Author Archives: grimmtooth

The lamentations of their goblins

image

The “big” change in WoW 9.2.7 was the roll-out of regional commodity sales on the Auction House.

Lemme splain.

Commodities are WoW items that are generally used or bought and sold in bulk.  For example, metals used by smithys, herbs used by alchemists, and so forth.  In some cases this also applies to the things produced from them, such as glyphs, potions, bandages, and so forth.

Prior to this patch, linked regions shared auctions for non-commodity items.  This patch basically made the sale of commodity items work across the same regions.

Turns out that didn’t work out the way they thought it would.

Actually, I don’t know how they thought it would work out, but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the way it turned out to work.

First, let’s separate the functioning of addons from the actual functioning of the AH. There’s always a bit of lag there, especially if the addon author doesn’t test things on the public test realm (PTR) first.

Even so, given the circumstances, the live data was not available on the PTR, so any testing over there was what my QA friends call “Sunny day testing”. This is term used to describe testing of scenarios under the best of circumstances, usually said in a scornful manner, and rightfully so.  If there’s a “least you can do” in this scenario, then what the PTR represents is at least two orders of magnitude less.

Let me define that “less” a little more clearly. Imagine, if you will, that the PTR has 200 or so commodity auctions for a certain item.  Okay, fine. The actual system, at least for the connected realm region that I am part of, was showing over 700,000 commodity auctions alone when they rolled the patch out. That’s at least three orders of magnitude difference between the test and live servers. And that’s an order of magnitude greater than the production servers were experiencing prior to this patch.

And boy oh boy did that make a huge impact.

By the end of the second night, for example, Blizz decided that they could no longer deliver commodity data to websites and applications over the same channel that they delivered everything else, and opened a new API endpoint just for commodities.  Unfortunately, the AH doesn’t get to use that. But that does give you a small idea of what kind of issues they were facing. 

Oh, and did I mention that Blizz completely shut down the AH at least twice in the past week?  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that happen.

All of this due to a lack of testing of real data and “sunny day” assumptions in testing both at Blizz and on the PTR.

Now, the manifestation on the client side (i.e. in WoW itself) was that, for a time, it was nearly impossible to buy commodities. Items would appear on a search, for example, but by the time you clicked on them to buy, they were already gone.  At this point in time, addons such as TSM are nearly unusable to purchase popular mats (such as Death Blossom, as an example, which is very popular with Scribes because of the excellent yield of Umbral pigments).

In fact, I still cannot use TSM to buy Death Blossom, though I can at last buy it using the native interface which had been hit and miss up until now (a week after the 9.2.7 patch).

I’m skipping around the brutal reality of this change, though, so let’s face the music.

I can use a the previous example of Death Blossom as a benchmark.  Prior to the patch, it was running around 3g per item. After the patch, it’s running 1.5g per item.  This kind of price collapse for commodities is fundamentally happening across the board – enchanting mats, milling and alchemy mats, metals … and of course, the items derived from them, such as glyphs, potions and flasks, and so forth.  On the Alleria server, at least, we are looking at a universal price collapse over all disciplines, all professions.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure what their expected result was, but they clearly didn’t intend that – or maybe they did, which means they are more bastardly than I expected. But I suspect that since Blizz tends to cater to unsavory characters – and you can’t get more unsavory than AH goblins – this was not the desired result.

That said, if they intend to fix this, then it looks like to me that they need to analyze each realm’s regional commodity market, and then shuffle some realms into different regions to stabilize this.

In the end, this will turn out to be a waiting game, in which the winners will be those that wait and see and then adjust appropriately. In my experience, this will require at least two, maybe as many as four, weeks to stabilize.

See ya then.

Ouch!

imageWelp, I got played.

A couple of days ago, TSM – an addon for auctions, among other things lost its data feeds.  These data feeds provide information about item pricing on the auction houses of specific realms.

This data is fetched live by a desktop utility which, incidentally, also keeps your addon up to date for you.  So the expectation is that, when the game launches, the data that the desktop tool fetched is waiting for it.

Now, normally when the feeds die, the addon refuses to function, or at least it refuses to do auction-related functions that rely on that data(1) without a very noticeable notification.  But this time, what we saw was that TSM threw an error when we logged in, and some – but not all – auctions that rely on TSM data feeds refused to post, or be cancelled, through the addon.

What I did not realize at the time was that some auctions were posting even though they relied on data feeds.

Now, there was an indicator in the AH window that there was a problem with the data feeds, but the desktop app insisted the feeds were up to date – though I noticed that they were last updated over 24 hour ago.

Anyway, unknown to myself, as I said, some of these dependent auctions were allowed to go through. But due to the vagarities of how the defaults were set up for these auctions (with a category called “dump” you can probably guess the nature of those vagarities) some of these auctions posted for less than 10g or, in one case, 1g.  These auctions were for items that were normally priced around 25,000 to 100,000 GP.

Now, I’m not going to point fingers here.  Ultimately, the driver is responsible for plowing into the side of a school bus full of kindergarteners. And I took out, metaphorically, about 10 busses. I took the defaults. I was lazy. I did not react to obvious danger signs. This was 100% on me.

But it is vexing – vexing! – that TSM has multiple publication channels and yet none of them were updated regarding this. Their blog was last updated in March. The Twitter feed, April. I don’t live on Discord(2) but just posting on Discord is insufficient and, not to put too fine a point on it, lazy.

So, yes, I do take full responsibility for losing around 200Kg in one night, but TSM bears responsibility for not being up-front about what just happened. 24 hours after this incident, nothing. It’s not like you can blame my computer. I am the master of this ship and know what happened on it. So let’s not go there and make TSM’s maintainers look stupid(3).

The main cause of this loss is something called “sniping”. This is an AH practice that involves finding ludicrously undervalued auctions and snapping them up to resell at the market value, which happens to be far higher – thus, a profit. You may think this is not something that happens a lot, but, in fact,  it does. In fact, it happens so often that TSM actually has a “sniper mode” built in. “Goblins” are expected to be “snipers” because Mammon forbid if they were portrayed as fucking geeks with fucking spreadsheets that happened to notice that something sorted lower than usual.

Listen, I loathe the concept of Sniping but I really don’t have a beef with them. Normally. In this, an abnormal situation, they ate my lunch. Good show. Go you. I still, unexpectedly, have no beef. Listen, in a month, I’ll have recovered all losses and then some. I knew these fuckers existed, and planned around it – based on known solid, accurate information(4), and my plan, as it were, is basically let them go do their thing while I focus on the long game. That has not changed.

Have lessons been learned? You bet your hairy ass they have. I will in the future be less cavalier in posting auctions when there are any indications at all that my AH addon is malfunctioning. For the simple reason that I can no longer trust that the people that maintain it and its infrastructure are doing so in good faith. And, if I notice that the data feeds are over 24 hours out of date? Best practice is probably to wait a day before doing any auction-related activities. This is something that would be de rigueur when, for example, transitioning from one expansion to the next. But In the middle of all the shit, with no expansion or even content patch? Unexpected.  At best.

I’ve been pwnt. Well played, pwner. You goblins got your pound of flesh. I’ll keep the metric ton of fleshage, though. Carry on. I am playing the long game. And I will be here long after this event. Regardless.


  1. It’s possible to do so, but it’s not the default.
  2. Discord is not an archive.  #IYKYK
  3. Somebody please tell me they aren’t stupid
  4. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.

Talented

Prayer of Mending

Following up on some mock-ups, Blizz has started releasing information about the new talent trees for Dragonflight.

The first one that got my interest was Priest – I suck at the first two that they released, and that’s okay, folks, try not to be so judgey.

But I truly perked up and came into my own when they released the specs for Hunter – and WoWHead added it to their simulator (1).

This is not your daddy’s talent tree

First of all, let’s be clear – the talent trees of Cata and earlier are not going to happen. This is a new thing.

There are four key differences.

  1. There are actually two talent trees, with two “pools” of talent points to draw from. One which is just $class, and one which is relevant to your designated specialization – for Hunters, that is Beast Master, Survival, and Marksman, for example.
  2. In case it was not clear, each Specialization has its own talent tree, plus a generic $class tree.
  3. As you may have gathered from (1), there is none of this nonsense of going into a different spec’s talents for a specific talent.
  4. There are a LOT more talents to choose from, roughly 30-ish for each talent tree (class and specialization), for a real possibility of some fine-grained differentiation(5).

Okay, let me ‘splain (2) a bit. Let me ‘splain it in BM Hunter terms.

Back in The Old Days™, we’d go into the Survival spec to get a specific talent (Clever Traps, if you’re interested) and otherwise focus on BM talents.  In the case of Dragonflight talent trees, this is not a possibility – you can’t ‘borrow’ talents from Survival. However, since several talents have been mainlined as simply “hunter” this may change things a bit. Though I don’t see Clever Traps as a talent in the generic pool, that doesn’t mean that that won’t be the case at release date, or that we can’t effectively reach that same outcome with what we have in the “Hunter” tree.

The same applies to other classes as well, though the only one that I am interested in so far is Disco Priest. Yes, I do run an Outlaw Rogue, but since I suck at Outlaw Rogue, I am going to keep my big mouth shut on that topic and stick to what I know.

Disco Priest

To start with, Disco has the Disco again, baby. Prayer of Mending has become a baseline Priest ability, and I am all a-tingly over this. I mean, it’s not even an OPTION, you just get it as a priest. I don’t care if I have to share it with Holy and Shadow(3), I am just happy to have it back.

Long-term Beef Time. Ever since they relieved Disco priests of the ability to fling the Frisbee(2) around, I have been pretty emo about it. Disco without the Disco is just wrong.  Disco priests should be flinging the frisbee around, and if you don’t agree, feel free to go play FFIV or whatever that’s called. I’ll be here to accept your apology when you come crawling back. And you will.

Anyhoo. I’m sure at this point that there is someone out there dunking on me mentally because I am sooooo hyperfocused on Disco. And that’s fine. I am. Get over it. There was a time that I found Disco / Shadow to be an interesting and provacative dual spec, but once they made Disco survivable on its own, Shadow was kicked to the curb. Good luck being third-tier DPS, guys, I feel ya, but only a little bit since if you wanted to play Afflock you shoulda rolled Afflock. Which I did.

Cutting Cookies

I am not gonna prognosticate on the One True Way for Disco priest or BM Hunter. Not at this point. It’s clear that these talent trees are changing based on feedback, which is as it should be. But, also, I have little in the way to offer until I can actually bring up toons with these talent trees and test them.  I am not a mental theorycrafter. I am a grinder. A person that just grinds away at the work at hand until it is done. This was recently presented to me as a compliment, and I accept it in full appreciation of the perspective that informed it. There are people that excel at the theory and make it work for them, and there are people that try the theory out and iterate on it until it works.  That’s me. Put me in front of a training dummy, I’ll start to give you some decent real-world feedback. Show me a chart, I’ll tell you it’s pretty.

But I will say this. There will eventually be identified specific cookie cutter talent specs for every class. In some cases there will be multiples. I recall deeply the Destro Warlock variations of yore, which, I must be honest, basically were all the same on the combat logs, but it was great to  me to see that there were so many paths to excellence for Destro Locks at the time.

Let me be a bit less apocryphal, in the form of BM Huntery which I am the most invested in.

In the past, there were a couple of different routes to maximum effectiveness for BM hunters. One was a pure DPS spec. I’ve always been of the opinion that that spec was a poor substitute for a MM build that focused more on DPS than anything else, and was less effective. You wanna go MM, go MM, man. Ain’t no thang.

You may be asking, what is there to offer in a DPS spec, other than DPS? And the answer is, utility. This is an ill-defined term that can be used – or misused – in several ways. My own experiences in Karazhan are a good example, as exemplified by BRK’s own example. Basically, one of the things that classic BM Hunters excelled at was utility. You can see this in BRK’s video, which showed him using his pet as an off-tank for the sub-bosses in the Moroes encounter. Using his trapping and pet, he was able to occupy one of those four adds while assisting the rest of the team in burning down the others one at a time. As I mentioned earlier, Clever Traps figures into this largely. BRK was my BM daddy, I admit it. I was nowhere near as competent at this dance as he was, but, given his example, I volunteered to fill that role in the raid, and I more or less fulfilled it. (we will not discuss That Time Grimmy Pulled The Whole Room)

So like I said, there are some cookie-cutter aspects to this, Fer Shur. But I ask you, in the current system,  how is that not also true? The whole cookie cutter thing is a red herring. 

PS: A few days after I started writing this, I saw one of our “premier” MMO blogs posting about why the new talents were Bad and the tiered talents were Good. Ignoring, of course, that if something with 45,000 possible combinations could be cookie-cutter’d, then something with 30 possible combos could, as well, and would be 10000x more likely to be.  But I is not a Big Time Professional Blogger so please ignore me.

Can’t Get There from Here

One thing I’ve noticed from the talent trees is that you can’t get all the top-tier talents, at all. You can get, generally, two out of six or so, maybe three but I’m thinking that won’t happen unless you’re super-focused on those top-tier talents. This in a way simulates one of the features of the Classic trees, in that you had to make some choices along the way and that pretty much set your “specialty”. Nowadays, Blizz is more “tell don’t show” in their approach so rather than having your choices determine your specialty, your specialty determines your possible choices. Funny ol’ world.

I like it

At this time, in this place(4), I like what I see. Sure, there are many unanswered questions, such as:

  • Fluidity – as in, right now, the talent trees presented may change. That’s fine. Alpha is kinda like that, troopers.
  • Changing specs – will WoW preserve our builds, or will we need an addon?
  • Will we be able to save and swap out builds, or will an addon be required?
  • Will Specialization be a thing in 11.0? Okay, maybe that’s a long game question. But with the new talent trees, maybe we just chuck that concept. Specializations are, after all, an artifact of the tiered talents we currently have.
  • What’s the 11.0 game? Will new talents be added or will the current trees be re-scaled in a form of “level squish” sort of operation?

Some of these questions are abstract, others more relevant to our upcoming experience within the next four and a half months. Most are along the lines of “will I need an addon to get around this possible issue?”, I guess.  There’s actually a lot of room for a good addon here, I suspect.  I doubt I have the skill to write it myself, though I can see its outline in my mind’s eye.

But overall I feel like this is a step in the right direction. A way to make talents interesting and applicable again. I mean, you can trot out all the arguments in favor of the “tiered” approach, but the relentless unremitting response will be, and always will be, NOBODY CARES. Imma go to Icy Veins and grab my talent specs and that’s the end, because there’s nothing there to tinker with.

I have in the past been critical of “the illusion of choice” vis-a-vis the Legion weapon trees which were not trees and really were not choices other than in what order you went. This here is a different animal, and, while it may devolve down to cookie cutters, there is still the potential to be an individual and blaze a trail, no matter HOW WRONG it might be. As a BM Hunter, Disco Priest, and Demo Warlock, I’m used to people choosing wrong, and forgiving them. It takes all kinds, folks.


  1. Be aware, there are pending changes to all specs. What you see is not what you get.
  2. Apologies if I got the link wrong. As previously stated, these things are fluid. Trying to link to future abilities is dicey. Always in motion, the future is.
  3. I am somewhat intrigued at what a Shadow version of the Frisbee might do.
  4. As of July 14, the alpha launched, and we are getting, as they say in Mexico, mucho feedback.
  5. There are actually more than 30, but you get more or less 30 points to spend in each tree.

Tick tock, motherfrakkers

image

It is currently July, 2022, and I am concerned about Blizzard’s sense of time.

Let me set the stage.

The next expansion was announced in April, 2022.

Given past performance, everybody with most of a brain expected a 2023 release date.

Yet, apparently, they posted Dragonflight to the Blizzard Store with a “released no later than December 31, 2022” date.

What does this mean to us?

Well, first of all, a little math.

Dec 31, 2022 release date means that the pre-release for Dragonflight, aka version 10.0, will be pushed to accounts around November 26, 2022. That’s right, a full six weeks before the commercial release date. Which is (does fast math) around four and a half months from now.

fast math

I am beyond belief that this is achievable.  Sure, they’ve bought an entire company. But, as of this date, July 11 2022, they have yet to roll out Alpha.

As of the date of this writing, it is mid-July.  If we were expecting a release by end of year 2022, I would expect the Beta to be in full swing. Blizzard’s past performance simply doesn’t jibe with this proposed release date. The only way I can see this working out is that there is yet another wrinkle that we haven’t yet perceived. Maybe they’ve changed how they do things for the testing cycle and we’ll see a game far closer to complete when Alpha rolls.  I have no idea. I am well known for having opinions, but in this case the tank is dry. I got nothing.

If you’re a player that plays the long game, you are going to have some decisions to make real soon now. In my case, I have a lot going on in the AH that will change when we hit a certain point before the pre-patch, as will hundreds of other Goblins. There is a point where you shift from “current patch” to “outgoing patch” mode.  A large part of that involves dumping things you were saving for use in crafting and so forth. As an example, Jasra keeps one full stack of each kind of cloth, dumping the rest on the AH.  Soon that will need to change to “just dump it all” until expansion rolls, at which point we shift that to a legacy mode because we’ll be collecting DragonCloth and Super DragonCloth.

So there’s a dance of sorts that will play out. The interesting part will be, do you bet on them rolling the pre-patch on time, or do you bet on them missing the date completely?  To a goblin, this is about maximizing profits, and the discussion about the expansion is only in terms of financial opportunities.

The next two months are going to be so very interesting, because if there aren’t significant events between now and then, the Scandal will be something around the lines of Suspected Missed Deadlines.

People that habitually generate drama wear me out. But apparently game companies doing same do not.  Go figure.

Deja Vu All Over Again

image

If you play this game long enough you start to see things repeat themselves.

I don’t mean in-game, but in the Blogospheric Echo Chamber(1) that we all operate within. There are themes, observations, and opinions that keep coming back. Sometimes, even on the same blog.

I’ve been hard on myself, trying not to be one of those blogs, where occasionally I circle back onto a topic and retread it. Though, of course. when you’ve dropped as many words as I have over the last dozen or so years(2), you’re bound to hit on similar things eventually. Hell, I’ll wager that I’ve used the title of this article before(3).

That being said, one does expect other long-timers – as few of them left that still blog –  to also remember how things were and not start going on about how this is neat or that is bad without realizing that it’s nothing new.

The same can not be said for players that aren’t, exactly, new, but haven’t been here for the duration. Say, that guy that started playing as a Panda rogue and just now discovered something that old timers would recognize as a riff on Reforging, for example, but which they feel is a Significant Discovery.

It is hard not to be cynical about this. How it seems that the only thing that you can count on is that someone else is getting mileage off of something that you’ve seen others – or yourself! – writing about years ago.

But how can this be avoided? You can’t just yell at people to do better research. First of all, how would they? Are we literally expecting them to go back and re-read all of Big Red Kitty before having an opinion on Beastmastery Hunters?  I mean, assuming it was possible, which I don’t think it is?  Heck, you can’t even point people to go read back-issues of WoW Insider’s Guild Watch column to get an example of “your guild’s not as bad as you think, this shit was happening long ago.”

I don’t really have an answer. It’s not really feasible to take on the mantle of “rememberer of things” if nobody actually wants someone to do so. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone on The Internet say “Boy I sure wish there was somebody around that remembered how things actually were.” People are more invested in providing their own interpretations of how things were and will actually argue with someone that was THERE about how wrong they are. Talk about “alternate facts.”

Now, with some of the new features for Dragonflight, we’re getting Deja Vu. The new talent trees, as an example, are going to present some of the Same Old Problems and these are going to be run up the flagpole as Fresh New Scandal. As an example, I’m sure we’re going to see “cookie cutter” specs come out of this change, where people look up a spec on Noxxic or Icy Veins or WoWHead even, and use it rather than do the thinking for themselves.

Us Olds are gonna say yeah, seen it, done it, and it was fine. And besides, how were the previous tiers any different?  But yeah the kiddos not going to get it, or appreciate it, and, likely, resent that we’re even saying that.

Another thing, as @Marathal pointed out, is how some of the features of the new crafting resemble nothing less than the old Reforging feature, and remembering the big bruhaha over Ask Mr Robot’s role in demystifying that feature(4).

Nobody cares. Not that it happened before, nor that we remember.

Pepperidge Farm Remembers - Album on Imgur

Yeah yeah. Go back to sleep, old guy(8).

All that aside, there’s meat in them oysters, and I’m limbering up for some – at least personal – theorycrafting. I will not be competing with these young whippersnappers in that regard. They fancy with they slicked back hair and backlit keyboards and solar calculators. I can’t compete with that.

But maybe I can apply a bit of perspective as compared with what we had before. Though, as I’ve said, I doubt it will matter. If they’re too lazy to rez up a toon in TBC-Classic (or Wrath-Classic later this year) to see For Reals what it used to be like, then they’re not going to be interested with someone deconstructing their carefully constructed constructs of How It Was, I Just Know It.

The most annoying thing about this, if there is to be an annoying thing(5), is the possibility that Blizz is counting on this.  That there exists a Machiavellian intelligence at Blizz that thinks that, if only they get enough “churn” in the playerbase, they can pull off a revisit to old game systems without anyone calling them into question, because the ones that remembered that have either moved on to other things(6) or are so few in number that nobody really pays them any attention(7).  To them, it isn’t about loyalty – it’s about numbers. They don’t care that there are 1,000,000 loyal customers, only that there are 1,000,000 customers. Done and done.

You won’t find me in the “Blizz has a Machiavellian Intelligence” camp because I don’t think The Suits are that smart, but they’re good enough at Faking It that they will claim credit for anything, be it good or bad, just to make it look like they’re smarter than a lump of coal. You can go along with that if you want, but I’m voting for the lump.

=======

  1. You’ve seen it a lot even if you don’t know what to call it. One blog espouses something, then another riffs on that, and then another riffs on that, and so forth. Eventually you have fifty blogs all talking about the same thing, only different.
  2. Not gonna look, not gonna look …
  3. Not gonna look, not gonna look …
  4. Called out by some as “cheating”.
  5. And there always is, isn’t there?
  6. /waves to FFIX players
  7. Hi.
  8. Hey!

Damage Meters Considered Harmful

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/goto.png

For years I have labored under the sad assumption that Goto Damage Meters are Considered Harmful, and it has pissed me off collectively for at least 15 years, so, yeah, let’s have it out.

Assumption: Damage Meters are BAD!

The basic underlying argument is that damage  meters allow certain toxic individuals to make LFD / LFR a toxic wasteland and therefore are bad in and of themselves.

As an engineer this upsets me in a number of ways.

  • Damage meters are a source of data. And ONLY a source of data.
  • Data is intrinsically GOOD.
  • People that make damage meters a source of shame / hate or other kind of disrepute are the problem here, not the meters themselves.

Okay, that last point is pretty much the sole point of this article.  Which is:

People are BAD!

In that, people are the problem. Damage meters are software. People using software are the problem.

There are a lot of people advocating that there are mitigating circumstances but I disagree.  Here are my Ultimate Thoughts on the topic.

  1. Damage Meters provide data.  And only data.
  2. Actual people use that data to improve things in some way
  3. Not actual people (from here classified as trolls) use that data as a method to harass actual people.
  4. Some people support (2)
  5. Some people support (3)

In case it wasn’t clear, we support (2).

“Metrics”

Ultimately, damage  meters provide a way of gauging one’s performance. In engineering terms, “metrics”. And anyone opposing that kind of data is, ultimately, in my humble opinion, on the wrong side of the equation. Basically, I view that kind of person as less interested in improving things in general, and more interested in forwarding some sort of undisclosed agenda.

This argument resurfaces occasionally. People not very involved in the game, or people with no history, tend to re-discover this topic from time to time.  All I can say is, locate a classic WoW blog, look at their blogroll, and educate yourself before opening the mouth.  I welcome the opinion, but prefer that it be informed. Right now, there is a lot of bullshit flowing on a topic that has been settled for years (as in, so what?).


Humble Pie served piping hot

Flora

I may have mentioned how running Torghast on my fire mage makes me feel powerful.  Even running it at levels above what I am running on my Hunter (my main), I feel pretty good about my capabilities and capacity.

And then, I ran Floramel, my Warlock, at the same level.

Here’s the problem with Flora. For the past couple of weeks, she’s felt pretty damned (pardon) good. Hitting above her weight, blowing shit up, and generally having a good old time. True, she has a pretty big ramp-up as a Demonology warlock, but once the ramp is upped, we be seeing some pretty good boom.

https://c.tenor.com/TBIEUlWN6fkAAAAC/babylon5-ivanova.gif

So, Grimmy got us to, what is it, “level” 10 in Torghast. Illume handled it like a pro.  So, when I queued up for it with Flora, I thought, what the hell. She’s gonna pwn this one too.

Er, not so much.

#babylon 5 from isil'zha: B5 gifs

Listen, I admit it. I don’t understand the scaling in Torghast. And Flora was operating at, um, at least two tiers above what she’s rated at. But damn.

Let me essplain a little. Grimm is the main, Illume is next tier down, Jasra is next tier down after that. Flora is more or less my fourth-tier “main”, if that makes any sense at all.

Anyway. Each level’s end boss had some sort of major regeneration thingy going on. I never figured out what that was about, but on the first level I thought maybe it was because I hadn’t killed off all the other creatures on that level, so I went back and cleared the level and then went back and attacked him again – as our guild’s resident Fury Warrior with Rogue Complex frequently said, “no witnesses”. Still was a tough kill. And the one on level 2 was even tougher.

After three hours on two levels, I finally said “no more” and bailed.  The Winter Queen was waiting for me, with a big ol’ plate of Humble Pie, but at least it was fresh.

I have frequently felt that BM Hunters and Demo Warlocks were damned near invincible. Tonight was a strong reminder that I ain’t got all the trump cards.

Noted.

What the Fword is cake day? - Page 4

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.