Where You Been?

I’ve been on and off vacation for the last couple of weeks so I’ve been pretty busy with the kids, basically refereeing. If anyone knows a good way to get them to stop picking on each other, let me know.


Back to playing D&D on Wednesday – it’s off to a good start, very interesting group with some foreseeable issues in the future. The more immediate one is that one healer (I use the term loosely because it’s a Druid) is in the UK while the other main healer (a Cleric) is possibly not going to be available for the next two sessions.

Ever run a session without healers? It’s sort of like Survivor only no voting.

Best part is we’re in a spot where a NPC healer might not be available. It’s hard to run out and rent a healer from the local inn or church when you’re in the basement of a Mind Flayer’s house.

That’s right.

Those buggers managed to take over the known (surface) area and enslave all sorts of sentients. Remember the language “Common”? Well, it’s “Mind Flayer” now.

So unless we trip over another healer NPC soon we might have to cancel.

Yeah, I said, “another”. We ran into one and immediately smote her. Apparently she was an evil squid worshiper. Of course, we didn’t really give her the chance to talk. I have no idea who did that…

Oh did I mention I decided to go with the Ogre character and name it Smaken?

Yeah, I did it. Hard to be diplomatic with the business end of a morningstar.


I haven’t played much of WoW lately, been a little too tired and busy around the times I usually play. I did have some time earlier today so I popped on and sent the brother-in-law some stuff to help with tanking. They hit level 80 and are interested in raiding.

I gave them a laundry list of things they needed to do before most people would consider bringing them to raids. Stuff like get rep with Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade so you can get the helm enchantments and Sons of Hodir too, get those shoulder inscriptions.

Oh, and try to get rid of the greens in the gear. Work towards 535 Defense so you can get into tanking heroics otherwise a lot of healers won’t be able to keep you standing. They’re working on it.

Pugophobia is another challenge they’ll have to over come. That or get into a guild that is more active with running instances and heroics so they can get some worthwhile upgrades there.

Global Agenda

Otherwise, I made a push to get my Recon in Global Agenda up to level 30. I did some investigating about specs and stuff. For the most part I was flipping between Bomb/Sniper Recon for PVP/PVE and got most of the specs close – I didn’t really delve into the Balanced tree, I mainly went Infiltration or Sniper (I think they call it Marksman). Now I mix a little of both.

I only just got into the crafting. You buy a recipe (which unfortunately sits in your inventory… Hello Hi-Res! Need to get some sort of recipe book or something) that lets you create that type of object. So far there are armor mods (I think repair kits fall into that one), device mods and consumables. There are some other ones that seem to be related to the persistent PVP (Conquest) stuff.

Oh! I got to try a Raid out. Not in the sense of a WoW raid, instead this is defending a location from waves of enemies. It failed. Somehow the tail end of the third wave over came our defenses and ate our core.

I poked around looking at Agencies for a bit but none really stood out. I’m not sure I want to get involved in any depth with another online play group – though it might be nice to have Medics/Assaults that realize they’re not snipers and actually get into the control points to take them.

And people thing WoW PUGs can be bad? Heh. I found myself yelling at the screen, “GET ON THE FUCKEN POINT!” Good thing I didn’t have my mic on and the kids . It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about people understanding what each of the game types are which is pretty damn easy I can’t fathom why people don’t get it.

Breach? Get on the point until you capture it.
Control? Get on the point and hold it. If you have 2/3 points you advance your progress bar towards winning.
Payload? Get on the point (which is the bomb) that moves. If you’re on it, it moves towards the place you need it to go so stay on it.
Scramble? Get on the point that appears at a random location.
Demolition? Okay… I know, it’s confusing – you don’t stand on the point here. Instead you either protect/heal your robot or try to take down theirs.

Bottom line, if there are no robots on the map, chances are you need to be on the point.

If you’re Recon maybe you clear out some turrets and stuff (though I often have to take a point because every Recon seems to think they are godly snipers…). Personally, I switched to more of a Bombercon (not quite a Minercon) where I dip in and out of the points dropping bombs to clear out the enemy. I make use of my stealth to get behind turrets and take them out. Other times I’ll try to defend a point using my mines and bombs, sometimes standing on the bloody point as Medics heal me because the Assault thinks that big thing that fires rockets is actually a sniper rifle.

If you’re Robotics? Set up shop to protect a given point or delay the enemy robot. Use your energy walls to help mitigate some damage the gang on the point is taking. Drop some med stations to help with helping. Set up the beacon in a good spot (I find dropping it between the enemy’s spawn point and the objective works well because you catch people rushing back into the battle or people trying to get out of the hotspot to safety.) Don’t be shy about helping Recon’s break up turrets and nests. If your devices don’t need healing, you should probably be shooting your gun.

If you’re a Medic (bless you!), heal away! Cure, heal, launch little grenades of healing goodness (or poison nastiness if there is a bunch of people in a clump). Shoot when you can. You’re the difference between life and death on the field. By the way, if you right click instead of left click on the healing gun you’ll do more heals at a higher energy cost – but that’s not a problem – right? You did take the extra energy pool and faster energy regen from the Balanced tree right?

If you’re an Assault, cuddling with a Medic and get on the bloody point! If the point looks good, stay there and protect it. If you charge into the point and die, don’t scream at the one poor Medic trying to heal everyone, take another route and help the Recons take out the nests of Robotics with their turrets then take the point. If you want to PVP (or PVE for that matter) you will want to get all the protection type spec stuff from Balanced and the Tank tree (oh and the extra healing). Medics and all the other players will love you for it.

I also bought LittleBigOgre a copy of that game and we played a little together. We just got our two Robotics through the Open PVE stuff they added. The last mission was pretty fun and funny to play with him. I did it solo with my Recon so I knew what was coming. The boss fires rockets that knock you back if they hit, he shoots from a machine gun, has a big sword that he’ll swing if he gets close and sometimes charges you, stunning you. I ended up dying and because he got me with a charge (I was trying to lure him away from LBO) but quickly made my way back as my son was panicking as he popped from side to side playing keep-away with the boss. He was so proud at the end of it and we were laughing pretty hard.

They need a little more work on the grouping and Open PVE – especially the grouping thing. They have an issue where you sometimes zone into different zones (I load up in the desert instance 5, my son is in city instance 3, I invite him to group, he accepts and zones out to the desert ending up in desert instance 12… wth?). They also seem to lock you out of a sub-instance if you have already done it – that’s okay if you’re alone, but not so okay when you’re trying to do something with a friend.

I was pleased to see /bug works for them. I sent them some feedback.

LBO is up to level 18 now with that Robotics. He also has a Recon (which he was meh about) and an Assault guy (which I had my Medic helping out), but then went back to the Robotics. Oh we actually won one of the mercenary missions we tried. Again, he was quite pleased about that.

That’s right, you guys were beat by a 7 year old!

A big plus about the game, it’s not graphically gory by any stretch. No blood splatters or decapitations or anything like that. For the most part, everything looks mostly normal. By which I mean the content doesn’t have violent items depicted on the walls or anything like that.

Best part?

No monthly fees. If he puts the game down for a couple of months, it’ll have only cost me the purchase of the game. Not the game, several expansions and several months subscriptions.

Wizard 101

I was a little surprised to see he was still subscribed to Wizard 101 despite not touching the game for months. I discovered this when the boys wanted to play it a little (three weeks ago) so the LBO had the family computer, LLO had my computer and I was using my laptop. I quickly learned that LBO could access subscription areas – sure enough, he was still subscribed. Oops.

When the interest waned, I unsubscribed him.It’s kind of nice only having one subscription.

So that’s where I’ve been.

Because you cared.


Helping N00bs (and Blizzard, Listen Up!)…

My sister and brother-in-law finally got over the hump of the 15$ a month subscription fee for WoW and signed up. They’re both loving it, of course, and have been playing a fair bit over the last week. I’ve been helping them as much as I can, explaining things, throwing them some coin or gear that my army of characters can craft and so on.

On the weekendm when I was there to pick up my kids, I noticed my brother-in-law (who I shall call, “BIL”) was looking up a quest on a site that was about selling gold, mainly. I realized then, that they came from playing Wizard 101 where buying and selling some in game things was part of the way King’s Isle had everything set up but that wasn’t the case for Blizzard.

I quickly explained that buying gold and services from anyone other than Blizzard was not a good thing and they come down pretty hard on it often banning accounts of buyers as much as they do sellers. I then pointed him towards WoWhead.com where he could find all sorts of information as needed.

It’s sort of funny, BIL didn’t have problems buying crowns and stuff in Wizard101 but if you mention having to pay 30$ a month for two accounts in WoW, he cringed. Of course, I RAFed him and he RAFed my sister (that sounds wrong, oh well, they’re married now).

Blizzard, introduce a family account package please? Take a look at what Wizard 101 is doing. I cancelled the Little Big Ogre’s account because he wasn’t playing it much and he wanted to play Wizard 101 instead. If his account was discounted, I would have gladly kept paying for it.

While we’re talking, fix the issue where you’re left with a bunch of ‘Unknown’ people in your friends list if you transfer servers. I’ve got about 10 or so in my friends list and I can’t seem to remove them.

And hurry up with the better system for LFG, tie it automatically into the instances you’re saved against. It’s been really painful trying to get into heroic groups these last two weeks. I swear I have better luck just spamming in LFG channel than I do using that built in LFG tool.

Here is the design for you…

On the left, have a list, listing the expansions (with sub sections for raids for those expansions). Clicking on that will populate the right hand side of the dialog. Checking the box next to that list item will select all options in that expansion.

On the right, you specify which ones you want to do by checking a check box next to the dungeon name (context being based on what you selected in the list on the left!). The Dungeon item is disabled if you’re too low level.

Heroics don’t show up unless they’re open to that character (i.e. you have the key or are level 70/80). These manifest as a second column right next to the name of the dungeon. They fall under the expansion on the same panel with a second check box for it (i.e. Regular column and a Heroic column). If the character is saved, the Heroic column check box is disabled, tooltip says, “Saved to this instance” or something.

Also put a sub category for raids on the left, under each of the expansions, handled in much the same manner.

Also include a check for selecting or deselecting all available items per section (i.e. all WotLK Heroics, none of the WotLK regulars, etc.). This way the user can pick everything they want to do or uncheck things like Oculus which they don’t want to do.

There, design all done. Send me a cheque.

UPDATE: I had heard they were revamping the UI for LFG but I totally missed this article about it.

My first thought is, oh God, no! Don’t do the treeview list. Too much clicking and scrolling, especially scrolling and it doesn’t expand as well when you want to add more dungeons and stuff in.

I like the other changes.

Did I Do That?

It’s not like me to take credit for someone else but it’s definitely interesting that shortly after two suggestions I make to Wizard 101 the game ends up having them available.

1. Voice vs Read.

I blogged about that awhile ago saying it’s too bad only the first part has voice for the NPCs because younger kids that don’t know how to read but who can still play the game can’t really play on their own. Now Wizard 101 has a voice pack download which gives the NPCs (in the first few worlds) voices. I’m not going to take credit for that simply because it’s been in other games, but I did say so.

My oldest figured out he only needed to look in his journal for how many kills or items he needed along with the little picture of that item and name of the area – off he’d go. But my youngest didn’t really know what to do so he’d spend his time running around or making new wizards over and over to the point where older ones would get lost because you can only have so many on one server.

Which leads me to the second suggestion.

2. Confirmation of Character Deletion.

I was really surprised when I discovered they clobbered older wizards when you made new ones and that there was no “Are you sure you want to delete UberWizardGuy?” prompt when you clicked ‘Delete’. It seems like common sense… a most base feature.

I discovered they put that one in when the boys were playing on the weekend. I’m guessing the awesome folks in their support organization (that isn’t sarcasm, they really are awesome) were getting tired of the requests to restore characters that a 3-year-old deleted so they put in the prompt.

Good stuff.

No, I can’t take credit for either of those, but I can enjoy the silence.

One last suggestion – reading tool. You’ve got the voice, you’ve got the text, tie it together and allow people to make Wizard 101 a learning tool. Highlight the words as they’re being said or something.

Wrath of the Three Year Old…

I noticed something a little odd the other day when I was in Wizard 101. My three year old had created characters so I deleted the extra ones. It dawned on me that the delete option doesn’t prompt you for so much as a Yes/No.

I thought this was pretty risky because one misclick and you can lose your character. Well, that or someone’s little kid might delete the character. Ever wonder why all the other MMOs out there have some sort of prompt that is beyond Yes/No? Well, little kids learn Yes and No pretty quick so if you prompt them with a Yes/No they’re going to click Yes. Most MMOs out there have a prompt asking you to type in DELETE or the name of your character to confirm deletion.

Wizard 101 doesn’t have this and my three year old deleted my main.

I’m contacting their support to see if they can restore it and I added a suggestion that they put up some sort of deletion prompt…

They were pretty quick to respond and only requested the account user name (I have three), the character name and that there be enough free seats to restore the character to (limit of 6 Wizards).


All fixed! The character was restored.

I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with their support. I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with them. The first issue was a crash on start up and they responded promptly letting me know what the issue was and how to work around it, also noting it wouldn’t continue to be an issue.

Almost There…

I popped into Stratholme alone last night. I figured I was in the area collecting Arthas’ Tears (flowers) and just did the quest where you clean up some restless spirits so why not take a look and see if I can get the holy water needed for my mount quest.

Sure enough, I saw a sparkly supply case within a couple of pulls of the entrance (which you can’t easily exit from). Solo Paladin, level 60 looking at a bunch of level 58 regular and elite mobs. What’d I do?

I pulled them.

I tagged them with my shield toss and ducked around the corner (some were casters). They bunched up really nicely in front of me and I proceeded to Holy Shield, Consecrate and Judge them down to Hammer of Wrath level (35% or less health).  It wasn’t easy and I had to heal myself several times – though handling mana was easy thanks to Redoubt triggering, Seal of Wisdom + Reckoning, Holy Shield and Blessing of Sanctuary.

I moved on to the next group and pulled. Then another. Then another and I was finally in reach of the box. Clicky…

“You cannot see your target.”

What? Move, clicky.

“You cannot see your target.”

Move, clicky, move, clicky… grrr. I grumbled about it in guild chat which got an immediate response. It was so immediate I almost missed it. Saur, a level 80 Death Knight, said he could pop by and give me a hand.

Man, I love this guild. People are so nice and helpful.

Being me, I kept pulling and clearing. It was fun though I almost died against the wandering abomination that punts you backwards which interrupts casting. Clever timing of the heal, use of stun and bandages won out the day though.

Soon enough, Saur arrived and proceeded to clear through the rest of the instance – even though I got the holy water I needed not too long after he showed up. Again, pretty awesome of him.

Things went pretty smoothly until he told me, “Don’t agro the this, k?” I stepped back and waited. He attacked a named banshee on one of those ziggurats and suddenly he turned red and started attacking me. I almost didn’t notice it because I was clearing crap out of my bags. After taking a few of his hits, I decided I’d let him live and not kill him off. He was helping me out so I figured I’d take one for him. 😀

The run back wasn’t too painful, I managed to get a key to the city so now I can unlock almost everything in there. Very cool instance, I liked the feel of it and got the impression there was a really neat story behind it (witnessing the Scarlet Crusade folks battling off undead and the undead flowing in behind us as we were clearing the Scarlet Crusade complex).

We (okay, Saur) beat down the rest of the stuff in the instance while I cured diseases and dropped the odd heal here and there. He wasn’t spec’ed for tanking so I had to be careful what I did so as not to grab agro. We got down to the Baron but he refused to give up his mount. Ah well.

Thanks again, Saur. 🙂

I handed in the quests I completed and got the follow up to get the enriched horse food. I stopped there though because it was almost 1am and I knew if I didn’t stop there, I’d probably push on and get myself into trouble in Dire Maul.

I’ll save that for a later date.

In other games, I was playing a little of Wizard 101 with my Big Little Ogre. He’s up to level 17 (I think) with his Myth/Ice Wizard. He’s got a bunch of other combinations he’s using but that is the one that is the farthest ahead. I got my Life/Balance Wizard up to 15th and popped into Krakatopia to help him out.

Man, you can really use that “Go to Location” friend teleport to trivialize things. We did the Sunken City instance together and sometimes had one of us gate back to the tower or home, collect some mana then teleport back to the other guy while we were in the middle of combat.

We were also using it to help me get caught up in quests. When I was off to hand something in, he’d move on to the other area and wait for me near what I needed.

Sounds sneaky? Am I teaching him bad things like exploiting systems?

It was his idea. I think it was innocent and he was trying to be helpful.

I have to admit, I really like Wizard 101 for the kids, even the Little Little Ogre gets involved. He’ll select cards and play them for me when I’m helping Little Big Ogre out. Other times he’ll play his own little character and just run around.

It also teaches them a bit about thinking ahead or even some simple strategies. It gets a little trickier as you advance too. One of the encounters I had to help out with involved some Dark Sprites using some sort of absorb spell? It was blocking all of Little Big Ogre’s myth spells and he lost that fight a few times.

I’m impressed he didn’t go into a barbarian rage and smash stuff – which is another thing he is learning to deal with, failure. That’s something we often try to avoid for our kids and it’s getting to be a real issue once they get older where they have to deal with it but aren’t prepared to do so.

All sorts of good little lessons in there. Oh and his reading is getting better too. 🙂

Wizard 101 and the Big Little Ogre

Over the vacation break while I was playing WoW, my Big Little Ogre was playing a fair bit of Wizard 101. This impressed me for a number of reasons. While Wizard 101 is aimed at kids, I believe it’s aimed at kids that are a little older than 5 years old.

Here’s what I noticed:

  • He can log  himself in.
  • He understands a lot of the game’s concepts and mechanics (health, mana, healing, potions, the power pips, using the side deck, XP, levels, training points, buying cards, debuffing, buffing, the combat system, identifying what other wizards are doing to what, fleeing, getting quests and turning them in.. etc.).
  • He can figure out what he needs for quests and where they are.
  • He can play the minigames on his own.
  • He has learned the spelling for several words and I hear him trying to sound out some others (he needs a little more patience in trying to sound them out because he’ll start then guess the rest, sometimes incorrectly).
  • He’s getting a better grip on math (very simple addition/subtraction) because he can figure out how many he has left, how many he will have left and things like that.
  • He’s getting a sense of money and how it works. This is a fairly abstract concept for a kid so you often have to teach them about money by using real money. Virtual money works too.

He’s level 15  (Myth/Ice) now and he’s done almost all the quests in the starting world. He’s started a few in the second world (which I only caught a few glances at it).

I have to admit, I was almost regetting subscribing to it because shortly after I did, he stopped playing (mainly because I was trying to encourage him to play it on his own) it but he has taken it up now. Now we have to make sure he doesn’t play too much.

The Little Little Ogre has also taken an interest in it (along with various kid TV sites which loads of Flash games) but he’s not as far along (being 3). He motors about, running into things and splashing through water. He made his own guy which he recognizes among the four other characters the Big Little Ogre made.

Good thing I set up my old system for them to use. 🙂

One complaint I have about Wizard 101 is that it isn’t obvious with how to switch Realms or instances of an Area to join up. I had a second (trial) account where I created a character to play along side his but we couldn’t find each other. When we finally did, I didn’t see any means of grouping with him and as soon as we zoned over to another area we got sent to different areas.

I looked at some ‘true friend’ thing but couldn’t figure out where to enter the code? I suppose I’ll dig that up when I get a chance (though I’d appreciate any info from readers out there that know how this works).

Wizard 101

I took a quick look at it last night and I mean, a really quick look. (Hey Ken, this is another one your daughter might enjoy.)

It’s a cute game. For some reason the settings in game allow for more resolution options than in the log in screen. Weird.

It’s meant for kids about the age that they can read. I thought it might have been nice to have voice over so kids that couldn’t quite read yet would be able to pick out what they’re going to say. Two problems with that:

1. They’d need to have a reader for what other people are saying

2. Not having it read out encourages parental interaction (i.e. the parent plays along and reads things for them)

The chat system has a non-free form chat (much like what was said to be coming in Free Realms and which already exists in Webkinz World) and a free form chat with a parent’s approval. The chat works by building up a short sentence of common things. Nifty.

The game has levels (and XP), gear and it appears to have spells that work as part of a card game. Sort of Pokemon online. You toss down a card and it does something to your target (or targets or you).

I didn’t look too much farther into it. I’ll let my son (five) try it out and see how he likes it.

By the way, he’s been impressing me with his reading. We’ve worked on sounding things out, but he’s also recognizing words too (not just simple word recognition, but recognizing words he’s sounded out before).