John Smedley is Playing With Me

and then, one day later

Something like 2000 years ago, I taught college classes. After a serious digression once, a student asked me a question like, “Is this going to be on the midterm?” and I replied, “Oh, yes, of course, probably 20 problems of it.” And then observed a horrified silence in the classroom. I quickly reversed myself. “No, no, just kidding.” They were not amused.

And this is how I came to formulate a principal that is, in fact, broadly applicable in life:

Students do not find jokes about tests funny.

And it’s slightly lesser-known corollary:

Elves, particularly those who are more than 3000 years old, do not find jokes about hair loss funny.

Satire is hard. And risky.

Via Psychochild, who speaks only for himself on permadeath, midterm exams and hair loss. (He isn’t losing hair, it’s simply migrating.) And Everquest Next.

Getting the Band Back Together

Somehow, a few summers ago, we all stopped playing Everquest 2.   I stopped logging in because when I did, no one else was logged in.  I moved on to other things.  I played EVE Online for a while.  I tried out DDO.   We had some fun with that, but one of the key members of our little band, Milia Flibertigibbet, didn’t care for it.  And these days, where Milia goes (or doesn’t) Jioja goes as well (or not).

Phritz and Lobi and Karaya and yours fabulously truly made a go of it for a while, but that kind of ran out of steam as well.  I think the changes to AC and attack rating were kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

However, Milia reported on Facebook having fun with Torchlight and suggested Diablo III or possibly Torchlight 2 (which was announced as having a multiplayer mode, even though Torchlight did not) as a game we could all get together with.

Torchlight II launched a few weeks back, and all of us jumped into it.  We’ve been having a great time with it, and it’s great to hear Milia’s voice on coms again, even if only on weekends (time zone differences are hard).  Karaya is doing crazy builds that kick complete ass (no one is surprised).  Phritz is building armies of undead that swarm our enemies, and at least get in their way, and look impressive.  I have a redheaded embermage named Toldain, (of course).  However, unlike Torchlight, there appears to be no Charm spell in the game, so that’s kind of sad.   Tolly is more along the lines of mad ranged dps and no hit points.   He also has a fluffy dog named Agnes, who throws a mean fireball.

So we had to figure out how to make internet shared instances.  At first we just made them and marked them “friends only” but that tag appears to be cosmetic.   Practically the first night we did it, someone none of us knew came into the instance, said hi, and wandered off to dungeon.  On subsequent nights, more obnoxious people came into the instance, so we started using a password.  Tagging a dungeon “friends only” appears to have no effect.  As opposed to searching for dungeons which are “friends only”, which makes it easy for us to find each other.

Soon it developed that Milia had several alts, which was expected, which were all named “Milia”, which was not.  And so the plot was hatched.  Phritz contacted us via side channels and fronted the idea that we would all level up toons named “Milia” and then all come into an instance with Milia, as a prank.   Of course, we loved the idea, and have been cooking it up for perhaps 3 weeks.

Our toons have been ready for maybe a week, and we’ve been waiting for the right opportunity – Milia is logged in and the rest of us available.  I’m sure that hurricane Sandy slowed us down, since it killed power at Karaya’s house for several days.   But this Sunday morning the stars aligned.

Karaya, Milia, and I were doing some stuff to gather the Power Source for Nantiya, if memory serves.  I joined them with Festus, my engineer.  I began to wonder if I should wake up Lobi and Phritz, but the change from Daylight Savings Time was against me.   When Lobi woke up of her own accord and wandered out to me, a quick negotiation revealed that she wasn’t quite willing to call Phritz and wake him up, neither was I.

So the dungeoning continued.  We completed the dungeon and were back at the Imperial Camp and afking and so on.  I sent a whisper to Nantiya that I was going to call Phritz, but I had no idea how we would work things.  Because, you see, it was Nantiya’s instance.

If you leave an instance of the game that you created, you may not re-enter it.  The game persists on behalf of other players that may be in it, but once they leave, it disappears.  But in order for Nantiya to log in as Milia, she would have to leave.   I called Phritz and told him, “we’re all online, I have no idea how we’re going to arrange this.”

Once we are all online, Lobi asks, “what’s the lowest level toon y’all have?”  There are replies of, “sixteen” and “twenty” and thereabouts.  For all of us, we’re speaking of our Milia.   So Lobi says she wants to play her low level toon, could we do that.  Sure, we say.  Lobi says, “Ok, I’ve started an instance, come join me.”

Phritz chirps up with, “Log on, Milia”.   Milia, after a moment, says, “Oh, you!” or something.  She is being teased about having many toons named Milia.

So we start logging in.   Milia says, on voice coms, “I see two Milias in game, does anyone else see two Milias?”   Since I’m looking at a list of four Milias currently in game, I say, “I don’t see two Milias”.

Soon we are all gathered around her in the Estherian Enclave and the game is up.  ”You’re all named Milia,” she says.  It is precious moment.

Three of us are outlanders.  My toon is a berserker.  Four of us, I think, have cats as pets.  This is because Milia’s cat is legendary for it’s desire to either disrupt Milia’s game, or play it with us of it’s own accord.  (Perhaps I should state that in the plural, since I’m pretty sure there’s been more than one cat climbing across her laptop’s keyboard as she stomps orc butt from the cozy confines of her bed.)
Our DPS is nothing short of amazing.  The game will scale the number of mobs you face for the number of characters nearby, but they do not stand up to us for any length of time.  In short order, we are ready for the boss.
This fight doesn’t go quite so well.  The Grand Regent has a ton of hit points, summons lots of friends and has a few hits that go right to the bone.  I died a few times before I remembered to run away periodically so that I can heal before diving back in.
Finally, The Grand Regent is vanquished (I will avoid gendered pronouns, it is a hideous thing from dimensions that know only insane gibberings.  I think gender is at best a meaningless concept to it.)  And we do the “run around and grab up all the loot and coin dance.”
And thus ended the saga of the Five Milias, which is sure to go down as only slightly less noteworthy than the Seven Samurai, the Forty-Seven Ronin, or the Twelve Angry Men.

Ancient Greek Punishment, The Game

The science blogger Jennifer Ouellette linked this on Google+ and I just had to share.

Pippin Barr, a lecturer and researcher at Center for Computer Game Research at IT University of Copenhagen in Denmark studying “video game values,” created this devious little game. Players take on the role of different characters from Greek myths (and, oddly, the non-mythological philosopher Zeno) and act out their punishments: Prometheus shakes off the vulture that tries to eat his liver; Tantalus reaches for fruit and water pulled just out of his reach; Sisyphus rolls a rock up a hill. It seems winning is dependent on your masochism — or your ability to write an auto-playing script.

However, I have read claims that an auto-play script doesn’t, in fact, help. Still, I’m getting really, really close on the Sisyphus level.

If that isn’t art, I’m not red headed…