what happened last night

April 17, 2006

Last night was one of the best nights of my life.

Every night I read a book or two to my son, who is six, just before he goes to bed. Last night we read McElligot’s Pool by Dr. Seuss. We’ve read it before — he loves all the funny fishes. After we finished, he climbed up into his loft and I tucked him in and turned out the light and said “good night, sweet dreams” as I always do. That’s when it happened.

As I was about to leave, out of the goodnight-moon quiet of his just-darkened room, I heard him say, “Mom… would it be okay if I read McElligot’s Pool one more time?”

“You mean you want to hear it again?” I asked.

“No, I want to read it myself. Is that okay? I’ll tuck myself in again after.”

Is that okay? Is that OKAY? Of course it’s okay! My boy wants to READ! He wants to actually READ the WORDS in a BOOK before he goes to bed. Is that okay? That’s totally awesome. That’s one of those things that they don’t tell you about. Sure, there are nighttime feedings for 15 months and you don’t sleep through the night forever. There are epic battles over eating food, wearing clothes, and using the toilet. There are terrifying moments when he falls down and cuts or breaks or bumps some part of his body and you can’t fix it with a band-aid.

But last night I left the light on, and my son read a book to himself before bed.

I had no idea it would feel that good.


A creative side of gaming

April 12, 2006

You might not think that playing an MMO (massively multiplayer online [game]) is a creative activity. Given that the world is heavily designed, and animations are scripted, and players can’t really customize much in-game, there is a lot of truth to that. Choices for in-game creativity are limited. But many games have a vibrant fan community where creativity abounds; players write fan fiction, create fan art (drawings of their characters and equipment, or artist’s renderings of favorite in-game locations), write game-related comics, and even make movies. I ran across a particularly nice one: Big Blue Dress.

Fair warning: the rest of this post contains spoilers about the movie, so go watch it first if you prefer. (Now would be a good time. Go on, I’ll wait.) It’s worth the time it takes to download. Use headphones if you share an office. Read the rest of this entry »

Runetotem Thursdays!

April 6, 2006

Several of us in the NMC-guild-to-be have arranged to play together on Thursday nights, from 8-10 pm (Pacific) or so. If that’s a good time for you, log in to WoW, create your Alliance character on Runetotem, and whisper Ninmah! We have almost enough people and almost enough gold to make the NMC guild official. And by the way, it’s not restricted to NMC members. Friends, relatives, and generally cool people are also invited. See you in game!

Questing with the luckiest man alice

April 4, 2006

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for a little over a year now; I started not long after it came out. I remember when riding over the bridges in Stranglethorn Vale threw you off your mount for no apparent reason. I remember when they took away the buggy boat between Menethil Harbor and Auberdine and you got teleported by the dockmaster (and what’s more, I liked that better than the boat. It’s faster.). I’ve been around, is what I’m saying.

And I’m here to tell you, they’ve nerfed the quests. There’s one quest in Wetlands where you have to recover a bag that a lady dropped when she was chased by some oozes (hey, if you are without weird hobbies, you may cast stones. Otherwise, play it before you point and laugh.). The first time I did this quest, it took HOURS. My friend Caradoc and I must have killed 70 or 80 oozes before the stupid bag dropped. When I did it again with my second character, it took… hours. Again. This is a grinding quest, and no question.

So how do you explain what happened last night? I was helping some lowbie friends in Wetlands, and they needed the ooze bag. Oh boy, I thought. Here we go. At least Doc was with us, in all his level 60 glory (I was playing a 32 alt), so the level 26 oozes would be no problem. We’d still have to get through dozens of them, but they’d go down fast.

Alas, I failed to factor in (a) the nerfing of quests and (b) the presence in our party of the Luckiest Man Alice. In terms of (a), all old-timers are aware that the gamers you get nowadays just don’t have the grit that we had in our day. All the quests are easier. The flight paths are more plentiful. None of this “fight your way through a bunch of mobs only to find a bugged NPC who won’t talk to you” questing anymore. In our day, back in early 2005, questing built character. Now, not so much. Anyway, Blizz has made the drop rate of the bag higher. Now you only have to kill a couple dozen oozes before it drops.

Unless, of course, you are under the influence of (b) the Luckiest Man Alice. (This is his nickname, not his character name. It’s a typo that stuck.) The guy who always finds a parking spot in San Francisco right outside the restaurant he wants to go to. Always. The guy who gets the ooze-covered quest drop after three, count ’em, three oozes. Ventrilo echoed with my and Caradoc’s outraged protests.

What happened to the good old days? No grit, I tell you. And the next time I’m grinding a quest with a lowbie alt, I want the Luckiest Man Alice in my group, dangit.

Edited to make up for WordPress’s inability to print 19 words in a row that are separated by hyphens.

NMC Campus in the New York Times!

April 3, 2006

Well, the article’s about Electric Sheep, but NMC Campus (our Second Life space) is mentioned and there’s even a picture on C|Net.