Archive for the “General” Category

Quick alert, remember that when patch 6.0 goes live, Justice Points and Valor Points are going away.

If you have Justice Points on you right now, please make sure you spend them quickly for the best benefit. If you WANT Justice Points and the things they can buy, it’s very easy to farm them fast by running normal Pandarian instances. Each boss kill gives you quite a lot (more if you have the guild bonus) and normal instances can pop fast. If you have solid LFR or Flex (or better) raid gear on your character, they fly by.

A few tips on spending Justice wisely;

Heirloom Items are currently bought with Justice Points. DO NOT spend them on Heirlooms right now, when patch 6.0 goes live you’ll be able to buy all Heirlooms and upgraded Heirlooms with gold. GOLD. So don’t spend Justice on these.

You can upgrade blue quality weapons with Justice, but honestly, why would you want to? If you need a weapon upgrade that bad, consider going to the Timeless isle and farming Timeless Coins to buy one of the epic weapons there, they are a better deal.

You can purchase Honor Points with your Justice Points. This can be a great deal for you, IF you don’t like to PvP.

More on Justice to Honor.

500 Justice Points will buy you 250 Honor Points at a vendor in your faction capital city.

You can buy PvP mounts with 2000 Honor Points each, so for every 4000 Justice Points you can buy a nice PvP mount. Looking for a few more mounts? Don’t pass these up!

There are many cool looking PvP armor sets that you can buy with minimal Honor Points. The old sets are discounted heavily. You can find a really nice list by looking at Transmog sets on Wowhead.

On some of those PvP sets, especially the Outlands ones, you can exchange normal PvE tier tokens for the PvP armor version. That means, for many Outlands PvP armor sets, you can run the old raids solo, get tier drops, trade those in for PvP versions of the armor, and only need Honor Points to buy Boots, Belt, etc. Doing this saves you quite a lot of Honor Points on building a set.

I just wanted to give you this heads up. Don’t forget to use ‘em before you lose ‘em.

Comments 5 Comments »

I had a dream last night, and I blame an overload of cooking challenge shows. We watch a lot of them. Top Chef, Masterchef, Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, etc.

The one thing my wife and I have always wondered is, just how honest are they? The judging is purely subjective. Sure, we can see how a dish looked, but we have no earthly idea how they tasted. The producers can influence the judges to pick based not solely on taste but also on who would generate the most drama to keep viewers butts in seats for the next round/episode. And who would know? Even when they have multiple tasters, most of the important eliminations rely on the judges alone to decide.

Who can say? I sure don’t know how they taste, and I don’t really care what someone else thought of most food. I think most people are idiots anyway, what do I care what they thought? I’ll be the judge of who should have won! Except in TV cooking shows, of course, I can’t be.

Okay, moving past my throwing down the gauntlet and accusing cooking competitions of being unethical, dishonest and biased, let’s get to the show I was in last night… in my dreams.

Top Tinker

In my dream, I was in a massive room filled with workbenches, similar to the openness and size of the arena of Masterchef. Gordon Ramsey was the judge walking around exhorting everyone, so you can see I am indeed insane.

I was one of the contestants, standing at my workbench, but instead of culinary ingredients, I had bins filled with electrical parts, wires, breadboards, small motors, gears, etc. Instead of chef’s knives and cuisinarts, I had soldering iron, o’scope, multimeter, etc.

I wasn’t a contestant on a cooking challenge. I was competing in a tinkering competition!

Ramsey was calling out, “You have thirty minutes to build a battery powered vehicle that can travel at least 15 feet, using only the materials in your bins. At the end of the thirty minutes, we’ll match all of your vehicles in a head to head race, and the fastest vehicle to cross the finish line wins! Tinkers, your time starts now!”

Oh shit.

I looked up at the main floor, where on Masterchef you’d see the example dish or whatever, and saw that a track was laid out, level and flat, with lanes marked out by slats of wood high enough to keep cars from going off track and bumping into each other. So, I could see I had to build something that used batteries for power that could fit in a channel about 12” wide, could go fast, and wouldn’t get slowed down by sidewall drag, so right off I knew I’d need to put some roller bumpers on the sides too.

But it’s gotta use batteries but be faster than everyone else and have enough power to keep up that speed to make it across the finish line! I started rummaging on my workstation. What do I have for parts?

All we had for batteries were 2 ‘C’ cell batteries, so I started scrambling to sort through the bin of small motors for a good match, thinking about making a thin frame of aluminum slats for lightness with rigidity, and then I woke up.

Um.

It was a good dream. Would have liked to have seen what I came up with.

Now I can’t get the idea of a Top Tinker show out of my head, so I’m dumping it all on you. Based on personal experience, fifteen minutes after this post goes live I’ll never think of it again.

I keep thinking about how much I like the concept. Instead of a cooking competition, have a tinkering competition!

One thing you can’t argue with, the viewers at home will certainly know exactly who won. You lose some of the suspense when you can see who won immediately without having to wait for ten minutes for the judges to reveal who they picked, but how satisfying would it be to spotlight what was built and how the builds performed in competition?

How especially awesome to hear the challenge and think of what you’d try, since so many things in tinkering can be done multiple ways.

Yes, I just now realized I’m describing a variation on a Junkyard Wars show, without the large scale builds or dependence on quality of scrap scavenging. Damnit. No, it took me until now to make the connection.

Still, I’ve been having a ton of fun the last half hour imagining the kinds of things benchtop tinkers could be challenged to make in head to head challenges.

“Your fastbuild challenge, using the parts on your bench, build a 1.5kHz tone signal generator. The first one to get the correct signal to register on their oscilloscope wins.”

I know, I know. I’m sure it sounds boring to those not of the Radio Shack set out there, but I also thought of a variation on the show, one that might be a bit more fun to watch, but it’s obviously not the one I was dreaming.

How about this for an actual show;

For a working title I’d call it “The MacGyver”, but there is no way you could name a competition after an actual adventure TV show, even if everyone knows what MacGyvering is but few still alive remember the original show the term came from. Maybe call it TechnoTrap.

It would still be a tinkering show, ideally sponsored by Radio Shack because come on, but it would have a theme; technology, gadgets, and super spies.

You would have a scenario related to the Hollywood idea of superspies, James Bond gadget wizardry stuff, and the challenge would be related to building a gadget out of parts for getting out of the scenario.

The skills needed would include electronics design and breadboarding on the fly, but I think challenges including a slightly more complex version of the Lego Mindstorm robot building, manipulating drones and remotes/servos, all remote controls, all those twists could add some variety.

Okay, like what kinds of challenges?

Well, as an example, you are a prisoner in a cell, with bins of stuff just like Tony Stark in his cave in the first Iron Man. You have a cell door you could burn through, except you don’t have a striker to ignite your hand torch.

There is a prisoner in the cell next to you, and he has a striker, but there is no way to get it.

There is a mousehole that connects the two cells through a stone wall. You can’t just make a long stick to poke through, because there are a couple of gentle bends.

The challenge is to build something that will negotiate the mouse tunnel to the other cell, through at least two gentle turns, so that the other prisoner can put the striker on it/tie the striker to it and then send it back to you.

Or another example, you are in a hotel room, and on the other side of the wall a group is having an ultra secret meeting talking about their drug cartel money laundering. They are discussing how they get their money out of the bank, but you can’t make out what they’re saying.

The challenge? Use the parts in your tech kit to build a microphone with amplifier and speaker so that you can amplify the sounds from the other room through the wall loud enough to make out what they’re saying. Listen in until you hear them state the password they use to access their account. Then YOU enter that password into your laptop right there. Fastest one to enter the code wins the challenge.

Another idea for a challenge, take a drone with camera, modify it with remote triggers, servos and stuff so that you can add a small dart launcher to it, and shoot a stuffed target simulating you shooting a dart filled with sleeping toxin into a sentry from around the corner.

I’m sorry, I know it’s a goofy idea for a show, but I keep having fun with it. There are so many different fun challenges you could come up with to test someone’s innovation with parts, skill at design and building, knowledge of electronics and tinkering, and imagination at coming up with a way to get the job done.

And when you watch the show, damnit you’d know if someone succeeded or not!

On further consideration, maybe I shouldn’t describe my dreams anymore. This can’t be coming off as the thoughts of a sane person.

Top Tinker, damnit!

Comments 6 Comments »

Okay, so that was a lot faster than I expected.

Honestly, it’s been so quiet and the Firelands group has been so small for so long, I assumed there wouldn’t be that much interest.

My gmail says otherwise.

Thank you to everyone that emailed me or tweeted or commented that you’d like to do Glory achieves.

I can only focus on one group at a time, but if you are still interested on being a sometimes member if someone can’t make it, I’d be delighted to add your battle tag.

If we finish this faster than I expected, we can always start trying to do 10 person raid achieves up to and including Mogushan Palace. Why not, right?

Again, thank you, and the Glory group is full. If I haven’t talked directly with you via gmail already, then I’ll be talking with you about being an alternate very soon!

Comments 1 Comment »

We have about two months left to go before Warlords of Draenor is scheduled for launch, and our world of opportunities changes again.

I don’t know about you, but if you’re anything like me as soon as that expansion comes out all old farming hits a wall of “I don’t care about old shit anymore”, replaced with new expansion “Oh look new shiny, must have new shiny.”

For example, currently each week I am trying to run Eye of Eternity and The Eye three times for chances at the Azure Drake, Blue Drake and Ashes of A’lar, and I’m also doing Argent Tournament dailies to work towards the eleven(!) mounts I am still missing from there.

Yeah, I expect that to stop when WoD goes live.

For me, realistically these next two months are the last time for a year or more at least for me to do those last few things I always meant to get around to.

Two months and ticking.

What I’d really like to get cleaned up are two meta achievements in game;

Glory of the Pandaria Hero (with a Crimson Cloud Serpent mount reward)

Glory of the Cataclysm Hero (with a Volcanic Stone Drake mount reward)

These are both 5 person team achievements, don’t need too many friends to do, but somehow I’ve just never gotten around to doing it.

I’d like to at least complete those two 5 person instance metas before WoD. So here is my proposal.

I’m looking for four people who will commit to joining me for doing these, start to finish. It doesn’t matter if you have none of the achieves yet, or some of them. We get a team of five of us together, we compare notes on what achieves we’re missing, we bloody well go get it done.

I’ll coordinate.

I know that at the time I talked about this on twitter, @Rivenhomewood said she would join me, but I hadn’t talked times or schedules or what have you. This is the tricky part…

I would really only be able to do this in the evenings, Thursday, maybe also Friday. And by evenings, I mean around 7 PM Central Standard Time for a few hours. So I’m looking for some folks who will be slow and steady with me for one or two nights a week, a few hours each time.

Doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up when you’re talking old 5 person instance achievements.

So what do you say? If you’re interested, send me an email at thebigbearbutt@gmail.com and tell me.

And act fast, I’d like to do the very first achievement run tomorrow night shooting for that Glory of the Cataclysm Hero first.

I hope to hear from you!

Comments 2 Comments »

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last Saturday night, and as of this writing the vast majority of media reviews I’ve seen, and the gushing of all my friends, seem to indicate that everyone else loved the movie as a fantastic, wonderful thing, best Marvel movie ever.

One thing I’ve heard said about it is that this is the ‘Star Wars’ for our generation.

I didn’t have quite that same reaction, and I’d like to talk about it because I actually know and enjoyed the source material, and I’m curious how that is tainting my viewing of the movie.

This is a discussion where I’m going to totally geek out. I loved the source comics for Guardians of the Galaxy, the Annihilation storyline.

Weaving that into normal Marvel comics would be hard enough, and for what they’re doing, I think they did a great job. Mostly.

I really liked the movie, don’t get me wrong. For an origin tale with tons of necessary exposition to introduce you to the characters, settings and motivations it did very well.

They have already announced there WILL be a Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I’m glad of that. I think the second movie, dealing with established characters and setting, will have even more room to go nuts and have fun.

But still. No movie is perfect, and since this is based on some extremely good comics that I love, it left me wondering why they made some of the changes they did, because they definitely detracted from my enjoyment of parts of the movie.

SPOILERS below this point.

It should come as no surprise that every character was modified from the comics to fit as part of their new team movie.

Drax deviated the most from the comics, and not necessarily for the better, but Drax as a character in the comics had an insanely complex and in some cases WTF backstory with Thanos. I can certainly appreciate someone looking at all that and saying, “Oh, hell no.”

Every character was changed. The appearances were the same, the style, but even Peter Quill was very different.
That’s okay, the movie was strong and it came off very well.

If there was one thing I carried with me leaving the theater that left a bitter aftertaste, it would be the treatment of Gamora in the film. And such a small thing, but even after a couple days I’m still irritated.

The universe of the movie is organic and funky.

It’s the Jurassic Park writ large, life will find a way, and it has, packed in every nook and cranny that could support it.

Space is filled with ancient planets that have gone through ups and downs, and in our modern age younger races stand on the shoulders of giants, in many cases scavenging a living by picking the bones left by the decaying elder races.

And I mean that literally.

You don’t get a sense of light years separating each world from the other.

It’s more immediate, everything is in your face, the teeming billions of the galaxy are in an inner-city ghetto of world tenements, each stacked right next door to it’s neighbor. Close enough to pop over for a cup of sugar or to loot some artifacts from a temple and crack your skulls.

That’s a good thing. Organic is good.

Making the universe feel funky? Outstanding.

Totally stands out, anything can happen here, and probably is in some far off corner.

And there ain’t a thing you as a person in this universe can do about it. Chaos is happening, the universe is too big, too unknown, too unknowable, too wild, and all you can do in this galactic shitstorm is the best you can to get by in your little part of it.

You can’t CONTROL it. There’s too much shit you can’t comprehend.

Seeing how all of these characters and others deal with this kind of universe is so much fun, offers so much potential.

So, Gamora.

In the Annihilation comics, Gamora is the female Riddick.

Think about that. Picture in your mind everything you know about Riddick as played by Vin Diesel. That is Gamora.

Except if anything, Gamora is much scarier, because she actively seeks out excuses to kill people. If she isn’t getting paid for it, she’ll kill you for fun, or because she’s bored, or so people won’t forget her reputation. Cold, ruthless, absolutely fearless.

In a universe filled with scary things possessing cosmic power, she is a cause for terror if you’re on her list.

Overall, they did a very nice job with her in the story.

My problem comes from the scene in the Kyln prison.

Remember, spoilers. PLEASE don’t read if you haven’t watched the movie yet.

There comes a point where Peter Quill, Rocket and Groot are sent as fresh prisoners to the Kyln prison. They are loosely allied with each other, and Gamora is with them but an outsider.

Gamora was just there to take the macguffin from Peter, and hasn’t had a special moment with anyone yet.

On the shuttle to the Kyln, Rocket makes it clear he has escaped from 22 previous prisons, and sees absolutely no reason why the Kyln should be any different. You want to break free of the Kyln, he’s gonna be the raccoon with the plan. Stick with him, he’s going places.

Once in the prison, Peter Quill has a scene where someone BIG makes it clear he’s about to make Peter his bitch. Rocket and Groot step in and face everyone down, it’s pretty cool.

Gamora has a scene where it’s shown how universally hated and feared she is, and Rocket points out she really does have a galaxy-wide rep as a badass assassin. It’s pretty clear the other prisoners intend to kill her first chance they get.

Peter Quill is being set up in the story as a bumbling young Han Solo. This is a good thing, he’s a rogue, he’s charming, but he’s inexperienced and relies on luck and improvisation rather than experience and planning. And he’s got a gooey center, it’s cute.

Cool so far?

So here is the problem.

Late at night, Gamora is shown being dragged through corridors of the prison by a small group of like 3 or 4 dirtbags, who clearly plan on killing her in some dark corner.

They drag her past a crowded room of sleeping prisoners, except for Peter who is wide awake and having a tender moment. He sees the fair damsel being dragged off to her doom, and decides to leap to the rescue.

Gamora is set up as a helpless damsel in distress for Peter Quill to save.

There is no explanation for how two or three pissant dirtbags managed to overpower the deadliest assassin in the known galaxy. One moment you see her stoic in her cell watching the door, the next she’s being manhandled down a corridor by a small group of thugs from central casting.

Now, don’t get all ‘oh shit another feminist for Gods sake shut up’ with me. Hear me out.

Picture in your head for one moment Vin Diesel as Riddick being hauled through that corridor by three or four meatsacks.

It’s okay, right? It’s like one of Riddick’s defining things. He gets taken by a group of scum, and he’s all right with it because he knows that he can kill ALL of them whenever he feels like it. You may think he needs rescuing, but the truth is he doesn’t. If he’s in chains heading somewhere, it’s because they’re saving him the effort of stealing a ship and flying it there himself.

Sure it may look dire, right up until the point that he shows everyone he’s just messing with them, before freeing himself and killing everyone in incredibly awesome ways.

That should have been Gamora. That is who the character in the comics is. Even if she was overpowered and hauled off by a crowd of dirtbags, it would have been part of a larger plan. Or because she’s bored and looking forward to turning the tables on them and seeing the look in their eyes when arrogance turns to fear.

As a fan of the comics, when I realized she really was overpowered and being dragged to her death, it was a big ‘bullshit’ moment.

The actual rescue and Peter Quill and Rocket and Drax stuff was good, don’t get me wrong. They used it to set the stage for Drax becoming a part of the group, and as they did it I can see it being fine with most people, but it felt totally unnecessary.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean, I’ll lay out an alternative way to reach the same result without using the damsel in distress bit.

Exact same everything as before, and we leave Gamora alone in her cell, Peter Quill and the others in their room with all the other male prisoners, and Drax having seen Gamora and clearly interested in watching her.

But here is where we deviate.

Gamora has no friends, she’s been dragged into prison with these idiots, and she was close enough to the rest of them in the shuttle to hear Rocket talk about his previous escapes and his intention to break out.

She is in the same group, and sees Peter Quill get told what a pretty little boy he is, and she sees Rocket and Groot face the other prisoners down.

Gamora knows people well enough to know that a scared prisoner isn’t going to fight you face to face if they can stab you in the back later when you’re asleep. She also knows people hold grudges, especially prisoners faced down in front of their peers. Everyone has to sleep sometime. And she could use an ally to get her off the Kyln.

She has reason to want to get into Rocket’s good graces, and she has seen Rocket is soft on Peter Quill.

Gamora knows something is coming. She watches and bides her time.
She has no problems with the other inmates. Someone may mouth off, but she tears him a new asshole, and everyone else backs off, reminded how she got her reputation. You don’t fuck with Gamora or you’ll get bloody and sore.

Late at night, as everyone is asleep, Peter Quill is grabbed by big ugly and a few cronies, who gag him and drag him out of the sleeping chamber. Sure as hell they’re pissed off for being embarassed in front of everyone earlier, and it’s time to make someone pay. But they’re afraid of Rocket and Groot, so they’re gonna take it out on Peter Quill. Fresh meat needs to be taught a lesson, they need to get some face back.

This is what Gamora was waiting for.

Gamora shadows Peter Quill and his captors, and when they’re getting all ugly and Peter is getting panicked, she leaps in and takes them down in Riddick-style moves that reinforce the core concept – you don’t fuck with Gamora.

Rocket shows up attracted by the noise, sees Gamora save Peter, now she’s got in ‘an’ with Rocket. Now she can get into their group and take part in their escape plan.

In this scenario, Gamora stays true to her character and reinforces being a total badass. She cynically analyzed the situation, determined a course of action that would get her what she wanted, and took action. No sentiment, just the appearance of sentiment.

There is still plenty of opportunity for character growth later, when she explains to everyone else why she betrayed Thanos and Ronin, and to have her steel heart warmed a teeny, tiny bit when the others put their lives on the line for what she believes in, and try and save Xandar. Which is what happens in the actual movie.

So what about Drax?

The scene introducing Drax was decent, but it would have worked just as well if he was stalking Gamora, followed her, was in time to witness her saving Peter, and then overheard her tell Rocket and Peter that she was betraying Ronin and was trying to get to something that Ronin wanted, and stop him from destroying the planet Xandar.

This puts Drax in the same spot as in the movie, but with more cunning and patience to achieve his true goal, killing Thanos (adjusted for the movie to include Ronin and anyone associated with Ronin).

Give Drax just the slightest amount of cunning to think through a plan, and he could have held off on revealing himself at all until the rest of the group started their prison break. Then he could use it to his advantage… kill Gamora, steal the macguffin, or choose a moment to save the team and earn his way into their escape.

Why help? Because this group was already pissing off Ronin and they were sure to be chased by Ronin if they fled. Also, she wants to save the innocents on Xandar which would resonate with Drax.

This gives the movie a chance to really focus on Drax unexpectedly stepping in and being a badass, saving the mission. You get a chance to see he’s valuable, not just a kill crazy psycho on an uncertain leash.

My only problem with the whole film is that one moment when the story took Gamora in that tired direction and it didn’t need to.

Putting Gamora in the position of a damsel in distress needing to be rescued cheapens her character, and is totally unnecessary to the story.

She’s not the damsel, she’s the ruthless killer. She isn’t a soft center needing to grow a hard shell, she’s hard all the way through, cynical and brutal, and her character development is that she is finally, just the smallest bit, by the barest fraction learning to feel something for someone other than herself, and putting herself out there for someone else is the risky move.

That one moment really disappointed me.

I really liked the movie overall, but because of how well the rest of the film played that one moment stood out for me even more.

Did you see the film without reading the comics? What was your take on it?

Comments 8 Comments »

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