Friday, May 28, 2010

Booth babes and stolen accounts

I tanked for a bit last night for the first time in a while. I had picked up some tanking upgrades, but as I rarely tank, they were sitting in my bags ungemmed and unenchanted. Fail bear. I think I'd like to tank more, but we are always so short on healz.

Two quick tidbits from the gaming world I found interesting.

First, I don't think I realized that PAX had a no booth babe policy for their festivals. The organizers of PAX are soliciting feedback around this rule via a survey, asking:

It's well known that PAX has always had a "no booth babe" policy for the show. Our definition of a "booth babe" has been a model (male or female) that has been hired to stand/sit in skimpy clothing to market the product. If that person knows the product inside and out then it's less of an issue. A company representative that can interact with attendees in a way that provides value as opposed to "hey stare at my body" is something that we encourage whether or not that representative is physically attractive or not.

As the show has grown, we've noticed certain exhibitors walking the line on this rule. Before we put the hammer down, we want to make sure we're representing your interests. Over the past few years, I've heard both sides plead with me to change/enforce it one way or the other, so I thought it would be helpful to actually hear from the community on this.

It's interesting that they talk about wanting to keep a focus on the content, yet they're not completely banning "booth babes". So is a woman in a bikini ok if she can talk about the product? Is it really "less of an issue"? I've never been to Blizzcon, but is it an issue there?

Secondly, I came across this sad, sad article from Symantec that found a server hosting the credentials of 44 million stolen gaming accounts, including 210,000 WoW accounts. These WoW accounts were listed as having a requested value range of $35-$28,000. $28,000?!?! Are you freakin' kidding me?


On a more serious note, Paradamaricodise, if you are reading this, your toons were logged into last night, with Para in Hellfire Peninsula most of last night. I am wondering if your account was either hacked or sold.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gaming and dreaming

I tend to dream, or probably more accurately remember my dreams more often than most people. It's not unheard of for me to remember 3-4 dreams from one night. I can also force myself to dream about something that I want to dream about, by thinking about it as I'm falling asleep. At one time I did keep a dream journal, and perhaps because of all of this I've become really good at interpreting dreams. I've interpreted dreams for family, friends, and even a white pony tailed warrior tank from time to time.

I have also had occasional experiences with lucid dreams, where I am fully aware that I'm dreaming. Why all this dream talk? Well, I came across this very interesting article looking at gamers and dreaming. The study that found that playing video games before bedtime may give people an unusual level of awareness and control in their dreams. The researcher, Jayne Gackenbach said:

"Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams."

Gackenbach found parallels between lucid dreamers and gamers in that both groups had better spatial skills and were able to achieve higher levels of concentration and focus. She made a very interesting point in saying that both lucid dreams and video games are forms of alternate realities, though one is the result of a biological process and the other technological.

Gackenbach found that frequent gamers were more likely to have lucid dreams than non-gamers. Furthermore, the gamers showed dream control, or the power to actively influence their dream worlds. A second study showed that while gamers did have some level of control over their dream worlds, the control was limited to their dream selves, as if controlling a video game character.

Now in terms of nightmares, this researcher found that gamers wielded this control to fighting nightmares as well:

"What happens with gamers is that something inexplicable happens. They don't run away, they turn and fight back. They're more aggressive than the norms."

What she found was that a scary nightmare scenario was more likely to be turned into something "fun" for a gamer. Gackenbach is looking to use this sort of information to see if she can apply it to victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, a symptom of which is often terrifying dreams. Perhaps video games can help control PTSD?

I think that I tend to not remember my dreams as much if I am playing WoW right up until I go to sleep. If I give myself a bit more time to decompress, I remember more dreams. And I can't remember the last time I had a real, genuine nightmare, but very interesting to think that my experience with gaming may help me control them more.

I wonder if my dreams are any different after a night of 5v5 arena action vs raiding vs generally just putzing around?


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Left Claw's musical ICC

Last week was Kalthan's last week of playing WoW. Thus, I wanted to plan a little something different for his last raid with us and planned a musical ICC run. Now we did a musical Kara run back in the day, what 2 years ago? I remember choosing Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy for Attumen, Mr. Roboto for Curator, and Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet for Opera. For some reason we didn't do a musical Ulduar or ToC.

In planning the musical ICC run for Kal, I got a couple great suggestions from Bell's post a couple months back. But I also tried to pick songs that I personally liked and tried to expand my options by thinking of songs that may fit boss mechanics/raid instructions. So here's what was played:

1. Marrowgar: Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round
2. Deathwhisper: Eagles - Witchy Woman
3. Gunship: Elton John - Rocket Man
4. Saurfang: U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
5. Festergut: Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
6. Rotface: Van Morrison - Come Running
7. Putricide: Britney Spears - Toxic
8. Blood Council: Police - Don't Stand So Close to Me
9. Blood Queen: Def Leppard - Love Bites
10. Dreamwalker: Cranberries - Dreaming my Dreams
11. Sindragosa: Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

It was fun though because we learned some more facts about each other, like the fact that Shmoo has an adverse reaction to Witchy Woman and my guildies heard about how much I was in love with Def Leppard back in the day. A couple of guildies lost heals from me when they talked bad about Van Morrison and the song for Dreamwalker was partly for Jess, who is a big Cranberries fan. I think I also seriously pained a number of guildies by making them listen to Britney for Putricide (a great great suggestion by Nikolai).

All in all, it was a nice change of pace from our typical ICC runs and it was a fun way to commemorate Kal's last run.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pop quiz

I think we’re all well aware that there are a ton of pop culture references in WoW. A ton. Here is just a smidget of the pop references in game that I found interesting and didn't know were there, bundled up for you into a quiz.

1. One of the DK starter quests, Tonight We Dine in Havenshire, references what action movie?

2. In Eastern Plaguelands, there is an NPC named Father Inigo Montoy. One of the copper coins you can fish up from the Dalaran fountain is also called Inigo’s Copper Coin, marked "I wish I had my father back..." These two reference what classic movie?

3. Natalie Tootiblare, a guard in the underbelly of Dalaran is a reference to one of the 3 main characters from what TV series?

4. In Borean Tundra, you can pick up a quest called The Nefarious Clam Master, where you must defeat Clam Master K. What member and group is this quest referring to?

5. In Dragonblight we find an NPC named Agent Skully in New Hearthglen and an NPC named Deathguard Molder at Venomspite. What TV series are they referencing?

6. The Gladiator's Greatsword is identified as having been crafted to Proximo’s specification. This is a reference to what action movie?

7. In Alterac Valley, the alliance commanders are named Ichman, Slidore, and Vipore, while the Horde’s commanders are named Guse, Jeztor, and Mulverick. These names are similar to characters from what 80s movie?

8. In Dire Maul West, a rare spawn called Tsu’zee can appear beside two Wailing Banshees. What band does this reference?

9. The two councilmen in Darkshire are named Berrybuck and Millstipe, a reference to the members of what classic band?

10. If you talk to Archmage Vargoth in Netherstorm several times, he will say

"Plenty of room at the cursed Violet Tower
Any time of year, you can find me here
Some scried to remember, some scried to forget
And still their voices are calling from far away, waking me up in the middle of the night"

This is a reference to what famous song and band?

There are also a ton of literature references. Hmmm, perhaps that will be another post.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friendship in a world of fantasy

I think it still surprises me sometimes how I've found myself in a guild of people who raid together because they are friends. After our raid last night, folks stayed on vent for a while just to chat. It started with a discussion of the personal life of our dirty dirty priest Nikolai/Sam. While it started with dirty stories (always a good place to start), it led to some other talk of general real life stuffs.

Having been in this guild for over three years now, we've been together throughout life's highs and lows... kids, school, moves, jobs gained and lost, and love found and lost. I think I mentioned before that a couple years ago, I felt that the perceived anonymity of the internet helped me to be able to open up to Jess more. I don't think I'm the only one. I'm glad we're here for each other in that way.

Does this means our raids are always honky dory and all just butterflies and kittens and glitter? Um, no. Much like a family, we can drive each other crazy. I also think that this closeness can have positives and negatives from a raiding standpoint. Because we are friends, sometimes it can be hard to have certain conversations. But on the other hand, sometimes difficult conversations can be easier to have because we are friends. Did I just make a huge circle here? Hmmm... but you understand what I mean, right?

Ok, before I get any more dizzy, some screenshots.

Sometimes the stress of tanking gets to be too much, and Shmoo just needs to cuddle up to someone. Here is an old SS of Shmoo spooning with Nicolause:

A while back 5 of us randomly found ourselves at the Dalaran bank. Here we are plotting to overthrow Jess. I think Nkm just made a great suggestion or something, given how I'm looking at him.

One tree is awesome. Two trees is double awesome.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More '80s flashbacks

Those of you who grew up with me in the '80's may find this just as amusing as I did. First, an Improv group set up a famous re-creation at the New York Public Library.

What I found particularly interesting and innovative, was that this stunt was initially planned by the library's marketing department to help bring buzz to the library, which is currently facing a huge budget cut.

Secondly, did you play Street Fighter as a kid? Well, gavacho13 on deviantART has drawn very cute drawings combining Street Fighter characters with Sesame Street! My favorites:

Look how badass Big Bird looks!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Government structures in WoW

In addition to the nerdy side of me that plays WoW, I have a geeky side of me that loves watching random shows on channels like the Learning Channel, A&E, and the History Channel. When I'm watching some of these shows, they often tend to peak my curiosity to go find out more.

The comic above should actually say Wikipedia, because for me its gotten to the point that if I want a general overview on some topic, I don't even google it anymore. I just go straight to Wikipedia.

So in the same vein, I do use wowwiki as lot as well. Wowwiki even has its own wikipedia page where you can find out little tidbits like the fact that wowwiki is the second largest English language wiki in the world behind wikipedia itself.

Anyways, I was looking up something on wowwiki, and I can't remember exactly how I got there, but I came across the fact that each major city has their form of government identified.

Exodar: Theocracy
Stormwind: Hereditary Monarchy, governed by the House of Nobles
Ironforge: Senatorial, Hereditary Monarchy
Darnassus: Elected Council
Orgrimmar: Tribal Chiefdom
Thunder Bluff: Spiritual Hierarchy
Undercity: Monarchy
Silvermoon: Hereditary Monarchy (throne vacant)
Shattrath: Theocracy
Dalaran: Magocracy

Dalaran is officially listed as a Magocracy. LOL. "Dalaran's magocracy is a technocracy/meritocracy with democratic elements, in much the same way most city-states in ancient Greece were run. Though the foremost leaders of the Kirin Tor's archmagi councils tend to be the nation's most skilled mages, they are elected democratically by all eligible". I should ask our mages Nkm, Vel, and Darc about this democratic election because I sure haven't heard about it.

I didn't know what a theocracy is, but it is "a state governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided". I'm not sure I realized there was House of Nobles in Stormwind... or that IF had a Senate.

A lot of the zones have their government structures identified as well. For example Western Plaguelands is listed as a dictatorship, whereas the DK starting zone the Scarlet Enclave is listed as a stratocracy, which is a form of government headed by military chiefs, a term derived from two Greek terms signifying army and power.

Some zones, such as Azshara, has their form of government listed as 'None', which is different from some other zones that make no mention of a government in their overview. The Barrens is listed as having Trade princes at Ratchet and an Elected council at Crossroads. The Blasted Lands' government is noted as "primarily tyrannical law within tribes" while the Burning Steppes is described as tyrannical dictatorships. LOL. Lots of tyranny!

Anyone notice not one mention of democracy so far? Well, Duskwood is described as a democracy, as is Redridge Mountains. The Swamp of Sorrows is described as a participatory democracy. Huh. I wonder what that means.

Interestingly enough none of the Outlands zones are noted with any specific mentions of their government structures. In Northrend, Howling Fjord is noted as having a Town Council, with Borean Tundra, Grizzly Hills, Zul'Drak as Tribal. Icecrown and Coldarra are both noted as Monarchies.

Seriously... I am such a nerd.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Linkage to end a tough week

I think I've mentioned before that I typically blog at work. While I'll often come up with my ideas for the posts elsewhere, the bulk of my actual writing is done at work. Also, this is the main reason why you hardly ever see me post on the weekends. Weekends are for playing damnit! Weekdays are for writing about playing.

So when I actually have to do work at work, I kinda go "What the crap?!?!". Seriously. Anyways, this week has been like that and I've been irritated and tired. Quick easy post with two links to end the week.

First, Keeva put together an incredible Resto Druid guide on her site. I've permanently added it to my links section on the right. It's definitely the most accurate, comprehensive, and detailed, yet still beautiful and easy to read/comprehend guide out there. And she even did some crazy wowhead linkage! Go there. Now.

Second, I've had the Psychology of Video Games linked for a while. For any of you fellow geeks whose interest is peaked by hearing such terms as sunk costs, loss aversion, prisoner's dilemma, and game theory, go check it out. Some very interesting reads on how some of these concepts relate to video games. Check out their archived list of all posts.

Here's to an easier week next week!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A better questing system

I readily admit that I am not the person to ask about lore within this game. Actually, I'm pretty horrible. I think one time Nkm mentioned some person that I should know as a druid, and I was like "Who?". He was horrified. I am sure that I fail Gauss' lore quiz.

I am also really really horrible with actually reading quests when I receive them. I tend to just go "Yeah, yeah, yeah; blah, blah, blah" when confronted with quest text. I would love if Blizz took a second look at how they not only design quests, but how they think about the overall quest system itself.

Guild Wars 2 has come out with information around how they are changing their quest system. Colin Johanson, their lead content designer says:

"Traditional quest systems involve walking up to a character who usually has an exclamation point or question mark hovering over their head and talking to them. From here, you get a massive wall of text hardly anyone reads that describes a horrible or totally mundane thing going on in the world that you need to help with. You run off, complete this task, then return and talk to this character again to receive another wall of text and a reward. Traditional quest systems rely on these blocks of quest text to tell you what is happening in the world; this is just an outdated form of storytelling".

He continues with:

"In Guild Wars 2, our event system won't make you read a huge quest description to find out what's going on. You'll experience it by seeing and hearing things in the world. If a dragon is attacking, you won't read three paragraphs telling you about it, you'll see buildings exploding in giant balls of fire, and hear characters in the game world screaming about a dragon attack. You'll hear guards from nearby cities trying to recruit players to go help fight the dragon, and see huge clouds of smoke in the distance, rising from the village under siege."

What an interesting way to think about quests, eh? In the link he continues with saying how in most quests, the events that they describe aren't actually happening around you. You may get a quest to kill 10 ogres, but the ogres aren't actually attacking. They're just standing around so that multiple people can complete the quest.

Johanson's vision is to really make the game feel alive, making it a living, breathing world. The quests would have a real, visible impact (good or bad), changing the world based on player reactions.

"The core of this evolution is our event system, which allows the world to dynamically change based on actions and decisions made by the players. A single player decision can cascade across a zone, changing the direction of a chain of events until they dramatically alter the content played by players in a map."

Now maybe all of these concepts aren't necessarily transferable to WoW, given its larger player base. But definitely some interesting ideas to think about. I for one, would love questing in Cataclysm to move beyond the standard practice of give you a wall of text, and you do X. Perhaps a more dynamic questing system would get me more interested and engaged in the lore.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Are healers more aggressive?

I was having a conversation with Jess the other day and said something to the effect that our roles as a tank and healer seem contrary to our personalities and how we deal with things in game/guild. Meaning that I tend to be more outspoken and yes, perhaps aggressive in many ways, while Jess tends to be calmer and just generally less rawr than I. I mentioned how it seems somewhat contrary to our roles as a healer and tank, and that perhaps I should be the tank of the pair.

Jess' response was somewhat surprising, saying that it may not be as contradictory as I thought because in many ways, healing is more aggressive than tanking. Since Jess has both tanked and healed all of the ICC bosses we've done, it was an interesting thought.

I guess from a physical standpoint, its easy to think of tanking as the more aggressive role, being in the boss' face and taking damage. Likewise its easy to think of healers as being less aggressive because we stand in the back sending green swirlies. But I think what Jess is referring to is more around the function of our action as opposed to where we physically stand.

Jess has mentioned that in many encounters in ICC, there isn't a ton going on for the tanks, which is partly why I think Dreamwalker is such a nice change of pace for our tanks. But Jess has been the second healer with me in two healing Blood Princes and Queen, as well as Putricide and Sindragosa more recently. I remember the first time two healing Blood Queen with Nicolause maybe like a month ago, and my gawd. You are just constantly working your ass off.

A tank has much less to do in a fight like Festergut or Blood Queen, while us healers definitely have to be more aggressive, and are constantly healing to keep everyone up. And yes, I would venture that as a whole or on average in ICC, healers are constantly "working" more than the tanks. But beyond boss fight mechanics, while tanks are taking damage, us healers are throwing out, or giving heals. So yeah, which action is more "aggressive"?

Hmmm, perhaps my adage of Heal like a tank really isn't that far off. Something to think about...


Friday, May 7, 2010

I would totally live here!

Check out this little church in Kyloe, in the county of Northumberland, England.

Cute, eh? Doesn't it look like something we'd totally come across in WoW? St. Nicholas Church was a Georgian church, built in 1792. The church was deconsecrated in 1984 and a couple bought the church for £92,000 in 2001. Over 8 years this couple spent £300,000 on it to convert it to a 5 bedroom house! Check out the amazing pictures:

Incredible, eh? It was listed for £650,000 a couple years ago. The only thing that creeps me out a little bit is this couple's use of their yard:

Links here and here.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

This tank and healer relationship

It's been a while since I've talked about tank-healer relationships. Let's look at the specific relationship I have with my tank. Despite what some guildies may have wondered at one time, Jess and I did not know each other prior to the game. Our tank-healer relationship, and the now subsequent real life friendship, has been built from the game.

This tank healer relationship started within The Left Claw over 3 years ago when we had about 7 people who ran 5 mans together all the time. I think the first time I healed Jess was back in Scarlet Monastery when we were level 30 something. From then until some of the later 5 mans in BC, I don't think that I ever even healed another tank. When we did start running with other tanks or healers, it was funny because we felt that we were somehow cheating on each other.

But the other day I was pondering about the fact that not every tank or healer I know in game has this sort of tank-healer relationship. So I wonder what it is that brings or cements a random tank and healer together into this sort of relationship? Is it just luck that brings together a tank and a healer who just somehow happen to click?

I know that part of our relationship today has to do with what I went through about 9 months after I started playing this game. Without going into tons of detail, I'll just say that I was an absolute emotional wreck for about 3 months. If I think back to that time now, I don't even recognize myself. Things got better, but I was still pretty bad for the next 9 months.

During this entire year, Jess, I kid you not, ended up being my personal therapist. I honestly believe that I would have gone off the deep end and really needed professional help if I didn't have that outlet. The drama that unfolded over that year was to the extent that it could have been written for a made for TV movie.

Throughout that time, Jess knew pretty much every excruciatingly painful detail of what was going on, way more stuff than my RL family and friends knew. Why? Well, there was stuff that was so dramatic, so shocking, so depressing, that it was easier for me to confide in someone who "didn't really know me". To this day, Jess knows more of what happened and what I thought/felt/struggled with at the time than anyone else.

When I think back to that time, I can't even believe that Jess put up with all of it for that long and that I didn't drive Jess off the deep end. When I mentioned to Jess the other day about how this emotionally wrecked year of mine probably set some sort of foundation for our relationship today, Jess agreed, but did wonder what it was that made me feel comfortable enough to confide all that stuff in the first place. Hmmm. Good question.

It still often surprises me when Jess says something or sends me an email that shows me how incredibly well Jess really knows me. Sometimes in a way even better than I know myself. Seriously, how can this be? Between two people who have yet to even meet each other in real life? When I say that I continue to play this game for the people and the relationships, this is a big reason why.

I'm thinking that this sort of relationship could happen with any two people in this game, whether that is two healers, two dps, or whatever combination of two roles within the game. But I wonder if there anything about playing the role of a tank and healer that somehow adds to building a real life friendship? Do we trust each other more because of the roles we play in game? Hmmm.

Whether it was just plain luck or fate that brought this healer and tank together, I'm grateful for this relationship that has translated over into a real life friendship. I know that one day I'll stop playing this game, but I know that our friendship will continue. And I have to think to myself, isn't it just plain crazy that this game did all of this?


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gear inspirations from Lady Gaga?

A couple months back I gave some helm design suggestions from the high end fashion world, specifically Philip Treacy. Well, here are some gear suggestions, inspired by Lady Gaga.


Totally disc priest. Bubbles!

Feral druid:

Shadow priest?

Fire mage?

*Edit: As awesomely suggested by Erinys, Shaman (frogs are hexed!) or Hunter (Frogstalker)

*Edit: As astutely suggested by Jasyla: Death Knights!


Monday, May 3, 2010

So when are the Girl Scouts following suit?

The Boy Scouts of America are now offering a new belt loop and pin. The subject? No, not fire making or knot making or compass using or whatever else comes to mind when you think of Boy Scouts. Joining their 53 other areas where boys can earn distinction is video games!

Receiving the Video Games Belt Loop requires 3 tasks:

1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
3. Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.

The Academics Pin requires earning the belt loop, then completing 5 of the 9 below:

1. With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
2. Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
3. Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
4. Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
5. List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
6. Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
7. Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
8. Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.
9. With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.

As a past girl scout, I'm curious when the girls are following suit and whether we'll see a video game girl scout badge!