It's all in the rat

Yes, I’m still playing WoW — coming up to 3 months now — and yes, I’m still enjoying it, though cracks may be appearing in the facade. I have a feeling that in order to keep moving in the game, because WoW is just what it is, I’m going to end up having to do dungeons… and I’m not sure I want to, for reasons I’ve covered many times before but may yet cover again in a more up-to-date whine.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today, we’re going to talk about killing 10 rats and how not all rats are the same.

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing dailies in the Twilight Highlands, and not really because I need to. Sure, I still need to hit exalted with them, but other than that I’m pretty much done with anything I could buy from them. There’s not much there for hunters. But the dailies are a hoot, and I tend to do them with friends in the evenings because they’re just so appropriate for winding down.

The thing to know is that these quests are given by dwarves, and by dwarves who value the finer things in life — to whit, food and beer. So the first thing we do is the Beer Run, which involves protecting a bunch of dorfs with kegs as they go from A to B. It’s hardly difficult, but it is fun, especially when there are 6 different convoys going and everyone’s all bunched up on the road. That’s a lot of beer! PROTECT THE BEER!

The next thing we do is to find more beer — because, well, one can never have enough beer. Only this time, every time you pick some up you also have to drink some, so you end up completely smashed — and you also pick up food along the way because finding beer is hungry and thirsty work.

Okay, so you also kill shit and smash a boss’s face in and all that, but the BEER is what matters. As it should be.

Before you accuse me of being a lush — which may well fit but isn’t the point under discussion — I’m just saying that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with killing 10 rats, or guzzling 10 beers. What’s bad is when 90% of what you do is literally going out and killing 10 foozles. Inject a little humour, make people’s screens go a bit squiffy for 10 minutes, and suddenly the 10 rats become a social occasion and not a chore.

As with so many other things in MMOs (and life, come to think of it), it’s all relative.

Monday Miscellanea: Linkage snippets

This. If I were less polite I would rip the entire post and quote it here, but I won’t. I love me some Elder Game. Snippet:

Magical woman knowledge.

There is an unspoken assumption that women devs – and all women, in fact – have magical knowledge about women that can help us tap into the market of women gamers. (You knew about that, right? It’s a back-of-the-box bullet.)

Also, with appropriate hat-tip to Teki/Gruvy Munkie, and because trust me, it’s entirely true: Why working at home is both awesome and horrible. This made me snort coffee and laugh more than I have at some of the Penny Arcade stuff, even, so that’s saying something. PURE WIN. Safe for work, apart from the coffee-snorting bit — and of course, entirely SFW if you happen to work from home as I do.

And finally another WoW screenie — it’s part of a daring disguise escape attempt, but maybe you had to be there. Some people have complained about the number of cinematic cut-outs in Cataclysm, but I’ve been really enjoying them. Some of them are genuinely funny, which is something WoW has always been good at and finally exploits to the hilt in Cataclysm. More on this later, maybe.

 

This is not a blog post

This is my mind today:

(c) inz-feelgood - click for artist link

I don’t know how some bloggers manage to post every day — sometimes several times a day! I’m already feeling like a large part of this month’s posting was just… filler, in a way, with very little of actual substance. Screenies and game first-impressions are all very well, but that’s not really how I conceive of this place.

Maybe being happier makes me a worse blogger. Having moved to a much nicer house in a much nicer part of the country makes me a damn sight less cranky than I used to be, which seems to equate with having less to write about. I’m also playing somewhat less — all that fresh air to be inhaled and exhaled — and paying a great deal less of attention to the teacup-storms of the MMO-gaming world.

Upside: less cranky. Downside: less to blog about.

I’m not claiming to be a cantankerous blogger — at least not for the most part — but I do want what I write to be motivated by something other than my prosaic daily experiences in-game. Some people write extremely well about their in-game life (Stargrace, Tipa), but I am not one of them. I’m more interested in what makes games and gamers tick, and lately I seem to have had few thoughts and thus little to say on that subject.

Melmoth the even-more-aptly-named has his quiet, semi-literal, wandering doldrums. I have my metaphorical blogging doldrums. Woe is me! Albatross*!

* And lo, there is an upside to everything. Even albatrosses. Albatri? (MP’s Hollywood Bowl Albatross sketch, mildly NSFW — for those who, like me, like to know what the hell they’re clicking on before they end up with BADGER BADGER** blaring in their work cubicle.)

** NOT safe for work unless you turn the sound off first, but where would be the fun in that?

Innocence abroad

Harbinger Zero asked me to post my humiliation for all to see, so here it is.

This is how I got scammed in Jita, in EVE Online, a couple of days ago.

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The Setting

Non-EVErs should know that Jita is the Ironforge of the EVE universe — it’s permanently packed (1300+ people when I was there) and it’s permanently full of sales spam, smack talk, and of course scammers.

It’s actually a pretty short story, and one I should have known better than to fall for, both as a reasonably smart individual and as a 10+ year (argh!) MMO player.

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The Scam

Some player, let’s call them LadyMolo to avoid giving them publicity but still remain relatively true to the name, was claiming to be leaving the game for RL reasons and therefore wanted to give her money away.  If you come from a more recent MMO generation you might instantly think “Ohh right, one of those scams. What a crock!” But back in the day of walking uphill barefoot both ways in the snow to get our levels, people who left games often did give away their virtual-worldly goods. I’ve done it myself a time or two.

Anyway, LadyMolo kept spamming chat with “I”m leaving blah blah blah, send me X amount and I’ll send you back three times as much!” And here’s the kicker to rope in suckers like me: “Send a small amount first to test me!”

I was only in Jita to pick up some goods I could sell back home in Verge Vendor for twice the price, and I wanted to get in, get my shit, and get out again as fast as possible. I don’t like crowds much in RL and I don’t like crowds in virtual space either. (People either get that or they don’t. It bugs the hell out of me when someone stands in my face in an MMO, and I’ve had long debates with friends and acquaintances who just don’t get the concept of personal space when it’s virtual space. Maybe it’s a female thing. /end digression) Text that scrolls so fast you can barely read it — though 99.99% of it isn’t worth reading anyway — is a pain in the backside. And, generally, swimming in a tiny pool full of carnivorous fish ready to blast you just because they don’t like the cut of your jib — so not my thing.

Even so, in the short time it took me from entering the system to docking at the station with the goods I wanted, I saw enough of the scam to be intrigued. I checked my personal wallet and thought, Hrm, I could make a few million extra profit here!

Dollar signs went cha-ching in my eyes. I sent the person 2 million ISK (which is barely enough to get a cup of coffee at EVE-Starbucks these days).

A few seconds later, I get 6 million back. And that of course is how the suckers are hooked and landed.

Fortunately, gullible though I may be, I’m not entirely idiotic. I just sent back the 6 mill I’d got. And waited. And waited. And waited — along with an increasingly vocal group of other marks. A few minutes later LadyMolo logged off, never to be seen again.

Surprise!

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The Mark

Being scammed isn’t humiliating — but standing up for the scammer certainly is. And I did. I bought not only the scam but the story, and defended the scammer to others. Aieee.

But while my MMO persona is humiliated and vowing never to fall for anything ever again, my RL persona doesn’t really mind. For one thing, I didn’t “invest” (positive spin, see?) anything I couldn’t afford to lose. Sure, Ysharros’ personal wallet is pretty flat now but you can pretty much spit and make a couple of mill in EVE even without combat, so it’s not such a big deal.

If anything — like with the almost-got-killed incident — I’m amused at my own perpetual gullibility and at the cleverness of the scam. It was just believable enough for some of us to get conned. It was the usual “put in a little, get out a lot, do it  again sucker!” con that anyone who’s been following financial news in the last couple of decades will be aware of — myself included. But reading about a scam and thinking how you’d never get taken in, and being the mark of a scam are two entirely different things.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said before, I don’t mind being gullible. Being cynical is only a veneer for me, and if I were a cynical old cow to the core I’d probably be unhappier. Miserable and rich isn’t something I particularly aspire to, in games or in life.

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Lessons learned

1. I still hate Jita. I’d only been there once in my previous EVE stints, and I don’t intend to go back if I can possibly help it. For the record, I loathed Ironforge too.

2. Never invest what you can’t afford to lose. EVE and other PvP games are pretty much all about those rules if you don’t want to get horribly burned and be scarred forever more. I didn’t hand over much, I didn’t get taken for more than I initially handed over, so it wasn’t too painful or costly a lesson. (A few marks sent over 100-200 million ISK — to me that’s a ginormous fortune, though I know people regularly deal with billions in EVE these days, probably including the not-nearly-so-gullible Stabs.)

3. Quit while you’re ahead. This is why I don’t gamble.

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Sountrack: It’s yer money I’m after baby — The Wonder Stuff. (NME will even let you see a video… provided you’re not in the US.)

* Yes, I know I’m misquoting my title. See what I did thar?

We were on a break!

Dear MMO,

I’m sure you’ve known for a long time that my attention wasn’t entirely on you. I’ve been distracted. Missed dates. Forgotten our anniversary. Been distant or even absent entirely.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Well, it’s them too. All those other shiny new — or not so new but with a gfx-sixpack-injection MMOs — they’re hard to ignore. They shake their payment models and item stores at you. They claim they’ll still respect you in the morning.

And those other ones! The ones that aren’t even old enough to be out yet. Jailbait, I know, but who can resist those learning curves?

Our relationship has felt just a little stale lately — and don’t tell me you didn’t feel it too. We never do anything new or fun anymore. Sometimes I think you take me for granted and assume I’ll support you month after month and never care that you still have that twitch in your cheek even five years after we met. You said you’d have that fixed years ago.

So, yeah, I think it would be best if we went on a break. Just to play the field take a step back and consider what we really want from each other, you know?

Let’s stay friends, okay?

_

EDIT — ahem. I’m not stopping my MMO play; I should have been more clear. Instead, I’ve decided that MMOnogamy isn’t essential and if I want to check out that hot looking MMO over there at the bar, I’ll do just that. And I won’t even feel bad about it!

One day there will be a Secret World beta and I shall be in it.