The Illusive Bottle
Last night went absolutely nothing like I had expected. Well that is a bit of a misnomer in that I knew we would be running errands, but I did not realize it would take quite so long nor be so frantic. My wife is a rock star teacher, this much I have said before. However she is tag-team teaching a forensics science class this year and as a result they are pretty much pulling the curriculum out of their asses as they go. For what they are teaching there really are no textbooks, and as a result no approve lab equipment really either. Enter the empty eye drop bottle on the right. You would think something like this would be relatively easy to find. You would also be completely wrong
She needs these for a faux blood typing lab, since it is against safety regulations to use actual blood. Funny thing is I can remember doing blood typing in freshman biology… odd how things have changed in two decades. We went everywhere we could think that might have little bottles including craft stores, pharmacies, finally we found eight of these at a local medical equipment/compounding pharmacy. Problem is to be useful… she needs 30. We picked up what we could find and proceeded onwards in search of the illusive idea. Finally at Michaels we found some flip top bottles that should also work. The problem is this took the count up to 25… still 5 short of the finish line. Supposedly today that Michaels location is getting some more in a shipment, so that means we will need to make our way back out there tonight to pick some more up. The preference would be to find more of the actual eye drop bottles, so my wife plans on calling around to the various compounding pharmacies today. This is the unknown life of the husband of a rock star teacher… the constant trips out for random things for the classroom.
Clearance Lego Haul
Roughly every six months the various store chains jettison one batch of toys to receive new ones. This is my favorite time of the season… because it means I can pick up cheap Legos. I have always loved building with Legos and I likely always will. This desire to build things is exactly why games like Minecraft and Everquest Next Landmark are so sticky to me. They are the dream of every Lego kid, the ability to create things without restrictions of having to have the right pieces. The above image represents the haul of new sets for me to play with over the last several weeks. They have come from a mixture of Target and Wal-mart and for the most part everything was 25-50% off. There is a certain price range that I am willing to snatch things up, and while the Jabba’s Sail Barge that I saw yesterday would have been awesome… it was not $70 worth of awesome.
So instead I play a waiting game to see if it will make a second price cut and drop down into the range which I am willing to buy it for. Last night while we were running around in the mad search for the bottles I managed to pick up the two Galaxy Squad sets above. I might be because I grew up in the “funky space lego” era, but I love new space sets. What was extra cool about this find as a whole is that last year I managed to pick up the Lego Star Wars TIE Fighter really cheaply, so now having an X-Wing to go with it is pretty awesome. I realize I am a big damned kid… but I am okay with this. Getting older is require, growing up and losing the childish wonder at things… is completely optional… and not something I suggest at all.
Boosting for Fun and Profit
I feel like today’s post would be incomplete without mentioning the price leak yesterday for the boost to level 90. I realize ahead of time that my point of view on this is going to be controversial, but it is my point of view anyway. I personally think the boosting to 90 thing is generally going to be bad for the game community, in that dropping a new player into a fully leveled character is a bit of an overload. Honestly I went through this myself when I accepted a scroll of resurrection and decided to boost a character to 80 that I would never actually level otherwise. Dropping directly into a level 80 priest, when I had never actually played a priest past 10 before… was to say the least disorienting. This is coming from someone who has six 90s, and three others waiting in the wings to reach the cap as well. I “grok” warcraft on a pretty deep level and understand how the systems tend to work.
If I was completely at a loss for dropping in the pilot seat of a fully realized character… I can only imagine what it is going to be like for someone who has never played the game, or has not played the game in years. After all this is the reason why Blizzard says they are giving us a boost to 90, so that we can recruit new friends and catch back up old ones. It just seems like a fundamentally bad idea, but like I said I realize I am in the minority as people seem to want the ability to skip the majority of the game. That is honestly the other problem I have with this idea. Fundamentally Warcraft and the MMO genre in general… are about leveling and gaining constant incremental achievements and improvements. If you do not want to level… then maybe you are playing the wrong genre? MMOs are always going to be about leveling in one form or another… be it leveling in actual character level, or grinding away to get the gear to move to the next tier of LFR. There is always a leveling treadmill there, because at its core this is what the genre is all about.
So after all of this… now I feel like maybe you are prepared for my opinion on the price point. I honestly think $60 is rather fair for what you are asking. You are asking for the luxury of being able to skip the majority of the game and jump straight to being inches from the finish line. It is absolutely a luxury, so it should have a luxury price tag associated with it. Understand that this is for additional 90s… we are still getting one for free when we purchase Warlords of Draenor. So the ambiguous planned social benefit of catching people up to the latest content will still be firmly intact… as everyone is going to have to buy the expansion anyway. If you think of it in terms as paying for a Faction and Realm Transfer combo costs $55 right now… then it is not really out of order to expect that creating a brand new 90 character to cost $5 more.
Mentoring Is A Better Answer
I still feel like boosting was a bit of a copout answer to the problem at hand. A much better solution would have been to finally implement a good mentoring system like so many other MMOs have. Rift, EQ2, City of Heroes, and so many others have systems that allow you to drop your level to that of your friends. We we had the bulk of players actively playing Rift this year, we took advantage of this weekly. On Wednesday nights we would gather up and assess what levels we had, then everyone would mentor themselves to the lowest person and we would go do content together that was relevant for that level. It was pretty glorious and my only complaint is that hey really need to make “queue for random mentored dungeon” a thing, because it was always a pain in the butt to do a dungeon together with all the manual mentoring.
The ever awesome @Gypsy_Syl posed this statement when I opened up this line of dialog on twitter last night. While I agree with her that this likely was the intent with the boosts, the question is what exactly are players rushing towards then? Leveling is pretty much the solo game, and all that awaits you when you hit the cap is for the most part group content or leveling another character. Mentoring systems would help with what the stated intent was… to allow you to play with your friends. If that was not their intent, then quite honestly they should stop selling it that way. Mentoring systems go far further for helping you play with your friends, since you and your friends get to experience content the way it was designed to be experienced together.
At the end of the day I tend to align with @MatthewWRossi who put it so poignantly in the above tweet. If a character is a struggle to level, then it won’t be something I play often once I get it to the level cap. Prime example of this was my rogue that I just recently hit 90 on. It was absolute skull drudgery to get it to the level cap, but I forced myself to do it… because I have not had a rogue at cap since burning crusade. Problem is while leveling it and the eventual LFR grind… I came to realize just how much I do not like playing a rogue. I pushed him over this finish line for reasons other than wanting to play the character, namely I wanted a max level transmute specialization alchemist… but each time I log over to the rogue to do something like a holiday instance, it just feels wrong. If you don’t enjoy the process of leveling the character, then to me at least it is highly unlikely you will enjoy the end result either.
I Lived Threes Company
Today’s blog post is going super long, but I guess I had a lot bottled up in me to talk about… no callback to the eye droppers intended. As I have said a few times I started out at a junior college for the first two years of my college education. So when it came time to transfer up to a four year university to finish off, I opted to get an apartment with a high school friend who had been doing the same. For a few months everything was peachy, and we lived pretty blissfully. Then one morning I was woken up by a bunch of strange men moving my roommates stuff out of our apartment. Without warning he decided to move into the “band” frat house, leaving me pretty much high and dry without much explanation.
It turns out that the landlords were coming that afternoon to kick him out of our apartment. When we got the place we had opted to each pay our half of the rent separately. While I had been religiously bringing my envelope down to the landlord on time, it seems as though he had not for the last two months. They were not going to make me catch up his side of the rent, but I just didn’t feel right not doing so. As a result it pretty much burned through all of my available cash, and the burden of keeping a place that I got intending to have a second income to support. At this same time, my wife and her roommate were living in the slums essentially. The place they were renting had literal holes in the floor and a very curious maroon stain creeping through the paint on the ceiling. So we both needed to get out of our current situation.
As a result we did the pragmatic thing, since it was a rarity that my wife and I spent a night a part at that point. We found a place that was ideal for three people, and after spending a few months watching the really nice caretaker renovate the place… we moved in. It was in a quite little trailer park roughly ten miles from town, so it gave us the feeling of having a home… more than a rental. So at that point I was basically living Threes Company, with two female roommates. Essentially my wife and I had the master bedroom together, and our roommate had another large bedroom on the opposite end of the trailer. The computers and consoles were set up in a “vestigial” middle bedroom that while it had a bed, the bed got used more as a couch than anything else.
The funny thing is that my wife’s father refused to admit that we were “living together in sin”. Anytime he needed to talk to my wife, he would not call our phone line at our end of the trailer, but instead he would call the roommates phone at the opposite end. Remember these are the days of dial-up… and since all of us were IRC junkies to boot… we had to have separate phone lines. I have to say the situation was damned near idyllic, and over the time living together the room mate and I developed a loving brother/sister type relationship. She is one of the few people we still keep in contact with from our college days, and while we don’t see her often not a week goes by that we don’t think about her. Our bonding was special, since she has Cystic Fibrosis… and when she was having a bad night it was not unusual that I would get employed to pound on her back to help break up the gunk so she could breathe. After all us respiratory system rejects got to stick together.