Author Archives: grimmtooth

Viva la Revolution!

image

Today was a pretty shit day, with the death of some significant individuals, but there was some good news as Raven Software’s QA team has unionized. Now, this is not the end, but the beginning of the story.  Blizz has hired a Union-busting firm to combat just this very sort of thing, and it is unlikely that Blizz will recognize the union without a fight.  They know, as do I, that if they do, there will likely be a cascade effect as more and more teams join this local.

Now, more than ever, they need your help. A strike fund has been set up, and you can help by going here and contributing. I personally am not swimming in money, but I felt it important to contribute as much as I could last month. This is important, folks! If you support the rights of workers at Activision-Blizzard to go up against the C*O suite of managers, this is your opportunity to make a direct difference!  These 43 employees are going up against a company that just sold for around 70 BILLION dollars to MicroSoft, but we as a community can make a significant dent in that armor if we all help out.

MicroSoft, I should point out, is an anti-union company, and has proven this in the past. As I said, NOW, MORE THAN EVER, we are required.  Phil Spector says he is blissfully unaware of the entire Blizz unionization effort – let’s make him “aware”.

I honestly hope that this unionization effort begets more unionization across, first, the gaming industry, but, ultimately, the entire software industry. It is high time this happened. The concept of “crunch” and other such stupid concepts is not limited to gaming, and we need to take that over and change the entire face of the software Development / QA industry.

If the opportunity arrives in my court, you can bet your ass I will be in some way involved. That’s a promise.

It’s the Tenth Annual Finding Jaina Day

Jaina 2011-12-27

Ten years ago, a scruffy little kitten wandered across the parking lot right in front of our car, seemingly on her last legs. We took her in – no way we didn’t. When we took her to the vet, they said she had FIP and wouldn’t last more than a few weeks. We were resolved to make those last weeks as good as possible for her.  Now, in her tenth year of telling that vet clinic to bite her little furry butt, she remains the queen of the castle and the bane of  veterinary techs everywhere.  We mark this, the tenth anniversary of finding Jaina, with full hearts and a few new scars.

Jaina 2021-05-10

Jaina herself has been doing okay.  We’re concerned this fall that her lovely mane has started to go away, and her whiskers, formerly magnificent, and becoming short and bristly.  So we took her to the vet’s on Christmas Eve for a looksee. Prognosis: probably allergies. The vet gave her an allergy shot which will hopefully help.  She was, again, an unholy terror and after her performance after two shots, the vet declared that they wouldn’t be able to trim her claws as we originally requested.  No surprise.  But that’s life and death with Jaina the Bearcat.

At least the vet tech didn’t nope outta there like the last one.

Tater 2021-05-23

Her cohabitors are largely the same.  Tater has developed a new habit, basically coming to tuck us in ever night. As we get settled in, she shows up.  A few ear scritchies, and then she starts making us some biscuits. After a few minutes she’s done.  It’s very cute.

petey 2020-12-14

Butterscotch 2021-08-26

Things are less settled with the Beltalowdas (outside kitties). Pinky and Browny both disappeared; we found out later on that Pinky was killed, theory is that it was a big cat a few blocks over that did it.  Our neighbor came by with a picture and asked if we knew who it was, so we have some closure.  Guessing the same thing happened with Brownie, who was less friendly so, fingers crossed, he’s fine but departed the area.

Pinky’s sister, Stripe, has had a couple of litters so far and eluded capture. Of the first litter there were two, and we were able to capture both and get them fixed. Of the  second litter, all but one disappeared – we think our neighbor trapped them and took them in to be adopted. The last one, Gremlin (no pics yet), is about where we can capture her and get her fixed, she’s a bit more trusting than her mom. She loves noms and cream, and is quite the little chonker.

Butterscotch & Scooter 2021-06-21

Pinky’s other brother, Noodle, is a major turnaround – he was very skittish early on, but started coming in for treats and is now it’s very common he’ll come in and sleep the day away in one of the cat beds. He also likes laps and cuddles.

Noodle 2021-10-27

Monster has flourished in this past year. She’s taken to sometimes sleeping with Mrs Grimm, hard up against the back of her legs, at night. She’s also gotten friendlier, often soliciting for pets and scritches. But she’s still very much a creature of the outdoors, and prefers to be out when she can.  We’re still hoping to bring her around.  She’s a lovely floof.

monster & noodle 2021-09-13

Monster 2021-04-15

This coming year we’re hoping to

  1. Get to the bottom of Jaina’s hair loss and possibly cough
  2. Get the last of the Beltalowda females fixed and avoid more litters.
  3. Get the Beltalowda males – Noodle and Goblin (his daddy)  – fixed.  (2) and (3) together will finally stabilize this colony.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years with our little bearcat. She and her traveling companions have been a blessing. Here’s hoping for another ten.

Jaina 2021-10-26

Understanding the Assignment

Ever since the release of Riot’s Arcane series on Netflix, I’ve been looking at a previously unviewed store of dramatic vids from the people at Riot, and I have to say, I am impressed. Start with the two trailers for the series. This …

and this.

League of Legends has always, to me, been somewhat of a shallow game in terms of lore.  You have 140 heroes, sure, but they have about two paragraphs of lore – each – and that’s about it. Jinx is “the loose cannon” and takes delight in gleeful destruction and explosions. Vi is a brawler, stoic and gruff.  And, well, that’s about it.

Or, so I thought.

Now, I don’t want to blow sunshine up anyone’s ass here, obviously this new series didn’t bloom from “all” of that lore, rather it IS the lore. But a lot has to be said about this new lore; it is a compelling story with a lot of heft to it.

But I’m not really here to praise Arcane, but rather Riot’s efforts to crank up the hype.  We’ll start with this, an actual full-blown music video for the “theme” of Arcane, from none other than Imagine Dragons.

I have a lot of observations here. The production studio, Fortiche, is the same that did the series. But this video is all-original animation, not clips from the series itself. This conveys a sense of massive commitment to the series, as well as LoL itself in proxy.  In the episode “Everyone wants to be my enemy”, the band appears in the story, performing the song.  And in the 2021 “worlds” introduction, they appear, live, performing the song embedded in Zaun in a seamless bit of live action and animation. Riot didn’t leave anything on the table, is what I’m saying.

Production house Fortiche, by the way, is no stranger to LoL.  Here they are doing a video for 2018 “worlds” – which I gather is something like the competitive world championship for LoL – featuring current and past competitors in a  super-hyped fantasy setting.  And I don’t care what universe you’re from, this will get you excited.

The commitment is here once again, with The Glitch Mob, Mako, and The Word Alive contributing (I’d have been happy with just The Glitch Mob, tbh, the rest is frosting).

LoL is no stranger to dramatic intros for its games, either.  Do we have something like this for WoW’s “seasons”?  I think not. Behold, the 2020 Season trailer for League of Legends.

Or the 2019 trailer.

What am I on about?  I’m on about the simple act of hype that is expressed in each of these videos. It’s not like I’m going to play this game, but even as an uninterested observer, I’m excite! These do a great job of bringing excitement and engaging the intended audience.  Go read the comments on these.  The hype is palpable.

I am not here to dis Blizzard’s cinematic chops. Far from it.  Since WoD, they have really upped their in-game cinematics, for example. Show of hands, was there a dry eye in the house when Ysera snuffed it? (or when she unsnuffed in REDACTED)?  Anyone saying otherwise probably claims to not have cried at the end of Ol Yeller either.  Anyway, this is to say, Blizz can rip out a righteous cinematic.

But these all share a similar thing – they’re very much “in the mode” of being part of the game in some way.  And that’s where Riot is eating Blizz’ lunch (or one of the places – sorry, I don’t have time for the whole buffet here). In each of the above vids, Riot has inspired their player base by just whipping out the AWESOME over and over again. In both of the “season” vids, for example, we have three scenarios playing out in front of us, each very much in question even as the vid ends, but all of them awe-inspiring. In RISE we see a continuous backdrop of non-descript epic imagery. What are those statues? Nobody gives a shit – they’re AWESOME. Who are those characters? No idea. But they’re kicking ass!

You maybe see my point here?

There is a lot to be said for functionally relevant cinematics, and something else entirely to be said for exciting the player base. In the latter, I believe Riot has managed to do a far better job of it than Blizzard.  Bringing in outside talent, actual animation studios, and saying to hell with the lore, they’ve managed to raise the bar far above what Blizz can do right now.

In the end it isn’t a matter of how “good” your animation is.  I can animate, with great fidelity and resolution, the mother of all chrome balls floating over a chess board. Who gives a shit. But there are entities out there – Fortiche for example – that could make an animation of that ball that would have me tapping my toes and looking for a sequel.

And Blizz needs to start looking for that now.  Assuming they manage to dig out of the shitshow that is their current labor relations nightmare, turn the truck around on Shadowlands, and basically start on the road of recovery, they’re going to need a few triumphant return videos.   Imagine Dragons is done. But there are a lot of cool talents out there that would love to bring some epic love to the screen, I just know it.  Now’s the time to start looking,  planning, and writing.

Word has it that Riot is working on an MMO.  Right now, seeing the videos above and more (and there are many, many more) I have to say that I’m intrigued.

You might say, they understood the assignment.

Blanchy

image

Ever since I saw that Blanchy was an available mount in Shadowlands, I resolved to get her for my mage (Illume, who is Human and All Horse All the Time) and Floramel (who is also Human but generally speaking digs things that smack of demonic, which the Ghost of Blanchy does).  Finally knocked out a few days to get it done. Yes, days.

This particular task takes six days in total (it’s time gated) and it’s helpful to have an addon like SilverDragon to alert you, because when she appears, she does take off.

I won’t do a complete “howto” on this, but let me reiterate some stuff from the guide on WoWHead.

  1. Blanchy is in Rivendreth, at 63.13 43.11.
  2. Yes, she spawns right in the river, and then proceeds to run up the river away from the waterfall that she spawns next to.
  3. She takes off like crazy, so be mounted and ready to roll.  I chose a flying mount and that served me well.
  4. Once you catch her, she stops running and stays there for five minutes.  I consider it good form to let others in the area know she’s there.
  5. I don’t have good records on this, but it appears that she spawned at 21:29 every night (server time) for me. Your mileage may vary.

About the six things:

  • First up are 8 handfuls of Oats. You gather those around Westfall. Saldean’s farm is a good place to look.
  • The next item is a Grooming Brush which you buy from Snickersnee in Darkhaven.  While you’re there, grab the Empty Water Bucket nearby as you will need it.
  • Next item: Sturdy Horseshoes are found around the area on the roads.  For some reason I thought I needed nine. You only need four, logically. Durr. Best to have them on hand before you start this process.
  • Bucket of Clean Water – use the empty bucket from earlier and go to either Ardenweald or Bastion and find some clean water – not muddy – to fill the bucket. Then you can give that to Blanchy.
  • Comfortable Saddle Blankey – Ta’tru sells this for some variable currency. Most if not all of the currencies (i.e. Aethreal Meat) are available on the AH for a trivial amount of gold. Save yourself some trouble; go to the AH the day before, get the things you need to buy the blankey, and buy it then so you have it waiting next day.
  • Dreadhollow Apples are available from Mims and there are no tricks to this one. Just buy the apples and have them ready, as that will seal the deal.

So I have a nice red horsey and am done with this particular camp fest.  And at last we have some closure to the tragic story of this poor beast. I’ll try to take better care of her than the previous owners.

Alexander the Great’s Chief Eunuch has gone to meet his master

Theme Demo

(That’s a Red Dwarf reference, which I suspect he’d get)

Yesterday, I was faced with a terrible post on Twitter.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

For those that didn’t know him, Rades was a pillar of the online WoW community. His humor, love of lore, and love of the genre itself was legendary. He blogged at Orcish Army Knife for years (and it’s probably supremely ironic that his blog right now is getting more hits than it has in a decade). He invented the neon beer sign causeway in Wildstar. He invented Fabulor, the flaming hawtest Blood Elf evar. He engaged his followers on Twitter as NPCs in his ongoing D&D campaign.  He coauthored From Draenor with Love (sadly, hacked) with Vidyala (quoted above).  He authored a column on WoW Insider for a while. He created custom Weak Aura macros to play Disco Inferno when Fabulor had Hot Streak active. The list of things he did, really, stretches out as long as WoW has been around. Hell, I even featured him and his guild in a Filk (near the end).

The hole he left in our lives cannot be described with small words. But I’ll try to related something that comes near the point.

Back in the early 80s, just before I left my home on my Great Adventure (I’ll let you know how it ends when I get there), my father passed away from a heart attack. At his burial, I looked up and realized that the line of people waiting to get into the cemetery stretched all the way out to the highway, a good quarter to half mile of road. It was at that point that I finally realized the impact my father had on his community.  To me, he was just “dad’.  But to our small community, it was Rodney, or “Bogey”, a good friend, steadfast ally, city councilman and church deacon, hard worker for our town’s annual July 4th celebration, tireless campaigner for our democrat politicians, and occasional Santa Clause at our church’s Christmas dinner.  He touched so many lives, and people responded with love and sympathy for my family, all  in his memory.  Hell, a sitting US Senator, who he was a great proponent for, even stopped by to pay respects.

Mike “Rades” Eng has made a similar impact on the WoW community at large.  We don’t know it, possibly, until he’s gone, but he did.

Rest in peace, Rades. May your flame burn as flamboyantly in the next world as it did in this one.

(PS: yes, I stole that image right from his website. Steal from the best, friends.)

UbiSoft’s favorite Software Company

Brak | hobbyDB

Two days ago (at time of writing), the State of California filed a suite against Activision Blizzard for several counts of sexual harassment, abuse, and other related crimes. Since then I’ve ben soaking in it, so to speak, too stunned and bummed out to really write about it.

In a way this is surprising, seeing as I have seemingly written about it so many times. This is, by far, not the first time Blizzard has had this sort of scandal. The rot really does seem to reach back to the origins of the company, settled in around the roots. Time and time again they claim they’re turning around. Time and time again I have opined that maybe, just maybe, they’re turning a corner. And time and time again, they disappoint us.

First of all, I want to say, I believe these charges, I believe the women that have spoken up, and I believe the women that have subsequently joined in to confirm.

But I also have to say that simple belief, simple support, is not enough.

These women aren’t the source of the problem. It’s the men they work with. And if you are in the software industry, it’s you, as well.  I’m not saying you’re guilty of harassment and assault. I’m saying that you may be letting little things slide that are Not Okay. When you hear someone disrespected, when you hear someone being abused, hell, if you hear someone BRAGGING about it – it’s your job, as an ally, if you are in fact an ally, to push back.  To shut then down. To make them see the light.

Because that’s the source. People just “going along”. Refusing to “rock the boat”.   Not “wanting to embarrass a friend.”   I mean, seriously, what kind of friends you got if they’re rapist-adjacent?

As men it’s time we stood up against this shit whenever we can.  I’m not talking full on drama queen here, but just against the little stuff. The stuff you can get away with without getting in trouble (though getting the rep as a troublemaker in this particular case isn’t a bad thing, IMO).

Let’s talk (my) history. (in no way exhaustive – I got too depressed to keep going)

Here’s the current scandal du jour.

A lot of people have cancelled their subs. I’m not one of them.  Why?  Because I haven’t payed for a subscription in years, since the Token came out. I’ve been paying for my game time using auction sales. I am a burden to Blizzard. I will continue to do so until I run out of gold – which is at minimum 2 years from now.

Also, switching to another game is silly.  If you think Blizz is alone in all this, you have paid zero attention to the news.

All I’m gonna say is Riot and Ubisoft are big fans of Blizzard right now.

Fly, my pretties!

SL Flying

Here we are, in only the first content patch for Shadowlands, and I have flying in Shadowlands. How is this possible?

Turns out all you need to do is to get to Renown of 44 or higher with your covenant, and then finish up the 9.1 quest line through the point of freeing the Primus, about which I will say no more in case we have Spoiler-Sensitivetm people reading.

Besides this, we also get a couple of other boons in 9.1.

  1. Along the way we get to kill The Eye so it isn’t stalking us in The Maw.
  2. We also complete a quest that gives us the means to mount up (but not fly) in The Maw.

Not being a raider or PvPer or whatever, I have to say there’s precious little else other than additional padding for my covenant.

A note of caution for the 9.1 quests, especially assaults in The Maw.  Be informed. At least two of the quests I needed to do were bugged, and it wasn’t until I researched them via a combination of Reddit and WoWHead that I figured out that (1) for one, I needed to go to Stormwind, go into War Mode, go back to the quest, and then I could complete it.  And (2) only Elite mobs were suitable to feed Kevin.  Yes, Kevin. No, I won’t tell you who Kevin is.  But you need to feed him.

I am somewhat put out that the “optimum” covenant for BM Hunters shifted from Ardenweald to Bastion. I’ve got 45 levels of covenant love here, what am I supposed to do, start over? Eff that.

The whole Sylvanas … thing.  I’m just not going there.  I’m in the “Fry her, fry her now, and then fry whatever’s left” school.  I haven’t forgotten Teldrassil, and neither should  you.

I was not prepared?

image

As is customary in my WoW life, every two months or so I poke my nose back into Classic, continuing the epic adventures of a Dwarven BM hunter and friends as they advance through the ranks. My experiences thus far have been mixed – I like the game mechanics better, but also you can’t futz around – or you’ll find out.  Classic WoW is a lot more dangerous than Retail.

I haven’t been on since before TBC rolled out to Classic, and when I last left my guy, he was struggling through a bunch of Elite quests and areas in the high 30s to low 40s.   Pretty much everything green was Elite, and everything that wasn’t Elite was pretty much yellow, orange, and red.  With the limited toolset of the Classic hunter, there was a lot of struggling.  Not impossible, but I worked for every bit of it.

So I was nowhere near max level anyway (or even 58, when the cheaters head to Hellfire) so regardless of when TBCC rolled out, I wasn’t too concerned. And that was pretty much how I was thinking about the transition from Classic to TBCC. Probably have to reset talents, but no big deal, ya know?

In my defense I did not recall a lot of the differences between Vanila and TBC – I quested to around 54 on my highest toon in Vanilla, then quit, and didn’t return until just before the TBC launch, where I started all over again (we didn’t have character restores back then).

So I was not prepared for the complete night-and-day contrast between Classic and TBC Classic.

Hunter pets are more resilient. They hold aggro far better. Shot rotations are far less cumbersome. Hell, even mounts are cheaper! Those elite quests? Far more in line with what I expect for a BM hunter (i.e.: no sweat). Yellas, pretty much same thing.

Also, remember this gal? Wonder what she’s up to these days?

imageAlso, I’m very annoyed that Disco priest is so unpopular that the more popular strategy sites (looking at YOU, Icy Veins) don’t even HAVE a Disco guide.

That’s all right, I’ve been doing Disco longer than Icy Veins have been around. They can suck it.

 

A specialized Rogues Gallery

image

I’m not generally one to patronize streamers – hot tub or otherwise – or other people that just talk to a camera, offer to write your name on their head, or change outfits for money (one assumes off camera but I’m not falling for that one again).

But one kind of people I’m always glad to help out when I can are those that do things – I mean, real things, things you can download and view and stuff. Artists fit right into this category. Kruithne is one of those artists that also does software and other interesting work. They do a lot of on-commission 3D art of WoW characters and, coincidentally, is one of the few 3D artists that also shares information on how they do the deed, albeit behind a Patron paywall (obviously not an issue for me).

It was that knowledge that drew me in, so I joined the Patron for what I could afford and immediately gained knowledge (mind you, the procedure they provided blew up my Python install, but, being a steely eyed Python boi, I was able to get that squared away).

Creation of WoW 3D art outside of the model viewer is not an easy or trivial task, but Kruithne works hard to make it achievable if you put a little effort into it. As a techie, as a former 3D artist in another era, and as a WoW fanboi, I highly recommend them and encourage you to throw a few gp into the till.

To my surprise and delight, recently we patrons got a bonus, an artwork with all of the first 100 patrons (that wanted to be) in it, as a group photo.

Can you spot the Grimmtooth?

https://www.kruithne.net/home/files/patreon/art/patrons-1080.png

Unfavorites

image

Every expansion has it – that zone you just can’t stand. Sometimes it has zones you like as well – but, for me, the latter is less cluttered than the former.

In Shadowlands, well, there’s The Maw, but, I think we can all agree that it was designed to make us miserable so, yeah, mission accomplished. Go home early this week, Maw designers, you nailed it.

Aside from that, though, I have to say that most of the other SL zones get on my nerves, too. I can’t stand Revendreth, can barely tolerate Maldraxxus and Ardenweald, and mostly live with Bastion – but none are zones I particularly like.

What is it that makes me dislike a zone?  I can say that mostly it’s vertical space. Nothing irks me more than seeing a quest just in front of me and yet I’m standing at the top or base of a cliff. It’s annoying and frustrating.  And Revendreth – well, it’s all vertical spaces.

Another thing that annoys me is a lot of cover.  Heavily forested zones where tree branches are constantly getting in the way of your view just bug me.

That also begs the question – what zones do I actually LIKE based on that?  Obviously, those that provide a mostly flat and uncovered vista.  In that light, Nagrand (old school, but WoD version is also decent) is possibly my all time favorite. I realize it has some vertical spaces but they’re accessible for the most part.  Twilight Highlands, Classic Loch Modan, and Dun Morogh all figure big on this scale. Surprisingly, Ashenvale also is up there, even though it’s covered.  In this case the cover is all very tall trees, not the low lying ones in places like Elwynn.

Some that meet this criteria fall off the scale for other reasons. For example, I’ve never liked the aesthetics of Westfall in any of its incarnations and, while it has many fine features, Barrens (classic) is just so far away and hostile as to make it kind of a drag.

I can’t claim to be consistent, but I can claim to have an opinion. Smile