Friday, July 22, 2016

The Importance of Being Human

I've been having a long (140 characters at a time) conversation with Goldy (aka @BFSTINMG) about Blizzard's new "Silence System". This system will 'silence' users who abuse text chat in the game. If they get reported for spam or abuse multiple times, they will get an account wide silence penalty. This penalty will range from 24 hours for the first incidence, doubling for each additional incident.

Goldy's comment on Twitter was why can't they automate this? This is way too complex of a system.

As a fairly avid PVP/LFR player, I can think of several times that people have become abusive. That random BG, where you have one player bashing everyone for their 'terrible DPS' or lack of healing, etc.. That dungeon late at night, where someone playing drunk or high and sitting there chatting about their nakedness. The LFR where we've died multiple times on the same boss and someone keeps DPSing when the boss is in berserk mode and someone is brutally calling them out on it.

Ok, a little background. I've been an email administrator for a number of fairly large companies. (Only large companies want a specialty email admin.) As an email administrator, I've been called in on more than one situation to enforce blocking of certain types of communication via email. This ranges from the basics of spam filtering and virus/malware blocking to capturing protected health information (PHI) that is leaving the system. I've come to learn that you can't enforce policy solely with technology.

One year I worked for a CEO who was extremely concerned about corporate image. He asked that we configure an email filtering policy that would prevent receiving and sending email containing swear words. Two members of the team created a 200+ long list of words that could be considered swear. Each word would combine into a total score. If it contained any violators the email would be blocked from delivery and someone would receive an alert about the incident. The problem with email correspondence is that we had customers. Sometimes they live in location that looks like a swear word. Sometimes, they have an unfortunate name that looks like a swear word. Unfortunately, we found out that the system we used to filter, pulled from anywhere in a word. This caused things like "Essex" to be captured. The filter was too op. We had to implement a a weighting system, where 0-5 words would not be captured and more than that was flagged and stopped.

From my about page, you'll know that I am dad of 3. In any adult's life, there comes a point when you are inclined to swear. Someone rear-ends your car while your waiting for the light. Waiter drops a piping hot cup of coffee on your lap! Over the last years, I've trained most swear words out of my vocabulary. Instead of something repeatable by little kids, I now use words like 'cupcake' and 'fudge-nutter'. (which actually makes it easier to swear more often. "Oh cupcake, I forgot my phone in the house!" Point being humans can easily replace spam/abuse words. A computer can be set to scan for specific keywords, but can you can't program meaning.

I am a casual player. I often get into random groups with people as they are about to break up for the night. This means the  players are already grumpy, and some swearing is happening due to "wipe 18 on so-and-so boss". More often than not, this chatting is over VoIP (Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, etc.). As people sit venting their frustrations, it's easy to join along with the f-bomb festival going on. Unfortunately, with kids either sitting in the other room, or even sleeping on the recliner next to me. I would be typing my complaints into raid-chat. If a system was setup that simply blocked me based on verbiage and not on context, I'd be in trouble. It requires human intervention. I needs someone with the entire story and not just what was said/typed. Sure, for some interactions, it's obvious, but due to the sheer number of subscribers, Blizzard would have not likely caught this user without their input.

WoW is awesome because of it's community. We don't need toxic players polluting the game. It only goes to scare away new subscribers and frustrate the existing ones. We can all /ignore them individually, but having a system like this where if they are reported enough, they may be forced to leave the game, even better. Most importantly it us, the community, doing the reporting. It's easy to contest a anonymous computer algorithm and say 'it don't understand', but it's completely different when 5-10 people are reporting an offense. You have witnesses. You have undeniable, irrefutable proof. When someone is giving you money for something, and you tell them GO AWAY, you better have darn good proof as to why.

Monday, July 18, 2016

So Long and Thanks for All the Apexis Crystals

Tomorrow begins the end of Warlords and brings about those big, new expac changes that we think we want until they happen.
Get ready for the hashing out of things disappearing from your bags (and going into your xmog closet), your mailbox filling up or emptying out, the auction house markets will stagnant and all those snazzy add-ons that we use for managing them will break!

Get ready for a rebalance of your raid team. Discipline priests are going to be hit hard with a new rotation. Demonology warlocks will need to learn how to DPS without a demon form. Rogues will now use pistols so hopefully they have one in their bags. Survival hunters that fight with swords, not pets. How about the option of changing specs with each and every fight?! Hybrids can pretend their playing Overwatch swapping between Mercy, D.Va and Tracer.

Gear is going wonky. PVP is going to have a major upset with gear-normalization (Blizz knows what spec you want). Goodbye spec specific stats (What's the lore behind no spirit gear on my healer??) and more QQ over 'the over-simplification of the game'. Goodbye glyphs. Wait, I wanted to tank in my feral cat build, heroic dungeon in mythic PVE gear takes too long in bear form!

Elkagorasa's things to do tonight:

  1. Send out followers for their last gold-making missions.
  2. Clear your mailbox of all mail. 
  3. Spend your valor and conquest points.
  4. Update those add-ons and backup the WTF (configuration) folder. Consider replacing or removing those add-ons the developer has stopped updating.
  5. One last Friendship Moose run tonight?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Adventures of Teddi the Pandaren - part 3

Last night, Teddi ported back to Orgrimmar to partake in the Mid-Summer Fire Festival celebration. He took a spin on the 'may-pole', did some torch tossing (putting the quest item on '2' on keyboard) and then ran a dungeon (while torch still on 2). With all of the festivities, plus monk buff, he managed (to my surprise) to ding 90 last night. (no banner, no 'welcome to draenor', no fanfare at all).

The dungeon last night was a Cataclysm timewalker, Tol'vir. Nothing awesome dropped, but I did go turn in the quest for 500 TW badges. With this I picked up replacements for three items, each coming in at 483 gear score.

The belt has a nice, bronze buckle built in, so it might actually be a keeper in my pirate xmog. Overall the xmog is coming along nicely. The chest piece was relatively easy to pickup (at 88-89) as the quests were in Thousand Needles (level 40?). The hardest of them all was a 'firefighting' quest where you have to put out fires lit by the headless horseman, er, pirates! :) Same aiming reticule, same narrow 'correctness' margin. I am still working on opening up the quests in Twilight Highland. I've now done one quest for Garona and should have these soon. Still need to run the dungeon to get gloves, and backtrack to find the quest to pickup the shoulders (Hinterlands). 

Belt of Hidden Keys from Cata TW Vendor

So now that I'm level 90, that means.. 
  1. Talents - I guess I need to select my level 90 talent. According to Noxxic, it should be Invoke Xuen. IcyVeins agrees, but they are different on earlier talents. I wonder who I should listen to? 
  2. Timeless gear! I need my auction house goblin to send some gear tokens over to Teddi. As I don't want to break up the heirloom set, I'll probably just send over tokens for non-heirloom slots. (I didn't just spend 15,000 gold to upgrade the tokens for nothing!)
  3. LFR? I noticed last night, that I could start running raids. No idea if there is actually people online at night running Mogu'shan Vaults at 10PM PDT, but once Teddi equips some Timeless gear, he should have the i-score to queue. 
  4. Garrison - Now starts the final stretch into Draenor. I think this should go fairly quickly for a couple reasons, including flying is unlocked, heirloom gear, accelerated mind pots, etc. I am going to try out the garrison follower guide like I followed on my alliance hunter, 14 followers for Horde, nice. Wonder if I can get them all before I reach 100??
  5. Late Add: Check out enchants applied via Ask Mr Robot on my current gear. As I am now over 85, I should be able to apply all fixes.. 
1 day, 19 hours, 52 minutes
49 bubbles of rested to use

Monday, June 27, 2016

Legion Priest Preview

Just spotted the Legion Tier preview for priests. IMHO, this is a great looking set. This reminiscent (personally) of the wrath set my priest is currently sporting as her xmog.

Eride sporting Wrath Tier

Blood Elf female is around 40 minutes in.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pirate Pandaren:

Ever since Teddi equipped the Admiral's cap, I've been working to fit him out as a pirate. So far, it's been a matter of looking at the AH, for stuff that I 'think' looks pirate-y. Oh, look this bracers, or this chest piece.

Boo. I had found the a chest piece at a vendor in town, only to find that it's not xmog-able. But of course. Then I went and started searching the AH, found a vest, and it's cloth and "can't be used to provide look for this item." Bleh.
Wow Role Play Gear: Pirate 4 

Back to Wowhead, I found a comment pointing over to Over here they have 'builds', how hard it is to complete (BOE, crafting and some luck). With that I've fallen in love with "PIRATE IV', an alliance only (OMG REALLY?!) set posted back in 2012.

The centerpiece of this set is the chest, Knightbane Carapace. Problem being it's a rogue class chest, so there's a different model for the horde vs the alliance. So even if I send my alliance toon over to get the item, it appears that my horde monk won't even be able to use it.

Knightbane Carapace
Alliance version
Horde version
Ok, I see how it is.. Blizzard loves the Alliance, despite what people say about Orc love.

How about something I already have used. Looking at my Discovery armor set I did for my druid. The chestpiece has buckles, it's leather and on a big furry male panda, it wouldn't, say, look like a bikini.

So I started searching for sets that used this piece. Happily, there appear to be several color variations of the item, ranging from white, brown and black. The brown, Swindler's Vest is a quest reward available to both Alliance and Horde. Oh, wow, look at this xmog! Ok, the Draenor PVP belt is perfect. Little dagger as the buckle (just don't use it as a panda and have your pants fall down). (Wait! The belt is MAIL! I thought I recognized this..hunter) The pants are alliance only (sigh).

So, how about something like this?

Monk HORDE Pirate

  • Hat   - check
  • Shoulders - quest reward -- which starts here
  • Chest - quest reward  - starts here -- quest chain contained about 15-20 quests, focusing on the main quest chain. Starts in duskwood, take free taxi to 1000 needles, grimtotem, canoe, start bar fight, put out fires, kill pirates, beat up alliance negotiator, swindle natives, get swindler's vest. 
  • Gloves - Cataclysm heroic dungeon boss drop 16%
  • belt - crafted
  • leggings - quest reward - starts here (can I get to twilight highlands if I didn't open up other areas?)  -- warchief command board, voljin, "machines of war"
  • shoes - ugh, wrath raid boss drop, 9% but my current boots have the 'cuff'. Just like the detail work. Oh, damn, The Acidmaw BOOTS are ALLIANCE! Where as the Acidmaw Treads are Horde. The treads are black knee socks with a yellow gem at the shin. NEVER MIND.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Adventures of Teddi the Pandaren p2

Teddi continues his adventures in Azeroth, trying to reach 100 before Legion drops.

Last night was the first time in about a week that Teddi ventured out of Orgrimmar. His compatriots have logged in to repost auction items and spin the garrison gold wheel. Looking at a little over 30k gold just doing this weekly. It's nice to finally be fluid in the game again. Tempted to have a guildie build me the mechano-hog, but then again..

Teddi has reached 83 now (oddly armory hasn't caught up from last night's game play). Found a tank and healer that kept queueing up for random dungeons; we ended up doing about 6 dungeons. At 81, I was prompted by a fellow DPS for the 'monk buff'. ?? I hadn't realized that it was a thing, even a thing that I could do. I had always assumed the monk buff (bong bong) was a Brewmaster thing.

Teddi (Armory) at level 80
Looking at existing armory, I realized that 1) I need to upgrade the heirloom agility ring. It's currently 0/2, so it's max character level 60. Sigh. Why didn't it drop at max level?? And 2) all my other heirloom gear (except necklace) is 1/2 meaning it's max level 90. I was really surprised to see more and more players without any heirloom gear. 3/5 dungeon crawlers last night ran in drops. Considered not even rolling greed on non-agility leather drops just so they could win the gear. Is this because they are going for the slower leveling experience? Or because they had to (no level 1/2 heirloom gear)? Sigh, if I upgrade the gear, I am going to need to re-ENCHANT?! Ugh. Thinking of that, I am glad I didn't apply the leg and shoulder enchants to his gear.

1 x 60-  90 armor heirloom casing      1000g     (ring)
7 x 90-100 armor heirloom casing    14000g     (ring, trinket, head, shoulder, chest, back, legs)
1 x 90-100 weapon casing                   5000g     (weapon)
Grand Total:                                    20000g

So, how badly do I want the mechano hog? Or at 90 should I start crafting items and/or picking up drops?? 90 to 100 can still be fast when using something like the elixir of accelerated learning, combined with DMF and fewer upgrades.

Leatherworking and skinning - I am finding it odd what I can and cannot skin. Violet Hold, everything that spawns from the portals. Where as the wolves in Utgarde Pinnacle, I couldn't. Maybe I just failed at the loot rolls all the time?? Maybe I am not remembering correctly. It definitely appears that skill is no longer an issue, I get scraps all the time. (Considering my skill is technically only at 75, aka some starting zone). As for leatherworking, I am not worried about leveling as the garrison will give me plenty of options.

So, I think my plan will be simple (and cheap). Play with my current heirloom gear until something better drops after level 90. If I'm not lucky, I'll start spending the gold to upgrade the remaining items. The neck and tentacle trinket are good to 100. Craft my 3 items when I have the mats. I'd like these to be the +5% xp items (i.e. back, ring) but probably won't be that lucky. More likely, I'll end up replacing my chest, legs or head with crafted items. :)

Speaking of making it to 90, I've been looking at questing zones. "when do scenarios come back?" and I found this tidbit "The Situation in Dalaran!" This looks like it was a quest that I never picked up while working on Dominance Offensive event in Pandaria. I really wonder how I missed this quest?
Blizzard revealed that they wanted Dalaran to take part in the Siege of Orgrimmar; however, this couldn't be handled due to game engine problems. Instead the Skyfire was placed up in the air in front of the gates of Orgrimmar.
(Sends warlock to Pandaria to investigate).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Consolidated Warlock Macros Post for Warlords

Hello new warlock,

So you decided to boost a warlock? You have just picked a fun, but complex class to play. We have a multitude of spells that can be used and making sure they are all available is often hard to accomplish.

Here is my collection of my favorite macros. The primary purpose for these macros is to reduce the overall number of buttons on my screen, plus combine similar actions together (create healthstone and use healthstone or drop portal and use portal).

The basics to creating a macro.
  1. Load warcraft and logon to your exciting new warlock!
  2. In your chat window, type "/macro" and hit enter. This will open the Macro user interface. 
  3. Create a unique name that you identify with, and choose the "?" for the icon (this is what will display when on your toolbar) because the ? will change depend on the active spell. 

Summon Me! - This macro creates a single button that does double duty. Hold down a modifier key and place your warlock portal. (If you have a portal placed and you're in range) Simply click the button and you'll port.

/cast [nomod] Demonic Circle: Teleport
/cast [mod:shift] Demonic Circle: Summon

Fear this  - Fear current target, set as focus. Click again to fear focused target again. (Also have a macro using Banish and Havoc (destruction). Alt+Click will clear focus target.

#show fear
/clearfocus [target=focus,dead][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] fear
/clearfocus [mod:alt]

Girl Scout Cookies - Shift+click to create single healstone, control+click to place cookie jar. Single click (no modifier) to 'use healstone'.

/use [nomod] healthstone
/cast [mod:shift] Create Soulwell ;[mod:ctrl] Create Healthstone

(Working to capture GIF images of the macro in various views).


Awesome artwork commissioned by Mr Robot for upcoming expansion.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Adventures of Teddi the Pandaren

Previously on The Adventures of Teddi, he was 80% completed with Vanilla content, just about to start working through BC. In all heirloom gear, plus the "Enlightenment" bonus, he was getting 1.8 levels per dungeon. He was considering running as a brewmaster tank.

Leveling is still going extremely fast. It's going at about 30 minutes per level, solely running dungeons (and waiting in queue). Teddi has managed to reach level 75 and just picked the level 75 talent and equipped a level 75 glyph.

Ran a few timewalking dungeons with Teddi. They have one advantage of providing about triple the XP for low level toons (30k vs 10k) per dungeon completion. It was fun running with a bunch of 100s and to see how many people were hanging out in Shattrath.
Sadly, Cupri (BC TW vendor) didn't really have any upgrades for me. Except for a single belt, her gear was either unnecessary (compete with heirloom gear), or was toys/mounts that weren't relevant. Checking Mr Robot, it looks like Kiatke, the Cataclysm timewalking vendor, will be my best bet. She has an agility ring, belt and bracers! Looks like it last came around week of April 15th. I still don't understand. Are they on a predictable schedule? Are they random? Here are the options, with only 4-5 weeks in a month, this doesn't leave a lot of space. I guess that makes it one TW series a month, with one each of the others..  Guessing, June will be Wrath TW, Pet battle, Mythic Warlords and Apexis crystals.

  • Pet battle (April Week 1; May Week 4)
  • Apexis Crystal (April Week 3)
  • Timewalking BC  (May Week 1)
  • Timewalking Wrath
  • Timewalking Cataclysm (April Week 2)
  • Battlegrounds (May Week 2)
  • Arena (May Week 0)
  • Mythic Warlords (April week 0; May Week 3)

I learned that you can enchant heirloom shoulders and pants! Previously, I complained that you couldn't apply the enchant until reaching level 85. Trick is ANY level 85+ can apply the enchant! (duh!) My co-worker had her main apply the enchants, then mail it to her new alt. Since heirloom is BOA, she could even mail it cross-realm if need be.

"Dots for U" has enchanted shoulders and legs, despite level cap.
Otherwise, I haven't been playing WoW much. I still need to complete the legendary ring quest on three toons (priest, druid and hunter). The priest is closest with 15 of the 30 tomes required for the last quest step.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Vanilla Server

If you haven't figured it out, a true Vanilla ain't ever gonna happen.
Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was? The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers. And while we’ve looked into the possibility – there is not a clear legal path to protect Blizzard’s IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server. (source)
Blizzard is never going to allow someone else to run and modify their game. Allowing the Nostalrius servers to exist is allowing someone else to own and modify their property. "Here's this awesome book I wrote, I don't mind if you pretend you wrote it, add chapters, change character names.." right.. This Nostalrius crew could do fine and honor the original game premise, never modifying it from it's original roadmap, but they don't have to.

The real EQ Killer
If Blizzard let them continue, they could change the game to meet their clients' desires. Not like a certain expac? They could just not do it. Melee hunter, nope. Tanking warlocks? Sure why not. At this juncture, it's a completely different game. WoW 2.0 per se. Think about what EverQuest II did for the original EQ game. You change the game enough, people will leave for the better game.

Ok, if not about the IP, think about the security changes. Since Vanilla, Blizzard has been patching various exploits that have came up in the game. Blocking mods that give 'too much' power, PVP exploits, etc. By going back to official Vanilla code, you are asking to be exploited, hacked, and cheated. There is a reason for expansions and it's not always to give us new content. Fixing that gaping security hole that would have broken the 'old' game client is often high on the list. Why do you think they required us to switch to launching the game with the client? Just to get exposure to all their games? Doubt it. It's more likely the same reason Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP. It was inherently buggy and full of security exploits.

Personally, (as I've stated before) I don't care to ever go back to Vanilla. All those 'talent points' to spend. The dreadfully long leveling process via questing. Absolutely no group finder other than hoping for a pst in trade chat. For those of you who do, sorry. It's ok to be nostalgic, but don't expect to go back in time. Warlords of Draenor already tried and look how that went.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spring Update

Like many, Spring fever has struck. You're at this time bidding time in Warlords, playing Warcraft Alpha, in the Overwatch Beta, or playing something else completely. Sadly, I haven't been invited to the Alpha or Beta, so that's out. My Alliance character has gone stagnant as the arena team has taken an informal break. So, what am I doing?

Erknea @ Malfurion-US
Well, the Hearthstone hero this tempted me to play one of my low level toons. I took my bank-toon (goblin hunter) and decked her out in a full hunter set. I then proceeded to level her up from 5 to 22. Easy. I was done in a couple hours. Totally played on her is 22hours, but she's my primary bank toon, so it's over inflated.

Hearthstone. With the possibility of a new hero, I started playing Hearthstone as well. I had previously built the "Trump Mage Deck" (which I now can't find because it's that old. I am having a lot of fun with this deck. With it I've managed to play casual ranked play and win up to rank 22 (yeah about 7 games) before I moved on. (I still haven't found the new hero??)

Agent 2

The Division. Co-workers enticed me into co-op play of The Division. I've started focusing on the Engineer build. This means that I specialize in setting up protective cover and also can throw out a gun turret. The cover helps us hide from the bad guys, and the turret is like a little imp, just firing out dps.

Division is interesting in that several clothing slots have a matching vanity slot. This outfit (pants, jacket, and hat) is based off vanity pickups from the game. These items don't appear to take up gear slots. They are interchangeable at any time throughout game play.

In addition, there is a deconstruct method. I mentioned something like this in my warcraft wishlist. While I can sell any piece back to a vendor, I can also tear it down for raw materials. At night, after everyone's logging off, I'll go back through my bags and mark items that I don't want. 'That old level 6 pair of knee pads and that level 9 shotgun" Then from the game menu, I hold down the 'deconstruct' option and ta-da, I have 3 pieces of fabric, gun parts and maybe some new tools. If I want, I can go over to the crafting table and create a piece of armor, or new gun that I desperately need.

Teddi (Bear)
Finally, I've gone back to leveling my monk. Teddi, never made it out of the panda starting area, so he needed a little work. During early Panderia, we had the annoying issue of having to mail heirloom gear to our alts. The starting area is lacking in mailboxes, so you have to level 'the old fashioned way'. Ugh. Happily now, I was able to simply 'create' all 9 pieces of heirloom gear from the menu. This meant that I was actually over-level on most of the end-game content (with no good way to skip it)!! A CATASTROPHE, RIGHT?!

What I hadn't realized, is that at level 20, you learn a new spell called "Zen Pilgrimage". This ports you to a training facility in Panderia. Here you can do a simple (especially when using heirloom gear), fight against a 'teacher'. After you complete this quest, you pickup a buff, Enlightenment. This grants ANOTHER 50% XP bonus on top of the heirloom gear (+50% xp). Teddi is using the same gear set as my druid did, but with the addition of the heirloom necklacestrength ring, and the void tendrils. For those slow on math, this means 100% bonus XP while the 1-2 hour buff is active. With a level appropriate dungeon and fast group, I can level 2 times in a single dungeon.

Yeah, 645 minutes total played to get from 5 to 48. My longest wait is usually for the DPS queue.. If I was brave, I'll queue Monk Tank and see how much quicker it will go. On the other hand, dual-wield hammers!!

Game play wise, Windwalker feels like feral druid. Melee dps, with a few heals thrown in. High mobility (roll, flying kick), top it off lots of instant attacks.

Update: Don't forget to enchant your heirlooms.

At 85, you can also include shoulder and leg enchants from Panda.