Friday, July 09, 2010

Bloody Hell :O

After all that, they decided against it.

I wonder, just how many people did unsub in the last 48 hours? ^^

Colour me amazed.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

It's Not Going Away...

The Real ID fuss isn't showing any signs of slowing down. I'm wading through reams of posts on other forums: people cancelling their subs, people blaming Activision for the whole thing, people claiming 'their game' will never be the same again. It's true, their game is about to go some fairly major changes, but the real issue is that should they choose at any point to use Blizzard's forums, their real name links them to Warcraft on the Internet. Real ID can be turned off in game but if you want to use the Forums, you're doomed. People will be able to find you, wherever you are, thanks to the wonders of Google. Your employer could stalk you and he could find out why you took that week off when the game released.

This fact alone I suspect is making a number of people nervous.

The truth is, of course, that most of this is already possible. It has been for some time, and as people begin to wake up via sites like Facebook to the fact that whatever you post online has a chance of coming back and biting you in the arse, the issue of online 'privacy' becomes more and more of an issue. The Internet is a dangerous place, just like Real Life, and demands a measure of social responsibility whenever it is used. It's not for nothing that schools are introducing Online Safety classes in Primary Schools. The message needs to be reinforced early on: not simply is it the task of parents to supervise their kids when they're online, it's also down to the kids themselves to understand what's acceptable and what isn't. The older kids become of course the more difficult this job becomes, because there comes a point where you don't want your parents to see what you're doing... ^^

As a parent I can see both sides of this issue. I get why people want to feel safe. I understand what it means to be able to preserve control of your identity. Conversely I grasp the issues a large company like Blizzard would have with policing their forums, and the desire they will have to try and make their products able to integrate across platforms. Having had a chat with an Industry mate last night it appears that this kind of ID thingy is not new, that the problem comes with the notion that for some people sites like Facebook who 'share' information perhaps a little too freely are 'evil'. Another friend made a point I'd not considered: what about Blizzard's employees? Forced to use their real names they could be subject to abuse 'IRL'. It's a fair point, but if I got bad service from a random shop assistant or someone I called at a call centre I'd want their name for a complaint. Accountability is important, as much to make sure the person who's supposed to be dealing with you is doing their job properly. Identity Theft and Internet Stalking have been issues long before all this reared it's ugly head, and attacking Blizzard isn't really going to solve either of those. With freedom comes responsibility, and I just hope people are grasping that fact. It's as much our issue to address as it is Blizzard's to deal with.

I sense that some people will use this as a way to exit the game, as an excuse to walk away, and that is entirely understandable considering the manner in which it's been executed. I agree that the way this entire process has played out could have been managed better. The fact remains however that this is the future, that as the Internet grows, largely unpoliced in a Global sense, this kind of 'forced' accountability is only likely to increase. Unless a huge swathe of the Blizzard player base cancel their accounts and vote with their dollars in the next three months I'd argue there is a very good chance this move will be repeated in other areas. Facebook integration with Warcraft is not far off, after all. Once that happens, and if it is successful, I think it could be only a matter of time before it becomes the norm.

I made a conscious decision when I started this Blog. This is me, this game is part of who I have become over the past five years, and as a result I'm comfortable writing about that fact. I'd go so far as to state in my 'Other Interests' section of my CV for instance that I game. I am proud to be what I am, and if any potential employer used that to discriminate against me... well, that's an argument for another time. The fact is I'm not going to hide what I do, and I'm prepared to stand and fall by that choice. I think as a parent I have a responsibility to show my kids that when they do anything online they're not 'anonymous', that people can find out who they are and as a result they need to conduct themselves in a responsible and sensible fashion. I think more people need to understand that this, more than perhaps they do.

I'm also proud to be part of the Warcraft Community. If I have the need to post on the Official Forums come Cataclysm I will do it with my real name, but the fact is I don't use them. The reason I don't use them is because that's not what I play the game for. To all of those people for whom they are important and for whom this change means they now don't feel comfortable... I'm sorry you don't, but I really don't see Blizzard backing down any time soon.

Needless to say, we haven't heard the last of this.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Not Just us Then...

Today was our day. My server's name clicked onto the 'Cataclysm Upgrade' list, so 24 hours of scheduled downtime was accepted with good grace. Needless to say after last week's chaos I'd expected the rest of the maintenance to be fairly incident free, but clearly it's not. Something has been up with login and authentication for quite some time, and I have a sinking feeling that it may well be everyone who suffers today as a result.

This would have to be the first average day's weather we've had for a couple of weeks as well... ^^

Time to do some website tweaking I think :D

Welcome to the Future

If you post to Blizzard's Forums come Cataclysm, your Real Name will be displayed.

This is making a great many people very, very agitated, and with good reason. Sam Seaborn said far better than I ever could:
"Twenties and Thirties it was the role of government, Fifties and Sixties it was civil rights. The next two decades it's gonna be privacy. I'm talking about the Internet. I'm talking about cell phones. I'm talking about health records and who's gay and who's not. And moreover, in a country born on the right to be free, what could be more fundamental than that?" (The Short List)
I can completely see what Blizzard are doing here, and it shows a willingness to integrate game content beyond the pixels, in a way which (I'd argue) has the potential to become the norm in the years to come. However, there is a fundamental clash at play here: gaming is escapism. People often come to get away from what they are to become something else. Without a real name there is a certain freedom to be had that has nothing to do with protecting your identity or allowing people to know where you live. This will deter a great many people from posting to the Official Forums I suspect, the question then has to be whether that will have a positive or negative effect on the Forums generally. I suspect far fewer people will be prepared to make things personal when they have to do so behind their gaming identity, but will this mean the gaming experience overall will be compromised?

The problem comes of course with the issue of whether you actually want your friends to know what you are doing on certain days. If you give your Real ID to someone in game they know where you are 24/7: no secret alts, not sneaking off to play and opposing faction on the side. The problem is going to come if this were to happen with two people (let's say for the sake of argument they were in a relationship and now they're not, and maybe it didn't end in glowing terms) and one is perhaps not as nice as everyone else thought they were, and becomes vindictive. How does the other party 'maintain privacy' to avoid the attentions of their ex-partner? They can't. There is no way to do so. If your gaming details are linked to your address and your real name there really is nowhere to hide. Time to think twice about that in-game relationship? Possibly, but more likely it's time to grasp that in the 21st Century that privacy online is a relative term. More importantly, it's time to accept responsibility for your own online actions. If you don't want people to hassle you, you don't play, or you are careful who knows your e-mail address in the first place.

Blizzard does have a responsibility to respect your privacy, and they continue to do so. What they are doing here is forcing people to take responsibility as well. I suspect a great many gaming companies are watching events with interest: what happens with Real ID in the coming months is going to have a major bearing on the way online gaming deals with it's subscribers in the future. Will this be the model for the future or is this the beginning of the end for 'identity' in gaming? Watch this space.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

If it's Monday, It Must be the Stockades

(...except you're reading this on Tuesday... but you get the gist)

B avoids the gratuitous Iron Maiden references...

The Stockades gets a lot of grief as an instance, most of it justified. Unless you're Alliance it's pretty much a complete waste of time and effort (/soothes Hordies who get it in the Daily Random Finder): even if you are Alliance the loot sucks. There is none. No end Boss Blue. Hell, even Ragefire Chasm possess a decent loot table by comparison. However, if you want to stick on three levels in a fairly short space of time as you watch your levelling companion get dragged around by his L80 Pally, it has no equal.

That's what we did last night. I healed P, she followed the Wonder Pally, and we did 17-20. Ironically none of the Stockades quests are available yet so we will be going back but L20 opens up the questline to obtain Verigan's Fist (which really is a decent weapon even now) This means, in no particular order, trips to Shadowfang, Blackfathom Deep and back to the Deadmines (we did Loch Modan last night) which should create a fair bit of levelling potential. Level 20 also means riding, albeit slow, but it's better than running all the way to Silverpine which I have to admit would not have been entertaining. Blackfathom will be especially entertaining as I still have a problem with that set of jumps on the platforms at the beginning ^^ The game may change, but the incompetence of this player is pretty much constant...

What I will be doing is keeping a sharp eye on how much money can be made by the selling of items we gather on the way to 80. Despite me complaining about the shameful loot we had two BoE blues drop in the Stockades (both L19's, which might mean they have some cash value) and I made 15g from the Copper Ore we gathered on Sunday night. There is still money to be made at low levels, and as the last days of levelling pre-Cataclysm tick away there are a lot of people doing the 1-80 grind one last time. We counted five people doing the Stockades with us last night, there were at least a dozen people in Lakeshire, most in Heirlooms.

We are clearly not alone.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Matters Arising :: 5th July Edition

(This Week: Also Known As The 'Yes I've Meant to do This for AGES' Catchup Edition :D)

Yes, I know, I'm a slacker. However, I'm a pretty good slacker when all is said and done. There is stuff to report, and some of it will require actual changes to the blog. How will I manage ^^ Without further ado, let us proceed forward...

The Mounts, They are Purple!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present Mount #99 in the Mountain of Mounts Achievement. In the end it was all downhill. Early morning runs with no-one else to compete with for mobs tipped the balance: while I was finishing this one off a fellow Guildie managed to grab BOTH mounts from ZG in the space of a couple of days... and snagged the Red AQ40 mount to boot. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt my luck in instances only applies to VoA, everywhere else fails. Hard work wins the day, and the stripy purple cat. Two days later, and I had enough Crusader's Seals to finally finish the task.

The biggest single disappointment is that this mount doesn't scale to 310%, which means it's really not as attractive as the Rocket for actually getting from A to B. Still, as was the case with Original Flavour Loremaster it's cool to have done it before everybody has one.

Also Starring...

In no particular order...

W the Lock has been working on her fishing (she's getting very close to being my second alt to 450 skill ^^) and was lucky enough to be the recipient of the much-anticipated first pair of ICC Crafted Footwear (in her case the Deathfrost Boots) Expect to find her mooching around Shatt trying to complete Old Man Barlowned in the next week or so.

M the Rogue continued the trend of Ownage in VoA with the ilevel 245 Rogue Gloves. Expect to see her sneaking her way into a 25 man on reset in an attempt to upgrade both them and her legs even further.

M the Druid has done rather well on the upgradeage front via some judicious ICC PuGgage. Abracadaver and Boots of the Frozen Seed both dropped her way, plus she's been able to upgrade her Ashen Verdict ring.

M the Shaman has had similarly good fortune in Icecrown (including participation in the Guild's first Blood Princes kill in 10 man (go us!) and was able to upgrade to Midnight Sun as her main hand poking implement of choice (a suitable shield still eludes her however. Don't make me go to HoR Heroic for the Shriveled Heart, please!) There's also been random achievings, including the surprise 10 Tabards after her first Ahune Kill.

K the Mage made her first tentative steps into ICC 25, but still craves a suitable offhand weapon and more hours in the day to play, as does G the Hunter. He's still the only person on the Armoury with his name, you know. Yes, it was that quiet...

Expect much news and gushing about the new boy on the block, B the Paladin, coming to this space soon :D


Been waking up earlier a lot of late. This song is great for those wee small hours.

Frankly it's been a long couple of weeks. I've not been well this past few days either (one of the many disadvantages of kids are the lovely vomiting bugs they pass on ^^) which has made things all the more stressful but things are undoubtedly getting better. Much better. I have re-ignited my love for the game. No, I haven't gotten a Beta invite (but at least one person here who's reading does, so enjoy your time in Cataclysm :D ) but what I have done is finally attacked the one class I've never really gotten my head around: Paladins.

This is B, my L17 Palalalalaladin. As you can see his hair needs some thought (but it's a source of constant amusement which is always a bonus) and he's wearing Shaman heirlooms, which means he's planning to heal his way to 80. The key factor in his levelling however is he's not doing it alone: my husband has his second Pally Tank (P) and we are levelling together. To say it's the most fun I've had in-game for a while would be an understatement: yes, the achieving is great and the progression is awesome (we did some last week as well, more of that later) but the biggest love for me in Warcraft is the sense of playing, and levelling together has re-ignited both our loves of that side of the game. Last night, for instance, we went with our son's L13 priest and did some Deadmines runs, which were hugely satisfying for all three of us.

Yes, I KNOW I said I'd not do any more levelling but the opportunity to do it with my husband (and the fun we're having as a result) was frankly too good an opportunity to pass up. Now all I need to do is sort out my skinning skill so I can make some cash on the side...