Friday, 31 December 2010

20 Days of WoW - Day 12: Suggestion for Blizzard to put in the game.

Mhmm. Right. I'm not in development for a good reason. I pick ideas apart, not come up with new ones. This is not going to work very well.

However, in the spirit of competition .. err... this questionaire, I shall do my best to come up with an idea. It might not be original, but I promise that it came to me without help from outside. That I can remember anyway. So basically what I am trying to say is: If I stole this idea from you - I'm sorry. I read it probably a long time ago and it stuck. This should be considered praise, but in the situation of intellectual property theft you'll probably see it differently. Think of it as an inspiration particle gone wrong.

Right. Back to the topic at hand.

The only thing I can think of currently would be proper mounted combat using my own abilities. Sadly - this has already been implemented (edit) in Halls of Origination. I wanted to crawl over the side of something like the Flame Leviathan, using my considerable swords-skills to maim rust-monsters. I wanted to ride into battle on horseback and swing my sword on the side to crush the heads of my enemies.


And such.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

20 Days of WoW - Day 11: Favourite WoW holiday

A quick one today, it seems. I just had to look through the whole list of holidays again (thanks to long flight times during archaeology that is not a problem ... really ... got all the time in the world ... anyone out there? ... anyone?) just to be sure I didn't miss anything.

So: favourite one is Midsummer.

And it's easy, too, because almost all the other ones manage to disqualify themselves by including a stupid achievement that is entirely based on luck and which has in no part any concern for dedication (or at least they did when I had to do them - Perma Peddle is apparently now buyable!).

A close runner-up is only Children's Week, because it teaches young children everything they need to know about World of Warcraft. Killing kings and misbehaving in battlegrounds for achievements is just perfect.


Why midsummer festival?

Because basically, what you get is a lot of people who want to set fire to something big. Like a pile of guns. For no particular reason.

And then, when the camping bikers (that is supposed to be the image of a big strong rough tough biker gang - closest I could find on google) are all sat around their campfire, toasting their (manly - jalapeno flavoured!) marshmellows, you basically walk up to them and piss on their fire.

Each and every one of them.

I approve.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

20 Days of WoW - Day 10: If a level 3 called “yurmom” asks you for gold, you say/do?

I used to be a nice person and just ignore them. I think I wasn't asked too often either - must have been the stained armour and all the dried blood in the beard. Nowadays, I get pestered more often - which might be due to the shiny new greens or something. I don't know.

(spiky man-hair added myself, to make it look more realistic *nodnod*)

Nowadays, I just tend to open a trade window, put 1000 gold into the trade box, start a stopwatch and go to get a new drink, to the toilet, wash some clothes, write a blogpost, browse some blogs, the usual. Standing record is a level 17 warlock waiting for 4 minutes 47 seconds before running off. I got a whole bunch of whispers going "pleazzzzze" in all sorts of spelling styles during that time, too.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The deafening roar of chickens in choppers...

So there are cooking daily quests in Stormwind these days. The ideal class is - as always - druid, as they can shift into angry walrus form. Of course, using anything to increase run or swim speed in water also works. And when I saw this shiny image ...

I knew that fish meant business. I mean ... piranha with swords, that's pretty much the same as weaponized shark.

And then I stumbled across this in the wild: Just northwest of Thunderbluff on the mountains separating Mulgore from Stonetalon Mountains are a bunch of rabbits. Hunting Prairie Dogs. With axes!

It's just like the song...

20 Days of WoW - Day 9: Which race/class combination are you most like in RL?

It's a bit like painting a self-portrait, isn't it? Do I paint myself with soft focus, from a distance, behind a shrubbery or do I go with the brightly illuminated, well designed setup and some boob-tape?

Now, I'm no Ferraro (fake or otherwise), so I think I won't get around a description that fits well. Ah yes, here we are.

Less hair, overall, and nowhere near as fit as the dwarven male model, but I think the dwarf race suits me best. Dark and rich, or was it stout and bitter?

Now with the body shape out of the way, that only leaves class. And here we might have a slight discrepancy. I would never voluntarily put myself in harms way - not even to protect others. Do I look silly?

No wait.

Ignore the picture above.

Think of something else.

Right, now ... pink rhinozeros? If you have to.

Do I look silly?

I'd much rather stab someone in the back than hit a shield in their face. That way I'll also never have to find out if they are unarmed, or something.

Dwarf Rogue. That's the verdict. Possibly warlock - because of the extraordinary hats.

Friday, 24 December 2010

20 Days of WoW: Day 8 - Favourite guild name you’ve come across?

It's almost Christmas (Happy Loot-Day everyone!) so there is plenty of time to post between eating calories - lots of them - and drinking more calories.

I seem to have gotten stuck on the "20 days" post series when a cataclysmic event shattered my concentration (Brilliant, eh? eh? Yeah, I thought so, too).

So .. back on track with the favourite guild names:

My favourite choice so far is still "Oh crap leggit". However, it seems the guild does not exist any more. Wether that was due to a disband or because some weird person thought it not politically correct to have "crap" on his twelve-year olds screen (who probably murdered 80.000 humanoids before he noticed the name - ah well) I cannot say. I think that probably disqualifies them.

I'll go with [Error Loading Guild Name], which seems to exist several times by now. And which would not confuse me so much, if I didn't see a lot of "Unknown" people when logging in on a busy day.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Homeless, Guildless, Guiltless?

1) Introduction:

Let's steal a good idea from Tamarind, and separate the text into several chapters. I think he probably stole that idea somewhere else (*suspicious look included*) - probably the old Egyptians or Babylonians or some such. We shall also add images at random points to break up the text. The Egyptians had that down to an art - their whole wall of text was nothing but images *nodnod*. As behooves a mighty tauren a serious topic, we shall start with an introduction.

Snack is currently without a guild. I quit today, after a few lines from our guildmaster had me rather upset. The amount of diplomacy stuck into the delivery was low, but of course that is not the whole story. Which is why there is a whole long post about it - well that, and I love to hear myself talk.

2) Guild Climax (Ooh, aah):

Let's start with the high point of guild life. Back when I joined Vengeance, raiding was still focused on the final chapters of Icecrown Citadel normal. The first attempts on the life of the Lich King were made in Summer, and of course it was all very exciting. The guild had an excellent system of checks and balances for raiders - performance of new recruits was (I thought) evaluated well. Quite a few people did not actually make their trial, which had me very hopeful for the future of raiding.

The general level of performance was high - mistakes happened still, though. I think it is only fair to say that some people failed more often than others - but I was certainly not in the best 5% either. I am still surprised I made it through the trial - tank mistakes are so terribly visible.

The first 10-man Lich King kill was strenuous, but brilliant. The fight was quite hard due to it's unforgiving nature. Pretty much a single mistake by anyone meant that a restart was in order. It felt even better then, when he finally bit the dust (err.. ice?) after 93 attempts.

3) Guild Plateau:

After the 10 man kill, progress was focused on heroic modes in 10 man, the achievements in 10 man after a while and obviously pulling the same off in the bigger raids. 25 man progress was a good bit slower (and took almost three months more for the Lich King kill). And while people were still raiding regularily, the drive that pushed the 10 man kill seemed to be a bit lower.

4) Guild Decline:

And this is the bit, where it all got a bit strange. After early October 2010 the decline in signups was palpable. We had just completed the first Shadowmourne for the guild and people were - understandably - a bit drained with ICC. There was some effort by the officers to keep sign-ups high - but unfortunately much of the energy invested was aimed wrongly.

Basically: It doesn't help to tell the people who are there that they need to sign up more.

Both the "need to tell people (tm)" and the "but you got the wrong guy (r)" reactions happen in pretty much any situation, though. It's not like it's not going to be the first thing in the local supermarket and the high tech company around the corner as well. Gevlon would probably call it an Ape-Subroutine ... or something.

With the drive gone, everything went pretty quickly odd. The official release date of Cataclysm had been confirmed by Blizzard as the 7th of December. Two of the officers didn't play any more. With a short "I'll be back" message they had basically given up until Cataclysm. Our guildmaster was busy in real life - which understandably put a dampener on the "pull" of players in the guild.

A few of the remaining raiders tried organizing some interim measures - raiding Ulduar and Naxxramas for fun, attempting to do Trial of the Champions with all the attempts left, that sort of thing.

A bit surprising at this stage was the total lack of communication from the officer core. I'll actually leave that in as it is, because it's important criticism. Not playing the game while waiting for the expansion is entirely acceptable and understandable - most of the officers had put in a very very high attendance record and were worn out - however, the forums were still an open option for communications.

In the last few weeks, people would hardly notice signup pages on the calender any more, and the focus in raids was frankly gone. Some would not show up, some would leave early, some would "stand in the fire" and hardly care. I think one of the most memorable moments was a raid with a second guild (because we couldn't field the 20 people for an Ulduar-25 ourselves any more) when a guildy was kicked from the raid for standing in the bad too often.

5) Officer Stress and Feedback:

On to the parts I cannot properly comment on. I don't actually know any of the data here. I think that our officers (when present) and our guildmaster in particular were doing their best to hold the guild together just before Cataclysm. There was probably some organization going on behind the scenes. One of the highlights of that time was a poll on the forums about how people wanted to go about leveling up, recruiting for raids in the future and content.

Let me quote my own answer to leveling speed, because this is the root of my current problem:

Guild holiday?
I’m all for one. In fact, I rather enjoy questing – and being prepared for the actual raids. This probably means there will be new factions to get to exalted, new areas to be enjoyed and generally lots of things to do. Again – I arrived late at Vengeance and haven’t really seen any levelling going on, but at the moment people seem to mainly log on for raids and disappear right after (or that could be me – I wonder if me not being on outside raid times plays a role?). Would the simple solution be to just set everyone to member once the expansion hits and let them ask for “raider” rank when they feel ready?

From the changes to the interface/gameplay a lot of classes will need to learn how to play the game again anyway. The AoE-days are apparently going out; crowd control and possibly even area control (with fog and line of sight and things) are coming in. It’ll be a new game.
So… I’d skip the “preset” holiday period. Raid as soon as 10 people are willing to go, but allow the other guildies to catch up at their own speeds.
This still describes how I feel about leveling up in the new and shiny Cataclysm. I personally feel that raiding is only a part of the game - there are many many more nuances to it. Treating Cataclysm like a content patch (see Ulduar, Trial of Champions or Icecrown) devalues the whole experience massively.

I also tend to stick less to a schedule around the Christmas holidays. There are presents to be sorted, a tree to be watered and decorated and all sorts of family celebrations. That dreaded "real life" shows itself in its most enjoyable form. With cake and chocolate!

And luckily, everyone seemed to basically agree.

The official statement back then was this:

We have yet to finalize and edit rules for expansion on our next meeting, but this can be said for sure: we are not going to be pressuring nor have any penalties for the 80-85 leveling time. This is very individual and depends a lot on real life commitments each of us has and off course play style (a lot have been starving for new lore and leveling experience), and there will certainly be no gkicks because of slow leveling.
We will start raiding new content only when 10 or so players will be feeling like it, then growing in raid group size.
Now unfortunately this has not played out the way I interpreted it at the time. Back then, I thought this sounded perfect for a leveling experience that was similar to Wrath of the Lich King. As a level 70 (back then - this is ancient history, mind) I had to complete pretty much all the zones, do almost all of the quests and thus got almost all of the factions up to the point where only instance runs would improve them further. The best pre-raid gear was aquired from heroic instances (back then pretty much the same as now), with crafted items making up everything that was missing in drops.

My interpretation: We won't moan about anyone who plays the whole new zones/quests in their drive to get the best gear accessible before raiding. We want quality in the raiding equipment first and foremost.

The first players in the guild reached level 85 on the second or third day of Cataclysm. The new leveling model is an entirely different one. People are expected to level early and pick the two zones they enjoy most. Much like the rest of the new game (with the Shattering) there are now multiple parallel leveling paths that are entirely equally viable. Perfect for someone who plays an Alt and wants to experience something different.

The first instances were run (and moaned about), the first heroics were attempted (and moaned about even more). A relatively small group of players was seriously rocking the heroic world. Today (21st of December 2010, so this post can last for eternity) the average item level of those is around the 348 mark (done in my head - from a sample of four - so the standard deviation might be large). My own has just barely passed the 330 - almost a tier behind everyone else.

Now interestingly enough - this is not only something I noticed, it was also noticed by the officers (Good! They care deeply about the guild after all!). However, the way they went about it was terrible.

What I would have wished for would have been some clear communication. Something along the lines of "We appreciate that everyone wants to play their own game, but this is a raiding guild. We want to start seriously raiding in week x (I would have said week 2/2011, but that's too late for some). We want everyone who's interested to have their gear ready by week x-1, so we can plan on who will be there, what to do, etc."

I would probably not have minded someone saying "Look, we currently have one well-equipped tank. We need a second one - is there anything we can do to help you get gear?". I appreciate that it's my own responsibility to gear up, but pickup groups are not the fastest way - especially if some guildies already know the instances inside out.

What I got instead (over the last three days - since a first attempt into Blackwing Descent) was increasingly hostile Guildmessages of the day and then finally a personal "talking to" from our guildmaster today.

Now I presume there are different perceptions of how the conversation went again. This is likely always the case, and I suppose our officers are actually busy on more than one thing. There is also this fresh content that everyone seems to appreciate (and that I'd like to enjoy, too, limited as my playtime is) complete with cutscenes that completely block out all chat channels (this is a bad piece of design. It truly is.)

My perception was this. I had just grouped up with Issy to do instances. We had asked in guild if anyone would want to join us for a normal and actually got one more. We had entered the instance (a new one for me) and asked around if anyone actually knew what they were doing here. Two of the DPS were willing to help with quick tactics and we set out to kill things.

The first question I got was "You guys doing heroics yet?". I was a little surprised about the choice of chat-channel, but I declined. I thought in a funny manner, but of course this is hard to judge over the interwebs. The next question was "How come? been 85 couple days". Now I know I just said it's hard to judge funny over a chat, but that appeared unneccessarily agressive to me. When I said there was plenty to do I got a "Like what? we are not a social guild tbh, other things can wait."

Now this combined with the tension and bad communication over the past days for me was too much. I may be too easily angered (especially in the mornings, while tanking things I have never seen before) but I was told I could take as much time as I wanted. Just to be told it didn't apply.

There was a new post on the forums at the same time, basically saying something like this:
It seems that we have a lot of players who have already reached level 85, but for some reason instead of getting ready for raids, decide to spend their time in-game on leveling alts and not raiding related professions, which can be done after the main character is raid ready.

We did give everyone time to level at whatever speed you like, but abusing this to slack at level 85 is unacceptable.

This is basically where I draw the line. This ties in with the question on pretty much every guilds recruitment questionaire "Are you willing to respec for the good of the guild?". My answer usually is "Sure, as long as I can stay tank. Of course I'll get Improved Demo Shout if no one else can provide it, but I don't want to join as a warrior tank just to be playing a priest healer". This is a game I play for my enjoyment - and without knowing all the facts accusing people of slacking is not acceptable.

Especially not in the format done.

Waiting until the players are not currently busy, then taking the time to talk to them works. Snapping out one-liners in between your own heroic runs does not. I'd say a guild leadership in any way needs to be better than the members at communicating its wishes. Much like my boss at work needs to be better than me - otherwise something is going wrong.

5.5) Intermezzo: On Gearing up for Raids

There is, of course, a reason for my leveling plan. Surprisingly I actually want to raid on Snack and am aware of the gear requirements for proper raiding. Unlike the top guilds (Worldwide, obviously, but even Serverwide) I am not good enough a player to cleanly progress in the minimum level of equipment required. On the first day in Naxxramas I died to Anub. On the first day in Icecrown Citadel I wiped on Marrowgar. Hell.. the first time in Shattered Halls heroic I died to the gauntlet trash.

Luckily, Blizzard is well aware of a bell-curve of their players skill. Higher gear levels help to smooth out problems and rough corners. In the current situation that means reputation rewards (and tanks need Ramhaken, Wildhammer Clan, Therazane, and Guardians of Hyjal at exalted) and crafted items. Blacksmithing, mainly. And now I am well aware that leveling Alchemy on a second character to maximum may be considered wasteful, but the cost of raiding does actually play a role.

Wow, that sounded more angry than I thought. What I was trying to get at - I know what I need to do to raid and it takes time. More time than some other classes, possibly - and certainly more than I can spend when I have a small child at home. 16 hours of WoW time may be logged in - but certainly not at the keyboard.

5) Again: Back to Officer Stress and Feedback:

So ... I am looking at a guild with officers who (probably) talk in officer chat and on the forums in a seperate channel. They do, however, not see the need to communicate their fears, hopes and wishes to the guild - except in BOLD STATEMENTS at the end of a decision finding process.

I left at that point.

I'm unsure about the guild at the moment. There is both a certain amount of Sloth and a lack of direction here. I feel that the guild that was designed and sharpened for raiding did not cope well with enforced downtime. I wonder if they can recover. If raiding started up again, people might behave again. However, the push towards it over the playstyle of players is obviously not going down well either. This should have been forseen and probably handeled much better.

6) What can I learn from this?

It seems at the moment that a raiding guild is only good for raiding. If raiding stops (for whatever reason) people loose focus and the construct unravels.

It's true as well; while raiding I might put up with drugged and abusive guildmembers who behaved like teenagers - as long as they were pulling their weight - but in the downtimes their (well his) aggravating chat behaviour was just unbearable.

Officers of a guild have to handle recruitment (well done in Vengeance), raid signups (well done in Vengeance), guild policies (So-so done. I really liked the poll, I was completely unhappy about the sudden change in direction at the end) and communication with the members (not well done in Vengeance). I am truly glad that I am not an officer. Major props to all who are - no matter wether they blunder on one or the other topic - because this is hard work.

Oh yes. And I decided to put my own enjoyment of the game over the guild experience for the moment. Everyone makes mistakes and it was probably hasty to leave. I still feel like it was the right thing to do. I'll take my time leveling and gearing up, and when I'm ready (and back at work on a normal schedule) I'll probably have to go and find a raiding guild again. I love bashing my face against a wall three nights a week. I just don't want to burn out on the only raid in the game now when there is other stuff to do still.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Bullwhips, Fedoras and Ammonites

Now that everyone has had time to try the new Archaeology, it's about time for me to start posting a few things about it as well.

If you have not tried it yet - you might like it. It does have boring stretches - much like fishing - and it does require a lot of travel, but there are some rewards that are great. I have to admit, I have not seen one of the epic items yet, but the troll one especially has me drooling. Notice how it's Bind to Account as well, so I can share it with my other alts once they are level 85.

But anyway..  back to the basics:

You want this hat, you'll have to earn it. Start by visiting one of the Archaeology trainers. You'll get two new "abilities" - Survey and Archaeology.

First stop: The archaeology window. This is not technically what you'll see when you open up the window - this is what you get after hitting the "Info" button in the top left corner. The one I marked with a red arrow.

It shows basically what you are supposed to do: Instructions built into the skill - a new thing! In short: Open your world map, find one of the spade icons, fly there. Once you get to the appropriate zone, find the red (or sometimes grey) shaded area. Land. Use your survey tools.

You'll get one of three possible results. Red light next to your contraption means you are more than 100 yards away - and it is somewhere in a 90° cone in front of the lense (the big end!).

Yellow means you are still a bit away. More than 50, but less than 100 yards. The surveying tool is pointing roughly in the right direction, though (there is a narrow cone - less than 45° I'd say).

A green, flashing light means you're basically there. Less than 50 yards away from you is your treasure. The survey tool does point at it directly. The easiest way to find it is by triangulation - so you'll just walk off to the side a bit, survey again and match the two lines. Bingo.

To find your treasure you'll need to survey again. On the spot with the X. Except there is, of course, no X.
Your reward will depends on the type of Dig Site you are at. In the beginning you are limited to Fossils, Dwarves, Night Elves and Trolls. Once you pass 300 skill, you'll also be able to grab Draenei and Orc items from the outlands, at 375 you'll unlock Nerubian and Vyrkul from Northrend and finally at 450 Tol'vir from Uldum.

Up to 100 in skill you can gain skillpoints just from picking up artifacts off the ground. Once you pass the 100, you'll gain 5 points each time you assemble (solve) a find.

The solving window looks something like this. It tells you how many total artifacts you need to collect to assemble your find. At the bottom you also see a hexagon box. If one of those is available (not always the case) you can use a secondary "currency" to solve the find quicker. Rare artifacts can use up to three of those, and you'll automatically get them on a succesful survey sometimes (like gems in mines or hides in skinning).

And that is pretty much it. Walk around, survey the land, pick up artifacts and solve the pieces of the puzzle to grab a useless price (in most cases).

Addon Corner:

There are actually two addons I can recommend to speed up Archaeology a bit.

Archy combines all the information into easily navigated boxes. It also tracks dig sites (and apparently interfaces with something called TomTom to add waypoints). More importantly: It adds a little icon to my BrokerBar which reminds me when to visit a trainer.

SAL is a tracking addon. It helps (immensely) with triangulating the actual position of your find. It is not the most intuitive of addons, however, so I think I'll add a few pictures.

First image shows the SAL window. The left icon is the one you use when you are standing on top of your surveying tool and facing in the direction of the surveying tool. It'll then give you a line superimposed on the screen. If you remembered to "measure" the size of the zone, the line will also be colourcoded by distances (as shown in the next image).

To measure, the rightmost icon. Click it, it'll prompt you to walk forward in a straight line until it's finished (a few seconds). Word of warning: Do not be mounted, flying, catform-with-speedboost or any other movement speed changing effects. Otherwise the measurements come out wrong and you'll end up in the brambles. Prickly brambles, too!

The second image shows the superimposed lines. The first one was from a red survey tool. As you can see, I moved to the "red area" on the line, then dropped another tool. And because the angle of randomness took me far, far away from the actual relics, I ended up with a yellow followup.

The second image is one I'd like to see more often. Green line from the start, which meant I could just walk off to the side a bit and do another survey. The two lines intersect somewhere - and another survey there reveals the fragment I am looking for. Almost exactly in the right spot.

Lastly, the spawnspots for artifact finds are limited. Much like ore or herb nodes they do appear in the same places. You'll probably notice when you dig for your second find in an area and it pops up right where you just found one. SAL also remembers the map locations on the minimap. When arriving in an area you already were in - why not start next to a known spot. You might get lucky.

Good luck.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Level 85 Mobility Macro

Just a quick update for tanking warriors: Heroic Leap has a one minute cooldown, but is usable in any stance. It's doesn't follow the same rules as charge to use, but allows for more flexibility as it can be manually targetted. No rage cost, either.

So .. with that in mind, the updated Mobility macro for level 85 is something like this:

#showtooltip Charge

/cast Heroic Leap;
/castsequence [harm] reset=15 Charge, Intercept; [help] Intervene

If Heroic Leap is off cooldown, it'll use this first.
If an enemy unit is targetted, it'll attempt to use Charge, if Charge is on cooldown it'll use Intercept.
If a friendly unit is targetted, it'll use Intervene.

All this requires a point spent in Warbringer, so don't skip it.

Random Cataclysm

No time to continue this 20 days thing at the moment... there are new worlds to be slain and new enemies to be conquered. Or some such. There always has to be time for things I found, though, and because I feel exceptionally generous, there is also going to be a "massively important tip"TM included.

1) Daily quests and crafting cooldowns!

Now call me old-fashioned. Call me overly sensitive. But I do not think that he was giving me a compliment there! The result of handing in some Forged Documents for the Inscription quest. Doable once per day. And.. it resets at 24.00 server time. Like all other cooldowns. So while technically my truegold transmute might state that it is only three hours 21 minutes to the next application - it'll still be once per 24 hours.

2) Quests are amazingly good fun!

I know some people tend to gloss over quest text. I would not even say I am immune to that. Especially on the 26th alt running through the same area again and again. However, new stuff is new and thus good and sacred and holy and should be consumed like a fine champagne - from the shoe of a naked lady - carefully and enjoying the whole thing.

Example from the random screenshot selection?

3) Professions training!

There are new crafting things. Some of them give more than one skillpoint at once.

In the example above: Hardened Elementium Girdle would give +5 skill points, the Bloodied Pyrium Belt and Gauntlets are guaranteed +1 skill point (orange colour), the Bloodied Pyrium Bracers and the Redsteel Breastplate would most likely give +1 skill point (yellow) and the Rough Copper Vest would not give any skillgains whatsoever (sad but true).

There is one case I have found so far where this is actually requires attention.

Namely: Alchemy. When at 500 skill level, both the trinket and the reusable flask become available. Whatever you do, craft the flask first! You'll get +5 for it. The trinket will give you another +5 at 505 skill, the flask will be yellow then.

Flask first, then trinket. Honest. It'll save you money! Thanks Issy for pointing it out.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

20 days of WoW - Day 7: Favourite Minipet

A tricky question this one. Do I actually have a favourite minipet? I don't think so - but because that is a bit short, let me provide a bit more detail.

I got a few shiny minipets. Some of them are quite cute - or come with a story of amazing discovery or some such. I have to admit that I collected them mainly for the achievement points, though. The ones that have the most "work" associated with them are my Kirin Tor Familiar and Mr. Pinchy, I think.

And yet, I'd never pull them out in an instance. I know that theoretically they were fixed a LONG LONG time ago, but let me tell you a story about Lower Blackrock Spire.

Better grab a hot drink and a blanket, though.. it's been a long time ago...

Anyway. When I was but a little nipper, we used to raid Lower Blackrock. Yes, it's only a 5 man instance these days, but back then it was possible to go there with 10 people. Just to have some additional safety. Sure.. less loot in total, but you'd actually have a chance to beat those groups of 6 angry orcs then.

After the groups had cleared the first room and pulled the patrol in the corridor leading to the proper Lower Blackrock, you'd work your way over ropebridges and past orcs. Lots of orcs. More orcs than there are today (with patch 4.0.3 the old instances were "streamlined", resulting in a lot less trash. Give them a try one of these days). And then, after you had cleared the first bit of ogres, you'd reach the trolls.

And no one in their sane mind would fight all of them. There were just too many groups. So people always always always took the shortcut.

Sorry about the messy UI there, but I needed the healthbars to display. Two hops (cunningly indicated by red arrows) would bring the whole group down into a "staging area" for the assault on the trolls. Hunters were usually warned to dismiss their pets (and sometimes forgot), warlocks were told they'd be kicked if they didn't get rid of their demons ... but someone always forgot about their little tabby cat. And it would follow the yellow brick road.

Of course it would aggro those orcs. And then run down the rest of the ramp.

And into there, dragging orcs, running into all of the trolls, shouting for help and finally deciding to cross the ramp and meet up with its owner. Who was probably by now buffing up and listening to a hunter rant about how their sabretooth cat lost happiness from being dismissed.

"What you fail to realize is my minipet ... is dragging mines!"

And that is why I don't usually have any of them out.


Okay, I make two exceptions:

My little squire with his pony bridle can do bank runs. That is just useful. And I like useful minipets. I'd love one of those.

And of course there is always:

Which our baby seems to love. And he calls it his "Molted Core Hound". And it's one of those words he definitely has to know when he goes to school - every baby should learn that. Clearly.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

20 days of WoW - Day 6: Favourite Dungeon

A three part question if I've ever seen one! This clearly needs to be answered in a way that avoids all mention of Uldaman. It still makes me froth to think about it (although rumor has it it's a bit better these days - and I completely lost track of which level range it's supposed to be in anyway).

1) Old World

There are quite a few good ones here - but all my perception of them is tinted with years old "experience". I have to say that in retrospect I begin to like Blackrock Depths more and more - the feel of a whole city complete with bar and grill is nice. I do enjoy Schomolance a lot - the whole boss encounter at the end is quite nicely done.

The favourite, though, will probably be Zul'Farak for a while. Specifically because of the pyramid event.

This little tranquil scene soon turns into an escort mission.  Of sorts. Not very far - just down the steps of the pyramid. And while all looks peaceful when you get to the edge ...

It doesn't stay peaceful. A whole army of monsters spawns there. So many, that it completely caught my breath the first time I saw them (back in ... oh no matter). Still looks amazing. Well.. and you can ride after a wipe - always good.

2) The Outlands

Only slightly harder this one. I think they become "better" now that they are a bit in the past. Some of those were run too often due to the gearing system in The Burning Crusade. Ah well.

My favourite instance was the Arcatraz. Longish introduction, quest that required completing two instances just to get a key and all that aside, it clearly had the single best NPC character in the outlands.

If you haven't been to the Arcatraz yet, you should really head over there. Millhouse is a friendly NPC to help you on the last boss fight. And back in the day he was valuable. Incredibly valuable. Some people would rather sacrifice a party member then let Millhouse die.

3) Wrath of the Lich King

I'll just be lazy and do a link-back to my own post here. I know that Trial of the Crusader/Champion was not very well recieved by the majority of players - and yes, it does have stupid moments. However, the sheer joy of running down things on horseback in heavy armour with a lance remains. As someone who likes playing plate-melee classes, I can just appreciate this. Knight-style combat. As it should be.

Friday, 3 December 2010

20 days of WoW - Day 5: Meaning behind my mains name

Right. Humm. There were complaints (mainly by my lovely wife) about my last post being boring. I accept that and agree .... but I didn't pick the questions!

So anyway, in a feeble attempt to make this one a little more interesting, there is going to be backstory and such ... and a TL;DR at the end. You can skip there now, if you really want to.

So names...

My very first character in any MMO was rolled in Ultima Online. As I may have rambled before, back then everything was better, the sky was bluer (not actually true - you couldn't see the sky) and the snow was colder (possibly true - we had snow and there was polar bears). The character selection process was not based on classes, but rather on a skill set. Any skills could be combined into whatever you wanted to play, really.

Yes, there were obvious choices pretty soon - powergaming is not something that was invented only recently. Back then, the flavour of the month was a halberd wielding mage wearing fullplate with either mining or lumberjacking. How come? Well.. the swing timers had not been normalized, so a halberd hit as often as a shortsword - just much, much harder. There was no penalty for casting in armour and magery was the only reliable ranged form of attack (and almost required for any form of travel, defence and healing anyway). The mining? Well... practising your skills increased the associated statistics - and mining (and lumberjacking) gave strength. Everyone needed strength, because strength was equal to hitpoint.

So anyway.. back to the naming part. This was in 1995. Over here in Germany, my friends and I had just had a phase of watching Disney movies that had only recently come out (the newer stuff, basically). I needed the name of a sorcerer.

Jafar was born - and the above image does show the proper graphics, but was taken much, much later. That black horse was something of a rarety for a long while - and it could breathe fire and beat up small dragons without much help.

I stuck with that name for a long time. The advantage of reusing a name over several games was that people would recognize aquaintances. The world felt a lot smaller then.

I would probably still have used that name in World of Warcraft, if it had not been taken. Well that, and I was in my "girl characters" phase anyway, so I picked a female nightelf rogue as my first character - and again named her the same as I had in previous games. As this is a thing of the past (and I hardly play her any more anyway) - and my wife tells me "the name you picked could only have been chosen by a guy" - I shan't go into details there. Suffice to say - I did not put much energy into choosing and instead went something along the lines of "I really like - she won't mind having an online alter-ego. Oh ... the name is taken. Can I add a single character to make it pass?".

Fast forward to 2005.

A friend and I were rolling warriors together. We had both leveled to 60 and were occasionally PUGing Upper Blackrock - but we needed something new to level in between. We wanted a name that "matched" (and not like creepy matching child/mother pictures). There also had been that Doom Comic out and flying about the games shop for a bit.

Near the end of that comic the hero and the girl (details are fuzzy, she might have kicked zombie ass, too - I can't remember) are trapped in an elevator and she says something like "Oh no... there is just you and me left, whatever can we do". The hero powers up his chainsaw and replies with a stunning "Oh no, it's you and me and Black and Decker" (give me a break - I was a student, I enjoyed action movies, this was about as good a conversation as I got!)

So ... our warriors obviously had to be called Black and Decker. Yeah, except someone apparently took Black before (not entirely surprising) so we were lost. We tried a few other names that came in stunning combinations and made the symbiotic teamwork of our future team instantly apparent. "Smith and Wesson" also failed due to the already taken problem, but we were young and intrepid (and German) - we could think of a few other weapons manufacturers!

Heckler and Koch were born that day.

He got lucky.

Our English was not quite up to realizing just what we had done there, really. It took ages until someone laughed about it long enough for us to realize.

Ah well.

Soo... I was known as Koch for a good long while. And it only changed with the introduction of titles and achievements near the end of Burning Crusade (that's when we got achievements, not when I changed the name).

I did change the name when I server transferred to Alonsus. Not by choice (again) - Koch was already taken on that server. I had, however, just recently got the "Salty" title - and found a cute post somewhere about the name "Salty Snacks" which I thought brilliant. So these days it's Snack. Which is also more ... err... acceptable than Salty Koch. Especially to English speakers.

Monday, 29 November 2010

20 days of Wow - Day 4: Favourite Emote

Now this one is a weird one. I have to say that I don't play much on roleplaying servers any more (this used to be different in other games, but I never found WoW to be a very suitable medium) - and as such my use of emotes is more limited than I might be elsewhere.

I mean ... I don't need to convey my emotional state much when I beat up 10 generic rats, and I'm sure my raid leader would frown on complicated emotes during a raiding encounter. This is different before and after the fight - but in the middle? Not really.

So my most used (and thus by default favourite) emote is /wave. It's something I use resonably often - usually when galloping past someone I know on a road in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

20 days of WoW - Day 3: Favourite NPC

I thought about which one for quite a while - and it's been a bit difficult. I read the posts about faction leaders - and couldn't identify with the cause of any of them. Annoying buggers, the lot.

I wondered if there was any NPCs that made me laugh or made me want to join .. and in the end, it came down to two of them. Narain Soothfancy and Azuregos. Both are completely mental and once had the best quest text in the game. Unfortunately, it seems with Cataclysm the whole questline was removed.

You meet them both on a heroic bookstealing quest. That's right. Some of the books need to be liberated right from the library. For the Good of Azeroth, no less!

A psychic gnome versus the leader of the Blue Dragonflight.

In the end, the more bonkers one of the two comes out ahead. I couldn't help but pick Azuregos after this masterpiece of conversation:

You seek the scepter shard charged to the protection of the Blue Flight?

Snack: How did you know? I mean, yes... Yes i am looking for that shard. Do you have it?

Of course I do not have the shard. That would be asinine. I walk amongst savages in this cursed land! I cannot take five steps without some crazed orc or human trying to thrust a sharp stick into my hide. At any given time you could very well be speaking to my ghostly spirit.

Anyhow... I hid it.

Go on... Ask me Where.

Snack: Alright. Where?

Your going to love this story, dwarf. See, here is the thing. As soon as Malygos charged me with protecting the scepter shard, I knew I was in for an eternity of headache and pain.

All i want to do is study these magic rich shorelines and take in what artifacts remain from the sundering. You know, there was once a thriving Highborne civilization here! you don't have to tell me that there is going to be some solid magical items around here, dwarf I can smell it!

Snack: By Bronzebeard's... um, Beard! what are you talking about?

As I was saying, I held onto that scepter shard for a good five-hundred years and it was nothing but trouble. it attracted all kinds of attention - the wrong kind of attention. I want to be left alone to my studies not babysit some would be hero's ticket to glory. So i gave it to the fish.

Snack: Fish? You gave a piece of what could be the key to saving all life on Kalimdor to a fish?

Not just any fish mortal this fish was a minnow. A very special minnow.

Snack: A Minnow? The oceans are filled with minnows! There could be a hundred million minnows out there!


Snack: ...

Genius, I know... It will never be found; but, in case it if found I gave the minnow some special powers.

Snack: You put the piece on a minnow and place the minnow somewhere in the waters of the sea between here and the Eastern Kingdoms? And this minnow has special powers?

Correct. You've been listening! This minnow is really quite a terrible creature of my own creation. When I am relaxing, I like to think of the unlucky fishermen who have run into this minnow and been devoured whole. I bet they were quite surprised!

Snack: You're insane.

Genius is often misunderstood. Now, about the scepter shard... If you want that shard and do not wish to spend the next ten thousand years searching for it, you are going to have to listen very carefully.

Snack: I'm all ears.

Two words: Arcanite Buoy.

Snack: Come again.

Right then... you have to build an arcanite buoy and place it in the ocean. My minnow will be attracted to the magical emanations. When he gets near the buoy - BLAMO! it will explode in a glorious pulse of arcane energy, revealing the minnows true form. Also, you may or may not incur the wrath of Neptulon. A 50/50 chance I would say.

Snack: Ok, let me get this straight. You put the scepter shard entrusted to your Flight by Anachronos on a minnow of your own making and now expect me to build arcanite buoy or something... to force your minnow out of hiding? AND potentially incur the wrath of an elemental Lord? Did I miss anything? Perhaps I am to do this without any clothes on, during a solar eclipse, on a leap year?

If I did not know better, I would think that you were mocking me, Mortal: but yes, that is mostly correct. You may remain fully clothed.

Snack: FINE! And how, dare I ask, am I supposed to acquire an arcanite buoy?

Take this ledger to an old acquaintance of mine in Tanaris. His name is Narain Soothfancy - terrible, terrible, psychic but an amazing engineer! He should be able to make sense of it all.

No need to thank me. It's the least I could do.

Good Day!

Snack: but...


Mining and Fishing nodes, oh my!

I'm sure you've noticed that the sheer amount of mining nodes in the wild has increased dramatically. I can't say the same for Herbalism - mainly because I haven't logged in a herbalist yet. However, it seems that there is a lot of ore lying around.

Now the same applies to fishing. Which I knew, because I've been running around Eastern Plaguelands and seeing loads and loads of Sagefish Pools where I didn't expect any. I didn't quite grasp what that meant, though.

Today (as on every Sunday) it was time for some friendly competitive fishing in Stranglethorn Vale again. And yes.. there are more fishing schools there as well. So many more, in fact, that they do not properly despawn at the beginning of the tournament. You'll end up with something like this:

Just in case this is too large: There are two pools on top of each other, one a School of Tastyfish for the contest, the other a Firefin Snapper School of uselessness. Also shown on the map is another pool just south of my current one (also double: Tastyfish and Oily Blackmouth).

The good news: As long as the School of Tastyfish is present, they have priority when fishing. You will always pull up all the Tastyfish first. However, this requires a keen eye on the Minimap now to see when your school is empty. And.. it's very problematic on the screen - hovering the mouse over the actual fishing pool does not show the Tastyfish on top.

Good luck .. or rather.. let's see what this looks like next week.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

20 Days of WoW - Day 2: Favourite Race

After reading quite a few of these posts in the last days, I'll have to come out with the truth, I suppose. I don't pick my favourite race based on looks or abilities or swing animations. I'm just going with "most useful gameplay bonus".

So far, no game has managed to make all races identical and just cosmetically different - there are always some stat changes.

Which is also the cause for my lovely dwarf

(who formerly looked like this)

to now look like this:

Taller, certainly, but more importantly: possessed of Diplomacy. Which will come in extra handy with all the new factions in Cataclysm. And then, I'll probably go back to dwarf - which has great tanking specials.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

20 days of WoW - Day 1: Class

I got this from my wife (and this time, I take longer to finish than her!), but she's grabbed it somewhere else - and to be fair I didn't quite manage to track down where it all started.

The whole list is this:

Day 1 - Favourite class and why?

Day 2 - Favourite race and why?
Day 3 - Favourite NPC?
Day 4 - Favourite Emote and the best situation to use it in.
Day 5 - The meaning behind your mains name?
Day 6 - Favourite dungeon and why?
Day 7 - Favourite companion non-combat pet?
Day 8 - Favourite guild name you’ve come across?
Day 9 - Which race/class combination are you most like in RL?
Day 10 - If a level 3 called “yurmom” asks you for gold, you say/do?
Day 11 - Favourite WoW holiday (e.g Brewfest, Childrens week)
Day 12 - Suggest any idea for Blizzard that they could put in the game.
Day 13 - Which faction are you “for”?
Day 14 - Healer, tank or dps?
Day 15 - Favourite Battleground and why?
Day 16 - Favourite quest/quest chain?
Day 17 - What do you do when the server’s down?!
Day 18 - Post your favourite Screenshot.
Day 19 - How many hours do you play a week, roughly?
Day 20 - Where would you be now if World of Warcraft never existed?

So today, we start with something easy:

Day 1 - Favourite class and why?

For me, it'll be warrior, thank you.

Now it wasn't love at first sight - my first character ever was a rogue. My warrior came along only when I was playing with a friend and we both decided to try something new. Two warriors with the same beards were born and we were merrily chopping our way to maximum level shortly after. I think the most fun we had with two Whirlwind Axes and the crazy helicopter animation.

Nowadays, I just enjoy tanking on the warrior most. I tried all four (or five, if you want to count warlock drain tanking) classes and warrior is just the most engaging. There are always buttons to press - something for every occasion.

Of course they occasionally get nerfed (and I loved the statement from Blizzard at the beginning of WotLK that "too many people are still playing warrior tanks - we are nerfing them to perform below average to even out the numbers a bit"(*) ) - but that's okay, the sheer amount of abilities dedicated to "doing your primary thing" are great.

This balances with the other classes having superb raid utility skills - like the battleres of an off-tank druid or so.

(*) I sadly cannot find that quote. Here are two links that fall into the approximately right timeframe. The gist is the same.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Things I don't understand...

Obviously there are many, but let's not dwell on my personal problems. Let me talk about things that confused me lately. Word of warning: There might be a little bit of Real Life mixed into this. I'm sure no one cares, but it's my post, so pffbttt.

1) The parking situation:

My company is currently hiring people. A lot of people. Financial crisis overcome we are in the lucky position to actually need more. One of the bonus features is a new building (almost completed - started two years ago) with more room. All those new people will actually be able to sit somewhere. Another bonus feature is a new parking lot.


To make room for the new parking lot an old overgrown field/illegal dump was paved over. At the same time a new road is being built to the new building - supplies and drinks for the canteen and such need to be delivered, after all. The new road will end up where the old (smaller) parking lot was.

And here is what boggles me.

The old parking lot was closed before the new one was finished.

Eh what?

I mean ... it's not like any of those projects just jumped out of the shower, naked, screaming "what are you doing in here with a camera!". They were known in advance.

2) The lights on the car:

So ... my car burn out one of the rear lights. No big deal - they are not even mounted too horribly and can be replaced with a tiny bit of patience, a phillips head screwdriver and (not to be neglected, this bit) a new lightbulb. What makes me wonder about the sanity of designers, though: My fabeled on-board computer told me that not only the rear light was dead, I had also - at the same time - lost one of the brake lights.

Now I have met electronics before and know to trust them about as far as I can throw them (in this case: still attached to the car for the throwing bit) - but we also know that Murphy was a bloody optimist, so yeah sure - I could loose two at the same time.

Closer analysis (read: the aforementioned screwdriver and a good shake of all the bulbs to see which had a loose dangely wire) reveals that in fact only the rear light is dead. However, for whatever reason, the designer of this bit thought it would be a good idea to route the current for the brake light through the rear light. WHY?!

3) The raiding attitude:

We have officially cancelled raiding for the rest of this expansion. That doesn't mean we don't enter dungeons with more than 5 people any more, but the attendance requirements are no longer enforced, DKP are no longer used and we don't neccessarily set up raids for nights a week any more.

A few people still have "private projects" running. Finish the Ulduar25 drake meta-achievement is one such goal. And while we had quite a lot of interested in the early stages of this achievement, it has tapered off a bit. Some people who originally signed up regularily don't do it any more.

And this confuses me.

I mean, on the one hand we get messages like this:

(names removed to protect the innocent)

On the other hand, the same person has not signed up for the last 10 days, and his last comment was this:

Somehow, the heart is no longer in the raiding game.

Ah well... I think I'll just have to try and get my hands on a Cuddle-Me-Yoggy to cheer me up.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Just how many of us are there?

I am amazed.

Shocked, sometimes, at how many people play World of Warcraft. I mean - yes - there are at least three in my company, and even though my attempt to recruit someone else failed that is still quite impressive for "just a game".

I think it's very easy to loose track of the sheer number of people around. I mean ... I don't doubt that Gevlon has a lot of readers, but claiming a recent patch was basically based on his activity in Wintergrasp is probably being slightly megalomaniac.

Just out of curiosity... let's play with some numbers.

World of Warcraft apparently currently has around 12 million subscribers. Gevlons blog had around 3000 regular readers about a year ago. I'm sure the number has fluctuated - increased a bit since then and dropped with the flow of players abandoning WoW for the moment as well. Let me be generous (and make my math easier) and assume he has around 4000 readers now. That is a rough 0.03% of the player base. Impressive - certainly more than my blog - but not statistically significant.

To think his words affect any amount of playerbase seems overconfident.

And why am I jumping around on this silly little number game so much?

Well... I was recently wondering what people were up to in-game. See, I did get a new achievement:

I went around to check on my progress and found that according to this data I am roughly at position 65000 worldwide for achievement points (and this info is outdated, so I might be even higher up). That sounded depressing.

But wait - that means roughly 0.5% of all players worldwide have more achievement points than me. Not so bad at all, suddenly.

So what does that tell me, though. Not all that large a percentage of the playerbase enjoys hunting after achievements. Actually, there also seems to be some regional difference there:

Is that five people from Russian servers in the top 10?

What do all the other people do, though. Some pvp, obviously. Many raid. Lots of people level alts. Some like playing the auction house. Each of those groups has their own fanbase and information sites on the internet. I'm sure there are tons more groups of interest that I cannot even guess at.

And with the numbers above, it doesn't even surprise me all that much.

12 million subscribers.

Just to put that into perspective: That is less than the 71 most populated nations of the world have as inhabitants (according to this list). Or the other way round: World of Warcraft has more players than Zimbabwe has people. Or Cuba. And as both of those countries are far away, and I never managed to have a holiday there - more than Greece or Portugal or Belgium, too.

And somehow - the population of Portugal does not strike me as people who all want the same thing. There are at least sixteen different political parties, lots of different hobbies and things to do.

So ... erm. Why exactly do we presume that everyone else playing World of Warcraft wants to do the things we do? I mean... I need only go outside and ring on the doorbell to my right to find people with a completely different idea about how to spend their Saturday afternoons (hint: It's not achievement hunting in WoW).

I might have to actually consider accepting different styles of play. Even though people who don't know how to DPS on their warriors drive me mental in pickup groups *grin*.

P.S. The achievement is not called "It's over 9000" for effect. You actually need more than 9k points.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Mindless yet almost meditative things

Well yes, so there are city invasions. I saved Stormwind last night and it was bloody good fun. However, when the same happened again this morning I have to admit I thought: Oh well.. a little bit of water and wind never hurt anyone unduly - and those citizens who drown will surely find a kind spirit healer.

And buggered off.

Right out of the city and into the safe countryside (where there are growing a lot of peaches, apparently).

Anyway. I found this lovely statistic.

Apparently the lovely Merrymaker Snack should rather be called Snack, Bane of Humanity!

Honestly... eighty two thousand humanoids? That's like being personally responsible for 2 per mill of the deaths in World War two.


Ah well.

So what would a few more hurt, really.

I decided to work a bit more on my Ravenholt faction. Nothing like a working for a guild of thieves and assassins to feel right at home. Turns out there are two steps to being a loved and exalted member of their community (tightly knit, I tell you - and their birthday cakes are unmatched).

The first is to kill lots of Syndicate members. Lots.

To quote a random klingon (wish I had a name) from Star Trek (the original series): Day of the Dove:

Four thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man.

He is not that far off, actually. At the current run speed of my Snack (failing the speed boost enchant on his dps booties) I get around 400 to 450 of the little buggers per hour. It's winter - or at least getting there - so ten hours of darkness are not completely unreasonable. Those Klingons knew more about grinding reputation than I would have given them credit for.

And just so this post does not just show I am a complete geek: This is the path I take.

Run up to Durnholde Keep (closest from Southshore flight path) and have a good look at the outside walls. This'll be the last time you see them for roughly eight hours. Those two guys at the start? Yeah.. they give reputation already. Don't let them suffer.

Through the gate, over the bridge, up the hill and turn to the left towards the "castle" entrance is the most favourable way. If there is anything with a Syndicate nametag on the way? Yeah.. that. Sword through the face or some such. Walk all the way up to the broken little tower before turning around and entering the ruins of the castle.

There's two things to take note of in this pile of rubble. The poor trapped Orc is here for a horde quest (and doesn't give reputation anyway) and the Jailors can spawn in here as well. They don't give rep either - and are quest mobs for level 20s. No need to kill them. As usual ... follow the wiggly red line and crush everything in your path.

Down over the side and along the path around the pit, then jump into it and start killing in front of the little huts - and don't let anyone hide inside. They probably store secret and forbidden things there anyway.

Once you come out under the bridge, there are two more huts left and you can then climb up that fallen tree to walk along the inside wall again - taking you straight back to the entrance. Don't forget the two guards outside before going over the bridge again.

At my current damage the respawn is fast enough to never have to stop. Which is good. The little Syndicatelings only have about 521 health as well. Poor things.

You'll need to keep this up to 1 point before Revered - from there on it's the "Box hand in quest" with all of it's own problems.

Oh one last thing. While meditative and fun, I clearly recommend you do something to keep you awake. In my case it's listening to rock music in the background (I'm better at mass-murdering pixels if there is nice music on) and running Comix addon. It cheers me up immensely.