Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Exploring Free Kid Friendly Online Games.

It's Summer. We live in Southern California, and it is hot. The kids are in the house, and they are bored. What to do? We only have two WoW accounts running right now, as my eldest daughter is out with her grandfather on an RV trip and can't play. So that leaves 4 children, begging to use the computer, the Playstation 3, and the Wii. Since they are all connected to the same monitor, My husband rounded up the three laptops he had kicking around that needed some work and made two working units. One of them has WiFi, the other doesn't. So, two kids can be playing online games. Here are there games of choice, starting from the youngest.

Wizard 101 is a great game, very easy to jump into, and free for a portion of it. You can gain access to other areas of the game with a one time gate fee or by paying for a subscription. They have family subscriptions, too, so if you have a few kids like I do, this can be some really inexpensive fun! It is really nice that the sidewalks are a safe zone, so if a kid didn't finish a chore and had to get up, they don't come back to a corpse run. Mini games are a fun part of the play, allowing you to gain mana and health as well as gold. If you aren't a big fan of mini games, you can chase down floating blue and red clouds and run into them for a recharge. Battles are very easy, and easy to find groups for. You play cards to attack or heal, which take their mana cost away from your bar. Your opponent casts, then the next in your party plays their card, then back to the mob, in that order until the job is finished. There are neat mini pets to collect, and you can recolor any armor drops you get. I hear they even have player housing. What fun!

Adventure Quest Worlds is the follow up game to Adventure Quest, which in itself was a fun game that did things with flash that no one else had done before. In their new, browser based flash mmo, you can join friends in killing monsters and doing quests, or just chatting. Other titles by these extraordinary developers are Dragonfable and Mechquest. The games are all free to play, but I would hope that you would want to pay the fee they offer to unlock special weapons, just because the game is so cool! Marissa had bought her lifetime membership to Adventure Quest, and I read that they are going to enable you to "transfer" special characters from any of their older three titles to their new mmo soon. From the about page, "The best part is, in an upcoming release, you will be able to import data from your existing AQ/DF/MQ characters and accounts, making all of your old hard work and effort really mean something." I know Marissa will want to do that, and I foresee a membership request for her birthday present in November.

Battlefield Heroes has been another favorite in this house, and not just amongst the under 16 set. Many nights hubby will be playing against one of the kids in a battlefield. Yay for griefing the kids! This is a free to play game that gets its funding from the sale of Battlefunds, which you can use to buy outfits, emotes, and other things to enhance your gameplay. I would advise that, if this game becomes as addicting to your family as it has to mine, that you turn off the music. It's repetitive and annoying. It is a first person shooter with leveling involved.

Of course, there is Free Realms. They have all tried it and like different parts of it. The cooking mini games are right up Sammy's alley, where the brawler quests really keep Noah involved, and Alex likes the pet training. It is free, up to a point. If you want to be a tank or a healer, you'll have to pony up, because members only can play the medic and warrior classes. But, pure damage classes are a dime a dozen, really, and you can learn two types free, the ninja and the brawler. If you want to be a wizard or an archer, you have to be a member. You can gather ore and gems for free, but if you want to do things with them, you have to be a member. So, for a casual player, the free options are really all you need. One day you might feel like playing the cooking and gathering mini games, another day you might feel like driving in the demolition derby. You only need one character, they just switch roles and outfits according to your whim.

I have a lot of girls, and most of them are the girly type. They seem to enjoy i-Dressup.com. There are lots of mini games on the site that allow you to earn iCoins to buy clothes and accessories for your own character to wear or decorate their house with. You can even use iCoins to buy your membership.

Under the category of sites that are ok if you are watching, I give you these suggestions. They like Y3, a flash game site. If you let your kids visit this one, please check what they intend to play. I found my daughter playing a dirty hobo game. I won't go into details on it, but it was awful (and offensive). Another site they frequent is AddictingGames. Again, this one should only be played with parental supervision, as it has some questionable titles, but there are many paper doll type games on both sites, as well as cutesy flash games.

I have to go. Hubby is making me sign up for Battlefield Heroes. But I want to play a girl!!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Changing Sides Of The Conflict.

Traitor! That's what they would scream after me, as I nonchalantly dropped my Horde colors, went to the Alliance stronghold closest to me, and pledged my allegiance.

Blizzard has announced that they are working on a way that one could change their character from one faction to roughly the equivalent character of the opposing factor on the same server. I can only imagine the work that they are doing trying to make this possible. What would you have to think of when doing this change? Well, here is what I think needs to be thought through.

  1. Faction. Your goblin reputation, and any other reputation you can gain without thought to which side of the conflict you are need not change. What needs to change is the factions you have with your main cities and settlements outside Vanilla WoW. Orc could be Human, Undead could be Dwarf, Troll could be Gnome, Blood Elf could be Draenei, and Tauren could be Night Elf. I thought this out by pairing up the main group of each faction, the hardest reputation to grind of each faction, the druid groups, the expansion groups, and the last two naturally went together for their easy reputation grind. All the other relevant factions trade out equally well, such as Horde Expedition for Alliance Vanguard. All that is left unspoken for is the Wintersaber Trainers reputation, which would disappear if switching to Horde, or have to be ground out if switching to Alliance, since their is no corresponding reputation grind on the Horde side, yet.
  2. Quests. What a tangled web this is going to be. I guess the easiest part are the starter and secondary areas. They can gauge what was done, and kind of match that to the chosen side. Quests done for neutral NPC's such as goblins would not need to be compared, just marked as completed. Quests that grant faction reputation for both sides would have to be marked completed. Dungeon quests that are normally not available for the other side would have to be traded for the equivalent ( Leaders of the Fang for The Defias Brotherhood). To have to compare zone to zone, quest to quest, I just cannot fathom the amount of work they'd have to do to make the switch even. Crossroads compared to Redridge Mountains? Silverpine Forest compared to Wetlands? Once you get to the expansions, it's not so hard. Let's face it, we all had our poo quests. So one of us got dog poo and the other got an outhouse. The zones are pretty equal there. It's the earlier, growing stages that are really going to cause the problems. And what about quests that give special perks. What Alliance hasn't saved their Furbolg costume from Ashenvale? Sorry, if you go Horde, it goes poof!
  3. Gear. Some gear you just can't get unless you are on the right side of the fence. Any gear obtained from a quest that was not your faction would have to be traded for gear from the equivalent quest. If that type of gear wasn't offered, the equivalent Bind on Equip item would have to suffice. Things that are race specific, like Blood Elf Bandit masks would be sitting, unusable and not equipped, in their inventory.
  4. Professions. A profession is pretty much the same no matter where you go. Cooking, on the other hand, is different. Up until recently, Alliance could not get their hands on the recipe for Dig Rat Stew. Horde could buy all the Alliance quest recipes on the neutral auction house, but Dig Rat Stew was bind on pickup, and therefore not available for cross trade. It still is bind on pickup, but there's a fella in Bael Modan that will sell it to you, if it sounds like something you'd want to eat. So, if you were moving from Horde to Alliance, all the recipe quests that were faction specific should be unlocked, regardless of whether you had the recipe or not, because you can purchase these alone, right? As far as other recipe quests, regardless of salability (is that a word?) those quests should remain open when sides are switched.
  5. Aesthetics. When this change is made, are we going to be able to revisit the character creation screen? I would hate to have an exact number for number model trade. Take this example. I have the Orb of the Sin'dorei. When I changed my undead priestess' hairstyle, I used the orb and she had a different hairstyle, too. I hate the face that corresponds to the one my undead has. She looks so sour as a blood elf, but so content as her undead self. Are we going to be able to have a sex change, too? Maybe our undead priestess wants to be a hunky night elf priest.
  6. Name. Delgada really fits my undead priestess. It would never go with, say, a dwarf or a gnome. There is nothing "delgada" about them. I would definitely want to be able to rename my character.
  7. Associations. This is a given. Bye Bye Horde, hello Alliance, or vice versa. Guild and friend lists are a clean slate.
Now that I have taken the time to sit down and write this out, I can see where Blizzard has been making preparations for this to work.

  • Sprite Darter Hatchlings can be farmed for by Horde.
  • Dig Rat Stew recipe available for purchase to Alliance.
  • NPC in Un'Goro soon available for Horde to get special mount, for a quest grind.
  • Homogeniezation of expansion content (Horde quests are equivalent to Alliance quests)
  • Thunder Bluff Blimp (quite like tram to Ironforge, am I right?)
  • Reputation rewards on opposite sides are just differently named and modeled (Charged Wand of the Cleft vs Gnomish Magician's Quill).

Any comments? I'd be happy to debate, or agree with you on this one. Am I happy about this? I am neither happy nor outraged about this. If you are trying to play with someone who rolled the opposite faction and are able to join them without the mess of a re-roll with this, great, I am happy for you. Does this make it easier for people who PvP to switch sides of the conflict for better racial abilities? I foresee a great number of changes to undead for PvP players. How about for PvE? The change from a night elf rogue to a orc rogue would be very satisfying for the new ability to wield axes, wouldn't it? Well, I'm going to let you all comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched...

This evening was an exercise in frustration for me and 4 others, as we beat ourselves silly on the invisible barrier barring us from entering Scholomance. We tried all sorts of things. We tried disbanding and regrouping with a different leader. We tried disbanding and trying to get one person in. We tried sitting around and randomly taking runs at the portal. Noone contacted a game master, that I am aware of. Finally, as they were deciding to run Ramparts instead, I burst through the impenetrable shield and stood looking at skeletal guards and fantastic candelabra. I was in Scholomance at last.

I love this instance. The look inside is my absolute favorite. The candles, the oriental rugs, the wrought iron gates, the stonework, the books...all the things I'd love to have surrounding me. The skeletons and creepy spellcasters can vacate my palace anytime.

Once inside, our group, consisting of a paladin, a druid, a death knight, and my priest, Halinka, proceeded to decimate the place. I got a little to close a few times (forgot how low level she is), and died. Thank goodness we had 2 other people who could resurrect. Having to wait over half an hour to get in was well worth it, as we were able to get down all the normal bosses. We didn't get all the way downstairs, and we didn't summon the messenger, and we didn't aggro the entire student body. But, our friend near the alchemy lab was about ready to visit a lady conjurer, it seems, because he had this in his pocket:

Isn't it lovely? I also got a new hat that doesn't quite match, so I won't bother you with the details. This robe should help Halinka grind out her Wintersaber Trainers reputation in style.

Back to the point of this post. I'm reading a thread on this issue. Blizzard says this is happening only during peak periods, and I have noticed this happening only in Azeroth. I have never had a problem getting into an Outland instance or a Northrend instance. Are they hosted on different servers? I don't know. The thread I am currently browsing through is pretty heated, with a few posting helpful information for the game masters to pass on, and many just getting angry and not helping to solve the situation. I posted our problem on page 79.

Have you had any problems getting into instances lately? Let Blizzard know, or just post your thoughts below!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who Needs a Tank, Anyway?

My girlfriend and I were commiserating on how we can never find a tank when we want to gear up. For her, it's her main, for me it's my numerous alts. So, I've decided to tame a tank pet. I know I probably will never tank an instance with it, but perhaps it'll help tank, or run some group quests (she's a healer, so it'll be a cinch!). Carlotta would like to introduce you all to Spice.

Sorry, after all the fun of today, we didn't feel like editing out the list. Spice is the rare spawn in Silithus. I thought Grubthor was a horrible name, and since I think of the movie Dune when I see him, his name is now Spice. Tomorrow, I will be putting him out for a test run.

If any of you have any tips for tanking with a pet, please leave us a note, or drop us an email!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hormones and Healing Naxx

I got a phone call from our illustrious guild master last night. Seems they were going to try Ulduar and needed me and my hubby, and the raid leader had lost my number. This was right about dinner time, and I had already proclaimed it free for all night, so I logged in and was promptly invited. I then logged into Ventrilo, slipped on my happy new headphones (thanks hubby for my early birthday present, they're awesome!), and started getting together the flasks and money I needed to raid. I don't raid often, so I don't usually have everything together. Sometimes I have the flasks, sometimes I have the food, sometimes my bags are full of rotting animal parts and discarded low quality weapons. Provisioned, I fly to Storm Peaks and manage to locate the stairway to Ulduar and enter the instance. Figuring I am the first one there, I afk to grab a snack, completely forgetting that, on my husbands urging, I had installed a new raid unit frames mod and I hadn't set it up yet. I get back to my desk, and hubby is in the instance with me, and everyone is saying we're missing. What? I told them I was waiting in Ulduar, and they said they decided we weren't geared enough, so we were doing Naxxramas. Snarf Snarf Snarf, I hike up Delgada's robes and run her out of the instance portal, only to get beaten into the ground by some Alliance that were waiting for someone easy and squishy to kill. My Spirit of Redemption pops up, and I growl, try to right click it away, and growl more as it doesn't work. The buff runs out, and I make the corpse run, growling, and click accept as I run past my body, back into Ulduar, where I accept a summon to Naxxramas.

Now, notice my mood has quickly soured. I forgot to mention that it started dipping below excited once I saw three priests and, when I asked who was healing, they said me. I have dual specializations, shadow as my main and holy as an off specialty. Specialty is really not the right word for it. I can keep people up, sometimes. I overheal, a lot. My gear is ok, not spectacular, just good enough for the odd heroic that I want to run where I have to heal, and in 5 man instances, I don't mind, because it usually is pretty easy, but in raids, I'd rather dps. I'm a fairly good shadow priestess. I am a teh suck holy priestess. Yeah, my guild tells me I am fine, but really, if you don't like it, you won't do your best at it.

Back to the raid. We entered, buffed, and started on the Construct quarter. We flew through the trash on the way to Patchwerk, and Patchwerk died shortly after I managed to kill off both the tanks. Yeah, I killed them. If any of the rest of the guild tell you differently, they are wrong. I was cranky already, and I killed them. Just leave it. It gets better. Frogger boss, failed. I was directly between the slimes. I always am. But for some reason I always die. Whatever. I am resurrected, and we head over to the trash before Grobbulous. Trash is cleared quickly, fight is explained, and we get started. It was a messy fight, farts dropped in bad places, but most everyone lived through it, and loot is distributed and we head for Gluth. The first attempt is bad, and the people in charge of kiting the chow let a lot through, Gluth heals to full, and I manage to be one of the last 3 standing after he enraged. I also manage to be the last into the instance, due to not being able to click off my debuff. Frogger boss, I wipe out on the first row, get resurrected, and wipe out on the last row. My resurrection timer is now at 45 seconds, so I go to the bedroom to change for my date with the hubby that is closing in fast. I get back to Gluth, we try again, and though there is better control on the chow, we lose our chow herders and then I lose it and kill the tank, again. Another wipe, and I fly back up to the instance, run into a couple more slimes on Frogger, and go to my room to finish changing.

As I return, I see a friend log in, a holy priest. YES! This is my chance to replace my cranky, useless self and get out of the raid. I whisper him my plight, he asks how long, I say now, and I tell the raid leader to invite him, as I am hormonal and apologize as I log out. Hubby followed shortly after, and we finished getting ready and left the children in the care of the oldest so we could go eat a late dinner.

Sizzler was delicious. Sorry I was so horrible. Please don't invite me to another raid as holy for the next 4 days. You won't live, and you'll have to listen to my growling in ventrilo. Now, pass teh Crunch n Munch and a can of Mountain Dew. I'm going to level Lulubelle some more.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Million Giraffes?

I drew one for him. Here it is. Pardon the less than professional scan job (I had to use my camera!). Rules are, they have to be hand drawn, no computer used except to submit (you can snail mail them too!) Click on the title to submit yours, or to look at the many he already has in his gallery.

Flavor Of The Moment - Lulubelle.

I have been wrapped up in leveling a shaman to heal with. Delgada is best throwing shadow about, and I just felt that, even though she has the duel spec option, I'd rather play her as shadow. I have had a shaman kicking around Thrallmar, leveling inscription and twiddling her hooves, so I decided to level her. Here she is, my currently elemental shaman, Lulubelle.

Alright, so it may not be the best pose of her. She was in a 10 man Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (the only one gaining any experience points, at 10 per kill). with a few guildmates. What a pretty room, said Lulu, so I snapped a picture, and pulled the boss. I thought at 65 I would have a smaller aggro radius. Apparently this was not the case.

She got to see a lot of things in Ahn'Qiraj. The floor has many different textures. So does the ceiling. Here is a picture of what one guildie referred to as Uvula Land, the best land in Disney World.

Here's another pretty room. I should have taken the screenshot while there were still mobs inside, for those that would like to see what they look like, but I was more interested in staying alive this time, so that is why the empty room.

Lulu has been other places. But let's dig into her past. She started out a he on my husband's account, a rough around the edges resto shaman named Stroganhoof. Here he is with his leveling buddy, Synna.

They were really quite the pair. Stroganhoof was leveled on my account, and transferred to the hubby's account. He sat there, gathering dust, until he was about to kill him off. I said I'd take him, if he didn't mind me changing a few things. I took Stro to the surgeons, and Lulu arrived on the scene, back on my account.

There she is, a couple days ago, level 65 and wearing her very first epic. Isn't she lovely? She thinks that gown is so great, she's still wearing it in her new home in the Howling Fjord. Here's to a new grind to 80!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lend A Hand

If I haven't said it before, I'm an elementary school lunch lady. It is nearing the end of the school year, so a kid being out for an extended period is not unusual. At this point in the year, the grades have for the most part been decided, and we are just waiting for final assignments and to finish cleaning out desks. I noticed Jordan had been out, and then his brother, but I figured they were on a family vacation. They are both great kids doing well in school, why not?

Word of anything comes to the multi-purpose room, and my kitchen, very slowly if at all, and usually I get it from the kids and the yard duty workers. I found out early this week that Jordan had been diagnosed with leukemia. You can read about it at the blog that has been set up here . Local businesses have set up some great ways to contribute, if you live in the area.

I'm small time. I don't run a business that can contribute. But I do play an awesome game that millions of other people play, and if just a few that read my blog will pass this on to some of their in game buddies, or other bloggers, or even podcasters, who knows what kind of help we can get for this great little guy and his family? (Jordan would give me such a frown for calling him little!) Please help me help them! Leave a supportive comment, use their PayPal donate button, Twitter about it, Facebook about it, pray about it, do whatever you can.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Of Pedicures and Polar Bears

This past weekend there wasn't enough time for me to play WoW. I'm sorry, I went out and had some real life. I would have invited you along, but most of you don't live anywhere near me, so I'll just tell you what fun I had!

It all started last Monday, when my father in law asked me to check on union prices for Knott's Berry Farm and Universal Studios. He wanted to take all the family out for a little fun before he set off on his real life gold farming expedition. So, I found a great deal on Knott's tickets and had them sent UPS to our doorstep. Ordered on Wednesday, they arrived on Friday, and we were on the road at 8 am Saturday. An hour and a half after piling all 7 kids and 3 adults into vehicles, we parked and walked past all the tourist trap shops and Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant (I always though it was funny that you had to line up for the restuarant like you have to line up for a roller coaster)to the entrance.

The entrance was sparsely occupied, deceivingly so. When we got in, the place was mobbed with high school and middle school kids, girl scouts, and big brothers and sisters escorting their little brothers and sisters. The lines were still mostly short though, and we got to go on such great rides as the Pony Express (you sit on what looks like a playground horse, and the ride clamps you in by the back and the legs), the Calico Mine Ride, Boomerang, the Log Ride, and some new ride that looked like a less scenic version of the log ride on steroids. The kids went on several more rides than that, all the kind that turn your legs into rubber and make you wish you hadn't eaten so much cotton candy.

We ended our day pitching mini whiffle balls into glasses in the midway. We walked out of there with at least 2 small stuffed animals per person, and a huge polar bear. Yup, me who never wins anything pitched a winner. Not sure where I'm going to put the thing. But I won!

During our all day trip to Knott's, we also managed to look at all the old gold town sets (the assaying office, the jail, the schoolhouse, and the graveyard). We visited the blacksmith shop and some of us walked away with prairie diamonds after we chatted up the blacksmith. I looked longingly at the Birdcage Theatre, but no showtimes were listed. If you ever go to Knott's, try and find a day where there are shows scheduled there. It is the best thing in the park, in my opinion. Nothing like an old town show, complete with cheers for the hero and boos and hisses for the villain from the audience.

Well, the day before our trip, a gal from my guild who we recently met in real life suggested we go out for pedicures. I had never had one before, not being very girly. To explain what girly means to me, I'l tell you what I am, and girly is everything opposite. I don't fix my hair. It either goes in a pony tail or bun or hangs straight. I wear jeans and teeshirts, no makeup, and rarely remember to put on my earrings. Fingernail polish is a no no in my field. The last manicure I had was before my junior prom. So all this pedicure stuff is foreign to me. "Sure, sounds like fun!" I typed in Facebook chat. Sunday afternoon, we met at Olive Garden, a little late due to horrible traffic on her end. We chatted over lunch about everything but WoW, then headed over to the salon. I had no expectations, and I was floored. This place had these neat chairs with massage controls, and a "foot jacuzzi" at the foot. We sat down, watched some CNN, chatted some more with a tiny bit of WoW sprinkled in, and enjoyed our pedicures. I could probably go in for another one in a couple of months or so. Would that make me girly? I hope it doesn't become a turn off to the husband. He married me, after all, because I was so low maintenance, and for my bomb shelter, but that is a story for another post(he is cleaning it out, sprucing it up and adding the creature comforts for an office/get away room for my birthday!).