Archive for the ‘Share That Thought’ Category

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Breakfast topic: Gaming with muggles

28.01.2011

Not exactly a Shared Topic, but WoWInsider recently brought up an interesting Breakfast Topic. How do you deal with people who don’t get our gaming hobby? There are quite a few comments on that one, and I’d like to take this post to share my own family experiences in that regard. Lots of the comments were about parents, somehow especially mothers, so here is my tale, and it’s a very positive one!

There is a trip down memory lane straight to nostalgia valley ahead, so feel free to skip this post in case that isn’t your thing. Also, pointless rambling.

 

My first contact with the world of computers was an ancient (then brand new) Schneider CPC that my dad brought home from the office. He used it mainly to write scientific papers, but naturally a few games found their way on floppy discs. (Years later, there’d be an expensive hard drive with, I think, two whole MB storage!) He even wrote simple games for me himself, mostly math games, or mastermind clones.

The first real gaming PC was an intel, again, brought home from the office for work reasons. And as long as he didn’t need the PC, I could play – games he brought home. He even joined in on occasion, mostly for the old MS flight simulators. My mother, though, didn’t understand computers (back then, mind you, now she’s really computer-savvy!). That didn’t keep her from sharing the experience, watching us play and generally accepting it as a ‘toy’ for me. Of course, that was when the internet was still a myth, so the WoW typical problem of “can’t you just pause the game?” never came up.

A few games though, both really got into: The old Hero’s Quest (re-named to Quest For Glory later) and Space Quest sagas by Sierra. We spent literally whole nights together in front of the computer, fighting goblins, solving puzzles and finishing the story. Also, that meant by the time English was introduced as a foreign language at school, I already spoke quite a bit. Well, read a bit of it. With much guessing. But boy, was it an incentive to really learn the language!

Treasured moment of the era: Visiting my grandparents (some 800 kilometres up north), returning home after a few weeks and finding… a hand drawn map of the whole game-world of Quest For Glory, painstakingly explored by my dad and mapped out with little graphics and notes by my mom. I used that for each and every re-play of the game until it, sadly, fell apart.

Internet gaming really came into my life almost a decade later with the advent of Counterstrike. In the meantime, though, friends would often visit, bringing their PCs with them and connecting first via serial cable and later via hub and switches. So again, the concept of “pixels on-screen can be people in a different room” came quite naturally. My dad’s office at the university was already fully connected, so no problem there.

Enter the internet age. Granted, it was a very, very difficult time to get a modem running. Or later the switch to ISDN. However by the time DSL came around, she welcomed it, because that would mean more than two concurrent lines available. Enter the Counterstrike Mania. Both my parents took the time to learn about the basic goals and gameplay, and as my best friend and neighbour was the one I spent most time online with, leading our clan, they soon also saw the team-play / sports-like aspects of it.

That was also the time where a few school killings happened in Germany, which were (of course, and please don’t get me started on that topic) linked to Counterstrike. Yes, my parents talked about that, but we all agreed that I was mentally stable and mature enough, and besides, by that time, it was also more of a competitive sport for me.

I think that this mindset, ‘it’s more of a sport, really’, clicked – after a few short explanations, both would wait for the current round to be finished when asking me to do something. And the reasoning ‘I’m in the middle of a league match’ even meant two uninterrupted hours, except for emergencies.

Big moment of the era: Going out for dinner, then a walk with the dog, having a great time. And then my mother says: “We should hurry, didn’t you have a league match in half an hour?”. And she was right and I’d have completely forgotten.

Funny moment: Getting a call from a co-leader, when I wasn’t home. My mom answered, so of course he told her his proper name. Later she would ask me, who this guy was. I shrugged and said “Redwolf from our clan”. Her reaction? “Oh, he could’ve just said that, that would’ve been less confusing.”

 

Which brings me to my parents and World of Warcraft. Again, the groundwork was laid back when I played Ultima Online. But I think they both ‘get’ it. My mom even reads this blog from time to time and asks if I’ve taken any more pictures of that world or what the game is like or if I already got the new expansion.

 

So, the point of this pointless and rambling post?

Mom, dad, you’re the best parents a boy growing up into the computer and internet age could have wished for.

Also, look, a picture! I just love the new Stormwind park area.

 

click for full size

 

 

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Dear Hogger

10.01.2011

This is a reply to this weeks Shared Topic, based on a true event.

Dear Hogger,

I write to you in order to express my utmost respect and admiration for what you have achieved. Your name strikes fear in the heart of every fresh adventurer. Battle-scarred veterans remember their epic battles with you and share their stories of failure around the nights campfire.

No one else has had that effect on all the heroes of Azeroth. Onyxia and Ragnaros came close. But even they pale in comparison when it comes to the sheer cruelty of smashing the hopes of brave young warriors and feeding their very flesh to the cauldrons of your tribe.

Hundreds, no, thousands, have tried to defeat you. Many did you send to the graveyard, and those who thought they had slain you – you proved them wrong. That what did not kill you made you stronger. I myself remember evading your fellow Gnolls when you were but a warrior among many. Your triumphs over fumbling humans let you become an idol of your race. They even gave you your very own hill from which to bellow taunts up towards the walls of Stormwind.

And now? I visited you in the Stockades last week. I just wanted an autograph. But you? You slaughtered my pet and then send me running, blood streaming from countless wounds, your laughter echoing behind me while you started gnawing on bear bones. That was way, way better than any autograph I could have dreamt of.

You are, without a doubt, the biggest, meanest son of a Gnoll in Stormwind. They call you King Hogger now.

That which does not kill you makes you stronger. I did not kill you. And when I wake up at night screaming from the nightmares you caused, I wonder what you will achieve next. No doubt, the reign of King Hogger has just begun.

Sincerely,

a Casual Admirer

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If I had one hour as Blizzard WoW class designer

22.09.2010

This week’s shared topic is “Design Your Class“. Funny, that’s what I wanted to write about anyway.

While the stage two chunk of 4.0.1 (a whopping 4.5 GB) is downloading, I’m thinking a bit about what my ideal class would look like. Not what the best possible, or most efficient or most overpowered class looked like, but the class that I’d take a look at and say “yup, that’s what I want”.

Since there are obviously too many ways to go absolutely nuts with this idea, I’ll just choose three talent trees and associated skills – that still leaves a lot of options, but possibly maintains a shred of sanity and balancing.

Primary Tree: Hunter – Marksman

Easy choice. I like ranged DPS and the marksman tree and skills grant a higher mobility than the mage pendant with the long casting times. It deals direct DPS mostly, but the stings aren’t too bad either. Unlike the mage tree, which is all skill dependent, marksmen can still revel in searching for the ultimate ranged weapon, be they guns or bows or Goblin punting.

Secondary Tree: Warlock – Affliction

In my opinion, affliction would complement marksman quite well. Pile on the DoTs, then keep the enemy at range while happily sniping away without the need to wait for casting times. The curses and stings together could possibly take down bigger, badder mobs to a manageable level, but you still need the DPS from your primary tree to take advantage of that.

Alternate Tree: Rogue – Combat

This tree is mostly there for dual speccing and switching roles a bit during instances. Combined with marksman, it may be a bit weak – either you’re at range dealing damage, or you’re in melee dealing damage. Still, could be a valid choice for soloing content where you can’t always keep mobs at range or for PvP where you may have similar problems. At any rate, a combat marksman would be quite versatile.

The other possibility, speccing combat / affliction, would yield similar results to marksman / affliction – only instead of running away you close in and hack away at your opponent. Both combinations, by the way, should play very differently from an affliction ‘lock – or at least very differently from the way I play my ‘lock.

One interesting thing about this is: My favourite class, the mage, doesn’t feature at all. Why? Cast time. Yes, playing a mage is spectacular, but for the bread and butter questing and soloing instances, I’ve had much better results with my hunter and rogue. I think a class with the skills of these three talent trees would offer a whole lot of interesting choices, especially with the new 31-point system. And let’s be honest, if I want to play a mage, I play a pure mage. Anything else, derivative, would be inferior. You can’t improve on perfection.

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Through the looking glasses

23.08.2010

Last week’s Shared Topic was about how I imagine my class is treated by NPCs. I have a small problem with that. I don’t play a single class. I’m also not very good at this sort of RP posts, which is why I originally wanted to skip last week. However, to get some blogging rhythm back, I’ll use that shared topic as a starting point.

My version of it: How do I see the world of Azeroth, depending on which class (and character) I’m playing?

Two classes are missing: Priest (waiting for a Worgen priest in Cataclysm) and Deathknight (highest character level is 36 so far).

Mage

The world is a stage, filled to the brim with an audience expecting a spectacle. It’s not only about killing mobs. It’s about doing it and looking good. Looking great. Impressive, even. Sure, you could go for a quick and efficient kill, but there are still four spells available on cooldown, better use them! Freeze, Blink, Blizzard, Evocation, Blast, Arcane Barrage and for the finale, Teleport and leave them standing in awe and envy.

Druid

Seriously? I’ve got no clue. If I knew, maybe my druid wouldn’t play the role of the unwanted stepchild.

Paladin

When all you’ve got is a hammer and a Seal, the world starts looking like a giant nail. You’re still killing mobs, but you’re doing it with a purpose. You want to make Azeroth a better, safer place. You might even start to feel some regret, but never fear, because you are on the only true righteous path! Bless and heal passersby, then proceed to smite infidels with holy might.

Hunter

The world is full of creatures. Always be on the lookout for a new pet to tame, a companion drop or a rare elite mob that you can add to your trophy board. And do I wish there was an in-game UI for tracking your rare kills, I have to do it manually. Also, practice your jump-shots! Show them off whenever you get a chance, to show you actually have some skills instead of facerolling the keyboard. Keep your pet on a very short leash – it’s not a bludgeoning sledgehammer, it’s a fine rapier to be used exactly the way you want. It’s much more impressive if you use your pet as an extension of your traps and skills than if you just let it loose on an unsuspecting world.

Shaman

The world is my castle. See that spawn camp over there? Well, I’ll make camp over here, set up a dozen totems and then instigate the monsters into attacking. Yes, a Shaman is an offensive force, but their true strengths lie in defence. An aggressive turtle, so to speak.

Rogue

A giant playground, full of challenges. And if there aren’t any, set some for yourself! Sure, you could just kill any mob standing between you and the target NPC, but see how far you can get unnoticed. See how many of them you can pickpocket. See if you can kill just the target, then Vanish and be amazed that the entire camp is up in arms and down one leader. Find new and creative uses for Sap, Disarm, Rupture, Gouge and Vanish. Leave your victim shaking their head, wondering what the hell just happened.

Warlock

The world better bow down if they see you coming. Even if only because you’re a Gnome. But never mind! They bow down, they crawl at your feet. You are the master, they are the slave. And if you ever team up with another warlock, the world will tremble in fear. Rightly so. You don’t care about flash. You care about brutal efficiency, making the kill hurt. Pain makes stronger, yes, but it’s the other‘s pain that makes you stronger.

Warrior

Besides the age-old question over two-handed, dual-wield or sword and shield, it’s pretty much about pushing yourself. How strong a mob can you take? How many mobs at once? How much damage can you deal in a single hit? How much a head start on damage can you give a mob and still win the fight? It’s not about winning, it’s about conquering insurmountable odds.

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The reason you need to play a mage

27.07.2010

I’ve been slacking on the screenshot front. Now that ENBSeries is set up properly, you’d think that I take my time and capture those moments of exploration as they happen – more importantly, before Cataclysm happens. Alas, Most of the time I’m too much caught in the action to think of screenshots, not to mention proper composition to make a decent image out of them.

Just as well, this week the share topic is: A picture tells a thousand words. Wonderful.

So I bring you, on short notice, the reason why you need to play a mage:

(click for original size)

Teleportation. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Teleport is the single most awesome spell in World of Warcraft. Go play a mage, get to 25 or 30, travel Azeroth for a bit – you’ll curse yourself when you have to go back to classes that can’t just hop over to Darnassus if they feel like it.

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Lessons learned

12.07.2010

An interesting question if there is one – what has WoW taught you?

Well, I like lists, so I’ll make a list out of this one. Saves me from thinking up suave segues from one point to the next, something which I’d find incredibly difficult with office (inside!) temperature stuck at over 36° all afternoon. I’m also writing a short entry on why we lost the RealID battle, but if you look around and read the usual suspects, you’ll see that there are more than enough bloggers cautioning against blind forgiveness and instead are very, very sceptical on the outcome of this whole incident.

1) Business studies wasn’t a complete waste. Although I’m by no means a power-broker, I think that the basic lesson from four years of business studies and computer science weren’t wasted. The auction-house is a wonderful simplified model that, in my opinion, should be used as a case example at university to make lectures more interesting.

2) People are even worse at spelling than I thought. Especially on the internet. While I don’t claim to be error free, at least I make an effort. And if it’s so bad that it’s bothering me in English, I dare not imagine what my native language German servers are like. And no, I won’t try and find out – my faith in humanity is frail enough as it is.

3) For every jerk you meet there is a decent person around the corner. Or, in WoW, for every roflstomping DK grieving you of your quest kills, there is a friendly fellow mage around the corner who’s on the same quest as you and wouldn’t mind teaming up and sharing the loot.

4) Apparently, what I say is of interest to someone. Over 1000 views on this blog, thank you all!

5) I still can find huge fun and enjoyment in tinkering with scripts and configurations. This tells me that, contrary to my original fears, the past decade (almost) of working as software developer didn’t kill computers as my hobby and passion.

Addendum: I also learn the quirks of my spell checker. “roflstomping” gets replaced by “reupholstering”. Close, but not quite.