Monday, May 23, 2016

Thoughts on Talent-Swap Restrictions

Legion beta enhancement shaman talents. 
If you haven't already digested the info Watcher shared the other day, you can read his two posts here and here, though I'll be quoting the meatiest of sections below. I also highly recommend posts by Sunnier and Alternative Chat for further reading and perspectives. For those who may not be familiar, in Legion players will only be able switch their character's talents if they are in a designated rest area or by using a new scribe-crafted item, Wartome of the Sharpened Mind---a departure from the ability switch talents whenever out of combat with the use of a low-cost reagent sold by a vendor.

I'm not angry. I'm not quitting the game, and won't be signing any petitions aimed at changing the developers' minds. I'm fully capable of adapting to change without having to like it. My feathers are ruffled, that's all. And I'll try to explain why, from my perspective as an "Ahead of the Curve" raider.

Let's begin with a look at some of Watcher's words:

Especially with no reagent cost at all now, it can be all too easy to activate AoE talents before larger packs of enemies in a dungeon, and then switch back to single-target talents before a lieutenant or a boss. Or someone might switch to a passive movement-speed talent when traversing an area, and then back to something functional before entering combat. At that point, we're often hardly talking about a meaningful choice at all, but rather a nuisance of extra button-presses or UI navigation before you can use your desired talents.

Prior to this change, talent-swapping on the Legion Beta costed absolutely nothing. Talent-swapping on live throughout the last several years costed next to nothing, whether it was dust, powder, or tomes. Buy a stack of 200 and forget about them until you ran out. I will admit that just because it costed nothing, or next to nothing before doesn't mean it should remain that way forever. That's kind of what change or evolution of the game is all about. 

But I found Watcher's example above odd: people switching out talents between trash packs in dungeons? To gain 10-20% movement speed just to cross an area? The thought never occurred to me. I checked in with one of my friends in Beta and he confirmed that indeed, he had witnessed players swapping talents between trash packs in a dungeon. But that made me wonder, was the lack of a 50 silver cost to switch enough to entice players to switch talents at every chance they could? 

The idea of choosing to play that way really didn't resonate with me at first; I view it as one way to approach the game, but far from mandatory. Then I saw a mirror of it in my own play: if I'm out in the world and I have to travel more than 20 or so yards, I will hop on my flying mount 100% of the time before moving. Basically, if it takes any less time to summon a mount and fly to a location than it would if I simply ran, I'm mounting up. It's not a total parallel as likely the mount button has been hot-keyed and on your bars for some time, but it does demonstrate one way a player can choose to play the game to their style. This mount example, for me, is more about maximizing my active time more than anything. And of course Blizzard has never thought about putting restrictions on flying mount use.

I'd argue that the ability to swap talents outside of combat whenever a players feel like doing so only becomes a nuisance if players feel like it was required in order to play the game. Personally, I'd be more annoyed by the player in my dungeon who's late to each pull because they're changing talents every chance they can. It boggles my mind to think that the devs saw enough of this happening in Alpha/Beta that they've moved to curtail the practice. 
We currently plan to give Scribes a recipe to craft a consumable Tome that can be dropped in order to allow all nearby players to retalent freely for a time - particularly useful for group play...But, in terms of the materials required, we're thinking of something that's more aimed at groups, and probably not the sort of thing an individual is likely to carry a stack of and use freely.
The Wartome of the Sharpened Mind, which I linked earlier, looks to be the item Watcher referenced here. It functions similarly to the flask cauldrons from yesteryear: they'll benefit the entire group, but at a significantly higher material cost. What Watcher's really saying in the paragraph above: level your scribe.

While it might not be likely that the average player carries around a stack of these to use freely, the "not-so-average" player still makes up for a good chunk of the overall game population from a numbers standpoint. Perhaps by Blizzard metrics the average player likely won't see Heroic Archimonde die in current content, but you can still bet on seeing thousands and thousands of moose mounts out there.

I will be one of those not-so-average players who, along with a good number of my raiding guildmates, will be making millionaires out of Azeroth's scribes, ensuring that we have enough Wartomes to cover the week's raid and then some. So to me, it feels like we're simply trading one reagent for another, albeit Legion's version will be much more costly.

Granted, this may also spur a guild-wide material acquisition spree, which is all right by me.
Ultimately, for a choice to be meaningful there has to be some associated cost or trade-off in the process. Do you want to eat your cake, or do you want to save it for another time? If you could do both, that wouldn't be much of a choice. 
I just don't like this line of reasoning here, looking through my raiding lens. It doesn't really resonate with how I approach talent-swapping on live. I'm probably just getting hung up on the cake. But at the same time I think the notion that in order for a choice to have meaning there must be an associated cost is something we accept blindly, and I don't think it is something that's 100% applicable. Granted, psychologists and designers will likely take me to school on this one, but hear me out. 

As a raider, above all I want my guild to be successful in its endeavors. Aside from working to understand my rotations, stat priorities, and boss mechanics, I also look to my talent toolkit as it pertains to each fight in order to identify if certain talents will be more beneficial to the encounter, then adjust accordingly. My motivation is personal. It's not to be the best, or top the charts, but to approach each boss as if it is a puzzle and to use the abilities at my character's disposal to counter the boss as best as I can. 

Of course under the changes in Legion, I can and will continue to do this, just at a higher cost. And with the change to talent swaps, Inscription should be highly profitable (for the better part of the expansion, at least) and players will likely be discouraged to swap talents as often as in between every trash pack.
Raiding for us, on the other hand, won't look too different other than we'll be dropping a Wartome with the Feast before a boss pull. And of course, if for some uncanny reason the raid is Wartomeless, players can always hearth home for the talent-swap. However, we likely won't allow that in raids, as it's really not the best use our limited time together.
First, what if you could switch talents freely, at any time, including while in combat? Second, what if you could literally never switch talents, short of making a brand new character?
The former question is something that I haven't heard many people asking for and something they are undoubtedly not considering given the ability pruning we had last time around; the latter is close to what it looked like in the early days of the game, since respec costs were so high and gold reserves for most players quite low back then. While the talent trees we currently have may not be super exciting to everyone, they do at least offer some situational variance that allows players to respond to some combat environments more effectively. Things may be changing towards utility in Legion on the talent end of things, which is why it makes more sense to me to maintain the sense of freedom we have in talent-swapping currently, and look to other ways to fix the perceived problems with too-frequent swapping or Inscription having not much to offer. 

I'm not sure making it more difficult to change talents all of a sudden adds more meaning to the choice itself; previously, it was meaningful to me because I understood which aspects of my kit worked better and when, the result being the personal satisfaction of playing my character to its full potential. I'm not going to think about making that choice in Legion any more or less than I have up to date. It's still going to be made; I'll just scoff a bit until I get used to the imposed cost.
But most other content, whether it's a single quest boss out in the world, or a dungeon that breaks down to a series of sub-1-minute combats, don't offer nearly that much variety. And so you take the AoE talent for the AoE pack, and the single-target talent for the lone boss, to the point that you might as well just have both of them all the time, which might be powerful, but wouldn't be a choice.
I really don't think it's as simple of process as Watcher is implying here. Let's imagine: first trash pack in the dungeon gets dies, you go out of combat. The group is already moving towards the next pack and you want to swap some talents. Open up the talents pane; navigate to the talent(s) you want. Select new talents. Click "Learn." Swap/add any abilities to your action bar (if applicable). Rebuff (if applicable). Catch up to your group who is almost done with the pack you've just swapped for.

To me, it seems the pace of play in a dungeon naturally discourages this practice. I suspect there are probably scripts or macros out there that can make swapping nearly effortless, but it still hearkens back to my admission that I simply don't subscribe to that approach to the game, and if someone else does, so what? Where I stand, changing talents around that frequently for sub-1-minute combats is cumbersome and a waste of time. That's where the cost-benefit sits in my mind. Simply worth it in certain scenarios---like for raid bosses---not so much in others. But how worth is defined is the tricky part, since it varies on an individual level.

To strip everything away, it seems that Blizzard's ultimate goal was to discourage players from rapid-fire talent swaps. I'll admit, the Wartome and its assumed cost accomplishes this. But on a general level it doesn't make the choice to swap feel more meaningful if it's something that a player is going to do regardless. There's simply a greater, but nowhere near prohibitive extra cost. 

Personally, I would've rather seen them impose a cooldown of some sorts, like a simple 5-minute debuff that prevented talent swaps (reset upon death of course). Perhaps talent-switching could be treated sort of like trinkets: when you change to a new talent, the talent itself will incur a 1-minute cooldown before it can be activated/triggered/beneficial. Or hell, remove the restriction altogether when in a raid group, where talent-swapping will arguably be used with the most frequency.  

Oh well. Part of my annoyance with this change might be a simple shortcoming on my part: failure to grasp, accept, or understand Watcher's reasoning, or it could be something more serious like rose-colored blinders. I'll forge on a head in Legion regardless, though I wouldn't be sad to see this change reverted. That would enable me to continue approaching each boss encounter like a puzzle unimpeded, without having to be reminded how changing my character's talents is supposed to feel more meaningful now that Blizzard has assigned to it a cost they're comfortable with.


Monday, May 16, 2016

WoW Weekly: The Bad Beta Tester

img: Blizzard
All's still pretty quiet on my end when it comes to Azeroth. Other than making good on my promise from the previous post---my banker is once again gold-capped---I still haven't been doing too much in game. However, that's about to change.

But before I get to that, let touch on the big news of the (previous) week: the Legion Beta is live! I haven't received an invite, and I'm not disappointed about it in the least. You see, I'm what they refer to in technical circles as a "bad beta tester." I'm pretty sure I got into the Cataclysm beta...pretty sure. But that alone gives an indication as to how much I actually played it. I bought my way into the Mists of Pandaria beta, and I was glad for it: I thought the game looked beautiful and I really, really wanted the early access. I took the opportunity to play through the pandaren starting area a couple of times (something I'd actually already done at the prior year's Blizzcon) and left it at that. I got into the Warlords beta as well, and didn't play much once again. Ho-hum.

One of the main reasons I don't go all out in Warcraft betas is because I'm really averse to learning story spoilers before the rest of my playmates have the chance to experience them. While I'm as excited as the next guy or gal for new Warcraft content, beta access doesn't fall under the "new content" category for me. Another big reason is the lack of time: I don't find myself in excess, so I have to be discerning about leisure activities. Some folks might point at those two truths and declare that I should not have opted-in to the beta in the first place. To those people, I fart in your general direction.

Blizzard knows what they're doing; for every tester who's trying to run through walls or fall through the world, there's likely a hundred others who are simply going about their routines, calling attention to bugs if and when they come across them. Both are valuable to Blizzard at the end of the day. So let's allow beta testers to be beta testers in all their varied glory, shall we?

On to the other stuff:

Gold-capped...Again
It happened last Friday. As my banker collected auction sales and garrison spoils from my level 100s, suddenly he wouldn't take any more currency. I'm currently sitting on 1.1 million gold across the account, which is a drop in the bucket compared to what some folks have made this expansion, but it's a nice chunk to head into Legion with. The economy is continuing to slide with people off-loading excess mats, which in turn is driving down the price and the likelihood of sale for certain craftable goods.

I'm unsure whether I should take part in a Great Liquidation prior to Legion, or if I should hold on to a cache of profession mats to sell later on once the market's not as flooded. Perhaps I'll consult someone much wiser than I, or perhaps you can leave your informed opinion in the comments!

Back in the Saddle?
If all goes well, I should be making a return to raiding with the guild as early as this week. Regular visitors may remember that in early April I decided to take a break from raiding for the first time in three years...just too much going on outside of the game, and not enough going on in it for me personally. It's weird to think it's only been six weeks, as it feels like it's been a lot longer. I miss the folks I play with and the night we raided together, and with the Warcraft movie, guild meetup, and Legion just around the corner, I felt now would be the perfect time to get back into the swing of things.

Also, our guild is currently giving out Heroic-Archimonde runs to friends and family of the guild who have interest in the mount but may not raid. If you are reading this, consider yourself a friend of this writer and would like your very own moose, hit me up!

Gauntlet Slayer Edition
Continuing my streak of exploring additional games during the Warcraft content lull, I dove back into Gauntlet over the weekend. I say "dove back" because I purchased the game when it originally launched and was left quite disappointed. However, since I last logged in, the developer has made a string of improvements to the game, including cosmetic and power items, as well as a more straight-forward and understandable progression. It's a fun little dungeon crawler, and just as it was back in the day, even more fun when played with friends.

Guild Meetup Colorado Edition
In just less than a month and a half I'll be heading out to Colorado for the second (potentially annual) Sapere Aude guild meetup. We I don't have many plans besides hanging, drinking, warming my bones next to a campfire under the night sky, and visiting the Ren Faire on the Saturday of our trip. I'd like to hit a dispensary too just for the experience, but I may not be able to fit that in to due time restraints and lack of guildie interest.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

WoW Weekly: 954k and Rising

WoW Weekly is a biweekly-ish, self-absorbed look into the things I've been doing -- or not doing -- in the game. From auctioneering and pet battling to mount farming and raiding.

Not a whole lot has happened since the last WoW Weekly update, aside from my bank character's bottom line has continued to increase. This morning's assessment put me at 954,369g. I was just over 700,000g five weeks ago, meaning I've continued to bring in 50,000g per week on average.

I'm anticipating reaching the gold cap by the end of this week. I feel obligated to remind you (and my ego approves) that I hit the gold cap once before, prior to when it was easy garrisons. Nowadays, a single garrison can net you 10-15k in a week's time, meaning Warlords of Draenor has at minimum enabled players to pay for their subscription costs with gold alone.

Now that we have an official release for Legion, hand-over-fist gold-making days are numbered. We're looking to August 30th now, but I'm more interested in learning about when the pre-patch will arrive, as I have a feeling that is when we will see the nerfs to garrison gold acquisition. While I'd love the extra month or so, I'm not betting on it. I read an interesting blog post by Joar stating that it's no longer worthwhile to start a new garrison and level it all the way up, based on the cost it takes to do so and the time we have left in Warlords. Give it a read.

Other than that, I have not been playing WoW outside gold-hoarding and Ulduar runs. On to the general updates:

Speaking of Ulduar Runs: My squad of four has been expanded into a squad of six. I had a bit of trouble bringing my 91 arms warrior into the mix, but once I was able to figure the character out, Yogg fell with relative ease. Still no mount though, of course.

Heroes of the Dorm Storm: I watched a decent portion of the Heroes of the Dorm competition, and all of the Grand Finals matches. It caused a tiny voice inside me to say "Hey go play Ranked Mode!" so I've been doing that. I believe I have a few placement matches remaining before I'm assigned an official rank.

Rocket League: Two weekends ago, Rocket League was free-to-play on Steam as part of a promotion for their championships. I'd heard a lot of great things about the game, so checking it out was a no-brainer. I also absolutely love soccer. The driving style reminds me of another game I used to play years ago called Rumble Racing. Basically your car has some extra maneuverability in the form of jumping, speed boosting, and when used together, flight. I ended up buying the game when the trial ended (justified, of course, by it being on sale).

Oh yeah, Blizzcon: I'm going! This makes number five for me and my partner in crime, @thronus. And awesomely, the good @kennylogouts will be joining us, meaning a #3WiMigos reunion! We're super stoked to have been fortunate enough to land tickets once again, especially for the year marking the 10th Blizzcon and the 25th anniversary of Blizzard Entertainment. I'm banking on this being a special year. Check out my Blizzcon Noob guide for some survival tips!


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Feckless Leader's Blizzcon Noob Guide [2016 Update]

The #3WImigos at Blizzcon 2013.

Blizzcon 2016 is happening, so I've gone ahead and added to this guide, originally published in October 2013. I've had the privilege of attending the last four Blizzcons and this guide is meant to give first-time attendees a jump on what to expect at the convention.

Ticketing

Acquiring tickets to Blizzcon can be a feat in itself. As you can imagine, there are many more people interested in attending than there are tickets available. As a result, the event tends to sell out within minutes. Tickets this year go on sale at 7pm Pacific on Wednesday, April 20th, and will be handled by Universe. A second batch will go on sale at 10am Pacific on Saturday, April 23rd for those who missed out on the first sale. There have been some...issues with Blizzard's chosen ticketing vendor in years prior, but knowing that Universe is owned by Ticketmaster gives me some confidence that this year might go more smoothly. 

Group Effort
The fact that our group was able to secure tickets for each of the last four Blizzcons is part strategy and part luck. Obviously, you'll want to be on the ticket page prior to the start of the sale, hammering the hell out of your F5 key until tickets become available. Each year we had at least two people in our group doing this; what generally happened is once you selected the number of tickets you wanted, you were placed into a queue. If you didn't make it to the front of the line before tickets sold out---tough luck. 

From Blizzard's ticketing info page, it sounds like this year's sales will be handled a bit differently. In years prior, all one had to do is select the number of tickets they desired before being placed into a queue. It made it so that you could use multiple browsers to request tickets, increasing your odds. We also had several members of our group trying for tickets, with the first who got through being responsible for purchase, and the rest of us reimbursing them. However, that might be trickier this year, given that it appears Universe will require additional info---including credit card details and attendee names---to be entered before you will be placed into a queue. 

To prepare for technical problems, i.e. server crashes and/or getting kicked from the queue, it might be handy to have all of your info (name, address, credit card info) in an open .txt document for quick copy+paste action. If you're buying multiple tickets, just enter your own name in each attendee field---it'll save time and you have the ability to change this info until July 15th.

If you miss the Wednesday sale, make sure you're poised to try again on Saturday, April 23rd at 10am Pacific. 

Benefit Dinner
There's another option for some folks who aren't lucky enough to land a ticket before they sell out completely: the Children's Hospital of Orange County benefit dinner held the night before the convention. There's an extremely limited amount of tickets available to this event, but their price of $750 can be a bit off-putting. Still, if you have the cash, you may be in the minority when it comes to the amount of money you have to budget for Blizzcon, meaning your shot at scoring one of these might be greater. I actually have no idea, but it is an option if you missed out on the general sales. Plus, it goes towards a great cause. And you get to talk and dine with the Blizzard brass and stuff, in addition to attending the convention. 

Tickets for the benefit dinner go on sale Wednesday, April 27th.

Open Market
Lastly, if you're not able to get tickets through the official avenues, there will always be a number of people who have tickets to resell. These can be a bit more difficult to come by, as there's a high likelihood someone with a Blizzcon ticket is already connected to people who'd be interested in attending. But if you keep your eyes open, or are connected to the right people, you might come across some tickets between now and then.

Purchasing Plane Tickets

A recent-ish study makes the claim that the best time to buy a plane ticket with the goal of the cheapest fare is 54 days before your trip. And if you don't hit that head-on, the best fares can generally be found between 104 to 29 days before the trip. While you can secure your ticket now, historically prices should decrease as we head into the summer months. Another study suggests that Tuesdays tend to feature lower average rates, while rates tend to climb as it gets later into the week. Nothing here is guaranteed, of course, but these may be good things to keep in mind.

SNA or LAX?

I flew into LAX the first year, and SNA (John Wayne) the rest. LAX, as you probably know, is a rather large airport and a bit of a hike from Anaheim. I'd only recommend cabbing to the con from there if money isn't an issue. Otherwise, SuperShuttle or a similar service is the way to go. Sure, you're sharing a ride, but you can secure a round-trip for roughly $40.

SNA is a smaller airport, but quite nice and my preferred route of travel. It's about a 15-minute cab ride from the convention center, barring traffic. Depending on when you purchase tickets, flying into SNA may even be the cheaper option. I prefer SNA just because it's less of a hassle getting in and out of it, and also because the extra sleep you'll be afforded on your day of departure will have much value. Trust me.

Finding a Room

Blizzcon's own Travel Information post has a lot of really great stuff regarding lodging options in the immediate area surrounding the convention center. If money's not a concern, I highly recommend staying at the Hilton, but a stone's throw from the convention center doors. As an added bonus for those staying at the Hilton, the lobby is a social hot spot each night. For a more affordable option with equal proximity to the convention center, check out the Marriott. Word on the street is some hotels have jacked their prices for the weekend. Plan accordingly.

For the past few years, our group did something different and went in on a house rental through a service like HomeAway. With the cost split multiple ways, we each paid the equivalent of the cost of a room for 1-night at the Hilton, but got an entire freakin' house for four nights. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spacious living room, full kitchen (COFFEE MAKER), patio...your own space. Granted, we didn't spend much time there outside of sleeping hours, but we won't do it any other way---we've already got our house booked for this year. If you don't mind a short walk or sharing a cab ride to the convention center, this option should not be overlooked.

Getting Your Badge

One of the things I've noticed major improvements to over the years is the logistics of badge acquisition. You now have a twelve-hour window to grab your badge on the Thursday before the convention from 9am to 9pm---this is when you want to do it, especially to avoid standing in a badge line on Friday morning when you should really be lining up to get inside the convention center. If you miss Thursday's opportunity, badges can be picked up from 8am on convention days until 10pm, when the convention closes.

Getting Prime Seating

Seating is first-come, first-served. If you want a seat near the main stage for any of the larger events (opening ceremony, reveals, developer panels), it is best to arrive early. Really, there's not a bad seat in the house on account of the video screens strategically placed throughout the halls. The only event where sitting in the back had a disadvantage (significant sound delay) was the closing concert.

It seems pretty typical for one person from a group to arrive at the convention early and save seats for their party. This might draw sideways glances from some folks, but I can assure you this was a very common practice.

Visit the Booths Early if Swag's Your Thing

There are loads of vendor booths at the con (Razer, Nvidia, Sony etc.). At many of these booths, there are contests, prizes, and trinkets to give away. However, it was clear that these companies did not bring enough giveaways for every single con attendee. So if you're looking to maximize your swag, try to hit the booths earlier on Friday.

The drawback to visiting the booths where there's a prize at stake is the fact you'll be spending a decent amount of time standing in line. Not that you'd regret burning an hour in line, but time flies at the con, for better or worse. Use it wisely.

Mind the Schedule

There's a lot to do and see. Lore panels, live PvP matches, game testing, the booths, the people---you may not have time for it all---and that's just the stuff going on during the day. There will also be a slew of events put on by fansites during the evening hours. There is never a shortage of things to do; in fact, you'll often have to choose one thing over the other as event times often conflict. That's why it's important to mind the schedule.

Bring a Backpack

My fellow attendee and I were a bit worried about the size of our backpacks in 2011 (traditional Jansport double-strap bags). In fact, I'd brought a smaller sack for the first day that wasn't very useful until I saw they were allowing normal-sized backpacks. Of course, this is where you'll be stuffing all that free swag or items you've purchased, but it's also wise to bring along some water, a snack, and any other items you might need while away from your base. I've never gotten any guff for a plastic water bottle and a box of granola bars.

Autographable Paraphernalia

Bring a Sharpie and something for Blizzard folk to deface with said Sharpie. I recommend the art book from one of the Warcraft Collector's Editions, or perhaps the newly released Warcraft Chronicles book. A t-shirt works, too. There is a designated area of the con where Blizz folk will be on-hand for autographs throughout the weekend.

Good Shoes

There will be lots and lots and lots of walking---even if you're staying adjacent to the convention center. While comfortable doesn't always translate into the most stylin', comfort trumps style here. Bring a trusty pair of shoes you know you'll be comfortable in while walking many miles and standing around on hard concrete for hours at a time, and save your fancy shoes for the evenings.

Take Advantage of the Food Trucks

This is another aspect of the convention that has only continued to improve over the years. During the convention, approximately two-dozen food trucks from the surrounding area will be parked outside in the courtyard from mid-morning until late-night. There's incredible variety to be had, and most importantly, a lot of stuff you simply won't find at home. Well, if you're me anyway. While you do have some options inside the convention center, the food trucks seem to be the most popular option by far, and for good reason.

The Viking Truck is one of our favorites. Check it out.

Talk to the Blizzard People 

They will be out and about; if they were trying to avoid talking to fans, it'd be real easy for them to do so. One of my favorite memories from 2011 was looking Mike Morhaime in the eyes while shaking his hand, thanking him for the awesome experiences he and his team have created. 2014 was even more memorable. Once again I was able to catch Morhaime's ear for a few minutes, but I also was able to speak one-on-one with Rob Pardo, Greg Street, Corey Stockton, Russel Brower and Johnathan Brown (Zarhym). The highlight was probably a sit-down conversation a fellow #3WImigo and I had with Jason Hayes, Senior Composer at Blizzard. He talked our ears off.

Pace Yourself to Stay Up Late

I'm a late-to-bed, early-to-rise type of guy when it comes to the con. Note that this might be your only chance at attending the con, at connecting with so many like-minded gamers---don't waste it. I can tell you that a friend who came with me to Blizzcon 2011 regrets going to bed so early. Especially when I texted him a picture of Morhaime and I at 11:45pm on Saturday night. Fortunately for him, he changed his habits and got his photo-op the next year.

6-2-1 Rule

Bim (@ShieldSpec) on Twitter suggested this nifty tip, one that I hadn't heard of before, but may be familiar to those who are regular con-goers. Simply put: 6 hours of sleep, 2 meals, 1 shower---daily. Easy enough, and helps to ensure you aren't tired, hungry or stinky, which will make for an better con experience overall for you and those around you.

Full disclosure: I don't normally follow the 6-2-1 rule. In practice mine tends to look like 5-2-1 rule. Seriously though, don't skip out on the shower. Your fellow Blizzcon attendees send their thanks in advance.

Note: while practicing this rule, it's also not a bad idea to pack a travel-size container of hand sanitizer to have with you at the con.

Get Charged

Portable phone chargers will make your life at the con much better. In 2011, I had a really difficult time finding a good signal, which caused my phone to be on overdrive at all times when I was inside the convention center. So it was either airplane mode or a battery that lasted two hours. Couple that with the copious amounts of pictures you should be taking, your battery will be drained by noon. Don't be like I was the first year, running back to the hotel room in the middle of the day just to plug in the phone. Be prepared. Following my first Blizzcon experience, I picked up a model like this for less than $10.

There was a secure charging station (Verizon I believe) last year, but these tended to be full. Con smarter, bring a charger.

Don't Be a Dick

It's all about respect. 

Respect the space you're in. Respect the cosplayers. Respect the event staff. Respect the people standing/seated next to you. Respect the people staying in the room next you. Respect the place where you're staying. Respect the fact you're privileged enough to attend Blizzcon.

Four years of conventions, and four years of witnessing some pretty dismal behavior by some attendees, from intoxication leading to arrest, to sexual harassment. People disrespecting the environment around then, showing the self-control of an impulsive child free of the supervision of their parents for the first time in their lives.

Don't be a dick.

Friday, April 1, 2016

WoW Weekly: Break Time!

WoW Weekly is a biweekly-ish, self-absorbed look into the things I've been doing -- or not doing -- in the game. From auctioneering and pet battling to mount farming and raiding.

Well, it's finally happened. Made it official by posting on the guild forums: I'll be taking a break from the game until the spark reignites. Well, not the entire game, just the only activity I was actively engaged in outside of garrison chores and weekly Ulduar runs: raiding.

Last week I decided to sit out for our Heroic/Alt raid just to see how it felt to not raid when no obligations were keeping me from doing so. When raid time rolled around, I felt that familiar tinge---part routine and part desire, unsure of each's weight in the equation---but it didn't last long. There was a small feeling of being left out, but I quickly squashed that, as this choice was mine.

I've been involved in organized guild raids, whether as leader, planner, or assistant, since the summer of 2013 without taking a break. Even on a 1-night schedule, much time was spent planning, leading and organizing while helping to maintain a guild. It was honestly a lot of fun, but also demanded quite a bit of my time. Now three years later, the raid is an undeniable success and the guild seems a well-oiled machine. Given that, I've been to pay a little more attention to the feeling of burn-out.

Last fall's life change offered some new perspective as well. When you've got a great deal of the future planned out in your mind's eye and suddenly the RESET button gets hit, it tends to make one pause. I'm grateful to have had my guildies' support during the time, and the option to continue part of the routine I'd known for so long. I'm still working out how much I want my hobbies, like music and gaming, to fit into this uncharted expanse ahead of me. Stepping away, in light of the above, seems the wisest thing to do at this point.

And if it were only the two things I've listed above, I might stick around a bit longer. But there is a third prong: Warlords of Draenor's lack of appeal to me. I won't even waste the time to go through what I liked and didn't like. The fact is, I wanted to enjoy this game as much as I've enjoyed all of the previous expansions. But I didn't, and nothing's going to change that at this point. My hope is that what drew me to and kept me in Azeroth isn't completely lost. I want to like Legion, too. I'll remain cautiously optimistic for the time being.

Ulduar Runs Continue
My squad of four characters have already been through Ulduar this week and are currently resting until next week's adventure. One byproduct of next week's run will be the acquisition of the legendary mace on my priest, the second character overall to complete the chain.

Gold Collecting
This week's tally saw me eclipsing 700,000g. Exactly two weeks ago I reported that I'd eclipsed 600,000g, meaning I've averaged 50,000g per week since then. Again, this is accomplished without stepping foot outside of my garrison. I'm confident I'll see the gold cap well before Legion's launch.

Cheating on WoW
I dove into the Darkest Dungeon for a while, but the repetition and brutal challenges in that game have led me to put it aside for a while in favor of an MMO I first checked out a few years ago: The Secret World. Look for a Gaming Affairs post on that title soon!