Saving Draenor to Save the Earth

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I recently started up the Battlenet client only to discover a 16Gb patch in need of downloading. That got me thinking about digital download costs and whether it would be cheaper to ship large files physically. It was almost immediately clear that the answer is no but I did discover a few other digital Vs physical facts.

  1. FebEx bandwidth is approximately 14 petabits per second (about 100 times greater than the entire internet).
  2. More CO2 is released by transmitting the contents of a DVD over the internet than producing it in a physical format and mailing it to the final destination

I very much doubt that we can convince Blizzard to start distributing patches via DVD due to cost, but I do have an idea about that extra carbon.

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Hearthstone – Squashed by the pyramid

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Most hearthstone players are not very good (and I don’t mean that in a we are all average way). It turns out that 75% of players are below rank 15. I imagine it can be quite galling for some people that, no matter how well they do, struggle to progress even just a few ranks (and associate that with being bad players). Apparently Blizzard agreed with me enough to make a post informing people about their misconceptions. Unfortunately most people do not read out-of-game notes so Blizzard might need to make some changes to make people feel happier about their non-leetness.g429 Continue reading

Fixing heirlooms for future generations of alts

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From Bashiok’s recent post on the removal of JP heirloom vendors we get the following quote.

we’re also working on a larger Heirloom system for a future patch, and we don’t want to introduce an interim pricing scheme that could temporarily devalue Heirlooms or limit how we’d be able to give them out in the future

From that we can take that there is a new heirloom system coming, but what might it be and why do we need to get rid of the current system. Continue reading

Battlepets 2.4 – Bashing Fabled Beasts

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With the basics done, it is time to expand the pet trainer circle by clearing out the remaining mainland Pandaria PvE content, Let’s see how I do when facing the beasts of fable with my new undead pets to help me out.

Nitun
Nitun <The Midnight Plunderer>
With a title of <The Midnight Plunderer>, I was expecting tough things from this critter and it was the debut for my Blighted Squirrel/Infested Bear Cub pair. I felt that I was taking a risk running with a bear that was only uncommon quality.
The strategy was simple. Woodchip to open, crouch, then stampeded until my squirrel is dead. Then the bear lands a maul and roar. When I attempted it all that got Nitun down to just 16 health before killing my bear. Fortunately, undead pets get a one turn death immunity so my bear popped back up and could finish the fight successful at the first attempt.

Kawi/Lucky Yu
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This fight was easier. Applying woodchipper the bleed then stampede for damage and debuff application got this oversized caterpillar down by 1/3rd health when the squirrel had it’s first death. The rez gave two more hits of stampede and my bear was able to one-shot the remaining 800 health with a maul.

The same applied with Lucky Yi but here the Blighted Squirrel did enough to get the kill with it’s death-rattle. Stampede was enough on it’s own.

Kafi/Gorespine/Greyhoof
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Kafi, being a goat was slightly more stubborn than the bugs had been. The first move stunned my squirrel so I was only able to complete a woodchipper before getting killed for the first time. At least a single turn of stampede on the death-rattle was enough to apply the debuff. I had my Darkmoon Tonk lined up to join in the combat next, while Kafi was at almost 100% health so I was not hopeful. All that changed when I saw the brutality of its mechanical attacks in action. Shock and Awe (strong vs beasts) did 1k of damage and Ion beam followed up with a 1.6k attack, overkilling Kafi by more than 800 health.

The same trick worked for Gorespine and Greyhoof. My squirrel was eliminated each time having done negligible damage but my tonk swept aside the final 1.8k health in two simple hits. It is a wonderfully simple thing to see those big numbers going down on the screen.

Skitterer Xi’a/Dos’Ryga

The watery pets of legend were even easier than the beasts. Against Xi’a, the squirrel applied the stampede debuff until it died. That left just under 1k of health for my crow to complete which was easily managed with a nightfall and nocturnal strike finisher. The same applied to Dos-Ryga. The Squirrel felt more comfortable and survived a couple of turns longer but that was probably down to the fact that Dos-Ryga was busy healing itself. As a result my crow had 1.2k health to burn through however that was still still well within my crows capabilities. One nightfall/nocturnal strike later and victory was mine.

I get the feel as though I have missed the point with these fights. I picked up pets that are perfect for these kills and in doing so optimised the fun out of it. I haven’t had the joy of playing around, trying to find an effective combo and the cycle of repeated deaths and improvements. Still, with No-no and Ti’un the Wander remaining, I get to try things that way. My guides suggest three moths against them. I don’t have three L25 blue quality moths, so I am going to play around and see what I can do.

Green Fire Quest

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On August 24th 2013 I created a post heading into which I would put my musings on the warlock green fire quest chain. 376 days later on 4th September 2014 that quest is finally complete.

Impression
I liked it. It was fun to run around the Black Temple and do various warlocky themed fights. There were some challenging mechanics and it stretched my ability, being a step up from the standard PvE content. I especially enjoyed the treasure run, doing that zone several times trying to beat my previous score. The story was good and most importantly, my fire is now green.

Interbellum
I begin the quest soon after its release, but had trouble with the final boss fight. Every strategy guide was for a destruction spec. I gave it a go but trying to juggle an unfamiliar rotation with complicated mechanics meant I never made much headway. I put it aside to complete at a later time after I had completed more important tasks.
That changed recently. With my subscription running to an end and wanting a short break until patch 6.0, I had a limited window available in which to get myself the Black Harvest title and feat of strength.

Breaking the Black Harvest
This time around I decided I would stick with the affliction spec that I know best and retooled my second spec to allow for a reasonable choice of talents so I had only to focus on fight mechanics. On a Sunday evening I set myself down with 20 feasts, a flask and the will to progress.
The first attempt went badly when my lack of enslave macro caused me to get charged by a pit lord.
The second attempt went better until the imps came. I had read about using the gateway to drop aggro and let the pit lord deal with them, but that just spread them over half the room, making them harder to kill. If the imps didn’t kill me they would distract me enough that an excruciating agony or chaos bolt would. I picked up little tricks (such as using my own dispel as opposed to dragging the pit lord out of position to breath fire on me and applying the pit lord’s heals) but rarely managed more than occasional imp clear followed by the felhound phase quickly unenslaving my pitlord. After 20 attempts I had achieved a couple of sub 40% attempts but the imps problems meant I made little headway on solving the felhounds phase either.

For night two I remembered to use potions and I change my glyphs (having accidentally run the first night with demo glyphs). I didn’t bother with the demonic gateways, instead going for a new positioning plan. Kanrethad and the Pit Lord were to spend the whole fight on the right of the portal while I would stand on the left. This put the imps right next to the pit lord allowing him to kill them more easily and after a couple of attempts I felt I was comfortable with that phase.
Using the siphon life glyph meant that I was generating healing aggro every tick and the felhounds came out running for me unenslaving the pit lord. I could dot all three and they’d died relatively quickly, making that a simpler phase than the imps. I typically had some health issues at this point and had some unlucky deaths but at least was getting to see the Doomguard phase, even if I was face down in the dirt.
On the fifth try of the night everything ran smoothly. Imps swarmed on a spot and were quickly eradicated, felhounds got dotted and I remembered to dispel agony. Suddenly I found myself facing a target with less than 20% health. Struggling to keep calm I nuked him down before he even had a chance to summon the doomguard!

The fight was very satisfying. It was a bit disappointing that I was overgeared to the extent that I killed the boss before he completed a a full cycle of the fight, but I consider it was challenging enough and I am very happy to have that one in the bag.

White, by Blackrock (Mog)

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I don’t do much in a way of mogging, but I do like to get my toons into matching outfit that are appropriate to their role. My paladin has had the Dark Iron to wear when hitting stuff for a while, and I have long planned to do a white healer set. I recently finished it and it is nothing special but I do have a reason for posting about it. That reason is patch 6.0 the changes to Blackrock Spire. Continue reading

Battlepets 2.3 – Circle of Friends

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Basic “epic” fights – Done
Basic training circuit – Organised

It is time to put in the hard grind and work a few extra pets through their paces. I had hoped to work on fight strategy as I faced each of the legendary pets, but since I do not have a lot of pets to begin with I don’t have a lot of options available. If I am going to level pets I might as well work on those that I know will work.

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Battlepets Mission 2.2 – Clearing The Outliers

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Looking at my pet levelling circuit, it quickly became obvious that I am currently limited to the spirit and master trainers. Rather than start the pet grind immediately to work towards the legendary pets, I thought I should focus on the simplier PvE content. That meant starting, not in Pandaria, but back in Northrend
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Battlepets Mission 2.1 – Completing Current

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It has been a while, but after spending a couple of months simply standing in front of a single trainer and doing the occasional kill, i thought it was tine to work on a bucket list of things to do before (even during) the WoD expansion. Simple things first, the pet activities list:
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Female Assassins? – That’s crazy talk

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Sometimes I think that what people are asking for is actually the wrong thing. For example, today’s outcry is on the latest Assassin’s Creed and the possibility of being able to select the main character’s gender.

TL:DR – “We wanted a female character option, but it would have cost you a raid tier”

I understand that in some (most) games you do need the option of choosing the main character’s gender. Those on-screen avatars represent you and your actions in that gaming world. Their story is your story and if you are shoehorned into a shape that doesn’t fit then things rub around the edges. Having said that, not all games are about the gamer. Some games are interactive stories. In those, the gender of the character plays an integral role in the story. You are not the star. You are hitching a lift and offering assistance (or more likely hindering) their story, seeing the world from their perpective.

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You are John Malkovick – Disclaimer, product does not actually turn you into John Malkovich or give you any claim over his life.

Sometime the story is about a particular view, opinion or a specific perspective. In those cases, gender is an important part of the story. The re-imagined Tomb Raider had a star that needed to be female. The Last of Us would have been very different if Joel was not male. In those examples, character gender is very important and non negotiable.

Let’s put it from another way. I would be hard pressed to find anyone that had watched the movie would then be able to make the following statement.

Not being a gay male cowboy, I consider Brokeback Mountain to be an offensive product because they didn’t have a main character to which I could directly relate

Token characters have traditionally been used to offer an audience surrogate to a peripheral demographic, but creating characters with a set appearance through the believe that the audience can only connect with someone that looks like them is offensive too. If a character is important enough to appear in a story then are important enough to have a bit of depth and a character’s gender is often a very important part of their personality. If a character’s gender has any impact on the story then it needs to be fixed and offering a token gender choice weakens the story.

So how would I treat equality in a story driven game and a main protagonist of a specified gender?
Firstly I would give them a balanced support cast of fully developed characters.
Secondly I would make the player a little uncomfortable with the character performing an action in keeping with their personality, but not necessarily what the player would choose to remind them that they are the navigator but not the driver.
Most importantly, I would offer multiple protagonists. In a story based game is the perfect excuse for using a switching point of view. It is a common ploy in books (such as Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire) but would not work on stories that focus on a single character. For those cases I would suggest expansions or sequels that display the world from a different perspective (although I am sure that if Ubisoft announced a female only expansion it would be dismissed as a cynical attempt at at appeasement).

What’s the TL:DR?
If a main character is a surrogate for the player and tells the story of the player’s actions in the game world then a choice of gender is a priority feature for inclusion. If the main character is simply a point of view for the player then being able to select their gender is less important and an inclusive story-line needs to be created through other methods.

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