Thursday, February 24, 2011

Battleblood Castle (February 2011)

After some thought and inspiration, I'm now putting the name "Massive Fantasy Palace" to the test with a plan to redecorate the duel court every month.  My Art History and Humanities classes are sparking my interests via artwork (mainly paintings).  The more that I'm understanding the idea of what an "artist" is, the more appreciation I'm feeling for designing and creating.  Basically, there's no end to art, and there's always some deep or special meaning in each artisan's craft.  The one I want to express is the characteristic that is born of life and time:  change.  Even while we sit still, the research on plate tectonics shows we're constantly moving.  A different Earth, every day...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Riddle Answered!

8 and 5
In the latter and given
We are a thousand and Devil's mark even;
The first in crow, the second-to-last in raven,
Three within mold, three left in cold.

What are we?

[Click and drag your mouse to highlight the blue bars for the answer!]


Roman = 5 letters, a "given" name
Numerals = 8 letters, the "latter" word

1000 + (Devil's mark) 666 = 1,666 even = MDCLXVI (1000+500+100+50+10+5+1), one of each Roman Numeral from greatest to smallest value.

"C" (100) is the first in "Crow," while the second-to-last in the above order AND second-to-last in alphabetical order is "V" (5) in "raVen."

M (1000), L (50), and D (500) are the three in "mold," while C, L, and D are the three in "cold."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BUN: Responding to Friendly's "After Legendary" Post

(in response to Friendly's post):

Each day, without a new update to explore around in the Live Realm, the game does seem like a personal sandbox.  Actually, KingsIsle does a great job with providing enough patches and features to continually spark interest and create new adventures.  Though, after attaining optimal gear and pets, killing thousands of monsters for badges, and mastering features like PVP, Gardening, and Advanced Pets, room for more personal accomplishments runs dry.  Thankfully, such a world like Celestia and dungeons like Briskbreeze and the Warehouse were released.  Players are encouraged to step out of the realm of individuality and into the uniform shoes of teamwork, adding a new dimension to RPG gameplay:  social interaction, and success by cooperation.  In group play, each player is given the chance to contribute to a team goal, and the incentive given is the larger rewards and -- sometimes -- bragging rights.  It feels exhilarating to help others, partly due to the fact that a playerbase has grown by means of increasing someone's interest in the game.  That feeling broadens even further, as you mentioned, when one starts contributing to a community.  The truth is: I realize that there's only so much that can be contributed.

Your blog -- which is miraculous to me (probably because my writing style is too skewed towards formality that I become more serious than fun, and forget to loosen up) since there's at least a blog post a day -- inspires creativity, both in the game and outside.  You not only share achievements and news to hundreds of people, but also provoke creative thought via mind-opening ideas and suspicions.  As readers' minds roll, there come the birth of many blogs detailing their own writer's adventures and ideas.  The more that players can relate with one another, the more exciting that new players' goals seem.  "Oh, I want what they have!"  "I also want to achieve that!"  Passion for the game is developed furthermore.

As you know, I happen to be one of those inspired readers, and I take those passions and dissect it a bit further, into information, tips, and explorations of detail.  YouTube is the visual presentation of my thoughts; Blogger, a textual one.  Petnome is the "physical, virtual" embodiment of a specific passion in pets, while Mistblood is the embodiment of my creativity in an alternative lore.   Modding the Ravenwood Radio chatroom is an extension of the depth of commitment to the game and community, and transcribing is another active way of expanding that extension to another branch of our Wizard101 population.  And finally, there are the PVP parties, along with writing and discussing about it, aimed to redeem the image of a widely notorious activity.

I admit, it's a lot, and I wouldn't be surprised if people looked at me and thought I was crazy or lost.  Maybe "too addicted?"  Perhaps.  But, I think of these projects as more of a "higher plane" of what can be done in Wizard101.  For example, in Guild Wars, I grew tired of the Post-Searing environment, and decided to create another character.  Given how long it takes to complete that game, I decided on another route: get to max level before changing from Pre-Searing to Post-Searing.  Perhaps this would bring some long lost entertainment.  It did, but I ended up staying there forever, due to its peacefulness.  Eventually, I began to give away free items and gold in exchange for correctly answered trivia questions, and that sparked more login activity as people participated in the quizzes and games.  We all had an escape from the expected route of questing and bartering.

Overall, Wizard101 became very exciting to me, not just because of its content, but also because of the opportunities this game provides.  I could wake up, head to work or school, and come back (due to a minimal budgeting plan, props to tuition fees and the college lifestyle) to any of the above mentioned projects, these "spiderwebs" of interest.  They give me something to do after hitting Legendary, Warlord, Grandmaster Artisan and Gardener, etc.

Want to know the ironic twist?  Even these projects can lose their effect overtime, not due to decreasing interest, but admittedly due to the small, overwhelming feeling.  I used to blog every other day at least, and now it's around every other week.  Sometimes I'll have something to write about, but I hesitate because I feel like working on something else.  Mistblood has been neglected.  YouTube projects are still pending and halfway complete and scattered all over my desktop in the elements of music files, pictures, movie clips, and movie project shortcuts.  I'm still very active in moderating the chatroom, hosting and broadcasting the PVP parties, transcribing as soon as an iTunes episode is released, and updating the Petnome Project with the team.  Basically, the environment of my projects have shifted from long-term to short-term; the projects mentioned in the previous sentence are usually done "on the spot," dependent on some other element other than my creativity.  In other words, I've become more reactive than proactive, in terms of contributions.

Along with this interesting twist, I've been spending more time in-game.  It's like I've boomeranged from questing, leveling, and accomplishing to contributing in an overdose, then returned to questing, leveling, and accomplishing.  Nowadays, I've become more passionate in participating in the gaming itself, rather than expressing my excitement for it.  It's as if the "sandbox" effect switched over sides of the fence.

So, my point -- based on personal reflection -- is to pursue deeply in contributing to the community, or finding a niche or project that can prolong one's interest to a specific aspect of the game.  Indulge in that enjoyment, and try to keep a balance between gaming and maintaining something related to it.  If there isn't a balance, perhaps someone will fall into the same pattern as I have, which, ultimately, recreates the excitement all around.

To Chase Skullmask:  Based on the above "essay," dive into something that hasn't been done before, and try to carry it out to its fullest extent, with the attitude of a winner ("winners never quit").  Stephen Spiritcaller had many of us #twizards hooked on his fictional narrative "Courting Yeva."  Looking back on those days, I now feel like hunting her down for the infamous hat.  Cassandra Griffindreamer's Diapermancer comics (fictional, visual stories about Friendly's baby's surroundings) inspired me to create Mistblood.  She is also expanding into a wider variety of stories, each of which I suspect to have some influence from the style of Anime.  Alric Ravensinger created Fame at a Price, a story with reality -- for a well-known player and community member, Thomas Lionblood -- in a nutshell, mixed with a ficitional plot.  I hear he's creating another "issue" very soon.  Sometimes, relighting interest in the game requires thinking outside of the box, or looking at the game differently.  Once you've got an idea, approach it.  Take it head on, and I guarantee it'll be a new Spiral everyday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Transcription: Ravenwood Radio Episode 33 (and Behind-The-Scenes peek)

Hey Wizards!

I'm really, really liking transcription a lot.  It's very interesting  (and sometimes educational) to me to dive deep and get to know the speaker's personality on a deeper level.  For one, transcribing is more than just textually recording some audio; it's also a form of interpretation.

Processing the shows into text form has also given me some form of creative criticism that I can share with the speakers.  For example, when it becomes harder to interpret or follow someone's sentence that becomes a run-on or lost thought, and the more adjustments I have to make when transcribing to ensure that logic or communication still follows, the more pointers I'll have for them.  In addition, there's a little critical thinking going on: "is it necessary to keep the "uhs" or "uhms" to preserve the humorous tone induced by those pauses?"  In other words, will readers enjoy this, and get to understand Steve's/Leesha's/Fallon's personalities or characters? I certainly have to be careful to not make them sound too literal and cardboard-like, but that's the fun part!

I was actually looking over a few at-home side jobs within this field, but it turns out it's a lot more complicated than I thought.  You have to pay attention to punctuation, understand the speakers' professional lingo (medical, legal, recreational, etc.), use the correct words ("night" vs. "knight"), and be grammatically correct.  Also, the audio files won't always be as clear as Ravenwood Radio's podcasts; the sound in the test I received was shifted all to one side of my headset, indicating that the recorder was sitting on the side of the room instead of the center.  Then, listening to the speaker, and trying to omit as much stuttering or "um"-ing and "uh"-ing without taking too much tone or personality away is another challenge.  Professionally, it's not for me...but if you're an English major, have a high interest in typing, and are looking for some dough, I recommend looking into this!

Transcript of Ravenwood Radio 33

Behind the Scenes:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Official Word From Greyrose - Floating and Harvesting

**Thanks to our very own Jacob Legendheart for pointing this out:

About the Exploit that Caused the Downtime

I want to take this opportunity to clarify what occurred to cause us to close all the Wizard Dorms and Castles & Lands for a day. Players found a way of exploiting a gardening bug in their houses which allowed for infinite harvesting of elder plants.

Players who obviously exploited this bug have been banned, and we will continue to investigate others who may have also taken advantage of something that was clearly not intended.

I obviously won't go in to the details of how the infinite harvest worked, but part of this exploit involved another bug that our community affectionately calls 'stacking'.

This 'stacking' bug allows you to stack rugs, tables and other furniture pieces in your home to create new levels and interesting structures. This has been a long standing bug, and every time we bring up whether or not to 'fix' it, we realize that this stacking bug is a harmless bug that in fact allows our community to be very creative. We're always delighted to see just how much our players enjoy being creative and we feel that removing the functionality to stack housing items would stifle that creativity, and we obviously don't want to do that!

While we have fixed the gardening exploit that relied on this 'stacking' bug, at this time we do not plan to remove the ability for players to stack their housing items. However, should other exploits be discovered that use this 'stacking' bug, we will have to reassess whether the harm outweighs the creative freedom.

-Lydia Greyrose

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Test Realm: Testing and Analyzing the Updates (February 2011)

As the first biggest perk in the game for this new year, the multitude of changes shown in the current Test Realm are definitely impacting modern strategies and playstyles.  Not only will a home with an Arena Ring be available for players without a Massive Fantasy Palace or the money to purchase one of them, but there are some significant benefits (and nerfs) that have been applied to the overall game.  This post will not explore every update, but it will focus on the changes that might need further clarification, or changes that were not included on the changelog.  Thus, consider this an active post, so any updates/changes to the Test Realm after publication will be shown in red:

  • "Once a plant is in a pot, you cannot pick them up!" --(Celestia Housing TR Notes)

Apparently, this literally applies to the mechanics in relation to the Floating Bug.  While the notes do not specifically state it, it also means that plants within the soil cannot be picked up OR moved.  When you try to relocate the plants, you cannot lock them onto the ground or another item.  Luckily, for those with bulging backpacks, this counteracts that dreadful mistake of creating Fake Seeds within your inventory when you pick up Mature or Elder Plants!  Unfortunately for housing designers, the Fake Seeds that currently exist in their "Inventory" are now endangered species.  

  • "Jade Oni and Earthwalker pets will now have the chance of manifesting spells that match their school." --(Celestia Housing TR Notes)

Like with the Level 48 Pets -- though not as complicated, considering pre-update version has been completed -- the Jade Oni pet will have two different Petnomes:  one that is represented by the old Myth and Balance versions before this update, and one that is represented by Jade Oni pets that are acquired after this update.  As for the Earth Walker, we will have to see if there are the two determined Petnomes as displayed on the site, or if there is a third version.

  • Pet Abilities have bugged Petnomes, whether manifested or not.

This is a little ambiguous.  Because of the fact that some abilities have the option of being called "Common" when they are unrevealed, it suggests to us that there are actually five tiers of rarities:  Common, Uncommon, Rare, Ultra-Rare, and Epic.  But, since the Advanced Pets system was created without the intent of having "Common" abilities, is there a chance that new Pet Talents or Derby Skills are in the works?  If so, then why don't Pedigree Numbers and Petnomes match, by definition?  

If there is meant to be a fifth tier of abilities, then the Pedigree numbers are bugged, and aren't accounting for the fact that a lot of abilities have dropped a single point (Rares becoming Uncommon, Ultra-Rares becoming Rares, etc.).

If there isn't meant to be a fifth tier of abilities, and the Pedigrees are NOT bugged, then there's a major visual problem with the Petnomes.  Hopefully, for all pet enthusiasts' sake, the bugged manifested abilities won't carry over to the Live Realm.

  • Stun Block now reads "Block next 2 incoming Stun attempts."

So far, we've tested Earthquake on Stun Shields, and unfortunately they're still removed.  Boo.

As for single stuns, it seems that this spell does not literally follow its description, in 1v1 at least.  Cassandra Dragonheart and I were casting Chokes/Blinding Light/Freeze at one another, and did manage to stun on the turn AFTER the final Stun Block is removed.  So, it's as if there wasn't any change to this spell, other than it being moved to Dueling Diego's textbook -- which I believe was done so new Wizards wouldn't pick up this spell so early in the game, believing it would be useful in PvE in their near future.

Moreso, I think the description was changed to technically state that a single Stun Block will void a Medusa's attempt to "stun twice," thereby being less confusing to Myth players and their opponents who believe two Stun shields are needed to counter the spell.  Instead of this shield having a counter that waits for another Stun to break it, it supposedly will block at most two, while one Stun will do the trick to remove it.

BUT, I wonder if the description is missing the requirement " a single turn."  I'm very passionate about fixing the Earthquake-removing-Stun-Shields issue, as that allows for chain stunning to happen (stun, Earthquake, stun).  So, in bright hopes, I'm going to continue to test this spell in a larger environment: teamed games.  Though, logically, if a Stun Block is removed by an Earthquake, it shouldn't prevent the next incoming stun, since the special effect is then out-of-play-by-removal.  I'll certainly keep us updated on this!

  • Gardening Towers are no more.

Gah, the end of the "Industrious Revolution" of Gardening is here.  So much for "going green" and "saving energy," huh?  What has happened -- as mentioned in my and Sierra Starsong's Tweets -- is that floated pots and soils may still accept seeds, but maintaining the crop is no longer allowed by vertical means.  In other words, AOE Gardening spells will NO LONGER affect items from bottom up.  Instead, they'll target all plants that are surrounded by the literal circle (imagine using the AOE ring like a rubber band.)  So, it's back to these ground plans:  Part 1; Part 2.