Friday, February 28, 2020

Maybe I'm Overthinking This

 Okay, I KNOW I'm overthinking this....

One of the items that I've puzzled over the years were character backstories. I don't mean the multipage life history that some people write for their D&D characters*, but rather the motivation a character has to go adventuring in an MMO.

Now, LOTRO actually does a good job of this, because the entire intro zone --and the entire starting sequence-- for a player centers around why to go adventuring. The late MMO Wildstar also did a good job of this as well, but unless there's a private server out there Wildstar isn't coming back. But other MMOs kind of just plunk you into the starting zone --maybe with a brief narration, in the case of WoW-- and that's that.

Take the case of the Human starting zone: Northshire Abbey. You've answered the call for assistance as the army is elsewhere, yadda yadda yadda. But where's the motivation? The "why" behind the answering of the call?

For Humans, at least, there's the Three Wars, and for a Human adventurer the Second War is the War your parents would have fought in, and the Third War was only a few short years ago. But the Night Elves have a completely different motivation. I've not seen a Night Elf child throughout my wandering in Classic.** But I have seen Human and Orc children out and about. I suppose that means the focus is on Humans and Orcs, but given that Night Elves were (until the end of the Third War) immortal, if they had children at the rate Humans and Orcs had they'd be dealing with incredibly bad overpopulation problems.

So by extension, any Night Elf adventurer likely has been an adult for a pretty long time, and therefore has a different motivation for going out and adventuring than, say, a Human or Orc.

By contrast, some players such as Gnomes and Darkspear Trolls have built in motivations. Gnomes lost Gnomeregan, and Trolls are dealing with a potential usurper in the Echo Isles. A direct threat has a way of motivating people far more than a vague "come help us protect [insert locality here]". And once the direct threat is over, people who have had a taste of the adventuring life will keep going. Motivation solved.

But for me, the real conundrum is also the class itself. Warlocks are going to want power, Mages could go for power or knowledge, Warriors have that military/guard thing going, and Paladins have the Knights of the Round Table vibe. Druids have nature as their motivation, and Hunters... well... you kind of get the idea there. Priests do have the "tending the flock" prosleytizing motivation too. And Shamans I could see as a rough equivalent to Priests in that regard. But Rogues? They're a puzzle, especially once you try to combine a Rogue and a Night Elf. You'd think that any Night Elf with Rogue tendencies would have ended up in a Darnassian jail cell, and the same goes for a lot of the other races. There are those who go for the secret agent angle, but given that SI:7 is primarily a Human outfit, the non-Human Rogues really don't have an equivalent motivation until the Alliance ones (at least) get a quest to go visit SI:7.

I suppose these speculations are all just that, given that anybody can come up with a motivation and backstory for their character, but it does serve to make me wonder why Az does what she does.

And I can almost hear her say "I do what I do because I'm good at it," intentionally deflecting any attempt at understanding her.

*Not to downplay those, but I've gone back and reread some of my old backstories from my pencil and paper RPG campaigns back in the day, and boy do they make me cringe. I may have thought I was being edgy, but with the years of experience later what I thought was edgy was merely bad writing.

**Same with Dwarves, Gnomes, Tauren, etc....

Monday, February 24, 2020

We Pause the Blog for a Special Announcement

A year ago on February 23, my friend and fellow WoW, SWTOR, and Neverwinter blogger Shintar was married. I can't tell you how happy I am to wish her a Happy Anniversary!!

You know, I'm always surprised when
I see a real pic of Shintar that she doesn't
have the Cyber-thingie over her head.
From Shintar's Twitter feed.

Now, go wish her on her blogs (pick one, they're linked above) or her Twitter Feed (I linked that on her name) a Happy Anniversary!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

You Knew This Was Coming...

...when Warcraft 3 Reforged was released to a completely disastrous result. Here's the Honest Game Trailer of Warcraft 3 Reforged.

Monday, February 17, 2020

I Can Handle Low Key

The WoW Classic Valentine's Day event is pretty much low key, which is perfectly fine with me.
You're wondering if the Dwarf had
forgotten about you? And you're
dressed like that? Lemme explain
a few things about guys....

As far as I can tell, there aren't any raids to deal with, just general hijinks regarding giving the equivalent of Valentine's Day cards to people, a few candy-esque goodies, and a rather simple quest chain that ends with a short epiphany on seeing through the purely physical to the soul of what it means to love.

I'm not here to spoil the event, but I will say that it was kind of a fun, low key event that --at worst-- had some temporary items that took up bag space.* Not a big deal all around, but a brief diversion nevertheless. And yes, I did burn the temp items as quickly as I got them, because I wasn't about to lose out bag space for mats and other junk I can sell to vendors when I come back from questing/instances.

I guess you could opine on how love doesn't require people to have, well, stuff to make love work. People give candy and flowers for Valentine's Day all the time, and those are at best temporary. Even jewelry isn't that important if you really love someone, it's just an item that people don't frequently wear in their everyday lives** when you really think about it. But it's the thought that counts, I suppose, and that's what makes Valentine's Day meaningful to people.

*And one piece of non-stat gear formal wear, which is great for roleplaying or just hanging around one of the major cities. (Or Goldshire, I suppose.)

**Unless it was an engagement ring given as a gift!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Don't Wait! If You Act Now, We'll Add This Free Gear!!

If there's one thing that stays the same in Classic, it's change.

Or, more specifically, how I deal with guilds.

I'd gotten used to getting invites to guilds as just part of the game. I configured Classic to auto reject guild invites, but I would still get pings on the average of once a day. And not from people nearby or during 5-man runs (or other groupings), but just random guild invites. I treated those with politeness, and if they responded in kind I made a point to not specifically block them.*

The past few weeks, however, I've seen a complete sea change in guild invites.

The guild invites from grouping have pretty much dried up for now**, but the randoms looking to fill out raid slots have spiked. And since Cardwyn is in the low L40s right now, that means she's been getting no guild invites whatsoever. The guild invites that Az gets, as she's sitting at L54 as of this posting, include things like "we'll help you get to L60 so you can raid with us". Even after I point out that raiding isn't my priority, the guild invitees respond with "we've got raid gear for you, and we'll run PvP Battlegrounds as well!"

Now, I've not bothered to look at the needs for Onyxia, Molten Core, and UBRS runs, but I'm pretty sure that Rogues are kind of far down the list. After all, the best interrupt abilities of a Rogue don't necessarily work with non-humanoids, and one of the other abilities (Expose Armor) interferes with a Warrior's Sunder Armor and can cause a Warrior Tank to lose aggro during a fight.

Flattered? Yeah, sort of, but I'd rather not join a guild when they sound so obviously desperate.

Besides, I've kind of made it known enough times that I'm not that interested in joining a guild, because of my history of dealing with guild drama. I get that crap at work, and I don't need it following me home to my hobbies as well.

On the flip side, I do know at least one fellow player who is trying hard to find a guild that fits. She*** has been in a few guilds, but for some reason or another they simply don't work for her. All she really wants is a guild that she can run instances with at max level and just relax and have fun, but she hasn't found that yet. I've told her I'll keep an eye out, but I've not seen as many guild invites as before.


Guild invites are one thing that has changed, while another is that the Auction House has changed yet again.

When Az got her mount in the upper L40s, one sure way to generate gold was make Mageweave Bags and sell them on the AH. It wasn't a lot on Myzrael, but it was about 70-90 silver a bag. Silk bags went for about 40-50 silver, which was pretty good now. So among the fishing that Az performed --to get lockboxes and other assorted rarer fish used in cooking recipes-- I had Cardwyn make a bunch of Silk and then Mageweave bags, ship them over to Az, and have her sell them.

Now that it's time for Cardwyn to get her own mount, however, it looks like the Mageweave and Silk bag market has collapsed.

If anything, it looks like the mats market is doing better than expected, and I'm going to have to study it for a while. But it seems profoundly weird that I can sell bags to a vendor for more than what they're going on the AH right now. Runecloth is the major exception in the bag department, because unless you're willing to go with Mooncloth's pricing Runecloth is the best you can easily get.

I do suspect that part of the reason for the bag market collapsing is that enough people have alts that can easily create bags now, so there's not much of a need for bags from the AH. It also seems the same thing happened with lower level cloth gear, as I used to be able to sell some of that Cardwyn made gear for a decent profit and that has collapsed as well.

So.... Off to work on Cardwyn's fishing skills, I guess. Or start farming mats to sell on the AH.

*I only had to block one guy who simply wouldn't give up and take no for an answer, but in general they've been a decent enough bunch.

**Watch me get one the day this posts. It's just karma, you know.

***I'm going off of the toons she creates, as I've not actually heard her in Discord or something.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

On Being a Student of the Game

There's an American sports term that's frequently applied to players who take the time to learn the nuances of their particular sport: "a student of the game". The term basically means that the player understands all aspects of a particular sport, and uses it to their advantage.* The hidden implication, however, is that the particular player in question succeeds because of their applied knowledge rather than their raw physical skills.

I was thinking of this when I was in yet another Scarlet Monastery run on Cardwyn the other day. For myself --and likely a lot of other people-- WoW Classic is familiar and comfortable. You don't have to have top flight physical skills to do a passable job as DPS in a dungeon, and due to how the data structures were configured for Vanilla (and now Classic), the abilities of bosses in both dungeons and raids were somewhat limited compared to, say, Wrath onward. For a person like me, who now qualifies for membership in the AARP**, this is a good thing.

Dungeons such as the Scarlet Monastery instances reward tactical skill and not strictly physical skill. You don't have to rely upon an MMO mouse such as the Razer Naga and then attempting to master it.*** to do well in SM; you need to know which baddie to kill first in a pack, how to perform LOS pulls, and the order in which you kill Whitemane and Mograine. (For the record, it's Him -> Her -> Her -> Him.) None of that stresses your physical skills. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Given that I've been wearing bifocals for most of the past decade and that I now require a magnifying glass for soldering electronics, I've been acutely aware of the gradual decline in my physical skills. Games that require tons and tons of button mashing in rapid fire fashion, such as MOBAs**** or an action RPG such as Diablo III, make my fingers and wrist ache after a short time. Inadvertent screw-ups, such as being late to an interrupt, plague me more than before. But a game such as Classic is more forgiving of physical limitations, especially given that I picked up the game at 40.

From that perspective, less is more, and I can focus less on the mechanics and more of the game itself.

*This isn't to be confused with university classes such as "Coaching Basketball". For those who are skeptical, yes, this is a thing, particularly if your university major is in something such as "Physical Education" or "Sports Management". Charlie Coles, the late basketball coach at Miami University in Oxford, OH, loved to teach that class. And because Charlie was a morning person, he had that class scheduled as the first one of the day.

**American Association of Retired Persons. To be a member, you have to be age 50+. You get some discounts at certain places, but the AARP is most well known as a lobby for senior citizens' issues. It doesn't have the clout it did 20 years ago, but it still does have some political power.

***I'd love to have a Naga, but my wife would not be able to cope with all the buttons. We have a Steel Series Sensei Raw, and while I love the mouse my wife forced me to lock most of the mouse buttons because she would constantly bump the buttons while using the PC and screw up her screen. Before you point out there are different profiles for mice, I frequently play games with browers and whatnot running in the background --because there are plenty of times when I'm on the PC and she comes over and decides she wants to use it at a moment's notice-- so I discovered those profiles were pretty useless. So if I wanted to use a gaming mouse to the fullest, I'd need an entirely new PC, which is a LOT more than the cost of a mouse.

****An ex-coworker of mine is the father of a well known elite LoL player, and he told me once that his son figured he had only a few years to be at the top of his game due to the demand on the body, and that he'd likely be gone from playing competitively at the highest level by age 28. Even discounting the fact that his son was playing at the highest level in competitive LoL play, you'd figure that most of the top raiding guilds in MMOs such as WoW constantly tweak their raid lineups and "retire" people whose physical skills start to drop off in their 30s and 40s.