Fun Browser Game: Can you get the 2048 tile?

Check out this fun, but very addictive, little browser game. If you’re bored of Bubbleshooter, this is your new drug!

2048 game

How to play: Use your arrow keys to move the tiles. When two tiles with the same number touch, they merge into one with double the value.

The goal: Merge the tiles until you get a tile with the value of 2048.

Click this link to play in your browser.

I’ve spent at least a couple of hours playing, and I think I’ve found a guiding principle for how to do it. I just need a little luck and a little more patience. I still haven’t achieved a 1024 tile though.

It’s a perfect format for an app game, but some of the versions I found had ads in them, and I’d rather pay for my games. However, this seems like an alternative: Google play. It’s a webview that loads the locally stored HTML files of the original game, so you can play without internet connection, and there are no ads. I haven’t tried downloading it yet though.

Credit to Gabriele Cirulli for making the 2048 game! http://gabrielecirulli.com/

“Has Privacy Become a Luxury Good?”

Ever since Edward Snowden (bless him) blew the proverbial whistle, privacy concerns has been proven to be even more serious than anyone dared to believe. And I’d like to make a small case for one of the problems I see in Wow.

I remember reading a forum post back in 2012 about the activity feed on the WoW Armory.

activity feed wow

The WoW Armory logs the activity of every character above level 10, who has also been active within the last 6 months. It logs the date of the last 50 entries.This can be viewed by anyone online, and you can not opt out of it.

It was a player asking for the ability to simply opt out of having the activity feed public:

“Am I the only person who think it’s uncomfortable to have everything you do, and when you do it broadcasted to the world?

Maybe I don’t want family/partner/boss/co-workers/stalkers/etc to know exactly how much I play or when I play for a number of reasons.

I want privacy features, I want the choice to disable the activity feed.” (link)

Is this really a lot to ask?

- Apparently for some! Because people in the thread were completely hung up on the suspicion that this guy might be playing WoW when he should be working. The answer to that is – that’s why we need privacy to begin with – because it’s none of your damn business what he does in WoW or when he do it. We don’t even need to have the discussion about why he wants it to be private in the first place – privacy is a human right!

Besides, to make a point, I have played WoW when ill – as in – legitimately ill. I did some pet battles, some farming, just something to take my mind off of the blazing flu I had going.

But you can also imagine how, under certain conditions, that could have been construed as me not being ill enough, if this information was in the hands of the wrong people.

You also see this argument about privacy often:

Basically, you are responsible for your own privacy. Which means you’d have to censor yourself – don’t play WoW when ill lest someone find out and use it against you.

Grumpy-Cat-01

Great! That will make the internet a fun, free and democratic place to hang out!
- Artist Inti Orozco

Another consequence of this line of thinking, would be the question author Julia Angwin asks: “Has Privacy Become a Luxury Good?

“As more privacy-protecting services pop up, we need to consider two important questions: Can we ensure that those who can afford to buy privacy services are not being deceived? And even more important, do we want privacy to be something that only those with disposable money and time can afford?”

She spent $2,200 last year on privacy protection measures, some of which weren’t able to live up to their promises. Besides, is it fair that one has to be a tech-expert to work around this stuff? I feel bad for my ol’ man then.

I see my friends on Facebook using nick names and falsifying their personal information, in order to diffuse their online tracks. My own strategy has been to just leave as much blank as possible. This means Facebook constantly asks me where I grew up, where I went to school (all the way back to kindergarden, Facebook wants everything!) and what movies and music I like. I sometimes enjoy watching Facebook squirm in the absence of my data, but then it also annoys me – “quit asking me private stuff, Zuckerberg, I don’t wanna date you!”

Edward Snowden, though!

The Matrix Unfolding Inside my Computer Game

Meet Bruce and Madeline!

They are both playable robot sims in my Sims 3 neighborhood and have made quite the stir already.

Bruce and Madeline

This picture shows Bruce and Madeline mid-conversation.

Simbots can be purchased using the lifetime happiness points of one of your human sims. They become a member of your household and are meant to keep your sim company.

But Bruce is a total dick! If I leave him wandering around public lots, he will usually get into arguments with other sims. Once he broke someones’ laptop and then just ate it in front of them (he can eat junk as food – literally). He has also managed to kiss both Madeline and his other female roommate Maya and now they both have a crush on him! Would it surprise you if I said his lifetime wish is to see the ghost of his wealthy (and thus dead) spouse?

His traits are:

  1. Inappropriate
  2. Childish
  3. Hydrophobic
  4. Mean spirited
  5. Evil

Yeah, Bruce is just a total dick.

Madeline is the exact opposite, her traits are:

  1. Brave
  2. Ambitious
  3. Great kisser
  4. Hydrophobic
  5. Slob

She wants to become an astronaut.

Currently they both live with the sims who bought them: tech-savvy brother and sister Cee and Maya. But the question is whether these simbots will be satisfied with a life as someone else’s sidekick. I think The Matrix might unfold inside my computer game.

Sims3

Cee and Maya in their house. Cee looks like he may have sensed the upcoming rebellion….

I didn’t design Bruce and Madeline, I didn’t choose their personality traits. These are randomized whenever a simbot is purchased. But since these two robots are such characters, I felt like I found a hook, something interesting could happen here.

Here are the rules for me playing my Sims 3 neighborhood from now on:

  • Aging – ON (this means sims will eventually grow old and DIE)
  • Free will – ON (If I don’t prompt them, sims will find stuff to do on their own)
  • Story progression – ON (Sims can move in and out of the neighborhood, they can get married and have kids. Basically it keeps the neighborhood alive and balanced – stuff happens to your sims even when you’re busy playing another sim)
  • Whatever happens, happens. No reloading of a previous save.
  • Follow the wishes of the sim, letting them be as authentic as possible to who they are.
  • Let their free will dictate their choices sometimes.
The Sims 3 user interface, here with Bruce selected.

The Sims 3 user interface, here with Bruce selected.

Letting the game have a life of its own

I used to play The Sims as a commanding officer running a military unit. Nothing was left to happen at random, there was an end goal with the sims I had created, and I would make sure they would reach it whatever it took. I’ve now let go of my tiger-mom-syndrome and have learned to appreciate events that occur without me dictating them. Letting my sims go through important milestones in their little sim lives without me being there, is provoking to me, but nothing exciting happens under that model of play either. So in a way, this is also an exercise for me to let go of the things (and sims) I care about, in order for them to be more free, dynamic and surprising.

What if Madeline never becomes an astronaut and has a happy fulfilling life? I would hate that, but that is the risk associated with this new play style. Part of me also find it deviously intriguing to see what Bruce will do, and what he will want me to do.

New Life, Long Nights, Reality Bites

How do you crack open an old blog without writing a post that says “I’ve really wanted to write more, but sorry I didn’t…”?

I never ran out of ideas, I ran out of motivation. 2013 was not en easy year for me, I felt a loss of identity after I graduated, now I was no longer a student. Now it was about finding a job, which proved difficult. My computer had a breakdown, then I had a breakdown. Reality bites!

reality-bites winona

That was in March.

I did manage to find employment, but not a permanent contract. I have managed to get interviews, even for really nice jobs, but no one bit the bait yet.

reality bites 23

So I have a lot of time, I was not designed to have this much unscheduled, unmanageable time, where do I complain? There’s no customer support for Life? I hate this game!

Where do you go if you want a new life? Why The Sims of course!!! (or Second Life).

sims 3 me as sim

This looks a little like me, especially the eyebrows. The clothing is definitely mine!

But when I had to give myself character traits, I wasn’t sure I was going to be an easy character to play, I guess I knew that already.

sims 3 my traits

I had to choose just five traits: ‘artistic’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘excitable’, ‘heavy sleeper’ and ‘neurotic’. But if I could choose more I would add: ‘hopeless romantic’, ‘frugal’, ‘childish’ and ‘family oriented’. Maybe ‘couch potato’ too, haha!

Look what I chose as a Life Time Wish! – ‘Master of the Arts’! Sheesh! How is that gonna get me a job? Well, I don’t know, but look – watercolors!

So status is, I want to blog again, but also about other stuff than WoW, other games (including The Sims 3), mobile games etc. Maybe a little blog-make-over too. I have the ideas, I know exactly what I want to do, just have to get the potato off the couch.

Ps: I have also been active elsewhere:

My Instagram
My Tumblr. This is mainly my inspiration blog, not much personal content (it needs sorting and tagging though).

 

Pandaria Secrets and Hidden Locations – The Secret Aerie

Pandaria has a lot to offer when it comes to secrets and hidden locations. One of them, “Riches of Pandaria“, I interpret as a recognition of exploration as a play style by Blizzard. Some of these treasures are placed slightly off track – finding The Hammer of Folly near the Black Market Auction House, for example, will also reward you with a great view over Western Jade Forest.

Last night I found a great hidden location. I had noticed when traveling through the Ancient Passage to Kun-Lai Summit, that the tunnel had several offbeat tracks. So I came back later on a level 90 character to see where they lead.

The Secrat Aerie pandaria map

And it leads to The Secret Aerie! You can see the tunnel symbols on the map of The Veiled Stair below showing the Ancient Passage entry and the Secret Aerie exit.

The Veiled Stair

When you come out of the tunnel, you’ll stand in front of a small shallow lake. There’s a boat and a small shrine, but not much to see otherwise, except the strong pink hue of the area.

Secret Aerie Tunnel

From the lake, you’ll see bamboo bridges leading upwards. This means it is theoretically possible to get there by land mount, but this path and the surrounding mountain pillars are populated with quite a few hostile level 90 sprites.

At the top, there’s two village houses and a Hawk Trainer working on a boat with his hawk supervising.

building a boat people in the sky

Why on earth this guy, being a “People of the Sky”, is building a boat at this location, is a riddle to me!

Another peculiarity of this place, is what you’ll find inside one of the houses.

people in the sky dog

Two hawkmasters, a gryphon hatchling flying in a circle and Hoggle, the pug and its prize-sized poo! I mean, I assume it’s the dog who did it, although it is a rather large poo for such a small dog…

So for your own sake, run out of there! Proceed to the area behind the house. Here you’ll find another unnamed hawk trainer, perhaps practicing a special trick with his hawk circling him.

balancing hawk trainer

Continue on to the cave that you can see to the right in the picture above. This is where you’ll find Hawk Master Liu standing in the center of the cave with a flock of hawks flying above him.

Hawkmaster Liu

This guy will actually talk to you! When I spoke to him he just said “Welcome Ironyca. We have been watching you for some time. You are a gust of wind that heralds the storm of change.” Another one of those stalky NPC’s…

On Wowhead you can read that if you have finished the quests in Townlong Steppes and thus met Hawkmaster Nurong, he will instead say: “Word reaches me you served with my brother in Townlong Steppes. How is the young fellow? Did he ever tell you how he lost his eye?

There’s one more thing to discover here and again you have to look around a little to find it. Instead if describing it here, I’ll just tell you to go and explore a little on your own (if you haven’t been here before) and follow the narrow path behind the hawk trainer balancing on a barrel.

I don’t know what the purpose of the place is, on Wowhead commenters are not sure either, but one of them noted that Hawkmaster Liu has unique voice acting, so he is probably going to be significant at some point. It’s also possible that they are connected to Shado-Pan.

Are PvP Pet Battles Determined by Skill or Luck?

If you do pet battles, I bet you too grind your teeth when some of your big hits miss – I get nervous every time I do a lift-off or burrow – for an 80% hit chance, those spells sure do raise my tension.

But which is the biggest factor in winning a pet-battle fight? Skill or Luck?

Some games have the skill of the player at the center, say chess. You are not going to win at chess against someone who is a lot more skilled than you. Then we have, say, rock paper scissors. Can you be so skilled at rock paper scissors that you can curb off any opponent?

rock-paper-scissors-625x1424

How to win Rock-paper-scissors every time” by Nathan Yau (creative commons)

Okay, so I guess you can, but you get my point: Skill and luck are two factors influencing the outcome depending on what kind of game you’re playing.

The pet battle forums have a good portion of posts up at the moment about miss chances being too dominant in fights. The point of adding a miss chance is both to allow a variance in “filler” damage abilities (bite/claw/peck etc) so that higher damage is also coupled with higher risk, but also it’s meant to make fights unpredictable to such a degree that no one can calculate the end result.

But the complaint is currently that a hit or miss can determine the entire fight. These are some examples that comes to mind:

  • I have had people flee after about 2-3 rounds if one of their big hits didn’t go through.
  • I’ve also had someone hit every single time, despite effects that increase miss chance were being applied over and over (f.x. blind)
  • I’ve had someone miss against me 3 times in a row while in a sandstorm that they themselves put up (I admit, since it was an Anubisath Idol, I felt like they deserved it).
  • I’ve had someone miss against me 7 times in total during an entire fight. I felt bad for them.
  • I’ve missed on a killing blow so many times, I’ve had someone else miss on a killing blow, then I missed on my killing blow, and then they finally killed me. So close!

Right now I also think miss chances are too volatile. When pets sometimes only survive for 4-5 rounds, sometimes less, a miss can be equal to missing 25% of the damage you deal against another pet. Naturally this doesn’t occur all the time, but the point is, that when it does, it can make or break the game.

You could add that being matched against a team that is strong against you is also being unlucky. (I actually enjoy this factor and fight on even when my odds at winning are unrealistic. I guess I’m trying to be a good sport)

I don’t consider my game design skills to be all that magnificent, but my best suggestion right now is to only change health pools, so that missing a hit is less devastating. The problem would be that it would lengthen the time of the average fight. In the wild it currently takes me 1-2 minutes to kill the team, in PvP perhaps 5-10 minutes depending on how often you meet a Crawdad *grumbles*. It would also have implications for scaling in certain PvE encounters, e.g. Fable Beasts. Since pet battles are meant to be casual (=quick) this might not be a viable idea.

Perhaps the RNG factor is just really bothersome for me: When I win, I can feel really good about it if I really controlled the fight, but I can also feel bad if they missed a lot (see the above examples). Did I win because of skill or luck? When can I really own my victories? – I can’t always tell. Sometimes being lucky robs me of that, and sometimes being unlucky robs me of the feeling that the fight was fair to begin with.

I also think we’re more prone to remember the pivotal fights and thus overestimate how frequently missing really matters. Often I would just have won/lost less convincingly, but that’s it.

As in the rock paper scissors guide above, skill in pet battles is about qualified guesses at the next move of your opponent, and believe me, at least I am getting really good at handling Kun-Lai Runts in the opposing team!

Ps: Blizzard, please I beg you, change the background music that plays when you enter a pet battle to something more calming and pleasant!

Beasts of Fable and Pandaren Spirits Map

I needed a map to get an overview of the locations of the Pandaren Spirits and all of the Fable Beasts, but since I couldn’t find one, I decided to make it myself.

I made two version depicting the same thing:

  • This one has numbered dots on the map and lists on the side
Pandaria Fable Beasts and Pandaren Spirits Map v2

Click for big version – 2004 x 1336

  • This one has the names of the spirits/beasts and mini pictures at the specific location
Pandaria Fable Beasts and Pandaren Spirits Map

Click for big version – 2004 x 1336

Credit to MikeLive for the original composite map.