Can’t sleep…so I did a brief doodle of my rogue!

•April 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Can't sleep...so I did a brief doodle of my rogue!

Laffable the Rogue

Are we ever the underdogs in WoW?

•April 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

Lord of the Rings is an absolutely great book/movie. It has so many great story elements: wonderful heroes, dastardly villains, and a storyline with genuinely dire and immediate consequences for the entire world of Middle Earth. World of Warcraft is very similar in this regard: glorious heroes (that’s us!), heinous villains (you suck, Garrosh!), and a long and developed lore that his grown over time. We’ve had our fallen heroes and our triumphs, as well as some tragic outcomes on both sides. But there is one place where I feel like Warcraft has sort of deprived us in a way. For the sake of clarity I’m gonna refer to the movies, as those are far fresher in my mind.

Now, before I get into this, I have to make a few qualifiers. WoW is an MMO, and as such, we are expected to kill the bad guys and get new gear so we can take on bigger bad guys. We don’t have some of the luxury that a storyteller like Tolkien does in that he has complete control over all his characters and the decisions they make. Overall things are pretty linear.

Leading up to the middle/end of the second movie, we have not had a whole lot go right for our heroes. They have been betrayed, lost some of their companions, split up, and face insurmountable odds time and time again. As Galadriel states rather serenely in the first movie (I’m paraphrasing), their mission “stands on the edge of the sword. Stray but a little, and all shall perish.” Things have really gone downhill, and there are times when every hero nearly gives into the temptation or gives up all hope. They’ve hit rock bottom, and it takes a little bit of good luck and some hard work on the part of our heroes in order to turn the tides (or, in the case of our Fellowship, the return of Gandalf the White).

As far as I can recall- and, admittedly, I’m not the ultimate source on all lore in Warcraft- we have never faced this feeling of hitting absolute rock bottom with our characters. Usually we encounter one boss, kill it, determine the next step of our plan, kill the next boss, determine the next step of our plan, etc. etc. until we have killed the final baddie that we have been working to get to all the time. Sure, we might face a few (or quite a few) wipes along the way, but we never encounter the same sort of struggle that many heroes in other stories face. As I said before, some of this comes from the fact that this is an MMO and the nature of MMOs is that we will eventually succeed and overcome our enemies. But as a storytelling mechanic, I would like for our heroes to become more involved with the story and feel some defeat. Sure, perhaps we beat the big baddie of a dungeon, but perhaps this is all part of the final villain’s master plan. Perhaps by kill this dude, we’ve triggered some sort of catastrophic event that puts our characters at rock bottom, and we need some sort of pep-talk or a hero from the past who steps forward and offers us the last bit we need to get over the hump.

Perhaps to some extent this is what is happening right now in Cataclysm. We see Garrosh’s slow descent into madness/hatred and we can do little to stop it. Things are sort of going to hell left and right, and eventually there will need to be a “turning of the tides” that pushes things back towards their equilibrium.

We’re never really the underdogs, in my opinion, and I want to see that brought back. That’s not to say that I want Blizzard to be killing us off constantly, but we’ve gotten to such a point now that we really are such enormous heroes that things don’t stand in our way as much. I miss that underdog feeling- the sort of feeling where Blizzard convinces us that we’re not entirely sure we can win, but through strategy (and clever storytelling), we come out on top. Again, I’m not entirely sure I know how they could accomplish this, and it’s more of a preliminary idea than anything else, but I certainly am a sucker for an underdog, and I would love to see Blizzard stretch their creative legs a bit more.

Catching up a profession sucks

•April 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So for the past few weeks I’ve been slooowwwwllllyyyy trying to catch up leather working. I’ve killed an absurd number of dragons, hyenas, bats, hounds, and basilisks, and I’m only up to BC content (though I do hope to be at Wrath level before the start of Game of Thrones tonight). I enjoy what Blizzard allowed us to do in catching up our basic professions, though a small part of me wishes we could somehow catch up our main professions as well. It’d be cool if upon hitting level 90 and completing some sort of quest chain you unlocked a sort of “Grand Commendation of the Leather Worker” or something that suddenly gave me +3 skill-ups per item instead of just +1/+2. It would certainly encourage me to invest a little more time, as my current situation results in either a huge money or time sink. I know, I know, in hindsight I should have just leveled it while I was leveling my rogue, but I was too busy being stab-happy on a variety of other creatures.

Now I should add here that my guild does an absolutely awesome event that allows individuals to play catch up rather quickly, and I was all set to participate in the Fall. I farmed my tush off, submitted a bunch of crafting mats, signed up for a time…and then totally forgot and missed my opportunity. So I’ve signed up again, but given that I haven’t contributed much (see: absolutely nothing), I feel mildly guilty showing up and just being like, “FILL MY CRAFTING BAR!” I’m doing my best to get as far as possible as quickly as possible so that hopefully there will be one less person they need to worry about. With any luck I will be nearly done by the time the 28th rolls around.

In other Laffable (that’s my rogue’s name, if I’ve failed to mention it here before) news, I completed the Nightmare of Shek’zeer this morning for the first time with the assistance of some mighty fine AIE guildies. Despite a number of LFR folks who preferred to curse and shout, we managed to down all three bosses and I got a few more Sigils of Wisdom or whatever they’re called. Yes, I’m still working on stage one of that stupid legendary quest. I’ll get around to it at some point. Maybe by Titan’s release. Other than the sigils I didn’t see any loot drop, but that’s fine; my item level is just high enough to let me enter the Throne of Thunder, though I’m pretty much horrified to even attempt to step foot in there at this point. LFR is a huge turn-off for me, and I’m hoping to let things settle down a bit before I embarrass myself or become disgusted by the profanity and anger that usually fills those raids.

My immediate goals for the following week are as such:

  • Finish off the Sunreaver Onslaught and August Celestials rep (at least to Revered- I don’t feel any major pressure to hit Exalted just yet given how quickly that can be accomplished.)
  • Get leatherworking up to Wrath content levels
  • Put some time in on an alt- I’ve created a myriad that I hope to cycle through (specifically I want to get my priest from 83 to 85 as painlessly as possible; I dread PvP servers but my friend refuses to roll on anything else)
  • Put a big dent in Dance With Dragons. I’ve had this book for far too long to not have put serious effort into reading it.

Can’t wait to get started! Have a great Sunday night everyone!

Of gaming habits and computers

•April 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Mobile gaming is so cool. I’ve spent the majority of today downloading WoW on my laptop and I’ve forgotten how glorious it is to play in my basement with a big-screen TV in front of me. Now I can’t truly game from anywhere, given that my laptop is about 6 years old and holds a charge for approximately 20 minutes (who knows how long it would last if I tried to play WoW), but it’s still nice not to be stuck in my room. My room has a tendency to get pretty warm as the computer heats up, and given that I may spend quite some time in there, it really begins to irk me. Anyway, long story short, I love my newfound mobility.

As I’ve been downloading WoW again, however, I’m reminded of how I used to play; reminded of all the computers in my past. Since my initial buy, I’ve gone through four computers, including my current custom-made beast. It’s interesting to remember all those computers and how they affected my gameplay. It also serves to remind me of my feelings towards WoW at those times.

I remember when I first got vanilla WoW, back when I was in 8th grade. Hoooolllyyyy crap I could not wait to play, and it did not for a second occur to me how much it might suck to play on a 56k modem and a laptop that was from the stone age. I didn’t know any better at the time. I wish I still had some screenshots from those days: the ground texture looked like some sort of weird checkered pattern, and I just assumed the ground was weird looking. During big raids or graphic-intensive fights I would turn my camera to the ground and focus purely on the green bars (I played a human priest at the time and all I really needed to see were those silly bars). When things were going great, my latency would cap out at about 300ish. On rough days, I would be playing at between 400-600ms. I knew that others had nicer graphics, but damn the game was just so much fun I couldn’t let a little thing like graphic anomalies or poor latency slow me down.

Eventually, however, I needed to move on. I bought a horrifically overpriced Alienware computer that, while improving my visual quality a bit, coincided with a time when my playtime grew slim. I was starting high school and my quest for real life notoriety and beautiful girls began to take precedence (who can blame me?) The computer never really turned out to be the powerhouse I had hoped; it turned my room into a sauna, never really ran perfectly, and was bulky as all hell. In general, totally overrated, and never really served me too well.

As college neared, I played WoW on and off, and my playtime saw another jump when I bought a new laptop (for “schoolwork”…right)- the same laptop I’m typing on right now! This bad boy has served me quite well over these past six years, helping me to complete all kinds of assignments and allowing me to keep up on my rampant gaming habits. Sure there were some minor hiccups (the battery charge thing being the biggest), but overall, I love this laptop and it pleases me to be able to lounge about, watch TV, and play WoW all at the same time.

Finally, my most recent rig is a beautiful smooth PC that runs WoW perfectly and allows me to crank the settings. I’ve graduated from a kid just trying to get a game to work on his crummy old Dell laptop to a dude who had his friends help him build a beast of a computer. Ironically, my most “hardcore” WoW time came with my oldest, crummiest laptop. I raided MC, BWL, and AQ on a 56k modem with some of the worst hardware imaginable (at least in my mind). Now, I run WoW on a great machine that doesn’t even blink when I’m in a big Oondasta raid, and my DSL is a significant improvement (though I still look forward to FiOS or Cable someday), but all I really do nowadays is do LFR and my daily quests. I guess this is probably for the best; I now take time to admire the sights around me and enjoy the cool particle effects. I won’t be able to do that with this laptop, obviously, but it’ll be nice to be able to level characters in a relaxed manner while watching sports.

I always find it fascinating to review how my game habits have changed, and obviously what I game with has also changed. When I first started, I wanted so bad to be one of the best players on my server and really make a name for myself. Now I’m content playing with a group of friendly people (many of whom I’m sure ARE some of the best on the server) and seeing the story of the Warcraft universe unfold before my eyes. I enjoy the game just as much now as I did back in the day, and while I do occasionally feel the urge to join up with a consistent raid team, I cannot complain.

However, the ground textures sure looks a helluva lot better.

My experimentation with ElvUI

•April 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Author’s Note: You’ll have to forgive me, this post is rather stream-of-consciousness…enjoy!

Every time I watch a live stream, I cannot get over how cool player UI’s look. They’re sleek, sexy, and super efficient. So much data is displayed on screen in a helpful way, and these players have come to love the quick access to everything they need while raiding, questing, or doing whatever. Beyond the data, UI’s are an art form: many players will create stellar graphics that fit their class or race, while others create stuff that just generally look cool. I watch players and I think, “Man, I should really download some new UI mods.

I never do.

I may be in the minority here, but aside from stuff like Tom Tom, DBM, and Green Wall (which I use for multi-guild communication), I really struggle with player-made UI’s. They confuse me, and my personality doesn’t lend itself to huge sweeping changes that really change the way I do things. Heck, half the time I take a break from WoW and come back I have to roll a new character because I struggle mightily with learning a bunch of new abilities. I really struggle with information overload, and many times that simple fact prevents me from trying out UI’s that probably would, in the long run, increase my enjoyment and efficiency within WoW. And as I said, I love the artwork and some of the changes, it’s just that I really struggle to adjust.

All that said, I downloaded ElvUI a couple of days ago, and I’ve been waffling with it since. I hate it for my healer alt, as it makes me nervous to try and fiddle with a UI while playing: 1. On a PvP server and 2. As a role that really impacts others in dungeons. With my rogue, I have been leaving it on and trying to get acclimated. So far, so good. I’ve resisted the urge to go back to my old UI, and now that things are starting to click, I’m beginning to enjoy myself again. The only thing that has really bugged me is the size of quest-text: it’s freakin’ tiny! As soon as I can get that sorted out, I’ll probably be good to go.

This UI is just familiar enough to potentially break me of my fear. Maybe before long I’ll be the kind of player I used to admire, one with the fancy-shmancy UI that makes me look like a pro- even as I generate middling DPS ;)

If you’re here reading this, I’d be interested to know how you adjust to new UI’s. Do you go all-out, throwing in a bunch of new mods right away, or do you enjoy a slow-build, where you only add something as necessary? I’m sure everyone has their own way of doing things!

Welcome to Shadow Spot!

•April 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Welcome one and all to Shadow Spot. My name is Eric and I play a Troll Rogue by the name of Laffable on the Earthen Ring server. I’m a proud member of the <Alea Iacta Est Verendus> guild, and despite not raiding or being part of any informal teams within the guild, I still do my best to help everyone I can. I created this blog to do a few different things:

1. Give me a place to muse about my gameplay experience. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of journal-ing and its modern equivalent, blogging. I want to share my stories, thoughts, and philosophies from Azeroth with the masses. Due to an inconsistent schedule, I oftentimes play WoW by my lonesome, either listening to music or podcasts, and while I do so my mind wanders to all kinds of topics: everything from what mobs do when they’re not being killed to my character’s fictional back story. By creating this blog, I now have a place to share my musings with the world. Hopefully you find the occasional blurb interesting and feel inclined to join in the conversation- you’re always welcome!

2. Share my thoughts on the rogue class. I began a rogue midway through 2012 as an attempt to finally get a character to max level on Earthen Ring. This coincided quite nicely with the release of Pandaria, which continues a strange trend that I’ve been continuing since the first WoW expansion. Each time a new WoW expansion is released, I have a tendency to level a new character: in Vanilla, I level a priest to 60, in BC I leveled a shaman to 75, in Wrath it was a mage (Alliance), in Cataclysm it was another mage (my first Horde 85!), and in Pandaria it was my rogue, who I’ve been happily chugging along with since. I love the quick-kill capability of the rogue, and its survivability. I’ll be upfront about this right now: I’m no theorycrafter, so don’t expect any number crunching or knee-deep analysis of the latest patch. You will get some fun little stories and my personal thoughts on how my rogue “feels”. I put feels in quotes because my rogue may feel a bit different than how someone else’s rogue might feel; for me, my gameplay is more about feel than numbers and min/maxing.

3. Provide a place for me to write. I’m an English major IRL, and as such I feel the need to put my thoughts to paper (or in this case, web). I’m pretty lazy when it comes to writing, and I’m hopeful that this and a few other projects (I’m also a writer on http://www.thegeeksftw.com’s website) will keep my from becoming too rusty.

So there you have it; now you know what to expect. I’ll do my best to update regularly, and hopefully you can find something to enjoy here as well. I always encourage interaction, so if you ever have anything to say or add, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for visiting, and I look forward to all the adventures that will be shared here!

 
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