Thursday, August 1, 2013

Silver Lining

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My provisional time in League of Legends has come to an end. I played my ten games. I believe I won six of them. I wasn't sure what to expect because I wasn't really keeping track of anything. I'm just out there to have fun. So color me surprised to have come up with a Silver III initial rating. I'm in Sion's Brigade or something like that.

I'm not exactly sure what the rankings mean, so maybe that's really awful. I figure it's better than Bronze though, right? Does it go Bronze (numbers), Silver (numbers), Gold (numbers)... and then I think there's like Platinum and stuff. Or, does it go Bronze, Silver, Gold, etc of the same number and then bump up? If it's that second one, then the III probably means I suck. It's not like it matters all that much. I'm pretty sure I'm a ways away from any MLG tournaments in any case.

My first foray into Silver level play wasn't exactly cheery. The team I was on never gelled, and we lost bottom right away, which led to bickering. Most of the time, I'm playing Morgana because she's basically my "main" and I think the champion is fairly flexible. I can solo top or mid, and I can build her to support. This means I can cover any lane. I just can't jungle.

In this case, I was assigned to the top lane against Vladimir. Afterward, Vlad's summoner apologized for being a part of the "most boring lane ever." It was pretty much a standoff between the two of us. I dodged his jungler's attempts to gank me. My jungler never made it up my way. The entire game was played in the other lanes and then it was a surrender at 20.

It was sort of funny to watch everyone else bicker when you're doing just fine in your lane. It was boring because neither of us were gaining a clear edge on each other, so it wasn't like I could help. Finally, when we were pretty sunk, I abandoned my outer turret to go support where I could. It was far too little too late.

Post game, I got a friend request from one of the team members. I thought maybe the individual was going to compliment calm demeanor (I didn't say anything disparaging!), or maybe just complain about the other team members. Instead, he/she/it decided to berate my being. Not my play, mind you, but my existence. Classic harassment stuff. Are people even offended by this anymore? It's just so silly, and there's an "ignore" button. None of it was even particularly clever or offensive. I mean they didn't go racist or sexist or any of the things you might normally expect. Just stuff about how I should never have been born.

I wonder what the reply would have been if I'd have confessed that, yes, I was premature and almost died at birth, so it was a very close thing. I'm sure this person would have been thoroughly appreciative of the fragility of life. Certainly.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Trying To Get Ranked

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My little MMO project I mentioned last time is not going as planned. We only can work out maybe one night a week to try to play. The previous week we had technical difficulties, and this week my friend was sick. We have, however, settled on a game. We're going to give Neverwinter a try. Consensus is that it may be the best for leisurely questing.

On the solo side of things, I was finally able to cap my summoner in the League of Legends. Level 30 opens me to the "end game" that is Ranked Play. Apparently, you need to own at least 16 champions in order to participate in ranked games. So I had to purchase a smorgasbord of champions to fill up my stable. I was glad I'd been playing ARAM, as I had a bunch I knew that I sort of enjoyed. I also picked up a few of the cheap ones that weren't awful.

As fate would have it, the very first ranked game I queue up for, I end up being the captain. This means I'm responsible for banning three champions in order to prevent "OP" characters from being used. I have to admit, I was completely out of my element. I know what I like to play, but I have no concept of what is "OP." In my opinion, it depends a whole bunch on the person playing the champion.

So, I asked, "Thoughts on banning?" There were a few minor squabbles, but I got good recs from the team. We lost that first game, but no one whined about "why didn't you ban so and so?" Communication saves the day, right?

The second ranked game I played, I was picked Captain again. Go figure. Again I asked. Again I got good recs (though by this time I was starting to recognize the "trendy" things to do). We won this game, and all was right in the League.

The third game, I was finally out of the hot seat. We won that, too. So I'm sitting 2-1, 7 games to go before I'm fully qualified to be ranked. (I think it takes 10, right?)

I like asking the team, even if already know who you want to ban. It promotes communication and can help a team get off the ground. It doesn't always work, and there will always be asshats, but I don't think it can really hurt. Haters gon' hate, whether or not you are polite and ask them for help.

For the curious, so far I've only been playing Morgana in my ranked games. I'm best with her, she's incredibly flexible (mid, support, apc are all viable roles... even sort of tanky), and no one has been banning her. I've been positive in my k/d/a ratio so far, so I think that's pretty solid. Even in the loss, I was the sole bright spot!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How Are Gamers Born In The Wild?

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I may have more to write about in the days to come. I know you're all excited. A friend and I are going to try to start playing an MMO together. She wants it to be "like WoW," but F2P. And is has to run on her old laptop with an Intel Mobile R965 graphics chipset. I mention that second bit because we were originally going to try Rift, but it wouldn't run. I was surprised. I hadn't even thought to check on her specs.

Looking into, it seems that most other F2P MMOs will run, but not necessarily run well. Also, when pressed for more criteria than "like WoW," I didn't get anything really that narrowed the list. I think we're looking for a good duo questing experience. Any ideas?

Going back to Aion or SWTOR are both on my list. Maybe dabbling in LOTRO or DDO. Rift is out. WoW is out (by virtue of being sub). She wasn't interested in Sci-Fi (TOR got a pass because it's more like fantasy Sci-Fi) or urban fantasy settings. We're talking regular old fantasy. She said she liked that "you could be all kinds of different people." I asked, "You mean, like classes? They all have that."

I was attempting to be less than patronized, but I'm pretty sure I missed my mark. Any of you have experience trying to game with, basically, a non-gamer? What would be fun for casual play? How does one birth a gamer in the wild?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Almost There!

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As I mentioned in my last post, many moons ago, League of Legends has been infringing upon my time. I've found myself sucked into the game again, and possessing a deep desire to hit 30 and start playing some ranked games. I credit the ARAM game mode with rekindling my desire. With the main game modes, I always felt pressured to pick champions that I knew. I didn't want to be a drag on the team.

With ARAM, you don't usually get five people who are all-stars, even at my level (29). There's a basic competence to the game, but depending on the luck of the roll, you're not always getting someone's favorite champion. It makes a world of difference, as it provides some room for safe experimentation. I've branched out and purchased several more champions as a result.

Master Yi was one of my first ancillary purchases. Odd because I'm almost exclusively a ranged player. Melee just doesn't feel right to me. AP Yi, however, is played like guerrilla-style. It's very hit and run, and THAT I can get into. I don't have to stay in there and hack away. Rather, quick strike, and then disappear into the weeds.

Along those same lines, I picked up Akali. She's got an energy (instead of mana) bar, and her ultimate stores "charges." She's listed as an assassin, which apparently means "swoop in and rip your face off with kama." Then, again, disappear into the weeds.

Sensing a theme? I apparently like chilling in the weeds. I'm just not a full-frontal kind of guy it seems. (Giggity?)

Anyway, I'm on my last level, approaching 30 fast. I'm having a blast with the game and my respect for Riot has been renewed. Not every champion is a flat-out winner, but there are so many different playstyles available. It's crazy. And it's mostly balanced. Sure you get some that maybe play easier than others, or seem to be favorites. But I've yet to run up against a champion that is just blatantly over powered. We whine about a few, but there always seems to be a counter. It's like a giant game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and I love it.

For a while I'd been playing only paper. Now I'm discovering scissors can be fun. Heck, with ARAM, even rock isn't half bad. If the random generator throws me a tank, well hell! I'll build tank.

I wonder how I'll feel once I start actual ranked games...

Monday, June 17, 2013

What's Up With All The Spam?

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I've been very quiet, I know. Not much going on. Debating picking up one of the F2P MMO's with several friends. We've not decided on particulars yet. Otherwise, I'm playing a lot of League of Legends. I'm thoroughly enjoying the ARAM game style. Sort of a quick "hop in" for a half hour. I like being randomly forced to play someone that I own or the freebies. Left to my own devices, I'd just choose the same champions over and over. I feel like it's hard to be competitive and learn at the same time, but when everyone else is random, it makes things a little easier.

In other news, I'm getting a crap-ton of spam on the blog. Sorry if any sneaks through. I wonder if its because I've not been as active. If it gets too crazy, I may have to turn off commenting. I really don't want to do that, but it's not like I'm provoking a lot of discussion. If you do happen to stop in and find commenting off, feel free to email me!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Purple = Epic

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I had to repost this article from Elk, because it's just plain awesome. An all 'lock raid. Warms my sharded soul.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back To The League

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I felt compelled to pop back into League of Legends over the weekend. It seems to be one of those games for me that I'll play pretty compulsively for a week or so, then get tired of it and drift away, only to come back a month later. I hesitate to even use the words "get tired," since it's not boredom so much as just "losing the shine." I consider it a good thing that, a month or so later, it apparently shines back up for me. I'm not sure what you call this on-again-off-again relationship with a game, but I would say it's uncommon for me. Generally, I'm a play-through kind of guy. Focus in, beat the game, and then move on.

LoL is unique in that it quenches both a desire to "level" and the urge to PvP. I like that I can pick it back up again and have new stuff, but also not feel completely out of practice. In short, it's a great game to play casually for an extended period of time. You don't really ever fall behind like in an MMO (though you may need to shake some initial rust off), and it doesn't require a whole lot of what I'll call "controller re-acclimation" like an FPS (soooo frustrating not to be able to headshot like you used to, amirite?).

Anyway, popped back in to find a new ARAM map. Now, if you're a casual player like me, you'll have to look up to learn ARAM stands for "All Random All Middle." Apparently, this was a custom game setting that was popular enough to have a special map created. I have to say, I'm finding the game mode rather fun. It really emphasizes team play, and puts you behind the controls of an (often) unfamiliar champion. The result is that play is just a little bit sloppy from time to time, and if you're quick to learn, you can gain an advantage.

To me, it feels like a fast-forwarded normal mode game. That is, we're just going to skip the early level-up game and jump straight to team battles. Makes things a little shorted without feeling totally frenetic. It also takes away a lot of the "sneaky" strategies, as this is pure frontal assault across a bridge. Not a whole lot of room to hide or strike and escape.

I feel like the ARAM mode is a great place to try out new champions. You don't get to pick, sure, but not-knowing how a champion plays isn't a complete disadvantage here. It's a different kind of challenge that might lead me to adding a few more champions to my regular rotation.

Yesterday I got stuck with Soraka. Basically, she's a healer/support (though you can build a variety of ways, I'm sure). Regular readers probably know... healing is not my default setting. Because it was random and my team was depending on me, however, I went with it. I healed the crap out of everyone and well full-on support build. It was great. There is no place to heal in the ARAM map, so having a healer is huge. I think we were up like 10-0 before I'd blinked an eye.

I may pick up Soraka if she goes on sale. Might be nice to have a support healer for team play. And playing a healer wasn't as bad as I'd feared. It's not like in WoW where you have to spam heals and hope for the best. You have to be able to juggle some offensive support as well, since things are going to be on cooldown. It was a fun little change-up, which I suspect is why the ARAM game mode has become so popular.

If you're like me and haven't popped into LoL in a while, maybe check it out. It is, after all, free to play.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Warlock RP

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Wanted to check in today. It's been a bit. I was reading Poneria's little spat of fiction over at Fel Concentration, and fondly remembering my own glory days with RP here on the site. That was a lot of fun, wasn't it? Warlocks make great fictional characters. They are predisposed to walk the good/evil line, and it makes for a very interesting protagonist. How can you make someone who is, essentially, evil be sympathetic? How can a group where "selfishness" is a core value ever go on some sort of epic hero journey?

I watched Iron Man 3 last weekend, and really enjoyed the movie. I had the crazy notion just this morning that, you know, Tony Stark might just be a Warlock. IM3 certainly had the minion thing down. Plus, he is an inherently selfish character.

The cool part about that movie, to me, was the cleverness with which the story was pulled off. In the Avengers movie, the very fabric of the world was in jeopardy what with the alien invasion and Norse gods and all. It was the epitome of a "save the world" plot. How, then, do you create a movie in the same universe, with the same character, and have it retain a high stakes feel? It's like... well, we just saved the world, now what? Sequels in general struggle often with this problem. The stakes were so high in a previous movie and any subsequent plot will fall a bit flat.

There is a neat little trick that I think IM3 nailed. Instead of putting the whole wide world in jeopardy, you need only put the main character's world in jeopardy. If you make a likable character, then threatening things that are important to them can really raise the stakes without needing to resort to threats of a more global variety.

As a Warlock, I appreciate this. Saving the world doesn't always appeal to me. Sometimes, well... let 'em burn, right? Yet, threaten what I love and... it's on! Blizzard has a hard time using this trick, since we'd all be protagonists in Azeroth. Global threats are the only ones that seem to work well, which perhaps is why I feel it gets a bit overdone there. They have some good story threads, but my favorite by far was the Lich King. Fitting, then, that it may be perhaps the most personal of the Azerothian storylines.

I've been working with a character, Damian, on my writing blog that I'm trying to make into a bit of a Warlock. As much fun as WoW RP fiction was, I really enjoy working in my own world as well. It's more challenging, but I can also publish it at the end of the day and don't have to worry about offending any IP lawyers. Still, I'm trying to carry what I've learned over into my fiction. Tortured, somewhat ambiguous characters are fun to write. And, also, don't forge to make it personal.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Yay Warlockery!

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If you've also noticed the lack of posting around here, don't worry. I still exist. Just doing more lurking these days than playing. Nothing much to report of note. I've been getting out IRL, too. Trying to create a new minion by resurrecting one of those - whaddya call 'em? - oh yeah, social lives. Just so y'all know, I will pipe up when I have things to say, but as previously warned, it's not going to be super often. I appreciate (very much!) all of you that have hung around for this long. It really does mean a lot. Connecting with folks is a large reason why any of us bloggers blog. With that in mind, even when I'm not posting I get email notifications for comments and junk. If something comes up or you just want to say hi, I have not disappeared and don't plan on closing this. It's free to me, so as long as blogger will have me, I'll be here in some ephemeral form or another.

Apart from that boring I-feel-obligated-to-share-what-is-up paragraph, I wanted to say a huge THANKS to  Amijade over at Warlockery for the very kind words prior to my little 'locky spotlight. I feel honored to have inspired other writers so, and glad that even in my absence the fate of the Purple World (...of Warcraft) is in good (if somewhat corrupted and bony) hands. Like I mentioned, I think the opportunity to connect with other great people has always been one of the biggest strengths of the WoW blogging community, and the gamer community in general.

I've enjoyed the spotlight, and will definitely continue to lurk around the Warlockery, if only to cackle with glee at the corruption of others.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On RockSmith

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Been a couple weeks, I know. Nothing exciting happening on my end. Building cities. Improving my guitar play through my PS3, so I did want to write a sort of mini-review on RockSmith. I know this isn't a review site or anything, but anyone interested in guitar might like to read some of this.

First of all, I've been teaching myself guitar for over 10 years now. I started playing when I was 16, just sort of as a side hobby. Several of my friends were in garage bands and stuff, so I just picked up stuff here and there. I know enough to masquerade as being "good," but I am not technically sound by any means. I putz around. It's all for fun.

Coming from that perspective, I've always enjoyed the Rock Band style games. It always annoyed me when I felt I could play something more easily on a real guitar than the plastic substitutes. I knew it was only a matter of time before they mated the two and came up with something really neat. RockSmith is one such attempt at mating.

Maybe you've heard of the new Rock Band with the "pro" settings where you can use a special guitar that functions pretty similarly to a real guitar. That's all well and good, but I didn't want to plunk down the cash for a special guitar. I already own guitars, and they are expensive enough in their own right. I was hoping to someday be able to use the guitars I own with some sort of game.

Enter RockSmith. Comes with a nifty USB cable that hooks into any electric guitar. Perfect.

The game itself is less of a game and more of a teaching tool. It gamifies things, but I think it is best understood as a good way to learn songs or brush up on skills. For a hobbyist like me, it's loads of fun, and I can see where it is going to improve my playing.

As someone who "kinda" knows guitar, the biggest hurdle right away for me is not the technical difficulty (it starts off as if you were a complete novice), but the transition to sight reading. I've always played songs by memory, not live. I'm having to retrain my brain and hands to use skills in conjunction with the display. It's actually fairly challenging and makes me feel like a newb a lot.

The game is gated, but the difficulty within the song scales as you hit (or miss) notes. Thus, it's possible to progress at something of an accelerated rate. It may be annoying for some to start so basic but, like I said, I need to learn the methodology anyway. I'm cool with it.

The one black mark against the game, so far, has been the audio delay. If you've done any research about the game, you'll probably see this caveat. It is processing an analog signal from your guitar, figuring out what you played, and displaying crap to your HDMI screen. HDMI is a poor transmission medium if you want immediate reaction. Apparently, if you split your audio out to analog cables (like might be used in a home theater setup), the lag goes away. I do not have such a setup, so I cannot test it.

The lag is definitely noticeable, but I've pretty much gotten used it. I crank the TV way up so I can only hear the amp, and it's tolerable. When trying to play more complicated stuff from memory (the game has an open amp feature), the lag throws me a bit, but if I just play, again it's not bad. Just something to get used to, though I'm really contemplating getting a nicer audio setup. It's not like I wouldn't use it for movies and such.

While some may take issue with the game, if you approach it as a "learning can be fun" tool, I think your expectations will line up. It's not as game-y as Rock Band but, to me, that makes it more fun in some ways. It's also not something I can play with friends, but again, that's not why I got it. (I think you can hook up a guitar and bass together now and jam, though. I don't know any bass players currently to try it out.)

Anyway, this is hardly a comprehensive review, just some scattered initial thoughts. If you're a hobbyist like me looking for a fun game to play with your own guitars, this is a great buy. I think I snagged it for like $55 or something. Probably can easily find better deals, but it's a lot cheaper than splurging for the newest Rock Band setup. And you will learn guitar. Real guitar. Pretty neat if you ask me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Traffic Jam and Learning

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Perhaps my favorite part about being a gamer is how easily it promotes lifelong learning. I'm a big fan of learning. I absorb knowledge like a sponge. Perhaps part of why I've taken an extended break from WoW is that I didn't feel like there were any more opportunities for me to learn. That isn't to say I'd explored every nook and cranny, but that the buffet table of knowledge for me (at least) was pretty picked over. I really had to hunt to find any savory bits.

A very easy remedy for this is to try new games, especially in different genres. Hence why I've been having so much fun with Sim City. There hadn't be a legit new one in, what, a decade? Sure there were some solid knock-offs, but I never played any of them. For me, it's a return to something familiar but that is very new.

I've chronicled a few of the things I've learned, and most recent lesson is regarding the traffic. Traffic jams are a huge problem right now in the game, not just because of my specific city designs, but also because of several other strange game design artifacts. Perhaps the mos egregious of those is that most city zones only have one connection to the regional highway. This all but forces one to have a traffic problem at larger city sizes. I'm hoping that one gets fixed in a patch soon. Until then, I'm forced to be inventive about my traffic flow.

I'd been using the old tried and true grid approach, but it isn't working. I may go back soon and modify the grid by destroying the last little bit of connecting streets, and putting in lower density streets so that my major avenues become like a limited access highway. I've heard that might help. Also, since Sims choose the shortest path (regardless of how much sense it makes), I may chop some of those paths off to force the flow where I need it to be. It's an interesting puzzle.

I've also picked up a new game: Rocksmith. It's all about learning, learning the guitar. The cool twist here is that it comes with a cord that allows me to plug in the electric guitar that I already learn (and sort of know how to play). Then, it'll run me through a "journey" that develops real guitar skills and teaches me some fun classic rock songs. I think the best description I can come up with is that it is sort of Rosetta Stone meets Rock Band. It straddles the line between teaching aid and game, and so far I've been impressed. I'll write more about it as I get more experience, but I'm a fan of things that "gamify" learning, and just learning in general. The game was recommended by a fellow guitarist, and he did not disappoint. Pretty neat.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Building Cities

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I haven't checked in for a while. Still kicking. Still building cities and enjoying it. I'm trying to complete some Great Works now. I think I've figured out how to build a successful city in most cases. Resources are so key in this version of the game. Tiles with lots of resources will be easy to build up. Also, it helps to have established cities nearby with road connections. Being able to farm out early utilities and simply pay for what you need... priceless. Well, if you ignore the paying part.

If you get your trade empire set up alongside some solid resource gathering and upgrading... you'll be making money hand over fist in no time. Most of my larger cities show a 10k plus debt per hour, but make it up easily through exports. It's pretty crazy.

Of course, as soon as I felt comfortable, a giant lizard showed up and caroused through my city. Destroyed my entire resource gathering infrastructure, nearly ruining the city. Fortunately, I'd been sitting on a sizeable nest-egg, so I was able to rebuild and get stuff back up and running without too much trouble. It was dicey for a bit. Stupid lizards.

I can't wait until some of the DLC starts showing up and they unlock things like expanding the city tiles or being able to edit the highway. Currently almost all of my cities have huge gridlocks when entering and leaving since there's only one exit on the highway. What sort of city has that? At the very least I should get one for each side of the map. I plopped a pro stadium and the traffic snarls are something fierce!

Anyhoo, that's all for now. Hope you WoW kids are killing extra critters for me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sim City 2013 Impressions

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I
'm pretty much addicted to the new Sim City game at this point. Look, I know it's EA and they're evil. I know they did a crappy job with the launch. I know the always-online DRM excuse is feeble on a good day. That still didn't stop me from buying. I feel a bit dirty (since we all must vote with our wallets, right?), but few things in life are as personally satisfying to me as Sim City. And, let's be honest, it was a long, long time between iterations.

Put aside the political shenanigans, and you have (what I think is) a pretty solid game. I'm a fan of most (if not all) of the improvements they made to the gameplay itself. It's prettier, more intuitive and, if possible, more addictive than ever.

In today's age of DLC, I fully expect content packages that do things like "open bigger city tiles" and "extend your borders." Some folks will no doubt feel nickle and dimed. I would argue that it's all in the execution. If they give free updates interspersed with mostly cosmetic "for pay" packages, I would be a happy camper. I don't want to get too much into this argument, as it's both heated and over-hashed, says I.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the gameplay and my initial impressions. So, in no particular order, here we go:

  • I seem to get a lot of "Crime has the upper hand" messages, but have a zero crimes committed per day stat... very odd.
  • Found this Google Docs Spreadsheet. which is pretty comprehensive. Well worth a look, particularly if you're struggling from the "not enough workers" probably that I'll touch on next.
  • So it appears that to balance both jobs and workers, you are roughly working with this equation... C+I+P = R. That is, Commercial, Industrial, and Ploppables equals Residential. C, I, and P all generate jobs. R generates workers. That means you need a whole crap-ton of R to fill all your jobs. What's more, high density R doesn't seem to be as dense as high density C or I. Doing the math, you need like 4 high rise R buildings to fill up the jobs for one C skyscraper. See that spreadsheet for more info. For me, it means my cities tend to look like 80% R, 20% everything else. I hope they tweak this, even if it is realistic.
  • I hope a bigger plot DLC comes out first. Filling up the city tiles right now is too easy. Especially if you are using a lot of ploppables.
  • Specialization in mining and trading seems a great way to make money, even if you don't go full tycoon. I find myself always throwing down for these and then exporting to the global market.
  • I wish it were easier to tell which roads were feeding which buildings so I could upgrade accordingly.
  • Sometimes the UI seems pretty slow to update to a change I made... even on cheetah speed!
  • My buddy really missed the ability to set the funding level like in previous version. I find I'm partial to being able to turn individual modules on/off to achieve the same end. Seems more intuitive to me, but perhaps less real world?
  • Which brings me to my next point... the game seems to balance on the edge of "simulation" vs "game." Some things are game-y, some seem to give a nod to reality.
  • Those RCI problems I mentioned earlier are a good example of this... maybe they're realistic, but I think I'd prefer a more game-y implementation to add variety to the cityscapes.
  • My buddy was really bemoaning the lack of transparency to the underlying statistics. He thought previous games did a better job of that.
  • The LFR version of region building bugs me a bit. I feel like I'm somewhat dependent on my neighbors not to be poor mayors. Their rampant crime may spill over into my city, for instance. This is probably pretty realistic, but makes me want to erect big, giant, Raccoon City-style walls.
That's it for now. Like I said, I'm really enjoying myself despite the shenanigans. Any of the rest of you trying this one out?

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Google Reader Alternate

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I have a post I'm cooking up with a whole bunch of Sim City lessons learned and tricks, but the announcement Google made about retiring Reader sent me into a mental tailspin (as well as a whole bunch of others, it seems). I've been a Google Reader user for years now, and I'm not even sure I could find half the blogs I like to read again if Reader just disappeared. So yeah, I was just a bit panicked. Plus, as a content provider, you have to somewhat wonder how this is going to affect your readership.

Have no fear. Feedly to the rescue!

After I calmed down a bit, I suspected it probably would not be too hard to find a replacement. Surely, someone else has created a clever RSS-based reading application. It did not take long. I found Feedly right away, installed the Chrome app, logged in, and perhaps 15 minutes later was staring at my Google Reader subscriptions in a new service. After a bit of poking around, I was sold.

Then, I decided to go look to see if my Reader subscriptions would be safe with Feedly after the inevitable shutdown. The good folks at the Feedly blog had two wonderful articles. One with tips for all of us transitioning from Google Reader. The other explaining how your subscriptions WILL be transferred over (short answer: seamlessly and without any action on my part. Huzzah!).

I figured I'd pass this all along as a sort of public service announcement, as many of you undoubtedly had faced similar freak-outs in the last few days. I want to note that I am in no way affiliated or receiving anything from Feedly. I'm just pimping them because they're the first service I came across, it was super simple to set up, imported my existing subs with a button, and assured me that they've got my back when Reader is shut down. What's not to like?

So no, I do not think Google shutting down Reader will be the end of blogging. I don't think it will really harm traffic all that much. Sure some folks may be left in the dark, but where there's a will, there's a way. If we keep creating content that folks want to read, they'll figure out how to read it. How do I know this? Because I'm more consumer than creator these days anyway!

Case closed. The Mayans were still wrong.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sub-Free

5 comments
I did a bad thing last night. Well, at least it felt bad. Sorta. I cancelled my WoW sub last night.

Truth be told, it was rather uneventful. I do not have any rage, I just can no longer keep up. My gaming time is spent on Sim City (now that I can get in) and a variety of pick-up-and-play games. LoL will happen from time to time. They seem to be making Assassin's Creed games quicker than I can finish them. (That had never, ever been a problem before, but I guess it happens.)

As long-time readers probably know/can guess... there were a myriad of personal reasons that really pushed me to this. It's not dissatisfaction with the game. I've had to turn a lot of my energy in upon myself to heal and rebuild things that were horribly broken. Life does that sometimes. Better to have loved and lost and all that.

In previous posts I mentioned continuing to write here. I still plan to do that. This is not a "good bye" post. I'm merely pointing out that I'm sub-free for the first time in almost a decade.

Specific to WoW, I realized that I don't have much of a desire to raid or do end-gamey stuff. I may jump back in during a boring month and muck around, but that simply depends on if time finds me. I'm no longer going to make the time. My character will be there waiting, so it seemed wise to save myself $15/mo that I really wasn't using.

Feel free to keep me in the WoW loop via comments. Otherwise, I'll probably be talking about random games. (Right now, baffling worker shortages are on my mind, for you Sim City players. What is up with that? The algorithm has to be screwed up, right? But hey, at least I can play reliably now...)

Much love to all of you that have shared Azeroth with me over the years. I'll be lurking!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Two Posts? No Wai.

3 comments
In one week? Crazy, I know. I'll make this one short so as not to blow anyones' mind. I know you were all worried.

For the last two nights I've been trying (and failing) to play the new Sim City. I'm sure I am not alone in this. In fact, I know I'm not alone.

It's funny because you think I would just go play patch 5.2 in WoW, but I won't. I'll beat my head against the wall like everyone else. Makes me wonder, how much of our pain is self-imposed? I could just step away for a week and be patient until they resolve the dumb server issues (that I think EA should be able to anticipate at this point from every big game they've ever launched), but I won't. I was excited to build cities and, damnit, I want to build cities!

They will resolve the issues. A lot of people will be pissed in the mean time. I'm pretty unhappy as I'd like to play the game and apparently have a mental block disallowing me from playing anything else. But, again, I blame myself just as much. And I threw a movie on in the background, got to bed early... it wasn't a complete loss.

If you're thinking about trying the new Sim City, I would strongly recommend that you WAIT for several weeks. Listen for the "all clear" on the Interwebs. I'm sure it will be resounding (if not, I'm sure I'll mention something). From the tutorial (which I somehow got to play last night), I can say that I'm pretty confident the game will be hella fun. If only we could play it reliably!

I hope maybe the pressure forces them to write a patch allowing you to play the game offline in some form. I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So. Freaking. Busy

2 comments
Okay, so check it out. I'm going to level with you guys today. I love my blog. It has been great. I'm concerned I'm doing an awful job actually, you know, writing in it. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this. Let me talk about some of them.

First and foremost... I think I've mentioned it, but for those that may not know, I went through a life-changing even at the end of last year. Things got shaken up. I'm still trying to put a lot life back together. Life happens.

One casualty is WoW. I don't play like I used to. My old guild imploded, and my personal time really dried up. I don't think I can maintain a raid-ready toon. I simply don't play enough. I don't really want to quit, but LFR is only so enticing. I may switch soon where I play with each patch, see the content, and then am done for a while. May even un-sub if there's enough time between things. I don't know. This makes me a horrible WoW-blogger.

I've written about other games, and I plan to continue to play some of them. League of Legends is the big one I'm playing, but I don't feel like I have much to say about it. It's simple. Easy to jump in/jump out. And I'm not playing it hardcore. I will finish ACIII eventually, but I'm way behind with that. A new Sim City also dropped today, and I'm excited to try it. I may spend some time there.

All in all, though, my gaming time was the first thing to get cut when my life went kablooey. It's a luxury I cannot afford right now. The second thing to go? Writing. My writing has suffered a bunch. Very simply, I picked up a whole lot more to do by default, and have to do it. Plus I'm trying to resurrect a social life, and several friends recently moved close by. I'm doing more of the RL thing. Crazy, I know. Also much more expensive, let me tell you.

My Day Job has gotten really, really busy in addition to my home life. I'm generally juggling a whole bunch of things on any given day, and there is ever-increasing pressure to deliver. I used to be able to squeeze posts in at work pretty reliably. That is no longer the case.

So I can't fit more outside of work. I can't fit more during work... What's a warlock to do? I researched some time travel, but it seemed more magey/dragony type of work. Cloning some minions seemed more appropriate, but I lack the necessary shards, I guess.

I guess I bring this all up because it may be that I shut my doors around here in the near future. I thought about just rolling my personal gaming stuff into my writing blog (make it more of a generic personal blog). I don't know. I'm not sure it fits. For now, I'm going to try to keep doing one post a week, but they're going to be more of a personal nature. Just what I'm playing, etc. I generally get the best comments on those these days anyway. I wanted to try and keep up on guides but, let's be honest, that hasn't happened.

Ah well, life happens. Thanks for hanging around. I'm not going to peace out just yet, but don't feel like you need to stay around and read the boring personal stuff. I'll download 5.2 tonight, but I think the new Sim City may have me captivated for a bit. We'll see.

(Side note: Anyone else think Blizz planned the release today to compete? Aren't they both technically the same parent company? Some thoughts for you tinfoil hatters...)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Token Friday Post

6 comments
You know it's been a rough week of work when you're only now thinking about squeezing in a post on Friday afternoon, while everyone else is winding down. I didn't get much gaming in, either. I've been a bit sick, so instead of playing late, I did the mature thing and went to bed early.

Maturity is overrated sometimes.

What little gaming time I have had has been spent on League of Legends. (Have had has... ugh. My sentence structure is even lazy today.) I'm still avoiding WoW, anxiously awaiting 5.2. The major thing LoL has going for it right now is that I can get on and take part in a forcefully finite task in just about an hour. There is an expected (and, thus, plan-able) timeframe. I logon to WoW right now and it's ZOMG CAN DO ALL THE THINGS still.

The new patch will ultimately allow a casual like me to make fewer choices. Logon. Run a heroic. Work on dat rep. Heroics generally time in at about an hour as well, so it adheres to the plan-able idea. I could also likely do LFR, though it generally takes longer. I'm mostly tired of dailies. They're okay, but just not engaging enough for one of my precious gaming hours. Dailies are more like something I don't mind doing when I have a movie on at the same time. Or a sporting event.

Also, there's the fact that I can't really buy much to help me until I top off some reps. So running more active stuff just brings me closer to capping points that I can't even spend. I just hope I can gear myself adequately enough to experience all of the content. That's really my goal at this point in time. I'm not raiding regularly, and I don't think I'd be able to put in the time to be a good raider. Checking things out via LFR is just fine by me.

It also means that my only encouragement to grind for gear dies as soon as I've cleared the available LFR content. Why farm when your only aspirations are to unlock the next queue tier? I'm not topping any meters anytime soon (though I hold my own, I'm proud to say).

Anyway, I threw a little ACIII in for good measure, but mostly slept a lot this week. I guess you'll have that. Hopefully I'll have more to say about 5.2...


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not Gaming: AMOL

11 comments
During the last few days, the entirety of my gaming time has been devoted to finishing a book. I finally finished late last night, having burned my candle at both ends quite a bit. Even though I don't have much to say about gaming (just waiting on 5.2 for WoW), I figured A Memory of Light was worth mentioning. Several of you are probably Wheel of Time fans as well.

I won't say too much. I know I'm probably the last one finished, but I still don't want to spoil anything for anyone. No alerts here. Just wanted to do a bit of cheering.

What an awesome series! I was introduced to the Wheel of Time series by a good friend only about 4 or so years ago. Many of you have probably been living with these stories for much, much longer. 14 books (15 if you count the Prequel), over 4 million words, almost 12,000 pages. Wikipedia tells me that the audio would run 419 hours and 30 minutes. That's a lot of story.

For folks that do not know, here's a quick intro to the series. The Wheel of Time is epic, epic fantasy. Yes, that's two epics. Long, involved, with loads of plot threads and characters, it is not for the faint of heart. Due to scope alone, it may not be for everyone, but what it does, it does well. It's not pretending to be a thriller, it is epic fantasy. There is magic. And battles. And different races. And very, very human emotions.

The first dozen books were written by Robert Jordan. Then, unfortunately (but with a slight bit of warning), he died. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. Obviously, Mr. Jordan wasn't able to finish the series, and fans anguished that they would never find resolution for the characters that they'd grown to love. Fortunately, the man had prepared notes. Lots and lots of notes. And Brandon Sanderson was approached (as both a fan and burgeoning fantasy author) to finish the series.

It proved a prophetic choice. I can't imagine another author doing a better job of both treasuring the story and honoring the legacy of the late Robert Jordan. These books will remain a treasured series of mine for many years, and it is not without quite a bit of sadness that I finished last night. It was not the ending, but it was an ending. And endings can be both sad and fulfilling. AMOL was both. To borrow the word of Thom Merrilin: exquisite.

To all the other WoT fans out there, /cheer. I made it. We made it. What a ride.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

Welcome to the Fourth Age.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Aff'lock Leveling Guide and a Musing

9 comments
I've never done a leveling guide, but stumbled across a good one here several moons ago. Just wanted to give a quick shout out to it. Great work Psynister. Hopefully my generic title will net some Google searches and send them your way. You know, if they don't get there without my shoddy help.

In other news, I've been busy being social. Read: not gaming. Sadly. Being social is hard work.

I have been playing some League of Legends. I'll say this for LoL vs WoW. It is far, far easier to casually play a game like LoL. I can pick up, play a game in about an hour, and feel like I've accomplished something. Even when we get rolled.

In WoW, I can't play for just an hour. Oh, sure, I could force myself with a timer or something (and I usually do that), but you log in, start doing dailies, queue up... and all of a sudden it's 1AM. This isn't always a bad thing, but it is when I'm already feeling a bit sleep deprived. LoL has a built in cut-off time.

I'm looking forward to patch 5.2, when we'll be able to earn rep through dungeon runs. I think part of my difficult with the current incarnation of WoW is that I feel that I must both grind rep and run dungeons/LFR. I really enjoyed the old tabard system, because you could just make a point of getting on for the sole purpose of running one dungeon. It becomes more like LoL. My personal problem is that I really need to cap some reps before I can actually spend my accumulated points on anything. The patch change helps me in so many ways.

So I'm sandbagging a bit in WoW, waiting for the patch to drop. Until then, LoL is great filler. Also, I should probably progress some more in ACIII. That's another one I can't just sit and play for only an hour though...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Random Asides

9 comments
Yahtzee! I left notes for this post from last week. I'd forgotten about that. It's always nice to log in and have prompts for a post. This is going to adopt the format of Random Asides

One.

I learned how to discern which bosses I'd downed in the LFR. This was a source of consternation for me, as I could never remember what I'd actually accomplished. In the LFR screen, there's a little icon that appears next to the name of the wing. Hovering over it will list the bosses you've looted.

I know for many of you this is not a new trick. For derps like me, I'd been trying to find the old raid lock screen (despite knowing we don't have locks anymore). I figured there had to be someone that would indicate what you've done during the current reset period.

The only downside to the mouseover? It doesn't tell you how many total bosses there are. It just lists the names. I had to look up things to make sure I knew what each wing contained (3 in each of the first two). Perhaps it seems silly to you, but in LFR I generally don't know the name of what I'm fighting. It's more like, "this is that one fight where the floor randomly disappears." Such is how my brain works when I'm not "really" raiding.

Two.

Apart from that, I actually didn't get much done. I had been doing a good job of running dailies from two zones. The problem is that the Golden Lotus dailies keep expanding. So where before I'd be done in 10-15 minutes, now it pushes a half hour. Tricksy Hobbitses.

I should be taking a well-reasoned approach, like prioritizing one faction and making sure I at least finish that each day. Instead, it generally depends on where I logged off and what is on TV in the background. A poor plan, indeed.
  
Three.

I've been playing around with the Ask Mr. Robot premium edition. Of particular note for me is the upgrade-question-asker-thingy. (I'm being profoundly specific, I know.) It's the big spy glass that lets you ask a question such as "How best should I spend my valor points?" Then, it generates a list of items that would benefit you most. Totally worth it's weight in shards. I've been gleefully abusing this feature to tell me what to buy and where to shop. It would also help immensely with my problem in section two, but only if I can force myself into focus.

I think it was another blogger that mentioned to me the find-stuff-in-your-bags-feature had discovered an overlooked item. I've not installed the required addon to use this, but I can see where it would be helpful. When you're running LFR with the TV in the background, items have the tendency to sneak into the inner folds of your backpack. Or maybe you also left your fishing outfit enabled. Oops.

Four.

Because my brain isn't focusing in WoW, I played a decent amount of League of Legends over the weekend. Also, I downloaded some new songs for Rock Band. Yep, I still play that occasionally. Having not explored the DLC in many years (handle it!), I was pleasantly surprised by the offerings. I need to upgrade my drum set.

I'm ashamed to admit I have not gotten very far in ACIII yet. I love the game, it just requires a high level of focus. It's a hard game to pick up and not play for 27 hours straight. I find if I don't have sufficient time allotted for it, then I end up just running around climbing things and picking fights with guards. Totally worth it and fun, mind you, but not all that conducive to progressing.

Ah well, such is a gamer's life. Better too many games than too few, amirite?

Monday, January 7, 2013

From Zero to Gear-o

15 comments
Terrible pun. I know. Deal with it. It reflects how I feel I've geared... very much in giant, terribly pun-y, leaps. Or something.

This past weekend, I finally got over the LFR hump. Immediately, I won a belt (and then nothing else for several runs). I also hit honored with Golden Lotus. As a tailor, that meant two more purples. I purchased a trinket and OH on the AH. I sold a purple robe to make the money back. I think I went from about 30k DPS to 60K DPS in a matter of hours. Pretty crazy.

I spoke a little about a rep path for Warlocks in my last post. If you're a tailor, getting honored with GL is huge. I also snagged a ring from the Operation: Shieldwall quartermaster for VP. I was nearing the cap after the last few weeks of dailies/heroics/LFR. I figured a ring was a good choice, since there's a second slot, so if I immediately get a drop, my purchase was not wasted.

I don't think I'm able to reliably juggle more than two hubs at a time, so GL and O:S are where I'm starting and would suggest other 'locks start there as well. O:S has the best rewards if you consider the eventual ilevel. GL is pretty much required to get started, but the tailoring really sells it if you're a tailor. Klaxxi is another option, but that's sitting in the 3-hole for me.

When 5.2 drops, it will shake this list up. I'm sure the new rep they come up with will take precedence. I'm hoping to have capped one of my first few before it does, but that may not be in the cards. I'm slow.

If you're looking for solid items to purchase on the AH. There's an OH purple that I snagged for 4k. There's also a trinket (Dragonling something) that can be filled with cogs to be pretty solid. With cogs, I don't think it was a whole lot more than 3k. If you're curious, I'm the Fulguralis on Alexstrasza. Check me out on Mr. Robot. I've only started reforging/properly enchanting/gemming the purple items. Until very recently, I was replacing things too quickly to be mess with it.

On an unrelated side note: I actually really enjoy trash now. With SS+SB, I feel like I actually contribute. Especially when I can time my DS so I'm constantly full of shards, and spreading DoTs like a madman. When I got to a stand and sling boss, it was almost boring. At least until I realized I really need to manage my shards better. For long fights, it's hard to keep Haunt up, and I think I want to be sure not to clip it, so-as to maximize the use of each shard. Mana has not been a huge issue as long as I remember to tap once every minute or so. Sometimes I forget and end up low.

I need to throw stats and spec into the primer, but I've not had the chance to snag any screenies yet. Maybe this week. I'm sort of counting on a talent reset with 5.2, so I can take the pet sacrifice talent instead of the super-pet talent that I have now. Nibs tells us that sacrificing the pup is actually pretty warlockerly of us, plus there's a very low danger of g- gui- guilt? Is that how it's pronounced? I guess if you're specced Destro you should be more concerned.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Primer Updated and Rep Grinding Plan

6 comments
Just a quick FYI post today, I slapped the glyph information into my primer, complete with links. Feel free to let me know if I booger-ed anything. I've got spec and stats left. Both should be relatively short, but I want some links/screenshots to better explain them. For stats, I'm just basically using Ask Mr. Robot anyway, and doing the "non hit cap" version. It's tough getting used to misses, but I figured I may as well start. It's not as bad as I thought. Speccing is pretty simple these days, as well.

I'm also going to ramble a bit about the dailies I've been doing. The short version from my quick and dirty holiday research is to start with Operation: Shieldwall (for Alliance). It's going to have the best gear upgrades. Also, I want to get some stuff from Shado-pan soon, and that requires completion of the Golden Lotus reputation. So I do the Shieldwall and Lotus dailies, basically. Throw in a scenario/heroic if I can. I'm one point away from LFR eligibility, so that's exciting.

I topped off Tillers pretty quick, just because it's simple to do. I like to log off there, as it's a quick flight down to Lion's Landing or up to the Golden Lotus hub. If I'm feeling particularly ambitious, I throw in the Klaxxi dailies. I was really close to capping my Valor last week. Go me.

Now that I've finally started Assassin's Creed III, though, I see a distinct lack of dailies in my future. I'll probably still try to knock out an hour's worth, but that probably won't get me capped. Oh well...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

5 comments
2013 marks the start of the 6th year for this blog. This is also post 884. That's not a special number or anything, but boy is it a lot. 2012 was a bit of a rough year for yours truly, and my writing definitely suffered as a result. Still, I'm incredibly glad I took the plunge and opened my doors 6 years ago. I may not be as useful these days, but I'm thankful for all of you readers that have stuck with me, commented, and otherwise shared this space. I can't begin to express how much it means, especially when you're having a crappy year. One of the greatest things about the Internet (and our gaming community in particular) is the assurance that even when you feel alone... you're not.

I've met a lot of amazing people on this journey and was just taking a moment for reflection this morning. I will be back in 2013, writing about random warlockery. Though I've been quiet over the holiday break, it is not for a lack of gaming. I'm one ilevel point away from being LFR geared and dipping my toes in a bit of raiding. It was somewhat of an accomplishment for me to get back on the horse, so to speak. I've been proud in the past to be the first in the guild to cap, to be the best geared, etc etc. This time I'm coming from a whole different angle, and in some ways its eye-opening. Can you still be proud when you're the absolute last person to the party? I suppose my pride surprises me.

If you're curious and looking for a warlockerly tidbit, I'm in the midst of the Golden Lotus daily throes. I'm also doing the Operation: Shieldwall stuff, as that seems to be the best way to get geared quickly. My first exalted rep in MoP was definitely the Tillers. Go figure. But more on that as things settle back into a somewhat normal schedule. Until then, happy holidays to you and yours, thanks for reading, and pleasant corrupting in 2013!

I shard all of you.