Thursday, 25 January 2018

Obsessive Thoughts and Social Media

This probably isn't about what you expect: stalking some poor human because you can't stop thinking about them. It's actually a brief thought about someone who's struggled with obsessive thoughts since childhood--me--and how social media helps. 

We all have those thoughts every now and then, the ones that stick around and nag you, the ones that you can't quite shake. Obsessive people have those all the time, often several at once, about things you might not expect. Sometimes they're actually good things, like writing a short blog on how social media helps you handle your obsessive thoughts, and sometimes they're not. Obsessive puts the O in OCD, and the C part comes from a strong desire to act on the thoughts you have. 

And, before you think "oh man, obsessiveness sounds wonderful, such focus"; you're assuming you can control the thoughts' content. I had a chat with a friend I consider extremely intelligent, where he told me my negative traits were positive ones, including the obsessiveness. He wasn't thinking about control: is it beneficial to my career to be unable to stop thinking about swapping around the syllables in the phrase 'spongebob squarepants'? Probably not. Squaresponge bobpants. 

For me, I have far more of the O than the C. I've been working on that for years, and the C is far less problematic these days. I no longer get (seemingly) inescapably caught tapping out people's syllables in conversations, I don't feel like I have to rearrange things to be symmetrical any more. But, over the years I've also learned that part of dealing with the obsessive thoughts is acting on them. Feed the beast, and it shuts up for a while. Talking about what I, and past psychiatrists, call a 'stuck thought' basically makes it go away. It's kind of like having a song stuck in your head - if you hear the song all the way through, it is far more likely to go away.

And that's where I come to social media. It's only really occurred to me recently that I'm able to handle many of the obsessive thoughts - the ones about word rhythms (for some reason I get a lot of these), or silly internet things, or gaming stuff, by sharing them with others. Now, of course, not all the obsessive thoughts I have are shareable. A lot of them aren't shareable on Twitter, that's for sure, and many of the more personal, negative, or darker ones aren't shareable on Facebook either. But my god, it's a boon as an obsessive person to have those outlets at all. And occasionally the people who follow me join in for the ride, and I feel better about my stupid brain. Even now, the obsessive thought about telling you all this is fading, and I might forget I ever had it until I blow the dust off Blogger again.

So thanks. You all help more than you know. Bobpants Spongesquare.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Documenting my return to World of Warcraft: Day Three

Day Two ended on a bit of a sour note, with me unsure if there'd be a Day Three. I started my session not wanting to go through Highmountain, so went to Argus, found little of interest and tried to do a dungeon, before realising that doing the dungeon was locked behind Argus quest progression. An annoying day.

So on Day Three, I thought I'd knuckle down and try to push through Highmountain. I had a bit of a hangover, and wanted something lightweight to do. I had my pot of tea, old CSI on the TV, and it didn't seem like such a terrible idea. I thought I'd just fly to Thunder Totem and look for quests, and check that the ones I was doing are part of the achievements on Wowhead. Solid plan!

On my arrival, I immediately found the Hulm series of quests, and in the process of doing the "go get these three things we need" part, happened upon Moozy's grandmother, Ethel. Ethel is not my favourite NPC - the way she leashes and moves with you on the escort quest is really annoying, but I guess that's the point. I then entered into a quest where I am playing as Hulm, I think? I've never really been a fan of things where I don't play my character. I don't mind playing my character in a vehicle--I love that raid boss where one of the tanks steers the metal golem--but I'm not a huge fan of my character being replaced by another one.

Of course, I'm highly unlikely to enjoy any of these quests, they're a means to an end, and that end is flying. So the very best thing a quest can be for me is short and easy to complete. This Huln quest was easy, but confusing--after my first objective was complete, I assumed I should un-tauren myself and talk to the guy in Thunder Totem again. I was wrong, but there was no obvious way to re-tauren. I figured it out eventually, as you can see. The Huln chain was mercifully short, and I was one set of quests closer to flying.

The next steps were harder. I started looking for the Skyhorn Tribe quests, and according to Wowhead, I needed a guy in Thunder Totem. I couldn't find him. I really wish that, if WoW is going to continue revisiting this path of locking things behind questing, the devs would add some way to see if quests are required or optional for the various objectives. It's highly frustrating that that's not clear anywhere in the game. Another example of this sort of issue is that one of the parts of the Highmountain Loremaster achievement, 'Secrets of Highmountain', you have to find 40 treasures. This in itself is no big deal, but there's no tracker, no count at all. So I have no idea how near or far I am from that number.

But, happily, as I went through the quests, checking each new one I found on Wowhead, I happened upon enough things to get that one done. The best part of the Highmountain chain was seeing good old ghostly Deathwing. I loved that guy, and it was nice to see him again. 

All in all, Highmountain wasn't so bad. The actual storyline quests were fairly minimal, although finding them can be a little tiresome. I was definitely very grateful to the good folks in the Wowhead comments for providing guidance at one particularly confusing point - the Bloodtotem achievement appears when Navarogg is about to move to the underground cave place, so you think you're done with him, but then you get stuck. Mayla Hightotem won't give you a quest. What you have to do is go get Navarogg, then you'll unlock the final Snowblind Mesa step. This is horribly unclear, so thanks, Wowhead, again. 

Then, off I went to Broken Shore, emboldened by my success. Thanks to an old Ownedcore script, I was able to find that I was indeed done with the initial Assault on Broken Shore quest, so again, according to Wowhead, what I needed to do was firstly explore the island, and secondly get to revered with the Legionfall guys. Apparently, there are Legionfall World Quests, but I have no idea how to get to them. Additionally, I keep being disconnected on the Broken Shore, which is highly irritating. I fly to Deliverance Point, then to Vengeance Point, where I apparently have a hand-in or three, and then to the other FP, still none the wiser. Maybe I just need to go back to Dalaran? It also seems from Wowhead that I may or may not need to have a Legionfall follower in my Order Hall, so I decide to check that out. 

Arriving in my Order Hall, I learn that it's a Moonfang guy I need. I have no idea how to get him, though, so again it's off to Wowhead. My Wowhead usage is very high indeed here, and I wonder to myself how anyone who isn't at least fairly familiar with Wowhead would ever be able to do half this stuff. It's crazy, really, how little help the game gives you to achieve these things. It should be obvious that the number of users who read and consume Blizzard's WoW marketing is far smaller than the number playing the game, and it seems horribly broken that Legion's later gameplay is so dependent on a great but external website. 

I realise, suddenly, that I hadn't actually explored all of Highmountain, and did so, thereby earning the Pathfinder, Part One achievement, and unlocking the Pathfinder, Part Two achievement. So now, I can see that I probably don't need the Follower, but honestly, I'm not sure if I trust the game more than Wowhead on this. And I still don't know how to do a Broken Shore world quest... so back to Vengeance Point I go...

I realise Deliverance Point is probably where I want to be, and start looking for an NPC or a table or something--a way to get the World Quests. I find an Artificer, who sells a bunch of things for a currency I'm not sure about. I don't know what it is, or where to get it. She's not very useful. I find a building guy, who helpfully says that we need buildings. 

I can't find any other clues as to how to do the World Quests. I suspect I am being stupid. I fly back to Dalaran again. Is it just that Broken Shore quests are one of the Emissary options? Is it that there's no start point and I just go and farm mobs? Do I need to get a follower before I can do them? Let's try Wowhead again. I find a really great returning player guide, that I wish I'd had earlier, but I'm still not sure how to do Broken Shore World Quests. I go back to Deliverance Point again. I go kill a guy who has a skull marker on my map. It has no impact on my reputation. I remain confused. I log off.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Documenting my return to World of Warcraft: Day Two

Day Two followed shortly after Day One, and, still unwilling to take on Highmountain, I grumpily trudged to my Order Hall, figuring I should probably be doing something there. On my arrival, I remembered that Artifact Knowledge is a thing, and that it would have been ideal if I'd picked up the two scrolls I had waiting for me before I did the Suramar questline. I definitely feel like some sort of reminder list for vital wizard chores would be a great addition to the Adventure Guide system for returning players.

In my order hall, I also discovered a Mythic Plus weekly chest, including some trousers that were a 20ilvl upgrade, and learned that I had a huge amount of traits available on my weapon. I thought I was actually able to unlock everything that wasn't maxed out, but for some unknown reason was unable to invest into Concordance. Eventually I realised that one trait wasn't maxed out - I wish the UI was clearer here.

I also wanted to add some words on why Day One focused on flying, especially when we can't fly on Argus. For me, flying is content. Especially in a situation like the one I'm in right now, where I'm so far behind that I feel I can never catch up, casual content is important. Once I have flying, not only will I happily spend many hours enjoying WoW's scenery from the air, but I will be far more inclined to quest, and to level up alts. But, Highmountain and Broken Shore stand in my way, and I need to give myself a break before I tackle those aggravatingly high... mountains...

So, instead of that, let's take the game up on its offer, and go to Argus. I take the (optional) portal to Orgrimmar and fly happily to Bladefist Bay. There, there's a short conversation piece, and my quest becomes a handin. There's a ? on my minimap, but no NPC with a ? on their head. What? Are they inside the ship? There's no inside to this ship. What's happening? I fly around for a little while...

Eventually, I realise that, on mouseover, the pointer turns into a ? on Lady Liadrin. We successfully set sail, but this is a pretty basic breakdown of quest flow, pretty early on. Regardless, we make it to the Exodar, where there's a portal, and now I'm on a Draenei ship. The Draenei have a great history of success with ships, after all, that seems a logical approach to our assault. We definitely shouldn't talk about this. It's OK though, that particular Draenei spaceship doesn't actually crash. That one.

Anyhow, pottering around Argus is moderately interesting. I have to say, it's very similar indeed to the broken shore, look and feel-wise. Looking at the general aesthetic, it feels like the Demon Hunter start zone too. Now, I'm no lore nerd, and this may make perfect thematic sense. But it doesn't really feel like another planet, at all. It feels like a continuation of the same old thing - red and green demons, fel things, dog-type things... More of the same, really. Go here, kill a few of these, free a few of these. Not really anything remarkable. All of that said, though, it's very much the standard WoW questing experience. I'm not sure why I was expecting anything different. Perhaps because the exciting green ball in the sky has such unknown promise.

So, bored, I try to do the new dungeon. I'm really happy and excited that we've seen new dungeons in Legion. But, of course, it's locked. This, to me, is enormously frustrating. I don't really care for questing in WoW, but I really enjoy group content. I wish WoW's designers would stop this new Legion idea of "do content type A to get to content type B". Yes, both dungeons and quests are PvE, but to me they're extremely different.

And I really don't want to be forced to quest if I want to do one of the few things I'm excited about in 7.3. What's worse is there's really no way in the game to know what I actually need to do quest-wise in order to get into this dungeon. There's no quest list, there's no special marker, there's no in-game indication at all beyond "you must progress further". Of course, Wowhead almost certainly has this answer, as it has almost every answer, but the point remains that this new habit is highly frustrating. 

Now, instead of pottering around, casually enjoying a new area, I will be irritated by doing the new quest content, as I feel forced to do it if I want to access the content I'm actually excited to try. That sours my whole experience, it doesn't make me want to play the game at all. I wish they'd stop it. 

I log off, irritated. So ends Day Two.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Documenting my return to World of Warcraft

Let me preface this article by setting the scene. Back in February of this year, I was raiding on my paladin with a fairly successful guild. Not anything special, but we had normal Nighthold on farm, and were working our way through Heroic - from looking at the Armory we'd made it to 6/10. Not world first, for sure, but not too shabby either. I was playing my paladin tank, and you can see for the time that I was decently geared on what was a pretty new character. Then, towards the end of February, work got really hectic. I couldn't make it to raids any more with that guild, and my casual/social guild had pretty much stopped playing by then, so I stopped too.

That means I've been away from WoW for give or take 7 months. I made a couple of half hearted attempts to come back, spent an evening doing skirmishes on my restoration shaman, logged into my Priest, did some Broken Shore opening quests on my Paladin. But that's about it.

That said, I should be a pretty good prospect as a returning player. I'm a long-time subscriber. I've been around since TBC, and while my level of activity in the game has inevitably ebbed and flowed over the past decade, I've been pretty dedicated. Dedicated enough that knowing stuff about WoW was my full time job (WoW Insider, Gamebreaker, Wowhead, the BBC) for about 3 years, and then I went to work at Blizzard on WoW esports. Dedicated enough to have had one of each class at max level multiple times in WoW's history. What's more, I've only been away for 7 months, and as someone who used to work on Wowhead, I am well equipped to use that amazing resource to help me through the difficult reintroduction.

Day One

So, let's go. I've updated my addons, downloaded ElvUI again, and we're off. I'm going to be documenting this as I go, then editing later. I'm jumping in on my Paladin, because she's the most geared character I have, currently at 891ilvl. I'm aware that this 7 month break means that I'm almost impossibly far behind on the artifact weapon progress that is Legion's equivalent of Garrisons--only worse as it's directly tied to character power. I will likely not be able to find a tank spot in a similar guild to the one I had in March until 8.0 appears, so I should focus on what I can do, rather than what I can't, if I have a hope of enjoying this at all.

I hop in, and I immediately receive a breadcrumb to go to Argus. Alright, game, I appreciate this suggestion, but I don't have flying yet and I'd really like to resolve that absence. I love flying, and I've heard vaguely that it's been made easier to get the annoying reputation and completion rewards in 7.3, so I'm moderately excited. I set my pally on a flight path to Meredil, and check out Wowhead's 'Pathfinder' tool - the one that shows you how far you are from Flying. I'm a little confused when I do, as I was sure that I needed Suramar rep, but it seems that I have that all set, and actually lack quest completion for Suramar and Highmountain. Then I recall that the issue was I needed Suramar rep to unlock the last quests for the achievement, and that's what they fixed. Glad I keep up on the news!

I land in Meredil, run around for a bit looking for the entrance to the place there, and immediately pick up a quest to get me started on the missing "A Change of Seasons" part of the achievement. So far so good. I run around inside the cave place, and then get a quest to "activate all the leylines".

I vaguely remember that they're underground, and annoying, so check Wowhead comments, and indeed some good soul has put in TomTom waypoints. I consider how fortunate it is that I know what TomTom is, and what a waypoint is, and plug the first one I don't have in, then head over. I quickly realise I need 1800 Ancient Mana, I have 795, so need to make sure I'm collecting it as I move around.

Ancient Mana collection is frustratingly slow, and I wish I hadn't had to give some to Valtrois to unlock quests. The Falanaar Leylines are annoying to find, underground caves are tricky things. Getting out of the spider cave is even more annoying, and the game's indicators of where I need to go are consistently wrong. This is tiresome. As I look around for Leyline Feed Fragments and Ancient Mana, I reflect on how this is meant to make me see the world, while actually all it's doing is making me irritated by the world design. The world, at this stage, is an inconvenience that's getting in my way. All in all it takes me about 1hr 20 to get all the leylines done.

Moving on to the next set of tasks, I'm dreading going to the absurdly un-navigable city of Suramar. Fortunately, I remember there is an addon called Telemancy, and port myself to the Twilight Vineyards. Slowly chipping away at the Chronarch Defenders, I remember how the devs said they'd nerfed tank damage. It hasn't made the world more scary, I'm at no risk of death, it's just made this more annoying. It only takes me around 20 minutes to kill off the 4 guys, and I whistle (glad I remembered that existed) then head back to hand the quest in to Valtrois.

Then I realise I should have picked up Flow Control, and back to Suramar I go. Whoever decided this city doesn't need a proper map deserves some stern words. Closing the Flow things takes 10 minutes, but now there's no breadcrumb. Looking at Wowhead, I realise I need "Bring Home the Beacon". I puzzle for a moment, then read a comment that tells me to feed mana to Oculeth. This would take double the time without Wowhead. Maybe even more. It's a great resource, but also shows how much better Blizzard could do at quest flow and discoverability of all these damn caves. The story ends in a very boring scenario, like a less fun version of a Proving Ground, and at last, I am a Good Suramaritan.

I look at the list of things I have left to do in Part One, and all it is is Highmountain. The zone with all the impassable hills. The zone which I didn't do the story for, because I didn't want to. The zone I already rejected, and yet have to revisit, despite it being two patches out of date. The zone where flying would be the most useful. I lose patience and log off.

Overall, this first session back was not so terrible. Suramar is an annoying zone, the characters are flat and uninteresting, the story is disjointed and nonsensical. But, I was mostly able to find my way, thanks to Wowhead. From the 10,000 foot view, I wish there was a way I could get Flying while also experiencing the new zones, rather than being stuck retreading ground I've already trod. I've done a ton of Highmountain world quests, just not the main storyline. I would be more excited to discover new places and work towards flying, than I am to go back to 7.0 and 7.1 content.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Prot Paladin Weakauras

Defensive CDs:
Shows a progress bar and timer for each of these, while they're up. The idea is that you can see when you're protected. Only shows in combat.

  • Shield of the Righteous
  • Ardent Defender
  • GoAK
  • Bubble (not recommended unless you have Final Stand)
  • Blessing of Spellwarding (if talented - BoP is VERY situational for tanking)

Debuff, Consecrate and Light of Protector reminders:
These show reminders for various abilities. Only shows in combat.

  • If you're not in Consecration and Consecration is available (not on CD) it will show text reading "Consecrate"
  • If your target doesn't have the debuffs from Judgement and Blessed Hammer (if talented) it'll show text reading Judgement Debuff Down and BH Debuff Down respectively
  • If you are at <=40% health and Light of the Protector is available, the Light of the Protector icon will flash.

Defensive CDs


Debuff, Consecrate and Light of Protector reminders


Monday, 25 February 2013

How do I writing?

Writing methods are something deeply, deeply personal, and I honestly don't think that what works for one person will ever reliably work for another. When I see posts or stories that say "this is how you write", they annoy me. It annoyed me in school when people told me how I should write an essay, or a poem, or anything for that matter. I have always done those things my own way, and, while it's not perfect by any means, it works for me. So I'm not going to preach and say that this is how you should or shouldn't do things, that this is a sure-fire way to write and write well, but I will run you through my writing secrets.

The secret to my writing is that there's no secret. That's the big reveal, and I'm sorry. I don't have any cunning tricks, or any clever methods, or any method at all, really, for general blogging at least. Academic writing is a little different, I do put more work into that, but I keep it simple the rest of the time. 

Step 1: Think of something to write about. This is often the hardest step. I write a ton of content, usually four or more posts a day, including three columns per week that are supposed to be 1,000-1,500 words. They're usually more, but for me the battle is always thinking of something to write about. I draw a lot of inspiration from twitter, from facebook, from in-game conversations with others, from readers' comments on my posts and on others, and just occasionally from the darkest recesses of my own brain. 

Step 2: Write it down. This may seem facetious or overly simplistic, but it's what I do, and there's a bit of a dual meaning here. Write it down before you forget it. I often have ideas as I'm falling asleep, and forget them the next morning. It's incredibly frustrating, so I write them down. 

The other meaning of "write it down" is just that. I've got my idea, so now what I'm going to do is word-vomit everything I can think of about that idea onto virtual paper. Sometimes this turns into a column, quite neatly, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I have a vague structure in mind, particularly for review posts and the like, but generally I don't, apart from wanting to say a few things. I keep a notepad next to my computer, because, as I write, other ideas will pop into my head, so I scribble them down before I forget them. If you want to give this method a go, don't worry about a beginning, a middle and an end, don't stress about conclusions and layout and structure, just start with the first thing that comes to mind and go from there. The wonderful thing about computers is how easily you can shuffle and reshuffle and correct. 

Step 3: Hone, perfect, adjust. Step 2 is the longest step here, and if you manage to get it all down in a semi-structured way then you're golden. Often I'll simply write down everything I can think of, read it back, and it'll actually be fine. Then I'll proofread it, because I typo a lot, and then I'll tweak and pull and remove words and adjust style and the like. My editors are wonderfully patient, and occasionally are good enough to say things like "stop doing this so much", so I adjust for that, too. I have to Americanize everything I write, pretty much, so there's that to do, as well as putting in far more commas than I really want to.

The biggest and only tip I'm going to offer is this: when proofreading, don't use whatever you typed the piece in. If you use WordPress to write, preview your piece and check it there. If you use something else, just do whatever you can to get a different view. Your brain skips over errors when they're presented in the same way it's become used to. Change it up! And get a friend to read it for you. The internet often proofs things for me: it's far easier to spot others' errors than your own.

And that's it! The biggest thing I think I do differently to others is not creating a structure, or a plan, or anything along those lines. It works for me, for my jobs at least, but what works for you?