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The Real (ID) Story

[Update: Sorry, I completely forgot to add Friend of Friend info in the original post. I have added that information in now, just look for the blue header instead of green.]

Time for the hot topic of the year as far as the WoW blogosphere goes: Real ID. Cataclysm is big, but if you want to talk about heavily debated, then this is where it’s at. A lot of people have concerns about it, a lot of others couldn’t wait to dive right in, and of course there are others couldn’t possibly care less one way or another.

I’m not here to convince you to use it or to not, I’m just here to show you a bit more about how it works just in case you don’t have access to it yet or in case you were a bit curious or skeptical and so didn’t get far enough in to test it out for yourself.

I’ll have some screenshots here showing some of my Real ID friends, but I’m going to hide their last names since I haven’t asked any of them for permission. While I couldn’t possibly care less if people know that my name is Jason Griffith, I realize and respect that fact that there are other people who would rather not have their names out there even if nobody would have a clue who they are.

What Is Real ID
Real ID is a social communication tool built into Blizzard games to expand your ability to chat with your friends online while they are playing Blizzard games that are included in the Real ID system. At this time (June 2010) the only games included in Real ID are World of Warcraft and Starcraft II. Real ID is completely voluntary and optional, and it offers no in-game benefits or rewards, except being able to talk to other players that you previously were not able to talk to.

Real ID allows you to connect with friends who also have battle.net accounts and have Real ID access (see below) regardless of which server they are playing on or which game they are playing.

Communicating with your friends can take place in multiple ways. You can have conversations with individuals which work similar to whispers, you can have an actual whispered conversation with them, you can Broadcast a message that is sent to all of your Real ID friends at once, or you can have a Conversation with multiple friends which is a separate chat window that allows all of the friends you invited to the Conversation in a single window where everyone sees everyone else’s comments in the discussion. More details on some of those down below.

Who Can Use Real ID
Not everyone can use Real ID, at least not right away. As my wife and I found out last night, Real ID is by default disabled for everybody who has ever used the Parental Controls options. Last year we decided that in order to limit our play time we would set up PC’s on each other’s account so that it would kick us off of the game at certain times of the day. Since you often lose track of time it was easier to stick to our guns by forcing ourselves than relying on our clock checking skills.

So, the only people who “can’t” use Real ID are those that do not have them activated in Parental Controls. If you’ve never used PC before, then you don’t have to worry as they’ll be turned on by default. If you have used it before, then they are turned off by default and you’ll have to turn them on yourself.

If you don’t want to participate in Real ID and never want to even see the friend requests, or more importantly you want to remain completely hidden even from those that do have your email address, you can set up your own Parental Controls and simply turn off Real ID. By doing that even if people do have your email address for some reason, if they type it in to send you a request they’ll get a message back that says “Player not found.” and that’s it. If you change your mind later you can always reactivate Real ID at any time by going back to PC and checking the box to allow it.

An easy way to tell whether you have it turned on or off is whether or not the “Pending” tab shows up when you bring up your Friends List screen in the game. If you have a Pending tab then it’s turned on, if you don’t, then it’s turned off. Parental Controls completely removes everything related to Real ID from your interface if the feature is turned off.

Real ID Options
There are some options and customizations that you can do to Real ID once you are in the game. You access those options as you would other Interface options, by pulling up your Options window and clicking the Interface button.



In the pop-up window you need to select the “Battle.net” option which should have a golden exclamation (!) mark next to it indicating that there are new options in that section. Once you have selected Battle.net you will see the following Real ID options:



All of these options, when selected, will trigger a pop-up from the Toast Window (see below) if it is activated. All messages and alerts are sent by a Battle.net Message, as they call it, which is a chat message that shows up in your regular chat windows with a special icon to the left and is by default a light teal/aqua color. (Don’t quote me on the color, to me blue is blue no matter what fancy label you stick on it.)

Online Friends: This option will play a sound every time one of your Real ID friends logs in, and display in your chat window who they are and that they have logged in.

Offline Friends: This option works the same as Online Friends, except that it alerts you when your Real ID friends log off.

Broadcast Updates: Displays any Broadcast messages that your friends send out into your chat log.

Real ID Friend Requests: Alerts you via sound and chat message that a friend has requested to use Real ID with you.

Conversation Notifications: Alerts you when a friend sends a conversation request or message.

Show Toast Window: When selected, any of the above Real ID options will display some of their information in a small pop-up window that appears for a period of time above the top-left corner of your chat window. The duration of the Toast Window is set by the slider bar that is below the Show Toast Window check box. You can mouse-over this window to see information about the alerts that triggered it.

Play around with these options a bit if you’re going to use Real ID and decide which ones you like or dislike. I did a lot of back and forth on all of them after taking that screenshot, but in the end I decided to leave everything on. I might go ahead and drop the Toast Window, but I haven’t decided yet for sure. The more friends I get, the more I consider turning off the Online/Offline options, but I found in testing them that I actually prefer them to be on.

Requesting Real ID Friends
Before you can use Real ID you have to find yourself some friends. In order to get friends, you have to either give them your email address or have them give you their email address. You add Real ID friends the same way you do other friends, but clicking the Add Friend button in your Friends List window, but instead of typing a character name you instead type their email address.



If you type a character name then it will add friends from your local server as it has done previously. If you type in an email address instead, then it will extend the pop-up window allowing you to also include a message that will be sent to that friend.



When sending a request to a person that may or may not know my real name or isn’t expecting me, I make sure I include a message to let them know who I am or how they know me. “Hey Jeff, it’s Jason. You know? Your brother…?”



That notification is then sent to the person and they can accept it, deny it, ignore you, or report you for spamming. They can also choose to select no option for right now and just leave it in their Pending window as shown here:



As you can see, I have the same options for my buddy Jerry’s request in the Pending window, allowing me to accept, reject, ignore, or report for spam. If I choose to reject, ignore, or report Jerry he will not be notified, though I would assume that if I ignore/report him that if he tried again he would be informed that I have him on ignore. I haven’t tested that though, so it’s just a guess.

Friends of Friends
There’s another way to add friends besides having their email address, which is to request to be friends with your friends’ friends. To do this you right-click your Real ID friend in the Friends List and click to view their friends. A list will then pop up showing you the First and Last Name of all of their friends as well as a little note at the end to designate ones that are mutual friends or ones that you have already send a request to that is still pending. Those friends of friends (or FoF’s) will also have their names grayed out to indicate that they’re already your friend or already requested to be one.

The friends you do not have in common will have their names listed in gold, and their names are all that you see. You can select a name and then send the request along with a message telling them who you are, but that’s all you see. You do not see character information or email addresses for FoF’s, only their names.

(screen shot will be added later when I have one)

Real ID Features
Now that we’ve got the options out of the way, lets get down to the good stuff and talk about what you can actually do with this wonderful new feature. We’ve already discussed the fact that it’s a tool for socializing and communicating with your friends, so we’re going to talk about the specific features found in the windows and how to actually use it.

Once you’ve managed to get at least one friend you’ll be able to see how they’re shown in the Friends List. You can see the friend’s real name, which is how you’ll know them now, and you can see when they were last online. You’ll also see their Broadcast message, if they have one and have not deleted it. You can see in this screen shot that my GM, Chris Schwalm (who doesn’t mind his name being known), has set his broadcast to “I am playing wow.”, Jenny has set hers to “Goodnight!”, Kris is “pants optional”, and so on.

You are able to send out your own Broadcast messages from your Friends List window. In my case, I let everyone know I was going to do some low level PvP.



When you mouse-over a Real ID friend you get a little more information as is the case with Sheri’s message. You see the full broadcast (since hers was long), how long ago that broadcast was sent out (8 hours), and how long ago she was last logged in. You may also notice for the following screenshot that my Pending tab is flashing with an amber/yellow color letting me know that I have a request pending.



In the screenshot above here you don’t really catch the status setting because all of my friends were logged out when the shot was taken. However, there are also three status settings that you can choose from that will change the small sphere to the left of each friend a different color based on their status. You can set your own status at the top of your Friends List window to Available, Away, or Busy which are color coded in typical traffic light style:



Psynister’s Thoughts on Real ID
I’m a social guy, so being able to chat with my friends is always a good thing. I have multiple blogs, multiple email accounts, multiple twitter accounts, so on and so on. I like chatting with people and I like doing it in a lot of different ways. I’m not necessarily talkative, I just like being able to hang out and chat whenever I feel like it. Because of that, I knew going into this thing that I was going to give it a shot and that I would most likely enjoy it.

I’ve got a lot of really great friends that play this game, most of which I’ve met on Twitter or in the blogging community. Being able to chat with my buddy on a completely different server that I never get to play with was really cool. I run a dual monitor setup at home so that I can have twitter on the left monitor while I play on the center/front monitor and I can be social in both settings, but not everybody can do that. Having to alt+tab (I’m a PC, can you tell?) to look at twitter every time you get an update gets old fast, so people without multiple monitors aren’t as likely to use social apps like Twitter while they play. And now, they don’t have to.

When I first started setting up friends I was a little bit annoyed by the notifications of people logging in an out. Of all the complaints, that was the only one I had. After turning the notifications off though I actually missed having them there because I no longer knew who was coming and going. So I turned them back on and soon after it just became another part of the game that doesn’t bother now. It was annoying because it was different and it didn’t belong in my game, but it’s all good now.

Being able to chat with friends of the opposite faction was great. Chatting with friends on another server completely out of my battle group and on the opposite faction was even cooler. Better yet, I knew their character’s name, class, level, and location within the game which, while seeming somewhat stalker-like, was really cool.

My guild has both an Alliance and Horde guild on our server and during raid times we always have one person relog to the other faction to call people over for raid time, but with this tool we can just chat away with a Real ID friend on that faction and have them send out the message in guild chat for others that aren’t our RIDF’s.

At this point I can’t say that there’s anything that I don’t like about it. I can say that I am not a fan of the new default chat windows so I’ll be sticking with Chatter for a while yet, but Real ID itself is just full of win. I absolutely love this new feature and fully recommend it to anyone and everyone who plays the game(s).

 
13 Comments

Posted by on June 23, 2010 in Guide, Share Your Opinion

 

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Share Your Opinion: Removing Restrictions

It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people, but it’s one worth talking about. We’re talking about restrictions today, specifically those of which classes are available to which races. Even more specifically, we’re talking about how much I’d love to see those restrictions thrown out the window.

I know some of you will stop reading at that last sentence there, and that’s fine. I’m going to keep going though as I take a look at each race, and discuss the classes that are, and are not, available to them. Some of these combinations do not exist for Lore-based reasons, and while I can respect that as a generalization, I can’t rationalize that for…well, you’ll see.

You’ll see down below that I bring up religion a lot as being the reason for the restriction, and that I feel it’s rather ridiculous. For the sake of clarifying my stance on religion in the real world, I am a dually ordain priesthood holder. I’m not here to attack real world religions nor to infer anything about the two churches that I mention below, I’m simply saying it’s a rather weak argument for a video game as people of real world religions are free to chose to leave that religion at any time for another or none at all.

Brainless Restrictions
Human Hunters: This is the first one that just jumps right out at me and shines as a glaring example of brainlessness. Seriously!? How the crap can you not justify a human being a hunter? Thankfully, this one is getting fixed in Cataclysm, but to be quite honest I have no idea how this one wasn’t taken care of to start with or in Burning Crusade at the very least.

Dwarf Mage: Ok, I don’t get this one. Maybe there’s a small snippet of Lore sneaking in here that say Dwarves have fat fingers so they can’t make the proper hand motions…maybe? Maybe I haven’t been reading my quest text close enough or something, but after having leveled two mages to level 80, I don’t recall ever having to wiggle my fingers a certain way to cast my spells. Thankfully, we’ve got a Cataclysm fix for this one too.

Dwarf Warlock: Just because Tolkien’s dwarves couldn’t handle the Balrog doesn’t mean the WoW dwarves can’t summon an Imp. To my knowledge (limited though it is), there’s no Lore preventing a Dwarf from being a Warlock other than the the religion of their race overall being the worship of the Light. But you can’t tell me that there’s not a single dwarf in the world that wanted to go out and learn the dark arts. No fix for this one in Cataclysm and the only reason I see for it is a limp argument of religion.

Dwarf Shaman: One of the most iconic races of fantasy, closely tied into the element of earth, and they can’t be shamans. Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, Bliz? They worship the Light, yeah we got that in the Warlock blip up above, but this one makes that argument even more limp. Cataclysm fixes this one for us, which I know thrills a lot of other players that I talk to on Twitter.

Undead Hunters: See Human Hunters as Forsaken were either Human or Blood Elf in origin; one race that should be hunters and one that already is. I suppose I could see why someone wouldn’t want to be a hunter when you just eat whatever you kill, but again I see no reason why this wasn’t already in place. Like the humans though, this one also gets fixed come Cataclysm.

Gnome Priest: As per Lore, Gnomes place faith in themselves, their friends, and their inventions. So per Lore they woudn’t become priests because they don’t have a deity to follow. Yet also in their Lore some of them actually do pay their respects to the Light. If they can pay their respects, then why can’t they become priests? Blizzard saw that logic too it seems, so we get it fixed in Cataclysm, though this is another issue where I feel it should have been open to us already.

Tauren Priest: This one might not be quite so glaringly obvious, but it’s one that bugs me. Saying that this race cannot be a priest because they only follow religions of shamanism or druidism is like saying a white guy has to be either Baptist or Catholic. Racial restrictions are bad enough, but did you seriously need to add a religious restriction as well? Again, this one gets fixed with Cataclysm. Thank the Light! You’re telling me that simply because “everyone else” worships one or the other deities that you can’t branch out and do your own thing? Please.

Troll Warlock: We fight a Shadowbolt-flinging troll in our starting area for crying out loud. We fight them throughout the whole stinking game for that matter. Where the crap did this one come from, and why wasn’t it fixed the day after Vanilla was released? The only reason this one isn’t even more brainless than the human hunter is because human hunters exist in the real world.

Weak Lore-based Restrictions
All Shamans and Paladins: Here we have a “simple” matter of religion. Yeah, I know as far as Lore is concerned these are “secrets” or some such, but still. I don’t think “it’s a secret” is a firm enough argument to keep it restricted. What does keeping that secret really have to do with the overall story of Warcraft? Does the Lich King care if humans can be shamans or not? Does Deathwing care whether the paladins he faces are gnomes or trolls? Did Ragnaros care? Not that I’m aware of, no. There’s one exception I found for the Paladin which I’ll cover in the next section, but that’s it.

Night Elf Mage: This restriction does have some basis in Lore, so I can understand to a certain extent. I’m not a huge Lore fan, so I’ll let my buddy Tharion Greyseer give you the Lore details in his post: Lore Has Been Sundered: Part I from September of 2009 shortly after the year’s BlizzCon event. So the Night Elves shunned arcane magics for damage it caused thousands of years ago, I’ll give you that. And there’s no chance that a Night Elf would ever feel the least bit curious/rebellious and go study it anyway? I didn’t think so, so grats to Bliz for fixing this one come Cataclysm.

Night Elf Warlock: Once again we come back to religious restrictions. Why can’t we be Warlocks? Because we worship the Ancients such as Elune and Malorne; though some also worship dragons. So, tell me again why we can’t be Warlocks? Oh, because it seems too mean for our race? Ok, umm…sure. No fix for this one has been mentioned yet.

Draenei Rogues and Warlocks: More religion, anybody? These are probably the most ridiculous of them all. We can’t be evil, because our race is good… Uh, no. Alright, so we praise the Light and love our little floating symbols, that’s fine. You’re telling me I can’t get pissed off at crashing onto this horrible, plague-infested planet and change my mind? If I can decide to worship elements rather than the Light, but by Fel I can decide to summon a freaking Doomguard, and if I’m starving and broke you can bet I don’t mind lifting a few coins from someone’s belt pouch.

Orc Priests and Paladins: Another religious restriction, who’d have guessed? I don’t buy into any of these in case you haven’t noticed. Forcing races into or out of certain classes based purely on generalized religion doesn’t work. I call Bravo-Sierra on that one, Bliz. Maybe Lore tells us that the Orcs are still tied to closely to the Fel energies from their Outlands origins or something, but if baby Orcs can be born, then they can be brought up to worship the Light, and if the Light is anywhere near as “good” as it’s supposed to be then it would accept them.

Tauren Rogues, Mages, Warlocks: Alright, so cows are the most dexterous race in the world; I’ll give you that. But I’d fear a Taruen Assassin over a Gnome Assassin any day of the week. Besides, Byron breaks all of those rules and does a great job of it. Mages and Warlocks – do we go back to the whole “my fingers are too fat” thing here, or are we still stuck on the whole religion thing?

Strong Lore-based Restrictions
Worgen Shaman and Paladin: I’m going to back off on these and simply accept them for one reason. If we assume that these people have been locked away in their little town for a long time, then I’d say its acceptable to assume that they’ve simply had no one around to teach them how to be either of these classes. For that reason alone, I’ll not argue against these two. However, if we assume that there will be another expansion after Cataclysm, then I fully reject these restrictions.

Undead Paladin: This is the one exception where Lore has is strong defense against allowing the combination. When the scourge plague hit it was only the Paladins that were able to withstand and resist it. That plague is what created the Forsaken “race”, and as such it’s fair to assume that no paladins became undead.

But if you take that just one step further, are you telling me that they couldn’t simply choose to become a Paladin? What if I hadn’t chosen a “class” to become yet? Heck, I was still in my high school years trying to figure out which college classes to take when the plague hit me. Now that I’m a couple years older, I think I’d like to become a paladin. You’re not going to discriminate against be just because of my race now, are you? If you check some of Greyseer’s other articles you’ll see he’s found in-game Lore justifications for Undead Paladins as well.

Druids In General: While it’s not especially Lore based, though at the same time it is, you’ll see that the races who can become druids have a natural closeness to Nature. Perhaps the Worgen not so much due to the nature (pun) of their’s, but they are all much more closely tied to nature than races such as Gnomes and Undead. I can see why Blizzard would not want to allow races turn into animals that aren’t at all tied into nature, but at the same time I don’t see why one of those races couldn’t go out and strive to strengthen that bond.

Wrap It Up
So what I’m trying to say here is, I would love to see Blizzard drop all of this silly racial restriction crap on the classes. I see their reasons why and I’ve told you how I feel about them here. For the most part I don’t think there’s a strong enough reason to keep the majority of the restrictions that exist.

Having played every edition of Dungeons and Dragons that has been released to date, I can tell you from my experience there that in the early days the racial restriction (after races and classes weren’t the same thing, at least) were kind of cool because of how that defined the world and the setting. But eventually it just became an annoying hassle that needed to be done away with, and eventually they were discarded.

You do lose a certain amount of uniqueness when you open things up and remove restrictions, but at the same time you add more uniqueness as well. If someone tells you they’re a druid then you only have to ask which faction they are no know right away which race they are. They’re made rather bland because of their uniqueness.

When Cataclysm comes out we’re going to see a flood of Worgen Druids. “Everyone” wants a worgen druid; heck even I did at first. They already are not unique because there’s finally a second option for the class. More variety lends itself to more uniqueness.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. Anyone else care to share theirs?

 
23 Comments

Posted by on June 3, 2010 in Class, Races, Share Your Opinion

 
 
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