Bearwall has acquired a new meaning

I have completed the collecting and reorganizing of the Converging Forces chapters into one Word document.

My plan is to go over the whole thing once, correcting spelling errors and egregious grammatical mistakes, the stuff that leaps out at me, and then save it as a PDF locked against changes, with a disclaimer at the beginning that it’s a rough unfinished draft of my work, yadda yadda.

I have mixed thoughts about it. If it’s not in a finished state, why ask you to read it? If it’s not the final polished writing, then I shouldn’t let it out there.

On the other hand, the whole idea was to run a play by email game as if it were an ongoing story, and it turned into an interactive story almost in novel form. So, the condition it’s in is sort of the point, in a way. If looked at sideways in poor lighting.

I collected it all, as I said, and saved it as a word file.

I happened to glance down to see how many pages I had to proofread, just to get an idea of the size of it, estimate how long it’ll take.

Next to the page count, was a Word Count total.

Upon seeing the word count, my first reaction was “bullshit”.

My second was to wonder how it is that I thought I was being agile in writing these, and yet still managed to turn the novel into a massive bearwall.

My word count on Converging Forces so far is over 106,000 words.

I needed to double check my frame of reference, so I visited wikipedia to see if they had anything to say about word counts.

According to wikipedia, a novel is anything over 40,000 words. Mysteries may be around 60,000 words, while a thriller may be around 100,000 words.

You’ll note that they don’t say, “100,000 words is a good place to be when you’re about 2/3rds of the way through.”

Now, I’ll grant you I’m probably closer to 4/5ths of the way through, but that’s still a LOT more than I dreamed of. It doesn’t feel that damn long to me. It feels like nothings HAPPENED in the story yet! We haven’t gotten to any of the BIG stuff we’re building up to! It’s been all intro to characters and build up!

Omigod, I’m on the failboat.

Of course, me being who I am, in my heart I’m saying, “Ah, screw it, I’ve been happy with it so far… so what if it’s one of those manuscripts that would be thrown out of any sensible publishers office, we’ve been having a lot of fun along the way, right guys?”

106,000 words. Well, damn. With a build up like that, I’m going to make damn certain that there is a payoff of epic proportions.

So much for quality, not quantity.

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Blog… not hit back

Trying to write when your mind is clouded… it’s not fun.

I’ve been trying to continue with Terin’s story in Converging Forces for, no lie, two weeks now. I’ve written reams of pages, none of which I thought, even at the time, was right.

How can it not be right? Because my voice was all wrong.

Get that? When I looked at what I wrote afterwards, it didn’t sound like me, let alone like the characters who were supposed to be talking or acting.

People talk about voices in your head, but that’s just funny. What, you get sick and you become a different person?

I’ve been writing on the blog during this time, and even then, it didn’t feel like I was hitting resistance… reaching for a coherent thought felt more like trying to catch a cloud. Nothing much there to grab a hold of, just some arms flailingly wildly.

Anyway, I can tell I’m finally start to feel better, because I sat down to begin writing the Converging Forces chapter all over again, and for the first time… it looks clear to me.

Hallelujah! I’m back, baby! I’m 100% solidly in the game!

(BBB would like to take this opportunity to thank his readers posthumously, knowing as he writes this that a meteor will be striking his house and hitting him in the head about 30 seconds after publishing the post. It was nice knowing you.)

Playing with the Big Leagues

As I continue leveling my Hunter on Azuremyst, it’s certainly giving me a perspective on the game I haven’t had before, or at least in a very long time.

My Hunter dinged level 60 last weekend, and with only a little messing with the Auction House, I had 1007 gold at the moment that little Achievement spam lit up.

That seemed pretty amazing to me, because I had that gold even after paying to learn all the recipes for Jewelcrafting and Mining up to the max levels you could reach before hitting 65.

More than that, though, was running and gunning through old Azeroth without a sugar daddy, or Heirlooms, or any other support except the emotional support I had from my new guildies.

That… and also the benefits of being in a high level guild.

I’ll touch on that again in a bit, but for now I wanted to say that once I hit Outlands, everything changed.

I do not like leveling in Outlands. Northrend will be bearable, but even so, too many alts too recently. Just, do not want.

I’ve reached the point where I have a system that has worked like clockwork to minimize my time in zones I hate.

I do 100% of Hellfire, which is usually good enough to reach level 63. I go to Zangarmarsh, and go directly to Orebor Harbor, where I do every quest that gives Kurenai rep. That should get me to Friendly, and once Friendly and 64 you can get a quest introducing you to the Kurenai in Nagrand. If I’m not quite 64 yet, I’ll go putz around in Terokkar Forest just long enough to ding, and then it’s back to get the Intro to Nagrand quest, and off to Nagrand.

From there, I milk Nagrand for all it’s worth. It’s the only zone in all of Outlands that I still like. In fact, I’ll find myself just hanging out there, tooling around and seeing the wonderful lush scenery.

Blizzard I think could benefit by taking a poll of players concerning our favorite zones… based not just on quest flow or story, but also on mood. On appearance. I’m sure I do NOT represent all or even most WoW players, but I much prefer playing in zones that feel comfortable and healthy. Zones that have a warm and inviting lighting scheme and a feeling of welcome.

Nagrand fits that bill, as does Un’goro Crater and Northern Stranglethorn. Even Duskwood, to a certain extent, is nice once in a while for that dark emo vibe. The wastelands and deserts and plague-ridden marshes, not so much. Again, that’s just me. I’m curious what the results of a poll like that would be.

Anyway, I hit Nagrand and take my time through it, and then it’s time for the tough choices. I’ve done Blades Edge, Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley too damn many times. No matter where I go, it’s gonna be a drag.

I think this time I might go to Shadowmoon as soon as I can, and see if I can grind a Drake. I haven’t done that on anyone except my Druid Main during the early days of BC. I haven’t walloped a peon with a Booterang in a long, long time.

Too long.

Getting back to my point, when I hit 60, everything changed.

I didn’t want to grind through Outlands or Northrend. So, I server transferred my 85 warrior over to Azuremyst. Along with him came… yeah, my Hunter Heirlooms. The shoulders, vest, bow, two daggers with Agi enchants, the works. That’s certainly sped things up.

I’m now level 65, and I’m in trouble, because Nagrand is starting to feel tiresome. If I lose my enthusiasm for Nagrand, that doesn’t bode well for any more alts in my future, yo.

Here’s the biggest strange change I’ve had in my playstyle, though.

The guild I’m in on Azuremyst, Band of Misfits, is a very large guild.

Like, large. They’ve got three 10-person raid teams on three different schedules. Some are more aggressive on the calendar than others, but all of them are very successful. The guild is a hair’s breadth away from dinging the last boss kill they need to get the Cata Raiding mount.

They’re also guild level 21. They might even be 22 by now, I was pretty sick last night.

I… I feel strange being in such a high level guild.

On the one hand, the rewards, even if you’re only Neutral on a level 1, are very helpful to you.

If you’re dead, your spirit moves it’s ass. That’s very nice. You’re hearth has a 15 minute cooldown. That’s pretty sweet. You get a bonus 10% XP gain, which I might have liked to have been able to turn off in the old Azeroth world, but that I’m loving now.

Even more… you get +10% to Reputation gains.

Therin probably lies the secret behind my relatively painless Exalted with both Stormwind and Darnassus.

Potentially cooler, if I get in a party somewhere with another guildie, we could summon each other to where we are. I haven’t tested it, maybe there are level limits preventing a guildie in Northrend from joining group with me and summoning my level 65 butt there, but hey… that’s still pretty cool. It’s not just for raiding.

So, lots of nice rewards just for being in the guild and leveling, right?

The thing is, I haven’t done anything to deserve any of these benefits. I still haven’t played with anyone in the guild, I’ve been leveling solo. Sure, someday I will, but not yet. And if I were to leave the guild before I reach 85 and run with them, I’ll have gotten something for nothing.

On the surface, it seems like a strange system.

It does make sense, of course. The benefits help a low level character level up faster, gain rep for rewards needed for raiding faster, and move where needed quicker so as to get in the groove with the other, long established guild members.

The neat stuff that doesn’t actually work to get you into the upper levels faster or help in raids like a quick run speed while dead, things like pets and mounts, require rep with the guild.

What it leaves me wondering, though, are two things.

First, if it’s divided amongst what gets you to the raiding level, and what is a fine but essentially useless perk, then why do the guild-only Heirlooms require guild rep? By the time my Hunter will be able to buy them, she won’t need them. Maybe they’re specifically for your alts in the guild, and alts only. But then why the built-in 10% XP bonus available without guild rep? It’s just wierd. But that’s cool, I can’t afford them anyway, I gotta save for fast flight.

The second thing is, it really does feel as if it’s been solidly thought out for raiding guilds to advance… but for leveling guilds, and friend and family guilds, I can’t really see why the system chokes the guild rep gain so badly based on level. 

I know intellectually that Blizzard has had comments published before, stating that the point is to be part of a large community. To be in big guilds, to take part in what makes the game “Massive”.

I get that.

I also know that there are plenty of folks that don’t WANT that.

What WoW has excelled at, for me, is being a cooperative game.

Sure, I’ve felt a huge thrill at big raids, at the Massive element. I still remember with fondness 40 person raids on Onyxia and Molten Core. Raids so big, in such an early age of the game, that it was nearly impossible to tell who was doing what, or in some cases… who to blame for that massive screw up that wiped the raid.

Moar dots? Whelps? Many whelps? DEAL WITH IT!

But to counterbalance that feeling is the more frequent pleasure of having a game world that you can play in cooperatively, just you and a few friends, or with the significant other in your life.

When you think of WoW, is your mental picture of the game about something that you play with huge gobs of people, is it a solo experience in a huge world, or is it a cooperative game?

For me, when I think of it, the draw has never been to play with gobs of people (gob = new word of the day. It pays to enrich your goofy word power.) It’s been to have a deep, rich, engaging game world to explore cooperatively with my friends and significant other.

Some programs Blizzard has implemented has seemed to reflect an understanding of that. Recruit-a-friend, for example. Come to glorious Azeroth, and bring a friend to play with you!

As much as I like the guild leveling concept, and the rewards are neat, and all that… it makes me sad to feel that the people who play the game in a purely cooperative way with a limited number of friends, friends who may have limited playtime, will never get the chance to experience those rewards.

Guild Levels have been out for a while. I imagine most folks have already made their decision. They’ve chosen to either stay with their small guild and accept no rewards because they don’t raid or play enough, or split and join a larger guild.

I don’t feel that I’ve made that decision, myself. I’ve still got my main characters in our small guild, just Cassie and I. These are new characters in a new land, and I’m doing what Blizzard seemed to want; meeting new people, developing new friendships. All that good stuff.

I’ve never been opposed to meeting new people, making new friends, or being part of a large group. It’s been a lot of fun. Blackbear the Warrior (no, really, I’m serious), Matheo, Hedwig and Crosshair all seem like really nice folks, and I’ve been getting to know some others as well.

I just think it’s unfortunate that when making your decision, it comes down to saying, “You don’t HAVE to join a big guild… but then again, we don’t HAVE to give smaller guilds any benefits, either.”

If this seems particularly unreadable… I am sicker than hell at the moment. It feels like my head is going to explode. And I’m holding crisis at work together as I write this in spurts, so I can’t just leave. I apologize for the blargh.

A Call to Bribe

To the point.

Blizzard has announced that they’re gonna try bribing people to get them to queue as tank in the “Looking For Dungeon” random people-matching tool.

They gussied it up to make it sound like DPS players may end up just as scarce some day and would see the bribes too. Call me cynical, but while I play a character in a virtual world, I like to think my common sense is still fixed in the real one.

It’s a Call to Tank. It’s possibly a Call to Heal. DPS are not, I say again my last NOT, going to see any bribes out of this.

Fine.

I’m not gonna argue the potential effectiveness of their chosen motivational technique. I don’t have the figure(s) for it.

I could go on at length, as others have, and as The Daily Blink so evocatively depicted, by claiming that all this will do is bring more unqualified people to queue as tanks, increasing the crushing unhappiness of those trying to get a run.

I know that when I spend 40 minutes in a queue, I’m not thinking to myself, “Boy, I can’t wait to get a tank so we can go win.”

No, what I’m thinking is, “Boy, after waiting for 40 minutes for this to pop, I sure as heck hope this group doesn’t suck. I’ve already blown half my night.”

But I’m not gonna delve into that.

What I want to ask is, “Is that the best they could come up with for a bribe?”

Look, you want me to tank a random, and we’re talking a 100% random because to get the bribe you’re not allowed to queue with ANY friends, not even a healer you trust, then you better make it worth my while.

What’s that? You say the super short, almost non-existent delay tanks get should be bribe enough?

I agree. You’re right.

But it’s not, is it? If it was, Blizzard wouldn’t be making an attempt to add an additional incentive to get us to queue up.

So… everyone here heard the old joke?

Two guys are working on fixing a car. One turns to the other and asks, “Hey Joe, would you suck a guy’s dick for a billion dollars?”

The other guy thinks about it for a minute, and then says, “Yeah, sure. If someone offered me a billion dollars, you’re damn right I would.”

So the first guy asks, “Would you suck my dick for a dollar?”

Joe looks pissed and says, “Hell no! What do you think I am?”

And the first guy says, “We already established that, now we’re just haggling over the price.”

You may ask yourself, “Did he just call all tanks…?”

My answer to you is, no. No, I did not.

BLIZZARD did.

I can tell you one thing for sure and for certain. If Blizzard expects me to be a whore, the price you’re offering ain’t anywhere NEAR high enough for me.

I may have shocked quite a few of you by using the language I have.

Good.

I have never seen anything inherently wrong with shocking people, if it helps to get them seeing things from a different point of view. If you want your worldview coddled and wish to avoid anything that might harsh your mellow, then I suggest you leave the internet entirely. Or try to stick to websites that show nothing but cute cat videos, like I do.

I do not queue as a tank for LFD. Ever. I, personally, love tanking above all other group roles available in the game, and yet, I do not queue for randoms as a tank.

Why?

Because of the attitudes I encounter when I’ve tried. The behavior. The abuse.

I’ve talked about it plenty of times before. I’m not going to rehash that either, Rebecca did an outstanding job of it yesterday.

Mainly, I don’t queue because I got tired of being called fail if I put up a crowd control mark, fail if I paused so a healer could recover mana, and got sick and tired of arrogant DPS chain pulling the mobs FOR me if I kept to my own pace anywayc.

So. I stopped queueing up as a tank in LFD because of the abuse I was receiving. Chance at loot and Purples and points to buy loot were not more valuable to me than my self-respect.

Apparently, I am not the only one whose sense of self-respect is strong enough to refuse to put up with abuse.

Blizzard’s answer to this dilemma is to offer us better bribes. To up the offer. To raise the price the’re offering.

To haggle over price.

Okay, if that’s where you’re going with it, fine.

All I can do is ask myself, “What would it take to get me to put up with the abuse and start queueing again? Especially when I only get the rewards by running without a single friend for moral support?”

Would a non-combat pet do it?

Hell, no. And this is coming from an outspoken advocate of pet collecting. I’ve got a LOT of pets on my main, and I’m telling you, no. Not with the pets that they are suggesting they are offering.

Now, IF they added into the pool those pets that you CANNOT get except by spending money or having taken part in a previous promotion.. pets that you only got by buying a Collectors Edition, or through the Trading Card Game, or through the Winter Olympic PvP event, or by playing the game in other countries, or by personally attending a Blizzcon in France…

YES, that would be enough to encourage me to queue.

Yes, I know. I know exactly what that makes me. I never said I wasn’t, I just want to haggle over the price. 🙂

It’s the same with mounts. Sure, they’re offering a chance, a slight chance, for mounts… but they’re mounts that the exact same tanks have a chance to get by soloing the original instances, without deling with idiots.

But Blizzard has said up front that the mounts you WOULD want, the ones only obtainable in raids like Karazhan, The Eye, or the now-defunct troll raid aren’t included.

Well, geez. If the tank really wanted the mounts you’re offering, they would have gone soloing the dungeon already. Offering a rare chance to get it doesn’t help.

And just how long will someone stay interested if you make it a really rare drop? If they drop fast enough, again, incentive gone, I get my desired  mount, I stop queueing. Make it so it almost never drops, and much like the two handed epic BoA sword in Archeaology, after people try long enough, either they get it and quit, or they just quit.

Now, if you added ALL the potential mounts, and I mean ALL of them, both factions, every special faction, every instance and every raid, AND all the mounts you could only get from attending events or from the Trading Card Games…

YES, then I’d do it. It would be more exciting when you never knew if you’d see something actually special.  God forbid you get offered a reward someone would want.

Even then, I will only do it for as long as it takes to get the rewards I want, and then I’m gone.

So, just as Rebecca says, as it is now, it can only be a temporary measure, lasting only so long as it takes the tanks to get what they want, and then they vanish into the mists.

And if Blizzard tries to extend how long the increased quantity of tanks lasts by reducing the drop rate of the good stuff? Then they increase the chance the already tired and frustrated tanks will say “Screw that for being a suckers game” and quit anyway, and those same tanks will NOT be all that interested in trying again in the future if they ‘up the drop rate’ or something.

It’s a plan for a brief burst of increased tanking… by those who want what they’re offering, and I’m not one of them.

What is this going to accomplish?

I honestly don’t know. I’d tend to think it will encourage anyone currently on the fence about trying tanking for the first time to give it a go, but it does nothing to address the rampant asshat issue, so, those same people will have the same chance of getting burnt out or frustrated and quitting anyway.

What I do know is that Blizzard may think I’m a whore, but I ain’t gonna blow ’em for what they’re offering. Up the ante first and then we’ll talk.

You can start by putting that Spectral Tiger Mount up in the rotation. That would be a good way to tell me you’re serious about wanting me to queue.

The Horns of a Dilemma

MMO Champion had a news update today that brought a tear of joy to my bloodshot eyes.

Check this blurb out;

Real time guild chat on your phone. Keep in touch with your guildmates and always be in on your guild’s discussions with the new mobile Guild Chat feature. With a subscription to World of Warcraft Remote, you can view and participate in your guild’s chat in real time, engage in one-on-one conversations with other guild members, and more!

That just made me stop dead in my tracks, as my mind spun with the implied potential awesome involved here.

Let’s contemplate for a moment the entire WORLD of ‘are you freaking kidding me’ that we just got a peak at.

What we have just been told is the technology has been developed and is on the cusp of being implemented to allow us to not only follow a designated chat channel LIVE, but to actually interact with it. To post to it. And even better, you will be able to send instant messages from your mobile device to a specified individual within World of Warcraft!

Oh my God.

Envision with me for a moment, if you will, the inevitable decision a cost-conscious executive at Blizzard Activision will be forced to make.

Do you release the functionality as is, a benign tool that will possibly bring guild members even closer together?

OR…

Or…

Do you go for the big money, and release this as a for-pay service to allow people to follow, interact with, and post to the Trade chat channel?

That’s right. I said it. Somewhere in Blizzard Activision, someone is going to think of it. They may not be serious, and they may know they’ll be shouted out of the meeting room if they dare to suggest it, but SOMEONE is going to consider, however briefly, just how much money could be made unleashing a mobile trolling app to the World… of Warcraft.

Tell me you think I’m lying. I dare you.

A Mobile Trolling App.

TurboTroll.

Now, this is an amazing development, but… I can go one better.

You knew I could.

If you’re gonna go this route, why not go the rest of the way?

Why not implement Google Map and Google Latitude technology, so the person on the mobile app, AND the person playing WoW, can both ping their actual, physical location?

Come on… it’s where we all want this to go.

You know damn well that you WANT to be able to find out where in the world that damn Troll is living, track them down, and give them a good old ass kicking.

You know you do.

Admit it. You’d pay for that service, wouldn’t you?

Even if you didn’t live close enough to do it yourself… I bet you could find someone in Guild that did, and who might pay the troll a little visit… if the price was right. Or if you promised to give them some of your DKP. 

Now, can you follow me to the NEXT logical step in this chain of events? Do you see it coming?

Oh, yeah.

I’m talking about the first ever court case that would arise from someone in a virtual MMO paying virtual gold to a person in their own guild that they never met before in real life to solicit a ‘hit’ on another person for real life revenge. Revenge… for being textually assaulted and virtually /spat on in an MMO.

I soooo want to be in the courtroom to see the look on the judge’s face as the attorney tries to explain THIS one.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but…

Hello!

I’m taking a moment of your time today to ask if someone out there with the skills and the desire could help me out on a project related to the Converging Forces story I’m writing.

If not, I’ll tackle it myself of course, I’m simply hoping someone that already has skill and practise at this would be able to do it far faster and with less effort. Someone that wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel, or some other tired cliché.

What I’d like to do is have the Converging Forces story, as it stands so far, placed into a single combined form that I could post for download, suitable for reading on Kindle or another similar platform.

I’ve had a a few folks mention that they’d love to read it and get up to date, but even with a chapter page, it’s a bit… big. And hard to come back to. A portable version would certainly help.

Obviously, this isn’t a project looking for a finished ‘for sale’ kind of anything. I’ve been focused on speed writing when I’ve been doing the turns, not on anything remotely resembling a final polish. When what I consider the first ‘book’ of the storyline has been reached, that’s when I’ll go back and being, well, fixing the bloody thing so it’s actually readable without a billion jarring spelling and grammar mistakes, and terribly disoriented tense transitions.

I have NOT researched how to do it myself, not have I researched what it takes to format something so it can go on portable devices. Should you not have the time to do it for me, but DO know HOW to do it or where I can find a detailed guide, that would be awesome as well. 

Thank you very much again for your time, and have a great weekend.