Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Offensive You Are

So there is going to be some changes in how we can contact Blizzard in order to report someone that is somehow offensive to us. See Here. It'll be easier to report a player because they have a name that makes us uncomfortable or is exploiting the game, foul language or violating some other important policy.

The easy argument against this sort of change is that 'people will abuse this new feature and report innocent players for things they may not even have done because they "suck", or some other frivolous reason.' Guess what, rules and laws of games and real life get broken or cheated all the freakin' time, so suck it up and let's not worry about those who abuse those laws for now, we can deal with them in due time. What I'm thinking about today is WHAT IS OFFENSIVE TO YOU and WHY DO YOU CARE?

I admit, I am not the type of person who feels that not only should people do whatever they want but that nobody else has any right to complain about their behavior, that if "you don't like it you can ignore it". To be clear, I do believe that people should be free and are free to choose their own behavior and for the most part that their behavior does not affect me or my life or how I feel and act any/every day of my life. But every civilized society that I have ever studied, from ancient Egyptians to Chinese to Greek to Roman, from British to French, American Indian and modern day Americans, all have had some rule of law. One of the reasons, I believe, that humans do this is that we all believe that although we should be granted certain freedoms that sometimes actions of us humans injure others; that, with obvious exceptions, is key to understanding every law or rule that every country, business, or game implements.

Very few people believe in true anarchy, I know I do not. I think that we do have a responsibility to those people around us, that form our circle of influence and even those beyond it. I believe this perhaps because of the way I was raised, perhaps because of some human instict that tells me that something is wrong about hurting another human, perhaps for other reasons I don't understand at all. But this responsibility does not mean that I can't live the way I want, so the big question is WHERE IS THE LINE?

When you sign up to play any game you must agree to a standard of rules and laws that govern not only how we play the game but how we interact with those within. One of the wonderful things about our world, and I truly believe this, is there are people from all variety of backgrounds. There are absolutely selfish dolts that everything they do is solely for their own gratification, even and especially at the expense of others. There are nearly perfectly charitable people who give of all their time and talents to lift others up and try to make the lives of others better than their own, even sometimes at their own expense. Then there is mostly everyone else, who any given day will swing from one extreme to the other, or slowly swing in the middle ground between those extremes.

Full disclosure, I'm not one who cries out for politically correct speach, but it's also important to be sensitive to how your actions affect others. It's a difficult to sometimes impossible balance, but I at least make an effort. Now, character names, many of which are clever and well thought out. I enjoy wondering what it was that drove "that guy" to name himself "that name", as I'm sure for everyone it's a little different. Myself I use combinations of names in my family or friends, then change some sounds and letters around but still all myself to know to whom I am referring. Other times I'll simply just make up sounds and combinations and try to come up with a fantasy name that seems to fit both the game and race of the character I'm naming.

Others see naming as an opportunity to point out what class they play, like "Isapu" or "Shamtastic" or "Palistrong" or "Huntress". While I don't have much respect for people who use the class name or specialization name as their own name, it doesn't offend me but simply makes me shake my head. I would hope that you would be more clever than to call yourself "Elemental" (if you play an elemental shaman), but I take no offence.

But names that do offend me may not offend you, but why should I care if a name offends me? Should I not just let you live your life and you let me live mine? "It's just a game, noob"!!!! But when I least expect it, up pops a name that does offend me. My reasons are my own, but for the two times that I actually have reported someone it wasn't that just it offended me, but it was in blatant violation of the naming rules. So, someone clearly broke the rules, many people felt it wasn't their place to tell this person how to name their characters, and so it only came down to me, who did take offence. The funny thing was was that once the person changed the name, they only changed the spelling, but the phonetic sound meant that he/she didn't change the name at all. I sent a second report and since that day I have not seen that name.

All I'm saying is that when I make a name I don't ever believe that my name is offensive to anyone, and perhaps I should give people the benefit of the doubt that they don't think what their name is can possbily offend. But people are clever, smart, and not at all cut off from the world entirely. So when I see a name that is so obviously offensive, I know that that person does not believe that I should care, that they have no social responsibility to keep their character's name within the rules that THEY AGREED TO in the first place. So basically, I know people will break and abuse rules, and they do it knowing that the majority of us are either complicit or to cowardly to do anything about it. They flaunt their name without shame or regret. And I, even I, will sometimes just let it slide because I will probably never see them after this random BG or LFR/LFD, so why do I care?

I have made a rule, to apply to myself alone, that I won't report anyone who's not on my realm. The reason is what I just said, becuase there is a good chance that I don't have to walk around Stormwind seeing this person flaunt the rules in my face, and offend me in the process. To this day I have only ever reported two people, both on my main realm, and I suspect that I may never report but one more person at most before I quit. But maybe, just maybe, given that it'll be so much easier to do the reporting that I might, in a fit of rage in a lost cause of a BG report that person who combines profanity with something religious, because let's face it, I'm allowed to take offence, even though most of the time I don't act on it.

I don't know what cheating is most of the time. It's not very easy to detect for me, to be honest. There was one time it appeared that some dude in Warsong Gulch was jumping through a wall to get away from us, but I can't say for sure because I couldn't see him. Do I report him for cheating when I didn't actually see him jump INTO then OUT of the wall? I suspected he was in there, but I couldn't prove it.

This week in Beta there were some Warlocks who were taking advantage of a bug that game them super powers, essentially, and engaged in killing quest givers and kings and warchiefs all by their lonesome. My own Warlock, Gronthe, experienced this bug, but I didn't go around shredding camps of Alliance or killing questgivers or soloing faction leaders. Funny thing, however, is when I saw people brag about their exploits on the beta forums...yes, people admitting not just that they experienced the bug and the conditions under which it occured, but that they actually exploited the bug to do things that they should not have been doing (according to the rules of the game or common sense would suggest they shouldn't do).

Yet I was reported for exploiting the bug, something that my conscience can clearly say that I did not. Replicate and report it, yes, but exploit no. So someone takes the opportunity to report any Warlock with more than 300K health and assumes guilt. Fine, they can do that, but from my perspective I did nothing wrong. I suppose that's how some people feel when it comes to names. They don't like that this or that happened or you're running around with this or that name and you get reported.

In the end we cant' control each other, only ourselves. I would hope that most of the people who read my blog will use some common sense when/if they use this new reporting feature. But you are responsible for the names you give your character, you are responsible for following rules you agreed to, and you are free to turn your head or report according to your own beliefs. I cannot say at what point you are offended or you are offensive. I guess I'll know it when I see it, or feel it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Evolution, PvP Style - Cont...

So there I was, about to crown myself king of PvP because my little level 14 hunter was seriously unstoppable. I thought, heck, if a hunter can be so good, I'm sure a Warrior could be even better.

So I began to level a warrior, got into some intro BG's, and realized that I never had enough rage when I needed it and that I could never seem to get close enough to those stupid hunters. I was enraged and wanted to quit, considering PvP to be the bane I always believed it to be. Sure, I hadn't really given it a fair try, using only low level BG experiences to define and shape my opinion, but like you and everyone else I wasn't rational.

I randomly rolled this alt and that, trying to find something that felt comfortable and natural. It wasn't for a few months that I finally had the courage to try some max level PvP. At first I thought I should play with a class I felt most comfortable with, so the next thing I knew I was a PvPing Shadow Priest.

Ah, pvp as Shadow at max level, one word...a bad idea. Ok, that was 3 words, but I got a C+ in my first college algebra class, so sue me. Yeah, I later went on to become an economics, finance, and accounting superstar, but that was when I finally figured things out. Same thing happened in PvP, I realized that in a PvE setting I was most comfortable with my Enhancement Shaman and Shadow Priest, but this wasn't PvE, I needed to find my comfort zone. Enter Frost Mage.

I quickly began to appreciate the tools at my disposal, and although at first I felt underpowered, I knew that with my frost mage I had the ability to survive longer to try and figure out what I was doing so that I could improve upon things. Funny thing, I was still having trouble with Hunters, which made little sense. Then my 9 year old (8 at the time) taught me how a frost mage can do pvp battle and win every time against those stupid hunters, and the next thing I knew I was powering my way up the learning curve.

Now my story does not end with me rising the ranks of arena charts, becoming this all powerful mage. I will not say that PvP is easysawce and make fun of all the people who, like me still, struggle with the finer points of PvP battle and the required quick thinking that goes into any battle. No, even today I don't consider myself great, just good enough to enjoy myself most of the time.

One thing I didn't expect in my evolution was my inner desire to scream at people. I can proudly say that I am NOT "that guy" who starts spamming BG chat telling everyone that they suck and how I can't believe that I'm stuck with a bunch of morons who must all have on PvE gear or they wouldn't suck so bad. I don't type it, but regretably I sometimes scream it to my monitor. I slowly began doing it so much that my family actually asked me to stop PvPing. Which at the end of patch 4.2 and the beginning of 4.3 and LFR I did stop max level PvP.

For all the tricks I learned on my ranged DPSers and my slow improvement with melee PvP toons, I had anger issues that I have needed to deal with. Lately I have slowly eased back into all PvP at ll levels, but at max level I only run BG's with two toons, and with those I more blood and guts. Now my Pali is new to 85 and I purchased some gear off the AH so I wouldn't get kicked out of every BG I entered, and I've even been accused of being a BOT as a result (why I don't know), but the experience is much different now. Now I mend people and feel like I actually make a difference in a BG. Before I had an inflated ego and believed that my ability to smash people's face in meant that I was contributing more than those noobs who didn't know or didn't follow commonly accepted BG strategies. In truth, people who just run around for kills are probably just as bad as the people I was yelling at, making me "that guy" who just fights on roads and yells at everyone for sucking.

I was wrong. Now, I don't know, I'm less wrong I suppose. I heal, I help, I support, and yelling? Well I don't really do that anymore, I'm too focused on keeping people alive.

I don't know what I'm talking about. I know I enjoy PvP in a different way now more than I did 6 months ago. I know that I can as easily be on a winning team as on a losing one. I know I am better at playing with my still leveling up Warrior and Rogue, but try not to let things go to my head. I admit that I can easily fall back into old habits, but for my sake that that of my family's hearing, I hope I don't.

Oh well, have fun, and maybe I'll see you on the battlefield somewhere.

Evolution, PvP Style

I have NEVER done a single Troll heroic dungeon, that is ZA/ZG for the acronym inclined. I never raided at the beginning of Cataclysm, there was no LFR at the time. But that big patch thingy came out and these new, long, difficult heroic dungeons that offered a marginal increase in gear ilvl were all the rage. Then I began to hear of all the rage because that's all there was to do and people were getting sick of it.

Well hahaha, I just never ran them, so suck on that for a while. That's right, I was simply too cool for those hunchback trolls, but I still felt like doing something...PvP came a knocking at my door.

I had leveled 5 characters to 85 and even through the initial launch of Cata had NEVER, EVER even stepped into a simple BG at any level. PvP was a distant nightmare that I had no wish to endulge. I had dueled with my priest at level 32 with a level 24 Pali and lost, I was that bad. I was convinced that PvP, in any form, was not my cup of smoking hot tea. Leave it to the kids, I said to myself, but as for me and my multi-vitamins and adult diapers, I'm sticking with the other end game activities like raiding.

Only I didn't raid anymore due to my bad back.

Oops! My bad! I couldn't do that either. So what to do, quit? What other choices did I have? I always had and continue to have plenty of alts, and I play with all of them. But I wanted something to do with my max level toons, for getting them to 85 and doing nothing else just wasn't an option.

Once again PvP came a knocking at my door, but this time it was more of a BANG and a "I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE, YOU CAN'T HIDE FOREVER" type of invitation.

So, I looked at my Shaman, Priest, Hunter, Mage, Druid, DK, Warlock, and later Paladin and asked myself, of all these who would be the most "fun" to PvP with. In the end I decided that DK and Mage would have the greatest fun factor. But before I entered a max level BG, I decided I'd go back to the beginning and learn a little bit at a time.

Enter more alts.

I made more low level druids, mages, hunters, shamans, priests, Locks and even a Warrior and Rogue and began at level 10 in what has become my most hated BG, Warsong Gulch.

Tangent: I really wish there were more BG's available at lower levels and that those offered a diverse enough gameplay to make each BG fresh and challenging and entertaining. Seriously, now we have two WG's (Twin Peaks) and two Arathi Basins (Battle for Gilneas). At least in MoP it appears that they are at least trying to do something different.

Anyhoo, my beginnings were centered around mostly my Hunter, as I figured in PvP if I can hit you from far before you hit me up close I have a better chance of winning the battle. I have learned much since, but indulge me for a bit longer. Unfortunately, my early success with my Hunter, as I have come to discover, gave me a false sense of security. As many of you know, Hunters are incredibly effective at those lower levels, as many melee fighters have no way to get close to you if you can get off a concussive shot before they begin their attack. Then it's a few nukes and POW they are dead and you and your pet are eating man-flesh.

Speaking of man-flesh, I gave it up because it's just too stringy, and got stuck in between my teeth.

My adventures continued, and I have more stories to tell, but please allow me multiple posts to continue on in my evolution from scrub to where I am today. You see, it's 2am and I am finally tired, I shall continue this tomorrow. Cleverly leaving you hanging so you'll come back and buy my toaster oven I shall offer at just 7 easy payments of $16.47.

Until the next day,


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Why of No-Facebook Man

Hands up please, how many of you know someone that does NOT have a Facebook page? Are all of your friends wired into one of the most addictive social networks in the history of our entire, freakin, planet? Please do not inlcude your 80 year old grandma who still doesn't own a computer, old people are old for a reason, they were born before you were.

Let's say, for today's discussion, that we include ourselves and anyone we know up to and including people our parent's age. Beyond that most older people, not all, but many are too stubborn to learn this new technology crap. So, back to the question, how many people do you know that are NOT on Facebook? What could possibly stop these people from creating an account and posting a simple photo and fill in a few personal things about themselves. How hard could that possibly be?

I will try to explain why a person would not join Facebook. Whether I am speaking of myself or anyone I know it matters not, but I believe that I'm thoughtful enough to understand people's motives in this matter. At least let me try.

#1: Personal Safety. It may not occur to many, but some people are in witness protection, whether officially under FBI protection or self-protection due to some crazy family member or EX-"anything" that would love nothing more than to cause you harm. To me this is a very good reason to keep a low profile, a small or non-existant virtual footprint. I actually know somebody like this, and it's sad, but it happens.

#2: Stubborn. There are many who reject progressing along with the rate of technology in our world, people who use paper calendars to schedule meetings, people who will drive to your office to meet with you even when an email will suffice. There are actually quite a few people in this category who refuse to interact in the manner that many do these days because they have some deep-seeded bias against the evils of technology and how they dehumanize us, turning us into a web page and not a person. OK, I can totally respect that, really, becuase I believe that touch is deeply important to humans, to touch via a handshake or a hug...A REAL HUG...not a /hug. Now, can one have a Facebook page and still place importance on people, on touching them and looking into their eyes and hearing their voice on the phone if they live at a distance? I'm sure it is quite possible, and I've seen the kindest and most personable people also able to effectively use the internet and the ability to connect with others online. But still there is that person who believes that the two cannot co-exist. Fine, I'll let that dude be stubborn, after all it's his choice in the end.

#3: Fear. Now we get into a reason that could extend to fear of many, many things. One could be afraid of putting themselves out there and face potential harassment or ridicule. Now I could easily say that I got plenty harasssed in high school when there wasn't even an interent except in Al Gore's office (the unofficial inventor of the internet). But what if someone has a low self-esteem? What if they don't like what they physically look like and therefore there is no way that they will put any sort of picture on the internet for fear of people judging them because of their appearance. I am sure this is a very good reason to not be on Facebook. What the person may need is a friend, a lover, a diet, a motivational speaker, basically anthting that could help them improve their self image and help this person learn to love themselves.

This person I totally get, probably a bit too much. I probably wouldn't want people to see my disability, it may lead to discrimination when a potential employer is surfing the net for some dirt on me. This is also a reason to NOT be on Facebook, out of fear of potential employers discriminating. Wouldn't we much rathe be judged on the work we do than on what we did last weekend at that one place with that one person? I know I would. This probably should be a fear of many people, in my opinion only, but possibly not a fear that should lead one to live in absolute isolation. But who am I to judge? I understand fear very well.

Others still may fear offending people. One great way to decline the friend invite of your boss is to not have an account to begin with. But then again, what if everyone else in the office has a page and people use it as a means of connecting after hours, getting together and making new friends? For someone who fears letting people down, that same person is letting his/her co-workers down by not being available like EVERYONE else.

Conclusion & One More Thing
Personally, I think to join or not to join is a highly personal decision, and should not be judged one way or another. I know, fence sitters don't make good stories and I certainly wouldn't be a good MSNBC or FOXNEWS TV host, I'm not combative enough. Well too bad. Should I as a blogger (big or small) be connected in other ways socially in order to get my words out to you, the reader? Do I limit myself by using one medium where I could gain more readers spamming all kinds of social media? I don't know and I don't really care. I don't write for your sake but for mine. I just happen to be supremely grateful to any and all who read my stupid words, and hope they come back some time next week so we can think, talk, and/or laugh just a bit more.

FYI, I do not have a personal Facebook page, and have had very old friends plead with me to have a bigger virtual footprint so people can contact me. Ultimately the reasons are my own and I don't owe and explanation to anyone. As a blogger as well I use only this website, this page alone to share my thoughts, and I thank you for stopping by.

BTW, I finally got a MoP beta invite this morning. I'm glad I did. I expect to be a good tester, trying to supply quality feedback to Blizzard because I want to be a small, tiny part of making this next expansion better than the last. We shall see.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just a Small Idea for Guild Property

Not being very well versed in the plethora of games that have been created I have no idea if an idea that I had recently has ever been, even in part, implemented. If so then I claim full ignorance and am not liable for any damages of any kind to any person or entity that may wish to claim that I stole their idea.

That said I was thinking about real property in a gaming environment, and how a guild could take advantage of the vast spaces in the wilds of Azeroth or beyond to strengthen and fortify themselves. I realize that the idea of player created property in the game world isn't a new idea, I'm sure I've read of it many times before, but I'd like to go into some depth on what I think would be an entertaining use of this "real, virtual, land".

To start with, let's assume that the purchasing of land in any zone in the game is limited to guilds only, so a single, guildless player is unable to purchase land while a guild officer, in the name of the guild, has power to buy a spot of land in, let's say, Arathi Highlands.

The purchasing of a plot of land would need to be approved by 50% or more of the guildies with the rank of officer or higher. So, for example, if a guild with only 1 player wants to purchase land he/she can do so simply because of the 100% ownership. A 2 person guild would simply require one of the 2 to buy the land, and a guild with 3 or more at rank of officer or higher would require 50% or a majority, depending on whether internals have an even or odd number of eligible voters.

So, this rule being simple to apply, if someone wanted to be a radical and attempt to go to zone X to the "Land Officer" and try to purchase a plot of land without anyone knowing, they will be surprised to find out that they are unable to complete the buy without the vote of the eligible guildies. They then smack their keyboard and make a stupid joke in guild chat about how "it was worth a try", while the rest of the guild gives them sideways glances wondering if that will be the first person to defect in the upcoming patch.

The vote system would be initiated via an in-game pop-up once an eligible voter logs in. The location of the desired plot of land will be displayed on a map, and that officer may cast his/her vote before of after any discussion with their fellow guildies. Once a site has been approved, the next phase of my idea begins.

P.S. Buyable land will be marked by a zone's Land Officer, and only a finite number of sites per zone will be allowed. However, just becuase someone else buys a certain plot of land, doesn't mean they get to keep it forever, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Moving on.

The most difficult part about this is how to maintain the beauty of the game world while providing real estate for guilds to enjoy. The solution is not an easy one, and I won't pretend to assume that any idea I have is a perfect one, but I'll attempt to explain myself no matter the cost. Understanding this issue and being one who does not desire to disrupt the balance of nature or of the world that has been so carefully at artfully crafted, the building created in the establishment of the guild housing will need to be carefully phased, let me explain.

The starter building created on each plot of land will only be visible to the members of that particular guild at first. There is planted outside the front door a sign, one that has style, coloring, and material of the zone in which it is located so as to not disrupt the artistic balance too much. This sign is visible to all who pass by, and is the means of communicating with the guild inside.

The building itself is instanced, so a guild member upon entering will appear to disappear to an outsider watching them, but will be transported into their housing. Back outdoors is left the friend from a diffent guild, wondering if he'll ever be able to see this cool new guild house. Well, all that's required is to click on the guild sign/standard and a menu will appear.

Part of this menu will be a "I come in peace" salutation. If anyone is inside the guild house, they will receive a message that person X from guild Y and/or faction Z is outside the door and wishes to see your guild house so that he/she may then enter. If you agree, you click yes and suddenly your guild housing becomes visible and the friend may enter to see your beautiful shack.

While your guild house exists, you may step out to see how life progresses on your new property. Phased workers appear here and there bringing in new loads of trade goods from all over the world to help support the guild and build a stronger fortress and powerful empire. The amounts of goods and materials are minimal and possibly random (possibly not, I haven't decided), nevertheless what you see is a real, living property in action, one that you and your guild built and can be proud of.

Over time you can build additions to your house, your land ownership can expand to a fixed space from it's humble beginnings, and the more land you own the more goods and materials your workers bring to you. But there exist enmies to beware of, both in your faction and the opposing. Let's talk about how those issues are handled.

Recall the guild sign posted in your front yard, the only thing visible to outsiders who don't have permission to view your palace/shack and enter your gates. There may be a time when a rival guild wishes to challenge your guild for the resources of your land. An enemy may come to the posted sign and click on an option that reads something like "Challenge from Opposing Guild (same/rival faction)". If someone is in your guild house they may step out to view the threat or send a spy to check out the enemies movements. One way or another they will need to assess the threat and decide whether they wish to accept the challenge.

If nobody is in guild housing, a message is still sent to an officer online that a challenge has been made. The terms of the challenge may include 1 v 1 duel, a BG wargame challenge, maybe even one of the new Scenarios or Challenge mode dungeons where their time is compared to your team's time. However the challenge is constructed, you can accept the challenge and be instantly teleported to your guild house, ready to protect your guild's integrity.

Losing a challenge means a small percentage of your property's goods and materials collected by your loyal workers will be automatically re-routed to the winning guild's vaults. You may reclaim this portion by issuing a challenge to them in return, possibly making for some entertaining, and heated rivalries.

Obviously I don't have all the details worked out completely, but the general idea still exists. Guild housing can have a minimal impact on the environment, can be both shared with outsiders and its honor and prestige protected through targeted and victorious challenges. Your guild's power and influence can be increased, or decreased through a reckless and gambling nature of just a few wildcard guildies. Thus making guild management a truly complex but rewarding duty.

Just a few loose ends to tie up my idea, a guild house can never be destroyed. Even if you are a solo person guild, if you have the money to purchase land and plop a small house there, you may keep it and the small rewards that come with the minimum. But if you are an extremely astute and skilled player, even solo, you can expand your empire through careful and targeted challenges, ones that play to your strengths. No reason to just cater to large guilds. After all, if a guild does not want to accept a challenge, they don't have to. They keep their house at whatever size they wish, and live contently in their playstyle. Large or small guilds, both can flurish if they are smart enough, and skilled enough.

There were other things that I wanted to throw out there, but forgot them for the moment. I will continue to refine this idea as much as possible because I see potential in it. Fun, excitement, rewards, and potential and epic failure. Tell me, do you think this idea has any possibility or am I simply in a dream world and don't know what I'm talking about?

That's all for today, cheers peeps!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break

Not mine, I'm not in school of any kind, but my kids are on spring break this week (4th and 6th grade respectively). This means less time for me on the computer, which I don't know if I can handle not getting my fix of 01011101000110101.

I just wanted to say that I'd like to throw myself into the ring of Big Bear Butt's pvp idea. I heard about it via Tesh first, and I liked his idea as well. I'm simply shameless plugging myself as a wannabe contestant, if anything could ever come to fruition.

If there's anyone out there still listening to me, please drop me a line if they hear of anything getting together for a giant blogger war, I'd love to jump back into the fray.



P.S. I'm really, really good looking and could easily distract the opposing team with my bright, shiny smile and charming personality. That and I've got a HUGE...oh wait, someone's knocking at the door, cya'lls later.