Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun with the "B Squad"

Steve Zissou: We're in the middle of a lightning strike rescue op, Klaus. What's the deal?
Klaus Daimler: I'm sick of being on "B" squad.
Steve Zissou: You might be on "B" Squad, But you're the "B" Squad leader. Don't you know me and Esteban always thought of you as our baby brother?
Klaus Daimler: I've always thought of you two as my dads. Please don't let any one make fun of me for saying so.
Steve Zissou: I can't guarantee that, Klausie, but I'll try. Can we get on with the maneuvers now?

Wow (pun intended), I had fun last night in Karazhan, and I wasn't even going to go. Even before the night was over I was thinking about how it differed from my recent experiences there and elsewhere on group raids and parties.

First of all, the cast of characters I was playing with was not the usual "A Squad" set. Yeah, Kleo was there, but not as the MT or OT. And there were none of these folks: Gala, Party, Yom, Hypatie, Silversage, Alamo... I noticed it was the "second tier" the jr. varsity, the recent 70s, and some old names, Tigan and Kathmira, now called Sentina. I liked running with them. Anyhow, I noticed the play felt different. We moved faster; we yakked less about the set up. People contributed more suggestions about how to play something. The tone was lighter. It felt as if we were multitasking more. We definitely improv'd more. Just felt more fluid. I liked it a lot. And I didn't get a single drop, nor were there any I wanted. [Oh... side note...OF COURSE, the long awaited no-longer-useful opera pants dropped...of course... /headdesk]

I chatted with Althaea about this a bit. I thought maybe there was something systematic here. This was a largely younger crew, and less deeply steeped in academic professorial identity. Could this be it? Alth dumped some cold water on my naiscent theory, pointing out that he and Kleo were there...but well...I'm not convinced. I'll see. I'll probably try to run with them more. Yeah, I'd like to do SSC and beyond, but I like to have fun playing. I don't like routine and scripts and orders. Stand here; do this.

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Work of Play

File under more evidence that the work of play is fun.

I was perusing today's Big Red Kitty, cause that's what I do. THe comments were awesome. And then, almost at the end of the comments, comes this:

#Baseball on 06 May 2008 at 3:32 pm #

One of the best parts of WoW, in my opinion, is the shady mathematics involved in generation of specific stats — which by nature lends to some great discussions. In the end, there’s definitely a “yes” or “no” answer — because this game is technically just a bunch of 0s and 1s. Heck even the EJ stuff showing that a DW shaman with a slow green OH does more dps than a fast epic OH seems “loony” to me at first glance.

But Blizzard’s ability to generate this type of discussion is really freaking cool. Remember when we all thought that if you overloaded onyxia with dots she would magically reduce the amount of fireballs? and then that turned out to be completely false?

That stuff’s awesome to me.

Let me also add that the original BRK posting and the 73 comments were all dual subject matter: aggro effects on trapped mobs and whether or not one should use two spaces after a period.

I love these people. I love them.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Running of the Bulls

Mission: Create a level 1 tauren character. Log in for the run to Arathi from Mulgore. No leveling, no weapons or other enhancements

So we did. Here we are at login, with hundreds and hundreds of other level 1 Tauren:

Here we go leaving Mulgore for the Barrens:

Or group had to wait for the second zep. at Orgrimmar.
We are the ones with icons on our heads: make a long story short, folks had so much fun they decided to continue to Iron Forge, which was kinda hard with the guards 'n all. LOL:

Friday, May 02, 2008

What Are We Doing - Part II

I don't know that these parts are necessarily ordered by logic as much as by chronology. Today I find I have spent 2 hours pouring through The Warlocks Den and WowWebStats and Elitist Jerks.

When I looked up and realized the amount of time I'd spent I found it ironic that I began that warlock homework shortly after pausing from my new read, Castronova's latest and weirdest text, Exodus to the Virtual World. Whatever he's drinking, I want some, no I want a lot. Yes, there are many, many, moments when playing WoW or engaging in WoW-related obsessions such as theorycrafting, when I am hugely struck by the parallel between my situation and that of the Star Trek crew in the episode, The Game. In both cases, the game pulls people away from their real life duties and obligations. For Castronova, this is an emergent revolutionary evolutionary change in popular culture that will have economic and social ramifications. Well, lol, maybe for the middle class. Maybe instead of the Ktarians taking over it will be the poor, the underemployed, able to finally stage their revolution. ROFL. Or more insidiously, and more closely aligned to the Star Trek story, it will be the evil multinational Big Corporations. [Although, imho, they pretty much have control right now thanks to the Bush family.]

So here I sit, with my notes on enchants and gear I should get in order to be a more efficient and effective DPS'er in raids, having absorbed my last performance in Gruul's Lair as laid out in WoWWebStats, where I was able to compare myself with three other warlocks in the group. I am Hellgrima; I blotted out the other names just in case someone finds this and gets hinkty about it. This is on one boss fight, and I don't recall if this is the first wipe or the final successful fight, but I offer it mainly to show the level of detail one can obsess about if one so chooses. can see that I'm the laggard here. My DPS is considerably lower than the othr two locks'. My shadow bolts don't hit as hard, although I clearly do better with the Corruption spell, and Immolate. The other two are using Drain Life a lot, which is a very low level DPS spell, as you can see, but which is likely to proc the Shadow Bolt instant-cast spell, which lets them fire off MORE shadow bolts than they could with regular casting time. can see where one can start to obsess.

That led me to the Warlocks' Den to look at gear enchants. I mean, I've got great gear so it must be the needed extra enchants. ANd so we go, on and on, perfecting our characters. LOL. This isn't even play time ingame; this is hobbyist homework. So, one thing that Castronova's book, so far (I haven't finished it), hasn't accounted for is the out-of-world time, energy, production, and exchange that supports the inworld play. MOst of that is knowledge creation and exchange, reputation management or 'vetting' of proposed knowledge, production of software applets that enhance play or support analyses of play, and portal creation and maintenance that supports community engagement about play but outside of it. THis is, imho, the most interesting and powerful element of the VW (virtual world) phenomenon.

...more to come...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Are We Doing? - Part I

World of Warcraft has escaped from the holodeck. It is no longer a contained bounded system I enter and leave as I choose. Much like Professor Moriarity in one of my favorite Star Trek episodes, WoW has escaped and is running amok IRL. Funny thing is, I don't sense a need to trick it back into the box. Right now, much like the chief medical officer in the Star Trek episode, I'm kind of charmed by and curious about what WoW wants from me.

Yesterday, in conversation with him, Eric mentioned that he thinks about WoW outside of WoW play, even in meetings. Well, so do I, though not in meetings...yet. Mostly I ponder in those idle moments that USED to be space for thinking about work: the shower, morning coffee, the commute, making dinner, and sundry intervals of spacey daytime drifting. Last evening, after our successful Gruul run, ho hum, I sent Eric an email to get a look at the data capture I know he'd have ported to WoW Web Stats. You see, I'm on a personal mission to analyze and repair my damage output. It should be higher. For crap sake I'm wearing 4 pieces of T4. LOL.

As I trawled the data I could not help but connect my current reality with something Eric and I had talked about yesterday -- the role of virtual play worlds in our adult lives. Yes, we (the family plays WoW), watcha hella less TV, only go out to see realy good movies, and don't play board games much anymore (thank God; I hate board games). But I do not think WoW play is a direct switch out for those passive, consumer activities. IMHO, adults, at least some of us, are recapturing stolen play, getting back in touch with our inner adolescent. When we do large WoW raids, I am very often consciously aware of how much it reminds me of when, around age 12, we played massive games of kick-the-can or football in the streets from late afternoon through dusk up to the point players' moms broke up the critical mass by calling kids in for dinner. The same vibe pervades: comraderie, argument and negotiation, and serious play interspersed with serious fucking around.

However, unlike that sort of play time, and perhaps BECAUSE I am an adult, WoW play has become, continues to be, more of a hobby than an excuse to hang out. THis is the sense in which it has escaped the Holodeck, left the afternoon streets, and crawled into pre and post play space. I actually want to improve and be a really good player. Now true, I did work on my spiral in football, but I never did anything near what I do to improve my casting sequence in WoW. And, oddly enough, this attention does not feel like work. Now, granted, farming mana motes in order to get the runic spellthread to put on my T4 leggings to bump up my spell damage by 35 points... yeah that feels like work. LOL. But generally speaking there is a pleasure there that is bigger than the moment of play and sustains me, heck, drives me, to do the work of play (ooo there' a title for an article).

... more coming...