Sunday, December 26, 2010

Poetry - Christmas Notes to a Once Husband

Pale sun
lights the waning December afternoon,
presents bought, but still unwrapped...

The house is for sale,
by either the bank or the tax man...

Your oldest girl just turned 35...

I know you never liked the season,
in fact, you were Mr. Bah Humbug himself...
we suffered somewhat from that.

My children and I are all together this holiday season,
it has been a long time...

You will be missed by some,
others, not

My hope is, that wherever your soul is
You will at last enjoy this season
of good tidings and good will
and accept it for what it is

Rest in peace my once husband.

Shellie Sands

Monday, December 20, 2010

The “Cataclysm” Continues in Azeroth

This should be my last “Warcraft” article for a while. It’s not every day they make a major update. Though there have been a lot of changes here.

Besides the wolflike Worgen for the Alliance, Goblins are now available as player characters for the Horde side. Small and quick, they are higher in agility and intelligence, have a bonus in attack and casting speed, and those choosing alchemy as a profession start out at 15. From their gadgets, they’re able to do a Rocket Jump and Rocket Barage. And reflecting their background as moneymakers, are able to receive the best discount regardless of faction standing and able to call up access to their banks wherever they are.

The beginning quest chain for the Goblins explains how his/her cartel, the Bildgewater Cartel, got into the Horde. Instead of am unknown, the player starts out as an up and coming businessman/businesswoman on the cartel’s island city of Kazan. As you go about your business, including a ride on a hot rod, Deathwing, the main villain of the game expansion, shows up, and sets off the volcano. You gather your life savings (and then some), in order to get a seat on the Trade Prince’s yacht, but he double crosses you and makes you his slave. However, the ship gets caught in a storm and wrecked. So you get a chance to prove to your fellow Goblins you can be the hero who can get them out of their mess.

The beginning Goblin quest chain is longer than that of the Worgen's, the 100 Quests achievement reached along the way. But it’s packed full of chuckles as you face down funny-looking pygmies, “Oomie goomie goomie!”, who want to sacrifice your friends to their turtle god. Fortunately, you have your Goblin gadgets to get you through, from rocket boots to weed-wackers, but with little to no safety features, there’s always that chance something can go wrong. Along the way, you meet up with a group of Orcs, and everyone decides it’s best to cooperate in order to get off the island. You also run into the most well-known Orc, Warchief Thrall. Players who take up Goblin characters hear from him that he’s placing another Orc in charge of the Horde. This explains why Thrall’s nowhere to be seen in Orgrimmar these days.

But “Cataclysm” is much more than two new races available for play. Flight is now available in the “classic” continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, at least for those Level 60 and over. I’ve heard some wonder if this takes away from some of the experience, but most seem happy with it, the popular gathering places at Ogrimmar and Stormwind filled with flapping mounts as players happily show them off.

You’re going to need your flying license. New areas are now open in these two continents that would otherwise be inaccessible. New quests, monsters, and enemies await. These are more dangerous than previous areas, and your level cap has been raised to 85 to keep up. And with these new levels, new weapons and armor are available. Profession levels have also been raised from 450 to 525, the new rank of proficiency called “Illustrious Grand Master.” And with them, new materials to make high level armor, weapons, potions, etc.

And there’s a new Secondary Profession available, Archeology. Players go around Azeroth digging up artifacts at dig sites recently unearthed by the Cataclysm. After getting the skill from a trainer (the one in Stormwind named Harrison Jones, an obvious take on Indiana Jones), players go to dig sites, and survey them for archeology fragments. A survey site with a red light means you’re far away from your find. A yellow light a fair distance, and a green light means you’re close. One can gather fragments from a site three times, and then it closes while somewhere else on the continent another opens. Four dig sites are open at any one time, and contain artifacts from one of the races, such as Elven or Troll, or fossils.

Once enough fragments are gathered, then can be combined to make artifacts. Your first ones will be common and not worth much, such as common vases and trilobite fossils, . But as you continue to come across artifacts, more valuable ones will appear. Finding fragments will level your Archeology skill for a while, but eventually you level just by combining them into artifacts. But finding the fragments will still get you experience points, which can help out characters that haven’t quite reached Level 80 yet.

While a way to enjoy WoW between questing, some players have their doubts on how valuable this profession is. One guide I came across suggested truly epic items were few and far between. But as a Worgen I saw one Alliance character on a fossilized skeleton mount. A prize from archeology? Maybe.

Another new feature is guild advancement. Guilds can advance with 25 levels of progression, done through the accomplishments of it’s individual players through quests, battleground victories, etc. Each new level brings perks, such as bonus experience from quests and clobbering monsters, faster mount speeds, etc. There are two new Player vs Player battlegrounds, Twin Peaks and Gilneas.

And of course there are the jokes. The Worgen and Goblins have their own special jokes, such as “Since the change, I prefer my meat rare,” and, “When in doubt, blow it up.” Perhaps it’s the perception of this player, but the game designers seem to be getting a little brave on occasion with the humor. One of the female Goblin jokes is a vieled bondage crack, and in one of the lady Worgen jokes, a supposed listener confuses what she actually means by a “bone.” The slightly riskee humor continues to the new quests, in one the player delivering a shipment of crab meat to a lady sailor and being told a subtle STD joke. And it's not just the jokes where the off-color remarks appear. In one of the new low-level quests, the new Orc Warchief insults the Undead queen by calling her a rhymes-with-witch. Blizzard must think their audience is getting older.

Some are probably asking “why just raise the new top level to 85 instead of 90?” Despite being around for several years, World of Warcraft is still successfully at keeping a large audience, and will probably remain so for some time as long as Blizzard continues to be good at giving the players a great game. Someone thought they would keep their lead for at least 20 years. Most likely it won't be that long (in my opinion), but although some people still talk about a potential “WoW killer,” more game developers admit Warcraft will not be going away anytime soon. Instead of being knocked off it’s number one spot by a new hot game, most likely it’s position will be chipped away over time as players’ tastes change and new technical developments allow for stunning new games.

And of course some players would prefer to be in a smaller game where they can meet up with the administrators and content developers, and maybe even contribute to developing in the tools of the game, such as the roleplays and combat RPs in Second Life.

World of Warcraft may be the McDonalds of online games, to paraphrase Eurogamer writer Robert Purchase, but most would prefer to dine elsewhere on occasion as well, and some never get a taste for it to begin with.

Sources: WoWwiki, Eurogamer,net, Massively

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Creative Christmas Hunt

If you’re a creator or builder, or have ever wanted to try your hand at it, you need to check out the Creative Christmas Hunt. The Hunt is going on now through December 22. This Hunt is unique because the prizes are Christmas-themed gifts you can use to create your own special items. Everything comes with full permissions, but you have to agree to not re-sell or give away the item directly. You must use the item to make something, which you are free to give away or sell.

The Hunt starts at Christmas Lane, located at Saint Pierre at (41, 104, 22). Follow the path to hunt for the small green tree that will contain the prize and a landmark for the next location. Nearly 100 stores are participating, which is amazing. Not only will you find a wide variety of items, but you’ll probably visit some locations that are new to you. I know I did.

I liked the textures best, but there are also wreaths, a toy train, trees, ornaments, holly, and many other items. The picture shows me with only a tiny sample of the goodies I have collected. Best of all, many of the participants wrote out directions so you can learn.

There have been a few glitches along the way: stores that were not quite ready or landmarks that didn’t get you to the correct spot. Mandi Blanco, the Hunt coordinator, has been quick to fix things, or at least send out notices to alert participants and offer advice. But the problems have been minor, especially when compared to the valuable prizes and information that has been donated.

Some of the shops have put their trees in easy and obvious spots. Others have been much harder to find. I skipped a few, but I was able to find almost all of the items. A few places give out hints, which is helpful. Usually I think the thrill of the hunt is the most fun, and the prize is secondary. But with the CCH, the prizes are the greatest. It’s a perfect way to learn how to make things without investing a lot of Lindens.

In fact, I think I’ll stop writing and start making things now.

Grey Lupindo

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SL Poetry by Shellie Sands

I curse you!

I loathed you so I left

Now I curse you cause you're dead!

You left me with the fallout, the expense, the children to deal with

I hope you are in a better place and

I hope there is someone wherever you are

to welcome you

and love you

But LET them love you!

Shed those negative thoughts, feelings

let the negative things in your body float away

Give it up!

RIP William

Shellie Sands

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gaming Hall Owner Says Linden Lab is Banning “Autoplay” Feature

I was contacted by a friend this week, whom had gotten into the Zyngo business. He told me he had a “huge” story concerning gaming in Second Life, “in a nut shell, Zyngo went to an online configuration and now LL is using said online config info with the consent of the maker to bust game places that have not updated to the new rules. ... nasty story really. ... big customers of Zyngo have been forced to take off autoplay as they are high profile. Low profile places have not gotten notice, not made changes yet. As a nasty side effect of the online configuration, unintended but not surprising, the owner of the licence server can ’out’ people who have not turned off auto or done what LL has said to do, and is ratting out the little guys to save big customers and also earn brownie points with LL.”

He later wrote some more information on a notecard. While I don’t usually post anonymous comments, I know the person well enough to know he is sincere in his observations and comments.

Big game halls are going under quickly after LL handed down a ban on auto play (where the game will place the numbers for you), and the devil/angel feature, ( I will touch on this later).

One big hall owner selling off their games was quoted "it is just not worth it, the hassle, players do not play Zyngo (one of SL's most popular games) without autoplay" . Many other games are in operation in SL, and many need to be adjusted, this is all to boost the skill component of the games played for money in world. Game halls wishing to sell Zyngo in this current market can expect to get just 500L a game, this is a transfer no copy game with a license, new they are 2400L.

With all the updates and changes, warnings from the creator group of Zyngo have been coming fast and furious, this has added to the paranoia as this game uses an online configuration where anyone with web privileges can see/change your settings, and trust me in this environment you do NOT want Big Brother watching you.

Now for what LL is doing about the skill element, I personally do not think it is a bad thing, however it does stand to reason that not just the devil has to go but ANY free points that do not have a skill component directly attached to them, (you could have a game where 400% of your score comes from a random symbol, with no player action attached), these points currently come in many forms.

2X,3X or any other X: This is a hidden symbol that is randomly uncovered , it normally doubles your points but it can do much more, with no intentional skill attached, yes a player is trying to uncover a number and the side effect is the 2X, but the player is not skillfully or knowingly uncovering that symbol, the random 2X is just as decisive to the game as angels and devils and currently the way most games are set up, it is a total accident when you get it.

Diamonds/Angels: Any free points that take no action on the players part, these are NOT legal by any skill game standard. These types of points influence the main skill component of the game. Bonus rounds: Some games at the end you have a bonus round, in most cases this is just a random click on the players part and it totally decides the outcome, if these points in any way are used to decide the skill component, again they are not lawful by any set of skill game rules I can find.

Thanks for your time.

Sorry I wish I could pen my name to this piece but Big Brother really
IS watching.

He told me when word of this goes around, he may take a hit in the short run, but should avoid trouble if Linden Labs reverses its ban.

Bixyl Shuftan