by ash

I’ve been playing a lot of WoW lately so I thought I would start documenting some of my adventures, and aggravations.
Today, for example, me and two of my guild mates jumped into the random dungeon queue. We were given Nexus – fairly straightforward dungeon with potentially challenging areas if you don’t pay attention. We’re cruising through it pretty quickly; guildie tank holding hate, other guildie doing damage and back-up tanking, and I’m keeping everyone’s health capped. We get to the last boss, the big dragon frozen in ice, but I can’t think of her name now. This battle is just your generic tank-and-spank battle with one small caveat – you have to move periodically. The reason for this is that the boss generates a debuff that stacks while you stand still. Simply jumping or stepping left or right will remove all stacks of the debuff and stop the health drain that it causes.
Well, about midway through the battle, I notice the two randoms we have in the group, a mage and a hunter, are both taking big chunks of damage. I ask the tank what’s up, thinking they got hit by an errant breath attack, but no – they are both standing still and letting the debuff stack up. I stop moving long enough to cast a Regrowth on each of them, making sure I jump in-between each cast to remove my own debuff. However, both mage and hunter continue to stand still and build up the damaging debuff. I type out a warning to “keep moving”, hoping they take the hint and jump or move, anything to help me help them stay alive.
Neither do anything other than press their 1-2 attack buttons.
We down the boss and roll on the loot, but the debuff does not automatically end once the dragon dies. I check the log and there was no indication that this was the first trip to Nexus for anyone as there were no achievement messages. I throw a heal to the mage as his health is dropping the fastest, but he is still not moving. At this point, I decide the randoms need a lesson in dungeoneering. I stop healing, knowing there’s a really good chance at least one of them will die unless they wake up and pay attention. Sure enough, the mage dies first. I run over to him, figuring I’d rez him and explain why he died.
But he performed one of my bigger peeves when I’m playing a healer – asked for a rez.
I had already started my cast when he asked, but once I saw the chat message, I canceled the spell, did the /cry emote, and then left the group.
Yeah, it’s a shitty thing to do and wouldn’t have taken me more than 5-6 seconds to cast the resurrect spell. However, I have played this game long enough to know when someone just won’t get the hint, no matter what you tell them. A lesser healer would not have been able to heal through that much stupid and it was obvious that the mage was content to add undue strain to any group he joins because he chose not to listen to advice.
I canceled the rez because, as a healer, you do not need to tell me to heal or resurrect; all I pay attention to are your health bars. I know exactly when you are hurt so you do not need to tell me to heal, which also happens to be my biggest peeve as a healer. When you are dead, my first instinct (after cursing myself for not preventing your death) is to rez you so that you can get back to your job. As a damge dealer, you should be paying attention to the environment first, and the monster’s health second. Because every party is composed of multiple damage dealers, you have a bit of slack – you can stop damaging for a few seconds to move out of poison clouds, or sidestep an attack. As a healer or tank, a second of hesitation can cause a wipe – aggro could pass to a less armored teammate or a mistimed heal could lead to more damage and even death.
So please, if the tank or healer tell you to do something, please do it. We’re really just trying to help you out, because, and this is the honest truth, we can’t run the dungeon without you.



by ash

I finally made it to a NHL game – Penguins vs. the Minnesota Wild, at the venerable Mellon (Civic) Arena in Pittsburgh. It’s actually pretty sad that this is the Igloo’s last season; just looking at the brick and steel skeleton of the Pens’ new home across the street tells me that the new stadium just won’t have the same feel.

The game itself was certainly exciting, but it also had its share of frustrations. The penalty minutes were on the short end, with a small handful shared among both sides. Most surprising, and to the delight of the assembled Pens’ faithful, Sidney Crosby earned an early trip to the locker room near the end of the second period. He threw down the gloves and scrapped with Minnesota’s Marek Zidlicky, who also received an escort off the ice.

Minnesota drew first blood with an early first period goal. The entire area seemed surprised and a few of them were still getting settled into their seats. Fleury didn’t have a solid grasp on the puck and it ended up in the goal after bouncing over his blocker. Dupuis soon equalized, and the remainder of the period passed uneventfully. That is, until a shot rocketed past the defense and Fleury’s right shoulder with .6 of a second remaining in the first period.

It was obvious from the beginning of the second period that Minnesota intended to keep their lead by playing an extremely resilient defensive game. This was most apparent in the shots on goal between the two teams; Pittsburgh tallied 35 shots to the Wild’s 15. And even though those numbers should have meant a solid win for the Pens, their pass accuracy was just not near the level expected from the team. This cost them precious time near the end of the game when they finally pulled out all the stops and attacked the Wild net with fury. If the Pens had another minute or two, there is no doubt they would have been able to send the game into overtime, and possibly pulled off another last minute win like the night before in Columbus.



by ash

found an awesome prompt from a very cool site called SoulPancake.com:

“Write down your age. Use that many words to sum up your life so far. “

first it was an astronaut
soaring through planets and stars
then it was a chemist
mixing stuff found in jars
now it’s writing
and waging virtual wars



by ash

In Sevaleyr’s fourth year of study as a mage, he felt the pull of something… more divine. Unable to quantify this feeling among his arcane brethren, he decided to visit a temple and tap the wisdom of its clerics.

As he entered the temple devoted to the god of knowledge (an obvious choice to him), a strange sense of calm came over him, one that he had known only in his childhood. In those days, he wasn’t worried about rules or teachers or guilds seeking his membership; in those days, magic was his one true friend. While lost in these musings, a young monk detached herself from a small prayer group and appeared at his elbow.

“May Yuelyn’s light open your mind. How can this humble servant assist you this day, my friend?”

Startled first by the young voice and second by the fact it was a female monk, Sevaleyr was almost unable to find the words to explain his presence in the temple.

“I, uh, I had questions that I could not answer and hoped I might have some success here.” He noticed that even though the young monk’s robe and hood covered most of her frame, she was not able to hide the lithe and beautiful form underneath.

A twinge of embarrassment came over him as he once again realized where he was. She must have sensed his thoughts because she simply nodded then quickly made her way towards a trio of older adepts. He watched her speak to another hooded figure, a man who stood at least a head and shoulders over his own height. Sevaleyr swallowed nervously when the adept shot him a piercing glance before giving a reply to the young monk. The girl nodded once and disappeared into the recesses of the temple. The older adept glanced at Sevaleyr once more before following the girl.

“Oh boy,” Sevaleyr muttered.



by ash

First, read this article.

Then check out this follow-up.

I think that the whole “kicking someone out of their home while they most obviously have a serious medical condition” is abhorrent. This woman was not doing anything more than simply using an accepted alternative medicine in order to achieve a better quality of life. However, what sparked my need to post about this was when a group announced they were going to stage a protest at the assisted living apartment complex where Holsten used to live.

I just don’t think the Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society is the only target for mob-rage; there are more questions people should be asking:

  • Why didn’t the doctor actually prescribe the medical marijuana that was so obviously helping Marilyn deal with her pain? Or, if he was unable to do that, why didn’t he point her to a pot-friendly doctor who could have provided more assistance in this matter?
  • Why didn’t her older sister, who is obviously distraught and outraged, help Marilyn fill out the paperwork she needed for full legal access to medical pot? The paperwork that Marilyn couldn’t complete because

    “I’ve had a lot of health stuff going on,” [Marilyn] said. “I was really trying, but it’s a lot of work.”

  • Are the government regulations really that complex and overwhelming for gaining access to a medical pot card? In which case, the government officials who developed it should be held responsible. Or is the paperwork closer to the amount needed to apply for a driver’s license?
  • Why did the apartment building suddenly decide to enforce their tenant agreement when it seemed they were understanding of Marilyn’s condition for a period of at least a year and a half prior to her eviction?

There are many questions posed by the situation and I don’t feel that anyone has the full story. I also don’t think that Anavets should shoulder all of the responsibility in this case. Yes, they do share in the blame, but they are not the only ones. A protest is simply a way to get attention; however with the generally accepted image of a typical pot smoker, it isn’t always the best way. A protest alone won’t solve the current situation; advocates need more in the way of intelligent discussion and they must make themselves stand out from the stereotype. As far as this story goes, the anger needs to include everyone who either contributed to the situation or neglected to help resolve it by using half-ass measures and outright inaction.



by ash

***A few years ago…***

“Oi! Girl! Over ‘ere!!”

Lyrissa took a deep breath to suppress her rage, then turned around and gave the sweaty, fat guard a pleasant smile.

“Yes, sir?” she asked sweetly.

” ‘Ow ’bout you shake that little backside o’ yours and bring us another round o’ ales?”

His slimy grin made her skin crawl, but she curtsied and made her way back to the bar. She leaned over the counter top and started to scoop out four dirty tankards that were soaking in the sink when she came up with a better idea. Lyrissa jogged behind the bar and found four clean mugs instead. She glanced at the guards’ table and winked at them, then began to dry off the clean glasses in a suggestive manner. Her distraction worked and when they turned to discuss their chances of getting lucky, Lyrissa quickly knelt down and pulled out a small vial from the medicine cupboard. A sly grin spread across her face as she poured a very small amount of her mother’s asproin powder into each of the mugs before filling them to the brim with ale. Lyrissa picked up all four handles in one hand and put an extra sway into her step as she walked back to the guards.

“There ya go, boys. The finest ale in the house, for only the very finest customers.”

She knew her smile would look forced to anyone sober, but for them it was the brightest smile any woman would ever give them. Their leader tossed her a gold coin and just as her hand closed around it, his hand closed around the left side of her buttocks. Lyrissa flinched but resisted the urge to shove his tankard down his throat and instead twisted gracefully from him and back to the bar. She pocketed the coin and watched the guards as they downed their drinks, knowing the payoff to her prank was imminent. Another table called for her attention, and as she fulfilled their request, Lyrissa knew it was the guards’ time.

“Anything else I can get for you, boys?” Just as she said this, the youngest looking of them slid out of his chair onto the floor. She stifled a chuckle and helped the young man back to his feet. The fat guard shakily stood up, then motioned to the rest of the table to do the same.

“I think we’re done ‘ere for the night, miss. We need to get on wi’ our rounds, so if you’ll excuse us.”

“Of course,” she smiled. “We will look forward to your next visit, perhaps after your duties to the city have been satisfied?”

The group leader looked at her, searching for another meaning in her words but her smile seemed to reassure him. The group slowly stumbled to the door, Lyrissa shadowing them to the street. She watched them a few moments more as they swayed down the road toward the guard post, then turned back towards the inn.

“Far too easy,” she whispered to herself. In her hands were four small coin pouches emblazoned with the crest of the city guards.

Lyrissa quickly transferred the contents into a hidden pocket on her apron, then planted the empty pouches on another drunk stumbling past her into the night. Humming, she walked back to the bar and pulled out the gold coin the fat guard had flipped to her. She chuckled and tossed it into the lockbox with the night’s earnings.



by ash

Lyrissa first noticed him by the fireplace as she wove through a handful of tables on her way to the bar. Something about him had caught her eye for more than a passing glance, but she forced herself to look away before he found her staring. The girl paid the innkeeper for a night then took a seat at the end of the counter while a barman fetched her an evening meal. She found a stool that gave her a wide view of the inn’s common room, including the stranger by the fire, and the unlit lantern beside her allowed for an added amount of privacy.

The man appeared well-kept despite being simply dressed in a cleric’s robe and tabard. The tabard’s crest was unfamiliar, however Lyrissa was of a mind to think it wasn’t evil-aligned or the stranger would not be enjoying the peace provided by the other patrons. His garments also made it hard to tell for certain how tall he was; even so, he didn’t appear to be much taller than herself. His pale skin almost appeared to glow in the firelight. No doubt a bookworm, she thought, and has little use outside of ceremony for the dagger nearly hidden in his right boot. However, she did find it odd that the man had made the extra effort to conceal his weapon in the way he did.

Lyrissa continued to muse over the cleric’s peculiar need for armaments as a bowl of watery stew was placed in front of her. She chanced one more look at the man before starting on her meal, hoping to glean another detail, but a jolt of fear froze her in place. Their eyes met in a reflection off of the fireplace’s bronzed mantle. She forced her eyes to look down as she tried to compose herself, hoping no one else noticed her moment of distress. When she looked up again, the chair by the fireplace was occupied by a different patron and the cleric was nowhere to be seen.

*Based on the description of a divine Tainted Spirit in the “Forest” chapter in AEG’s book Wilds*

  • Quiet, contemplative forest with a soft glow
    • permanent ‘early morning sunrise’ type fo lighting, but without the sunlight beaming directly into one’s eyes
      • diffused morning light
  • general feel is more of a reverent temple to Bacchus rather than a rowdy marketplace
  • within the woods, a grove opens up with columns of marble and other luxurious furnishings
    • lounging couches overstuffed with large down-filled pillows
    • tables laden with vast arrays of wines, cheeses, fruits, meats, and sweets
      • also, lots of grapes
  • an opulent throne dominates the far end of the temple
    • from a distance away, it looks as if it is simply a huge mound of cushions and pillows but closer inspection reveals a very large and wide throne chair
      • indeed, the throne chair often doubles as a suitable bed for the drowsy god of wine
        • Bacchus can be summoned randomly by the sounds of celebration and/or drunkenness



by ash

i have an image of a character stuck in my mind, in much the same way a song would be stuck. i found an old soccer patch on the floor last night and started imagining what i could possibly do with it, besides throwing it back into the shoebox with the rest of them. i eventually came up with a great costume piece and this as-yet-unnamed character who i imagined would wear it.

the piece is a black hooded sweatshirt with a zipper and pockets on either side. there would be a patch on the front left chest – the patch would have the character’s insignia or clan symbol, etc. on the back would be a bigger version of the insignia (or a more detailed version, not sure yet) that looks to be torn from a t-shirt and crudely sewn on. the final part of the sweatshirt is a feather attached to the right side of the hood. i first imagined it in a native american style, with a leather strap and some beads or arrowheads along with the feather.

i’m still working on who this character might be, but i’m a little excited to see where i can go with it. and i’m pretty sure i’ll make that sweatshirt at some point in the very near future. 😀

… doesn’t bother us, right?

Today, a friend of mine sent me a link to a very interesting story about a co-worker we both had the … opportunity to test with. This individual had begun to work his way up the corporate ladder at Double Helix Games, the studio responsible for “Silent Hill: Homecoming”, and had attained the coveted title of QA Lead. For some, this position carries an amount of prestige – it shows you’ve struggled through the trials of a grunt tester to become something more respected, someone whose opinions the developers can trust.

But then, there are others who never fully realize what they’ve been given and just set themselves up to fail, like our co-worker.

Guy heard about a Eurogamer review being changed after the reviewer discovered s/he was on an old dev-kit that caused the game not to function properly. Normally, one would be slightly upset that a review site changed their score since it may signal a level of impropriety, but in this particular case I feel the change was necessary and the site was transparent in letting the public know what was going on. The reviewer was using faulty equipment to play the game and therefore was not experiencing the same game play as a retail customer. The site was made aware of the error and the ‘tainted’ review was taken down pending a proper play-through on a retail console.

But Guy did not like the situation and decided he needed to let the world know this opinion. He felt that, considering his position as a significant member of an upcoming game studio, he should express his insight in the foulest and most infantile way possible – by using a homophobic slur against all review sites collectively.

A couple of sites are questioning whether or not Double Helix Games should be held accountable for what Guy says in his Twitter account. But what they fail to realize is the underlying attitude in Guy’s post; he thinks the epithet he used is sufficiently nasty for an attack on these sites. Although it could be passed off as an angry outburst, those that know him know this is nothing new and is actually surprising he hasn’t been called out on his attitude before this.

What’s also disturbing is the prevalence and acceptance of these sorts of insults inside the industry as a whole, which probably stems from the fact that the overwhelming majority of industry people are straight white males. During my time within those hallowed locker rooms, I found it easier to just not associate with bigoted people as there were so many others who made positive contributions and actually cared about games. However, ‘the good guys’ all moved on to other things and with separate companies, leaving our former employer scrambling for anyone it can get – including a recently fired Double Helix QA Lead.