Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Potpourri, or How I Spent My Geeky Weekend.

Today's post may be a little more unfocused than my usual articles. I have a lot to talk about today, and about the only theme I can come up that links the varied topics is that they are all about things that happened this weekend. A few events relevant to this blog happened in the course of a few days, I had the opportunity to follow up on and am prepared to revisit two topics I've covered before, and I got to experience a major world news event through a uniquely geeky lens.

Throwing chronology completely to the wind, I'll start with one of the very last things that happened this weekend. Weeks before the first episode came out, I wrote a bit on HBO's Game of Thrones, and how excited I was about it. Right before bed last night, I caught the third episode and I'm about due for an update on how I feel about the show. There is a LOT of material to cover to tell the story laid out in the first book, and so far, I feel the show is doing a good job of telling the story without losing too much of the detail that gives the world its depth and unique feel. Many favorite characters have been presented at this point, and the casting choices have been uniformly good. Any changes from the books have been tiny things, needed to improve the flow of story, and I think the show is comprehensible to people who haven't already spent years discussing the books.

Arya Stark learning "dancing" from Master Syrio Forel. Great casting.
I've also had a full week, and much of the weekend to try out the new content I touched on in World of Warcraft, the “update” of classic raid dungeons initially designed for between 10 and 25 players, re-imagined as longer than usual 5 man adventures. Zul'Aman is virtually unchanged from its initial release aside from the same monsters being tuned a bit for fighting groups of 5 level 85 characters as opposed to 10 level 70s. Still frustrating in the same places, still easy in the same spots. More interesting to me is Zul'Gurub, which kept the original environments, but completely rethought the monsters and bosses, including a clever encounter that is only accessible if someone in the group has sufficient archaeology skill to mess with a cache of cursed artifacts. Both of these new 5-man dungeons are like running 2 heroic dungeons back to back, all gear drops are purple (Epic) quality and they take, typically 2-3 hours to finish unless you have a very good group that knows all the fights already. We got to figure out the bosses in ZG for ourselves, no guides or YouTube strategy videos to help us along, and that was great fun, and a refreshing change of pace.

One of the Tiki-themed Minibosses in Zul'Gurub.

On to blog business, this weekend, two things of note happened, my post “Can't Stick The Landing – RPGs and Poor Endings” was a featured article in this month's Carnival of Video Game Bloggers here at GamingMyWay, and I got another award! This site received the “Stylish Blogger Award” from The Angry Lurker, many thanks to him, and this is another “with rules attached” award, so here they are.

Now the rules of this award are to:
  1. A thank you and link back to the nominating blog.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass this award on to 10 or so other deserving blogs.
  4. Let them know of your nominating them for the award.

Rather than fill the rest of this post with links to blogs, I'm going to comply with rule 3 in my own way. Throughout the coming weeks, one or two at a time I'll add my nominations. A lot of my favorite blogs already have this award, so I'll get the time I need to figure out who to pass it on to (no begging in emails or comments please) and the deserving sites won't get lost in a long list.

As for seven facts about myself... Well, here goes.

  1. I grew up in a particularly dangerous neighborhood, the only Irish-American kid in an area that became a gang-controlled barrio just outside Chicago.
  2. I was the initial designer of the Town Project in the RPGA's Living Greyhawk Campaign, which allowed players to write, develop and spend in-game resources on the management of their D&D character's home towns and villages in a global campaign. The towns could build structures to defend themselves, harvest resources and grow population, adding a lot of “Civilization/SimCity” elements to a shared-world campaign.
  3. While working in the hobby game industry, I also pursued a performing career, working as a concert tenor, improv comedian and actor.
  4. The band I've seen more often in concert than any other is They Might Be Giants.
  5. I've taken classes in and since forgotten how to speak or read almost anything in the following languages: Spanish, French, German, Russian and Japanese.
  6. I didn't have a driver's license until I was 21, and took the test to get one my 2nd time ever behind the wheel. (Nearly passed, nailed it on the next try.)
  7. I've been to the mayan ruins of Chichen Itza four times, and got to see the Throne of the Red Jaguar inside the central chamber of El Castillo.
El Castillo, the famous temple to Kukulcan in Chichen Itza.

Last, but not least, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention the announcement last night of the confirmed death of Osama bin Laden in an American operation. My wife and I were online in our Sunday night raid, working on killing Heroic Maloriak with our WoW guild when the news broke. We have several active duty military personnel in the game who claimed to have known already, but were under strict orders to keep quiet on the subject until DNA testing confirmed the news. We alt-tabbed from game to news sites and social media outlets for details or confirmation that the news wasn't a hoax in between boss attempts. Eventually, the news became so distracting that we broke for the night so all the players could watch the televised speech.  Rather than cynically insist that this news changes nothing, or hop up and down chanting “USA, USA!” I find my reaction rather more complex, but a blog I read this morning put it more succinctly than I feel I could. That link is here.  
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The Angry Lurker said...

Have watched the first two episodes of Game of Thrones and I have haven't read the books either which I intend to remedy but enjoying immensely, good bits about yourself, you are one of the best written blogs I follow, keep up the good work and will check out that other blog.

Alpha said...

That mask guy reminds me of Crash Bandicoot.

Erika said...

Congratulations on the award! Very well deserved! =D

Careface said...

Congrats with yet another award! Keep up the good work.

=dgrphx= said...

congrats on the award
well i havent been able to watch sucks not having hbo

A Beer for the Shower said...

Congrats on the award! And agreement with Angry Lurker. Always a good read here.

G said...

I've been hearing great thing about Game of Thrones but haven't caught it yet...and I'm very jealous over They Might be Giant - one of the bands on my must see list

Dave said...

Good way to spend the weekend lol.

Kelly said...

Congrats on the Stylish Blogger Award, dude. So how was visiting El Castillo? I would have loved to have seen that temple and other Mayan ruins. Another point I found interesting in those facts about yourself is that you worked as a concert tenor, improv comedian and actor. Pretty cool.

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