Jun 292010

While I’ve not been playing a whole lot lately, the holidays usually bring me out of hiding for a little while.  Since I got Flame Warden on Calhi, and I fell in love with the holiday clothing, I’ve been working in a mad rush to level my shadow priest in hopes of getting enough Blossoms to buy the outfit for her.  The aesthetic of a shadowy female Draenei dancing with flaming hands and feet just sounds cool.  Don’t question my motivations!

At any rate, let me tell a story.

I was testing out one of the leveling guide add-ons that aren’t $60 and advertised in banner ads out in Wetlands, when a Hunter dropped in and insta-invited me to party.  I figured he was killing the same murlocks I was melting and wanted to speed the quest along for both of us.  I hit accept.

Silly, naive Skip.

I found myself in party with the hunter and another priest somewhere off in another area and was instantly queued for an instance.  IT’S A TRAP!  But instances are good XP, so I rolled with it.  While we waited, the hunter was being helpful and on most of the same quests as me, so I was lulled into a false feeling of comfort.

who r u

Wha’, huh?  Oh, it was the other priest.  I wasn’t really sure how to answer the random whisper and was locked in heated combat with more gnolls than someone of my limited priestly understanding should ever be, so I let it scroll away.

stop talking in whispers with him. y won’t u talk to me!?!

I should’ve figured this was my exit, but I calmly tried to explain that I was just killing gnolls and wasn’t holding any secret conversations behind his back.  The instance started!  I figured things should calm down now.  Don’t ask me where all this uncharacteristic optimism and faith in humanity came from.  I’m as baffled as you are.  But faith is a fickle mistress and I was quickly proven wrong.  Gnomer came up and the party (some of which were on their 3rd time there in a row) just wanted out.  The priest wanted to do every side-quest in the area and was quite the vocal minority on the matter, threatening to go off on his own on several occasions.

After grating the tank to the point of insanity, he was kicked with such swiftness I barely got to look at the Yes/No dialog box.  He was replaced instantly like the cheap DPS fodder that he was and the instance went on.  Shortly after, I received a whisper complaining how I didn’t stand up for him.

This friendship is over!

Excuse me?  Friendship?  Yeah.

And this forcefully transitions into my intended topic.  Real ID.  See, I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter and complaints about Blizzard’s new in-gamne chat interface, as I’m sure you have too.  To highlight a few concerns:

  • Your real name is displayed. Whether it be worry of stalking or privacy, lots of people are worried about their Internet life crossing with that IRL thing.  Bloggers are worried about piercing their aliases.  People just, in general, love their anonymity and alternate identities.  They keep the Internet in the Internet.  I’m no stranger to this, myself.  One of my early Internet communities was a collection of authors and writers, and amidst that particular community it was generally considered proper to go by your real name.  I deviated and chose not to, and have written under various pseudonyms for as long as I’ve put words to media.
  • Your friends know all of your characters. No matter what server you run to, what alt you play, or what corner of the world you curl up into, your Real ID friends can find you, hockey mask and machete at the ready.  One luxury of WoW was always that you could make a new character and it was a clean slate in every way.  Some make alts just to get away from guildies or other online friends, just to take a breather and play the game.  Sometimes you just need to get away.
  • You can see the friends of your friends. Like any modern social networking site, you can see what people your friends have connected with so that you, in turn, can find mutual friends and add them yourself.  Remember that this is your real name, so it just manages to make itself that much further out there.  In this era of identity theft, we certainly want to covet every tidbit of info we can.
  • You have to give your friend your account login name. In order to become friends, you have to share your battle.net email address.  For quite a while now, this has also been our login, and so whoever gets this is one-half of the way into robbing your account.  Sure, they say you should have an authenticator, though until they actually come shipped with the game or are otherwise offered up as a part of the existing fees, you can’t expect people to shell out yet more money to Blizzard’s monolith of income.

The list continues, but I think I hit the high points.  And as such, I’ve read that many people have chosen not to use the Real ID system.  And to those people, I congratulate you for making an informed and intelligent decision.  Your reasoning may be slightly off-tilt, but you’re hitting the right targets.

For everyone else, I started with the story I did to emphasize a point.  The priest in that story was an extreme example, and probably just some kid looking for attention, but it’s not an isolated incident, even among mature adults.  I feel that the Internet, particularly social networking sites, have skewed our definition of “friend”.  I’ve met people with over 500 friends on their FaceBook/MySpace/Friendapocalyspe/etc.  Are they all really friends?  Friend has plenty of definitions, and someone you’ve met only briefly and made that interaction enjoyable can certainly be a friend.  But I feel that maybe the phenomenon of collecting friends like stamps has further depersonalized the meaning.

I could debate on that for far longer than a paragraph, but its a topic far better suited for dialog than just me waving my finger and saying “back in my day, we had to walk 50 miles, in the snow, up hill, both ways, to get friends, and we were happy!”  The point I guess I wanted to get at was that Real ID is not a “friends list” as we have come to know it.  If using it concerns you, than you are completely in the right for dismissing it.  In fact, those concerns can be made into a bit of a checklist.  Or better yet, a Choose Your Own Adventure book!

  • [Page 1] Does this friend know your real name?  If not, would you be comfortable with them calling you by it?  If so, turn to [Page 32].
    If these are people who you only interact with on a guild or blog level, and you do not want them behind that veil, turn to [Page 102].
  • [Page 32] Would you be comfortable with this friend having your address and cell phone number?  If they showed up uninvited to your door, would you be happy?  If yes, turn to [Page 58].  If these thoughts make you uncomfortable, turn to [Page 102].
  • [Page 58] Would it be alright if this friend talked about you with their other friends, even the ones you don’t know?  Would sometimes meeting their other friends not be too much of a put off?  If all of this is fine, turn to [Page 93], else turn to [Page 102].
  • [Page 93] Would you trust loaning this person things on occasion?  Maybe you would loan or spare them a little money from time to time.  This person would be respectful and thankful of that which your share.  If this is the case, turn to [Page 105].
  • [Page 98] The room quickly fills with water.  Unable to escape your weighted shackles, your last gasp of breath fails you and everything fades to blackness.  You’ve learned all too late the dangers of taking candy from strangers.  Also, you shouldn’t read ahead in Choose Your Own Adventure books, cheater.
  • [Page 102] Perhaps this friend is not a good choice for a Real ID companion.  They may be a perfectly upstanding person and maybe one day your relationship will blossom into befitting this union, but for now, you should stick to being regular WoW-based friends.
  • [Page 105] Congratulations, you have met someone truly worthy of your Real ID friendship.  Cherish this bond for all time and it will give you many happy memories and raids.

Yes, I’m being a tad extreme and silly with it.  I admit that I’m just having a little fun in order to take a go at a far simpler point.  If features in the Real ID system have you on edge, it’s very possible that what it is peddling isn’t particularly aimed at your needs.  It’s certainly possible to have deep and fulfilling relationships with people with which you would never get more personal than letting them hear your real voice over Vent.  My main point is that you shouldn’t feel the need to shoehorn this feature into that life, nor blame the feature for not catering to your needs.  I only know two people playing the game who I’d share IDs with, both people I know face-to-face, and only the one has shown open interest in the idea.  He plays on a completely different server and is moving away in a couple months.  I’m happy that Blizzard has come up with a system to fit that singular need for me.  For the rest, the old system has worked just fine.

I didn’t forget.  Your fortune cookie:

[Page 61] After much debate over the dangers of recursive anomalies, you decide to pick up the Choose Your Own Adventure book from the dusty library shelf and begin reading.  Turn to [Page 1].

May 112010

I suppose I should make some sort of comment, rather than fading from notice without a peep.  That’s not how Skip rolls.  Wait, yes it is.  Skip rolls that way all the time.  But this one time, I’ll go against the grain.

It’s been a fun little dance thus far, though I have to admit, it hasn’t always been an easy write when my interest in WoW tends to phase with the moons.  That’s not really what made me fall off, though.  In truth, the time I typically dedicated to writing became filled in with work.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I wrote most of my articles at work.  Funny how that pans out.  Nope, there’s only so many months an employer will let you goof around aimlessly on the Internet before they cautiously put down their foot but not too hard and ask gently if you could maybe work on a project if it’s not too much trouble thank you.  That’s government for you.

Now summer is arriving, and with it comes the potential for a little personal project time.  I’ve strongly debated on it, and I think the time would be better spent on more diverse endeavors, like my WoW-less parent website.  I’d point you to it, but Skip isn’t about the wanton self-promotion.  That’s not how he rolls.  Wait, yes it is.  Skip rolls that way all the time.  But this one time, I’ll go against the grain.

Fortune Cookie:

This isn’t the last you’ll hear of Skip.  You’ve just become family now.  That means you get calls on holidays, birthdays and when he needs money.

Feb 112010

So you want to make a guild.  You can’t all be party to successful, end-game power-raider guilds who make the under-side of your name look sooo gooood, like yours truly.  Even if they out class you in skill, progress and playtime to the point that you could never hope to actually join them in serious group affairs.

Wait, what?

Making guilds!  Right.

So you want to make a guild.  Maybe you’re tired of your guild leader’s inability to cater to your every whim.  Maybe you don’t want to be bothered by people offering for you to join their guild.  Maybe you accidentally took a few extra Celexa this morning and rational thought has taken a backseat to manic impulse.

Whatever the reason, I’ve put it in your head, and now you want to make a guild.  But how?  Don’t worry, Jimmy.  Skip will tell you how.

Step 1: Acquiring a Guild Charter

For the simple price of 10 silver, you can acquire a guild charter.  If you don’t know where to get one, go into any major city and spam trade chat until someone tells you.  Don’t bother with proper grammar or spelling.  People who need for you to spell out your communication in full, well structured sentences to understand you obviously aren’t smart enough to know the answer anyways.  However, many people have difficulty seeing or paying attention.  They may be old or watching TV while they play.  Be sure to repeat yourself often.

Step 2: Picking a Name

Now that you have a charter, you need to pick a name for your guild.  Think carefully.  Whatever you pick, you will be stuck with until next week, when you give up and start a new guild. Blizzard has a strict naming policy when it comes to guilds.  But they’re also lazy and probably won’t care what you pick.  I mean, the expansion has been out for like a year, and paladins are still OP.  So, pick something cool, like <TeH gAy VaMpYrEz>, or <TRANNY SHAMMIES>, or <asdkghldhfsa>.  If they make you change it, remind everyone that Blizzard is gay and how horrible this game you play 12 hours a day is.  What have they got against Shaman Transmission Specialists, anyways?

Step 3: Getting Your Charter Signed

What, you don’t have a guild yet? That’s right.  In order to become an official guild, you have to get your charter signed by 9 people.  A common tactic is to enter a starting area and offer new characters a few gold pieces for the service of signing your charter.  This gives them very beneficial starting capital at little actual cost to them.  A less common tactic is to actually have 9 friends ready to join and run a guild with you.  You aren’t going to do either of those things.

Instead, enter a crowded capital city and run up to every individual without a guild you can find, prompting them immediately with the guild charter signing window.  Most people are dicks and won’t sign, but keep doing it and you’ll eventually succeed.  Don’t talk, just charter.  Talking wastes valuable signing time.  Some people consider this rude, but you’re a rude person.  If they don’t figure this out now, it’s just going to create issues later when they’re in your guild.  It’s better you weed out the soft-skinned pansies now.

Step 4: Guild Management

You’ve done it.  You now have your own guild, complete with new members.  Your responsibilities have ended.  Chat with your new peons.  Remind them that this will be the best guild ever.  The more everyone says that, the better it will be.

Pro-Tip: Promote all of your new members to officers.  Just like in real life, people will do things for you if you make them feel important.  Yet really, all you’ve done is given them the ability to do all of the work for you.

Now, just sit back and enjoy your new guild.  It probably won’t be as exciting tomorrow, but you can always just take the good stuff from the guild bank and /gdisband later.  It’s good to be the guild leader.

Your Fortune Cookie:

Your guild is going to be the best guild ever!

Jan 292010

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air.

Wait, no, wrong story.

I game on a laptop. Well, it’s not so much a laptop as a small desktop with an identity crisis. I replaced my Frankenstein of a desktop with it because a) I wanted to game out in the living room and stop being such a shut-in, and b) the desktop was a fire-hazard waiting to kill me in my sleep.

An old picture I found of the old desktop taken from behind. Made mostly of yardsale and fleemarket parts, the power-supply didn't fit overtop of the CPU fan, religating it to a precarious perch atop the case.

The laptop, a stylish Toshiba Qosmio x305, became my new means of gaming. Its gaudy, metallic-flame design on the lid was always good for a laugh. The thing is massive and loud (both audibly and visually). I quickly realized that it needed good airflow to operate well, so I began placing it on an old notebook binder to give it a flat surface. The heat issues gradually climbed, and it was eventually cutting itself off, even with flat surfaces. One day, I came back from the bathroom to find it had cut off, and that the plastic sleeve on the binder had MELTED.

How hot was it getting, exactly? Well, if the sensors inside are to be believed, the machine was reaching 105 degrees Celsius before cutting out. If you’re not of the metric persuasion, let’s just point out that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Yup. That hot. After some reading around, I found I wasn’t alone in this, and that according to a Toshiba tech, the laptop is set to cut off before it can damage itself. Thus, it is rated to operate perfectly fine around 100 degrees. I found this pretty hard to swallow, but they’re the guys who built it, so whatever.

I invested in a cooling pad. A good one. This thing could keep a drink cold, and it worked great. The laptop became married to the pad, unable to continue running for more than half an hour without its arctic associate. Fast forward a few months, and it’ll still cut out with the pad if anything even remotely blocks the pad from getting good air flow. I finally decided it was time to void what was left of my warranty and bust the beast open to blow out the dust. I did and was amazed to find that the thing was nearly pristine.

Toshiba Qosmio X305 - It's very... red.

Fast forward again to a few days ago. The thing is running like garbage. I’m running around collecting carrots for the daily cooking quest. The area is nearly barren. My graphics are turned all the way down. Game play is jerky. I’m fed up and blaming Windows Vista, as I’ve never seen the piece of garbage run well and think “screw it, I’m getting Windows 7,” and I do so.

Imagine my wonder when the upgrade is complete, all of the software is in place, and I’m running around a packed Dalaran with my graphics turned up to medium without so much as a stutter. I admit to myself that I hadn’t actually expected it to work, and was just looking for an excuse to get rid of Vista. It’s running smooth, I’m holding a giddy conversation with my favorite Bossy Pally when all of a sudden — *black*…

WTF, mate?! Right… the heat. I give it the requisite few seconds, reposition it on my lap for optimal air, and give it another go. It boots up about 5 times faster than normal. I’m feeling cocky again. I load into WoW super-fast like no one’s business. I apologize and go to do some mindless questing — *black* Son of a Fel Reaver! Okay, we can do this. I brush any and all dust from the fan vents, make sure the fans are turned to full, and we go at it one more time.

*black*

FFFFFFFFFFU***********************************!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so here we stand. My computer is running the fastest and most efficient it has ever known, and can’t seem to handle it. I’ve dialed back the speed, but it’s no use. The video processors (of which it has 3) can’t take the heat anymore. I’ve ordered an extraction fan to stick on its rump, which will try to suck heat off of the video card, but my hopes are low. I suspect I’m going to have to rip it completely apart again (an exercise in masochism if ever there was one) and apply new thermal grease. Maybe I’ll find where those extra screws from last time go.

So, at any rate, Skip is AFK until such time as he can get this garbage sorted out. That is unless the netbook will run WoW… maybe… no… maybe?

Your Fortune Cookie:

I looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air.

Jan 212010

I’m not hyper-keen on doing link posts. I generally consider them cheap post fodder. I’m making an exception today for Alaron, because I’ve been in the market for a plain and simple explanation on hit-caps that falls somewhere between “just get this number” and “unintelligible theorycraft”. The article hits the main points, gives a basic understanding of the “why” of it all, and doesn’t muddy the waters with anything else. Skip approved!

(I’m also putting it here so I have it for later.  >.>)

Melee Hit Table FAQ – The Fluid Druid