Monthly Archives: April 2013

Overlord Bunny And The Podcast Extravaganza (And Some Other Words About Words)

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Today I was present as a guest on LowPopWow’s sixth episode, which focused on community-building.  It’s available for download/listen on their Twitch channel, and should be uploaded (along with a few other episodes) to Stitcher and iTunes fairly soon!  I really enjoyed the experience a lot — it was a much different interview style than I’m used to, extremely structured, more like an actual panel at a convention than anything.  Practice, maybe, for the future?  Hathorr is a fabulous host with a voice that’d make any NPR broadcaster feel woefully inadequate.

About halfway through our recording I got an email from Ghemit of the Let’s WoW! podcast asking if I could fill in for his co-host Dae for the evening, since real life apparently crit her for like 74692764 and prevented her from being able to do the show.  How could I turn down an offer like that?!  Though Dae was sorely missed, we had a great time with Rongar of Hearthstone Cast fame talking about Hearthstone and what excited us all the most about its impending release, as well as delving into the wonderful world of roleplaying in World of Warcraft.  There’s a rough/temporary version of it up on the Let’s WoW! Twitch channel, though Ghemit will undoubtedly have it up on Podbean, Stitcher, and iTunes within the next couple of days.  He’s an industrious sort like that!

I really can’t wait to do more podcasting.  I’m toying with the idea of a “Let’s Play”-type Twitch channel for myself, where I could really go through all of the various zones and instances and apply a designer’s perspective to them, highlighting details, bugs, et cetera, but in the meantime, I’d love to be back on LowPopWow and Let’s WoW! again!  There’s also a laundry list of other podcasts I’d love to be a guest on, and I’m hoping that in the very near future I’ll have more announcements for everyone about my guest appearances!  And maybe I won’t be all hopped up on Nyquil by then!  (Seriously, I am so sorry to anyone who had to listen to my gravelly/more nasal than usual rambling today.)

I actually did a little bit of listening to the recordings today and was somewhat disheartened to hear that the aphasia I’ve been having to deal with as a side effect of my old medication hasn’t resolved itself as completely as I thought it had.  There’s a few instances where I can hear myself struggling for words, slurring my speech, and flat-out using the wrong verbage.  Aphasia is a neurological issue that messes with the speech and/or language centers in my brain and occasionally makes me sound like a dolt, something I certainly don’t need any help with in my day-to-day life.  Imagine being onstage in front of a thousand people and without ever having read the script, so you have to think as fast as you can to cover up for it and ad-lib your way through the play you’re in.  You’ll probably get some of it right, but you’re also going to screw up a bunch of it by spouting off random nonsense because to you, it sounds like it maybe fits the scene.

That’s a pretty complex analogy, I know, so here’s an example: I want to say “I insist upon it,” but what comes out is “I exist upon it.”  The word is close, but definitely not correct.  I know the definition of “insist” and “exist” and if you asked me to write the sentence down on a piece of paper, I could do it perfectly.  It just gets messed up when it goes from my brain to my mouth.

I know that it’s not something I can really control, so I shouldn’t be upset with myself, but it’s a terribly embarrassing issue to have.  Those not in the know usually think that I’m a.) drunk or b.) unintelligent and trying to sound smart by using words I don’t know the meaning of.  When I slur the pronunciation of a word, most people will laugh and ask “You mean ___?” and though I’m pretty sure they aren’t trying to be dicks about it, I want to cry every time.  I know how the word is pronounced.  My brain is just not cooperating.  And should I have to stand there and struggle to come up with a word, they just assume I’m not paying attention or that I’m an airhead.  It’s common for people to not be able to think of a word once in a while.  For me, it’s more like I can’t think of any words because part of my brain has just decided to turn all the lights off for a while.  As a writer and hopefully soon-to-be game designer, it’s mortifying, because good communication is part of the job description.  I am a good communicator, I really and truly am, especially when it comes to writing, I just have a temporary setback right now while the damage that the Lamictal did to my body and my mind undoes itself.  Trying to explain this to people and desperately hoping that they’ll understand and not hold it against me is a terrifying thing.

The aphasia gets worse when I’m under stress, tired, or taking medication that spaces me out, such as — you guessed it — Nyquil.  There’s always a certain level of anxiety I deal with when verbally communicating with people, mainly because I have to think a little harder to sound “normal.”  On top of that baseline, this weekend my mother managed to drill through her hand while working on a DIY project which resulted in an emergency room visit, one of the mice passed away of unknown causes, and just this morning I was startled awake very early by a crashing noise in the living room that ended up being the cat getting into the mouse cage and killing another of the mice, who happened to be the sweetest, cuddliest, most loving of the bunch.  My weekend, as you may have gathered, has been a fairly large pile of shit, not even counting all of the sleepless nights and highly uncomfortable days I’ve spent before that with The Plague.  It’s like a perfect storm of failure on my end.

I’m not trying to make excuses or get pity, more that I’m troubled by it to the point that I really feel the need to explain myself and maybe educate a few people here and there on some of the weirder things that can go haywire with the human brain.  And to a degree, I think I just need to talk about it for my own sanity rather than trying to pretend like losing partial control of my faculties doesn’t scare the everliving crap out of me, even if it is a problem that should eventually go away on its own.  But until it does, purple monkey dishwasher, I suppose.

Overlord Bunny On LowPopWow… And At Blizzcon!

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Sunday, 4/28 at 2 PM PST I will be a guest on LowPopWow for their community-building episode!  It’ll be available for download shortly thereafter, but LowPopWow records live using Twitch.TV, so come hang out in the chat and give us your questions if you want them answered on the show!

And in even more exciting news… I’m going to Blizzcon!  The Fiance and I will be there for the whole weekend as part of our Geeky Honeymoon Extravaganza, since we get married earlier in the week.  We won’t be staying at a hotel as far as I know, since we don’t live terribly far from the convention center and also I know the hotel is going to be full of drunk noisy people and nothing turns me into a crotchety 83-year-old woman faster than people making noise when I’m trying to sleep.  (Reason #72368632 why I probably should never reproduce.)  A tiny part of me is kind of regretting not getting married at Blizzcon.  I mean, Blizzcon and Disney World are about the only two places that could be even cooler than getting married in front of the orc statue on the Irvine campus.

Which reminds me, we send out the invitations in like two months which means I have that long to find a venue with a budget of $0.  YAAAAAAAAAAY!

I Am Sick And Tired Of Being Sick And Tired

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Two days ago I woke up with a tickle in my throat, and by tickle, I mean “it felt like I was drinking straight out of my hot glue gun.”

As a kid, I used to get violently ill around the same time every year, which mystified doctors until I was about 11 or 12 and one of them finally figured out that I have an oddly specific allergy to a certain type of mold that grows on certain types of citrus trees during the harvest season in a certain region of the United States, and as coincidence would have it, we had three of said moldy citrus trees chilling in our yard that would start bearing fruit at exactly the same time that my respiratory system started re-enacting The Exorcist.  Now that I’m an adult who maintains at least a 50-mile distance between herself and the nearest orange grove, I don’t really get colds or flus or anything like that.  When everyone else is being obliterated by whatever Zombie Swine Chupacabra Plague happens to be sweeping the world at the time, I’m sitting at home watching the advisories on CNN and making smug faces.  On the extremely rare occasion that something does manage to force itself through my mucous membranes, all Hell breaks loose.  The way I see it, I get all of my requisite sniffly stuff out of the way in one shot every five years or so.  I’d rather be sick as balls for a week and then not have to deal with it for like a million years, you know?

At least, that’s what I tell myself until I actually get sick.

But more about Hot Glue Gun Throat Syndrome.  It’s about the worst feeling in the world.  You go to bed and everything’s great, then you wake up choking on all of the terrible booger-y shit that’s decided to jailbreak out of your sinuses and down the back of your throat.  I’ve got a high pain tolerance — I actually fell asleep during my tattoo because I got bored — except when it comes to throat pain.  I would take a papercut to the tongue over a sore throat.  I’m not sure if I hate it so much because it legitimately hurts, or because it’s always a harbinger of doom for my immune system.  Some people know they’re getting sick when their nose gets runny or their left third metatarsal starts throbbing; I know I’m completely and utterly screwed once I get that constant drowning sensation.

I spent that entire day frantically chugging every source of vitamin C I could find, because unlike a normal person, I actually go through the stages of grief when it comes to getting sick, and here was Stage 1: Denial.  I hit Anger upon finding that my herbal chest rub had gone a bit off, meaning I spent the rest of the day smelling like I’d been rolling around in menthol cigarette butts (as opposed to regular butts, which I would love to roll around in).  Within another couple of hours I was Bargaining with Azazel and every other major and minor denizen whose name I’d heard on Supernatural that if they’d just, like, cancel this delivery of Extreme Suffering I’d sacrifice an entire herd of alpacas in their honor.  Depression and Acceptance hit about the same time once I realized that I was almost out of Supernatural episodes to watch and laid down on the couch in utter defeat, at which point I didn’t so much accept my plight as tried to get back up and nearly threw up everywhere so I really couldn’t fight it anymore.

It’s amazing how the crappy things you hate doing when you’re healthy suddenly become all you want to do when you’re confined to bed.  I like to pretend that I’m this ironically lazy creature like Garfield except actually funny (and also lasagna tastes like Silent Hill and broken dreams to me), but the reality is that nothing drives me further up a wall than a wasted day, especially now that I’m out here in Irvine and actually have the desire to do stuff.  There’s also that tiny little detail of “every day that I don’t work on writing or practicing my coding is another day I don’t add to my portfolio and an even longer delay with getting hired at Blizzard” so between my type A personality kicking in and a built-in biological warfare system, I haven’t been the easiest patient to deal with.  I technically shouldn’t even be sitting here writing this for multiple reasons, the least of which “it’s by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever written” and the most important being “The Fiance is going to realize I’m not laying down and come into the room and make loud annoying noises at me until I go back to resting.”  Yes, The Fiance has pretty much ordered my complete quarantine to the point that I’m not even allowed to get up and get myself a glass of water.  I made my own lunch this afternoon and I swear the little shit gave me the evil eye.  But I’m an independent person, and thus being told “no, you are coughing up globs of brown things, you cannot do the laundry” without being allowed or able to yell “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED” afterwards is one of the least sexy tortures that a person could inflict on me.

Not to mention that I’m just flat-out unused to being able to take time off to recover from an illness.  Before my short stint at the tea shop, I had a job where we were legit not allowed to call in sick.  Ever.  We were so under-staffed and over-worked that one person not showing up could mean the difference between hitting our deadlines and getting hopelessly behind for a month.  My former significant others were not always the most sympathetic people.  I ended up bedridden for a week with a nasty case of food poisoning and my boyfriend at the time accused me of faking it so that I didn’t have to do housework.  I learned not to rely on people for care while I’m sick or injured.  The Fiance, meanwhile, brings me medicine, food, drinks, extra pillows, blankets, and kisses to the forehead without me even having to ask for them.  He’s stepped up to the plate by taking over all of the housework with exactly zero complaining about having to do so.  If I try to protest or do something anyway, he very gently takes it out of my hands and ushers me back to the couch.  He isn’t cranky with me despite the fact that my coughing and tossing-and-turning has kept him up for three nights straight (and when I offered to sleep on the couch, he refused to let me even think about it).  My Jewish guilt can’t handle this kind of spousal excellence, I swear.

If there is a bright side to being sick, it’s that I’ve managed to catch up on Netflix and regained my ability to do a bitchin’ Dr. Girlfriend/Dr. Mrs. The Monarch impression, although my Skeletor and Eric Cartman are currently suffering.  The fact that my sinuses are so tightly packed with rainbow colors of snot and other nastiness means that I can actually consume foods I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy, so finding something to eat is easy as the pie that we sadly do not currently have.  A cat peed outside of our window last night and while it was a horrible experience for The Fiance, I just sat there blissfully ignorant to the stench.  I have an excuse to not shave my legs for a week.  I get all the tea I can drink (even though I’m not allowed to make it for myself).

And then I cough up something that tastes vaguely like bug spray and I just sort of sigh and resign myself to another three or four days of being an observer of the chaos rather than an active participant.

It Burns When I PvE

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It’s hard for me to admit to this, but I’m starting to get burnt out on playing World of Warcraft.

There’s a lot of guilt because of it.  My career goals haven’t changed — not one bit.  Warcraft team, I will be in you.  Designing stuff for the game hasn’t lost its shine in any way, shape, or form.  Just because I’m finding myself out of things to do in-game doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep imagining and planning out things that I wish I could do.  But even still, I feel like a traitor, or like the entire dev team is sitting there shaking their head right now and saying “oh man, Overlord Bunny, you’re on the blacklist 5-ever” which is longer than 4-ever, don’t you know.  Azeroth has been a second home to me since three months after the release of vanilla.  Now it feels almost like turning my back on an entire community.

The good news is that I’m fairly certain it’s not a permanent burnout.  I’ve done this once or twice before, taken a month or so off and focused on other games and hobbies, only to get The Urge™ and end up logging back in.  The longest hiatus was between the end of Wrath of the Lich King and the tail end of Cataclysm, and even then I couldn’t resist its siren call, because quite frankly, Everquest II wasn’t cutting it.

In the meantime, I’m left to wonder what exactly triggered the change of attitude, from being excited to log in and spend an entire Saturday pew-pewing to practically needing to give myself a pep talk just to log in and harvest my farm.

To begin with, I’m still a little out of sorts from my 2600-mile move from Florida to California.  I totally stuck the landing and am happier being here again than I ever could be anywhere else, but there’s still an adjustment period to contend with.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I was last in California and a lot has changed (for the better, in my opinion).  I have a real family again, since my mother and stepfather are both here.  The Fiance has gone from living four hours south of me to sleeping next to me every night.  And for the first time in a very long time, I actually have the energy to do things.  My days of staying up till 6 a.m. and waking up at 2 p.m. are over.  Nor am I afraid of leaving the house anymore; I try to find any excuse to go somewhere at least once per day.

Then there’s the job hunt.  I’ve still got a load of applications in with Blizzard, but in the meantime, I’m looking for something temporary and part-time that I can actually do.  Though I’m no longer taking the meds that basically poisoned me, I still have some pain when walking or standing — not crippling like it originally was, but still severe enough that if I can’t sit down periodically it will reach that point.  This takes retail jobs off the table, and desk jobs around the area seem to be universally full-time, which means I won’t have enough time to work on what I need to work on in order to get my dream job.  It’s on my mind constantly.  As it stands now, I’m likely going to end up doing nerdy crafts and baked goods on Etsy and some local markets and hope that it brings in enough income to cover my cell phone, mercifully the only bill I have right now.  Getting the Etsy store set up, however, requires inventory, and inventory requires crafting my little fingers down to the nub for the greater part of the day.

Within the context of gaming, I did a fairly stupid thing by shotgunning five characters to level 90 back-to-back.  Yes, I have my Quintessential Quintet to shove in people’s faces in lieu of a wang, but when thinking of leveling yet another alt, I want to curl up in the fetal position and whimper “no moooooore!” for a week and a half.  I haven’t yet experienced all of the revamped content from Cataclysm with either faction, this is true, but the idea of having to redo Hellfire Peninsula ever again is killing me, which is part of the reason that my Ultimate Fantasy Project would be to handle the redesign of all Burning Crusade content.  Seriously, just shove me in front of a computer and pay me in tacos and nerdy T-shirts, and I will be your revamp-monkey.  At least it’s still got more replayability than SWTOR, but that’s kind of like saying that cancer is better than AIDS.

I’ve maxed out my rep with all of the Pandaria factions.  I’ve had Pandaren Ambassador since before 5.1 and its delicious commendations were released.  I had exalted with Dominance Offensive and the Sunreaver Onslaught about two, maybe two and a half weeks after they came out.  Sure, I could go back and farm my way to exalted with the pre-Pandaria reputations that I’m missing, but it’d require facing that old content that makes my eyes cross.  I’ve done at least LFR for everything up to Thunder King, but I honestly don’t feel like I have the patience right now to continue on with it, even though my gear more than meets requirements.  A big part of that is because I always loved raiding with friends, and right now a good chunk of my “minions” are on hiatus, so I’m stuck playing with strangers.  I joined a raiding alliance with an awesome guild on Thorium Brotherhood after having a really great experience with them a few weeks back, but while I’m still getting settled in here, it’s hard to devote that time to sitting down and raiding, no matter how badass of a group of people they are.

Another huge part of my “meh” attitude towards raiding, to be honest, comes from my own guild.  When I started Torchwood Institute, it was supposed to be for me, The Fiance, and our friends and family.  Our attitude towards raiding was pretty much “we’ll get to it eventually.”  It wasn’t going to be progression-based, attendance wasn’t going to be mandatory… Hell, we weren’t even sure if we’d be doing it every single week.  But then a couple of old gaming buddies started getting a little more into the idea of raiding than the rest of us.  I found myself watching them pull their mains out of Torchwood Institute to join progression-based guilds and suddenly the feeling became “Oh shit, if I don’t start trying to throw raids together, I’m going to completely lose them.”  There’s a certain level of pressure on me now that’s started to tip the scales from “fun pasttime” to “job.”  Now, under more pressure from other guild members to open up recruiting, we have a bunch of strangers in the guild who barely talk and give the impression that they’re just there for the XP and rep bonuses.  One guildie in particular is constantly hounding me for special favors and titles because he’s the one who brought them in to begin with.  Many nights I’ve sat there, finger hovering over the “character transfer” button, and thinking about just leaving the guild in his hands and running away to Kil’rog or Lightbringer or Proudmoore where I could start over fresh, or just give up on guild leadership for a while and join up with some friends of mine there.  But then in comes that pesky guilt thing again.  I convinced a handful of people who I really wouldn’t want to leave behind to re-up their accounts and transfer characters in the first place.  Running out on them would be, for lack of a better term, a “bitch move.”

The server we’re on, to be honest, never felt like home to me.  I rolled there in the first place because a friend of mine recommended it, swearing up and down that he’d come play with us, and then promptly cancelled his account for good before I was even finished setting up my first new toon.  Uldum is apparently notorious for being a “dead server” with a crappy economy, none of which he bothered to mention, and I sometimes wonder if he was trolling me when he told me to transfer there in the first place.  None of us can afford to simply transfer all of our toons off, so we’re kind of stuck where we are.  There’s even more guilt now because I feel like a horrible guild master for not researching the server more thoroughly before roping everyone in instead of just taking someone at their word.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to clear out the backlog of games that I’ve got downloaded on my computer.  Last year I dropped about $200 on the Steam Summer Sale, only to neglect the whole library in favor of World of Warcraft.  The Fiance bought me Skyrim and all of the DLC for it at Christmas which I’ve just started to delve into in the past couple of months.  I finally finished Wings of Liberty and am working my way through Heart of the Swarm.  With our peripherals combined, my stepdad and I have a complete Rock Band setup, which I expect will be put to good use plus a few bottles of Shock Top.  And maybe I should feel a bit more heartened over the fact that even with non-Warcraft IPs, my designer’s eye is still wide open, breaking down and absorbing everything I play and finding inspiration in the most seemingly obscure of places.

Work, work.

The Invasion Is Complete

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After an “exciting” three-day drive and a day or two of dealing with the ensuing trauma, I’ve finally gotten my computer set back up and running, now with an additional monitor, because I am all that is badass.  I’m not quite sure what to use it for other than being able to stare at my inbox while I game and wait desperately for the “COME WORK FOR US” email that I think may have gotten lost somewhere on The Intranetz, but The Fiance assures me that I’m going to love it.  So far, all that’s happening is a major difference in color profiles and native resolution that is aggravating my OCD something awful.

Making a cohesive blog post about everything that’s gone on over the past few days, however, is a bit difficult.  Most of it has been normal, uneventful stuff — driving a lot, eating crappy food on the road, unpacking — but there are a few highlights scattered throughout that I will instead share as short little blurbs to hopefully give everyone an idea of just how I’m doing here in Irvine.

Don’t Ever Take The 8.  Trust Me.

I promised my mother that I would not go into great detail about our “navigational adventure” on my blog, so all I will say is that no matter what the road atlas may tell you, the 8 does not actually go through flat desert and allow you to bypass mountainous areas you’d have to contend with on the 10.  It actually makes you go through an even more horrific-at-night mountainous area up to an elevation of near 5,000 feet with multiple border patrol checkpoints and if you have vertigo you’ll probably want to die.  It is not, in fact, a shortcut, and will instead tack on an additional 2 to 3 hours as you desperately try to figure out where the Hell you are and not drive off the edge of a cliff.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Irvine Is Really Posh

I knew that Irvine was a pretty rich/super-nice area, but I was completely unprepared.  All of the buildings are new, and even the city areas are landscaped with lush green plants and trees.  There are parks and gardens everywhere, a shopping mall full of nothing but designer boutiques, and it’s clean beyond belief.  The apartment I’m living in now is more like a house.  It’s freaking huge.  I’m still getting lost in the hallway trying to find my bedroom.  To be honest, I’m afraid to touch anything in it, because I feel like I’m going to break something that costs more than I will make in my entire life.  I’m trying to embrace it by becoming more posh myself, but in doing that have determined that I need more practice because I still keep saying shit like “holy balls!” when I see something amazing in public.  In other news, I’m working on the script for a new musical called My Fair Bunny.

I Was On Blizzard Campus Today

Not inside the buildings or anything, but I did get to walk up to the orc statue and touch it.  That was pretty cool.

Ikea Will Be The Death Of Me

The Fiance and I needed a few things, since we didn’t have the room to bring any furniture or anything really other than the necessities.  There’s an Ikea not far from the apartment that is so massive it actually has its own freeway exit and a street named after it.  Because I live in Southern California now, I had to make sure that I looked totally cute, because that is how we do things in Orange County.  To me, this involves kitten heels.  I had never been to an Ikea before today, so how was I supposed to know that this was a bad idea?  “Wear flats,” The Fiance warned me.  Bah, silly man-type, he has no comprehension of pain tolerance!

About 30 minutes in I had blisters on my toes and the balls of my feet that hurt really badly, but we still had another hour to go and some grocery shopping to do afterwards, so I just Stiff Upper Lipped it for the rest of the day.  If you have never been to Ikea, wear comfortable shoes.  This concludes my public service announcement.

The Parking Lot Of Ralph’s Is The Perfect Spot For A Peep Show

While loading up my purchases at the grocery store, I was momentarily distracted and ended up catching the already-plunging neckline of my dress on the corner of the trunk’s hatch and pulling it down.  To the eight-year-old Asian kid sitting in the car next to us, I apologize for any emotional scarring or early puberty that may have resulted.  Sadly, this is not the first time that I have accidentally corrupted a child with my bosoms, because this one time I was late to work and spilled coffee on my shirt in the car and had to change it mid-drive but did not realize that I was doing so in the middle of an elementary school zone at 8:15 in the morning.  I should probably just not be allowed around other people without a turtleneck.

I still don’t have a job, half of my stuff is still in boxes, and my sciatic has still not recovered from three days of being jabbed in the ass by a seatbelt while trying to sleep, but I can honestly say this whole plan was totally worth it.

A Reflection On Hello, Goodbye, And Packing Tape

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This is it, ladies and gentlemen.  The last blog post for probably about two weeks.

Around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, The Fiance, my mother, and I will pile into the minivan, which I have helpfully christened as the Hannah Montana Concert Shuttle, and leave for California.  My mother already lives out there, but flew back to help us since I can’t drive and otherwise it’d all be on The Fiance.  The Fiance was born on a military base near Anaheim, but moved while he was still a baby and hasn’t been back since.  I’ve been gone for eight years and regretted every second of it.

Florida was never supposed to be “home,” you see.  I was just supposed to stay here with my grandparents while I got back on my feet after a very messy split with my then-boyfriend who I’d been living with in New England.  He was the reason I left California in the first place — you know the drill, young, dumb, and idealistic, and the more it sounds like a fairytale the more you convince yourself it can last.  I pinged around from state to state for a while, never quite making it back out west, always ending up back in Florida and worse off than I had been before.  Part of me is grateful for it, since I would never have met The Fiance, but I really would have appreciated a bit more direct of a route back home for me, maybe pick him up a year or two earlier to get the show on the road or something.  A TARDIS would be pretty useful right about now.

But now I’m going back to California, where I had the best years of my life growing up.  Where I met some of the greatest people I could ever imagine and experienced the very greatest things.  Some people complain that the whole state is fake and plastic, but I never saw it that way.  Even when I was living there, it seemed to have this glittering sheen to it, an unapologetic admission that yes, the surface had been lacquered half to death, but what lay beneath it was no less incredible than the exterior.  For the first time in my life, I was able to be myself, and it was all thanks to the encouragement of San Francisco and Sacramento and Orange County.  Florida stifled all of that.  Very few people shared my interests or appreciation of my wacky clothes and taste in music (although those few became some really amazing friends).  There were no jobs in my desired field here.  The unemployment rate in the city I’m leaving behind is nearing 15%.  When I got laid off from my minimum wage retail slave job I finally had the time to write and put forth more effort towards getting into the game industry than I ever had before.  It gave me the opportunity, the reason, to go home again.

I’m waxing pretty philosophical tonight as I realize that this is the very last night I will spend alone.  I knew I’d have to say goodbye to my bachelorette ways, and at times maybe even fought having to do so, but suddenly I’m at peace with it.  All of the fears and insecurities I once had about being able to have a real and fulfilling adult life with a healthy relationship and my dream career have evaporated.  I feel like I’ve just stepped into one of the sandbox games I’d love to design; I’m free to explore, free to create, free to have the life I’ve fantasized about since I was a kid.  Holy shit, I might actually be able to pull this off.  No, let me rephrase that.  I will pull this off.

Am I looking forward to spending three, probably four days in a car?  Absolutely not.  I’ve made this cross-country trip before, and it sucked.  But now I’m doing it all over again, older, wiser, and with two of my favorite people in the world, and I feel like everything in the past was just practice for this final round before I get the victory fanfare and ending cinematic.  Until today I was worried I wouldn’t be able to handle being confined to such a small space for so long, but now I realize this isn’t an inconvenience, it’s an adventure.

Besides, this time I have a smartphone.  How bad can it be?

I’m still worried about all of the things that could go wrong.  The trailer could come off of the hitch, the van could break down, any of us could get sick on the way, we could die in a fiery accident… but I’m already shedding the east coast mentality I was forced to adopt for so long and replacing it with an “I’ll just have to deal with it.”  In fact, when I get home, I may reward myself with at least one of the personal reminder-type tattoos I’ve been wanting, assuming I can find a good ink joint in Irvine.  I’m no longer just about making it better.  I’m about making it.

These mean so much to me I'm even willing to wait on the Gallifreyan for "Time Lord."

Noblegarden: It May Be Noble, But It Ain’t Novel

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Either I just have a lot to say lately, or I’m subconsciously going on a blogging binge because I know that for the next two weeks I’m going to be pretty much off the grid while I drive across the country with my mother and The Fiance and make my bunny den of iniquity anew in Irvine, California.

Originally I was going to write a joke review of Blizzard’s prank line of kids’ computer games in celebration of April Fool’s Day (which, incidentally I would play the Hell out of even as an adult), but there’s more important things that need to be dealt with here, namely the Noblegarden event and just how frustrating and outdated the damn thing really is.

I completed Noblegarden, the World of Warcraft version of Easter, in 2009 according to the date stamp on my achievements.  Even back then, it was a major pain in the ass for relatively little payoff, other than some RP costumes and a companion pet.  There was no special dungeon fight as there is in Brewfest and Hallow’s End, no crafting patterns like the ones offered by Winter Veil and the Lunar Festival… of the in-game holidays, Noblegarden was pretty much one extremely lame duck.  Tokens in the form of Noblegarden chocolates could be obtained by doing circuits around various towns in the beginning zones until you were dizzy and hoping that you were able to click on the holiday eggs containing them before one of the other 100 people trying to do the same thing did.  I got my Spring Rabbit and the achievements for the What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been meta and swore never again.

This year, however, The Fiance is playing World of Warcraft with me and since he’s new, he doesn’t have any of the Noblegarden stuff.  I’ve helped him with most of the others whenever possible, so I decided to log on today and see if the celebration had changed at all in the past four years.  Technically it had, in two very vital ways:

  1. Now there’s a mount you can buy for 500 chocolates
  2. CRZ is enabled in the egg-hunt areas

Holy rabbit shit on a shingle, Batman, I regret complaining about how hard it was to get eggs all those years ago.  The effects of cross-realm zoning extend past merely dumping tons of extra competition onto everyone; oh no, now we get to experience the delays caused by CRZ, where it takes one or two seconds for the game world to “update,” meaning you could have just blown past a whole group of eggs and not realize it until it’s too late.

The spirit of competition in Noblegarden is just flat-out ugly.  You’ve got people swearing at you, insulting your sexuality, and threatening to kill your dog through every conceivable channel of communication for getting to an egg before them, even if you did so in a completely fair-and-square way.  Players are using the biggest mounts they can to park on top of eggs and prevent others from clicking on them.  Some are keeping the loot window for the egg open, making it unclickable for anyone else until their buddy gets there to snag it, or to distract people from hitting other spawn points (and keep in mind that if they’re forcing the egg to stay up like this, that’s one less egg spawn that can pop for others).  If Blizzard was attempting to encourage friendly competition with the egg-hunt mechanic, all they’ve managed to do instead is foster more opportunities for harassment, cheating, and overall poor sportsmanship.

There’s still no holiday boss battle — prime opportunity missed to really push the Darkmoon Rabbit encounter, especially since this year the Darkmoon Faire and Easter are happening during the same week —  and no real questing beyond the unbelievably difficult task of collecting shell fragments from 20 eggs and turning in half of your hard-earned chocolate for a woefully impotent Noblegarden basket that works like a rogue’s Sprint ability.  With so many people in the area to begin with, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.  Most of the egg hunters I see are using flying mounts, which are pretty much a no-contest win against any temporary speed boost, especially with the zoning-in delays I mentioned previously.  Those 10 chocolates are such a pain in the ass to gather that they’re better applied to purchasing a spring outfit for the achievement or putting them towards the mount or the pet.  In previous years, I would have recommended just farming the gold to buy the pet on the auction house, but since 5.2, any achievements granted for obtaining a pet during the holidays now require you to actually earn the pet.  Just getting an extra from a friend or buying one no longer counts.

For Love Is In The Air, the charm bracelets required for daily turn-ins and token purchases could be traded or sold freely.  I used that opportunity to help The Fiance get his holiday mount, since he works full-time and thus didn’t have as much opportunity to farm the Lovely Charms needed to make them.  The Noblegarden chocolates are soulbound, and as far as I’ve seen, so are the Noblegarden eggs that contain them.  This means that he might be able to get enough chocolates despite the insane competition for them to complete the achievements required for the meta, but his chances of being able to get the mount are pretty much nil.  Hell, even my unemployed freelance ass probably won’t come anywhere near the required number for the mount, and that sucks.

Granted, the development team has had their hands full, first with Pandaria itself, then with the new content patches, so I believe this is why the vast majority of the holidays haven’t been updated in quite some time, but I’m hoping that once everything dies down a bit, they’ll change Noblegarden so that it’s actually fun.  The simplest way to do that would be to get rid of the outdoor egg hunt and take a design tip from 5.2.  The Treasures of the Thunder King scenario, unlocked on the Isle of Thunder when a player turns in a Key to the Palace of Lei Shen to the appropriate NPC, would translate ridiculously well to the idea of gathering eggs, while at the same time giving everyone a fair shot at the prizes.  There’s a few ways this scenario, which I am tentatively referring to now as The Noble Hollow, could be accessed:

  • Keys to the scenario randomly dropped by world mobs
  • Keys dropped for all players in a group upon killing either dungeon bosses or that special holiday Darkmoon Rabbit battle they should totally be doing (RUN AWAY!  RUN AWAY!)
  • Like the Lovely Charm -> Lovely Charm Bracelet conversion, have an Egg Basket item that will allow players to gather the necessary festive items (special eggs, candies, etc.) to make an Overflowing Noblegarden Basket and access the scenario

The scenario could be run as many times as the player is able to gather the items needed to unlock it.  Drop rates could be tweaked accordingly to prevent chain queues that might make it too easy to purchase the special rewards while still factoring in its relatively short accessibility (1 week, versus several other holidays that last for about 2).

Players would have five minutes upon entering The Noble Hollow to keep a sharp eye out for colorful eggs while avoiding traps and slow-downs, just like the Treasures scenario.  The current boring Noblegarden quests could be changed to lead players to the scenario, such as the first key turn-in rewarding 5 chocolates, and another few of them (plus one of the Blooming Branches or other vanity items) upon completion.  After the time limit expires, players would then be transported back to the “real world.”

Here are some awful scribblings of mine:

Because I can't tell where the core interface begins and my modded UI ends.

Because I can’t tell where the core interface begins and my modded UI ends.

The real thing would obviously look a billion times better, but essentially, The Noble Hollow is an idyllic green forest, thick with trees, little patches of sunlight coming down here and there, patrolled by guardian rabbits (no, I’m not biased, I promise) who want to stop you from stealing the Noblegarden eggs.  Potential traps could include suspicious lumps of dirt from which lots of tiny critter-like mobs will spring and do just enough damage to interrupt your gather, having different colored eggs grant different buffs or debuffs on gather, such as an exploding red egg that will only give up its tasty chocolates in exchange for doing damage, a green egg that boosts speed, or a blue egg that grants a damage shield sort of like the old Retribution Aura from paladins, where any mobs attacking you take damage in return.  Maybe special, super-rare golden eggs could contain items, including but not limited to pets or mounts.  Also, I don’t know why I made the eggs sparkly.  That’d make them way too easy to find.  I’m invoking artistic license and the siren call of Photoshop brushes.

Setting the egg hunt up this way would level the playing field, so to speak, by changing the way that current Noblegardeners are left at the mercy of area population in order to complete objectives.  The player would still have challenges to face, but they’d be the fun kind, not the “oh my god why is this guy still camping the same egg spawn site he has been here for five goddamned hours” kind.  More importantly, the dev team would probably see more players actually experiencing the content they’ve worked so hard to create than they do with Noblegarden in its current aneurysm-inducing state.

I feel like there’s some joke I should close with about how I’m a Jew devoting her afternoon to designing an Easter event, but everything I come up with could probably be construed as offensive, so I’ll just leave this high-tech simulation of what a Noblegarden boss encounter should look like here.