March 31, 2005


Mood: Tortured.
Music: Sleeping Satellite, Tasmin Archer
Game: World of Warcraft
Book: America's Longest War, The US & Vietnam 1950-1975, George C. Herring
Muffin: I had a tangerine and some celery sticks instead of a muffin.
Punchline: *tortured wails from the very pit of my soul*.

OK...I've been to the order page at for a PSP FIVE times in the last 2 days.

I originally wrote "my PSP" instead of "a PSP" in the last sentence. This can't be good.

It's bad, folks. I'm having real trouble here. I keep rationalizing it...then saying "I shouldn't do this." I believe it's inevitable...I know it is. But if I can wait until my birthday, maybe I'll have more gift certificates...maybe I'll get cash...who knows. Then it'll make the decision easier....

It's a lot of really is. I should spend that on paying bills...but I want it...


Posted by Glenn at 12:26 PM

March 30, 2005

Here Comes The Storm

Mood: Good.
Music: There's More To Life Than This, Bjork
Game: Brothers In Arms
Book: America's Longest War, The US & Vietnam 1950-1975, George C. Herring
Muffin: I was hungry. I had a bagel. Should have bought a muffin.
Punchline: I did my taxes, and they owe ME money.

Did my taxes last night, as World of Warcraft was down all night (and is still down, actually.) The server burdens are getting worse, not better...and they keep letting people make characters on these servers. I'm starting to wonder if they're thinking rationally. They think they're plateauing...they're not.

Anyway, probably not bad for me to have spent a day not playing World of Warcraft. Played Brothers in Arms instead. Got it for my birthday.

Doesn't suck...but it's not quite what I had invisioned. I was hoping for a good first person shooter...and instead, it's more like "Full Spectrum Warrior" set in WWII. Same concept...fix fire to suppress, then flank and kill.

The voice acting is great, and it's always pleasant when a game isn't afraid to use profanity in good dialogue, rather than gratuitous cursing. The missions are apparently drawn from actual action reports of this platoon during the D-Day invasion, and they did a ton of research taking pictures and such to match the environments to real life.

The firing itself is a bit crosshairs, of course...and iron sights work...sorta. There are no healthpacks, power ups, or anything like that...which plays into the whole "You don't find healthpacks in a war" and I KIND of like that. You aren't going to run and gun this WILL get shot.

The enemy AI is pretty good...and the enemy models and uniforms are great. The graphics are pretty good, really, and it's not as if the game is bad...but like I said, it's just that I was hoping for a good WWII mission-based first person shooter. Instead, I'm busy maneuvering squadmates, telling them to fix fire and's OK.

I think I need to find another game to play. World of Warcraft is very fun...when it's up...which isn't often lately. Have to admit I'm sorta disappointed that at this late date, the servers aren't more stable. I'm sure there are business flacks saying "Well...let's say we double the number of servers...what are we going to do when we lose all these customers in a year?" They're undoubtedly playing the "How much can the userbase stand?" vs. "The cost of the proper fix." The longer they go without buying hardware, networking, and so on, the more profits they make.

I think they're misjudging the adoption curve of their software, and the user behavior. People are running alts on other servers because their server is down...and that's adding to the burden. Not decreasing the burden.

In any case, like so many other people...if I can't play it, I'll play something else. But what?

My birthday is Sunday, and since people have asked me what I want for my birthday: EBGames gift certificates are perfect, thanks! Maybe if I get enough of them, I can buy the PSP I'm having extreme difficulty trying to avoid. (By the way, thanks Firethorn!)

Posted by Glenn at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2005

It's good to be the King...

Mood: Pretty good.
Music: Blue Monday, New Order
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone
Muffin: This space for rent.
Punchline: None. Someone needs to say something funny.

As promised, I'm going to talk about Dire Maul. If you're a World of Warcraft player, and you don't want to know what happens and such, you should stop reading now. Consider this your only spoiler warning.

Dire Maul is a three part instance. That is, there are three instances inside Dire Maul. They are not necessarily ordered, but you should do the east instance first, because it's there that you get the key to the deeper parts of the other two instances.

The east instance has no door securing it, so you can go right in. It's worth mentioning that there's two ways into the instance...the "front" door, or the door inside the main area of Dire Maul, and the "back" door, which is further down the path without going into the main area.

In this instance are vicious plant elemental types, Satyr demons, and a few bosses. The bosses include a key-carrying imp, a caster type with her nasty imp familiar, a satyr who guards vine fragments, and a water elemental. All in all a good crawl, nice loot, and felcloth drops in here. You need the key from the imp to continue through the deeper parts of the other instances, so you'll want to get one here. It's also worth noting that only one key drops per instance if you want everyone to get a key, you'll be running this a bunch of times.

The second instance is vicious. Well and truly brutal. More, bigger plant elemental types, mana elementals (no, I'm not kidding) and invisible spirits, banshees, ghosts, and other undead casters. A few skeletons and sprite dragons, and you've got a party. And that's just the outer part of the instance. Outside, there's three crystals, each guarded by a mess of the mana elementals. You need to take out the elementals to deactivate the crystals. Also outside are two undead hunter that does 1500 points of damage per shot with her bow...and her big level 60 elite undead bear. By the bridge near the hunter, there's a quest-giving spirit who wants you to free all the spirits in the place by killing the prince, who's in the lower instance.

Downstairs, guarding the door to the lower instance is a huge wood elemental...stuns, knockdowns, the whole routine. Beat him, and you get into the door to the inner instance (you did remember your key, right?)

The passageway is filled with invisible spirits who are waiting to pound the hell out of you. Once you pass the spirits, you get to the prison.

A huge circular room with an enormous forcefield around it. Inside? A big multiple-eyed demon dog thing. Go left or right, deactivate the crystal, go the other way and do the same thing...if you got all 5 crystals, the forcefield falls. Did I mention that the entire round room is filled with wandering air elementals? No? Well, it is. Groups of 5, AoE lightning and knockback.

Also to the right of the passage is another passage that leads to a library. In the library is a vendor (that repairs...and you'll need it by this time) and a bunch of other npcs, including the insane prince. But you can't touch the prince yet. You haven't whacked the demon dog...

Back outside to take on the demon. He hits hard, he's plain nasty, and did I mention the AoE teleport field? He randomly teleports people around the room, making it impossible for melee characters to stay close, and making it impossible for healers to stay in range. All in all, a tough fight. Drops some good loot, though.

Once you slam the dog, the Prince gets pissed. Head back into the library, and take on the prince. He's a night elf (always fun to kill) but he's dual-wielding dual-bladed swords. In short, he's fast, hits hard, and switches targets at a moment's notice. He also parries a ton.

Anyway, whack him, head upstairs to talk to the spirit who gave you the quest, and she tells you that the treasure of the city is yours! Go back downstairs and open the chest, and inside is some tasty loot.

Now, all this is tough and fun and such...but the prize is the final instance.

The last instance is basically an ogre outpost. Ogres everywhere, along with their demon minions and vicious hyena dogs. Groups of 2-6, all hard hitters, casters, healers...the basic humanoid crawl. Something to note, however: There are 5 named guards/npcs. The drunk, guards, captains. They drop decent loot.

About midway through the instance, you come across a goblin who is chained to the floor...he has a quest for you...if you get him ogre tannin, rune thread, rugged leather, and bolts of runecloth, he'll make you a gordok ogre suit. It's good for one use, 10 minutes in length.

The tannin is found in a basket in the corner of one of the rooms filled with ogres. When you take the tannin, a hidden ogre says something laugh out loud funny, then attacks. Finish him. There's only one tannin per instance run. So again, you'll be doing this more than once.

You go through the instance, killing as you go. The captain of the guard is no joke. He hits HARD, stuns like mad, and summons a mess of guards to help him. Beat him, then head to the King's dais.

On there is the King and his observer. The observer is a healer of no mean stay on him to keep him busy...but don't kill him.

Once you kill the King, an NPC says that you are now the King!

Sure enough, the whole instance becomes friendly to you, and you can talk to the ogres there. Further, the NPC says that all the ogres owe you tribute for being the new King! LOOT!

However, he says, the amount of loot you get is based on the number of named NPCs left in the dungeon. Oops. You killed 'em all, didn't you? You get a few potions, some food, some drink.

The trick, obviously, is to get enough tannin to make everyone an ogre suit. Then, run through the dungeon without killing any nameds except the king, and maximize your loot!

Overall, this was so clever and humorous, that I enjoyed this a ton! Walked out with a key, a ton of good loot. Runecloth. Felcloth. Essences. Cash. A recipe for Run Tumm Tuber Surprise. And a great time.

I think it's time I got my tannin....

Posted by Glenn at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2005


Mood: Wet.
Music: State Farm, Yaz
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone
Muffin: Poland Spring Sparkling Water.
Punchline: Nope.

It's raining. So I'm wet. I don't like being wet all day. Yes, I wore appropriate raingear...but you still feel damp all day.

I was gonna talk about Dire Maul. I'll probably do that tomorrow, if nothing else pops into my head. But today, I'd like to talk about the circus.

Ringling Brothers, Barnum, and Bailey Circus is "The Greatest Show on Earth." And as far as circuses go, it's a pretty good one, I guess. I haven't been to this circus in twenty years. Actually, I'm not all that interested in going. Circuses don't really interest me as far as entertainment, or what's on the stage.

What really interests me about circuses is the whole operational aspect of them. I work in Long Island City, right near the train station there. Every end of March, one day, for about 4 hours, a circus train slowly makes it way into the trainyard here. There's an intersection that gets blocked off, and people have to find another way around. Cops shut the intersections, and the trains (It has to be multiple trains...) come rolling in, labelled with the Ringling Bros logo. It's hundreds of cars. All manner of people hanging out of the cars, looking out the windows, opening the doors, and waving.

These people live on the train. They travel around the country, stopping in New York at the same time every other year. (There's actually two circuses running the same circuit, taking two years to complete the run. So they are 180 days offset or something.) For the next few weeks, the 7 train will have all manner of circus performers, staff, crew, and families on it, going into the city as any tourists would...or professional travellers. They all pretty much wear the same windbreaker/jacket with the same logos. They all have comfortable shoes, and chatter brightly among themselves. In short, they look like folks who are used to being comfortable anywhere they go. They look like travellers.

The cool thing to me is that the train is a hometown for these folks. They live, sleep, eat, learn, play...all on this train. The kids are a part that amazes me. There's school on the train, of course, and lessons, and a medical facility, and all sorts of other stuff. Can you imagine all the stuff that they learn just by hanging around?

I'm just astounded by the coordination that it takes to have a circus do what this does every year.

There are hundreds of people, animals, and thousands of pounds of gear, harnesses, nets, safety equipment, AV just rolls into town and unloads for a few weeks. Then they pack it all up again and roll somewhere else.

The part that always just floors me is the elephants. The elephants make it to Madison Square Garden by walking. They walk off the train in Long Island City, then, the NYC cops close the Midtown Tunnel for a few hours (at night) and the handlers and cops walk them right through the tunnel, across 34th street, and into the Garden to stay as their temporary home until the circus leaves town, when they reverse the process.

What's it like running this thing? What kind of project management experience do you need to keep this much stuff happening? Imagine the infrastructure. Communications. Payroll. Safety. Maps and such for the towns you're in. Cellphones. How do you pay bills? Where do the bills get sent? I know you have a fulltime house, but does someone forward the mail to you where you're going to be next week? To what address? It has to be like the operations of running an army.

I would imagine that the amount of personal responsibility is amazing. Would the train leave without you if you weren't on it in time. I'd have to believe it would. And it's like you take your whole town with you all the time. Your friends (and enemies) are always right nearby. Talk about a travelling poker game.

I probably spend too much time thinking about such things...but I'm wholly amazed by this. I love seeing huge systems operate like that. I wonder if there's any job openings.....

Posted by Glenn at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2005

Ain't that a kick in the head.

Mood: Tormented.
Music: Any Time At All, Beatles
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone
Muffin: Poland Spring Sparkling Water.
Punchline: I thought I updated.....

So I guess I forgot to hit the submit button when I updated my blog yesterday. Suffice it to say that it wasn't particularly interesting. I wasn't much in the mood to update my blog, but I thought I'd throw something out there. I guess my subconscious said "Nah. Don't do it if you're not into it." Oh, well.

Anyway, today, I'm going to talk about the brutal battle going on inside my soul in regards to the PSP. My normal inner monster is saying "Dude, you own every gaming platform known to mankind. How can you not get this right now?" My brain, however, is telling me a few things. The last time I found myself in this situation, my brain was right.

I bought the Nintendo DS...I was convinced it was an upgrade to the Gameboy Advance SP, which I owned and loved. As it turned out, the DS, which is a cool little platform, weighs about as much as a Cooper Mini, but is nowhere near as much fun. The software for the DS is pretty much lacking, and the much touted touchscreen is more an annoyance than anything useful. The dual screens have yet to be used for anything of any consequence in any of the software that I've seen. In short, it's a larger, heavier GBA SP with less software (because it can't play original Gameboy content. The carts don't fit.), what's my read on the PSP? My brain is saying: It's a large, relatively heavy handheld, with limited software, low battery life, a movie player on a proprietary format which I'll never use, and an LCD screen that has documented pixel problems that Sony just says "tough" about.

Add that to the fact that you can't buy one without spending $400 that I just don't have at all, and comes with two games that you wouldn't buy if they were giving them away...and I've got a pretty pat "Not right now, thanks."

On the other hand, I have a few friends who have them...and they say that they're really amazing. Of course, all the friends that have them are nihilistic technofetishists with deep pockets. That should say something about me, I suppose. But in any case, the system IS Sony, it's cool, looks great (according to said friends), and Ridge Racer is a must have.

Welp...I'm not much on the whole racing game thing...unless it's Wipeout or some sequel/clone. Much prefer wickedly fast hovers to realistic race cars on most days. Couple that with my marked lack of skill in said genre, and well, I'm just not rushing right out to play it.

More software is bound to come out soon, software that will make this a harder intellectual decision. Right now, a recently launched platform with only launch titles is hard to justify unless you HAVE TO HAVE one of those launch titles. For me, that'd be a Zelda game. Not many other franchises/games made me want to buy a system. And I don't see a Zelda-like title in the launch list.

So, given everything I've written, why is it so hard to keep myself from running right out to get one? I don't think I would really use it that much, I don't really want any of the launch titles, and I can't afford it without crushing my bank account.

What the hell is wrong with me?

I dunno. My birthday's coming up next Sunday (37! Sheesh!) Maybe someone will take pity on my torment.

(Or maybe I'll just buy it for myself for my birthday if no one else does. I'm such a sucker.)

Posted by Glenn at 09:29 AM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2005

Oh no! He missed a day!

Mood: Pretty OK.
Music: Not listening to anything at the moment.
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone
Muffin: I want breakfast. Something Sausage-y.
Punchline: " !" (Marcel Marceau)

I just wasn't feeling motivated to write yesterday. I was vaguely ticked about stuff...and I spent a good portion of the day waiting for someone who kept saying "I'll be right there." This happened from 9:30am to 6pm when I finally asked if I should wait any longer.

Now, while I didn't exactly stop working, I didn't get deeply involved in things that I couldn't break away from for fear of having to leave in the middle. Consequently, most of my day was about short, small things, rather than forwarding my primary responsibilities. I did edit and tweak a bunch of documents, I sketched out some flows and such, and I spent some time thinking about the best way to document/identify certain tasks.

Today, I'm working on something that I think will help drive my goals pretty well. By labelling each step of the process with an overarching goal (a driver) I can determine why tasks are being done, then determine if they're necessary to effective completion of the project.

Don't much feel like blogging right now. Rather work on this process...more later. Or tomorrow. Or next week...

Maybe I'm just hungry. Or nervous for my fookus, who's having surgery in the next few days.

Posted by Glenn at 09:54 AM

March 22, 2005

Send in the Ogres

Mood: Good.
Music: In Quintessence, Squeeze
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone
Muffin: Nope. No muffin. Was tempted by a Krispy Kreme Doughnut. Had an apple instead.
Punchline: Hm. Nope. No punchline.

World of Warcraft is patching the servers. The long awaited patch has finally arrived.

There's lots of cool stuff in the patch...the part that I think I like best is the fact that they're capping the maximum number of people that can be in an instance. Why is this good?

Well, most of the MMORPG endgame has to do with dealing with huge monsters and big dungeons. Events, as it were. The easiest way to deal with a big problem is to throw more firepower on it. Tactics are important and all that...but if you're having trouble, just throw more people at it. And these so-called "raid guilds" do just that. They trivialize the content in most of these instances by merely overwhelming the encounters with more players. This gives the huge guilds advantages over smaller guilds, such as ours.

At any given moment, we can muster 5 people...and maybe 10 with organization. A "raid guild" does nothing but cycle these instances with as many people as they can, and so they chew through content with little difficulty. It makes tuning the instance difficult for the developer, because they can't make it just possible for a group of 5 people without making it trivially easy for a group of 20 people.

So what Blizzard is doing is saying "OK, for this instance, you can only bring x number of people." And for the vast majority of the instances, that number is 10.

So all of a sudden, the raid guilds are going to have to think about who they bring. They're going to have to work. And they're going to have to coordinate.

We know everyone in our guild, we're not formed randomly, and we use voice chat for comms. In short, our group of 10 will work better than most any group of 10 the larger guilds can muster.

While we'll still have trouble with Molten Core and Upper Black Rock Spire, the rest of the instances will be tuned to 10 players, with Dire Maul being a 5 person cap.

They're basically making smaller guilds as effective as much larger guilds with this move.

I'm pretty excited about it.

There are many many other changes, some of which are very adjusting the difficulty of some of the encounters in instances, changing loot tables, adding flight paths, decreasing flight times for some paths...all good stuff.

Now if only they can keep the servers from lagging and crashing all night....

Posted by Glenn at 02:21 PM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2005

That's gonna leave a mark...

Mood: Pretty Happy.
Music: Birdhouse In Your Soul, They Might Be Giants
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone
Muffin: There will be no muffin talk here. I had a tangerine for breakfast.
Punchline: "What's my name?! Say it, bitch!" "Oh, Cheeseburglar!"

My brain is scattered if my blog entry seems all over the place, that's why.

I've decided to quit eating muffins in the morning. I probably could do without the starch every day...and while they are mighty tasty, and I really do enjoy the routine of seeing what's available that day, and saying hi to the guys in the shop, and the cool music in the shop and all...I do need to start watching all these carbs. So.

I've realized that I haven't had a Diet Coke in weeks...and I don't miss it in the slightest. I've been drinking Poland Spring sparkling water...and it serves the exact same purpose. Something to carry around with me and drink all day. This week, I have a case of the lime flavored seltzer. It's better than the tangerine flavored seltzer.

Anyway, yesterday night, we stormed Black Rock Depths in World of Warcraft. The crew was: Bardok (Rogue, 60), Jeho (Hunter, 60), myself (Rogue, 60), Abyss (Warlock, 57), and Firethorn (Shaman, 53.)

Can't speak for the rest of 'em...but I had a GREAT time. A pair of rogues gives you flexibility for pulling and tactics...although you DO give up the taunt and main tanking abilities of the warrior. The hunter's pet is a fair sub for a tank, and the traps of the hunter make a huge difference in splitting groups. The warlock for AoE and banishing elementals. The shaman for healing and defensive totems, and you have a pretty powerful 5 man group there.

We really started flying in there, and communication was good. A few wipes...but's going to happen.

Remind me to being my fire resist gear next time. It'd be a big help.

I didn't get much loot, really. And I didn't really care too much. I was having way too much fun just getting through the dungeon. I collected more Dark Iron...which I need for Thorium Brotherhood faction....

I also made a really good pseudo-Indian dish for dinner last night. Cauliflower, potatoes, peas, and shrimp, all in a fresh curry. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, chili, and ginger makes a perfectly servicable curry powder. At least I think so. Was very tasty...and I even have some left over for tonight. Although I should probably make the steak I got from Fresh Direct on Saturday.

Lately, I've been realizing that I'm rushing to cook food before it spoils...which is a drag. I can't really get food delivered twice a week...or can I? It's a $40 minimum. Maybe if I ordered exactly $40 bucks twice a week, I could swing it. I DO order $80 of food a week...Just have to plan it better. Something to think about...

Posted by Glenn at 10:52 AM

March 18, 2005


Mood: Exasperated.
Music: Life's What You Make It, Talk Talk
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Malcolm X - As They Knew Him, Various Authors.
Muffin: Cherry-Mango.
Punchline: I still work here.

Last night, after a partner's meeting, my boss explained to me that I needed to come up with "evidence" that I'm providing positive value to the company.

My company has three partners, and, as in any company with three partners, they don't see eye to eye on everything. One partner believes I provide value (or can...), one believes that I probably provide value, and one feels outright that I am stealing my paycheck.

Now, this isn't exactly an unfamiliar scenario for me. I'm used to people, especially financial people, not being able to see the value I bring to the table. Financial people, in my mind, are all about counting things. They count money. They count people. They count profits. They count losses. If the thing isn't concrete and in front of them, they can't count it.

My frustration is that, for some reason, this partner seems to be driving my priorities. Instead of forwarding the various projects I'm chewing through, while picking up IT responsibilities for the IT guy I hired, and they stole for service work, while handling other varying things that needed to be done RIGHT NOW...I now have to document everything that I've done, and the reason why I've done it, and the value it has to the company.

This is normal. Normal, insofar as instead of spending time with me to plan then execute, they say "You know what needs to be done" then when I ask for input, they don't get back to me...and months later, I get criticized for doing it wrong, incomplete, or get accused of not being able to finish anything.

Whatever. I am going to get this Process bound, slam it on his desk, and forget about it. I'm tired of "proving" I'm providing value. They don't remember what it was like before I got here. They're more than happy to point out that they could have done any of the things I've done...except that they didn't, or didn't have time, or there were other things more important, or...excuses.

If my job is so fucking useless, why am I so busy? Why do I spend time putting together plans and status reports...that they don't even read?

Frustrated? Yup.

Posted by Glenn at 09:51 AM

March 17, 2005

St. Patrick's Day?

Mood: Tired.
Music: Nature Boy, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Malcolm X - As They Knew Him, Various Authors.
Muffin: Blueberry-Peach.
Punchline: Like you need a punchline on St. Patrick's Day.

OK, let's get this out of the way: I hate St. Patrick's Day.

I have no ill will towards the Irish, and I am absolutely thrilled that the Irish have a day to proclaim their pride in their heritage and history. I'm all for it.

However, as most people in New York know, St. Patrick's Day is the day when anyone who needs even the slightest excuse to get drunk has full license to go out and get blitzed. If you think I'm exaggerating, the Irish pubs were full while I was walking to work at 8:15am.

If history is any guide, McSorley's on 7th Street opened at 6am or so, and has had a line around the corner since 8am...and will only get worse. I lived across the street from McSorley's for a year while I was at NYU. Witness the bar mug thrown through my closed bedroom window while I was in college. At 2am. By the way, I lived in a sixth floor walkup that year. Quite a throw.

Anyway, in addition to the usual drunken revelry, the parade starts at 11am, and marches down 5th Avenue...neatly bisecting the city into east and west...and making it impossible to get across town above ground.

Which is where the track fire/smoke on the 7 train this morning comes in, it being one of the very few ways to get across town underground.

In short, the city is in drunken bedlam, people are drinking instead of working, taking half days, wearing green for no good's all enough to give me a headache.

Now, let's add the kickoff to the NCAAs? And the bars are now officially dens of complete drunken insanity. Either one of those events would be enough to result in decreased productivity at work, but together? Negative numbers, baby.

And I guess I'm not contributing by writing this instead of working on the panel fabrication schedule and shipment going out tomorrow. Ah, whatever. Maybe I can get out of here at a kinda early hour and sneak past all the pubs and such and just get some sleep for a change.

Posted by Glenn at 02:18 PM

March 16, 2005

I really meant to. I did.

Mood: Decent.
Music: How to Be a Millionaire, ABC
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Malcolm X - As They Knew Him, Various Authors.
Muffin: Strawberry-Mango.
Punchline: Someone actually thought I might care about the NCAAs.

I wanted to play World of Warcraft last night. I made my chicken soup, which was mighty tasty, and sat down to play World of Warcraft. Except that most of my buddies were busy instancing, and I just couldn't get motivated to solo. So I got offline.

I suppose it was a good thing, because not an hour after I did, the servers crashed at around 10pm...which has happened THREE days in a row.

I have no idea when this server became as crowded as it did...because it didn't used to be. It was a nice middle of the road server, good population, not a lot of crowding. On Monday, there was a party or two at every cauldron in Eastern Plaguelands. 10 people in every farm in Eastern Plaguelands. Ridiculous. When did this happen? When did all these people show up? I was told that there was overcrowding in all the lower level zones, too. My Guildmates were getting frustrated at all the morons running around.

All of this is in the last few weeks. All of a sudden, it's like the server population has jumped in a huge way. I don't know why. I think if they'd let me take my character, I'd probably migrate to a new server, if the rest of my Guild would go.

Maybe I'll just suggest that we all start on a very low pop server and go again.....

Probably not. But I'm thinking it.

Posted by Glenn at 12:47 PM

March 15, 2005

Beware the Ides of March...

Mood: OK.
Music: Talk Talk, Talk Talk
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Malcolm X - As They Knew Him, Various Authors.
Muffin: Raspberry-Sweet Plum.
Punchline: I can't stop laughing. Sleestaks, indeed.

Last night, I made chicken stock. I love the way the apartment smells when I make stock. I threw in a bit of ginger and scallions in addition to the usual stuff, and it's given the stock this really amazing undercurrent of ... maybe Chinese stock? Of course, the parsnips and dill really carry the day in my stocks...but the added aromatics really provided some lovely depth.

Now, I'm not sure what I want to do with it. I could eat it as soup...I have fresh pasta, chicken chunks, fresh green peas...undoubtedly a fabulous soup. But I could also use this stock for risotto, because of all the density and depth. Either way, I'll probably eat it tonight. I have the rest of the day to think about what I want for dinner.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about blogging in general lately. I'm not really amazed by the number of people blogging...but I AM amazed by the wild variety of topics. I'm fascinated by the breadth of experiences...but more to the point, I love the whole feedback thing. I love starting a conversation with someone I don't know at all, merely because they've stimulated my thinking with some particular idea or turn of phrase.

When I was at Modem, we talked about how the Internet would bring people closer together, the way that phones did generations earlier. But now, I think we're really seeing how far that is going.

I play games and "hang out" with a bunch of guys, most of whom live in Wisconsin. The fact that I live in New York just isn't really an issue. We use voice chat, we play games (when the servers aren't down....), we argue, we hang out, and we help each other with problems or whatever else.

Prior to the internet, this would not have been even remotely possible. I have friends all over the world, with whom I remain in pretty good contact. I talk with some of them regularly, emails of course, and the occasional gaming event. Pretty cool, really.

I'm really enjoying my blog...even when I don't have something to say that particular moment. I like it, because it's like having a diary...but a diary that people you know and don't know can read and comment upon. And that's cool to me. It's anonymous enough to feel safe to say what you're thinking, but personal enough to allow people to get to know you...without knowing you, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, in a tip o' the hat to Willie S, beware the Ides of March. If you happen to be running a huge extended Republic, watch your best general and those pesky senators.

On the flip side, I feel fairly confident that Dubya hasn't read any maybe he'll find himself on the floor of the Senate, and....

We're not that lucky.

Posted by Glenn at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2005

I just don't get it.

Mood: Ornery.
Music: Scent of a Robot, Pete Miser
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 9 Warrior (PvP))
Book: Art of War, Sun Tzu (Giles translation, Clavell Edit).
Muffin: Strawberry-Peach.
Punchline: "Get this away from me."

OK, so I just got off the phone with Verizon. You know Verizon, right? They're the company that everyone talks about when they're talking about a monolithic telecom conglomerate that basically owns everything that has to do with voice and data in New York, so that you have no choice (in spite of the fact that they say you do) and they provide service (or lack of same) as if they could care less what you think, because, frankly, they couldn't care less.

Anyway, in December, I cancelled my DSL service with Verizon, because it sucked. Latency, dropout, and so on. I know a little about such things, and it just wasn't suitable for online gaming. Probably was OK for surfing and light use, but for the money they wanted, I was able to go with Roadrunner Elite or some such, which gives me excellent service, no complaints. So I dumped Verizon DSL.

Now, when I was initially installing Verizon DSL, the DSL modem they sent me was fucked. Didn't work, wouldn't handshake, whatever. Wouldn't work. So they diagnosed it with me, and sent me a new modem.

Now, they didn't say anything about sending back the defective modem, and they didn't include a shipping label or anything with the new one. So I cancel my service, and a few days afterward, I get a postcard from Verizon saying I owe them money (About $90) for not returning the defective modem. Right.

So I call them up, and they say just wait for the label for the working modem, and put 'em both in the same box, and no problem. Forget the postcard. a few weeks go by, and no label...but I DO get another postcard. Hm. I call them back mid-Feb at this point, and I say "Look, I haven't gotten any label, but I did get another postcard. I just want to send these things back to you, and call it a day, OK?" The nice lady assures me not to worry about the postcards, and she offers to send me another shipping label and to make sure I get these modems back in the next 30 days, and it'll all be fine. I say no problem...and wait for the shipping label.

OK. It's 14 March, and still no shipping label. I call Verizon. I explain the situation, and I tell them that I haven't received the label yet, and what's going on. She assures me that they've been sent, but she's ordering another label for me. If I don't get this one by Tuesday, I should call back.

This is ridiculous. I've spent literally 3 hours on the phone to Verizon trying to return equipment to them, or they're going to bill me for two modems, one that doesn't work at all, and one that works according to spec, which means it doesn't work, either.

I just want to be free of these hunks of worthless plastic without being billed my weekly food budget for them. You'd think that Verizon would care more about recovering their equipment, regardless of how shoddy it is.

Oh, and don't EVEN tell me that these modems are $80 apiece. You can buy them just about anywhere for half that. Thieves.

I'll let you know what happens next week. I'm sure you're thrilled. Call it a cliffhanger. "Will Glenn be able to return his modems? Will Verizon send large men with bats to collect money he doesn't even owe them? Stay tuned!"

Posted by Glenn at 10:48 AM | Comments (4)

March 11, 2005

Feeling a little better...

Mood: I feel...entrenched?
Music: Accidents Will Happen, Elvis Costello
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 6 Warrior :)
Book: Sandman, Neil Gaiman.
Muffin: Raspberry-Mango.
Punchline: "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"

Feeling some better. Started putting pans of water around the apartment to get some humidity in the air until I get a humidifier this weekend.

Watched Miracle last night. Amazing story. Interviews with these guys indicate that Brooks was a huge prick. You can always complain about the methods...but the man was a genius. And undoubtably, the ends justified the means. They were prepared for that encounter...which is the point of coaching.

Today, I'm working on part of a claim. In construction, if things go batshit, largely through no part of your own, it is expected that you put in a claim for additional money. In this particular case, things went way more than batshit, and the project ended up costing over twice projected amounts. This is no small claim.

Anyway, the general contractor, the folks responsible for tying this whole project together, and the person you often blame for things going batshit, is being particularly intractable. They KNOW things went bad, they allowed all sorts of claims from other contractors, and now, probably because they spent all their money, they're being hardassed.

We're now facing a claim consultant whose job seems to be to try to prevent us from getting any additional monies for the headaches. Truthfully, things were as bad on this site as I have EVER seen...people working in foot-wide spaces alongside people wedged in corners, materials and rubbish piled up a foot deep on every available space, complete lack of coordination (one instance so bad, they literally placed structural steel smack in front of an access door so that the door couldn't open, made funnier by the fact that there was a raised concrete access hatch in the same location, so that the door wouldn't have opened even if the steel weren't there,) people welding a few feet from other workers...just horrific. And that was a result of them knocking 3 months off a year long schedule before anyone even hit the site. Bad.

Anyway, we're putting together something called a "measured-mile" which you compare the estimate vs. actual of a "control" scenario that works the way it should have gone, and compare it to the EvA of the insane scenario.

As you can imagine, the dredging up of daily work data is tedious...and difficult, because people get yanked around a lot. It would be good if they started a job and worked on it all day. But it never works like that, especially on a site that's gone mad. You start here, find yourself blocked by pipefitters after an hour, go up two floors (waiting 30 mins to remobilize gear and men) do 2 hours of work you stopped yesterday due to sheetrocking, break for lunch, go back to the place you were originally working, get another hour done there, get sent down to pick up get the idea.

Anyway...I'm trying to analyze what amounts to 15 months of day by day electrician work logs...trying to figure out what each electrician did every day.

This is what we call a "non-trivial exercise."

It pretty much sucks...but the amount of money that's involved, there's not much that's more important than this right now.

Oh well.

Posted by Glenn at 01:07 PM

March 10, 2005

Mood: Still Ill.
Music: Princes of the Universe, Queen
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest, 6 Warrior :)
Book: Sandman, Neil Gaiman.
Muffin: Strawberry-Sweet Plum.
Punchline: My life is one - big - dark - room.

It's been way too long, but I just haven't been very motivated. I'm very very tired all the time right now. This flu has beat the hell out of me. Energy - levels - dwindling.

I'm struggling just to get through a workday. I'm chugging water. (Still haven't had any Diet Coke. Pretty impressive. Not nearly as hard as I thought it was gonna be.) I'm dehydrated all the time. My apartment is like one of those plastic fruit leather makers. I've been leaving chiles out to dry, and they dry in days, where it used to take weeks. I can't keep ginger, garlic, or onions...they all dry up in days. It's amazing. I've never had an apartment this dry before.

I did make some pretty killer chili last night. It should be much better tonight.

I think I'm gonna kick back tonight, and watch Miracle. It's probably the only hockey I'm gonna get this season. Oh well.

Actually, that whole plan sounds pretty good: Chili, Miracle, couch, blanket...zzzzz.

Can ya tell I'm struggling with the entry today? I want to say something witty and charming...but I feel like crawling under my desk and falling asleep.

Witty and charming will have to wait.

Posted by Glenn at 03:45 PM | Comments (3)

March 07, 2005

Caught! Can I get a witness?!

Mood: Just recovering from being sick.
Music: Lydia, Her Space Holiday (Thanks, Landry!).
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 15 Priest.)
Book: On The Road, Jack Kerouac.
Muffin: No muffin. Too sick to go out.
Punchline: Not much funny when you're sick.

OK...I know I haven't updated my blog for a while...frankly, I've been pretty sick, and not feeling particularly creative.

My boss was coughing and sneezing and looking not all that hot last Monday...and I was in a conference room with him for about 4-5 hours, working with him and a project manager on some paperwork. He kept sneezing and coughing, and I said "Ya're gonna get me sick." Whereupon he replied that he never really gets sick, and I should know that, and he's not gonna get me sick. The project manager and I shared a look, basically saying "Oh, boy."

So the next day comes, and he calls in sick. He radios me and says "You can be glad you were right." I tell him I'm not glad to be right, and for him to relax and get fluids and such, and rest up, I got things under control.

Wednesday comes and he's still not in. Odd for my boss to take two sick days in a row. Can't recall the last time it happened, to be honest.

Thursday comes, and I'm stuffed up, feeling not great...kinda nauseous and chest feels like someone's sitting on it. Sinuses kicking up, which in and of itself is not unusual...but this feels...bad. And he's not in again. Lovely. I leave early on Thursday (around 4pm,) because I'm feeling achy and warm. Thursday night, I sneeze so hard I literally pull a muscle right under my left pectoral where it attaches to the rib...feels like I've been punched. Hard.

Friday morning comes, and I cannot breathe. At all. Coughing. Rib aching, and, sure enough...101 fever.

Liquids. Tea, Gatorade, Soup. Popping Tylenol like they're tic-tacs.

Saturday, still have a fever...couldn't sleep at all Friday night. Too warm...but it's 68 degrees in my apartment. Blankets strewn all over the floor. Lovely. Wake up in a sweat anyway.

Sunday, fever finally breaks in the morning...more Tylenol. Still coughing and sneezing. Nose itches. Head still feels like it's filled with yellow goo.

Today, I can just about breathe...but my chest feels heavy. Can't take a deep breath without coughing, which, of course shoots a dull ache down my left side due to that great sore muscle. Muscles still sore...but I think that's due to being in bed or on the couch most of the weekend. Head still aches, and still feel slow and tired.

I'm going to work tomorrow. Can't take any more time off. Don't have a fever, although I feel a bit warm. I'll dress warm, stay quiet, get some paperwork done, work a clean 8 hours and call it a day.

I'm sure you're all fascinated by my sickness...but truthfully, it's all I can think about right now. Sorry about that.

Maybe I'll have a muffin tomorrow morning and I'll feel better, and I'll write something more interesting.

Posted by Glenn at 04:19 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2005


Mood: Sniffly.
Music: Lapdance, N.E.R.D.
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 13 Priest.)
Book: On The Road, Jack Kerouac.
Muffin: Blueberry-Sweet Plum.
Punchline: "and realized why i was doing it in the dark."

Jeho is slowly coming to the realization that he might be a powergamer.

A "powergamer" is someone who focuses almost entirely on gaining status in a game, be that levels, experience, gold, or "ph4t l3wts" usually at the expense of not really experiencing the game.

They are more likely to focus on hunting single areas that are supposedly "best" for drops or experience. They solo a lot, unless they're being helped by someone (or someones) more powerful than them to help them gain experience faster by helping them kill things they couldn't normally kill, or by decreasing downtime to nothing. They view killing things that they gain no experience or gold from as "wasting time." They scour websites for optimal paths, weapons, or hunting areas/maps to allow for better planning, and thus, faster gain.

I have my general opinions about powergamers, although I will not pass judgement on people playing games the way they want to play them. Frankly, my Libertarian leanings extend to gameplay, as well. You wanna chew your way through 60 levels in 3 days, go for it. Provided it doesn't impact MY game experience.

Now, powergamers, although they make up a fairly small percentage of the userbase of any game, are usually the most vocal on the boards, most likely to get pissed off about "nerfs" or changes, and are most likely to be the cause of the death of an economy on a server.

Additionally, powergamers (previously known as min-maxers in standard RPG parlance) are the usual cause of devs creating content that is too difficult for the casual gamer. Because they often get "twinked" (have higher level characters give them gear and stuff that they shouldn't have at such a low level) they are disproportionately powerful at their level, often focussing solely on a single combat tactic. As a result, devs create encounters that are more difficult to provide a challenge for these players, causing casual players to have extreme difficulty with those encounters. As a side note, since they focus on a single combat tactic, when that tactic gets changed (or is discovered to have a bug) for whatever reason, the player gets extremely pissed.

The problem is that because powergamers are vocal, often early adopters of games, and interested in being the first to do whatever, they are invaluable in getting the word out on a game, and they're extremely good at finding bugs and exploits quickly. In short, they serve a role for the developers. I KNOW I've heard "We'll throw it out there and someone will break it for us" more than once. Powergamers are very, very good at finding loopholes and bugs. They're little mini recursive stress tests all on their own.

The downside is that they are extremely destructive to a game's economy, and every player wants to be "the first" to do something...or at least not be the last...and by doing something first, posting pictures, videos, and explaining exactly how it's done ruins the enjoyment of exploration for everyone else. By chewing through all the content in short order, powergamers start complaining about lack of things to do, and publishers don't like to hear those kinds of complaints...and lean on devs to get more stuff done, before they're ready to do so, or before they fix all the problems that the powergamers have already found.

During the beta, Blizzard decided that they were going to "speedbump" (or slow down) powergamers by limiting the amount of experience that any one character could learn in any one day.

You would have thought that the Soviets were invading "Red Dawn" style. Their complaint? "If I want to play 24 hours a day, you can't stop me!" Effectively, they were complaining that if they didn't want a life, Blizzard couldn't force them to have one. Pretty sad, really...but whatever.

Powergamers complained so loudly and often, everywhere, that eventually, the devs said "Fine, we'll just reward people who don't play 22 hours a day, rather than prevent people from gaining experience 24 hours a day."

Powergamers have some juice.

Anyway, back to Jeho, who thinks he may be a powergamer...because while Zul'jin was down, a few of us went over to another server and started a couple of alts. We created a group, whereupon Jeho took off in a direction away from us because he didn't want to share experience with us...he wanted it all to himself.

The only comment that I can make in response to all of that is: Yes, he's a powergamer with insufficient time to actually be one. I tend to think that he's all about his game, his character, on his time schedule...and if it makes him happy, more power to him. Makes him tough to game with sometimes, but if he's having fun, whatever. He likes to do things his way, and there's nothing wrong with that. Has to be tough on him when he needs help with stuff, but he seems to work it out for the most part.

I think that I couldn't really be a powergamer like that. The gameplay's the thing for me...not the goal. I made 60, sure...but it was the result of wanting to complete quests...hell, I'm still doing grey quests (which I wouldn't be gaining experience from, even if I were still gaining experience) because they're fun. I haven't spent time looking on websites for Black Rock Depths maps and such...because I like exploring, and I'm having a good time doing it.

Besides, right now, my goal is to get a group of folks to level 60 with me, so we can hit some of the tougher instances together...which would really be what I'd like to do right now.

I won't be the first one in, and I won't be the guy who's best at doing whatever...but I'll be doing it with my friends, and that's what's important to me.

Posted by Glenn at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2005

Warning: Esoteric Geek Blog Entry

Mood: Tired.
Music: This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us, Siouxsie.
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 13 Priest.)
Book: On The Road, Jack Kerouac.
Muffin: Nectarine-Mango.
Punchline: "Gimme a beer and a mop."

[Ed. Note: This blog entry is about global economies in MMORPGs. If you're not down with theoretical game economies, then this might not be your entry. If you're interested anyway, feel free to follow along at home....]

I've been thinking again about MMORPG Economies again.

A long time ago, I designed an economy for Gemstone III (which is now Gemstone IV, I believe, by Simutronics.) GSIII was, and is, one of the largest text-based MMORPGs every created. Persistent world, been around for well over 15 years, at the time I was a GM there, we were revamping the game...adding things we felt were necessary. I was responsible for warriors, the guild systems, and to a small extent, coding weird little gizmos and trinkets for sale to players.

At the time I was planning, which would have been 1997, I was planning a trade skill system. The problem was pretty straight-forward...with an infinite influx of cash (dropping off killed monsters) players who'd been around for a huge period of time were accumulating WAY too much cash...and there was nothing to buy of any real value, other than "merchants."

Merchants were GM run NPCs who would charge serious dough for changing the appearance of an item, or sell unique or rare items. Doing so was the only way to drain cash out of the economy.

Having too much cash in the economy has the obvious problem...inflation. It results in prices going up, even though the items themselves weren't worth all that much, and there weren't even all that many items worth having in the first place. Forget the demand aspect at this point. People wanted new and unique stuff, and always would. We could remedy that part by making more stuff, and putting it in the world via shops and drops. But ultimately, why accumulate wealth if you have nothing to do with it. This is a problem.

The concept was to create a player-run economy. In order to do that, we needed to allow the players to "create" items that would remain persistent in the universe. It was clear that this was not a trivial exercise. Forget about all the legacy items...and forget about the fact that we'd have to create a very large list of items for the players to create. Remember that we'd have to "pre-create" anything that was to be created...or create mechanisms to allow players to create things when conditions were met.

The second problem was that in order to make the player-made items valuable (ie: have any value at all...) we needed to make sure that there was no other way to gain these we needed to get rid of all the NPC vendors...or at least have them sell things that weren't as good as player made items.

The last was that if players could make items, what would prevent them from flooding the market? We needed a way to control the amount of items that could be made to keep deflation from occurring due to oversupply.

So what's the answer?

Curiously, in the past 8-10 years, trade skill systems have been implemented in many ways. But they all have the same problem...inflation. Because players can always go out and get more (gold, loot, items) you are bringing wealth into the environment...but can't force it to leave.

EQ's tried, SWG's done a decent job slowing it but not stopping the problem, WoW doesn't even try to prevent it, instead making trade skills for entertainment and cash sink purpose only.

They're missing the main point:

You need a global resource/cash pool.

If, when ore is found, it's removed from the pool, it decreases the amount that can be found in the rest of the world, you can force a supply-demand equation based on true scarcity...not randomly generated scarcity.

If you create a ceiling cash limit on the world, the more cash the players have, the less the monsters have...and drops decrease.

If a player makes 10 swords, and the NPC sword merchant has 10 already, he'll get less than if the sword merchant has none.

Example: The world pool has 10 units of metal, 10 gold, and 10 wood. At start, the player has a sword (1 metal.) He goes out and kills an orc, gaining 2 gold, and finding a shield (1 metal.) He does this a few times...and at the end of his spree, he has 7 items (7 metal) and 5 gold. He doesn't need all the items, so he sells them to a merchant, who has 2 swords, and 5 gold. The merchant has more gold than sword, so decides to buy the 5 items the player has for 5 gold. The merchant now has 7 metal, the player 2, and the world pool 1. The player has all the gold. Now, the merchant has no gold, and most of the metal in the world, so prices for the swords goes does the price for his bows (1 wood each.) The player buys a bow (1 wood) for 3 gold (which is fine, since the player has gold and nothing to spend it on.) He goes out to kill orcs...but the orcs don't drop gold...they drop some wooden weapons and shields, and the boss might have the last gold.

So how do we get stuff back in the pool?

Breakage (where weapons and armor wear out over time), and have the NPC vendors "eat" half their stock when they buy. So the 5 metal the merchant bought, 3 are going back into the world pool for recycling, 2 gold is for his sale, and we can keep doing this indefinitely, by creating different/better items that use more/different resources. Items truly become rare because of how hard it is to make and item, and how many resources are used to make it.

Throw in player created items, where they can change their items into resources at a loss (a sword that costs 4 metal to make becomes 2 metal) and you have a self-sustaining economy that doesn't inflate. It can't...because there's a cap on the amount of money available.

It is not an easy equation to balance, especially when you start throwing all manner of raw materials into the mix, plus you need to decide on the "cost" of each item in raw materials...but once built, you can always balance by adding or subtracting from the pool.

I would argue that the pool scales based on the world population, with each new player adding x of each material into the world pool, perhaps on a sliding scale based on class or on a steadily decreasing scale, such that overpopulation puts a burden on the world pool.

Any way you do it, I believe that doing this makes trade skills necessary, as the conversion from item to material and back could be handled by NPCs...but by giving players the mechanism to do it themselves, you stimulate a necessary and enjoyable balancing mechanism.

I was thinking about writing a white paper on this, and perhaps developing a prototype world to prove the theory...then maybe selling it to game developers.


Posted by Glenn at 11:34 AM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2005

Let's talk about entitlement.

Mood: Bloody.
Music: Zion, Fluke
Game: World of Warcraft (60 Rogue, 13 Priest)
Book: On The Road, Jack Kerouac.
Muffin: Peach-Strawberry.
Punchline: "5: Where's Bob?"

I woke up this morning with a bloody nose...probably a function of the fact that it's really dry in my apartment, and I THINK I hit my head against the dresser that's flush up against my bed while I was thrashing about in my sleep. Been very restless while sleeping lately...not sure why. Probably just stress.

Anyway, that's not what I'm blogging about today. My nose isn't bleeding any more, but it's tender and sore, but it's not going to be an issue or anything, so whatever.

Today, I'm going to talk about all the complaining going on about World of Warcraft. If it at all sounds like I'm commenting on this like a jaded's because I'm a jaded gamer. I've played just about every Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game in history, been in more than my fair share of betas, been party to their launches, and for a notable span of years, was a dev and GM for one.

The general jist of the complaining is that Blizzard doesn't care about the players, that they're focussing on dumb things, that they're not fixing the thing that the complainer is most concerned about.

If this sounds familiar to you, I have a message for you: Relax.

I am not at all interested in the "I pay my 15 dollars a month and I demand 'X'" comments. Based on the number of hours any one of us plays, $15 is a steal. I can honestly say that I clock about 20-30 hours a week on World of Warcraft...and for 100 hours of gameplay, $15 seems eminently reasonable to me...even if I may not like the relatively infrequent lag.

What's kicking off this latest round of screaming is the institution of queues when you log on. If the server is overpopulated, like the server I'm on, if there are "too many" people playing, whatever that number is, it throws you onto a queue, and you wait until the population reduces to the point where you will not burden the server past the dev-set limits. I was in a queue last night for all of 45 seconds...and I was number 15 in the queue when I hit it.

If I were playing EQ2, I'd still be waiting for the freakin' zone to load after 45 seconds. I'm pretty sure I can wait a minute or so for me to get into the game.

However, some people are completely up in arms about this. I guess they feel somehow entitled to define how the game they're playing should be run. I'm pretty clear on this, having told more than one player "Thanks for your input. We're working on this." In short, fuck off. We're not interested in your biased view of how we ought to be running this game.

While the playerbase on the whole is good at defining a problem, and even occasionally coming up with a solution that doesn't fuck up the rest of the world, the thing they have no concept of is how complex it is to change anything in a system that complicated.

Yes, it may seem like a "simple fix." It may even BE a simple fix...but what else will it break? One of the common complaints when a dev patches a game is "Well, yeah...but they broke X, Y, and Z when they fixed A. Good work, Devs." There's simply no comprehension of how complicated these systems are.

The concept of prioritization in fixes is also pretty funny to me. When I was working on my game, I was responsible for the Warrior class, the Guild system, and some minor vendor and commerce issues. I had jack to do with armor, combat, weaponry, spells, other classes.

What that meant was that if I worked fast, it seemed like "the devs" were focussed completely on the Warriors! "Why are the Sorcerers still waiting for this simple fix?!" Well, because the Sorcerer dev is busy doing something else right now. He's got his own responsibilities.

This is happening in World of Warcraft. I have no doubt that the interface team has jack to do with the combat system. But some people are complaining about certain combat fixes not getting done in a timely fashion...but instead, in the next patch, we're getting some UI upgrades. I am positive one has nothing to do with the other...but some people can't see it that way. And I don't understand why not. Yes, I'm sure the problem is annoying...but I'm equally positive that it doesn't make your character unplayable...because there are players that are level 60 in all classes and races. So it might be a bit tougher. It isn't the end of the world.

If it seems like I'm addressing specific people and their complaints through thinly veiled comments, in a way, I am.

I've played this game for months now, and I can state with absolute certainty that it's one of the best balanced, best designed, and has the lowest grind requirement of any game I've ever played. In short, I've never felt like I was grinding experience. When I felt like doing something else, I did something else, and it rewarded me anyway. I didn't HAVE to be somewhere and do something, other than my class quests, EVER.

Think about all the GOOD things about this game: The population is high and stable (Unlike SWG, where you can play for 8 hours without seeing someone a CITY), the game loads quickly and looks pretty impressive (Unlike EQ2 which looks great, but takes, no shit, 5 minutes to load a zone, which happens every 15 minutes.), the amount of grinding is kept to a minimum (Unlike Lineage II or City of Heroes which is ALL grinding), and the devs are releasing new content regularly (Unlike AC2, which was a static world for a year before they added ANYTHING to it.)

The tradeskills are pretty enjoyable. The creatures, while not as varied as I would like, are at least very enjoyable the first time you see an archetype. (Anyone remember the first time you saw a Devilsaur? Or a Giant?) The combat system is well-balanced...and deep. Lastly, it's easy to find reward...either levels, cash, or items. Which makes the gameplay fun, even over a long period of time.

Last night, I helped a guildmate finish a pretty tough quest in W Plaguelands (it was FUN), I helped a friend finish a pair of quests in Winterspring, finished a quest to kill a pair of level 60 elites with a pair of folks who were looking for a hand (and earned myself a tasty little dagger), then helped a guildmate chew through a tough little quest...all in about 2 hours. And I enjoyed it all! I am no longer earning experience, but I'm still having fun...and that, to me, is indicative of the game.

Yes, you can complain about the occasional lag, you can complain about the lack of certain fixes for certain classes, you can complain that the whole PvP battlefield concept they've been touting since launch isn't out yet...but so what? It's all coming. The game is less than 6 months old...and for less than six months, it's certainly more stable than just about every other game of the same type that's been released in the last five years. In a year, this game will be everything people had hoped, and then some.

I acknowledge this much: If people didn't love the game so much, they wouldn't complain so much about these things. I simply counsel'll all get fixed.

In the meantime, I'm going to get some more friends up to 60 so we all can explore some of the really high level content together...and then another whole part of the game opens up.

If you're getting frustrated with World of Warcraft, all I can suggest is that you play another MMORPG. You'll come back in a few days...or you won't...and you'll have found a game you like better. I know this is the best one out there right now. And I'm having a great time.

As a side note, a few days ago, I was riding through the Barrens, and the channels starting calling for help at Camp Taurejo. Seems that a group of four level 50-54s were killing guards, and slaughtering the 25-40s that usually hang out around there as a base for the quests in the area. I headed over, poisoned my blades, stealthed, then killed all four of them in the span of 2 minutes, killing one of them three times in a row as he raised himself and immediately tried to attack someone else.

After realizing that they couldn't win, they all waited until their flags were down, gathered together, bowed to me, and left on their horses.

When the reinforcements arrived, there was nothing left to fight.

All I can say is that it was one of the more enjoyable experiences I'd had in the game. From the combat ability of my character, to the validation of my build as a PvP character, to the honor of the Alliance who recognized that they weren't going to win that day. Very enjoyable.

And there's much more coming.

Posted by Glenn at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)