Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Raiding Less Fun? or What Everyone Else Is Saying

Lately, I've seen a lot of blogs showing up expressing the sentiment that raiding is less fun now.  I realize that in many cases, one blogger writing about it may start a cascade of blogs agreeing with their ideas, so that may have something to do with the reason there have been so many.

I think several of the bloggers have some good points, so, rather than sit here analyzing and rehashing everything they've said, I'll just link to their blog posts.

Herding Cats:  Why Is WoW Raiding Less Fun Now.

One of the things which struck me about this page was way down in the discussion which followed in the comment section.  Borsk brought out this point, which I thought was very well-stated: 
Many guilds didn’t finish Sunwell before 3.0, many didn’t finish Black Temple, and many more didn’t finish TIer 5. Blizzard focused on this and were upset that people “didn’t get to experience content.” That was a misread of the population. Many players, no matter the difficulty, will not finish a raid. What’s ironic is that their moves were to open up raiding…and it did, but they lost 900k subscribers.
WoW InsiderThe Overachiever: Why Icecrown Was Less Fun Than Sunwell

Although this one focuses primarily on Wrath versus Burning Crusade, the points are valid in Cataclysm, as well.

BorskedTap Out

This is a sad post, only because it's the death of 25-man raiding for a long-time guild.  Borsk examines the current trends and contributing factors which led to the guild's decision, including recruitment issues for the dying 25-man raid format and the effect Heroic mode raids have on morale.

Kurn's CornerWhy I Hate Heroic Modes 

Kurn references Borsk's "Tap Out" post in this examination of  . . . well, why Heroic Modes are not necessarily fun.  I could empathize with this quote, in reference to downing Heroic bosses: 
I still hate them and I do them because that’s what’s expected of me and because, by golly, I CAN do them. I try to view them as new fights and I get psyched to get them down, but it’s not the same as clearing an older instance. The pure elation I felt when we got Lady Vashj down for the first time or when Archimonde died, none of the experiences these days are comparable to that. My reaction, instead of “YAY, WE DID IT!!!” is usually “Oh thank God, it’s over,” and then I slump in my chair in relief. 
It seems kind of ironic.  My husband and some others think World of Warcraft is getting too easy.  Several of these bloggers think the raids are simply becoming too tedious, without a good, definable end goal.  And yet, back in Burning Crusade, the complaint was that the raids were inaccessible to a large percentage of the player population.  So where's the happy medium?  How do you make raids accessible to most of the players while giving the more dedicated players a challenge?

To be completely honest, the pure elation I felt when we downed Archimonde, or even Yogg-Saron or the Lich King, has never been matched in my reaction to downing any of the Firelands bosses to this point.  Whereas I used to come bouncing out from behind my desk to tell my husband excitedly we had downed a new boss, it's now something mentioned casually as I climb under the covers after brushing my teeth.  "We downed a new boss today."  "That's nice, dear."

Maybe I'll be elated when Ragnaros falls in 25-man.  But then again, maybe not.  Our vanguard group killed him in 10-man last night, which was the well-deserved culmination of a lot of hard work on their part.  But you see, he's now been killed by the guild.  We've all seen the Firelands Guild Run achievement flash across our screens.  Taking him down in 25-man is a repeat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Six Words

On our guild forums, we have a thread in which people can post six word statuses.  The idea comes from an NPR story I read a long time ago, which one of my friends posted on Facebook.

We had a lot of fun with it on our old forums, reaching 184 pages and 2748 posts.  Someone even put out a challenge once to write a six-word haiku, which you know I just had to take:

Something in Tempest raiders--
So when our new forums went live, it was natural that someone would start it up there, as well.  It's a great way to express an emotion while still keeping it nebulous enough that people may not really understand exactly to what you are referring.  That said, sometimes people have misunderstood things from it, which has caused occasional consternation in one person or another.  (So sometimes you do have to be careful.)

This post contains six word statuses I thought about posting on our forum today, but decided not to do so.

Courtesy and maturity are elusive traits.

Trinket?  Only over my dead body.

Overall optimism seems so far away.

Country I love sliding so far.

Thankful for empathy from officer corps.
 And a couple especially for this blog:

Blogging can be emotional roller coaster.

Thank goodness for my Drafts folder.
What did I finally post?

Hard to homeschool high school children.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Real Life Claims A Good One

It's always hard when someone who has been with the guild for a good amount of time leaves the raid.  There are shared memories, things to laugh over, bittersweet messages to send . . .

But this week, I will be saying good-bye to a healer who has been healing with me for two years.  This one will be hard.

This healer has been a reliable fixture in the raid since he started.  We could always count on him to not only know and understand his class (and every other healing class, for that matter), we could count on him to come to raids, perform well and keep people alive in spite of whatever they stepped in or forgot to do.  He was dedicated to the point where he froze ice packs in preparation for raid, so he could place his laptop on them, to prevent his graphics card from freaking out.  (As it was, he usually saw Sindragosa at about 3 fps . . . He finally got a new computer in T11.)

When I became healing officer and was afraid of what I didn't know, this is the healer who told me, "Don't worry, I'll help you learn the stuff."  He gently gave hints whenever I was confused or uncertain, helping me get a feel for things.  I still run ideas by him if I am unsure, just to hear him say, "Yep."

He sympathized when I had daughters driving me crazy, he checked to make sure I was all right if there were times I had to leave raid early because of an emergency, and he was always there to empathize when something in-game got frustrating.  He knows the side of me most raiders almost never get to see:  the side which gets cranky, annoyed, or irritated at something someone said and just wants to blow up for 5 seconds.

This healer is one of the two guildies I managed to meet in real life, part of the "Leet New Mexican Healing Team", as I termed it.

But, as we all know and hate to admit, Real Life comes first, and Real Life reared its ugly head.  He is still a student and this semester, his classes directly conflict with raid.  He'd managed to dodge the bullet last semester when his schedule required him to be a little late only one day a week.  But when he discovered this semester he would have to be absent two nights a week, he knew he would be unable to continue, in fairness to the raid.

I've known it was coming for more than a month, but even so, when he posted up his farewell post on our guild forum, it made me cry.  He'll still be around in the World of Warcraft, but I will really miss having him in the raids.

Good luck, Fan!  Get those A's and check in often.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vuhdo Configuration

I used to be a die-hard Grid+Clique healer.  And then came the patch day when Grid was not updated in time for raid.

To be honest, it was the second such patch day.  The first time, most of the healers were in a panic.  We had no idea how we were going to be able to do anything in the way of progression if we did not have the tools we were used to using.  So when the second time came around, I did not sit and wait for Grid.  Noticing Vuhdo had been updated that day, I downloaded it.

I was lucky enough to find a great blog (written in Troll, lol) which walked me through my initial configuration.  (The last time I tried to find that blog, the link was broken, so I do not know if it is still available to new Vuhdo users, or I'd gladly link to it.)  I managed to get everything I wanted configured in time for raid, while some other healers were still bemoaning the lack of a Grid update.

I recommended Vuhdo to a telecommuting co-worker, who had asked for advice to pass on to a friend starting a Druid.  Then, later on, she decided to start a Druid, herself, and asked for help in configuring Vuhdo for a Restoration Druid.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get together during her brief visit at the company location.

So I came up with another solution:  I made a page about it and e-mailed the link to her.

Vuhdo Configuration for a Resto Druid

As I said, I'm no expert, but this is what has worked for me.  It creates an interface which is "good enough" to operate decently as a raiding Resto Druid.

Creating the page has an additional benefit, for me:  I now have an on-line repository of the changes I made, so if I have to configure Vuhdo on an additional computer for my use, I can just look up my settings and go my merry way.  /smile

Monday, August 22, 2011


Ages ago, I went on an Ulduar 10-man achievement run with some friends, led by a husband-wife team.  As we were all geared above the level of Ulduar, nobody really needed any of the gear that dropped.  However, rather than simply DEing everything, our raid leader would ask, "Does anyone want this for 'Barbie-crafting'?" 

I chuckled at the term, but it seemed very descriptive, especially now, with the announcement of Transmogrification.

At the time, I was amazed anyone would fill up valuable bank space with vanity gear, even though I knew our raid leader's wife was one such person.  One of her sources of amusement was to sit in a capital city, putting outfits together.  Then she'd whisper me, "Look how nicely this staff goes with this outfit!"  I'd go look, evaluate the aethetics, and comment, but I knew I couldn't join her in this kind of activity.  My bank space was at a premium already.

Rather than collect pieces just because they looked cool, it was all I could do to keep my tier, from tier 6 onward.  (Keeping my tier ended up being a good thing, when this husband-wife pair wanted to get a group together for Herald of the Titans.)  And now, several tiers later, despite having a nice large Herb bag and two characters who own gbanks bequeathed to me when this husband-wife team transferred servers, in which I keep most of my mats, my bank space is again at a premium.  So when I heard about void storage , my ears pricked up as they hadn't done for Transmogrification.  It would be nice to have a place to stash my tier, or for my sentimental items such as Memento of Tyrande.  (Or Val'anyr.  I'm never getting rid of that mace.)

So now that I can stop worrying about bag space and start using my imagination, I've been starting to ponder . . . if I could choose whatever look I wanted from the tier I have, what would I choose?  (Certainly not T12, ach, ptooey! Or T9 . . . gag . . . why don't I just throw out that set . . .)  What kind of "Barbie-crafting" would I end up with?

Personally, I think the one I would pick at this point is T8, in spite of the glowy orb shoulders.  Yes, we laughed at the "Sailor Moon" helm, but we wore and showed it.  It was fairly unobtrusive and allowed our hairstyles to show.  Another one I did like was T6 . . . for some reason, I like that helm, too, even though it didn't allow my hair to show . . . And T11 . . . well, who wouldn't like feathery blue shoulders?  (Don't bother with the helm--just keep whatever current one I have hidden . . .)

Sets aside, I wonder if I can persuade someone to make me up a Big Voodoo Robe . . . the one I loved wearing while leveling . . .

And I'm going to need to get the mace from Ragnaros, so I can carry Val'anyr forever . . .

Perhaps I could get into "Barbie-crafting", after all.

Edited:  Ok . . . so apparently I cannot carry Val'anyr forever . . . bummer . . . /moment of silence . . . Oh, well.  It was a nice thought while it lasted.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Too Easy?

My husband has, for a while now, complained that Blizzard has made WoW too easy.  He will grant that the end-game raids provide more of a challenge, but he still refers to them simply as "The Hokey-Pokey", instead of any sort of real strategic battle.

So when he heard our main tank posted in a bear rage about Blizzard's decision to hotfix threat to the point where it was not a real factor in raiding encounters, he just said, "See?  This confirms what I've said all along."

His contention is that Blizzard has been "dumbing down" the game--making it more accessible to people who just want to play and don't want a challenge.  The result, of course, is that many of those who do want a challenge are not finding the game to be fun anymore, my husband included.

A case in point is the time the other day when he logged on my baby Blood Elf hunter to check the settings on my graphics card.  She's decked out in heirlooms, although she hasn't been played in . . . just about forever.  He spec'd her and took her out for a spin, looking forward to the experience, as his first character was a hunter.  He was disappointed to see she was one-shotting mobs her own level and could handle five mobs her level, with a little skillful play.  (If it had been me on the keyboard, I would have died.)  It reinforced in his mind that the gameplay had become too easy.  (He's now preordered Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I hope he finds what he's looking for.)

It reminds me a little about a disagreement I had with my 4th daughter's 1st grade teacher.  I had homeschooled her through kindergarten, and since she was a sharp little cookie, I had run her almost all the way through 1st grade math, using the Singapore Math program, which focuses less on memorization and more on doing mental math through understanding how it works.  I had, as a matter of fact, started this little barely-6-yr-old on multiplication by this point, and she was doing well.  I was shocked, therefore, when I went to her first parent-teacher conference and found the teacher had assigned her entire worksheets of "plus zero" addition problems.

When I asked the teacher why she was giving her such easy work, the teacher replied she wanted to build up her self-esteem.  My daughter hadn't been able to run through timed addition worksheets very well (of course not--that wasn't the focus of the math curriculum I'd been using), and the teacher sensed she was discouraged.  I told the teacher as diplomatically as I could, which to be honest, takes much effort and still usually comes out sounding wrong, that self-esteem is not built by working through easy things.  Self-esteem comes from meeting and surpassing challenges.

It is the same with a game.  People might be able to accomplish easy quests or steamroll bosses, but that doesn't make them feel like they've truly accomplished anything.  Pride in one's ability and satisfaction in the game comes when the players face a challenge and somehow manage to succeed.  (Such as back in BC, when my husband joined a Karazhan group as a Holy Pally and they somehow managed to come up with strategies for the bosses, despite their less-than-ideal group make-up.  He still talks about that run.)  It's what gives gamers that "high" which keeps them coming back for more.

And this is why our tanks are upset.  They see this proposed change taking away a lot of their challenge.  In our bear's words, "You dps want to sit and epeen on your meters.  Same for tanks, we look at those meters and feel the accomplishement of 'holy crap, I held aggro off that!'"  They worry that the change will make their role in the fights mindless and boring.

According to Blizzard, the developers think the fight mechanics will still challenge tanks, who must be concerned with good positioning, tank switching, and so forth.  In addition, they are talking about adding more mitigation management tools to keep the tanks busy.  But I can understand the tanks' concern.  After all, as it is, they already have to worry about good positioning and tank switching, along with the mitigation management tools they have, but they have the added challenge of maintaining aggro on themselves.  They thrive on this kind of challenge.  It's what they signed up for when they chose to tank.

Who knows?  Perhaps the developers will change their minds.  Or perhaps they won't.  They've been tweaking the game play from the very beginning.  Not sure why we should be so surprised or get so upset now.  Either the players will adapt, or they will leave.  The recent statistics, however, do not bode well for Blizzard.

(Speaking of which, I need to cancel billing on my husband's account . . . The girls haven't been playing it lately.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fragility of Life

Thursday evening, I was late for raid.  I had to go to a school open house and athletics meeting, so I picked up pizza on the way home and made it back about a half hour into raid.  But when I got home, I was met by a surprise.

The evening had turned out very rainy--flash flood proportions--and the elderly gentleman who lived in the mountains behind the facility was at our house.  He had known he would be unable to make it past the creek while the flood continued, even in his all-wheel-drive vehicle, so my husband invited him to wait out the storm watching a movie in our living room.

Knowing that hostess duties trumped raid, I texted my GM the situation and got things ready for us to all sit down to pizza, followed by the chocolate cake my 15-yr-old had made while I had been gone.  We had a great time, with our neighbor talking about his small winery and ranch, and the kids discussing their school classes and activities.

When the dishes were done, the younger kids in bed, and the others settled down to continue their movie in the living room, I thought about logging on.  When I noticed the elderly gentleman had fallen asleep on the couch, I conferred with my husband and headed back to my computer room to join in the wipes on Ragnaros.

Late that evening, our neighbor did make it home, but not before he managed to get stuck in the creek, despite the lessened rain.  He hobbled out of his car about a quarter mile to where he could get cell signal and called my husband, who came in his 4-wheel-drive Jeep and took him home.

This morning, we heard our neighbor was killed last night in a car accident.  He had been going too fast on the rural highway, which is tempting to do, and he had not successfully navigated a curve.  Without his seatbelt, he was thrown from the car and, mercifully, died instantly.

It was a great shock to our family.  He was one of the few people who had truly befriended my husband, even taking him with him on his annual fishing trip to Canada at the beginning of July.  He was an influential man in the area, as all ranchers are influential.  And he had offered a job to my daughter, if she wanted it, helping to package orders for delivery.

But the thing which dominated my mind when I heard the news was that pizza and cake last Thursday.  How glad I was we had been able to be of service to him!  How thankful I was that I had not, in my heart, begrudged him that time, which took me away from the raid.

We always say Real Life > WoW.  We should probably also remember that Real Life is much more fragile than WoW.  The game will be there if we walk away for a day or a month, stored electronically and backed up on other machines, but opportunities to be kind, to be gracious, or to help others in Real Life may be taken away from us at any moment.

Rest in peace, Leonard.  We'll miss you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blog Drafts Are Handy

I love my blog Drafts folder.  I can rant and vent and nobody is the wiser.  I can write about something in which nobody else would be interested, then not publish it.  I can write down ideas for posts I haven't fully fleshed out yet, waiting for me to pick them up a week or a month or a year later.  I can keep my country list updated.  And the other day, I started a new possibly useful draft:  People to Avoid.

What triggered it was another visit to the WoW forums.  (Yes, I was bored . . . or not quite awake and just trying to read to get my brain moving . . .)

There was a post on the Guild and Raid Leadership forum from a guy who had just been gkicked from his guild and was upset about it, feeling he had been unjustly treated.  When I read it, I decided to break my silence and tell him he was in the wrong.  (He was.)  About a dozen other people posted in the thread, analyzing why the events had turned out the way they had and recommending what he could do to move on and improve his situation, but he insisted on arguing with them.  He added further details to his story, trying to show he hadn't been as much of a jerk as his initial post indicated.  (I confess his protestations were only proving the initial impression correct, especially as he concluded his participation in the thread by saying all the people who posted with analysis and advice were "annoying people".)

That would have been all there was to it, if I hadn't looked at the name and thought, "Wow, that name looks familiar."  I moused over his name and discovered, to my chagrin, he is on my server.

Well, someone like this is NOT someone I want to see in Tempest.  Ever.  No matter how long he has been playing WoW or how well he says he gets along with people.  (His frequency in changing guilds indicates he is either incorrect on this point or unstable.)  But with my memory, I couldn't be certain I would remember his name to block an application if he submitted one.

So I created a draft.  I included a link to the forum thread, as well as a link to his character information on WoWProgress, which shows his guild-hopping.  (Copied that part over, as I realize it may change and scroll off the display.)  I will hold on to this information unless I have to use it, and even then, I would keep it in the Officer's section of the forum, rather than the public recruitment section.

Part of me wants to tell this individual he's lucky I'm the one from the server to have read it--that it won't be linked on the realm forum where the mean people like to hang out.  But, given that he's being really irrational right now, I'd rather not draw attention to the fact I'm on the same server.  (He doesn't seem to have realized it, guessing from his sweeping comments about the server in general.)

This is not the first time I've noted the name of someone on a WoW forum in case I had to argue against their admittance into Tempest, but last time, I screenshotted the thread and resized the relevant parts using a picture editor.  Using the Drafts folder is easier.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Couple Short Notes

Well, my graphics card didn't come yesterday, but it did come today!  When I look at the tracking, it amazes me the path it took to get here.  Kentucky to Colorado to another Colorado place, to Phoenix, to Las Cruces (NM), to the town with the post office nearest us.  I'm sure if someone drew a picture of its path, it would look something like one of those shell cross-sections they always show us to speak of mathematics in nature or something . . . But why, oh, why, could it not just have gone from Kentucky to El Paso to . . .

Oh, well.  My husband is going to try to put it in this afternoon, if he can get away from work at a reasonable hour, so he can reclaim his laptop.  (He he . . .)

We faced Alysrazor again last night and will be facing her again tonight.  No, she didn't die, but neither did I!!  I did not die once to tornadoes or fire or anything except a called wipe.  The raid leader was disappointed in the attempts, but I was so caught up in my personal victory I could not think of the events as failure.  And I must confess to my raid leader, who will never read this, so I'm pretty safe unless someone squeals, that even when he called a wipe, I refused to die in a tornado.  It was a matter of pride.  After last week, I just had to prove it to myself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pollyanna Makes Another Appearance

With everything going on everywhere, it's been a lot more difficult for me to remain optimistic.  RL world and government events, teenage daughters, frustrations at work, concerns about uncertainties, etc., combined with unexpected family expenses, have made it so my day-to-day happy-go-lucky attitude has taken a hard hit . . .

Which makes it all the more important to sit down every so often and review those things which are good.

Our weekend optional "clean-up" (more like progression) 10-man raiding team has been making great progress.  It's given them some more experience to bring to the 25-man raid when we tackle new bosses, and has been a positive influence to people who get discouraged.  (Hey, I'll stand on the sidelines and wave my pompoms for them!)

And . . . since 10-man raids get the same loot as 25-man raids, some of our raiders are getting "free" loot on these runs.  More people getting loot from 10-man "clean-up" runs mean less competition for items in our 25-man raids, when we get the boss down, and faster gearing of the raid overall, to the benefit of the guild.

The next new boss we get to tackle is Majordomo!  Although I've heard it described as a difficult fight in 25-man, it seems like a lot of fun.  (Oh, dear, didn't I say that about Alysrazor?)  And it's a Druid type of fight, in some ways.  The movement requirements are simpler as a Resto Druid, including being able to shift to cheetah when necessary to move to or from something.  (I still have travel form hotkeyed from Sindragosa.  Occasionally gets to be a problem, if I accidentally click it while in flight form.  Haven't died from this yet, though. /knocks on wood)

As far as I know, there are only 5 regularly-running 25-man raids on our server over both factions.  This means we will always be in the top 5, lol!  Seriously, though, once the number of raids gets this low, competition really doesn't mean much.  We can just play, have fun, and not worry about it.  Pressure off!

My new graphics card should be in today!  /cross fingers.  We decided to go with a mid-priced card which would be leaps and bounds ahead of my old card, yet use a reasonable amount of power.  (We didn't want to find out we had to replace the power supply, too . . . ugh . . .)  That said, I might still be raiding on my husband's laptop tonight, as I don't think he will have the time to install the card before raid time.  (Afternoon meetings and stuff.)

And on a totally unrelated positive side note, I learned how to plant a prickly pear cactus!  Really, it's easy.  Just cut off a pad from an existing one, leave it in the shade for a week so the cut will heal up a bit, then dig a hole and stuff it into the dirt about one-third of the way up.  Where I live, that's it.  Of course, if you want it to grow a bit more quickly, you might want to water it, if it's not the monsoon season, just to help it get started.  I think I'm going to plant a few up by my house, so eventually my daughters and I will have our own supply of pricky pears from which to make pancake syrup, instead of having to march down the hill to the local clump of decorative prickly pear cactus every year, armed with 2-gallon buckets and every set of tongs we can find in the house.  (It's always good to know how to use your natural resources--contributes to self-confidence--and my husband absolutely loves prickly pear syrup.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Diablo Cash Auction House

Recently, Blizzard announced that the Diablo 3 auction house would include two options:  buy things for in-game currency or buy things for real life money.  And as I do not play and have no plans to play Diabo at all, this isn't an issue with which I will have to deal anytime soon.

However, what would happen if Blizzard decided to expand this idea to World of Warcraft?  I see a few serious problems with this idea.  (My husband told me he could see "more than a few".)

One is the advantage it gives players who are willing to throw money at their problems, so to speak, making the opportunities in-game unequal to the subscribers who already pay a fee to play.  Up to now, opportunities were dictated pretty much by how much time and effort people were willing to spend in-game, which is, I believe, fair.  Up to now, extra real life money has bought World of Warcraft players vanity pets or mounts, things which are really do not affect game play.  I have no problem with the idea of Blizzard selling items with "smile value" or even convenience.  But when the line is crossed toward allowing those with the most real life money to have the most power in-game, it is wrong.

The value of gold may decrease to the point where it becomes worthless. It may come to pass that nobody will end up listing items on the in-game currency auction house at all, especially after the economy becomes mature to the point many players have more than enough gold for their needs.  After all, if they can get real life money for it, why mess with excess, useless gold?  (Unless, of course, they have decided gold will be their "cash crop", in which case, how does this make them any better than the gold farmers we have despised for so long?)  This would put newer players at an extreme disadvantage, forced to buy items with cash instead of gold.  It's not a good situation.

On a WoW forum discussion about this, I saw someone had responded something to this effect: "Who cares?  As long as I can get the same results from playing in game, I don't care if people are using money on the auction house."

But this may not be possible.  Remember how much of a pain it is to deal with gold farmers who make it difficult for the rest of us to farm our own mats, recipes, etc.? Well, under this sort of condition, it would be legal, so those who would never have dreamt of disobeying the Terms of Service might join the ranks of the gold farmers.  Real life money would be at stake, which is a much more powerful motivator than in-game gold.  (And no cap is ever reached.)  And this might mean that those players who choose not to purchase their materials with cash would find it nearly impossible to do any farming at all.

Another problem is taxes.  Yep, you heard me right.

Back in 2008, there were already studies going on about taxing virtual currency in games such as World of Warcraft or Second Life.  An article at Forbes.com, entitled Taxing Virtual Worlds, discussed this possibility, taking the opinions of different economists or professors who had considered the idea.

There is, after all, as the article points out, a precedent for taxing game "winnings".
If you go on a TV game show and win real dollars (or even stuff, like a car or TV), you've received taxable income. Richard Hatch, the first winner of Survivor, is doing time in prison for failing to report his $1 million prize as income.
Personally, I think the idea of taxing World of Warcraft gold is ridiculous. I cannot take that gold and use it to buy milk for my children, so how could that be considered part of my income?  However, what if that gold could be considered to have a real world dollar equivalent?  What if that gold could be cashed out at a standard rate?  The gold would then have a value which could justifiably be considered game winnings (or earnings) and be required for inclusion in taxable income calculations.

Right now, the US government seems to think it is more trouble than it is worth to try to pursue taxation on virtual gold, thankfully.  But if it got to the point where in-game activities could result in real life money, especially in substantial quantities, it might reawaken their interest in the economies of virtual worlds and how they could snatch some benefit for their use.

Now, would my taxes raise substantially?  Probably not.  But I do not like the idea of the government reaching its hands into my life any more than I absolutely have to have.  And, after all, even if I chose not to cash out my gold, it could still end up costing me real life money.

One way or another, I sincerely hope Blizzard is smart enough to realize that a cash auction house and WoW would be a bad fit.

So I Dropped the Group . . .

Sometimes, you've just got to drop a group.

The other day, I found myself in a random Heroic Halls of Origination.  While I wasn't entirely enthusiastic about the length of the instance, I do enjoy the place, by and large, so I took a deep breath and prepared to settle in for a while.

The group consisted of a warlock, a hunter, and two DKs, beside myself.  I couldn't help but notice the names of the DKs:  Deadlydk (the tank), and Dkdeadly, from the same server.  /blink.  (The thought immediately occurred to me that there was some dual-boxing going on, but as they were talking to each other in chat, and as they weren't in the same guild, I figured that was unlikely.)

The tank immediately proceeded to put all our minds at ease (/tongue in cheek) by saying, "I can't tank this instance."

I figured I'd withhold judgement until I saw him in action.

The first trash pulls made me worried.  The tank's gear did, indeed, make it difficult for him to pull entire groups at once, but no CC was in evidence.  In addition, his dps DK friend must have been under the misguided impression he was a tank, as well, because the two of them seemed to share the duties rather frequently.

Let's face it:  I shouldn't have to burn through half my mana pool on an early trash pull in an Heroic Cataclysm instance by now.  (Chain-casting Regrowths that early is not encouraging.)

We reached Temple Guardian Anhuur, and without preamble, the tank pulled the boss.  Then he said something which more or less struck terror into my heart.  "What are we supposed to do for this boss?"  His DK friend said, "I don't know."

Suffice it to say we did manage to succeed, but only after a lot of confusion and finally some teamwork between the lock and me.  The boss died with the tank, the lock, and myself finishing him off.  Messy, but successful.  (Moonfire ftw.)

We headed off toward Earthrager Ptah, with the tank saying, "Oh, by the way, guys, we're going to be doing all the bosses.  Just saying."  I had visions of me viewing the Setesh fight from the ground.  (Happens often enough with a tank who knows what he's doing . . .)

As we ran up the stairs to the boss' area, the tank asked, "Am I supposed to be riding a camel?"

I whispered him, asking, "Do you know any of the bosses in here at all?"

"Nope," came the reply.  Great.  An undergeared tank who wants to complete the entire place, yet knows nothing about the instance.

Fortunately Ptah is reasonably simple, so aside from me whispering to the tank that it wasn't over yet after the boss' first "demise", he could handle the mechanics pretty well.

We ported back and, as I saw the trash in the next hallway we would be required to tackle, I groaned.  I remembered that trash.  It had wiped many a group when I was geared to the level of the instance, while in groups using CC.

The tank charged in, and, as expected, I couldn't keep him up, despite absolutely beautiful hps.  "I'll brb," he said, as the rest of us worked frantically to down the trash group.  As soon as the trash was dead, the other DK said, "Guess I'll brb, too."

I'd had it.  I knew there was no way, no way at all this group was going to be able to successfully make it through the instance.  In addition, I was doing this tank no favors by propping him up through encounters in which he should have been faceplanting and learning a thing or two.

I explained in party chat that our tank was hard to heal and knew none of the boss fights.  I told the group I had no patience for it that evening, and I wished them luck.  Then I dropped group.

I spent the rest of my limited evening playtime gathering herbs.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stymied By Chess

The other day, I found myself in the rare position of being home with only one daughter.  It was my 15-yr-old "Champion" daughter, and she begged me to come with her to run some Burning Crusade heroics, just for the achievements.

I told her she was perfectly capable of soloing them, especially with the way her cat is decked out, but went with her, because it made her feel better.  Besides, it was a kind of fun "mommy-daughter" activity.

After running through all four Auchindoun instances, in between cake-making, frosting-making, etc. (she was making a cake for her 10-yr-old sister's birthday party), she asked if we could go to Karazhan and try for the Huntsman's horse.

Accordingly, we soon found ourselves in Karazhan with a dead Huntsman (no horse).

"Mom," she said, "It sure would be nice to be able to see more of this place."

"Wow, kiddo, I used to get so lost here.  I'm not sure how far we could get."

"Could we try?  Please?"

I figured I had nothing better to do than to spend time with my daughter, so we started up the stairs to the ballroom.  Skirting around the edge of the room, stopping only to kill the staff, who kept getting in the way, we ended up in the banquet hall, where Moroes and his buddies stood on the raised dias.  We cleared the room and got the boss down in no time flat.

The Maiden of Virtue fell in short order, and we headed off toward the opera event.  My daughter was rather excited.  "I wonder which one it will be!"

It was "Romulo and Julianne".  The star-crossed lovers were no match for an 85 moonkin and hunter.

Then we ran into a problem.  Unbeknownst to me, Blizzard had fixed a "bug" in the system.  Whereas before, successfully completing the opera event unlocked the back door, the back door now remained resolutely locked unless unlocked from the inside.  And I had no idea how to get there.

We spent at least the next half hour wandering around places I'd never been (never knew there was a place with soldiers practicing their skills or a blood-stained door), before I finally broke down and found a blog which told me to go out the other stage door.

My daughter found the door on the way and unlocked it for good measure, and we continued on, defeating the Curator, Illhoof, and Shade of Aran.  I couldn't summon Nightbane, and I didn't think we could two-man Netherspite, because of the beam mechanics, so we skipped those two.  Surprisingly enough, I didn't get lost once.

And then we found ourselves completely stumped.

We both know how to play chess, although I never play anyone because I can never win.  But no matter how much we read about soloing the chess event (which should be simpler with two of us, right?), this encounter had us beaten.

Finally, with the need to do the dishes from all that baking looming, I decided enough was enough.  "The lockout will still be there for a few days, honey," I told my disappointed daughter.  "And maybe we can persuade your dad to come with us, so we'll have three people on the encounter."

It seems ironic that of all the encounters, the one which would stop our progress would be the one nobody ever expected to fail in Burning Crusade.  But after we tackle this one, the Prince will feel like a piece of cake.