Monday, December 17, 2007

See It Again, For the First Time


When we (the Pepperdine gang) noticed that TrN didn't have much CC, I decided then and there I'd level a hunter quickly. And it WAS very quick, too. Tynaqua is already a 62. Now...Akmalla's long and lovely post inspires my reply here, about Tynaqua. As we all know, I already have made a level 70 Allie toon, Saami. She's good. Got her Gyro-balanced khorium gun and her bad MM spec. Weell, not quite. She's a BM spec now... because of Tynaqua.

You see Akie, you really can continue to make fun discoveries as you play or even replay. When I was leveling Tynaqua, I did all the usual quests. In fact, I started in the Barrens cause I know those quests by heart. But I also know a lot more about the game now. I paid attention to reputation. I had the hunterhinter addon to help me hone my pets' skills. Also, because I knew I wasn't going to be doing many, if any, instances, I sought out quests where I had not really ever quested much before, for instance in Winterspring, Azshara, and the dreaded Silithus. Because I wanted to make the experience fun even though it was an experiment in cloning essentially, I decided to take the Big Red Kitty blog seriously, and spec Beast Mastery. (I won't rant about how cool BM is in this post. Suffice to say I went back and respecc'd Saami to BM).

I have learned to pull. Not not to shoot the guy we want so he comes running to us, but to PULL a selected target out of a crowd and make it go stand where I want it to stand. I have learned to ping pong trap and use DOT meters to time trap cooldowns (well, Hallgrima got me going on that but it's a great tool for everyone). I have learned to organize my pet's attacks, to calculate my shots so I don't step on auto-shot. These are things I didn't even know existed when I was playing my LEVEL 70 hunter. And, because people who play WoW more than 10 hours a week, like us, are really more like hobbiests, I enjoyed each and every new discovery AND the work of mastering it.

For me, it's not boring yet.

Let me also add that working out dungeon puzzles, such as the Shade of Aran, is also hella fun. (No, we still wipe on that, btw.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

White Has Become The New Purple

- Akmalla again. It seems that the last time I was here was the last time anyone was here. However, I'm going to put this up because of a conversation I had today with Viamedia, aka Vilemedia, aka Alamojack. Yeah, some things have changed. Akmalla's now a level 70, and the only other toons I have are both under level 20. Vile is now Alamojack and Twinkleheal (the original) has officially bought the dust. Hell's got a new toon, Tynaqua, a hunter (big surprise there). I gave in and decided to play on Etrigg as a cow warrior. Life seems to go on. However, I made a recent insight into WoW's ... well ... crack syndrome, to but it bluntly, and want to share it with you.
- It started as a simple conversation between Alamo (Vile) and myself. He sent me a tell: "Your Alliance toon's level 70 now! How are you enjoying that?" I hit the return key to reply, before I stopped for a second to actually read the question he was asking me. I thought a bit, and gave my reply: "Eh, not really." Why was that? Although I'd accepted the mass exodus to Etrigg, hell, I'd even joined them, again I was feeling a disconnect with the game. Perhaps I'm just a teenager who can't appreciate the wonder of 3D MMORPG gaming, because they didn't have it in the old days. Or perhaps I'd stumbled upon something that was REALLY at the root of my problem. I reread the rest of our conversation, and noticed that Alamo had hit the nail on the head. I had said, "I have quests in Netherstorm, but what's the point? I get more cash to buy ... what? Virtual stuff that helps a virtual character do even MORE instances?" His reply: "Pull on that thread and the game comes apart like a cheap sweater..." I laughed at first at his clever comparison, but then I reread it again. And again. I sat back, stewing in my thoughts. That was it.
- Earlier in this same blog, Alamo and (if my memory serves me correctly) Althaea/Twink had touched on the fringes of this big idea. Alamo felt like a tool, to be pulled out to aid another, and replaced. I believe Althaea covered this as well, saying that he felt no need to continue playing (again, I may be incorrect). The reason why all of us had been feeling that big disconnect was because, presto, the game had ceased to intrest us. Basic human nature. For example, if a baby had a toy, let's use a big plastic hammer and plastic nail...the baby would experiment. Putting the hammer on this, putting it on that; biting the hammer, biting the nail...and then, oh! A discovery! The hammer could drive the nail into things, what fun! More experimentation, and then, another discovery! The hammer could pull the nail out again! It is this cycle of experimentation, observation, and discovery that keeps us interested in something. That's why scientists continue to observe the stars, even when they're certain they're right and that they've found everything. There's the possibility of an amazing discovery. Now, let's apply this to a more restricted scenario we all know too well.
- I remember when I first started playing WoW. (Many of you must see what I'm getting at by now, but I'll continue to for my own benefit ;D). I learned to walk. Then, discovery: I could jump. I learned to attack. Then, discovery: I could use special moves. There were many endless discoveries on top of that, and I will only mention a few here: learning there were different zones, that clothies can't wear mail, that flight paths linked together, that there was a talent tree. Then, these were improved upon as I reached closer to the max level (60 at that time): there were HIDDEN SPOTS in those different zones, that different CLASSES could wear different levels of armor, that certain flight paths were CHEAPER to use than others, that talent trees could be artfully SPEC'D to accomplish different things. Then, the expansion came, just as the number of discoveries were starting to dwindle. Now, I'll make my main point, because I can see that I'm rambling here.
- With Akmalla, Althaea, Alamo, and Hell all at level 70...we ran out of things to explore. The wonder of the purple had been lost to us, flying mounts became a novelty, and the wonderous Karazhan became a chore to do. Unlike our theoretical scientists' space or our babies' infinate number of new toys, World of Warcraft had limits. There WERE only so many things to explore, and create, and do, and see. The game had ceased to throw new wonderments at us. After all of that thought process, I had something to say to Alamo. And that is a summary of pretty much everything I had hoped to communicate in this post. That white has become the new purple. I said:
- "Yeah. It's like you want a new toon again, but at the same time, you don't. You don't want to level up yet another alt. You ACTUALLY want that learning innocence back, is it. When everything was new and fresh. To find the game amazing and interesting again, instead of a grind. You want to be able to find more amazing stuff to hold your attention." Pause. Then: "Oh, you just inspired a Play Late post."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

But They're Only Virtual...Right?

Greetings. A long story short, I am Akmalla. The Mayor. The child of Hall and Clive. And now, on to my actual post.

Lately, as you no doubt know, Via, Hall, Clive, and Twink were invited to a researcher's guild on a different server. Namely, Etrigg. As soon as the researchers mouthed their long-term goal, money changed hands and pretty soon Hall, Via, Twink, and Clive were checking banks and emptying bags...of new characters. Vilemedia, Grimnar, Hellgrima, and...Althaea?...are now romping gleefully in fields of dead bodies in Sethekk Halls and soon, the flying bathtubs (Tempest Keep). And let there be no confusing, Clivenar was still a druid, abeit a hairy one; and Hallgrima was still a rather strange-looking warlock, and so on. As one would naturally assume, Akmalla was unable and unallowed to make the switch. First and foremost, she was Alliance. Secondly, the transfer would cost cold hard cash...the real-world version of it anyway (You know...green? Papery?). I found myself feeling, strangely, deserted. Perhaps you've heard of some friends come and gone through your browsings here? Names like Cyrinic, Sage, Owlune, Felison, Skuggan, Nicci, Nemi, and Cela. All gone. And now Twink, Via, and my parents. One would think, "No problem. You still know them. Their characters still exist. Why worry?" Well perhaps what worried me was not so much the logical game-sense of the massive exodus to Etrigg, but the sense of a lost community. I had long since lost the warming gift that was green chat. And blue chat was few and far between. Then why did I feel so angry?

When the others, Nicci, Cela, etc., were online and active players, the game seemed to take on a different aspect. In retrospect, I often did not move more than a few inches, sometimes guild-chatting for hours. Parties were common and not frowned upon. The game here was a big dysfuntional family game, with a tightly-knit community. When I finally severed the connection (impending as it was) between myself and Phantasmagoria, it killed that community. I lost a lot of yellow names on that 'O'-Panel, and for a while the game repulsed me. Now the game was less of a family thing, and more of a...should I say...'cult' thing. Now it was really only Via, Twink, Clive, Hall, and myself. I was pulled back in, and this unsocial version of the game became the norm. And when these, the final four, were pulled to a 'realm' that I could not follow to, I became annoyed. Why? I asked myself. They're only virtual avatars...right? Why did I feel an emotional connection between myself and Akmalla? Why, when I was offered a lvl 70 warrior toon to be bought for me on that server, did I feel attracted AND repelled?

A month passed and I thought I had the answer: The old server had nothing more for me. The community that had bolstered her XP gain was gone, and she was figuratively, 'Alone'. The game had stopped. But, no, I told myself. I wanted to play there. That couldn't be it. Another month passed and now I think I have the real answer. Akmalla, to this day, is not a level 70. I believe that it is anger in many forms that makes me feel 'stuck'. First and foremost, I think it is anger at myself. For example, when the expansion was released, Hall, Clive, Via, and Twink were all 60. And now they are all 70. They walked through the portal together. I could only watch. This anger at myself is because I couldn't be 60 with them. And now, with the newest expansion coming in May, I feel that I may not reach 70 with them. I feel anger at the researchers, who enticed my final four friends to their ranks with the savory scent of book chapters and grants. I feel anger at Nicci, Cela, Felison, and all the others, for leaving without hardly any notice at all. I feel anger at my parents, Via, and Twink, for even joining that place I could not go in the first place.

I suppose what all of this text is trying to prove relates directly to the title. Why am I so angry? Why am I so deeply desturbed by what is, essentially, a video game character? My question to Twink, Via, Hall, Clive, and any others whom might have an answer is...why is there such a strong bond between character and human? Why do we pay gold to move them with us, packing them up and bringing them on all our trips? Is it our hard work, our months of effort put into actually leveling them? Or is it perhaps the learning process taking effect on us...is it that we have learned so much that to delete them or move on would be like throwing away knowledge? Or is it pride in our work, our willingness to show off? Above all of these things, (and as impossible and silly as it sounds), I think the reason I am having this problem is because we love our toons. We love them like children, we love them like people we can go to when reality is just too gritty to chew. We love them like we love ourselves, like they are a piece of our lives, and our history...in my case, a piece of my childhood? You tell me. They're only virtual.......right?

-Flintpelt
Mayor
Akmalla

Monday, September 17, 2007

Disney Did It Better

you have no idea how much it hurts to say that.

but, what i want from a nextfest is a plausible next. what i got was a lot of mental masturbation. oh how cool. i can make a tube that makes music. i can make a robot that swims in shallow water like a snake. i can make clothing that hugs you from a distance.

my vision of nextfest would have been more like the old Disneyland Monsanto house. damn that thing rocked. i loved this place, and it wasn't even a ride. but it was a vision, and the vision was the ride. i just didn't see any vision at nextfest. nothing i could imagine myself participating in in the future.

monsanto house ftw!

NEXT!

So, went to Wired NextFest yesterday. To say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. Should have been the Radio Shack NextFest and held in the parking lot of a dirt mall. The Hammaker Schlemmer catalog has cooler stuff. The Brookstone catalog has cooler stuff. Hellfire and damnation, the SkyMall Shopping Magazine has cooler stuff! What is next according to the Wired fest is a combination of behavior modification applications and "co-existence" with robots that require two Asian servants. Ugh! Everyone knows the future will both be shiny and have jetpacks . . . NextFest lacked both.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I Study WoW

This is from Pardo, at the Austin Game Dev conf. this month:
... decisions guided by a series of mantras, the first of which is "easy to learn, difficult to master."


This is harder to do than to say. But here's a great tip:
"The first thing we always do is we design depth first and accessibility later," Pardo said. "And I think this is kind of unintuitive... We try to come up with [answers to] what are the really cool things, the things that are going to attract players to this game and get them to play the game for two to three years? Where's the depth coming from? And then we think about accessibility."


more to come...gotta go

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hell At 70


Yeah babies, I'm 70. But more importantly, I'm moving along in gearing and keying.

We ran a short hop into Steamvaults last night to grab fragment 2 on the road to Kara. Mebbe get through Arc. tonight. Who knows.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We are pirates of the round table . . . we dance when ever able . . .

Me hanging with my new Aldorian homies . . .


















And the winners are . . . Hells, Kat, Tigs, Sups and Vile












Dance Dance Revolution!

Shadow Lab Run


No, that was no run. That was a four and a half hour slog.

But, we did it. Got two quests plus the key quest. Brought Murmur down on the second try. Great leadership from Vilemedia, super heals from Supernovan, oustanding sapping and dps from Kathmira, and of course some mean kitty DPS from Tigan.

Kodak moments, before (above) and after Murmur

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pondering LOTRO



I confess to only my second occassion of burnout playing WoW. It happened last week, mostly as a result of a serious grind with Vilemedia, to get Hellgrima to 70, which we accomplished. Hell may end up being better than Hall, largely because of the advantage of being version 3 of an endgame toon. Yeah, there is stuff to know.

So, since I'd finished pounding out both class syllabi, despite being on a gamer machine with no apps. (god bless you Google, for Google docs), I decided to see if WoW was really that darned good or if most decent MMOs are just that good. +grin+

Sarah and I couldn't resist ducking into the EB Games to oogle titles. Frankly I was curious about BioShock, a 'new gen' FPS allegedly. But I don't have an XBox just yet. They had one copy left of LOTRO, an MMO which I'd been thinking about anyhow, since I am a serious LOTR fan. (Have read the books and own all the flicks and did the midnight stand in line for the last flick. I even read the book about the books, that tells how it all works out for the characters.)

So I installed LOTRO, and man is my lappie good or what, while playing WoW I downloaded all the updates (about an hour's worth) in the background. And then... I stepped in to take a look around. I'm on a 10 day free trial. What my household doesn't need is another game subscription (we have 2 for me, and one each for Akie and Clive. cha-ching.) While looking at races and classes, Akie and I found ourselves using WoW to characterize the choices: healer, tank, pallie, mage. etc.

I've rolled a tank (Guardian), hunter, and healer (Minstrel) and started to play a bit. The graphics are very different. The effort is to be realistic, but I keep feeling like it's 2D even though it isn't. I've been trying to figure out why. I think it's because the character movements are so stiff compared to WoW (and it's not like WoW is that life like). I also feel very separate from my toon. Not sure why. The landscapes are interesting and there is clearly general MMO knowledge that lets one navigate with skill. You can just "feel" where you should go and what you should click.

There are a lot of elements that have been borrowed from WoW. Instead of a ! over the head of a quest giver you see a ring, but hey, same thing. The big and mini maps both have more built-in info iconically displayed, and that's nice. The story is there, but well... it ain't exactly literature, nor is it particularly well woven into the LOTR line, at least in noobie ville. THe quests for noobs are similar: kill 20 of this, talk to this, find this and bring it back. This really might be a noobie ville thing so I'll suspend judgment.

At any rate, I feel very distant from this toon. It feels like paper dolls played through a veil of some sort. I dunno. I'm gonna play the full 10 days. It may just be a matter of habituation to WoW.

Sadly, their server update day is ALSO TUESDAY. arg! Here are shots of the quest log and the character panel. I don't like the quest log. It's so... intrusive. And hey, where are the tooltips?! I'm a noob and help is very hard to come by. Hmmm James, maybe a comparison is in order here. This may illuminate what makes WoW different.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

VileMedia . . . King of the Ogres!

After many trials and tribulation and with the slaying of four of Gruul's seven sons, I was proclaimed the King of the Ogres last night. It is an honor I think you'll all agree is long overdue. There was a kegger and some rhythmic drumming and all agreed it was a grand time. As the King of the Ogres, I am neutral with the Ogres of Blade's Edge and when I dance near one they dance with me . . . just like in real life.















I'll add my shot to Hall's below.




















And to finish it up . . . Vile posing before Kagrath, the last boss of Shattered Halls. This photo was taken shortly before Kagrath's untimely death. The police said all the witnesses testified that he simply slipped. Oddly, Vile was wearing a different pair of pants when authorities arrived.

Balamor & Hallgrima revisited as Horde

Monday, August 13, 2007

Really, meet the new tank . . . new gear, new jokes*.

Mister VileMedia . . . Tin Can!
Strenght: 360
Agility: 205
Stamina: 604!
Intellect: 29
Spirit: 52

Armor: 7678
Health: 10300

Defense: 400
Dodge: 9.8%
Parry: 12.0%
Block: 12.0%

DPS: 326

Crit: 13.4%

If you thought Via was dumb with 32 . . . marvel at the 29! Yet, he's lean and mean and here to chew bubble gum and kick ass . . . and he's all out of bubble . . . oh wait, one piece left. That was close, mannn. 56 quests and 6 instances and a handful of enchants and he'll be Via'ish.

* "New Jokes" is a trademark for "ViaMedia Old Jokes Inc." There are in fact very few new jokes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Meet the new tank . . . new gear, same jokes.

Mister ViaMedia . . . Tank!

Strenght: 397
Agility: 252
Stamina: 620!
Intellect: 32
Spirit: 50

Armor: 12093
Health: 10600

Defense: 485
Dodge: 18.2%
Parry: 16.3%
Block: 20.2%

DPS: 288

Crit: 15.1%

Akkie growing up forcing me back into the Tin Can. So, there it is in all its green glory . . . except the boots which are actually green, but I spend so much time knee keep in blood they have been stained. I repeat . . . that is a stain . . . I AM NOT WEARING ORANGE BOOTS THAT SCREAM, "HEY! I'M WEARING ORANGE BOOTS!"

Our Akie Grows Up


I didn't want to bump Via's elegant post, so this is short. Read his below for the full account. Akmalla, lvl 65, ran Sethekk Halls with us last night. This shot is right before our last wipe, or right after.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Touching the Back Wall

In over two hours we had gone down more often then Bush's ratings in six years. And then the man with the crown [our priest] said, "We're getting those pants!". The pants in question were for our priest and we had tried to get them off the last boss in Sethekk Hall over a dozen times. Yet, that wasn't the point. It was no different then Travis firing a cannon ball at Santa Anna's [This Santa didn't bring presents] playing of the Degüello outside the walls of the Alamo. Like then, we were outnumbered and outgunned. Both were statements of defiance . . . and we would joyously be defiant!

The point was we were touching the back wall of the instance regardless of what it cost. And there we were facing the toughest room in an instance that had remained tough all the way. And though virtually battered and bloodied . . . we were not beaten or bowed! Though dented we were determined. We pushed through the punishing pulls. We wiped more than once, but we whittled away at those before us.

And then we stood before the last pull before the last boss . . . an ugly grouping of six . . . and we were only five . . . and one was so low the two good pieces of gear she got she cannot use for two more levels. Undaunted, we pulled and then gutted out a long engagement that included more then a number of fears on the group and included the loss of our main healer [our priest and the man with the crown].

Our druid jumped from kitty form and started healing . . . and healed better then I've ever seen him. Our lowbie warrior gutted it out against elites three levels higher then her. Our warlock stepped back and kept one feared and one engaged by her demon and I'm sure dotted the hell out the rest.

And . . .

There we stood . . . all alive except the priest, but still standing!

So, we approached the last boss. A place there were times I know we all doubted we would see. The priest had to be summoned by the warlock because there were respawns at the front door. There was no do-overs available this time. No extra lives. It was overtime and we had no more time outs and the sun was in our eyes and we had to walk through the snow uphill both ways, etc. It was last call.

We approached knowing we had one chance, but we only ever needed one chance if we got it right [and got lucky]. Almost immediately we lost our druid [one HELL of a DPSer]. Like with the loss of the priest in the last pull, it was a blow, but almost a benefit as everyone focused even more and worked that much harder to gut it out. And like before, four stood when the killing stopped.

No, we didn't get the pants, but we will even if it is just to DE them.

Yet, I honestly had tears in my eyes when that boss fell. The entire run was a work of art. Now, don't think Elvis on velvet or a real classy nude study. My favorite work of art is The Raft of the Medusa. Folks mistake it for something gruesome and grotesque, but it is really the capturing of a moment of great joy.

It was painted from the accounts of a true incident off the coast of Africa where folks were stranded on a raft. The painting is the moment of rescue. There is a tiny boat off on the horizon and those in the back of the painting have seen it and those in the front have not. We are looking from the past towards the future . . . through the dead and dying . . . and we see those still in the past with their despair and those in the future with their joy.

Smashing away at the last boss and watching his health fall, but knowing our best DPSer had fallen and that we had one party member who if not for the random polymorphs from the boss should have long fallen to the Arcane bolts and knowing the priest and warlock only had so much mana . . . that moment . . . when we passed from determined to delighted . . . that moment of his death and our life . . . that moment . . . would have meant so much less if the road had not been so rough.

And after the cheers you leave and the instance and it resets. Nothing has really been changed. There are no physical trophies. There is no real persistence. What is virtually gained will be eventually lost either through the someday cancelling of our accounts or the death of the game. What remains are the memories of moments. I can't remember the countless trash mobs we fought through to get to that moment, but I will long remember that moment.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Am Murloc


I stumbled across a rock concert in WoW tonight. This stage was set up right outside SHattrath. The real band's actual music was streaming inside WoW. Folks were rockin' out.

The band playing, L70ETC, will be playing at Blizzcon this week. Their tunes can be seen on YouTube and on the Blizzcon page. Here's a link to my two favorites: I Am Murloc, and Storm, Earth and Fire.

I could watch these over and over. These guys really nail the whole headbanger rock genre in their music, lyrics, and video.

Oh, btw, L70ETC stands for Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftan.

ZOMG, someone captured the "event" live in Shatt. Here's their uploaded vid. What a world we live in.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A world without war . .. craft!

Friends,

Hellfire and damnation, after an OS upgrade I've tried to install the game three times to no success. Yet, I fear my resolve to keep trying is lacking. I'll see if I can't get someone to bring me a clean set of discs for Blizzconn, but that isn't the point. I could easily just go two blocks over and drop $40 and get my own, yet . . . well . . . the $40 means nothing to me and the friends I miss in that world do, but . . .

Hall posts from time to time about facts. I ramble along in my own peculiar way. Twink has LONG been absent [Hellfire, I'm not even sure he still even bothers to read it]. Akkie has recently made a few great comments, but that's about it. It's Hall with a photo and a caption and Via with a puzzling post. Let me just leave a Pinter's pause here and let folks marvel at the meaning of any further effort.

There comes a time . . . and here we are. We've all agreed to go left and I'm the one left who hasn't [do you folks EVER bother to marvel at the beauty of some of these sentences or it is just me? Oh . . .yeah . . forgot . . . it is just me]. Hasn't been for trying, but I've yet to get a response. Regardless, I remain. You two go ahead and I'll catch up.

If I can be so crass, but as I was taught in the first day of a program Hall devised, but doubt doesn't buy . . . it's all about the relationships. WOW isn't all that important and nor was Plaentside before. It's the presidential placard, "The Buck Stops Here". It's the third space. It's the tavern open till 2 a.m. It's the community and the culture. It's the . . . every step with a fellow traveler.

Yeah, I know . . . I might be a fool, but at least I'm a perfect fool. I love my fellow travelers without shame. I'd happily spend a day with Clive or Hall or Akkie or Twink or Assa or Trubs or ND or . . .

And that's the point, regardless of it being attached to velt and framed and hung on a wall.

JBR

JBR

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Hat Saga, Part III


OMG, what is it with hunters. Here's this week's reward and bizarre headress. Sad thing is, I think it's a real keeper.

But....


WTF is it? A lizard? A dragon? a mosquito?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A New Warlock in Town


So I made the deal. She's not quite Hellgrima yet, but she's on her way. Level 63 undead 'lock. Currently spec'd destruction for PVP; soon to be affliction for PVE. She needs a lot of work. She has little cash and only one profession, tailoring. >sigh< At least she has the epic mount. Character transfer is next.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Farming the Outlands


One night, as Saami was flying over a corner section of the mountains separating one region from another, I saw flashed on my screen You have discovered the Elemental Plateau. OMG!!!!! I had heard of this legendary place on the World of Warcast podcast, from Cryler (Starman was sick) and Renata. Cryler had been telling a tale of farming on a PVP server (not fun), and when he mentioned he'd been working on the Elemental Plateau he added, and if you don't know where that is I'm not going to tell you.

Now I knew why. I landed and realized I was in a small plot of land that felt about 100 sq yards. In one burnt section, I saw 6-8 fire elementals. In another hilly section, 5-6 earth elementals, another section *PRIMAL AIR* elementals. As a leatherworker, Saami desperately needed those to make clefthide leg armor. And heck, the rest was AH gravy. I was sooooo stoked.

As it happened, I was there pretty much alone, something that NEVER happens anymore. I could write a whole entry on the etiquette, or lack thereof, of fellow farmers, but I don't feel like ranting. I'm in the zone and I don't want to be brought down by my experiences with fellow players who are not only unable to cooperate and share, but who also lack grace and manners.

Now as it turns out, being my second 'toon, Saami has benefited from my experience with Hallgrima. Saami has all her professions almost maxed out. This means that for Saami, farming is a big, big deal. You name it, I farm it. I could wax a bit on the zen of fishing, and well maybe I will.

I discovered, quite by accident, that the small pond up on the plateau had pools of "pure water" that occasionally made an appearance, and from those pools I could fish out motes of water, sufficient to make primal water (another AH professions commodity). I then noticed, upon departure, the same sorts of pools in the larger lake below. I set up fishing. Well, much to my joy, I started pulling icefin blue fish out of the lake. And these, my dears, can be cooked up in to this:

Poached Bluefish
Requires Level 55
Use: Restores 7500 health over 30 sec. Must remain seated while eating. If you spend at least 10 seconds eating you will become well fed and gain 23 Spell Damage and 20 Spirit for 30 min.

Hallgrima would kill for those. Alas, her fishing and cooking are not even above 100. She could neither fish nor cook the dish.

Thus began the quick free fall into farming, cemented even more firmly after the first single set of Clefthide Leg Armor sold for 120G (well, 115G after the AH took its cut). There were at least two weeks where Saami (and I) spent more time farming than playing the game.

Here's a partial shopping list I regularly farm now:

  • air motes

  • mana motes

  • fire motes

  • earth motes

  • cobra scales

  • clefthide

  • knothide

  • golden darters

  • figlusters mudfish

  • zangarian sporefish

  • icefin blue fish

  • chunk o' basilisk

  • ravager meat

  • serpent flesh

  • raptor ribs



So Saami is a busy gal. But I find I sort of enjoy it. I think this is because it is a real low level task, with a few exceptions when hunting the meatier items among MOBs. I do get satisfaction from making the items for my others toons, for Sarah, and other folks, and selling the left overs. It is not play; it is not chores. I don't know what it is other than some sort of zen state with a semi productive outcome. LOL.

Now actuallly, farming is the wrong word. I am NOT engaged in planting or animal husbandry. I am really a hunter-gatherer. But the expression is farming, as distinct from playing, and so the misnomer continues. Me, I'm just living off the land, something in between the indigenous people and the Russian trappers in Alaska.

I'm heading out to farm right now. Need anything?

PS
Like Cryler, I will not be telling you the location of the elemental plateau. I already told Via and Clive.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another View of Uber Guilds: SUNDER

I was trying to get some tasks done in STV with Kuu, poor Kuu. She and all my toons are down to just group and dungeon tasks. And, I have no guildies to run them with. Twink is sucked up by PM and Via is busy with school (imagine that!). Sooooo I was noodling around and then this palie started helping me. We both had the waves of apes quest (Stranglethorn Fever) and I said I doubted we could do it. He said, "I'll bring my 70 mage on."

Well his 70 mage, Revith, played alongside his 40something palie. Yeah, he was on two boxes at once. I said how it impressed me and he said, nah, quadboxing on EQ is impressive. Turned out he's in Sunder. We discussed a lot as we played. I had mentioned I had a hunter and he suggested I look in to Sunder cuz they need a serious hunter. He helped me respec Saami to beast mastery (OMG she rox the house now).

I joked and bowed, saying SUNDER was the uber guild and I was honored to play with him. LOL. He invited me to look into it again, but I mentioned my experience in Crimson and alluded to Twink's experience in Project Mayhem. He said SUNDER had been playing together for 7 years, that friendship trumped raiding, and yes they'd had recent argument but friendship still reigned. I examined Sunder's webpage...OMG five pages of 70s. ROFL. Can you imagine. Great pictures and news on the site. I'm still toying with the idea because I am SO FRUSTRATED trying to get group and dungeon stuff done. I hate PUGs, though I've actually had some good PUG experiences in Netherstorm lately.

Anyhow... I'm thinking about it.

Meanwhile, Saami has a new hat FINALLY...and is a Beastmaster spec.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Running from the Graveyard

I no longer load up WOW as a matter of habit. These days its other things. I play some Get Hostile. It is based on a game I loved in my youth called Acquire. It's quick . . . in and out in under 10 minutes, unless I play with humans and then it's about a half hour commitment. I am rated about as low as you can be . . . regardless, it's a pleasurable passage of minutes.

I had supper with the gods this week. Hall and Clive and . . . well . . . my brother Twink. I got called "Uncle" by Akmalla. It was a pretty amazing time for me, though I could not but feel a bit out of place. All of them are so authentic and real. I never doubt them and am honestly proud to be in all their company.

And that is the point of this post . . . the distance from the graveyard to resurrection. Hallgrima posts very academically. I always enjoy and ponder over them. DoubleE posts not near enough, yet he is one of the best writers I know. And me? I always try to post as close to the bone as I am able. I don't expect my posts to be taken as academic or as anything other than as authentically emotional as I can muster. I'm not sure if that is what Hall' meant for this blog, but it is what I have done.

I fear they occasionally fall into the 'dear diary' category, but that is never my intent. I have tried to capture my emotions as I have experienced the game. Now, I'm done with the game for a spell . . . until an event or expansion or a call to arms. I feel VERY old in the game. I've forgotten more about WOW than I now know. My function now is no longer peer, but . . . take me off the shelf and dust me off and point me in a direction.

I log on occasionally to farm for gold to be sent to my nephew and niece. I know Twink occasionally inhabits me to make a pot or two. These days, I'm just a conduit for others. I'm a tool to be taken off the shelf when needed . . . and ONLY when needed. Otherwise, I just rest easy on the shelf with all the other tools.

I don't really like WOW. What I like . . . what I love . . . are my relationships in WOW. Before, it was Planetside. Though I liked Planetside better than WOW, still . . .it was my relationships with Hardboot and Killaton that brought me back. When I log into wow and see Hall, Clivfe, Twink, Aka' or a dozen others . . . I feel a real sense of joy. When they whisper me asking me to do this or that . . . I feel pride that I am of use. In the end, that is all I have ever wanted to be . . . of use.

The rest of my family in WOW have not led the singular existence I have. They have explored other identities. From Priest to Warlock and from Warlock to Hunter and from Druid to . . . what the hell is Yojimbo? Rogue? Regardless, they have found ways to be "other". Me? I am a dwarf warrior . . . generous and gracious and . . . well . . . on the top shelf. Take me down as you need. Use me as you need. Break the glass in case of emergency. I have served my purpose and am satisfied.

There is still more to do. Hall and Clive have not seen the backside of some of the instances. I hope that we can find a way to resolve that. Twink will have to join us . . . priest he is, regardless of protest. There are quests and gold to secure for my new 'niece' Akmalla. Funny thing about titles . . . they bring with them responsibility. Spending a year calling Dr. Riel "Madre" taught me that. This isn't the beginning of the end, just the end of the beginning.

I expect someday and somewhere . . . in another form . . . we'll stand side-by-side again with all the wonder we once had in our teens in WOW. There are more virtual landscapes to actually experience. We will eventually be young again and then old and then young. We'll live our lives over and over until we no longer want to run back from the graveyard.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Response to LindaX

“We had community for a good stretch, then it committed suicide. I used to look forward to hopping on and chatting with Feli or Owlie or Nemy or Kaen or Cerwyn or Cyrinic or Sylvander or ...”

And I managed to pick a fight with each and every one of them. For some reason, I just can't help tapping on the fish tank.

“I consider Ruleviolator a member of my community . . .”

OMFG! You consider Ruleviolator part of your community?!? So, Twink and I are running an instance and we pug him. Now, he was 70, so we figured it was o.k. The warlock makes a soulwell and he marvels at it and asks what it is. Seriously! About 10 minutes later we have a bad pull and wipe [it happens . . . especially with me]. His response is to tell us something to the effect that we aren’t a good enough group for him and quits.

“Another difference between me and you and Twink (and yeah, I put Twink in this category I think) is that you guys ran through the content as quickly as possible to reach the goal. I stopped to smell the ogres more than you did . . . “

And that difference, if I can speak for Twink here, isn’t just that we felt the need to consume content. There is some of that, but the greater impetus is folks expect us to lead [I have no fucking idea why] . . . and you can only lead if you are out in front.

Once upon a time when I was first rolling my first toon, I picked “warrior” as the class as it was the best suited to protect Hallgrima. Now, not blaming her because I think it is my personality regardless, but the choice from then to now was to protect. Twink rolled a healer for, I am assuming, the very same reasons.

I wish I could post all the conversations that Twink and I have had privately. They would reveal two men who take the obligation of servant leadership seriously. Leveling a warrior or a priest are at the bottom of the list for ease. Living them is equally uneasy as every wipe is one of our faults. And as ViaMedia becomes more surly and Twinklheal more silent . . . it makes sense to me.

We failed to run Old Hillsbard last weekend. I was the one to call to put the tag on its toe and the first to log off, but it didn’t just end there with me. I felt like I had failed my friends. My play was sloppy and . . . [I can always find ways to criticize my own play]. Back to the “ViaMedia is a Bad Player” post, since then it weighs heavy on me [and I know on Twink] when we can’t compensate enough to overcome the obstacles.

As a warrior [and I am assuming as a Priest], I have a belief that I am the margin of error. If I had just pulled agro off one more guy . . . If I had just popped that talent . . . if I had just switched stances one more time . . . If . . .

This isn’t a boo hoo . . . I picked my roll [rolled my roll] and I try to fulfill it [again, as I think Twink would agree]. I’ve spent many hours outside the game studying and researching because that is my roll. I’m supposed to know the pulls. I’m supposed to know the bosses. Why? Because I’m supposed to be the guy on point . . . at the front of the group. And I think that is what leads us both to consume the content and to the brink of burnout. It is a heavy burden sometimes, but one we took upon ourselves.

I am also assuming that guild leaders experience the same frustration and burn out. Not just the burden of command, but I think the tools to do both . . . well . . . suck. It's always pushing the rock up hill . . . it's always an effort even for the simple things. For a game that is supposed to be communal, it is often only so in spite of the game tools.

Anyway, I ran tonight with The Mayor and loved every moment. I ran the other night with Saami and loved every moment. There is just nowhere forward for me to go [Correction: ViaMedia . . . plenty of places for "me" to go] in the game that holds any interest. Until the next event or expansion, I'm content with just helping folks out as they need, but no longer feel the need to play . . . or to push.

Random Thoughts

So, I logged in to make sure Twink wasn't . . . two hours later . . .

Trillbur [my god, someone shot me!] asked if I would help with Durn. So, I headed to NaGrind as he assembled his crew . . . in Tanaris. So, he meant Old Hillsbard and Durnhold. I had to bow out because I wasn't up for that type of time commitment and chalked it up to another Trillbur misadventure.

Then The Mayor shows up. Man, I've missed her. I've had the pleasure of The Mayor's company on the top floor of a hotel in Alaska and under the ground in Montreal. I find it near impossible I've known her for three years. And, she's as good a partner to run with as there is.

So, we ended up on a world tour as we got her all the flight paths possible in the Outlands. And I got two distinct pleasures. The first was taking someone to a new land and sharing that WOW moment. The second was seeing her ding for 62.

Anyway, the point here is that I know The Mayor is a third my age, but she is pretty amazing to converse with [either that or I've had a lobotomy that no one informed me of]. And I must juxtaposition this against my 15 year old nephew who is leveling up a rogue who is . . . well, I just keep sending gold and not answering the phone.

I have over 20 years experience in text based communication [my god, someone shot me!] and there is a rhyme and rhythm to it. There is a turn-taking, yes, but there is also something harder for me to define. Whatever it is, some are a pleasure to chat with and some . . . err . . aren't.

As I ramble here . . . I recall lessons from my father about boxing. "Styles make fights" as it was taught and observed. And styles make dialogs as well. The Mayor converses without any hint of self-consciousness. She's comfortable regardless of the disparity in age or level. There is a confidence in her that I don't see in her peer, my nephew.

From Planetside to World of Warcraft, I've known a number of teens that were already seemingly my peer and I wonder what they'll be at my age? A generation self-taught to think . . . experienced in trial and error . . . comfortable with the losses success requires . . . collaborative and communal and communicative . . .

I can't wait to see . . . and I worry about those, like my nephew, left behind.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Virtual Stage and the Absurd

So, why does the below speak so much to me about my WOW experience? Err . . oh, sorry . . . yeah, go down and read then come back . . . I'll wait. It's from "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead" by Tom Stoppard for any of you unwashed masses out there [STOP THE DAMNED YEARNING!]. Just change "Actor" to "Player" and then don't confuse that "Player" with "The Player". You'll want to go reread that now, but I can't wait this time. Trust me . . . it all makes sense . . . to me.

PLAYER (to GUIL): Are you familiar with this play?
GUIL: No.
PLAYER: A slaughterhouse-eight corpses all told. It brings out the best in us.
GUIL: You!-What do you know about death?
PLAYER: It's what the actors do best. They have to exploit whatever talent is given to them, and their talent is dying. They can die heroically, comically, ironically, slowly, suddenly, disgustingly, charmingly, or from a great height. My own talent is more general. I extract significance from melodrama, a significance which it does not in fact contain; but occasionally, from out of this matter, there escapes a thin beam of light that, seen at the right angle, can crack the shell of mortality.
ROS: Is that all they can do-die?
PLAYER: No, no-they kill beautifully. In fact some of them kill even better than they die. The rest die better than they kill. They're a team.
ROS: Which ones are which?
PLAYER: There's not much in it.
GUIL: Actors! The mechanics of cheap melodrama! That isn't death! You die so many times; how can you expect them to believe in your death?
PLAYER: On the contrary, it's the only kind they do believe. They're conditioned to it. Audiences know what to expect, and that is all that they are prepared to believe in.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Twink asked me last week what it looked like when someone was done with a MMOG . . .

Well, I'm done.

70 levels . . . geared . . knowledgeable . . . etc . . . still . . . done.

Why?

Well, there is just nothing to hold me in the game. I've done everything worth doing and . . . well, after 70 levels there are mostly just folks who want me to do for them. Ain't no one doing me any favors. Ain't no one wanting my company just for the sake of fellowship.

WOW is designed as a communal game, but what do you do when you have no community? Now, I have friends, no doubt. Love Twink and Hall and Clive and Aka and others . . . Trubs and Assa . . . , but, that is not a community. I find WOW lately to be very painfully lonely and I can do that in real life. WOW actually makes me feel lonely.

Folks can take offense or whatever. The simple fact is I don't feel it anymore. For me to leave is a huge thing as most of my closest friends are there . . . but . . . not me anymore. I'll keep the account active. My friends know how to find me. I'll still come when called, but . . . only when called.

The odd thing is how bitter I feel about it . . . like I failed. Somehow, I got to the highest level without the community connections required to continue. It's a very odd odd thing for me, yet . . . an honest one.

I wish all of you the best of luck and virtual lives.

What is our story or the story?

Ugh! Dammit, Hall . . . that last post . . . still trying to digest. Now, as someone who has seen you do a number of un-smart things and stood over your corpse more than once [and you the same], I applaud you on it.

Now, my thoughts [when not in comps which is almost always] lately on WOW, which I am more or less done "playing" and growing more bored with daily] are to the storytelling element.

So, Illidan was killed last night . . . for the first time, but certainly not the last. Like so many bosses we have killed and rekilled . . . or not yet killed, but will . . .

Well . . .

What is the story of WOW? I mean, so even though we did not kill Illidan [and except for Twink are not likely to] . . . he does die. Now, last week I spent two hours straight just reading the summary of the history of our lil' world . . . and it has just dawned on me that we are making and remaking and reremaking the . . . err . . . current history of WOW.

We did go through the Dark Portal [side-by-side] . . . we did this and that and . . . well . . . Illidan does/did die. What context do we put the current history into? Frodo, Leoglis and Gimil were part of the "Fellowship of the Ring" or was it Hall, Twink and Via? What is the truth of the fiction of it . . . virtual as it may be?

Now, fearless of revealing very geekish knowledge, it always makes me think of D. C. Comics now abandoned concept of Hypertime . . . it all happened . . . it's all true. It's the weight of the events and not the who of the participants that moves our history on and on and on, yet . . .

Friday, June 01, 2007

School is a FedEx Quest

As I'm starting the lit rev framework for my game study work I've been asking myself many questions to help me more sharply focus on a complex subject. While most game studies folks are interested in the potential of games to carry school content (e.g., Squire, Gee), others are interested in them as labs for studing social phenomena, such as economics (Castranova) and social engagement (e.g., Malaby). I fall into the latter category. My interest is in knowledge co-production and sharing, i.e., cultural work. To the extent that learning is a consequence of cultural engagement, virtual world gaming, i.e., MMO gaming, and specific game play are viable settings for study.

Q: Is knowledge constructed and shared in MMOs? >> If so, this might be a great lab for studying that.

Since knowledge production and sharing clearly happen in these settings, and quite successfully across a fair amount of diversity, these settings offer a chance to understand in concrete terms, the propositions of sociocultural theory.

Q: Is the complexity of MMO game worlds sufficient to warrant a need to know? >> If so, games can stand in for other complex contexts requiring intentional learning, e.g., work.

Ironically I was about to say, work and school, and then I caught myself. Is school really that complex? That's how I got to school is a fedex quest. In public schools in California at least, school is still about porting information and basic skills into kids' heads. But I don't want to rant about that. That's old news.

People playing WoW turn to sites such as Thottbot, Allakhazam, and WoWwiki when they have a problem. They want to find an NPC or a quest giver, or they need help strategizing how to succeed at the given quest task. The help available there is both user-generated and site-generated. The site offers a fairly deep database on items, quests, factions, professions, classes and so on. However, on Thottbot and Allakhazam, that databased knowledge tends to be static description, that is, amost a dictionary of information. However, both sites allow game players to post additional information in forums and threaded discussions, and they do, based on their personal experiences and insights.

Look up Legend of Stalvan in Thottbot and you get a Thottbot generated entry that contains oodles of information about the quest: location, level, rewards, start, finish, and a listing of the 13 step chain that *is* The Legend of Stavan. Much of that information is hotlinked to more detail on location and items. The interesting and most used portion of the page is, however, the user postings, i.e., commentary on the quest and the quest chain. Here's a sampling:

THE QUEST in abbreviated form:
Obtained at level 22 -- Travel to the Moonbrook Schoolhouse and bring back any updated information about Stalvan to Clerk Daltry.


Before I offer the user commentary, note that it falls into a few neat categories. First is the explicit help: go here, do this, it's at these coordinates. The second focuses on strategies or obstacles that make the quest a challenge, and how to get around them. This is by far the most interesting category because, like the proverbial cat, there are many ways to skin a quest. The third category addresses this with class-specific pointers. The fourth category is straight out brag, not interesting and yet, if a level 20 hunter did it, maybe you can too.

SOME USER COMMENTARY:

Explicit Help: It was 41,67.. When you enter moonbrook it's straight ahead from the road, on the right. There is a hearse out front. The box is in the back room, on the right siode right before you go up the stairs. Ghost was lvl 26.. took her down, no problem.

Quest Obstacles Here's something worth noting that isn't mentioned above: the undead has a predilection for polymorph. I did this quest as a lvl 29 Hunter and she sheeped me as soon as the fight started. As soon as the first wore off, she did it again, and I wasn't able to get a single shot in. Fortunately my pet was able to take her down. I would guess that she prefers to keep the fights one-on-one. If you fight her alone, you probably won't notice it, but be warned if you're in a group (or have a pet).

Class Pointers As a lot of people posted, she will sheep you if you have a pet. Did this as a 26 warlock, Voidwalker should be able to solo her shes not that bad. You do have time to get some DPS spells on her in between her turning you into a sheep. It takes about 10 seconds for her to aggro so I think you can just accept the quest for the box and leave.

Brag Very simple; beat it as a lvl 22 priest.


This is just intended as a sampling. There is much more to code in this thread, for instance, some comments are directly in response to prior ones, others are posted as a general broadcast. Some include links or images, and so on. Some help references the original quest text either to clarify or to point out how n00b you must be to not read it carefully and not realize the quest is in Westfall not Duskwood. LOL.

Now as cool as that is, it gets better. The sites support reputation management. YOu get to vote, if you wish, on the posting, based on whatever criterion you choose. I was going to say based on usefulness, but I have seen some postings get bumped up because they are funny or because they rant against Blizzard because the quest drop rate is awful. I, myself, have voted up a few entries for those reasons. They deserve to be read by others. I guess that's the criterion we're all working on.

I"m adding a picture here, as is my new habit. THis one is not a shot I took, but is an image a player posted on this Stalvan thread. Note the user went to the trouble to markup the picture to help others find the elusive box.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's the Community, Stupid!

Yesterday Hall headed up to the Black Temple in Nether to deal some damage to some NPCs. As I rolled up I encountered what I could only describe as a surf line...you know, the surfers sitting on their boards at the outside of the surf break, waiting for the next good wave. THere were five folks sitting and bobbing on their flying mounts. I hailed them with a "is this the surf line?" and a hearty lol, and one replied, "yup, waiting for the good wave." Beach culture lives. >grin<

Now I knew my quest was a yellow solo-able and so I replied, "I didn't see this quest listed as group. LOL" or something to that effect. One guy whispered they were on the last part, the big boss quest. So I replied, you need help. He replied, got five. I rejoined, so you need a sixth for insurance? And he invited me to tag along.

They needed the help. And..I got some schooling on what it will take when I have to do it with my group. Egads, waves upon waves of locks and minions...plus the elites...plus the big boss. WHen we got them all down I just had to say, "and now who is going to clean up this mess!"

We lol'd and they ty'd and I np'd and they headed off into the well, not quite a sunset. I went ahead to do my solo quest, found a cool sneaky way to make it easy, posted as much in the Thottbot thread (yeah, I post there), and eventually signed off feeling quite the community member.

After you hit 70 there is less and less appeal in the solo'ing. ANd yes, the instances in groups rock. But there is something supremely enjoyable about just helping out. I know Via thinks this too; we've talked about it a lot. What's nice in the virtual world context is that you don't have to waste time and energy and social capital introducing and glad-handing and getting to know you. You just ride up and offer help, or respond to a tell. You can get to the engagement -- and out of it -- much more cleanly than you can IRL. For those of us who are not gregarious types, this allows us to be sociable, or perhaps a better term would be pro-social, without the schmooze we find so difficult and/or well...icky. (Perhaps that's why I'd rather help strangers than guildmates... less talk.)

So I've started back to exercising (wait, this is relevant) and I thought I'd download the World of Warcast to listen to on the ipod as I slogged away on the treadmill. I grabbed this week's cast and was amused by Cryler's tip of the day. Do farming with a buddy on vent. Makes it go faster. It's sort of a duh, but then I thought, yeah I like chatting on vent with guildies while working on solo stuff. So...maybe my prior remark about schmooze doesn't accurately reflect my true feelings. At any rate, a good deal of the continued appeal of WoW is the community, stupid.

Should have grabbed a shot of either the surf line or the dead mess afterward but I didn't. So here's a shot I took inside a Bloodspire Ogre's house...after I killed him and most of his village. Here Saami stands, pondering this question: "Why does an ogre need a teddy bear?"

Friday, May 25, 2007

From, "Tuesday, November 22, 2005, The Ballad of Balamor, Day Five"

So, I was asked by a certain someone to review and respond to an earlier post of mine . . . and here goes . . .

"It felt like Richard Dryfus from Close Encounters with the mashed potatoes . . . this means something!"

Still does, but less often and less . . . globally. Yet, I am not JUST playing a game . . . seriously . . . stop laughing! This does mean something.

"Ironforge is huge in exactly the way a Dwarf city should be . . . dwarfing everything within. This is the first time the game came alive for me. The hustle and bustle of a busy city . . . knowing the majority of those folks are players and going about busy business. The auction house was packed and the forges were ringing and there was just a general sense of real life."

Overall, things are much the same . . .and different. Iron Forge is no longer my home . . . though, I suppose it is and always will be. I [ViaMedia] live in Shattrath City now, but don't really do more than business there . . . it's just where my hearth is set . . . not my heart. I spend my time on the road . . . by land, air, sea or portal . . . I'm a traveling man . . . err . . dwarf.

I'm far closer to day 1000 than day 1. I'm leveled and geared. I've completed all the solo quests. I've run, if not led. every instance in Outlands . . . slain every boss. I don't see the masses, huddled and yearning, in IF . . . I just retrace my steps and hit the mailbox, AH, bank and back to Outlands. Yet, I see my party clearly enough . . . striving towards goals both stated and unstated. I've not lost my awe in them.

I wrote "a general sense of real life" . . . damned, if that doesn't ring so true through two years. I think the rest of my peers do a better jorb of separating themselves from . . . errr . . their selves. I don't know what motivates you folks, but I know I simply like ViaMedia better than James . . . and I like being him more. And I don't think that is a confession many of the 8 million would find shocking. In WOW there are so many fewer failed expectations . . . broken hearts . . . personal recriminations . . . impersonal accusations . . . betrayals . . .etc . . . Simply, ViaMedia is as good as James always wished he could and has been rewarded for being so.

"Yet, here is the huddled masses with all their yearning."

Should have been "are", but maybe should have been "Mass" and "Its'". Still, here the masses be . . . and become.

"Some run out and challenge the experience. Others, like me, hold back and watch and listen and wait to gain some level of understanding."

Back to the first line about "this means something" . . . I wait and watch . . and yes, agitate and aggravate . . . all in the pursuit of finding out what that meaning is. I fear on some level it is both too universal and personal for most to admit.

"Where all this is going I am not sure, but I can see that there might be a place in this world for me."

"a place in the world for me" . . . damn . . . yeah, I've carved that out so many times only to have it eroded by the sands of time. In WOW . . . at least you get to keep your gear and rep.

"It is a long day of exploring for me. I'm getting comfortable. I am in and out of Ironforge many times. I retrace some of my adventures and get them right. I explore other areas. I spend a lot of time learning how the professions work. By the end of the day, I get mining, blacksmithing, first aid and cooking. I start to realize all the mistakes I made early on . . . wishing I could correct them."

Another way that WOW is better then RL.

"Linda and I team up for a mission to take out an 'elite' character. Next thing we know we're dead and reminded of how far we still have to go. We're level teens in a world that goes as high as 60. There are monsters out there that we probably couldn't do enough damage to get their attention. And there is real sense of that. As Linda pointed out later, being in this strange land had a real sense of adventure. We didn't know these creatures or this terrain or where we were. We had already made the 'other' land our home in our minds. This was a foreign land. I didn't' kill a cow for fear of offending the locals. I got mobbed by these frog things because I was too curious. We were strangers in a stranger land."

And now? I don't know [especially from rereading the above] if I am any less stranger . . . or a stranger, but I know this world isn't to me. I know it better than anything I've ever known. There are places I've not been, but I know the parameters of what to expect . . . and am rarely disappointed anymore. I'm uber now . . . in level, gear, knowledge, etc. The distance between day 5 and now cannot even be fathomed by me. It is in all honesty at least 10,000 lifetimes ago . . . 10,000 runs from the graveyards . . . 10, 000 return to life and the pursuit of . . .what?

Like day five . . . still asking . . . myself and you.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Got My Pet


Finished the orphan quest. This year there were 3 pets to choose from as a reward. I picked Egbert. The baby elekk was tempting, but when I saw this nut, I had to have him.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ZOMG we've been playing too long


Yes, they're back, and they have demands. It's Orphan Week in the LC in Shattrath. The fact that this is the SECOND annual Orphan Week means we've been playing this game wee bit too long. Fortunately these orphans have minimal demands, compared to those last year in the "old world" that demanded to see things and get things (ice cream, for instance) across both continents. Or maybe it just seems easier because of the flying mounts and epic mounts. It sure is funny to see this lil orphan gal running as fast as she can alongside my epic ram. Am I cold hearted or what? bwahahahahahaha.

But just as we're ready to about to burp from consuming the content, Blizz gives us a major patch that offers new quests, new people, new instances. Kind of fun to watch Viamedia have to reorganize his local knowledge last night when we tried to do the Divination quests and found new mobs complicating the process. A little jazz problem solving and a couple of pickup party members and we were good to go.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Update on the WoW Chicks

Hey! Kuu hit 40 and she's got her elekk. Managed to make it over the 35 hump. It's so tough in the last half of the thirties. She's got totems! totems! totems! and has been very successful at pwning things as much as three levels above her. Shammies rock da house.




Meanwhile, Saami has been trying to catch up with Hall. Both gals are sporting new gear, although, Saami's mask is threatening to become as hated as Hall's voodoo mask was. I gotta get that stinkin' dead wolf head off my hair! arg! Saami has advanced her fishing and leatherworking and is trying to get cooking up to par. I'm learning to be a better hunter, thanks to some tips from the Big Red Kitty blog (BRK). I try to overlook the writer's obvious bias toward BM spec'ing. >sigh< Marksmanship FTW, baby!


Hall's back in a dress and is running around with a book in her off hand. Kinda weird, but then, she's a caster and all that intell adds up to crits. Hall is having fun with her flying mount, and taking her sweet time cruising through the various regions of Outlands. It pixelates badly on screen capture so I just grabbed a shot with her on the ground. Use your imagination. I'm now working through SHadowmoon Valley. (Where, btw, Saami got her new pet serpent, in image above.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Shamanista Rising

Okay, yeah, another alt. But before you mock me, realize it's a shaman! Ok, yeah, another caster, but this one can rez herself as well as others, and has a totem for evey ill. And, she gets to wear leather now and mail later. Kind of a better palie, eh?

So Kuu has been working her way forward, having to take a back seat to Hall and Saami. Oh, btw, Hall is 70 now and working her way through the questing and such to acquire a flying mount. She's also started leveling up her enchanting again. Saami waits. But I gotta say, Hall and I have seen some awesome potential pets out there in Blade's Edge.

Kuu just got her air totem (earth, fire, air, and something else.. electrical? lol) and part of the quest required her to go to the top of a mtn to talk to the wind dude. After their convo he kindly flew her down to the base. This is Kuu, flying! DOn't you wish you could? It's been interesting to revisit old familiar quests but with new skills and tools. Some play out just as they would before, but others become "new all over again" because of the opportunities afforded by totems. I'm feeling the need to find some lowbies to run with in order to do some instances, but maybe I'll just ask Mr. Uber Druid (CLivenar) or his uber buddy the rogue (Yojimbo). Yojimbo and Kuu cleared out the Felfire Hill quests without a death and, well, I don't think Yojimbo ever needed a heal. LOL.

Monday, April 16, 2007

ViaMedia's Photo Album

Life in World of Warcraft isn't JUST killing. There are the quiet moments as well as the group moments. Below are a few taken on a Saturday afternoon.

A Day at the beach with Dwarf and Priest

When not attempting to lead instances or defending their leading of instances, ViaMedia of the Dwarfs likes to strip down and soak on the shores. Twinkleheal prefers to fish so that later he may retire to his cook pot and prepare his much sought after "Twinkle'sticks".





Five for Fighting


Twink, Clive, Assa [with pet], Hall and Via prepare to explore the Mana Tombs. In a moment of levity, Clive sneaked up behind Twink and placed a 'Sheep me!' sign on his back.

Via and "Evil Bitch"

There is a new love in Via's life and though her knees bend backwards and she has hooves and wings and horns and a pale cold-to-the-touch skin and is a minion of pure evil, he says with only a touch of bitterness, "Hellfire and damnation, she's a major upgrade from the last brunette lanky soulless and black hearted evil bitch I dated!"






Dancing Bear


Clive dances to entertain the troops in what he calls his, "Country Bear Jamboree". The USO has contacted him . . . as have lawyers from Disney.

Gnomes in Back!

Like Rosa Parks before, Gnomes [Hallgrima pictured in back wearing traditional Gnomish burka] are forced to stay in the back of groups.





Hallgrima and Viamedia Reunite to
kill for charity . . . and phat loots!

Hall' is known to spend time outside bars trying to upgrade the gear of weary adventures and Via' is known for his "Naked Dwarf Charities" which . . . err . . . involve him being nude and trying to get young dwarfs and gnomes to accept gold for reasons that have yet to be fully litigated.