Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stay Tuned

All's quiet on the WAR front at the moment.

We're doing research getting first-hand experiences to use in a yet-to-come article comparing WAR to Free Realms, from our point of view (or more importantly, from the kids' point of view).

Depending on when we'll be able to extricate ourselves from the Free Realms world. One word to say so far: FUN!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good Things

Continuing in the footsteps of of Bootae and Gaarawarr (and not Martha Stewart, who runs a column every month with the same name), I too will attempt to list my 5 favourite things about Warhammer, with perhaps if I'm lucky, a spin on why my whole family enjoys it.

1. The artwork
I am continually astounded by the artwork in this game. Each of the pairings have their own perfectly realized settings,architechture, monsters and quests, and even style of quests. I love the quirky, sometimes silly greenskin content as well as the blustering dwarves and their scottish accents and constant invitions to have a drink. All the chaos-imbued lands make me actually shudder, especially when I come across a bloody great eye embedded in stone or a series of those creepy floating stones or even just the unnaturally glowing runes carved into trees. The struggling human side makes me sad, or mad, or something that gives my KOTBS a purpose. Elven lands and their darker side are just that -- pretty, nature-y places with unthinkably beautiful architecture, and the despoiling of the same.

But the best part of the art is the attention given to staying true to the Games Workshop original art, by which I mean the avatars and monsters in the game. Hubby and I long ago used to paint Warhammer miniatures (and even played the tabletop game once or twice). Now our armies happen to be ones not really currently in the game (mine are wood elves and his are undead -- so I'm guessing we'll see more of his guys soonish with the whole Land of the Dead, and I'm keepin my fingers crossed for a new player race of Wood Elves somewhere down the line). Interestingly enough, all that long time ago (like almost 10 years ago), we have painted miniatures that we have actually seen in the game.
For example:

This guy vs this guy:

or this cool scorpion and its counterpart:

some of hubby's skeletons and a few in WAR clamouring for my attention:

and some of our most recently painted Skaven and an in-game version.

So whenever we come across monsters that are really cool, I really, really -- ok, even another really -- want to paint them. (I have a list *, and it keeps on growing.) Even though I don't play a chosen, I want to paint one. I found a miniature that comes closest to my shadow warrior and I want to paint it up in the colours my shadow warrior has. We are lucky to have a Games Workshop close at hand (in the mall we frequent) and I carefully survey each blister pack looking to add to my "to paint" list, or to my mental inventory of ones we will buy should we ever have time to paint again. We've even got the kids painting, or at least started (with the two free Space Marines they got last time we stopped in to have a look-see).

2. The ease of playing
Now this is mostly from the point of view of a parent watching/helping a youngster play the game, but own point of view (which I'll get to later) is not really much different. I like that the girls can easily find quest givers, and a
re starting to get the hang of looking for the red outlines on their map and mousing over to see what they need to accomplish there. I like that that the Tome (oh I love the Tome!) keeps track of all the quests for you so you can go back and read the text if you need to because you missed something in the steps of the quest, or by blithely accepting quests without reading the quests. I'm mostly talking about my youngest here, but I do it myself lots of the time.

I know that some people think that dumbing the game down detracts from the game experience, and while I agree to some extent (I, for instance, loved talking to each and every person in Norrath --EQ1 days -- trying to see if they had something for me to do or if they were the person I was supposed to find), I find that these days, with my limited play time, I like that I can quickly knock off quests without all that depth. Also, when we go for days (sometimes even a week or two) without logging on, I love that
my map and my quest log are still showing what I was working on last and what I still have to do, so it doesn't take a lot of time to get back into the game.

3. The depth to the world
Ok, so having read #2, you're going to think I'm crazy, but I also love the depth of the world. The rivalries between the sides of the pairings; the insight gained when you actually read the unlock you just got; the hidden quests that add an
other dimension. I really do love these, especially when I have time to just explore the world and go my own pace. It doesn't happen often, mind you, but I love that when it does happen that I have time, I can dive more deeply into the world and come up with meaning for what I'm doing.

4. Chickens

I think this
is sooooooo hilarious. The first time it happened to hubby, we had no idea what was going on. Literally, we stood around wondering what kind of spell could do that to somebody. It took a while, but when we did manage to figure out that he had levelled to 12 and realized the built in mechanic, we laughed long and hard. I haven't had loads of time to run around and do the lower tier scouting quests as a chicken, but I thoroughly enjoyed the one time I did do a chicken run. I loved Garawarr's epic post of his day of running all the Empire PQs along with the descriptions of various people turning into chickens along the way. I even -- get this -- love the sound you make as you run/fly around. Go try jumping as a chicken. Very amusing :)

5. Titles
The first game in which we actively tried to acquire titles was LOTRO, and they have quite a few nice ones. I remember being especially proud of getting my Sherrif title on my hobbit, though I was a bit upset about the spelling, being a Tolkien purist. Warhammer though, upped the ante on the sheer overwhelming number of titles that you can acquire in the game. And while some of them are a bit boring, most are very nice, and a good number are fairly easy to get, especially if you have a cheat sheet. Liena has my favourite so far (for her character) -- which is Heritor of War. It was an easy unlock (and stumbled upon by accident, mind you), but what I like about this title -- it suits my idea of her character, and it's fairly unique.

In fact, with the sheer volume of titles so far, more people have unique monikers than I've ever seen in other games. A chosen title can give you a bit of an inkling about the character or even the player's personality. I sometimes change them around to suit my mood as well. For instance, for St. Patrick's Day, I dyed all my characters' armour green (dye is my #6 fav -- both the ease and the fact that the colours are named after actual GW paints) and gave them all the title "The Green", just for the day.

The first title my girls go for as soon as they can is "Skeleton Hunter" (another easy, but usually bypassed one), though they really love to see that they get new titles when they're doing stuff. In fact, one of my oldest's favourite things about her foray into scenarios was the lightning fast updates of titles she got as she got killed repeatedly in the first few minutes.

Sooooooooooo... Those are just my 5 favourite things about Warhammer Online, and I could probably go on with more. I'm sure others have their own favourites too. It just goes to show that it's not all grumpy nay-sayers out there. They're just usually the most vocal.

* For those who are keeping tabs, here's the list (so far) of the mobs I want to paint/try to find so that I can paint them:
  • All the trolls -- I love the trolls
  • Flamers/horrors
  • A chosen, mounted A shadow warrior
  • A Knight of the Blazing Sun (note that we have about a dozen mounted Bretonnia knights, but none of them look like my KOTBS)
  • A Dwarven Runepriest (see how I spelled it all together Dont?) -- for my hubby
  • Squigs! (I have a herder)
  • Night gobbos -- I love these guys
  • That humongous guy in the arena in IC, with the skulls all over and that enormous chain
  • A lobber
Yikes, I could keep going on forever, this is the first time I've tried to write down the list that's in my head. I'll stop here though -- you get the idea.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Parenting Gamers...

"Underpinning this debate is an age-old truth; we fear what we don’t understand and many parents today don’t know, understand or get gaming. Why do kids have this passionate love affair with video games? How can they invest so much of themselves in blowing up zombies, decorating an igloo or slaying trolls? How do kids get their thumbs and brains to work in tandem when they can’t seem to find their way to the laundry basket?

As parents, many of us struggle with issues like appropriate game play, game systems and appropriate titles. Or maybe we’re not even part of the conversation and have allowed our kids to parent themselves through the video game landscape.
What is a parent’s role in managing the video-gaming habits of their kids?"

The above is an excerpt from an invitation that I received the other day from my daughters' school. It's a seminar where you can learn about video gaming and what parents should do about it -- gaming, that is. While I'm sure lots of other parents are chomping at the bit, I don't really think we need to go to it. Since we actively play most of the games that the girls are playing, we know what they're up to. Granted, this may change as they get older, but probably not too much.

I guess I have no fear of gaming (and the internet in general) because, to some extent I do understand. I'm connected all the time, except when I'm asleep or out of the house. I Facebook, check my email almost religiously, and yes, I play games. I understand about "passionate love affairs" with video games. I am the type of person who easily gets addicted to playing, and I know that my younger daughter, at the least, is very much like me in that regard. Right up until my first daughter was born, I would be glued to the computer playing whatever game was my current favourite. That was well and good when the games were single player and had an end (Tomb Raider series, mostly), but once I stepped into the MMO world, I got swept up, and literally had to drag myself away when it was time to cook or sleep.

That's what happens, and I know it happens, so I'm on the lookout for it happening to my girls. I've seen Second Skin, and I've known people who have ruined their lives over games, and I hope it doesn't come to that for them. Being born and raised around computers is a good thing, I'm sure.

They started out with educational games. Always on mommy or daddy's lap, learning how to count, ABC and move the mouse properly (this is at 18 months old, approximately). Moving on to reading and math games as they got a little older and were getting ready to start school. Being allowed to move mommy's avatar around in whatever world we were currently playing once they were able to figure out how to do that. Reading quests and running around with their own avatars once they could read and understand what to do (we're still working on this with the younger one, but she's getting it). Wii games and DS games are a little less educational, but they still have to figure stuff out.

Worlds like Webkinz and Club Penguin gave them a flavour for meeting their friends online and appeal to their love of cute things. Heck, I even play Webkinz too -- I even have my own account! (Some of the games are really fun!) I've seen them invest themselves wholeheartedly into decorating rooms for their Webkinz pets, learning Karate with their penguin pals, and drawing art and putting it on billboards in their JumpStart World. And I've watched carefully as they blithely blow up orcs or other "bad guys" with magic or chop them to bits with a sword. Occasionally they'll question why they have to kill another elf or human, or a cuddly looking bear, but hey, I had the same question in Tomb Raider when I had to shoot that little monkey to get the blasted key he stole.

So we talk about what is real, what's not, and make a place for fantasy in our lives. Whether it's letters to the Easter bunny or fairy penpals, or wandering in a world with orcs and goblins, or sitting around a table playing a roleplaying game that we made up ourselves based on books they're into, we all need a little fantasy. I know I need to escape the real world sometimes, and I'm sure they do too.

We do have rules though, usually made up when they're needed (like when we first started out with Webkinz we had to make a turn schedule and stick it to the computer so we knew when and how long each girl could have on the computer). Obviously they can't play when they're at karate class or their other active endeavours, and they certainly wouldn't choose to sit at home on the computer on a beautiful day when they could be bike riding with their friends. And they're still at an age when homework is fun -- though my older girl screams through it to get to the next activity. So not too much inactivity and screen time at this stage.

It helps that they usually only get to use my computer (and yes, it's in a central room), so they only get to use it when I'm not (which really isn't very often). And I realize that the time is coming when they'll need to use the computer for homework, or want to message their friends every minute of the day, so my time will become even more limited. (Hey, I remember having to spend hours on the phone with the friends I had just seen a few minutes before -- at least texting is much quieter!) Maybe by the time they're ready for all that they'll also stay up later, so we may need to invest in another computer so I can get my gaming time in.

But that can't be all bad, cause then we could play more games together. And that's the main thing, and the real reason I don't need to go to the seminar. Our kids want to play with us, and we'll encourage that for a good long time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bunny business in WAR

So there I was, walking along minding my own business in Dragonwake, when this cute little bunny hopped up behind me, looking mischievous. I followed along behind him for a while, to see what he would do.

A passing Shining Warspear wanted to know what I was doing. Did he know if this bunny was up to something strange? He pleaded ignorance, and I couldn't tell if he was telling me all he knew. I followed the bunny for a while, but he didn't lead me anywhere interesting, though there were some interesting nose twitches, and one time he even rose up on his back legs and touched me conspiratorally on the leg.

So I went on to Caledor, looking for more signs of spring in the air. I found loads of these trees in full bloom, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. So I gave up on finding what I was looking for in Elf land and travelled to the Empire.

In Reikland, I finally began to find what I was looking for. More bunnies.

Close by the observatory, I noticed that the rabbit population was booming. I spotted one, then two, then three within eyesight. I turned around and there were two more. By the time I'd finished counting, I'd found ten bunnies within a small radius. My girls and I were sure they were up to something, the way they kept twitching and rubbing their noses. Some sort of secret communication? Perhaps they were setting up where they would meet later to hide eggs and chocolate? Unfortunately, we'll never know, as we had to get ready to go out and thus had to leave the bunnies to their business.

Certainly it looks like a horde of bunnies descended on our house last night, given the number of eggs hidden all around, and the huge amount of chocolate that has mostly been consumed already -- and it's not even lunchtime! Perhaps later when we all crash from our sugar highs, we'll log in and find those bunnies again, and search their bodies for brightly coloured eggs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Here comes Peter Cottontail

Not that I'm taking a break from WAR, really (no really). But with Easter fast approaching I need to put on my bunny ears (shh, don't tell the girls) and get the event, if you'll excuse the wretched pun, hopping.

Really I'd rather be playing. Last year at Easter we ran around WOW collecting virtual Easter Eggs after they'd decimated the ones left by the bunny, but I doubt that WAR is fuzzy bunny enough to have decorated eggs lying around. Still I hope to get at least one hour of our normal Sunday morning time in the aftermath of the Egg Hunt, and before the dreaded Parade, ok, not really dreaded -- at least this year there's no snow in the forecast.

If I don't get my hour, I'll make up for it later, when they're back at school. (insert evil laugh here)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April foolishness

Well, it seems like everyone and their brother is leaving WAR today, if only for a few hours. I wish them all well in their new endeavours, even Riv with his new Carebear blog. My youngest daughter was all over that one. At least I can show her that one. Greg over at Tome of Knowledge should make an excellent pirate. And all those going back to WoW, enjoy!

April Fool's Day with 2 kids under 10 is strained at best. I'm no good at coming up with pranks -- I can think up lots, but usually after the fact. More of a "hey, wouldn't that have been funny if xxx happened instead?".

I've read lots of fun things to do in various parenting magazines -- everything from blue milk or blue water running out of the taps to green eggs and ham (thanks, Martha Stewart), to switching around the drawers for when they go to get dressed. As I unloaded the dishwasher this morning I thought how funny would it have been if I loaded it up with stuffed animals instead of dishes and had the kids unload it for me. But who has the energy to come up with things like that ahead of time??

And my daughters seem to be taking after me in that regard. Enduring attempted prank after attempted prank all morning is agony. Just grin and bear it is my motto. Don't want to see any deflated self-images around here. I pity the poor teachers who have to put up with them all day today. But it is real fun for them.

Watching the wheels turn and churn as they try to come up with a prank on the spot is hilarious. Seeing the mischievous glint in their eyes as they try to come up with something to fool their friends is priceless.

Maybe I can come up with a really good prank before the end of the day. Wouldn't they be amazed if stodgy old mommy was able to fool them for real? If you have any ideas for me, leave a comment. I'm off to find that GM castle in Eataine.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Honest Sticky Something or Other

I always feel a bit strange when someone mentions my blog on their blog, especially if it's one I really like and follow religiously, because in all actuality, I'm a teensy-weensy bit shy. Really I am! So I was really shocked when Dont at Blame the Healer nominated me for the Honest Scrap or Sticky Keyboard Award.

So what is it about?

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

I nominate:

  • Pancakez and Omelettez at Breakfast at War -- I love reading everything this team writes. I even manage (most of the time) to make it through the mathematical walls of text and dancing dot posts.
  • Greg at Tome of Knowledge -- has a fun outlook on WAR and it seems, life in general. I love flipping his comics over to my overworked, underread (well, in terms of WAR blogs) hubby.
  • Ventris at Alt Much? -- along with GirlIRL was the first WAR blog I started reading, and the blogroll I used at first to start reading everyone else's blogs.
  • Lokax at Mmmm Gud -- is relatively new to the scene, but has interesting insights.
  • Meteorfall and Mike at Spank the Tank -- I really love the name -- and not specifically because I play a tank. I mean, I really don't want anyone to spank.... um. stop that!!
  • Miss Vindaloo at Cry me a RvR -- always nice to read about gaming from another woman's point of view, and I've been very much enjoying the posts by her little git!
  • Kipling at Bow and Stab -- though I haven't seen much recently from her, I love her point of view as a Shadow Warrior (as you can see from my pic I have one as well, but she's not my main anymore).
I had trouble finding people already not nominated in my everyday reading list. All of the others that I didn't mention, it's cause you've already won! :)

10 honest / silly facts about me:

  1. I've spent the last month and a bit perfecting my sourdough starter so that I can eventually make all of the bread products we eat in this house completely from scratch. (For no real reason other than I love sourdough, btw.)
  2. I also bake most of the snacks I put in the girls' lunches, so that they don't have to bring home wrappers of store-bought snacks. (They have a litterless lunch program.)
  3. My character Liena is named after my daughter's middle name.
  4. I keep up with my guild's doings and goings on daily, even though I haven't logged in my destro character in months.
  5. I plan to learn to surf this year. Real surfing, on really big waves, not websurfing. Yes, really.
  6. I read voraciously (which is why I'm always reading blogs) and one of my favourite genres is Young Adult fiction -- which is why I also follow my friend's Tweendom blog (over to the right there), 'cause she's always got goooood recommendations.
  7. I really should be doing laundry right now. The washer just beeped at me. Yep.
  8. Coke, never Pepsi (though I don't drink either very much, as I can't handle the caffeine).
  9. Hmmm, this is harder than I expected. I should let my kids do the rest. "Tell them how old you are!" (from my six year old) Um. No.
  10. "Mommy likes to crochet and knit." (from my 8 year old)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March Break -- What Break??

How can it be? A whole week with no school and we didn't get any gaming done? Well, not any PC gaming that is. Lots of Wii and DS gaming. Lots of fun in the park gaming. Lots of arts, crafts, baking, a trip to the zoo and generally being in mom's lap the whole week, but very little Warhammer.

We had good intentions. I had a whole series of blog posts crafted in my head of the great times we were to have had. My plan was to have them give their own impressions of each player race by starting from the character creation screen and running through some lower levels. But then my oldest said "Yuck! She's got boob protectors and my youngest said "I think she's pretty" (I'm sure you can just imagine the whiny pouty voice) and that session ended fairly quickly.

And we never really got going again. Though I've agreed they get to have some time tomorrow, the last day before school is back in. As long as I get my coffee and WAR time first, I'm game for that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Tribute to Everquest

Everquest is 10 years old today, and apparently still going strong. Everquest was my first MMO, though I didn't start playing right away. I was lured in slowly, sitting in my comfy chair behind my (then fiance) hubby watching him play. Watching him chat with friends and showing me good bits that he really liked. I did like the way the world looked, but couldn't understand why it wasn't like all the single player games he'd played before. Then he showed me how to play. Had me sit in his chair to do it. Suddenly I was only inches away from this world called Norrath and the sounds were all around me. And I liked it! I really liked it! I was hooked from the time I first saw an orc fighting a wolf in the forest and chatted away to a complete stranger about how to find my corpse (he had stumbled across it and I was lost in the forest trying to find it). We had RL friends start the game with us, but we continued on after they had gone on to other things. We made friends with a great group of people that we still go from game to game with to this day. We keep hoping for the next "Everquest", but you just can't go back, except in memory.

And there are so many great memories:

- The music they had in and around Kelethin -- still gives me that warm home-y feeling. And hubby's personal "don't ever play that again!" favourite.

- The first time we hopped servers and I made my first ranger -- a male (not sure why he was male -- all the rest of my characters have been female except for my Squig Herder) half-elf by the name of Llonio. He could sort of see but Oakk, hubby's human druid couldn't see anything and by the time we stumbled out of Surefall Glade in the dark and tried to orient ourselves we ended up killed by the necromancer who hung out around near the entrance. Wish I could remember his name (and too lazy to look it up).

- Our first trip down to the Qeynos sewers, and finding gelatinous cubes everywhere.

- Trying to find a way out after falling through the tree in Blackburrow. Corpse runs to here, or anywhere for that matter.

- Laughing skeletons and maniacal scarecrows. They were the best! Even my girls start giggling when they see a skeleton. I still expect to hear skeletons laughing when I fight them, even though the undead in WAR seem to be very serious indeed.

- Dancing skelly -- the illusion that enchanters could cast on themselves around level 20 or so. And Sol A (a temporary home), where we made friends with one.

- The Naked Gnome Race was an actual race of level 1 "Mad" gnomes from Ak'Anon to Qeynos. To make it to the docks, you could go the quick way through lands of certain death, or run along the road and go slower. Then there was much dancing (and other emoting) to be done on the boat as we travelled very slowly to Freeport. Remember how long the boat ride originally was? Then off again through the Commonlands etc to head over through the Gorge to the eventual destination of Qeynos City. I practised and mapped out the run on the real Tianna. On the day of the race I only died a few times, but it was absolutely hilarious, every single minute. Here's Madtianna.

- Our online wedding, about a month after our real wedding. Not as well attended as other weddings on the server (or indeed our real one), but maybe our choice of Lesser Faydark for the ceremony was a bit intimidating to some. (This is a picture taken after the ceremony with our matching last names.)

- The first time a beholder made me attack one of my friends. I was surprised, but that was nothing compared to his shock at finding me hitting him.

- Lots of things in Lesser Faydark: Coming across the fairy town completely by accident. Same goes for the ranger station. Happening to be in the right place when Equestrielle came out. Back in the days when you actually had to look for stuff for quests, not just run to red blotches on your map. How about training up your sense of direction? Took a long time before you could actually figure out which way you were heading.

- Firebeetle eyes, greater lightstones, Befallen (my personal favourite), ghouls, the rain in the Karanas.

- Permafrost. I came across a page in one of my old journals (yes, I actually had to write stuff down before the advent of quest journals and omnicient Tomes) with the word Permafrost and a tally of about 70-80. I think I was counting goblins I killed alone there one time while waiting for a couple of friends to show up.

Another thing I came across in my journal -- Tianna's original story -- handwritten and the paper is fading, so I'll transcribe it here:
Tianna: Woodelven Ranger: Created 06/25/1999

My name is Tianna. I was born on a high platform of the Wood Elven city of Kelethin. My mother was one of Faydark's Champions, the Rangers who patrol the lands around our fair city and stive to keep the population of the Crushbone orcs to a minimum. My father was a master fletcher of the kinds of arrows that no longer exist, at least not now since so many have faded.

It was a Sylvan world when I was young. The forest was bright and full of sunlight and song. The orcs were not such a danger back in those days, and the people of my race prospered. My mother patrolled the forest every day, relying on her wits and the Trueshot bow my father had made for her. I used to play at my father's feet as he went about his trade. He could wittle the sharpest points and create the best fletches in the whole city.

One day, my father had to go to Ak'Anon, city of the gnomes, for a cam for a very special bow a weathy customer had commissioned. As usual, my mother was needed for patrolling, so my father left me with the rangers in the guild house. I played happily there, testing out the weapons (my how heavy they were) and learning as much as they could teach me. Towards the end of the day they let me go down one of the lifts to the forest floor.

It was all new and exciting to me. I saw lots and lots of shiny black wolves, who smiled and wagged their tails at me. Also, a few giant wasps and bats. As they ignored me, I ignored them. I wandered along the path a short ways, and was met with a scene that left me horror-struck.
A hideous blue creature with big burly arms and a face full of fangs was fighting with a wolf. Although the wolf was biting back, it looked as if the orc might kill him in its fury. I believe I screamed for help, then flew at the orc and pummelled it with all of my might. Startled, it tripped over its feet and fell, with the wolf savaging its neck. I was sure that the orc's death cry could be heard from a long way off, and I searched around to see if I could discern any pursuit. There was none. The wolf, exhausted from the struggle, and bleeding from multiple wounds, collapsed in a heap in front of me. I ripped a strip off my tunic and quickly bound the worst looking wound. I searched around for help, and spying a guard, I called him over. He kindly helped me carry the wolf to our little home, high in the trees.

During the night, the wolf died.
I was devastated, but it was only a premonition of things to come. I learned from a scout how a legionnaire had waylaid my father in Lesser Faydark. By the time he made it to our hidden camp in the valley, he could only gasp out my name. And then he died. That same eve, my mother had been chasing down an orc centurion who had run into the cave leading to their castle. Bravely she followed it in, only to be hacked to pieces while a Tier'Dal ambassador watched and laughed. Even Maesyn Trueshot was shaken by this news. The Tier'Dal, helping orcs? As for what was to be done with me -- he decided to raise me himself, to do honour to his bravest Ranger.

In return, I eagerly learned their ways, and when it was time, I became a fledgling Ranger in my own right. As I pledged my life to the ranger way, I also vowed to myself that I would rid the forest of the stench of the Crushbone orcs.

Happy Birthday Everquest! -- you gave us the time of our life at the time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mommy's turn

"We're the Chipmunks! C-H-I-P-"
"What are you doing?"
"What? I'm following you to the PQ." (Clip clop, clip clop, clip clop, clip clop, is the sound I make on autofollow, checking the map to see how far away we are.)
"No.... the singing -- "
"OOPS!" (cringe)

Oh yeah. The singing. I don't even realize when I'm doing it. I'm blessed with having the computer in the middle of the house in the midst of all the everyday hubbub. Just a few steps away from the TV. Which the girls are blissfully (and loudly) watching while I snag a bit of Sunday morning playtime. Hubby likes having his computer upstairs, where he can close the door and put on his headphones to drown out the sound of the steady march of Sunday morning cartoons. He can sort of hear it in the background through my headphones, but can usually successfully tune it out.

That is if I don't start singing along. (Which I don't realize I'm doing -- really!) And I can tell you: Chipmunks is NOT my favourite Sunday morning show. No really! Would you want to listen to this as you're riding along on your warhorse trying to skirt orcs and goblins and what not? Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to stop singing along. And the theme song is not the worst part of it. Try to imagine 80s songs sung in those voices. And of course, when I sing along, I inevitably don't use my nice singing voice. Nope. The chipmunk version of my voice comes out. Drives Hubby crazy (and I can't really blame him -- especially when it's 4:30pm and I'm working on putting dinner together and I STILL find myself singing the stupid thing). I mean, c'mon now!!!!

So I've tried to schedule our Sunday morning WARtime around avoiding annoying shows like the Chipmunks, but Daylight Savings Time time change this morning had us all mixed up and pancakes were made before playtime. So Chipmunks ensued. And complaining. At least I don't complain when he makes "wocka wocka wocka" noises everytime he gets on his little helicoptor contraption -- but I freely admit that is way less annoying than my sing-along tendencies.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One on one Mommy time (Mar 2/09)

Yes, finally a March post under March. One day I'll spend time trying to figure out how to have the posts I actually wrote last month (but not posted in blogger) have a February tag or something. But that would take time away from the mommy-ing and housework and playing WAR. Now onto our actual post...

Since Little One was at a playdate after school, I thought it would be a real treat for Big One to have one on one Warhammer time with Mommy. Usually it's Daddy they get to play with, so this was a real change, and she eagerly bought into the whole thing and finished up her homework in no time flat! (Note to self: Gotta remember that for future homework arguments.) We got set up -- her upstairs and me downstairs, got the headphone communication lines open, and logged in to make new characters. (Again! I know!)

Hers was a Knight -- she really likes how Liena looks and wanted to try one out for herself. I made a Warrior Priest, just cause I was curious. I have never been able to heal anyone other than myself, and only that sporadically, in any game we've ever played. In fact this is the first game I've actually made a melee character, let alone tank, in, though my ranger in EQ2 did have positional melee stuff. Though I usually kept her at the maximum distance for that. But I digress -- I seem to do that a lot.

Soooo, a new Knight (Hollyfire) and WP (Hollyhammer) appear in Grimmenhagen. We make short work of the first couple of quests since both of us know where to go and what to do. We're doing fine and communicating well, so I press the "Queue for Scenarios button" and cue us for Nordenwatch. Not without some trepidation mind you. Both girls have a tendency to cry if their character dies, or at the very least, get upset. And Big One is not the best of losers. So I tried to give it a positive spin, as I explained what would happen.

I told her that there was a little game inside of the game, kind of like capture the flag (which she's played at Brownies) and that we work as a team with other players against another team of other players to do that. I explained that you die often, but there are no penalties, and you just get right up and go back to where the team needs you. I also explained that we need to wait for enough people before the game would start. She took it all in and waited patiently (for her that means only asking every 2 minutes or so when it's going to start) for the scenario to pop. And it did, in less than 5 minutes (I love our new server! Yay Vortex!).

So in we go. During the countdown I explained what her job would be, and wondered what my job would be -- cause I'm not, I stress NOT the healer type, though I'm hoping that the whole melee damage makes heal-mana thing will work out for me. As the countdown progresses I explain that Daddy and I usually head straight for the Fortress while others capture the Lighthouse. Off we went, arriving just as the red team's frontrunners came into view. We both flail about madly, die quickly and run back to help out the rest of our team that's finally arrived there. We manage somehow to beat them back and take the flag. We die some more, fight some more, succeed a little, lose a little. The battle is pretty even. She reports her status, goes where I tell her we're needed. All in all a pretty good first try. I'm so proud of my geeky girl!

Then she wants to do it again! "I love this, mommy!", she laughs into her microphone upstairs. So I queue us again. We do it again, a little better this time, with a few fewer deaths. And one more time, which is all we had time for before Daddy and Little One arrived back home. Just before we logged off she said "When can we do this again? I love this game!"

Anytime you want, baby. Just let me switch my character though. I can NOT heal, and I doubt I'll ever be able to. Maybe I'll roll my SW again. Maybe you can roll a SM?

Mommy's turn (Feb 22/09)

Ah, Sunday morning! Cartoons and wanton kid abandonment* while playing WAR with my hubby. The routine goes like this: settle kids in front of the tv with the remote and the bribe of pancakes to come later "After mommy & daddy play Warhammer for an hour, ok?"; making sure we both have a cup of coffee; then putting on the headphones and calling upstairs with the "all ready" signal.

And the adventure begins! Today's adventure was actually adventurous, as opposed to the "run around as quick as possible to get as many quests done as we can before I have to make pancakes for the kids" -- whew! Today Liena (Knight) and Fullstaff (Runepriest) are in Avelorn, working on High Elf ch. 12. One of our quests took us to the "Well of Whispers" PQ and we decided to nudge the quest to stage 2 after completing our quest, just for the INF bonus. As stage 2 started, we thought, hmmmm, it might just be possible for the two of us to do this stage -- seeing no champion MOBs around.

So we proceeded to beat up on the Mystics and place their staffs in the piles of dirt. When the first round of rampaging (ok, probably ravaging) centigors came, we were a little taken aback, but with my guard and his healing, we managed to make it through fairly easily. (Note, I really want to get some centigor models and paint them, they were really cool.) "We can do this" we joked to each other over the headphones. But what would happen once we finished this stage?

Only one champion MOB was to be found so we thought maybe, just maybe, this could work -- we really have no problem with most champions just the two of us. So we proceed to pound on the named bad guy for a bit (can't remember his name and too lazy to look it up -- doesn't matter anyway). Then he backs away and we can't attack anymore, and then all I can I see LEGS! Two very large legs. The beast was so big I couldn't even see its head on the screen. Very cool looking guy though, I was thinking (cool to paint too!) when hubby said "um, wait a minute, this guy's a HERO". Yikes! Yikes! Two of us can't take a hero!!!!! Run away!!!

I kept attacking anyways, so that hubby would be able to get away and maybe res me later. But oddly, I wasn't going down quickly, cause OMG he's still standing there healing. And so we kept on. And on. And on! My morale 2 shield wall shows up and I pop it, and still we manage to stay alive. For what seems like an hour (though I'm sure it was only 10 minutes or so), we beat on this thing, whittling away at its HPs while Fullstaff amazingly manages to keep me alive. Some combination of whatever combination of tactics I'm trying out, what morale abilities we have up and sheer timing on his amazing heals keeps us going.

In the end, we are actually victorious. Against this enormous monster that wouldn't even fit on my screen, we amazingly prevail. All hail the good guys! (That's us!) We get a chest! And I get a blue bag! With a very nice cloak I can't wear for three more levels, but with even more -- a sense that this team (of all the teams in our long MMORPG-playing careers) is a winner! Can you tell it was exciting!?!?!

And then I went and made pancakes. Great big monster sized pancakes!

*Note: TV time is rationed in our house, so it's a huge treat for the girls to watch cartoons to their hearts content while munching dry cereal and cut up fruit (we also never eat in front of the TV so double treat). But the real treat is for me (I'm sneaky that way).

Valentine poetry written for my hubby (Feb 14/09)

Love in a Dangerous Time

The blazing sun
On my shield hard won
My armour and sword at the ready.

The cannons blast
Swords and shields clash
The undead horde are making me sweaty.

Chaos creeps in
Among the din
And unspeakable horrors are thriving.

When all at once
Down the road comes
A runepriest with a large staff is arriving.

He is stern and calm
But funny and warm
He has come to save the day.

He flashes a grin
Through the beard on his chin
And together we charge into the fray.

Surrounded by foes
He hardly knows
How my heart pounds for him neath my steel

I long to tell him
But right now there is a hellhound
So the battle begins with a squeal

When he is here
The way is clear
And I can hold the line for the Empire

I do not care who knows
We will vanquish our foes
Though mismatched our hearts are on fire

Mommy's turn (Feb 18/09)

Finally! I get some playtime, but I'm all by my lonesome with the kids at school and the hubby at work. Time to get to work on all those travel quests that we don't bother with when we're playing together. And I need to get caught up, since I changed my character again and I'm about 10 levels behind.

So onto the helicopter thing that has a seat somewhat like a saddle, I'm guessing. Otherwise why would my legs be pointing out that way? Definately not ladylike. At least my Knight wears pants. The elves look really silly with their skirts all stretched out like that. Oh I long for my old destro character and getting to fly on a drake. Not a contraption. But I digress. During one of my flights I noticed that the tips on the loading screen have been updated recently. (Yeah, I read them compulsively, unless it's time for a bio break or something like that. I'm the ultimate captive audience.)

One tip told me to get a good chair (which I'm in total agreement with, but that would mean I'd have to go shopping and not play WAR, and I couldn't hope to get one anywhere near as nice as hubby's special order chair that replaced the one that broke and pushed him forward into the keyboard), and there were other sundry tips, but the best one by far is the warning about the Tome of Knowledge.

It says "The Tome of Knowledge is watching you... recording everything you do..." In my head it sounded like Vincent Price was saying it, much like the closing poem on The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, which is a show I watched as a kid growing up in rural Ontario, Canada. Anyways, it made me laugh out loud, and I'm looking forward to more updated tips on the loading screen, to make my loading process more enjoyable.

Both girls at once (Feb 16/09)

Ok, so we thought Family Day might be a good day to try getting the two of them to play together for the first time. They've played Webkinz together occasionally, but not a run around game like this. It was seriously like trying to herd cats. Have you tried that?

First off, we got them set up on the headphones, just like mommy and daddy use -- the two computers are on different floors of the house, and we have a rule about shouting in the house, so we use headphones and GoogleTalk to communicate in game. Still they thought it necessary to shout up and down the stairs at each other during their character creation.

High Elves. Again. Yep. Though the little one chose a Swordmaster this time, and the big one a White Lion. So even though they both start off in the exact same place, there was lots of "wait up!" and "hey don't go that way!" as they tried to complete the first couple of quests. Also, it took some doing to get the little one to run right up to the MOB, as she's used to making casters. She was standing back throwing things at it!! I persevered though and managed to convince her that when you have a big sword, you need to stand close and hit the MOB with said sword, and maybe even the shield sometimes too.

They almost succeeded in getting it together by the time they had to go talk to Prince Eldrion. "Look Mommy, you know he's a Prince, cause he gets to ride on a horse!" Then off they go to slaughter harpies and witch elves (with lots of comments by the older one on the witch elf attire -- she's not quite happy with their "boob protectors" -- her words -- I guarantee that's not what I call them). Aside from the little one getting turned around all the time and running the wrong direction, that goes well enough for mommy to step in and say "Well maybe the two of you can work together to do the Tears of Lys quest in the tower."

Oh yeah. Big mistake. Though I didn't know it at the time. They did work well together going down the spiral staircase, and even to get to all the scrolls and read them. It fell apart a bit though, when the time came to collect the tears. I had to explain that there were lots of tears and absolutely no need to worry about who gets which one, as long as each girl gets two. So the older one grabs her two and the little one heads off in a different direction to get her last one, and pulls the entire room, which is repopping around them. Her Swordmaster valiantly fights on, waiting for a lion or even a pretty girl with a long axe to come and help out. But big sister is nowhere to be seen. Little sister dies and logs off in frustration, one tear away from completing the quest, and many tears streaming down her face. Makes me want to log in for her when she's not there and do it when she's not looking, so she doesn't have to try to do it again.

No matter, she'll probably make a different character the next time she gets to play anyway, right?

Little one's turn (Feb 12/09)

My youngest (6) asks nearly every day to play Warhammer, just because she likes to play with her pretty friends. Every character she has made is a high elf -- those are her favourite. "They have the prettiest clothes, mommy!" Today she got very upset with me because I destroyed her starting robe without asking her (bad mommy moment). I explained that when they give you new clothes you need to wear them. She said no, she really wanted a white robe and hate hate hated the blue one that she's now wearing. I even went to the merchant to try to dye it back to white but she didn't have enough money. "It doesn't matter", she said, through wailing tears, "I don't like the gold bits on the bottom of that robe" more wailing and I'm sure some gnashing of teeth as well. I quickly managed to distract her by telling her, "Look, someone else wants to talk to you now!" and she was off again, happy as a lark. Who knows what would happen if she ever got to a high enough level on her archmage to get the robe with the undyable red stripe in the middle. I think she'd have kittens. Although, back when dye was much cheaper, both of my mains at the time got their "The fashionable" before level 10 -- and one was a Squig Herder. So I think I know where she gets it -- the fashion thing, though, not the wailing.

No matter, she rolled a shadow warrior about 10 minutes later. What will she say when her carefully chosen features get covered up with a mask?


I suppose it was inevitable, really. With both mom and dad playing MMOs since before they were born, it was inevitable that both girls would become interested in gaming at an early age. Though I didn't nurse them while playing (though others I knew did -- and many kudos to them for playing one-handed -- I'd rather spend playtime sleeping and so missed out on a couple of years), both hubby and I got back to playing by the time they could walk. Well, I got back to playing -- he was playing the whole time.

So I have lots of memories of showing both girls various places in EQ2, briefly DAOC (second baby came around then and I didn't play that one for very long, though I really liked it at the time), Vanguard (very briefly), LOTRO, WOW (a very brief stint, as hubby had already played for a while and was getting tired of it), and now WAR. I'm sure our oldest learned to read early just so she could figure out what we were doing. We first figured out she could read when she read over Daddy's shoulder "You can win an i-Pod". She's always had characters since she was about 3 years old -- mostly as an attempt to teach turn taking so that mommy could get a turn once in a while too. She's always gravitated to the characters that look like they can do the most damage. The younger one prefers to make the prettiest characters she can. Though they have both made goblin characters (usually squig herders), cause they think they look funny. The youngest one even asked Santa for a stuffed squig to sleep with, though he didn't quite manage to come up with that.

Most of the time when they're playing they just run around and do quests. The older one (she's 8) loves to complete quests and races around like a bat out of hell and before you know it her character is level 6. The younger one keeps creating new characters and doing the same quests over and over, but she feels like she's accomplishing something, so why fight it?

Since they're not allowed to play without an adult around, they either talk to daddy on the headphones while they run around together, or mommy has to be nearby. Now, I'm usually busy with stuff so I mainly just listen for when they need help. And just listening provides some really fun moments. Like the time a dwarf did the "/chicken" emote to the big one's squig herder and she burst out laughing and yelling "Mommy come see!" She thought it was so funny she did it to everyone who came near her for the next 20 minutes. There were some really stunned goblins, I'm sure, during that time. :)

And this blog is mostly about that -- the funny side of WAR from the perspectives of an 8-year old, a 6-year-old, and an almost-over-the-hill-tired-most-of-the-time-but-I-really-want-to-play mommy. Enjoy.