An ode to the random stranger picker-upper tool

It was a triumph.
I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.
It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.
I pugged an instance.
I went as a tank
because I could.
After four years as a ‘lock.
But then the paladin left.
Now there’s no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying till you run out of rage
And the killing gets done
And I’ll finish the run
With the people who stick by my side.
Continue reading An ode to the random stranger picker-upper tool


I’m sure everyone’s seen this by now but just in case you haven’t, here’s the trailer for SWTOR that was released at E3 last week.

No matter what happens next and however good – or bad – SWTOR turns out to be, this not-quite-4-minute gem of a teaser is worth savouring. To this aged, jaded and cynical old reptile, it is everything the lamentable prequels should have been but weren’t.

What’s in a name?

I’m in a quandary.

I am to server transfers what Madonna is to adopting children from Malawi and I find myself in a situation where I’m thinking of going back to the server where a lot of my friends are returning to after having spent the last few weeks and months cajoling them into resubbing. Although we have decided to start from scratch again, I’m not really willing to leave my undead Warlock where he is after finally getting him to 80 and spending a little while making money and getting gear together. I don’t particularly like the server I’m on and I don’t click with the guild I’m currently in but as I’m only a social member, my departure will probably go unnoticed.

The problem I face is this: since I left the server I’m thinking of returning to, someone has taken my character’s name. Not just a someone but a smelly, pointy eared Night Elf Death Knight.

It’s my own fault. I didn’t leave a placeholder character with that name just in case I ever decided to return to that server but, then again, I didn’t think I ever would. I’m sure I’ll probably be able to live with a new name as well because, well, to paraphrase a famous level 80 Bard, “That which we call a warlock by any other name would still devour the souls of his enemeie – unless thou art a gnome in which case thine foes will laugh themselves unto death.” So while I may not be entirely pleased at the thought of having to change his name, I’m more concerned about coming up with a suitable alternative.

This troubles me more than being able to find a PUG competent enough to run Heroic Nexus without wiping.

It’s True!

I am not hardcore enough for Darkfall Online.

Then again, I wasn’t hardcore enough for Everquest the second (or, as those of us in the know liked to call it, EQ’s sequel) because I thought that sitting around for 3 hours for a quest spawn was just a little bit of a waste of my time. Not that it didn’t stop me doing that in Star Wars: Galaxies I hasten to add. That damned Corellian Corvette on the Master Pilot mission was mine several times.

But Darkfall Online? No – definitely not hardcore enough.

I’d QQ more but, honestly, first I’m just gonna have to go right ahead and start caring.
Continue reading It’s True!

Matters of Etiquette

I found myself in an unusual position last night (no – not that sort of position you dirty minded so-and-sos!) While on the train home, I noticed that a guy with a laptop sitting across the carriageway had an embroidered logo which identified him as obviously being a fellow WoW player and also a fellow member of the gnome munching Horde.

Conundrum: do I make it known to this total stranger that I a) recognise the logo b) that I also play and c) I, also, am a member of the superior Horde. This is Britain – strangers don’t talk to each other. That’s just not the done thing. On the other hand, just like public school oldboy networks and esoteric and obscure societies like the Freemasons and Aston Villa supporters, being a stranger was second to being part of something larger. Just because you have never seen the person before in your life does not stop you being siblings becauase of your shared experience.

I did have a secondary concern which was this: the logo was embroidered on the back pocket of his jeans. Saying something about it would imply that I had been looking at his arse¹.

In the end, I figured what the hell. He was the one wearing the logo and why else would you do that if you didn’t want to announce your interests and allegiances. Even if he did say “WTF? Were you looking at my arse you pervert?” I figured I was never going to see him again so as we were getting off the train, I simply said “Horde for life, right?” He looked askance at first then grinned and said “Yeah. I tried Alliance but I couldn’t stand it.”

“I know what you mean” I replied and then legged it for my next train as fast my legs would carry me.

What about you? Would you talk to someone because you recognised they played the same game as you? Or has someone stopped to talk to you because you were wearing your favourite Green Linen Shirt?

¹I want to try to explain but that’s just digging a hole I won’t be able to get out of so just trust me when I say it was entirely innocent and circumstantial.

The Languor Of A Long Distance Runner

When I’m not playing MMOs, I’m taking part in MMOs – Mountain Marathons Outdoors. (Okay, I admit it, that was poor. I was trying to be clever – something my wife repeatedly tells me to stop doing as it never ends happily.) I love running but after getting bored of the usual 5km and 10km road races, decided to find some events that would push me that much further. Mountain Marathons are a two day endurance event where you and a team-mate pack all the stuff you’ll need for a weekend (compass, food, tent, clothes etc) and race across mountains. (UK readers may recall some news items at the end of October about runners getting “lost” in the Lake District during some bad storms – that was one of these events).

Anyway, the point of all this self aggrandisement is a chance to share some photos. Oh, and also to tell you about the last time I logged into LOTRO.

I haven’t played LOTRO in a while now, despite the fact that I’ve got a lifetime subscription and despite the fact that, on the whole, I quite like the game and think that Turbine have done a very good job with recreating Middle Earth and the experience of actually being there. They paid attention to every last detail that was put on paper by Prof. Tolkien.

Right on down to the endless running.
Continue reading The Languor Of A Long Distance Runner

Unbearable suffering of being

So I finally got around to completing the Death Knight starting zone that the world and his dog have been raving about. I should be joining in with commending on how good the quests are (they are) and how well designed it is (it is) and what a great, story driven experience the whole thing is but as much as all that really is true, I just can’t bring myself to do anything other than complain.

Nota bene: there will be spoilers and this is fair warning about them. Read on at your own peril if you have yet to roll a Death Knight.
Continue reading Unbearable suffering of being

More of “The Guild”

Episode 1 of The Guild: Season 2 is now available for viewing.

Unless you’ve had your head in a kobold hole for the last year or so, you’ll be aware that The Guild is a web based comedy series that was conceived, written and starred Felicia Day – an actress a gamer who happens to also be a gamer an actress. The show is about a group of people who, unsurprisingly, are all members of an MMO guild. The storyline of the first series centres on them all meeting outside the game for the first time to deal with some, um, personal issues. It’s very funny and well worth the 30 minutes or so of your life it’ll take to watch.

The Guild garnered a lot of critical success and a huge fan following. Deservedly so too. They released the series on DVD and used the profits from that to start funding production of the second series. Felicia and her co-producer Kim Evey have also managed to partner with Xbox and Microsoft and the show is now sponsored. This is most definitely A Good Thing and is very evident in the very amusing second series opener.

I’d like to say that I had an exclusive interview with Ms Day for you about her experience playing MMOs and about writing the Guild but I’m sure she’s a very busy lady and there’s also some trivial matter of a restraining order that means I’m not allowed to make any further contact even over the web which is more than a little annoying but anyway.

So, here’s the link to the official site and a little thought: if you hadn’t have spent the last couple of minutes reading this rubbish then you could have already been watching it. Bet that’s really annoying.

Deepest apologies

My deepest apologies.

It is my understanding that my invading forces, in their attempts to besiege your cities and snuff out all life on Azeroth, have inconvenienced the activities of common civilians. In the future, I will ensure that your commanding officers are informed well in advance of planned invasion times so that they may properly fortify themselves.

I have also looked into the issue of my plague being too quick in its purpose and too difficult to cure. Please be reassured that I have taken the matter up personally with my top necromancers and that any further incarnations of said plague should be only a slight challenge for your natural immune systems to overcome. Please forward any additional complaints to either Kel’thuzad or Anub’arak.

Regards, the Lich King Arthas.

(By Zampyr, Tichondrius US via Lum)

Do Not Speak Ill Of The Dead

Like the groaning, mindless, lurching, brain munching, necrotic corpses made famous in the movies by Tourneur, Romero, Ossorio and Fulci, I have returned from the bleak purgatory of life outside MMOs and am making a shambling return to massively multiplayer worlds and overextended, overwrought metaphors.

In other words, I’m back.

The last I don’t know how many months have seen me playing a handful of single player games (Bioshock was brilliant, Quake Wars not so much. Finally worked out how to play Counter-Strike albeit badly and Call of Duty 4 was annoyingly annoying yet strangely compelling and graphically stunning) I had a quick bash at Age of Conan which was disappointing regardless of how many heads I separated from shoulders but finally, it was the overpopulated realms of Azeroth which dragged me back. And what a time to go back.

Continue reading Do Not Speak Ill Of The Dead