Foil by Cats

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This morning I had the boldest of plans for what I was going to do with my day off…  but so far none of it has come to fruition as I keep being besieged by adorable cats wanting to snuggle.  Today begins my four day weekend, and while I will have to do some work at some point…  namely reconcile timesheets…  I have most of the day to myself.  I originally planned to tear apart my system upstairs and move it to its new case…  that is large enough to finally fit the 1080 ti that I picked up on the cheap during prime day.  So far this has not happened and I am not honestly certain it will.

This is the problem with making plans sometimes is that other plans sorta insert themselves in the middle of them.  Right now I am chilling on the sofa with cats as I type my morning post, and considering I don’t think I slept terribly well…  I am largely okay with this situation.  An alternate strategy is to play World of Warcraft and work on leveling the Demon Hunter while trying to finish Jessica Jones season 2 and start Luke Cage season 2.  Whatever the case…  I needed a break because the rigors of work have been nonsense.  I only wish that my wife could have also had a similar break.

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Right now I am a little over halfway to 116 and finally reaching the point I have already quested through in Nazmir.  I look forward to seeing how the rest of the zone goes since I largely stalled out on it as soon as I dinged 120 and became obsessed with gear acquisition on the Warrior.  I am enjoying Fury quite a bit, but I have never really had the soul of a dps player…  but I do like that it gives me an option to run when someone else is able to tank.  I still however feel the need to push up a viable tank since that is largely the role I always inhabit in group play.  My hope is by the end of this break I will be back at 120 and potentially have eclipsed where my Warrior is gear wise.

However… for the very moment I am going to get back to snuggling with cats.

Tarnished Hope

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Yesterday was a bit of a trying day for me personally.   I’ve personally been bought into this notion that Mastodon provided a kinder gentler alternative to Twitter, but yesterday largely proved that notion completely wrong.  The Fediverse has been the welcome home of the disenfranchised and marginalized, which is awesome since Twitter has not done a great job of protecting that group in any way.  However some events happened recently and because of them I am glad that I joined up several weeks ago rather than right now at this time.  I was able to see what I thought was the ActivityPub community in its native state, talking about interesting things openly and publicly and willing to friend each other just as easily.  I was able to get settled in quickly with the help of a whole slew of people who offered useful advice as I docked myself into a corner of this big maelstrom of interesting things.

I started out on Mastodon.cloud which was a large overflow instance to the original flagship of Mastodon.social.  However I quickly realized that maybe being on a big disconnected instance was not the best idea in the world.  As such I made the migration to Elekk.xyz which is awesome and started funding the patreon a bit to help out in its maintenance.  However when my good friend Liore decided to fire up her own private instance…  I found myself making the jump yet again to Nineties.Cafe and I am extremely happy I did.  It is sort of this protective bubble where the people I already knew and the friends of those people are hanging out and talking freely about our interests.  It has made it very easy to drown out the events that are happening over in “fedi” aka the federated timeline.

Effectively some weeks back Wil Wheaton joined Mastodon and like any denizen of twitter had some difficulty adjusting to the weird mix of things going on here and all of the little social norms that I talked a bit about the other day.  However with increasing fervor there was a move to push him off of the platform, and while there are folks who have very valid concerns…  most of what I saw regularly in the form of shitposts from Fedi was effectively the consensus of “fuck him for being famous”.  As such it felt like a defense coalesced with the goal of pushing the infection out of the system, and in that I saw a lot of behavior that I had seen on Twitter and other social media platforms that is normally targeted at those same disenfranchised and marginalized people that I talked about at the beginning of the post.

Essentially I was watching the bullied become the bullies, and it saddened me greatly.  I thought I had found a quiet corner of the internet that functioned the way I remember the internet first feeling during those heady early days of the nineties.  I’ve compared Mastodon to early IRC or to the BBS era…  but the last couple of days have felt like anything but that.  I am not saying that the folks who pushed back are evil or wrong, just that the tactics that they were employing were the exact same thing that I have seen employed against them in the past.  The only real comment I have made on the issue was last night.

I guess today yet again proved that we can build a better technology, that has the potential for better community engagement. But we can’t necessarily guarantee that everyone is going to be willing to be better human beings. Human beings still suck, and I welcome the robot overlords that will come after us.

I still have a lot of hope in Mastodon and Pleroma and the rest of the little islands that live in the ActivityPub Fediverse, and I am super glad that I have found my little island full of refugees from the nineties.  I just saw a lot of the same behavior that I have on other social media platforms and it made me a little bummed about the whole experiment.  However I will keep moving on and keep looking for the good things out there happening.  There are needlessly folks who feel safer after yesterdays events, and that is good I guess.  I just wish it wasn’t at the cost of reverting to the same flavors of toxic gate keeping that had been used as a weapon against “the other” before.  Yesterday just made me think a little too much about this quote from Animal Farm:  All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Reluctantly Fury

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This morning is a hard morning, because I am struggling to wake up.  I apparently had a way more active night than I realized, because in my mind I slept all the way through.  However my wife told me a tale this morning that tells otherwise.  Apparently I fell asleep with the television on and at some point during the night she woke up and decided that it should be turned off.  The television remote was on the end table on my side of the bed so she proceeded to wake me up and tell me to turn it off.  Instead of doing this… I apparently proudly proclaimed that “I peed”.  At which point she tried to tell me no.. please turn off the television…  to which I again proudly replied “but I already peed”.

This apparently happened a couple more times before I finally reluctantly turned off the television.  I remember absolutely none of this happening at all.  In my mind I went to bed and slept all the night through without incident, but I am guessing my generally groggy state this morning is due to the fact that I didn’t in fact do that thing.  I have been taking a dose of nyquil before going to bed because I have been fighting this nameless crud, and I am wondering if the sleep inducing nature of that…  lead to my odd behavior.  Regardless it is blogfodder as I call it, and like so many things I probably shouldn’t tell you…  I am telling you anyways.

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Last night I managed to get the Demon Hunter to 114 and finish out the quests in Vol’dun.  At this point I have moved him on to Nazmir which is a zone I never quite finished on the Warrior before getting caught up in the madness of world questing.  As I was winding down on the Demon Hunter I decided to make one more pass on the Warrior to see if there were any quests up that I absolutely had to do.  It was around this point that I decided to try out Fury in proper and get my bars set up.  Now at this point I don’t have a great combo of weapons for Fury as I am have a spear from world questing that came in around 320 and an axe that came from a world boss I believe at 289ish.  It is good enough to get started, but generally speaking I have had hell getting weapons this entire expansion so far.  I was hoping that onehander fury was a thing again and I could just drop some fist weapons crafted by my leatherworker, but that is apparently not a thing.

The shocking truth is…  Fury is amazing.  It feels good and shockingly feels like I have more moment to moment survival than I do as a protection warrior.  Basically this is now my world questing form and will probably run dungeons as such also to help build out the rest of my gear.  This is the expansion where apparently I am maining Fury on the Warrior, however that is not enough of a consolation prize to give up my mission to level the Demon Hunter and tank on it.  It does at least make me feel like maybe I didn’t completely waste the first two weeks of this expansion leveling a character that would be permanently shelved during this expansion.  Maybe just maybe at some point they will apply some tweaks to the way protection feels and I can dust off the sword and shield.

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Another thing that I poked my head into last night was Destiny 2, and for starters the lighting model feels totally different as evidenced by the way this ship looks.  As far as the changes… I am still wrapping my head around what weapons do what.  What I thought was going to happen was that we could put any weapon in any slot.  What actually happened was that weapons are still divided by Kinetic, Energy and Power slots and then to confuse things further…  the weapons are split by what sort of ammunition they use being primary, special or heavy.  Fusion Rifle, Sniper Rifle and Shotgun all now are counted as special weapon types and are divided between the first and second slot.  What I had hoped was that I could run around with Uriel’s Gift in the first slot, Merciless in the second slot, and then a Sword in the third slot.  That is not a thing since Merciless and Uriel’s Gift both occupy the same slot.

None of this works exactly how I remembered them explaining it in the first live stream about Forsaken, however I have also not been following the changes terribly close.  So technically there probably are ways you could have a shotgun in the first two slots, but I am not sure how viable that is actually going to be.  The infusion however works much better to where it is slot based and not weapon type based.  That said we still can’t do what we were able to do in TTK era of feeding trash drops from one class to become infusion fuel to push up another class which is unfortunate.  Supposedly the changes feel really good, but I am on a mission to level the Demon Hunter so I did not give it that much time.  I hope to explore it more over the long weekend break.

Abandoning Warrior

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I’ve loved the Warrior class since the first time I saw one tank a raid.  Back then I was attempting to tank with my Paladin during the “seal of rage” era and to be able to see the way the warrior could just do everything better than I could was impressive.  I rapidly started leveling a Warrior up with my good friend Finni as she leveled her priest, and before long I was tanking all of the Late Night Raiders off night activities like Zul’Gurub.  When Burning Crusade was released I used it as an opportunity to shed Hunter as my raiding main and embrace the life of the tank.  It was a good choice and I was largely happy with it until the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King when I started straying from the path by playing a Death Knight.  I kept on that Deathlord path up until Warlords when they reached a point where they felt horrible, and with that I shifted back to my original love and have been a Warrior main again ever since.

As it stands right now…  Warriors are not in a great place.  I’ve always prided myself on being the tank that was the most healable, in that I tried my damnedest to level out the amount of damage that I am taking so that I can be healed in a predictable manner.  That is no longer a protection warrior, in fact as I have seen so far they seem to be the absolute worst at taking damage spikes due to a combination of all of our active mitigation abilities being on the GCD and not being able to maintain 100% up time due to cool downs.  Playing a warrior tank right now is a stressful mess in a manner that it shouldn’t be at the low gear levels and challenge levels of content that I am focused on.  I always feel like I am rage starved and essentially have to choose between active mitigation and dealing damage, and the more I sway towards damage reduction…. the more trouble I have holding aggro on large packs of things.

This is exacerbated by the fact that I cannot find a weapon to save my life and finally had to plunk down 11k on a weapon that I know will be replaced almost immediately just because it is something better than the 273 weapon that I had been using.  To make things worse…  even in the open world while doing World Quests…  Warrior tanks feel like a mess.  It is a constant juggling act trying to keep myself alive while slowly chewing down the health of mobs.  Sure I can solo bigger content, but it requires me to be constantly vigilant and never miss an active mitigation…  or simply pull a ton of trash mobs to make sure I can always be killing something and proccing another 20% heal from Victory Rush.  Basically warrioring right now is the opposite of fun for me and it is at this point that I think I am stepping away…  feeling like I wasted the last few weeks on a class that I just don’t want to play.

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Instead I am spending my play time right now leveling the Demon Hunter because their tank ability is just complete nonsense.  They are grossly overpowered and I think honestly I am okay with that…  because it feels like a fun class to play.  At this point I am 113 and have tanked Underrot…  one of the dungeons that has just straight up murdered me as a warrior.  It was only last night that I realized that the 8.0 patch reset my talents… I was apparently doing all this with absolutely no talent choices.  It is nonsense and I cannot underline that point enough, but it is fun and it allows me to have a relatively stress free play experience.  Sure I have to be a damned dirty elf…  but at least my Demon Hunter looks cool.

The truth is at some point Demon Hunters are going to get the ban hammer…  and that is frustrating because they feel like tanks in general used to feel.  Sure it took you forever to kill something, but you didn’t have to worry about incoming damage while you were slowly chewing away at mob health.  More importantly than anything…  Demon Hunters right now are the easiest to keep alive for the healers and knowing that as a Warrior I am stressing out my healer…  stresses me out.  I took Friday off and I plan on using it to do a very hard push of the Demon Hunter to 120 and start gearing it.  The tanking is enjoyable enough that I am likely going to just start pugging dungeon runs for gear immediately or grabbing anyone in guild that needs gear for an instant queue.

I am deeply saddened that I have reached this point, with warriors.  I am even more deeply saddened that if you go on the Warrior forums you see a lot of people claiming nothing is wrong.  If the healers tell me Warriors are in general harder to heal than any other Tank class and they consider them bottom of the rung…  then I believe them.  They are the ones keeping my ass alive and I don’t like the notion that my choice of class makes their lives worse.  I like Fury just fine so at least my Warrior won’t go to waste… I just need to acquire two weapons…  which is its own challenge.  I guess I could craft two fist weapons with my leatherworker Demon Hunter and use that as a starting place.  I can only hope that Warriors return to glory at some point in the near future.

Fediverse: Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

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First off this morning you are getting a picture of Dolly and Dot for no apparent reason other than the fact that they are adorable and they should be your best friends too.  Secondly this is going to largely be a Mastodon/Fediverse related topic, so your mileage may vary.  Last week I started off the week with a post about my adventures in the “Federiverse” at that time.  After some digging around I apparently used the wrong term, which was confusing given that both got used in equal parts as far as I could see.  It turns out Fediverse as a concept dates back to at least 2008, whereas the Federiverse thing doesn’t have its own Wiki page and only really links to hashtags on mastodon…  so I have edited my vocabulary to adopt the correct term.

Now I went through this little dance with the naming of the thing, largely because this is a sequence of events you are ultimately going to get used to if you truly blend into the culture on Mastodon and all of the other services using the ActivityPub protocol.  Like me you will likely be coming from a background built upon using Twitter or “Birdsite” as a lot of the denizens of the fediverse refer to it as, and that came with a bunch of cultural norms.  Mastodon and related services also have a lot of cultural norms and it can be sorta confusing getting adjusted to them.  For the most part however folks seem to be genuinely nice about helping new users along the journey.

In gaming there have been several times where I was asked to join a guild or a clan with their own well established doctrine of “normal” behaviors.  In many cases the choice was either to adapt to how things worked in that structure or to ultimately branch out and do your own thing.  When I go into one of those situations I try and be hyper conscious about my actions and how they might impact others.  Similarly I try very hard to not take anything for granted, and ultimately ask for permission rather than assume that I have it.  This is also a complimentary mindset for joining Mastodon and making sure that you largely fit in with the flow of things.  This morning I am going to talk about a few things that it took me a bit to sort out.

Gaming vs Gameing

One of the things that you are going to encounter as a gamer on Mastodon is that they regularly use an incorrect spelling of the word gaming.  It took me a bit to sort this out, because for awhile I thought maybe this was a US English vs UK English sort of thing and maybe some people actually DO legitimately spell it with that E.  Eventually I did what I have often done to learn things on the network…  I asked the Fediverse and in response it spit back more than a few comments.  Ultimately what it comes down to is “Gameing” is sort of their reaction to the “hardcoreification” of the “gamer” identity.  There are folks that felt like that identity was co-opted by the super serious and elitist, leaving little ground for the more casual players who just want to enjoy gaming to its fullest without getting caught up in too much epeen braggery.

As a result they started using the misspelled and nonsensical “Gameing” to represent the more pure aspects of the joy that is discovering new and interesting things through video games.  Understanding this now you will see me also adopting that hashtag at times when advertising my posts since I am not really the most serious person in nature.  I lead off this post with a picture of Dolly and Dot afterall, so I am not exactly hard edge.  This honestly dates back to a discussion that has sprung up numerous times in the blogosphere about how to identify a gamer, and if there is such a thing as “casual core”.  Instead we can just skip past all of this and use the #gameing bit to indicate which side of that gulf we happen to reside on.

Caption Your Images

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One of the things about Mastodon and the Fediverse in general is that they seem to really care about accessibility.  What I mean by that is that your content is accessible by both sighted users and the visually impaired that may be using a screen reader app to check their social media.  You will hear people talking about making sure to caption your images, but it took me a long while to actually sort out how that works.  I thought by simply including text along with my image I was doing that.  However once you have uploaded your image you can click on it with your mouse, or finger on a mobile client…  and it brings up a box allowing you to had an explicit caption of what the image represents.  It is a good habit to get into, but folks are understanding when you simply rush to post something and forget.

Delete and Redraft

Now say you post an image… and you want to fix the fact that you forgot to add a caption.  Mastodon has this wonderful feature that is called Delete and Redraft… that is sorta like editing but not quite.  Essentially it does what it says… it deletes your original toot and pulls the contents of it back into the editor so you can fix that typo or add that caption.  This will of course nuke any interaction that has been done with a toot, but you are going to find that Mastodon is a network of people that don’t place quite as much emphasis on how many “favorites” or “likes” something got.

Using CW/Content Warning Tags

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Another thing you are going to see a lot of is the wide and varied uses of the CW tag, or the collapsible [show more] [show less] blocks on posts.  I am honestly still sorting out how I want to best use these, because there are a lot of different ways that they get used in the community.  Firstly they should always be used if you are going to post NSFW content and when you click the CW button in your client it brings up a box that allows you to describe what sort of content is being posted.  Additionally the community prefers that you use these in any situation where your post might trigger someone.  For example I used them when I posted a picture of cookies yesterday, just in case someone out there with an eating disorder might be negatively influenced by that posting.  I denoted in the description line “food, cookies” as a sort of short hand so people can understand why the tag is happening.

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The other usage you will see an awful lot that I also have attempted to adopt myself, is using them to shorten long posts.  For example the above image is of my Actively Playing pin on my profile.  Without expanding it you just see the text “Actively Playing 2018-08-25” but then if you expand it shows all of the games mentioned and their equivalent hashtags.  The interesting thing about CW is that if someone were to search for #MonsterHunter for example… they would eventually find my pinned toot even though the hashtag itself exists behind the block.  The only negative of a CW is that it also always hides the visibility of the image.  Basically this is the sort of thing you need to play with yourself to determine if you want to use it or not.  However you are going to be urged gently (most of the time) to adopt some sort of regular usage of them by the community.

Pronouns

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I have to admit here, I have never really put my pronouns in a social media profile not because I am oblivious to the need of such things… but more along the lines that I didn’t really mind whatever pronouns someone opted to using for me.  If you want to call me She, it isn’t really going to bother me nor is referring to me as the more neutral Them.  However in the middle of a conversation I had someone explain that seeing pronouns in your profile just makes them more comfortable, especially in situations where someone is trying really hard not to make any assumptions about anyone.  Again this goes back to trying to ease into the water of a pool that is already full to the brim with people… and if it makes others more comfortable I will absolutely adopt that stance going forward.  Similarly I suggest you move in that direction as well, and as such I am also going back and shimming the “he/him” bit into my older social media profiles as I come across them just to help ease the comfort levels of others.

Interact Freely

The other thing of interest about the Fediverse is that no one seems to consider it creepy if you just start commenting on random posts.  That is absolutely a thing that happens due to the federated nature of the timeline…  people who have no connection to you will find your posts and occasionally comment and no one takes offense to this.  You are having a very public conversation and it is accepted that you are basically shouting into an open room, in part because Mastodon gives you the option to post privately or only to your followers along with the more public options.  If you can see a post… it means it is perfectly fine for you to chime in on it.  It is also perfectly normal to follow random people or boost their toots.  This is one of the more refreshing things about the Fediverse in general is that there are not as many weird hangups about interactions.  You are expected to branch out and meet new people through interactions, and generally speaking people seem to be way more open as a whole because the various content controls that Mastodon Instance owners have…  tends to make it a much safer place for open discourse.

It has been an interesting experiment getting involved with this network.  It feels more natural I guess the more I use it, and you too will go through a bit of an adjustment period.  Granted I still very much use Twitter and I am not really looking for Mastodon to be a replacement.  It is however a vastly different experience and as such I sort of treat it as its own thing.  I’ve only scratched the surface of things I could say about my experiences but I figure at this point it is a long enough blog post.  I would be curious to hear all of the little idiosyncrasies that you have found in getting adjusted.

 

Early Doldrums

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I didn’t blog this morning in part I think because I didn’t want to write the post that was sitting inside my brain.  First off I wanted to share this amazing image of my Elder Scrolls Online Imperial Dragon Knight that I commissioned Ammo to create for me.  Secondly I ended up creating a big damned thread over on Mastodon and I just realized… it was the blog post I should have made this morning.  So I ultimately lied to you and am going to largely post that thread over here since it is actually a post.

I am in a really weird place with WoW at the moment.  The last several nights I have logged in mostly to do the Emissary quest and then largely logged back out.  I rapidly reached a point where the World Quest gear isn’t really an upgrade unless its one of my dwindling number of 300ish items

The other main problem is…  the Protection Warrior just doesn’t feel as good as it has in past expansions, especially for open world content.  Sure after swapping around my build I can survive essentially indefinitely, but the time to kill just feels awful.  Not to mention the flow of combat just feels off for some reason that I can’t quite quantify.

I am starting to feel like maybe I chose the wrong main this time around…  but I am also not finding the oomph to level something else in its place because that is even more time being out of sync with my friends playing.  The stingy nature of weapons while leveling, means that I don’t really have a viable off spec weapon set up to go Fury (my choice of dps spec as warrior), and even Arms would be super anemic since my single two-hander is pretty crummy.

I think if I force myself into chain running some dungeons I might be able to kick start that joy again… but right now I am in a doldrum the earliest I have ever been in any previous expansion.  The last few nights have been a little odd and lead to me just not playing at all with friends so I think tonight I am going to see what a round of dungeoning feels like to see if it kicks me back into enjoyment phase.  Otherwise I have to tackle the thought of leveling something else…  or just moving on for now knowing that eventually I will come back.

Sometimes you just gotta be willing to let the post out that is inside of you even thought you maybe don’t want to be negative.  It will get out one way or the other…  either in a long thread on social media or in a series of private messages to friends.

Old Dog New Tricks

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Last night was a pretty chill night for me, in fact I honestly didn’t play that much Warcraft other than getting in and doing the Emissary quest for the day.  The sand fishing quest in Vol’dun can officially die in a fire… the only thing that managed to make it reasonable is that I happened to have a couple of other hordies doing it at the same time and we tagged each others spawns.  Effectively when you fish with the extra action button… you can either get a work or one of the angry trilobyte things… and it seemed like I pulled way more of those out of the ground rather than the worms I actually needed.  Not a fan at all… but it was a 310 azerite chest so figured I NEEDED to do it to see if I got anything interesting from it.  I am also trying to adjust to drastically changing up my play style with the warrior.

Ultimately I was operating with old data in the back of my head and also trying to play like I had played for most of legion…  when rage rained down from the sky like magic.  The entire time playing Battle for Azeroth I have felt rage starved, like I simply did not have enough of it to do all of the things I felt like I needed to do.  In Legion it seemed like I could spam revenge with impunity and still have plenty of rage left over to keep Ignore Pain and Shield Block active 100% of the time.  Additionally I seem to have missed the memo that Ignore Pain is now sorta garbage as compared to its original state that I was used to.  If I had to make a choice before I would almost always favor Ignore Pain over Shield Block because it seemed to buy me more leverage to work with.

That however is not the case anymore and additionally the Devastator talent that can be used to simplify the rotation…  seems to also be not that great.  So all through the leveling process I ran a build that looked a little something like this…

  • Impending Victory – having the heal was nice for regenerating my health
  • Crackling Thunder – because thunderclap radius meant I could hit more things
  • Unstoppable Force – because more thunderclap with Avatar
  • Indomitable – largely picked because I always used this before
  • Rumbling Earth – because I like shockwave a lot
  • Devastator – because it was one less button I needed to mash
  • Heavy Repercussions – because lazy and it is a simple pick

The build that I have shifted to looks a little bit like this.

  • Into the Fray – because apparently now haste is king?
  • Bounding Stride – more movement options is more better
  • Unstoppable Force – still because more thunderclap with Avatar
  • Bolster – because halves the cooldown of Last Stand and makes me block all melee attacks while up
  • Rumbling Earth – again because I like shockwave a lot
  • Booming Voice – because apparently Demoralizing Shout became my fastest way to get some rage
  • Anger Management – because thanks to bolster Last Stand is my best cooldown and it comes up more often

The problem with all of this is to make it work…  I had to shift around a ton of my keybinds and last night was largely me running around and killing things and trying to get used to the new places that things are in… and also learning to lean on Demoralizing Shout whenever I am rage starved to get back in the game.  I am old… and as a result I am starting to get a little set in my ways.  The keybinds I have been using for my warrior have been used in that configuration for probably three expansions now more or less apart from some minor tweaks.  It is going to take awhile to get to where I don’t feel like I am walking on marbles with these new keybinds.  Essentially I try and play my classes in a way so that I am not thinking about what I am hitting at any given moment… and I am largely just playing through muscle memory.  So I have to spend some time retraining said muscle memory so I can get back to just reacting to the situation on the ground as it is happening rather than hovering in my head trying to sort out what I should be hitting.

Tonight I will probably do more of the same, doing world quests to get used to the feel of things… and also because I am going to be at RiffTrax with work friends leading me to get home super late as compared to my usual schedule.  It is going to be Krull which has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure movie for me.  I grew up loving the weapon and tolerating the movie because the weapon looked badass.  It should be a good time and I am mostly hoping that I can keep my coughing down to a minimum in the theater as not to distract everyone else around me.

The Magic Number

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Last night was a good night.  First off I am finally starting to feel a little more like human, as it seems that whatever crud I have been fighting for the last week is starting to subside.  Second I think I found the source of my annoyance in Discord mysteriously turning itself from push to talk to voice activated all the time.  Finally I got to run some dungeons with Mor, Grace and a friend of theirs from the Star Wars the Old Republic days.  At this point I think there are a couple of dungeons I still have yet to see on normal, and it is my goal to remedy that before sitting foot into heroics.  There are still several items that I need…  namely a good shield, good main hand weapon, and another reasonable trinket.  Those are the slots that are dragging down my magic number down from what it could potentially be.

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Speaking of magic numbers however…  I have now hit 305 which makes me physical capable of queuing for heroics.  However this is not quite something I want to do yet.  I want to finish getting those missing slots and see if I can sort out why I feel so damned squishy.  It could be that Protection Warriors are just in a shitty place right now and one that will improve later as gear scales.  This has been the case in past expansions, but what I am going through at the moment is that I feel completely rage starved.  It is like I don’t have enough active rage to be using revenge and keeping up Ignore Pain/Shield Block.  This is completely new for me because always in the past I had all the rage in the world to play with.  So last night I shifted around my talents after the few dungeons we ran and I am hoping tonight…  I maybe see an improvement.

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The image may state that this is Lord Stormsong…  but in truth it is Squid Pope.  Originally we thought he was Fish Pope but he transformed over the course of the instance.  Squid Pope and his friends were very annoying, but we managed to make it through the effort and get some loot in the process.  So far I am thinking that the dungeons that the Alliance gets natively are maybe a little cooler than the dungeons the Horde gets.  The blood troll instance for example… is annoying as shit and I still have not figured out how the ticks work given that sometimes I die horribly to them exploding and other times I am just fine.  The end result is me running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to avoid standing near them as they die.

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My hope is that tonight in our adventures I manage to find a weapon and a trinket… and preferably a new shield so I can go forth into heroic land with great confidence.  It is taking me a little longer than normal to ease into my comfort zone with Battle for Azeroth content, but I am thankful I have a trusted healer to ferry me along in this journey.  She is showing great restraint in not just completely blowing past me and leaving me in the dust.  I am already feeling super behind the curve given how often people in guild chat are asking for Mythics…  and I have not even set foot in a Heroic.  They are on a vastly different trajectory to me so far, and that is okay.  I will get there eventually, and hopefully at some point I get enough gear to have offspec options.

Disposable Items

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I don’t have an awful lot to talk about this morning, apart from just how badass my Orc Warrior Lady looks in the Blackhand set combined with the revamped version of the crazy Black Temple shield and Mechanar sword.  As much as I generally did not like the story arc of Warlords of Draenor…  it produced a bunch of gear that I absolutely love.  The Iron Wrath set still is among my all-time favorite Warrior sets and I really need to put some time into farming the transmog bits that I am missing.  One of the things I realized last night is that my attachment to the Sun Eater’s appearance is at least in small part because I farmed Heroic Mechanar for ages to try and get it.  It also made me realize how different the economy of gear is now as to when it was back then.

There were items worth farming because when you got them… they would actually serve as a pretty good weapon for a good while into raiding rather than something you toss in the bin immediately.  I remember in Burning Crusade when they introduced the long and contorted weapon specializations for Blacksmithing…  those items were actually worth working towards because they would serve the player for more than a day or two.  Anything I could craft for myself right now gets tossed in the shredder the moment I step foot into a heroic or at the very least a mythic dungeon.  Those long tailed goals are largely gone from the game, the things that are worth striving towards.

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I think the problem for me is that my core gameplay loop has shifted from seeking specific objectives, to gaining the next disposable item that will increase the magical number that gates all of the tiers of content in the game.  I remember there used to be a time when I would create “Hit Lists” of the items that I wanted from specific dungeons, and then set forth to run those dungeons until I completed that set.  Back then however the items in each dungeon felt unique to the location… not just super similar draws from the same item pool.  The transitory nature of the items however makes each new acquisition feel completely unimportant…  the equivalent to the commons in a pack of Magic the Gathering cards that you just skip over hoping that maybe just maybe you got something really cool in the Rare/Mythic slot.

I miss caring about the drops.  I am not sure how you go back to that era especially when the modern era is actually way more open to varied styles of play.  Right now I am largely gearing through a mix of World Questing and running the occasional dungeon.  If I were super serious about things I would be abusing the fact that I have instant dungeon queues as a tank and pug my way to glory.  At this point I am sitting at 300 item level and I need 305 to start doing heroics.  That said in truth I probably need to have a full compliment of 310 items to make heroics really viable as the person who is soaking all of the damage.

The thing is… I used to feel confident running dungeons with strangers.  Somewhere along the way that changed and I no longer feel as bulletproof and steadfast as I once was.  I used to feel like I really had a handle on all there was to know about warrior tanking.  Now I just sorta feel like a pretender in plate armor, and I think that lack of confidence hinders me so much when it comes to random groups.  Last night Grace and I ran a dungeon, and I felt like I was screwing up all of the time…  and doing all the wrong things.  I am not entirely certain how to get over that, apart from just bashing my face against the random group finder until I become desensitized again.

The funny thing is though… I don’t have reason to feel this way.  So far all of the random people we have grouped with on Horde side have been awesome.  I generally start the group with a “Hey Folks!” and unlike Alliance side I almost always get a response back which starts an open dialog that often continues during the dungeon.  I do however miss the days when I used to have a ton of active social channels on the server, and had to build groups by hand…  because then I actually got to know more people.  It is all too easy for me to stay in my comfortable bubble of people I am already familiar with rather than branching out and making new connections.  I think in part that is why I am enjoying Mastodon so much… is because it is forcing me to meet and entirely new world of people.

Adventures in the Federiverse

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One of the things that you probably already know about me by reading my blog… is that Twitter is my social media home.  It is where with the release of this blog I carved out a place for myself online and then filled my feed full of other awesome gamers and bloggers.  It was for years my happy place, where I came to get new ideas or interact with others about my own.  Then something happened along the way that started to darken the environment.  More politics started filtering their way into these discussions and with the introduction of the Gators, there was a massive chilling effect on this community I so loved.  So it is a world that I still feel very connected to, and is still the primary source of communication I have for a lot of my friends…  but the day to day interactions just don’t feel as good as they once did.

The above tweet was sort of a catalyst for an interesting journey I have been on this weekend.  Initially my thought was “why the hell does the metal band have a social network?”.  It seems like I have been behind the times and another network sprung up without me knowing about it.  Mastodon is essentially the latest not-twitter to show up on the block, but in truth by latest I mean it has been out in the wild since October of 2016 in one form or another.  Twitter is the most readily available comparison but in truth it is doing a lot more than that, some of which honestly is a bit of a detriment to easily on-boarding new users.

Mastodon is a distributed and federated social network that is by nature decentralized, and while there is in fact a Flagship site called Mastodon.social, there are a ton of smaller communities that have downloaded the open source software and are running their own instances.  The largest of these is the primarily non-English speaking Pawoo.net with around 400,000 users, and the smallest ones somewhere in the sub-100 user range.  No one person controls the network as essentially all of the instances out there have control over the code base of their own server…  pending they don’t tweak the general network protocol settings.

So you are probably thinking to yourself, what use is a social network if it is a bunch of disconnected islands?  This is where the Federated part comes in allowing users on different island states to talk to each other freely as though they were on the same network.  That means I can take my @Belghast@Elekk.xyz account and talk freely to @Tamrielo@Tabletop.social or @x1101@social.nasqueron.org.  The naming following an email like scheme with @Username and then @Instance following it if they are not also on your local instance.

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The user interface has a very “I swear I am using TweetDeck” feel to it, but it is just subtly different enough to trip you up a little bit.  However it was extremely easy for me to shift over to using it comfortably because a lot of the things I was used to doing were also here.  Instead of a Tweet you have a Toot since Mastodons…  and instead of a Retweet folks call it a Boost, which in some ways is a more pleasant way of thinking about it given you are trying to share someone else’s content with the world.  Significantly different is the fact that you can change the visibility of a given “toot” so that it shows as public, unlisted, follower-only or is instead a direct message to a specific user or users mentioned.

There is also the Content Warning tag that allows users to hide anything that might be sensitive behind one of the Show More walls that you are seeing in the screenshot above.  Each community uses this a little differently, and a lot of people will simply use it as a way of truncating a long post so that it doesn’t clog the feeds of others with a wall of text or something that is image heavy.  For example this weekend when I syndicated my podcast, I was able to give a little longer of an intro to it given the 500 character limit instead of 140/280 and hid most of that behind a CW tag for making life easier on the folks reading their timelines.  The only thing that seems to be missing is the ability to add a comment along with a boost similar to the quoted retweet functionality that I use so often.

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One of the other interesting things about the Federiverse as a lot of people call it… is that you can effectively start on one server and uproot and move to another.  For example I started out on Mastodon.cloud because I simply did not understand at first how this network worked.  It was a more general interest instance and quite honestly was still very awesome with a very nice admin.  However the longer I used it, the more I realized that maybe I wanted to be on an instance that was more drift compatible to my own interests.  I had a lot of great interactions with folks from Elekk.xyz and that lead me to investigate it closer…  and when I saw the above image I knew that it was probably the right place for me.

One of the things that separates Mastodon from Twitter is that you have the ability to read essentially every public toot that comes across the server.  You have a local timeline that shows you everything happening on your own instance, and a federated timeline showing you everything happening on all of the servers your local is connected with.  It is probably best to think of this in MMO terms as your Local Timeline is your Guild Chat and your Federated Timeline is Trade or General.

The other thing that it feels like to me is an old dial-up BBS.  During Fido.net era when they were loosely connected through a hub and spoke relay network, a user on one BBS to communicate with a user on any other connected BBS.  However it sometimes took four or five days for the round trip depending on when you sent the message and when the person on the other end received and replied to it.  In the Federiverse each of these instances is like your local BBS where you get to know everyone, with the ability to reach out and make friendships with anyone else in the larger connected community.

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I feel like I have spent an awful lot of time talking about the hows and not much about the whys this morning…  but unfortunately the WHY I am enjoying myself is going to have to come another day.  Essentially the short version is… it feels like a throwback to a simpler time in the internet when we all were much more open to talking freely with each other.  Thusfar everyone I have encountered has been charming and helpful in me getting settled into their neighborhood.  There are a handful of us from the blogging space that have made a home for ourselves on Elekk.xyz, but there are so many other instances that I highly suggest you start out on JoinMastodon.org and see some of the other instances.  I am finding out it is weirdly customary to have multiple accounts on multiple instances.  Tam for example has one on TableTop.Social, Elekk.xyz and some Game Dev related one that I don’t know the address for.

Does this mean I am leaving twitter?  Probably not, but I do find Mastodon to be a much more engaging network than the current state twitter is in.  If you too sorta miss the days when the internet and social engagement was simpler, or have a hankering for an even older time of BBSes and IRC Servers…  then maybe it might too feel comfortable.  It is more than likely always going to remain a niche thing, but I think in the grand scheme of things that is its strength.  We talked about this at length on the podcast, but maybe having a bunch of fragmented islands leads to a better community than having one mega server as it were.  I know we have commented as such in various MMO communities, so why would that same theory not apply to the broader social media?