Friday, March 30, 2007

drowning in info

I cannot keep up. I skim and hope to remember, or at least hold a seed of memory so that the idea is at available for fertile ground. Join me in my delicious (social bookmark pun intended) pain.

THese are from feeds on my Google reader homepage.

from Ralph Koser, his keynote at the conference I wish I'd gone to (O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conf.)

and some relev. data:

how game dev's think:

New ARG from Jane McGonigal

Dodgeball...wired (btw, Google bought Dodgeball)

Odds 'n Endgame

First, apologies to all for being crabby this past week. Just feelin' crabby. Not sure why.

Okay, I am willing to respec. I have noticed all the 'locks running around with felguards, which means they put 40 pts in Demonology. Egads. I'll do some reading around and see what's up. I may hunt down Nunnster and see what spec he's playing now at 70.

Meanwhile, I crave more instancing. I couldn't do last night, Thurs, cause it's TI night for my class. Semester is almost over. But I'll be at AERA, and I mean I'll *be* at AERA, Apr 8-13 so don't expect to see me much then. After that...I"m all about our research and play. Yeeha!

I gotta master this 'lock. I've been devoting leveling time to it lately (Saami is on the shelf for a cool down), so if you see me on, just ping me. Btw, Twink, I really like the way TrN does the whiteboard scheduling for group runs. What say we try something like that? Or a Google calendar even. I bet we could embed that here somehow, in the sidebar or something.

Here's my current spec set up: 31/15/12
talent calc.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

So, question . . .

What are we talking about when we talk about “leadership”?

For many years I have defined it as “Articulation of Vision”. Well, I’ve done more than that. I’ve further defined it by attributing it to a fictional grandfather to add extra credibility in a blatant use of the fallacy “Appeal to Authority”. Why? Because that is part of my “leadership” style.

Yet, is that the “leadership” we are discussing? I don’t think it is. That is not truly “Instance leadership”. I assume that the party members show up with a vision that requires no further articulation. It is inherent in the co-constructed environment of the instances – quests, steps and phat loots!

So, I believe we are discussing what we should refer to as “instance leadership”. This is further defined by the types and talents of the party. It is even further defined by the pre-existing knowledge between those party members. Now, add the environmental factors of both the difficulty of the instance and the “local knowledge” of that instance.

Linda asks if she is a chess piece, saxophonist or audience member. From my instance leadership perspective, I’d reorder that to audience member, chess piece and saxophonist than I’d decide based on both talents and pre-existing knowledge of the player. When I’m not the leader, I am one of those three depending on the factors above.

I would define Twink as an above-average instance leader [and I like how he calls the square dance]. I would define myself as a below-average Instance leader. This isn’t humility or self-deprecation [my grandfather warned me about those]. It is a personal and experiential assessment based on my lack of both “local knowledge” and class specifics.

I compensate by favoring a “Jazz” style and relying on a small group of folks I have specific “jamming” experience. When Twink could not run Slave Pens I had some “instance leadership” concerns, but more personal concerns. I know Hall’, Clive’ and Assa’, but I don’t know them in Slave Pens. Yet, they aren’t a PUG . . I have specific and/or special connections to all these folks. The pressure of not messing up that run weighted very heavy on me.

So, using that other type of “leadership”, I called in a specialist. I called NDynamite. He is the best Pali’ with whom I’ve ever run. He is also one of the most generous players I have known. He is the type like Twink who make miracles look routine. He can tank. He can heal. He can react. He can recover. He can improvise. He is a great “Jazz” player.

So, back to the question . . that I have tried to partially answer . . . what are we talking about when we talk about “leadership?” Instance? Guild? Quests? Mentoring?

A WoW forum post that seemed germane...

500 ways to make sure your PUG works....

Monday, March 26, 2007

Am I a chess piece or a saxophonist or an audience member?

So much to discuss in those two great postings, I figured I'd go whole hog post rather than comment also. Mostly I'm trying to share point of view here, given your Rashomon comment, with which I heartily agree btw.

So here we go. I did not get to look at the meter as much as I had thought I would. As a clothie, I am never fully comfortable until the baddies are all down and accounted for, and that's my focus point. Nothing like being ganked from behind when you're wearing Kleenex. I did notice what I thought would be exactly what I thought it would be: The DOTs start slow and hit a critical point where the mob is drawn to you as the main threat, after which threat drops like a rock because the spell time is up. I'm not much interested in the threat meter actually. I learned, while in Crimson, to rely on the target of target and always watch the baddies to know when I'm stealing aggro from the tank. Bizzarov was a good mentor about that. But sometimes, now at lvl 67, I"m okay with handling a little aggro, especially when I know the mob is going to bleed to death before he actually gets to me.

However, as you have pointed out, a warlock spec'd affliction, as I am, is a DOT monster. Yeah I have some DPS blasts but they are very slow casts, eat a soul shard, suck mana, and generate high threat. That's a lot of bad against the one good DPS blast they let off. They are my last resort when I'm in trouble.

Let me add that, as a healer, you are without equal. Over the past 67 levels of running with groups, you are the only healer who has bothered to heal me regularly in runs. Generally all heals go to the tank and off-tank. Unlike the mage or priest or pally, I have no self heal beyond the healthstone, which has a cool down on repeated use. Yeah I can suck life. It tends to buy me time; it does not sufficiently heal me to allow me to do anything offensive beyond continuing to suck life, which of course, both requires and uses mana. Another mixed blessing spell. I rely on my VW to self-bub as well, but then there goes my body guard, eh? lol. So locks are tough to play. That's partly why I really dig 'em.

After laying down a good DOT I don't bring a lot of DPS and I don't heal. So yeah, if I'm not DOT'ing up the next guy (Skull, X, whatever the chain is), I"m standing around throwing 100 DPS wand whacks and waiting for the next part. I don't like how that feels. If we're pulling four guys down on us, I'm playing all four. I'm not stupid enough to break the sheep or the sap or the icey trap. But if there are four guys in play, I'm playing four guys, esply if there is a pet or minion tanking the off guys so I don''t have to melee.

Here's how I control my "pumping out" DPS. My routine is to lay down the two killers DOTS: COA and Corruption. I only get to lay ONE curse at at time on a mob; they don't stack. If I use Curse of Tongues to reduce a caster's speed by 60%, or Curse of Weakness to reduce the mob's DPS a bit, I don't get to lay COA on top of that. So, I have found it better to: COA, Corruption, Immolate (bec. I can then stack Incinerate which pumps up the Immolate), and depending on the diffculty of the fight I add either Life Drain and then pull life (the green string you see, which is a steady switch of their health to me, albeit at a lowish rate in the 150s) or I go wanding. The idea is to lay low as long as I can. If a buddy is in trouble, I can't heal I can only bring out the best DPS I've got, which is slow to cast but packs a wallop. If the priest is getting hammered and I'm still healthy enuff and no one seems to notice, I'll pull out my AOE fire rain just to get the aggro off the priest, not cuz I think it's the right spell for the moment. Generally, I won't use Shadow Burn, Soul Fire, Death Coil, or Howl of Terror unless I am going down w/o any sign of a heal. They have high DPS, thus high threat, so since I"m gonna get slammed they better be killer shots. Trust me, I really do know what I"m doing, but a lot of the time I'm making decisons based on how I think the fight will be or is going.

What I want from a leader is info., and the biggest piece of info I need and RARELY get is: are tanks pulling it back to where we are standing or do I have to run up to get in range. It's precious seconds of time off the DOT clock if I have to a) realize you're not pulling back to me, and b) run up to get in range, and finally c) cast (can't cast while I'm running). I cannot begin to tell you how amazingly RARE it is to know that bit of info before a fight. The leader will say go ahead and pull, and I will discover that the notion of pull is going to be fairly relative: the tank runs up ahead and pull the guy closer to him/herself, but not BACK to us who wait. Should we charge too? LOL.

I also appreciate knowing when we're starting to engage. I don't need a ready ck, but I do need a NOW or GO or "for Gnomeregan!" Why? When you say, put your pet/minion on the purple diamond, that means when we "go" I am first targeted on the purple in order to send the pet/minon, THEN have to acquire my target after all hell has broken loose. I also have a bias about wanting to take the casters out of a mob group first. They heal. They silence. They create havoc. I want them gone. You can tell me to focus on the X, but if the Skull is a caster, it's really, really, hard for me to let go of skull.

I *do* also want local knowledge if I'm new to the instance. I sure don't want to float down off the cliffs into a mob group. LOL. JK.

I understand the need to train as a team in order to reach the improv stage. At least, that's what I'm heading for... And I understand there's a lot to know about the make-up of the team, but also the way people are spec'd within class. For instance, Saami is spec'd marksmenship. I don't think Assy is, and it means we play hunters differently. I'm guessing she's beast mastery, based on her kick ass pets, and the fact that she's mostly solo'd to level. Spec'ing for marksmenship is a lot like playing warlock, as it turns out. For intance, my aimed shot is huge DPS and tends to grab aggro. but it's slow to get off.

I think we need to just chat for an hour without playing, to find out what we do and when / why we do it. If the highest end runs are about more simultaneous mob pulls, then I think improv becomes very important. You have to know and trust what your buddies are doing. If the priest is healing the tank and off tank, and we're NOT doing anything about controlling the extra mobs, I'm toast. If we lock'm up with traps or saps or sheep, they're still coming off that at the same time, roughly. And that's three classes: mage/sheep, rogue/sap, hunter/trap. You add warrior/tank and priest/healer (or druid or pally in either spot) and you have a 5-man. I didnt see warlock in that list. LOL. The succubus might give us another crowd control with soothe, but she can be killed so easily.

P.S. I have never put much stock in damage meters, since I know that they usually don't include the damage done by your pets/minions. I was just stoked to see how much damage I can do, since I am rarely complemented for it and often chided or overlooked as a playing class in favor of rogues, warriors, pallies, and even mages, and priests. I"m down there with the pets. YOu just don't see "looking for warlock" much in the grouping chat unless they're running molten core and want someone to banish elementals.

It would be awesome if we had an uber rogue on the team. Mine is only at lvl 40something.

It isn't jazz, it's square dancing

Ok, this could be a comment, or it could be its own post, so I'll make it the latter.

Every instance run is a single crime viewed differently by five or ten different bystanders, and your post and James's reminds me how much so that is. Here are some random thoughts.

Since we were playing with both Threat and Damage meters yesterday, we had a lot of feedback to evaluate, but I'm not sure we debriefed on how the tools helped or hurt us. The difference between threat and damage is a subtle one, and though you're not talking to it specifically, it's an important one to bring up.

DPS caster classes generally have a 1:1 threat to damage ratio, with some skills to push that ratio to 1:10 or 1:20. Warriors and other tanks are blessed with the inverse ability, to create 2:1 to 10:1 threat to damage ratios. As a warlock, then, you're the closer - you finish the fight, not start it. The DoTs that you describe are delaying or distributing the damage you do over time (sometimes evenly, sometimes logarithmcally), and so they push your threat contribution to the back end of the fight. I visualize this as a rising threat curve, and overlayed against a tanking class's declining threat curve (they start out big, with disproportionate threat generation like Sunder and Lacerate, then fall off with the melee damage), it ideally works out so that your two curves are essentially mirror images of each other.

Damage, on the other hand, will generally be unbalanced at the end of the fight. That you're second on the list even with the level disparity between Hall and Via at 67 and 70 is a testament to the power you 'locks can pump out. Pumping it out, though, may ultimately be what you find the most challenging to manage. Turbulence said he ultimately had to remove Damage Meters because it was skewing his playstyle from a team to individual perspective; I'l be interested to see what your experience is, since as a healer, I never top the DPS charts, and the pallies and resto druids are kicking my nerfed rump on the healing meters....

I don't know if it's a lack of understanding of the casters you were reacting to, or a different conception of their role. Where your description and my visualization during yesterday's run diverged (somewhat) is in the handling of multiple mobs, and also in the change in instances that follow Underbog.

My impression - and it's incomplete, since I've only done a handful of additional 5-man runs in places like Mana-Tombs and Sethekk Halls - is that Blizzard's trick for increasing the difficulty of instances is to increase the number of mobs in a pull, from 4 to 5 to 6, and when that happens, spreading the DOTs around becomes more tricky.

In any run, there's a limited number of crowd control options that are generally defined by your group composition. Yesterday's run was proportionally tank heavy - 2 tanks, 2 off-tanks (pet and VW) - and lighter on the DPS - beastmaster hunter and warlock, rather than, say, mage and rogue. In our run, we had potentially six or seven immobilizing crowd control options - ice block trap from the hunter, as well as the druid's roots and beast charming, priest's mind control and shackle, and lock's succubus seduce, demon enslave and banish. We also had some slowing abilities - fear from 'lock, priest and warrior, slowing traps from hunter, mind soothe from priest - there's probably others. So, for three mob pulls, we were sitting pretty - two tanks, and the off-tanks picked up the slop. Four mob pulls were still generally managable. We never (or rarely, I don't remember) used our skills to fully imobilize a mob, to put it on hold, so to speak - we just slowed things down. Within that context, focus fire wasn't as crucial, and so the "DoT them all up and we'll catch them" method was quite succesful.

With a five mob pull, however, it seems to go differently. Instead of delaying, immobilization and prioritization becomes the name of the game, and I'll admit, I came at the Underbog run with that mentality in mind. Here's what I've seen recently in Sethekk Halls:

Class composition: Warrior, Rogue, Warlock, Hunter and Priest. Five mobs, too many to fight straight up or simply slow, so complete immobilization becomes crucial. Fight opens with Sap, Shackle and Ice Trap imobilizing three mobs. Warrior charges skull, and Rogue cycles over to X. Warlock DoTs Skull, then cycles to DoT X. At that point, the Warlock's options are limited - any damage to the three controlled target will break them out of the control, so what's next?

In my opinion, you've got to kick in the burst dps - shadowbolt, death coil, etc. And you're going to focus fire on one target to bring it down quickly, so that you free up the group to cycle onto the next target or pick up one of the three immobilized targets as they break free. Mages are the top of the heap at burst DPS, clearly, but warlocks are no slouch themselves, and I'll argue that in five-man runs, you'll find yourself using those tools increasingly over the more delayed gratification of DoTs.

From a healer's perspective, this has benefits as well, because it allows for a more bursty healing style, where I'm just healing one or two people. Healers who toss heals throughout a fight, consistently, run out of mana, because we never break free of the five-second rule - we never get into our full regeneration period. On the other hand, if I start with a HoT to keep Via generally up and running for 6 to 8 seconds, and then burst heal him to 100%, then wait 6 to 8 seconds, then burst heal him - the per-tick regen looks like this: 47, 47, 47, 47, 47, 148, 148, 47, 47, 47, 47, 148, 148, instead of straight 47s. At the end of that period of time, I'm ahead by 400 mana - and that's the cost of another heal if I need it. If, on the other hand, a DoTted mob breaks free and beats on the warlock or the hunter, even once or twice, then that benefit is gone, or even worsened. Priests hate "worsened"....

James has, from time to time, commented about my post that called him a bad player. Certainly it's left an indelible mark on both of our experiences in WoW - it's a touchstone, even if it wasn't intended so. For me, in some ways, that post crystalized one of those turning points where the game mechanics and my own discomfort with being out of control (James rightly attributes at least some of my leadership style, and lack of appreciation for jazz, to discomfort) bring the pressure onto players to conform to social expectations. My reaction to your description of being pushed to play against your style is at first a kneejerk "get used to it or get out" response that's born out of raiding with Crimson/Project Mayhem, then my second response is to cringe mightily at my first response. My goal in playing WoW was never to become a judgementalist, dictatorial asshole - when did that happen?

But, in fact, I do find myself struggling with a fundamental challenge of leadership, which is how much to define and control, and how much to leave to ambiguity and adaptation. Yesterday's run was all about training for me - Via wanted to see how a warlock functioned in the group, I wanted to see Cainne get some real experience at tanking after his respec from Balance to Feral, and I wanted Assamyras to get more comfortable with running an instance with a group - she almost completely soloed to 70, and is hesitant about how to function within a group setting. As such, I chose Underbog because I knew the instance well, and because I believed we could do it steadily within a time frame (Cainne had a soccer game he had to attend). I was generally more controlling, and more precise, about my instructions than in other settings and instance runs.

But is training effective? Is it fun? What are the baseline measures a group uses to evaluate such experiences? I left the run feeling very satisfied - I thought it went exceedingly smoothly, loot dropped, bosses died, quests were completed, deaths and delay were minimal. These are my assessments of success. But I'll agree, the run generally proceeded against a mental template that I had ahead of time - it wasn't Improv Night at the Underbog...

Thinking about leadership and teamwork over the last year, one of the many things that have crystallized for me is the importance of initially defining the task and the goal. I've thought about whether it would improve instance runs to outline why I'm there as the leader, and hear why others are there. If two people come to a run with the hope of getting the phat loots off of the second boss of four, and the other three are just there for the social experience, is the divergence of goals signficant enough a barrier to present second thoughts? Is it better as a leader to clarify that the team may have asymetrical motivations, or rather to expect and assume ambiguity, and focus on dealing with it when it surfaces? I admit I don't know the right answer, but I suspect my play style and leadership biases against jazz, and toward square dancing.

Primus Inter Pares

What follows is not defensive in the slightest. To tell the truth, I crave more discussion and feedback when it comes to both running instances and the leadership within them. Further, I agree with the majority of your comments and what I don’t agree with I see as a matter of differing perspective and responsibility of roles.

Personally, I’ve always been very uncomfortable “leading” instances. As I have joked, but meant, there are only two people who regularly get blamed when things go bad - the tank and the leader. When you are both you are screwed. My thoughts of late have been that of every class in the higher instance, the two you must have are the main tank and the main healer and I do not think it is most practical for either to be leading. Those roles are the most clearly defined and demanding in combat.

You used golf. . . I’ll use boxing: “Styles make fights”. This basically means that no two fights are ever the same because no two fighters are ever the same. There are not only nine classes, but three trees for each and a huge amount of hybrids. Then there are an infinite number of personalities driving each. For me, the “leaders” jorb is to mark them up and outline a strategy and accept any an all inputs.

“Via was considerably less specific, mostly warning us about what lay ahead or what HIS approach was gonna be, and then wanted us to just riff off him, i.e., do our thing like a jazz improv. Now that works when everyone knows what to expect of each other.”

As you so rightly pointed out, my instance leadership approach is more improve. Between Twink and I, he is [and always has been in my opinion] the far more capable, authoritative and knowledgeable leader. I think he is more comfortable in the authoritative position [or maybe he is just less comfortable out of it . . . he can hopefully comment on that].

I was inspired by the run yesterday to do some reading up on Warlocks. They are a troubling class for me to lead. And for all of the above . . . and for all the knowledge I gained from the run yesterday . . . and for everything Hall’ wrote below . . . I’m still not sure what to do with the warlock, but I’m working on it. Add to that that Hallgrima is still leveling. I was truly shocked how she seems to have overnight become scary powerful. She’s not the lil’ gnome I grew up with anymore.

More than local knowledge...

Via, there's an old golf joke around local knowledge. The guy whose t-shot hits the inside curve of a small hillock in the fairway and then rolls to a stop in perfect position below the green. That's not a bad shot with a lucky break; that's local knowledge. LOL.

I was thinking about how with both you and Twink, I found myself chaffing a bit under the commands to attack in a particular way, though to your credit, you both listened and let me do my thang. The problem comes from a lack of understanding of DOT/casters. It makes less sense for a caster like Hallgrima to "focus on the skull till its down" than to DOT up all the baddies. Her curses build over time and she can lay down some damange that will cook up on each. She's much less effective just dealing DOTS to one guy and WAITING to do the next one. So, of course, I didn't do that. By the time you finished off the skull, the X or moon damage was just hitting crescendo and the aggro was heading my way. Perfect timing for a warrior to step in and reclaim it. That's how my damage meter got to be so high. In a sense, warrior and lock are a perfect team. Because of Saami, I also know a lot about hunters. Twink knows some, clearly, as demonstrated when he asked Assy to put down the nature blessing (I forget the names of 'em; they're just icons to me.). You both know about traps...some. THere is also a frost trap that is an AOE that slows down the speed of all baddies that trapse through it. THere is also the fire trap that hits all your baddies, repeatedly, not just one guy once. I use that one a lot when in solo or duo team questing. Saved me arse more than once as it has the same DOT properties as Hall's spells...wearing down one guy while you melee the other who is also being worn down.

Hallgrima at 67

Anyhow... I mean all this to say, it's more than dungeon knowledge. A strong instance leader should know his/her classes well enough to deploy the troops most effectively. BUT WAIT, there's more to this. I'm not so sure leadership is the word we want to think about. I hate to do this's TEAM, baby (that was my Dick VItale voice imatation, in honor of NCAAs). Yesterday I was lead by Twink AND Via in two back-to-back instance runs with 5-man teams. Now I don't know that either of these things was intentional but, Twink told us all what to do and when, even where to stand. Via was considerably less specific, mostly warning us about what lay ahead or what HIS approach was gonna be, and then wanted us to just riff off him, i.e., do our thing like a jazz improv. NOw that works when everyone knows what to expect of each other. We didn't exactly, and I believe I died twice in that instance, although I still managed second highest dmg count. =heh heh= But I know what I'm good at, how to play the warlock as I've spec'd her. I have a reasonable sense of what to expect from a pally and hunter and warrior, having played the toons myself a bit. And I *did* appreciate the freedom to do my thang.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out when we know each other even better as a five man set.


Friday, March 23, 2007

The Constitutional Monarchy of ViaMedia

UN Category: New York Times Democracy
Civil Rights: Excellent
Economy: Strong
Political Freedoms:

The Constitutional Monarchy of ViaMedia is a very large, socially progressive nation, remarkable for its compulsory military service. Its hard-working, intelligent population of 50 million enjoy a sensible mix of personal and economic freedoms, while the political process is open and the people's right to vote held sacrosanct.

The large, corrupt government devotes most of its attentions to Education, with areas such as Religion & Spirituality and Healthcare receiving almost no funds by comparison. The average income tax rate is 22%. A powerhouse of a private sector is led by the Pizza Delivery, Automobile Manufacturing, and Arms Manufacturing industries.

The nation's first space rocket -- sponsored by Pepsi and shaped like an enormous soda bottle -- is being developed, citizens are allowed to rise or fall based on their own merits, the government has undertaken a massive education and health program to combat VODAIS, and smoking is banned in public areas. Crime -- especially youth-related -- is relatively low. ViaMedia's national animal is the Venemous Tortoise, which is also the nation's favorite main course, and its currency is the Looney.

ViaMedia is ranked 64th in the region and 28,863rd in the world for Largest Trout Fishing Sector.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Smell of a Leadership Vacuum

It wasn't exactly a PUG. I knew two of the players, including the one who invited me. I knew the instance, Blood Funance, fairly well. But on the first skirmish, I smelled trouble. By the second, I knew this was one of those instances that Via and I would normally whisper chat about, something like this:
Via: Well this ain't gonna last long. At least not with me in it.
Hallgrima: Oh, bad PUG instance? lol.
Via: oh yeah.
Hallgrima: how many times you wipe so far?

Here is the Warlock's list of symptoms that This Ain't Gonna Last Long...At Least Not with Me in It.

  • When the leader starts shooting critical info while half the party is stll repairing and prepping in the nearby village

  • When the leader says SKULL first, always, and and sheep the MOON, and then proceeds to sap the SKULL just as you are firing off that shadow bolt for 1200

  • The classic: mana junkies are down for a drink and the group moves off to another room.

  • You're in need of a heal and the healer is looting and the roll for BOP comes up on your screen as you die.

  • You offer to SS any of the potential rezzers and no one takes you up on it.

At times like this I am torn. Do I say something? This time I did, and the sulky leader immediately made me group leader and said okay you run it. Stupidly, I said, "no, I wasn't telling you what to do, I was asking why you were sapping the icon you said was the kill first icon." and I passed the leadership back to him. What an arse. I should have kept it. I need practice leading anyhow. It truly isn't easy. The few times I've done it I've realized you have to be very brief and yet firm. You have to TELL not ASK. You have to ASSIGN not ALLOW. etc etc.

Okay, I feel a bit better. But I have learned not to stay past the first evidence of crappiness unless I'm feeling like taking field notes for my leadership paper. ROFL.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Whatever, Dude . . I'm Just Playing the Game

All the 70s have either gone back to building up Blue Shammies or PVPing. The title of the above is what I was responded to by Fel' when I whispered I was feeling frustrated with the guild. It engendered in my a type of anger I cannot explain.

"Just playing the game" . . . I am sure he is right. That's all it is . . . just a game. We don't have any real social responsibilities or obligations. We don't have any real loyalties or connections. It's . . . just a game. It doesn't mean anything.

Yet . . . I think it does. I feel that it does. It has mattered to me greatly. I have felt those social responsibilities and obligations. I have felt that sense of loyalty and connections. To me . . . it never was "just a game". I've spent more time with these folks then real life friends or family.

I'm assuming I am the odd-ball here . . . the minority . . . the freak . . . the sad monkey who actually feels the sense of comrade-in-arms with folks. And that's O.K. with me because most of the time it is a very good feeling. I, like you, have to realize for many folks they are 'just playing the game' . . . and that's O.K. too.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Welcome to the Dictatorship of ViaMedia

So, over at NationStates I decided to take a peak after reading some of what TerraNova has been doing and just couldn't help forming my own.

The Dictatorship of ViaMedia is a tiny, pleasant nation, notable for its barren, inhospitable landscape. Its hard-nosed, hard-working, intelligent population of 6 million enjoy a sensible mix of personal and economic freedoms, while the political process is open and the people's right to vote held sacrosanct.

The tiny government concentrates mainly on Defence, although Commerce and Law & Order are on the agenda. Citizens pay a flat income tax of 4%. A healthy private sector is led by the Pizza Delivery, Furniture Restoration, and Woodchip Exports industries.

Voting is voluntary. Crime is a serious problem, and the police force struggles against a lack of funding and a high mortality rate. ViaMedia's national animal is the Venomous Tortoise and its currency is the Looney.

ViaMedia is ranked 3553rd in the region and 66,789th in the world for Most Income Equality.

So far, I've had to decide if voting should be compulsory [No] and if I should crush a right-wing group fighting for the death penalty [No]. I've been accepted as a member of the U.N. where I had to decide if the ban on biological weapons should be overturned as it wasn't defined broadly enough [No].

I just hope I don' t have to crush the peasants before the rainy season.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Web 2.0 . . . my attempt

Well, first you gotta look at Wikipedia: Web 2.0.
Web 2.0, a phrase coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004,[1] refers to a perceived second-generation of Web-based services—such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies—that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users. O'Reilly Media, in collaboration with MediaLive International, used the phrase as a title for a series of conferences, and since 2004 some developers and marketers have adopted the catch-phrase. Its exact meaning remains open to debate, and some technology experts, notably Tim Berners-Lee[2], have questioned whether the term has meaning.
I think I prefer the Simple English Wikipedia: Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is what people call new ways of showing or using things on the Internet. To people who use the Internet, wikis and blogs are Web 2.0. Some think that Wikipedia is a great example of "Web 2.0". Web 2.0 is mostly about user-generated and interactive content.
Beyond that . . . the list at Web2.0List is always useful for poking about.

Re: Virtual Freedom of Virtual Speech

Follow-up over at The ValleyWag about the supposed John Edward's virtual vandalism of his virtual campaign HQ entitled, "The Real Saboteurs of Second Life" has some interesting additions to the story.
A "hardcore liberal" called Mudkips Acronym, a name used by a longstanding troublemaker in the bizarro virtual world, has claimed responsibility for the sabotage of the Democratic candidate's pseudo-pioneering online presence, according to blog 10 Zen Monkeys.
Still not convinced 'hardcore liberal' is anymore interesting as a virtual label as 'republican'. I'm more convinced by the following comments,
"Griefing is pretty much the only way to make Second Life fun if you aren't a furry or a pedophile or something," says one Second Life observer.
And there you have it as far as I am concerned. It's gamers gaming the game . . . filling out to the extent that environment allow . . . nature abhors a vacuum.

You might want to read the following as well for more on the 'griefers' . . which is a better name then 'saboteurs'.

Second Life griefers claim responsibility for Edwards vandalism

8M Subscribers in the Sandbox

This is a placeholder for some thinking notes:

Web 2.0
can't keep up there's so much new and cool usability

8M subscribers in a community of practice that shares and creates knowledge

8M potential Web 2.0 users focused on a purpose should be our monkeys at the keyboard. If we can trawl this community we should see emergent Web 2.0 uses for CoP uses...and may the best ones win out.

Irrelevant cool image: Viamedia, lvl 70 warrior, solos Deadmines whilst Kuu and Draaga watch and loot and laugh maniacally.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Virtual Freedom of Virtual Speech

John Edwards Second Life HQ Vandalized

"Shortly before midnight (CST) on Monday, February 26, a group of republican Second Life users, some sporting "Bush '08" tags, vandalized the John Edwards Second Life HQ. They plastered the area with Marxist/Lenninist posters and slogans, a feces spewing obsenity, and a photoshopped picture of John in blackface, all the while harrassing visitors with right-wing nonsense and obsenity-laden abuse of Democrats in general and John in particular."

O.K., still not sure what to think about this. It does raise some questions in my mind [another virtual place that has often been vandalized]. Is Second Life a battleground state? Is it likely to go red or blue? Is the feces spewing obscenities available for private parties?

This reminds me more of Monty Python's, "Silly Election" skit. I would categorize this more as an act of anarchist antics than political pugnacity. Yet, I am registered Slightly Silly Party.

The other day some Paladin asked me to assist in a quest [in WOW . . . not in real life, but that would be cool] . As usual, I agreed, even though I was grinding specifically and had pots burning [I’m a charitable guy in WOW]. About a minute into it I noticed his guild was Crusaders for Christ [4 Paladins, 1 Warrior and 1 Mage . . . no Warlocks!] and cringed.

In a way that is uncharacteristic for me, I was kind of . . . err . . . well . . . slightly offended [I think I'm generally known as open and accepting of all races, creeds and colors . . . unless they are Elves]. A fleeting thought of breaking the party and going my own way was quickly discarded. Then thoughts about would Jebus approve of the WOW lifestyle? Or of Crusaders? Then my mind wandered to the scene in Clerks II where Randal explains how Transformers are a slight against God. Then I looked up GoBots on Wikipedia . . .

O.K., back to the topic . . .

Why was I . . . errr . . . well . . . slightly offended? I don't know. I tend to prefer my online experience to be a political and religion free experience. I have never thought of ViaMedia's political or religious affiliations . . . nor do I want to [whatever it would be would be dedicated to a LOT of killing, but killing without regards to race, creed or color].

Yet, in regards to the Edwards stuff above, a place like Second Life is based far more on free expression [and just go see how disturbing that free expression can be . . . I'll wait . . . well . . . errr . . . you've been gone a long time].

The real question that all of this really rises in me is what type of world do we wish to create in the online environments? Are they to be reflections of the constraints of current culture or are they to be based on the constraints of the online environments? WOW is designed solely [IMHO] to get me to pay $12 a month and $50 a year and allows no evolution of experience. Second Life is designed more for an open communal experience and allows for evolution of that experience.

Question: Can't you lock down your Second Life land to prevent this type of expression?

Addendum from the John Edward's Blog Forums:

Friendly greetings!

I'm Torley. I work for Linden Lab; while "abuse" per se isn't my specialty, I'm involved with community development, and wanted to raise awareness of our land parcel control tools, a benefit to clear unwanted objects & other detritus easily that is far easier than sweeping up a mess offline (in "RL").

Especially since it hasn't been mentioned yet here, nor on Digg...

I checked out the John Edwards HQ inworld, and looks like autoreturn is set to 1 min., and the Create Objects & Object Entry checkboxes are set to OFF too. Great move!

Just so everyone knows, these are a feature available to any parcel owner in Second Life, and help undesired stuff from accumulating, including litter and malicious garbage. We also have Knowledge Base articles about this, so feel free to have a look and I hope with a better understanding of what these tools can do for you, you'll enjoy your Second Lives more:

» cle.php?id=395

» cle.php?id=380