I’m gonna start with some facts, then veer wildy off into the weeds. You’re invited to come along with me, and point at the pretty aminals just before they eat us.

Last night our guild leader Tom went looking to kick off an open Flex run.

He filled up the raid list with folks who wanted to go that weren’t already in the other main raid team slapping Sha around in Siege normal.

He thought we were a might light in our loafers where tank and healing was concerned, so he brought in a warrior offtank and a druid healer from Oqueue.

Sounds familiar? Seem pretty normal? Ask around with your friends first, and then move to a more open platform where strangers roam the arid plains.

Off we go to flex-mode Siege sequence two, the Galakrasical Wonders of the Flappy-Winged Age.

Kill all the trash, try like heck to pull everything on the beach at once to pad AoE DPS, fight to set off cannon bombs while players are still in them, the usual shenanigans.

We get lined up, set up a tower team, make the pull and midway through lose the new tank and healer down below in the valley and it all drops in the pot.

No worries, right? Most of us are on alts anyway.

Being on alts means, we HOPE to pull it out since we know what we’re doing, and get gear on our alts that could use it.

BUT… if the bosses aren’t dying, we swap alts out and bring mains in until bosses start dying. It’s the natural order of things.

Sometimes, you need bigger guns.

Ah, but then comes this gem. This was a first for me, a high point in the week, nay the month.

What happened, though incredibly minor, is the kind of thing I’ll remember long after I forget what raid we were even doing back in this expansion.

Two things happened at the same time.

Tom was driven to check what happened to the tank that he died so fast. Squishy, or standing in bad, or what? He was from Oqueue, maybe there were performance issues.

I hear a lot of people suffer from performance issues. They make a drug for some of them, but not one you can take that helps your raid. And how do you bring the subject up with your flaccid tank? “Hi, we’ve noticed you’re kinda… squishy… lately. We think this will help.” [presents bottle of ARMORALL armor polish]

So Tom does a quick look to see what happened, and at the same time Pumpken, the most incredible healer that plays a Shaman ever in the game, and who happens to be on her main at the time, gets a whisper from the Oqueue druid healer.

The whisper is as follows;

tryhard

So Pumpken shares that whisper with us at the same time as Tom finds the problem. No heals coming from the OQueue Druid healer, who has low gear, no gems, no enchants, and apparently, no “try”.

Tom let the druid go, removed him from the raid. Told him, “Go get gemmed and enchanted, and we can take you some other time.”

The Druid called Pumpken a “Try Hard”. Like, as an accusation.

What, was he afraid she was making him look bad?

This is the great lie. Someone else does not make you look bad. Only YOU can make you look bad.

You, by not performing, by not moving out of bad, by not bothering to gem or enchant or reforge your gear.

By not trying.

YOU make you look bad, by not giving a shit. By not trying.

Others do what they do. Has nothing to do with you.

We were laughing about that “try hard” stuff in vent and in guild chat for a long time after that. Mostly ’cause I couldn’t let it go. That attitude is fascinating, I keep circling it like a dog smelling shit. It’s horrifying and yet I can’t stop looking at it.

Someone else in guild, not one of the progressive raiders, saw us basically mocking him for being upset at Pumpken for, what, healing too well? Giving a shit? And asked, legitimately not wanting to ALSO be mocked some time in the future, “What iLevel should I be to join your Flex runs? I’d like to start going too.”

Tom answered “Meh, whatever. It’s Flex, come join us.”

It’s not about being an elitist. It’s about whether you can do the best you can with what you’ve got, and that you try to be prepared. Basically, that if you’re putting yourself out there to join a bunch of others, that you’re going to give a shit, try to do your best (and raid utility!) and not tank the raid.

Unless you’re a tank. You know wtf I mean.

Listen, when all of your mains gear is 561 or higher, then everything else looks undergeared. You stop expecting the best possible gear, and instead you look at what seems reasonable for what you’re running at the moment.

And for Flex, what matters most is you are going to give a shit, you’re going to try, you’re going to care.

Since we can’t read your mind, we have to look at how you take care of your stuff.

Just like I, when interviewing someone for a job, will take a look at what they drive in to the interview, go out and look in the front seat while they are inside filling out the application. I hire service techs that will be out in the field all day long, given their own company truck. It’s reasonable to me that if I’m giving you a truck and I’m never going to see how you maintain it, then looking at how you take care of your personal car right now might clue me in as to whether you naturally give a shit and take care of your stuff, or just throw whopper wrappers and half-full pop bottles in the passenger foot well. It ain’t perfect, but it provides a clue.

Same with the character you’re bringing to the raid. If I look at your gear and see that it ain’t gemmed, enchanted, reforged, whatever. If you are missing major glyphs. If you forgot to take your level 90 Talent. If you never pop a flask, eat a food buff (even when given by a feast!) or cast your own raid buffs? None of that tells me whether you WILL try or not, but if some of it or all of it is missing, it’s a good clue that you don’t give a shit.

Or that normally you do give a shit, but this is an alt you don’t care about, so you haven’t paid it the attention a character you bring to a team raid deserves.

We have to look at these things, because now more than ever each player has to try hard.

When you get out there on the field of battle, you move your butt, you attack what needs to die first, you follow the flow. You interrupt. You move stuff away from others. You focus on the adds instead of padding the meters by burning the boss when it’s doing nothing to help us. Raid utility, whatever you brought, use it. It’s a force multiplier. Interrupts? CC on the trash before Garrosh? Big honking force multiplier.

This is what I love about the modern raids, and what increasingly irritates me about LFR and random person picked up from a queue.

These raids are designed so that every boss has a Lich King Defile.

Old school ‘get out of the bad’ meant if you stood in the bad, you died.

Modern ‘get out of the bad’ means, if you stand in the bad, the RAID dies. Or has a big pain in the butt to deal with.

It’s a shift in raid design. We had some special ones in the past. Remember Shade of Aran? “I will not move when Flame Wreath is cast or the raid blows up.” It was special and unique enough that there were monk chants on Youtube about it, it was infamous, because it was so damn simple… but if you had strangers in your raid group, somehow they always moved!

Now the fights are all like that!

Maybe it’s because of Deadly Boss Mods. Communication addons that, if you have them, clearly communicate in big honking letters, “pay attention naow!!!”

Maybe Blizzard feels if people are told what is happening that easily, then there needs to be more piled on top of it to strain your ability to process it all and react properly.

I dunno, but I like it.

At the same time, this is the biggest challenge I see in LFR and when I join other Flex runs, especially in OpenRaid with strangers.

It is not enough for the raid leader, tanks and healers to know what they are doing, move out of the bad, and by being awesome carry everyone else.

Each and every member of the team has to be a try hard. One person blindly attacking General Nazgrim during Defensive Stance, and endless Ravager axes come to eat you. That’s all it takes. One DPS who doesn’t act properly, and things go very wrong, very quickly.

Sure, you get enough really strong, solid raiders who outgear the stuff, and it compensates for a few that are in starter gear. Absolutely.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a blind carry. Those players in starter gear still have a profound impact on the flow of the fight. You don’t need mega-gear to interrupt a Shaman before they can get off a chain heal. You don’t have to do 300k DPS to pop a defensive cooldown and jump on a ticking time bomb before it blows and does damage to the entire raid.

Just, amazes the shit out of me. “Why are you such a try hard?”

There is a group of people sitting here beside you, thinking you give a shit.

The better question is, “Why aren’t you?”

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Once upon a time in a magical, far off land there was a bear.

The bear liked to growl and dance, and talk, and eat heaping piles of bacon.

But above all else, the bear liked to bounce.

From dragons and dungeons to instances and invasions, his big brown butt could be seen happily bouncing to the beat of nations.

Times change, talents were added, tweaked, moved and were lost, but the bounce went on.

Damage was mitigated, reduced, dodged and avoided, but the bounce went on.

Finally there came a day when mitigation became active, and something had to give. The bear could either be bouncy or be beat on, but not both at once.

With sadness, the big brown bear realized that if he gave himself over to being the most active, properly defensive bear he should be, he would have nothing left over to bounce with.

The bear felt his world turning quite gray and cold. Bearing on the bounce was what prevented feeling old.

“A bear without bounce, that just will not do! Oh bother,” the bear thought, “bouncing has gotten too hard to do! Perhaps it’s time to leave tanking for the fast-fingered crew.”

The bear settled down and his days turned quite slow, for he had no more oomph and no particular place to go. He rested in his tree and ate bacon all day, and wondered through the hours what new games he should play.

“I loved being a bear and bouncing all day, and swiping my paws in the enemies’ face. I wonder what’s out there, what else I could do to bring the good times bouncing back with a good swipe or two.”

The bear looked around, and read through the lists, of character creation and leveling kits. Monks and Pandaren, Priests and Paladins too, so many options to choose from but none that ring true!

But wait, what am I thinking, the choice is quite clear! It’s a pandaren hunter that can bounce it’s butt near. I’ll grab a big gun and have a funky dance, and when it comes to bouncing just watch that groovy ass!

Off the bear went, and felt his soul on the mend as he hunted Isle mogu with his dinosaur friend. Growls and stomping, leaps and chomping and a fat feast of feathers flew, the feral spirit was returning with a bear bouncing through.

The hunter tried raiding while shaking his fluff, and bouncing around goofily soloing stuff. The Island of Thunder got smacked with a bow and a gun shoved quite rudely where no gun should go.

It just wasn’t the same, some essential something was missed. Did he make the wrong choice in the character class list? The bear felt himself sitting in front of the screen, wondering “Should I keep logging on in, or start shopping on Steam?”

He didn’t know what to do, was his time over in WoW? If there was no more joy, stick a fork in it now.

He finally decided to make no sudden rash moves. “My father procrastinated, I’m going to too! Why act right away to decide what to do? I’ll putter and potter and mutter and ramble, and mess with some alts while I chat and I scramble. In time I’ll find out if the magic’s all gone, or if theres still some fat spark lurking deep in the wand.”

The bear played with his Pally, his Warrior and Priest, but though they were okay none of them bounced like a beast. The paladin felt clunky, the warrior lacked range, and the priest looked all awesome but couldn’t move worth a damn.

Then he tried something new, something he’d always abhored; he rolled a slimy warlock (but at least it wasn’t a Horde).

The Warlock seemed crappy, it had pets without style, everyone summoned the same with random names from a file. If you’re going to have pets, at the very little least you could let us enslave them for a variety of treats!

Why isn’t this Warlock the same as the Hunter I know, but with red and green fire and a staff not a bow? I want it all different, but also the same, because I want it new but still different, yes I’m completely insane.

Why not give it a chance, why not try out the specs, see what demonology is like, I hear it’s a tank with a pet.

I tried all the specs out, and was flabbergasted to see that the more that I played it, the more it was ME!

The warlock could leap and could bounce and could hop, all while spitting red fire and sending pets out to chomp.

Demonology meant you could leap forward quite far, be tough as a tank and chew bad guys like sharks. You grew giant bat wings and great honking horns, and the ground at your feet swirled with purple arcane forms.

Affliction meant you were a poisonous beast, and it was everything I hated in my original priest. I didn’t want to drop DoTs on a bunch of bad guys, and sit watching as they took forever to die.

Then someone suggested I give destruction a try if I wanted to bounce and tear around on the fly. “You get to rain fire and dance all about, lords a leaping and chasing and shooting green dragons up the snout.”

I gave it a try, it all seemed pretty cool, but I’m a bear in my heart and this warlock felt crude. I’m not about evil cackles and eating your soul, a chomp on some bacon’s as far as I’ll go.

I know it’s all fun and I’m having a blast, but do I really want to play some evil asshole in a mask?

Turns out yes I do, I just pretend I’m not evil, the fire is quite nice and doesn’t REALLY burn people. I’m a sleek deadly warlock that destroys all evil in sight, I like long walks on the beach, provided there is a warbringer to fight.

Yes, I know it’s not proper that a bear turns to fire, but the DESTRUCTION LETS ME BOUNCE WHILE I SET THING ALIGHT!

I can fire and torch baddies from morning til noon, and all the while bounce like a big fricken loon.

The pet thing turned out to be fine in the end, there is something reassuring about a dedicated tank friend. When my blueberry is out I know right away that it’s tanking he’s doing, I don’t have to respec a thing. If I want to shoot fire I whip out the imp, and when it’s time to turn freaky I bring out the whip.

The more I wanted to hate it the more my love grew, this Warlock all bouncing and in sweet evil clothes.

Now I spend all my time in the game like I should, bouncing around having fun like a happy bear could.

I may be purple and green and throw red fire about, I have a blueberry for a pet and scare things when I shout, but I can solo warbringers and kill DeGei with a portal and I can bounce all I want while I rain fire upon you.

I know it’s not proper for a bouncing bear butt to say, but in the heart of a warlock I found a reason to stay.

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As I said in my last post, I’d show you how to get to the sand village and temple from the Minecraft survival map I’m playing on.

The first part is to generate the same world.

To make this world in Minecraft 1.7.4, I named it whatever you’d like, started with Game Mode: Survival, then went into More World Options and chose;

SEED -5263306753596067336

Generate Structures: ON

World Type: Default

Allow Cheats: ON

Bonus Chest: ON

What I saw when I logged in was;

1 - spawnpoint

I then turned, and looked to my left. I was among some trees, and I found my bonus chest to the left of me, surrounded by three torches. Inside it had a few stone pickaxes and some wood. I grabbed the stuff, equipped the pickaxe, then harvested the chest and the three torches.

Hey, free chest and torches, come on. What, the bunnies and sheep need to see at night?

Still looking towards that left direction, I saw an interesting mound or hill in the distance. It looked like some of the new biome stuff I’d read about, so off I went to investigate.

2 - turntoleft

I aimed a little to the left of that mound, so I would be traveling through woods to chop down for torch sticks, and some of those cows I’d find on the grassy plains.

3 - aimtoleft

I left my high point, cutting down a few trees along the way and, um, convincing some cows to offer some meat for future fine dining.

4 - advancetohill

Visiting with the cows led me over the short rise, only to find a nice set of cave openings in the ground before me. Pretty big ones, too, once you peek inside. caves full of coal and some iron to get started on your armor and iron pickaxe.

6 - caveofgoodies-cont

I stopped in the cave for a little bit, gathered up the easy to get iron ore, lots of coal, walled myself in for the night and made my traveling furnace and crafting table. Made some stone swords and more pickaxes, torches, cooked some steak.

Continuing on in the morning, still heading to the left of that interesting rocky hill, I came across a river with a sand biome on the other side. I saw a sand hill right ahead, but there was also a funky looking tree off to the right of it.

7 - sandbiome

I decided to cross the river, and start heading kind of to the right edge of that sand biome. I wanted to get up on it to see what was around, but I was also curious about that tree.

8 - onthesandhillgaze

Getting up on that sand hill and looking a little to the right, behind where the big rocky mound was, I saw more funky trees. Also, cactus! I found some pumpkins around this area too. Pumpkins, I was told, were a necessary ingredient in making Iron Golems to protect villages someday.

I decided to head over towards those funky trees.

9 - overtheriverandtothewoods

Okay, so a river runs through it. Say what you want, this is a fertile land, filled with things for me to cut down to make torches. Also, I see sheep!

Time to cross the river and get in those woods to get me some wool. Three wool are needed for a bed, advance!

10 - whatthesandhill

So I climb up on the hill and get some wool, gather some more wood, and I notice off in the distance in front of me a peculiar sand hill formation. It’s almost like a pyramid… or, is that like a sphinx? A head on the left with tall pointed cat ears, and a sloping butt? Let’s find out!

11 - andanotherriver

And… another river. Technically, the same river, meandering about. I can see it ain’t a sphinx, but it still looks weird.

12 - okaywhatisthatsandpile

Seriously, what is this thing? Is it a sign from the gods? A marker left by traveling aliens to help them navigate through the stars?

Or a random pile of sandy bits?

13 - onthesandpile - adoublehill

I finally reach the sand pile, climb it, and find… well, it’s sand. In a pile. Go figure, right? But from this high vantage point, I see even more interesting natural landscape features, including a saddle between two hills, with stone and a cave entrance visible.

And is that, right over the saddle, some kind of building peeking out?

It’s worth mentioning that from where I’m standing in this picture, seeing the saddle between two hills, if I had turned to my left I would have spotted a sand pyramid and orange markings on yellow sand towers letting me know there was a temple over there. A temple with a nearby lava pool!

But I didn’t look over there on this trip, instead I decided to proceed ahead, and check out that building or whatever it was.

14 - ontopofthathill

I climbed to the top of the rightmost hill of the two, and there below me were an entire sand village filled with people, and just past it some orange markings on a sand tower and a pyramid indicating another temple of riches to be plundered.

And are those farms? Fresh food! Villagers! Subjects just waiting for a benevolent evil overlord to take over and make some trains, then get them to run on time. Awesome!

Seen from a height, it’s a heck of a place.

begindaylight

One tip I have for you. If you check out that pyramid over to the far left, there is an entrance at the top.

SandTemple-entrance

Now, if you enter that, you will find inside a single room and you’re supposed to drop down, then move off between some pillars and dig a hole down away from the center. Under the floor is a hidden chamber filled with TNT, with a pressure plate trigger, and a BUNCH of treasure chests. If you dig straight down to it, you land or set off the pressure plate, blow up the TNT and ALL of the chests.

All that lovely treasure, gone for good.

The idea is, you should dig down off to the side, go down some and then come in on the hidden chamber from the side where you can find and capture all the TNT first.

I had excellent guidance from the Cub… but when I dug down there, there was nothing but one hell of a deep hole. Some zombies spawned in that dark hidden chamber, and stepped on the damn pressure plate, blowing themselves and my treasure to kingdom come.

The Cub says what I SHOULD have done was have the game set to peaceful before I ever even approached the temple, so mobs couldn’t spawn in those dark places.

Live and learn.

Ah, but there was a surprise!

Since the damn thing was all blowed up, I jumped down in the hole to see if anything was exposed.

What I found were openings to naturally-occurring underground caves that kept going down and around and following tunnels and shafts until it all opened out in a massive underground chasm filled with bad guys. I put torches all over the place, came back to where the exploded shaft was, picked a side and began tunneling some stairs up. I ended up with a place right next to my village where I could quickly descend to the depths in search of massive amounts of coal and iron, which I found there in abundance.

Truly, a plethora of riches on this map. Everything I could want to make anything is there. Even lava pools and lots of water so I can capture them in buckets to make obsidian for enchanting tables and Nether Portals!

Basically, I can bunker down and build, instead of running around wondering where all the cool stuff is.

If you enjoy Minecraft and were looking for a nice world to tinker around in with plenty of materials to build from, this is a nice one. I hope you enjoy it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Things have taken a surprising turn.

When he left me, he was but a learner, but now he is the master.

I spend my free time puttering around World of Warcraft. My son has mostly abandoned WoW for the (sometimes) greener fields of Minecraft.

He has a routine. He watches some videos about Minecraft on Youtube (I set him up with his own age-gated Google account), then he plays some Minecraft. He watches mod reviews, then asks me to install ones that intrigue him. He sees maps explored, then has me download them so he can Parkour.

I didn’t know what Parkour was before Minecraft. Now I do. We live, we learn. In my day, we called it jumping. And in a game, we called them jumping puzzles. Sometimes we glided, and called it Spyro. Whatever.

It is what he does for fun. He studies Minecraft, he tests builds, he watches reviews and laughs at some of the truly amazing music video spoofs and fan-made animated Minecraft movies. He’s made working redstone lighthouses and imitation Japanese fortresses with incredible detail work.

I’m going to tell this story two ways. Tonight, I’ll post the story, and tomorrow I’ll post directions (with screenshots) on how to get to the exact same place in the seed so if you felt like it you can go visit these places, explore, enjoy the scenery too. Minecraft is like that, you can share.  

The Cub has been playing Minecraft version 1.6.4 with the Forge loader and a few of his favorite mods, including TooManyItems and Flans Mod.

The game itself is updated to 1.7.4, but the wonder of their new system is, if you want to run a mod that was stable with one particular game version… you can run the game at that version. No problem at all. It’s brilliant. Eternal backward compatibility with old mods and maps.

He plays 1.6.4 with mods, but only in single player worlds, and on maps I download for him (or he makes himself). No multiplayer.

I have never allowed the Cub to do multiplayer in Minecraft. We’ve done some LAN games together, but I’ve never let him go out into the wild jungle of Minecraft servers, and his friends at school apparently aren’t savvy enough to share server IPs with each other in 5th grade.

He’s been perfectly fine with it, never asked to. He understands our objection to the language of, well, your average Microsoft Live user.

Last weekend, all that changed.

One of the things we gave him for Christmas was a book about Minecraft from Amazon that got pretty good reviews, The Ultimate Player’s Guide to Minecraft by Stephen O’Brien

We were operating under the principle that anything worth doing was worth obsessing over. He’s already got the Youtube and game down, why not add books? This way we can sneak in some reading practice by giving him something he WANTS to read. This is what being a parent does to you; makes you think of ways to trick your kids into learning whether they like it or not.

We were right. Of all the presents he received for Christmas, he loves that book. The book, and his plush Creeper, which he has named Creepy and carries with him everywhere in the house. He loves that damn thing. You’ll be walking around the corner, and hear “Sppshhhh…. BAM!”

Anyway, the book.

The book is current up to the most recent game version, and in the back goes into pretty good detail about multiplayer options . The book gives suggestions on server communities, where to find them (like Planetminecraft), how to make sure you can log in safely, and even referenced a server with mini-games aimed at kids, The Hive (at eu.hivemc.com).

Hmmm. Perhaps, just maybe, with my constant supervision in the room with him, I can unleash the beast onto an unsuspecting world.

Off he goes into the world of multiplayer servers, and a Spleefing champion is born.

For those of you poor souls that don’t know what Spleef is, it’s a game of player versus player combat.

The catch is, you never directly hurt the other players. Instead, you’re playing on a snowy field… and the snow is a thin layer one brick thick, suspended in the air over lava. You are armed… with a shovel. You try and dig the snow out from under your opponent’s feet so they drop down into the lava and die, while they’re trying to do the same to you. Much running, super scurry, call the troops out in a hurry.

This is a gameplay type evolved by players from a game with destructive terrain. Destructive terrain can be a gameplay mode all on it’s own. THIS NEEDS TO BE A THING, DAMNIT.

So, he’s playing multiplayer Minecraft, I’m in the office with him, what the hell. I’ll fire up Minecraft, update it and go for a spin in vanilla 1.7.4, no mods, just mess around in Survival with it set to Easy.

For those interested for later, I created a new world in Vanilla 1.7.4, without mods, set to Creative/Easy, with chest enabled, cheats enabled, and default world type on seed -5263306753596067336

If you’ve never played Minecraft, that means nothing to you. If you do play, then armed with that data you can perfectly duplicate, to the very last brick, the entire world I am playing in as it was in it’s pristine state.

I started walking around, ooh look over there, pretty stones, ooh, what’s that, a river? I saw a nice rocky mound in the distance, and headed that way.

The Cub sees that I’m in Minecraft, and immediately abandons his multiplayer gaming to come coach me.

I am now the old man with the VCR, while the young boy tries to teach me how to program it. How did this happen?

He calmly pointed out that I could kill the cows for meat, but I’d need to build a furnace to cook them into the more nutritious steak.

He reminded me that the sheep I found would give me wool, and three wool with three wood would give me a bed, and I could reset my spawn point to wherever I put my bed.

I holed up in a handy cave midway towards that interesting rock mound just as night fell, and I used the time to mine up some coal for torches and got lucky with some iron. Ten minutes in and I’ve got plenty of wool from sheep, food from cows, wood sticks, coal, a handful of iron for some good picks… wow! Okay, this is a nice world.

My son sees I’m having fun and getting lots of materials, so he creates a brand new survival world. Suddenly, it’s a competition. Who can gather the most cobblestone, find the most diamonds, make the nicest house, etc.

I reach an interesting pyramid-shaped sand sculpture, I look over, and he’s already got a house. With fence and gate. A garden. He hoed a garden and planted carrots already, just wtf.

Fine, you know what? I’m gonna be a traveling man. Let’s see what lies over the next ridge.

Oh, another hill. And a river. And a desert.

My son, who is surreptitiously watching my every move, is instantly jealous.

“Sand biomes have the best chance of having a sand village!”

“Is that good?”

“Yes, you can trade with them!”

“Oh, okay, I’ll look for a village.”

I look over at his screen. He has raw data scrolling like the Matrix down the side, and is mining a tunnel down, lining it with torches. He reaches some goal as I watch, because he mutters to himself, “Okay, layer 11 on the Y coordinate, this has the best chance to find diamonds in a 16×16 chunk. Now to dig a tunnel along the X!”

Really? Really, dude?

Then I recall… holy shit, this was me with Bear Druid tanking for five years. I’m so proud! He’s gonna be a min/maxing geek just like his daddy.

Me? I got a stone pickax from the bonus chest. And some torches. Coal and wood, made a crafting table, made a furnace.

Let’s go look at that weird double-hill thingie. It’s like a patch of raw cobblestone in the middle of the desert, and I swear I can see a cave.

And what is that, just over the hump… is that a building?

13 - onthesandpile - adoublehill

Let’s go find out.

I come up on the top of the right-side hill, and what should I find but a village. A sand village!

begindaylight

Don’t try to duplicate this shot yourself in the plain game, I made a 20-block high tower on top of the left hill to get a nice view.

The Cub looks over, and he abandons his game to come look at my village. He has, by the way, acquired 10 diamonds in the short space of time it took me to walk over to the hill. Apparently, he knows how to find dat diamond.

I thought I was playing the game, but the Cub is now in full-on mentor mode.

“Look, you’re so lucky! They already have farms so you’ve got unlimited food, and there is water, and houses, and OOOH! A library! And you can trade with the villagers, and, and…”

“Breathe, Alex. Breathe.”

It is getting very dark, so I find myself a nice, cozy cottage to call my own, close the door… and realize I never made a bed, and don’t have any wood to make one. All I have are sticks.

Well, waiting out the night.

I watch as bad guys roam freely through the darkened village, but they never come close to endangering me.

beginnight

There are a few torches around the village, but evil spawns anywhere a shadow can be found, until they are vaporized like real vampires in the cleansing light of day. Zombies, skeletons and spiders are abundant.

Just as it’s starting to get light, the Cub says, “I hope your villagers are okay, the zombies will break down doors to get them at night.”

Wait, what?

I burst outside, just in time to see a pack of zombies entering a house.

I run around like crazy, taking on everything, but I get overwhelmed and die.

I didn’t have a bed, so I respawn where I started. Shit! All my stuff is back where I died. Double shit!!

I start running like a madman across the zone to get back and get my stuff.

I return to the village, only to find that of all the villagers, only two have survived the night.

Two.

I turn to my son, who says to me with great sadness, “They were fine until you came to the village. Your coming caused the monsters to spawn nearby. Now they’re all gone. They’re all gone.”

OMG.

Will they… will they, like, respawn?”

“No… no, it’s just those two. And when night falls again…”

Oh, HELL no.

No, kiss my butt, we are NOT playing Mexican Vampire Standoff with me losing the whole town to the blood suckers. This ain’t a John Carpenter flick, this is Groundhog Day!

I turn back the clock, copying the world as a fresh spawn. I am John Connor. I can fix this. I just have to go back there to the eighties one more time, stop Skynet’s plan.

This time, I stop at my little cave and burrow in like a tick. I carve out a sizeable chunk of cobblestones, hundreds of blocks. I chop down a forest for wood, I find me lots of coal. I prepare over several days, there in my little hidey-hole.

Then, when I felt fully prepared, I tore out of my burrow at the crack of dawn and beat feet across the rivers and the desert, following the landmarks as I remembered them, until there it was. The village, alive, vital, with the sand temple behind it full of treasure to plunder (according to the Cub, I ain’t been inside yet so I have no idea what is in there).

Immediately, I spring into action. Every second of daylight is precious.

I put Operation De-Maginot into effect. I start laying down a wall of cobblestone around the village.

I am going to build a wall two blocks high around the entire village. No villager gets eaten on MY watch, damnit! I can save them, I can go back in time and do it right!

I work like a beaver on crack to build my dam wall, and as I get within spitting distance of linking them together, darkness falls across the sands.

Two zombies rush me, but I quickly cut them down with my stone sword, link the wall together, and start running around inside putting torches EVERYWHERE. The monsters can spawn anywhere there is a shadow, and that means they are going to start spawning inside my wall!

I get torches on the inside wall, torches on the loose sands, torches on walls and buildings and even on the well.

Then two spiders come OVER my wall and eat me.

Oh yeah… I never DID make that bed.

The Cub says, “If you go to sleep in a bed, nothing happens while you’re asleep.”

“So… if I made a bed and slept in it, monsters wouldn’t spawn and eat the villagers?”

“Nope.”

Sigh…

“Also, spiders can climb up walls.”

“I think I caught that, but thanks for clearing that up for me.”

“They can’t climb upside down, though.”

“You mean…”

“Put a one-block overhanging parapet along the top of your wall, and spiders won’t be able to climb over it to get at the village.”

“So then they’ll be safe?”

“Yep! But you need more torches too, you have to have the light of a torch within 7 squares to prevent monsters.”

Okay, I can see this is going to take some work.

Through the last three nights, he has coached me on making an enchanting table, how to make an anvil to repair really precious stuff once it’s enchanted so it doesn’t LOSE that enchant, how to harvest and plant vegetables in the gardens, how to make a bucket, capture water, and splash it on lava to make obsidian blocks.

He’s taught me a lot. And he’s jealous as heck, because this world has it all.

Plentiful coal, iron, emeralds, wood, a sand village, lava near water, lots of interesting biomes, not one but TWO sand temples to eventually plunder, a library, just… everything.

He spent an entire night trying to find sugarcane near water in his world, so he could build an enchanting table. You have to have a book to build the table, you need paper to build a book, and sugarcane to make paper.

My sand village came with a library. A quick swipe with an axe at one of the bookcases would have given me a book… if there wasn’t a pond 5 feet from the village with a bunch of sugarcane growing right there.

The greatest advice he gave me, though, came tonight.

I was miles down deep, hunting for diamond along Y 11, just as he directed. I had no idea where I was, how to ever get back home, and my bags were full of diamonds, redstone, iron, coal, emeralds. I had no room for anything more.

There was no way I was going to survive to make my way back. I’d already taken down a dark witch, multiple creepers and skeletons and survived a fast dunking in lava. My luck was going to run out, and I would appear, naked but alive at my bed in the village. All my loot, gone forever.

The Cub says, “Type in a /, then type gamerule keepInventory true, It’ll say your game rule was changed, and then when you die you’ll keep all your stuff. You do have cheats enabled for this world, right?

YES! Yes, I do!

About 5 minutes later, I tried to maneuver a creeper to fall into lava, fell in myself, it blew up, and I woke up in my bed.

WITH ALL MY STUFFS.

I was able to use all the coal I gathered to finish off stage one of the De-Maginot Line.

You’ve seen the before shots.

Now for the after.

begindaylight

Finaldaylight

beginnight

finalnight

Nobody is coming into MY village and eating MY citizens.

Not on my watch!

I hope you villagers like those houses, because you’re never leaving here again. Give thanks and welcome to your new Supreme Overlord, for I shall keep you safe from all harm, whether you want me to or not. I have claimed this village in the name of yankee imperialism, and I’ll keep you damn savages safe with my civilized ways. And my wall. And torches. Lots and lots of torches.

And my diamond sword with the level 7 enchant, Knockback 1 and Sharpness 2.

I call it my BOOMSWORD.

Seriously, if you don’t have one of these kids that learn everything about video games and teach you what to do, you gotta get one of these. This is great. It’s almost like I knew wtf I was doing!

Tomorrow, he’s promised to teach me how to make a concealed-switch automatic piston door for my gatehouse!

It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Comments 3 Comments »

cuddles

I have a few more things I’ve noticed that I thought worth a mention.

I previously noted that I had my own Battle.Net account, and I had made a second one for my son when he began to play World of Warcraft.

I recently merged his World of Warcraft account onto my Battle.Net account, and I have been seeing first hand what this means.

Last time I talked about this, I mentioned that every item that said “Bind on Account” could be mailed to BOTH World of Warcraft accounts.

I also mentioned how every pet and mount I had, his account also gained.

I revealed how, as the account that was moved, ALL of his pets were wiped, and that I had fortunately caged every pet I could before that happened.

I told you that the handful of mounts he had on his account that I did not own WERE added to my account.

Well, there are a few new things.

First, I had every reputation Commendation that you could buy in the game. As you may know, many of the Pandarian factions had Commendations you could purchase from their reputation vendor that would allow any other character on your account to get TWICE the reputation gains from items or quests.

My son’s account did not have any such Commendations. Now that we are merged, he has ALL those Commendation benefits on his characters. I tested this by doing some solo farming of the Zandalari Warbringers and Warscouts, those mobs can drop tokens that are Bind on Account that give you 1000 rep a shot. Yep, if you’ve got a Commendation on your account, they give double rep, multiplied yet again if you are Human and if you have the Guild Level rep bonus.

I leveled my son’s reputation with Golden Lotus, Shado-Pan and Klaxxi from baseline to Exalted in less time than it takes to tell. If your second account has a tailor or enchanter, this can be a very good way to get that Celestial rep to Exalted for the bag or bracer enchant recipes.

Second, I had never purchased a World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition of any of the releases before.

Today, I took advantage of the $20 digital upgrade to make my own World of Warcraft account of Mists of Pandaria a Collector’s Edition.

I logged into my son’s regular old normal World of Warcraft account, and sure enough my new Collector’s Edition pet and mount are both shared with him, and usable by his characters. Upgrading one WoW account gave the pet and mount benefits to both.

Another note. You might not have considered this before, but the Recruit a Friend mounts that I had previously earned, such as the Swift Zhevra and the Scroll of Resurrection mounts are all shared with his WoW account as well.

So. More and more the only two downsides I’ve found to merging an account is that only the first person who logged into the Battle.Net account can actively pet battle or level pets (although all WoW accounts can access and display the pets of their choice), and also that there are Battle.Net account chat issues.

Specifically on the chat issues, my wife and I are used to chatting exclusively on the Battle.Net friend channel, and IF she were merged onto my Battle.Net account, we could no longer do that. We’d have to either create a custom in-game chat channel (which we’ve done in the past for special events such as the Raid for the Cure charity drive), or just do the traditional whispers.

What we’d permanently lose would be the ability to chat with each other across factions, if she or I were playing Horde for a change. Battle.Net friend chat is something I need to explore more, to see if there are any workarounds.

I hope this has given you a little more info on how merging accounts can work for your family. I know it’s really cool to consider that if any of us level a pet, we all benefit. Likewise if one of us scores a rare mount or an upgrade in pet rarity, we’ll all get it.

And of course… if I am lucky enough to score a Heirloom weapon from normal Garrosh, I can share that with my son. Wooffie the Warlock has certainly not been complaining about his new staff.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Comments 4 Comments »

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