Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updated to 64 bit - How To

I finally decided to go ahead and install the 64 bit WoW client. I hadn't paid much attention when the 64 bit first came out so I had to go back and figure out how to do it. I didn't have very good luck until I found this post.

I have linked it here:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Living in Azeroth - Why We Feel for the Game

I sometimes stop and wonder who else has tread on the ground I now occupy. 5 years ago, 50 years ago, 300 years ago? Was there a battle here from a war? Did a Native American once set up their wigwam where I now reside? Who else has been here? What did they do? How did they live? What did they think? What people have walked this path and how did it look to them? Did they stop and look around and wonder too?
It is an amazing thought and can put your life into perspective. The same way seeing a night sky spread out into infinity can make you feel so small and yet a part of everything.

WoW does this for me somehow. I find myself stopping and looking around in the world. Examining it. Feeling like a part of it.
I've never had a "feeling" about a game before this one. I've never felt emotionally attached to a game as much as I am to WoW, the characters in it, and the people I play with.

I can speculate. It could be the zones, the terrain, or the scenes you run across. While the pixels are not perfect, and the trees may seem rather symmetrical, the arrangements can be provoking. A lamp along a path. A conversation between NPC's you might happen upon in a small town. A fire in a hearth. Sometimes moving from one zone to another. One of my favorite transitions is from Dun Morogh into Loch Modan and into the Wetlands. Coming down out of the mountains.
It could be the music. Blizzard has put a lot into making their lands sound right. I work in a theme park and I relate it to what we call "site sound". Locational soundtracks. As you move around the park where I work you will hear music to evoke that time period or a feeling that you may have associated with a motion picture. It conjures memories and attaches you to the location. In most cases without you even noticing. Blizzard utilizes the same mechanic. The music solidifies the area and the feeling for you. And they are very good it.
It could be the lore and the stories. This world has a history. A long and rich history that involves all sorts of humanoids and their families and offspring. Their wars and their loves. Their hopes and heartbreaks. Why else would we be so occupied with why Jaine Proudmore looks like she's had a really bad day in MoP, and speculate to the nth degree of what that means to us and how we feel about it.
Blizzard has done a fan-tabulous job of creating characters we can relate to. They are not heroes yet they are heroic. They have been imbued with all the characteristics that we can relate to and associate to those trying to act as best they can. Vulnerable yet strong personalities. What we would believe ourselves or our true life heroes to be. Not perfect but with good intent; at least as far as their personalities will allow (and ours).

There are several psychological terms that go along with the concept of attaching feelings to the game. Anthropomorphism, the idea of giving inanimate objects feelings and/or human characteristics, and animism, which is generally the same term but attributes consciousness or spirituality to an object. Animism is used more in terms of natural objects, such as a tree, than inanimate objects like a computer. The theory I have seen a bit more recently is that is it part of our human makeup and falls into the essentialist category. Meaning that is it essential or part of our nature. In other words, we are predisposed to name inanimate objects like our car or our first blankie, and attribute feelings to them. I am including a bunch of links at the bottom for where some of this information can be found on the web and where I looked up the specific definitions.
I saw this idea most recently in an episode of Through the Wormhole on The Science Channel and was immediately struck by how often I do this. Personally I am very apt to attribute human characteristics to an object and I think that's why I tend to be a pack rat. I not only want to keep that piece of string because I may be able to use it later, but I hate the idea of that piece of string sitting in the garbage can all by itself. Don't get me wrong, I still throw it out. I just have to not think about how the string will feel about it. It may sound silly but since reading a little more on this it is a trait that many humans share.

Feelings. I think that is the key. Somehow, through good storytelling and persistent imagery, Blizzard has managed to engage our feelings. We are very easy creatures indeed.
I find it really interesting that I call Azeroth a home and my guild part of my family. I don't find it surprising, and I embrace it. I believe it is part of how and why I enjoy the world and the game so much, and why the social aspect is so compelling to so many people.  Season 3 Did We Invent God?

Friday, September 7, 2012

5 Things I Loved and Hated About Cataclysm - #1 Dungeon Difficulty

5 man dungeon difficulty took a different tack at the beginning of Cataclysm as compared to Wrath that left some people feeling frustrated and angry. Perhaps it was a case of ask and ye shall receive? Or maybe a little throwback to the old days of WoW. Either way it was something that left me feeling unsure about what I really want from a 5 man dungeon in the future.

It's hard, or maybe way too easy, to compare the end of one expansion to the beginning of another and make judgement calls on what feels difficult to do, but that's exactly what we did at the beginning of Cataclysm.

Way back in the day....World of Warcraft was difficult. I hear a lot of folks talking these days about how those of us that have been around for a while are waxing poetic about the old days of vanilla. The talk has been that what we think back then was awesome, we really would not want to return to. Such as all the grind that WoW once was. I think they are very right and very wrong.

So let's stick with the 5 man content for the moment or I'll get all sidetracked.

And let's start with something more relate-able to the current player base then vanilla.

At the end of Wrath dungeons were EASY. Not just kinda easy, but really SUPER easy. I could breeze through a Wrath heroic dungeon in 15 to 20 minutes. No stopping. No CC. In fact, there was quite a lot of 'pull the whole room!' going on.  From what I understand this happened because the gear in Wrath was on overdrive and jumped way too fast. Pretty soon we had outgeared the dungeons in the expansion.
I have tried to remember how difficult the dungeons were when we first started Wrath and honestly I have a hard time recalling them. Either is was so long ago or it was inconsequential. I know they were.
As I wrack my brain I remember wiping on heroic Utgarde Pinnacle forever. All the Halls dungeons in Storm Peaks drove me crazy. You really had to get some of those pulls right or you would have the entire room. Back when you didn't want it. The fire room in Halls of Lightning where you had to run through the room then AoE them all down without dying or pulling the next mob on the stairs. And all the Vrykul statues. Do you remember those? Some of those pulls really sucked. Yet toward the end we were flying through these dungeons like a hot knife. I remember hardly having to think about what was going on. Just AoE, AoE, aoe.....
SEEEEED !!!!!!

It was great watching all those things explode everywhere.

And then...Cataclysm. Wow, boy were we in for a shock.

They were hard. They were long! They required CC. Oh noes!

Mostly they were time consuming. Time that people had not previously allotted for 5 mans. Many ran in thinking it would be the same old song and dance. Pull. Kill. Loot. Move on. We were wrong. Some of us knew it was coming from people in the beta or blue posts telling us what to expect. Yet still we didn't really believe it until we got in, and then all the QQ started. And I laughed. Truly.

The reason I laughed is because I actually enjoyed them. I wanted to put that much time and effort into a dungeon again. I felt that we hadn't seen anything like this since Burning Crusade 5 mans. I remember (see here we go) how much fun I had in BC 5 mans. I think it was mostly because of my guild though. We did guild runs all the time and most of the time had a blast. We also cursed a lot.

I didn't laugh very long. Yes even I got tired of it. Heaven forbid you get Grim Batol, even now it's long and annoying. I enjoyed the dungeons but found I did not enjoy the people. So many expected them to be easy or short. And many expected that everyone would just remember how to trap, sheep or fear. Not the case. After the first initial months Cata 5 mans became full of rage. In fact there was a time where I just didn't want to do them. It was either too time consuming or too frustrating to waste my time on.

What would I like to see in 5 mans? The last group of dungeons (Hour of Twilight) seem spot on for me. 3-5 bosses with different mechanics. Small groups of mobs. I would enjoy something once in a while that requires thought but not every mob. Something with CC and pull tactics. I think 30-45 minutes is good. I think 20 is too short. I want to wipe once in a while. I want it to be difficult. I want it to be challenging, but not all the time, and not every pull. I want to have to think about it but not so much my brain hurts by the end of it where it makes me feel like I'm glad it's over.

I also wonder if what I'm asking for is not possible. With the gear ever moving upwards is this something that we should come to expect from our expansion dungeons? It starts off challenging and then at some point it becomes really easy?
Perhaps with the challenge modes coming out and the gear normalization they come with, we will actually have a dungeon that will keep our attention throughout the entire expansion. Where we don't whine it's too hard or whine it's too easy. No, that would be too much to ask for lol. We will always find something to whine about. That is the one thing I'm sure of.

So that's it. That's my top 5. Originally I started with 5 I loved and 5 I hated but found that they were pretty much the same things.

As we move into the new frontier of Pandaria what is your favorite or least favorite thing from Cataclysm?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Things I Love and Hated About Cataclysm - #2 Raid Finder (LFR)

In my opinion LFR has been both a blessing and a curse to this last WoW expansion. I have polarized and rather strong feelings on this one so lets jump right in.

It allows everyone to get in and see the content.
It allows those people with time constraints or RL commitments to see something in one hour that may take 2-4 hours normally.
It allows people who are in a smaller guilds, casual guilds, or some other guild configuration that they are happy with, to raid in an otherwise non-raiding environment.

That is awesome. There have been many times in my WoW life that I was not in a position to be able to raid. There were many times I wish I had been able to see a raid while it was current content. That being said, I am a nice person. I will give people loot that need or deserve it over taking it myself. I think that the content is first and foremost there to enjoy, and secondly to advance my character. I believe in teaching others how to play.
I think I am in the minority.

It allows people to be assholes to a larger population.  Some of which may not be aware they are being stepped on.
It allows people to yell at others instead of helping them. 
It does not allow people to understand the correct mechanics of the specific raid they are in. It in no way preps someone to be a better raider or to understand the fundamentals of raiding.

It seems to me this content is designed for casual players, yet there is high expectation that those people NOT be casual. This, above all else, floors me.

I think it's fine that harder core folks use this as a tool to advance their gear. It makes sense, the content is there and it's easier/faster, and provides a solid jumping off point for moving into regular raid content.

They cannot, however, come in and expect that everyone has the same knowledge. I see people that expect that the non-raiding players be familiar with how to move and how to follow raid-type directions. It's as if the big kids have invaded the kiddie pool and are bullying the little kids out.
Understandably Blizzard cannot teach people how to play. The tutorials provided for general game-play are very helpful but cannot move your minds or your fingers for you. There will always be a group of people in LFR that just don't know what to do, or what to expect. I would believe that over time, as people get into the system more, they will learn the techniques and skills they would need for that level of raiding. I hope in the mean time they don't get scared or frustrated and never return.

Both the pros and cons of the LFR system is why I have avoided it for the most part. I have been through both parts of the DS LFR once, and the first just a couple of times. I find I have a high level of anxiety with it. I don't want to worry about people who don't know, or worry about giving people who don't know a fight bad information. I don't want to be yelled at by others if I forget to do something. In my opinion I have raided DS so little that both those scenarios are enough to keep me out of the Raid Finder.

Unfortunately there is just no way to solve this issue. The content is there and it's open to anyone that meets the criteria. There is no 'how to raid for beginners' tutorial unless you are someone who knows that there is information out there on the web. I hate to break it to you, but I don't think most people know that. There is also no 'how to be a decent human being while raiding with others' tutorial.

So buyer beware. If you go in, be prepared for the uninitiated as well as the total jerks.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

5 Things I Loved and Hated About Cataclysm - #3 Molten Front

For me Molten Front is very akin to Quel'Danas from back in BC but with a new twist. This daily hub had plenty of quests and plenty of choices up front but the drudgery got to me really fast.

I really enjoyed the Isle of Quel'Danas. When it first came out my guild and I rushed over to do dailies and build up the island's resources for the server. On many occasions we wound up running the quests together in groups of 3-5 people and just rushed through them. With the quests being related to the server there was fast and furious progression in the area which made it especially compelling to complete every day when the area first opened up. In contrast Molten Front was very personal. You could run the dailies with others or in a group, but the changes to the area occurred only for you and the people you ran with needed to be at the same point you were or you would have fewer or greater quests than they did. At least that is my assumption. I only ran Molten Front alone unfortunately. I was a bit late to the party due to my personal circumstances at the time.

In the beginning I found Molten Front's bevy of quests refreshing. First there was sequence. You started in Mount Hyjal's Sanctuary of Malorne and then progressed into the front itself. Each week or so (depending on how often you went) would bring a new area to open. Each day a possible new set of quests for each area. You could do the entire sequence every day or, once the front opened up, you could do just that portion. I enjoyed the choices and the number of different quests. I liked the change of scenery as you progressed through the quest sequence of events. I particularly liked the achievements for the area and had fun figuring out how to get them accomplished and setting goals for myself.

Then....the tedious nature of the daily set in. In many respects the nature of my boredom with Molten Front was my own circumstances. I was late to get them started. Much later than the rest of my guild. I felt behind and alone and there was no rush for me to get in there and get in the fray and get anything completed. Needless to say I am still one achievement off from completing the series and it drives me crazy. Every time I log in I have to trek all the way out there to see if this boss is up so I can get this done. If the boss is up then I have to go through the Front sequence of quests to get to that last guy and hope I don't screw it up. I have done that twice now. After the first time I went to look this one up. The second time I just forgot I needed to jump and this boss just doesn't freakin' spawn very often and god dammit I'm over it and want to finish this for god's sake!! Ready for Raiding II
I just need Devout Harbinger, and she's driving me crazy now. I don't log on enough, I don't think to check enough and when I do I have to go through everything to get her. /sigh

Truly, I thought the idea of the personalized daily zone like this was cool at first. Then everyone has the opportunity to see the transition of the area. In hindsight, it would have been really cool to see another server built area. To feel that I was actually working with a large group of people to make something happen. In my opinion this was another way that Blizzard took the community out of the game and I feel that is a loss.