Monday, December 5, 2022

Meme Monday: You All Meet in a Tavern Memes

It's a standard trope in any RPG, whether it be a tabletop game, a video game, or even an MMO*, that "you meet at an inn/tavern" is how the party gets together. Given that I spent my weekend repairing my tavern (painting my home office and moving stuff around), I thought it appropriate to share some tavern themed memes.

At least I can read/write Common.
From Dungeons and Dads on FB.


You know, I don't think I have
started a tavern fire yet.
From Pinterest.


You know, I could make
a month's worth of Meme
Mondays just dedicated
to Goldshire. And not
have them officially NSFW
either!
From Pinterest.

...and one straight outta Jojo's
Bizarre Adventure.
From ifunny.co.




*Think Goldshire... No no... DON'T think Goldshire! Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Watching the Bronco Busters Work

I'm watching the initial posts about Dragonflight from the sideline, such as Kaylriene's, and I wonder whether Dragonflight is for me.

Or maybe a better question to ask is whether Dragonflight is for someone who liked the open world of Vanilla Classic but gradually became disappointed with the tone and direction of TBC Classic and Wrath Classic. 

I already know I don't like the revamped Old World brought about by Cataclysm over a decade ago*, and the focus of you in Wrath (and onward) as a sort of superhero for merely doing the job of killing ten rats kind of wears on me. Yes, other MMOs have something similar in design --such as SWTOR and LOTRO-- but... the transition from Vanilla's do a variety of things or a couple of mini stories in a zone to your character having a soundtrack straight out of a Bonnie Tyler song by the end of Wrath doesn't quite do it for me. 

If I'm coming back to Dragonflight, it will be from the standpoint of a player who had effectively retired after defeating Arthas, teaming up with Neve to teach apprentices away from the crowds of Stormwind and Silvermoon. Card would have to be coaxed out of retirement by acquaintances among the dragonflights; in her case it would likely have been Haleh (or maybe Awbee) asking Card to come help explore the Dragon Isles since her eye for detail would prove invaluable. 

Coming back into the fray after having been (effectively) away for 20 years would be difficult for Card, which mirrors my own difficulties stepping back into Retail and finding so many different systems and expectations beyond what things were like in Retail Wrath.** Look at it this way: there have now been just as many expansions in World of Warcraft after I left than before I left, 8 years ago. That's a lot of "learn something only to discard it two years later" playing, but also a lot of changes to the basics and the systems behind the game. 

One need only look at the map to see evidence of that.

This is Wrath Classic, but it's functionally
unchanged since Vanilla Classic.


Yes, that's the original Azshandra.
The map is that smallish thing
with all of the quest markers and
whatnot in it.

The integration of the map with quest markers --along with other items-- would have been provided with addons until when the default map was changed, sometime after the Mists of Pandaria expansion. 

You can customize the map to an extent:

I had to hunt around for it, but this
is brought up by the magnifying
glass, above.

But not too much. The main quest markers are still present.

I guess I wouldn't complain about it so much if it was something I was used to from the start, such as SWTOR's map, 

Courtesy of my baby Imperial Agent.

except that SWTOR's map has changed a bit over the years. Some of the "non-story" quests are now hidden by default, and you have to manually select an option to show them, but largely it has remained the same. In fact, the quest design itself behind SWTOR is very similar to that of Wrath Classic, down to the display in the default UI.

Linna taking a short break at
Valiance Keep. Note the list of quests
in the upper right.

It's been so long since I played this
Agent that some things have been
reset, but the quest list is still present,
again in the upper left.

Of course, I never knew that the quest list being turned on by default was an innovation in Wrath itself until I began playing Vanilla Classic and discovered it simply didn't exist wasn't turned on. [EtA: corrected this but kept the original in editing. Thanks to Indy for pointing out the miss here due to my lack of clarity.]***

What I have found is that throwing away the map and playing in a non-optimized manner allows me to just explore and figure things out on my own, something I'd never experienced before in MMOs until I had the chance to in Vanilla Classic. I'm obviously in the minority here, because MMOs have evolved away from exploratory play and in favor of directed play. All you have to know about that is that Retail conditioned players to sprint to max level to begin the grinding of prepping for raids, despite design intentions in Dragonflight to counter that FOMO.

The relevant portion is at 0:51:10, about the
design change of players logging in without
mandatory content. However, if you've the time
the entire video is VERY much worth it.

Old habits are hard to break, particularly when the next expansion is well underway.**** 

***

All of that aside, the question remains: will a person who likes more of the open world, more cold war version of the pre-Cataclysm World of Warcraft find enough to love in Dragonflight, which on the face of it seems to be a completely different game?

If it were a matter of using the same subscription to go ahead and play that'd be one thing, but WoW still requires a person to pay for the expansions, so it becomes a matter of whether $50 is worth it to buy, play for a few hours, and then discard if I don't like it. And I don't know about you, but especially during the Holidays I don't have $50 just sitting around to blow on what to me seems a pretty risky gamble, so I'm going to sit on the fence for a while. I'm kind of used to that, as after all, it's not like I haven't done that before.




*I've been pondering that quite a bit lately, and I considered several reasons why I didn't like the revamp: the focus on the Horde and Alliance conflict, the shoehorning of Goblins and Worgen into an already existing world, and the constantly depressing viewpoints of the conflict (::cough:: Hillsbrad ::cough::). But I think the biggest reason why I didn't like the revamp was the need for every single zone to have an overarcing zone story. In Vanilla WoW, and to a lesser extent TBC and Wrath, there may have been stories set within a zone, but with a few notable exceptions (such as Westfall) there hasn't been a singular dominant story arc like that found in The Storm Peaks in Wrath. However, almost all of the revamped Old World zones have one dominant zone story to help propel the questing from hub to hub.

**Yes, for the record I stopped playing at the end of Mists, but I effectively stopped playing any sort of PvE group content shortly into Cataclysm; the toxic atmosphere and LTP noob nature of the LFD tool killed any interest in learning how to do group content beyond the occasional Normal dungeon run. Instead, I focused on (regular) Battlegrounds and by the time Mists of Pandaria was coming to an end I grew tired of the pervasive nature of bots and how the Alliance could only win the 40 person BGs. 

***Hence the prevalence of the Questie addon in the Classic community.

****It's like that in any software development house. At the one I worked at back in the 90s, the "official" release of our product was barely noticed by the development staff, as we were about 1/3 of the way into the projects already identified for the next release. And we didn't have issues like MMOs do, where the reception of systems and changes for the current expansion won't have a true impact on the game until two expansions later. That's because you simply can't change direction on a dime and devote a huge amount of resources to changing the game potentially mid-to-late expac development. In our case, it was a matter of which project got priority more than changing projects entirely.

EtA: I meant to put the proper code for Preach's YouTube video in there, but I forgot. Oopsie.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Meme Monday: Questing Memes

Oh, I could fill a year's worth of Meme Monday's strictly with memes from quests, but here are four that popped out of my pile...

And it even has "you meet in
a tavern"!
From Pinterest.

I guess being a courier IRL
is good training...
From Reddit.

Ah yes, quest weirdness.
From ifunny.co.

Pick a quest... any quest...
From knowyourmeme.com.


Friday, November 25, 2022

Good Enough for Government Work

I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in
--Night Moves, Bob Seger, from the album Night Moves


This week is the first anniversary of my brush with the Hereafter.

After that week, and my subsequent trips to visit the Diabetes team, my Cardiologist, and my Primary Care Physician*, the past year has been... Rather boring.

Which is to say, that's a very very good thing.

I continued to lose weight --not a surprise given the diabetic and low sodium diet I'm under-- and my numbers continue to improve. To put this in perspective, let's talk about my A1C percentage. 

A1C is a measure of my blood glucose levels over a three month period. No, it's not a three months long test, but it measures the percentage of hemoglobin in my blood that has sugar attached. Everybody has some glucose attached to your hemoglobin, but diabetics have a greater percentage. And since it takes about 3 months for diet and other changes to affect those levels, that's why it's said that my A1C percentage measures the past three months' worth of blood glucose.

Here's a handy chart for what the percentages should be**:

Normal:            Below 5.7%
Prediabetes:       5.7% to 6.4%
Diabetes:          6.5% or above

Now that you know what the numbers ought to be, when I walked into the hospital a year ago, my A1C percentage was 12.6.

That might not sound all that large to you, but when I mention that to diabetics I've gotten to know, they all stop what they're doing and go "HOLY SHIT!" Typically followed by "I'M SHOCKED YOU'RE STILL ALIVE!"

So yeah, 12.6 is a lot.

Over the course of the past year, my primary care physician set a goal for me to get my A1C down to 7.0% and keep it there.

By June, I'd smashed through that goal and was down to 6.2%.

At my physical a couple of weeks ago, I tested at 5.8%, barely in the Prediabetic range.

My physician was pleased, and during the physical he began talking about dialing back some of my medications. (Within reason, of course.)

My cardiologist has also been upbeat, as since my tests back in April 2022 confirmed that my heart function was back to normal, she's been on the "keep doing what you're doing" path as well.

***

So where do I think things are?

Overall, a lot better than where I was a year ago, but anyone could say that.

I know I still don't hit my numbers all the time, and I've been repeatedly assured that I'm doing great by everybody, from my Cardiologist down to the Diabetes Team. Outside of persistent aches and pains that I've inflicted on myself by exercising too much at once, I feel pretty good. There have been a few notable side effects --one of which I have another prescription for that shows up on television commercials on a regular basis***-- but overall I guess I can't complain.

(About this, anyway. I mean, complaining is in my job description at PC here.)

I don't mean to disappoint people with more angst, but I'm doing well enough that it feels embarrassing to be talking about it. I mean, who wants to read a post saying "I'm still doing okay, thanks!" without much drama?

But I'm here, and that's good enough for government work.




*That is the current standard name for "my doctor" these days.

**Courtesy of cdc.gov.

***I swear, just about all commercials --outside of those for eczema or gout or HIV-- seem to cover drugs that I either currently take or had taken in the past. I suppose I should have more angst about this particular side effect than I do, and I'm sure that a lot of people in my position would do precisely that, but I'm happy that the drugs work. My having to plan my life around medications --and this is just one more on the pile-- is something I'm going to have to live with. My life is very much a planned set of activities, because I can't afford to let my guard down, and this is just another part of my life I have to regiment and plan for.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Meme Monday: Thankful Memes

This Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, which is a day to be thankful for the friends and family we have.

And watch football.

And, unfortunately, listen to your crazy relatives spout off about whatever is stuck in their head at the moment.

But still, the original sentiment is a noble one.

Truth.
From makeameme.org.

"Mmmm.... Eat turkey, you will..."
From geeksandgamers.com.

From munofore.com.

And for my son, a Warhammer
Thanksgiving.
From warhammer-community.com.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Just A Taste... A Small Taste...

"No Regrets?" Silk asked Garion that evening as they rode toward the sharply rising peaks outlined against the glittering stars ahead.

"Regrets about what?"

"Giving up command." Silk had been watching him curiously ever since the setting sun signaled the resumption of their journey.

"No," Garion replied, not quite sure what the little man meant. "Why should there be?"

"It's a very important thing for a man to learn about himself, Garion," Silk told him seriously. "Power can be very sweet for some men, and you never know how a man is going to handle it until you give him the chance to try."

"I don't know why you went to all the trouble. It's not too likely that I'm going to be put in charge of things very often."

"You never know, Garion. You never know."
--Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings, pg. 50.


I've been noodling around Icecrown Glacier in Northrend, because the progression across the continent has taken me there. 

And when you get to the point where the only places left to explore are Sholazar Basin and Icecrown Glacier, you go to where the quests point you first.* I mean, I suppose I could have gone to Sholazar Basin just because, and it's not like I haven't done that before, but my memory of that place is pretty much "meh". Icecrown is where the expansion comes to an end, and it only makes sense that all the drama points you in that direction. 

But the further I've quested into Northrend, the more the "subtle" changes to questlines and quest texts become overt.

We've gone from this...


...through this...


...to this.

Yes, even OG Cardwyn got that first quest above, which I found particularly amusing since she had never visited Outland at that point.**

When your quest text starts sounding like the theme from Cheers, you know you've veered heavily into celebrity territory. 

I imagine a substantial portion of the player base either doesn't care or likes this change from Vanilla/TBC, especially given that Blizz went all in on this story slant in future expacs. But to me, it simply rings hollow. You're basically doing what you're told to do, and because you can follow orders you're a Champion of Azeroth? I mean, I do what I'm asked to do all the time at work (or at home), and never once has that ever translated into anything other than "Meets Expectations" on my performance review. If I want to get a better review, I have to go above and beyond following the basic instructions.

It might be a limitation of the state of Wrath Classic that Blizz can't break out of questing format, but I suspect that Blizz simply moved in the direction of making Reputation and the story line more overtly about you, and how powerful you are. Like Garion, we have been granted some power, and while we're really really really limited --story wise-- how we can use it, it's undeniable that first comment you get when you pass by an NPC when you're Exalted with their faction can be... intoxicating.

Much better than being "dragon dinner", I suppose.

I guess the thing that bugs me about all this is that I'm being fêted by these factions (and the quest text) without me feeling like I've really done anything that important. When you reach Exalted with a faction they lavish praise on you, such as Wyrmrest Accord in the graphic above, but they'll do that even before I entered into the Oculus for the first time, much less The Eye of Eternity or The Obsidian Sanctum. While I can understand the dragonkin being happy to see me after The Nexus War was brought to an end, but before, when I spent most of my time grinding rep by running instances?*** Come on; I know better. You could make a pretty big argument that I spent just as much --if not more-- time dealing with The Sons of Hodir ("Hodor!") via in-game quests than three other factions combined (Wyrmrest Accord, Argent Crusade, and Ebon Blade), and I'm only up to Honored with Big Blue Nation.****

In the end it's all a simulation --and not a very complex one at that-- and I shouldn't expect anything more than what I'm getting. But still, it irks me that this wasn't what I remembered about Wrath. I remembered interesting stories and fun instances and --unfortunately-- guild blow ups due to the difficulty raiding. Now, years later, I can see where WoW began moving in a narrative direction that didn't appeal to me. The instances are still there, and I've countered the raiding issues with being recruited into a 10s team that is focused on fun and not speeding through progression. And I still have my friends. It's just that the focus on the player --in the manner presented in Wrath Classic-- no longer appeals to me. It becomes less about you the person and more about you the wielder of great power. And in that sense you are merely a tool for others, something I never even thought about at the time. 

Circling back to the quote I use to kick this post off, is this taste of power and influence sweet? For others it might be, but for me, it feels... Tainted. Something feels off about it. Perhaps that's part of the influence of Arthas himself, and how he allowed his fatal flaw of revenge --and the pursuit of power for revenge-- to corrupt him into The Lich King he is today. Will we find this taste of power and influence so sweet that we are, in turn, corrupted as well? And if we are, how can we see it without others to point it out to us?




*Yes, I'm quite aware there's seed quests for both Sholazar Basin and Icecrown at the landing platform in Dalaran, but I've ignored them in favor of quests from out in the field. If nothing else, the overall lack of quests out Northrend proper that send a player to Sholazar reinforce my opinion that Sholazar Basin was merely tacked on because Blizz felt obligated to have a place where Hemet Nesingwary would end up. At least as far as the Mists expansion, Hemet is considered too important a side character to not have some quest hub and chain assigned to him and his crew. If that held true all the way through Shadowlands, I'm not exactly sure I want to know how they pulled that off with Hemet in the Afterlife.

**She has since had to go there because the Enchanting trainer wouldn't give her Outland's Enchanting, whereas Tailoring had no issues with giving her Outland's Tailoring ability. I'm inclined to think it a "feature", not a bug. And Blizz would likely give me a weird look if I told them I skipped Outland and leveled to 70 strictly in the Old World.

***A very 'meta' way of gaining rep, but hey, that's how you do it in Wrath Classic.

****Sorry, University of Kentucky Wildcats, those overly large giants are more impressive than coach John Calipari's plausible deniability about recruiting basketball players.


Monday, November 14, 2022

Meme Monday: Frosty Memes

We had our first snowfall of the Fall on Saturday, which got me in a more seasonal mood. So I went with those memes that encompass gaming, RPGs, MMOs, and --of course-- snow.

And this is why Hogger should be
a raid boss.
From ifunny.co.

This is why Wrath of the Lich King
gives you that frosty feeling.
From Pinterest.

Forget the dice, I want to know
what the hell Cambridge Naturals
is, and whether I should be concerned
if it's a NSFW site or not.
From Pinterest.

They're more menacing that the
White Dragons I knew and loved,
but hey, still accurate.
From diy.despair.com.