Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do the Borg believe in God?

Edit: Just realized this my 100th post!!

Captain's Log, Stardate 88149.62, Kalandra Sector, We have dropped out of warp in the Chapel System to investigate suspicious readings of a debris field picked up by long range sensors.

As Rowan emerged from her ready room, Commander Larrea looked up from her console, aft of the command area. "Captain, this debris is Borg in origin. It could be from a cube, but there have not been any reports of sightings in this sector for years."

"Can you detect any active Borg signatures?" Tarah asked.

"Negative. I recommend that we scan the debris and try to learn as much as we can about it. Any information on Borg technology could be vital to the Federation."
"Proceed." Rowan turned to the flight controller. "Mr. Gleer, ahead one quarter impulse."

"Aye, Captain."

Watching the viewscreen intently, Tarah commented, "After the attack in the Vega system, we have to assume that the Borg are back with a vengeance. And given what happened at the repair facility in the Ker'rat system, I think we should be cautious."

Rowan looked at her first officer and friend. Tarah had been assigned to the U.S.S. Khitomer, which was destroyed during the Vega attack. Rowan was part of the multi-ship boarding party that had rescued the beleaguered crew. They had been almost inseparable ever since.

"Agreed." To the duty tactical officer, she said, "Mr. Powell, raise shields."

"Aye, Captain."

After some time analyzing the readings, Larrea spoke up again. "Captain, the debris field is more extensive than my original assessment. We will need to move further into the system to ascertain the full extent and attempt to determine the number of cubes we are actually dealing with."

"Very well. Mr. Gleer, lay in a course. I'll be in my ready room."
La Gitana eased past the broken hunks of ship. There did not appear any activity, but the seemingly inactive hulks in the Ker'rat system had taken by surprise the small task force Wayfarer had been part of, so many months before.


Rowan sat at her desk, reviewing paperwork (funny that after centuries of digital interfaces, miscellaneous forms and reports were still referred to that way). Despite the recent transfer to La Gitana senior crew evaluations were already coming up. She also had yet prepare the patrol report for the Bajor Sector.

Presently, the red-alert klaxon sounded, along with Tarah's voice over the intercom.

"Captain Starblanket to the bridge."

She emerged from from her ready room and headed for the command chair "Computer, silence klaxon. Tarah, report."
"We've found a semi-active cube fragment. Commander Ymiro?" Tarah deferred to the science officer.

"Captain, we have detected Borg life signs, very weak. The cube fragment has a spacetight compartment, but power levels are minimal and appear to be failing," Larrea said.

"How many Borg are we talking about?" asked Rowan, as Major Gasira, the MACO commander, and Chief Engineer Brasseaux emerged from the turbolift.

"Unable to determine through the radiation, Captain."

Folding her arms, Rowan turned to her senior officers. "Recommendations?"
Auzzie spoke first, "Move in and beam the drones abo--"

"Out of the question," interrupted the major. "Bringing Borg drones aboard La Gitana is an undue risk."
Auzzie shot back, "Do we not have a responsibility to render aid where it is needed, regardless of the race of those in need? Besides, even if they are Borg now, they were not always. And it may be an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the current Borg political situation."

"Our first responsibility is the safety of the ship and crew," the MACO responded.

"I have to agree with the major, Captain," Tarah spoke up. "We cannot risk the ship for a few Borg."
Larrea backed up her fellow scientist. "Captain, perhaps an away team can beam over to the cube fragment and determine the condition of drones. Meanwhile, we can prepare a suitable compartment here that will safeguard the ship and crew."

Rowan turned to her chief engineer. "Thierry, what do you think?"
Thierry nodded toward Auzzie, speaking in his Cajun drawl, "Sho, de beb is right, sheh. Bohg o no, if dey need hep we should hep. We can build a containment section for de drones in Cahgo Bay 4. Ah'll get Shrel on it, toot sweet."

Rowan sat back in her chair and considered.
"We'll prepare an away team to assess the condition of the drones. Major Gasira, you and two more MACOs will accompany Lieutenant Torbin and myself aboard the cube. Thierry, get that containment section ready. Make sure medical equipment and staff is on hand along with the engineering personnel. Mr. Gleer, bring us within close transporter range of the wreckage. You have the bridge, Tarah."

With that she arose and strode toward the turbolift, followed by Auzzie, Thierry, and the major.

To All the Elite Raiders Out There

Congratulations on being at the top of your game. I mean that sincerely.

I was reading a response to GeeCee's post about how to deal with a guildmate/raider who is consistently not pulling his or her weight in a raid situation. The player had been a member of an elite raiding guild running Blackwing Lair, Ahn'Qiraj and Naxxramas. He bemoaned the current "ease" of raiding in WoW, looking back on the days of Vanilla WoW when men were Men and women were Healers. (OK too much sarcasm, I couldn't resist.) Back then, being a Raider meant something, Raiding was for dedicated, elite players who "put in their dues."
Now let's look at how Blizzard saw it, pre-BC. Developers spending well over half their time (80%-90%, who knows?) developing content that maybe 5% percent of the *paying* player base was seeing. Trying to balance two wildly different faction-exclusive classes so that neither side would feel that they were being shorted. Constantly nerfing and buffing different abilities for all classes for PvP balancing (again for a smaller fraction of players), causing those abilities to be warped relative to PvE content.

Meanwhile, for the players, raids were taking upwards of 20 hours a week for a pittance of rewards. Most players were paying full monthly subscriptions for content they would never see because they didn't have the time to commit to what amounted to a second job, much of which was spent waiting for others to get organized, anyway.

Even well into BC and WotLK, I have sat around accomplishing little or nothing, because I am stuck in a raid group waiting for people to join/get organized. And I can't finish that extra daily or whatever. And don't say I should already be at the instance location, because that would be just as big a waste of time, waiting around for people. Not my idea of a relaxing evening playing a game after I've been working all day.

I was in a guild where they would sub people in and out depending on the boss fight, because they needed gear or just as often because the raid couldn't make it past a boss without some particular class and spec. Luckily for me I wasn't anywhere near rading at the time. All the same, it irritated me. IMHO, the reason for raiding should be what is happening in relation to the story/lore of Warcraft, not the meta-game rewards of gear or achievements. The raid composition should be interchangeable within designated roles. Even then, I think it would be awesome to have a class system full of true hybrids, rather than having a few classes be "pure" DPS, or Tank or Healer.
So if you have been part of a 1337 Raiding Team that knocked out BWL, AQ-40, and Naxx, great. I know you spent a lot of time and worked hard to achieve those things. But most of the 9-12 million people who have played this game have not had time to do so, and yet they paid the same $12-$15 dollars a month you did. And they seem to think, and Blizzard apparently agrees, that might just be an innappropriate allocation of resources. Honestly, that's why the raiding content has been "dumbed down." So more people can see it. Dont worry, you can still run ICC in heroic 25-man mode. Or maybe, as Amuntoth from Manifest Pixel suggests, you could try running it without all your addons, just like the good ol' days.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Updated Miscellany

I am currently reading The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian in my spare time. I have say that so far it's really good. I'll have a full review when I finish.
I also copied my STO toons over the Tribble, the test shard. They are not as high as my fellow bloggers, but I should have a couple of notes on Season 2. Of course, the major reason I am trying it out is the new tribble pet that will come available. A lot of people try to get into massive beta tests--like WOW:Cataclysm, and the upcoming SWTOR beta--because they're excited to see what the game is like, I guess. Beta testing is of course valuable for the developers, especially on a massive scale. But I usually don't like to participate, as it represents wasted time from a gaming/leveling perspective.

I also have a couple stories percolating that I want to get out very soon, but RL has kept me from polishing them the way I'd like.

Happy questing, fellow gamers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Write Like . . .

I was led to this site by MMO Gamer Chick. It may actually be pretty limited in the author selection, but it was consistent in analyzing my writing style in two modes:

When writing expository posts, this is my result.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

When writing fiction, this was my result.

I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I am interested to find out what process they used and what the full list of writers is.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WoW . . . Just WoW

I am getting tired of writing these posts. But they seem to occupy a lot of my thoughts and reading time lately. The subject has been brought up by better bloggers than me, that maybe Activision/Blizzard has ulterior motives behind the plan to bring battle.net 2.0/RealID to subscribers as a new kind of Facebook-style social network.

The Pensive Harpy commented extensively on a disturbing trend in the relationship between players and Blizzard, since Activision began the merger effort. Based on a Team Liquid article chronicling the merger and actions taken since by the new company--not to mention stupid comments made by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Actiblizz--it appears that the former clients/customers of Blizzard/WoW have become a commodity that the new company plans to monetize through selling ad space to as yet unknown sponsors. Pai highlights the aforementioned TL post as well as a post by Escape Hatch, illustrating the similarities between the television business model and the apparent business plan of battle.net 2.0.

I am of two minds on this. On the one hand, it disgusts me, because I do not like being used, monetized. My leisure time is too valuable to me to be sold to some advertiser. Of course, the television commercial is a long tradition in the United States, I should be used to it. But really, I rarely watch TV anymore, I spend my ersatz TV time playing computer games and surfing the interchoobs. When I do catch a show, it is usually DVRed, so I can skip the commercials, much like the VCR enabled me to do since the mid-eighties. At home, I use AdBlock Plus, a Firefox addon, to avoid as many ads on the net as I can. A few get through, of course, often embedded in a way that I can't get rid of them (thanks, Yahoo Mail). Don't worry, Facebook. I still have to see your lame singles.net adds at work where I have to use IE for my web browsing, even though I have no interest in them, I simply happen to have a "single" status on your site. The "Try World of Warcraft" adds are amusing, too, considering I already play.

Anyway, I watch TV essentially for free, and I surf the web essentially for free, only paying my cable company for the access to both. Explain to me, Blizzard, why I should pay you money so that you can advertise who-knows-what to me.
There is another theory as to why all this has happened to Blizzard, but it is no less disheartening. Malstrom thinks that maybe the developers at Blizzard have lost touch with the player base, and are doomed to eventual failure before they realize what they have lost.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

GJ Blizz

OK, so it's a little after the fact, but RL got a bit in the way. Blizzard Entertainment has called off their plan to make RealID mandatory on Blizzard's forums.  I just wanted to congratulate Blizzard decision makers for having the wisdom to change course on a controversial policy based on subscriber feedback.

All too often companies just institute policies that clients end up having to live with whether they want to or not; or completely walk away from the product. This would have been disappointing to me as a 4-year veteran of WoW with thousands of hours invested in my characters.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blizzard and Facebook: Belated Controversy

Back in May, USA Today posted an article about the upcoming partnership between Blizzard and Facebook, linking the social networking sit and Blizzard's battle.net. I was pointed to the article from a comment on GeeCee's topical post.

This article is very scary in the current context of the RealID Blizzard forums controversy. Not because it is gloom-and-doom. Actually, quite the opposite. Its sunny tone and rosy outlook on the Facebook/battle.net partnership is downright alarming. Blizzard's Greg Canessa comes off as naive about many gamers’ attitudes about their online personas. Even as Facebook is frequently under fire over their privacy policy, Blizzard jumps on the bandwagon.

Late in the interview, the reporter asks, "Do you expect any push back from diehard Blizzard fans from the Facebook features?

Canessa'a response, "We don't anticipate any."

ROFLMFAO! Uh What do you think now, Greg?

The following post apparently appears on the WOW forum thread, but I gleaned it from Lillfox on the USA Today Article comments:

I, The poster. Am at least one of the following.

- a woman
- a minor
- a member of an ethnic minority
- a person of alternative sexuality
- a transgendered person
- a person with a unique/uncommon name
to this I would add: -a person with a very common name, easily mistaken for others
- a person who has been harassed/stalked
- a person in an information-sensitive profession
- a person who may be Google searched by co-workers/employers/potential employers
- a person who may be Google searched by mates/potential mates
- a person who is concerned about account security
- a person who is uninterested in online social networking
- a person who does not fit any of these categories but who is nonetheless concerned for him/herself or for the welfare of others

and I oppose RealID for one or more of these reasons:

- It is a threat to personal safety.
- It is a threat to personal security.
- It will not eliminate/significantly reduce trolling.
- It should be optional; choosing between risk and silence is not truly “optional”.
- Unified tags/handles provide the same effect with minimal risk.
- World of Warcraft is not Facebook.

If this decision persists, I will do one or more of the following:

- Refrain from posting on these forums.
- Seriously reconsider my subscription.
- Cancel my subscription.
- Cancel my subscription should RealID be made mandatory in-game
I'll bet this covers most of the WoW community.

Blizzard, of course doesn't see or doesn't want to see that not every WoW or StarCraft player wants to advertise their avocation. In fact it looks like few do.  One key difference between my Facebook friends and my WoW friends is I know almost every person I have befriended on Facebook personally. I have met very few of my WoW friends in person. I don't know them, and I really don't know their friends. On Facebook, I can lock down my information almost completely, if I want. Yet, there is still concern about Facebook's privacy policy. By comparison, RealID is a sieve of information.

Hopefully, Blizzard will see the rising backlash from subscribers and back off this plan.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

RealID on Blizzard Forums: No More Trolls?

So I guess Blizzard is going to start requiring real names on the World of Warcraft and other battle.net forums, using RealID, a move echoing the optional use of RealID in-game. This could be good and bad. Most people are making comments on the  various blogs and news outlets I've read are complaining about the lack of privacy, the potential for legitimate posters to be stalked or trolled in other venues as "bad people" find out who they are.

My reaction? Yawn.

I haven't even looked at the forums in ages, mostly because I could never find any useful information there. Forums by their nature are very disorganized at best, with posts and threads following the latest fad topic. At worst they are full of the sort of trolls and flame wars that Blizzard apparently is trying to get rid of. Sadly, despite the best efforts of some really great people I am sure, the vast majority of WoW players never go to the forums, for various reasons. This new requirement to use RealID is just one more reason to stay away.

Give me WoWHead or WoW.com any day. Give me something I can use.

BTW, is it not AWESOME that people are using WoW as the basis for doctoral dissertations?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blog Post Breaks

I am curious, what people think of having breaks in the the post that you have click a link to see the whole post?

Like this . . .

It’s Like Facebook for WoW . . .

Have you ever filled out one of those silly questionaires about yourself for FaceBook of MySpace? Here's one I came across for WoW. Borrowed from Rhii. Regular readers may already know some of this stuff.

1. Raider, farmer, PvPer, or altoholic?
Definitely an altoholic. I only started serious regular end-game raiding with the opening of ICC. And that has dropped off a bit in the past few months.

2. Favorite raid or dungeon?
Kharazan, which now that I think about it, sorta counts as an endgame raid that I crawled many times with my former guild in the eleventh hour of TBC. It just wasn't the absolute endgame at the time. Also having read the novel The Last Guardian, the place had a huge history for me, though much of what occurs in the raid has little to do with the book.

I also like the staircase battle in Zul'Furrak, the waves, and the back-and-forth leading to the second battle with the NPCs we'd just rescued? Great story.

3. Number one choice for a new playable race?
I've always thought the Pandaren would be fun to play, but I am looking forward to having a Worgen Death Knight, if I can't change an existing toon I'll start a new one. I want to start another Worgen just to go through the starting zone. Unfortunately I'm full on my normal server, Uldum. I'll have to go to a secondary server, or move or dump another toon.

4. Class you suck the most at?
Warriors. I can't keep mine alive when soloing. And I haven't gotten to the point where I could group up and tank.

5. Original UI or modded UI?
Definitely modded. I play other games and the inflexibility of some UIs is frustrating.

6. Profession you’ve never leveled past 200?
Blacksmithing. I've tried, but I don't get it, drops are better than anything I could make at the level I can make it.

7. Favorite flying mount?
I love my main's Magnificent Flying Carpet, and my secondary's Flying Machine. Come September, I'll have a Violet Proto-Drake.

8. Nozdormu — friend or foe, you figure?
Time will tell. :)

It would be interesting to discover we'd been assisting the Bronze Dragonflight to maintain the "flow of history" when we should have been helping the Infinite Dragonflight alter it. See Orson Scott Card's
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus for a story exploring a similar theme.

9. Useless item you have in your bank that you’ll never get rid of?
I have a ton of these things. My bank is full of old seasonal items and tabards.

10. Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
Hmm, that I can remember from the AH? A Captured Firefly I bought for about 400 gold, a bargain. However, knowing how much I could get for it, I couldn't justify keeping it and sold it for about 700 gold. From a vendor, easily, the swift flying ability for my main. I still haven't accumulated enough to get swift flying for my second. Too much raiding, not enough farming.

11. Favorite starting area?
Does the Death Knight starting zone, The Scarlet Enclave, count?

If not, I guess I'd say Deathknell in Tirisfal Glades. It's so spooky and atmospheric. I love the Forsaken dominated areas. I have a feeling I'm going to love Gilneas, though.

12. Inane goal you worked hardest to achieve?
Did Somebody Order a Knuckle Sandwich? and Master of Arms on my main, a priest with no need of weapons skills.

13. Darion Mograine VS Tirion Fordring, gloves off — winner is?
Um, I'm gonna go with Fordring, though I can't stand the voice they have for him. And he is much too melodramatic in-game. But based on Of Blood and Honor, by Blizzard's own Chris Metzen, Tirion represents the epitome of heroism. His personal honor was more important than any misplaced racial loyalty or patriotism, and he was vindicated by the Light in the end.

14. Game music or your own playlist?
Game music or nothing. Like Rhii, "I feel unconnected to the world if I am not listening to in-game sound." It breaks my immersion.

15. Particular option or setting that you always toggle on a new alt/server?
Again going with Rhii's response: "Auto-selfcast on, please!"

16. Highest amount of levels gained in one play session?
I have no idea, I am sure it was in an early session an alt, once I'd gotten the game mechanic down.

17. Thing you’d most like to experience or see in-game?
"I really… really… really… REALLY want to see the rest of Ulduar. Really." (echoing Rhii) And the Black Temple.

18. Worst PuG moment?
I have two. Once I was being harangued by some ass who criticized my inclusion of Frostfire in my Arcane Mage's DPS Rotation. I ended up dropping group. The sad thing is he was right, but he was such a jerk about it that he ruined my gameplay experience. If he had been more friendly about giving his advice, I would have been more receptive, we might have ended up friends.

The second was when a hunter (I really don't want to use "huntard") was being an ass in Drak'Tharon Keep, I can't remember what his initial offense was but a vote-to-kick came up and I voted that he stay, giving him the benefit of the doubt. He then started gloating that he'd beaten the vote-to-kick and I lost all sympathy, the vote came backup and we booted him. right before the last boss. His buddy was the Dungeon Guide, and couldn't believe the rest us us had kicked his friend, but we finished the instance and got our badges.

I guess it shows how being rude or a jerk in PuGs can ruin the gameplay/immersion for others. And get you uninvited.

19. Best dungeon/raid moment?
Not sure, I guess the first time we cleared Kara. Despite the above stories, I do enjoy running dungeons, even with strangers. Being a carebear healer helps. People generally appreciate it.

20. Worst quest ever that you totally hate doing?
I can't remember the name but the jousting near at the foot of Ice Crown Citadel. Too easily overwhelmed, It became easier once I realized "Threat/Cit" group requests were for that one. But I didn't do those very long before I was exalted with the Argent Tournament and stopped doing either.

21. First thing you do when you hit 80?
Shouted it out in guild chat. Probably let out a holler IRL, too. Oh I thought it said "did." I've only managed it twice.The second time wasn't as special. lol

22. Character (of yours) you would RP as if you had to?
Not sure what this one means exactly. Both Rowan, the Priest, and Hazel, the Mage, have pretty thorough backstories; though their personalities are aspects of my own, I guess. I don't do a ton of RP in-game, more in-head, lol.

23. Keyboard, mouse, or both for using abilities?
A bit of both, hot keys for DPS and the Healbot interface on my healers.

24. Thottbot or WoWhead?
WoWhead. Once I found WoWhead, I never went back to Thottbot.

25. Acronym you’ve seen in chat but don’t understand?
Can't think of one right now, though I come across them occasionally.

26. Plot point you’d like to see resolved someday?
The Scythe of Elune questline, though it looks like the Worgen starting area will involve that very thing.

27. Biggest thing you’re looking forward to in Cataclysm?
Seeing the altered landscape and being able to fly over old Azeroth. New Quests/Lore!

28. Guild event you’d like to see?
Another full Naxx run, and a trip through Ulduar.

29. Level range you hate being in?
I'm go with the consensus and say the 50s, it just seemed so long. But I did like the WPL quests. (Chromie!)

30. Favorite map to quest in?
Howling Fjord and Grizzly Hills: they both seem so rugged, and yet livable. Like a real place here on Earth. I can practically smell the wood smoke from the campfires and cabins.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Word on Exclusives and Extras

Like many bloggers, I read other people's stuff and comment on it. I often discover that I have filled several paragraphs that maybe I should have just put on my own blog and referred back to the OP.

So both  GeeCee and AyAitch (heehee, I don't have initials) have discussed the fact that Cryptic is now selling a bunch of formerly exclusive items in the C-Store. I posted much of the following on AyAitch's post on Combat Archeology:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Review: (Avatar:) The Last Airbender

OK, so I took my crew to see "The Last Airbender" today. The film has been the subject of a lot of poor reviews. I am not sure these people understand what it takes to condense around ten hours of story into less than two hours for a movie. I have generally given up on the ability of professional movie reviewers to have a clue about what the movie going public wants. But I won't let this post turn into a rant against critics. The film seems to be doing fairly well at the box office since it opened, pulling in an estimated almost $33 million in its first two days, according to Box Office Mojo. I know the theater we were in--a Saturday matinee at 12:50 p.m.--was packed with children and their parents.

Another blogger, Kevin Lam, wrote prior to seeing the film what he thought should be included as the basic theme of the movie, boiled down from the full first season of the show. I think the filmmakers did a pretty good job of distilling the story to the essentials that Kevin recommended, though they didn't quite do what he wanted in highlighting a potential romance between Aang and Katara. That may occur over the next two films, the two actors seem a bit young for it.

Comments have been about the acting, the writing, and the direction. Well, basically everything about the movie somebody has an issue with. Oh well, I did not see it in 3D, so I can't speak to that, though I have determined 3D to be pretty much useless in the movies I have seen this year in that format. It adds absolutely nothing to the story and very little to the WOW factor of the special effects. We're paying a bunch of extra cash for a waste of time, IMHO. One thing that was inexplicable was the altered pronunciation of several names, including the title character, Aang. Given that the show had been on for several years, I am surprised at this, even if the names are possibly more properly pronounced in the the presumably Asian cultures from which they originated.

The Last Airbender was actually a pretty good film. Not great, but good. The girls saw all the plot compression/omission. But considering this was an abridgement of an entire season of the TV show, I thought it flowed pretty well. Don't expect Shakespeare or even "The Dark Knight." It's not that rich. But it is a decent bit of Saturday Matinee fluff. Looking forward to the sequel.