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Archive for September, 2010

Funny guild traditions

I’ve noticed that over time most guilds I’ve been in have created funny traditions and rituals, some downright superstitious but all of them memorable and source of many of my best MMO moments. I’d tought I’d share a few with you today.

The gnomish sacrifice

We established way back at the beginning of Burning Crusade that unless a gnome would die a painful and horrible death we would not make any progress. The more hilarious the means to his end the better and a particularly entertaining gnome kill would assure us a good raid and tons of loot. If we failed at killing the gome however it would mean a night of wipe. It was not unheard of for hunters to misdirect on  a poor gnome. Bonus points for gnome warlocks and rogues.

Ring of fire and Molten core

Like many guilds back in Vanilla we raided Molten Core for ever. Every week for over a year we would head inside and face the caverns of unending trash. As we all descended into madness one of our raiders had the good idea of putting Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash over vent while we fought Baron Geddon. It became an instant classic and no run of Molten Core could be done from that point on without Ring of fire being played a few times and sang by the entirety of the raid.

The retarded cousin

We had this nice guy once in our guild. The kind of guy that oozes kindness and that  just makes you smile every time. Sadly, he sucked as hell and no matter what we did we could never get him to improve. A few of the raiders wanted him out and things came to a head over vent one night. The guild leader silenced everyone by saying that every guild needed its retarded cousin and that if we kicked him the plagues of  Egypt would be unleashed upon us. Said retarded cousin started laughing and ran into the mobs screaming Leeroy!! He started to improve after this but every once in a while he would do something incredibly stupid on purpose to make us wipe and laugh. Man I miss that guy.

No pants raiding

We struggled a long time in Zul’Aman back in BC. For some reason we could never get the boss down just before Zul’Jin. After a long night we finally downed him and much rejoicing was heard. Someone mentioned over vent “lol! we killed him and I didn’t even have my pants on!”. Silence was then heard and the raid leader declared that since it was late we’d only do one try on Zul’Jin and that pants were optional. Of course everyone removed their pants and then the miracle happened, we downed Zul’Jin on the very first try. It became a tradition that whenever we would struggle against a  boss an attempt would be made without pants on. Whispers were heard that real hardcore raiders raided without pants in RL too…

Hope you enjoyed. Tought I’d share some good times for once because it’s grey enough outside as it is.

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Help me understand

This is the only post I will ever make on this topic. It’s a touchy topic and no matter what I say I’m bound to offend someone. If that is the case and I offend you, I am truly sorry but not to say anything would feel dishonest to me.

Today I want to talk specifically to all of you, female gamers of the world and help me understand. What has happened (besides that we’re all bored) that justifies all the writing about sexism and feminism I’ve been seeing? I’d like very much to be educated on the matter because honestly, right now I’m confused as hell.

In the past few months I must have read dozens of blog post on the topic. They range from well tought out posts to poorly written ones, angry rants to peaceful ones, some try to find a solution while other seems to be on a veritable crusade to exterminate any remote semblance of sexism in the world.

The Jaina example

I want to illustrate all the confusion by talking about the now famous Jaina Proudmore. Almost every blog who talks about feminism and sexism in video games talk about her. I’m listing a few of the common themes that come back.
-An intelligent, educated woman who is a leader
-Sexist depiction of woman (cleavage, blonde, etc…)
-Not afraid to show her feeling despite being in a leadership role.
-Plays up to the male fantasy of the “soft” woman.
-She kicks ass!
-She’s a slave to her relationships
-She sucks at picking boyfriends (have to agree on that one)
-She’s both a warrior and a woman, she’s an example to be followed
-Etc…

Seriously wich is it? Is she a role model to be followed or an example of everything that’s wrong in video games? I swear that for every blogger who talked about her a different opinion of what she is and what she should be emerges.

What’s a good female role model in a fantasy setting?

I cannot say. To be honest I truly cannot say for certain what is a good female role model. Still, I’m going to try putting one together based on what I think I understood. Feel free to add to it or comment on it.

-Self-sufficient, this seems to be what’s coming back more often than not.
-Attractive, confident in being so but doesn’t use sex-appeal to achieve her goals.
-Leader, not in the “rule an empire” sense but she’s implicated in whatever field she choose to work in.
-Weakness, while she’s strong she must also have some sort of weakness. However said weakness cannot compromise her other qualities.
-Control, finally, she must be in control of what’s going on around her. She cannot be a victim of fate or people. If she is, she must overcome it.

Is an important female in a video game allowed to be flawed?

This is something that strikes when reading all those posts. I fully understand that a game like WoW needs good female role models. Where it gets confusing is when talking about the opposite. Is a game like WoW allowed to have bad female role models?

Take a character like Varyann Wrynn who’s clearly not a good male role model. I would never  present him to a kid as good role model. Yet, even if mostly everyone agrees he’s not a good role model, a lot of people love him in WoW. He’s a fun character and adds a lot of story elements to WoW.

Can we have the same with a female character? For example, could we be fine with Jaina being a really flawed character? Just like in real life where not every man or woman is a role model,  should it not be the same in the game? For my part I’m fine with having both. I want my WoW to have both good and bad role models.

I do agree that we’re missing good female role models right now, but reading all those posts I get the impression sometimes that females are not allowed to be deeply flawed. Only superficial flaws are allowed.

Let it be?

I understand the desire to improve the games we play. I agree that we could use better female role-models, that  we could greatly tone down the sexism in-game and that it needs to be said for things to change.

I also know that WoW is WoW. It’s a combination of the good and the bad all mixed together and while petitioning developers to change things is a good idea, we also need to love it for what it is.

Ultimately, it all comes down to a simple choice. Are you fine with accepting to play a game despite its flaws and misrepresentations or are you not. If you’re not fine with it then don’t play said game, you’re only going to make yourself miserable.

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Cvilization 5 review

For a few days now Civilization 5 has been occupying a lot of my free time and I can see it occupy a lot more in the following days. Unlike other reviews I tend to I won’t go into details over what the Civilization series is all about, namely building an empire and winning the game through conquest,science,diplomacy or culture. Instead I will go over the differences of this entry and a few points I think are important.

Streamlined

This is the main change in Civ5. Unlike the previous game, the developers have taken a lot of time to streamline everything and make it easily understandable. If your citizens are unhappy you only have to mouse over your rating to see the details of why your unhappy. When you attack a unit the games make it clear how the fight should go. Icons are intuitive and you’re not constantly checking how to do X or Y. The game still retains its incredible depth but for once I don’t have to read online guides to be able to play.

Culture

Culture is probably one of the area that saw the biggest changes in this game. Instead of the old religion system and a cryptic influence rating, you now accumulate culture points and spend them much like you would for research. Once you get enough point you can buy a new culture upgrade for your civ that will affect anything from city growth, to production to your relations to city-states.

City-states

Another addition is the city-states. City-states are neutral one-city nation who are not out to win the game. If you are willing to you can try to gain their loyalty and they will provide you with units, culture, gold and even science if you pick the right culture upgrades. They will join wars with you and can provide very useful distraction and even save you.

Wich victory you aim for will determine a lot how you want to interact with them. Culture and diplomatic victories nearly requires you to befriend those nations while science and military victories  have no need of them. In fact if you’re going for a military victory you will probably have to eliminate quite a few of them.

I didn’t like them much at first but over time I’m finding city-states add a lot of variety to the game and are great trump-card that can switch the balance of power at critical points.

Non-stacking units

A huge change to military strategist out there, Civ5 doesn’t allow you to stack units together on the same tile. This has a lot of ramifications but the main impact is that you will have to pay a lot more attention to terrain and that ranged units become a lot more important. Warfare in previous Civ games was mostly a case of out-producing your opponent and while it’s still important to have sufficient units a smaller force can win with smart movement and deployment.

The AI is aggressive and plays to win

This is the most surprising part so far and it needs some getting used to. Every single civ out there, no matter the difficulty level or personality will annihilate you if given the chance. Even on the lower difficulty settings, if you don’t have much of an army expect an army to come knocking at your door when the computer sees an opportunity.

Close to winning the game with science? Watch as they all band together, bribe the city states and send the whole world against you. You can be nice to them as much as you want but if you show weakness or are taking a lead they will do their best to knock you down. Even Ghandi will very pacifically nuke your cities. At least he will be polite while doing so.

The game is a monster to run

The real downside to Civ5 is how much it demands out of your computer. My brother has trouble running the game at all on his laptop. I have a beast of a computer and I’m running it in directx9. Even then the game slows down in the later stages of the game and some textures don’t load right away. If you do plan to buy this game, take the time to check if you can run it. Firaxis has already promised patches to fix these issues (already delivered one!) but time will tell if they can truly fix them.

The monkey recommends

Buy it! Seriously, if you can run this game and have some interest in the genre run to the store and buy it. To me it’s one of the best entry in the series if not the best one and worth every penny. Just make sure you don’t start playing too late because your sleep might suffer.

The list!

The monkey like:
-Intuitive gameplay
-Game set-up options, allows for a lot of choice
-The new culture set-up
-Non-stacking units, makes for better warfare
-Crazy AI, makes for lively games

The monkey disliked:
-Bugs in generals, display bugs, sound bugs and other annoying bugs. Nothing gamebreaking but it’s annoying.
-Ressource hog. It’s not normal this game takes this much memory to run. I suspect shoddy programming.
-Not enough leaders. I suspect they will add more but more leaders would be even better!

The monkey hated:
-Having to watch the damned intro every time. Instead of showing you a loading screen the game let the intro play until ready to start. I get they wanted to show me a better screen than “loading” but the next time I hear the old man talk about “lush,fertile land”, I will strangle him.

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MMO adventures update

A lot to say about a lot of topics so in no particular oder here’s what I’ve been up to and what’s been going on.

WoW

I’ve joined up with a 25 man guild last week looking for a group that actually downs content. In the past I’ve been aiming for smaller 10 man guilds but it never quite worked out. After yet another “we’re so awesome that we’re disbanding” guild last week I said screw it and decided to find myself a raiding home, no matter 10 or 25 mans. It’s funny that when I decided to try out 25s my options opened up a lot.

Anyway, I’ve joined up with the The Blackblades, a guild with a very much hardcore mindset. To be honest it’s a nice change of pace to be yelled at and to stress over performance, I was falling asleep tanking 10 mans.

I got to tryout with them last weekend and down a few bosses I had fought before but not downed, namely Sindragosa(first time!), BloodQueen and Blood council. As for the tryout itself I was told I performed well enough considering my gear, now it remains to be seen if they want to help me out with the gear or not. I know for my part I’m going to farm those badges like crazy this week.

Star Trek Online

I’ve cancelled my subscription. If there was ever a game that needs to go free to play this is it. My urges to play STO come and go without any rational explanation. If it was free to play I could log in when I feel like it but right now I don’t feel my playing habits for this game justify a subscription.

Final Fantasy 14

… is on standby until I get tired of…

Civilization 5

Oh my god! This game is like crack. It’s just like the previous titles of the series but this time around they’ve streamlined everything and made everything clear so that you don’t need to read a 400 pages guide to understand how to play. It’s intuitive yet incredibly deep. I’ve lost a lot of time to the “1 more turn” syndrome.

Word of warning if you try this game out. Don’t trust the germans.. ever! They’ll be the nicest people until they get 14 units next to all your cities and then proceed to annihilate you. They’ve done that every single game so far except one where I’ve preemptively nuked every one of their cities.

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Figuring out my dps potential

One of the great mysteries when working on a dps set is how much dps should you be doing in your current gear versus what you’re actually doing. It’s so easy to say that you should do X or Y dps when in fact your current gear only allows you to reach Z. For the past few days this has been the question that I’ve obsessed over. It helps a lot to figure this out so you know where to focus your attentions as far as dps gains goes.

So I’ve been using Rawr and a little site I found called MrRobot so I could have more than one reference. I really like MrRobot since I don’t have to install a full program but sadly it’s not ready for every class yet.

So how did I do? As of yesterday I’ve been averaging 4550 to 4600dps on dummies during 3 minutes fights using only self-buffs. According to both MrRobot and Rawr my max dps with my current gear and spec in the same conditions should be 4650 to 4690dps. I’m short of around a 100dps from the  theoretical maximum, meaning I have a 97% efficiency. According to raid and ICC buffs I could be anywhere between 7 and 9k dps on a static fight like Festergut. I’d be real excited to do 9k on Festergut but my experience tells me that 7k is probably the realist number here. Anyway, I’m really suspicious of raid numbers until I actually try this in raids.

Of course, this is me vs a dummy wich isn’t exactly a real fight where there’s movement, resistance, multiple targets, etc… I’m pretty sure I won’t be keeping a 97% efficiency during a raid boss fight, especially since I havent done a lot of ICC as a dps but I do believe I can get at least 90%. The important point I get from all this however is that I got the basic rotation down and I’m now reaching the limits of my gear and spec. There’s certainly some gains I can get by messing around with my spec but from now on my  dps increases will mainly come from gear.

In many ways I’m disappointed I’ve only now gone through all this. Figuring out exactly where someone can gain performance isn’t exactly an easy job as often a little detail can throw everything off. Had I done this before when I was raid leading I could probably have helped a lot better some of our dps by focusing on the right areas instead of just averaging their performances with other, similar (but not the same) members of their class.

Anyway, that’s a big stress gone now. I know I’m pressing the right buttons so now it will come to not forget everything and just mash the keyboard in the next raid!

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Challenging myself to dps

I love giving myself challenges. More often than not the most fun I’ve had in MMOs, or any kind of game for that matter, was when I would set myself a goal and try to reach it. Recently I was contemplating my options for Cataclysm and I figured I would try to gear both my tank set and dps set from the start so I could have more options when it came to raiding and finding a raiding guild. However, after a few weeks of not raiding anything I’m already itching to kill some internet dragons and seeing how everyone seems to be looking for DPS I figured why not try to re-learn to Dps right now? It should be as fun as it will be in Cataclysm no?

The thing is, I’m pretty comfortable as a tank right now, not having to worry about topping a dps chart while dodging a ton of crap flying all over the place and I know pretty much all the fights from a tank point of view.  Then again, half the fun  in a challenge is getting out of your comfort zone. So that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing this past week, trying to  figure out how to dps again with a Death Knight and it’s not exactly been easy.

Relearning my class

You don’t get to tank Arthas without having a good understanding of your class and all of it’s abilities either as a Dps or a tank in my case. While I could do decent enough  dps to do a occasionnal heroic or dps on a particular fight where we needed a single
tank (Dreamwalker), I was focused on tanking and decent enough Dps is not the awesome Dps I would expect from myself. If I can be an awesome tank there’s no reason not to be an awesome Dps. I don’t suddenly become dumb because I switch specs.

So I’ve been scouring the interwebs in search of good information and I have to say most of it is piss-poor for players in the process of switching specs or starting out. Most of what is written is intended for top raiders already geared up. I shouldn’t be surprised since it was the same when I switched to tanking. There are details omitted, important aspects unexplained and just misinformation and shifting through it all isn’t easy. I swear that once I’m done and I’ve gotten it figured out, I’m writing another guide for people starting out like I did for tanking.

Right now my WoW playing consist of trying out rotations on the dummy and doing heroics to test it all out in action. Then come back to the trainer, switch a point of spec or a glyph and redo it all over again. Strangely enough I’m having fun doing this and finding out little details. Don’t know if I’ll rediscover a long-lost love for dpsing in the long-term but right now this is pretty fun.

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The siren call of FF14

Arrrghhhh…. damn it!

I can already feel the pull. It starts off always the same way. At first I have no interest at all. People mention the game and I pay passing interest to it but nothing more. Then someone says something that catches my eye and I start reading more, checking things out. I don’t want to play… I tell myself I already have more than enough games and subscriptions going at once, that I fail at juggling multiples MMOs. I find some flaw or another with the game and proclaim loud and proud they’ll never get me.

But then, I keep reading and researching, out of curiosity I tell myself. No commitment, just staying informed about what’s going on.

Then the game releases. I know it’s full of bugs, that there’s going to be at least ten things I will hate and I go off to work on that particular morning thinking I won’t play and laugh at everyone getting stuck in server queues and unable to play. During lunch I check out the very first news and at some point my resolves fail. I say screw it and nearly run home to buy the game. I fail at resisting new and shinny MMOs, especially when they’re built on an IP that I have interest in.

It’s been that way for Lotro, Warhammer, Conan, Champions, Aion, Star Trek Online… all games I swore I wouldn’t play but ended up playing anyway. Some I’ve dropped, some have been companions that I played for good stretches of time.

And now I’m going to add FF14 to that list. I played the first one and already I can see myself going through the motions I’ve written about above. This time tough I won’t pretend or even try to resist. I’ll get myself a copy of the game enjoy it with everyone when it comes out…

Weak-willed? Of course I am 🙂

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