Thursday, March 31, 2011

From Chicken to Champion

When my 14-yr-old daughter was 12, she used to hate threatening situations in-game.  She was honestly afraid of them.

It made no sense to the rest of us.  After all, she wasn't really going to die if she took on more than she could handle.  But the fact remained:  she did not want to face anything which looked like it might kill her.  Fighting creatures 5 levels below her was more her style.

We couldn't get her out of Elwynn Forest with her first character, a Pally.  She spent most of her time in-game running around Stormwind, taking screenshots with her pet chicken.

Her younger sisters laughed and passed her by, progressing beyond her level easily to reach levels in the teens or 20's.

And then she made a Draenai hunter she really liked.  She managed to get the hunter to 27 before taking a break for a while from the game.  I was impressed she'd faced enough dangerous situations to make it to 27.  (Yay, kiddo!)

She started playing her hunter again about a year ago, just for the fun of it.  Slowly, she progressed.  My husband and I were surprised to discover she had reached the 40's, so my husband unburied his Druid tank to run dungeons with her.  He taught her a lot about proper dungeon etiquette and made the mistake of showing her Recount.  (After that, she was always asking where she was on the meters.)  Then he stopped playing WoW for unrelated reasons.

A few weeks ago, she completely surprised me by reaching level 70.  She is now sitting at level 74.  None of her sisters have reached that level on anything but a Death Knight.

I am proud that she faced her challenges and overcame her fears, and I am proud that she had the perseverance to continue on through many adventures, one by one.  I am sure she will eventually reach 85.  (And then she'll face the quandary of what to do next . . . No, I am NOT letting her raid.  She needs her sleep.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Little Kid Adventures!

Not too long ago, after my husband stopped playing his account, he set up my 9-yr-old and 7-yr-old to play together.  (One on his account, one on the kid account . . . only reason we keep the billing up on his account, by the way.)  Because the computers they were using are in different rooms, he decided to set up voice communications for them.  This meant, of course, that the girls had a bit of time logged in before they could actually start on their adventures.

While he was at the 9-yr-old's computer, messing with the voice controls, he suddenly noticed in chat that a particular rogue was beating the tarnation out of people in duels.  To his surprise, he realized it was the character the 7-yr-old was playing!

This little 3rd-grader (she skipped a grade) was stomping other players into the dirt.  (I can see people now grumbling how OP rogues are, if an elementary school student who has just learned long division can dominate the scene at Goldshire while playing one.)

Given that this is the child who could manage to do things to my computer that I didn't know how to do when she was 5, I could believe it.

The 9-yr-old has still been having a lot of fun running instances with her hunter.  The other day, she came to me and told me about a recent dungeon she had run.

"The other people talked to me and told me some things about my gear and my . . . my buttons and stuff."

"You mean your rotation?"

"Yea, that's it," she smiled.  "And the next day, when I ran another dungeon, I met one of those people again!  She remembered me."

"Oh, really?"

"Yep, and after that instance, she told me that my dps had really improved in just a day!"

You have to realize that this daughter made her hunter on a server apart from my characters' (her choice), so she has not had the benefit of extra gold to buy gear.  She has also not had much coaching from her parents, who never really figured she'd get past the occasional quest, and were totally surprised to find her running random instances.  (As she seemed to have the general idea, I hadn't worked with her on the nuances.)  So her progression in-game comes entirely from her own efforts, or in this case, from a few well-placed words by kind people she met in an instance.

So, to that kind person she met, whoever you are (my 9-yr-old would probably remember the name if I asked, but she's at school), thanks for taking the time to help a lowbie hunter learn a trick or two.  It really made her day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Progression and Autism

How Progression Raiding Is Like Working With a High-functioning Autistic Teenage Daughter*

1.  Progress may be in tiny steps.  The boss doesn't always go down the first night or the second or maybe even the tenth.  But if the adds are being kited better or people are learning to stay out of fires, that's progress.

2.  Because progress may be in tiny steps, it helps to look at the big picture.  How were things two years ago?  Look how far you've come.  This helps on those days when you just want to break down in tears, thinking that the boss will never, ever be conquered.

3.  Sometimes it's better to call the raid early on a high note than to push forward and possibly end on a low.  Morale means a lot.

4.  If it seems the raid has just lost it, take a break.  It will do no good to try continuing without one, regardless of where you are in the race (or homework assignments.)

5.  Rewards are great motivators, but they have to be the right rewards.  Offering chocolate to someone who would rather have strawberry accomplishes nothing.

6.  Everyone wants to feel valued.  Praise them for the good things they do.  Often.

7.  Organization and clear step-by-step explanations help to ensure success, even when you think everyone should already know the fight and shouldn't need the reminders anymore.

8.  Follow up on requirements.  Do consumable checks, even though you've already reminded everyone to bring consumables.  Standards will only be met if there is accountability attached to them.

9.  A little research is a good thing.  It's nice to discover that the method you stumbled on is really "right" or to find hints on how to manage your task a little better when you're wondering exactly how to increase your effectiveness.

10.  Patience is more than just a virtue; it is a necessity. Take a deep breath and think instead of simply reacting.

*There may be those who will misunderstand what I am writing here.  I am not saying that working with the raid is like working with a bunch of people with "special needs".  (By the way, before you judge those with "special needs", find out who they are.)

I am saying that when I hearken to my experience as a raider, I can note many things which are also true about working with my lovely, innocent, artistic, enthusiastic, moody, intelligent teenage daughter who has the challenge of learning how to get along in life with very high-functioning autism (much like Asperger's).  Each day is, for me, another exercise in patience, another puzzle to figure out how to help her make progress toward becoming a respected, accepted adult.  Her whole life, and mine, working with her, is one big progression raid, and the bosses are not easy.  (I don't think we've reached Heroic level yet, but I'm sure it will come.)  I love her to pieces and wouldn't trade her for any "normal" child.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Many Names, One Identity

The other night, I called our resto shammy by the name of his shammy in healer chat.  The only reason I used his new name was for the benefit of the new recruit in the channel, so he would not be confused.  You see, the shammy is the third main he has played in our raids since Ulduar, but I still usually address him by the name of the character he was playing from the time I met him through the end of Wrath.  That is his identity to me--it is who he is.  (I'm sure that soon I will just tell the recruit who this person really is and go back to calling him his original name.)

Although I know someone's character's name is not theirs, the name of the character by which I know them first tends to stick with me as their identity.  So when someone plays an alt, I still address them by the name of their main.  To be honest, even if someone changes their character's name, I still find myself hard pressed to change their identity in my mind.  (Ask our friendly shadow priest how long it took for me to start calling him by his new name.)  By the same token, if I am playing an alt, everyone still calls me "Ana."  It's who I am.

To be honest, "Anachan" is an identity which was with me long before WoW.  (Although if you find some blogger in Brazil or something who goes by the name, that is not me.  This is the only blog I maintain under this name.)  "Ana" is short for my real life name.  It also means "hole" in Japanese.  "-chan" is an endearing Japanese suffix attached to the names of children and young girls.  When I was in college, the guys in my 300-level Japanese classes used to say I had a hole in my head for taking those classes without first gaining the fluency which comes from having lived in Japan.  So they called me "Anachan", as an inside joke.  (Having now had the experience of living in Japan and gaining that fluency, I can agree with their assessment.)

Some people tend to name all their characters following a pattern, helping to ensure people will understand the single identity behind the myriad alts.  My husband, for instance, named almost all his alts names starting with "Shadow", which was his nickname in the military, for his uncanny ability to hide well.  (The one exception was a priest, who was named a Biblical name.)  Someone on the WoW forums names all his/her characters beginning with a double-s.  Even some of my later characters, who don't mean a whole lot to me, are just variations on the spelling of Anachan.  (My Horde hunter, for instance, who is now eternally stuck at level 50.)  But my two higher-level alts were both carefully named.

My mage's name comes from Arabic.  My husband studied Arabic when he was in the military, so he helped me figure out the pieces.  "Amira" is an Arabic name meaning "princess."  "Nar" is a word meaning "fire."  So Amiranar is a rather clunky way of saying "fire princess."  (Clunky enough that I had to explain it to my Kuwaiti arena partner in BC, as he didn't automatically make the connection.  But he laughed and thought it was cool when he understood.)  I actually leveled her to 70 as a fire mage because of her name, although she branched out in Wrath.

My priest's name is from Japanese.  In this, I had an advantage, in that my Japanese fluency was gained as a missionary for my church.  (Lots of religious terminology and phrases from which to draw--appropriate for a priest.)  I chose to name her Kaminoko, which means "child of God."  It is a phrase from a very simple children's song we frequently sing, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here."  (Interestingly enough, that name also speaks to identity--a very personal identity.)

I have often seen threads on the WoW forums, asking where people got their character names.  Well, these are mine.  But, of course, my in-game identity is Anachan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tailored to My Needs

My mage, Amiranar, is sitting in Stormwind just because she got tired of being the only mage in Dalaran, not because she has any plans to level. (If you've ever been the only mage in Dalaran, you'll understand this significance.)

But the other day, she actually had a chance to level . . . her Tailoring, anyway.

I decided to clean out some of Anachan's stuff from the bags she was carrying. (Despite all indications to the contrary, "stuff" is a 4-letter word.) There was only one problem: no bank space. You see, while Anachan isn't exactly a pack rat, there are some sentimental items she likes to still keep around. Some tier, for instance. (Wrath tier, anyway.) Or the Memento of Tyrande, which dropped from our first Illidan kill and which is just so cool, lore-wise. Not to mention Val'anyr. Or a whole bunch of trinkets and relics from days gone by. (Some of those she should probably just pitch, at this point.) Or that shadow resist cloak which was crafted by a raid leader who is long retired . . .

I figured I could squeeze out a little more bank space if I bought some larger bags, so accordingly I checked the auction house. But after seeing the prices of the 22-slot bags I wanted to replace the two 18-slotters in my bank, there was only one response: I don't think so!

I had been sending Embersilk to Amiranar for a while, figuring that someday, I may want to level her Tailoring, although I couldn't see exactly why I would. After all, the leg enhancement items are only needed every so often, so I could just pay the gold and live with it. But having to pay that much money for slightly larger bags just did not sit well with me. Sticker-shocked, I decided it was finally time.

It didn't take very long to reach the level where she could make the 22-slot bags, although it was a surprise to see the amount of enchanting mats required for it. (Thankfully, I had some of that on . . . well, another alt with a guild bank . . .) On the way, I managed to make a few nice pieces for my level 83 priest, which was a kind of bonus. And one of the other pieces managed to sell, making up for some of the cloth I did end up buying.

Satisfied, I logged off for the night.  But once I begin a project such as raising a profession, it usually eats at me until I've finished.  So the following night, I logged on the mage again, with only about 20 minutes available.  A few hundred gold in cloth later, I was looking at the possibility of a 36-slot Herbalism bag which would raise the  mage's tailoring by 5 points.  (Anachan was salivating . . .)  Did Anachan really need it?  Not really, as I have other alts who can hold on to herbs if needed.  But it sure would be nice.  Was it worth the cost, as it would only be holding herbs in Anachan's bank?  Those Volatile Life are usually used for flasks, lovingly gathered by Anachan and my Herbalist priest, so their value is measured in time, as well as money.

Finally I stopped vacillating and just mailed the Volatiles to Amiranar, who put together the Herbalism bag.  Anachan cheered, excited to have all the herbs in her bank in one spot, instead of having them stuffed in different bags and corners, wherever they would fit.  (Definitely worth it.)

I will probably continue to raise Amiranar's Tailoring as high as I can go, for the benefits to Anachan and my priest, and for the possible benefit of being able to turn cloth into gold, figuratively speaking. (She used to have a thriving little business in bags.)  But whether or not she will ever make level 85 remains to be seen.  I've never had more than two characters at max level, and there really isn't any reason to start now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Great Race

Last Wednesday night, we had one of "those" nights.  It was a night where, due to Spring Break, midterms, and various other outside reasons, (illness, etc.) we only had 21 people show up.  (I can't remember the last time this happened.)

Unfortunately, while we can 24-man some things, it is a little unrealistic for us to expect to 21-man most encounters.

With the new raid lockout system, however, all was not lost!  It became quickly apparent that with the numbers and roles which showed up, we could break into two 10-man groups and not have to cancel raid.  With this in mind, and a volunteer from the dps to sit, we broke up into two groups, each containing two tanks, three healers, and five dps.

The guild master offered a challenge:  each group would go to the Bastion of Twilight, where we had already killed the first boss.  The first group which downed the final boss of the instance would be awarded 25k gold from the guild bank, split 10 ways.

I'll be honest:  I didn't hear the challenge.  So I had no idea we were in a race until one of the people in my group commented that we were ahead of the other group.  "We aren't in a race," I laughed.  Someone fervently answered, "Oh, yes, we are!"

I had always heard that 10-man was more difficult than 25-man, so I was interested to see how it went.  As it turned out, we downed the dragon twins without too much trouble.  It was the first time I was the guidepost for the ranged, so that was interesting for me.  ("Oh, I have to lead instead of follow?  Gotta pay more attention.")

Council ended up being a bit more challenging.  We wiped once because we had been a little nebulous on assigning the cleanses, but once we got that figured out, things went more smoothly.  Well, they went more smoothly until our Holy Pally died in the last phase, then our other Resto Druid, along with a few dps.  As it turned out, this happened just as I had popped Tree of Life form, so I screamed a little inside and started tossing Lifeblooms and insta-cast Regrowths.  ("D*** the mana!  Full speed ahead!")  Somehow we succeeded.  Laughing, we rezzed the dead and prepared to face Cho'gall.

Here's where we found ourselves stuck a little.  The big kicker:  we had no hunter or mage, and there are little adds which need to be slowed.  (We had one wipe purely off "someone pulled aggro at the beginning and found himself flattened," but most of the trouble was with the adds.)  Finally, someone realized that the rogue could poison the adds with Tricks, which made all the difference in the world.  After about four or so wipes, we finally took down Cho'gall with what seemed to be relative ease.

The biggest difference for me between the 10- and 25-man raids was the amount of mana used.  In Cho'gall, for instance, although I was practicing triage healing, I innervated three times, popped my trinket as often as it was up, and consumed a Potion of Concentration.  (With an Alchemist Stone bonus . . .)  I heard the same thing from the other healers in both groups--we were all running out of mana by the end of the encounters.  I'm not exactly sure why, as we had a slightly higher amount of healers in 10-man, percentage-wise.  Perhaps it's because we had a vastly higher number of tanks, percentage-wise, requiring much more tank healing.

Some say the groups were inequitable.  They probably were.  In our group, the only person who could slow the adds was the rogue.  In the other group, there was a rogue, a mage, and a moonkin with a knockback.  However, our group consisted of people who had been raiding a while and knew the encounters, while the other group did have a couple of people who were relatively new and slightly less geared.  But the competition was not the most important part of the exercise.  The most important part was that we did not cancel a raid night.

Of course, finding 2.5k gold in my mailbox the next day was also welcome.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Bow In Reverence

I love a good, creative, or well-crafted piece of writing, as I very rarely achieve this myself.

I'm the sort of person who should probably have majored in English, but didn't.  I've always been a writer of (bad) poetry, essays, and journalling.  I appreciate the feel and the taste of words on my tongue, thrilling to the musical melodies of alliteration or being caught up in the colorful imagery the writer paints on the page.  Certain pieces of writing (mostly poetry or Beryl Markham's "West With the Night", which Ernest Hemingway said put him to shame) inspire me to read them aloud just so I can taste the words.

When I followed a link from the WoW forums today to this piece, I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but my expectations were by far exceeded.  Call me a geek--I embrace the title--but I loved the way this post was constructed, and the way the authors phrased their responses in the context of the game, with a little RP thrown in sideways.  It was fun!

I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I did.  (But if you don't, that's all right, too.  My husband laughs at me when I start crying at the appreciation of a turn of phrase, so it won't hurt my feelings if you laugh, too.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Botting is Bad

Obey the Terms of Service, already!! 

My personal opinion has been that if someone chooses to break the conditions in the ToS, it is between them and Blizzard (and their conscience.)  It's not my business whether they do or do not follow the ToS, and it's not my responsibility to ensure they are in compliance with something to which they, themselves, electronically agreed.  As for me, I do not use botting programs because I view it as cheating, so it's not something my integrity will allow me to do.

That would be all there is to it, if I wasn't a raider.

As a raider, I understand that fellow raiders who, for instance, use botting programs, are putting themselves in danger of being unavailable for the raid.  All it would take would be for Blizzard to do a trace on certain programs or for someone to report them as obviously botting to put them out of the game, possibly permanently.

It's like athletes on a team.  If they do not follow the rules, they put themselves in danger of being benched or kicked off the team, making it difficult for their teammates.  We hear stories of college athletes who get in trouble for their grades or professional athletes who get in trouble for steroid use.  Recently, my alma mater made headlines for benching an athlete who had broken the Honor Code of the school.  The team was seriously affected for the worse, but, as the school rightly stated, "There are some things more important than winning tournaments."

Even if you are not on a raiding team, do some thinking . . . How many hours have you invested in your characters?  How would you feel if that account was suddenly taken from you?  Is the benefit you might receive worth the risk you take when using a botting program?

You who are botting, think long and hard.  Please.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Givers vs. Takers

The other day, I noticed a guild recruiting in Trade Chat.  (I tend to notice these more lately because I am also tossing guild recruitment messages in Trade Chat occasionally.)  It was, apparently, a social guild, for the message focused on Heroics, professions, fun activities, and the large number of people in the guild.  It closed by saying something to the effect of "there is always someone to help you."

My first thought was that the recruiter had no clue what his message was saying.

What kind of people will that message most likely attract?  I know the type, and I call it the Takers.  These are the people who want their guild to hand them the mats to raise their professions and who whine when people say, "Go farm your own."  These are the people who say, "Anybody want to do something?" and then become offended when five people don't immediately say, "Me! Me!"  These are the people who say, "Can someone come kill this Horde who is camping my body?" and then gquit in a huff when nobody responds.  "Some helpful group you are!"

You've met this type before.  They don't want to have to do any work themselves.  They don't want to go out of their comfort zone to maybe join a PUG by themselves.  They don't want to have to deal with a PVP situation themselves, either by learning how to defend their character or to have the patience to log out and play an alt while the ganker gets bored.  Their enjoyment of their gaming experience depends entirely on the efforts of others or the willingness of others to answer their beck and call.

Is this the type of person a guild really wants to attract?  Do they really want a guild full of whiners and takers, taxing the patience of the few good-hearted people who try to hold it all together?

If I were running a social guild, I think I would be looking not for the Takers, but for the Givers.  I'd be looking for those who like to feel they are a contributing part of a group, or a part of a team.  (In a social guild, it would be much more difficult to have a team goal, I think, but there might be some angle which could be worked here.)  Instead of advertising that there are people available to give you materials for your profession, advertise that this is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

I can hear the question now:  "But if you have a guild full of Givers, won't that cause a similar problem?  Everyone wanting to give, and nobody wanting to take?"

I don't think that would be the case.  After all, Givers can take, when they need to, but only because they know they will be giving back later.  The raiders in my guild are a case in point, being made up primarily of Givers.  For example, someone might need some cloth to raise tailoring.  He will assume he will need to either farm it himself or purchase it off the AH, and he will move in that direction.  But others, hearing about his need, may offer to hand over the stuff their alts have been collecting, just to help him along his way.  This budding tailor knows that sooner or later, he will be able to offer some spellthread to those contributors or maybe an enchant from his other profession, so he feels comfortable accepting the offer of help.  When everyone looks for an opportunity to contribute, the whole group wins, and nobody gets burnt out or feels they are being used.

Perhaps the recruiter for that social guild should take a moment and rethink his message, if he hopes to have a guild which survives longer than the time it takes for restless teenagers to decide nobody loves them.

My husband listened when I told him these thoughts, then countered with this one idea:  "But, Ana, perhaps their goal is simply to have the largest guild out there.  If that is the case, they could be going about this the right way.  After all, there are a lot more Takers than Givers."

He does have a point.

Random pic of my daughter's Flat Stanley at Sea World.  She has decided she wants to be flat, so she can be mailed to fun and interesting locations.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

10M Connection . . .

Sometimes, it is an advantage to get your infrastructure put in late.

Those of us in the rural areas tend to be the last to get upgrades.  After all, it's just not cost-effective for the phone companies to update our wires on a regular basis.  As long as it is working, they leave it, and it can stay frustratingly working for a long time.  This means that all around us, people were getting their wiring updated, while we were stuck with the old stuff.

But as time went on, technology kept evolving and improving, even beyond the updated equipment the telephone company had used for everyone else.

It's a little more complicated than I'm saying here, but, basically, some months ago, the phone company realized they had to do something to attract the substantial business of a certain influential entity and the people associated with it.  They were offering phone, cable, and Internet services, and many people were not taking advantage of them, choosing to use cell phones and sign up for satellite TV, for example.  (The influential entity was using satellite TV in its facility, as well.)  Why should they use their business?  The infrastructure was too outdated to handle it well.  So they made an agreement with the influential entity that if they would run fiber to the doorstops of the area there, the entity would sign up for a substantial amount of business.

This is how we, in the sticks, managed to get fiber to our doorstops.  (I know people in large cities whose jaws drop and who start salivating when I tell them this fact.)  We have the best Internet connection in the southern half of our state, bar none.

Well, just recently (say, about two weeks ago) we learned they had increased the bandwidth available for purchase to 10M, for those of us with fiber.  Previously, the choices were 1.5M and 5M.  We, of course, were signed up for the 5M, but we were still experiencing some problems, primarily with streaming while gaming.

Here's the deal:  in our house, we have two desktops, three laptops, two iPod Touch devices, and two gaming consoles capable of streaming video through Netflix.  To be fair, it is not normal for us to have nine streams running at the same time, especially since there are only seven people in the family.  However, it is not unheard of for my husband to be streaming Netflix or watching news videos, my daughter to be streaming anime from Crunchyroll, and another daughter to be watching YouTube, all while I (and maybe another daughter as well) are trying to make our way through Azeroth.

With our 5M connection, if even one stream was active while I was raiding, I felt it.  (I am legendary for noticing the lag and calling out, "Who is streaming?!"  This started searches through the house . . . at which point we usually found it was my 16-yr-old lying down on her bed with her iPod Touch tuned to Crunchyroll.)  If my husband tried to sneak in an HD stream on a raid night, it absolutely crippled me.  But on the flip side, being unable to stream limited what my husband was able to do on raid nights.  He has no interest in WoW anymore, we do not subscribe to cable TV, and as the girls always want to watch him play his Gamefly console games (so they don't miss any of the stories) there is only so long he can play those on a given night, before kiddo bedtime.

We knew that if we could prioritize the packets in our router, it would most likely make the major problems go away, but our router could not be set in that fashion.  (Yea, we've had it a few years.)  So when we heard we could double our bandwidth for $10 more a month, we decided to jump on the opportunity.

Given it was a new service, and we were the first people in the area to request it, it took the company a little while to figure out how their network needed to be set, but yesterday, we finally speedtested a 10M download.

My husband tentatively started a stream while I was in the middle of raiding trash.  And nothing happened.  Not a bobble.  Not a Rejuventation was delayed.  My latency didn't budge.

Elated, he tested out an HD stream.  This one was ever-so-slightly noticeable, but only to the degree that it was my old latency before the upgrade.  (There were major happy dances going on in the living room.)

We're still looking at changing out our router (it's time), and we've chosen one that will actually permit us to dedicate a separate channel for streaming.  Still, it's nice to know there is a good chance the entire family will be content with this Internet connection, no matter what happens with the router.

After all, when you live in the sticks, there really isn't much else to do in the evening.

P.S.  Ok, I know there are still a lot of things to do:  astronomy (you should come see it here), writing, reading, playing the piano, doing crafts, baking, doing chores, playing board games, working on puzzles, discussing current events, cleaning guns, taking a bubble bath, working out a shopping list, planning my Sunday School lesson, belly-dancing, throwing away half the junk in my garage, or sitting on the back porch listening to the owls and the crickets.  But we actually like playing on the Internet.

Monday, March 7, 2011

To All the Squirrels . . .

Last night, when I logged on, I found myself bored, for the first time in forever.

Considering I had been spending the last couple of days herbing (got my priest a level and a half higher in the process), this may seem a remarkable statement.

I was so bored I didn't want to run an Heroic.  There was no point in any further herbing, as my priest had lost her "rested" bonus, and my Druid had enough herbs to keep her in flasks for a while.  There was no point in going fishing, as my Druid usually doesn't need individual food anymore, and she's stockpiled enough fish for feasts to make at least 140 (counting from the variety of which I have the least.)  I did not feel like questing, and there were no other alts I wanted to play.  (Even my Worgen Druid hasn't made it past level 4.)

I was so bored I actually thought about doing Archaeology . . . but quickly decided against it.

What was a gal to do?  I opened up my Achievements window to see what could be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

The first thing I noticed was that I was 5 pets away from "Lil' Game Hunter".  That one was easy.  I went to the Auction House, listed the pets in ascending order of price, then scanned down the list until I found the ones I did not already own.  About 1000 gold later, the achievement flashed.

The reward, of course, is another pet, which means I now have 76 pets . . .

That took about three minutes, so I was soon back to scanning the Achievements window.

And in another two minutes, I found the perfect time-wasting achievement which I had already half-way completed:  "To All the Squirrels I've Loved Before".  I opened a window to Wowhead, where a list in the comments section showed me where all the critters were located.  (Believe me--it's a good thing.  Just try guessing where the Ewe is located, otherwise . . .)

I was very glad that I could fly in Azeroth . . . just gain some altitude, point my beak in the general direction, and hit Autorun . . . then pull out a paperback and peek up every so often.

It wasn't too terribly long before I finally found that last pesky Borean Frog.

Actually, it took less time than I thought.

Amidst the congratulations of the guild, I typed in Druid chat, "And that, my friends, is positive proof that I am bored."  They laughed.

But the night was still young.

Yea . . . . . I did that . . . .

Typed in Druid chat again, "Yep, I'm bored."  They laughed again.

Stop now?  No way!  I was on a roll.

By this time, the guild was thinking this a little funny, too.  (And I was typing in Druid chat, "Yea . . . bored . . .")

Eighty Achievement Points out of boredom.  Gotta love it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thoughts About Blizzard

My two eldest daughters are in a public speaking class in high school.  Most recently, they were assigned to prepare "informative" speeches.

My eldest daughter decided to speak on Irish fairies--a subject about which she likes to read and so knows a bit.  She duly turned in her chosen topic when it was due.

I'm not sure what topic my second daughter chose at first, but her older sister apparently persuaded her that she needed something more unusual--something about which the other kids would know nothing.  "Like the history of Blizzard Entertainment or something."

So my second daughter turned in as her topic, "The History of Blizzard Entertainment".

When I heard about this, I just about fell over in a faint.

"Why didn't you encourage her to pick something with which she is already familiar?" I asked my eldest daughter with some exasperation. (I refrained from any implication that she purposely wanted her sister to fail.) "Why couldn't she have spoken on pet rats or raising chickens or Greek myths?"

My second daughter is ever-so-mildly autistic (sort of like Asperger's, but not quite), so she needs a lot of encouragement and direction (and love, but not always hugs).  I knew that with a topic like this, we would be doing about as much research as required for a research essay.  (I help her locate sources or distill information, whichever she needs at the moment.)  To complicate matters, I couldn't easily contact the teacher and ask if she could change her topic.  This class is "dual-enrollment," which means her high school teacher is acting as a facilitator, while the "real" teacher is a stranger a few hundred miles away at a university.  In addition, I wasn't sure changing the topic would be a good idea, anyway, as it would send the message to my daughter I had no confidence in her ability to accomplish what she sets out to do.  (This is a bad message for any child, but it is especially bad for those who have more challenges than some other children.)

There was no help for it but to turn to Google.

My daughter ran a search and managed to find a couple of websites with timelines or articles on the history of Blizzard.  We discussed them together, pulling out the relevant ideas and restating them in her notes.  I sat at my computer to find other references while she put together her outline on her laptop and started fleshing out the paragraphs.  (Thankfully, anything reasonably organized is her forte, but that shouldn't be too surprising.)  I found some good information on the Blizzard site, itself, which I e-mailed to her, and she "interviewed" me for some content, as a customer who has played World of Warcraft since it was first available.

Her prepared speech was optimistic and upbeat, while showing the troubles and difficulties faced by the company through many acquisitions and changes.  The fact that it is the 20th anniversary of the company this year was a bonus and made a great point with which to introduce the topic.  She concluded on a positive note, citing the number of subscribers (ok, we went with "over such-and-such a number"), the plans for a Warcraft movie, and the hope Blizzard has for continued success in the future.

It occurred to me that I had left some things out in my discussion with her, especially when I read Blacksen's blog from the weekend.  I had told her that when the merger with Activision occurred, there had been some concern over the direction the game would take.  I had also said that the game had changed to make it more appealing to a wider audience.  These were true.

What I hadn't told her was the theme I have seen repeated through forums and blogs:  that Cataclysm just isn't the same as the previous WoW iterations.  Some long-term players are losing interest and thinking this is the end of the Warcraft universe.  Maybe some of those people have simply grown up and moved on, with other things on which to focus now:  families, schooling, or work.  (In other words, they would have left, anyway, no matter what had turned up in Cataclysm.)  Perhaps, also, there are those who have finally recognized the futility of it all--that no matter how hard they work, the next tier, everything will again be leveled.  There is no lasting reward for their efforts, which may have been extensive.

Now, what this means for Blizzard, I do not know.  If the number of new subscribers is keeping up with the number cancelling their subscriptions, they will not necessarily lose market share:  it will just change focus.  And for a company whose primary goal is to stay in business and make money, adapting to the available market is probably a good thing.

I know if I ever quit WoW, which will probably happen sometime in the future (about the time the next expansion comes out), I will most likely not be moving on to another MMO.  Why would I?  I would always be comparing it to WoW.  Even now, when I read information on other games, I find myself categorizing classes or abilities in terms of WoW classes or abilities.  Maybe I'll do some writing or start a home business or something.

In the mean time, I'll focus on getting my healers through Cataclysm and getting my daughters through high school, although not in that order.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fun Thought For the Day

I logged on for a moment this afternoon to do my cooking and fishing dailies, and I found this in my mailbox from my GM:

Too perfect!