[WoW] It All Makes Sense Now

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I messed up. I spent 3 and a half hours opening salvage boxes and another two hours trying to sort out all my bank and void storage but have yet to attempt any post-patch killing. I should have waited for the Doomsayers to turn up. With a 15 minute cooldown between each pamphlet  and duplicates possible, I will have a lot of time to fill while I grind out the feat of strength.

[WoW] The Garrison Killer Patch

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The patch that is intended to kill of garrisons as a concern going forward has launched. I logged into WoW for my post-patch experience last night. I then spent the next 3 and a half hours in my various garrisons opening salvage boxes and sorting out my transmog collection. According to WoWHead I am a quarter of the way to completion on my warlock!

Now I have two more things to do before I can actually start playing

  1. How will I manage to thrift down my bank and void storage?
  2. Why does my paladin no longer have any gloves and is wearing an ilvl 548 epic mail chest-piece?

[WoW] Pre-Patch Panic

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It has finally happened. I am starting to worry that I have not completed all those little things I would like to get done before the next chunk of content comes out. It always happens. I get everything sorted out and then something pops up to set me off into a muddle.

weaponnotes

Hmmm. 16 weapons to collect. Now I find myself asking what weapons my characters can cost, which would be the most efficient to run the event and most importantly, are their any event weapons that none of my current max level characters are able to unlock?

The BoP weapon types (of which there are 12) that I can identify are in the event are as follows:

  • Bow (only Hunter, Rogue and Warrior)
  • Dagger (not DK, Monk or Paladin)
  • Axe 1H (x2) (not Druid, Mage, Priest or Warlock)
  • Mace 1H (not Hunter, Mage or Warlock)
  • Sword 1H (x2) (not Druid, Priest or Shaman)
  • Polearm (only DK, Druid, Hunter, Monk, Paladin and Warrior)
  • Stave (not DK, DH, Paladin or Rogue)
  • Mace 2H (only DK, Druid, Paladin and Warrior)
  • Wand (only Mage, Priest, Warlock)
  • Warglaives (only DH)

Maybe I should just level a warrior.

The Nodding Duck challenge

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As we approach the Legion expansion pre-patch and the introduction of the wardrobe, I am getting closer to what I think will be the toughest boss fight ever. I call it, the Nodding Duck.

noddingduck

Across all my characters, I think I have somewhere in the region of 1000 Big Crates of Salvage. I have been hording them, waiting to open them and add their contents to my collected gear. Thus my challenge will be completing a 2 second cast, 1000 times (and somehow learn items, vend items, mailing gear of a different class to a the correct character for them to learn with minimal spare bank space and disenchanting). If I deal with it perfectly, it is 30 minutes of mind-numbing bashing of the same button. What I am expecting to be more likely is that I spend the first couple of nights not running the new event content, but doing tidy-up. Prior to the patch I will have a similar issue turning my garrison resources into bags of gold from the trade vendor. With macros, I can get the purchases and opening of those bags down to a invoice of 200 button clicks. I pity my keyboard and hand joints.

This isn’t just a problem in WoW. Lots of games have consumable items that provide some form of currency or points in the expectation that they will be used in low volume. Occasionally there is a change in the system that results in their usage suddenly going through the roof (such as saving boxes to open with the WoW garrison) It is normally that is a one-off event so not intolerable for the players that are prepared to game the system for a one time reward. Unfortunately the current situation in SWTOR is a frequent concurrence.

With the release of the most recent SWTOR expansion (Knights of the Fallen Empire) the companion affection system was overhauled and the cap massively increased. Using the new end-game consumables it is possible to cap a companion with 50 items, but each one of them is  a 2 second cast. Multiply that across all your companions and you are looking at doing nothing but repeatedly pressing the same button for 10 to 20 minutes. Someone at Bioware obviously thought that pumping companions full of vendor purchased gifts while not actually doing anything was a horrible game because the latest patch added a legacy buff where the cast time is reduced by 20%/40%/60%.

Good news that bad stuff has been removed right? Wrong. It hasn’t been removed. FTP players can get the 20% reduction if they want to spend most of their limited in-game credit balance but the full 60% is only available to subscribers for huge wads of credits or via the cash-shop. Yes, that is right, we have an example of the worst type of cash shop purchase. A game with bad design where a fix to make it less painful is available only to those willing to spend approximately $10 (for each character).

SWTOR – Who needs fun when you could get beaten by a stick*?
* [smaller sticks are available at the cash shop].

Turmoil – The Game

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Turmoil, recently launched after a year of early access has been sitting on my watch list ever since Steam figured out I’d look at 12 random game profiles if it let me earn badges. It also marks the third game this year I have bought on Steam, which is very sad when you consider that I told myself no more Steam purchases until I had cleared out some of my unplayed game backlog. Well played Valve. Well played.

Anyway back to Turmoil. Like 1849, this is another game set in old Americana but this time we are in the oil rush instead of a gold rush. Unlike 1849, there is not a single solution path to winning that makes the game trivial once figured out. The main game is finding oil (and gas) in a ground cut-through then extracting it before the timer expires. That timer is crucial. Not only does it add a bit of time pressure, forcing you to take risks if you want to extract everything from a level, but it also cuts the games up short turns of just a couple of minutes. Those small chunks have a surprisingly high “One more turn” appeal about them, especially when you are approaching the end of a zone.

Turmoil main gameplay screenshot

Find oil , dig it up. Then do the one more level. Then the next level. The the next…

I think Turmoil is a fairly good PC game for when you have 15 minutes free. I think it is a horrible destroyer of lives when you subsequently discover that the sun has just risen and you’ve actually been playing for 6 hours.

I am starting to think that maybe I should employ a sort of reverse Ramadan. No electrical devices during the hours of darkness for the duration of the month. No gaming between 22:00 and 4:00 should be simple shouldn’t it?

What Time is Now?

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I’ve been busy selling the World of Warcraft beta as a great place to test if your machine is powerful enough to run the Legion expansion, thinking that 2nd June [1] was plenty of time for people to opt into the beta and maybe have a chance of an invite. I have just noticed that today is today is 3rd June. It’s June already? I thought that was next month. Where did the year go?

[1] Now deferred to some point in the future.

I don’t want to see an Overwatch Solo Story Campaign*

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* – That is a lie. I would love to see an Overwatch story mode but I prefer my titles with a hint of clickbait.

I like a good story, and I am sure that I bought 5 Warcraft ebooks from Amazon at £0.99 a pop yesterday, some people will say I also like a bad story. However, there is one things that is just as good as a good story (and much better than a poorly executed one). That is a story that is not told.

Gaps in the narrative are important. Hearing reference to unknown events creates a bit of mystery and intrigue about them. The characters become more real because there is a part of them that exists independent of myself. Seeing the exotic Misty Mountains in the distance makes the world feel a bigger more vibrant place without needing to dragging us through the mountain pass.

A part completed colour-it-in image

A good story. Some bits are done for you, others you need to fill in for yourself.

Not filling in the details also lets the viewers’ imaginations take over. We can create, re-imagine and go crazy with the story-holes. Those gaps are a hundred great stories which can be anything we want them to be. By making us actually experiencing those story we are trading an infinity of possibilities for a single canonical story. Unless there is an important reason for us to know the story, it is best left untold.

Cardboard cut-out toys

Is this the ultimate story? We get some clues and the rest we put together ourselves, differently every time.

Take, for example, Roadhog’s reference in the Kings Row map to a jewellery heist and how he misses that crown. The mental image that I have of Roadhog and Junkrat stealing the Crown Jewels via a myriad of crazy methods and the high jinx that they got up to is far more fun that anything I might get from the story being told via a game mode.

Ultimately, I think that is why the story side of Overwatch is so popular. Instead of being given a huge meal on which to overindulge, gorge ourselves then feel stuffed, we have been given only the tiniest of morsels. We get enough story to capture our interest and we can imagine the gaps into being our own story-filled wonderland.

[Hearthstone] Mixed Blessings

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My PC crashed taking down one of my hard disks and corrupting my OS. It had been a little buggy since the last Windows 10 update decided that it didn’t like my graphics driver and would freeze/reset the screen for a few seconds before popping up a warning box then continuing like nothing was wrong. On Friday it did decide that something was wrong, and by the time it started working again, Windows 10 wouldn’t load. I spent the weekend struggling to do a re-installation (install Win 7, authenticate, update to Win 10, authentication failed, contact support, get them to fix it). Then I installed Avast, but made the mistake of using the top link on Google and got a downloader that was stuffed with spyware, spamware and viruses. It is all cleaned up now but I still have a lot of to downloading going on in the background before everything is back up to speed. As a result, my gaming is mostly limited to Hearthstone since that has a relatively small footprint.

As it turns out, that was something of a blessing. My first couple of games were with an OTK warrior deck which did OK. The best combo I managed was 20 damage (Raging Worgen, 2x Inner Rage, Charge) but the hardest part in playing was trying not to waste combo resources and fight for board presence. I switched to an evolve shaman which I much preferred and promptly won 7 games on the trot. That cleared out all my achievements and took me to a new personal best of rank 14!

Vote for Facts

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This is a politics post. I will try to keep it quick.Full Fact.org Twitter banner

Most politics these days is be two opposite sides who either shout anything to get the public to agree with them, or exaggerate a scenario to absurd lengths to prove that they are correct. Everyone proclaims “facts” that support them while claiming that their opponents’ facts are wrong, leaving voters feeling as though overwhelmed yet ininformed. For that reason, I’m putting my voice out for Fullfact.org

Full fact are an London-based charity that do independent fact checking on UK politics. They are supported by donation (with a little fact checking and statistical work for news organisations) and have become my first port of call checking that statements made by politicians are supported by fact. I think that Factcheck.org might provide a similar service in the USA but you will need to check their impartiality for yourselves.

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