Wednesday, September 27, 2023

A Side-Eye at 4Chan Rumors

I'm not exactly a fan of 4Chan.

Okay, that's not news; the few times I've ever been over there I've come out of that place and felt like I needed a shower, not to mention a full AV system scan of my PC*.

That being said, someone claiming to be a Blizzard insider posted some "leaks", and it was quickly picked up and distributed via Reddit:

You'll have to click on this and get to the original
if you want to be able to read it.
From Reddit (and, you know, that place).

Some of this appears to me to be blatantly false.

I mean, the whole "Cataclysm Classic is not in the works" is not the case. The surveys that Blizz put out --and I'm one of the recipients about 9 months ago-- all indicated that Cataclysm Classic was a done deal. There were no options in the survey I received to say "I'm not playing Cata Classic". It was all about "what features did you like in Cataclysm that you're looking forward to in Cata Classic". One of the items, interestingly enough, that wasn't even an option was "the World revamp". I kind of expected that to at least be there, but I was surprised when that wasn't even on the list of items to look forward to.

Another item that I consider to be false is the interest that Microsoft has in "breaking up Blizzard". Now, I would totally agree with Microsoft deciding to move toward a more work-from-home environment and selling off some of Blizzard's high cost property in California, but breaking them up completely? I don't think we're at that point yet. I could see Diablo Immortal (or is that Immoral?) being moved over to King, because it's a mobile title and it should go to the mobile studio, but Blizzard's classic properties will, for the near future, stay within the Blizzard house. Judging by how Microsoft has handled Zenimax, as in "they didn't touch it at all", I presume they'll do the same for Activision Blizzard. At least at first.

That being said, some of these assertions do ring true. 

The most obvious one to me, and probably drives certain Retail purists nuts**, is that "WoW Classic has moder [sp] players than Retail World of Warcraft right now."

I mean, duh. Between Hardcore Challenge servers --which are always full-- and the steady play of people in Era and Wrath Classic, Retail's appeal is to a smaller slice of the overall WoW pie. 

Another item I find to be (mostly) true is the assertion that "Dragonflight is the remains of a cancelled mobile game co produced with chinese [sp] partners that was bolted onto World of Warcraft to pad a massive gap after the catastrophic response to patch 9.1. This lead to a ship [sp?] in tone that the players have noticed and found off putting." Oh, not that all of Dragonflight is from a mobile game, but that the Dragonriding portion is. Given how much promotion that Dragonriding has gotten --and continues to get-- it's pretty obvious it's a core part of Retail's experience right now. If you told me that the Crafting Orders system is also from a WoW themed mobile game, I'd believe that one as well. I could easily see a WoW Dragonriding mobile game, with Crafting Orders being a way to "improve" your dragon and provide an impetus for microtransactions. As for the change in tone, well... people have been complaining about the ever increasing power of the "big bads" in Retail WoW, and Dragonflight (at least at first) seemed like a bit of a soft reset in that area. If the Retail community in general is conditioned to fight "the big bad that the previous big bad was scared of", then Dragonflight definitely can be off-putting. 

But hey, if nothing else, this little kernel of.... something.... from 4Chan got me interested enough to post about it.

*I would set it up and let it run overnight and check in the morning.

**I'm pretty sure that if I say his name three times, like Beetlejuice, he'll appear and tell me that I'm an idiot for liking an old version of the game. So, I'm going to keep my mouth shut in that regard. At least Gevlon won't suddenly appear and rain on everybody's parade, since we're all slackers to him.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Meme Monday: Rite of Passage Memes

My youngest and I share music* on a regular basis. I'll send her an email with a few pieces of music that I like, and she returns the favor. 

This whole thing began with a text from her having recently discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan from one of her classes, and I used the opportunity to pull out various versions of Jimi Hendrix' Little Wing** so that we could compare the different interpretations of the same song. It has since snowballed into a wide variety of pieces covering a lot of different genres.

Over the weekend, we had another exchange which was inspired by Russ Ballard --hmm, another subject of a post in the future-- but my first exposure to Russ Ballard was when I got my first boom box:

Yes, this exact model. Why we got it via
the catalog and not from a Sears store is because
it cost $149 at the store.
Screenshot taken from the 1984 Sears
Spring/Summer Catalog. 

Getting your first stereo, whether it's a boom box or an-all-in-one shelf system, was a rite of passage for a teenage boy back in the day. I realize that getting your driver's license and your first car was probably higher on people's bucket list, but before you could get that you likely got your first boom box first. 

So, in honor of that first boom box, I present some memes about rites of passage:

And it must be said that with the how tight
shorts were back then, "roasting your nuts"
is pretty damn accurate. From Reddit.

Well, yeah. Been there, and I don't feel
bad about it either. From GetYarn (and Lucifer).

Pretty self explanatory. I just
realized that for an entire generation of
kids, Emma Watson was their first crush
in the same way that Carrie Fisher was for mine.
From (and the HP movies).

And, of course, in Florida the rites
of passage are a WEE bit different.
From MemeDroid.

*Via YouTube; I don't subscribe to a music streaming service. Although, I guess it could be argued that our membership in our local public radio stations entitles me to stream their stations guilt free. And that way, I even get access to their HD2 station, a Jazz format, without having to purchase an HD radio.

**Here's the original:

And then in the 80s, recorded at roughly the same time, is the version by Sting, Branford Marsalis, and Gil Evans, from Sting's Nothing Like The Sun album:

...and Stevie Ray Vaughan's version from the Legacy Edition of Couldn't Stand the Weather:

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Observed on a Tuesday Evening

I haven't been around for the traditional time for buffs to drop in Classic Era, until now.

It's been a while...

And of course I had to open my mouth too...

The excitement was palpable. And the festive atmosphere was something I really missed when TBC Classic and Wrath Classic came along. Sure, it's part of the Meta, but the buffs dropping in Stormwind/Orgrimmar and Booty Bay are just the beginning of raid night for people, and for everybody involved there's hope of a good evening spent raiding. It's just one of those shared experiences that got whittled away as the expansions went on in World of Warcraft, so I'm glad to be back for these once more.

Am I raiding tonight? 

Oh HELL no.

But am I enjoying myself?


And really, that's all that matters.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Meme Monday: Autumn Memes

Because in the northern hemisphere we are closing in on the Autumnal Equinox*, I figured I'd beat the rush and create some Autumn memes. Whether or not they're gaming related.

That's why I always thought we called it
'Fall'. Of course, the nuns hated that term
and instead required us to write Autumn instead.

Of course, my Questing Buddy lives in the
Nevada desert, so this doesn't necessarily
apply to her. From ruinmyweek, an apropos
name for this phenomenon if there ever was one.

It's time for the hunt for a Red(s) October.
And here's hoping the Cincinnati Reds
pull off the improbable and make the MLB playoffs.
From Reddit.

Isn't this a requirement in 
a lot of romantic comedies?
From themetapicture.

And two bonus memes:

More time for gaming!!
From imgflip.

And right now it's mid-upper 70s (~24 C).
I can feel this.
From Buzzfeed, but it's Dami Lee!

*September 23 at 2:49 AM EST, if you want to know.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

To Chase or Not to Chase

I have a cousin who writes for a video game site --none of the ones in MMO space, in case you're wondering*-- and back in 2015 the pageviews frequently reached the 50,000-100,000 mark. Given the average pageview of an MMO blog is measured by a much smaller number (and PC, in particular, seems to have a relatively loyal audience of 30-40 people), I was curious about how the site he writes for got that big.

"I don't know," he said, "we just write about what people want and we promote ourselves a bit, and things just took off."

In 2015, that meant MOBAs and console games. But still, the sheer size of pageviews caught my attention.

And really, if I thought that was big, I hadn't seen anything yet.


I'd been reading up a bit lately on Influencers and "Influencer Culture"**, because I've been trying to understand the appeal that influencers draw upon. They aren't celebrities in the purest sense, but some of them have become de-facto celebrities in their own right. They have their own followers and detractors --I mean, look at Asmongold for one obvious example-- but a lot of the influencers', well, influence comes from being perceived as a source of trust.

Truth is somewhat malleable, depending on the influencer, but trust is the engine of the influencing process. You don't even have to trust in what the influencer says, to put it another way, but you have to trust that you'll be entertained in some manner. Quite a few people may put eyeballs on controversial influencers, not because they believe in what bill of goods they're being sold, but because the influencer can pull on their emotions.

That's why, love him or hate him, people watch Asmongold's videos. If you didn't give a whoop about him, you'd not be watching.


But I think one thing that my cousin mentioned, about writing what people want, is highly important.

In an age of AI generated posts based on what will generate the most clicks, finding what people want isn't exactly rocket science. The blandness that permeates most AI created written content, however, will turn people off. I know I don't like anything that resembles a poorly written technical manual, no matter how tailored the content is toward my interests, and I work in IT. 

What my cousin missed was that it's more than just promotion and writing relevant content, but writing relevant content that people enjoy reading. It's that human element***, the writer's voice, that will keep people interested and coming back for more. 

Yes, there's a "lightning in a bottle" aspect to some website or person hitting it big, but that emotive element has to come from somewhere. And once people know they can expect you to provide that element, that's when you've got them.


Sounds easy, right? Heh. If you've ever tried to make creative content before, you know how hard it can be. Or how much self doubt can cripple you. I can actually speak to this with some experience here, given that PC is pretty long in the tooth as far as continuously active creative content goes. So if you think I can look at the success of my cousin (or others) and only feel jealousy, you're sadly mistaken. I have a lot of respect for what they accomplished, and I realize that what they've been able to do does come at a cost. My determination to do things my own way is a reflection on what I feel the personal and professional cost might be if I decided to start chasing clicks and generate content at a level I don't feel comfortable with and with a personal slant I disagree with. And those that actually can pull that off and generate eyeballs? My hat's off to them for what they've accomplished.

*Not my place to say which one, because he goes by a pseudonym.

**Sadly, MMOs were not on the radar. That would have been in 2005 rather than 2015. But the book that kicked off this interest is Influencer by Brittany Hennessy.

***For the time being, anyway.

EtA: Corrected the "**".

Monday, September 11, 2023

Meme Monday: Comics Memes

I figured that I had these comic strips saved for the right time, but the right time never seemed to appear. So... Let's do a Meme Monday for these RPG and MMO related comics!

I don't have the original comic strip cut
out from the newspaper, but I have the
paperback collection of The Far Side
that this comes from.
From Gary Larson, The Far Side

Oh, this cuts close to home. I'd be all
over Excalibur for an RP weapon, but
if I had to fight, I'd go with the
min/maxer here. Which I really hate
myself for doing that, but I'm honest.

My recently concluded 20+ year
campaign had me playing as a
Cleric of Zeus. So... a spear and Greek robes.
But I feel this.
From RPGenerations.

And finally, as both a Tolkien fan and
an RPGer, this is hilarious. From
Travis Hanson's Life of the Party.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Sunday Musings on the WoW Hardcore Servers

After having spewed out content on a daily basis in August*, I took this week off. 

Work had something to do with it as well, since I have some big meetings coming up and with yet another new platterful of stuff to work on.

Still, thoughts about games and whatnot haven't been too far from my mind. 

Mainly, what do I think of the Hardcore WoW servers?


Okay, let me get this out of the way early: I have already made peace with the likelihood that my toon is going to die. I mean, I even named her Deathwyn and instead of long black hair she has short blonde hair. The polar opposite of ol' Card.

There ya' go. Same blue eyes, tho.

The playstyle is exactly as it was for Vanilla Classic and Classic Era, so me playing on Era servers for the past 8+ months it has been a smooth transition.

But beyond that, I play like I did when I first played on Stormscale-US all those years ago.

In a nutshell, I play in a similar fashion to how I've always done, but since Stormscale was a PvP server I learned very early to have my head on a swivel and always take into account any and all potential threats.

See a bear waaay over there? I'm killing that before I attack the mobs I was here to kill. I'm not taking any chances. 

In a normal situation, I might just kind of wing it until said bear is a bit closer, but I'm not messing around on the Hardcore servers. In the same way as what I learned during my first exposure in Hillsbrad on a PvP server, you can't take anything for granted.

I'm already looking ahead to what instances might look like.

Normally, as an Alliance player, I'd expect to enter into the Deadmines as maybe L18 or L19. I'd even accept grouping up with an L17 as long as they knew to not overpull; several months ago when Era Cardwyn was starting out, we even took an L14 and got most of the way through until we got to the boat**.

On these Hardcore servers, I think L21-22 minimum is a safer bet for everyone involved. And if someone wants to be an idiot and take a severely underleveled toon into that place, go ahead. I'm not coming along.

And I'm fine with that.

To be honest, I can get away with that because a lot of the decent gear a leveling Frost Mage has are the items that they can make via Tailoring.

I'm used to playing conservatively, so Hardcore servers just make me slow down even more. And I don't even bother with baddies like murloc packs or gnolls in Westfall because I know that 2-3 coming after me is a recipe for death, so it's much smarter for me to relax, pull back, and make like predators on the Serengeti: hit the isolated and weak ones.

Outside of that mental adjustment, the vibe from the HC servers isn't as bad as it was when the Hardcore Challenge was merely an app. Sure, it can get crowded, but it's not terrible. (The phasing has helped a ton with this.) And without people being able to run boosts and whatnot --or try to do anything vaguely resembling a GDKP run*** there's a dearth of bots and whatnot. Those few bots I've seen out in the wild --they tend to have junk names that don't mean anything at all-- have died pretty early in the leveling process. 

One thing that hasn't changed: the idiotic arguments in Trade Chat.

For example, I left Stormwind the second day I logged in because people were arguing over what shorthand to call Dire Maul versus The Deadmines. Both can use DM, hence the bitching, but as I pointed out before I left there's probably only a handful of people on the Hardcore servers who could even enter into Dire Maul, so there's absolutely no reason to fight when for 99% of Hardcore Server players Dire Maul isn't even an option.

So, not everything is hunky dory in Hardcore land, but that's fine. It's an engaging diversion from when I'm playing Era, but not something I'm going to go all in on. 

I think.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to Atheren, who managed to track me down already on Skull Rock-US and send me some Health Potions and some bags. They have been much appreciated, even though I've been mainly stockpiling the potions for emergencies.

*One day I missed because I miscounted and thought I'd already posted, but I made up for it by posting twice in the next day.

**Said L14 told us "they were almost L15", but after not leveling through the entire Deadmines instance I was calling "bullshit" about that to my questing buddy. As proof, when Card was high enough she helped out some friends through Deadmines and all of them leveled at least once during the instance run.

***For the uninitiated, all raid participants have to have a certain amount of gold on their person --you have to have proof before you're invited to the raid-- and have to bid in gold for items that drop. This is apparently the "meta" on Wrath Classic servers these days, and on large servers such as Atiesh-US that has colored everybody's approach to the game. If you want to pug things, you'd better be able to buy gold or you have to put up with the gatekeeping on 5-person instances if you want to do group content. On smaller servers --such as what Old Blanchy-US or Bloodsail Buccaneers-US are-- the culture is different, so it's not as bad there. But for me, I don't feel like giving Blizz money for the privilege of avoiding the mess they helped to create. I've said this before, but in the off chance you missed it, there ya go. And to be fair, I had a hard stop on Wrath Classic servers anyway, because Cataclysm Classic will be coming next year. 

EtA: Corrected grammatical errors.