Inestimable blessing and bother.

An explanation, then, of why I left the Inferno to smoulder quietly deep beneath the tectonics of the blogipelago, and instead moved over here into the slightly less flame-ridden confines of fatal joviality.

Within the next week the first mini Melmoth is due to arrive in this great wide world, and rumour has it that this event can be somewhat consuming of a person’s time. Apparently, parenting isn’t as easy it appears on Friends. Who knew? I’d bought a monkey to act as a babysitter and everything.

So it appears that I won’t have much time for playing MMOs or writing on blogs or, anything really. For a while, at least. So I’ve moved over here to Killed in a Smiling Accident such that, when I disappear for a while, the blog won’t stagnate because Zoso will still be here updating you with today’s Hat News. Now. And hopefully, if I can claw myself out from under the pile of nappies, swim through the steaming lake of vomit, cross the barren plains of This Used To Be A Lovely Living Room And Now It’s A Wasteland, and finally climb the hill of mounting bills, I’ll be able to pop back here and update you with the latest happenings in House Melmoth, and possibly try to relate it to MMOs, or something entertaining or funny. Or maybe it’ll just be a short three-line message crying for help. The fun and adventure of ‘when and what’ will be yours to discover!

Raising a child. Mercy. Talk about epic quest lines.

Although I really should try to stop thinking of it in MMO terms, if nothing else because of the dream where I’m in the delivery theatre watching expectantly and waiting excitedly for the arrival of the new born, and then I stare in horror as a yellow exclamation mark slowly appears top-first from between Mrs Melmoth’s akimbo legs, followed shortly thereafter by mini-Melmoth’s head. Yes, that one never fails to be somewhat unnerving.

I wonder if that’s what Native Americans mean when they talk of a dream quest? No wonder they were all sweaty and mumbling afterwards.

Still, it was after this dream, when I was in my sweating and mumbling meditative after-trance, that I experienced that moment of clarity and inspiration that is so often sought after. The great spirit of the MMO appeared before me and spoke in its curiously repetitive and grindy voice, and it whispered unto me a thousand lost secrets from the seven ages of man. Then it took them all back in a giant nerf patch and character wipe.

What is a nerf patch anyway? It sounds like some sort of elbow protector made from the skin of a small burrowing mammal. “Here we see the lesser spotted nerf in its native environment. It has been tunnelling from the safety of its burrow, upwards towards the surface, for nearly four days. Slowly, after a gargantuan effort, this tiniest of creatures gently breaks the surface and sees sunlight for the first time in its five years of existence.” *WHAP* “And now it’s skinned and used to make patches for clothes”. Of course, the whole nerf patch industry collapsed after people realised that applying a nerf patch to a hole in one part of your clothing simply opened another, bigger hole somewhere else entirely, and usually in a more embarrassing place.

Anyway, a vestigial glimpse of insight remained, and I was gifted with the solution to labour pain! Not a cure, as such, but a way to cope with it that is beyond the reach of any mere mortal medicinal aid. It was simply this: a few weeks before the due date, sit the expectant mother down in front of a computer and open a web browser to the World of Warcraft web forums. For two weeks, make her read the posts there, every single drivelling, mewling one. Labour pain after that is going to seem like a hazy bounding jaunt along small country lanes in the springtime. And before an aerie of angry Internet mums swoops down on me from the great heights at which they monitor the Internet below, I am not meaning to trivialise the pain of labour, merely to indicate just how bad MMO forums are. Moving swiftly on!

It seems to me that children are the most demanding quest givers that you’re ever likely to encounter. We begin with the starter area quests: the initial grind of changing ten nappies (an hour); ‘feeding’ quests where the reward is cracked nipples, although admittedly not mine, unless I’m doing something very wrong, because as we all know men get resistance to that as an inherent racial trait at character creation; and cleaning (cleaning baby, cleaning baby’s clothes, cleaning the walls of baby’s projectile orifice effusions). It’s a rough start to your adventures as a parent class, and one is often going to wish that they’d just stuck with one of the comparatively easier pet classes such as cat owner, dog owner, hamster owner… crocodile wrestler, tiger-scrotum flicker.

Fair enough, one of those is a touch off the mark because as we all know, cats own you. A case in point: when a baby poops everywhere it’s because it doesn’t even understand the concept of a toilet yet, whereas when a cat leaves a steaming pile of chocolate blancmange in the middle of the lounge carpet, it was most likely to demonstrate their displeasure with your tardy service at elevenses and luncheon. That’s why a cat is never around when you discover the mess, but once you’re fully occupied on all fours, struggling to get the lid off of the carpet cleaner whilst simultaneously maintaining a hold on your nose, the cat will turn up and gaze at you with a look that says “Hurry up and clear that mess will you? And then fetch me my slippers! Do I have to do everything around here?! And when you serve me my tea this evening I want it in a silver dish. Silver! Not porcelain! Or else! There’ll be a rich chocolaty coating on the stairs tomorrow morning…”

Where were we? Oh yes. Current indications from speaking with other parents is that the baby comes with three talent trees in which they can specialise; generally they will be a hybrid of some sort, spreading points between the various trees, but as with most MMO talent systems, if they spec. heavily in one tree, they will only have a enough points to spec. a little way into a second tree.

The three trees are: Cuteness, which is your basic healing line, and like most healers, it’s almost impossible to find anyone specialised that way; Poop, a formidable ‘defence through offence’ line; and Vocal, which is a pure DPS line. So as you can see, if your baby is specialised heavily into Vocal, they tend to be less well specialised in cuteness and poop power. Poop specialised babies, however, tend to be less well specialised in the cuteness and vocal trees; parents of Poop specialised babies may mistake this as the indication that they have a cute and quiet child, but that cute little smile is soon revealed into the smug vindictive little sneer that it really is upon opening of the nappy, and the lack of vocals were evidently just a ruse to make sure that you are caught unawares by the festering payload that has been delivered. Also, a word of warning: if you think you’re having it rough with that ‘Stealth attack’ talent, wait until you experience the full force of the ‘Expedite excretion’ talent which, on activation, clears the cool-downs on all of baby’s poop powers immediately. As I said, the Poop tree is for defence, or tanking, and there’s nothing like a secondary surprise attack mid nappy change to keep a parent’s aggro while other siblings DPS them down with their vocal abilities.

And so, after the madness of forced late-night grinding sessions, we move onto the lengthy story arcs of education, discipline and entertainment. There’s a bare minimum of eighteen years of content in those. I tell you, whichever developer came up with this adventure certainly knew the meaning of polish and innovation. There are highs and lows, unexpected plot twists and multitudinous possible endings. You not only level-up as a parent, but you’re wholly responsible for levelling-up this little pink bundle of adventure, this distilled essence of noob.

Of course, once your child reaches their teenage years they get the puberty respec, where they generally give up their baby talent trees for three entirely new trees: Indignant Rage, Irrational Rage and Furious Salivating Wolverine Rage.

Can’t wait!