November 14, 2008

Busy Bee

With the new job it has been a very busy several weeks. I wish I now had the time to write up more posts but sadly I have had a very steep learning curve getting to grips with Lotus Notes administration and SMS Client - remote installations.

Today, Wrath of the Lich King launches in Australia and so I expect I will be busy all weekend being glamoured by the new shiny sights in Northrend, but I will be writing up a proper post.

October 10, 2008

Ten years on

It was exactly ten years ago today that I arrived in Australia for the first time. I had had a long internet relationship with Elsha and we had moved onto 'phone calls and had even met up in London for 6 weeks so by no means was I coming to Australia blindly.

Unfortunately, it is also the date that Elsha's mother passed away, so its not something that can be celebrated. We've since moved our anniversary to the 15th of February, the date we first met in London, simply to avoid celebrating a date that has such horrible connotations.

Ten years ago, I spent months at Elsha's home watching Tv, reading books, playing computer games and looking desperately for jobs that might come my way. I did land two jobs, one with Home Building Society and the other with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital - both of those have left me with co-workers who became friends.

Ten years on, and I'm now living in Australia permanently. I've met those guys but equally I've made new friends and have fit in to the social network - enough now so that I get the regular invite to the pub for a few drinks and to chit chat about work and home life. And of course, since they invite their friends and co-workers, its a great way to network.

One way in which this has paid off for me is that I'm leaving my current job and moving to a mining company; a friend mentioned my name in passing and I got a call for a job interview. The friend will be working with me so he of course gets a referral fee and since he's currently working there, I have backup in terms of dealing with sticky jobs (and it makes meeting up for drinks easier!).

So this is how ten long years have changed me from the guy who lived in London to the guy who now owns a house, is learning to drive and is in the process of getting a top notch job.

Bravo! - (even if I do say so myself)

September 15, 2008

DPS: Their role

Cap'n John said in a previous comment that the DPS should listen to instructions and know how to perform their role, so I thought I would make a post about it.

DPS encompasses pretty much every class in World of Warcraft; that is, even warriors and priests have the ability to perform some amount of DPS. Due to this, it is very rare that a request for a DPS member will take long to fulfill for an instance.

So why are DPS so bad in instances?

Well, for a start, the game allows for solo play, suggesting that group play for DPS is actually a bad idea. In a previous MMO, I was a healer, and I was regularly picked up for group quests because it was more efficient to kill things with other people than it was by myself, or them by themselves. Monsters were very powerful as compared to a healer or a tank, and DPS classes did not have enough health or armour to keep themselves alive long enough to kill the monster - they NEEDED a tank or a healer, and we needed someone to kill for us.

In World of Warcraft, you don't NEED a tank or a healer to kill normal monsters. And you can avoid group quests all the way up to the end cap, level 70. At which point, suddenly you DO need a tank and a healer.

DPS classes have low to medium health, low to medium armour and high Damage Per Second.

This means they are able to solo more efficiently than a tank or a healer so long as they do not encounter more than 1 monster at a time. Two or three, and they won't survive the fight (meanwhile tanks and healers may survive but the fight will go on for a very long time, as their DPS is low in comparison, potentially causing more monsters to join in). In fact, solo grinding is actually more profitable than killing things in a team, in terms of speed and experience points.

Thus, DPS players do not have any experience with the role that a Tank or a Healer should bring to the group. Equally, Tanks and Healers know that something is very wrong when DPS players either take aggro away from the tank or force healers to switch to them rather than healing the tank. Many a time, DPS players will say things like "L2Play Tank! Keep Aggro!" with a swear word thrown in when the monsters turn away from the tank and bash up the DPS player. My response to this is and has always been:

Any DPS Class should be able to steal aggro from the Tank. The skill is in not doing it.

August 14, 2008

Interim Measures

If you're wondering why there's no forthcoming posts, its because I'm currently in the position of moving house. And not only that, but buying a house too.

Although at the moment I'm waiting for the banks to make their mind up and do their job properly so the settlement can be lodged, so I can actually own a house and not just rent one from the seller.

Thus I have no home internet. I do have internet at work and, even though I regularly abuse it, making blog posts is difficult at best when I'm supposed to be working.

I still read though and I'm making some notes for some blog posts once I do get internet at home.

Or when things calm down around here...

July 15, 2008

Tanking: Protection Paladins

Protection [Prot] Paladins tank through reactive damage.

That's a pretty interesting sentence, so let me explain what it means.

Prot Paladins cause aggro and threat by essentially taking damage. Yes, that's right. By taking damage.

Whilst other tanks have a rage bar that allows them to use abilities that cause monsters to single them out and beat on them, paladins have a mana bar that they use to cause holy damage to gain the attention of monsters and then shield spells that reflect damage when they are hit.

It's pretty fun to tank as a Protection Paladin because you can be surrounded by monsters and know you will kill them not because of anything you are doing but because you know that every time they hit you they will be damaged. Ergo, all you have to do is keep yourself healed and keep those shield spells up and the monsters will both be captivated by your damaging them AND by the threat of the damage that is being caused by them hitting you.

The problem comes when you are playing with a group of people that have no idea how a Protection Paladin functions (and let me tell you - this accounts for 4 in 5 WoW players).

I was doing a dungeon a few days ago with B-I-L who is geared for heroic instances (they're a
harder level of the same maps) so I knew the chances of my dying was fairly remote. But what irked me was when the DPS (yes them again) attacked straight away, casting spells, firing arrows, using pets - without giving me the chance to gain the acquaintance of the monsters.

Politely warning them that they need to give me a few seconds extra to pick up the slack got me a polite "sure". That particular group worked well, and apart from a few silly deaths, we managed to get through the whole thing fairly quickly.

But, of course, MY understanding of how Prot Paladins operate has only come about because I'm now playing one, which means that essentially until players try playing a tank, they will never learn what a tank is used for, or how to function around one.

July 10, 2008

And Me

I'm seeing this phrase used more and more.

When I was at school, my teachers made a point of highlighting that this was lazy English, and that the correct phrase was "and I", but it all really depends on the context of the sentence.

For example:

"My friend and I went to a party last night" is correct.
"My friend and me went to a party last night" is wrong.

On the other hand:

"John invited my wife and me to the party" is correct.
"John invited my wife and I to the party" is wrong.

The basic rule that applies to this form of grammatical correctness is this:

I am the subject of the sentence, but the object of the sentence is me.

July 02, 2008

Tanking: A Basic Explanation

There are generally 3 main archetypes of characters in World of Warcraft; the Tank, the Healer and the DPSer.

Tanks are invariably heavily armoured, high health characters with the ability to dodge, block or resilient in some form or another to incoming melee attacks. This allows them to stand at the front and be a shield for the group whilst everyone else can safely attack. Tanks are normally paired up with a healer so they can last for as long as the healer has mana.

Healers are usually low armoured, low health, high mana characters with the ability to heal others over time or in one-shots. They normally stand at the back and are paired up with a tank.

DPSers are those classes that are rated for their Damage Per Second (hence DPS). Most classes fit into this category in form or another. DPSing is insanely easy. You pick a target, you use an ability and you cause damage.

For most of WoW, there is a very singular course of gameplay. As a player is trying to kill the opponent as fast as possible, there is an onus to cause as much damage as possible so that the monster can be killed before it can do its damage. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to Instances, Dungeons or Raids, and here's the reason:

Inflicting as much damage in as short a time as possible will cause the monster in the dungeon to come after you. Unless you are over-geared against the monster, you will die.

I cannot stress this highly enough.

DPSers are generally people wearing anything up to Mail armour and usually they've sacrificed the ability to shrug off damage to gain the ability to inflict as much damage as possible. They cannot tank, and if they try to, they will die. Usually, this starts a chain reaction in which everyone tries to speed up damage rather than let the tank take over, and inevitably one by one, they die too.

Equally, but rarely, healers sometimes commit themselves to healing everyone in the team rather than just the main tank. And this also causes the team to die because healing more than one person generally means they're going to attract the attention of the monster. Healing the Tank is both health-efficient and mana-efficient; the Tank can take damage, he can block, dodge, etc.

Other players are not designed to take damage so their health will drop quicker, and that will cost more mana in the long run.

I've said all this because in my runs to dungeons, players invariably try and do as much damage as possible and when the team dies because they've attracted too much attention, the Tank is generally blamed.

June 06, 2008

Time to move on virtually...

And so the guild that I helped co-create back in April 2006 finally came to an abrupt end last month. A lack of impetus coupled with slowing momentum caused the guild to slow down and then... stop.

A long discussion with the mods/officers of the guild revealed that they had slowly burned out with the content of the game, resulting in sheer boredom. Having friends online helped but eventually they had no other recourse but to pull the plug.

Most of the guildies have moved on to other guilds on the same server, others have transferred to different realms and others have just stopped playing MMOs in general.

Meanwhile, I'm now playing on the Oceanic Servers and have created my own guild. This time I'm only aiming for a simple progression guild with mature values. I haven't really put much effort into the creation of the guild and much of the structure has been lifted from past efforts.

At the moment I've decided to go for the Tankadin, a Protection Specced Paladin. So far so good, enjoying myself and my time online.

April 29, 2008

A different version of WoW?


I finally decided to give WOW US a go. After much anguish over not going to Karazhan, over having to go to instances with kids bunking off school, over generally not playing with mature adults, I plucked up courage and installed WOW US.

Or at least I tried to.

The problem, it seems, is that WoW EU and WoW US, although claiming to be different versions with different patches, is that they're exactly the same. So when I came to try and install WoW US, my computer quite rightly told me to stop being an idiot - WoW was already installed.

Of course, this made me pause. If my computer thinks WoW is already installed, then thats because it has registry entries telling it so. How do I tell my computer that I want to install WOW somewhere else because I want TWO versions of it?

The simple answer is that you can't.

The only way out for me was to make a copy of the entire WoW folder and move it to a different directory or, in my case, drive. I've since renamed the folder and the shortcut to WoW US. And thanks to Elsha, I had a valid WoW & TBC license Key. And just to top it off, I went and got a free 14 trial key so I could play for free for a couple of extra weeks (I now have 44 free days to play to see whether I like it or not).

I checked with Elsha's B-I-L, and picked an Oceanic Server as my new home. Oceanic Servers are those that have been formatted to match the Australian daytime so our night is the Server's night. Unfortunately, the server itself is in America, so I still have latency, but it's not as bad as Europe - 400 to 800ms.

Umming and aahing, I decided to pick Paladin (I have so far played Druid, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Warrior, Shaman, Rogue and Warlock) and try levelling her as Protection-specced. That basically means I level slightly slower but I have boosted Armour and by picking the right equipment to wear, I can also boost my health.

Elsha's B-I-L went for a Priest, ostensibly so we could form up and play a healer/tank combo.
So far so good.

But... I do miss my old guild. I have friends and companions there whom I miss.

Must Blizzard really make me start all over again simply because they couldn't stick my details onto a dvd and send it overseas? Even though WoW EU and WoW US are exactly the same?

April 24, 2008

Why Western?

A long time ago, I was bought Bushido: The Way of the Warrior roleplaying game, and it remains today one of the few games I really want to play but have not managed to find anyone who could either understand its rules or want to play it.

Its a really interesting game system because it doesn't hinge at all on Western Ideology. Western ideology is apparent no matter which game you play in now, and I blame that fair and square on Capitalism.

Just for once I'd like to see a game where money doesn't matter, but in fact social status does.
The more quests you do, the more honour you receive. You can't trade honour, you can't sell it or buy it, you can only personally make it.

Killing things does not give you phat lewt. Saving towns gives you honour, helping people, etc.

MMOs should adopt a pyramid scheme so better and more social players can help lower level
players. Suddenly you have a game where community is more important than the gear you wear.

Why must we play Westernised games?

March 31, 2008


Here in Perth, we've finally completed our second cycle of Daylight Savings. Clocks have gone back an hour, assisting our transition into Winter. On the weekend it was bright and sunny.

Today it's raining cats and dogs. On steroids. Winter is truly here.

But what interests me is how we adults are affected by time. Time is, in itself, a very interesting "thing".

Time in nature exists as the following:

Sunrise. Noon. Sunset. Twilight.

Changing of Seasons.

Waxing and waning of the Moon and Tidal changes.

For us, time affects us like trees that get rings as they grow older - our body and appearance change as we grow older.

But beyond those things, time has no real "value" - its hard to quantify time from a layman's point of view.

Oh, we can look at it as seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millenia, aeons, but those are all man-made concepts. Those are things we've created in order to allow us to record events that have happened and to date them.

From a child's point of view, time has no real meaning. You wake up, you eat, you play, you eat some more, you nap, you play some more and then you go to bed. At some point, around the age of seven, you become self-aware. At that point, time 'requires' meaning. You begin to realise that your working parent(s) is away some days and not away other days; those days being weekends. The adult world creeps into your child life and imposes values.

But what if those values didn't impose themselves? What if all concepts of time ceased. If there were no work days and weekends, if there were no clocks or watches to check timetables?

Would we 'miss' time?

March 26, 2008


Every several months, I get burnt out from playing World of Warcraft. Honestly, it's a great game but it's just repetitious to the extreme.

"Go kill 10 of these rats" becomes "Go kill 10 of these Giant Ultra-Elite Dragonspawns" until eventually its "Go kill 10 of these Ancient Dragons and bring back their ears".

Comparatively, Asheron's Call 2 was also repetitive but for some reason I enjoyed that repetition. Perhaps it was the feeling that around every corner there was something new waiting whereas in Azeroth/Outland/Northrend, its all the same.

Anyway, as you may have noticed from the title, I burnt out from playing my Level 70 druid. The guild I co-created is still thriving but I just can't bring myself to log in and get involved. So I'm busy creating a mage who is at level 33. I've tried levelling a mage before but got stuck around level 27 but I think I'll persevere with this one; she plays well.

In the meantime, I have finished Puzzle Quest. It's a good game and is a different challenge to normal crpgs. A decent 7.5 out of 10.

After that, I decided to finish off the Neverwinter Night expansions I have and am stuck in Hordes of the Underdark. But that too has become a bit repetitious so I wanted to try something else - a little bit different than your run of the mill crpg.

And lo and behold, I find Fastcrawl. A dungeon game that will last for around 30 minutes. I had a quick go of the demo and like it a lot; I may even buy it and give it a proper go.

And finally, my attention swings ponderously to Dungeon Runners, a free game made by my old friends NCSoft (they also make City of Heroes). Dungeon Runners is no World of Warcraft. It's buggy, slow, and even on my machine, runs like a dog. But its very much Diablo-esque, and a lot easier to jump into than WoW, even though its based very much on that Blizzard game. DR does not require membership subscription but if you do pay, you get to have equipment that's otherwise restricted. I probably won't pay membership rates but that's fine. I just want to play something a little different.

The other big deal is that I don't have anyone to play with. One part of MMO's that I don't get is that they're meant to be collaborative games. I wish they would make a game where meeting people was a lot easier...

March 17, 2008

E. Gary Gygax (July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008)

The man primarily responsible for the view of fantasy in the modern era sadly passed away on the 4th of March 2008. His name was E. Gary Gygax and he was one of the co-partners involved in creating, designing and publishing Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons was the first real game of its kind in the world. A system of rules to allow for collaborative improvisation in a fantasy setting. From humble beginnings, its now a game known worldwide and has spawned a myriad number of other roleplaying games, wargames and computer games that all trace their lineage back to that first set of simplistic rules in a pamphlet of a rule book.

I was first introduced to D&D back in 1979, when I was but 7. My brother had had the basic edition box set purchased for him by a family friend but he really didn't get into it. I, on the other hand, loved the idea and spent hours reading up on the rules and on the examples of gameplay. I finally could actually immerse myself in a fantasy world where elves were the good guys and orcs were the bad guys and where, most importantly, I could change the outcome of that.

These days D&D is most prominently compared to its online successor World of Warcraft. But WoW is not a proper immersive setting, nor do any of your actions change anything in the game.

For that alone, I think WoW is years behind D&D.

Returning to Gary Gygax, there has been a marked outcry from gamers around the globe on the best way to honour his memory. Some have made joking remarks such as "Roll for 1d4 minutes of silence".

But I think the best way to honour Gary would be to create and name a deity in his name. And so, in all my games, there shall be...

"Zagyg, the God of Gaming"

Pet Peeve #3 - Queuing

Australian's, please take note. This is how we Poms queue:

1. Discuss what your companions/relatives/friends want in advance.

2. Stand in line by yourself. Have money on hand, preferably correct change (this is why you were taught Mathematics in school)

3. Declare in a clear loud voice what you want. You are not allowed to change your mind half way through.

4. Take your purchase and leave the queue.

Congratulations, you have queued correctly.

Do not:

* Take your kids with you, all 4 of the little brats, letting them run amok.

* Look at the display or product and wonder to yourself what it is you want. If you don't know, you shouldn't be queuing.

March 13, 2008

Return from the wilderness

After two months of wandering around in the blog wilderness that is the Internet, I have returned.

It's been a fun packed two months and there have been at least one momentus life changing event.

Essentially, my marital status has changed. Yup, Elsha and I have got married.

It was something we had had planned for a long time that once we returned to Australia we would plan a wedding and get hitched. Friends and family were invited over, and there was plenty of merriment. Indeed, it was good to see Kalistro and TheNumNum in person, and it was equally bizarre but fun to have them check out Perth. We did some sightseeing together but ultimately we had to spend a fair bit of time on wedding planning. I have to admit that Elsha did a lot of this - I only helped on the finer details - and everything went off without a hitch.

January 15, 2008

In and Out in the Blink of an Eye

One of the things thats been bothering me since I've been in Perth is that I don't seem to have much of a social life. In London, it was easy. Pubs galore. In fact, Ealing has been long considered to pubs what Las Vegas is to casinos. For example, Castle to Red Lion to Kings Arms to The Green to Park View to Old Orleans to Edwards to North Star to Townhouse... and that's just the ones I remember. Of course, it wasn't all about pubs. I had TBO and J, Kalistro and TNN, and ex-work mates. All in all, I had a varied social calendar.

In Perth, though, it just revolves around Elsha's family. Which isn't a bad thing by any means, but I do wish I could get out and about by myself and meet new people.

So, over the past 2 months, I've been trying to get myself inserted into a roleplaying group. And I pretty much succeeded when last Saturday, I ended up in a group rolling up a Dwarf Fighter. Yay.
But then came the bad news. They wanted to meet up next week. And the week after, and a week after that. In fact, they wanted to meet EVERY week.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but there are some things I like to do on weekends. Go to the cinema, go shopping, laze around the house, etc. Sometimes, I don't want to go roleplaying. So I politely told them that I wasn't really able to commit to an "every week" kind of thing.

At which point I got forced out of the group and into the sidelines. Of course, no one actually forced me but the silence started to become unbearable. I have to say, 5 hours in a group is a new world record for me, especially since I have to say I was probably the second only experienced player there.

So now I'm back to looking for a new group. Hopefully one that actually lets its players spend time on weekends doing things other than roleplaying.