Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Uh... About that Pre-Patch

When the pre-patch for Wrath Classic dropped, everybody in my BNet list --and I do mean everybody-- was in Wrath Classic.

This time, in Cataclysm Classic?

As of 9:30 PM EST, there are exactly four.

There's also two in Season of Discovery, and one in Classic Era.

Of a BNet list of 26 regular Classic players who were in Wrath Classic at pre-patch at this time of night back then, less than 20% is not a good look. 

I was curious about people whom I'm not BNet friends with but have had direct messages via Discord, and unlike that first night, very very few people are on World of Warcraft right now. Especially those that I raided with in Vanilla and TBC Classic. 

So, while there may be activity in Cataclysm Classic, among the people I played with in earlier instances of WoW Classic Cata does not have any draw whatsoever.

At least for now.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Meme Monday: Pollen Memes

Yes, in Ohio it's that time of year: when you come out in the morning and your car is covered in pollen. If you wash your car, it'll be covered in pollen the next morning.

Oh yay.

In dubious honor of the flowers here going bananas, I figured I'd spend this Meme Monday on the bane of my existence, pollen.

And both blow things up, too. 
In the case of the former, my eyes and nose.
From Memebase.

Yeah, I know. I get that.
From Cheezburger.

Makes me wonder if that death mask found
at Mycene merely had allergies. From Pinterest.

Truth. From depositphotos.

And one bonus pollen meme:

Wow. I never noticed...
From click2houston.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Some Short Ponderables For a Saturday

None of these items are enough for a post on their own, so I strung several that have been living rent free in my head into a single miscellaneous post.


In World of Warcraft, main raids typically have a gear set for each class known as a Tier set. In Vanilla WoW, there's even a pre-raid Tier set, known as T0, that you can accumulate via dungeons.* However, why is AQ40's Tier set considered T2.5 and not T3? It's not a set that came along later and was shoehorned in to give people a chance at better gear, like the T0.5 questlines, so why is it colloquially known as T2.5? 

You'd think that going from Molten Core -> Onyxia/Blackwing Lair -> Temple of Ahn'Qiraj -> Naxxramas would be Tier 1 through Tier 4, but noooo....


Ex-Blizzard head honcho Mike Ybarra has this idea in his head to allow paying customers to tip game devs. Given that while he was in charge at Blizzard he had the ability to pay the development staff --all of them-- more money if he liked their work, why is he even suggesting this?

Apparently tip jar stickers are a thing
that you can buy. From superostmk.live

Because he wants to turn game development into the equivalent of the wait staff at American restaurants, who survive on tips because of the low pay. 

I mean, I get it if there's a tip jar out for free-to-play games, since that could make sense if you don't want to buy stuff from their cash shop (assuming there is one), but when a guy who was in charge of a game development studio makes these suggestions, it certainly seems less like he's trying to say "game devs deserve extra for a good game" and more like "I really want to find new ways to pay people less to increase my profit margins".


One thing that always puzzled me about the Plaguelands in WoW is how the land is so obviously diseased and plagued --both there and in the Ghostlands in southern Quel'Thalas-- but the NPCs and the players seem to be immune to the Plague itself.  You see this in Northrend in Wrath of the Lich King as well, where in the Troll city of Zul'Drak has Plague Spreaders everywhere, but the Crusaders and the players are effectively immune to that. I would have thought that anything who stays long enough in Plague infested lands stands a very high chance of contracting the Plague themselves, but I guess plot armor is stronger than the Plague of Undeath.

Thought I'd go with a Ghostlands screenshot
for a change. Even in broad daylight it looks like this.


I'm not the brightest bulb in the universe when someone tries to subtly tell me something.

If you ever read some of those Reddit threads about guys totally missing out that they were being hit on, yeah that'd be me.**

For some reason I was thinking about the term Netflix and Chill, and it occurred to me just what other "come hither" signals in the past did I miss. I knew of "come up for a cup of coffee", but I personally never encountered that one, but beyond that outside of the stereotypical 'booty call' --calling someone up after midnight to ask them to come over to your place-- I don't know of any. And I certainly don't know of any references used by people playing various video, pencil/paper, and board games, for certain. 

Still, maybe it's something to pursue for a while. Yes, I am such a dweeb. Or maybe I just want to look back on my past and smack my forehead and go "Oh CRAP! How did I miss that one??!!"

Sometimes being middle age is a bitch.

*Yes, I know that they're not all that good in terms of what your class is best at, Blizzard was still figuring this stuff out in Vanilla, you know, so it's not perfect. Still, the Rogue set and the Mage set do look nice from an aesthetics standpoint.

**There's a ton of them out there; I only linked one but if you want to read more, go ahead and search for "clueless guys reddit thread". Trust me, they'll pop out.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024


It's kind of funny how life works out.

When I went away to college, I was a kid who listened to Rock and Metal, but also enjoyed Classical music. I had a thing for Canadian power rock trios, as my collection of Rush and Triumph cassettes proved, but I also would listen to the Classical LPs that my parents had in the basement*.

As far as I know, they're still down there.
This pic is from Etsy, but this was
the first album in the set.

I knew that Alternative --aka Modern Rock-- was out there, as was New Wave, but when I was in high school I wasn't really exposed to it at all. The legendary WOXY, 97.7 FM, was up in Oxford, Ohio, and while we could (barely) pick it up back home, it was more well known locally as the station used in the movie Rain Man.

The tagline was created for the movie, and
the station loved it so much they adopted it.

I knew of punk, and what I heard I liked, but it never got on the radio back home. Top 40 dominated the airwaves, and big corporate radio companies (Jaycor, a predecessor to IHeartRadio, began in the late 80s in Cincinnati) were just starting to make inroads on homogenizing what you could hear over the air, so I expected that going away to college would expose me to far more of what I liked than what I could hear locally.

But of all the things I expected to be exposed to, this certainly wasn't on the menu:

My new roommate was from Chicago, and I quickly learned a few things when we moved in together: we both shared a love of D&D and Doctor Who**, he certainly loved his Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, no city in the US was as good as Chicago, and that he was fine with putting up posters that would have given my parents a heart attack.

We both contributed to the decor in our dorm room. My posters were more along these lines:

Mine was a 5 foot version of this, which
I still have stored away in the basement.
(From Ebay.)

But these were more of my roommate's taste:

I had no idea who Samantha Fox
was until he put this 5 foot tall poster up on
the back of our door. This caused... drama...
when my parents picked me up for
Thanksgiving. (From Worthpoint.)

Oh, and he had eclectic taste in music.

He had an actual CD player --a portable model, and the first one I'd ever seen-- and about a dozen CDs. Sure, I'd seen a few CDs at stores, but compared to albums and cassettes there were very few of them. But I was surprised at what he had on his collection. Amy Grant? Stryper? He didn't seem like the sort for Christian music. He also had Genesis' Invisible Touch, a greatest hits compilation of The Young Rascals, and...

It might have been Fresh Aire III, but
This was a better quality photo. From Discogs.

Fresh Aire? What the hell is this? And...

From Discogs.

"Windham Hill?" I asked.

"Yeah, it's pretty nice music. I'll put it on later."

Given his other geeky pastimes, I was willing to give it a try. And I surprised myself by actually liking both CDs, although I'll freely admit the sound quality of the CDs alone probably had an impact. By October, I'd heard enough to know two things: I actually liked this "New Age" type of music, and I wanted a CD player for Christmas. Given that I didn't have a receiver but I did have a boom box with AUX inputs, that's saying something. 


Fast forward to today, and the past couple of months I've been spending time re-ripping my old CDs at a better bit rate than before***, so I've reacquainted myself with my old Windham Hill and Mannheim Steamroller CDs. I mean, I still play them from time to time, but one thing about re-ripping means I'm hearing everything again, listening critically, to make sure that the CD was ripped properly.****

Because of this exercise, I've been struck by how greatly my roommate from 37 years ago influenced my musical tastes of today. 

And now, I've got online friends to thank for influencing my musical tastes again.

Found this at a bookstore. This one's
for you, Bhagpuss.

*My dad did NOT listen to Classical music; my mom got the Funk and Wagnalls collection --one week at a time as they were released-- from our local discount store down the street. 

**When he was moving his stuff into our dorm, I noticed this magazine on the top of one of his boxes:

Took me a while to find this out of the Parallel
Context archive, but here it is.

I immediately recognized it as TSR's Dragon magazine, so I pretended I didn't see anything so as not to attract my parents' attention, but if I had any doubt that I had found another one of my people, this dispelled it. He also had a signed black and white photo of Tom "The Fourth Doctor" Baker on his desk, next to the prom photos with his (then) girlfriend. So yeah, a nerd through and through.

***Yes, it's still MP3s, because I don't have that much in terms of disk space for storage to handle FLAC. Besides, being in my mid-50s means that my ears aren't as good as they once were, but they're good enough to hear the difference in some pieces of music in a 192-bitrate versus a 320-bitrate MP3. You just have to know where to listen --and have the right sort of music-- to make it noticeable. Sure, FLAC or WAV files are better than MP3s, but MP3s are pretty universal, so I don't have to worry about not having a format that won't play (I'm looking at you, Samsung Music).

****Alas, after 35+ years, a handful of my CDs no longer play. It's not because they're scratched, but it looks like it's a failure of the metallic material comprising the CDs. Among those CDs were The Eagles' Hotel California, The Cult's Sonic Temple, a Greatest Hits compilation from Golden Earring, and Alice in Chains' Dirt.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Meme Monday: Fake Book Memes

Oh, this is as old as Photoshop, but I've been amused by them to no end. Maybe it's my snarky nature, but sometimes the titles just are hilarious.

They aren't about gaming or RPGs or whatnot, but they do reflect the state of the internet.

I've had this one for a few years,
waiting for the right time.
From the Windham Hill Group on Facebook
but originally from phil-are-go.blogspot.com.

This one is for Bhagpuss, who might
get the musical reference.
From Jay Allen Sanford via the
Windham Hill Group on Facebook.

No worries about that one.
From Pinterest.

A bestseller from the Satanic Panic era.
From Pinterest and cheezburger.

I had to do a double take on the publisher name.
From cheezburger.

And of course this is in honor of 4/20.
From Pinterest.

And one last bonus meme:

Oh, this whole thing predates the internet by a LOT.
From Pinterest.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Great Plains

YouTuber Vulgrin dropped a video the other day, titled "This Place is Why I Love Classic World of Warcraft", and three guesses as to which zone it is:

Despite my hardly ever playing Horde toons these days, and the highest level Tauren toon I've ever created I got to Level 7 back in late Wrath, I have to agree that Mulgore is my favorite Classic Era zone to just relax and enjoy. 

I almost never go there because I'd rather not scare the lowbie Horde toons, but I typically will find an excuse to stop in when I'm passing nearby. And if Darkmoon Faire is there, that works for an excuse.

Another place I like to go just to enjoy the sea is the coastline in Desolace. It's always empty, and the farther south you roam the fewer naga actually come out on the shore to disturb the view. 

If you include TBC Classic zones, I'd also have to throw in Eversong Forest, as the place is locked in perpetual Autumn. That it existed as it was long past Cataclysm's reworking of the Old World was a bit of a bonus. 

The irony is that while I like those areas the most, that doesn't translate into what toons I play the most. After all, I mostly play Alliance toons these days, and outside of Neve in TBC/Wrath Classic I have hardly touched Horde toons at all. Still, I can't deny the simple beauty of Mulgore.

Monday, April 15, 2024

We Want a Shrubbery

Although nobody is asking for my take on the Pandamonium limited event that Retail will be experiencing, I figured I'd drop in my two cents:

Pandamonium is a hedge by the WoW team.

It's not a shrubbery, it's a hedge!
From getyarn.io, but really from Monty Python.

What do I mean by that?

Well, it's pretty simple. The WoW Classic team is all in on Cataclysm Classic, but if it flops badly, there likely won't be a Mists of Pandaria Classic. 

Let's face it: Cataclysm Classic is as big of a risk as the original WoW Classic was in 2019. Blizzard wasn't entirely sure if people would show up to play an "official" Vanilla Classic server* back then, and by throwing out the "Original Trilogy" by moving all Wrath Classic servers to the now-current Azeroth (before phasing, I presume) there's no guarantee that enough players will show up and continue to play Cataclysm Classic to make a Mists Classic viable.

So, the easiest way to present the Mists expansion in a way that will guarantee people will go back and play the content is to create a limited time event with wildly accelerated leveling in Retail. Throw in a bunch of FOMO cosmetic items, and there you go.

There is a second reason for this Pandamonium event, and it is to drum up interest for a Mists Classic.** This is a taste of what Mists was like, since it is still set in the current Retail environment, so Blizzard is also hoping that Pandamonium will generate enough interest in Mists as an expansion to counter the pushback from the bean counters should Cata Classic flop.

And that's that. For those interested in the event, go have fun. Enjoy yourself, because that's why we play games, right?

*Hindsight is a real bitch here, because looking back it seemed obvious, but there was no guarantee that people who'd been playing on private servers would actually show up to play the "official" version, and there was also no guarantee that people like me would return just to play the pre-Cataclysm version of WoW. There's a very vocal part of the player base that looks down upon Classic and Classic players, and even those blowhards aside the fracturing of the player base was a big risk Blizzard took. 

**I don't think I need to go over my own opinion of Mists, so I'll save that for another time.)

Meme Monday: Survival Game Memes

Survival games have been a thing for quite a while now, from the now ancient Minecraft to the recently departed "Unannounced Blizzard Survival Game". 

Couldn't resist. From IFunny Brazil.

Judging from both my blog feed and my WoW friend group this type of video game is pretty popular too, more so than, say, Baldur's Gate 3.

So, in honor of games that make you feel like you're living the life by having a stick to beat back your enemies with, here's some memes about survival games.

Rimworld isn't technically a survivor game
per se, but this meme is what I think of when
I play it. From Know Your Meme.

I saw this and immediately thought
of Day-Z, which one of my friend group
has been playing for the past few months.
From imgflip.

Having played both Minecraft and Conan Exiles,
I can confirm this feeling of elation. Hell, surviving
long enough to not only make a basic tool but
actually go to sleep is amazing. From Imgflip.

And this is why I don't play these
games that much. From Reveslwas
via Memedroid.

And one bonus Survival game meme...

Yes, the ol' Reddit r/starterpack.
Via Know Your Meme.

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Drop in the Bucket

Something that frequently gets overlooked is that --relatively speaking-- non-mobile video games are still something that not a lot of people play. 

Sure, video games may make more money than movies and music do combined*, but when you look at sales of the games themselves, you realize that a lot of money globally comes from not that many people. 

I was curious about how many copies of Madden 2024 were sold, and I discovered that it was around 5 million or so. To put that in perspective, EA sold Madden 2024 to roughly the entire population of Alabama. That may seem like a lot, but when you remember the population of the US --the prime target of Madden, given it's American Football-- is 333 million, you realize that's kind of a drop in the bucket. And when you realize that the average viewership of CBS' comedy Young Sheldon is 8 million viewers, you get a better comparison between passive viewing and active playing. 

MMOs are even more of a niche market, given that the largest MMO out there, World of Warcraft, pulls in somewhere between 4 to 8 million or so subscribers** globally. Yes, only at best 0.1% of the world's population play WoW. 

So, when people talk about how WoW was a phenomenon, it's all relative. More than twice as many people bought the Spice Girls' Spice than the best numbers World of Warcraft posted in the last 8 years.

And we don't want to compare WoW to the number of people who have cable and/or satellite television subscriptions, do we?


So why bring this up?

I was reminded of this because I frequently interact with people at work and at other places who aren't gamers of any sort, and they have --at best-- only the vaguest idea about what might be going on in the gaming industry. They may know that game companies are making a ton of money because it improves their retirement accounts, but beyond that they are left in the dark.

When people find out I'm a gamer, I usually get a "Oh, like Madden?" question directed my way.*** 

If I respond with an "Actually, I play WoW," I get "those" looks. 

The "you're a weirdo" looks. The ones that I used to get when people found out I play Dungeons and Dragons.**** I have no idea what it'd be like if I said League of Legends or Fortnite --since I play neither of those-- but I'd imagine there'd be similar reactions. 

The irony is that people in my WoW friend group aren't all aware of the industry beyond WoW itself. When I mentioned Baldur's Gate 3, only one person in the chat said "Yeah, I play that too!" There were a couple "can't afford that right now" and a few "Huh? What game is that?" reactions.

Usually right about now someone will point out those profit numbers and how many people tend to watch the League championships. That's nice and all, but League still has a ways to go to match the viewership of the 2023 Major League Baseball World Series, and that World Series was the least watched Series in television history.

By comparison, 300 million people
worldwide watched Joe Frazier beat
Muhammad Ali in 1971.
From Sports Illustrated.

It's kind of strange how boxing doesn't have the cultural cachet that it used to have, but I honestly believe that the pursuit of profit and moving boxing from something you could see on television to a strictly pay-per-view environment hurt the long term health of the sport. If you don't have eyeballs watching your product, it'll fade from public consciousness.*****

So, video games are this financial juggernaut, but that's largely on the backs of mobile games and live service games, where you constantly feed money to the beast.

But the long term cultural impact? Well, that remains to be seen.

My perspective as a gamer is that gaming is having a large cultural impact, but that's because I'm inside the ecosystem. However, my work and life take me outside the ecosystem, and for that reason alone I remain skeptical. We may no longer be in a world where a single cultural event dominates over all others --such as the final episode of M*A*S*H or the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller-- but that doesn't mean that gaming is lost in the noise.

I think that we gamers just need to realize that we're not as culturally important as we think we are.

*As of 2022 via a Forbes article which I won't link to because it's behind a "stop using your adblocker" wall.

***If they don't at first think that I go out to gambling casinos, that is.

****That's gotten better over the years, but you still have to read the room before you declare your full frontal nerdity to people.

*****And before somebody pipes up with the violence inherent in boxing, the popularity of MMA and UFC belies that. Those latter two can be easily found on television without pay-per-view.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Life as a Kindergarten Teacher, MMO Style

Several people in my friend group on WoW Classic Era have been leveling Mages lately, so they've prevailed upon me to help get them through some of the low to mid level instances. I may not run boosts for people for profit, but I can do this for friends. Since my gear is about as good as you can get without going into raids --more on that on another post-- I can solo up through about partway into Uldaman.* If the people I'm helping to run through instances are high enough level to actually be there due to quests, we ought to be able to handle all of Uldaman and most of Maraudon and Zul'Farrak.

Still, it's not a big deal and it does keep me in practice.

Inside Uldaman.

Did I mention that they were all Gnomes?

Oh yes, and the "herding cats" mentality runs strong in my friends, which led me to a revelation:

So what did I do? I took that and ran with it...

Having raised three kids, I know the drill.

My friends were only too happy to oblige:

*This is WoW Classic Era, mind you, and to reach the end in Uldaman you need at least three people in a group to start an event that opens up the last part of the dungeon. Still, I can do trash mobs and whatnot through most of the instance without dying.

EtA: Fixed a problem with one of the graphics.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

That Day When a Dragon Ate the Sun

So. There was this event yesterday that might have been on the news...

Okay, it wasn't exactly like this, but you
get the idea. From the RuneQuest Starter Set
Book 2: Glorantha. Artwork is by Hazem Ameen,
found here on Artstation.

Given that Cincinnati is right on the edge of totality --if I drove about 15 minutes to the west I'd be in totality-- I decided to take the day off and enjoy the view.

I'd planned this well enough in advance that I'd bought a couple of packs of eclipse glasses and had distributed them to family and friends. We still had enough left over for my wife and myself, and I figured I'd use a third pair to try to get a photo via my smartphone. 

Wherever we ended up going to watch the eclipse, that is.

I wasn't exactly worried about where we'd end up, but my wife wanted things to go well, and so we ended up driving 50 miles north to Dayton. We left at 11:15 AM, with Totality set to reach the Dayton area at 3:09 PM. 

Traffic was expected to be heavy with people heading west on I-74 into Indiana and north on I-75 toward Dayton, and for midday I-75 certainly felt like Rush Hour traffic on the trek north.

Things began to clear out once we reached the Dayton city limits, and we got off the highway right by the University of Dayton*, thinking that maybe the UD Arena's parking lot might be available for eclipse watching.

It wasn't.

So, we drove into downtown Dayton and had lunch at a favorite haunt of ours from when we attended 33+ years ago, The Spaghetti Warehouse. For those interested in whether I could find something that fit my diet requirements, yes I could. (I had a salad.)

A little after 1:00 PM, we set out to try to find a place to watch the eclipse.

We knew some spots, such as the National Museum of the US Air Force, were not a good idea. That place was expected to be a nuthouse. We also knew that the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, about 45 minutes north of Dayton in Neil's birthplace of Wapakoneta, was supposed to be swamped. Other places on our radar, such as local parks and even Woodlawn Cemetery (immediately next to UD, where the Wright Brothers are buried) were holding watch parties and you had to pay some decent amount of money just to attend. There's a Native American archaeological site nearby, SunWatch Village, but their watch party required payment of $500**.

Again, not happening.

We quickly realized that most of the city and surrounding area had cancelled classes and businesses, so a lot of people were simply home for the day. So... we decided to check out the area around the Dayton Art Institute (the Dayton art museum) to see if there was a crowd there.

No, not our car. It's not visible.

There wasn't.

We parked on the street and walked over to the Masonic Hall next to the DAI, found a cherry tree to sit under, and pulled out some books to relax with while the eclipse began.

As the eclipse came closer, the telltale crescent shape began appearing on the shade through the tree...

The eclipse glasses I'd bought did the trick, so we could take a look as the Moon slowly ate the Sun. The only bad part was that the filter on the glasses did their job too well, and I couldn't get a photo from my smartphone because the phone couldn't resolve to a sharp image. I decided I wasn't going to bother and left the phone alone.

Daylight slowly dissipated until the moment of totality, then everything dipped immediately into twilight:

You'd think this was after 8:00 PM here on
the edge of downtown Dayton.
Yes, this was during Totality.

The eclipse glasses even protected against the Sun's corona, so I had to take them off to steal a glance of the eclipse itself. Just a second or two, but it was quite a sight. I could even see Venus nearby, but since I wasn't in a dark sky area I couldn't see any other stars.

I can see why earlier civilizations thought a total solar eclipse was a sign from the gods --or a portent of disaster, your choice-- because it's one of those things that your brain has trouble processing while it's happening. When you've seen the sun in one state all your life and then this occurs it gives you pause, even though you knew intellectually that this was expected.

Can confirm it looks like this. From
a Facebook post by the Cincinnati and
Hamilton County Public Library.

Although it felt that time stood still, it was over all too fast. Just like someone flicked switch, the daylight returned.

The sky was still a brilliant and rich blue.

Most everybody else who came to watch the eclipse left soon thereafter, but we hung around for an hour to let the traffic on the highway clear out a bit. 

Then what did we do?

We went to a bookstore, of course.

I sent this pic to my Questing Buddy,
who has read both of these books, as 
I was amused by the small print on the poster.

*Yes, our alma mater. Class of 1991, thankyouverymuch.

**And yes, it was fully booked.

EtA: Corrected some grammar.