Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I apologize for my absences of late. Really, I have no excuse, except to say that I didn't have much to say. Course, I have been trolling other people's blogs and posting, but nothing worth creating my own topic about.

So, what have I been doing? Other than trolling?

Well, I've managed to get my Paladin past 70 and into a sizable amount of Lich King content. Now, I had traversed a bit of Northrend previously with my warrior and gnome mage, but I wasn't really feeling it. I think a lot of it had to do with with how cluttered the Borean Tundra and Howling Fjords feel. The zone is pretty packed with animals, diverse terrain and other obstacles that tend to just annoy me. But, I decided with my paladin, the goal was to quickly level through those areas and head on, which I did, and I'm really enjoying the game much more.

There are areas of the new expansion that are just a visual delight. The art design for Lich King is very different than those of the core and BC. It seems to take on almost a graphic novel type of look with the shadowing and shading of the ground, trees and buildings. I'm just saying that I'm really digging the art work this time around.

The questing isn't much different than before. Lots of collection and kill quests. They have created a few themed quests that go along with certain areas you are questing in, like the D.E.H.T.A line of quests, which I won't go into here. They are fun to do maybe once, but after that they get annoying. Course, getting to ride a woolly mammoth is lots of fun. I just wish that Blizzard would stop making us look through animal crap for part of a quest. Bat quano and wolf droppings have no business being in a quest chain.

Getting a 5-man group as a retribution paladin seemed like it might be an issue. I figured most people would prefer a mage, warlock or Death Knight to a dps paladin, but I'm here to say, I've not had one problem. I've been inside the Nexus, Utgard Keep, Azjol- Nerub, Ahn'jahet and Drak'Tharon Keep. Everyone was pretty much a Pug, with a few guild members through in at times. We didn't have any problem getting along or getting the instance handled in a reasonable way and I had a blast doing each and every one. A lot of this new found ease is attributed to the way Blizzard created the instances in Lich King. They aren't very complicated and they are very very fast. Each instance took maybe 30 min to 40 min from start to finish, sometimes even less depending on your particular group make up.

Now here is the real problem, for me and my paladin anyway. There are 3 types of plate armor that drops in the game. Straight up paladin, mana regeneration, intellect and stamina heavy armor, protection warrior or paladin, stamina and strength heavy with defense thrown in for good measure. Then lastly they have some dps centric plate armor that's mostly designed for fury or arms warriors, but looks pretty good for a dps paladin at times, especially if nothing else is better.

So now I have to shift through what I have, whats dropped and who is in the party to decide if the item I'm looking at is worth rolling need for. I want you to know, it's getting pretty hard. I rolled need on two weapons over three days. Both looked to be better than the other, but upon closer examination and some attack dummy practicing, they are in fact, the same. No real problem because I didn't have any competition rolling on either item in the group I was in, but still. I don't want to hose someone out of a nice upgrade, especially if I'm not sure if the item is a true upgrade for me. I do have a mod that compares stats, but even that isn't 100% correct at times and I don't have the luxury of having the group hold up a roll just to make sure I'm doing the right thing for me.

Oh well, enough of that little bit of internal conflict.

Besides WoW, I've picked up two new DS games, Big Bang Mini and Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure. Both very different and very good games. I've enjoyed both of them immensely, especially when away from my computer due to work. I still need to finish Final Fantasy 3 and Chrono Trigger, but I needed something light to play while I was working out of town. I don't want to be caught playing my DS the next time we have someone important on the stage.

I've also become addicted to Starbuck's coffee. I'm not going to link them in my blog because they are extremely evil and if you've not already heard of them, which would be a miracle, I'm not going to go out of my way to help them aquire fresh blood for their army of caffinated zombies. Needless to say, every day I have at the very least one large cup of their highly addictive coffee, if not two. Yes, it does tend to be a bit expensive, but I don't smoke nor do I go out and drink beer much, so I don't see a problem with a coffee addiction.

On a good health note, I've joined Weight Watchers with my wife. I've been on it a week and I've already lost a little over 8 lbs. Hopefully the progress with continue. Being a diabetic it's important to me as I get older to get better control over my blood sugars and with my weight being a little out of control these days I'm hopeful that Weight Watchers can help. The trick is to attend the meetings and write down everything you eat during the day. Make sure you excercise and eat foods that will fill you up but aren't fattening. Ok, no more Weight Watchers commercial.

That is about it.

I would like to recommend a new podcast. I've been a fan of The Player One podcast for over a year now and recently they recommended The Fanboys. I've listened to three episodes so far and it's very entertaining. They converse mostly about movies and games, but they do tend to go off topic a great deal and some of it can be disturbing, but so far it's always been funny stuff. It won't be for everyone, but if your into entertaining podcasts, then give this one a try.

I'm too lazy to edit this or check my grammar so if I screw up something, please forgive.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Windmill is hole 15!

It occurred to me while replying to a recent post at "A wall of Text" on the changes to Wintergrasp, that World of Warcraft is to the MMO community what Putt Putt is to the golf.

I mean, Blizzard has slowly turned WoW into an easy entry point for newbie people who want to dabble in the Virtual world. Sure, some of it's hard, like the windmill on hole 15, but some of the course is just a few rolling hills that with the right amount of aim, can put your ball in the hole with one easy hit.

Wow has become an easy game for beginner MMO players. The management and design team at Blizzard have removed most of the depth and difficulty that was originally associated with the core game, pre BC and made it a grindless, bonus xp questing ground, where you never really touch anything of importance in any zone because your leveling so blazingly fast. It's a drive by and I haven't figured out who is getting shot.

A new player and guild mate, who use to be an avid Guild Wars player, told me that WoW was great and he enjoyed all the mob killing and ganking, but he wasn't being driven throught the game by the story line and he missed that aspect from his days of playing Guild Wars.

Apparently, Guild Wars had the questing and story set up in such a way that it flowed very nicely through the leveling process. Not unlike the way Lotro works with it's vast history and the books of the series. Events were scripted and worked with what the player was doing as he or she leveled up.

I told him that he was in error, that, in fact, WoW had a well crafted story arc designed specifically for each zone and that he had been adventuring in it. He wasn't being driven by it because, with all that fantastic extra xp for turning in quests and the fact that he was in the R.A.F program with a friend, he was only going through, on average, maybe, 1/3rd of the quests in each zone before moving on to the next zone. Therefore, he wasn't getting the entire story arc through the games questing system. He was missing pieces of the story puzzle, so he wasn't seeing the entire picture.

But who needs Lore and history at the lower levels when Lich King is all that matters now. Getting to that end game content where, apparently, it's just so easy to raid the 10 man heroic dungeons that Blizzard had to quickly introduce Ulduar to keep players in the game and happy. What a shame they needed to do this so close after the release of WoTLK. Course to hear them tell it, this was all planned. I just can't buy what their selling anymore.

I don't hate World of Warcraft, I just hate what Blizzard has done to a fine and wonderful game. They have been pounding the crap out of it with their famous Nerf bat that the entire game is spitting up foam every where you look. I don't mind if they put in a Putt Putt course or two, all I'm asking for is a place to play some real golf.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Gender Debate

How do you pick the gender of your character?

Do you consider the class of the character before you choose? Maybe create a little background for the character explaining how he or she will fit into the virtual world they will call home for the next 80 levels or so? Do you choose gender based on what you'll be looking for the long leveling hours to come? Or is does the choice involve scamming players out of gold or gifts?

In the age of programs like Ventrillo and Teamspeak, does a male playing a female character shock you or is it business as usual? Does a flirt from a male or female character cause you to stop and take notice or is it just an irritant that is quickly ignored? Do people really pay attention to the gender of their fellow characters? As players, do you believe that the gender you pick will effect how other players interact with you in the virtual world or how well you will do in the virtual world?

Do we agree with Tobold that "ultimately your avatar is just a playing piece, and reading too much into his gender or race, and then projecting real world politics onto that, can only be a bad thing." or with "that avatars are projections of self into the game space, each chosen for specific reason and with specific intentions. Some might choose an avatar solely for game purposes, for personal aesthetics, or entirely haphazardly. But some do so to express themselves in ways they can only do so in a virtual world"?

Could it be that we have just been forced to become desensitized to the gender aspect of the game? One can not deny that you can become anyone you want inside this virtual world, so why would you want to bring real world issues and problems like gender into a place that is an escape for most if not all players?

This entire crazy debate was brought to the gaming community via a set of bunny ears. I just don't get it and hopefully I never will.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

To Boldly Go

I have seen the promise land and it is J.J. Abrams's STAR TREK.

My original fears have all been put to rest, so to recap, I would officially like to say....OMG!

I won't unleash a bunch of spoilers here in the blog o sphere, that would just be mean, besides you should have your butts in the seats of a theater right now instead of sitting in front of a computer reading this poor excuse for a blog. lol

I will say the movie met and transended all of my expectations for a revival of the franchise. It was just that awesome. All the old stuff is there and tons of new and exciting stuff. I'm sure the purists will take issue with it, but screw them. Get over it, the movie is great!

I do plan two things, to see the movie again in the theater and to purchase any special addition Blu-Ray the minute it hits the stores.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Apple

What craziness is this?, my father bellowed as he held up the golden apple.

"It's a magical apple to help me find my true love."

You can't seriously believe that?, he groaned while holding the shiny apple like it was a diseased rotting piece of fruit one would toss straight into the trash bin.

It really was a magical apple or so the kindly old woman had said when I purchased it, but I dare not mention her to my father. I knew the look I would get. Dusty old second hand shops with old woman weren't the kind of places my father cared to visit and I'm positive he wouldn't want any son of his hanging out in such places either.

Always the skeptic my father, especially when it came to matters of the heart. I was 5 when my mother walked out on us. She had left with the clothes on her back and nothing else. One day I had a mom, the next nothing.

The old woman had assured me this was the magic I required for my search. It's not like I had traded a cow for some beans or followed a talking rabbit down a dark dank hole in the ground. I wasn't sitting around rubbing old dusty lamps in my spare time.

More later......

The Imbalance

I can't remember if I have done a blog post on the crazy cost of items on the Auction House in WoW, but my Gawd, its horrific. I understand the problem is more prevalent on older servers due to the excessive number of level 80's on that server with disposable income, but man, it's just crazy what a normal green item goes for these days in the AH.

I can understand a nominal price increase, but a 100 or 200 percent increase for items that aren't even blues is crazy. The concept of "Twinking" out a lower level character is not anything new, but the cost for a normal item has grown disproportional to the amount of income the average player makes playing the game. The problem is the creation of the Daily quest that net on average 10 gold per with the ability to do 25 of those quests a day. These are best done with a level 80 character and since most players don't have a level 80 character, it makes aquiring the such disposable income only available to a limited few players. So, who's at fault for this imbalance? Blizzard, of course.

They want to give end game players lots of money so they (Blizzard) can turn right around and drain it from them with crazy game items like epic flying mounts or dual specs. Then there is the cost of prepping and repairing epic gear from raiding, so they have to make it possible for those people that raid three or four times a week to do so, by giving them tons of disposable gold. In the mean time, it causes those that have little to no interest in raiding or doing a daily quest to spend their time finding items for lower level twinks and charging outrageous prices for them to try and drain the coffers of the 10% who have the ready cash.

It's a terrible cycle. Players who are low on the cash totem pole want to get a leg up so they feel compelled to drain money from the rich players on the server and therefore making it impossible for the average or new player to get any decent gear through the auction house. So the new players decide to take mining or herbalism as their trade skills so they can get their piece of the pie as well and it goes on and on. The trick would be for Blizzard to make dailys less profitable or to reduce the number of dailys players can do in a day. That way, the money would start to go down and prices would go back to some semblance of normal. But since Blizzard just increased the number of daily quests a character can do per day, I don't see this problem going away any time soon. But, it is a problem, when you can't outfit a level 40 character with decent gear because the cost is 200 times what it was 4 years ago when the server was new and fresh and without any high level rich players looking to throw away money.

Blizzard, please fix this problem so people can enjoy the game again.