Rants tag

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

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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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.

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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

NBI: Regression Analysis of Posting and Page Views

Instead of Warcraft Movie hotness, my Dear Reader, you are going to get graphs today.

So it's time once again for the Newbie Blogger Initiative. In the spirit of delayed events that seem to be a running theme this year, I have neglected to discuss or promote the NBI until almost a third of the way into the month. I don't participate as much in NBI as I have in the past, for various reasons. But I do think it is worthwhile endeavor, bringing together the MMO blogging community, both old and new.

Statistical Navel Gazing

A little over a month ago, Ravanel Griffon celebrated her fourth blogging anniversary with a bit of analysis. Curious as to the impact of posting on page views (or "hits") Ravanel did some regression analysis, and decided posting more accounted for a little over 40% of any increased visits to her blog.

I was also curious, and so decided to do a little analysis on my own blog.
For the first few months after I started my blog, Google/Blogger was not tracking my pageviews, so that is the reason for the gap on the left end of the orange line. Unlike Ravanel, my two graph lines don't seem to correspond that much. In fact, I haven't even posted this second article of June 2016, and my hits for the month already higher than all but two months going back to June 2015. You may also notice, that I have been very inconsistent with posting over the years, some months, I have been very prolific; others, I've hardly posted at all.
Doing a little Excel magic, I learned a bit about  regression analysis on a scatter plot. I included my whole run from the time Google started recording my pageviews because I actually got a stronger correlation, something Ravanel did not find. The line represents the rough prediction on whether posting more get me more pageviews. The R2 score indicates that increased posting accounts for only about 15% of any increased hits. In fact, the analysis predicts that if I don't post at all, I should still get 4556 hits in the month. I did fail to post anything in February 2015, and got over 6000 hits.

Analysis of My Analysis

Now, I want to point out a few flaws in this sort of analysis. Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut posted every day for several years, breaking his streak only recently. For him, comparing posts to hits in this way would be futile, the time line chart would probably be better to see whether he is gaining audience. Also, the ebb and flow of pageviews does not always correspond to calendar months. My hits for last month totaled almost 18,000, but most of that was in the second half of the month. That surge has continued into June, and so over the past thirty days, I have gotten almost 30,000 hits. I reached 10,000 hits in thirty days back in November and December of 2012, but didn't crack 10K in a single calendar month until the following August, when I had posted 60 times in two months (July & August 2013), and the next month September 2013 was a longstanding record for me, on the strength of a single post that got shared on Reddit.

My point in illustrating this is to say simply: Post what you want when you want. You will gain a small following of loyal readers, which will increase over time. Posting regularly will help, but is not a guarantee of popularity. Blogging is not a race, it is a series of morning jogs. And like those morning runs, it is mostly something you do for yourself.

[EDIT: Adding my sawtooth hits graph for the past day for Bhagpuss. It's been like this for weeks. The aberration about 9 a.m. is when I first published this post.]



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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 7, 2016

A Different Kind of Game

A new month, and the dramatic increase in pageviews continues. We're not even seven full days in, and already I've gotten more hits than six of the past nine months [EDIT: 7 of the past 9 as of the afternoon of 8 June]. All this, without posting in the first six days. I say this not to brag, but out of personal curiosity. What drives traffic often seems mysterious. As I posited in my previous post, the impending Warcraft may have something to do with it. Now that I am looking, two of my three most popular all time posts are film related, and one in the top five was a Star Trek RP fic with what turned out to be a popular photo. It will be interesting to see whether the traffic drops off after this weekend.
Anyhoo, while I have played on my new Zabraks a bit over the past week (they're each up to 23), Scooter and I really haven't played much together. Unfortunately, the comfort of couch gaming is sometimes offset by the production of bringing the laptops out to the living room and setting the whole thing up. Watching the boob toob is easy enough, but last Monday evening, we didn't really find anything of interest on Netflix or Hulu. I reminded Scooter (yet again) that a copy of the first season of Game of Thrones had sat in our video collection (for over a year now) that we had yet to break the seal on. A fact she had somehow managed to forget even though I bring it up with some regularity whenever we are discussing entertainment options.

Thus began our binge. Those of you who have watched the whole series to this past Sunday—or who've read the books—probably think we are silly for waiting so long to start. And I agree. During one of my business trips, I caught the premiere episode; I have seen one or two more in hotel rooms across the country. However, we don't subscribe to cable TV, much less a premium channel like HBO, so we haven't seen the whole series. Moreover, when I started the book, I had a hard time with the capricious cruelty of more than a few characters and—perhaps worse—found myself bored by scenes that I had not seen in my sporadic viewings.

MINOR SPOILERS (Skip past the picture below.)

But the pacing of a dramatic presentation is different than that of a book. And we found ourselves enjoying the show, even though Scooter covered her eyes during some of the more gruesome parts. I do like how none of the characters are completely good or evil. The two that are most good in my estimation are Ned and Dany, though of course both have flaws—some of them fatal. Ned's incomplete support of John Snow, for example, and perhaps his over-support of old friend Robert Baratheon. Dany is just coming into her own, but even she makes mistakes, like trusting the shepherd priestess. On the other hand, even the "bad guys" show some redeeming qualities. Except Joffrey, I can't wait for that little prick to choke.
SPOILERS OVER

We watched all ten episodes of the first season in less than week, including four on Friday night, not going to bed until 1 o'clock in the morning. There have been plenty of reviews of Game of Thrones so I'll keep this brief, we love it. We need to get the second season and watch that, and I foresee us spending a pretty penny to get the remaining seasons over the next few months.

NOTE: I've set moderation on full. If I feel a comment is too spoilery (for any of the seasons), I will crush it.
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Creative Commons License
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.