Monthly Archives: October 2009

Weighted Jack-o’-Lantern Fun

I only noticed recently that the Weighted Jack-o’-Lanterns that you can throw at people to give them a pumpkin head actually travel at the same speed as an epic ground mount in World of Warcraft.

Of course, there is an achievement related to those Jack-o’-Lanterns.  You have to throw one at each of the current player races in the game to get it.  I managed to get that.

WJL00
Hanging around in Dalaran will get that done, though it appears that the Horde has been taken over by Blood Elves and Tauren.  Undead aren’t too tough to find, but it took me a while to find an Orc and a Troll.

Anyway, we were idling in Ironforge essentially waiting for the Trick or Treat timer to run down when we noticed a guy on his Hallow’s End broom circling the area between the bank and the auction house.

As he circled we saw that somebody had thrown a weighted Jack-o’-Lantern at him and it was following him around his circuit.

Then somebody threw another one.  I added one of my own.

Soon this guy had quite a parade following him around.

Around Ironforge

Around Ironforge

Here They Come!

Here They Come!

There They Go!

There They Go!

Things to do in Ironforge when you are bored.

Scouting DDO

Dungeons and Dragons Online has been hovering around the vicinity of our list of potential replacements activities for the instance group, though we were waiting for the “Eberron Unlimited” free to play version to show up and settle down before we took a look.

Potshot had looked at the game about two and a half years ago and had found it a bit wanting.  Brent at VirginWorlds also devoted a show to exploring DDO from the view of the dungeon crawl experience, but wasn’t totally convinced it was the best thing ever.

Time, however, has passed.  And, as those who have played Lord of the Rings Online know, Turbine does not let things stand as they are.  They keep improving things over time, and DDO has had a lot of time since any of us last looked at it.

So we thought it would be worthwhile for a couple of us to scout out the potential of the game for the group.  Potshot, Gaff, and I all downloaded the client last week and created characters on the Khyber server. (No doubt I was feeling some nostalgia for tales of the Northwest Frontier.)

The download itself was relatively painless.  I hope we are finally past the days of, say, the Vanguard beta, where multi-gigabyte downloads fail or get corrupted and have to be restarted over and over. Turbine has a download manager that keeps the data flowing.  I let the download for the premium graphic client run over night, though that was probably unnecessary.  It looked like it was going to take well under two hours to transfer.

The only thing that did not go smooth was account creation.  I already have a Turbine account for LOTRO, and from the account management page, it seems that I should be able to have multiple games on the same account.  However I could not figure out how to add DDO to my current account, so I ended up just making a new account.  Yay, another account name and password to remember.

Once downloaded and installed, the game looks a lot like LOTRO.  Or, rather, given the relative ages of the product, LOTRO looks a lot like DDO.  Once in the game the interfaces diverge to meet the requirements of either game, but they are quite clearly the spawn of the same team.  And some activities, like logging in, patching, character creation, and character management, are as alike as makes no difference.

I created my first character on Khyber.  When playing for free, you are allowed to create two characters per server.  I chose a human paladin, not being sure what Potshot might pick (Gaff will be a fighter of some sort) thinking that a hybrid would give me some flexibility.

As I said, character creation is very much the same as LOTRO.  There are a couple of differences.

The first is that the area your character occupies while you change the settings is very dark.  In LOTRO you are outside in the sunlight, in DDO you are in a dungeon.  But it is so dark that it makes seeing the various customization options rather difficult.  And if you are in a bright room, forget about it.

The second is that, in LOTRO, your character is wearing what you’ll see them in when you first enter the world.  In DDO you have a very nice set of armor on, but when you actually create the character and get to the management screen, your character is wearing what appears to be a cocktail dress hastily crafted from a soiled tablecloth.

Really, this worked for Paris Hilton

Really, this worked for Paris Hilton

Fortunately, this look is a temporary situation.  After running through the tutorial dungeon my guy ended up looking more like an adventurer and less like a victim of some fraternity initiate rite.

Dressed to kill

Dressed to kill

Not shown is the nice looking sword he got as part of the tutorial.

And once in the game I had to relearn some things.

First, the camera appears to be stuck forever looking over your should, so I gather that I am never going to be able to take an in-game picture of my character’s face.  I will forever be looking at his backside.  Not the tragedy of the ages, but you may have noticed that I am fond of those touristy “being there” photos; us at King Ymiron’s throne, us standing over the corpse of Prince Keleseth, us before the corpse of Onyxia.  Any shots like that in DDO will have to exclude me it seems.

And then there is combat.  You click to attack.  You can auto attack, but it seems to be less effective, so I stuck to clicking.  However, if you are used to holding down the mouse button to adjust your camera, things may seem awkward.  You can spot me in town, I am the one who keeps swinging his weapon for no apparent reason as I yet again futilely try to adjust the camera angle.

Movement, however, is not click based, thank the devs.  You can run around via the traditional WASD control keys, though for some reason E and Q were not mapped to strafe right and left.  The keys were not mapped to anything by default and the option to map strafing was in the list of movement keys, so I had to wonder why somebody chose not to just connect those two.  It didn’t take me long to figure it out, but still.

And while I was there I had to remap the key to take screen shots.  Control-P?  No, the Print Screen key on my keyboard lives only to take screenshots.  My fingers hit can find and hit that key with amazing accuracy, considering its location, so that must be mapped.

This week we are warming up a bit, learning the basics of the game, with an eye to actually running something as a group this coming weekend.

Of course, there are concerns in my mind.  There are only three of us and, like LOTRO, the default party size appears to be six.  Back in LOTRO this was a big issue because we only regularly had four people, which meant that we could not run any of the instanced content at the appropriate level without it becoming a wipe-fest.

I understand that you can hire NPCs in DDO to fill out your party, though I have not looked into it yet.  That could cover us depending on the cost and their effectiveness.  We shall see this weekend.

Grunty Arrives!

I received a letter from DirecTV the other day.  Enclosed in the envelop was something I had been waiting for.  A card.

BlizzCon Exclusive Gift

BlizzCon Exclusive Gift

The Grunty the Murloc Marine loot card from BlizzCon, a reward for subscribing to watch the event on pay per view.

The card is… well… just that, a card, rather like a gift card, with instructions on the back on how to redeem it for the in-game pet.

Instructions

Instructions

I suppose I could have paid for the pay per view event by just listing the card up on eBay.  They seem to be going for about that much or more.  But I wanted the companion pet, so I scratched off the backing and entered the code.

Grunty Redeemed

Grunty Redeemed

I had to do that quietly, because if my daughter had known what I had before I redeemed it, I would have been faced with an unbearable amount of pouting and pleading.  Fortunately for me, Mr. Chilly showed up the same day so I was able to distract her with that.  Well, that and some talk about the upcoming WoW 5 Year anniversary pet, the Onyxia whelpling.

Once redeemed, an in-game mail was waiting for me and all of my current characters.

GruntyNote
There was even an achievement (a feat of strength) for geapping the attachment that came with the note.

GruntyAchi
It took me a moment to decipher what the achievement’s name meant.

And so now I can have Grunty the Murloc Space Marine follow me around if I like.  He is fine around town, though I could not recommend him if you are attmempting to be discreet.   Every so often he unload the magazine of his rifle into the air.

Grunty Unloads!

Grunty Unloads!

The sound can be startling, as it is a bit loud.

He will also pop a smoke flare every once in a while, which will draw attention.  That is fine if you are marking an LZ, but not so good if you were trying to hide.

I hear he will also open fire on the zergling companion pet that came as an option with the original World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition.  I’m not sure I’ll ever get to see that, as I hear most people took the panda or mini Diablo.

So one more pet on the pile for me.  I still need a few more for the 50 pets achievement.  And, of course, what does Blizzard give you if you collect 50 pets?  Why, another pet!

Arceus Event Annouced!

Pokemon.com has finally announced the long expected Arceus download event!

Arceus will be available for download to Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum at Toys R Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico from November 7th through November 15th.

Arceus is a special Pokemon and cannot be caught in game.  The only way to get Arceus is via a download even.

Arceus info at Pokemon.com

Arceus info at Pokemon.com

Information about the event and about Arceus is available here at Pokemon.com.

The Battle.net Conversion

I’ve been down with the flu for much of the last seven days so haven’t been keeping tabs on the gaming blogs as much as usual, but it seems that more than a few people have been getting themselves into a huff over the security implications of Blizzard making people merge their World of Warcraft accounts with Battle.net.

The argument has been made that using an email address is less secure than using an account name.

Which I would grant as true if we all just had one email address.  One we used everywhere, every day.  One displayed, perhaps, on the front page of one’s blog.

Honestly though, I have to think a bit to come up with somebody with just one email address these days.

My mom has more than one email address. (She reads this blog! Hi mom!)

My wife has more than one email address. (Another reader! Hi sweetie!)

And me? Don’t get me started.  I have a domain and essentially an unlimited supply of forwarding email addresses that can be as complex as I can stand but which will still show up in one of my in boxes.

The only person I can think of for sure with only a single email address is my daughter. (Not yet a reader)  But she does not use it, because it was only created to use for her Battle.net account so I could merge her WoW account.

Email addresses are plentiful.  Creating one that you don’t use regularly is simple.

And if you are itching at this moment to write a comment telling me the you have but a single email address, let me save you the trouble and direct you to Yahoo! and Gmail where you can create a new email address for free.

But I did think of one possible flaw.  What would happen if you decided to use that email address at a later date?  Or maybe you accidentally used that “everybody knows it” email address for Battle.net and now regret it?

So I went to the Battle.net account site.

I merged my account months ago to get on the StarCraft II beta list and to use the Blizzard Authenticator.  If you’re going to make security and issue but don’t use the authenticator, I’d have to question your commitment to the proposition of security.

And you don’t even have to buy the authenticator. (Which appears to be in stock as of this writing and on which  I doubt Blizzard makes very much margin at all, to bring up two things I’ve seen mentioned more than once.)

They make versions of authenticator for phones, and not just iPhones.

Really!  There is a version for my crappy old Kyocera phone on the list.  I was surprised when I went and looked!  The list of supported phones is pretty big now.

But I digress.

I went to Battle.net because I was pretty sure I remembered an option.  And I found it.

BNet
Oh, look, you can change your email address.

So you can change both your logon and your password as regularly as you like if you are security conscious and still find reason to eschew the authenticator route.

That would seem to me to actually offer more security options.

And, because somebody is going to ask, yes that option actually changes your logon, not just the email address at which you receive notifications.

A look at the email address change screen

A look at the email address change screen

So some of the rants on the security implications seem a bit over blown in my opinion, if you are concerned about security.

That last bit is the key.  If you are not concerned about security, your current account name probably falls into one or more of these categories:

  • The name of one of your characters
  • Some common variation on your name and initials (jsmith, johns, jsmith74 and you were born in 1974)
  • The name of a pet or loved one
  • A name (and probably a password) you have used on other sites (your standard web logon)
  • Your current, most commonly used email address minus the domain name and the @ sign

And if that is the case, the move to Battle.net is probably just maintaining the status quo for you when it comes to security.

So did Blizzard blowing the lid off of security with this move?  I don’t think so.

On the other hand, Tobold’s prediction of general support line mayhem on November 11th is about as close to a sure things as I can imagine.

And it will be a double disaster.

Not only are people going to swamp the phone lines and bring down the forums, but Blizzard is forcing people to actually THINK about their accounts.

When companies make their customers do that, some non-zero percentage of those customers will up and cancel their subscriptions.  It always happens.

So this is going to cost Blizzard.  I hope their plans for Battle.net are worth the pain they are going to have to endure.

I’d even worry about how Battle.net is going to behave come November 11th.  What is going to happen when a few hundred thousand people suddenly create accounts and try to merge their WoW account.

So, mom, go merge your account over this weekend.  Give me a call if you have any questions.  When you do merger your account, you’ll get a pet penguin in game.  I already got mine.  Your granddaughter has one now as well.

Mr. Chilly

Mr. Chilly

Mr. Chilly is some sort of northern Kalimdor penguin I think, and should not be confused with Pengu, who is from Northrend and a hatchling of the race of King Ping.  Pengu can only be bought when one has exalted faction with the Kalu’ak.

The Majestic Pengu

The Majestic Pengu

I understand that Pengu is going to get some red-eye reduction in an upcoming patch.  I just hope he doesn’t end up looking like his distant cousin, Mr. Chilly who has the potential to become the most ubiquitous pet in the game.  Everybody who converts to Battle.net gets him, and everybody has to convert.  Only those who delay too long may not get him according to the Battle.net FAQ:

However, please note that we plan to remove the ability to get the penguin pet at some point in the future.

I’m going to guess that the “point in the future” is reasonably far out, lest they get yet more support phone calls about why people didn’t get their penguin.

Bleedin’ Kansas

While I don’t get things like free accounts and the like, I do occasionally get press releases for games.

I don’t mind.  The obligations are low and sometimes something interesting or amusing shows up in my inbox.

I got one such today.

It needs a bit of back story to even be comprehensible.  It will probably be amusing to maybe three people total.

Back in my TorilMUD days, especially during the last round of it being called Sojourn and the current incarnation of Toril, there was a group of people who played that I used to refer to as the Emporia Mafia.  They were a group of students in Emporia, Kansas who all went to Emporia State University.

But they weren’t a group that started playing together.  Some knew each other, but not all.  It was more that the MUD seemed to pick up an unusually large following from this particular University.  And it isn’t actually a big school.  It is roughly one tenth the size of my own alma mater, which produced, as far as I know, only a single adventurer in the game.

So today I saw in my email the following subject line:

EMPORIA WAR DETAILS RELEASED

My first thought, after a chuckle, was that this must, somehow, be related to the Emporia Mafia.

However, the subject line was truncated by my mailer.  The full subject, once I opened the email, actually read:

EMPORIA WAR DETAILS RELEASED for DRAGONICA ONLINE

Not quite as amusing.

Still, it does make me wonder now if there is any involvement somewhere by someone from Emporia State.

Gaff always says that Emporia is the true center of the Universe, though he tends to follow that up with the fact that R. Lee Emory is from Emporia.  Certainly it gives the place distinction, but….

And, just in case you were interested in the full Dragonica Online press release, here it is:

Emporia War Press Release

Emporia War Press Release

Dragonica is a free to play, item shop funded, side-scrolling fantasy MMORPG that Tipa has mentioned a couple of times over at West Karana that I might not have ever mentioned had it not been for the oddball Kansas connection.

Return to Utgarde

We were back above the Howling Fjord on Saturday night to take on the last of the original Northrend five person instances.

A little more than 10 months ago, back in November 2008, we first rode across Australia Northrend from the Borean Tundra to find Utgarde Keep.  At the time we didn’t know there was a boat that would take us straight there from Menethil Harbor.  Still, it was a heroic ride across country that harkened back to the early days of EverQuest when all travel was overland… though at least we had mounts.

And once at Utgarde Keep we managed to get ourselves killed for the first of many times by Prince Keleseth.

It took us some time to actually bring down Prince Keleseth.  And then we were stopped at the next boss.

In fact, we did not defeat Ingvar the Plunderer until April of 2009.

And while there was some time off during that stretch when one of the crew was busy writing a book, it still took us quite a few tries to get past that first instance because… frankly… we had problems.

We had been having problems since the later Outlands instances.

We were wearing under level gear, a lot of it acquired from the first quests around Honor Hold in the Outlands and we were spec’d in odd and random fashions.

It was surprising to some that we could do as well as we did with what we had.

And so we did research.  Not a lot of research.  In fact, just barely enough that you could even call it research.  But minutes were spent at sites like Elitist Jerks… well… only at Elitist Jerks… cribbing talent tree builds, finding recommended stats for equipment, and copying down spell rotations.

Armed with that, some improved gear, and a training regimen that consisted mainly of regretting not using the training dummies in town and humming “Eye of the Tiger,” we set out to conquer Northrend.

And so we had, nearly, standing now at the last instance.  Our assembled team:

80 Priest – Skronk
80 Mage – Ula
80 Warlock – Bungholio
80 Warrior – Earlthecat
80 Paladin – Vikund

So into Utgarde Pinnacle we went.

In the foyer

In the foyer

There we picked up two quests for the zone, one to collect crap laying about the dungeon and one to kill the big boss, King Ymiron.  Well, we planned on that last part in any case, but if somebody wanted to give us a little more gold along the way, so much the better.

We started in, clearing the trash without much difficulty.  We didn’t notice the one tricky trash mob until later, but we’ll get to that.

We arrived at the first boss, Svala Sorrowgrave, just in time to see her getting instructions from Arthas/The Lich King.  I couldn’t help thinking that we could have maybe changed this somehow last week.

Another Arthas moment in Northrend

Another Arthas moment in Northrend

Svala wasn’t a tough fight.  Her big schtick is to pull one of the team out of the pack suddenly and place them on an altar with three acolytes surrounding them.  Kill the acolytes, who are not elite, and the battle resumes.  Svala did not live up to her boasts to the Lich King.  One boss down.

Moving on, we ran into the tricky trash mob, an abomination that puts a disease on one of the part that hits everybody else in the part for 3,000 damage every 3 seconds.  The person infected, of course, might not notice this.

And so we killed an abomination and moved quickly to another group of trash mobs, when suddenly people were dying.  Very quickly Vikund, the infected party, was the only guy standing versus three elites.  Wipe.

A look back at the combat text helped us figure out what was going on.  Vikund was put on purify patrol after abomination fights going forward, which was good as he seemed to be the one to get infected most of the time.

We then made it around to the second boss, Gortok Palehoof and his menagerie.  He has some stuffed animals that come to life when you annoy him.  You have to kill a couple of those first before you get to kill him.

The Stuffed Rhino

The Stuffed Rhino

Okay, they aren’t stuffed, they are held in some sort of stasis field, but for all the good they did Gortok, they might as well have been stuffed.  In fact, if they had been cute and stuffed, we might have been distracted.

But they were not and things played out quickly and badly for Gortok.

And so off we went again.

Through some more trash and to the next boss. Skadi the Ruthless, who I could swear we had run into before at some point in Howling Fjord.  But then a lot of those Vrykul names sound similar to me, being from Stormwind and all.

Skadi (which, when I say it, sounds like “Scotty”) is an event.  Lots of things happen, there is a dry ice effect up half the corridor you are in, you get a message every so often about Skadi being close to a harpoon gun, bad guys run down the corridor every so often, a waiter takes your order but your food never arrives.  It was all a bit chaotic.  As we tried to figure out what was going on.

And while the event was manageable, our process of discovery took some time, so when we figured out the whole:

Harpoons + Harpoon Gun = Skadi fight actually begins

By that point though we were too worn down by constant adds to pull it off, so we wiped.

And while the equation above seems obvious in hindsight, I personally didn’t notice the sparkling harpoons on the ground until well into the fight and every time I saw the message about Skadi being close to a harpoon gun (which means you can shoot him) I thought it meant he was going to start shooting harpoons at us.

I know, always with the negative vibes Moriarty.

Anyway, after one learning fight, we managed to pull it off and skill Skadi without much drama.

Which only left King Ymiron… and the assorted trash between us and him… to take care of.

King Ymiron Awaits

King Ymiron Awaits

We had no idea what to expect, but had a soul stone up again, so launched into the fight.

The king summons things from the longboats on either side of the room at various points during the fight but, while they did prolong things a bit, in the end they didn’t help out the king all that much.  It ended up being a reasonably quick pile-on with us doing the piling and the king doing the dying.

The Moment of Victory

The Moment of Victory

As you can see in the screen shot, we even summoned our own little support team.  Those of us who had done enough of the Argent Tournament did, anway.

The victory gave us a double achievement.

UPAchi
The loot from Ymiron was typical of our experiences.

UPYmironLoot
The shoulders were leather, so of no used to the group, but the Signet of Ranulf was a bit of an upgrade for two of the casters.

We then stood for a final victory shot at King Ymiron’s throne.

Victory over King Ymiron

Victory over King Ymiron

Then we headed through the now open side door in the king’s chamber and back to the orginal quest giver.  When we handed over the collection quest, the chest, which is sitting empty in the first screen shot in this post, was filled up with all the items we gathered, including a jade Tigger.

Somebody else's loot

Somebody else’s loot

And that is about it.

We have defeated the regular Northrend dungeons and have the achievement to prove it.

There is still the Trial of the Champion, which we may attempt.

There are the three new 5 person dungeons slated to come out in the not too distant future, Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection, which we may want to try.

And, of course, Hallow’s End and the Headless Horseman are coming up.  We’ll want to see what things he’ll be dropping this year.

But otherwise we have come very close to accomplishing the goal we set out for ourselves almost three years back, to do all of the 5 person instances as a group and at the level of the instance.

I suspect there will be a summary post on the subject some time soon.  You have been warned.

Of Rooms and Rooms and Rooms

19,584 rooms, to trot out a very exact number.

That is how many rooms I have personally mapped over the years in TorilMUD using the ZMud mapping tool.  TorilMUD actually has many more rooms than that.  In fact, if I do the “world stat” command in Toril, I get the following answer:

Total number of zones in world:      319

Total number of rooms in world:    61457
Total number of different mobiles: 17490
Total number of living mobiles:    39889

Total number of different objects: 15725
Total number of existing objects:  56523

So I may have had a chance to map nearly a third of the 61,457 rooms currently in the game.

However, some of those rooms I have mapped are out of date or no longer exist in the game, but they still live on in the Jet database file that drives ZMud’s mapping feature which I can wander through with Microsoft Access.  So I may have mapped less than I think I have of the current game.

Before ZMud we used graph paper, a technique dating back to my mapping out all of the game Wizardry on my Apple II way back when. (I still have those maps, along with some AD&D campaign maps I drew out as well before then.  No wonder there is so much crap in my office at home.)

I do remember Xyd making some valiant attempts to draw the environs around Leuthilspar in MacDraw that made for some large and awkward print outs. (MacDraw was sort of stone-age Visio.)  I think I have lost those MacDraw maps over the years, though they could still be on the PowerMac 8500 in the back of the closet.

But then ZMud mapping came along and I was able to indulge my desire to explore and map without worrying quite so much as my knack for getting lost.  It became a mission for me to map all locations I could reach.  I even mapped some pretty unsafe areas by following behind groups running zones. (I saved at least one group a lot of trouble by being the place holder that prevented a zone repop when they wiped.)

And so I traveled through many rooms, some dangerous, but most mundane.  I learned how to get to many places and what roads lead where and the less well known paths around places like Waterdeep, important to know if you are playing a horde evil race character that is outcast from the city.

In a MUD, a room is a specific location.  It can be, literally, a room in a building, or a stretch of road, a segment of forest, different parts of a ship, or any other definable location the represents area and or space.  When you are in a room you can see other people if they are in the room with you, items, or NPCs.

Rooms are the essential “there” in a MUD.

Each has a name and a description.  As a mapper, I always think the best room names are unique.  But when you are creating a zone from scratch, coming up with unique names can be a challenge.  So the map database has, for example:

  • 94 rooms named “Inside a Large Grove of Shadows”
  • 79 rooms named “A Bend in a Passage”
  • 58 rooms named “An Abandoned Mine Tunnel”
  • 57 rooms named “A Wide Dirt Road”
  • 53 rooms named “A Passageway”
  • 36 rooms named “A Rocky Trail”
  • 29 rooms named “A Trail Through a Forest”
  • 22 rooms named “Dense Forest”

I don’t mind that much, except in some examples like Trollbark Forest which, I swear, only has about five room names for the whole zone.  It makes it tough for ZMud to keep track of your location when you are constantly moving through rooms named “A Marshy Patch of Trollbark Forest.”

What, another one?

What, another one?

Okay (Mark), I know that is part of the theme of Trollbark, being lost and uncertain where you really are, which is why all those teleport points exist around the edges.  But the reuse of names really stands out when you sort by name.

Looking through the list, there are lots of ends, 111 by my count, that illustrate the various locations a room can represent, including:

  • End of a Large Cavern
  • End of a Branch
  • End of a Dirty Mineshaft
  • End of a Frozen River
  • End of a Rocky Goat Trail
  • End of Sinister Trail
  • End of Sunflower Street
  • End of Abandoned Pier
  • End of the Alley of Shadows
  • End of the Caverns of Death
  • End of the Naval Pier
  • End of the Vinsaar Mountains

The end of a branch to the end of a mountain range is quite a variation.

And even more than ends, there are entrances, 141 showing up on my list like:

  • Entrance of a Filthy Village
  • Entrance to Okalnir, the Mead Hall of Brimir
  • Entrance to a Burrow
  • Entrance to a Bustling Salt Mine
  • Entrance to Akulab’s Lair
  • Entrance to Gynter’s Stirge Farm
  • Entrance to Selune’s Smile
  • Entrance to the Fiquesh Slave Den
  • Entrance to the House of Umberlee

I do wonder about some, like the 7 rooms named, “A Washroom.”  So many bathrooms.  I know where two of them are, but the other five I cannot recall.

And I feel I should remember places named things like, “An Emasculate Looking Apartment,” “An Extravagant Courtyard in the Citadel,” or “In a Beautiful, Gleaming Cell.”

Oddly enough, in sort of a full circle, the very first rooms in the database are from Leuthilspar, mapped out probably 12 years ago, while the most recent are from the area just outside of Leuthilspar, an area that got updated since I last played seriously and therefore needed to be remapped.

And each of these rooms has a description, a short paragraph of text describing the room, something like:

Before the Oak Tree Cottage

This is a pathway before the front of a large cottage which fills a clearing in the Faerie Forest.  The cottage is an interesting sight to behold.  Mammoth oak trees support the four corners of the cottage; the walls of the cottage seem to be grow right out of the oak trees. The branches of the four, towering oak trees, grow so close together they seem to form the roof of the cottage.  One cannot begin to fathom the time it must have took for this cottage to have been created. There is a small gravel pathway which extends around the cottage to the east and west.  The front door of the cottage is directly to the north.  To the south is the beginning of the clearing.

Sometimes I map with room descriptions on, and those too get stored in the database, but mostly I do not.  Room descriptions get repeated more often than room names, so for the sake of database size alone I have kept them off.  Of course, the database file is all of 23 megabytes in size, but that used to seem like a lot at one time.  That is something like 160 Apple II floppy disks worth of data.

But even beyond the repetition and size of room descriptions, I tend to not need them because my mind has been influenced by the name, the colors, and the events associated with many of the rooms I have passed through in the game.  A surprising number of rooms will generate, unbidden, an image in my brain of what that location looks like.

Which, frankly, is one of the magic aspects of games like this.  From the text we generate the pictures in our head, our own pictures that are guaranteed to be different than what anybody else sees.

And Now For Something Completely Different – RP-PvP

I have mentioned more than a few times with the imminent end of five person content at hand in World of Warcraft, we have been slowly trying to build some consensus for the “next” thing for the instance group to try.

Sure, there are three new five person instances coming up which will extend our time in Azeroth for a bit.  But eventually we will get to the point where the undone content will be the heroic versions of instances we have already done.  That does not seem to hold much appeal for the group.

We’re tourists.

We’ve now entered and defeated most of the five player instances in the game and we’re happy with that.  Doing heroics would be doing repeats to get gear to put us on the path to raiding which, as far as I can tell, we have no pursuing.  Raiding isn’t a “Three Hours on a Saturday Night” sort of venture.

So Potshot (aka Skronk) sent out an email to the group with some possibilities.  They included:

  • Warhammer Online – maybe it changed for the better
  • Lord of the Rings Online – maybe it will feel less grindy
  • Champions Online – maybe some of us like superheroes
  • Aion – maybe we’ll be able to get on the same server/faction
  • EverQuest II – maybe this time it will work for us
  • GuildWars – maybe more story, less levels would be good

And we ended up picking:

  • World of Warcraft – change everything

Sometimes we’re silly like that.

Actually, Potshot and I were already playing some alts and were somewhat disposed to keeping our WoW accounts active whether we went somewhere else or not.  But everybody else, so far, has seemed interested enough that we have pushed ahead in laying the groundwork.

The change everything commandment meant doing as much differently as we could.

  • We rolled horde characters.
  • We vowed not to re-roll our main class from alliance
  • We chose a PvP server.  Actually, we chose an RP-PvP server, just to be as different as possible.

In some ways this is a last tour of Azeroth before the Cataclysm comes and changes it all.  What will life be like, for example, with the Barrens split in two?  Can we take two versions of Barrens chat?

So we’ve formed up a guild on Lightninghoof, which seems to have a decent population, an active auction house, and a lively version of Barrens chat.  And when it isn’t lively I’ll ask when I get to meet Gandalf or make some obscure Devo reference to find the one other person who will get it. (And at this late date, all Devo references are obscure.)

Much role play though?  A bit.  Not too many people walking rather than running through Orgimmar, but some passable fist shaking at the alliance.

So there we are.

Crossroads - We stand on guard for thee

Crossroads - We stand on guard for thee

We’ll see how it plays out and if it lasts.  We are not planning to do the instance route again, though I wouldn’t mind doing Ragefire Chasm at level.