Hi there! The name's Nenicirene, and I'm a fictional character in the World of Warcraft on the Argent Dawn server. I talk a lot, and since, like most warlocks, I'm an egomaniac, I operate under the delusion that the public at large is interested in my mad babbling. To that extent, I have collected it here in the form of several essays-by-accretion. Enjoy!

New entries are listed below by date, while the complete contents are organized by topic in the sidebar.

Who to Soulstone?

In groups of 5 to 15, paladins are preferable, as they are much less likely to die outside of a wipe, which would waste the Soulstone. In the Molten Core, priests, as they are much less likely to die in a bad spot.

Soulstones are wipe protection, and druids can't recover from a wipe due to the timer on their rez. (It's stupid to soulstone the druid just so he can burn his cooldown on rezzing another rezzer first.) If you have multiple warlocks or druid combat rezzes available, then you can consider using them in combat as a means to get vital party members back in after they die, but this is a rare scenario.

I completely agree with SSing the Pallies and then Priests. Are you ready to hear something crazy? When we do Onyxia, and if we have more than 4 Warlocks, we usually toss a spare SS on the main tank, a Warrior! I've seen it work before, when he died he lost aggro so everyone Ceased Fire. He popped the stone, got healed/buffed up while he moved back in to regain aggro. It was sweet. Again...only use if you have a plethora of Locks.

Dr. Seuss is rolling in his grave…

How far from home can a foam gnome roam before the roaming foam gnome gets pwned?

Foam gnomes can't leave home. It's known they can't roam outside of the dome where they were blown. You were probably shown a clone. To clone a gnome, read a tome and take out a loan so you can buy a stone cone. A clone must be grown in cone. Get a bone comb that has one ohm of chrome, put it in the zone of the cone with some loam, and leave it alone. Compose a koan that's the right tone (as shown by the tome), and moan it into the cone. When you get a cyclone in the cone, feed it a scone and put on some cologne, for you have a clone of your own that can play the trombone. If later your clone has flown or is lying prone, someone must have thrown a throne at the clone for reasons unknown, and your skills you must hone.

(If this made you groan, I atone.)

Warlock magic at its foulest.

Looking Beyond

I have written before of how I survived the Fall of Gnomeregan by the barest of margins. While thinking about this matter of late, I have had an insight. I didn't survive that night. I died.

I'm not entirely sure why I never realized it before. I guess it must just be that that was my first death, and I did not yet know that it was possible to transcend mortality or what the experience felt like. I had heard of the great heroes of the distant war coming back from beyond the grave to lead on their armies, but had dismissed it as mere exaggeration and propaganda tied on to stories of near-total defeats and pyrrhic victories. I had not yet realized that presence of the Burning Legion had warped our reality and rent the shroud between the quick and the dead.

I just sat down to work out the numbers. I'd never done it before, because I must have known what I would find. It's obvious enough to anyone with even a smattering of engineering know-how. That blast wave that came up the tunnel and caught me should have crushed me like a bug, and it did. I was smashed against the plate-iron floor with enough force to turn my brain to jelly.

However, I've always been a stubborn one. I wasn't about to let some stupid explosion kill me, not with the dumb name I had then and not with that broken bottle of juice still needing to be cleaned up before someone stepped on it. (I have also realized that that bottle is one more reason why I have never returned to Gnomeregan. For all my rational intellect, a part believes that I can never truly die as long as I have a task left on this world, and that bottle is the first task that I left unfinished, and shall be the last.)

The chill that I felt wasn't just the snow and the wind—it was my spirit lost on the wrong side of the shroud. I must have instinctively clawed my way back into my body and forced it up, still bleeding, and stumbled the rest of the way out of the passage. Now that I think about it, perhaps no other gnome actually survived the tragedy. All of us who are left may simply be those too mean, too stubborn, or too stupid to stay rightly dead.

Since that night, I've died countless times. It's down to just a tickle. I have accepted death as a part of me and transcended it. All around me, the land is filled others who have done the same. What once mighty heroes alone did is now commonplace. Yet, not all people have the will to fly back and forth between the lands of blood and bone. I met on my travels those who weep for others lost, and I have not the heart to tell them they lost their loves for lack of will. I meet sad ghosts who mourn for their forgotten lives, yet do not know how to crawl back into their carcass and urge it to life once again. I meet undead who only partly completed the process, and hang halfway between life and death, rotting and walking at the same time. All of them I pity, and it fills me with sorrow, for though I may be beyond death, I am not yet beyond life.

Scents and Sensibility

Tabiku, a rather odd troll priest currently between restraining orders, mumbled:

I love gnome women. They're so small with giant hamster eyes and they have wonderful hair. Their soft, comic hair is all done up like a fruited candy sucker. I bet their hair smells like strawberries. It makes me want to go to the tram and corner one to just tackle it and smell her hair and lick it because I bet it tastes just like it smells: like strawberries.

I, um, er, ah…creepy troll stalker! (And my hair does not smell like strawberries. I use the "Secrets Man was not Meant to Know" variety of conditioner, made with the ichor of elder gods and distilled madness, which gives me a rich, winey sort of aroma that speaks of Old World sophistication.)

Nice Hard Boiled reference.

Strength or Agility for Shamans?

7 Strength adds 1 DPS, regardless of your character's level. About 20 Agility (at level 60) boosts your melee crit chance by 1%, which amounts to boosting your average DPS (including Attack Power, both natural and from your weapon buff) by 1%. (Note that this means the value of agility relative to strength increases as your melee damage increases.)

If you have flurry (and it were working correctly for a full three hits), then a crit boosts your attack speed for the next three hits by 30% (assuming it's maxed, which if you have it, it almost certainly is). Fudging it, that's like getting 90% of an extra blow in over the next three hits, so your crits are really 190% extra damage, so 20 agility is then a 1.9% DPS boost. (Note that for sufficiently high crit percentages, your flurries will start proccing while you're still under the effect of other flurries, leading to diminishing returns.)

End result:
1 Str increases DPS by 0.143.
1 Agi increases DPS by 0.095% of your total DPS including attack power, if you have full flurry.

These two values become equal at 150 DPS. So, if you're breaking that with your attack power and weapon buff, agility is better. If not, strength.

However, this doesn't take into account the bonus that DPS added via strength already gets from your existing crit rate. To really figure things out:

Average DPS = (Base DPS + Strength/7) * (1 + 1.9*(Base Crit Chance + Agility/2000))

The end result is that you probably want both strength and agility, as their effects multiply each other. This is particularly true given the items available in-game, as it's easier to build up a reasonable level of both than a really high level of either.

I really like this analysis of Strength vs Agility for shamans, and if I every get to log into the boards with my main, with your permission I'll include it in the FAQ.

One thing to keep in mind is that using the windfury weapon buff affects this analysis. Windfury extra attacks count as attacks as far as flurry is concerned. So, if you get a crit, and then a windfury proc on your next hit, you will have used up all 3 of your flurry hits, and so really you only got that speed bonus for 1 hit instead of 3. Additionally, you can get a windfury proc on the second hit instead, which would lead to a speed bonus for 2 of the hits instead of 3.

This would change the DPS increase to 1.3% and 1.6% respectively, instead of 1.9%. The chance of windfury occuring on any single hit is 20%. Thus, the chance of the first situation occuring is 20%. The chance of the second situation occuring is 80%*20%=16% - 80% chance of the first situation NOT occuring, and then a 20% chance for a windfury proc. The chance of a full increase is thus 80% * 80%=64%.

The expected value of the DPS increase of a flurry proc when using the windfury weapon buff is thus 20%*1.3% + 16%*1.6% + 64%*1.9% = 1.732%, not a full 1.9%.

A similar analysis could be used to calculate the exact value when considering "lost" flurries that occur when a crit happens when a character is already flurried.

What about the defense agility adds? Since it's just "Strength vs Agility for shamans, shouldn't that be incorporated? Or am I mistaken as usual? :D

Yes, Agility, does add defense, but I was just looking at the effect of each on damage in this analysis.

The Degree of Offense

Ganking a chest from someone is just as bad as ninja'ing items off of a corpse. It's rude, wrong and downright nasty of people.

I would argue not. Taking a chest from under someone is theft. Ninjaing items from a boss is betrayal. In one case, you are taking another individual's property they have rightfully acquired through time investment. In the second case, you're breaking a previously agreed-to social contract with individuals whom you have led to believe that you are helping, when in fact you are extracting a substantial time commitment from them for your own personal benefit. Taking five minutes of a random stranger's time is a less serious offense than taking an hour or two of time from people with whom you agreed to work.

I agree with your estimation of the severity. I still won't group with, encourage or stop being mortified by people who steal chests out from under me when I cleared the area. I'm not meaning to suggest that you condone ninja looters or chest thieves by any means though.

M, M, O, & G, Yes, but not so much R and P.

The fundamental problem is that a dynamic world and accessible content are incompatible. Dynamic worlds require events that can only take place once or, at best, a small handful of times. However, the creation of such events and storylines requires at least as much developer and designer effort as static content, with only a small payout to the user. (Witness the prevalence of TV shows and comic books where everything is fundamentally the same after each episode or story arc as compared to vast, sweeping stories like Babylon 5.)

Dynamic content is ultimately targeted at a small audience of hardcore followers who can keep up with it at the pace dictated by its publishing, as opposed to being able to enjoy it on their own time at whatever pace they wish. Blizzard has already shown that they are catering to the much broader audience of dabblers, a design decision I ultimately agree with. GM-run storylines that change the world work for a MUD with fifty regulars. They don't work for 100 servers with 3000 people each.

Furthermore, people don't really want dynamic content. They want empowering dynamic content. You don't want your capital city to fall if it has long-term negative consequences for you (unlike a loss in say, a battleground), and you don't want to stand around while Thrall kicks the ass of all your enemies and you get to fetch him a refreshing beverage afterwards. You want to be the hero. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. Thus, no one gets to be the hero. You can't have a world of protagonists.

Ultimately, MMORPGs suck as a medium for telling stories, precisely because they are massively multiplayer. A story needs to be about something, and it needs to have interesting, relevant characters that can take effective action. Good stories are also personal, and connect with their audience. If you want all that, get three to five friends together, set aside a night a week, and sit down around a table to tell some amazing stories. I do so twice a week, and real roleplaying games are so much more narratively fulfilling than any MMORPG could ever hope to be.

I agree that all of the games that've come so far have tried and failed. They have failed for the reasons that you list - the game designs are not made around things to encourage/foster roleplaying, rather to capture the 'gamer' market. In addition, the support by the companies have been all lip service. Blizzard showed their fannies in this regard, making such a huge deal about their approach, then letting it disappear before the first month was out. All they ever really did was answer issues about player names. Even that seems to have gone to pot.

But you might have seen my reply on the other board. I still have extensive faith in regards to what is possible and what is being done behind the scenes in the market. The big companies (and several little ones) are c⁠ashing in on the MMOG cow. Most of the buyers right now are looking for "the same, but better". They're reluctant to go with "different and better". Different, doesn't guarantee sales. And it will take some young start up company (like Verant once was) to make the big wave a lot of us want.

The sad part, to me, is that I know a whole lot of MMOG players and most of them are very sick of the 'level up and get loot' approach to gaming. They do want a dynamic world and they don't expect to be the everything-to-me kind of hero. Heck, the people that I do know that are of that lewt-cow mentality end up getting bored of these games within 6 months because they've done it all. EQ proved that "more content" isn't better. But they did discover that those 6-month players would keep coming back.

But think of this: Say you've got a huge player base, like all the major MMOGs have. 20%-30% of those might be the powergamer that tops out their character within the first month, are the first to kill big-time mobs, are the first to get the phattest of loot. Guess what - they're also the first to get bored as heck. They might stick around and max out another character or two, but they're still gone in 6 months. Now take the other, much larger portion. They aren't rushing to max out. They are enjoying the game, casual players, or whatever you want to call it. They are the ones I always hear pining for dynamic, more-realistic content. Deeper interactivity. More roleplaying. More experiences. Less grind. Less focus on things like levels and loot. It isn't that they don't want good things - they do. They often just wish it wasn't the only thing you could count as a "goal" in the game.

But instead of catering to that much larger percentage player, they focus their attention on retaining that 20-30% that get bored quickly and demand more "content". Funny thing is, they don't have a clue what content is. To many of those, content is "more zones", "more loot", "more levels". The same old crap that the current batch of games confirm are the only goals they can produce.

Game companies are so stuck in the concept of what the other guys are doing, that they fall into the same traps. Blizzard is, too. Granted, they've added in a deeper PvP focus, but it's no different than an EQ expansion - more zones, more loot, more levels (in this case, honor system).

Well, not everyone is stuck in that box. There are designers going in quite the different direction. It may be hard to believe because so far, we just keep getting the same old crap. But it is happening. I just hope it's sooner, rather than later. =)

Unfortunately not all of us have our friends in the same general area, nor do we have a nearby place to find them. So those of us stuck in the boondocks would really like for these suits to suck it up and take a risk.

/le sigh

I miss gathering for a good living-room PnP game.

Lookee what I made!

I view tradeskills as content. Making exploding chicken robots or assembling my own set of armor is a hobby. It's fun for me, the player. I am willing to spend my character's money for the entertainment value provided by a pursuing a tradeskill. If I'm really lucky, I'll break even.

Talking about Talking

I agree with the notion that it doesn't have to be Shakespeare, but at least put in an effort…I doubt seriously that "Yo man, sup?" would be used in this era should it ever have existed.

I'm certain the goblins would disagree with you.

This does bring up the concept of being lost in the non-translation, which I first became aware of through an essay by Asimov. Language, aside from its literal meaning, has connotations that can be very important. By failing to shift things into a cultural context that is relevant to the intended audience, meaning can be lost. (The particular examples in the essay are the biblical stories of the Good Samaritan and the story of Ruth, which, to properly understand, require knowing which ethnic group in the story was a disliked minority; hence, a modern American audience would get the intent of the story better if the characters were made into inner-city African-Americans rather than left as inscrutable Samaritans or such.)

Getting to my actual point, to people who spoke in what we consider stilted and archaic language, their language was neither stilted nor archaic. It was perfectly natural. For us to attempt to speak in that manner preserves the form at the cost of the function. Since we are not, in fact, talking in Azerothian Common or Orcish, I favor using natural language to preserve the in-character perception of our own speech. It's like watching a movie set in France yet spoken in English because it's meant for an English-speaking audience. Why do the characters usually have French accents? To the characters themselves, their speech shouldn't sound foreign. By making it sound foreign to us, the audience, you're coloring our perceptions incorrectly.

This can be used to advantage in character. When playing my troll, I try to keep to the pseudo-Jamaican inflection and inaccurate grammar they've displayed in canon materials. Yet, if I ever talk in Trollish to another troll, I speak quite eloquently. To my character, Orcish is a foreign language she hasn't quite mastered, yet she's perfectly fluent in her native tongue, and I can represent this by playing with the form of my language, even though it's still actually English in both cases.

((OOC))I agree with your statements here. Extreme example: I read, write and speak Old and Middle English well enough to get by. Would many people understand if I used it in game? If they could, would it make RP more useful? no, 'cause I'd type it too slowly.

At the same time. "Hey, 'sup dood" does not get me into the role I'm playing. "How are you, Lady Eown, or Sergeant Eown", does.

I'd suggest using natural, modern language, but not taking that to mean the same style you'd use on MSN IM.

There is another level that seems to be missing, however.

You ask: "Why do the characters usually have French accents?"

This is because they are speaking in a different language. However, to the French, we would have an accent in American, British, German, or whatever point of origin. Yes, even to a Frenchman, hearing someone who speaks with a French accent will still sound like someone speaking with a French accent. It won't sound "normal", because English is not their first language.

I understand the direction you are going. If a Troll speaks Troll to a Troll, it should sound normal. I agree completely, and have a story written from the perspective of a troll in EQ that illustrates your point quite well. When he speaks to other trolls, he is very well spoken. But when he tries to speak in common (not his first language), the accent and broken speech is very noticable. But here's the kicker - it is also noticable to other trolls. They can tell it's a troll speaking common as well as a human can tell it's a troll speaking common.

Simply because you have an accent does not make it 'go away' just because you talk to people that share your accent's traits. I (player of Harvey) am from the southern United States. I am familiar with accents, and can even tell to some degree the differences between regional dialects. For example, I can generally tell a central Appalachian's (eastern TN, western NC) speech pattern from that of someone in Mississippi, or Georgia. I'm by no means an expert, but hailing from Tennessee, I can still notice some speech patterns in my own speech and those of people I grew up with.

So you put me beside someone from New York, or California, or Minnesota, and you're likely to notice obvious speech patterns. But those patterns don't go away simply because I go back to Tennessee. And that's mostly my point.

I might still say, "Ain't this just a purty day?" (I probably wouldn't but... using an example here, hehe) I'm still going to say it in that way, no matter who I am speaking to. I don't suddenly say "My this is just a beautiful day" simply because I'm talking to other Tennesseans.

The same holds true cross-lingual. Unless I learn fluent French, I will come across with a faulty form of French. It will remain accented, no matter if it's a Frenchman that is listening or not.

The only time that is not true is when a person learns a language to a degree that their speech is no longer accented. This is quite possible, but it is generally not commonplace.

I had a boss from England. She spoke with an obvious English accent. There were even some rather funny times when her time in the south had worn off, and she would come out with an "ain't" or a "y'all", though it was even accented. But she often remarked that when she returned home to England, her family would comment that she now had an "American" accent. In some ways, she was stuck with two accents, just depending on where she spoke.

Oops, this was long. Sorry about that, dear little gnome.

I don't know if I got my point across. But I do agree with you in terms of "normal language" coming into play when a race speaks to another of their race in their language. But there are many more variables involved that I do feel justify the addition of racial attributes and accents. You just have to remember what your fluency is in the language you are attempting to use for communication.

Harvey said, "This is because they are speaking in a different language."

My point is that they're not, due to an in-/out-of-character dichotomy. The characters within their world would be speaking in French. In the movie, they are speaking in English because it's made for an English-speaking audience. However, they speak English as a foreigner would, when to the characters in question, they should be speaking like a fellow person from the same region.

I see your point in that regard, and I agree. Generally, if a troll were to speak to a troll, you would think they would generally speak their native tongue (at least in private).

The problem with games is they just haven't quite gotten it right. I dogged the language system in EverQuest, but I think WoW has taken a step backwards. I will give them credit for their translation program, in that if it's not simply gibberish but a standard language that you can "learn". But that's the only good thing they did.

The notion of "common" is where I came from in terms of my example. It is a single language that everyone generally speaks, no matter what their native language. In that regard, their accent is retained - so if two trolls, a few orcs a tauren and an undead are having a conversation around a table, they would likely all speak orcish (I think that's what Blizzard decides is the Horde-side Common). Each would have it's distinct accent, assuming not everyone was magically a fluent speaker. Even the troll speaking to a troll would likely keep it in orcish, for the sake of not being rude. And that was where I was trying to pull the examples of accents being retained, even when speaking to people of your own race.

I look forward to a good game coming out that does languages right. I really dislike what Blizzard did, even moreso than EQ's half-ass approach. At least you learned languages there. =(

A Consonant Problem

No respect for the intricacies of Elven vowel usage.

Respect? You want respect for what you do with vowels? You elves are out of control, gliding your diphthongs in public. At least you restrain yourselves from glottal stops…