Archive for the “Cub Report” Category

I have merged accounts. The power has been unleashed!

It’s kinda funny how this all came about.

I was online the other day farming more endless ore in the quest to make Engineering pets and mounts.

As I character swapped to Farmville part IV: The Reapening, I was bitching about the character swapping to Tom.

See, I have access to two Engineers. Three soon, when my Warrior hits max. One is my Warlock, and is almost up to making another pet. Probably Pierre this time, since it’s about time I make one for myself.

Then there is Hailsword, my son’s Death Knight. He’s six days away from making me a Sky Golem.

Of course, then there is my Blacksmith, who is a few days away from making my Warrior a new 553 plate belt, and 6 days away from upgrading the two handed axe to a level 502.

Sigh. So many professions, so much farming…

I can tell you straight up, if I had to fly around Pandaland mining for all this ore, there is no way, NO WAY I would have such ambitious goals.

As it is, with my Hunter Alchemist farming Motes of Harmony to have extra cheap Living Steel Transmutes, and with extra procs, I can just about stay caught up with everyone’s needs. God bless that damn farm.

So I’m bitching to Tom about the sheer drudgery of character swapping to farm and farm some more, and then I have to log out of my Battle.net account, switch over to the one I set up for my son, log in and then do the crafting on his characters, and all that. Plus, the crafting seems to be going forever because first I make him all the pets and mounts, and then I can start making them for myself.

And then there is helping him tame new pets, level them, someday do the Celestial Tournament…

Tom says to me, “Well, why don’t you just move your son’s WoW account onto the same Battle.net account you’re on?”

Umm. What? The whole point is we play together. Like, online at the same time. So he has his Battle.net account, and I have mine.

“Oh no”, he says, “You can both be logged into World of Warcraft at the same time on the same Battle.net account. You have to have two fully activated WoW accounts on the same Battle.net. I do it myself to swap Heirlooms back and forth.”

Umm.

Wait, so let me get this straight. If I had a second fully paid WoW account on my own Battle.net account, it could be logged in on one computer while I’m logged in on mine. AND I could mail Heirlooms to it?

“Yeah, anything that is ‘bind to account’ like Heirlooms, pandarian treasures, all the pets and mounts are shared…”

WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY?!?!

How may years now, and there is always something new to be surprised with.

So I investigated. I emailed Blizzard support. And I asked flat out if I could move a WoW account from one of my Battle.net accounts to another.

I wasn’t worried about being suspected of selling or buying a WoW account. Both of them have had the same recurring billing info forever and a day. I just didn’t think they’d let me move an entire account.

And if they did, what would happen? The Cub has mounts I don’t have (like the Sky Golem) and I have many, many pets that he doesn’t, and mounts, and some of my pets I have three full ones of.

What would happen to the mounts? Would his get lost? Would MINE?

What about pets that he has, that I have three of? Would he get them in cages in his inventory or game mail, or would they just vanish?

Would his lower level pets replace my max level?

I got a reply back from Blizzard after two days.

I was told they certainly could move that account from one Battle.net account to another, no charge, no problems. I was provided a link to a three page PDF form I had to fill out, and I was told to attach a picture of my photo government-issued ID and the form to the ticket and they’d take care of it.

So I did that thing. Three pages, easily filled out, quick scan of my state driver’s license, attached them to the ticket, sent it in.

Less than 6 hours later, I went to login and the Blizzard Battle.net beta game interface had a new feature; a drop down box right over the “play” button that let me choose between my original account, and the newly named “WoW1″.

I logged into WoW1, and there was my son’s character list, just like normal.

I’ve been playing with this for two days now, and I have discovered some interesting things.

I have merged a World of Warcraft account that was played in it’s entirety on another Battle.net account.

Both of my WoW accounts now share mounts. Mounts he had, such as the Sky Golem, we both now have. Likewise, everything I had he now has access to. Perfect mount merge.

Achievements he earned I got credit for, like parts of the Explorer meta. And all the achievements and titles I had earned, he now has access to.

The pets… the pets didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, but about exactly as I expected.

It turns out, every single pet he had vanished in the merge. All of my pets, and the quantity of them, remain unchanged. He has my pets as his own, now, including the names I gave them.

Where we had both had max level Minfernals, we do not have two of them after the merge, just the one. His is gone into the Twisted Nether. Likewise any pet he had, regardless of level. They were not merged; they are simply gone.

Now, like I said, I had hoped I’d log in and find two Minfernals, you know, that kind of thing. But I anticipated that, worse case, his pets would vanish.

So just in case, before I sent off that ticket with the attachments… I caged every single pet in his list that I could, and mailed the cages to my Warlock. I figured worse case, all of his pets would be gone but he’d have mine, and we’d have his caged pets to mail to Cassie to see if she was missing any.

That was a lot of cages. Many, many cages.

Good thing, because if I hadn’t of done that, all those pets would have been lost too.

It makes me wonder… he had a trial account (the free to play to level 20) on that old Battle.net email. Did the pets all stay on that account, left behind? If we were to login to that free trial account, would all those pets still be there, patiently waiting to be played again?

I like to think so. Given that situation, I consider it a gift that he brought his Sky Golem with him. After all, I didn’t have it, and it would have been so much fun to have it just vanish silkily into the satin darkness.

Tested the logging in; yes, we can both log in at the same time, on our two different WoW accounts.

Drawback? We can’t BOTH be on Battle.tag chat for both transmit and receive. Someone could send something to me, and I won’t see it if he is also logged in, and vice versa. That is a big drawback, because there doesn’t seem to be any warning to someone that their messages aren’t getting through to me. After all, Alex can see them fine, he just ignores them.

Mailing Heirlooms back and forth between accounts does indeed work. All those Heirlooms I spent so much time earning and upgrading? All now have a use once again! Now the Cub can use them!

And then the biggest drawback of all hit me between the eyes.

After logging in and out for about 20 minutes, showing the Cub how it works, my account got locked.

Locked hard.

Why?

Changes in my logging habits.

Really? Something changed in how I’m logging in? You’re kidding! You don’t think it had anything to do with, oh, I dunno… adding a whole new second account I’m swapping between now, do you?

I was locked.

I was told to check my email to find out what to do. I mean, locked. Cannot access Battle.net or any Blizzard game in any way, period.

So, let’s see the email.

The email gave me a link to follow to begin the process of unlocking my account.

I had to provide my Battle.net email address, my first and last names, and enter in one of those CAPTCHA graphic codes.

I hate CAPTCHA codes, because the damn letters frequently blend into each other so I can’t make them out. I suppose I should be grateful English is my native language, so I can recognize mangled versions of the English alphabet.

So I enter that in, and I’m taken to another screen where I have two choices.

One, I have to answer my account security question, OR…

I have to enter in the first 6 digits of any of my Blizzard game authentication keys that are actually on my account. And it has to be the first 6 digits of a key from a physical game, NOT a digitally purchased game. Like, the code from a store box bought game.

Oh, holy crap. OMIGOD.

So, what is the security question? I don’t remember setting that up.

“Who is your childhood hero.”

Wait, what? Really? I set that up nine years ago, and I expected myself to remember that? Shit, that’s exactly the kind of question whose answer changes from week to week. I look back and have no idea who I would have thought was my childhood hero.

What did I answer, Robert Heinlein? JRR Tolkein? Gandhi? Margaret Thatcher? Han Solo?

Think, think…

Shit, I have no idea.

I try Heinlein, it’s the most likely choice… no.

Casca?

No.

I know!

Remo Williams…

No.

Fine, go back, this is doomed.

The first six digits of an authentication code… of World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, any of their expansions…

Shit.

I have purchased three copies of World of Warcraft and all of the expansions over the years, one for me, one for Cassie, and one for the Cub. Since the Cub’s accounts are now on my Battle’net account, I’ve got a 66% chance of having that code, right?

Yeah, fuck no. Tried ‘em all, nope nope nope.

Okay, so what else might I have considered a childhood hero?

Maybe it was Robert A. Heinlein…

Shit. And I wouldn’t have picked Sten or Steven Brust, I didn’t get into them until I was in the Marines.

WAIT!

I only bought Starcraft II once, for my account! Alex has been playing it on my account, so if I have the disc, I have the code!

Search my desk… there it is, shiny and new as the day I bought it.

Hands shaking, I enter the code…

YES!!! I’m in! I’m in, thank you, thank you, I can play the game, I haven’t lost it all, and seriously what the fuck, another CAPTCHA?

I enter the CAPTCHA, choose a new password… and I have to enter another CAPTCHA.

No, I’m not kidding. THREE of them throughout this process.

But finally, I’m logged back in. Access is restored!

Okay, note to self. Don’t ever, ever get rid of my Starcraft II game disk case, or the code. Ever. Like, EVER.

Adrenaline is a bitch. Ten minutes later, ooh, feel the burn. Where were you when I was freaking the hell out?

You can have my World of Warcraft account when you pry my Starcraft II disc out of my cold, dead hands.

This will certainly bring much fun in the days ahead, but for now, I note that my son is delighted at the expanded options for mounts and pets. DELIGHTED.

He tells me, “Now we can send each other messages in pet names!”

Yes, you can indeed.

Whew. Scared the shit out of me.

Comments 8 Comments »

This is going to be an ongoing project. Expect updates as I go, and I’ll put a link on the website to it in case anyone ever wants to check back.

I was talking with my wife the other day, and the topic turned to Star Trek.

My son has never seen Star Trek.

I’m not talking about being aware of how Star Trek has permeated our culture, influenced our way of telling sequential stories, or spawned countless memes.

He doesn’t know it exists. Period.

Never heard of the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Enterprise, none of the movies.

He has an imagination untouched by the idea of boldly going where nobody had gone before.

No Vulcan nerve pinch. No “Live Long and Prosper”. No “KHAAAAAAAANNN!!!”

Star Wars has remained relevant through the generations. Say what you will of George Lucas, and now Disney, but it is a very visible and vital universe of new creations and stories that our youth enjoy every day. Plus, of course, endless Lego toys.

There have continued to be Star Wars movies, and those movies have had toys and cartoons targeted directly at the younger generations to keep them up to speed.

Star Trek, not so much.

The new Star Trek movies aren’t a good place to begin, because to fully invest in their story you need to have been there for all that came before. If you don’t, then you are left feeling like an outsider as all the cool kids share the in-jokes and secret handshakes around you. When old Spock appears, the experienced and knowledgeable people ooh and aah and get it immediately, while you go “Huh, so this is that Spock dude from the future? Okay, that’s cool, but is that going to be important? And why not take the actor from the movie and artificially age him so it looks more like him?”

Does it feel fun to be the one that doesn’t get the reference everyone else understands? I don’t think so.

So.

Project Star Trek: Generations is born.

My goal is simple. To take the core of greatness that is the Star Trek that I grew up with and present it to my son.

It is my duty to pass the important parts of our heritage on to my son. What he does with it after that is his business.

What makes this a project is, I have no intention of sitting him down in front of three full seasons of original Trek, then Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc etc and so forth.

I am not a trekkie. I enjoyed it growing up, but then I enjoyed a lot of stuff growing up. It’s important to me that he groks the heart and the most significant or enduring stories, not that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of it.

If he decides he wants to see it all someday, if he gets hooked, that’s fine. But that’s not the project.

 

My intent is to cherry pick the very best and brightest episodes of the original series, and follow that up with the best of the movies starring the original cast.

Concerning the Next Generation, I think Next Gen might be fun to watch together when he gets older, I was overseas when most of it was released so I never saw much of it either. For now, Star Trek will mean Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That is what I intend to focus on. Time enough for him to see the Next Generation when he has some distance to make those original cast cameos seem special.

 

In order to narrow the selection down, I have to decide what ‘the best’ means to me.

To me, what I loved best was the warmth and the camaraderie between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That held the episodes together for me. Whatever craziness was going to happen, those three would be able to count on each other to succeed, no matter what.

But the best episodes were the ones that took a bold concept and made it fascinating, asking questions that lingered long after the episode was over.

I know the original tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

To me, the series served to boldly explore science fiction concepts that I didn’t see on TV before, concepts that made me think about normal things in new ways.

I don’t have a ‘maximum number of episodes’ that I want to get down to. But I do want each episode we watch to be a ‘must see’. If we start including episodes where there was ‘like this really cool 2 minute segment’ in it, then we would be watching every episode. Even “Spock’s Brain” has to have some cool bit in it somewhere, even if it lasted less time than the lifespan of a mayfly. No, I want to whittle this sucker down to ‘must watch’ core episodes only.

Here is the complete list of the original series episodes I have to cull from;

1 “The Man Trap” – the melancholy of the salt vampire is cool, and i do remember the episode, but no.
2 “Charlie X” – hell no, I remember thinking it was crap when I saw it, and I was younger than Alex.
3 “Where No Man Has Gone Before” – no. I remember it during syndication, and I always wondered “where did this almost-trek come from? And where’s Bones?”
4 “The Naked Time” – must watch, an inside look at the hidden personalities of the crew, but I can’t remember details other than it was very revealing and cool.
5 “The Enemy Within” – must watch, transporter malfunction and good kirk/bad kirk
6 “Mudd’s Women” – must watch. Harry Freaking Mudd. Or is it? There is another Mudd later that was very good.
7 “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” – no.
8 “Miri” – not sure
9 “Dagger of the Mind” – no, I remember this one well, and I never did care for it.
10 “The Corbomite Maneuver” – must watch, I still remember loving how the first encounter isn’t decided by who was strongest, but by who thought who was strongest. Bluff and counter bluff and how belief affects what you think you can get away with.
11 “The Menagerie, Part I” – no. My memories of this were of a horribly dry and boring snoozefest lacking in charm.
12 “The Menagerie, Part II” – no.
13 “The Conscience of the King” – must watch, strong acting between Spock and McCoy, and Shakespeare in space.
14 “Balance of Terror” – must watch due to being highly recommended (I don’t remember it, lol)
15 “Shore Leave” – must watch. I remember this one well, and it has inspired some of my more interesting RPG designs.
16 “The Galileo Seven” – hell no.
17 “The Squire of Gothos” – must watch. The Squire, powerful Spock moments, great fun from the god-being.
18 “Arena” – must watch OMG, GORN and how to make gunpowder to prove all we need is guns, dah de dah da da.
19 “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” – time travel and could be a good preparation for Star Trek IV, but I remember it as being dull.
20 “Court Martial” – god, I hated this episode.
21 “The Return of the Archons” – no.
22 “Space Seed” – must watch, and sets the stage for Wrath of Khan.
23 “A Taste of Armageddon” – possible, I remember this one, and it’s strong send up of the stupidity of war without objectives, for the sake of hate.
24 “This Side of Paradise” – an absolute must-watch, the episode where the enemy is being too damn happy, and Spock smiling and in love.
25 “The Devil in the Dark” – must watch. Silicon-based life forms, judging by appearance instead of by deeds, foul heart concealed by fair face. “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”
26 “Errand of Mercy” – on the fence. first appearance of Klingons, but… I didn’t like this one as a kid, and the Klingons look like, not Klingons.
27 “The Alternative Factor” – hells no.
28 “The City on the Edge of Forever” – must watch, Harlan Ellison’s classic time travel piece and a powerful story that lingers.
29 “Operation: Annihilate!” – maybe, but not remembering anything special.
30 “Amok Time” – must watch, standing by your friends, not being ashamed of who you are, the price of repressing your feelings.
31 “Who Mourns for Adonais?” – I do not mourn for Adonais. Not even slightly.
32 “The Changeling” – nah. The all powerful probe from hell wasn’t that interesting.
33 “Mirror, Mirror” – must watch evil facial hair doppleganger twins! Parallel dimensions of fun! Oh, hell yes.
34 “The Apple” – nope
35 “The Doomsday Machine” – must watch.
36 “Catspaw”
37 “I, Mudd”
38 “Metamorphosis”
39 “Journey to Babel”
40 “Friday’s Child”
41 “The Deadly Years”
42 “Obsession”
43 “Wolf in the Fold”
44 “The Trouble With Tribbles” – oh come on, it’s awesome. Must watch.
45 “The Gamesters of Triskelion”
46 “A Piece of the Action”
47 “The Immunity Syndrome”
48 “A Private Little War”
49 “Return to Tomorrow”
50 “Patterns of Force”
51 “By Any Other Name”
52 “The Omega Glory”
53 “The Ultimate Computer”
54 “Bread and Circuses”
55 “Assignment: Earth”
56 “Spock’s Brain”
57 “The Enterprise Incident”
58 “The Paradise Syndrome”
59 “And the Children Shall Lead”
60 “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”
61 “Spectre of the Gun”
62 “Day of the Dove”
63 “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”
64 “The Tholian Web”
65 “Plato’s Stepchildren”
66 “Wink of an Eye”
67 “The Empath”
68 “Elaan of Troyius”
69 “Whom Gods Destroy”
70 “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
71 “The Mark of Gideon”
72 “That Which Survives”
73 “The Lights of Zetar”
74 “Requiem for Methuselah”
75 “The Way to Eden”
76 “The Cloud Minders”
77 “The Savage Curtain”
78 “All Our Yesterdays”
79 “Turnabout Intruder”

The Movies

“Star Trek – The Motion Picture” – I don’t want to include this. It’s a hard decision, because I loved the core concept – We sent a spaceship out there loaded with things to tell others who we are, and something finds it and follows it back to us that is beyond anything we ever dreamed of. But damnit all, it’s slow as hell, and I hated the uniforms. It was like they pretended time enver passed and the original cast was still in their twenties. The second movie brought that feeling of age and wisdom and experience that the first lacked. Just… brilliant story idea, but as cold in presentation as V’ger itself.
“Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan” – oh hell yes.
“Star Trek III – The Search for Spock” – yep, gotta have it, everyone gets a part to play.
“Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home” – well sure, save the whales, Spock swearing, transparent aluminum, mouse driven computers. The Enterprise in dock. Of course.
“Star Trek V – The Final Frontier” – I think I blocked this out, so I don’t know. I think I hated it, but it’s all a blur.
“Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” – I remember thinking it was great when it was over, but damned if I can remember anything about it now.

Update 1: added link to the Wikipedia page for the original Star Trek episodes.
Update 2: I welcome your opinions and suggestions on which episodes should be included in the ‘absolutely must be included list’, but please, you must tell me why. And only one episode per comment, please. It will help me sort. I will continue to update episode titles above with comments and my decisions as we go.

Update 3: Added more episode decisions, influenced by comments from Tesh, Ted, Kamalia and Degei.

Update 4: okay, made it into Season 2 a little, made the first cull. Now to sleep on it. I can’t believe how many of these I remember from my childhood.

Comments 29 Comments »

For those who enjoy Minecraft, a new update went live today that added horses, rideable horses, with armor barding to the game. Also, other stuffs too, but yeah. Horses.

Over the weekend, my son and I investigated this whole ‘Minecraft multiplayer’ concept.

I took the time to setup a Hamachi LAN network tunnel between our two computers, and sort of kinda got it working with Minecraft. If I hosted the game, Alex’s computer could direct connect to it, but not the reverse.

It’s exactly that kind of thing that can make you throw up your hands in frustration if it weren’t for Google searches. A few minutes revealed that our issue was far from rare, and so, as with so many other Minecraft bugs, you shrug your shoulders and be grateful for what works.

It really is that good of a game.

As an aside, the reason this was an irritation was, the person who hosts the game and opens it up to a LAN can do this with any of their created worlds, and if Alex can’t open one of his uber-cool worlds for me to come explore and admire, it takes a lot of the point out of it. He likes to have me see his awesome creations.

Perhaps today’s content update will fix some of the issues. We’ll see.

Did I mention horses?

We created a survival world at random, and entered it together to see what it was like, playing together. Cooperative. VERY cooperative.

Except when I mighta punched him with a pickaxe.

Yeah, that was pretty much my weekend, right there.

I understand that you really can’t make an MMO in the Minecraft model. A world that every player could mold to their own will would be a battlefield of conflicting creative visions, and if it was a PvP world, then every camping asshat would be seeking to overwrite or destroy the creations of others.

That doesn’t prevent me from wishing that there was a way for a phased area to be set aside for each player, much as the farms are, to be our sandbox to shape as we will.

And to wish such a place, once it existed in game, could be set to allow specific invited guests to come visit.

Minecraft satisfies an urge that World of Warcraft does not; to play an active part in shaping the world around us, to set aside a place where everything is as we wish it, and to say, “This is my home. My actual home, my place of refuge, my fortress of solitude, my oasis of calm midst the chaos of a land eternally at war. Come, friend, take your ease and be welcome.”

In Minecraft, my son and I explored islands, built homes, and crafted defenses against the nocturnal stalkers that hunt the night.

We delved deep, and discovered many things. We crafted weapons and armor that were useful and wouldn’t be replaced by drops, and admired how we each looked. (We looked like 16 bit pixel-people. Wearing tinfoil. It was still cool.)

We fought spiders, skeletons armed with bows, ghouls and ender men that could teleport and who would attack if you dared look them in the eyes.

In creative mode, Alex made fountains of lava, and large structures involving levers, pistons, TNT and other stuff that, well… at the flip of a lever, it expanded, then exploded.

He seemed disappointed that it didn’t explode more.

In talking about our game afterwards, I was musing aloud how I wished the game had one additional thing; a way to hire guards to defend your home while you are away.

How great it would be, I mused, if we could build our giant fortresses with the moats of flaming lava and pens of cute animals, and then hire nearby villagers to come and patrol our walls, defend our gates, protect our strongholds while we are away on our adventures.

My son says, “Yeah, I wish I could walk up to a villager, point my sword at him and tell him, serve me or die!”

True story.

And thus, another evil genius is born.

Now I finally understand what Minecraft is.

It’s the Evil Overlord Starter Set.

Now, they just need the minion content update and we’re all good, right?

So you know what we need to have happen now.

We need the Evil Overlord mod, so you can set up your volcano lair with the bond villain death traps, the sharks with frackin’ laser beams in their frackin’ heads, the minions with the different uniform options (identity concealing helmets or non-concealing helmets), all the bells and whistles.

If you’re going to encourage and promote the world-conquering fantasies of  our children, let’s help them aspire to true greatness, shall we?

Volcano lairs. Gotta have a volcano lair. All I’m saying.

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Welcome to another fun filled edition of the Cub Report!

In this episode, we find out what happens when I give the Cub my old computer.

A short while ago, the Cub’s computer took a data dump, and left us scrambling to come up with a replacement.

We ended up getting me a new computer, and passing my old one on to him, leaving us both with an upgrade.

The only thing I had to do to get the computer set up for him was to install the backed up Minecraft game/world saves for him.

So, hey, Portal is on the desktop, he played that a bit. And it had World of Warcraft, of course. And I installed a painting program for him to get his art on.

Over the weekend, he was bored, and asked me what this other icon on the desktop was. Starcraft II? What’s that?

More importantly, can he play it?

Sure. Why not? He’s ten, he can give it a shot.

I explained to him that it wasn’t a World of Warcraft style of game, instead it was like a science-fiction version of Warcraft III, which I let him play a bit a year or more ago.

“You make a base, fortify it, build armies and go out to smash other bases.”

Okay, cool. He’s excited, he wants to try it.

I set him up with a fresh start in Campaign mode, and let him at it.

He did a few missions in campaign mode, but he didn’t really care for it.

“Is there any way I can just do a battle? I build a base and the bad guys build a base and we fight?”

Why yes… yes there is.

I showed him how to set up a match against the AI, the different variables, how to browse Blizzard maps, what team AI was and all of that.

Then I let him go to it again.

He got his butt handed to him by the enemy in his first match. He was kind of upset.

So I told him that if he’d like, I’d replay the battle, and show him some of the things I do to defend my base, build resources and kick butt.

“Sure!”

I sat down, he had Terran set up against Terran on a 1v1 map, and I showed him how you can set up your SCVs to harvest minerals and gas, build more SCVs to farm faster, send an SCV down to another nearby mineral site to start a second command center and bring in more resources, and have a couple SCVs off on their own building missile launchers, barracks and bunkers with Marines around the perimeter.

I showed him how to group armies with Ctrl+#s, I introduced him to the concept of avenues of approach, and how to upgrade weapons and armor and perform research.

I showed him how some forces can only attack ground targets, some can only attack air, some reveal the surrounding area, and some units can attack both types.

Then I built a force of 5 Battlecruisers and turned the keys of the kingdom over to him.

He likes Battlecruisers.

He played several more AI matches over the weekend after that. He tried some of the 2v2 maps, with an AI on his team and two AI opponents, and also one match with two AI buddies on his team with one lone little AI victim.

Does everyone do that at some point? Set up a completely one sided and horribly unfair situation where the poor bad guy is just screwed right out of the gate? It’s not fun to actually play, but it seems like a rite of passage for an RTS game, gives you plenty of time to build up impregnable defenses, a ridiculously large and overpowered army, and then have the AI bad guy die because your two AI allies lost no time in zerg rushing him?

Anyway. He had a lot of fun.

He loves the battlecruiser, he likes the looks of the Thor but I don’t think he’s built them much. So far he seems to go for dominance of the skies rather than open-field tank battles.

He likes the Viking, he asked me if I knew that the Viking was a flying gunship that can land and transform into mecha. Very cool. Also, there are medic ships!

I came in on him last night, he was whooping it up, I wanted to see what trouble he was up to.

He’d started a 1v3 battle, with 3 Terrans against his one Zerg force.

When I popped my head in, he was grouping zerglings into armies. Lots and lots and lots of armies. And giggling.

“I’m going to send THIS army to scout the enemy camp, and THIS army to attack his weak point, and THIS army to cover the way to the enemy base so I’m not surprised, and THIS army to defend my ramp here, and THIS army….”

Um, yeah.

Okay, so, note to self. Do NOT buy a second copy of Starcraft II. I can just see getting my butt zerg-rushed from thirteen different armies while still trying to finish building my first barracks.

Also, those giant things that Zerg can make that look like dinosaurs? Why can they burrow? He was building them, burrowing them and giggling.

Why? Why make something that massive a sneak attack? “La la la, walking along the trail, all is quiet, HOLY CRAP INSTANT MUTANT RHINOS ARGGGHHHH!”

My son likes the Zerg more than the Space Marines?

That’s just wrong, man.

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The post title is stolen shamelessly from @neowolf2 on Twitter. Titles don’t get any better than that right there.

Last night, my son had his first band concert at the school. He has been playing the saxophone since the school year began, and he did wonderfully. The band played several songs as a group, broken up with solos and duets. He had a duet with a kid playing a clarinet, and he had to totally carry the clarinet player. If it was a scenario, the clarinet player was trying to run it as a healing spec.

His band class is a before-school extra thing, it’s not part of the normal school curriculum, so he is in a class of about 20 kids, each with different instruments and spanning four school grades. There were three saxophonists this year including him, but next year the other two will be off in High School, so he’ll be big man on the sax circuit.

Seeing him up there, with his serious ‘business time’ face focusing on the sheet music… that makes everything worthwhile, I swear.

Enough of that, it’s time for some Cub news around the World of Azeroth!

Mists of Pandaria is turning out to be a difficult expansion for Alex.

In a pure sandbox game like Minecraft where you are given all the tools and left to go nuts, he has a wonderful time. Just a few nights back he opened up a world where he made a black onyx pyramid that stretches to the heavens, and added a series of roller coaster tracks over and through and under mountains, rivers and the pyramid itself. Including glass blocks so you can see the water you were riding under. He did this with powered mine cars, tracks and switches. Then he took some rides. With nothing but a bag of tools and an open world, he builds shit that knocks my socks off.

In other games, like the new Luigi’s Mansion game on the 3DS, he’s also having a blast. It is focused along one path, and you play the path or you don’t advance. The challenge comes in executing what you have to do each step of the way.

He’s very good at those kinds of games as well.

World of Warcraft is turning out to have too little direction to show him where he has to go next to find a small area filled with stuff to do, and if he does stumble on an area it’s hard to tell what it might be for, what the start or end is, and what the eventual rewards may be.

That would be fine if there was more pure sandbox stuff in WoW, but there simply isn’t enough freedom in the sandbox to let his imagination run wild. Have you ever tried to interact with the environment? They’re getting better at having things that can spawn you can pick up, but for the most part, the assumption is to not bother trying to interact with trees, rocks, sand, buildings, torches, windows, wild animals (except to kill them), etc. If they added sandbox tools, would we know? We’ve been trained to ignore the environment and focus on the critters to kill and people to give us quests or buy our trash.

It is what it is. He is still too young for the game, and I don’t expect a game designed for mature audiences to have to tailor its play to a ten year old. That WoW is as accessible as it is already amazes me.

I mention this because there are plenty of times I feel it, too. I remember when I first reached level 90 in Pandaria, and I felt adrift. I knew a lot of stuff was out there… but where to even begin? What would be the most fun? What should come first? I felt lost enough that I had a major disconnect with my character. It felt almost as if, there I am at max level, there aren’t any more breadcrumbs, there aren’t any obvious things to focus on… guess the game’s over, and I won?

Where things are now, with the scattered quest hubs and nothing to send you out there TO them, he logs in, flies around aimlessly, does a few pet battles, browses Mogit to look at gear sets, reads through the Dungeon Journal memorizing the fights and looking at gear, and then he tells me yet again that he wishes Blizzard would go back and add in entries for all the OLD raids into the Dungeon Journal.

I agree with him on that point. I’d really love to see the Dungeon Journal updated with pictures of bosses, spell effects and loot tables from all the old raids. Really.

He likes WoW, don’t get me wrong. He likes his Worgen Death Knight.

He’s just having a hard time finding a loose end of the sweater to start unraveling to reveal all the fun that is still to be had out there…. somewhere.

He needs some guidance. Something to say, “Hey, you haven’t done this, you wanna give it a try? You’re able to do it, you could handle it with no sweat. Go for it!”

I try to fulfill this role when I can.

For example. When Cataclysm was the fresh hotness, the Cub really wanted to run the Halls of Origination, play around in there. He wanted to ride a camel into battle against bone-winged undead.

It wasn’t so much that he wanted to run it, like go go go get valors get golds get drops get gone and do something else. He wasn’t on the progression treadmill where content is the job you do to earn the valor cash to buy gear.

U bai gear? Yes, we all bai gears.

No, he wanted to explore, to take his time, experience all of that celestial wonder. He wanted to, and this may shock the heck out of you, he wanted to go do a five person instance as a fun adventure, exploring all the little nooks and crannies.

Cataclysm was a long time ago, but all the content is still there. Much like Minnesota, it’s flyover country now, but it’s still there.

He was logged in, drifting along looking for something to grab his attention, and I mentioned to him that part of the joys of being so well geared at level 90 was that when it came to old content, he is now, to quote Goldeneye, Invincible!

Yes, that video is appropriate. It’s true, right up until the point where it ain’t.

I told him he could darn well go and solo the Halls of Origination.

Um what?

YES! Go forth and explore all the things!

So he did.

He had a lot of fun in the Halls of Origination… until he reached this one room with, I don’t if you’ll remember this, four elementals you have to kill in a room filled with fast-spawning groups of ads? Yeah, the frost elemental will ice trap you, freeze you in place. Fine if you’re Unholy with a perma-pet, but for a Frost or Blood DK, kind of a pain. When you’re soloing, it’s mighty funny.

Still, he got through it all and won, he rode a camelback, he fought and won against some beautifully constructed five person instance design. That place is begging for a revamp as a 10 person raid.

That inspired him to do more instances, and he had some fun doing them.

Still and all, that is where we are. The Cub is having a good time when he can find something that is fun to do, that is small enough that he doesn’t have to maintain enthusiasm for it over several weeks of dailies. If we can identify something that has a beginning, a middle and an ending over one or two days, he’s all over it.

When we can’t come up with something he can go out there and have fun doing that doesn’t require logging in and ‘doing your chores’ day in and day out, well, that is when we break out the Minecraft.

There is ALWAYS something to do short term in Minecraft.

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