Two Cents From The Peanut Gallery #Legion


I am one of the least qualified people in the world to write about World of Warcraft, but I also represent a segment of World of Warcraft players, which qualifies me to nominate myself as Speaker of the Peanut Gallery* and talk about my experience with the Legion foundation patch.

Time Lapse

I own all of the expansions to WoW, save Legion at this point, and have visited them all in various forms over the years. WoW was never my game of choice. I got into it at launch because friends were playing, and we had just come off a string of UO and SWG group outings, back when everyone I knew cared about MMOs and not just shooting things in their faces (in games). I received the WoW CE for Christmas that year, actually: after opening the presents, I was dismayed that I hadn’t seen a WoW box in my gifts, until my wife pulled it out from behind the table. Awwww…

My latest foray led me to level 100 and through a good chunk of WoD, but I quit when the main story was complete and all that was left was to complete the quests and all of those mindless nuggets of activity that developers like to throw in as a way to keep people playing. This was before the shipyard addition, so it’s been a little while.

…The Confusion Sets In

I had no idea what the hell was going on when I logged in on the day before the foundation patch. I had to open my shipyard, and struggled with that, dying every five minutes with my BM because for some reason, IDK. I gamed it, though, sneaking through and taking a legal shortcut, but later found myself stuck in another no-win scenario with Exarch Yrel. I logged out in the middle of this, hoping that once the patch hit I might be in better shape to take on the situation.

In fact, things were worse. Talents were reset, and class changes were applied. I was assaulted with choices I hadn’t made since two years prior, so I huddled in a corner with Yrel while I investigated what the hell was going on. I tried my best, but death (to me) was swift and merciless. I ‘stoned back to the garrison and opted to just focus on the kiddie quests that littered my journal. Not glamorous, but at least I was making some progress.

It’s Been Written that returning to a game after an absence isn’t really handled very well in MMOs. Ideally, a game would tell you what you’ve missed as a way to help you get acclimated to all of the changes since you decided to go outside for a while. WoW is particularly bad at this.

Maybe it’s because of its age, the number of significant changes, or because of the massive contingent of people who have kept up with the game over its lifetime, but WoW suffers from what I call the “Math Teacher Effect”. Remember back to your school years (which may be recent, or distant) when you moved into a new math class at the start of a new year or semester? Ever notice how all math builds on previous math? If you aced last year’s math, then the new year’s math should be a piece of cake, and most math teachers teach to this assumption (in hindsight, as they should). But if you faltered at all during previous studies, you’re going to become increasingly lost as the class rockets ahead at full speed, building on what they assume you know.

Looking for information that might help a lapsed player was difficult, if not impossible. I thought I was missing abilities, which might have been a bug. I didn’t know where certain NPCs were. I had no idea where I should be, where I should go, how I could get there, or what to do once I did get there. And I’m not even talking about foundation patch content; I’m talking about just picking up from where I left off since my last subscription window. This morning, the lack of any kind of codified timeline for where to go and what to do made me question why I was even bothering with this game when everything was turning out to be an exercise in frustration.

A Graceful Recovery and Enthusiasm

Although without the distraction of the game itself, I did some extended digging and managed to locate my missing ability. I learned a little bit about the wardrobe system, changes both good and bad for my class, and some additional information on what Legion means for someone like me who doesn’t do group content or raid or even, you know, pay attention to changes when I’m not subscribed or about aspects that don’t immediately concern me.

I feel like I’m in a better place right now than I was last night, although I realize that the respite is only immediate: I should be able to get a handle on my character to help with the active concerns, but there’s a lot of content I need to catch up on that people have already completed and put to bed (like Draenor flying) and are no longer talking about or writing about. I’m going to have to piece together snippets of potentially now-outdated information in order to get a picture of what I’m missing, or to understand what people are talking about now (in terms assuming everyone already knows it, a la your high school math teacher).

But I am liking what I am seeing. I enjoy enthusiasm. I enjoy happiness, and I like it when people are having fun. I want a piece of this Legion fun too, and not stress about the fact that I’m so far behind. I don’t have anyone to play with, so the small blessing is that I can do things at my own pace, and don’t have to worry about the removal of content that I haven’t done because I never knew it existed in the first place.

I suspect that when Legion hits, I’ll try some new classes for a fit, and boost someone to 100 just because. With the region scaling, that’ll help somewhat in the new areas, but I’ll be able to “tourist” my way through the original lands just to say that I did at some point in my life. I might even take a class or two through manually, like they did in the old days. Or I might get through Legion and decide to brave the downtime between this expansion and the inevitable return for the next one.


* Insofar as folks on the Internet are known to nominate themselves as representatives of people who wouldn’t elect them if they actually got to vote on it.

A Weekly Grab Bag for Apr 18, 2016

Because I don’t have anything specific to fill a page with, I’m writing a weekly digest just to let the authorities know that I’m still alive.

Guild Wars 2 Mega Patch


From more simple days.

I’m kind of sad that the GW2 mega-patch addressing Heart of Thorns didn’t get more play on my SocioScope. The patch notes were apparently quite sizable, and I saw a lot of folks saying that many philosophical issues they had with HoT were being addressed in the update. I would have liked to see more of the old guard returning to GW2, because I think we all had a great time getting from 1 to cap, visiting all the dungeons, and completing the story. It’s such a good game! I don’t know why it doesn’t get more re-traction from the Elder Wombats.

I logged in briefly on patch day and wanted to see if I could actually progress past the point where I was stuck. I had to reach a story point, but there were too many enemies that were just too powerful. Turns out they were still there, but another player happened by and helped me out, allowing me to get on with the process. I found that I was a bit rusty when it comes to this game, because I died a few times while I was derping around trying to figure out how to kill stuff.

The Elder Scrolls Online


Pete and Scott of the Pete and Scott Show have been talking back and forth about their forays into TESO on XB1, which has forced that game back to the forefront of my consciousness. I have it on all three platforms, but for some reason it just never gelled for me on any platform for very long. I liked Skyrim well enough, but I only got to level 19 with one character before I was drawn away to…something else.

With my restlessness being what it is, though, I thought I’d fire it up on XB1 and see what’s what. I created a new character, a high elf Templar of the Daggerfall Covenant, and once again started through the initial load of quests.

That’s pretty much about it!

LAN Party



We’ve got our annual LAN of Confusion scheduled for April 30th. We try and have one a year because it’s semi-historical, and because it’s an excuse for everyone to come over to my house and drink if nothing else.

Of course this year we’ve got The Division to spend time with. We’ll be having six people, which means we’ll have to break out into two groups of three, although we have two people who have level 30 characters, and the rest of us are at or under 15, so we might end up with two high level players in one group, and everyone else in the other group.

We have a few other options, of course, but folks are so enthralled with The Division that I think everyone would be OK to get hammered and shoot firearms. And play games.

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here


Really, the only person who had hope was me, so I guess it’s “abandon all hope, ME who enter here”, and by “enter” I guess I mean “that project I had wanted to work on”.

After the on again, off again attempts to keep the “In The Car” series going in the wake of local hands-free driving laws enacted in my state last year, I had the bright idea of creating a video series that I could do at home. With a more static production environment, I thought I might be able to inject an additional layer of production value into the project.

So I rigged a green screen up in the basement, and employed my HD camera on a suitable placed tripod. I redirected the lights in the room to project properly against the screen, and set up a few additional lights to avoid casting a shadow on the screen itself.

All in all, the process went smoothly. Except for the part where I decided I hated both my voice and how I was showing up on camera.

So that put a nail in that coffin. I’ve since repurposed the rotator widget above to display “Featured” posts from the blog. But looking at it after this morning’s post, I guess not even THAT is working correctly.

So the re-branding of the site is off for the time being. I’ll continue to work along the same lines as I’ve been working along until such time as I get another bright idea for some way to enhance my offerings.

Game Services, Wallets, And Funding

Over the weekend I was alerted to the PSN flash sale that was in effect until Monday afternoon (Real Coast Time). Most of the items on sale were for PS3, the PS4 items weren’t really all that sexy, but there were a few nice, deep discounts for some Vita titles like Freedom Wars, which is one that friends had been playing for some time.

I had thought that I had wallet funds in the PS Store, since I had used a store-bought card a while back in order to buy some DLC for Rocksmith, but when I went to the PSN store to verify this, I found an empty balance. I swore that there had been money there, because I know I was purposefully keeping it in case there were more Rocksmith songs I was interested in.

This morning, I went into the transaction history, and found that my PSPlus service renewed, and that it had used the remaining funds in my wallet first, and then took the remainder from my bank account. This kind of annoyed me; I understand the logistics of it, naturally, but in my mind (at least), I put money into the wallet — be it PSN or Steam, or XBL — for the purpose of some immediate purchase, or in the event that I see something down the road that’s new or on sale. To me, the idea is that the wallet is like a holding pen, a place where I can put money away for a rainy day for a very specific purpose.

The PSN renewal is (again, to me) a “maintenance fee”, and I’d rather have it be withdrawn in toto from whatever non-wallet funding source I have set up. Taking money from the wallet almost feels like having your parents take money from your dresser-drawer savings account in order to pay your auto insurance; yes, it’s technically coming from the same place (me), but there’s a psychological difference between a stash and an official funding source.

How Comic Books Got Me To Love TV

Maybe the title goes a bit too far. I’ve never really been in love with TV. When I was younger, my brother and I would be home alone during summer vacations, and if I got to the computer first (we actually raced from our rooms in the morning to the C64), my brother would spend the day in the recliner watching TV. We were extremely productive youths.

It’s not a habit I’ve ever taken up. I liked TV OK, but not enough to make it my primary mode of entertainment. My wife also likes TV a lot, so history repeats itself: while she’s watching The Voice or something, I’m over on the computer.

When shows like Arrow and Agents of SHIELD debuted, I wasn’t too excited bout it. For one, I liked the Marvel moves, but I am not a Joss Whedon fan by any stretch, and the show bears his distinct mark. And Arrow was on “The CW”, which means I’m way outside of it’s core demographic and expected it to be all 20-somethings-playing-teen-angst.

But I started watching Arrow backlogs because folks were talking about it on Le Networks Sociale, and I was extremely impressed. I went back in time to catch up on SHIELD and was initially less impressed, but the end of the first season improved significantly. Then The Flash debuted (with tie-ins to Arrow), and of course you can’t access any Marvel property without accessing all Marvel properties or else it won’t make any sense, so there’s that.

Now they’re talking about another DC spin-off called Legends of Tomorrow, linked here, today! and it looks just as awesome.

Of course, no discussion on comics would be complete without taking a side in the DC vs Marvel war. I have to side with DC, but only because my familiarity comes from the screen translations. I’ve got not desire to spend $5 on a 20 page comic book that I can complete in the bathroom and still have time to kill. But the Marvel adaptations seem to be very reliant on periods of lighthearted comedy mixed with over-the-top action (my issue with Mr. Whedon’s style), and an insidious plot to punish you with continuity confusion if you skip a movie (Hi, Ant-Man). DC’s shows, so far, have been more serious, and to me, more in-depth. I blame the fact that they’re on The Cwuh for the focus on interpersonal relationships and for The Flash‘s almost sophomoric vibe, but I’d rather have human drama over threat-of-the-week drama any day (which is why I love Battlestar Galactica so much).

My New Test For Blogging

I’ll try and keep this short: I get a lot of ideas for posts over the course of the day. Some of them are pretty involved, but some are just thoughts that I’d like to write down and/or get people to comment on.

I’ve got a weekly schedule, three days a week, released at 10AM. I’ve been hesitant to throw in these smaller twig-posts for two reasons:

  1. I don’t want to overload people with multiple posts per day, partly because it ends up being spam, and partly because I’m afraid it might dilute the reliability of my three day 10 AM schedule in people’s eyes.
  2. I don’t want to include Tuesday and Thursday in my usual rotation because I feel I regularly have enough content for three days, but not enough for five. Plus, a lot of these posts (like this one!) aren’t feature-length.

So in talking with Pete of Dragonchasers fame, I stream-of-consciousness’d an idea that goes a little something like this:

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts will remain scheduled for 10 AM. These will invariably be the “featured posts”: the over-wrought, long-form posts people love. They’ll be under the FEATURED category, and I’ve enabled the rotating billboard at the top to display FEATURED posts.
  • Other posts will be categorized as appropriate, and can show up whenever. They’ll be presented in your RSS reader, but I’m looking to get feedback if multiple posts per day, with no set schedule or warning, is going to be annoying if they’re being advertised through social media.

Other ideas are to take up a side-bucket like Anook where I can post these one-offs, but I’m keeping that as a last resort option. Blogging here on an independent platform allows for the greatest reach with the fewest barriers to distribution, which makes it the best option.