Friday, August 17, 2012

Does WoW drive hardware sales?

Quick post: I know lots of folks like to have great rigs, and I've written earlier on how hardware affects gaming. Again, I think everyone in my blogroll should consider putting their rig's specs on their template. Faster hardware is often like the feeling the first time you get prescription glasses. Hello, new world.

But how far does this go? My $20 investment (same link as above) was a no brainer. But a video card "starting at $299"? Does WoW drive sales like that?

I'd be tempted to say no, but I've had guildies who wouldn't stop talking about their liquid-cooled boxen -- one years ago in particular lived, if you believe him, in Alaska, and said he'd run it with the window open so his new card would stay cooler.

People do drop console-level cash on video cards. If they do it for WoW, I wonder why. Are there raids where you really need it? Is it at least partially a class-specific kind of thing? What classes and encounters benefit most from phat hardware? Is it just for those who like to record movies for their guild (which does take a little extra CPU, at least)? I mean, heck, even I don't like to instance on my MacBook, and it's not all that bad. (Here, I'm again reminded of when I used to run on 800x600 soloing on my iBook...)

How do you "know" when you have enough? When can you tell someone's got too much?

EDIT: Looking back, I see "affordability" mentioned in the ad for video cards that start at $299. Does anyone really let that effect their buying? Really? "Hey, Newegg says $299 is affordable! It must be!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ironyca's "Myths and Urban Legends in WoW" – The Bengal Tiger Cave

There are blogs you read for kickarse theorycrafting info (Graylo's Grey Matter) and ones just because they're interesting and usually pretty thought provoking (Lissanna's Restokin or Spinks' Welcome to Spinksville! (though, wow, please stop playing Star Wars already!  ;^D), but the blog that is a legitimate treat every time it pops into my RSS reader is Ironyca's Ironyca Stood in the Fire. (The other blog in my blogroll that's more "literature" than magazine? Cricket Bread, though that's not WoW related in the least, except to remind me that there are better things to be doing than playing WoW -- this is the guy who started the Crop Mob movement.)

The stuff at Ironyca's really has an archivist's and an academic's flair.  Not an industrialist academe, determined to, you know, be relevant by applying whatever theory has their goat to today's hot game (okay, no, really, GTA deserves your attention), but a, "Politics and fads be damned; I'm going to do good work and start chronicling and commenting on this [sub]culture," kind of academic. (Though she's light on the Deleuze.)

So I've been meaning to blog this particular post with more context, but I'm going to stop waiting and share the latest excellent series of material Ironyca's been putting together.  Honestly, if you can't let her work spin you forward a few steps, you're not really interested in non-self-hedonistic WoW [1].

Myths and Urban Legends in WoW – The Bengal Tiger Cave | Ironyca Stood in the Fire:

In Stranglethorn Vale near Zul’Gurub hidden in the mountains, there’s a secret cave with an even more secret mount vendor. She sells a cat mount, supposedly a bengal tiger, but she only spawns once a month for 30 minutes.

I'll admit that I'm much bigger into exploration than I am raiding, for instance, so maybe this is more fascinating to me than most.  I cat form prowled around the Scarlet Monastery for hours before I actually ran it, spent waaaay too much time trying to sneak into Dalaran before I'd leveled high enough, died too many times trying to find where I could drop into Un Goro Crater so I didn't have to run the long way around, and ran around Wintergrasp (hard not to call it "Winterfell" now) for a while well before I was the right level.  Soloing for fun can be, well, fun.  It's nice to take some time off from doing things the way the developers intended and instead see if I can't prank the game -- which, of course, was the whole point of the poorly scanned chapter linked to above.

But Ironyca goes well beyond exploration and strongly into the land of metalepsis.  I've wanted to write about gaming's "industry of metalepsis" for years... how the "real world" and [the horribly backwards notion of] the "virtual world" intersect, whether it's a trick like Rockstar's hidden game or the extra levels in N64's San Fran Rush (iirc)... there are things that can't be found without looking at media that exists only outside of the game (see Picard, via imgur with a small decency edit, above).

And that's why this series is so important. There's nothing in the game that's explicitly there to make you think that there's a vendor than spawns thirty minutes a month in some cave selling mounts. Sure, there's a skin, but that's it. Plus, the skin isn't an Easter Egg by any account. It has a good, reasonable explanation. The mount was in an early beta (alpha?) and was removed. It's a true fossil (again, read the previous link).

But through metalepsis, the digital fossil moves from forgotten mount to legend. That's a distinctly human reaction. We explain the unexplainable through story and narrative, and sometimes prefer to be seduced by romanticism rather than apply William's Razor.

Okay, that's enough. Your homework is to read every link in this post, and then find the cave of metaleptic legend.

And speaking of things not changing, you'll never guess what my first LFG instance was. Okay, well, yes, yes you will. The upside is that I sure as heck remember how to run it.

[1] Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you; beyond capturing the raw materials of my time playing, this blog is essentially just hedonism.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

And we're back...

Lessons for those starting back up their main after a year or more away.

Lesson 1: Remember when you had a hard time getting the first move from Valor to Justice points straight? It happened again. Now there's there's some new schmoe selling your Stormrider Leggings as a novelty item for transmogs. And yes, for Justice Points.

Lesson 2: No, you don't have any Valor Points any more. They've all converted.

Lesson 3: Yes, there's a brand new set of Justice Point tiered gear.

Lesson 4: ALL THE DAGGUM WIKI SITES ARE OUT OF DATE. It's like 4.3 hasn't happened on wowwiki or wowpedia minus a few notes about 4.3 at the bottom of pages. Obviously there's some new great place to learn about armor sets, but I don't know what it is. ARGH. Okay. Calmer now.

Lesson 5: This will make getting Flaming Treants lots easier. That's really the take-home, and makes Jal very happy. You can see him smilin'. @ As I mentioned the last time currency swapped, my Justice Points essentially just became Valor Points. I've already got enough for the chestpiece. Wow. Sometimes, deflation is a good thing.

Seriously, I'm much happier that I've only got to run dailies to get my irrational prize. When Mists comes out, you'll be replacing all your purples with greens anyway. I'm kinda happy I didn't spend my time grabbing Valors, but then I haven't gotten a year's use out of them either.

And a very special thank you to the readers that offered to send me a scroll, and an especially big thanks to the two who did -- I'm afraid I caused a mix-up on the email (sent from the "blog" email, but needed the scroll at the account email), so I ended up with two. I haven't claimed an 80 yet. That's proving a tougher decision than I thought. It will be Horde, just so I can play over there a bit. It won't be a Death Knight. I can level from 55-80, but there's almost zero chance outside of Sandy of me going from 1-80. But I can't tell if it should be another druid -- let's face it, Sandy's taught me I really can't play another class without serious study -- or not. Maybe I could spec resto? Out of the box, indeed. You know, I like that idea.

Thanks again, readers, and it's fun to have Jal back, even though I just jumped in for a few minutes this evening.