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Category Archives: Share Your Opinion

Analyzing the Gem Store

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the items offered in the Guild Wars 2 Gem Store, and I will share my thoughts on the items and services that they offer and the prices they’ve put on them both in terms of Gems (the cash shop currency) and their literal cost in terms of US Dollars. I also made a Google Docs spreadsheet that has the costs broken down for euros and pounds for those of you across the pond and in…whatever other places use those currencies. And of course, I will be sharing a link to said document with you as well.

Turn the page to read more…

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Guild Wars 2, Share Your Opinion

 

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WoW Ironman Challenge

Yesterday on twitter, Vrykerion asked: “How far do you think you could make it in WoW without ever equipping a green or higher item or spending a single talent point?”

I’ve asked myself similar questions before, so after mulling it over for a second I threw out my initial thoughts, “@Vrykerion depends very heavily on your class. I bet I could make it to Outlands at least in all whites/trash.” Which, to clarify, was me saying that I’m sure I could get to Outlands with every single class, but how far beyond that you could go would depend on the class.

We got a few more people to chime in on that discussion as well, during which I accepted the challenge and gave it a name: The WoW Ironman Challenge. Several of us talked about what rules should apply to such a challenge and then Vrykarion made it all official in his post (link in the challenge name).

Deciding to take this challenge means you have to choose your class, and to a somewhat lesser extent, your race.

The Rules
1. Use only white/grey items.
2. No spending talent points. No specialization at level 10. (Regular skill training is fine.)
2. No Primary or Secondary Professions other than First Aid.
3. No means of XP boosting (No Recruit-A-Friend, No Guild, and obviously no Heirlooms)
4. No consumable bonuses (food, potions, elixirs, etc) – Rogue Poisons allowed
5. No enchants.
6. No Groups. (Since clarification was requested: That means no dungeons, no Dungeon Finder, no battlegrounds, no anything that puts you in a group and no grouping up with people to quest or anything.)
7. No Death Knights.
8. No Glyphs

There you have it. No gear with stats on it (including enchants), no talent points or spec. No means of increasing your experience gains or having other people helping you. No items that boost your stats at all, including consumables. No professions other than First Aid.

We’re currently discussing whether Rogue’s should be allowed to use Poisons and whether or not we’re going to allow Glyphs to be used. Poisons fall under the category of consumables, but they’re also the Rogue’s form of class buffs (though why Blizzard doesn’t make them spells like the Shaman instead of purchased goods is beyond me). Glyphs we just overlooked initially so we’re bringing it up now just to be sure we’ve got everything covered. Updated with the answers to these questions. Rogue poisons will be allowed. Glyphs will not be allowed.

Initial Thoughts
My first thought with this was Troll Hunter. Hunter being the top choice because you can kite for days while dealing solid damage which can pretty well negate all of the disadvantages of taking the challenge in the first place. Troll because they deal extra damage to beasts as well as having increased regeneration which would further increase the advantages while minimizing the disadvantages.

I don’t think there’s an easier choice available for a challenge like this. Pet classes have a clear advantage since the pet can make up for some of your loss of damage, while also adding a level of defense. Casters would follow next, and melee bringing up the rear.

Horde racial abilities would be more helpful as they increase damage output. Some Alliance racials could prove rather useful, Draenei healing and Night Elf defenses in particular.

Races
I’ve had a fair amount of information concerning races on this blog over the years, and my time spent with twinks has made my racial min/maxing second nature. Generally speaking, Horde races have aggressive racial abilities that would help them in this challenge by adding power in combat that is otherwise lacking from gear without any stats. Alliance races typically have defensive racial abilities that would help them in the opposite manner, helping them survive the longer encounters.

Without going too much into detail, let’s look at the advantage that each race would bring to this particular challenge:

Alliance
Draenei: +1% Hit, 20% heal over 15 seconds,
Dwarf: +1% Crit with guns, 10% damage reduction that also removes poison/disease/bleed effects
Gnome: +5% mana pool
Human: +3% Spirit
Night Elf: -2% chance of being hit, Shadowmeld to allow combat reset
Worgen: +1% crit

Horde
Blood Elf: Defensive silence that also restores 6% mana or 15 Rage/Focus/Energy
Goblin: +1% Haste, can launch a rocket to deal ranged Fire damage
Orc: Increased Attack Power and Spell Power for 15 seconds, +5% pet damage
Tauren: +5% Health, 2 second AoE stun
Troll: +5% damage to beasts, +1% crit with bows/thrown, +10% health regeneration, +20% haste for 10 seconds
Undead: Restore 35% health and mana by consuming a corpse

The racial traits I listed are ones that help with this challenge in particular by providing stats you otherwise don’t have access to because of the gear restrictions, or which provide a benefit which can make up for that lack of gear-based stats.

Classes
Class choice is the most important piece of this puzzle. Choosing the right class can make this challenge much less challenging while choosing the wrong class can make it very difficult. In general, pet classes will have the most advantage followed by casters and then melee classes.

Pet classes (Hunters and Warlocks) have an advantage not only because they have a pet adding to their damage dealing or which can take hits for them, but also because they are more easily able to kite mobs which will allow them to eventually kill the targets no matter how low their own defenses may be. The Hunter is the top dog here because their spells are based on Focus, rather than mana, which restores itself over time which means that they can literally kite a mob for as long as it take them to kill it.

Casters have an advantage over melee because their damage is only based on their stats, both for the power of the spells as well as how many times they can cast it from a limited mana pool. Melee classes still have their power based on their stats, but their damage is based very strongly on their weapon damage. For some level ranges that’s not going to be much of an issue, but in the second half of Vanilla content some classes are extremely limited in their weapon selection for this challenge, which is going to make those level ranges significantly more difficult than they otherwise would be.

Druid: great versatility, great healing, good kiting, decent crowd control
Hunter: fantastic kiting, pet assistance, non-stat-based energy source
Mage: some kiting ability, great crowd control, “free” damage via Arcane Missiles, good buff spells
Paladin: great healing, great buff spells
Priest: great buffs, great healing, poor mana management
Rogue: good survivability, non-stat energy source
Shaman: good heals, great buffs, best stat versatility
Warlock: pet class, great crowd control, somewhat easily renewable energy source
Warrior: non-stat energy source, “free” healing, good buffs

My thoughts on how these classes are ranked, from easiest to hardest: Hunter, Warlock, Druid, Mage, Shaman, Warrior, Paladin, (Death Knight), Rogue, Priest.

I put the DK in there, even though we’ve disqualified them, because I think that’s where they would stand if you were to immediately replace all of their gear with grey/white items after rolling them and before doing any quests.

Research
Last night I did a little research on weapons, looking primarily at ranged weapons for Hunters and at interesting items I could use in slots such as jewelry. I had both better and worse results that I had expected going in.

For most classes, the weapon you use is going to be pretty key to your performance; casters being the exception. I knew going into it that low level white/grey weapons would be pretty easy to find because that’s what most of the gear at that level is until you start getting into greens and then blues from dungeon drops. I wasn’t expecting their availability to drop quite so drastically in the 30’s though.

Ranged weapons are pretty common up to level 31 at which point they become nearly non-existent until you reach Outlands. From level 31-59 there are only four ranged weapons available, and all four of them are trash items that drop from mobs, and the only one that has more than a 4% drop rate only has a higher (7%) drop rate if you kill elite mobs for it.

Once you get to level 60 you can buy a weapon that should serve just fine through all of the Outlands content, and other vendor weapons open up at 70 to get you through most of Wrath content. The best ranged weapons you can get for this challenge come from Cataclysm dungeons and raids, and can be equipped at level 74. They offer almost twice the DPS of everything you can get in Wrath content (101.6 DPS vs. 55.9). The bad news is, those level 74 trash drops are the best option you’ll have for the rest of the challenge.

I haven’t had a chance yet to do my research on the other classes, but I’ll get there before too long. For casters I’ll be looking at armor since weapons will be nearly pointless for all of them (Shaman and Druids being the exception). For melee classes I’m looking mostly at weapons since they are key.

Now You Tell Me
While my initial thoughts were to roll a Troll Hunter to overcome as much of the challenge’s pitfalls as I could, I’ve not actually decided what I’m going to roll for this challenge. I’m not sure yet whether I’m only going to do this once, or if I’m going to do it on multiple toons, either. Maybe I should go with the Hunter to see the challenge on easy mode and do another class as well to see just how hard it can really be.

I want your opinions on this challenge, though. What do you think will be good race and class combinations for this challenge? What combinations would you like to see me attempt with this? If you’re going to join in the fun, what combination(s) are you going to try out yourself?

I wouldn’t mind doing this on more than one toon, as I think it’s an interesting way to level the character that can show you how powerful a class truly is, or isn’t.

If you decide to join us in the Ironman Challenge, keep us informed of your progress through comments, email, twitter, or a blog of your own if you have one. I’m also opening my Notebook to anyone who accepts the challenge and would like to guest post their experiences with it here on my blog.

 

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Overlooked Changes

Today we’re going to look at some of the things that have changed in the recent patches that not everyone knows about. Blizzard did an excellent job of leaving things out of the patch notes this time around and it’s been a bit of an interesting search trying to find them all.

I’m sure I don’t have all of the things that have gone unnoticed listed here, so I certainly welcome your input on anything else you may have noticed that others seem to have missed, or which did not appear in any of the patch notes.

Mailboxes in Starting Zones
In case you aren’t aware, every starting zone now has a mailbox in it. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about their plans to roll new alts which include running to the next town to get their bags, gold and gear – but you don’t have to.

All of the mailboxes are pretty close to right where you load after creating the character. If you start a little ways off from where the first quest-hub is then that’s where you want to look as it’s generally right beside the main building in the first hub.

Generalized Professions Trainers
In those second towns that you used to have to go to in order to find your first mailbox, you’ll now find a new type of NPC called a Professions Trainer. They’re almost always located right beside the Trade Goods vendor if you need to know where to look.

These NPC’s allow you to ask about any of the actual professions, not tradeskills, to get a general idea of what they do and how they work. After asking about a specific profession you’ll also be able to train that profession from the NPC.

The good news is, you can no get started on any profession you want without having to hunt down your trainers in specific cities (looking at you, JC trainers). The bad news is, they can only train you up to skill level 75, and they will not train you in the next level of the profession. In order to progress you’ll have to find a trainer specific to your profession.

Dual Specialization and Class Trainers
You can now purchase a dual spec at level 30 (down from 40) and it now costs only 10g (down from 100g in beta, down from 1,000g in 3.5). You still get it from your class trainer, so if you need to know where to buy it just ask a guard for the nearest trainer.

You can also find class trainers for every class in all of your faction’s major cities. The one class that might be an exception to that is the Death Knight, and the only reason I don’t know is because I haven’t thought about looking. Having a portal directly to my trainers kind of removes the need for me to care about where else I can find them in the world.

Battlegrounds and Dungeons
Battlegrounds are now split up into level ranges of 5 rather than 10, so level 10-14 and 15-19 are two separate brackets now and so on up the level range, with 85 being in its own.

You can also queue for some battlegrounds at lower levels than you used to. I did a post on that earlier this week, so if you want the details on that you can read about them here.

That post also includes the new level ranges for the 1-60 dungeons. Most of them stayed the same or at least pretty close to what they were before, but others made some fairly significant changes. See Stratholme and Scholomance for some big eye-openers.

Alliance and Horde Racial Tabards
You can now purchase tabards for each of the 6 races of your faction, including the Goblin and Worgen that aren’t playable yet (for 5 more days, woot!). These tabards give you reputation for killing mobs inside dungeons – all mobs, in all dungeons, at all levels.

You can purchase the tabards in the major cities from vendors you’ll find near or next-to the flight master. Here’s a reference for where you need to go to buy each one:

Stormwind: Humans
Ironforge: Dwarves and Gnomes
Darnassus: Night Elves and Worgen
Exodar: Draenei

Orgrimmar: Orc, Troll, Goblin
Undercity: Undead
Thunderbluff: Tauren
Silvermoon City: Blood Elves

You get the most reputation from running dungeons of your own level, though it is possible to grind rep from dungeons both above or below your level as well.

If you start wearing a tabard and 15 and chain some random dungeons you should become Exalted after about 10 dungeons worth.

[Edit: One more thing about the tabard vendors - They're all riding the racial mount. So if you're heading to the flight master in SW and see an NPC on a horse that wasn't there before, he's likely the tabard vendor. If you go up to the flight master in Org and you see a Troll on a raptor next to an Orc on a wolf next to a Goblin in a tryke - you've just found the tabard vendors.]

Rare Spawns Give HUGE Experience
Thanks to my buddy @Etherjammer on twitter, it appears that Rare Spawns now give you about 15x as much experience as a normal mob of the same level when you kill them. So that’s roughly the value of a quest or two. I haven’t seen anything official on rare spawns, so maybe there’s a formula or maybe certain ones just have certain values or something. I’m not sure what’s going on in particular, but it’s safe to say that if you see a rare spawn – kill it. Or tame it, maybe, if you’re a hunter, but in general – kill it.

Guild Professions Lists
I still see people asking around for links from certain guild members, or asking if anybody has Profession A and so on. If you pull up your guild window you can select “Professions” from the dropdown box up at the top and then view the professions and recipes of everyone in the guild. There’s a checkbox in the bottom-left corner of the guild window that lets you toggle online and offline players, so you can even see the professions of people that aren’t currently logged in.

The new professions windows also allow you to search. Typing words into the professions search window will bring up any items in that profession that contain the word(s) either in the title or in the description. You can also do a search by materials. For instance, if you can’t remember the exact name for that special twink/BoA strength enchant, but you do remember that it uses Righteous Orbs, then you can type “righteous orb” into the search window and it will pull up the Crusader enchant if the person knows it.

If you do a search and don’t get any results then you can repeat that search for the rest of the guild members listed as having that profession. I’m told there’s supposed to be a way to do a guild-wide search with the professions windows, but I haven’t gotten it to work yet so I don’t know if it’s just broken or if it’s not really implemented. But either way it’s not working for me right now.

Dungeon Quests
In running random dungeons I still have people asking the party to share quests. As far as I’m aware, all of the dungeon quests that require you to actually be inside the dungeon are given to you inside the dungeon itself. So if you zone into the entrance of a dungeon and there aren’t any quests for you to get, it’s because you’ve already done them all or you aren’t eligible for them.

There are still some quests that send you to the area where the dungeon is found that still get listed as being in or from that dungeon, but they’re completed outside of it so sharing them would do you no good anyway. If someone drops group in the middle of the dungeon and another person comes in to replace them, then you do want to share with that person since they zone in next to you instead of at the entrance where the quest givers are located.

The slight exception to this rule is found in the next section.

Class Quests
The old class quests are gone, but there are new class quests available to take their place. The first of these quests is available at level 20 and from what I’ve seen they all involve going to SFK to get certain items. The reward for all of these that I’ve seen on my own toons so far is a weapon or off-hand item.

There is at least one other class quest that you get like this that requires a higher level, but I’ve only found it so far on my 80 Mage so I’m not positive what the level requirement is.

The class quests come from your class trainers in the major cities. I’m not sure if you can get the quests for trainers found in other locations or not.

Flight Paths [Edit: Added]
My thanks to @Christman for reminding me about the flight paths. There are now Flight Masters/Paths in all of those 2nd towns I mentioned above (examples: Sin’jin Village, Razor Hill, Kharanos, Goldshire, Bloodhoof Village, etc).

You can also see all of the flight paths on your map now, for both factions. In order to see them you have to have either explored the part of the map that those flight paths are located in, or have an addon that removes the unexplored effect from your map.

I use the Mapster addon which shows me the full map and allows me to put a transparent, colored “fog” over the sections that I haven’t actually explored yet. So I’m able to see the full map, including flight paths for both factions, at all times and I have a green colored fog that hangs over portions I haven’t explored yet so that I can track that as well.

Reduced Cost: Respecialization [Edit: Added]
Another thing I just remembered is that the cost to respec has been changed. It’s not longer a set amount that increases each time you do it, the cost is now based on your character’s level.

I haven’t done it enough or on a broad enough level range to figure out what calculation they might be using for it, but I did a respec on a level 13 Priest and it cost me 11s and some change.

 

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Leveling Guides v4.0

We’ve got two months before Cataclysm is upon us, but we’ve only got a matter of days/weeks until 4.0 comes and changes up all of the talent trees as we know them.

So my question is, how early is too early to start posting leveling guides for the new talent trees? I know we still have patch notes coming out and all, so there’s no telling when something might change, but at the same time…do I dare wait?

Rather than being an informative post, this one’s going to be an opinion gathering post.

Dear readers, do you want me to start working on the leveling guides now, or do you consider even the class changes to be too much of a spoiler for me to show you before they go live?

 
16 Comments

Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Share Your Opinion

 

Roleplay = Theatre = PHAMALY?

We’re going to take a small step away from strictly focusing on World of Warcraft for a moment here and talk instead about a portion – roleplaying. But we’re not actually going to be talking about roleplaying in WoW, instead we’re going to talk about the real world equivalent of that (un)familiar aspect of the game and step into the realm of theatre. We’re not going to talk about the theater, but rather the theatre that takes place within the theater.

And in typical Psynister style, there’s a story to go along with it.

Backstory: Happy Seventh Anniversary to Us!
Last week my wife and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary by spending a week away from the boring Texas plains spent in and around the beautiful mountains of Colorado instead. The idea behind the trip was to get away and relax for a while, just to be away from everything and enjoy each other’s company. We didn’t want too much planned, we didn’t want to stay busy of feel like we were on the road constantly, so I took a look at events in the areas we were staying in for just a couple of things for us to do to have it be more than just a trip from one place to another.

The first of those planned events was to watch the American Idols Live Tour. We didn’t have huge hopes for the concert, but we do watch the show so I figured we might as well take advantage of the opportunity and go see it. We were both surprised in how well they all performed and you could see a lot of growth in some of them that you didn’t see on the show. A lot of those singers were really able to find their voice and the right kind of songs for them when they weren’t restricted by the rules of the competition. I’ll leave out most of the details and just say that we both enjoyed it a lot and we were both happy that we decided to go ahead and go even though we talked for a while about just eating the cost of the tickets and skipping it.

The next day we left the hotel in Denver for three wonderful days in Evergreen, CO at a bed and breakfast called Highland Haven, and it was exactly what we needed. It was definitely the best of the three places we stayed during the trip, and staying in a creekside B&B up in the mountains is an amazing way to get some relaxation, and breakfast was great every day.

The day that we left Evergreen for Golden (the location of our first kiss, I’m cheesy, what can I say?) was the day of our final event, which was to see a play in Arvada. And that is where we get into the inspiration for this post.

Roleplay = Theatre = PHAMALY?
The final night of our vacation is when we went to our last event, a performance done in the Arvada Center amphitheater of Beauty and the Beast (there’s an excellent review of it here if you’d care to read). If you’re not familiar with the story of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, then here’s a short description for you:

Once upon a time there lived a selfish young Prince, who had everything his heart desired. One stormy night, an old Woman begs for shelter in the Prince’s castle offering in return, a single red rose. Unwilling to help her, he turns the old woman away. As punishment, she transforms him into a hideous Beast and places a powerful spell on the castle and all who live there. Years later, a kindly old villager, loses his way in the woods. Terrified of the ominous forest, Maurice seeks shelter at the old castle, but the Beast takes him captive instead. Maurice’s daughter, Belle, desperate to save her father gives up her freedom to set him free. With the help of the enchanted castle’s residents, Belle sets out to tame the unfortunate Beast not knowing she will break the spell and discover her handsome prince.

When I had purchased tickets, I had no idea that PHAMALY would be involved, or even who or what PHAMALY was. I knew the story and I’ve been involved with theatre since my early teenage years, so I just wanted to take my wife to a play. Little did I know I had purchased tickets for much, much more.

As we picked up our tickets from the box office and made our way down to the second row of seats in the Arvada Amphitheater I couldn’t help but notice the large number of people with physical disabilities in attendance. Not that there was anything wrong it it, it just stuck out to me from how many there were and I commented to my wife, “there’s a lot of people in wheelchairs here tonight.”

As we found our seats we took a look at the program and there we saw the PHAMALY logo and a short description of who they were and what they did. That explained the unusually (to me) high number of people in the audience with disabilities and my curiosity really began to grow.

“The Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League (PHAMALY) is a theatre group and touring company that performs throughout the greater Denver area. PHAMALY was formed in 1989 when a group of former students of the Boettcher School in Denver, Colorado, grew frustrated with the lack of theatrical opportunities for people living with disabilities, and decided to create a theatre company that would provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to perform. As a not-for-profit membership organization, PHAMALY is dedicated to producing traditional theatre in nontraditional ways.”

As the show went on there was a wide variety of actors and actresses on stage, with various disabilities. Some of them you could tell what their disabilities were and others you could not, but while you might expect some of that to take away from the experience, keeping you from being absorbed into the story being performed in front of you, that was not the case at all. In fact, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen; and being involved with theatre for so long, I’ve seen a lot.

Seeing a wonderful play performed by these amazing people was more than worth the low cost of the tickets to see it, but also being able to see the looks on the faces of those actors as they took their bows before the audience at the end of it, and seeing how incredible and meaningful it was for them was literally breath taking. And it was more than just seeing people with disabilities performing on stage. I think this was possibly one of the single best stories they could have used as it relates on so very many levels to each individual on the stage and so many others there in attendance.

It’s a story about looking beyond the physical body, seeing the true person for who they are rather than what they appear to be. It’s about dealing with physical impairments, like losing the use of your hands as they’re turned into melted candle wax, and living your life to its fullest.

It’s much easier to feel emotionally connected to the actors on stage than it is the animated characters of the Disney’s cartoon, especially as you can see the real life disabilities tied into the characters that they portray. To keep things upbeat for you now and then PHAMALY added in a few bits of comic relief of their own, that also tied into it well. My favorite character there was Lefou, played by Regan Linton. She’s the underling of sorts to the bad guy, Gaston, and she happens to be in a wheelchair. One of the set pieces on stage was used to symbolize the stairs leading up to the Beast’s castle, and as Regan rolled over and ran into it, she turns to the audience and says, “Thseriouthsly!?! WHERE, iths the RAMP!??!” [Edit: Per Daniel's revelation, switched Regan's gender to female as it should be. (Sorry, Regan!)]

Daniel Traylor, who plays Lumiere and is depicted above, was also a highlight of the show for me, both because I love the character and because he pulled it off so well. He fills a role of comedy and of drama, he’s the source of light (pun) and hope, and the acting and costuming came together brilliantly.

Psynister Support
Having been so impressed with what I saw there on that stage and learning more about PHAMALY, I felt the need to add PHAMALY to my Psynister Support page, as an organization that I trust and admire. As part of our mid-long term plans includes moving to the Denver area, I hope to be able to be more supportive of this wonderful organization.

They perform, at this time, only in the greater Denver area, so if you would like to see them perform then you’ll have to go to them, but I strongly encourage anyone in the area or traveling through that might have the time to spare to attend one of their performances if you have the chance.

If you wish to find out more about PHAMALY, you can do so by clicking on their logo up above, or by visiting their webpage at www.phamaly.org

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Roleplaying, Share Your Opinion

 

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Some Problems with Real ID

Real ID, the topic of discussion all over the blogosphere right now. We’re going to talk about it again today, because I feel like talking about it again. Today though, we’re going to look at the problems with Real ID. More specifically we’re going to look at the problems with Real ID and we’re going to look at the “problems” with Real ID.

I don’t think that any of the problems or the “problems” with Real ID are real, honest to goodness Problems with Real ID. Most of them are problems with people having different levels of personal (in)security, or people simply having different desires for how and when to use it. I’ll get into the specifics on that further down. I’m going to talk about some issues that people have brought up that I feel are valid, and I’m going to bring up some issues that I find ridiculous and why. In this post you’ll get a full serving of Psynister’s Opinion, as what I write here is nothing my that my own thoughts and feelings on the issues that are brought up. For each problem I’m offering a solution. If you don’t agree with the solution then feel free to let me know why. If you have other solutions to add, then please share them with us in the comments.

Your DBM addon might be sending you warnings right now, but just ignore the big bad wolf’s advice to run away, it’s just letting you know that Psynister is about to cast Wall of Text in 3…2…1…

Psynister Psychology
I ask that while (if) you read this, regardless of whether you support or reject Real ID, that you read with an intention of understanding rather than an intention to respond.

As this is an issue that puts some people on the defensive the two reactions of human nature are to either reject it by going on the defensive with blinders on or to run away from it. If you’re feeling insecure or defensive, please try to take the time to read and try to understand what I’m saying. Don’t take it as an attack on your beliefs or your feelings, take it as me trying to help explain something you don’t understand or don’t fully see even if you feel that you do. If you read it, think about it, and still disagree or think I’ve misunderstood, then please let me know in your comments. We can’t progress if neither of us understands the other.

If you support Real ID and feel that the people against it are just a bunch of whiny little babies, then I suggest you do the same thing. Take the time to try to understand the reason for the person feeling that way. It’s not always going to work for you, but I’m just asking that you take the time and make the effort to understand their real problem before you just dismiss it. While defensive people can be blinded by their fears or insecurities, the aggressive people often feel that they’re free to brush aside everyone’s concerns like they’re meaningless. Just because I feel safe and secure in giving everyone my name and email address doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for harm in doing so. Don’t just dismiss things, read with intent to understand not with the intent to respond.



Problem: No Invisibility Mode
Of every argument I’ve seen against Real ID, this one is one of the most valid. A lot of players, perhaps even the majority of them, like to be able to play at times to just get away from everything and everyone for a little while and just do their own thing. They like to log in and go play on some other server where they don’t know anybody and just do whatever they want without having to deal with guilds or friends or anything else.

My wife does it, Arrens does it, and a lot of other players do to. People like being able to play the game now and then just for the sake of playing the game and not being bothered. I don’t blame them a bit.

I say it’s a valid point because it directly impacts your playing experience. If you can’t log in and have a break from the noise now and then, and you’re the type of person that needs those breaks, then you may not enjoy playing as much because you can’t just get away from people while still playing. You’re playing the game to get away, to relax, to not be bothered, and having people be able to whisper you wherever you are is draining and annoying, it interrupts that down time.

Solution: This feature doesn’t exist, so we have to either not use Real ID, deal with the loss of alone time, or find a way around it. The work around is simple, but it’s not going to appeal to everyone. If you want to have your invisibility mode the first thing you need to do is turn off all of those notifications in the Real ID options. I talked about how to do all of that in yesterday’s post, The Real (ID) Story. By turning off those options you will not be interrupted by people logging in and out, and you will not see their broadcast messages. The only thing you will see are Real ID whispers, which we’ll to address next.

Next up, you need to set your status to Busy or Away so that your Real ID friends see the flag and know something’s up. They’re yellow and red spheres against a grey-blue background which is going to stick out. If they see it then they should know you’re not sitting there ready and waiting for conversation.

Finally, you need to set your Broadcast message to something similar to this: Need some down time, please DND. Your broadcast message is shown to anybody who you’re Real ID friends with when they see your name in their list. By putting that message up you’re letting everyone know that you want some alone time for a bit and don’t want to be disturbed. Your real friends are going to honor that and leave you alone. The annoying people you clearly don’t want bothering you all the times are going to ignore it, and as such should be removed from your list.

The reason this isn’t going to appeal to everyone is pretty nicely summed up by Kurn’s Thoughts on Real ID. You may also be in a situation similar to Tartdarling’s where your friends are the type of people that just like to bug you all the time in the names of fun and love. If you’re in Kurn’s position then it’s going to be hard and this solution might not work for you. If you’re in Tart’s position, well you’re probably the one that started it all anyway so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Problem: Real Name Visibility
This problem is such a multi-layered beast that it’s really hard to talk about without either going too light or to heavy on the subject. It’s like twelve problems all wrapped up into one because they’re all the same problem, yet it’s a problem for various reasons that apply to some but not others. I’m going to summarize it though and break it down into just two groups.

First, we have the people that just don’t want others to know their real names. The motivations for this are almost endless. Some people have names that they’re embarrassed of or they don’t like their given first name and go by another name instead. Some people like to play the role of their character or their persona that isn’t them, such as men who play female toons or who socialize as females, and they don’t like having that broken. The person might be insecure about who they are but who find security by having a sort of second life that they can live through their characters. Others are important people in some form or fashion and don’t want to have their real name linked to their in game persona. Basically, for one reason or another they wish they could hide their name because they’re uncomfortable with people (all people) seeing it.

The second group is made of those that like to immerse themselves into their characters as well as the game. They aren’t just a player, they are their toons. They don’t want to be known by their real names, they want to be known by their character names. You can take a look at Chawa’s Post for an example of that one.

As someone who plays on multiple servers and also has a twitter/blogging presence I understand this one a lot. It doesn’t bother me, but I do understand it. On my original server I was known as Psyn or Psynister, but on the following server I was known as Lex (Lexington), yet on my current server I’m known as Bel or Bels (Belsynis). On twitter and in blogs I’m again Psynister or Psyn. On the one side I like that separation because it helps me keep things straight, but on the other hand it’s easier if people everywhere just know me as Jason so they don’t get confused when a Psyn friend talks to a Bels friend.

Solution: The solution here is hard because of the complexity and diversity of the problem. The first thing you need to do is be realistic about what’s really out there. A name is just a name, even if it’s your name. Without any other information tying that name to you as a person it means nothing. Jason Griffith, who’s that? Well, it’s me but it’s not necessarily me. Even if it’s a unique name it’s still just a name. Dragon McKinsey, who’s that? Is it a boy or a girl? I know who it is (and also that I completely butchered the spelling), but do you? Britney Spears, know that one? You might think you do, but is it really the one you think it is? Daniel P. Howell, know that guy? Well you might think that’s a fellow known in WoW as BRK, but without any further information you don’t know that for sure.

If you’re one that’s uncomfortable for reasons like always playing female toons so I think you’re a female when actually you’re not and your real name is Richard Pelowski, then I can only tell you so much about that one. If you don’t want people to know then you either need to lie and say that it’s your dad/boyfriend/brother/son/whatever’s name since they set the account up for you, or you need to consider what it’s going to mean for people to know. If you’ve got some in-game relationships going on and they don’t know it then maybe you’ve got an issue on your hands, but if that’s the case then it’s really about time for a little honesty anyway in my opinion. But, that’s my opinion.

If you’re in a position like Chawa there, well it’s another hard answer because it’s going to vary. For the most part, if you’ve been playing with someone for a long time then the name they associate with you is the name they’re going to call you by. I’ve got a buddy who names all his characters Night-something or something-night, but his real name is Chris. I knew his real name long before Real ID came about, but I don’t call him Chris, I call him Night. I’ve got a buddy I went to college with before I even started playing WoW, I don’t call him by his character name of Kaladar, I call him by his real name because that’s who he’s always been to me.

Generally speaking, most people are going to call you by the name they’ve called you by the longest. Not to mention there are a ton of Jason’s in the world and probably on your friend’s list, but you probably don’t have a lot of friends known as Psynister, so it’s easier to call me by the character name anyway for confusion’s sake.

And yes, people can Google a name and find out other information like addresses and phone numbers, but without any other information than your name there’s nothing to link it to you. And in case you aren’t aware, you can have your address and phone removed from phone books and sights that replicate their data.

Problem: Account Security
Account Security is either a big deal or it’s not, depending on how you handle things on your own end. The problem is that your email address is required for Real ID to work, yet your email address is the user name you have to log into WoW with. By default there are only two things you need to get into your account, a user name and a password. By using Real ID you’re giving one of those up so someone only needs your password in order to hack your account.

Solution: The first thing I want to point out is that Blizzard has said in giving us this tool that it’s meant to be used with those people who you know and trust. If you don’t trust someone, then don’t give them your Real ID information. If you hesitate on that point then you need to ask yourself whether or not you feel like you know them well enough to trust them not to hack into your account (or if they’re skilled enough with a computer to do it in the first place).

You should also be taking other steps to ensure your account security in the first place. The best thing you can do for yourself as far as protecting your WoW account goes is to get an Authenticator. You can buy them from Blizzard for about $7 USD, you can get the app for free if you have an iPhone, or you can get the app for a Droid for about $2.50 USD if it’s not already free by now anyway. While not completely flawless in security terms, it’s about as close as you can get.

Whether you have an authenticator or not you should be running virus protection software and doing regular scans on your computer as well. The only way to beat an authenticator is with a virus. The best way to beat that virus is to find it and remove it before it can do you any harm.

Next up is your password. Don’t ever use a simple password like “qwerty”. It might be hard to remember a big password sometimes, but that’s really the point. Don’t just use letters and numbers in it either, use some special characters too. And make sure it’s got some length to it because every individual character in your password makes it multiplicatively harder to figure out with a program. The longer it is, the better it is. And don’t hesitate to change the password every now and then as well.

The big thing here is, if Blizzard didn’t feel that your account was safe enough that you could give out your email address and still be secure, then they wouldn’t have used it as the identifier in the first place.

Problem: No Nicknames
This is the most common suggestion I’ve seen from people to replace the real names on the accounts. A lot of people said they would use Real ID if they could just hide their real names with a nickname or a character name, of if they could use that nickname for their invitations instead of an email address.

The problem behind using nicknames is that there’s no validity in them. Anybody can use any nickname they want to. If you decide to take over the nickname of Psynister before I can, then I’m locked out of the name because you beat me to it, but you could offer to be friends with people using a name that I’m largely known by. You could essentially steal my identity even if your main character in the game is named Psynister and just happens to be on a server that I don’t play on. We both have a claim to that name, but only one of us can have it.

The same is true of character names, even if you string it to a full definition of Name-Server-Faction-Region. It would work and be unique while I had the character, but if I ever delete the toon and someone else makes one with that name then they’ve taken over that identity and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The other suggestion is that we use the login names that we had before we all switched over to battle.net accounts that required email addresses. But that one doesn’t work either because there are players who joined after they stopped using those names and offered only the email login.

Solution: The solution here is the only solution that there can be, which is what Blizzard did. They used a unique identifier that cannot be duplicated in this environment, and that does not compromise your security as a real person. There cannot be two people in the world with the same email address, it is unique. Almost any other form of unique identification has the potential to compromise more than just your WoW account.

As a database administrator I can think of a few other ways they could have potentially identified users uniquely, but not having access to their tables I can only make assumptions. Theoretically, it could be done by another unique value, but then you would be known by that value rather than by your name. I’ll take people calling me Jason Griffith over being called “Player Number 123546815″ any day of the week, thank you. I’m not a flipping serial number.

Problem: Identity Theft
This one ties right back in to the real names issue that we’ve already discussed, so take a look up there for some of the other details. Let me be the first to tell you though, it takes more than just a name to steal someone’s identity. If you give out more information than just your name then you could potentially run the risk of having your identity stolen, but it’s not going to happen from your name alone or even your name and your email address.

If you put into place the other forms of security that I mentioned above (good passwords, virus protection, etc), then you’re already way ahead of game on identity theft. I’m not saying it isn’t possible and that it will never happen, but I am saying your chances of being the victim of IDT from Real ID are slim and that you can take precautions to make them even more so.

Solution: Use strong passwords, use virus protection software, don’t use all of the features of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. Just because the site gives you a place to put your city and state doesn’t mean you have to fill them in. If you’re not comfortable with people knowing certain things about you, then don’t put them out on the internet or people can potentially find them if they’re really willing to put in the time and effort required to search for all of that. But remember, a name by itself is nothing more than a name, a couple of words matched together; without any further information there is nothing that ties that name to you as a person.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Patch Notes, Share Your Opinion

 

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