Rewrite and Rebrand: A Random Lockbox of Words

aka I wasn’t sure what to call it. You know those lockboxes, those bags of potential you get in games? Well, you don’t know what’s inside and it’s a mixed bag, a little like this post.

I started writing this post weeks ago, some posts are like that. I write them, then rewrite them, then add things and rewrite some more etc. I know I write in quite a conversational style, but I don’t just type continuously from beginning to end and hit post, I do go back and read what I have written. With some posts, I realise that what I’ve said is just a variation on a theme, it’s something I’ve posted before. Then I realise that my mood, or current events, are perhaps overly influencing the direction of the post. Then there’s the question, what is the point of the post? I like to, usually, try and at least say something in a post, start with a theory, talk around the subject, and then write a conclusion. After all that I wind up either rewriting or just scrapping the whole thing.

This post started off life with the title ‘Journey vs Destination’ which is something I have written about before. How the way a player approaches a game, and their expectations of it, have an affect on the way that they play and their enjoyment. It’s no secret that I’m less than thrilled with Warcraft right now, either how it is currently or the direction that it seems blizz is taking it in. So that first draft went over old ground, all things that I had said before, about how raiding had changed, about how the way that I raided had changed. There was nothing new and the whole post came across very miserable. It was basically asking the question should I quit? It seemed like the obvious answer was yes. However, I’m not ready to quit, and I’m not going to lose everything I have until I’m sure, no matter how unhappy I am with the game right now.

So what is this post about then? It’s about a lot of things, it’s one of those mixed bag posts where I have a bunch of things I want to say, and I just combine them all into a post. I’m going to talk about Marvel Heroes, Amazon Prime Instant Video with a side order of Hulu, a little bit of general TV, some Stargate SG-1 and of course Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve been itching to tweet about these things but 140 characters is not enough, that was the impetus for starting this blog in the first place.

I know this is supposed to be a Warcraft blog. However, everything I write about that is just so negative right now. I think it would be better to wait for more concrete information, after all beta has to be soon right? I can scarcely believe that it’s not been announced yet, it’s March already. Besides I’m thinking of changing the definition of the blog, it started off as Warcraft, then went to Warcraft and Swtor, before back to just Warcraft. Considering I am writing about more things these days, and more often rather than just occasionally, especially Marvel Heroes, it is probably overdue.

Right, on to the post.

Marvel Heroes
I actually read Marvel Heroes forums and occasionally post. I don’t for any other games that I play but I like these, there are some really nice people in the community and the devs ask for feedback, read and respond a lot. Anyway, there’s a lot of threads right now complaining about the loot drop rate. People are saying that they put on a lot of rarity/special find boosts, played for hours and hours, and didn’t find anything. Now my experience doesn’t match this. I don’t generally run with any extra item find boosts, and I find rare loot often enough that I don’t feel starved for it, but it still feels special when it drops.

The people that complain often say that they got more drops without boosts, than they do with boosts. They believe that boosts are fundamentally broken and give a minus than a plus. Again my experience doesn’t match this. When I’ve played with the server side boost, or popped a boost of my own, I have had an increase in finding rare items. I find a lot more artifacts than normal, I suppose my experience is that the boost mostly increases the droprate of these. I couldn’t say for sure whether it increased the rate of cosmics, uniques, runes, uru-forged etc. as I haven’t noticed either way.

RNG is RNG. Whenever people complain that they used boosts and got nothing, the response is that the drop rate is 0.00001 and that a boost on that won’t get you very far. Now, obviously the droprates likely aren’t that ridiculously low, unless you are talking costumes which are rarer than gold dust. However, the point stands, if someone does have really bad luck, then I guess they could pop a bunch of boosts and get nothing. I do wonder though, if they are just not getting what they’d like, and therefore ignoring all the good drops they get that don’t match that. Then they are believing they are getting nothing.

Journey vs destination. Is it the act of playing the game, that is important? Or is it the reward/goal that is being worked towards? I really like Marvel Heroes, right now I think it’s my favourite game. When I have gametime it’s always what I choose to play if I am free to choose. I just login to MH and have fun. I don’t stress loot drops, I get them often enough that I’m happy so I don’t keep track on how often rare items drop. This means I don’t get annoyed or angry if I get a long stretch of having nothing drop.

As you might be able to tell this was how I started this post originally. Journey vs Destination, it is something I have wondered before when I considered why I found Marvel Heroes so enjoyable.

I finally got my first level capped character, Captain America is now at level 60. To be honest I don’t see the point in level cap to be honest. I’m not interested in grinding for loot, so it’s a bit sad actually as it means I don’t play my favourite hero anymore. I could prestige him and take him back to level 1, and I might eventually, but for now I like looking at the shiny number 60, and I like how powerful he feels with all his skills unlocked.

Moon Knight is the latest new hero released, the second of the advanced pack. I hadn’t heard of him until I saw he was included in the pack, I looked up his comic history on wikipedia and he sounded interesting enough. However, I didn’t imagine he would be a favourite until I started to play him. He plays very reminiscent of Captain America right now (I’m only level 16 with Moon Knight) and so I’m having a lot of fun. There’s a lot of threads saying how terrible he is on the forums but I like him. I’m glad I got the pack as I wouldn’t have prioritized getting Moon Knight otherwise, and then I would have missed out.

Oh and to finish up the Marvel Heroes love, there’s a post on the forums by Doomsaw, a top dev, which just really resonated with me. There’s a lot of good posts by purples on the forums. With all the complaining about loot, and the false belief that boosts are broken, they’ve posted a lot of detail about how the loot system works. However, this post was like a roadmap of where they are planning on taking loot over the next three patches. I mean I sound like a fangirl, when I say that it really gave me faith in the game. There’s just so much communication from the MH devs, they never leave you wondering what’s going on and the speed of their updates is incredible. Well, hats off to them and long may it continue.

Amazon Prime Instant Video
As a family we’ve had Amazon Prime for ages, my mum is obviously the main account holder but you can have quite a few other people on as guests, who get all the same benefits of free fast delivery – until now. She got the email saying that Amazon Prime was expanding and changing, it was combining with LoveFilm Instant. From now, up until her renewal date, we could use the Prime Instant Video for free. When we renew Prime then the price will be £30 more, as we’ll have to also pay for the Instant Video part too, there’s no option to just continue with Prime as it is currently.

Only the main Prime account holder can use Instant Video, guests can’t. However, she gave me her full permission to login as her for the purposes of trying it out. I’d used video streaming services before. I got really irritated with Channel 4 not showing Agents of Shield for months and months, when they ended the last episode on a big cliffhanger. Plus I got into a Star Trek mood and wanted to watch some. So I got this addon for Google Chrome called Media Hint, which via some mystical powers, manages to fool websites into believing you are in the correct region. If you live in the US then you can access Hulu, they have some content on there for free, so it’s not like it’s stealing as they provide it for free, I’m just in the wrong country. It’s probably a little bit wrong but not enough that I feel bad about it, I’ll be getting the Agents of Shield dvd probably anyway.

Anyway, I went onto the Prime website on the computer and I looked at what they had. The free selection for Prime users wasn’t massive, but they had a fair few things on there that I wanted to watch. You see once I like something that I get the dvd. However, I’m not going to buy it if I don’t know whether I like it or not. I mainly watch TV and I only need to see an episode or two in order to get a feeling about the show. Finding the first couple of episodes though is often an exercise in frustration. They don’t show them in the UK at all, or they only show them on paid for Sky channels. They might be going to show it in the UK but the US will be on season 3 or nearly done with season 2, and I admit I’m impatient. That’s obviously only applicable to new shows, finding older shows is sometimes even harder. So being able to watch some, and legally as I really don’t like doing anything dodgy. I bent a little bit for Hulu but I’d never actively download, too scared of getting caught. Anyway, Prime had a few things that I wanted to watch.

So just to test the first thing I started watching was Stargate SG-1 (more about that in a minute), and I was impressed by how smoothly it streamed. There wasn’t any hitches in the stream, there was no lag or buffering time outside of 30 seconds at the start. I was halfway through watching an episode when I had to stop it and go out. A couple of days later I was wondering whether it would be possible to watch it on the TV. I’d heard that you could use games consoles to stream through, I’d never even tried connecting them to the internet and I didn’t actually know if they had that capability.

I tried with my Xbox 360 first, it turned out to be a wireless enabled one. However, I couldn’t download the Prime Video app without being an Xbox Live Gold member, which you have to pay a monthly sub for. I think that is just wrong. Why on earth do Microsoft do that? Honestly, it’s like trying to make you pay for something you’ve already paid for. So I went with the other potential possibility, the Nintendo Wii. This console was a good few years old, and I wasn’t sure it would be able to. However, much to my surprise that too connected wirelessly just fine, and I was able to download the Instant Video app very quickly. Setup was easy, fast and painless.

What was incredible about this app though is that it remembered. I wanted to watch the other half of that episode before I watched anything else. On the home screen it had an icon of ‘recently watched’ so I clicked on it and it showed the list of episodes. The episode that I’d been watching didn’t have a ‘watch now’ button next to it, it had a ‘resume’ button. I clicked and it started from where I’d paused it a few days ago. That crossed devices, as I’d started watching it on the computer, and I hadn’t asked it to remember, it had just done so.

Now my internet connection is not amazing. I live in a rural area, we have broadband obviously but the speed is quite slow. However, watching the stream on the TV was just like watching TV. There was no lag, it was good quality, there was barely any buffering time and this was done wirelessly as well. How does it do it? I have absolutely no idea but I’m amazed. I honestly thought that the streaming would put a lot of strain on the internet connection. However, yesterday I was levelling my Herald paladin in Warcraft, I didn’t want to but my RaF is going to be expiring soon. I figured it would be less painful if I watched something on my other screen, I decided to try the stream. I had two copies of Warcraft running, and the Stream and it worked well. The stream was fine, same as always, Warcraft lagged a bit but it always does when I have two copies of it running. At the risk of repeating myself, I find that amazing. I don’t know how the streaming works but it works incredibly well.

Stargate SG-1
This is a show that passed me by. I was 4 when the TV movie came out, 7 when the show premiered and 17 when it ended. It’s science fiction and I didn’t really get into that until the Marvel movies came out. In fact I really didn’t like Sci-Fi back then, I found it scary as it wasn’t real. I liked real things, I was a big fan, and I suppose I still am, of cop shows. Anything that wasn’t real just gave me the creeps. I used to joke that Caspar the friendly ghost used to scare me, and actually if I’m honest it did when I was little. The closest I got pre-Marvel films to Sci-Fi was Harry Potter.

When I was 19 I made a friend. They introduced me to Warcraft, they recruited me to that and they also asked me if I’d seen various things. When I said that I hadn’t they were horrified and I was invited over regularly, to be educated as they couldn’t believe I’d never seen these things. This was when I first saw Star Wars believe it or not, I’d never seen it before then. This was also the first time I saw Star Trek, Indiana Jones and oh other things too. I know I lived in a cave obviously. I’m still friends with them now, though we don’t talk much anymore. I moved back home from uni, they moved also to their new job once they graduated. A year ago, possibly two, I drove over to where they are living now and my education continued. My friend asked me if I’d seen Stargate, and I hadn’t, so they put on the 1994 film. I actually liked it well enough, I don’t remember it that well but I don’t think the film had anything too creepy in it. So we kept watching and they put on the first couple of episodes of the first season.

This did have some creepy things in, saw the Goa’uld and they were horrible. I had to close my eyes and watch through my fingers until they were off screen. Then I’d really liked this character Kawalsky, he was O’Neill’s second in command, and then later leader of his own squad but still loyal to Jack. I’d thought it was a really great moment when Jack ordered him to leave if they weren’t back, he said no way we’re all going back, then later when Jack needed the help his squad appeared and saved them. I thought that was brilliant, it’s so rare to see that on TV, I guess because it’s too nice. I guess it was too nice, as Kawalsky was killed off in the second episode. I was so annoyed that it just cemented the idea that I didn’t like the show.

That, as I said, was a year or two ago. Just lately I’ve been catching snippets of Stargate SG-1 on the TV, as they have Sci-Fi from 7pm on the free channel Pick. Sometimes I tune in to Star Trek: Enterprise. Star Trek isn’t immune to creepy things and neither is Star Wars. These days I have a much bigger problem with snakes or rats, than I do with Sci-Fi monsters. When I saw that Stargate SG-1 was on Prime Instant Video – all 10 seasons of it – I decided to try watching it again. My annoyance at Kawalsky’s death had faded, I started watching from the 3rd episode, rather than re-watching what I’d already seen, and thus I was able to enjoy it for what it was. I’ve now watched half of season one, I keep chain watching several episodes in a row – I’m hooked.

Part of this original post mused on how things change with time. Well my attitude towards Stargate certainly has. Time does change things, I’m now not the easily creeped out, can’t see monsters, person I once was. I do have to roll my eyes at some things in the show, it’s very 90’s in a couple of respects. Then there’s the shots of the computers which is like looking back in time, which I suppose we are. However, it has aged really well in that it being old doesn’t bother me. I like shiny and it still has enough appeal to get me hooked. I really want to know what’s going to happen, I guess I could look it up but I suppose I’m worried that I won’t like the answer. Much like with Kawalsky, I’ve got attached to certain characters and I don’t want to know if they are going to die. Though no doubt I’ll be howling in annoyance if they do, twitter better watch out.

Camp NaNoWriMo
Not much to say about this yet, this will probably merit a post of it’s own nearer the end of the month. April is this years first Camp session and I am considering taking part. I did try and take part in last years and it didn’t go well. However, this year I have the support of my real life writing group. I do want to write more regularly and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t sign up. I have never managed yet to be successful in any of these challenges outside of November, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.

The only real question is what shall I write? I still have a month to decide, there’s always my main novel that needs work. I finally got round to revising the last draft I had of that, tore it to pieces and it needs a major rewrite. However, each time I do that I get closer to the story I want to tell and to hopefully the finished version. If I get round to planning out the next attempt then I guess I could try with that. I don’t entirely know how the month of March is going to pan out and I’m not productive at the best of times. We shall see, anyway I will be signing up to attempt something regardless.

I think this post is long enough now, nearly 3500 words. Well the blog needed a new post, it’s getting on for a month since the last update and this has got written down most of the random things that were on my mind. The remainder are either too personal for this blog, as I do try not to get too personal here, or are too negative (Warcraft I’m looking at you). I really hope beta will be announced soon, it’s getting beyond a joke.

When there is more concrete information I’ll know more whether I’ll be sticking around or not. As it stands I really wish Warcraft was free to play, I would love to vote with my wallet and stop sending them money. I can’t cancel my sub as that is basically quitting and I’d be leaving my guild. Though they managed fine without me for a couple of days this week, so maybe I wouldn’t be screwing them over as badly as I thought I might if I did quit. It’s just if the guild does fall apart I don’t want it to be my fault.

Ok it’s now over 3500 words and I still have things I should do before the raid tonight. Till the next time.