t try.

And I happen to think City of Heroes might be worth saving. /insert saving heroes ironic joke here.

Per Dusty’s post: go here to sign a petition trying to keep City of Heroes open – and keep a few Devs in their jobs, incidentally. There have been entirely too many layoffs in the games industry in the last few years already. At this moment the petition is 13,550 strong – make that 13,551, since I just signed it.

And, if you think you can do it politely (and all of you are paragons of courtesy here), it might be worth posting on this forum thread. Staff may never see the petition, but someone official will be moderating that thread, so we can add our voice there (until it gets locked, says the cynic in me).

Go forth and protect!

EDIT: Sente has also posted on this, as I’ve discovered upon catching up with my RSS feeds… Sente’s had a lot of interesting things to say about CoX over the years, so if you don’t read his blog already, you should do so now.

EDIT: Pete at Dragonchasers has also written. Lo, the movement grows and I’m late to the barricades bandwagon!

EDIT: But wait! There’s more! Syp and Ardua, respectively. I’m running out of amusing things to say on my edits. And Tobold thinks we’re hypocrites because we didn’t play the game this year. Whatevs. That said, his Kickstopper idea is pretty funny.