Saturday, June 09, 2012

#134, and That's Done :D

Roll on Cranes, that's what I say...

I am officially 'Done' with the Faire.... for now ^^

Thanks to the Cross-Account Faffings due in Pandaria, everyone now has all the Darkmoon Pets and both mounts to use as they see fit. The only reasons now to return anyone to the Faire is the points in professions, but it is looking increasingly likely that this will also be redundant come the Expansion, at least for Cookery (though with Nat Pagle as his own faction and BoA fishing books in the game files I'd think I could speculate fishing might also go that path, all we need now is Archy and First Aid for the set)

This then makes me wonder whether tickets will have any further value save for using on Replica Gear. No doubt I will be back for the Darkmoon Rabbit at some point (because... well DUH) but I wonder what else we have to look forward to on that front. Maybe I'll be able to log P into the Beta FINALLY and go take a look... :D

For now, in the 'Real' World at least, it is back to the Tournament and the Circuit of Faffing :D

Friday, June 08, 2012

I Return!

... but I'm not yet back to full capacity, hence the late-night drive by post.

Rest assured however, normal service will return in the morning.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy a night in my own bed :D

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Going AFK?

Its all go... :D

Here I am, sitting in what can only be considered as the Trade District in our 'Activity Hotel', watching the world go by. The corner in which I've secreted myself over the last five days to post is designated as the 'Wifi' Zone, and its been filled with a fairly impressive selection of portable technology since my arrival. It is proof, if it were needed, that computing whilst on holiday has become part of the landscape. Its also very much at the whim of the weather, hence the signal strength's been pretty ropey since the bad weather started yesterday.

This does not deter my fellow technonauts however, who are spending a huge amount of time checking their e-mail, Tweeting (which seems very popular) and playing Fruit Ninja (I've tried, I don't move nearly fast enough.) Facebook is worryingly popular amongst the teens, and at least one kid left at home is likely to be busted by his parents when they leave here at the weekend, thanks to the picture of their front room he posted in innocence: I pretended not to listen to that argument as it ensued.

I think I do a pretty decent poker face.

It makes me think about how much distraction is available when playing any game, and some of the more notable AFK moments I've experienced in Azeroth over the years. By far the most notorious string came from one of our youngest Guild members, who was famous for interjecting during raids with 'AFK gotta walk the dog.' This was fine during the summer... except when the weather was like this. I can also remember spending a couple of hours getting a group together to kill the 40 man boss that would spawn in Silithus back in Vanilla after completing all the quests in the zone, only to have both tanks go AFK within 30 seconds of each other just as everyone else was ready. Some days, it was never going to happen, and this is why I remind myself that 40 man raids were such a bad idea...

My favourite one however was in my earliest days of playing, with the guy who was GM of my Guild before he left and handed the reins over to me. It was also my first time in Gnomeregan at L30-summat where the GM took me and three others with an officer into the zone, and to the Troggs-breaking-through-the-walls-so-you-have-to blow-up-them-with-explosives mini event... and promptly went afk 15 seconds after starting it. I still remember four of us coming close on multiple occasions to wiping, learning a great deal about both my pet and my survivability, and coming to the conclusion that whenever I choose to start an automated event it is always a plan to make sure all five people involved are actually at their machine.

If you want to update Facebook, remember to do it when you're not playing, and not during... ^^

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Taking Care of Business...

Apologies for yesterday's absence: before we begin, I spent what would have been my writing time with a large bag of ice on my right elbow, nursing what is becoming a recurring injury. I'd only picked up a badminton racquet thirty seconds previously too :( That's what twenty years of yielding a mouse in anger will do to you: its a long-term issue, and one I've been trying to deal with as I've worked on getting myself fitter.

It also means that typing, on days like today, is hard work. However, I have set myself some very clear goals this week: part of my regime, as well as the fitness and the healthy eating, has been to make sure my brain does things apart from simply fixate on what I have left behind. Writing however has become a part of my routine, and when I don't do it I find it's just as bad as a second piece of cake or skipping the exercise for the day.

This week, in the quiet moments between the games and the theme park rides, I've had some fabulous ideas for stories. I've written a whole new extra chapter for my NaNoWriMo novel (which still isn't done despite now far exceeding the word count) and when I get back next week I am determined to sit down and finally do that 30 days of work justice by making what I began with into something that I'd consider worthy of sending to a publisher.

However, when I tried to think of a vaguely Warcraft-related theme to tie into this post I will admit I drew a blank.

I think I can finally say I'm on holiday :D

It also proves what I think is an important point: you need to do other things, whether it be varying your exercise routine, your food intake or what you write about. To help prevent stagnation and foster creativity, going outside your 'box of choice' can grant a great deal of relaxation and stimulation. Not feeling you need to 'perform' is also an important lesson to be learnt. I'm genuinely encouraged that people still want to read about me the person regardless of the fact I'm not actually taking about the game at all right now.

I have two more days before I'm back home to a huge pile of washing and the memories of what is, and will continue to be, a fabulous week away. I'd like to thank you guys for sticking with me as a result: rest assured, we'll be back to business soon enough.

For now, I wonder what we'll be having for dinner tonight... :D

Monday, June 04, 2012

Stop, Look and Listen...

Today I learnt how to drive a golf buggy.

Frankly I wasn't very good, but my husband seemed to enjoy being ferried about in a semi-Presidential fashion. I don't play, I was simply a spectator for the afternoon, I should add. When it comes to sticks and wee balls I have the hand-eye co-ordination of a slug with bad eyesight.

However, this meant that for four hours today I was right in the middle of Nature, which in places bore a remarkable resemblance to the Valley of the Four Winds. In fact there was a moment when we crested a hill and I half expected Mr H Nessingwary's tents to hove into view.

It set me thinking about in game ambience, and how realism in gaming is vital, even if you're fighting on a moon on the other side of the Galaxy.

Of course any moon's flora, fauna and indigenous wildlife is a far cry from the lush green hills I found myself in today: however the process of painting the picture to create them owes a lot to the way we take in the world around us. Its not just the trees, the flowers, the grass or even the clouds. Sheep played a big part in today's background ambiance: they may have only looked like dots on the hillside but their sound travelled a long way. I found myself looking for them long before I knew where they were because the sounds told me they existed. Gaming plays on this subliminal perception if it wants to create a sense of scope without the need for vasty complicated vistas.

Blizzard has long exploited this understanding of ambience in creating additional depth. Sounds become associated with places, sometimes long before you recognise the places themselves. Take the Shattrath mailboxes for instance, or the sounds in the Zangermarsh swamp, which will tell me I've landed well before I need to even refer to a screen. My husband tells me you can tell if a golf shot is good when you hear the connection of club head with ball. Sound is perhaps more significant a contributor to enhancing the experience than many people first grasp.

Then comes the trick of combining realistic visual backgrounds, marrying them with everything else to create a truly immersive experience. Pandaria is the closest I have seen Blizzard come thus far to creating what might be directly comparable to the world I know and live in, and I wonder if this is a deliberate move on their part to eschew the more fantastic elements of landscape. From what I have played of beta, giant talking pandas notwithstanding, there does seem to have been a shift towards grounding the new worlds in a more rugged yet naturalistic backdrop. We've done space, underground, destruction and decimation... now we return to the unspoilt majesty of nature.

Except of course, this idyll is not all it appears...

Next time you're lucky enough to be out and about, make an opportunity to appreciate everything in and around you. Even if you 'play with the sound off' find a moment to stop, look and listen at the world, because its easy to forget just how much all of your senses contribute to the gaming experience.

I look forward to the 9th tomorrow, where I'll remember to take pictures.... I wonder if I'll get to drive the cart again...?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

In Which I Have to Improvise...

Greetings folks, from the wet and windy wasteland known as North Devon. Having survived (and done all the driving) for the five hour trip down here I find myself with an iPad, a cheap and not that nasty wireless keyboard, and the need to write a post...

A Guildie whispered me late last week to let me know he was being forced to go away for work, and that he'd be unable to play. 'How will I survive?' he lamented: its something that I've forgotten can be an issue. The more overriding concern of late when people go away is whether they will be coming back at all. There's still a rank in Guild named 'AFK Lightsabers' for when that game looked as if it might cause us a problem with membership. Diablo 3 has taken its fair share of casualties since launch, but ironically as soon as most people had gone round the content once, they quickly returned with renewed vigour, and in most cases a desire to make money...

Ultimately, most people return unabated. I take that as a compliment on behalf of the Guild :D.

As we wait for news on expansion release, I don't feel like I'm missing that much stuck in a hotel with a sleeping seven year old while her dad and brother take advantage of facilities for a late night game of Badminton. In fact, sitting here typing this post is rather comforting and makes me think the cash I spent on the wireless keyboard-cum-cover for the iPad was worthwhile. I can remember a time however when I would have been similarly inconvenienced being away from the game, and I that I have changed a great deal for the better being forced to improvise. There is an awful lot to be said for having to step outside of your comfort zones. Not playing the game is good for you, and before you start making noises about me taking a break from the writing too... I'm in as good a place as I am at the moment because of the words. Even my husband acknowledges the benefit that my writing has been having, and encouraged me to do some keyboard time, but I am under strict instructions not to stop anything holiday-related by doing so.

Needless to say, I will keep to my word. I can show off my fair for improvisation... but without the game to act as a direct inspiration, you're forewarned. This week might end up being a tad nostalgic...