Angioplasty

It’ll all be fine.

That’s what they always say. Medical professionals. They’re always keen to reassure their patients that all will be well. They don’t want the patient to freak out and do anything crazy like killing themselves or canceling the procedure out of fear of the procedure. That is so not me; and I am way, way beyond the ability for comforting words to assuage any fears or disquiet.

Nope, I’m already certain that the end has come. I’m gonna die on the table. That’s the worst possible outcome. The next most likely outcome is that I’m going to wake up with a zipper chest like so many of my relatives have. Of course, I don’t tell anyone else that, not even the Wife. At least I don’t say that in those specific words. The Wife knows my mental acrobatics. She helpfully exclaims to the cardiologists nursing staff,

See what I have to put up with?

I know my own genetic history. I know what is in store for me because it is what happened to my direct genetic ancestors. My maternal grandfather had a heart attack when he was about my age. They cracked his chest open and sewed six bypass arteries into his heart in order to keep him alive. The procedure was successful. He lived for another thirty years before his gut killed him. When I started getting that weird sensation in my chest, I knew what that feeling meant, I just couldn’t jump to conclusions about what it was. No, I had to go through the experts and ge their opinions. I could have been wrong, but I wasn’t wrong. This time.

The feeling? It was like two solid objects rubbing against each other in the area around my heart. I’d never felt anything quite like it before in my life. After the sensation repeated itself several times during exercise, I decided I probably should take it seriously. So I did. I cancelled the physical therapy appointment I had the next day and booked an appointment with my cardiologist for as soon as he could see me.

He’s the one who offered the platitude it’ll be fine after saying the word angiogram and then watching me pale. What he didn’t know was that I have had nightmares about things crawling through my veins for most of my life. it’s part of my fear of needles and why I nearly faint every time someone sticks me with something. An angiogram is exactly that fear come to life.

I cringed every time an older relative would go in for one of the procedures. The Wife’s foster father had one done back in the dark ages, back in the 1980’s when an angiogram was still experimental. His was the first one I had ever heard of being done. They went in through his groin. They went in through that artery in the thigh that if cut you can bleed out in a matter of seconds. Not minutes, seconds. That artery. The femoral artery.

The catheter that they introduce into the blood system through the artery allows them to run a camera up through your arteries to study blockage from inside your body, and they can use it to introduce dye into your blood system, near the heart, so that they can use x ray imaging to study blockages. Which is what they wanted me to agree to. We’re going to slice open an artery and run tubes through your bloodstream. But don’t worry, we do this all the time.

They don’t know that worry is what I do eighteen hours a day, every day. If I’m not worrying about something, then I’m probably not actively thinking at the moment. I even worry when I dream. This is why driving a car every day of a working life is a special kind of torture for me. Anything more than a half-hour of driving, and I’m already worrying a hole in my stomach. I gave myself an ulcer inside of six months when I briefly flirted with driving for a living, bringing to an early end any kind of career driving trucks or test cars.

Over the course of the next week, while waiting for the procedure to happen, I say my goodbyes to everyone and make sure my karmic debt is paid off. I don’t want to be surprised in a potential next life by being reborn as a cockroach or anything. Just covering my bets. When the day finally arrives I’m under so much stress that if you scared me I would probably have a heart attack on the spot. That’s me trying not to worry.

Luckily I wasn’t going to be awake for the procedure. I made sure of that before agreeing to it. No, I do not want to be awake. I want the good drugs. The kind of drugs that keep you from remembering anything. I definitely do not want to be reliving the memory of crap crawling through my veins when I go to sleep for the rest of my life, if there is a rest of my life. Knock me out, or as close to out as I can get and still be responsive to commands or questions.

The doctor showed up early. He checked my wrist to see if it was large enough to get into easily. He was planning on accessing the radial artery rather than the femoral artery. I was initially thrilled at the notion that I wouldn’t have blood shooting out of the artery next to my junk the first time I went to the bathroom after the procedure. Then he left the room to allow the prep nurse to get to work. They prepared both the femoral artery area in the groin (so much hair!) and the right wrist as possible surgery locations. Had I known they would need to shave my groin anyway, I could have used the trimmers on it beforehand. Manscaping is a foreign concept to me. If hair grows somewhere on my body (on your body, even) it probably grows there for a reason. I see little need to trim hair that no one sees but me and the Wife. If she doesn’t like the hair, it usually gets snatched out by the roots anyway.

Talking to the surgery nurses is the last thing I remember before the procedure. I remember that both arms were strapped down (we don’t want you moving. Yes, I understand) The surgical shields were put in place. They were cold, but in place. The nurse said they do these kinds of procedures eight times a day on a normal day. They wouldn’t be doing eight of them on that day because the cardiologist I had been referred to had already dealt with two emergency procedures before he got to me in the mid-afternoon, and I had been scheduled as the first cardiogram of the morning when I walked in that day. He’s a busy guy. He earns his pay, without a doubt. He definitely earned it working on me that day.

The good drugs started when the doctor entered the surgery and verified everything I’d agreed to for about the fourth or fifth time (the thoroughness of modern medical procedure is reassuring if slightly tedious) and I don’t remember much after that. I remember the imaging system suspended over my chest like the upper hammer in a forging hammer press. I remember voices, but not words. I do vaguely remember something rounding the corner in my shoulder at one point, but I definitely do not remember the amount of work they had to do once they had done the initial scan.

…because it was as bad as I imagined it was. I didn’t die, so the worst outcome was averted. They didn’t have to crack my chest, something that would have been required had I been undergoing the procedure even ten years ago. Second worst outcome avoided by simply being born in the place and time that I was. No open heart surgery. Just three stents. Three stents, in three different arteries, and then the second set of tests to make sure that blood flow was restored to the blood starved areas of my heart.

What would have been weeks of bed rest and a lengthy hospital stay reduced to overnight observation and three months of cardiac rehabilitation. I’m a big fan of science-based modern medicine. It has once again kept me alive to see another day. From that perspective, what is there not to like about it?

I start remembering things after I’ve been in the recovery room for a bit. I remember the Wife’s usual amusement at my slowly dwindling confusion. I remember the cardiologist (now my favorite person in the world) visiting to let me know what they found while crawling through my arteries. He also let me know that I needed to stay for observation for at least a day to make sure that there were no complications. I also remember sitting in the recovery room until they had a hospital room ready for me, sitting there waiting until the cleaning staff was impatiently waiting for me to leave so they could clean up and shut down the surgery wing for the day. At least I had Looney Tunes to keep me company.

The pressure bandage was removed from my wrist at some point during the wait, and then there was a brief panic while I bled through quite a bit of gauze before the nurses got the bleeding to stop. Nurses pressing on the fresh surgery site to stop the bleeding, that was the most intense pain I endured that day. A mercifully brief pain considering the amount of pain that open heart surgery entails. Pain for months on end.

NPR – Invisibilia – The Fifth Vital Sign

I could bitch about the inability to get my betahistine cleared through the hospital administration while I was laid up at the hospital for the night, but that seems pretty trivial in the scheme of things. We’ll just pretend I didn’t take the betahistine anyway because that would be against the rules. Did you know you aren’t allowed to bring your own drugs into the hospital? It was news to me. If you have drugs that aren’t available in the US unless they are compounded, you probably should get your drugs approved by the hospital you might be staying in before you find yourself stuck there with no treatment for your weird diseases. It will save you the frustration. In my case, it would have kept me from requesting a Xanax from the staff in order to keep the vertigo at bay. They didn’t want to give it to me, but I convinced them they didn’t want to see a full blown drop attack in the middle of the night. Really, I’m not complaining, I’m just a problem patient. Ask the Wife.

The only real surprise I experienced post-recovery was that I didn’t expect to be one-handed for such an extended period of time. Had I realized that the bruising would hang around for as long as it did, I would have told them to go in through the groin. I would have missed a wedding anyway, as it turned out (thunderstorms will do that) But I could have done everything else I normally do while laid up in bed for forty-eight hours. Not having two hands meant I missed raiding in World of Warcraft for two weeks. But the worst part was not writing. Not writing much of anything for nearly three weeks. Slow torture for anyone who loves to write. As I said previously, I watched a lot of television.

This brings us to today in this little story. Today, where I’m stuck in the near-endless repetition of cardiac rehab three times a week. Exercising while wearing a heart monitor with nurses always hovering nearby. Me and a whole lot of people twenty years my senior sweating as a group and wishing we could be somewhere else. I’m beginning to understand what it means to be handed the short end of the genetic stick now. I hope to survive my genetic handicaps long enough to see a crispr application that will fix what is ailing me, whatever that is.

Superbowl? Not Really.

I’ve watched one football game since I stopped sharing an apartment with a football fan. The last roommate I had before getting married was a Dallas Cowboys fan. He loved those Cowboys. Since the TV was his, and it was in the living room, we watched the Cowboys play every week, and I would be the devil’s advocate every week. “Who are the Cowboys playing this week? Yeah, I love those guys.” It led to some good natured rivalry, especially since I really didn’t give two shits about the game in the first place.

When I was living at home with my parents, back in the stone age of the 70’s, my dad would never miss a game that was being broadcast. Football. Basketball. Baseball. Hockey. If it was a sport and it was being broadcast, my dad was watching it. He lamented that I was too small for football myself because he wanted me to play like he played in high school. He did get me to try out for basketball. I didn’t make the cut, which was no surprise to me or Mitch, my wingman in that foray into sports. I wrestled for a few season. A had a perfect record. I was pinned every time I got on the mat. I even played baseball for a few seasons. I have my jersey around here somewhere to prove it because mom saved it. I was terrified of being hit by the baseball every time they’d send me out onto the field.

…And with good reason. I have the worst hand-eye coordination, come to find out. Dad played softball every summer until his health degraded to the point he couldn’t play, and his participation in that game lead me to try playing softball myself on one of my employer’s teams. For one season. During warmup one afternoon I was holding the mitt too low and the ball tipped the top of the mitt and plastered me right on the lip. I can feel the tingle where the lip split on the inside of my mouth to this very day. Between that and the gravel raspberry I got all up and down my left leg sliding into base one time, I decided that sports really just weren’t my thing. I’d be better off sticking to video games. The finger and wrist sprains are more easily dealt with.

We watch so few sports in this house that we joke that the TV is broken, sports-wise. We tell guests “Nope. It won’t tune sports. No idea what’s wrong with it.” The one time we had a guest insist on watching her game we banished the fans into another room so that they wouldn’t interrupt our movie watching. I will admit to occasionally keeping half an eye on baseball scores. I like baseball, even if I can’t play it. Baseball is the real American game, not football. American football is rugby played with helmets and pads.

George Carlin – Baseball and Football George, as usual, has it right.

But the Wife always liked the Seattle Seahawks. She didn’t know anything about football, the game, but she had studied statistics for some fantasy football league that she was part of one year, and Seattle had the best all-around players at the time. She won a lot of matchups that year because the individual players all did really well, so she never forgot them. Years later when the Seahawks made it to the Superbowl for the very first time and she decided she had to watch that game because her boys were in it. Consequently I spent the next two hours explaining what a fourth down was. What the ten yard line meant. I mean, I knew all the mechanics of game play because dad had drilled all this crap into my head, so I can watch and follow a game even though I consider the games just slightly more interesting than watching paint dry.

There is one thing that I do care about. Injustice. Bad calls by referees. Players cheating and getting away with it. Teams that don’t deserve to lose, but end up losing anyway. That is what happened to the Seahawks in the one game we had ever bothered to watch together in thirty years of marriage. The Seahawks lost because of a bad call. The Wife was pissed, I was pissed, and we’ve never turned on a football game since. It was Super bowl Sunday yesterday, and I did notice that cheatin’ Tom Brady won again this year. That makes this just another game I’m glad I didn’t watch.

Facebook comment posted to the blog.

Burn It?

The War of the Thorns is in its second week, and the gamer portion of the internet is having a drama meltdown because of it. If you’ve played World of Warcraft (and if you haven’t, you are probably already dead, so stop reading this) then you know that every two or three years Blizzard, the creators of the Warcraft gaming franchise, release a world-changing patch called an expansion that the company hopes will reinvigorate its flagship game, World of Warcraft.  Long time readers of this blog will know my back story for this game because, for several years, I couldn’t stop talking about it.

For those dead people (undead?) still reading, I will mention, briefly, a little lore and history. Warcraft is a series of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games. All versions of Warcraft prior to World of Warcraft were RTS games, a completely different animal from a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game like World of Warcraft. Maps in an RTS are built for complex battles fought on the ground using large armies. Maps in an MMO are used in world-building, an essential ingredient for any kind of real-world feel in online gaming. In Warcraft there were essentially two teams, Orcs and Humans. As the game evolved over Warcrafts One, Two and Three (and their associated expansions) the Orc and Human teams were fleshed out with races that could assist the Orcs or the Humans (or both at the same time) This introduced Dwarves and Elves for the humans and Trolls and Ogres for the Orcs. Gnomes and Goblins were addons that either appeared as part of Dwarvish construction for Gnomes, or Goblin mercenaries who could be hired from specialized structures in the later Warcraft III maps. With Warcraft III the two teams were expanded to four teams. Night Elves appeared for the first time in the woods of Kalimdor, a new continent that was reached by using ships to cross oceans that were created for Warcraft II. The Undead faction was also introduced in Warcraft III with the corruption of the Human prince Arthas, inheritor of the throne of Lordaeron, Lordaeron being the Human faction dominating the game Warcraft II.

The important thing to take from the above is that, Night Elves lived in the woods of Kalimdor, the second continent created for the RTS game Warcraft II. Humans lived on the first continent, the Eastern Kingdoms, and there were several cities for Humans and Dwarves mentioned there or located there throughout the first two games. The Elves that were part of the Human faction prior to Warcraft III also had cities in the Eastern Kingdom, unlike the Night Elves. Orcs were from another world that was briefly explored in expansions for both Warcraft One and Two, as were Ogres. Trolls had no origin prior to World of Warcraft, they were simply part of the map obstacles for teams, and part of the support group for the Orcs, a smattering of races which came to be known as the Horde.

This is the first bit of World of Warcraft lore that I have mentioned and I am three paragraphs into a simple description of the lore of the game. Bear with me. The faction I mentioned was the Horde, a faction which also incorporated what was a second faction or army in Warcraft III, the Undead. The human team had the name of the Alliance in Warcraft, an alliance between humans, dwarves and elves. The Alliance also absorbed the forth Warcraft III faction or army, the Night Elves. This brings us to the creation of World of Warcraft as a game and a map.

When Blizzard took on the task of creating a real world map for Azeroth, the world that most of World of Warcraft takes place on, they had to create origin points for all the races to start from, so that low-level players could have time to learn the mechanics of gameplay before being dumped out in the hostile world of Player vs. Player (PVP) competition. This is where most of the places that are near and dear to any hardcore players heart were created. Stormwind, destroyed in Warcraft I, lived again as the home for Humans. Ironforge, the mythical home of the Dwarves was finally given form, as was Gnomeregan for the Gnomes and Thunder Bluff for the Tauren, another supporting race for the Horde that was also introduced in Warcraft III. Finally, Teldrassil was introduced as a home for the Night Elves. The Night Elves, who called no place home other than the woods that they loved and died for, and the real reason I took everyone down this long, winding path in the first place.

To further embroider the story I’m telling here, a bit of an aside about Gnomes and Gnomeregan. Gnomeregan is a sore point for anyone who plays Gnomes. Gnomeregan is a five-man dungeon not a home. At least Gnomes have a home to be excluded from, a fact important enough to warrant a dungeon instance. Trolls had no home at first, simply being pointed North to Orgrimmar, the same directive that low-level Orcs experienced in game. They were pointed North to a city in which they occupied a slum adjacent to the Orcs, but were not really as well respected as Orcs. Trolls later claimed their home back from Zalazane, but that isn’t the point of this winding trip down memory lane.

The point here is that Teldrassil, the home for the Night Elves, was never part of Warcraft until World of Warcraft, and even then it was a seriously flawed creation of Fandral Staghelm and the druids that he lead at the beginning of World of Warcraft. Fandral Staghelm, who harnessed dark magic to make the tree what it is today, before he became a raid boss in the Firelands raid of Cataclysm. A servant of the Firelord Ragnaros. Teldrassil stood as a testament to his control over the druids in particular, and the Night Elves in general, until this week.

The Daughter has been telling me for months now they burn Teldrassil. I didn’t believe it until I saw it, but the animated short released yesterday duplicates the final sequence in Tuesday, June 31st’s expansion patch for the War of the Thorns currently underway as an introduction to the new expansion due out August 14th, Battle for Azeroth.

Warbringers: Sylvanas, Jaina, Azshara, World of Warcraft (my personal playlist)

So, yeah. They burn Teldrassil. I’m not exactly appalled or outraged by this sequence of events. As others who are even more lore-wise than me have pointed out, this is not even the first time that a major city has been destroyed in World of Warcraft or that this strategy of roping in the player base by shaking up the maps and relationships we’ve come to accept as a given was used. These tactics are not groundbreaking and they may or may not be effective at driving more players to play the game the way Blizzard envisions.

The book that corresponds with the release of this expansion, Before the Storm, was penned by one of the better authors for Warcraft lore, Christie Golden. I would prefer to have read the book before the expansion comes out, but like all things financial for me these days, some things have to wait for the bills to be paid so that the lights will stay on here. Hopefully I’ll get a copy for my birthday in two weeks. So I haven’t read the book. Most players have not read it and probably should read it before being too outspoken about transpiring events. As a druid player (not to mention Paladin and every other class for both factions) the ability to opt out of participation in the slaughter at Teldrassil would have been nice. Druids would not agree to attack their Shan’do. There were, however, Druids working for Sylvanas in Darkshore. Just slightly South of Lor’danel where the final battle takes place, there are druids of the claw attacking in a circular formation. So Druids were present in the battle, despite rumors to the contrary.

I wonder what game these players shocked by Sylvanas’ actions have been playing? They certainly haven’t leveled toons through the early game areas for the Undead in the current version of World of Warcraft, a storyline that has been in place since after Cataclysm reworked the area following the  Wrath of the Lich King expansion and the killing of Varimathras. Anyone who thinks that Sylvanas doesn’t want to be the next Lich King doesn’t understand the undead, hasn’t played undead characters, hasn’t been paying attention to the characterizations in game. Her disavowal of knowledge of Varimathras’ plague plans at the Wrathgate was just her engaging in covering her own ass. She set about making more plague and using it in South Shore in the very next expansion. She has been experimenting with the Val’kyr, using them to resurrect fresh undead.  It’s right there in the Undead storyline right now, go play it.

However, frontal assault is totally out of character for Sylvanas and her Rogues. She is a master strategizer, well-versed in the underhanded ways of the Rogue class (Rogues that should be using bows the way she does but currently cannot) This one size fits all storytelling is at the heart of my dissatisfaction with Broken Isles, the last expansion of World of Warcraft. The Broken Isles had Rogues leading armies as heroes, not to mention Mages willing to follow Warlocks into battle as if Warlocks hadn’t been demonstrated to suck the souls out of their friends when the expediency of the moment calls for it. Most of the stories since Wrath and Cataclysm have been underthought and not fleshed out very well (what the hell happened to Wrathion?) I was hoping that Christie Golden being brought on to help with plotting and storytelling would make for better stories being told in relation to the MMO as we move forward in time. Maybe she just hasn’t had time to make the kinds of deep changes that really are warranted in the game experience. I guess we will find out eventually.

In any case, good riddance to Fandral’s creation, Teldrassil. None of my druids had any abiding love for the place and Tarashal only regrets not being able to save more than a hundred out of the nearly 1000 people supposedly taking refuge there. It reminded him quite poignantly of sorting through the bodies at Auberdine after Cataclysm started. Not surprisingly, I’m sure. He looks forward to making his new home on top of the mountain next to Nordrassil. Tharthurm asked the Paladin standing next to him when the cutscene ended What does a Paladin have to do with this? What does a Druid? before flying off and getting drunk at a tavern (yes I am an incorrigible roleplayer) Hope does spring eternal, Sylvanas. You cannot kill hope unless you destroy all life. Keep walking the path of the Lich King. I know you as only one of your own (Eugennah, Creavishop) can.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Cinematic Trailer Nov 3, 2017

Wolfenstein: The New Order. The Game to Play in the Age of Trump

I’ve been walking in a fog all day (brain fog) The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) has just returned from committing treason with the leader of Russia by his side today. I am trapped in a dream. I have been trapped in a dream since November the 9th of 2016. It has to be a dream, because even reality can’t be this strange.

I’ve been playing Wolfenstein: The New Order off and on now for about six months. The Wife gifted me with the sequel to that game for Christmas last year, and I refused to play the sequel without playing the first game. [It appears that New Order is the second game. Old Blood looks to be the first game. This explains how the relationship between Fergus and Blaskowitz is assumed in the game. Why Blaskowitz has experiences with Death’s Head behind him. This also confirms my theory on thirds. First third is good. Second third can be better. Last third? Hardly worth the trouble. I’m tracking down Old Blood so I can play it now. I will update this section after testing my knowledge.]

I took the right approach on insisting I play New Order before playing New Colossus, because I probably would never have given this series of games a chance if I had played Wolfenstein: The New Colossus first. I couldn’t finish that game when I finally got to it. Hell, I barely made it out of the submarine, I was laughing so hard. Laughing at the unreality of maneuvering a wheelchair through bulkheads with openings that could not possibly be rolled through in a wheelchair, while firing a automatic weapon two-handed and not being propelled backwards down the companionway from the recoil. They program in sight drift when firing a weapon, but they don’t do the half-dozen other things that are even more essential for believability.

Games are not reality, after all. Reality is so unreal that many of the things we experience would never work in a fictional universe. No one would believe that what was happening could happen. I mean, the party that could not accept a President getting a blowjob in the Oval Office willingly puts a lying, cheating scumbag into the office of the President? That could never happen. So the simple fact that a thirty-six inch wide object cannot fit through a thirty-two inch wide door is clearly not going to be believed. However, we are talking first person shooters (FPS) here. A first-person shooter from the originators of the FPS, id. Except that id didn’t allow its name to be placed on the sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order, a smart move on their part.

In the age of Trump, it is easy to believe that the Nazis won the Second World War. In the age of Trump, it is easy to believe that a secret Jewish organization called Da’at Yichud created all the weapons that the Nazis stole. Stolen technology that allowed them to win the war by developing an atomic bomb first. Not hard to believe, at all.


Wolfenstein®: The New Order Teaser R.A. Steele Published on Jul 17, 2018

No, the hard part to believe about this game is how this one man could possibly make a difference in this obscene world that he finds himself in. This cold, hard fact is why Wolfenstein: The New Order is the game to be playing in the age of Trump. Because he does triumph, in the end, and his is not the only triumphal moment.


Wolfenstein®: Caroline Becker R.A. Steele Published on Jul 17, 2018

This game is a tour-de-force for id. It reminds me of all the hours I spent playing Doom all those years ago, when the internet was the future and the future was full of hope. They released an updated version of Doom last year. I’ll probably have to play that game next.


Wolfenstein®: Bombate R.A. Steele Published on Jul 17, 2018

I’ve been walking around in a fog all day, as I said at the beginning. Walking in a fog with the oft-scribbled statement of those unfortunates who have had their long-term memory sealed off from their short term memory looping through my mind. I’ve just woken up for the first time! Caught in a bootloop, like a bad operating system install. The cutscene in the Kreisau hideout has been haunting me.

Not just any time you sleep in the hideout. You have to be playing the Fergus timeline. In the Fergus timeline one of the changes is the character of Tekla. A mathematician, she is obsessed with calculating the probabilities of success in the Kreisau’s fight against the Nazis. One of the instances when you tell Blaskovitz to go to sleep to get his health upgraded (Fergus’ perk) has an additional cutscene. Blasko goes to sleep, only to be startled abruptly awake to find Tekla sipping coffee beside his bed, watching as he and Anya sleep. The dialog for this scene keeps drifting through my mind, following I’ve just woken up for the first time! hard on it’s heels. I tried to find the scene in the game for hours today. I knew it was there, but I just could not find it. I played through all the chapters in the Kreisau hideout looking for it. Luckily someone else spliced all the Tekla scenes together,


Wolfenstein: The New Order – All Tekla Scenes Compilation (Fergis Timeline)【XCV//】Published on May 20, 2014

Where do you go when you lose consciousness?

You have a brain, a brain is a biological computational device running on electrochemical process. Your consciousness is an emergent property of said process. In other words: you are an electrochemical process. Fundamentally you have experience of continuous existence. You are you, at this point in time. You have sensation of riding along this continuum of being you, into the future. On occasion brain can be subjected to trauma, temporarily discontinuing electrochemical process. Such as a boxer being knocked out. As this occurs the brain is no longer running. It’s electrochemical generating process. Hence consciousness is lost. You lose consciousness. At this point in time, your consciousness, all that is you… your continuum of being you has caused to exist in the physical world, Now, moments later, the electrochemical process may start up again… allowing consciousness to emerge out of the information stored in the brain.

But I wonder. Where are you in the meantime?

Must we not assume that at the point when consciousness is lost, the person dies? If a new consciousness appears or not in the same brain is entirely inconsequential to the dead consciousness. The new consciousness is simply a new person. Because it emerges from the same brain it has access to all the memories and cognitive structures… as the dead consciousness, so it thinks it is the same person But in actuality it is just an impostor. Inheriting the body and brain from the previous, now dead, inhabitant.Tekla, Wolfenstein : The New Order

Pretty deep stuff for an FPS video game, isn’t it? But that is the quality of the production all through Wolfenstein: The New Order. It feels like reality, the camera bobbing ever so slightly as you watch the cutscenes, as if you are an observer over the shoulder of someone else, breathing carefully so as not to attract attention to yourself. Hoping against hope that these impossible people will achieve an impossible thing and destroy the Nazi machine even in its hour of triumph.

But I could not find the scene in the game again. I could not find it, like a memory that fades into the mist when you look for it. Did I wake up today a different person? Will I wake up tomorrow a different person? Who is asking this question? Play Wolfenstein: The New Order. Kill all the Nazis. Win the war. Or maybe we should believe we can win the battle against the fakir who currently inhabits the office of the President? If you think we can’t win, play this game. Maybe it will change your mind. 

Snowcraft

Snowcraft

Every December since I can’t remember when I’ve stumbled across this silly game. This, if anything can, will lighten the clouds hanging over your day.

Even when you lose. The giggling of the children as they knock your players out is infectious. You want to laugh along with them and play again.

Enjoy your Winter Solstice celebrations! I know I’ll do my best to try and enjoy mine.

Drafter, Drawer, Moron

An artist friend was lamenting being called a drawer recently. Tongue-in-cheek he informed the fan of his artwork that he was not a drawer, a single container in a dresser or chest of drawers, but was rather a draughtsman, thank you very much.

This witty rebuttal sent me scurrying to check word meanings at my favorite quick-reference of choice, Wikipedia. When I got there I discovered that I couldn’t use Wikipedia as a reference for this subject, as I have discovered with previous subjects on this blog. Wikipedia defaults to popular word usage and doesn’t reference the word draftsman, or draftsperson if you insist on neutralizing the word. It doesn’t even reference the proper English Draughtsman that my friend used. No, wikipedia gathers all discussion of the field of technical illustration under the term…

Drafter.

The sound that you are hearing is the spinning of a million proofreaders in their graves. It’s quite a rumble, isn’t it? A drafter is a racing driver following a pack leader close enough to get a speed boost from the lead car’s wake in the air. In no way, shape or form is a draftsman a drafter. That just isn’t English.

Bob Ross Channel Trailer Oct 6, 2017

An artist creates art. A draughtsman or draftsman produces technical drawings (which is where the slang drawer comes from) I was a draftsman for many years, I know what I’m talking about. Applying art techniques to technical drawings produces a “rendering,” something I have hired artists to do. I would never refer to an artist as a draftsman. That is an insult worthy of a good cuffing in my book. What artists and draftsmen do look similar on the surface but are in actuality two completely different fields of work.

John R. Mullaney APC Cutaway : Special Edition Sep 14, 2015

The insistence on sounding like a moron when speaking has driven me crazy for years, drafter/drawer is just the latest insult that I’ve stumbled across, and that one has bugged me since I started drawing. As far back as I can remember I have tried to correct others poor word usage only to be rewarded with the label of smartass from most of the people I’ve tried to educate. I was either born a proofreader or a pedant and I’ve never worked out which group I’d rather be affiliated with, but it does remind me of one of the few times that I managed to get the last laugh on the subject.

In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Blizzard added the inscription profession to World of Warcraft. I thought a scribe would be an interesting profession to get the Loremaster achievement with (Scribe. Lore. Get it?) so I spent a lot of time on the two ‘toons that I leveled as scribes. In World of Warcraft, like most MMO’s, you can spend a lot of time making things for other players. There are chat channels in the game where you can request needed items from or advertise your profession; and none of the players that I ran across in 6 years could figure out that someone who inscribes is referred to as a scribe. Inscriptors? Scripties? You name it. Never a request for a Scribe. In a moment of frustration I hit upon the right way to deal with this annoyance. I started explaining to the poor illiterate souls that a practitioner of inscription was referred to in a variation that reflected the sex of the practitioner. Like draftsman or draftswoman and many words found in romance languages. There was a sexual differentiation in the names and you needed to be sure to use the right one. Females were to be referred to as inscriptionatrixes. Males were only to be called inscriptionators. In six years of playing World of Warcraft, that never got old.

This is not the Warcraft it Used to be.

A week into the Legion expansion and I can tell I’m on the outs with Blizzard already.  The backing image on my Battle.net launcher has been changed to the Burning Crusade packaging image from the image that adorned the packaging of the Warlords of Draenor.

You may well ask “Why Burning Crusade?” at this point. Burning Crusade is the first expansion of World of Warcraft, not the vanilla version, the original version.

The answer to that is both simple and complex.  The simple answer is that Blizzard has dropped the myth that Burning Crusade is a separate expansion (even though you can buy packaged versions of it and later expansions from Amazon) and back in the days of Mists of Pandaria they bundled the two together, creating a default image for WoW that was different from the vanilla version of the original game.

With the current expansion they have dropped the pretense that any of the previous expansions were actually expansions to the original game in the online store. So why are they sticking to the Burning Crusade image? Because changing it would take work, and they are on a budget from Activision. It is either that or perhaps there is truth in advertising. Burning Crusade is what the current WoW experience seems most like. Burning Crusade is where the new class was the enemy of choice. Burning Crusade is where the Burning Legion was first assaulted directly.  Legion is a rehash of Burning Crusade in much the same way that Warlords of Draenor was a rehash of story content first introduced in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal.

In the online store you can’t get any of the previous expansions. You can only purchase World of Warcraft and Legion. There is a problem with this, and that is where the story really gets complex. It gets complex because there really isn’t two versions of the game.

Blizzard will tell you that there are two versions. There is the version of the game which includes preserved content from previous iterations of the game.  Then there is the version with the additional content that they want to charge you almost three times as much to play, as well as the cost of a monthly subscription.

Never mind that the content represents the smallest expansion of World of Warcraft to date. The problem is that what they are calling World of Warcraft isn’t World of Warcraft. What you are purchasing is a disabled version of the accumulated base programming that Blizzard has put into their World of Warcraft project. You are being asked to pay for what the programmers who first put together Blizzard gave away for free. A shareware version of content to whet your appetite for what Legion has to offer. That is because there really isn’t a version of WoW other than Legion.

Having played every version of the game since and including Burning Crusade, I can tell you the differences between each expansion it pretty gory detail. I won’t bore non-players with too many of these details.

It is worth noting that major sections of each expansion have been lopped out of the current game structure.  The legendary quest lines for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor have been removed. It may not seem like much, but those quest chains marked the actual progress through the game as it was played when it was the current version of the game. If you are playing the game today and you wonder why certain factions, structures and islands still appear in the game, what you are seeing are the remnants of endgame content that has been bypassed and pruned.

This is aside from the fact that playstyles of the various classes have also been changed and simplified. If I was purchasing and playing the first game called World of Warcraft, I would have to have extra space in my bags for soul shards while playing a Warlock. Brew poisons as a Rogue. I would have to have arrows or bullets for my weapons. There would be no professions of inscription, jewelcrafting or archeology.  There would be no Pandarens, no Blood Elves, no Draenei. No playable versions of Goblins or Worgen. There would be no Death Knights or Monks. You would have to be in a particular faction to play Paladin or Shaman. I would not see a disabled option for creating and playing a Demon Hunter.

In short, it would be a different game if it was really World of Warcraft.  This is the bigger problem for Blizzard. Last year Blizzard shut down the fan-run server Nostalrius.  Fan run servers do present a threat to Blizzard’s intellectual property, and they had every right to shut that server down; but the existence of the site and others like it present the problem and question that Blizzard wants to go away.

Players want to play the games they purchased, and those games don’t exist anymore.

There really is no place to play the games that I have faithfully purchased from Blizzard over the years. I cannot play Wrath of the Lich King. I cannot participate in the battle at the wrathgate and then storm the Undercity in retaliation, facing off against the opposing faction in the throne room of Sylvanas herself.  That pivotal moment in the game is lost.  The Kor’Kron and the rise of Garrosh? Also lost.  Orcs no longer guard Undercity watching the forsaken, guarding against another attempt to turn all of the living into puddles of goo.

If you click one of the many links above (aside from the battle.net links) and purchase one of those products right now, you cannot play the game that is pictured on the outside of the box.  You will be forced to play the disabled version of Legion, the version now called World of Warcraft. There are no servers which run the historic versions of the server software, software needed to play the games historically sold under the World of Warcraft banner.

A consumer should be able to be assured that their purchases can be used in the fashion advertised. This is business 101.  That none of the expansions exist to be played in the fashion the game was intended to run at the time of publication and purchase presents a problem to Blizzard, specifically because they make noises about this being one of the longest running games in the history of computer gaming. Because they are still making money off the franchise they have created.  Because they have a lot of disgruntled fans out in the hinterlands who have previously purchased games they’d like to play but are prevented from playing them because Blizzard does not maintain a copy of previous integral parts of the game’s programming.

If this is one of the longest running Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games Blizzard, why can’t the fans of previous versions still log on and play the game they played then?  I really wish someone at Blizzard would take the time to answer that question.

After Legion is Irrelevant

Top of my feed this morning Breakfast Topic: What comes after Legion?

I honestly find myself wondering how World of Warcraft could possibly top Legion. I mean, where do we go from here? A full-scale invasion of the Burning Legion a scant sixteen or so years after the last one. Considering it took them ten thousand years to return after their first attempt, it feels like the intervals are getting shorter

Because they are.

So I’m wondering what happens this time. If we beat back the Legion, it’ll have to be a pretty decisive win, wouldn’t it? Not just shutting down the portal they’re using to invade, we’ll also have to eradicate every last trace of them: every cultist and every demon that’s currently on Azeroth. That’s a mammoth undertaking. But if we don’t do it, when will the next invasion come?

So what do we do after we accomplish it? Is it finally time for us to go to Argus? Take the fight to the Legion’s doorstep?

I find myself wondering how many worlds are left out there. Are there allies for us to find? Is there a grateful cosmos waiting to be delivered from the Legion or are we one of a few ragtag holdouts, enduring in spite of the Fallen Titan and his army of annihilation? What else is there for us to do once we stop the Legion this time?

What do you all think? What’s next, after Legion?

There are so many problems with this question, it pretty much requires that I wax literal in my attempt to unpack it.  Oh, you’d like me to do that? Here goes.

A quote from Terminator Genisys

Time doesn’t exist in the sense that Matthew Rossi at Blizzardwatch suggests, especially in fantasy worlds. Time isn’t a set interval marching in unmalleable increments down to the end of time.  Time is more gas than fluid or concrete. It can be compressed or expanded to fill whatever boundaries we place on it.

But we can set that aside because we aren’t talking about reality, but rather fantasy.  It has already been established that the Legion lives outside of time and space. They don’t see time as temporal creatures (like humans) see time.  Consequently the interval can be ten thousand years or next week, it is the same difference to them.

Blizzard can literally have every expansion after this one be The Burning Legion Returns and it can be factually defended from within established World of Warcraft canon.

So what comes after the current expansion is pretty much irrelevant, from a story perspective. It’s already been established we can travel to parallel universes and port to any world within the current universe of Azeroth. The Burning Legion can be there, mucking up the world. Or not be there, if the developers decide not to include them. Mists of Pandaria added the only part of Warcraft III that I felt was left out of World of Warcraft,  so I can’t suggest any new content just right off the top of my head.

The real question is, will the next expansion be something the player base will want to play? That is quite literally the multi-million dollar, multi-million playerbase debate.

Since I’ve still not bought Legion (#noflynobuy) I think they’ve already gone there. They’ve been headed that way for quite some time. The first hint of their direction was in Mists of Pandaria. In MOP  flight was an endgame-only perk. You had to be at top level in the game to be able to fly. Contrary to what the naysayers insist, this was a retrenchment from both Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, where flight was incorporated from the beginning of the expansion, and a return to the old ways of Burning Crusade. With Warlords of Draenor the world of the original game, where no flight was possible, was reintroduced.

This is, to put it bluntly, going backwards.

I get it, the new owners (Activision) have a gameplan that requires Blizzard to milk every dollar out of the playerbase that they can get their hands on, while simultaneously devoting as little programming time to the game as they can get away with. This means simplifying the game in ways that are less noticeable if the players cannot simply fly over obstacles.

Here is an example.  The world of Outland is physically bigger than the old world of Draenor. I have proven this to myself by flying across regions of the game map in both areas. This fact is the reverse of established game lore, that Outland is smaller than Draenor because of the destruction wrought by the Burning Legion. The world can be smaller because in Draenor you were expected to fight across the ground for every inch of territory you wanted to traverse. Constraining the players in this way allows the developers and programmers to skip creating the larger worlds that Warcraft is known for, making it possible for them to economize on programming time.

The Broken Isles of Legion are demonstrably smaller than every single expansion that has come before in World of Warcraft. Why are we limited to just the Broken Isles? Why isn’t the invasion everywhere on Azeroth simultaneously? This is the Burning Legion, they have uncounted demons at their beck and call.  They could easily be in every city on Azeroth simultaneously.

But that would be one whole hell of a lot of programming.  It would equal the amount of programming that went into creating the first game.

Which is my overarching point here. The Legion expansion is the smallest addition to the game that has ever been introduced, and it comes at the cost of a complete reworking and simplification of every system in the game outside of redrawing maps for the game itself.  It is a lot easier to program simplified playstyles and constrain players to small sections of ground-based maps than it is to create new worlds with new areas to explore, complex and challenging playstyles to master.

Playstyles that include flight.

But it isn’t just flight.  I was disgusted at the garrison copout in the last expansion. Sending followers out to play the game you couldn’t take time to play.  Building ships that you never sailed on.  The one thing that might have saved Warlords of Draenor for me would have been allowing me to build ships I could sail where I wanted to go. But that too would have required an exponential investment in programming time, something Activision doesn’t want to spend money on.

Having all of Azeroth be under siege would also make the garrisons we’ve spent two years building have a use beyond becoming just another game hub no one goes to anymore. It would do something unprecedented in WoW, not abandon former content as being that old game we used to play. The garrisons have their own separate hearthstone. Draenor has been protected through our actions from invasion by the Burning Legion lurking out in infinity.  Why would we not stage our last defense of Azeroth in the one place we know the Burning Legion can never return to. Draenor of the past.

So it comes down to this for me. Until and unless they revise their development strategies, I can’t see them doing anything I will want to play.  I could be wrong, but I’m betting I’m not. Waiting and seeing is something I do well. 

6.2 The Patch That Ate World of Warcraft

Meaningless Punishment in Battlegrounds While Leveling

World of Warcraft suggestion/bugfix of the week;

If you level in a battleground and that level moves you to a higher bracket, you are now removed from the battleground and marked as a coward for leaving. That is either a bug, or a serious oversight on Blizzard’s part. The fun of leveling in battlegrounds is that moment when, for the rest of that one instance, you rock. Now it is a punishment to level that way. This needs to be fixed. This game is already punishing and boring enough.

Specifically this toon (My 17th, I think) confirmed what I had suspected with other toons that have hit 100 in battlegrounds. Several of which I have taken to battlegrounds throughout this xpac just for the pure fun of hitting 100 while in a PvP setting.

Not all the changes are bad in the current expansion. I like the fact that toons are scaled to max level for the bracket, it makes the heirloom twink problem that I’m sure was a frustration for players who didn’t invest in heirlooms less of a problem and more of a reward for playing the game with multiple toons. Now all players are the same level (instead of a potential 9 level difference in one battleground) the only variation is gearscore.

I’m really enjoying Ashran lately.  The latest patch seems to have fixed some serious problems with this world PvP area. I was actually able to get into a raid sized group after hitting 100 with my second paladin (linked above) and farm enough broken bones to keep my garrison building churning for a week or more.

So there are good changes; and then there are meaningless changes that just make the game less fun. This suggestion/bugfix request is the latter. Please Blizzard, I’m begging here. Remember, we play games for fun?

Posted on the forums here.


However, I have to say that 6.2 remains “The Patch That Ate World of Warcraft” Aside from flight, I hate the content of this patch.  It simply adds insult to the injury that is Warlords of Dreanor, as I’ve gone into here, here and here.

Warlords release countdown. No flyers to be seen here, are there?

It has ships, but they are ships that I can’t ride on. This is the sailing equivalent of a cock-tease if you are a sailing geek like I am.  Not only that, but these ships require oil even though they are sailing ships. And the oil? I have to quest for that instead of accruing it at a set rate like garrison resources, the other currency (one of several introduced this patch) specifically tied to the garrison.  Can’t drill for the oil as in the Real Time Strategy game this version of WoW is attempting to emulate. Well, you can, it just requires you to grind out reputations in the new content area, Tanaan Jungle.

This should have been your first clue, Blizzard. If you have to force players to work in an area, you really haven’t made the game fun enough to warrant play in the first place.

I should be able to sail my ships directly. Should be able to go with garrison quests to assist. Should be able to accrue oil without having to kill unrelated NPC’s that give access to oil that my ships shouldn’t need. This expansion, aside from Ashran, is a waste of time.

Here’s hoping that Legion will prove to be worth playing.

Flight Makes Everything Easier?

There is an active poll over on the WoW forums called The Friendly SkiesWhile I question the adjective friendly applied to almost anything MMO, I found the choices available on the poll amusing, even if the associated text is patronizing in tone.

Patch 6.2.2 is scheduled for release this week, allowing those of you who have unlocked Draenor Pathfinder to take to the skies on your most trusted of winged beasts, floating steeds, and flying machines. With this comes the added opportunity for you to handle your affairs with greater convenience and timeliness.

Our friends over at Wowhead have put together a guide of Draenor Content Made Easier by Flying. We suggest you give it a look to glean the myriad activities made more accessible by flight, and let us know what you’ll be swooping down from sky to do first.

Travel by flying mount on Draenor will be most handy for:

1. Accessing Archaeology dig sites

2. Collecting more battle pets

3. Exploration and sightseeing

4. Leveling alts to 100

5. Gathering herbs, mining, or fishing

6. Seeking out rare spawns

7. Adventuring further in Tanaan Jungle

8. Locating the remaining treasures

9. Barrel rolls, duh

10. …Everything

As I’ve said in chat a million times (at least) easy is a four letter word. I have an idea of what an easy fight would be, but I’ve never seen it in any game,

The boss draws his weapon, then trips and falls on it. That would be an easy fight.

Nothing that requires a group effort to achieve is easy. The troll who taunts with “come on, this is easy” deludes himself. Just because he finds his role lacks challenge doesn’t mean that getting 5 to 25 players together to do anything lacks challenge. If you doubt this, see if you can get just 4 people together to play a game of cards at home; without bribing them with free beer, of course.

If you didn’t have a guild in earlier versions of WoW (Original & Burning Crusade specifically) you stood around outside the instance you needed to run and hoped that 4 other people would show up and want to run with you. You could (and did) spend hours standing around hoping for a group. Nine times out of 10 you would give up in frustration. The tenth time you would manage to get a group together only to discover that the tank couldn’t tank, the healer couldn’t heal, and DPS was a joke. About every third group you managed to get into an instance with would actually finish the dungeon.

Forget about ever raiding. Raiding was for guilds; I mean, you could try your hand at assembling a raiding group yourself. I tried it several times, never successfully, because of the next problem on the list.

Then came Looking For Raid/Group and suddenly the impasse of just getting a group together was bypassed; allowing for an automated assembly process as part of the game design. However, finding a group of people who knows what they are doing still remains a challenge. Being able to select the role you want to queue for has no bearing on your knowledge of what the role requires, what your classes gear spec should be, what the best spell rotation is, what to interrupt and when, etc; a near bottomless pit of knowledge that is required just to complete a raid with a moderate level of success.

So Looking For Raid/Group didn’t make the game easier, it made playing the game possible for the average player, which just adds to the frustration of the elitist jerks who think the games should be designed for them.

In much the same fashion as LFR making group efforts possible in game, so too flight makes certain kinds of gameplay possible, not just easier.  Dismissing the constraints of time and frustration with the word easy is patronizing. Some people have real lives to live, they don’t have all day to spend grinding their way through repetitive content just to get to the thing they want to do today.

I am enjoying flight being added back into WoW. Not enjoying it so much I have forgotten the threat on the horizon, though. When it comes to Legion, I am still in the #NoFlyNoBuy camp. I really do hope that Blizzard game developers are taking us seriously.