Monthly Archives: April 2010

April in Review

The Site

As I predicted, posts were a little more sporadic this month due to the pressures of work.  Having two product releases to do in a month will distract you.  Still, we shipped on time.  I’ll get to how much good that did me.

I am a bit bummed that the links from Blogroll Please seem to have dried up.  There are no paid links at the top of the side bar at the moment.  At its peak, those links were covering my subscription fees and buying me an expansion now and again.  That I am fully up to date with Lord of the Rings Online is probably thanks to those links.  Now I haven’t heard from them in a couple of months.  Such is life.

One Year Ago

A Year ago Dave Arneson passed away.  He was, with Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, that so-influential gaming system that has shaped how we view fantasy swords and sorcery games for over 30 years now.  There would be no World of Warcraft as it is today without Dungeons & Dragons.

A year ago also saw the launch of SOE’s Free Realms, which stuttered a bit on day one.  Now they have millions of people who have signed up for the game, but since it is free to play, that is no indication of revenue.  My daughter has tried to sign up four times, so that is four out of the millions.  SOE was advertising the game heavily on Cartoon Network.  But FR does not run on a Mac.  I know she has signed up because her email gets routed to me.  And, as a side note to SOE, if you’re going to require a parental email address for approval, allowing it to be the same as the child’s email address isn’t really an effective way to control under age players.  I realize you’re in a bind on this, but you seem to have taken the easy way out.

In EVE Online I was mulling over the Apocrypha expansion and configuring up a Cerebus to try out as a mission runner.

As usual, there was much ado about WoW.

And then there were new comers.  A year ago we brought home two wee kittens.

Tiny Trixie and Fred

Of course now, a year later, we have a giant pile of cats sleeping around the house.

Fur at rest

At least they seem to be comfortable with our older cat, Oscar.  But the three of them take up a surprising amount of space on the bed at night.

New Linking Sites

I would like to thank the following site for linking here.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard
  2. Pokewalker Yellow Forest WiFi Event
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  5. Battle of the Immortals – Key Features
  6. iPad Arcade Stand April Fools
  7. WoW Dance Battle System!
  8. Getting on the Greed Steed
  9. In Defense of the New EQII Subscription
  10. Lil’ XT Reactions
  11. April Fools Contest – The Winner
  12. A Little Bit of EVE Blackmail

Spam Comments of the Month

“I have really been becoming all uncomfortable and zonked out there recently as a result of hitting some potent cannabis these days… Any of you people struggling with this? Might be I just simply ought to trim down the volume Im burning right?”

“Hey, is it feasible in order to really purchase grass within the law on the internet? In a case where u guys have, will you suggest obtaining some people any more?”

[Both of these were on my post about playing FarmVille.  This stuff just writes itself.]

Strangest Pingback of the Month

A post out there in the blogesphere about the Ayatollah Khomeini (not that one) links back to my posts about Blackrock Depths.  Not sure how that worked out.

Lord of the Rings Online

With the three year anniversary of LOTRO, I patched up the client, which was surprisingly quick and starting poking around in Middle-earth last weekend.  Of course, this put LOTRO into play for what the instance group should do between hitting the Outlands and the release of Cataclysm.  That will bring up the challenge of which server.  I have characters in the low 30s on Windfola and Nimrodel, but we could just start fresh on another server.  And then we may just go on discussing this whole plan until Cataclysm hits.

Runes of Magic

We had a pretty vigorous week in Runes of Magic, and then we have sort of tapered off.  There is a lot of interesting aspects to the game, and lots to explore, but I think we have to get the whole group over there and make it “the game” for it to stick with us.

Star Trek Online

I patched.  Crap.  That’s all I did all month.  Too much sword play going on.  I swear I’ll play more next month.  They have new veteran rewards coming out.  I might need that free respec.

World of Warcraft

Into Northrend with my daughter.  My mother is close behind.  My daughter swings between wanting to get a level 80 character with which to farm Wintergrasp (she watches me whenever WG is up) and just wanting to see what other buildings in Goldshire she can climb on top of.  She can get on top of the Inn and the Blacksmith pretty readily.

The instance group is getting close to 60 and has a couple more dungeons to do before we level out of classic Azeroth and have to ask ourselves what we do next.  We do still have those three new level 80 instances we could run with our alliance characters.

Coming Up

We’ll see who reads through all that text and actually gets to this part.

I am going to predict that blog posts are going to get more sporadic still in the coming months.  I was notified on Wednesday that I, along with most of the R&D staff at my office including everybody who reported to me, was being laid off.

Oops.

Well, after 12 years, three acquisitions, and at least a dozen rounds of layoffs over the last 8 years, I was probably due.  Today I have to go in, hand over my laptop, phone, and badge and collect my last paycheck.  I’ll sign a document releasing the company from all obligations next week and they’ll give me 16 weeks of severance and that will be that.  I will join the unemployed and become a lagging economic indicator.  I hope all those articles about how we’re coming out of this recession are true.

And while that might seem to give me MORE time to blog and play games, it is more likely to disrupt the stable ecosystem of my life.  There was a nice little pattern of starting posts and editing pictures before bed in the evening, finishing up posts before I went to work, and then editing and posting them while I ate my lunch at the office.  That structure sustained me through more than 1500 posts.  Its absence will likely cause me to post less.

Anyway, you can see why I am bummed about the Blogroll Please thing.  I wasn’t going to get rich with those links, but they would have been enough to pay for our home internet connection.  Maybe I will copy Tobold and put up a PayPal donations button.

So we shall see what the future brings.  Instance group posts will still make it I bet, but there might not be so much filler in between.

Dire Maul Tribute Run

In which a little research goes a long way and a lot of screen shots get presented.

We decided to replay last Saturday night’s run in Dire Maul.

Of course, the Dire Maul North part of the saga quite clearly deserved a replay.  We got trounced there.  But it turned out that we also missed a couple of quests in Dire Maul East last week, so we went to full replay mode.  The line up for the replay was:

55 Orc Shaman – Earlthebat (Earlthecat)
57 Tauren Druid – Azawak (Skronk)
57 Undead Mage – Bigbutt (Bungholio)
57 Tauren Druid – Hurmoo (Vikund)
57 Blood Elf Paladin – Enaldie (Ula)

First we hit Dire Maul East to chase Pusillin again, as we now had the quest to slay him and to find Lethtendris, a boss for which we had a quest, but whom we totally missed the last time around.

Pusillin was easy, you just chase him around to his final destination then knock him off.  Then we had to look around a bit for Lethtendris, who turned out to be on a platform at the top of a ramp we walked right past last time around.

Lethtendris at home

That fight was short.  We considered for a moment going on to finish off the main boss in the zone, but decided just to head to Dire Maul North.

This time around there were two big changes.

First, we decided that we needed to fall back to our standard “careful” mode of approaching an instance.  We would use crowd control, we we be sure to pull mobs back into a safe area, mark targets appropriately, and generally behave as we used to when instance were a challenge.

Second, taken on by Azawak, was to research what we needed to do and to show up prepared both with knowledge as well as supplies.

A Rare picture of Azawak out of bear form

The first order of business was to track down Guard Mol’dar, who holds the key we were missed last week.  We had to kill him to get it, thus denying us a full tribute run, but at least we got the all important key.


That in hand, it was time to thread our way carefully to the big boss, avoiding contact with other bosses in the instance.  One guard patrols the outer grounds, and we managed to time our work to get past him successfully.

Then there was guard Slip’kik, who is a bit further inside.  With the right ingredients you can arm a trap at one end of the area he patrols.  Of course, there are a couple of groups to clear, but once they are taken care of, you set the trap and wait.

Frost Trapped!

Once he was taken care of, Azawak slipped over to the goblin in the corner and gave him the ingredients to make the ogre suit, which comes into play in a bit.  Then it was up the ramp and towards the door of the King.

Action on the ramp

We worked our way up and to the door, carefully clearing all the way.  Then, once through the door, with the extras cleared up, Azawak put on the ogre suit.

Azawak the Ogre

Thus disguised, Azawak ran off to talk to Captain Kromcrush, to fool him into running off elsewhere.

The rage of Captain Kromcrush

And soon we were there, looking into the chamber of King Gordock.

The King's Chamber

There were some minor mobs we had to clear out, but they were not much of an issue.  The final battle was at hand.

King Gordock and Cho'Rush

To the right was the king, while to the left was Cho’Rush the Observer.  To continue with the tribute run idea, we needed to kill King Gordock without slaying Cho’Rush.  This almost went wrong.

We put Enaldie on Cho’Rush, then Azawak, Earl, and Bigbutt on the king, with Hurmoo healing all around.  As we started off the battle, Enaldie seemed to be doing much better than the other three.  Changing between the two targets, I noticed that Cho’Rush hit the 50% health mark at about the time the king was still around 85%.  We had to tell our retribution pally to lay off a bit as she was hitting too hard.

So Enaldie tried to just dance with Cho’Rush without doing quite so much damage.  After a bit of a rampage, the king was felled at last.

The King down and Cho'Rush still alive

Azawak was declared the new king, and the Dire Maul tribute, a chest that spawns after the defeat of King Gordock, yielded a couple of interesting items, but nothing too exciting… at least not for our group.

The Tribute Loot

We took our traditional victory shot and prepared to head out.

Victory over King Gordock

While we were in the King’s chamber, Azawak and Bigbutt both went to speak to Cho’Rush, but the rest of us did not.  If you speak to Cho’Rush, it seems that everything in the instance goes green (friendly) to you.  But if you do not speak to him, everything remains red (aggro) but does not necessarily attack you.

So when we got back to Guard Slip’Kik, three of us were able to attack him and take him down, for another mini-boss drop.

Slip'Kik still aggro

The other two could not touch him.

however, once we started that, three of us were flagged as “in combat” no matter where we went in the instance, which meant we couldn’t recall or portal out to home, we had to walk out through the front door.  That trip was made a bit longer by a diversion into the library where we found the item for another Dire Maul quest we happened to have.

Looking for bones in the library

After that, we ran out the front door and called it a night.

And, since we actually did do Dire Maul West previously at level, I think we can, as a group, check off the Dire Maul box on our score card.  We still have Scholomance and Stratholme to look into.  And then there is BRD to finish off.  Soon we’ll be 60 though, and will have to decide where to go from there.

8 Gym Badges in Johto

The run through Johto in Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver seems incredibly fast relative to run through the Sinnoh region in Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.

And it is, frankly.

I am less than 24 hours into the game and am ramping up to take on the regional champions.  And I play slowly, generally exploring side paths and spending time leveling up all the Pokemon in my party, as opposed to my daughter who has raced headlong through the game, concentrating only on her main Pokemon.

So she muscled through the 8th gym badge with a level 52 Typhlosion at about the 18 hour mark, while I managed the test with a mixed party of level 33-40 Pokemon well into my 23rd hour.

And as we go from town to town, I have to remind myself that there are TWO regions in Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.  There is the venture through Johto and, once that is complete, 8 more gym leaders and a regional champion to face in the Kanto region.

And that is a good thing!

The lands of HeartGold and SoulSilver

It is a good thing because Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver is a good game and I was starting to worry that I was getting to the end too quickly.

There isn’t anything astonishingly new in the game I suppose.  Having played as far back as Pokemon Emerald after starting with Diamond, if you’ve played the core Pokemon games before, HeartGold and SoulSilver won’t be a mystery.

But they have managed to polish up the game even more.  It is the same formula, but a further refinement of it.  Every time the do a new release, things not only get better, but they also cram in a few more features.  I highly recommend the companion book if only to be a guide to all of the extra activities that are available in the game.  And because, while it does guide you, it is not too bad on the spoilers.  It won’t solve puzzles for you, it only makes sure you can find them.  To really cheat, you have to go to the internet.

Now we’re just getting ourselves set for the final Johto battle, at which point the Kanto region will be available to us.  And the timing is just about right for that, as the guide book for the second half of the game just arrived at our house, right on release day.

Video Games, Art, and Time

Roger Ebert was feeling cranky the other day and declared that video games are not and can never be art.

The whole thing seems rather pointless, like a kid going out of his way to kick over somebody else’s blocks in pre-school.  But the man is a professional cinema critic, so it is probably tough to take off that critic’s hat when you get home.  And, of course, now other people are throwing out their own opinions on the subject.

The crux of Ebert’s argument seems to be that video games are interactive and, thus, not art.

This is a point of view to which no small number of artists, people who Roger Ebert would likely recognize as artists (who is an artist being a whole different argument and even more slippery than who is press), would object.  Interactivity is not at all an uncommon aspect of art.

My own pass through Art Appreciation at University was with a professor (and artist) who had a very inclusive view on what was art.  Or at least I think he did.  I was still working out negative space while he was going on about that.

Art is more about having a message, about communicating something to people, than about the medium the artists chooses.   Anybody who declares something “not art” because they object to the medium is kidding themselves.  Art is not the medium.  Art is the message, the intent.

And, looking at it from the other direction, merely using a recognized artistic medium does not make something art.  All movies are not art.  Every time a brush is applied to canvas, art is not magically created.  All those photographs people take, they are not all art.

Now, I would certainly entertain the proposition that no current video game has been created as art.

I would say you weren’t looking hard enough.  You’re not going to find art using a video game format as the medium on the shelf at GameStop.  It is as likely that something create to be a video game would be immediately recognized as art as… no, I’m not going to create a distracting analogy that people will argue about rather than the point I’m trying to make… let’s just say it would be unlikely and leave it at that.

But that is just my opinion.  Anybody trying to come up with an absolute definition of art is on a fool’s errand.

And all of this leads to another notion, one put forth by Lore Sjöberg in a piece he did for Wired, that video games are too recent to be seriously considered as art.  That, as a medium, video games haven’t aged enough to be viewed as art.

And while his column is pitched as humor, it does have a ring of truth to it.

In the end, I don’t know art, but I know what I like.  Or something like that.

Dire Mauled

As noted at the end of the post on the last full run we did, we decided to divert from another round in Blackrock Depths to face an set of instance we had not previously done as a group, Dire Maul.

Even with our venture into Runes of Magic last week, the group was still askew, with Earl falling a bit behind.  We kicked off with:

53 Orc Shaman – Earlthebat (Earlthecat)
56 Tauren Druid – Azawak (Skronk)
56 Undead Mage – Bigbutt (Bungholio)
56 Tauren Druid – Hurmoo (Vikund)
56 Blood Elf Paladin – Enaldie (Ula)

Dire Maul is quite a contrast to Blackrock Depths.  Added after the game went live, Dire Maul seems to reflect the philosophy of breaking up instances into discreet runs that became the favored approach for Blizzard.  So while BRD is a sprawling complex that you must visit repeatedly to finish up, Dire Maul is three discreet zones, each with its own flavor.

We started off with the east wing of Dire Maul, which has a theme of Satyrs and nature, something that can be confusing with a restoration spec’d druid in tree form running around.

Make sure you taregt the correct tree!

It is also something of a pain for a shaman who is a bit low on levels and  heavy on nature damage spells.

But it is also the section of Dire Maul which I had visited most recently, so I had something of a feel for where to go.  Sort of.

We started off with Pusillin, the imp you chase around the instance.  We chased him while learning that at least there were more than druid-like trees to kill.

You know those ancient protectors...

We worked our way through the instance, knocked off Pusillin and then lined up for the biggest fight we ended up having in Dire Maul East, the battle with Zevrim Thornhoof.

Zevrim at his altar

During this fight, Zevrim zaps people onto the altar where they are effectively stuck in a damage over time spell.  Azawak ended up on the altar twice, but survived while Enaldie tanked.  Then Hurmoo got yanked up onto the altar and expired before the time ran out.

Fortunately, 4 out of 5 people in our group can ress.

Left at the altar

Aside from that death, our run through Dire Maul East went pretty smoothly, with the final with Alzzin the Wildshaper over so fast I didn’t get a screen shot.

Emboldened by our success, we turned our eyes towards the North wing of Dire Maul.  And there our troubles began.

Sitting in the Dire Maul North Foyer

Through most of Dire Maul East, the mobs were around the level of most of the group, and so a couple of levels higher than Earl.  In Dire Maul North, the mobs were levels 58-60, which made a lot of Earl’s attacks fail.

They were also showing up in groups of four, which meant having to fall back on some crowd control.  That meant Bigbutt was spending time casting polymorph rather than damage.

The latter, of course, meant mobs angry at Bigbutt.  The ogres of Dire Maul North also do a lot of damage, which meant a lot more healing going on, which meant mobs angry at Hurmoo the healer.  Fights started becoming wild affairs and Bigbutt or Hurmoo ended up dead every so often.

Then came the first big fight in the tunnel leading to the big boss, King Gordok.  We were trying for a tribute run, which means avoiding the lesser bosses and just killing the big boss if possible.  At that point, the lesser bosses, are so happy to have been been freed from their current tyrant that they give you gifts.

In the tunnel we were in a pitched battle with four ogres when an eye of Kilrogg showed up, opened a portal, and brought in a few more mobs, which tipped the balance of the fight.  We had our first wipe in a long time.

Dead in the tunnel

Earl, with his shaman self-resurrection ability, was thwarted in his attempt to revive us because he died a little too close to the start point of the ogres.  The penalty of a large aggro radius.

That meant a jog back to the instance in ghost form.  From that point forward, the fighting was tough.  If things went even a little awry, fights quickly got out of hand.

Ogres crushing the remains of the party

And as healer, Hurmoo was feeling the weight of ogre blows, and he ended up getting pounded into the ground with disturbing frequency.

Ogres can flatten unwary Taurens

Which lead as often as not lead to all of us having to run back to the instance as ghosts again.

At least we know the route!

Still, we persisted.  While we were dying a lot than we were have grown used to of late, we were still making progress.  Not every fight was a fiasco, and the door to the final boss was within sight.

And then we were rewarded with the true meaning of the saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  Most people just mis-quote that first part, and often in a way that mis-interprets the meaning of the full quote.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709

We knew, through various sources, about the Dire Maul North tribute run.  However, we drank only lightly of that knowledge, and were thus intoxicated into rash action.

In this case, there we were at the King Gordok’s door, and we didn’t have the key.

Neither did we have a rogue handy with locking picking skill up around 300, a blacksmith’s truesilver skeleton key, nor an engineer’s  powerful seaforium charge, any of which would have opened up the doors.

A little bit of research showed up who had the key, Guard Mol’dar.  However, he was at the other side of the instance in an area we have not bothered to clear.  And it was getting very late, ress and release runs having eaten up a chunk of time.  And some of us were wearing armor that was completely out of durability.

Hurmoo's Paper Doll

So we decided to take our lessons and return another night when we would, no doubt, be better prepared for the North wing of Dire Maul.

And while it is annoying to fail (and die so many times!), we did at least feel we were facing a challenge in this instance.

In Defense of the New EQII Subscription Plan

Total rip off. 1/3 the price for 1/10 of the access? That’s horrendous.

-Dave, in a comment on my post about the new EQII subscription plan

Not that I am picking on Dave, but he does succinctly state what people seem to be objecting to when it comes to SOE’s new subscription plan for EverQuest II, the EQII Passport.

Sethial, in another comment on that post, calculated out that the cost per day of a normal subscription is 50 cents while with this new plan it is $1.66.  Again, a seeming blow against this offering.

Certainly, looking at in a raw numbers way as above, this subscription plan does not seem like a good deal.

So I want to approach this via analogy.

Okay, stop groaning!  This will be a pretty apt analogy, not some sparkle pony bizzaro world dream analogy.

I used to have a cell phone for which I paid $35 a month.

For that $35 a month, which included all taxes, fees, and whatnot, I got 1000 minutes of air time.  So the cost per minute of air time was 3.5 cents.  This was also in the days before minutes rolled over, so when the billing cycle was up, any unused minutes went away.

I gave up that cell phone and its plan for a pre-paid cell phone that charges me 25 cents a minute for calls.  That is a little over seven times the cost per minute of my old plan.

The problem for me was, in looking over my phone bills for a six month period of time, I was using about seven minutes of air time a month.  Seven minutes.

So my calls on the old phone were actually costing me five dollars per minute.

The pre-paid phone was clearly a better deal for somebody like me who is almost always seated within reasonable proximity of a land line telephone.

And so, while I am sure there are people out there who log on to EverQuest II every single day and who, thus, are really paying 50 cents a day for their play time, I am equally as sure that there are people out there who only log on a few days a month and who are probably effectively paying, per day, something very close to this new plan.

The price per day measure is interesting, but only works out if you’re using every single day, the way that first cell phone plan would have only worked out for me if I was using a lot more minutes than I was.

An all-you-can-eat plan isn’t a good deal if you’re not hungry or on a diet.  One size, and I speak as somebody who is 6’3″ tall when he stands up straight, rarely ever fits all.

That said, I still find the “three consecutive days” clause to be a deal-killer for me.  Perhaps if I was in a group that could coordinate and have a monthly EQII weekend it might tempt me.  But for general use, the consecutive days just axes the appeal.  I’d like to see somebody from SOE explain why they chose that particular restriction.

Still, as I said, I am glad that SOE is offering something new, and I am sure that somebody out there who will read about this new plan and think it is right for them.

Turbine and Warner Brothers

And while eyeballing the Massively post about the new EQII subscription plan offering, I also saw the headline about Turbine being purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

Thus the “largest privately-held online gaming studio in North America” joins a conglomerate.

As noted elsewhere, the number of independent MMO studios just went down by one.

And while I have no idea what impact this will have on their games, Asheron’s Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Lord of the Rings Online, it did put one thing in mind.

Warner also happens to own TT Games, the parent company of Traveler’s Tales, the studio which makes all of the LEGO games, like LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones.

So now we have a parent company that owns rights to make a Lord of the Rings game and the very popular LEGO game franchise.

Over two years ago I thought up five LEGO games I would like to see.  One of them was LEGO Harry Potter, and we’re getting that one pretty soon.

Another was LEGO Lord of the Rings.

Now, I know that we’re talking about two different studios and that the licensing as it stands won’t allow such a game.

But I’m just thinking that this moved the ball ever so slightly in the right direction.

I can dream, right?

Cheers to SOE for a New Subscription Option!

Massively reported that Sony Online Entertainment is offering a new subscription option for EverQuest II players.

And I am sure that some of us are thinking, “About freakin’ time!”  I was agitating for something new almost four years ago.

Not that SOE hasn’t been a leader in the subscription alternatives field, what with Station Access.

Okay, the subscription options field isn’t so big, so you don’t have to do much to be the leader.  Just offer something other than a $15 a month plan with discounts for larger time frames and you’re beating the industry standard.

But here they have stepped up and done something new.

The new plan is called the EQII Passport and the site for it is here.

The essence is that for five dollars a month you can have three consecutive days of play in EverQuest II per month.

Now the first part is easy.  I like that part.

Five dollars isn’t so bad if you want to keep your account active to count towards veteran rewards or if you really only play one weekend a month.

It is the second part that trips me up a bit.


The “three days” part sounds fine, it is the consecutive part that puts a damper on my enthusiasm.

I suppose the fact that I started my online gaming career on GEnie where the billed in six second increments (and five dollars would get you just an hour of play) that I start scratching my head and wondering at the “consecutive days” aspect of this offer.  Why that limitation?  The technology for keeping track of non-consecutive time cannot be that onerous a task to deal with.

Because if the deal was 36 hours of play over a 30-day billing period, I would probably jump right on it.  Even three individual, consecutive or not, days would be a serious temptation.

But for EQII these days, I would be more likely to play on a Sunday afternoon and then not want to play again until the following weekend.

The next two consecutive days would then go to waste, effectively leaving me with one day of play per month.

So it does not sound like the subscription plan that will get me back into EverQuest II.  But I am sure that, for somebody, this will be the right plan.

Still, as I said, I am glad to see somebody out there trying.

How about you?  Would this subscription plan tempt you back to EQII?  Would you like to see this sort of plan in another game?  EVE Online comes to mind here for me.

Greed Steeds for the Whole Family!

Saturday afternoon we were done with soccer, showered up, fed, and happily running around in WoW when I got a whisper from my mother in game.

“I got the horse” she said.

One more greed steed in the virtual world of Azeroth.

My mind immediately went to my own problem… the problem of a daughter who already wants the shiny pony and now will know somebody who has one.

Fortunately my mom was way ahead of me, as her next whisper was asking if she could get one as a gift for my daughter.  I said yes, with an audible sigh of relief.  I had already said no to the pony.  But grandparents are the escape clause, allowed to be indulge the grand-kids as long as it doesn’t get too out of hand.

Then it was a matter of how to make this a surprise.

I called my daughter over and told her that she needed to get out her main character so we could all group up and do something.  She fretted a little, being off on some expedition to figure out how to climb on top of some other building in Azeroth, but consented after a I applied some parental pressure.

Then came the delicate bit.

There was going to be a period of time when my daughter would see that my mom had the Celestial Steed but would not yet know she was getting one herself.

Sure enough, I could hear from the other room when that first part hit.  My daughter came sulking into my office in a full-body pout, saying that Grandma had the new mount and obviously ready to renew her assault on me to get her one as well.

I cut her off and told her that she needed to be good, that she should go back and tell grandma congratulations on her new toy, and, in general, behave herself as good things rarely come to those who whine.  I sent her back to her computer and listened.

I could tell when my mom told my daughter that she was getting a steed as well.  My daughter came bouncing into my office, mood changed from sulking to jubilant.

In the mean time, the code had arrived in my inbox, so I went over to her machine to redeem the code.  She has an authenticator for her account as well, so I have to go to it or it has to come to me.

And then she had her new pony and was riding all over leaving a trail of sparkles where ever she went.

In this happy mood, I caved in as well and bought a Celestial Steed for my own account.  Then we all went to Shattrath to fly around together.

Three Steeds in Flight

The steed shows up in the usual way, via an in-game email from Mei Francis, the exotic mounts dealer and apparent front person for the Blizzard store in Azeroth.

As for the mount itself.

Running along as a ground mount, the steed looks a bit awkward to me.  The wings folded but still prominent do not not enhance the lines of the mount.  I have a few mounts that I prefer for ground transport, including my chopper.

Flying is clearly its element and it looks much more graceful with wings unfurled and flapping.

And the steed really needs to be in motion.  Those sparkles keep popping up when you are standing still, and if you stay stationary long enough, you end up in this popcorn ball like sphere of little dots.  But in motion, you leave a trail.

Finally, worth $25?  Hrmm…  I’d feel a lot better about my purchase if it had been $10, or even $15.  But my mom at least saved me from my fear of having to pay $50 for two horses… by her paying $50 for two horses.

Ah well.  At least I didn’t have to make a deal with my brother or anything.

But it flies!  And is sparkly!

Go Speed Racer!

My main character, Vikund, now has 61 mounts.  OCD tool that I am, it still isn’t enough.

Question of the Morning: Can I Work for Blizzard?

This morning while getting ready for work and school after my daughter had been on vacation for a week, she turned to ask me a serious question.

“When I’m 19, can I be a Blizzard employee?”

A bit of a curve ball there, I suppose.  At least at a little after 7am.

The age of 19 entered into it, I believe, because she had asked me the previous day if she could have the password to the parental controls for her WoW account when she was in college.

I told her I’d take the parental controls off her account when she was 19.

I left aside the idea that perhaps in 11 years she might not be so interested in WoW.  And she seemed to be satisfied with the answer, so why rock the boat.

Of course, she was also satisfied when I told her “when you’re 25 years old” when she asked me when I would teach her to drive.  That one is going to come back to haunt me.

Back to this morning.

I can only imagine that some mental connection formed between turning off parental controls and being able to get a job at Blizzard, as though that might be a checkbox on the application for a job.

“Sorry, we’d love to hire you, but you still have parental control’s activated on your account, so unless you can demonstrate that you know the password, we’re not going to be able to extend an offer.”

A child’s sense of how the world works can be a mercifully mystical thing.  We only figure out what is REALLY going on when it is far too late and we’ve left home, gotten a job, and are staring at a pile of dirty laundry and a sink full of dishes.  Then we realize what a sweet deal childhood can be.

So when I asked her, “What would you want to do if you worked at Blizzard?” she seemed a bit uncertain on how to answer, though  I could practically see the thought bubble over her head which said, “Play WoW all day, you silly man!”

I then prompted her with some ideas.  I asked if she wanted to, say,  write quests?

Her eyes got big and she said, “I could write quests?”

“Sure!” I said, “You could work on the character models, design new armor sets, create new zones or dungeons.  There are lots of things to be done on a big game like WoW.”

She looked happy enough that you would have thought I had told her school had been canceled for the day.  I don’t think all of this was quite part of her world view up to this point.

Of course, I did not go into how much work there is involved in creating a game… or software of any sort.  And who knows if she’ll be as interested in the idea when I get home tonight.  She might be back to Veterinarian or Zoo Keeper.  We’ll see.