Last night I ran the second part of Throne of Thunder LFR on my Hunter. I also did Galleon and Sha of Anger.
Ended up with a 496 ring and two iLevel 502 drops. No, not the bow, but really when enjoying an embarassment of riches, who cares?
Contrast that with last week, where I didn’t so much as sniff a drop. Or Cassie, who ran the first section last night, used a coin every kill, and also didn’t win new loots.
Random is random.
It’s funny, I remember one of the core tenets of video games when I was growing up in the ’80s, which was that digital logic programming couldn’t produce truly random results. At some point, there had to be a seed, and from that seed all pseudo-random gobbledygook must follow.
Duplicate the seed, and you repeat the sequence related to that seed. The secret to beating video game ‘random’ sequences was discovering that hidden, secret seed or how the system was programmed to respond to your actions.
I wonder sometimes if that is where some of our legends on influencing loot drops comes from. That old faith in an underlying structure, a belief that nothing in a video game is truly random, and that things are programmed to respond to our input, to react to our actions in some way, and if we could just nail down what the repeatable response would be, we’d know what to do to influence events to fall our way.
I sometimes wish that our wild theories on how to influence loot drops or ‘random’ events really, well, WORKED.
I loved the mystery in Vanilla WoW of wondering if we the players, by our actions, could somehow influence, say, when Onyxia would deep breath. People in raid would come up with strats for what the players had to do, and they were serious. Stand over there, DOT early, don’t DOT until 15 seconds in, all Mages stand in the center, etc. Some of it was that Onyxia wasn’t tauntable, so tanks had to be allowed to really build up threat before people started doing damage, but other things were just… attempts at seeing if player actions in weird ways would affect when Onyxia would do something.
There is a part of me that wishes there really was some chance that filling my bellybutton with blue mud, dancing naked in the rain widdershins to the wind and rubbing my tummy with one hand while patting the top of my head with the other, I could increase the chances my Gun would drop from Lei Shei by 10%.
It would give me the illusion that I could somehow influence my fate.
I’d even welcome the inevitable “blue mud is unbalanced, nerf blue mud” forum posts.
I’d like to think that there were secret, behind the scenes things that players did in their ordinary gameplay that would have unforeseen and unknowable effects later in the game, on loot or bosses, when you least expected it.
You could call it karma if you like, but I am not suggesting that there be any way to track it. It would ruin things if there was a clear link between cause and effect. Part of the fun would be in thinking you’ve discovered a secret trick that always works for you, you don’t know why nobody else has discovered it. It didn’t work for someone else? They didn’t do it right!
“Hey, I don’t know what’s wrong with your group, when me and my four Druid friends formed a raid and made a stack of Reindeer, Ashes of Alar dropped from Kael’thas right after. I’m telling you, you need to try it. Did you have five? Maybe you didn’t have enough Druids in your stack.”
It would be so much fun if there was a gentle suggestion from the devs that, should you do things of a positive or friendly nature in the game, your kindness would be returned to you in ways you could not foresee. And that it was coded right into the game to track random acts of kindness, just like tracking achievements. But without any way for the player to see what is or is not tracked, or what they have or haven’t noticed to create some ‘perfect guide’ to gaming the karma system.
I know people in the game already who enjoy taking items, wrapping them in gift paper and sending them to friends, just to cheer them up. Or who offer tips instead of criticism, support and encouragement instead of unloading with venom.
People that do the little things that go into being a positive person in public rather than a depressing pain in the ass.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we were told that keywords, phrases, even trends of typed chat in the game contributed to some kind of karma system?
Such a terrible dilemma. To troll people and rant in trade chat, swear and yell at noobs, post ‘anal’ links and risk reduced loot chances or increased damage done to YOU by bosses (or enemy players in PvP!) or, as the alternative, pretend to be nice to court unspecified but presumed real karma rewards, even when you’re a nasty little shit in real life.
It’s fun to contemplate. It really is.
Thinking about these things, and how it would be fun to experiment with the results in a live setting, it all just points out how glad everyone should be that I am not a game developer.
Because I’m telling you, straight up, i’d implement the system and not tell any players until the game had been out at least 6 months, and then track social behavior changes.
Lab rats or players… well, as the saying goes, eventually developers would grow a fondness for the rats.
Also, there are some things you can’t get the lab rats to do. One word? Achievements.
I love the Engineering profession in World of Warcraft, and have leveled it to max on quite a few characters over the years.
When I changed servers a year or more ago, I left my most advanced and complete Engineer behind.
As I leveled my Warlock up recently, it occured to me that I didn’t have Engineering on any character I felt like playing. nobody has leveled it into Pandaria for the new fun goodies.
I have no Blingtron! I cannot craft a Depleted-Kyparium Rocket!
Oh my, this will not do.
I know! A Warlock Miner/Engineer.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ahem. Perhaps I did not say that loudly enough for the fates to have heard.
I said, “WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?”
Ah, that’s better. I can feel the forces aligning around me even now, having invoked the words of power.
Over the course of a few days, I power-leveled my Mining to max, and at each stage of ore I didn’t stop until I’d leveled Engineering past that point. It kept me from having to go back over and over. Pretty smart, right?
The two professions were about equal to each other up to Cobalt Ore. You need an ungodly amount of Cobalt Ore to level Engineering. Other than that one bottleneck, no problems.
Fast forward to now.
Level 87 Warlock, level 585 Engineering, max Mining. Just have the FUN stuff left to make to level. You know, Wormhole Generators for Pandaria, Dragonling pet, and at max a Blingtron. All stuff that takes Spirits of Harmony, and so all stuff that realistically takes a working farm at level 90.
But what can I do now?
Ah, I have just the thing! I can go back and get my Jeeves!
Oh right, going back to stuff I’ve leveled past and don’t have mats for. Brilliant, Bear. Just brilliant.
As i said, I’ve had many Engineers over the years, and across them I’ve had Jeeves at least four times now. Why, it shouldn’t hardly take any time at all for my 87 Warlock to drop on by those Library Guardians in the Storm Peaks and get the Jeeves recipe to drop. Why, I’ll also get the SCRAP-E recipe quest as a two-fer!
“I intend to pursue, capture and learn this receipe. It’s as simple as that!”
How bad could it be?
Ahem. “HOW BAD COULD IT BE?”
There we go. [shudder]
I traveled to Storm Peaks and began to slaughter Library Guardians. It was quite easy, and I left their looted bodies scattered across the snow.
Five, six, eight at a time I’d dot ‘em up, and they were just so helpful, running to me so as to be within close looting range once the dot finished them off. I could plop down in the center of a widely-separate assortment and pull them all to me with a measly dot a piece.
Ah yes, wintertime, and the killing was easy.
So I cleared the area, and cleared it again, and my wasn’t it nice that the respawn rate was so high?
And I cleared the area again, and then cleared some more, continuously burning through Library Guardians until I had many hundreds of Relics of Ulduar, hundreds of gold in grey drops vendored (gotta love the Tundra Travelers Mammoth), and a slightly sore mouse hand.
But no Jeeves.
Okay, I know the answer to this. I’ve been here before, many Jeeves have been learned and crafted, I know these Library Guardians have the best drop rate.
Random is just random. I have to bear down and deeps harder. MOAR DOTS!
Hmmm. Still no recipe? That is just damn odd.
I know it used to take a few days, but geez, that was when it took me a while to burn one mob down. I’m blowing through a hundred Library Guardians every fifteen minutes or so. This just seems doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo twilight zone time.
I wonder… did the drop rate change since the Pandaria expansion? Seems odd, I woulda thunk they’d increase the drop rate for something so necessary in old content, but maybe, just maybe, before I spend another three hours on this tonight, I should check WoWhead to be sure.
So… you’re supposed to, like, salvage the Library Guardians to get the recipe. It’s not a loot drop.
Salvaging. Oh yeah…. that’s right. That, like, Engineering thingie that us Engineers can do.
So, let this be a lesson to you.
Before you set your cunning plan in motion, make sure you check your facts and do your research, or you’re just gonna end up in the pot.
I follow blogs and listen to a few podcasts related to WoW, and it’s occurred to me I’ve really been blessed.
It took me forever to get my Sha-touched Weapon.
Months of pain, of striving, of crying in the night, cold and alone without my bang-bang.
Running week after week with a rare 463 bow, I began to take extraordinary measures to try and up the chances of a drop, multiple runs a week, chanting and burning incense, rolling my D20′s over and over until they all showed 1′s before a run just to use up all my bad luck and up the chance my next bonus roll would be a natural 20, you name it.
What reading other blogs, listening to podcasts and talking with other guild members in raids has made clear is I am not alone.
Oh no, far from it. And those of us who are sharing the troubles of our times, we carry with us scars that will last a lifetime.
What I’m realizing is, this strife, the struggle, the quest for the Sha-touched weapon for all classes has taken on a larger than life meaning.
The item itself? For Hunters, the Sha-touched weapon is ultimately meaningless. Like every other combat item in the game, it’s as relevant and enduring as navel lint. It’s as ugly as the north end of a south-bound rhino, too.
Looks aside, a year from now, will I still be using my Sha-touched weapon?
Not only won’t I be using the Sha-touched weapon, I might not even be playing the same character anymore.
You never know what the future holds, but one thing is certain; there will be content upgrades with more powerful gear, ALWAYS.
Whatever we are using now will someday soon be taken off, examined for transmog opportunities, and dumped accordingly.
In the end, it’s not the drop that matters.
The true value of the Sha-touched weapon is the community that has grown up around it.
Those of us who have sought the Sha-touched weapon in vain for months at a time are digital adventurers, striving against the fates and an unfeeling Content Programmer on the trail of a myth, a legend, a tantalizing glimpse of life-changing treasure.
We endure extremes of playing and queue times, blow extra rolls and run dailies to earn tokens, all to feed our passionate quest for the ultimate prize.
We are Allan Quatermain, searching for King Solomon’s mines, only when we get the gold his team craved to us it is as ashes in our mouth compared to the wondrous glory we seek and never find.
You who walk into an LFR or raid and have Sha-touched weapons fall easy or early are the ones who are left out.
You will never have had that experience that we few, we few, we band of unfortunates have shared that will bond us into a community for years to come.
We are the ones who won’t be able to tell you what upgrades we picked up and tossed aside along the way, but our memories of striving for the Sha-touched weapon and failing over and over will last a lifetime.
When we sit in vent waiting for raid to start, we will be the blessed few with tales to share with each other of failed extra rolls and pity-gold by the thousands.
We will feel that bond that only comes from sharing a common pain as we look back on all the times we queued up hesitant and hopeful, only to suffer through the fail pugs and utter idiots to hold gold in our hands once again.
You, with your easy Sha-touched drops will not be one of us. You will be an outsider, and we will shake our head in sadness to your stories of running Attumen the Horseman for three years, or all the runs into Tempest Keep for a phoenix, but inside it won’t be the same.
There are mounts and other vanity items, but for those of us who sought a best in slot raiding weapon tied to our Legendary questline and came up with nothing, it’s just not the same.
We know what it is to seek in vain, to hope and be crushed, to strive and fail, week after week after FUCKING WEEK without getting that one damn drop while our raid team moves up the charts without us, and worse yet, without truly appreciating how lucky they are to have it, those bastards.
Oh yes, we know how it feels to earn thousands of valor, to have a legendary gem and gem socket just sitting in our bags, waiting for that day that one goddamn weapon we want drops for us, only to get nothing.
We know. We’ve been there.
That gives us an experience that will last long past the point the gear itself is meaningless.
Just like any adventure… it sucks while you’re doing it, omigod it sucks, but someday in the future, these memories will be priceless.
Either that, or just one more thing to bitch about, I honestly can’t tell you which.
It’s something that happens in your life that teaches you a lesson, a lesson you will never, ever forget.
Can you come up with a teachable moment in your life? If something leaps to your mind, it probably counts.
I can share one of mine with you, if you promise not to laugh.
Years back when I was young, dumb and full of Marine Corps life, when I wasn’t drinking, reading or playing role playing games I’d get a wild hair up my ass and want to get out and move.
The walls would close in with the same old scenes, surrounded by the same old faces, smelling the same old farts from the Jarhead on the next bunk over.
What I’d do is grab my portable cassette player (which was called a Walkman in the same way all tissues get called Kleenex), and hit the road running.
Didn’t matter what time it was, or what the weather was like. I had to get away from shit, and running while listening to music blaring into my ears got me out of the barracks and out of my head.
This particular tale of the tape took place when I was stationed at MCAS Beaufort, in South Carolina, where I got the wild hair late at night when the sky was dumping chilly rain in a dense sheet outside.
I put on layers of spandex, a hoodie, stuck my cassette player in a ziplock baggie and headed out.
For whatever reason, the wild hair didn’t take me to the normal backwoods snake trails on base that would come out near the Enlisted Mens Club.
Instead, I took a hard left out of the barracks, and headed out on the road that led out towards the Officers transient barracks… and the flight line.
There was a road that headed out that way, a road with no real destination. Just two lanes of black asphalt, a tree-lined tunnel bordered by runoff ditches.
That road would make a loop around the perimeter of the flight line, and running that road committed me to doing four or five miles in the icy rain, late at night. I could tell before I set out that I wouldn’t see another soul for the entire run. No cars, no runners, just me and the rain and the night.
As I ran, there was a part of me that thought about how far I was going, how cold the rain was, and how early I’d have to get up to go running with the platoon in the morning. The half way point loomed in my mind, that point of no return where it would be shorter to keep on going and finish then to turn back the way I came.
But most of me just ran, and listened to the tape on auto-reverse, and tried to clear my head of whatever bullshit was making everything complicated at the time.
By the time I returned to the barracks, I was steaming and sore. Muscles were knotting up, and I still had regularly scheduled physical training the next morning.
One of the unwritten rules of a Marine in barracks duty is that whatever hell you got up to the night before, even if you come rolling in dead drunk 5 minutes before PT, you damn well don’t miss formation. Aww, did you go running all night? Well then, you should have had more sense you dumbass, now get in formation, we’re going on a little light 5 mile run. Double time, harch!
Just saying. Whatever soreness I felt I had to get rid of and get as much sleep as I could so I could be ready for PT the next morning.
I hit the showers, got warmed back up, and grabbed the jar of IcyHot-style menthol/camphor crap to rub into my sore calf muscles.
I worked the blue gel into my leg muscles, and felt the first rush of cold kicking in.
Then I hit the head, took a leak and got ready to go to sleep.
Thus began the teachable moment.
After using IcyHot, or any other topical product with menthol and especially camphor as an active ingredient, WASH YOUR FUCKING HANDS.
About a minute after taking a leak, my thought process went something like this; “JUST WHAT THE OMIGOD MY DICK IS ON FIRE WHAT THE HELL OMIGOD I NEED FIRE SUPPORT WTF AH SHIT AAAARRRGGHHHHHHHHH!”
Wow, that was a bad night.
Even now, more than two decades since that day, I can tell you with utter sincerity I cannot look at a container of IcyHot without thinking that there needs to be a much larger warning label on those goddamn jars.
I proudly present to you something I am truly proud of. It works on so many levels. It’s artsy, cause it’s got subtext!
THE BUMPER STICKER OF EPIC AWESOME!!!
Okay, so it’s just a bumper sticker.
That is exactly how I imagined it. In every possible details… except, you know, I love what Tesh did with the rocks. That might have been a bit better than I imagined. Especially the way the sizes of the rocks imply that you’d be welcome to walk up, plop your butt down on one of the small flat wide ones and warm yourself.
Alex just walked up behind me, saw the picture, and announced “That basic campfire is so cute!”
See, our candidate is more photogenic, too!
LOL. OMG Alex just went off on Garrosh. “Even a slug would make a better Warchief. Thrall had everything working perfectly, and Garrosh had to come along and ruin the entire setup.”