Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TotD: People watching the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special...

...need to watch it while remembering the following subtext, which I will white text for everyone's protection should they wish to avoid it:

River Song has been "dead" for years now. The Doctor watches her die in the Library. He's travelled with her and her parents for an extended time now without ever telling any of them this.

There's reason for his monologue with the Widow: he knows the day when he must do so is coming. Do not expect the news to go over well. The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions and knowing Amy and Rory, his position as "son-in-law", the secrets he's already kept, and his promise to keep her safe once he "finds" her, he will likely not be able to justify this...

There you go. That ought to give folks an "oh, shit" moment or two...

Friday, December 9, 2011

WoW: MoP and Enhancement Shaman Talents

Note: The Tree has been updated since this was written.

There's a lot of whining that it's all PVP talents in the Shaman tree and, worse, that there's no specific Enhancement Talents. Lets look at the first part of that and we'll get to the last in a bit:

Tier 1:
These all look like PvP talents until you start to look at some of the fights Blizzard's been putting out lately. Don't you wish you had a Totem on Rag that could AoE throw adds away from the hammer? Hey, look... Repulsion Totem. There's a bunch of adds in the room? To the point where you're stacking the raid with Druids for Roots? Hey, look... Earthgrab Totem. Frozen Power is what you grab when there's one add and not many.

So, there are current fights where these have use. Judging from the ability overlap into other Classes trees, expect more of them.

Tier 2:
Nature's Guardian is what you take when you're up against Decimate mechanics and the healers aren't quite there yet. Especially when they also involve threat dumps because we're still early threat whores due to Windfury.

Stone Bulwark Totem has absolutely no obvious use in PvE. Except on Ultraxion... Maloriak... Alysrazor.... you know, pretty much every fight with metric tons of outbound unavoidable damage where a shield that's going to approach ~50% uptime (depending on how many seconds apart the "waves" are - it refreshes every 5), is going to be of high value to help keep you on your feet and killing. The metric between it and Astral Shift? Can you afford to lose 50% of your DPS output for 6 seconds and are the attacks frequent or far apart. On DPS + Healing checks like Ultra, the answer is a straight line no. On a fight like Nefarian where you're primarily looking to mitigate crackles? Likely yes. Depends on what that shield looks like at 85/90 and the simple reality that only taking 50% of the hit is more than likely going to be better for you than simply absorbing some of it.

Tier 3:
Improved Ghost Wolf is all about: "How do I improve mobilty for me" while Windwalk Totem is all about: "How do I improve mobility for everyone". Both of these have a place in Dungeons or Raiding where bosses that either slow, snare, or root are not unknown.

Tranquil Mind is a somewhat new idea that seems to be spreading across the Trees: group/raid wide silence immunity. If you're wondering where this comes into play, think Nalorakk in Zul'Aman. Again, when you see counters spreading widely into the toolset, expect more PvE fights to make use of them in the future.

Tier 4:
Is where we run into a talent that likely will only fall to healers: Healing Tide Totem is not an ability we can expect to pick up with regularity. Ancestral Guidance is probably going to be preferred depending on the output simply because we're a spec that attacks very rapidly between our melee white damage and cooldowns. Depends on what the comparative output of the two actually turns out to be. Healing someone for 45K on a 120K Lava Lash crit isn't exactly negligible though - specially when it splashes onto a Tank and prevents a wipe.

However, on any fight where there's significant Magic Damage? Fortifying Waters turns us into a spec that brings a 10% magic reduction cooldown with 0 mana costs to the Raid and can be renewed as fast as we proc Maels: freeing up healers to use GCD's and mana to heal. That has its worth too.

Tier 5:
Elemental Mastery? Admittedly mneh. If it did spell and melee haste it might be worth talking about but the problem with it and Natures Swiftness is that all our spells are already instant so all we're really getting is a free mael cast out of it (not that there aren't situations where having the ability to instant cast will be unwelcome either way but most of them are those where we'd be losing the DPS value from the haste because they require movement which frequently takes us out of melee range), but at least NS does spell and melee haste on a one minute cooldown: the value of that haste we can debate when we start to see stat values in 5.0.

Otherwise, yes, the output tier is kinda boring and likely locks us into Booming Echos affecting about 40-50% of our output by duplicating spells.

Tier 6:
Elemental Harmony is the clear PvE winner here even after they removed Fire Totems from the ability for obvious balance reasons: quenching the burning dreams of those looking to deploy Searing for Lava Lash while keeping Fire Elemental and Magma up for AoE. Being able to deploy your Stone Bulwark and/or your Earthgrab and/or Tremor at the same time or your Repulsion and Windwalk will come in handy in situations.

Totemic Restoration is, admittedly, the talent I can't make a PvE argument for largely because it's very rare for totems to get destroyed in Dungeon/Raid PvE save by random pats you should be avoiding.

Totemic Projection is a talent we've been demanding for years and, now that we can have it, most of the quality of life improvements that have been/are going to be made makes it feel unneeded. With buff totems going behind the barn to be shot it suddenly seems pointless to have at first glance but you need to consider two things: it lets you "throw" your totems some place so you don't need to go there and then for the potential savings in mana from not having to recreate totems since there appears to be no need to spend mana to make the move.

So, think about being able to drop Earthgrab at your feet, "projecting it" - and everything else - to where it's needed, then refreshing Searing where you are so you can maintain DPS and root/snare at the same time. That has value to DPS because those three GCD's are likely still less of a dps loss than the time it would take you to run back and forth. If you want to make an argument against that, limit it to the idea that it should work more like trap launching which under the new system would be a real QoL improvement and eliminate one of those GCD's.

All that said there are obvious PvE uses for our talents. To argue otherwise is to indicate a lack of any real insight into how the fights work and how Blizzard works to constrain DPS by adding things like Adds and Movement Impairments/Requirements to prevent us from just hacking and slashing away Patchwork style. These are the kinds of limitation in thought that's affecting pretty much all the discussion on the new trees.

Now, getting back to that second point: that there's no clear DPS Talent. Well, yeah, our Tier 5 tree is kinda mneh for Enhancement. Instead of just saying that though, start thinking about what might be a good cooldown for not just Enhancement but also one/two of the other specs as well because the Talent Trees need to flex in that way under this system.

I'd suggest an Elemental is required but it runs into the reality that several other Classes already have "Spawn Guardian Critter of Awesome". So, we need to think of something more unique, interesting, and that has the ability to flex across the specs. Preferably, we need 2-3 of these things that might have their time and place along the lines of Warriors choosing between Bladestorm (for AoE dps), Shockwave (for some AoE dps but largely Stuns), and Avatar (for single target DPS). Building that into a Class that Heals, Ranged DPS's, and Melee DPS's is a bit tricker than that Warrior example because we all have different wants and needs but it's the kind of thinking that really needs to be applied here.

No hurry, we're not in Alpha yet: there's time to ponder.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

TyL: Found on the Internet....

... by someone else and offered without comment:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rant: Doctor Who Movie? Oh, This is not Likely to End Well....

"We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”
David Yates on trying to take Doctor Who to the movie theatre.

My own personal disrespect for the mans movie making abilities notwithstanding, lets address where this is going to go wrong:

1) Throw everything current out and reboot the series for the theatres only. (ie: we want to be able to tell our own story!) Hey, outside the neighing and stewing of continuity nerds there's nothing inherently wrong with that but...

2) ... this idea that you need to "rework the concept" to make it work in the movies when they do two hour specials every fucking year just makes me /facepalm. The concept is solid and straightforward: "crazy" alien on the run with his stol... er... borrowed time machine picks up hot earth chick (+ her SO now and then), and takes her on adventures through time and space. Earth chick is our point of reference to the protagonist, protagonist gets through things based on wit and comes across as a bit scattered to anyone not working in his head. It's applicable to any medium and the only real thing you need to decide is which pieces of the existing story you want to adapt and when.

Furthermore, the idea that the movie theatre is a "bigger arena" for a show that airs worldwide to billions these days already is kinda laughable and plays to a certain elitist line of thought towards the medium. You don't need to be on the big screen to be "epic", sorry. You need to tell a tight fucking tale with moments of fucking "Woah!".

All this means you don't need to rework the concept. What you actually need to do is tell an awesome 2 hour story containing the character archetypes people have become familiar with and love without falling into the trap that many people trying to goto the big screen with an established franchise do...

3)... and that's that "Our Story" needs to be self contained because nothing, and I mean nothing, produces worse movies than the assumption that you're going to get sequels and we need to clutter up this story with hooks to the next 15.

If "Doctor Who" the first movie is anything more than: "Here's the Doctor, here's the hot chick, 'Hey, look, time travelling telephone box!', here's todays threat/adventure, wrap with them heading off for the next", then you've got too much story. Gallifrey? You can get to that. Any more than one, and I mean ONE, of the rogues gallery present? You can get to that. The Master? You can get to that. Regeneration? When the actor asks for a raise/wants out you can get to that.

Seriously, don't try and get everything into the first film just so you can say you've covered all your bases- it leads to a cluttered mess like Green Lantern.


4) ... It will be interesting to see who this film is for. To some people, Doctor Who is Children's programming, to others family, and to others it's tight Sci-Fi regardless. The reason the series, and particularly the current rebooted incarnation, has been so successful is that it manages to straddle a whole lot of lines. This is going to cause the biggest hurdle in getting this produced because the elephant in the room is quickly going to be studio expectations for which of those markets they think the movie is going to appeal to and how. This has the potential to end in a lot of disappointment when the Doctor picks a couple spunky kids as the companions instead of a 20-25 year old pin-up girl because that's what the studio wants to "make it relatable to a younger audience" and risks resulting in the whole thing blowing up at the box office because the end product only services some, or none, of the niches or changes it in ways that the property no longer appeals.

For reference, see "The Last Airbender" for what happens when you get a bunch of people in the room who think they know what the audience wants better than the source material does.

All of this is why I really don't have any current expectation the "movie version" will be good or successful and I think I'm going to just stand aside from here on out until the reviews hit (if the project ever makes it out of development hell that is), before making a call.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WoW: The Great iLvL Escape.

Ghostcrawler poked his head out of the sand last week to address item scaling. In particular, the fact that the exponential growth system currently in use is going to quickly get us into the ludicrous numbers range on our gear and, by extension, what we hit/heal/etc for. Most people have read it and missed one point though: they were obviously looking for feedback, which is why pretty much everyone has treated the discussion as an "either/or" debate between "Mega Damage" and "Item Squish", but they were also looking for other options to attack the issue.

So, I'm going to hit up both feedback and provide a couple other options.

Mega Damage is basically a work around for the reality that, if we were to continue to scale in power exponentially, the engine would need to be reworked to deal with the fact that we're going to be dealing damage in the millions... per hit. For a real world example of where numbers run into display caps, think of how, as you level your Characters in old Final Fantasy's, you'd eventually start hitting for 9999 damage and cap out. Similar restrictions currently exist within WoW (though, obviously at a higher scale), so Mega Damage is less about splashing the term round the screen and more about having to make sure those extreme numbers will display properly and can be processed by system on both ends.

Beyond the fact that I'm pretty sure Palladium Books has a registered trademark on that (which, given the state of the pen + paper RPG industry, may be questionable to tempt), GC's basically hit all the major roadblocks here: it's awkward and will eventually run into the real limitations of computing power - both locally and server side. The reality is that, as much fun as it may be, letting our numbers scale into infinity is going to make encounters look really, really strange.

I say that because there will eventually come a point when we're going to be standing in front of a boss with 999 Billion health (or more) and start pounding on him for 100 Million DPS/Player under this situation and that's just boggling.

Item Squish basically says we're going knock the exponential growth out from under the player at the end of each expansion, place all gear before the current/upcoming expansion back on (relatively) linear growth, and thus attempt to reset the curve such that we have more room to breathe. There are a few glaring problems with it:

1) Players potentially go from hitting for 40K DPS at the end of Cat to hitting for 4K DPS heading into MoP (for pure example: there are no hard numbers as to where we'd be), so you're likely going to log in one day and feel like you've been hit with the nerf stick; hard.

2) In scaling everything - gear, bosses, mobs - down, every single mob and dungeon encounter currently in the game is going to have to be rebalanced and tested against the new status quo because it very rarely turns out that you can simply "decrease by x" significantly - which is what would be required to get us all back to iLvL 200 gear by the start of MoP - without having any consequences to the encounter design. This is going to be a pile of work I'd really rather dev time not be wasted on or, worse, the Devs might handwave simply because its primary effect will be to screw up legacy content. Admittedly, this only needs be done once (theoretically), and then only for each expansion at the end.

3) It doesn't permanently fix anything; it just buys time as the high end of the curve gets pushed further out.

I can see why, in the either/or discussion, people prefer Item Squishing because it results in less obscene numbers in the end (for a bit), and that screenshot for Mega Damage is pretty dumb, but maybe it's time to consider other options as well.

Half way between Item Squishing and Mega Damage lies the idea that maybe, just maybe, we can allow gear to continue scaling but at a less obscenely fast rate. For example, maybe MoP gear only goes up by 600 Points in the primary stat slot by 5.3 instead of ~2100 points as per GC's example:

I like to call this the Rule of 600 (although, the number is flexible TBH), in that basically we're looking for non linear growth within a defined window of 600 points . You'd want a curve that backends most of the points while still seeing to it enough points are on the front end to encourage swapping out gear as people level. Although, with the addition of iLvL restrictors to the game, it's worth considering that there are other mechanics to incentivize gear swapping now. The big problem with this is that, in being a half way solution, it doesn't delay the scaling as fast as the Item Squish and still requires some attention to the Mega Damage problem. As well, the question is whether or not this will be considered "enough" of a "power increase" for people used to stupid levels of scaling - especially as a percentage of total increase/tier.

While the later problem is going to be somewhat subjective - though not to the math nerds - the primary benefit is that it would be hard to argue you got nerfed under this system because power would continue to increase; just at a slower rate.

If you wanted to absolutely clear the table though, there's a tried and true method for this in RPG's: The Hard Reset. Not so much from a: "It's time to have WoW 2.0* and put everyone back to level one", stand but more from a: "The Mists of Pandaria corrode/disables/etc your puny Azerothian gear. Replace it", position. This would attempt to replicate those situations where you'd go into zones ("Hell" zones are good examples of where you might need specific gear), and your gear just wouldn't work or the GM decides (preferably in consultation with the players), that you've accumulated too much Wealth/Power and it's time to have your ship get hit by a typhoon and you to wake up soggy in your nightclothes on a distant shore or an "enemy" gets the upper hand and strips you of your gear/position/power to try and bring some balance/challenge/strife back to the game.

This is the hardcore Item Squish in that, for the sake of argument, you'd basically want to do something like: "Azerothian gear is weakened to 10% of it's normal levels", and then build from there by replacing that gear with the gear you'd find in Pandaria that would scale from the new baseline. This is a bit awkward, in that it essentially creates a whole second "class" of gear and you'd likely want to swap back to pre-MoP gear to run old instances/raids. Running through pre-MoP quest zones is less of an issue because, though this is a bit easier for casters than weapon users, a Level 85 can still kill most 85 mobs naked if they're on their game. The solution to those issues may lie in the Challenge Mode Dungeons as it could also be theoretically possible to apply its normalization mechanic outside the dungeons to have MoP gear normalize to a fixed Level 85 equivalent set on legacy content. Considering that, the Hard Reset does offer some benefits:

1) The gear reset can be to any point Blizzard is comfortable with and scale as high as they want within an expansion in the same sense. This makes the Hard Reset the most effective permanent solution because, when we wander off to fight Sargeras + the Burning Legion in 6.0 his demonic realm can functionally do the same thing to our puny MoP gear, or not. It all depends on how often you want to wield the axe and how hard. Long term, this gives you the most flexibility because you're no longer delaying the inevitable, you're creating a mechanic and tools to prevent it.

2) You can also now consider other ways to scale the player under the new gear system or even from expansion to expansion; from enchants, raw player stat increases as the character levels, or even the addition of new kinds of gear slots and the like because you've now more space to shift power elsewhere.

3) You never have this awkward intermediate stage where you're fighting Deathwing one week doing 40K dps, then the 4.4 patch hits to push down the MoP changes and now you're feeling like you're back in Kara doing 4K because, under the Hard Reset, it's arriving on Pandaria that presents the issue and not a retune to the game. In other words, you don't need to deflate every character and pre-MoP encounter in the game to ensure damage in MoP doesn't scale out of control.

The downside? Most definitely a nerf to start at least. How much of a nerf depends on how you want to work this: is your Hard Reset going to basically just upend the status quo and set things up so you've room to breathe for another 5 expansions, or do you want to do something like a 50% debuff on prior gear every expansion so that you can do something like this:
and tighten up your growth rate by nerfing power at the start, while still letting everyone be more powerful by the end than they were in the prior expansion. The problem with doing it the later way though is that players will likely begin to feel Yo-Yo'd.

That said, I'm honestly of the opinion that maybe the Hard Reset is the way to go because, as GC noted, sometimes it's best to just rip the bandaid off and this bandaid? It's the biggest one to yank by far.

* Folks, Cataclysm is WoW2.0

Sunday, November 6, 2011

TLU: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means...

Random kid: "Why are you crossing the bridge; aren't you brave enough to come down here!"
Me: "Plenty brave. Just not an idiot"

Soooooooo... there's this, well, I guess creek that used to run down to the lake. It was dredged each year or so such that it was deep and fast moving to ensure the water passed quickly through it from the swampland out to the lake to manage the runoff. In the winter, kids liked to play on it when no one was looking. I say "when no one was looking" because their parents would ground them for a month if they caught them on it for the very simple reason that the things that made it great for moving water in the spring also saw to it that it didn't freeze to ground in the winter, that you'd get soft spots in the ice from the flow rate, and if you went through you'd be downstream from the hole so fast the next time you'd be seen was when they were pulling your corpse out of the lake in the spring. I was old enough to have been around when it last happened. Them, not so much.

It's conversations like that that remind me that bravery is not about doing things that would get you killed - that's just idiocy or thrill seeking - but instead about doing the thing anyone in their right mind would turn and run from because it's what needs to be done.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CBCR3: Until We Meet Again...

... because the podcast was retired on Monday in favour of links posted to a half dozen social media sites you can track down and click to goto the site and listen to the track.

Too. Much. Work. With the podcast I could poke my head in once a week, do a filter pass to everything that dropped, then kill the stuff I had no interest in while leaving the rest for a more thorough listen later. It was rather convenient and let me build a nice little playlist to carry around with me on the iPod. That's the bigger limitation here: I simply can't carry the website in my pocket (without investing in a much more expensive phone and data plan at least), which kinda defeats my entire purpose for doing this.

So, this will likely be the last update to the playlist unless they return to pushing data out to listeners instead of expecting them to come get it. Not so much out of protest, but simply because I can't be bothered to do this the way they're doing it now; there's nothing in it for me anymore.

No subtractions this time, pure adds:

Born Ruffians - The Ballad of Moose Bruce
The Ethics - Night Train
Wintersleep - Oblivion
Rouge - Modern Lovers I
Nathan - The Boulevard Back Then
Jeans Boots - Moonbase
The Weather Station - Came So Easy
Lindi Ortega - Dying Of Another Broken Heart
C'mon - Call My Name
Sun Wizard - World's Got A Handle
David Vertesi - All Night, All Night, All Night
Andre Ethier - Infant King
Paper Moon - Turning Colours into Greys
Jane Vain & The Dark Matter - C'mon Baby Say Bang Bang
Danielle Duval - Imposter
Hayden - Let's Break Up

With that we finish up at 95 songs and almost 7.5 hours: perfect for blowing a workday. To be found here for as long as they don't break it. Unless they restart things and I get back to keeping up with the playlist, I likely won't fix it if it breaks. The CBC Radio3 Page is there for anyone that wants to recreate if necessary.

Friday, October 28, 2011

RftP: In Time

I'd almost say that In Time is this years Skyline only by all accounts Battle: Los Angeles was, rather conveniently, this years Skyline and In Time isn't quite that bad. Still pretty god damned awful by any metric, In Time takes its high concept and... well... proceeds to weigh it down with leads that are phoning it in, cut rate production values, "Time" puns out of an 80's action film, and, most critically, no real attention/consistency to its core plot mechanic other than when we need to play it up for dramatic effect.

Anyways, In Time runs on the following premise: everyone in this world is genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. As a form of population control, once you turn 25 your biological clock quite literally starts ticking down from one year - conveniently indicated to you by a glowing green digital countdown on your left wrist - and this is how much time you have left to live. More time can be earned by working, and the time you have is spent as currency. You can trade it by taking a hold of someone's right hand, take out loans, pay for things via a bar code reader, or, in one of the silliest conceits of the year, fucking arm wrestle to the death over it. Many of the poor in this world turn 25 and find themselves down to a day or less as they pay off debts incurred while growing up by themselves or those of their parents. On the flip side, the rich live sheltered away in separate enclaves protected by bodyguards from any accidental deaths by hiding away in their homes, entertainment centres, and offices while accumulating millennia off the backs of those left in slums to slave in their factories and workplaces until they drop dead. Literally.

In more capable hands, there's quite a film to be made out of that. Unfortunately, what we get here pretty much wastes everyone involved as it proceeds to open with some maudlin melodrama between Justin Timberlake and his mom, Olivia Wilde, side trips through a third rate poker game outta James Bond, and then goes all stockholm syndrome meets Robin Hood with Amanda Seyfried. Meanwhile Cillian Murphy tries to pretend he's still working with Chris Nolan while channeling Tommy Lee Jones from the Fugitive if the character had 50 years to get completely jaded about how the world works. It's pretty brutal and made only more so because it uses its core plot points in ways that are completely implausible. For example, JT gets "arrested" at a night party, all the time he's accumulated gets "seized" until he only has two hours left to prevent him from running.... except he runs.... and is still alive at daybreak the next day despite the fact that the girl he's just abducted has made it plenty clear she's not giving him any of her time at that point.

Situations like that persist throughout the film but the worst abuser are the "running" sequences where they quite clearly are either the luckiest people in town in terms of where they run low or the fucking Flash. It's at this point you realize the plot device exists to serve the action sequences, plausibility and story be damned, and just go "fuck it, even for a popcorn film this is shit." The production values do nothing to counter this; there's an absolutely laughable CGI gar crash, the supporting cast and extras are just god awful (especially those playing bodyguards who handle their weapons like they first met in Costume, although you could possibly make an argument that's an intentional choice based on the fact that they usually never have to defend), and everything looks like it was shot on a single backlot somewhere unless they were in a city.

It just doesn't work, and more so because it's cut in a way that makes it very clear no one gives a shit about the plot and/or scenes were dropped and JT + Seyfried are acting like they're in a romantic comedy somewhere; quite possibly because they're both given some absolutely preposterous lines to say and just can't keep a straight face while doing it. Additionally, the action scenes are pretty limited and no one's going to come out of this thinking JT just set himself up for a long career as an ass kicker 'cause he barely does any throughout the film. When he does, someone's decided the best way to highlight him is to make sure every fight is over in 6 seconds through having him be some sort of ghetto Ninja with no setup as to why. The rest of the time he's just running and shooting over his shoulder.

All in all, this is a film you should catch on TV someday. Preferably off an antenna.

PS: Cillian Murphy's character? Totally JT's dad, even if the film never admits it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

WoW: You've Made Your Bed...

One of the fun recurring complaints you hear from PvP servers is how there's no PvP anymore. Because the faction ratios are 30:1. Frequently because one faction actively went out of their way to run the other off the server by camping them into oblivion and they're damned proud of it.

This is followed by ranting at Blizzard to try and "fix" the issue which is roughly equivalent to the following conversation:
Player: "Tom took his ball and went home because I kept kicking him in the face. I demand you find me someone else to kick in the face. With a ball."
Blizzard: "Um... yeah.... we'll get right on that..."
Reality Check: Blizzard isn't going to "rebalance" your server for the simple reason that there's really no evidence that you're not going to continue to run anyone they move there off and forcing a PvP experience with a mandatory migration upon their customers to appease you that basically involves getting camped until they log in frustration is not really in the company's best interest.

Although I'm sure they'd take the realm change cash, Blizzard is smart enough to know that it's player attitudes towards what's supposed to go on on a PvP server that are causing the issue and not, say, class or faction racial imbalances as the source of this issue. The problem actually comes down to the simple reality that, at some point in time, the PvP community got this idea into their heads that the purpose of a PvP server was not to have a "live" opponent from time to time but, instead, to achieve that ephemeral goal of "Domination" and now that they've achieved that, they don't get their "live" opponents anymore because... well... they've dominated them instead of engaged in some sort of sustainable level of mutual harassment. Blizzard can't program around player attitudes and, lets be honest, if they tried the people who want to play domination are going to transition from whining about having no one to dominate to screaming to high heaven when there are roadblocks placed in their way.

So, until attitudes change, you're likely screwed. Although, maybe they could just let you faction change to the other side on your own server for free for a while. I suspect you guys on the high side are certainly gonna jump at the challenge and extra PvP opportunities that opens up.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TotD: Not Remotely Shocked.

Strong winds, rain cause power outage at Jane and Bloor

Used to work this area as a phone tech.

View Larger Map

If the Power network is as archaic as some of the phone equipment was in this area I'm surprised it's not down more often. There were quite literally 1940's/1950's Pole Terminals still in use here for the phone lines a few years back. Boy, that was fun to work with.... especially with the stands they were on...

Had these old school seat brackets we were warned against using because no one was doing maintenance on them anymore.

Friday, October 14, 2011

DGtCDB: Zul Gurub

Boy, this is late in coming but these take significant writing time to do and I've been busy.

Important Trash Note: Utilize your Cauldrons. Green Cauldrons will provide a substantial immunity to Nature damage - handy for fighting certain mobs and passing toxic areas. Blue Cauldrons will give you a buff that freezes and does substantial damage to the first target you hit; they make certain mobs much easier to kill. Red Cauldrons don't really get used much in trash, but cause you to make like a 'lock and start casting a Hellfire equivalent - with the exact same consequences to your health. All three will play in role in one of the later boss fights.

Going to try doing this in a slightly different format than the earlier ones which I've been advised were too "wordy". Sooooo, streamlined it is....

High Priest Venoxis
First boss does a lot of poison/nature damage - much of which is demonstrated by the trash priests on your way to the boss.
Rule One of Venoxis: Don't stand in Green. Repeat: Do. Not. Stand. In. Green. Tanks, please position the boss so that his ass is not facing the green fog on the staircase as you will make it hard for Melee to not violate Rule One; fog damage aura extends further than you think. Likewise, when the boss goes snake and starts spitting bile, get behind it, don't eat it.
Interrupt: Whispers of Hethiss - You'll likely need to rotate on this because it will be cast about every 5-8 seconds
Run Away!: Toxic Link - If this is cast on you, a green line will form between you and another player. You want to get away from that player as quickly as possible in order to cancel out the ability. Ranged and Healers should pre-position themselves in the room so that the ability will fall off immediately to negate it entirely for those players. Think a big triangle with Ranged DPS in opposite base corners and Heals at the tip towards the back alter.
Bloodvenom Tendrils - the boss will cast this when he jumps back up the stairs. You'll need to run though the green maze of lines on the ground to avoid the AoE damage they will do shortly after spawning so leave yourself a path to run and, if necessary and health allows, don't be afraid to cut quickly across a line if it means being able to avoid the AoE.

Avoid those abilities and Venoxis will likely fall in 1-2 phases.

Bloodlord Mandokir
Straightforward Tank + Spank pretty much. Mandokir will occasionally jump around and instagib someone with Decapitate so be prepared as Tank or Healer to have the other go down from time to time when RNG hates you. Deaths on this fight also cause Mandokir to Level Up - increasing damage by 20% for each one so you're trying to finish him before he simply overpowers you.
Rule One of Madokir: the Chained Spirits are how you get revived from Decapitate. You have 8. Mandokir will (re)spawn his Raptor Ohgan over the course of the fight. If Ohgan is allowed to run freely, he will kill the Chained Spirits. No chained spirits, no rezes. No Rezes, dead party through attrition. You want to control Ohgan with slows or burn him down to prevent this and maximize your Chained Spirits.
Run Away!: Devastating Slam is a conical AoE attack which has a ground effect similar to Earthquake in a big frontal V. Prioritize clearing out because ground spikes will erupt within it and kill you instantly. You don't want extra deaths on this fight - remember each one causes Mandokir to Level Up.
Periodically: Bloodletting will be cast on a player and a red line will link them and Mandokir. They will lose 50% of their remaining health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds up to a minimum of 75K. Healers need be aware of that minimum and also top these players back up after the spell finishes.

Mandokir will enrage at 20% increasing his attack speed by 100%. Survive that and take your spoils.

High Priestess Kilnara
Somewhat of an add fight, the Tank will need to juggle holding agro on Kilnara with pulling kitties to be burnt down by the DPS.
Rule One of Kilnara:: Her kitty adds need to die before she hits 50% health, or else any remaining adds will agro and start chewing on the party.
Interrupt:: Tears of Blood - she will cast this periodically before she goes below 50% and it will do significant AoE damage to the party if left to run it's full course.
Run Away!: Wave of Agony - she will face a random player and create a giant purple wave. Anyone standing in its path will be knocked back and take 70-80K damage when it goes off so clear out of it's path/get behind her before it does.
Dispel: Lash of Anguish is 18-20K damage every 2 seconds for 10 seconds - ~80-100K. If you can dispel magic, take it off, don't heal through it.
Periodically: Wail of Sorrow will damage the party. Heal through it.

At 50% she will turn into a giant cat lady, the roof will collapse dealing AoE damage, and any remaining kitties that weren't killed will awaken and attack the party. Heal through the AoE damage to top everyone back up and then just burn her down before her attack buff builds to the point where she can kill you all.

This is where those Cauldrons we were talking about earlier will come in handy.
Rule One of Zanzil: Use the right cauldron at the right time. Blue to Kill/Control spawned Berzerkers, Red to Burn down Zombies, Green to handle Toxic Torment.
Interrupt: Voodoo Bolt as much as possible to minimize Tank damage.
Run Away! Zanzil Fire is a line of fire towards a random target. It is not a buff.
Zerkers will lock on to a random player just like they did on the path up to Zanzil's area. If you can't kill them in an iceblock, the person they target needs to kite while DPS finishes them off.

This entire fight really depends on how much DPS you have. With lots, it's entirely possible to have everyone grab the Fire Cauldron to start, stack on the boss, pop Hero, and heal through the party damage from the Cauldron buff while you try to beat out the Potion timers. At which point, it basically comes down to what you get first. If your first Potion revives a Berzerker, it's best to deal with it. But Toxic Torment, or Zombies? Get the appropriate buff, then stay on Zanzil and burn baby burn! But, if your DPS is low it's going to be 3 phases at least so don't be impatient: take the time to handle them appropriately because the boss really can't kill you if you manage his adds/potions correctly.

Jin'do the Godbreaker
Ahhh, the fight that still breaks many party's backs. Quick and easy done right, brutal wipe fest done wrong.

Phase 1: Above 70% health, Jin'Do will basically use two abilities: Deadzone and Shadows of Hakar.
Targets in the Deadzone take 90% less magic damage, but also cast 90% slower. Tanks want to keep Jin'do out of these so he doesn't get the 90% reduction buff. When Jin'do goes to cast Shadows of Hakar though, the party wants to be inside the Deadzone because the Chain Shadow damage will destroy players otherwise. So basically, you're going to dance in and out of big green bubbles until the boss runs away and starts...

Phase 2: Ahhh.... the phase of mass death. There will be three chains in the room covered by bubbles. To break these, the tank needs to go pull Gurubashi Spirit from the landings below and get them upstairs. The Gurubashi Spirit should not be killed right away; instead the party wants to keep him up until he casts at least one Body Slam on a random player who must be standing near one of the chain bubbles when he casts it in order to break the chain.
Rule One of Jin'Do: Don't miss your Body Slams. The longer this fight goes on, the more adds will spawn in the room and the harder it's going to get. You want your first three Slams to hit the chain bubbles. Also note: the purple circles created by the slams increase all damage done to things inside them by 200% so you really want to take advantage of these and get them placed not just so that they break the chain bubble but that the chain itself is included as well.
Run Away!: Shadow Spike - If there are white puffy clouds below your feet, a large amount of damage is coming your way. Move out of the smoke circle. Note: the damage buff from the purple circle applies to these strikes as well - you really don't want one of these landing on you as Melee while dealing with the chain.
Control: Gurubashi Spirt - Tank and Healer need to communicate to the party how many jumps you want to try and take per Spirit because the longer he's up, the more damage he does. While you don't want him immediately dead, whether or not you're killing one after every shield break, or after two, or going for all three needs to be communicated to the party so your Tank doesn't die.
Twisted Spirits - will spawn from shadow portals and harass the party in increasing numbers as the fight goes on. Ranged should make a best effort to control these as they will beeline for your Healers otherwise and do significant melee damage. Failure to control these often ends up in dead Healers which often means wipe time. It's best for the Ranged to stay near the healer so that they can camp a Chain together as mobs rush in instead of run all over the room and be out of position for a Body Slam.

Control the adds, break the bubbles, and destroy all three chains and you'll be free to go.

Yes. I know there're 4 random archaeology bosses. There are also almost no people who've done the prof to spawn the boss sooo I'm not bothering.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rant: Oooohhh, HMV....

As noted before, HMV Canada is in a bit of a pickle: they need to find some way to make themselves relevant to modern customers who are increasingly taking advantage of digital media before they're pronounced dead through attrition.

The good news is that they have a plan.

The bad news is that the plan seems to be to go running headlong into lines of business that failed.

Subscription music is the dumbest of the two things they're looking at. The primary problem with it is that they're trying to sell a music service that likely won't be portable because I sincerely doubt their service will be compatible with anything other than a computer screen. The reason this is a problem is that people don't tend to consume music sitting in front of their computer screen to the degree they consume it sitting in a car/bus/etc commuting or exercising or just generally out and about. The lack of hardware support - especially from the Gorilla in the room throwing Apples - is the main reason why these services haven't gained a lot of traction.

They could be hoping that Smart Phones +Tablets + "Apps" take this long standing limitation away but... why? Where's the compelling reason that their service is going to survive longer or be more successful than the others that have come and died before it? There isn't one and there really hasn't been since everyone started selling unencumbered MP3's: just buy the music you like and listen to it forever. The rest? Well, there's a shit ton of free streaming on the web (hi YouTube!, check the Link Storage or CBC R3 for other examples), that already work with those platforms, by and large, to scratch the itch for that song you kinda sorta like sometimes or find something new. So, why would you want to pay a fee to do that on a permanent basis just to be able to keep songs you like?

Next up: lets start renting movies now that Blockbuster's Shuttered all its stores!


Look, it's not necessarily a bad idea because, by all accounts, BB Canada was making money until the US Bankruptcy Courts noticed that they were put up as collateral against that division's debts and pulled the plug but... why would you want to step into a dying business model when your core problem is that you're already a dying business model?

They're clutching at straws here and unless they've hired an absolute fucking genius to enact these my gut says their best outcome would be to continue to tread water.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

TyL: Playing Dark Souls.

Third party edition:
Dragons are like cats. They are curious and will look for you if you seem to vanish. Much like a cat, if you surprise them, they lash out. Unlike a cat, a dragon does it with LOTS AND LOTS OF FIRE.

Own impressions coming later.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

TotD: Addendum...

... to yesterdays thought.

It's interesting that when every other form of retail has come to the conclusion that they need to sell their products to ever younger audiences to build brands and take advantage of the buying power kids hold in the form of parent sway that every solution comics has attempted to try and fix their declining readership tends to double down on the assumption that they need to regain the attention of past readers or become more "mature".

Maybe, just maybe, they need to get the attention of new readers. By making comics that appeal to them and that their parents won't blanche at at first glance.

Because the problem is not "too much history" or "Silly Costumes". The problem is that you've started writing for your niche and your niche is shrinking as you fail to bring new people into the fold.

Friday, September 30, 2011

TotD: Just an Observation

Sooo, I was running through Aaron Diaz's list of top 10 worst hero/villain redesigns ever and came to a couple realizations; particularly wrt Zatanna and Harley Quin...

In manga, when they want to do fan service in mass market books they come up with a story reason to do so. "Lets send them to the beach and do a swimsuit special". "Oooo, bath house vacation time!" "Just tossed the heroine in the air, lets let her butt hang out of the skirt!!". But, at least the costumes tend to make sense in the broad sense as something people would actually wear most of the time in the vast majority of cases. (I won't deny the outliers exist, but look at 90% of what's in Jump and....).

When NA comics want to do fan service in mass market books, they throw their female characters in stripper outfits 24/7 that no one would actually ever wear out in public to anything but a fetish leather night. One that likely involves an orgy room because those pants on Zatanna aren't hiding either of her holes for more than one or two steps on their own anyways.

Then they wonder why their audience is increasingly 30+ year olds clinging on to their childhood.

Suggestion: It's because no one can get parents to buy their 8 year olds the books once they see that Harley Quin pinup cover.

Link Storage: Bad Reasons to go to Law School

(3) My parents will be disappointed in me if I don’t do something respectable instead of pursue my dream of being a ____

Semi-employed permanent bankruptcy is in no way respectable, and there’s a very real risk that that’s where going to law school will leave you. Your parents don’t understand this because their knowledge of what being a lawyer entails is based on TV (see (5), supra). If you want to write the Great American Novel you’ll probably fail, but it won’t be the kind of failure that produces $200,000 in non-dischargeable debt while filling you with self-loathing.
This one is true for many professions. The rest are over here at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. I also like #2.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WoW: Enhancement in 4.3

Let's just work through the relevant first set of notes here, linking the co-related together:

Wind Shear now has a 25-second base cooldown, up from 6 seconds.
Reverberation now reduces the cooldown of Wind Shear by 10/20 seconds, up from 0.5/1 second.
Intended as a nerf to constrain Resto Shaman control in PvP, the proposed implementation has two primary problems with it:
  1. Resto can still get it if they really want to.
  2. Enhancement doesn't take Reverb - the one second really makes no significant DPS improvement - and, furthermore, is now locked to a 25 second cooldown on Wind Shear until Level 82 at the earliest.
Gonna focus more on the later here because it comes down to a conflict between "Classic" Talent Tree Design and "Cataclysm" TTD. In the classic school, leaving Reverb as the Wind Shear cooldown reducer would make perfect sense because you could always hop into the other tree early to grab it if you were looking to Twink out at 60 or something. But, in the Cata school this is not an option because you can not leave your tree for other talents until you drop 31 points in your own.

This means that in a game where people are already predisposed to hating to have to tasked to interrupt you're now giving proto-Enhancement Shaman 82 levels of excuses not to have to do that job before giving them the option of turning into, arguably, the best interrupting spec in the game. That just seems wrong headed and it's also a hefty nerf to any ES looking to join a Twink PvP or PvE guild focused on sub 85 content because the ranged interrupt they need to be competitive in PvP, or the speedy Interrupt they brought to Raids and Dungeons is now gimped permanently sub 82.

So, in the Cata school that reduction needs to be baked somewhere into the Enhancement Spec or Tree if the goal is to not impact either of the DPS specs with this change and Blizzard needs to put more thought into where that could best be.
Flametongue Weapon no longer increases spell damage. It now increases all non-physical damage done by the wielder by 5%.
Mental Quickness has been redesigned. Instead of granting the shaman spell power, Mental Quickness now causes Enhancement shaman spells to behave as though the shaman has spell power equal to 55% of attack power. Enhancement shaman spells no longer benefit from spell power from other sources.
Death to Spell Power Weapons and Caster Enhancement. As much as that will upset some people, good riddance. There are enough abilities in our priority queue without having to come up with buttons for Lava Burst and other Elemental abilities that periodically came into flavour whenever the theorycrafters were smarter than the designers.
Call of Flame no longer causes Fire Nova to extend the duration of Flame Shock.
Improved Lava Lash now causes Lava Lash to spread a Flame Shock debuff from the target to up to 4 nearby targets. This excludes crowd-controlled targets and those who already have a Flame Shock debuff from the shaman.
Improved Lava Lash no longer increases base Lava Lash damage by 15/30%. This increase has been rolled into the base Lava Lash skill.
Death to Tab Target Flame Shock. Fucking A. The only downside to this is that Lava Lash functionally becomes a Cleave by default - as long as you've a Flame Shock on your target it's going to get pushed to the others in the same way Mages can push their dots with Impact. This means you're going to have to be aware of when you're hitting Lava Lash because there tends to be those occasions where to Cleave is bad - think not wanting to pick up all the spiders during the Nightmare Gauntlet in Deadmines.

The simple solution to that is to trade the Flame Shock for Earth Shock when it's absolutely critical to not cleave because you can't spread what isn't there. The long term solution may be for Blizzard to rename Improved Lava Lash something like "Slashing Flames" and have it turn Chain Lighting into Flame Chain Lightning to spread the Flame Shock dot instead of Lava Lash. In this sense, that part of the talent could function in the same way that Frost Mages see Flame Orb turned into Frostfire Orb to better directly benefit them and have our traditional Cleave do the work we're trying to foist on our primary nuke. I suspect the primary problem with doing that right now - other than making the Art Team cry - is the "those who already have a Flame Shock debuff from the shaman" part which could make Chain Lightning pathing... interesting to code.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rant: Diablo III ONLINE.


Client/Server Program.

Interesting Fact: Diablo III is the later and all you're doing when you sit there and bitch about the "always online DRM" is demonstrate your lack of knowledge of how things work and why.

The reason for the "Always Online" requirement is that all your character information is now going to be stored remotely on the Battlenet servers instead of locally on your computer and without access to create or load your character info, the game will be really hard to play*. Why is this being done? Because when they allowed local storage Joe Jackass would hack the fuck out of his characters and make online play miserable for everyone else. Take away local storage, problem solved (likely).

So, while I can understand that folks are annoyed that their "single player game" is now... not, in a sense, sitting there and going apeshit about "DRM!!!!!!!" is so far up the misguided tree you've run out of branches and are now swinging from the clouds 60's Spiderman style. Limit your complaints to the fact that you don't want to have to be online to play the game and I'll have much more sympathy for your position instead of thinking you're a posturing idiot throwing out fanboy curse words in an effort to drown out legitimate discussion over the pro's and con's of this change.

* I especially love the people sitting there going: "I'm going to wait until pirates hack out the always online DRM!!!!". While this is not impossible - the existence of private servers for WoW demonstrates that - I often wonder if they do realize that said hack will require installing an entire back end database application on their computer to replicate the D3 server functions that's going to be provided from... shall we say... questionable sources...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lazy Friday: Nice Official Mashup....

Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright.

That sound you hear? Millions of adventure/puzzle gamers collectively orgasming.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TLU: Some Personal Responsibility Required

Her: I want my first time to be with someone who wants me so much they just take me no matter what I say...
Me: ... how do you expect that to work when you tell every guy you date rather implicitly that you're waiting and throw up stop signs at every stage? You really want them to just go ahead anyways?
Her: Yes.
Me: You do realize your position is functionally equivalent to expecting someone who's supposed to be "in love with you" to rape you, right?
Her: Well, I wouldn't file charges if I like them...
Me: Unhuh... I'd normally think the appropriate response here is: "good luck with that" if not for the fact that I wouldn't wish that kinda luck on anyone....

Monday, September 19, 2011

TyL: A More Apt Address I Could not Imagine...

The website for Dark Souls is at

You could make an argument that this is a reference to the gameplay mechanic that will see you spend time in the game as a "soul"; an astral being like state lacking in a physical body because it has died.

Anyone who's played Demon's Souls will shatter this delusion. The real reference here is to the reality that these games are utterly unforgiving and you are going to die. A lot.

The first game was awesome though; with some unparalleled atmosphere and compelling gameplay. If they've boxed any of that in here it's ending up on my shelf in short order.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lazy Friday: Let Your Inner Child DragOn....

They're having way too much fun here. This gives me hope.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

TotD: There are...

... two Snow White inspired movies coming out next year featuring ass kicking Snow Whites seeking to overthrow an evil witch of a queen.

Anyone who tells you this has nothing to do with Hanna is selling something.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CBCR3: Fall(ing out of Favour) Update 2011

Been a whole year since I did this originally. Time to take a serious pile of stuff behind the barn and... um... let it go off into the woods... exploring...


Those cracks? Celebratory fireworks as they move onto a new phase in life...


Out With the Old
Rah Rah - Betrayal pt. 1
Darrelle London - Understand
Carbon Dating Service - Light Up The Synchrotron
Meredith Grant - Stars
Memphis - I'll Do Whatever You Want
Ben Globerman - Pirate Games
Racoon Bandit - Train Song
Beast - Mr. Hurricane
Janet Panic - Lousy Wife
Buck 65 - Indestructible Sam
The Wheat Pool - Lefty
Luke Doucet - Broken One
Julie Doiron - Consolation Prize
Sam Roberts - The Canadian Dream
Young Rival - Poisonous Moves
David Vertesi - Gentlemen Say
HotKid - Yours and Mine
Attack In Black - Half Moon On The City High
The Creepshow - Creatures of the Night
Great Lake Swimmers - Gonna Make it Through This Year
Blurtonia - Foxy by Proxy
Laura Peek and the Winning Hearts - Stay Sharp
The Love Machine - Love Is On Your Side
Elk - Shaking Hands 3:46 CBC Radio 3
Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy - True Love Killed My True Love's Love For Me
J.J. Ipsen - DaDaDa
The Five Hole Band - (Thinking 'Bout Your) Five Hole
Gramercy Riffs - Call Me

Yeah... Bit of a purge there of stuff that I'd basically started just skipping past to get to the meat. 28 songs heading off on new adventures to be replaced by...

In With the New
The Super Friendz - 10lbs.
Mocky - Birds Of A Feather
Blue Hawaii - Blue Gowns
Extra Happy Ghost - So At One
Long Long Long - Mandarin Collars With Women
Arcade Fire - Wake Up
Royal Canoe - Me Loving Your Money
The Organ - Memorize The City
Suuns - Gaze
Imaginary Cities - Marry The Sea
Oh No! Yoko - 90s Kids
Young Liars - Marathon
Braids - Same Mum
Yukon Blonde - Brides Song
Handsome Furs - Repatriated
Austra - Lose It
Pure - Chocolate Bar
Junior Battles - Birthdayparties Vs. Punkroutine
Arcade Fire - Empty Room
Two Hours Traffic - Better Sorry Than Safe
The Bicycles - Won't She Be Surprised
Zeus - Permanent Scar
The Sadies - Another Year Again
Slow Down, Molasses - Light
Metal Kites - The Missionary
Adaline - Famous For Fire
The Swallows - Not To Be In Love
Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On - fastest drop ever. On further play through, want nothing to do with it.

28 27 new songs. The purge was coming anyways, but the fact that it's been a really productive few months certainly didn't hurt things.

As always, to be found over here

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WoW: It's not the map, it's you...

Lets get some things out of the way.

If you're getting trained in WSG, it's not because of the map: it's because you're not defending the flag carriers or being aggressive enough yourself.

If you're getting steamrolled in AB, it's not because of the map: it's because you're spread out all over the place and the other side is focusing you down.

If you're getting 4 capped in EOTS, it's not because of the map: it's because you're too damned focused on that distraction in the middle that doesn't matter unless you can control towers.

If you're getting bottled up in the North in AV, it's not because of the map: it's more than likely because you all charged Galv like lemmings and got your asses wiped by defenders backing him up. Which you've been doing for 4 years now because you're too damned stubbornly focused on treating AV like it needs to be attacked in a straight line and on what "gives honour!!!!!".

I'd do the new ones but I burnt out on people doing stupid shit while grinding honour a long time ago.

There's a saying in programming called PEBKAC. It stands for: "Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair" - ie: the User. ie: You.

People like to focus on "Win Ratios" and hair brained arguments about the maps to hide this reality because it's more self-gratifying to believe it's someone else who's causing you to fail than to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the problem is that you're not doing what needs to be done to win the map. I've played enough BG's to know that's the actual reality. You're not defending ground. You're not countering or adapting to your enemies attacks. For fucks sake, you're standing there wailing on DPS while Healers are behind them laughing at your efforts and keeping them at full. For future reference: Healers die FIRST.

So I'm here for a reality check to tell you to give up the whining because the problem is you. You need to figure out how to attack the maps properly, to deal with your enemies appropriately, and find the capacity to actually work together towards a goal instead of run around the map like you're the avenging angel of God who's going to win it single handedly. I say this because it doesn't matter how amazing you think Blizzard is at making games, the simple reality is that the DEV's just can't fix stupid.

And you are.

Addendum: and hey sometimes they're just simply better than you. Deal with it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

TotD: Incoming Baby Boom

If the Night Elf population is in decline, then all these "Very Special Thank You" vouchers I'm building up on my NE Rogue healing female wounded soldiers on the Molten Front are well timed.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lazy Friday: Nice Mashup.

I'd seen the original video a long time ago, but I gotta admit that this mash made me laugh. Blink, by the way, is a pretty awesome episode of Doctor Who by any TV metric you wish to apply that also happens to star Carey Mulligan. Yes, that Carey Mulligan. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TyL: When A Family Member is in the Hospital

Telephone: $3.35 per Day
"Basic" TV: $9.20 per Day
"Premium" TV: $11.20 per Day

Free wireless guest Internet upon which to stream TV and make Skype calls? Priceless.

The thing that really gets me? For all that money, they're still only giving you the same 7" CRT's on a swivel arm from about 1982...

Monday, August 15, 2011

TotD: Google Goes Goods...

... and buys Motorola. Mobility Inc, that is. Motorola Solutions, the original chip and radio's company the mobility unit was split off from earlier this year, does not appear to be included in the deal.

This is where they're locking down an arsenal of Cell Phone and tech patents to better defend Android - much as they've tried and failed to do recently. It will be interesting to see where a lot of litigation against the OS goes from here because Motorola's library in this field is unlikely to be defined as "small".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

WoW: On That Whole Tier Shoulders/Head Thing...

Hey, do you remember when you had to grind through BGs to get Arena gear just to gear up to raid in Burning Crusades because no one wanted to run dungeons with scrubs in greens and blues trying to gear? Lets just say where we're at is still an improvement, though arguably weaker than Lich King where everything and the kitchen sink was available to you late game. Still it strikes me that there's room for compromise here and my compromise potentially kills two birds with one stone.

The primary complaint, other than people whining they can't get Cataclysmically Epic due to living in some dream state where 3.3 isn't likely to bring 5 man Dungeons with iLvL's greater than 353, is the need to grind through a whole Raid clear in all cases to get these pieces. (Hell, I've got them and I can't be arsed to want to do those dungeons again after 8 months to help new guildies get them either). So, lets potentially shorten that grind; somewhat.

How? Consider the following: as we move through the tiers we have this little raid over in the corner called Baradin Hold that slowly accumulates two things: bosses that have current tier Leg/Glove drops and bosses that have last tier's Leg/Glove drops that no one really wants to waste time killing anymore as we move forward. Especially now that you can buy both of those in a couple productive days of dungeoning. That later reality is not a new problem either, it's one that goes all the way back to our initial incarnation in Wintergrasp and not even nifty achievements put a dent in the attitude.

So, let's do this to try and provide another way to get your Head and Shoulder pieces and incentivize killing the lonely BH bosses: as we move forward and you can buy your Tier Legs and Gloves from JP, remove those pieces from the appropriate BH boss and update the loot tables with the Head and Shoulder pieces.

Still random, still requires some raiding, but moderately more accessible to those who don't have time on their sched for full clears of legacy content.

Friday, August 12, 2011

TLU: THINK When You Speed TXT People!

Phone Text: Y didnt u cum 2day?
Option 1: Because you didn't knock on my door wearing just a trench coat and a smile?
Option 3: What... did the Tories issue a quota?

Seriously, that's not remotely a straight line abbreviation for "come". Sadly, had to go with a suggestion she might want to use Google to brush up on some slang because my sense of humour frequently doesn't play well in text...

Also: she hits... is kinda devout... and very married... which takes a lot of the fun out of wordplay in terms of risk/reward.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

TyL: Comparison Shopping...

Amazon seems to have switched to UPS for their shipping for some unfathomable reason.

The good news is that these people know how to use the Entercom.

The bad news is that the package showed up looking like someone ran it over with a truck in order to browse the contents.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TLU: I'm not Remotely Being Judgemental, Just Honest...

Her: What about her, she's cute.
Me: No.
Her: Why?
Me: I don't date smokers.
Her: Why not?
Me: Short answer? Because I don't find the habit appealing.
Her: But, come on, she's pretty and single and...
Me: ... please don't make me give the long answer; it's just going to make me feel like I'm being sanctimonious and you feel like an ass for prodding...
Her: ... no, I want to know.
Me: *sigh* Because I watched my dad die from cancer and my mom die from lung disease and neither of those are remotely pleasant ways to go; they're long and painful wasting processes. So, while I'll be the first to admit nothing's guaranteed in life, I've really no interest in forming a long term intimate relationship with someone who's actively playing chicken with both.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

RftP: Harry Potter 7.5


Look, I know the reviews are generally positive but come on: this is a Michael Bay film if MB got a hard-on for landscapes instead of explosions. Worse, it's a Michael Bay film where he's completely forgotten how to shoot action sequences. Klove's script predictably moves along zestily, but leaves essentially no time for characterization and barely enough for plot development. Meanwhile, there are more than a few scenes where you get the feeling all Yates did was point at the actor and say "sit in chair, read script" while thinking "God, that hillside in the background is beautiful..."

When we finally do get to the actual Battle For Hogwarts, stopping off to meet Aberforth just long enough to skip the point of pretty much all of the original dialog for that scene, the whole thing is just a dizzying mess of fight cuts, Smokey from Lost flying around, and little to differentiate friend from foe unless they're 50' tall.

After seeing it, I realized something: my issue with these last few films hasn't been that they've deviated from the "source" (hell, I've openly advocated against trying the FHE 20 hours of show into 1:50 edit treatment in the past if necessary), but that they deviated in ways that are so obviously Executive Script Notes ("He betrayed Harry, we've gotta show him getting killed as proper punishment!" for an example), to fit it into "mold" that it's pretty much strangled the story for me as each and every one jumps off the screen.

Speaking of that, one reviewer said the 3D was inobtrusive. With all due respect, when I'm watching the 2D version and am like: "Oh... and here's where the pensieve gets to fly now just so we can throw it at the audience..." I'm gonna have to question what version of the movie they got to watch. One of these days I really have to do the Avatar 3D rant that's percolating in the back of my head.

My last word on this is that Harry Potter will probably make a really nice TV series someday. But for the love of god, lets stop letting people who just can't direct try and make movies from it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

TotD: I really should've cut this outside...

... because cleaning up after Lexan is a bitch. Little fragments of plastic everywhere...

Edit: Fuck me. I just spent an hour sweeping, vacuuming, and generally cleaning and I think I've finally got it all. Sometimes I really should drop my habit of choosing hardcore solutions when I build something. Never working with this stuff again.

At least, inside.

Friday, July 1, 2011

TotD: If you can't sell a Cell Phone in Japan...

... you're doing something seriously fucking wrong.

Hi Nokia.

Lazy Friday: Canada Day Classics

Who's on First is all you really need to know to get my sense of humour. My sense of wordplay and timing is nowhere near as good, and more warped, though.

Those of you who grew up in the early 90's probably know this homage better:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

TotD: Trending Followup....

The strike is over, the month ends, and Archaeology beats out anger at Postal Workers by a landslide.

WoW: Why Archaeology Sucks - 70 Pageviews
Rant: Fucking Canada Post - 43 Pageviews

It was kinda close for a while, but then someone dug me up for the forum again... and then someone else decided I was "noteworthy" enough to be listed as "Criticism" on WoWWiki soooo pissed off people without their mail fix got trounced by hyperlinks appealing to annoyed people at the right places.

Live and learn.

I won't be doing many of these stats type posts - mainly because the Arch post tends to steamroll anything else I've written by miles and, lets be honest, the numbers aren't exactly operating on Penny Arcade scales even then. But, I just found Public Sector Union Hatred VS Most Annoying Prof. ever to be too interesting a "competition", in a kinda dark humour way, to pass up.

Hopefully 4.3 brings some of the Arch. updates promised in the Dev Q&A.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rant: Whoa... That's Gotta Hurt the Ego...

HMV Canada... a retail chain that did $320 Million in National sales last year... with 121 locations and their contents... sold to a "restructuring firm" for $3.2 Million.

Gotta say, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. Always... and I mean always... undercut by its foes Best Buy, Future Shop, Walmart, even local indy stores and the now defunct Music World & Sams in both video and music it really should've died a long time ago. Yet, for some reason, despite getting shafted, people shopped there with regularity.

Until iTunes came along.

Now its scrambling - having sacrificed a third of its space to the gods of bargain clothing fare in an effort to pay the rent, its downtown Toronto "flagship" store on Yonge just north of the Eaton Centre is now down to only the core wing - because people aren't buying music on media anymore... or Movies... or TV Shows...

They've tried to deal with this by diversifying into Games and Books... just in time to see distribution there start to increasingly go digital as well...

Plan B is to try and take the company's website - which has meandered from in house... to an Amazon store... and, apparently, back in house again - and make it relevant.

Too late. The players are pretty solidly baked now. This is where HMV needs to pull it's head from its arse and very quickly identify what they can offer that no one else can. The problem for them is that, historically, that hasn't been price and the people who are interested in niche music can't carry a whole chain of stores (why you don't see big classical and jazz sections, for example, outside the core location).

So, it's pretty likely that the price this company got it for was exactly right because the most foreseeable outcome here is extinction.

If I'm at HMV, I'd be shaking the dust off my resume and those high enough on the food chain ought best to be cashing out their company pensions -> personal RRSP's before it all disappears to England and the Government's kind enough to tell you just how boned you now are.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TotD: My new co-Worker...

... can NEVER meet my former co-worker.

If former's persistence and talent for putting me off guard were paired with the later's knowledge of local practices I suspect I couldn't cope with the combined matchmaking onslaught.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TyL: Sometimes I Forget Who I'm Being Playful With

Me: Please, I can't be mean to you; you're going to set me up with your sister! *
Her: *all excited now* Really!!!! **
Me: err... no... ***

* this is me referencing our conversation earlier in the week
** this is her thinking I've changed my mind
*** this is me panicking as I realize I probably shouldn't do jokes involving context with someone whose English is excellent, but is still acclimating to the overall culture and doesn't quite have banter down.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CBC R3 Playlist: Summer Doldrums

It's been kinda dire for new stuff over the last few months. Much of what little I'm adding is coming in because it's kinda interesting or amuses me. Expect a fair bit of that to end up on the purge pile next time around...

Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
Fembots - So Long
Cherry Chapstick - Silencer
The Skydiggers - Pull Me Down
Chow-Chow - Suits Like Animals
Young Galaxy - Searchlight
Greatest Explorers in the World - Hide and Seek
Parlovr - Pen To The Paper
Dinosaur Bones - Royalty
Pat LePoidevin - The Moonwolf Departure
Cripple Creek Fairies - Call In Sick

Aidan Knight - Knitting Something Nice
Sidney York - Dick & Jane
Hands & Teeth - Race To The End
Arkells - Pullin' Punches
J.J. Ipsen - DaDaDa
The Five Hole Band - (Thinking 'Bout Your) Five Hole (NSF Innuendo unfriendly Work environments)
Brasstronaut - Slow Knots
Gramercy Riffs - Call Me

As always, to be found over here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

TotD: Historically...

... if you've wanted to deter someone from doing something, which of these methods have been proven to be most effective:
  1. "Whatever... but at your own risk... and try not to annoy anyone..."
  2. Regulation, "red tape", and forms upon forms
  3. Prohibition*

Might want to think about that for a bit 'cause it's a relevant discussion.

* hahahahahha....

god, that was hard to hold in...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WoW: DPS Isn't Everything

Oh, it's useful... but on the list of metrics it's pretty far down. What's in front of it?
  1. Is the Boss Dead (This covers a lot of sins - especially the first time)
  2. Did anyone/everyone die? (If so, why? Are they failing to grasp mechanics? Did someone miss an interrupt?)
  3. Are we taking too much damage? Why? (Especially if this is preventing 1, and causing a lot of 2)
  4. Are there adds? Are we handling them appropriately? (failures here readily pile up to impede 1 and build up 2, and 3)
Good players are the ones that can manage those items while sustaining their DPS; anyone can stand and run through their rotation to put up big numbers on Patch, fewer are able to do this while dodging shit. Awesome players are that ones that are able excel at the above and abuse every tool in the box while doing so.

If you really want to be good at this game, learning the mechanics, what you can do to mitigate or avoid them, and paying attention to your surroundings and events is just as important as knowing your rotation. You don't want to be the guy in the room who's tunnelling the bottom of their screen watching cooldowns such that they become a mana sponge for avoidable damage or, worse, that asshole who throws hissy fits at the healers because they're dying when they really should have dodged something they could see coming a mile away.

Pro Tip 1: Learn. To. Fucking. Interrupt. Regardless of Spec or Role.
There are many fights where this is vital so, for example, sitting there and going: "I'm a Resto Shaman, I don't need Wind Shear on my bar!", when you're doing Nefarian and one relatively cheap Wind Shear prevents 30/40K worth of raid wide damage you're going to have to use expensive heals to top off and is off the Global Cooldown table so you can go immediately back to heals is pretty fricken dumb. In this case, damage prevented is mana saved. If you're DPS, it's not "Bitch Duty" when the boss won't die if you don't do it: it's the most important job on the floor. Likewise, tanks that don't interrupt, despite still achieving massive threat leads, and then scream that their healer let them die because said healer just got feared, for example, make me cry. If you think we won't know you're not doing this, you might want to wander through some of the other statistics Recount/Skada tracks next time you're on... (and that's before we feed the logs into WOL and the likes for analysis)

You can turn on nameplates and enable spell cast bars in the Interface menu to make your life easier for those non-50' tall critters but you may want to look into mods to get your enemy castbars more readily in view.

Pro Tip 2: Know your glyphs and keep a stack of Dust handy.
While more true for the later, your Primes and Majors tend to have one or two really situational glyphs in them. Knowing what those are, and which fights you want to abuse them on, can improve your DPS output or survivability for the exertion of all about 15 seconds of adjustment and a few gold.

Pro Tip 3: What do I bring to the fight?
Can I root adds? CC? Interrupt like a bastard? Soak tons of damage - even as DPS - through cooldowns? Know your toolbox so that when you're standing there for the first time and something happens you know, instinctively, how to respond to it or can suggest how to attack the problem if you wipe. Sometimes, you want to just try some of those things the first time to see if they work or not because it's more important to know what you can do in the future if it's not likely you're going to kill the boss.

Pro Tip 4: Keep your head up coming across the blue line or...


You can't play this game with your eyes on the bottom of the screen chasing action bar buttons while shit is falling around your toon mid screen. You're going to miss visual cues, that patch of fire under your feet, the buff that just went up in the boss window, or the curse that just landed on your buff bar. Tunnelling like that's going to frequently make you either a mana sponge or dead, depending on the whims and tolerance of your healer(s). Worse, it's going to make you a liability in the eyes of any raid leader who you're not sleeping with or is your drinking buddy and cause you to get bumped in short order.

So, what do you do? Start by learning the Keybind interface and getting your abilities mapped in a manor that's comfortable and intuitive to you. It doesn't matter how others do this if you can't execute with it. Thus, experiment and get something tailored to your own ability/playstyle so you can execute without looking. Next, figure out what you need to track to play your class/spec and then research and look for mods/addons that help you do it. There are often "packs" or individual items on offer that will help you track it all for your class and, most importantly, let you place the tracking elements on the screen such that you can better keep your eyes on what's going on around your toon and avoid the damage that you were having problems with before.

Just remember: packing so much stuff centre screen that you can't see what's going on around your toon isn't going to help either. Figure out what matters, get it centre, and use the rest of the screen to help you get used to scanning around. The goal here isn't just to get you tunnelling a cup sized circle centre screen instead of your action bar, it's to make you more aware of what's going on in the fight by letting you take your eyes off the bottom of the screen. If your job is to root the adds coming in from the left and now you're so focused centre screen that you don't notice them until someone starts yelling at you then you're still not doing what needs to be done as well as you could be.

Get comfortable with letting your eyes wander. As long as it's not onto your Girlfriend's Friend's Boobs. We don't need that drama in vent...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TotD: Trending...

Just over last few weeks:

WoW: Why Archaeology Sucks - 19 Pageviews
Rant: Fucking Canada Post - 16 Pageviews

If I were a worker at Canada Post, I'd be worried....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rant: Patent Stupidity...

... or, if you can't beat them, patent their business model.

IBM's patent application attempting to gain title that would cover any business that stores and manages IP/Patents on computer is basically a shot across the bows of Non Practicing Entity (NPE) - companies which have accumulated patents but make no products themselves - businesses or, as they're better known, Patent Trolls in the ever more insane war between the two realms in the area of software. I say this because their entire business model involves storing and attempting to monetize IP.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that Software patents are bullshit but... eliminating them is problematic twofold:
  1. Software companies that make hardware are now disadvantaged against Hardware companies with vast technical portfolio's
  2. Those Trolls are making substantial coin, and are going to fight tooth and nail to keep their jobs.
Really, it's the first one I worry more about given the wars that are going on as companies like Apple begin eating the market share of companies like Motorola. It's this that leads to companies patenting every little thing - right down to Tabbed Palettes - just to maintain an inventory of "stuff" to countersue or defend their turf with.

To fix this you need to revamp the patent system itself to make it less easy to achieve, placing greater burden of proof on the patenting party that the patent is actually for something original, but... there seems to be little interest in doing this at the political level. So, we're stuck with companies wasting resources fighting to prove that Online Shopping existed prior to someone deciding to file a patent on the thing.

Which just goes to show that if you can throw enough bafflegab into your application paper you probably can patent stupidity... especially if it's an AI routine.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

TLU: To the Cute Census Girl

"So... do I get to ask you some questions now?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lazy Friday: I Don't Know Which is Scarier

That this exists:

Or that it's apparently a meme judging from the related links

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WoW: Enhancement's Lament

There's very little class wise they do in WoW that can get me going as much as the frustration caused when it comes to looking ahead to plan equipping my Enhancement Shaman in the next tier with suitable weapons sometimes. The headaches with equipping this spec go back to a solution to a recurring design issue that, although it has a long term history and continues to pop up now and then, presented itself in Early Wrath hardcore: the need to keep Enhancement from chasing caster weapons to dual wield Flametongue Weapon(FT) and enforce the preferred setup of Windfury Weapon(WF) Main Hand, FT Off Hand, AGI Weapons both slots.

When this cropped up in Naxx - as the result of FT doing the same amount of individual strike damage regardless of weapon speed; heavily favouring fast daggers for more hits and Caster Weapon Spell Power to boost the output - the developers intervened around 3.1 to change the way FT would work so that the per hit damage would scale with the Speed of the weapon. Thus, the total FT damage put out by a fast weapon would be approximately equal to the total FT damage put out by a slow weapon over the course of a fight. Once they did that, you ran into a wall where the issue wasn't that using a fast dagger would cost you FT damage - slow/fast was now ballpark - but instead that you lost Lava Lash damage because of the lower strike damage (that nifty "X->X*2 Damage" stat on your weapon), of the fast weapon that would no longer be compensated for by higher FT damage output that used to occur from more strikes. Therefore, a fast weapon in the OH was now a net DPS loss. Itemization chaos ensued as choices which were viable suddenly vanished into the ether; leaving a 25 Man Interested Enhancement Shaman chasing exactly one drop for the OH slot heading into Ulduar: Angry Dread.

Pity the Enhancer who found himself in line with others.

Meanwhile, fast off hand weapons were now, for all intents and purposes, exclusively Rogue domain and quickly built up the shard pile as Enhancement would be living with +-2.6 speed weapons in both slots from this day forward; especially fun when Wrath Fist Weapons were hand specific and you'd need to wait for a One Hand Axe or Mace to drop to fill the opposing slot.

Ulduar, having been itemized just in time to see the change made, wasn't much better. Sure, a blessed Enhancer could get the fist off Hard Mode Flame Leviathan if they were in a quality guild.... and there were no Rogues in front of them. But, most had to work their way into Thorim for his maces to fill the OH or Mimiron for an alternative in the MH on 25 Man.

Pity the 10 Man Shaman who had to down Hard Mode Iron Council or Yogg-Saron to fill their slots.

Things came to a head in Trial of the Crusader when every single available Enhancement weapon drop was on some mode of Anub'arak, leaving the spec gimped until their guild was able to challenge the final boss of the Tier on each setting with regularity. Just before this point, the Devs acknowledged there was an issue as Ghostcrawler would come down from the mount to announce that they would address the source of this readily apparent itemization conundrum:
"Enhancement Shaman.... I have heard your cries!!! This is an obvious problem caused by the reality that Death Knights can't use Fist Weapons, Rogues can't use Axes and you can't use Swords... we shall address this!!!!

From this day forth, Rogues shall use Axes.... and all shall be good!!!*
and, lo, he would return to the mountain top and all would be good.... for a while.

ICC would come and the Raid and Dungeons would prove to be a boon of options for Enhancement Shaman: even their own drop. Cataclysm would come, Death Knights would move to STR Weapons and Combat Rogues would become our only shared partner worthy of consideration**. An incredible technological breakthrough in design would allow for the creation of One Hand Fist Weapons for levelling. There would be craftable weapons to take in to your first raid perfectly itemized (although, initially bugged for mats; arguably favourably if you hated farming orbs). Normal modes of the raids would have 2 BoE drops that were usable though Heroic Mode would be complicated by our only other weapon loot being on Nefarian. For the most part it seemed like they had things right... and then folks lurking around the 4.2 PTR started linking the Blacksmithing patterns available from the new dailies and....


Come on guys, you were doing so well!

On a bit more serious note, this is pretty clearly intended to be catch-up gear for those behind on progression and perhaps those (many... so very many...), who aren't farming Heroic Nef with regularity. I know new Direbrew Mugs will be coming to the AH but it seems silly make us wait until September while also providing a bridge craftable for every spec but ours. Especially now that all the Specializations have been stripped from Combat and you opened up weapon options specifically so that you'd have flexibility to allow you to serve more specs/classes. This is why I said elsewhere a long time ago that the WoW Team desperately needs an Editor in the itemization department to keep baseline items with class/spec usability this narrow from getting live - even to the PTR - because it's these moments that drive the idea that no one's giving much thought to the big picture.

*err... based on true events....
** Yes, yes... Hunters. I love my Hunter friends and all but, let's be honest here, they just want their sexy stats. As long as those add up to pretty numbers, the form they arrive in is largely irrelevant to the discussion at hand when they almost never swing them in PvE.