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.

I’m Not Here to Scream “IT’S JUST A GAME” at You

Why do I sometimes feel guilty when playing WoW?

It’s not because I play too much, or have other duties that I neglect, it’s far more understated than that.

It’s because of some of the things I do inside the game … I know this may sound like I’m coming out as a severely brutal griefer or corpse camper right now, but don’t worry, I’m not here to scream “IT’S JUST A GAME” at you. In fact, I’m trying to convince myself of exactly that.

Oondasta

Oondasta, the world boss

I, and circa a hundred other players, were fighting Oondasta yesterday. I was not in a raid and took care of my own healing the best I could, it’s still a wipe fest really, healing or not. But he finally went down and I got my loot – “A Shiny Pile of Refuse”. Unexpectedly, it contained a white kitten carrier and since I already had a white kitten, I thought I’d just sell it on the auction house.

UNTIL Noelani pointed out the tragedy of finding a small kitten in a huge pile of dinosaur poo AND then choosing to just sell it. If that is not cruel, then I don’t know what is!

… You know, I actually do.

It’s even more cruel to force this little pooey “white” kitten into pet battles, where I can choose to force it to fight for me. It may even die because of my evil blood sport hobby of pet collecting and battling.

I think Noelani knew this too because he offered to take the kitten and take good care of it, even though he already has one. After I’m done writing this post, I’ll log in and the fate of the kitten will be sealed. I hope no one bought the pooey kitten (maybe for their own sake too).

In relevance, consider the case of the guy below, Huggalon the Heart Watcher.

JJJ

I don’t remember there being a dead pandaren female to the left of Huggalon the Heart Watcher when I took this screenshot … It’s so haunting, I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.

We ran into him when leveling a couple of alts and we couldn’t decide whether to kill him or not. He isn’t a clear cut case as so many other bosses and elites otherwise are. What to do?

Kill him because:

  • He’s there to be killed, right? (or is he there to force us to have horrible ethical dilemmas ABOUT killing him?)
  • He’s got a mean look on his face, he’s probably evil
  • Look at all the skeletal remains under his huge boots
  • He looks like he might appreciate being put out of his misery
  • He drops a B.B.F. Necklace
It will give a targeted player a buff called "B.F.F"

It will give a targeted player a buff called “Best Friends Forever”, which lasts for a day (instead of, well, forever)

Don’t kill him because:

  • He’s sitting there looking like a lost abandoned child (which is pretty accurate since he is the missing fifth watcher from the Vault of Archavon and Captain Planet reference)
  • His name is Huggalon the Heart Watcher
  • He has a huge bow in his hair
  • He is not hostile, but neutral
  • There is no real gain from killing him, only the necklace, which you then STEAL from him, and that is creepy. Who steals B.F.F. necklaces?

The comments on Wowhead suggest I’m not the only one with this dilemma. People say that all Huggalon ever wanted was a nice big hug and some feel really bad after they killed him. Why are we feeling bad? It’s just a game, there’s no denying that, the only consequence is that he respawns 20 minutes later for someone else to mull over this dilemma.

So, do you think I killed him?

And, would you be able to kill him yourself, and not feel just a little bit guilty about it?

 

Now I am Technologically Homeless

My laptop, and only computer, has died.

It couldn’t detect a hard drive. Breaking into my laptop to re-insert it did not help. Based on the noise it’s making, we suspect one of the mechanical components of the hard drive is stuck, and now I am technologically homeless.

*small violin*

As a temporary solution, we went and purchased a new screen and set it up with Noelani’s old computer on the dining table.  Since my computer was a laptop, I had a bit of a strange setup. It was positioned on a small café table on wheels in front of our IKEA sofa, where I was able to comfortably sit while playing … talk about a lazy gamer…

But now I’m sitting at a real table, with this horrible clicky keyboard and nothing feels right. Playing WoW doesn’t feel right, internet browsing doesn’t feel right, and the biggest crime of them all – this computer is less powerful than my old one – eew!!

We also lost everything I had done on WoW Roleplay Gear since Christmas, which had not been published yet. I had done a lot of quest reward sets, which I now have to start over with. All my personal stuff is gone, I have a 6 month old backup of my school folder and blog folder, but that’s it. I’ll have to look into maybe having the disks taken out and put into a new drive, but it’s looking really pricey.

Okay, calling it being technologically homeless is an exaggeration. After all, I am using Noelani’s old computer. Maybe it’s more like sleeping on your friend’s sofa, and you miss all your own stuff, even though your host is being perfectly hospitable.

In closing, I’ve put in an old picture I saved from once WoW Model Viewer was being really buggy. I thought the effect was interesting and saved a bunch of pictures of misshapen blood elf females. Every other race did not display this error, but thankfully blood elves are such talented models ;)

WoW Model Viewer gone MAD

WoW Model Viewer gone MAD

Right and Wrong Gamer Girl Edition

I just read the Bossy Pally’s post called “I Had No Idea this Required a License” where she talks about this whole fake gamer (girl) concept that has been a topic of discussion for a months or so. I haven’t seen these discussions around lately myself, but then again, I’ve been M.I.A for a good while, and I’m still slowly creeping my way back in.

Yet, maybe it was no coincidence that this picture was shared on Facebook just a few days ago by one of my acquaintances:

Gamer gurl vs. girl that games

Shared on Facebook. I was so close to writing “lame” in the comment track, but decided to vent my disapproval here instead.

Because we all know that there’s a wrong way to do “it” and there’s a right way to do “it”. In case you are not sure what’s wrong or right, the picture will inform you, and if you are not sure what this “it” is, then I’m not either… because it does seem awfully confusing.

See this one for example:

sims3allthetime

If she’s got a headset on I don’t think she’s playing Sims 3. Headsets are actually one kind of accessory that should earn you just a little gamer cred, but I’m guessing it’s the pout that made this photo such delicious meme material.

I used to play The Sims – all of them – a lot – all the time. I was obsessed with that franchise, I spent several days in a row doing nothing but playing The Sims. I could have told someone (and probably did) “I game all the time”.

BUT WAIT!!! The Sims??? I must have misunderstood! The Sims is not a real game, it’s a simulation management game, similar to so many others, but it doesn’t count!

Playing The Sims just makes you into one of those (per the top illustration) “gamer gurls“. Remember, a “gamer gurl” is always either fat, ugly or slutty!

But there’s also the “girl that plays video games“! She must be doing it the right way, she must have that license Bossy Pally (and I) are wondering about! Here’s a realgirl that plays video games“:

Anger is important in order to carry out an authentic gamer girl performance!

I bet she’s screaming “I NEED A NEW COMPUTER”

What I keep thinking when I look at those two photos, is that the big difference seems to be a matter of performance. And the funny thing is, “the girl that plays video games” also has to perform said position perfectly. Because… you know…. playing games in and of itself doesn’t count, despite the neutral title, it’s actually a matter of subculture! And the fact her title is not even “gamer” or “gamer girl” says a lot. She’s just some girl who happens to play video games.

And you thought belonging to a subculture was all fun and games? It takes extra work to convey your legitimacy if you fall outside the subcultural stereotype!

So what is she doing right, the “girl that plays video games”? We know that playing video games is not enough, so she must be doing something else too. Is it the display of anger, which is seen as a sign of authentic dedication? Is it the trash-talking? Is it her casual clothing?

Is it that she doesn’t flag being female? Because, the femaleness is actually the initial problem, you see, it’s what forces everyone to figure out what kind of (fake) gamer she actually is, because she might just be one of those girlfriend-of-a-gamer types (always a healer)… or a Sims gamer… or Wii gamer. You know, the fake kinds that walk amongst us, who needs to be unveiled, lest they think they can actually claim to be real gamers. Us and them, baby, us and them!

Girl+Gamer.+my+life.+oc_187147_3325857

Do notice the bottom left corner ;)

Okay, okay, I understand that subcultures need to constantly define their boundaries, especially from the mainstream, but the game is totally rigged.

… and old. Yawn.

What it really does is creating a conflict amongst female gamers to scrutinize and judge each other to weed out the fakes, because if we don’t, they bring a bad name to us as a group. Lets not fall for this superficial scam!

And if the gaming police actually does show up, then you pull out the “shut your whore mouth” … well, just maybe without the whole whore part … “Please keep your despotic orifice closed” works too.