WoW – Noobness Never Dies

Just to prove that I’m not lying when I say I’m a perma-noob — I’ve done the quest in the screenshot three times already and NOT ONCE did I notice the 4th ingredient in the top right (the quest doesn’t necessarily use all four possible ingredients). It was only after my druid failed three times to get the ‘glowy’ ingredient that I, puzzled that none of the three ingredients were working, went and checked the quest out on WoWHead.

If I’d been a bit less of a noob I’d have remembered that the previous quest had me gather four ingredients to make that potion with. Duh.


Ego: The Final Temptation

Oh dear.

Harb is doing a 20 days of blogging thing which he got from IHTTS, which percolated down along a chain I’m too lazy to list (and I don’t read those blogs, at least not yet*).

My ego finds the idea very interesting. The rest of me is trying to beat it into submission and silence. I still love the idea of blogging, but I’m having a devil of a time finding the time to do it. Add the fact that I’m not really playing any MMOs (or any other game) right now and you get a big fat nothing to write about and very little time in which to write it.

Sometimes Facebook is just easier.

I can’t believe I just wrote that.

And yet my ego wants me to tell you all about myself (again) for no particular reason other than its own pleasure. Perhaps confessing the kinky temptation will make it go away. Thirty lashes for the ego and get back to work, dammit!**


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*As an aside, the demise of Google reader appears to be spelling the demise of my blog reading. Feedly is okay, but it’s not as clean as Google Reader. There’s also the fact that I don’t have time to read blog posts these days, which might be the more important factor. Still, I don’t like change. Boo hiss. I’ll get used to Feedly but I’ll complain about it first.

**As another aside, one of the characters in a play-by-mail game I ran years ago (or it may have been one I played in) was a Spanish knight called Ivor Hujego. Loved that name. Still do. May have to steal it for a game someday, even if it means I have to transgender it to Iva Hujugo or something.

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.

Sim City mildly blues

I haven’t played enough to have much of an opinion yet. However.

EDIT for full disclosure – after trying to get into a game for half an hour, and then trying to create my own game for another half hour, I’m rapidly sliding out of the “Oh, silly EA” opinion chair and into “You guys just had to force us to play online and you just had to fail to have the server infrastructure (or whatever it is) to cope.”

During the ENTIRE development process, did nobody stop to say “You know, this game will be utterly unplayable if the servers aren’t working, and yet we’re not calling this an MMO?” – or, for that matter “Is it really wise for force the internet connection thing on people for a single-player game? We haven’t done it to the Sims yet, maybe we should hold off on doing it to Sim City…”

I now bring you back to the original, less bitter post.

1. When I buy what has been a single-player game (with recent multiplayer elements) since the late 80s — and I too had SimCity 1.0 on my Mac SE — I expect to be able to enjoy a single player experience. Meaning I should still be able to play if the servers are down.

2. If you’re as big as EA, PLAN FOR LAUNCH. This really isn’t rocket science anymore and saying “Oh, we didn’t expect the internet!” really isn’t an excuse.

3. The cities are too fecking small. I don’t care if I can play 16 cities at once in the same region. What if I want to play one giant, single-player, orgiastic megalopolis? Too bad, so sad, go back to playing the game in the single way Maxis feels you should be able to. Shame shame shame.

4. Did Microsoft give Maxis design lessons? Because it sure feels that way.

5. EDIT – And what’s with the crappy zoom out distance? That’s just nasty.

I guess we’ll see how it goes. I’m sure this version has some interesting new things to offer, and there are some cool new features (like non-grid roads, because not every city in the world is designed the way American cities were), but I’m still a bit peeved.

If I wanted launch day bullshit, I’d have bought an MMO.

SimCity bah

Wheels and ladders

Two things.

First, this: Drakkashi’s Ability Wheel for The Secret World, shamelessly stolen from Sheep The Diamond on whose post I found it.

I haven’t logged into TSW in two weeks, for various reasons to do with work and other exploratory procedures (small world, since Dragonchasers seems to have gone through a very similar experience just recently). On the bright side though, I haven’t had that little Subscription Gremlin sitting on my shoulder telling me I should be playing to justify the cost of my sub. In that respect the lifetime sub is very liberating – I realise I’m still paying and that it’ll take a while to actually ‘pay for itself’, but psychologically I don’t feel any pressure to play simply because I need to justify the expense.

For me at least, a single (admittedly large) one-off payment has become a thing in the past and now I’m playing the game for ‘free’. Which means that when I can’t or don’t log on for whatever reason, I’m not feeling as though I’m wasting my monthly fee.

I still miss the fact that I haven’t had time to give the game I’ve waited so long for, but I also know it’ll be there when I have time to pick it back up. And of course the first monthly update should hit tomorrow, if they’re still on schedule. I admit I also haven’t been checking forums.

Second, this: Zubon’s post about Asheron’s Call allegiances and patronage. AC was my first MMO and I’m always interested in posts about it, but I think Zubon may have represented only one side of things. The comments section for that post is rife with “eww, this is creepy!” type reactions, and I’d like to show the other side of that.

In a nutshell: In Asheron’s Call, allegiances were pyramidal. Every player in an allegiance had a ‘patron’ (the player ‘above’ them in the hierarchy) except the ‘monarch’, who sat at the top and was effectively the guild leader, and any player could have ‘vassals’ (players directly ‘below’ them in the hierarchy). Vassals passed up a certain amount of experience to their patrons who would pass up some of that to their patrons and so on up the “chain” all the way to the monarch. There was an equation for it, so it wasn’t a simple 1 for 1 or even 10 for 1, but that’s the basic system.

The allegiance setup is odd, looking at it from the outside now, though coming in to my first MMO I had no clue and it seemed perfectly normal to me. Yes, there were allegiances set up explicitly to wring as much xp out of the system as possible for the maximum possible pass-through. But the vast majority of allegiances I knew were really bog-standard guilds with a different name and slightly different mechanics.

The guild I joined in Asheron’s Call is still the guild I’m in these days, even though we’ve long moved on from the game. Joining was about playing with like-minded folks and NOT about how much xp you could generate for the shark-like gestalt. Effort were made to match newbies with like-minded patrons if they didn’t already have connections, to make sure they’d be tied to someone whose playstyle and availability matched their own. It’s about as casual and laid-back as a guild can get, and even in AC there was no talk of having to produce xp or needing to do X, Y or Z to be considered useful.

In any case, how is this substantially different from raiding guilds who require their players to be online on certain days and for a certain amount of time in order to run certain raids and obtain whatever loot it is they’re after?

Personally I’d rather be passing up virtual xp to a virtual patron than have to give my guild my real-life phone numbers so they can make sure I’m adhering to my raiding schedule. Now that’s creepy.

Pity me for I am made of whinge

There — I think you’ve been warned enough that this is an ego post. Look away! Fly, you fools!

If you’re still reading, I’ll try to keep it brief. (By my own measure. You know, the one where 2500 words isn’t much.)

The gig is starting to grind my gears a little. For one thing I am so running out of things to write about it’s not funny. For another, most of the time the people who read the column just want to fling poo, usually at me but often just at each other, and while I don’t read them all that often it still makes me want to wash my face and brush my teeth whenever I do. I miss the smart people here and wish I were more motivated to post on my own blog even though there’s no filthy lucre involved for doing so (and yes, I need the filthy lucre these days).

Today, someone made the effort to message me over there to make sure I’d actually read their comment on a recent column. Which essentially boiled down to “You’re okay even if you are totally up your own arse and you never consider anyone else’s point of view!” — which I happen to think is entirely unfair. I’m very likely up my own arse but I am nonetheless always aware of other points of view; I just don’t feel obligated to do more than mention them in passing if they’re not relevant to a column that is actually supposed to be, well, about MY experiences. Okay, player experiences in general, but I’m not doing a standup sketch in the style of Bill Bailey parodying Eddie Izzard doing James Mason (err, sounding like James Mason. You know what I mean.).

My byline or whatever those text blurbs are called: “[snip] discussing topics important to her as a long time player of MMORPGs”. Seems unambiguous to me as far as mandates go.

I’m also a little weirded-out by the responses the columns get. Most of the time something I think will get loads of comments just drops like a resting parrot dead duck, and stuff I think will evoke maybe a yawning agreement or two over coffee makes a bunch of ageing farts like me come out of the closet and join the Old Fart Gamer Pride March. Once or twice I’ve written something intentionally polemical, though the utter shit-storm over the SW:TOR post took me aback a little — then I read some of the comments and realised that most people were, as usual, commenting on something entirely irrelevant or entirely not under my control (like why the discussion thread was in the News forum), so I stopped reading them and almost immediately felt human again. Early on I wrote something I thought was going to be polemical and it sank like a dead whale shark, which was interesting if not entirely instructive.

Thing is, I don’t really know what’s going to be polemical and I don’t really want to. I’m not particularly cutting-edge and I don’t particularly like to stir shit-storms (debates, sure), so I don’t do it much. And it feels odd to think that I probably ought to be trying to do that more for the column gig, because if there’s one thing polemic and shit-storms do it’s generate hits, which is exactly what the site wants and, um, exactly what they’re paying me for. It’s just not something I like doing or something I’m good at. I’m good at rambling and… uh, rambling. I ramble really well. I could ramble in the Olympics! But polemic — not so much.

So these days I kind of feel like the old lady trying to sell lace doilies in the corner of a leather gear store — not bad for business per se, but a little out of place and all the dominatrixes look at me funny as they walk past browsing the new whips. And I decided to whinge about it here, because empty though it is this is still my place and I can write what I want, when I want.

I’ve been pondering the ethics of whether to leave the comments open on this post, because I see it more as a vent-post than a baby-seal cry for sympathy, but I’ll leave em open anyway. I’m not too proud to accept a pat on the back, though now that I’ve vented I’ve kind of done that for myself already. If you want to say something nice, go ahead. If you want to fling poo, I’ll fling it back, because this is still my place and I can do that if I want. That was my Cartman voice, by the way.