Tuesday, June 25, 2024

I'm Not a Monk, You Know, But Come On...

I sometimes wonder about the YouTube algorithm and what shows up on my YouTube front page.

For every video that appears that's from a channel I subscribed to --or one in which I've watched videos of without subscribing-- I get some suggestions that came from out of nowhere. 

Like this:

I don't play Final Fantasy VII, never have, and probably
never will. But I ain't blind, you know.

Or this:

As if you didn't know, the picture --and likely
the rain sounds-- are AI generated.

Or even this:

What I did not know was that tents that use inflatable
"tubes" as supports are apparently a thing. Not exactly
sure how that'd work, but it is a thing.

And that's not even counting the YouTube videos of women "trying on" see through clothing, which suddenly blew through my feed and then vanished after a couple of weeks. To which I had to ask just how those videos got past the YouTube "adult" filters.

I mean, I get where all of the screencaps of the videos above are similar --I am a guy, after all-- but why these videos suddenly made their appearance is beyond my understanding. But there they were, intermixed with videos about D&D, sports, woodworking, MMOs,  and other forms of gaming.

Oh well. If I don't respond to their pretty obvious clickbait, they'll go away after a few weeks. But even my oldest has been getting these sorts of videos in her feed, and she's been annoyed by them as well.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Meme Monday: Questing Memes

Presented without comment, because I'm pretty sure we've all been there before.

Apparently boars don't have livers.
From Pinterest.

Judging from the background,
probably Shattrath City.
From Pinterest.

Remind me again how you're the Champion
of Azeroth. From quickmeme.

The bane of quests: the escort quest.
From @pepevaro3.

And, of course, there's the quest reward sent by mail:

Amazing what they can stuff into a fantasy
mailbox. From Pinterest. Again.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Meme Monday: Scheduling Memes

I thought about having this Meme Monday cover one of the things people love to do during Summer, which is go to the beach.

Well, I started collecting a few of my memes I'd left over that cover this, and realizing I needed some filler, I went in search of some more RPG or MMO beach memes.

Given what I found --sometimes I can be quite naïve, particularly where fandom is concerned--  I think it's safer going to Plan B: trying to schedule an RPG game!

This is highly topical, since my game group that plays 3-4 times a year is having some difficulty with that Summer scheduling slot. We were supposed to play this coming Saturday, but conflicts by several people kept this from working. So... we worked on our July schedules, and... No go there either.


So, it's a work in progress.

Yeah, that's another way of putting it. From d20.pub.

In a post-pandemic world, this actually works.
From Pinterest.

Heh. From Facebook's DnD_Memes.

Hey, it's better than nothing!
From Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Speaking of Pandora's Box

Long time blogger Kurn has tried out Follower Dungeons in Retail WoW recently, and wrote about her experience with it on her latest blog post. To say she was impressed with the NPC groups she had is an understatement.

My original comment on her post, that it was a technical solution to a people problem, is likely the most obvious take. After all, MMOs in general --and WoW in particular-- is infamous for toxic behavior toward tanks and healers in instance and raid groups. This solution, presented in Retail, is an obvious way toward allowing people to see group content without actually fixing the toxicity itself. 

The more I've thought about it, however, the more I wonder whether this will become the ultimate goal toward making an otherwise dead or empty location in an MMO feel alive. 

If you go to a place such as Silvermoon City or The Exodar --both out of the way cities that first saw light in WoW's Burning Crusade expansion-- other than a few bank alts and some new toons running here and there both cities are dead.

Blizzard tried to make them seem more alive by having a few groups of NPCs roam both cities, but the paths followed and statements made are pretty much on repeat. There are similar instances of in-game NPC interactions throughout Azeroth that are gradually more elaborate but still on rails throughout all of the expansions I've played. While I give Blizz credit for trying, it isn't even close to what it's like to having a real vibrant community.

If you hop over to Guild Wars 2 and Divinity's Reach, that's a bit more of what I believe Blizzard is attempting to do. By comparison, Divinity's Reach is a lot more "alive" with NPCs --namely that there are more of them around so that the place feels less empty-- although NPC interactions with the game world are still pretty limited. 

But what if you programmed NPCs to act more like what you find in Follower Dungeons, but interacting in the game world itself?

You know, a step or two away from Westworld...

It's from Pinterest, but it's a screencap
of HBO's Westworld.

Of course, Westworld is what you'd get if a Renaissance Faire were entirely composed of robots who never broke the fourth wall (or never were aware there was a fourth wall).

The bane of MMOs isn't toxicity, but apathy. If there's nobody to interact with, the main selling point of MMOs is dead. But if a game company can fill a game world with NPCs that interact with the game world as if they were real players (minus the toxicity) then you can negate the worst problem of the MMO genre.*

It's a tempting proposition, isn't it?

And holy crap, I just realized how this could be used in "adult" MMOs. (Again, just like Westworld.) 


Whether or not we like it, I think that there will be some game companies that will move video games toward truly immersive experiences, with NPCs that interact in a more lifelike fashion with each iteration of generative AI. 

And I'm not exactly sure what I think about that.

*I guess the bots would quickly follow suit and up their own game, wouldn't they?

EtA: Corrected a sentence from "to to" to "to do". Got all that?

Monday, June 10, 2024

Meme Monday: Age Disparity Memes

No, I'm not talking about what is colloquially known as "robbing the cradle", where one adult has a relationship with a much younger adult. It's more an issue with Fantasy as a genre in novels, movies, and video games. Inter-species romance aside --and I have issues with that as well-- there's the issue of age disparity in relationships. 

Hell, never mind relationships, there's the issue of skill level disparity:

From REIQ.

But yes, relationships.

The Doctor: You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on, alone. That's the curse of the Timelords.* 

That. Pretty much that. So... some of those memes.

From imgflip.

I wish I knew who did this meme; it's great.

Obviously this person never knew about
Beren and Luthien. From Owlturd.
(Really? Sheesh, what a name.)

And leave it to Spidey to have the
last word. From Reddit's r/dndmemes.

*From School ReunionSchool Reunion. the third episode of the revived Doctor Who's second season.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Me and My Big Mouth

After that post on my upcoming deck project, I've been reading up on the building code for said deck. 

And I've found a few problems.

You know how I mentioned that I had no idea how the deck passed inspection because of the slope of the stairs? Yeah, I found that if there's three or more steps in place then a rail has to be there. That 3 steps is kind of critical, because the north steps have only one step, and a very steep one at that, so I guessed right and that they avoided needing stair rails there because of the lack of steps and barely making the minimum slope for the steps. Still, it's not optimal.

However, I did find out that the gap in the balusters around the deck was required so that a 4 inch sphere could not pass through the gap. Not because they don't want a ball falling off of the deck, but a toddler being able to stick their head through the gap.

And the gap in our balusters is 5 inches. 


While I was measuring, I also found out that our railings were 35 inches high, while the code minimum for the railings is... 36 inches. That may sound bad, but I can actually make 36 inches by changing a few things on the rails. I was going to rebuild them anyway, but it is annoying.

I mean, really? REALLY? How close
can you get and still mess this up?
But yeah, putting a 2x4 or 2x6 on top
will push me over 36 inches.

For a few anxious moments I thought the length of the deck railing wasn't up to code either, as the "how to" deck books I was reading mentioned a 6 foot maximum length between railing posts, and ours were a maximum of 6.5 feet. It turns out that the building code for the county states a maximum length of 8 feet, so I don't have to do major surgery on said deck. 

And at least the spacing on joists is 14 inches, not wider than the absolute minimum of 16 inches.

Rebuilding the rails isn't that big of a deal, and I'd been considering it anyway as the railings had been out there, exposed to the elements, for 35 years. However, if I'd have needed an extra 5 or so rail posts, that might have been enough to require a rebuild.

And a reinspection.


What I've decided to do is do what I can right now that is most important, and that is to redo the deck boards themselves. After that, if I've the time and money, I'll fix the north steps, the skirting, and the west steps in that order. Last on the list will be the deck railing, because a) it's been like that for years so an extra year won't hurt, and b) I don't have little kids who could stick their head through the railing. (Any more, anyway.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Time Past

I was eating dinner out with my oldest last night, and talk turned to MMOs. We'd discussed LOTRO for a bit --she mentioned that our house was out of storage-- and about several of the changes made to legendary weapons. Because of the changes, you didn't have to swap out your weapon every so often; you could keep that same weapon as long as you wanted. 

"I still have my original weapon," I mused. "I doubt I'll ever get rid of it."

We covered some of the other changes made to the game over the years, as she'd continued to play LOTRO actively long after it became a niche event for me, then we discussed another MMO we'd played a lot in the past.

"I miss SWTOR," I said, "but that bug keeps me from playing it."

"The companion bug?" she asked.

"Yeah, that one."

"I have that bug too, and it drives me crazy."

"It's the only game I see where a companion just simply does not keep up with me over time. I typically last as far as Alderaan until I can't stand it any more."

"That's a shame," she replied, "because I loved the story in Alderaan."

"I used to think it was a problem with the Radeon graphics cards," I added, "but when we bought my current PC it runs on an NVidia card that's far more advanced than anything we had in 2012 and it still does it."

"I wondered if it had something to do with server congestion."

"There was more server traffic back then, so I have no idea what the problem is. I have seen it on two separate installations of the game, and now three if you're seeing it too. It's not like Bioware hasn't made games with companions before or after, so I don't know what the issue is with this one single game of theirs."

After a brief pause, my oldest added that if there were Classic SWTOR servers ever created, she knows several people who would jump at the chance to play those again.

"Like your brother?"

"Yeah, he disliked how easy the game became."

"I miss the difficulty," I said, taking another bite of my salad. "The Consular end boss in particular was originally really tough until they nerfed it. And even after it was nerfed it was a hard fight."

"Remember the final zone in the Tatooine story?" she asked. "You kept going through this long maze until you got to the end, and now it's 'you take an elevator and you're there.'"

"Yeah. Or remember accidentally touching something out in the field and discovering that was a World Boss spawn point? Or when you'd be assembling a group to take on a World Boss and someone from the other faction would run up and cause the WB to spawn, grabbing it for the other faction?"

"I remember that. Or those Heroic 4 zones out in the field. They're all 2+ Heroics now."

"I haven't set foot in a Flashpoint since they changed the design so that you didn't need a healer or a tank," I confessed, "and you have those self-administered healing points scattered around the instances. But boy did I love the original Flashpoints they had." 


You know you're getting old when your daughter starts reminiscing about how things were back in the day, I suppose.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Who's Playing This Game, Anyway?

I'm not a big fan of guides.

Yes, I'll use them from time to time if I'm stuck and multiple hours of beating my head against a wall hasn't yielded any results*, but by and large I'll avoid guides and walkthroughs and the "correct" way of doing things. 

That is both the joy and curse of doing group content in an MMO: everybody has their own opinions, but if what you do is different than what is considered optimal, are you simply wasting other people's time? 

For the average random group or raid, the answer is likely yes, you ARE wasting people's time if you're not doing your best. And for those people, 'doing your best' means following the correct build and performing the correct rotation in an optimal fashion. 

It's the "Sure, you can do whatever you want, but it had better be what you're supposed to be doing!" conundrum, embracing the concept of freedom for all until it starts to impact your own freedom to complete things as quickly as possible.

I think that's partially why I tend to stop worrying about completing quests when I'm with people who are 'questing together': my idea of fun and questing is different than other people's, so in the name of expediency I just kind of tag along as 'hired muscle' and go back and do the quests at my own pace later. 

Well, Josh Strife Hayes has been playing Mass Effect on his stream, and apparently some people have been telling him "he's doing it wrong" or "you need to do X next". Josh kind of squashed that one really fast.

Yeah, I'm on board with Josh here.

He articulates my issues with guides and guide culture very nicely, without me having to add any extra commentary to the matter.


On a semi-tangent, Runescape streamer and content creator J1mmy created a video about 3 months ago that kind of blew up:

Now, you have to settle in, as it's a 42 minute video, but considering that he'd never played WoW before but was familiar with MMOs (courtesy of Runescape), I found it fascinating to watch. He does have a very dry wit, and it's very much worth a watch. 

I also found WoW PvP streamer Xaryu's reaction to it very interesting as well, as he points out that the problems that J1mmy highlights are not easy ones to fix. 

Do I have answers to the problems? I'll be honest here: no, I don't. And to be fair, I'm not exactly sure if a significant portion of WoW's fanbase believes there even are problems that can't be fixed by a good expansion and the presence of Chris Metzen. Kind of a 'wave your hand and make all the issues magically go away' sort of thing. 

But what J1mmy and StarCraft streamer Day9TV (see above) found in their initial exposure to WoW highlight is that we, as gamers who have played MMOs in the WoW and WoW clone subgenres, have too many blind spots about the game that only become apparent when someone outside of the ecosystem tries to play. 

When I saw a neighbor try WoW for the first time --during Cataclysm in 2011-- and he got totally flummoxed trying to figure the story and everything out, I understood. All of the richness to the story of Azeroth is wasted if it's not presented in an understandable manner to a new player. And the problem is compounded by almost 20 years' worth of additions to the base game. **

Maybe what's needed is an expansion that absolutely, positively presents itself without a single iota of reliance upon prior expansions or even the base game for the story. If you cut out the albatross that is 20 years' worth of lore, you stand a chance of making this particular expansion's story more understandable.

It's a thought, anyway.

Just how would you do that?

Beats me, but whatever they come up with surely has to be better than t-shirts proclaiming "What Sword?" as an in-joke for Legion veterans. I kinda get it, but if you asked me any details beyond "There's a sword out in a zone that was untouched by Cataclysm", I'd simply make some stuff up.

And that highlights a bit of a problem for WoW. Modern WoW is made for people who play WoW already, not people who may in the future play WoW. 

*And, I might add, when I'm out of ideas. While inaccurately attributed to Albert Einstein, I am a big believer in the credo "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So, if I find myself doing the same strategy without making any changes, just hoping that "I'll get it right this time", after a certain point I'll cave and go look at a strategy. For the record, I haven't done that yet in Baldur's Gate 3, which is kind of amazing given how much I have to police my feed and usage of social media.

**Before you ask, yes, I don't like the modern story very much. I really haven't liked it since about Cataclysm onward, and now having gone back and played Vanilla and BC in their Classic incarnations, I don't like Wrath's story much either. That being said, just because I don't like it doesn't mean that Blizzard should simply give up and not bother trying to make the story understandable for new players.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Meme Monday: Summer Memes

Because it's June, and hence it must be Summer...

Yeah, I get that. Even our youngest
is going to be a senior at college this fall.
From Imgflip.

I should try this.
From someecards.

Alas, mine will be the latter.
From imgflip.

Uh... I've heard of overkill, but...
From Pinterest.