Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

WoW: My Updated Avatars

Back in 2010, I speculated on what player characters might look like when Blizzard got around to updating the models. More precisely, I expressed concern, based on Jaina Proudmore's WotLK update, that the PCs would be badly remade.
The verdict? Eh . . . They're not horrible, but I prefer the way they looked before. Rowanblaze had a benevolent face, I thought, befitting a priest of the Light. Now, she looks just a little manic; her eyes are just a bit too open. Her face is rounder, which I suppose is true of all female humans. But it makes it look like the collar of her robe is just a little too tight. They shrank the shoulders just a bit, which I do like. Unfortunately, "Mutiny" in Uldum dropped me from their rolls. Her tabard was blank, so I removed it. I had forgotten the big gap in the front and back of the upper robe.
Hazelwingnut was always sensible, in contrast to typical gnomish whimsy. I always liked her inquisitive eyebrows and serious brown hairdo. And her green eyes. Now, her hair is lighter, her eyes are bluer, and her brows are not as arched. She looks more glum than rational.

On a side note wasn't the range of human skin colors wider before? I could have sworn there were dark brown skin tones.

On a different side note—though this won't be news to anyone who's been playing for a while—I was pleasantly surprised that my mount and pet collections are account wide, not just server wide. Too bad my gold is not.

Hmm. I can't think of another MMO (at least that I've played) that has updated its character engine. Oh wait! EQ2 did. But I came along after that update, and as I recall, you could choose the old model if you wanted to. Again, even though the new models for my old WoW characters are not hideous, they just don't look right to me. It was definitely easier to create new toons than to revisit my old favorites. 
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

NBI: Why a Blog?

Much like MMOs, the commentariat has been prophesying the death of blogging for years. Perhaps more accurately, the "Death of Blogging" has been used  for years as a launchpad for yet another think piece on blogging. Of course, much of online journalism, from the NYT to Slate, Breitbart to HuffPo, is simply a series of blogs, albeit written by "professionals" who are getting paid (hopefully). In any event, individual blogging always seems to be on the wane, despite new people taking up the mantle of "blogger" every year (while others fade away). And many pundits look to social media like Facebook and Twitter—with their somewhat built-in audiences—as the inheritors of blogging.

So why start (or continue) a blog in 2016?


I use Twitter on an almost daily basis, and frequent Facebook to see what my RL friends and family are up to. I have even written fairly lengthy Notes on FB in the past. But I consider the easy accessibility and constant stream of both platforms to be a major weakness as a blogging platform. On each (as well as G+ and other social media), I am but one drop of many flowing past in a user's stream. But if you come here to I Have Touched the Sky, Dear Reader; at least for a few minutes, I have your undivided attention. Instead of me coming to your stream, you have come to mine.

Granted that it is from a Blogger template, what you see on IHTtS is curated by me, Rowanblaze. When you write on your own blog, you control the content. You control the layout. You are free to control who gets to participate. It is your own little corner of the internet, just as this is mine.

Also, unlike those other platforms, which seem to be a bit ephemeral, your blog can be an archive of the way you felt about things in the past. In writing this article, I spent a good couple of hours this morning reading several of my own past posts. It is interesting to go back and see what has changed and what remains the same in my life. What I was thinking a year ago. Or six.

There are many pluses to writing your own blog. It can be frustrating, and occasionally seems like a lot of work. You'll probably never get rich or famous doing it. But it has many intrinsic rewards. That's why I blog. And I think that's why you might enjoy blogging, too.
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This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CSI: Kharanos — Stormsage & Sprizzlesprocket

I went ahead and created a dorf shammy on Wednesday and leveled him up enough to get to Kharanos and join Scooter's numlock, Soffe.

Cruachán Stormsage

[IPA*: kɾˠuəxɑn stɔɹmseɪdʒ] (His given name, apparently, is Irish for little mountain. In game, he is simply Stormsage.)

This Wildhammer dwarf grew up in the now ruined town of Dun Modr, helping to defend the Thandol Span in the days prior to the Second War between the Horde and the Alliance. After the Fall of of Grim Batol, he spent time in the Hinterlands near Aerie Peak, learning to commune with the spirits of nature and the elements and to gain their trust, and their assistance in times of crisis. He was in Coldridge Valley visiting relatives in Anvilmar when a cataclysmic earthquake disturbed the geological stability of the region and upset the spirits of the elements. He worked to soothe the spirits in the valley before making his way to Kharanos. Once in the dwarven town, he made the acquaintance of a gnome conjurer named Soffe.

Soffe Sprizzleboom

[IPA: soʊ̯fi spɹɪzlbum] (In game, she's Soffe, a variation on the Greek word for wisdom.)

A proud member of the Sprizzleboom family (manufacturers of "deceptively distinctive demolition devices"), Soffe became involved with a group of mages who, believing they could use the power of the burning Legion against itself, developed spells and rituals to bind demons to do their bidding. Unfortunately, Soffe was caught in the radiation blast that trapped and doomed most of the population of Gnomeregan. Soffe learned to survive in the ruined former capital, avoiding leper gnomes and scrounging for food. Eventually, she and a few others were rescued by members of S.A.F.E., after which she made it to the surface of New Tinkertown. Departing western Dun Morogh with another survivor, the gnome medic Ptahmose Spinsprocket; she met the dwarf shaman Stormsage in the Thunderbrew Distillery, and together, they traveled to Loch Modan to assist the clean-up efforts at the newly emptied reservoir. Ptahmose elected to remain in Kharanos, supporting the Mountaineers in their efforts against the Frostmane trolls.

Both Soffe and Stormsage are about level 18 after their weekend adventures, currently settled at the Farstrider Lodge overlooking the ruined Loch Modan.

*I spent way too much time figuring out the IPA notation for these names.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dipping Our Toes Back In

So excited to be here.
True to my word from my Warcraft movie review, Scooter and I re-upped on Sunday afternoon. Rather than go back to old toons (and realms), we decided to start brand new characters on new servers. We are unsure of what realms would be the best to join; there are pros and cons to both high- and low-population servers. Thus, we ended up with a couple humans on Aerie Peak, and a couple gnomes on Argent Dawn.

On Aerie Peak, I started a monk, naming him Aconitus (monkshood, get it?), while Scooter created a hunter she named Varlarie. When we tried out the Pandaren starting area a few years ago, we weren't able to create monks, so I thought it might be something different to try out now. We only got to level 6 on these two, before calling it a night, so I really don't have much of an impression, I think I have maybe three abilities so far. Having to run up to melee was a bit of a pain, but the lvl 5 ability "Roll" helps out in that aspect. I do wish it could be targeted, similar to the SWTOR Knight/Warrior ability "Force Leap/Charge."

Some of the controls that I actually have thought I missed in other games turn out to be a bit of an annoyance, like click-to-move. I often turn my character in the direction of the camera by clicking the right mouse button and pivoting with my track ball, a nod to the RP aspect of actually looking in that direction. Unfortunately, upon releasing the right mouse button, a ground mark appears wherever my cursor happens to be on the screen, and my character goes running off in that direction. I don't remember this being a big issue when playing before. At any rate, I ended up turning click-to-move off in the settings. I didn't miss it that much.

After having a brief discussion with Belghast yesterday regarding consolidated realms, I convinced Scooter to jump over to Argent Dawn, home of House Stalwart, where we created a pair of gnomes. I went with a priest, named Ptahmose (Egyptian for "born of Ptah," the god of creation and artisans). (I know, it's a break from my habit of herbal names.) Scooter started a Warlock that she named Soffe, after her Zabrak Warrior in SWTOR. I really wanted a shaman, and think maybe I should have made a dwarf and met up with Scooter in Kharanos. I still might do that. If we run our humans tonight, I'll have Wednesday evening to run a Dwarf up to Kharanos to meet Soffe.

One thing I'll have to get used to again is reading the quest text. I've been spoiled for the past few years playing games that tend to start major quests, at least, with cutscenes; or that dispense with lengthy text altogether. But reading the text of the quests was one thing I really enjoyed about WoW, so I'll have to slow myself down again to do so now. They may not always be great stories, but they provide a reasoning behind all the slaughter.
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Movie Review: Warcraft

The Beginning? That's certainly optimistic.
So is Warcraft worth the price of admission? Yes, definitely, yes. I am guessing that most fans of Warcraft in all its incarnations are at least somewhat familiar with the storyline, and there aren't any major surprises here. A few details are different from previously established lore, but the broad strokes are still there. Having listened to the prequel audiobook, Durotan, I knew going in that the chieftain of the Frostwolves would figure prominently, and I was aware of the story of Anduin Lothar, Medivh, and the wizard Khadgar, and Garona Halforcen.

I hesitate to go into any further detail, in case there are those reading this who are avoiding spoilers. I do love the little details I was able to pick out that anchor the movie firmly in the world of Warcraft (no pun intended). The geography is true to the Azeroth I am familiar with, while expanding it to be more vast than the selective compression that makes Goldshire a tiny hamlet instead of a bustling village in WoW.

The performances are adequate for a film of this type. No one is going to win an Oscar, but I felt the actors emoted appropriately. Paula Patton as Garona stands out in this regard, and I found myself liking Ben Schnetzer as Khadgar. The "Serkis Folk" Orcs worked well, too. And I loved the spell effects and other pizzazz. Again, it really felt like a I was seeing what Azeroth "really" looks like.
The only one missing is Draka.
On Thursday, I bought tickets for Scooter and me to go see the movie yesterday. Our local theater, as I may have mentioned in the past, has reserved seating, and it is AWESOME! What worried me just a bit was the fact that—even for a matinee—I was the first person to purchase tickets for that showing. Belghast, in his review of the film on Thursday evening, mentioned that quite a few folks attended his showing, people of a wide variety of ages. As it turns out, I needn't have worried. There were plenty of people at our showing, too. Not a full house, but it was a late afternoon matinee. Meanwhile, the movie has grossed $286,100,000 so far worldwide (as of this writing, including a huge chunk in China), all but guaranteeing a sequel.

The Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes is pretty low. I often think it's important to look at how the user score compares. And look at that score! Fifty-six points higher than the critics' score, leading me to think that, once again, the critics just don't get it. This film may not be for everyone, but I'm guessing that if you ever played any Warcraft game, from Orcs and Humans all the way through Warlords of Draenor, you'll enjoy this film.

And of course the ultimate question is, was I inspired to re-up after almost five years, and two expansions? Yes, yes I was. WoW is all patched up and ready to go. 😁
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This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.