Archive for the “Blogosphere” Category

Alexander the Great’s chief bouncer has gone to join his master. In case anyone didn’t catch that, Ratshag Actual has made his final curtain call.  We may have been on opposite sides of the world of Azeroth in a thousand different ways, but here’s one Dwarf that’s gonna miss the big lug.


Through these fields of destruction, baptisms of fire.

I’ve witnessed your suffering as the battle raged higher.


And though they did hurt me so bad in the fear and alarm,

You did not desert me, my brothers in arms.


There’s so many different worlds,

So many different suns.


And we have just one world,

But we live in different ones.


Now the sun’s gone to hell, the moon riding high.

Let me bid you farewell; every man has to die.


But it’s written in the starlight, and every line on your palm;

We’re fools to make war on our brothers in arms.

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When I was commenting on Ambermist’s unexplained ban from STWOOR, I mentioned that if it hadn’t already happened1, it was just a matter of time until Blizz got the chance to prove its mettle.

I was thinking of WoW, but, looky here2.

The only official response, from Bashiok, is startlingly familiar:

We’ve extensively tested for false positive situations, including replicating system setups for those who have posted claiming they were banned unfairly. We’ve not found any situations that could produce a false positive, have found that the circumstances for which they were banned were clear and accurate, and we are extremely confident in our findings.

Playing the game on Linux, although not officially supported, will not get you banned – cheating will.

I can almost guarantee that they won’t provide any useful feedback to the banned users that could help them nail it down.

So, any EA/Bioshock haters, be sure to wash your hands before helping yourself to a plateful of crow, if you for some reason thought this wouldn’t happen in the fair lands of the Blizzard.

No shoving, plenty for everyone.

  1. I am excluding the infamous Logitech keyboard ban, perhaps unjustly. []
  2. I love the commenters saying there might be "legal issues" in disclosing what the telltales were. What a crock of kodo droppings. []

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This week’s big SWWTTOR fiasco is … well, it’s like a menu, so much to choose from and no idea what you’re in the mood for.  But the one that I am most interested in is not the server merges or fear, loathing, and angst associated with that (depending on your venue). What concerns me is the now-resolved story of Battle Chicken’s abrupt, unexplained ban from SWTOR (Start HERE. Continue HERE. Conclusion HERE.).

If you haven’t the patience to read that much (and if not, how do you put up with MY blatherings?) then here is a précis:

  • Battle Chicken (henceforth known as BC) gets banned from STWOR for hacking.
  • BC professes undying hatred of hacking and complete innocence.
  • Mail droid responds, "We’re pretty sure you’re a hacker, go away for a week."
  • She responds "Can you tell me what might be causing this false positive?"
  • Mail droid responds, "We’re pretty sure you’re a hacker, go away for a week."
  • She responds "Can I at least talk to a human being in order to resolve this to my satisfaction?"
  • Mail droid responds, "We’re pretty sure you’re a hacker, go away for a week.  By the way, please take this survey to tell us how well we resolved your issue. Hacker.1"
  • After a few days of this, impassioned blog posts, cries of outrage from the bloggerati, and possibly one or two droid uprisings (squelched, of course), she gets a real response.
  • BIOWARE HUMAN: "HURR, OUR BAD. SORRREEEE. Please to be making the evil internet demons go away now?"

The contributing factor to this is that known "hacker signatures" are guarded as if they were made from gold. If you tell someone you know they were hacking the system due to such and such a pattern in memory, for example, a hacker could use that information. "I must make my program not look like that", he muses, as he twirls his mustache.2

Thus, customer service, even if it were capable of conveying that level of information accurately (which I have my doubts about, no matter what company), is told not to because it would give the bad guys a leg up in the arms race that is MMO client security.

Thus, "you are a hacker, we won’t tell you how we know, but we’re right and you’re wrong, even if we can’t write a game client that won’t crash on a bog standard NVIDIA chipset motherboard, we’re always right."

Guilty until proven innocent, as she said, but in this case – you don’t even get the chance to prove your innocence.  Case closed. Talk to the droid.

Her experience is a wakeup call.  It’s also an outlier. For every case that resolves this way, I bet you a dollar and a bag of lutefisk that there are at least ten that ended badly for the customer.

This is not just on BioWare or EA, though. Light knows they’ve been drug through the mud over this, but they are not exceptions in an otherwise excellent customer service experience in the general world of MMOs.

I’m looking at YOU, Blizzard.

If I put to puter every case I am personally aware of, you’d be here all night.  For example:

  • One of our guildies lost ALL of his toons on one account to a botting banhammer. Did he get told why? No, he did not. Did the other two accounts he had on the SAME COMPUTER get banned? No.
  • Don’t name your pet fox "Fawkes". It will get renamed to "Fox" and you won’t be allowed to change it back, nor told why. And you’ll be asked to take a survey to express your satisfaction with how the ticket was handled 3.
  • Back in Vanilla, people were getting banned for having specific keyboard drivers because the "Warden" program determined it was a bot.
  • In fact, I think bringing up "Warden" on the forums would get you banned at one point, no explanation.  In Soviet Russia …

Change "Blizzard" or "WoW" out for "BioWare" and I’m sure it would fit right in. Change BC’s issues with BioWare into a WoW case, and, again, it would play out exactly the same.

Bioware’s wakeup call is Blizzard’s, as well, though Blizz has already gotten plenty of them.  I’m not sure they’re doing more than hitting the snooze button, though. Time and time again they’ve shown a tone deafness to customer support and common-sense human relations issues. They’ve previously shown a paranoid, no-quarter-given attitude on account bans. I wonder how long before Battle Chicken’s tale finds its own counterpart in WoW?

I guess what I’m saying here is, for once, EA isn’t any more at fault than any other paranoid MMO Customer Service organization. Light knows I wanna hate on them – they stole away several friends of mine, after all – but I prefer my hating to be honest hating.

In closing, I’d just like to say that I’m very happy that Battle Chicken’s ordeal ended on a positive note.  A much welcome change from business as usual, yes?

  1. I may have made that last little bit up. []
  2. Indeed, it could be a she, as well, but the moustache creeps me out. Don’t judge me. []
  3. I may not have made that part up. []

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When I signed up for the yearly pass, part of the reason was to get the free D3.  Not so much for me, but for my kid, who is the world’s biggest Diablo fan.  Unfortunately, it turns out, you can’t transfer licenses1. So I was left with a working copy of D3 and no real desire to check it out.

But when opening night came, I decided to see if it was worth all the hype, so I installed it and started it up.

I started out with a wizard (my D2 character had been more vanilla).  The male wizard looks like a cross between Tom Hiddleston and Skrillex – so of course, I called him Grillex. I’m hoping eventually to make his arcane blasts go wubWubWubWub as they glide across the room, but first things first.

What I will say of this game thus far: the best way I can describe my experience is that of a long walk on the beach with an old friend. There is practically nothing that I don’t like. It’s a time machine taking us back to when we were playing D1 and D2 in almost an identical way.

Sure, there are gameplay elements that have changed, but the fundamentals have not.  And that makes all the difference. Blizzard have hit the ball out of the park on this one.  The "X" factor that made D1 and D2 such runaway hits is still all there.

The only downside to this game is the mandatory online aspect. You can’t just fire up a session on your laptop to kill an hour or whatnot. There are procedures. You Must log in, you Must authenticate, ergo you Must have a working network connection at all times.

The other downside to this is that any time you lose the network, whatever instance you were in is completely reset. If it’s a special one with special bosses with special loot, it might disappear altogether!  This is a harsh price to pay for server instability from a company that has not once managed to launch a game without server instability.  Now that they are pals with Valve, maybe they can switch to Steam deployment, and have that "work offline" option.  I mean, Valve CAN make it work, after all.

Within the game, the only thing that isn’t my cup of tea so far is the witch doctor.  I don’t get this class. It doesn’t belong. Unless you consider the "jungle" area with the pygmies2 in D1/2 to be the source of such – hello, negative stereotypes! Thanks for reaffirming Blizzard’s tone-deafness in matters of diversity. And ooga-booga to you, too.

Over all, though, it’s a glorious incarnation of an already legendary game, and I suspect this one will surpass the previous two in popularity.

Of course, some of the biggest Diablo fans in the world are playing WoW. Or, were, rather.  All around the ‘sphere we’re hearing of dead cities, silent chat channels, even the ANAL guys have bailed to go play D3. Nothing has had such an impact before.  Aion? Nothing. Rift? A pip. STWOR? Shaken, but not stirred. But D3 … it’s done what none of the "WoW killers" could do.  Granted, it’s in the pre-expansion doldrums, but still.

Which confirms what I’ve said all along. Blizzard’s worst enemy is Blizzard themselves.

See you in a few days. :)

  1. You couldn’t even prepay from Blizz then transfer. For shame! []
  2. Which also make an appearance in Uldum in WoW. []

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Not too long ago I was pondering over how I find myself enmeshed so often in feminist causes.  I’m a dude, as has been noted, I started out that way and I plan on ending up that way, hope that’s all right with everyone. Yet I find myself very sympathetic to feminist causes.

Eventually I realized that usually what got me going was the topic of harassment, sexual or otherwise – but, obviously, in the context of feminism, sexual harassment is a huge issue.  Harassment is key here, and something I find common cause in, I realized. This all forms a huge layer cake of misery, in which the layers we’re looking at are sexual harassment, harassment in general, and bullying – which is where I came in.

Bullying has gotten a little bit of attention lately due to some deaths brought to light by the families of the victims and others. It’s interesting watching the reactions across various strata of society. It is generally agreed that the deaths are regrettable, even tragic, and wrongful. Less prevalent is whole-hearted support for the victims.  There almost seems to be a feeling from these people that the victims did something … wrong.

Sound familiar?

A lot of the people that can’t somehow find a way to fully support the victims (now and future) perhaps are bothered by the past, maybe they are ashamed of being victims in the past. Or maybe the regret implicit support of the bullies, by just going along with it. Just letting it happen. Watching that poor kid open his mouth in protest just one more time and getting floored for having the temerity. And doing nothing, because it’s the highest blade that gets trimmed first.

Harassment, then, and especially sexual harassment, are nothing more than bullying.  I was lucky. I was bullied for years, and it was often submitted that I was the problem for not submitting to whatever demands the authorities thought I was rebelling against.  I’m not sure what demands I was to submit to when I tried to go home and six burly rednecks blocked the school gate and dared me to try to push through.

One day I left home and started choosing who I kept company with.  I was able to get myself out of that bad situation, and, eventually, return back home without fear.  But not everyone is so fortunate as I.  If I had not been able to help myself as I did, I shudder to think what my life would have been like.  I may have well surrendered to despair, as well, like those poor kids on the news.

And that right there is my point of solidarity with the feminist cause, because one key is to create a world where women can stand proudly in the world without fear of being targeted, harassed, and bullied just for being female, any more than I was for being short and nearsighted.

A long time ago (relatively), I named the blog Empowered Fire as one of the best-named blogs in recent times; a blog centered on feminism and magery, an excellent combination.  That blog fell silent.  I didn’t find out until later that one of the two bloggers there was undergoing a serious bout of sexual harassment from a former friend in WoW, and that in the end the bully won a small victory and shut them down indirectly. It could have easily turned out far, far, worse, and almost nobody would have known.

I am thrilled and gratified that the blogger now known as Apple Cider decided to pick back up and rejoin the WoW blogosphere, to blog on the same topics. She is brave and wonderful and fights the good fight.

Harassment in-game or out is serious business. It gives us all a black eye if we let it happen around us, for fear of reprisal or just out of a desire not to rock the boat. We are diminished every time we lose someone to the bullies. Friends will find other things to do if they feel uncomfortable around our fabled halls.

If you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem1.


  1. Or the precipitate. []

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"I realise there is a portion of the gaming fraternity for whom getting online and talking racist, sexist, homophobic smack talk is part of the fun, but they are not my community and I’m not interested in any websites which actively engage with them. I’m also not interested in playing any games with them. LTM (learn to moderate)."


That in a nutshell will do for me, as well. Well said, succinctly put, madam Spinks.

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Pontificator In Chief what’s no longer doing MMO blogging Tobold went back to the well to pontificate, yet again, how DPS R Bad Peepuls, yawl1.

If by the tone of my opening paragraph you conclude that I stand in direct opposition to his conclusion, one would be right in supporting your impression, for I certainly do.

aggro_i_has_it_s In Tobold’s world, everything lives in a theoretical vacuum, a world in which the likes of Gevlon can be as correct as he, for neither of them really engage in what I would consider practical theory crafting.  Gevlon’s world is one in which everyone is a total rat bastard on toast, out to get you and deflower your mum.  Tobold’s word differs slightly in that everyone involved is somehow a robot following preprogrammed pathways that have no dependence on those around them.

When isolated in such a way from reality, conclusions such as "healers and tanks are the only responsible gamers" can be fully formed and realized without spending any amount of time reflecting on the premise that the problem is not the group dynamic, but, in reality, the LACK of group dynamic.

First of all, I wish to lay out some bona fides here.  I prefer the DPS life because I like making things go boom, whether it’s a gun or a fireball. I have, however, also ran a toon through an entire expansion as a healer, two-healing my way through all the Wrath raids (which kinda explains the eventual burnout, but hey – BONA FIDES!). So I am INTIMATELY familiar with two of the three roles in this game.  I’m not so certain about mister Tobold.

What I DO know is that Tobold’s over-simplistic view of the DPS role is as shallow as a Las Vegas lounge lizard, and only half as agreeable.  His view is that the typical DPS player is the kind of person that sits around the periphery space-bar-jumping over and over and pausing occasionally to go "hurr de hurr durr" in between the occasional frostbolt and side trip to the nearest burning patch of fire on the floor.

funny-pictures-skunks-pew-pew-pew What he described was the average BAD DPSer.

If you’ve spent any time being any good as a DPSer over the past three expansions, you’ll have noticed something.  You’ve got a LOT of responsibility going on.  Soaking crystals. Pulling down drakes. Banging gongs. AoEing parasites. Run into the portal. DPS the brain, but not too much. Burn down the Sons. Hell, I don’t think many of the bosses in this last expansion ever allowed a DPSer to sit around and pew pew pew, though Ultraxion comes close. But you have to DIG to find something from Kara on forward that didn’t offer new challenges to the DPS team.  Challenges that the healers were usually excused from.

So, you want to talk responsibility, Mister Tobold Sir, you go right ahead.  All it’s really doing is making it look like you never set foot in Firelands, for starters.

funny-celebrity-pictures-muster-the-rohirrimThere is a group dynamic in raiding and instancing that changes depending on the people you are with. LFD and LFR represent the worst-case scenario. You get the utter dregs from there.  You can’t really judge the game in its intended form by those examples.

But if you take a group of repeat raiders and repeat dungeoneers, you get a different reality.  In that reality, bad DPSers don’t come back if they don’t improve. In that reality, people talk about the instances and communicate who’s job is what. In that reality – the one in which people are people rather than asshatty robots – responsibility for failure is shared by the whole team, DPS, healer, and tank. It is, in reality, a team, and functions in a team dynamic.

Tolbold, apparently, has not instanced with anyone but total strangers, been required to carry the entire instance on his frail shoulders, and has never once been able to get DPSers to do anything but stand around and scratch their belfy butts. I’d be bitter in that scenario, as well.  But I’d reach a far different conclusion, because I read more than my own blog and those like it.  Every day I read about yet another group of my friends getting through another tough fight, in which everyone worked to get the job done and nobody was getting off on blaming one or the other particular role in the group.

fitty-changed-the-game The choice is yours, of course, but if you’re inclined to listen to this guy, I gotta tell you he’s about as wrong as a whistling fish. You can do better than he as a source of information when it comes to MMOs.  Especially since, yaknow, he doesn’t blog about MMOs now.

  1. I feel dirty linking back, but fair’s fair. []

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Update: First post of this had two pictures not show, and that’s probably what made it into the feed, so if you normally read via a feed reader, you missed a couple of pics.  I had to manually edit a few things. /le sigh

Saxsy of I Like Pancakes has tagged me as part of some “666” meme that goes a little bit like this.

    • Go into your image folder
    • Open the sixth sub-folder and choose the sixth image.
    • Publish the image! (and a few words wouldn’t hurt, though I dare say I couln’t stop a blogger from adding a few words of their own).
    • Challenge six new bloggers.
    • Link to them.

Alrighty then.

As many bloggers thus tagged have found out, the originator of this meme was unually well-organized, and the whole sub-folder thing often falls apart.  Or maybe s/he had a Mac. Who knows? the upshot is, we often have to interpret a bit, and I’m no different.

For example, I keep my WoW screenshots folder fairly clean, rarely accumulating more than 20 or so screenshots that don’t get dealt with.  Right now, the sixth image is this.

When I went to the End Time, I just had to get a screenie of Deathwing’s smoking corpse.  Possibly one of the most iconic images of the whole expansion.

My “Blog headers” directory is full of the images that you see appear at the top of this blog. They are an accumulation of screenies and art that I have come across over the years. The sixth image from that directory is this.

attacking_ignis This is Jasra, with our guildies, preparing to attack Ignis in Ulduar. I will not deny, she’s voguing for the camera in this shot.  If I remember, we took him down on this attempt.

But I do have a folder where all the blogging stuff goes, and it has many subfolders, so let’s have a gander.

fanny_thundermarAh, yes, Fanny Thundermar. This folder is where I collect “incidentals”, images that I use to illustrate whatever point it is I’m illustrating. It’s a real swamp in there, so I’m glad it was something as good as this fiery young lady, slayer of ogres using nothing but an iron skillet (hey, it worked for Sam!), and originator of the phrase, “arse like an anvil”.

And finally, for giggles, here is the image for the “My Pictures” directory.

Obviously from a Dwarf Humor website.

Oh, so now I have to challenge and link some new ones. Here are my choices.

Comments 8 Comments »

A couple of weeks ago, Saga blogged on the topic of honesty … specifically, being honest with one’s GM and/or guild about one’s intent with regards to other games, and one’s dedication to one’s guild when raiding.  It’s a good, though-provoking read on the uncomfortable spot that not-quite-defectors leave a guild in at times like these – the times in question being times when there is something really popular – STWOR in this case – that people are trying out, but not yet ready to commit fully to. 

Anyhoo, the upshot is some people weren’t being honest about this sort of thing, making up excuses about why they weren’t showing up to raid, so they would should they deign to return, still be assured a spot on the raid. They weren’t really able to commit, either way.

Thinking of this, I noticed another, similar, trend.

A lot of people are going out of their way to not have a strong opinion, one way or the other, on the whole STWOR-WoW1 thing.  Time and time again I see people griping about either a STWOR or WoW feature or lack thereof, followed by more disclaimers than you can shake a stick at.  In some cases the disclaimers are longer than the actual opinion.

Consider the lack of LFD in STWOR, for an example. That topic’s been popping up a lot recently, in posts that more or less almost approach thinking about almost committing to a possible opinion that STWOR might possibly under some conditions slightly benefit from such a thing, but NOT SAYING IT’S BAD WE DON’T HAVE IT Y’ALL and OF COURSE THE WOW ONE STILL MOSTLY ALMOST SUCKS EXCEPT IT PRETTY MUCH DOESN’T EITHER. SORTA.

Ahem …

Okay, the point I’m dancing around2 is that a lot of gamers are playing both sides of the street today, are happy with that, and want to blog about that new thing, but there appears to be a problem with doing that.

Being part of a large blogging community in WoW, we have all made many friends. Many of those friends3 have no interest in the new shiny, but still read the blog because, hey, still friends!

On the other side of the coin, they are also painfully aware of many of their peers (let’s assume STWOR peers for the moment) have far less "give" in their opinions, and are likely to have little to no tolerance of pro-WoW attitudes – or in some cases, apparently, tolerance.

What seems to be happening as a result is a lot of beating around the bush instead of getting right to the point of things one likes, dislikes, for fear of offending either camp.  One wishes to remain in good stead with the New Order, but feels like being too positive for STWOR or negative on WoW might burn bridges one does not wish to burn.

It’s a shame this is happening, because it tends to marginalize all three camps.  The STWOR partisans become more extreme in aggregate, as do the WoW partisans, and those in between end up tying their own hands and miss many great opportunities to discuss the merits – and pitfalls – of both games in an honest and frank manner.

Hopefully, as things settle out over the next few months, and we can manage to have honest opinions on the things that really matter, such as Pandas versus Ewoks.4

  1. Or WoW-STWOR for those wavering the other way. []
  2. C wut I did thar? []
  3. Hello! []
  4. I’m a purist. If it doesn’t have Ewoks and Gungans, it’s obviously not canon. []

Comments 9 Comments »

On January 18, 2012, a lot of sites are going dark (more or less) to protest a pair of bills1 that are trying real hard to become a law in the United States that will give the US government unparalleled power over the content that appears on the internet. In a show of solidarity, I should be taking this site down in the same way. Unfortunately, I’m a bit busy and haven’t had a chance to set that up or get whatever plugin I need to do it, etc.

This does not mean that I am not sympathetic to the cause. I am.  So, tomorrow, if you are inconvenienced in the process of doing whatever it is that you are doing, please have a little patience and respect for whatever website it is. They are trying to make a point, and your frustration is part of that point. If SOPA / PIPA passes and becomes the law of the land, sites could go down by Federal mandate, diddled at the DNS level.

How long do you think WikiLeaks would last before they were taken down due to "piracy" charges, for example?  What about Wikipedia? WoWPedia? Ars Technica? BoingBoing? Slashdot?  All of them have, at some point, probably published something that could, without hearing or possibility of rebuttal, have them blacklisted in the DNS tables that are used in the US.

And if you feel that a temporary inconvenience is worthwhile to ensure content providers get paid, might I mention that the US government does not thus far have a stellar record of clearing people from its own "No-Fly list".  Pretty much, once you get on it, you’re toast. I don’t trust these people to floss their own teeth, much less admit to a mistake and clear things up. This is the US government! Justice is not relevant!

Here are some links that may be helpful and/or educational.

  • Stop American Censorship hooks you up with your congresscritter so that you may express your displeasure at the concept of SOPA/PIPA. You get a canned message to send, or you may craft your own. Maintain level tones!
  • The EFF, as you would expect, provides you with the information you crave.
  • Hey, WikiMedia has a few words to say, such as "this totally impacts our ability to do our thing." Love Wikipedia or loathe it, one thing is certain: it represents something that most people consider a good thing. Imagine if it were gone. Oh, wait – tomorrow2, you won’t have to imagine.

Okay, it probably took longer to write this than to find and install the plugin to blackout my own site, but I never have been one of few words when many words would suffice. But now I’m really tired, and suffering from a head cold virus that we have dubbed "Murglesnout", because, brothers and sisters, that is exactly how it feels.

  1. House bill HR 3261 and Senate bill S.968. []
  2. 19 January 2012. []

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