Monthly Archives: September 2008

Tanks for the memories

Catching up on a bit of a feed backlog, I came across an interesting piece from Spinks on Book of Grudges: “Sexism and Swordmasters”. Making a mental note to wander over and post a stiumulating and intellectual comment (or possibly just to shout “bloke in a dress!” a la Eddie Izzard), I carried on down the feeds to Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Sunday Papers roundup, which linked off to another piece touching on robe-wearing tanks, “MetaBalance or ‘The Cool Factor'”, and there’s a comment there from Harvey Smith linking back to a talk of his on game avatars. Slightly linktastic I know, but all Quite Interesting, honestly. Go and read them. GO ON! You may drink your weak lemon drink as you read, or save it for later. I shall drink mine now.

Stimulating and intellectual commentary is rendered somewhat void by that lot, I’m still digesting the multi-layered construct of in-game identity even without getting into gender security, so I’ll just ramble a bit about WAR instead.

Destruction certainly don’t lack for Chosen and Black Orcs, but Order don’t seem critically short of tanks, on my server at least. Nordenwatch could be a nightmare for the Empire at low levels due to a combination of less movement between racial areas in Tier 1 and limited power availability; standard procedure was for your group of 8 Bright Wizards, 3 Witch Hunters and a Warrior Priest to seize the first objective, run towards the fortress, see a wave of Chosen and Marauders pouring up the hill backed up by a couple of Zealots and a Magus, cast your one DoT and start on a fireball, die horribly, repeat. By Tier 2, though, with a slightly wider range of abilities including shackles and a decent mix of races showing up in scenarios I’ve been winning more than losing, on one occasion feeling slightly sorry for the lone Zealot trying to keep 8 tanks and a couple of DPS classes alive… “Too many tanks will cause you scenario problems, just as sure as none at all”, as I think Oscar Wilde said on his posthumously released album.

I also got to wondering if the Big Scaryness of the Destruction tanks might actually work against them on occasion. With my extensive PvP training I’ve evolved a highly strategic and incredibly complex targeting mechanism, a closely guarded trade secret that depends on the health percentages of all participants in the combat, their relative positions, timing on global cooldowns, phase of the moon and whether the day has a “y” in its name, but which can very generally be summed up as: “Not the tank, NOT THE TANK!” It needs repeating at higher volume, for just as in Team Fortress 2 your first instinct is to shoot the huge bloke with the really big gun when you should actually be taking out the medic standing behind him, so when a socking great Orc or spiky Chaos chap is pelting towards you it needs a bit of discipline to ignore him and go for the healers. Once you’ve got over the initial panic of “AAAAAHHHH, get ‘im, hit him with a broom, ruffle his hair up, hit him with a bucket, AAAAHHHHH”, though, the contrast between the Destruction tanks and their other classes does make picking targets quite easy. A quick Order Guide To Attacking Stuff That Isn’t A Tank:
1) Greenskins. The big one is the tank, kill the little ones first. Really kill anything with a staff who shoots green beams.
2) Dark Elves. No tanks here. Kill them all, Khaine will know his own. If they’re not wearing clothes and standing next to you (or you can’t see them), they’re melee DPS. If they’re not wearing clothes and standing far away, they’re ranged DPS. If they’re wearing something that covers more skin than two flannels and some dental floss, they’re a healer. (For any Strictly Come Dancing fans, the healers are dressed for ballroom, DPS for latin. Apparently. I wouldn’t know myself.) Watch out for sneaky healers who’ve taken their clothes off to masquerade as DPS.
3) Chaos. Big blokes with big swords or shields are tanks. Ignore them. About the only class on the Destruction side you might get confused for tanks in a mass ruck are Chaos melee DPS, but look out for the weird arms. Ranged DPS, the standing-on-a-floating-disc business is a dead giveaway, which by process of elimination leaves healers as the weird looking ones who aren’t on a floating disc and not running towards you going “GRRR I’M QUITE CROSS AND CHAOTIC”.

So there we go, all very easy. For Destruction, I guess it isn’t quite so straightforward; it’s not rocket surgery or anything, but the three Dwarf classes are at least the same height rather than Ironbreakers drawing extra attention to themselves by strapping on a pair of stilts, and non-Shadow Warrior Elves do look a bit similar in their robes (unless they’ve taken their clothes off to try and blend in with the Dark Elves). The Empire have The One With The Sword And Gun And Hat With A Buckle On It, The Fiery One On Fire and The Other One With The Hammer, but as none of them are tanks anyway it doesn’t matter so much.

I level you long time.

For clan Melmoth this past weekend was spent away visiting with relatives, so very little WAR happened, unless you take into consideration Melmoth facing off against his two younger brothers as to who gets the last sugared doughnut to go with their coffee at breakfast, in which case World War 3 happened. All in a loving siblingy way, you understand; although I’m still picking bits of doughnut out of my ear even as I write this.

It brought to mind (the ‘not being able to play WAR this weekend’, that is, not the ‘doughnut in the ear’), however, an element of the forthcoming Issue 13 of City of Spandex. I’m now using “City of Spandex”, because I’m tired of writing “City of Heroes and, possibly or, Villains. Maybe one, or the other, or both”. Here’s what they have to say in the pre-release notes:

Levelling Pact
A new innovation to MMOs, this system allows you and a friend to create new characters and have your XP permanently in sync, whether both characters are online or not. You will always be the same level, even if your friend plays ten times more often than you do! It’s sort of like ‘Extreme Sidekicking.’

It’s a great idea on first examination because it would have been perfect for the situation that occurred this weekend, with myself away and therefore not playing at all, Zoso could have continued levelling away in Warhammer Online like a mad thing and at the same time my character would have kept up, such that when I came back late on Sunday evening I would have found myself a level or two higher, but importantly still within range of Zoso’s character in order to carry on questing together.

However, on closer inspection it might not be all that it’s cracked up to be; don’t get me wrong, I think it will work fantastically well for City of Spandex, but that’s because the game is well established and lends itself to this sort of system. With respect to having this system in another game such as WAR or WoW, there are a couple of issues that I can see from a first glance:

  • Missed content: This can be a big or small issue depending on a few of the player’s circumstances. If it’s the player’s first character, and if the game is very much about the journey rather than the destination, then having a friend increase your character’s level multiple times while you are away from the game would force you to miss out on the joy of questing and exploring the content. In WoW, for example, you could potentially miss out on a whole zone if your friend was a bit of a levelling machine. You could leave your character one evening somewhere in Westfall and come back a few days later to find yourself ready to start questing in Lakeshire, and hence missing out on all the fantastic quests in and around Duskwood (one of my favourite locations in WoW). Having said that, if we wished to look on the bright side, you could log out one evening in Booty Bay, and come back a few weeks later to find that your friend has levelled you past all the content in Stranglethorn Vale, although if you did that on purpose you’d probably find yourself less one friend at the end of it too.
  • Services: Probably the biggest downside to the whole thing, this would effectively enable a ‘no holds barred’ service industry around the power-levelling of characters if ported to a game such as World of Warcraft. Such services already exist of course, but the Levelling Pact would essentially streamline the system, removing a lot of the risk of giving some strange fellow half way across the world the username and password to your game account. Unlike City of Spandex, there is a very strong end-game culture to World of Warcraft, and a lot of the levelling is now seen as an obstacle to getting there. In City of Spandex, the game seems to be much more about creating characters and levelling them with friends, and therefore abuse of a buddy system such as the one that is to be introduced in issue thirteen will, in all likelihood, be fairly limited. And delight of delights, as with the selling of gold, to get your service into the collective consciousness of the player base you have to advertise, and the cheapest and easiest way to do that is through the medium of spam, more power-levelling services mean more spam. Spam, spam and spam. Spam, eggs, spam, spam, spam, spam and spam.

It’s a shame because as a concept it’s brilliant, it would have solved the problem that I had this weekend perfectly, but it opens itself perhaps a little too much to abuse, unless the chaps at NCSoft have come up with some particularly genius way to prevent such abuse, rather than simply relying on the fact that the player base in City of Spandex is now suitably mature (as in ‘length of time played’, not as in ‘has forums free from trolls and frothing, ranting elitist gits’) and therefore dedicated enough that any abuse is not going to affect NCSoft’s bottom line. This is, incidentally, probably the best bottom line of all MMOs due to it being covered in figure-hugging spandex.

All of the above is, alas, hypothetical, because I am actually still in the insidious grip of altitus with respect to Warhammer Online, and nowhere near Zoso’s character in level at the moment. I think actually, for me, MMOs are about rolling alts rather than actually playing the game. Every player has something that they get out of an MMO, for the Power-levellers it’s all about getting to the level cap faster than anyone else; for the Completionistas it’s about fleshing out their character to the fullest by getting every unlock and award that they possibly can; the Socialisers just want to spend time adventuring with other people, making new friends and experiencing new communities; the Explorers want to find everything the virtual world has to offer, no matter how far out of the way they have to travel. And then there’re those people who roll new characters after getting half way to the level cap because beard option A actually looks so much better than beard option B. We shall call them the Idiots, because although I say ‘them’ it is, in all probability, the singleton subset of MMO players whose sole element is me.

‘Of the day’ness.

A couple of cogitations, ruminations and general tips that have forced their way into my brain from playing Warhammer Online and are now stuck there, unwanted, but are nevertheless a potentially useful lesson for the unwary. Like a door-to-door salesman who you’ve nailed to the front of your porch.

Thought for the day:
Every class comes equipped to perform their role in PvE and PvP straight out of the box except the tanks. At least, this is my experience with the dwarf Ironbreaker, because they don’t get their taunt until level seven. Admittedly they get Grudging Blow at level one, which is supposed to make monsters hate the Ironbreaker more, but in my experience it is not effective enough to hold aggro from, say, the healing aggro of a Runepriest. It’s not a huge issue because those first seven levels fly past like a greased pig out of a howitzer, but I find it a curious design decision, especially when the first public quest can be undertaken well before level seven, and has a final boss who really needs to be tanked unless you happen to have some A-grade kiters around at the time. I understand that Oath Friend is a core mechanic of the class, but it is not terribly useful in the early levels; it helps to build extra grudge but that’s not hard to do anyway in most early level fights, and its second benefit, where some of your skills help your Oath Friend as well, is not terribly useful because you have so few skills that would actually help them. Personally, therefore, I think it would have been more useful to have Taunt from first level, and then drop Oath Friend in at level seven or eight when you start to build a really useful set of skills that compliment it. It’s not a game breaker in any way, shape or form, but I just find it funny to be running around the Chapter One public quest, watching the healers heal and DPSers doing whatever it is that they do, whilst I am unable to tank.

Tips of the Day:
You can shift-right-click on bodies to loot them and it will automatically Loot All, so you don’t have to keep clicking on that annoying button.

Runepriests will often give you a buff when you’re in their group; it’s not just a buff though: the icon for it can be clicked to trigger an effect! Mouse-over the icon to see what effect will be triggered, often they deal out a small amount of damage, but some will give you a modest heal or some other effect. Triggering the effect does not remove the buff, it just puts a sixty second cooldown timer on using the buff’s triggered effect again. This is one of my favourite mechanics in WAR, and I hope other MMOs pick up on it and incorporate it, because buffs just got a whole lot more, uh, buff. Seriously though, rather than just granting you a passive ability boost, these runes, in addition, give you extra abilities. And what do extra abilities mean? Flexibility and options! And maybe prizes.

Spinning your character around when you’re on the character selection screen makes them perform a stunned/dizzy/unnerving-panting-weirdness animation. It’s one of those dangerous Easter eggs in a game, which is kind of fun, but is more likely going to have your player base asking why, if you had time to code that in, didn’t you have time to fix the broken /special animation on their character, or the strange clipping between certain headpieces and hair, or the fact that Destruction are totally overpowered against Order in the early Empire/Chaos scenarios because Chaos has tanks/DPS/healers and Empire has DPS and hybrid healers only. You know, those other minor niggles.

If you have trouble with truncated, missing or delayed text in your chat windows, turn off timestamps if you happen to have turned them on. I like timestamps, they tell me how long it was since I missed someone asking me to join a group, or to heal them, or what have you; however, last time I checked, timestamps hideously broke the chat window. It might be fixed by now, but I haven’t gone back to check. Still, at least my character does a funny animation when I spin him around on the character select screen!

They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dis-

I guess I’m just an old DPSer at heart. After being a Blaster (ranged DPS) in City of Heroes and a Rogue (melee DPS) in World of Warcraft, I tried branching out with classes like a Captain (melee Buff/Healer/Tank/DPS/Pet/Coffee Maker/Floor Wax) in Lord of the Rings Online and a Conqueror (melee Tank(ish)/DPS/Buff/Egg Slicer) in Age of Conan, but they didn’t really click. Maybe they were too radical a departure; much as you should make the transition from accountancy to lion taming via easy steps, starting with, say, insurance, I did rather enjoy the Tempest of Set in Age of Conan, nominally a “Priest” class but really a lightning-packing ball of electrical death with a couple of heals you might like to use, if you remember them. I’ve also been enjoying playing a couple of Corruptors in City of Villains, Kinetics and Radiation, packing the same main attacks as a Blaster but with a variety of buffs, debuffs and heals as a secondary powerset instead of “yet more attacks just in case all those other attacks weren’t attack-y enough”.

“In times of trouble, go with what you know”, though, as tanks would randomly say in Scorched Earth (a really nifty old artillery-type game), so for Warhammer Online I decided to head back to the comfy old sofa of DF^HPS. Ranged or melee, though? With the RvR-centric nature of Warhammer, I thought about how similar situations worked in WoW. Back in day, after they introduced “honour” and rewards for PvP kills, but before battlegrounds, if you weren’t on a PvP server and wanted to boost your rank you’d head for Tarren Mill. There the Massed Pipes & Drums of Her Majesty’s Royal Alliance would line up in the vague area of a horde of the, er, Horde, and both sides would glare menacingly at each other, lofting an occasional arrow or spell at anyone foolish enough to step a bit too close, until a melee class snapped and went charging over the top, to be inevitably mown down by the machine gun of the Harrow fullback (or the combined spells, arrows and bullets of the other side). Stay far enough away, though, and you were safe as houses (or the titular elephant). As a stealthily sneaky type, the opportunity would occasionally present itself to creep around and pick off an incautious loner, but after one or two of those everybody would bunch up, making surprise attacks an exercise in insta-death (for the attacker, not their intended victim). If you got bored of the standoff, and could persuade one of your own mages or priests to wander around on their own like Penelope Pitstop shouting “hey-ulp, hey-ulp, poor l’il ol’ me is lost”, then when a Horde Rogue, unable to resist such a temptingly cloth-armoured morsel, attacked from stealth for an easy kill, you could turn the tables by leaping out and stunning them in a cunning reverse-gank. Course you had to be careful in case there was a second stealthed enemy Rogue waiting to pull off the double-reverse-gank, unless you in turn were accompanied by a Druid friend for the double-reverse-gank with cat-druid twist, though they in turn might have had an extra Druid… Anyway, generally it wasn’t a whole heap o’ fun for melee. Battlegrounds and small group action were much better; if the 40-a-side Alterac Valley battleground bogged down into a massed PvP ruck somewhere in the middle it would all go a bit Tarren Mill, but that seldom happened as the two sides rushed past each other for the NPC bosses. Having looked around at some of the Warhammer details massed general PvP looked a distinct possibility, which was a strong contributory factor in choosing a ranged DPS class, and setting fire to stuff is always good so Bright Wizard was a natural choice.

It’s still early days, but the choice has been vindicated so far. I’ve been doing fairly well in scenarios, not getting obliterated quite as quickly as I feared (though, in common with most Bright Wizards I suspect, occasional self-detonations don’t help on that score), and last night I got involved in my first major world RvR rumble. After a splendid bit of Corrupting with the League of Evil in CoV, I just popped in to WAR for ten minutes to fill the last smidgen of a chapter’s influence bar to claim a wizard’s staff (with a knob on the end), and after reporting back to the Rally Master I had a quick look at the map and noticed a couple of quest objectives in the vicinity, so while I was there… One was the usual “go scout this World RvR objective”, which in previous zones I’d fulfilled by legging it to the general vicinity of the objective hoping to avoid other players, regardless of who was controlling it, and running away again (particularly quickly if it was a bit red). Getting closer to this one, though, a terrifying wall of red players suddenly hove into view, and facing off against them, a similar sized group of Order. Looked like we’d gotten bored of Destruction usually holding the Ostland keeps, and saddled us up a posse. Signing up with an open warband, I took my place in the battle lines, and found Tarren Mill-esque fights work much better with a range of flaming doom to fling. With somewhere from 50-100 players involved lag started playing a part too, never cripplingly bad, but it would certainly have added to the frustrations of a melee class. Me, I just went with “if in doubt, mash ‘target closest’ then ‘fireball’ a lot”. Weight of numbers drove Destruction back, we claimed the objective, I got a good chunk of a renown rank and the quest done, not a bad night’s work!

It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.

One thing that Warhammer Online has managed to do, perhaps more successfully than others, is to make other people the content. This came to light recently when discussing the number of new arrivals in the guild and how the first ten levels or so are fairly fast in coming, but then things start to slow somewhat after that, such that it was highly likely that these newcomers would, in all likelihood, be able to catch-up with the current wave of existing members and in short order join with them on the battlefield. It’s a bit like a motorway traffic jam, where the faster traffic at the back catches up quite quickly with the slowed traffic at the front and everything concertinas up, only with less swearing, horn tooting and smashing of GPS units against the dashboard.

The point was that despite the motorway-congestion-based levelling curve we do have several levelling machines within the guild, the sort who seem to have strapped their arms, via a complex set of hinged rods and springs, to some Victorian clockwork contraption that ticks and whirrs away in the background, thrusting the mouse hand around and chik-chakking the fingers on the keyboard hand like a strange cross between a hyperactive spider and an H.R. Giger biomechanical mass, presumably allowing them to continue playing even as they sleep. They are the steampunk Terminators of the MMO world: they will not stop levelling ever. Or so it used to be. Now, however, several of these guild members are talking about rolling alts and trying new classes whilst they wait for the rest of the server to catch them up, because they’re finding very little to do at their current level. That’s not to say that there isn’t any content, that’s not the case at all, it’s just that what they want to do is fight in RvR; the game makes RvR so pervasive and easy to partake in that it becomes the focus of a player’s levelling experience, these speed levellers therefore want other players on their side to join with, and they want players on the other side to fight against, because it’s slowly becoming clear that, if done well, PvP is a far more compelling game-play experience than an AI-controlled PvE one can ever be.

Which is something EVE Online and its proponents have been trying to tell us for years.

General PvE and the more focussed public quests are fine, but what WAR is showing us is that PvP can also be fun, even for Carebears such as myself. Take, for example, a scenario run last night where Order were facing off against the forces of Destruction in the tier two scenario Stone Troll Crossing. I say ‘facing off’ but of course what I mean by that is ‘getting obliterated in the typical fashion of an undermanned force fighting against an overpopulated realm of hardcore PvPers’. Such is the way of Order, such is the way of the Alliance, such is the way of Good in the universe it seems. But let’s not get all melancholy and dwell on it as though we were an Eliot in the waste land, because our valiant underdogs pushed-on, hounding the enemy as best they could and at one point, in a brief moment of nugatory success, had the enemy fleeing before them, like foxes before the hunt, doggedly pushing them all the way back to their starting area.

It was a pyrrhic victory of course because we lost the match by some abysmal margin, but in our hearts we had won the greater battle, that being the self-imposed struggle against moral degradation and debasement at the hands of a superior force. We were the Spartans at Thermopylae; the Sikhs at Saragarhi; the Jacobites at Culloden.

Who knows, maybe one day we will be the English at Agincourt.

The fact of the matter is that being the underdog can be fun, oh for certain we don’t get to sit around bragging all day about how we own an entire server and could some of you pitiable peons please come and play Order on our server so we can unleash our fearsome skills on you, but when we do get a victory it feels like we earned it, that we fought tooth and nail for it and that it wasn’t some sort of boring statistical tick in the box, another soulless token victory by our superior force. Seeing that the game positively encourages you to get involved in the war effort with both renown and experience being rewarded for PvP, why wouldn’t you take the WAR supermarket’s special two-for-one offer? You’d be crazy not to, and at the low low price of a bit of a drubbing by the forces of Destruction every now and again. Bargain!

Other blogs have stated that public quests don’t work as well as people had originally thought, but I think they’re off target slightly: public quests do work, very well, they would be an absolute revolution in World of Warcraft for example. The reason that they’re not so popular in WAR is that the PvP scenarios and open RvR work even better. Why spend time grinding PvE mobs, and maybe experiencing the odd (albeit excellent) scripted event for a few items of gear in a public quest, when you can jump into PvP, face-off against real opponents who can produce more bizarre and unexpected tactics in one fight than the bastard offspring of IBM’s Deep Blue and a slot machine ever could, and earn yourself experience and renown to boot. And what does renown mean? Phat lewts!

Public quests were, alas, a major revolution set against the backdrop of a global war, and they inevitably and unfortunately became background noise to the main event.

So what we have is a game where the PvE content is the side order of coleslaw to the half pound cheeseburger of PvP, it’s nice to have something to dip into every now and again when the burger gets a little too much, but it’s nothing but a brief diversion on the path to chronic indigestion. Other players are the meaty main course in this game, and in the end isn’t that what massively multiplayer games should all be about?

Mmmmmm, meeeeeeeat.

Under Siege, Over Siege, Wombling Free

I was wandering around Troll Country and noticed on the map that the Destruction-held keep was under attack, so I thought I’d pop along and see what was happening. Combating the numerical superiority of Destruction would doubtless best be done with military discipline and logistics, but we’re rather too relaxed for that around here and thus instead opt for the Tourism With Extreme Prejudice model of sauntering around going “oh Lavinia said this little castle was simply *adorable*, I must go and have a look-see”, complaining about the food and setting fire to anything that moves.

Sure enough the doors of the keep had been battered down by an impressive-looking ram, and our heroic forces were polishing off a last few NPC defenders around it while a couple of Chaotic individuals looked down from the battlements muttering something about “fetchez la vache”. In we piled, and thus began what I now understand to be a vital element of the siege: standing on the stairs. In the department store of the keep, ground floor is the invading army, cosmetics and ladieswear; first floor is the Keep Lord, assorted cohorts and the cafe; the second floor is renown gear vendors, lingerie and enemy players chucking the odd axe or spell. The only way up is a narrow staircase, though fortunately the Keep Lord is incredibly short sighted and can only spot you as you step off the stairs on his floor. Get back on the stairs, and he’s perfectly happy to toddle back to his starting location (regenerating to full health as he does), with a sarcastic comment about trying to pull him. Once everyone is bunched up on the stairs, you can commence the next phase of the siege, the hokey cokey. Someone edges forward from the stairs, four Champions and a Hero jump on them, they rapidly back off, the NPCs reset. You put your Elf Tank in, the Elf Tank runs out, in, out, in, out, a certain amount of shaking all about transpires. Tired of this nonsense, somebody takes charge in warband chat, issuing a decisive order to “GO GO GO!”, the raid surges forward expectantly, then a couple of people get cold feet and the collision detection of WAR comes into its own as everybody piles into the back of them and falls over. Well, they don’t actually fall over, that would be too much to ask, but the raid moves forward just enough for the lead few not to be able to get back onto the stairs, at which point you kick off the final part of the siege, Realising There Aren’t Nearly Enough Of You And Suddenly Remembering You Really Have To Be Somewhere Else. Oh my, is that the time?

Stonehenge Origins

The BBC news has a story this morning about new findings at Stonehenge, but they’re not fooling me. I’ve seen Bonekickers. The giveaway is the article referring to “bluestones” from “Wales”, a blatantly fictional country. Using my archaeological imagination I have deduced that an elite team of maverick archaeologists found secret clues in the “Art of Warhammer” book from the Collector’s Edition of WAR that pinpointed the location of a cache of warpstone. Reaching the location in the middle of the night, they found they’d been set up by Skaven, who’d planted the clues knowing only our archaeological team had any chance of cracking them (after vast quantities of red wine), and had been tracking their movements through an undercover operative disguised as a reporter on the local paper (The Salisbury Ratman Echo). A tussle ensued, the archaeologists accidentally called in an artillery strike (one of them tripped over a radio, which happened to tune it to the frequency of an army exercise nearby, and then another one said “crikey Dolly, careful or you might call ALL BATTERIES to OPEN FIRE on sector ALPHA FOXTROT NINER FOURER TWOER”) wiping out the Skaven (and all evidence of their habitation of the Stonehenge area, the most amazing archaeological discovery ever), then they all went down the pub and the BBC came up with the flimsy cover story about “healing stones” or something.

Music Catch

For a while now I’ve been marking items in Google Reader thinking “ooh, must come back and check that out properly”. What I’ve neglected to do is ever actually go back and check them out again, so I’ve resolved, most firmly, to maybe have a quick look now and again to at least de-star slightly more than I star, otherwise by 2017 I’ll have roughly six billion articles I really, really must read. And a good thing too, when one of the first things I get back to is an RPS article about Music Catch, a most excellent game of music. And catching. Vaguely along the lines of Audiosurf and stuff of that ilk, in the sense that it involves music and waving a mouse around, the online version features some nice, calming piano that’ll be just the ticket for winding down after running around setting fire to a bunch of stuff. Lovely.


Sorry but I can’t stop to chat, I’m busy with the frantic rolling of alts to try out all the Warhammer Online Collector’s Edition heads. For the two of you out there who don’t already know, one of the bonus items for the Collector’s Edition of the game is a new headpiece to customise the head of your character, that’s your arse if you’re of the Destruction persuasion. Ha, ha, burn on you, you people of viridescent epidermis. This can be applied to existing characters too, simply grab the bonus item from an in-game mailbox and take it to any merchant that can dye armour. In the dye armour window is an additional box that you can drop your item into and see how it looks on your character; if you like the new style, simply click apply to keep it.

The High Elves have a fairly nifty Illidan blindfold, as you can see here on Hudson’s post.

But I had to roll a dwarf, because as readers will know I have a deeply unhealthy attraction to the race of dwarfs, and they get, well they get… oh crikey, I think I’m getting all over-excited in the trouser department again.

A beer barrel in a beard.

Beer barrel in a beard!


Ahem. Oh my. Please excuse me for a few moments.

Everybody thinks they got a genius

iTunes popped up last night eagerly proffering version 8 of itself, like a puppy with a slipper (if the slipper was a more advanced version of the puppy itself, which would be a bit weird). Having seen a bit about the “Genius” playlist feature I thought I’d give it a quick try, and unsurprisingly “Genius” is overselling it a bit, though it is catchier than the new “Stuff Of A Vaguely Similar Genre” playlist. After a few fairly uninspired attempts I thought I’d see what it made of Edwin Starr’s War (huh! Good god, y’all), and it came back with a playlist of…

WAR Pigs by Black (Orc) Sabbath
Civil WAR
(Sword)Masters of WAR
Victim of Change(r of Ways) by Judas (Rune)Priest
Such Great Heights (and the resultant falling damage) by Iron(breaker) and Wine
The Drunken Engineer
If I Had A Hammerer
Witch Hunter (a cover of Witch Doctor: ooh eee ooh ah ah REPENT NOW, HERETIC, OR SUFFER THE FLAMES OF RIGHTOUSNESS bing bang wallah wallah KABOOM)
Iron(breaker) Like A (White) Lion In Zion
Round the Marble Arch(mage)
Moonlight Shadow (Warrior)
Bright (Wizard) Eyes, leading into the Bright Wizard medley of…
Disco Inferno
The Difference Between You And Me Is I’m Not On Fire

OK, so I’m lying, it just came back with a bunch of other Motown stuff, but never mind…