Rants tag

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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

VotD: Tropes are Tools . . .

. . . But are these the right ones for the job? If someone asked to you build a chicken coop, would you bring your monkey wrench and plumber's putty? No, you'd probably bring a hammer and saw or maybe a drill and screwdriver.

Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has published another video on Tropes vs. Women, this time with even darker themes than simply Damsels in Distress. This one's just a bit longer than the last one:
Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Part 2 is even more interesting than the video itself. Apparently the trolls are so threatened by Ms. Sarkeesian's videos that they abused the YouTube flag system in an attempt to silence her. Justifiably, both ratings and comments have been disabled for the video on YouTube; though I am sure the troglodytes are frothing elsewhere on the Web. Copperbird draws an apt parallel between the reaction to Ms. Sarkeesian's video series and the reaction to the Female Suffragist movement around the turn of the 20th Century. The antics of the opponents of Feminist Frequency only underscore the importance of her message. I saw some videos that raised reasonable counterpoints to Part 1 right around the time of its release. That is the way to have a debate about the tropes in video games and other storytelling media. By trying to silence someone you disagree with you are only showing that you have already lost the debate.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beyond the Veil Take 42: You Know...That Guy!

I have been remiss yet again, but I'm getting better. Beyond the Veil Take 42 has been available since Monday. It's Wednesday. You can also subscribe through Holosuite Magazine's RSS feed or through iTunes.
You can also catch the live show Thursdays at about 7p.m. EDT(4p.m.PDT) on Holosuite Excess.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Once Again, the Glow

One problem with leveling every time you complete a STO mission is that the dialogue box is huge and can't be moved off the screen, not even a portion of it. So I've been missing my own Glow. Luckily for Sctrz, she turned in a mission while I was tooling around, and I managed to capture this shot of her Warbird, the Calamity, as her Rommy Commander, Kerina achieved level 8 (IIRC).

Returning to STO: The Romulan Way

I borrowed my post title from Diane Duane's classic TOS novel The Romulan Way.

Personal Log of Lieutenant D'Valon i-Harke tr'Soturi: The flight from the colony was harrowing. For the second time in my life, I have had to flee the destruction of my home—once again, alone. After settling on Virinat more than a decade ago, I thought my military days were long over. Amazing how battle reflexes never quite leave you. Now D'Tan and Temer have gotten me back into a uniform.
This old Warbird still has quite a few punches left. The Reman engineer we picked up on Crateris—Veril? So many new faces!—has worked wonders with the singularity drive. The other former colonists have taken to calling her "Gearbox." I certainly don't plan on returning to the stifling formalities of the Imperial Navy, so Gearbox it is.
The forward crew lounge is rather more subdued than the last Warbird I flew on. Many people lost loved ones in the Tal Shiar attacks. Their pain opens old wounds of my own. How I miss you, my precious Rhakas, and little D'Rohkea.
Luckily for us, old D'Vex maintained the hydroponics bay with plants from Romulus, as well as Virinat. Fresh fruits and vegetables will be a refreshing respite from replicated mush, not to mention a fond reminder of what was once our home.
Meanwhile, there is much to do for this commander and crew. Temer has us on a mission to various other colonies in the sector, trying to recruit them the new Romulan Republic. We're offering solidarity, and protection from the predations of Empress Sela and the Tal Shiar, so that what happened on Virinat and Crateris doesn't happen again.
I never thought I'd sit in the Big Chair, much less be fighting for the freedom of the Romulan people. It may not be much, but I will do everything in my power to avenge the good folk of Virinat, defeat the Tal Shiar, and restore the proud legacy of my people.
In the spirit of that restoration, Khev and I decided to re-dedicate this grand old vessel as RRW T'liss Rising, to represent our rise from the ashes of Virinat and Romulus to new glory.
Re-Dedication Plaque: The T'liss hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise. ~adapted from Miguel de Cervantes, harking back to Rowan Starblanket's first ship. I substituted the word "T'liss" for "phoenix" in the original.

Valon's name is a callback to my SWTOR Jedi Knight, Valon Soturi, which is (butchered) Finnish for Warrior of Light. In that vein, his family—lost in the destruction of Romulus—also have names that have meaning in Finnish: Rakas means "beloved," and Rohkea means "brave." With that, I can establish Valon as being in his late 40s (by Earth years), having been a young Sublieutenant in the Romulan Military at the time of the Hobus supernova, unable to save his family from the destruction of Romulus. I'll fill in more backstory as it comes to me.

Rolling Rommy (yes, I'm trying to make that a thing ><) is mildly disappointing for me. I like my character well enough. but all the Romulans come across as pointy-eared humans. There is no real sense of the uniqueness of their culture. Not that I want them running around as portrayed in the various incarnations of the series either.

Once I get the basics of the new game systems down (e.g., Skills, Combat Maneuvers, etc.), I am very interested in revisiting my other captains. And as you can see, it's so easy to slip into a storytelling mode based on my adventures in the Star Trek universe. All in all, it's a good move for Cryptic, I think. Renewed interest in STO, exactly what they were after here. :D

Friday, May 24, 2013

Poll Results: Item Shops

So my poll didn't seem to go as well as I'd hoped. But I think there may have something wrong with the Blogger widgets I used. The total number of votes actually decreased after the initial surge last week, and I doubt people were retracting their votes. I think I'll use the Google Docs Poll tool next time, like I did for the Gamer Gender Issues Survey designed by Sctrz and me last August.

Anyway, people seemed enthusiastic for cosmetic items in cash shops, with less inclination to buy XP Boosts, "Gambling" Boxes, and other items. No one I saw respond wanted to buy high level gear, which is often viewed as Pay-to-Win. In fact, flipping the coin, most respondents would actually shy away from games that sell P2W items in the cash shop. with the same rough distribution of folks disinclined to buy the other items mentioned.
Happily for game developers, no one who took the survey outright refused to buy anything in the cash shop. Perhaps the proverbial freeloader is a bit of a myth. There's always something that will appeal to somebody in the item shop. The question is finding the right balance of items and pricing.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

POTD: STO's New Crew Screen

Inspired by Syp's post from yesterday, I logged onto STO last night just to get screenies of my Captains and Crews. I wonder how they pick which Bridge Officers get shown. Is that my away team?
Rowan Starblanket. All about the research.
Donovan Locke. Haha, the last time I logged in, I used my first ship to help Sctrz as she tried out the game. Locke and Crew are still stuck on that thing.
W'Low Rial. I think those are still her only Bridge Officers.

I haven't actually logged into the game itself. Queues are crazy unless you're subbed. I can wait a few days till it dies down.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beyond the Veil Take 40: Bringing the Heat & Take 41: I See Polls!

Beyond the Veil Take 41, featuring my own lore segment on the Draug, is currently available for download. I have been remiss, Take 40, has been available since Friday. It's Wednesday. You can also subscribe through Holosuite Magazine's RSS feed or through iTunes.
You can also catch the live show Thursdays at about 7p.m. EDT(4p.m.PDT) on Holosuite Excess.

Lookin' for Lore: The Draug

NOTE: TSW is rated M. Some of these images may be NSFW. This post is the slightly altered script of the inaugural run of my new "Lookin' for Lore" segment on Beyond the Veil, Take 41.

For many people, the worst kind of horror involves the dead returning to haunt the living as walking corpses. Many different cultures depict these implacable abominations, from West African nzumbe to Chinese jiangshi.

It is eminently appropriate that one of the first challenges the players encounter in The Secret World is the Draug invasion of Solomon Island. As you may know, the bulk of TSW was developed by a team led by Ragnar Tørnquist at Funcom’s Oslo, Norway, facility; with input from Montreal and Beijing. It is fitting that, for the first part of the game, they drew on a particularly creepy element of Norse myth and combined it with Lovecraftian Eldritch horrors. (Which we’ll cover in another post.)

A draug, or draugr, is an undead creature from Norse mythology. The term "draug" has come to be used to describe any type of ghost or animated corpse in Nordic folklore. Fans of The Lord of the Ringsmay be interested to know that the Nynorsk translation of LOTR used the term “Draugr” for both ring-wraiths and the dead men of Dunharrow.

The original Old Norse meaning of the word is "ghost"; however, “Draugr” has long since come to refer to the animated body of the dead, with similar physical abilities as in life. Unlike the zombies of popular culture, Draugar are self-willed and generally retain their personalities from life, if a bit twisted.

Other terms you may see around Solomon Island:

• Aptrgangr ~ "after-walker" Found in the Vinterskog Woods and Norsemen’s Landing of the Savage Coast

• Haugbui ~ “tomb dweller” Examples include the Haugbui Jarl and Haugbui Mother in the Wreck of the Polaris

The Draugar of Solomon Island are organized into clans with Old Norse names. For example:
• Feigr ~ Marked for Death, Doomed
• Folr ~ Pale
• Blodugr ~ Bloody? Bloodsucker?
• Vidir ~ Willow?
Savage Coast:
• Askr ~ Ash Tree
• Mordvig ~ Murder or Murderer
• Svell ~ Swell?
Blue Mountain:
• Rekkr ~ Smoke?
• Dreyrugr ~ Drinker?

Like the zombies in AMC's The Walking Dead and other stories, draugar can be created through infection by another draugar. We see this in the infection of the inhabitants of Solomon Island. In one Icelandic saga, a shepherd is assaulted by a “blue-death” draugr. The shepherd's neck is broken during the ensuing scuffle. The shepherd rises the next night as a draugr.

The Draug of TSW were Norsemen who were caught by the filth as they departed Solomon Island after the Darkness War. Some perished at sea, others managed to return to their villages (perhaps Greenland?), where they infected the other inhabitants. The villagers abandoned their homes, drawn into the sea. They are the source of tales about ghost ships the world over, much like the crew of the Flying Dutchman as seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies: half-barnacled, not truly living.

The stories of restless dead coming in from sea were common in Northern Scandinavia. The Draug of The Secret World followed the fishing trawler Lady Margaret to Solomon Island, after Joe Slater found a sword in a graveyard of ships filled with red seaweed and fog. The Fog and the Draug followed them to Solomon Island. The red seaweed now infests the sewers of Kingsmouth town, along with Joe Slater, slowly turning into another Draug.

Much like the barnacled and seaweed-laden Draugar on Solomon Island, more recent Scandinavian folklore associates Draugr with drowned sailors, with a distinctly human form but the head covered in seaweed. In Norse sagas, Draugar possess superhuman strength, can increase their size at will, and carry the unmistakable stench of decay. You can imagine that the stench on Solomon Island is almost overpowering. The draugr's ability to increase its size also increases its weight, and the body of the draugr is extremely heavy, like the enormous bloated form of the Askr Queen in Tolba Bay or the Haugbui Mother in Polaris.

The Draugar of legend are noted for having numerous magical abilities such as controlling the weather, like the fog that envelopes Solomon Island. They can also pass through solid rock, as shown by some of the combat abilities, like “Harpoon,” that strike through the ground beneath players. The draugar slay their victims through various methods including crushing them with their enlarged forms, and indirectly killing them by driving them mad. They delight in the suffering that they cause. Individual draugar have been known to haunt their living family members.

As shown in various missions, particularly “The Player, Not the Piece” obtained from Red in eastern Savage Coast, there are limited ways to destroy a draug. Only a hero has the strength and courage needed to stand up to so formidable an opponent. The preferred method is to cut off the draugr's head, burn the body, and dump the ashes in the sea; the emphasis being on making absolutely sure the draugr is dead and gone.

Research material found on:
• the Post-It tornado of my mind!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Quick Polls: Spending Habits and Revenue Plans

Inspired by a discussion on Twitter, and Trion's announcement of Rift's impending F2P transition, I just started two quick polls. Please see the questions in the right column (sorry, you'll have to hit the vote button twice). They'll be up till next Tuesday, then I'll discuss results.

If you don't find a category in the list that you feel strongly about, drop a comment. :)

QOTD: Rift Goes Free

Massively has an interview with Rift's Creative Director, Bill Fisher, as well.

I can't say I'm surprised. Rift is an awesome game that I enjoyed playing to max-level. It was the first game my lovely bride and I played together fresh, neither of us having prior experience. But the trend is toward free-to-play with a cash shop even for quality MMOs. In truth, Rift will be a hybrid—like TSW and SWTOR—with Subscribers getting perks that F2Pers will have to pay for, if they are even available.
Subcription MMOs are quite frankly on the decline. Even the elephant in the room, WoW, is losing subscribers, though Blizzard is still the runaway leader of the MMO pack. Some folks prefer to play a subscription-based game "to keep things simple." I used to be one of them. But I have found, beginning with GW2, then TSW, and now Neverwinter, that I like free-to-play. I have spent money/points in all three games. Maybe not as much as I would have if I were subscribed, but more than if they were fully sub-based and I weren't playing at all (which was the case for a few months with TSW). So at this stage of my gaming life, it's not a matter of sub money or no money, it's a matter of some money, when I feel the urge or need. I see it as a good move on Trion's part, if they keep to their promises of "No Tricks. No Traps." I won't play SWTOR because I feel the F2P is punitive, so they get none of my gaming budget. But a well-managed F2P (or B2P) doesn't have to make the F2Per feel left out, and thus will encourage spending, when there is value for the player.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Beyond the Veil Take 39: In the Mail

Beyond the Veil Take 39 is currently available for download. You can also subscribe through Holosuite Magazine's RSS feed or through iTunes.
You can also catch the live show Thursdays at about 7p.m. EDT(4p.m.PDT) on Holosuite Excess.

A New Mother on Mother's Day: Puppies!!

It's not all fun and MMOs around here. Sometimes life gets real. A month ago, Sctrz and my stepdaughter found a scared, hungry—and pregnant, as it turns out—chihuahua while out and about. They took her to the veterinarian, who gave her a clean bill of health, but didn't mention the puppies. "Bella" was very nervous and shy about coming to live with us. We've slowly coaxed her out, while at the same time noting her growing girth. The vet said a little bloating was normal as she got used to regular, healthy meals; though she never seemed in any particular digestive distress. Well, about a week ago I was holding her—after all of us had suspected for a bit that she may be "in a family way"—and I felt the puppies move. Yesterday evening, she went into labor.

Anyway, long-short, here they are:
Puppy #1. We know they're at least part chihuahua.
Proud Mama
How about "Ebony" and "Ivory" for names?
Pink Nose
UPDATE: Sadly, our little Ivory angel didn't make it. He went home on Thursday, 16 May, after less than 96 hours in this world, leaving tiny footprints on our hearts.

Friday, May 10, 2013

NBI: Retrospective

Ravanel posted today about the Newbie Blogger Initiative run last year by Syp of Bio Break fame. Given the woeful failure rate of blogs in general, Ocho's assessment of 25% NBI blogs still active a year later is a resounding success for the Initiative. I was honored to be invited by Syp to be one of the "steely-eyed veterans" giving advice, even though I am somewhat noobish about it myself. And I am happy to have served even a small role in the Initiative.
"We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."
Congratulations to those from the NBI Class of 2012 still going strong—or even limping along. Don't forget that you can "respec" your blog, even you originally started dedicated to a single game or theme. It might revitalize your enthusiasm for the hobby. This space started out as a WoW and STO blog, but has evolved as my interests have. To those who have shuttered your blogs, I am sorry you're no longer with us, and I hope you have found or returned to another hobby that you enjoy immensely. :) I still keep a running list of recent posts by NBI bloggers to the right.

Anyway, here are what others (both Veterans and Newbies) are saying about the NBI a year later, shamelessly stolen, like the Badge, from Ravanel:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beyond the Polaris: Elite

My lovely bride was busy on Saturday and I joined folks from Beyond the Veil to take advantage of Funcom's Golden Weekend in The Secret World. Running Polaris Elite was the last thing we did, but I'm posting about it first. Here's the team just after the Orochi chopper dropped us off; (l-r) Exceeder, Zander, Antida, LoneStarBelle, and Maiastas:
I love these action shots; though with five players, plus the mobs, all the special effects can make for a chaotic picture. Maiastas (Melee DPS) is barely visible right up in the Boss Lady's face. Antida (Tankosaurus rex) can also be seen brandishing her longsword. LSB (Mid-Range DPS) is "Above the Law" with "Shootout." (I have to be up close to take advantage of the Shotgun DPS Skill: "Point Blank.") Zander (Ranged DPS) blasts away with his Assault Rifle. And Exceeder (Red-blooded Healer) keeps us all healthy—as seen by the red haze around himself and LSB:
Here we are fighting the Ur-Draug, final boss. Again with the shoot-out. The yellow glow is a penetration buff from Shotguns called "Breeching Shot." Maiastas, Zander, and Exceeder are in the background. Antida and the Ur-Draug are off camera, duking it out:
After many hiccups and adjustments, we bagged the sucker. Here's the trophy shot, with our busted ride in the background right, and our new ride in the center:
You can read Antida's impressions of Saturday's run here. Beyond the Veil webcasts live on Thursdays at approximately 7 p.m., Eastern Time (4, Pacific; 12 midnight, BST). The recorded episodes are available at Holosuite Magazine and iTunes.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beyond the Veil Take 38: Enter The Ninja

Beyond the Veil Take 38 is currently available for download. You can also subscribe through Holosuite Magazine's RSS feed or through iTunes.
You can also catch the live show Thursdays at about 7p.m. EDT(4p.m.PDT) on Holosuite Excess.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Funcom, I Want Cross-Faction Cabals

CABAL — a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority.

In Beyond the Veil Take 38, Xander asked the panel what we wanted from the recently promised Cabal management improvements for The Secret World. I stated that I personally care about only one change to cabals: make them cross-faction. Right now players of all three factions can group together for every aspect of the game that involves group play, except two: PVP and Cabals.

Currently, cabals in TSW are more social enterprises than anything else, anyway. I think there's a cabal bank. That's really about it, a standing group of people who might available to group with. It not like there's any boost/reputation benefit to being a cabal. Not that I really mind. I feel like that sort of system in other games has inspired zerg-guilds that are no more a community than the playerbase at large, and together only for the "material" benefits.
This article from Jason Winter of GameBreaker TV puts my argument into a broader gaming context, to include the splintering of the playerbase between factions and across multiple servers. When I first branched out from WoW to play STO, I was delighted with Cryptic's ability to make whatever multi-server set-up they had transparent to the player. I no longer had to worry about what server I was on versus where my friends were. I am still friends with people that I am sure I never would have met if they'd been on some separate server like in WoW. TSW's server hopping is just as good a method.

I have long campaigned for cross-faction cabals. From my review of TSW back in July:
Set aside your differences. OK, remember how when you played WoW and you wanted to be a an Orc or Tauren, but all your friends were rolling dwarves and gnomes? So you had to roll Alliance, or you wouldn't be able to play. It sucked. Not so with The Secret World. Feel free to group up with those of opposing factions for PvE content, dungeons, etc. After all, some serious shit is goin' down, and unlike Telara or Azeroth, we need to stick together to take care of it. Then, when the pressure's off, we can fight amongst ourselves again in the PvP areas. Yes, I say again cross-faction PvE. Hopefully soon we make form cross-faction cabals (guilds), wheels-within-wheels.
I thought I had articulated this more clearly in the past, but this post was all I could find. I like that I don't have to role as part of the same faction as my friends to group up. I can help who ever I see in The Secret World. I understand the importance of separate factions in PvP—or different servers in the case of GW2. However, in most cases, limiting cross-faction cooperation only fragments a playerbase that could not care less about interfaction rivalries.
In conversations on the topic, I have returned often to the concept of "wheels-within-wheels." Lore-wise, what's the point of cabals? Movements within the larger factions? There's no hope of taking over the leadership of the Illuminati, so why call it a cabal? On the other hand, a small group of characters from different factions may find they have more in common with each other than they do with their respective faction leaders. There is a potential for intrigue there, at least from a roleplaying perspective.

I've heard arguments about not being able to meet in the faction HQ if some of your members aren't in the same cabal. I would say if some of your cabal members aren't in your faction, your meetings probably won't be there either. There are plenty of places in London, Seoul, and across the "globe" to conduct a clandestine cabal meeting. Of course, individual cabals would be under no obligation to invite characters from other factions, but why should that hamper those of us who want to?

I've heard rumor that Joel Bylos wants to increase the separation between factions. I think this would be a serious mistake for a game with an admittedly limited playerbase. I doubt anyone is saying, "I'd play TSW, but there's too much hippie 'Kumbayah' crap going on between the factions." Nor do I think increasing interfaction rivalry would be a selling point to recruit potential players. I could be mistaken.

The truth is that many gaming meta-guilds form "chapters" for each faction already, then communicate through venues outside the game like TeamSpeak, Ventrilo, and Internet fora. Heck, even within TSW you can create custom chat channels that can include characters from all three factions if you want. Why not give those meta-guilds the means to bring all their members together more easily?

Joel, for these reasons, please give us the capability to form cross-faction cabals, if we choose to.

TSW's Golden Weekend

From today, Friday May 3, through Sunday May 5 (Cinco de Mayo!), Funcom is showering players with Funcom Points(FP) and Ability Points (and Skill Points?).

  • Double AP!
  • Free Membership months for recruiting (Grandmasters get $15 worth of FP)
  • 30% Bonus on purchases of FP (i.e., buy 1200, get 1560)
  • New Players get $15 FP bonus (1800)
Details here. Go play!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Winter is Coming. . . NOT! Neverwinter Impressions

Poor Ned
On Tuesday, Cryptic's Neverwinter soft launch/open beta started. While I was busy doing other things, I broke down and downloaded the client. It took ffoorreevveerrrrrr, probably because everyone else was doing the same thing. No time to play on Tuesday (not that it matters, apparently the queues were horrendous). And due to webcasting live with the Beyond the Veil crew on a special night, I couldn't get on until about 8 p.m. last night. Sctrz, on the other hand, downloaded the client lickity-split during the maintenance time yesterday and logged in to try it out while I was webcasting. It was amusing to listen to her figuring out how to even move in the game, but she did blaze the trail and provide me pointers when I did finally get into the game.

Waaaaayyy back when I was a little kid, my older brother played AD&D, and DM'ed a couple of sessions for me and my other brother. I initially roled a dwarf (just like WoW, now that I think about it). Back then you rolled on stats before picking a class (unlike NW), and you were stuck with them, if you followed the rules. I think I picked a magic user of some kind, which as it turned out, dwarves couldn't do, so I switched to halfling.

One step of the creation process in NW involves a dice roll to see what your character's attributes will be. These are typical D&D categories: Strength, Constitution, Charisma, etc. If you don't like your rolled stats, you can re-roll. One reason for me to keep my current toon is that, on the first roll, she ended up with very high scores in all the important attributes for the cleric, plus a racial boost to one of them. I don't know whether I'll be able to manipulate those stats later (with additional points?). But I'm afraid if I re-roll when I re-role, I will not be so lucky the next time. [Edit: I found out from several commenters here and on G+ that the parameters are narrower than I thought, so I am leaning more toward re-roling Rowan now.]
I will kill you with kindness.
Though I stuck with the tried-and-true role/class of Devoted Cleric, I thought I'd be a little different and roll a halfling. Thus, as Athene from the head of Zeus, was Rowan WildMarsh conceived and born. As might be expected from the folks who brought you Star Trek Online and Champions Online, the character creation and customization process is robust and detailed. I've been thinking I should re-role Rowan as a different race. I'm not sure I like her small size, next to the larger humans and half-humans in the game. She's also the only halfling I noticed the whole time I was in Neverwinter (the city) last night. Which could be either good or bad; I haven't decided. I think I made Rowan's boobs too big, though; not something I normally do, to be honest. Sctrz says she looks disproportionate, and I can't say I disagree. If there is a way to alter her appearance and I don't re-role completely, I think I will give her a reduction.

Sctrz re-roled as Zerena, a half-elf Control Wizard to accompany me as Rowan took her baby steps into the world of Neverwinter. Other people have covered the third-person shooter feel of the game controls. I'll just say that it took some getting used to, and I basically adjusted most of the combat keybinds to fit my habits on the Nostromo gaming pad and Logitech M570 mouse. Oh, and "B" is for BAGS!! Thanks to my WoW upbringing. I also wish I could zoom in/out to get better screencaps.
Zerena and Rowan
All in all, I had a lot of fun in Neverwinter, and will return with my lovely bride this evening. It was fun to have Sctrz be the knowledgeable one this time, a steely-eyed veteran of an hour and a half leading my wet-behind-the-ears newbie through the tutorial and the first little group instance before it was time for bed. And that . . . is another story.