Review: Clash of the Titans (2010 version)

Right, firstly this is not the classic Harryhausen from 1981, the plot and story have been changed, I would need to go off and do some research to see which is the most faithful to the underlying mythology.

This is not an epic retelling which will replace the stop-motion version in the hearts of geeks everywhere, though the CG animation is very good and just continues to show what is possible with a pile of artists and some seriously powerful hardware.  The pegasus was partiularly impressive.

It’s a quest movie, go here, do that, kill this, chop the head off that, loose most of the redshirts along the way, loose some companions, get them back at a critical moment, heroic sacrifice and so on.  Though it didn’t feel like the lead had the drive to go and do stuff, he went along because the story was telling him to do so but without any “I’m doing this for …” or “I’m doing this to prove … wrong!!” just “feh, I’ll go along and kill things and use the plot devices at the right moment”.

So, see the movie, put your brain on a peg for a while next to your disbelief and enjoy the ride and then go back and enjoy the original.

Online information & security

Another day, another information horror story of sorts.

Someone has stuck a bot crawling Facebook for public information, collated it into a nicely presented format and slapped it up on a torrent for downloading.  Let’s look at the impact of this.  Fundamentally it changes very little, this is all information which users of Facebook have put into the public domain either actively or through not unchecking the right options.  The difference is that it’s collated into a easily parsable format, ideal for spammers to grab and shove into their databases, quickly searchable and so on.  We’re not talking about a zero risk event here, but something which is akin to moving fruit from a branch which requires a little bit of reaching to something at waist height.

So what is the impact here, hopefully a wake up call to all those users of services such as Facebook as to keeping an eye on what information they’re putting into the public domain, what links to friends they’re making public, what photos, what details of their personal life.  Who hasn’t heard of the stories of people boasting on Facebook about pulling a sickie forgetting that a co-worker or boss is on their friends list.  Making the dope habit public while the boss is known to be massively anti illegal drugs and so on.

Banks still use information such as maternal maiden name for authentication, how difficult is it now to find that information from the Facebook data dump for a number of users.  While in itself that is not the key to your money it’s another piece in the puzzle, all of which makes it a little easier for the bad guys to get at your account and at the same time make it harder to convince the bank of your innocence.

The financial costs are normally recovered, at least in the EU, what about the time and stress in dealing with such issues, that cannot be claimed back off the bank.  It’s not entirely their fault that their customer is putting their entire life into searchable databases.  How about having to cancel that credit card and be issued with a new one, updating companies which are taking their money through recurring mandates, updating the booking with FlyCheapAir and the hotel room for the same trip and so on.  All annoyance and pain.

So this is both a complete non-story “person puts information in the public domain into the public domain in a different format” it is also at the same time a major story “Millions putting information into the public domain which they rely on to secure the services they base their life on“.

BBC Report

Tanking Halion

Ruby Sanctum, it’s a filler raid, it exists to give a tiny piece of lore for the upcoming expansion and to stop players unsubscribing by giving us a whole new internet dragon to kill.  However in some respects it’s better than the content which has gone before.

The trash requires some thought, particularly from the tanks in how they position and manage the knockbacks, there’s nothing like picking up an extra pack or two due to a badly handled knockback to ruin your day, and repair bill.  Of the three minibosses, two are in the “loot pinata” category.  However one again requires thought, co-ordination and a bit of planning.

However, they’re all there as a starter course for the main event, Halion himself.  Big, ugly and let’s be honest, pink.

Normal dragon rules apply, tail does a swipe, the head has some serious bad breath and he cleaves.  Healers and DPS, you do know where you’re meant to stand and it’s not at either end.

Much like a baby bad things come from the head and tail.

Phase 1

Nuke, nuke, run away when the debuff lands on your head (hope your cleansers are up to speed) and drop the puddle of bad away from the raid, ideally towards the edge.  The tank needs to move the boss when the meteor strikes leave fire in the wrong place.  Easy.  (Note: Tank here is ‘Fire Tank’ or FT)

Phase 2

There’s a couple of things to watch, the Twilight tank (TT) has to go through the portal first and pick up the boss and turn him a bit so the rest of the raid isn’t nuked as they come through.  Popping a cooldown helps the healers a lot here.  FT and possibly a healer will remain in the Fire realm as this makes the P2 -> P3 transition easier.

Some description of the twilight realm is in order, as with the fire realm we have the circular arena bounded by the walls of fire, the portal spawn points for P3 are at 11 & 5 o’clock as seen from the instance portal.  The boss will remain in the center and around the edge of the arena some shadow orbs circle the raid and boss.  (Heroic mode there are four equally spaced).

The cutter is the key to this phase and realm, evey 30 seconds for 10 seconds a beam of shadow energy fires between the two orbs, don’t be in it (14-16k damage on 25-man normal every second you’re in it).

TT will initially get his position stablised and watch for the orbs around the circle, we’ve been going for a positioning where the cutter spawns to the right of the tank with the raid to his left (the dragon’s right).  This keeps the raid clear of his tail which can ruin everyone’s day.  The TT will start moving the boss, spinning him in position clockwise, keeping the far orb and the tail as the reference point.  It’s worth using the targeting circle as a guide, but do not be on top of it as this means there is very little room for error on the cutter, so back off a bit.

Keep the boss turning, announce clearly over vent when you’re going to start moving him and keep going, focusing on positioning and as much threat as is possible while being constantly on the move.  DPS will have to watch their threat and back off, with the movement there is a limit to how much threat the tank can throw out.

Phase 3

The raid splits and dps has to be balanced between the two realms, for both tanks this is pretty much a repeat of what they’ve been doing before, slightly easier for the TT as there are less in the raid in the twilight realm giving everyone more space to move.

That’s it.  Oh and if you’re anything like me have the cold pack for your shoulders ready.

WoWPeeves: “Is it legal to buy gold”

Yes it is legal to buy gold, at least until the law (and I’m considering the UK here) is changedto formally acknowledge digital goods, particularly in game as property which opens up a whole can of worms around gold taken from hacked accounts, who owns it, proving that the gold bought was the same as the gold stolen etc etc.  Until then there isn’t a law being broken.

However, will it loose you your account, entirely possibly because what has been broken is the terms of the contract between you and Blizzard.  The ToS is clear on this, as is Blizzards interpretation of them, buying in-game items for real money is a no-no (unless it’s Blizzard sanctioned).  It’s very simple, you buy gold and your account could be heading for a perma-ban.

It’s also stupid, the gold sellers are hacking accounts en-mass to provide the gold reserves they need to sell onto players who either can’t work out how to get in-game gold, too stupid to work it out or just can’t be bothered.  Hacked accounts are a bad thing, let’s not beat about the bush here, recently one of our raiding guild’s tanks got his account hacked, which probably means his computer was compromised (In the EU this comes under the various computer misuse acts which incorporate EU directives on this matter), so there is illegal activity, he had to spend time chasing down Blizz to get the situation looked at (wasted time and effort), check his machine (wasted time and effort) and cost Blizz time in going through logs of activity, resetting account details and rolling his alts back to where they were.  That’s a direct cost on Blizzard.  On the plus side in his case everything was back to normal in 48 hours (damm good effort there).

There is very little detail on what the companies selling gold are doing with their cash, you can bet that getting it back from them if your account is terminated is going to be “difficult”, and given that we are dealing with people who are willing to compromise your machine are you happy giving them your bank details, remember, they’ve probably had a keylogger installed.

I would suggest that it is safe to assume dishonest intent when dealing with gold sellers, caveat emptor applies here with a large side order of “use your brain and don’t deal with gold sellers“.

Levelling a Warrior

We’re firmly in the “meh” period of WoW at the moment, a mix of summer hitting availability for raiding, we’ve been staring at the same bosses in ICC since December and the Cataclysm beta is well under way and general… what’s next?

After yet another called progression raid thanks to lack of numbers, I decided to nuke the Cow druid and re-roll as a warrior gnome.  The last attempt at a warrior failed dismally, I simply couldn’t get my head around the class mechanics, the lack of in-built healing, having my arse handed to me on a more than regular basis, it just made levelling her a pain, zero fun.  I even tried boosting her to 60 via granted levels on RAF, nothing worked and a six months or so ago she was consigned to the data archive in the sky after handing over bank alt duties to the rogue (like I trust him with my pile of gold).

Anyway, a new gnomelette was rolled and she’s nuking through the levels, tanking instances, getting pretty blue gear and generally being more fun to play by far than my previous attempt.  After the first few days of levelling alone she’s been joined by SWMBO’s priest alt and they’re now rolling through Duskwood like a spiked wrecking ball.  The only death since partying up was when my tanklette took on Stitches at level 28, to help out some other players who were about to be mashed into the ground (thanks for running away guys, much appreciated, I’ll let him munch on your bones next time).

So, why is it so much better this time?  Well the nerfs and BoE heirloom gear can’t be discounted, she’s got a definite boost to her output, this helps in getting mobs down which means less munching on the floor.  However the other part of it is down to me simply being a better player than I was before, I’m a better tank than when Wrath dropped, I’m a better tank than I was before I started raiding seriously.  Moving mobs, pulling them round to avoid aggroing the extra pack, or indeed moving them to deliberately taunt in the next pack.  I’ve a better idea on how I like my keybindings setup, on all the tanking alts I have the taunts in the same place, same for the major rotation attacks, the defensive cooldowns etc.  So while the details of what they do are different the broad effect of me mashing alt-Q remains the same for example.

Assuming all goes as I expect tonight I think she’ll hit 30.  Northrend watch out, there’s a new tank on the block and she wants shinies!

Dear Raiding Guild

and by that I mean, the slackers who can’t be arsed to sign for the reduced schedule, cancel at the last minute because you find it impossible to keep track of your game cards and so on.

The kicker comment came from one of the dps “what’s the point in killing the Lich King again”, yes I know you were in on our only kill.  You have the full achievement set, you’ve seen him dead, you don’t need to go through fight again.  Now here’s the thing, I was standby that night, my main was blocked from doing anything else because I kept him sat outside the instance doing nothing all night ready to fill in a hole if needed.

I therefore missed the kill.

I’ve been making sure I keep my other lock for another group, this is not a problem but it means I’ve not been farming the content on both locks for six months.

I’ve not killed this bastard and I want him down.

So remember the raiding guild only works because there is a suitably large pool of players who are happy or willing to cycle around and sit out where needed.  If we’re going to go down the route of “I’m not willing to do that again once I have my kill” then you’re heading to a dangerous place where only the interests of the individual are important, the other players only exist as a method by which you can get what you want.

Of course this will cut both ways in the end.

Mounts, pets and RMT in Warcraft

This topic has been floating around in my idea pit for a while, from when the new pets and the sparkle pony popped up on the wow store.  I admit to buying both the original pets and the pony for SWMBO.  So, my flag is firmly planted in the “I don’t see these as a problem” camp.  So let’s have a look at some of the arguments against these items.

  • They take development effort away from the game as a whole
    Unlikely in my view, given that we have now had several rounds of these items appearing I think it’s safe to say that there is a dedicated sub-team which is tasked with generating virtual items for sale on the Blizz site.  So we have a couple of coders, some artists and sound engineers creating the content.  Some test time, probably rolled up on their normal process.  Self funding and feeding, unless I’m getting my mental estimates very very wrong, cash into the business as a whole some of which will be pure profit and some will be going to support the ongoing development of the game.Removing the sale of the items from the plan would not necessarily mean the staff are kept on wow, remain employed by Blizz or indeed have any impact on the game.
  • Blizzard said they would never sell items
    They also said that race change, faction change, changing the look of your toon would also never happen.  They’re a company, in this business to make money by keeping their player base happy.They also have sold items via the gaming cards for some time now, they’re not as obvious because they’re only a chance to get the mount / pet / item but it’s the same principle.
  • It’s pets now, it’ll be armour next
    I don’t think so, everything which has been done to date has no practical effect in game.  Unless you count the approx 250g saved in game for each toon leveled from 1 – 80 on purchasing mounts.  Moving to a model where game affecting items are available for money would be a major shift from them, I’m not saying they’re going to do this, I am saying I think it’s unlikely.  However if you had asked me last month if they were aiming to make my name public I would have said “not a chance, they’re not that stupid”.
  • They’re going to start selling gold
    Again I doubt it, there is a big enough problem with inflation within the game already, to the point where it can be seen that they’re deliberately breaking certain markets up because the prices those materials can hold are significantly above the norm.  Letting players buy gold would reduce the amount people are playing, it would remove the desire to keep renewing while grinding gold to get the current must have mount.

So on balance I do not think that the RMT that Blizz has brought into the game so far is a killer, everything is optional, even the slight gold saving on the mount over time is nothing compared with the gold a level 80 can grind in an hour on dailies.  As always I’m watching with interest to see where this is going, Blizz have seen a massive level of interest in these items which has probably surpassed their expectations (estimations have put the gross from the steed at millions of dollars).

They’re going to want more of this, but will they get greedy?

Stupid things to do in a Raid

Sapphiron : Mages, please do not iceblock when the dragon goes up, as confusion can occur when everyone goes to hide behind iceblocks, and then die because you decided to add an extra one into the mix.  Use your legs like everyone else.

Sartharion : Ubergeared warrior dps, if you’re going to wallop the boss so hard during a 3D zerg attempt please be standing on the other side of the boss to everyone else, so when the big ugly dragon turns to you and burps we don’t end up with the entire raid being cooked.