Loot tables and questing


The concept of loot is essential in some genres but entirely superfluous if given more than a moment's thought.    Games like Diablo (and their ilk) use the idea of increasingly powerful loot as the main draw in the gameplay --  their carrot-on-a-stick motivator that tickles your psychological funny bone to compel you to keep playing.   Clicking on the next mob might yield you an upgrade that makes the mob after that one die even faster, which may yield an upgrade that...in perpetuity.    I cannot besmirch a game who utilizes loot in such a way, since it becomes the defining point of its mechanics.   Diablo, Torchlight, Too Human....all of these games ask you to concede the concept of loot as a component of the mechanics, not of the world-building or storytelling or even the role-playing aspect of the game.   

But there's no excuse for other games.    Earlier today I found myself deep inside a mine, searching for a boss (in an MMO that won't be named), and busy freeing slaves with the keys that dropped from mobs en route.    Then I ran out of bag space.    Then I noticed that I had in my inventory exactly 23 items of no value except as vendor trash.    I did what anyone would do at that point:  I destroyed the trash rather than leave the mine and spend time returning.  

Now that I'm suitably pissed about the time I spent managing my inventory, I began to notice some details; namely, the kind, value and usability of the loot I was picking up was not in any way shape or form influenced, justified or informed by the mobs I received them from.    What do I mean?    Here's what I picked up while killing deer in the area:

  1. Copper coins
  2. Fur scraps
  3. Meat scraps
  4. Broken hoofs
  5. Leather pants
  6. The Quest Item I Was Searching For
  7. Weapons

This makes no sense, and leaves me with more questions:

  1. Why is a deer carrying pants?
  2. Why am I picking up pants that a deer has on them (wouldn't they be covered in ticks, or deer shit)?
  3. If my goal is to get meat from the deer, and every deer is made of meat, why does 1 in 3 kills yield no deer meat?
  4. Why would I pick up broken hoofs to sell to a general goods vendor?
  5. What does a deer need with copper coins?

Beyond this, the concept of loot making contextual sense falls apart even more.   Looking at MMOs in particular: 

  • Bosses carry weapons and armor they themselves aren't using/wearing/capable of carrying.   
  • Bosses do not drop the weapons/armor they actually use in the fight.
  • If my job is to collect the heads of bandits, and every bandit has a head, why is there even a drop rate for bandit heads?

Other RPGs have their own issues with inventory management and loot systems, but developers should take note of how Mass Effect 2 worked.   But if you aren't going to go whole hog and abandon loot management, then please choose the right form of abstraction.

Here are some ideas:

  1. I have to suspend an incredible amount of disbelief that a deer is carrying pants, let alone a magical weapon.  It takes the same suspension, and far less aggravation, to accept that vendor trash is converted to gold when I pick it up automatically.  
  2. Don't do dumb things like have each member of a 5 man loot the head of the boss.    If multiple people must loot the same corpse, have us take fingers, and give one person a thumb so they feel special.
  3. My character is carry somewhere over 2000 pounds of loot with him, if everything had real weight.   He's also carrying the cubic volume of my garage in his backpack.   Please don't think that by adding an item limit it makes it more realistic, especially if you don't give me a full set of bags to carry it all in right from the get go.    Good examples:  LOTRO, Dragon Age.  Bad example:  WoW. 
  4. Trash mobs should not carry magical items that make your current loot look crappy.   Remember that cool sword you got from killing that boss who lived in that dungeon and was about to take over the world?   It sucks compared to what the bear had stuck in his fur in the intro zone of the next expansion.  

Bottom line, if your game is about loot, great.  If it's not, get rid of it, streamline it, or make better choices that don't annoy people.


Making me hate orphans

At some point last year, after I switched mains from a hunter to a pally, I decided that I was going to persue the "What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been", achievement.    With my previously stated problem with consistency in playtime, this seemed like the perfect aspiration for a casual player like me.   I could hop on every month or so, run a bunch of PvE-related quests and see things I never took the time to see before.   

Until this week, this is.     Children's Week has a reputation of containing one of the worst designed achievements in the entire game, "School of Hard Knocks".   In this, you need to complete four very specific tasks in a PvP Battleground with your Orphan out.   No biggie, except that it runs counter to the concept of a Battleground, because your focus shifts from "win as a team" to "do this thing I need to do".   There's also the problem of being successful when you aren't geared for PvP or when your faction routinely gets its ass handed to it.

My problem isn't that it's a difficult PvP achievement, it's that it's a difficult PvP achievement stuck in the middle of a solo-player's PvE goal.   With no option to brute force a solution, I might miss out on an entire year-long achievement because I had one week of real time to succeed in a playstyle I'm 1) not very good at 2) don't enjoy and 3) relies on the goodwill of 9 other people at a minimum.    It would be a better solution to set an attainable goal, such as "Gain 200 honor in each of these 6 battlegrounds with your orphan out."

This morning I was able to complete all of the tasks for the holiday except this one.   Five battlegrounds later and I didn't even come close to getting on of the four steps I need. If Children's Week comes and goes and I can't wrangle this one out, I'm likely to let my subscription lapse out of frustration.


Thoughts on WoW (Post Cataclysm)

These days I find myself playing more LOTRO than WoW, and although switching my primary MMO is something that happens to me on an regular basis, this time I feel things will be different.    The reason?  Cataclysm is a huge disappointment. 

For me. 

That qualifier is there for a reason, because I can clearly see the innumerable ways in which Cataclysm is an unmitigated success — financially, design-wise, artistically, story-wise, the list goes on.   But for me, Cataclysm probably represents the decline of my time in Azeroth, as there is nothing left for me to do.   This is incredibly alarming since I’m the epitome of the casual MMO player.   There are weeks that I get an hour or less of playtime, and there are weeks where I can get a 2 hour session in every 2-3 days.   With that in mind, I beat the game a couple months ago, having finished all the new questing areas and run into the new end-game brick wall.

Back in Wrath, there were eight new zones with ten new player levels to advance.   In addition, there was a new class one could play that, if it was your thing, you could use to tackle old content with new game mechanics, making them feel fresh, despite the fact that you’d most likely done them before.  With Cataclysm, the new zone count was cut by one-third and the level count was cut in half.   This meant hitting the end-game happens a lot faster for players like me, who want to savor the long, slow burn to the level cap.  

On the surface though there’s nothing wrong with this, per se.   The problem only rears its head when you look closer at the changes to the end-game in how dungeons operate and the commitment they require.    I mentioned above that my play sessions rarely exceed two hours in length, which was plenty of time to queue for a random in WotLK, run the 5 man, and sign off happy.   Back then I was DPS, and the time from logon to logoff was usually less than 60 minutes, including the queue time.   Nowadays that commitment is stretched to three hours for DPS at a minimum, something I cannot commit to.  

Which is why I switched mains.   Now I’m tanking with a Prot Pally and my queue is non-existent.    Problem is, I still can’t play WoW.    My first Cataclysm 5 man took 2 hours and 45 minutes to PUG.   My second took 3 hours and 15 minutes.   My first three heroics were failures, and each of those took over 3 hours to resolve.   The game has changed in ways that exclude players like me.    I never ran RAIDs because I couldn’t dedicate the time.    Now I can’t run 5 mans either, leaving me with a list of rep-grinds as my only recourse.   Since I’m not an altoholic, I’m not likely get a Worgen or Goblin past level 10, despite my love of old-world Azeroth. 

So now I play LOTRO almost exclusively.  WoW is still a better game, probably the best overall MMO on the market to this day, but it demands dedication I cannot give it anymore, although after the other four players have outgeared the heroics, I might try again.


Documenting my mania

Looks like I haven't posted anything since late October, but I've been busy.   Unfortunately not with games, though I have played a few in the intervening time.    When last I wrote, I was attempting to focus on games one-at-a-time until I could conquer my backlog.   That was the stupidest plan ever and it did not last long.    I was knee deep into Neverwinter Nights 2, and it was the only game I was going to play.   Then I died over and over again and I gave up.    Now I'm playing six games simultaneously and life is going great!      This doesn't include the two dozen iPhone and iPad games I regularly rotate through either.    My thoughts follow....

Dragon Age:  Origins

I started this game again, despite having lost my save on two other occasions.       I started a dwarf commoner, and I've tackled the Circle of Magi so far.   Once I got past the fact that it isn't WoW, I'm doing quite well, and I don't die very often.    I even convinced Morrigan to make out with me!   

World of Warcraft:  Cataclysm

Yes, I'm playing this too.   Got my main to 85, finished all the new zones except Deepholm, and promptly took a break.    Sorry, but I'm not able to set aside 2-3 hours just to run a daily heroic.    I'll wait until most people are overgeared and try again.

Dragon Age 2

The sharpest of you have probably noticed that I'm playing both at the same time.   Congrats!    Please don't ask my why I'm doing this, because I cannot answer it truthfully.

Assassin's Creed 2

Runs like a charm on my laptop, and I'm finally in Venice.    I pre-ordered Brotherhood so I could be even more behind on my gaming when it comes out.

Left 4 Dead

Awesome game.   Bought it for $2.50 on a Steam sale.   Never touched it until last week.    Fantastic. 


This is my main MMO, and it's gotten even better after F2P.   I rolled a Warden, which is an absolute crap-ton of fun to play.   Building gambits reminds me of one of my favorite JRPGs, Xenogears.   And it's very low bandwidth, which means it will run tethered to my iPhone over 3G without issue.


Why did I buy this game and start playing it too?  Because I'm stupid, that's why, and for some reason I can't stick to only 5 games at a time.

Thoughts on movies and children

The small handful of you who read the crap I put up here know that I have two children.   Mostly I talk about my son, but only because he's old enough to interact with in ways that are worth discussing.   While my daughter is just as cute, her interactions are still at the toddler level and although her mom and I are enthralled by what she does, it doesn't make for good writing except to other toddler-parents.   
But a 7 year old boy gives you lots to say on a site about video games.   
Like most seven year old boys, my son is a big Star Wars fan.  Unlike most seven year old boys, he has a father that is an even bigger fan, so we get to enjoy our fandom together.   We watch The Clone Wars together every Saturday morning (I DVR it on Fridays and make him wait), and we talk often of different aspects of the Lucas-universe.  So far this is good father/son nerd fodder, but as he gets older I find myself thinking about his tutelage in film.  This year we've started watching Sunday Night Football together, and it's really motivated me to expand what he's exposed to on TV.   Of course, things went horribly wrong when I tried to raise him right in video games, but film is different, right?  

So, my fellow Giant Bomb community members, both with and without children, let's talk a bit about what to show kids (and what not to).

The Setup

The rules are simple - no R rated films, and PG-13 movies must be heavily scrutinized.   No sex, no strong adult themes, and violence should be kept to a minimum -- especially gun violence.  Oh yeah, and here's the kicker:   I want to show him film series, so trilogies (or longer) only.   He's already seen TRON, and all the Pixar films, and Dark Crystal, and Labryinth, etc, etc.   My goal is to introduce him to cinematic institutions that have stood the test of time (or are likely to).

Indiana Jones

 My hero, and yours.

If there's anything I like more than Star Wars, it's probably Indiana Jones.   The first three films are a right of passage for boys and girls of a certain age, and my son already has some knowledge of the mythos because of Lego Indiana Jones and the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.   These days it seems as if boys aren't getting straight forward Adventure Stories anymore, and if you know the history of the creation of Indiana Jones, that was pretty much the exact problem Lucas and Spielberg where trying to resolve when they started the series.   There's fist fights, car chases, exciting (and real) stunts, exotic locations, SNAKES, paranormal mysticism and some well done gross-outs (melting faces, ripped out hearts, etc).  

Pros:  Boys need adventure and exploration, and nothing beats Indy in this regard.   There's little to no sex ("No time for love, Dr. Jones!"), and the good/bad paradigm is clear-cut and harmless at the same time.    It introduces him to the past, but it's still modern enough to be relevant.

Cons:  Melted faces, still-beating hearts...now that I think about it, I don't think there are any negatives for a 7 year old boy.   This stuff was made for kids, and the kid in all of us.

The Plan:  In release order, no Crystal Skull.  

Back to the Future

 I still remember when 1985 WAS the future.

Another seminal trilogy from bygone days, I just received the 25th Anniversary Blu Ray in the mail yesterday.   This classic adventure is a bit different from what he's used to, but I think there's enough slapstick and excitement to keep him interested.  At this point he has zero point of reference for the trilogy, so this would be going in blind.  Parts two and three might be more exciting for a young boy, but we'll see.  

Pros:  Young protagonist, harmless sexual tension, likable cast and the introduction of time travel and paradoxes. 

Cons:  The introduction of time travel and paradoxes.   Although I try to always give children the benefit of the doubt, at what age can they start to grasp the concept of time travel?   Not just "oh no, he went back to when there were dinosaurs!", but one where you can change the future and watch the effects ripple through time?   I could use some help from GB on this one.

The Plan:  Talk about time travel first, ask him when he would like to go back to if he had a DeLorean.   Throw a few hypotheticals his way (what if you could go back and change something you didn't like?) and give film number 1 a shot.   Try not to be disappointed if it doesn't' grab him.   After all, I was 9 when it was released and I saw it in the theater.

Lord of the Rings

 The other Walternate.   Yes, I made a Fringe reference.

The modern day trilogy to end all trilogies, LOTR is a spectacle like no other.   Although statistically likely to be surpassed in his mind by something else at some point in his life, it's the current top as far as I'm concerned.   Sex is non-existent,  violence is rampant (but not gratuitous) and the story is perfect for a young boy.   It has adventure, war, comedy, magic, monsters and Gandalf.  Did I mention it has Gandalf?  

Pros:  Likely to inspire an interest in the fantasy genre, much like it has for everyone else these past 50 years.   Infinitely re-watchable, almost 12 hours of content for the extended editions, highly likely to lead to expanded reading options.  Great opportunities for discussion of larger themes (corruption of Boromir being one of the first I could talk to him about).

Cons:  Very violent, though in an abstract way. 

The Plan:  Dive in.  Then plan on reading The Hobbit together next year to learn more about how things started and prepare him for a theatrical showing of that movie.

Pirates of the Caribbean

 My photoshop skills aren't good enough to remove Legolas from this image.

I might get crap for this, but the Pirates trilogy is fantastically good, even through the end.   Personally, I don't think it went wrong at any point, and I felt like the first movie was actually the weakest.  My son has a lot of exposure to this world, as Jack Sparrow is a pop culture icon, and we've been to Disneyland A LOT.  

Pros:  Pirates!   Swordfights, slapstick, and very likable characters.   

Cons:  No real moral to the story, and maybe even an anti-moral (likable thieves and all).   Undead might be a bit off-putting for a child, and Davy Jones is pretty creepy.  

The Plan:  Do I need a plan for this?   I think 7 is a great age for this kind of film, and it's mostly sexless.    The classic/romantic portrayal of young love is a great ideal for kids to start with before they become heartbroken, jaded teenagers.

What not to show him

  • Firefly/Serenity - Too adult for a child to watch by far.   This would be something saved for mid-late teen years.
  • Harry Potter - he will have to read the books first.   I will not waiver on this. 
  • Chronicles of Narnia - see above.    I will not waiver on this.
  • Star Trek - I've thought about this, but I'm not sure it's something I'll sit with him and try to expose him to.   One day he will probably just stop playing and watch it with me when I happen to put it on.
  • Jurassic Park - there are three, but I don't consider it a trilogy.  He'll see part one when he's 10 or 11.
  • Matrix/Terminator/Alien/Die Hard/Man With No Name/Lethal Weapon - too young for this by far
  • X-Men/Spider-man/Superman - to be honest, I'm not sure why I don't care to make a deal of exposing him to these, anyone think I should elevate these?

What am I missing?

You tell me GB people, am I missing a major trilogy that's on par with what I've listed here?   Can you guys think of anything else that I should be thinking of with the films I have listed?  

Putting my dog down...

For my sad story of putting my 14 year old dog to sleep, see here.
I planned on it, but I didn't do it.   I spend the entire day psyching myself up to going home, changing into some jeans and making the 5 mile drive to the vet to put my dog to sleep.  I planned on taking care of it right when I got home, so that when I made it back the kids would still be awake and I could be distracted enough to let things go for a couple of hours.  My wife called on the way home and convinced me to hold off a couple more days.  
This will be the first pet our 7 year old will have lost, and although we knew we would have to put the dog down really soon, we haven't done enough to prepare him for losing "his" dog.    When I was a child my mom would put the pets to sleep when I was at school, and I would come home to find them missing and hear the bad news before I had a chance to say goodbye.   My wife's parents did the same to her and her siblings, and after we talked last night we decided to be different kids of parents than our own.   We would give him a couple of days to say goodbye.  
So last night I sat down my son and let him know that it was time to start saying goodbye.   He started crying before I even finished explaining why it was time.    Watching my son work through the stages of grief right before my eyes wasn't easy.   He denied that we had to, he tried to bargain how we could get around it, and in the end he ran to his room to give the dog a big hug. 
When he came back to the living room a few minutes later we talked about the plan.   We would give her a bath, make her smell nice and clean, feed her table scraps the next couple of days and make sure we gave her lots of attention and told her that she's a good dog.   I let him know that we've taken care of her her whole life, and she needs us to do this one last thing -- make sure she's not in pain, not suffering, and still has dignity.    Laying in her own filth is no way to live, and her old bones shouldn't be left outside this winter.    He started crying again, but he agreed with me, and he said he didn't want her to hurt anymore.   I let him know that she's beating both of us to Heaven, and she'll be waiting for us to join her one day when we're old.   Until then, God will take care of her and she'll have plenty of room to run around.  She'll be happy again, wagging her tail more than she has for the last few months.
In the end I think he understood, and he when he went to bed a few minutes later I watched him tuck the dog into her bed and tell her she's a good dog, and that he loves her very much.   We'll probably take her in on Thursday, but until then she'll be treated like a princess.


I don't know why I'm writing this here

But I needed someplace to put this, and I figured here was as good a place as any.  Tonight I'm going to take my dog, 14 years old, to the vet to be put down.  She was the first dog I ever had as an adult, and she's been with me for 12 of her 14 years.  
I guess that's not entirely true.   She was really my ex-wife's dog -- she got her from my Uncle when we were dating in college -- but when we divorced she left the dog with me, claiming that she was getting a roommate who was allergic to dogs.  Since then I've held a small grudge against this miniature dachshund, who has been blind since 2 years old and who underwent back surgery when she was three to avoid paralysis.   
She smells bad, and hates baths, and she barks a lot because she never could tell where she was most of the time, but I never stopped loving this dog, and I felt bad that she didn't get as much attention these last few years as she used to.   Still, I fed her good food and took her for walks every so often, and she had a nice yard to run in and sun herself in.   
But she's been having accidents in the house, and try as I can, I don't have the heart to make her an outdoor dog.   It's too cold here during the winter, and too hot in the summer.  This morning my wife (I since remarried) found the dog laying on a pillow in our son's room.  She had peed and not bothered to even get up.  She's lost her dignity and doesn't seem happy as a dog anymore.  
I'm 34 years old, married with two kids and a mortgage.  I have a Master's degree and am for all intents and purposes all grown up.   But right now the door to my office is locked, the sign outside says I'm on a conference call, but I'm actually trying really hard to not let people hear me crying.  
I don't know if I can ever own a dog again.   This is too hard.
The vet asked me if I want to be in the room with her tonight when they put her down.  I started crying when she asked me because I knew I couldn't say yes.   I watched my grandmother die in a hospital while I was holding her hand, but when she went I was telling her it would be ok, and she let me know it was ok by squeezing my hand back.  I don't know if I have the strength tonight, so I'm going to kiss her goodbye and get back into my car and cry some more.  


I always win fights...with a 7 year old

I am raising a Star Wars fan, and I believe it is my sacred duty to do so in the correct fashion, with proper reverence for the Force and respect for the greatest of all Jedi -- Obi Wan Kenobi.   It is statements like that that get me into trouble in my house, as I was very clearly challenged when I made my assertion that Obi Wan was the greatest Jedi of all time, regardless of how you measured it.   Though this seven-year-old ball of argument put forth his own position, I bested him with my own argument, which laid out thus. 

 A badass like no other


As a padawan...

Remember this ugly guy?

One of the first Sith in somewhere around 1000 years to emerge and challenge the Jedi directly, Darth Maul was supposed to be badass himself.   He had a dual sided lightsaber.  He had horns on his head, and he pretty soundly defeated a Jedi Master in 1 on 1 combat, stabbing him cleanly through the mid-section.  Training for years in the art of Sith magic and an unparalleled master of lightsaber combat, he establishes himself as the first major baddie in the G Level (George) Canon of the Star Wars Universe.  
His style is not only flamboyant but functional, and in their first meeting on Tatooine he clearly dominates the venerable Jedi Master, forcing him to flee lest he perish.  Later, Darth Maul makes good on the promise in Theed, where he makes short work of Qui-Gon.  
But Obi Wan cuts him in half without even breaking a sweat.     Remember that?   Two halves of a former Sith Lord tumbling down a shaft...that was a bright spot in an otherwise dull movie.  

Then came the Clone Wars

The whole time there's this really weird focus on Anakin Skywalker, who is supposed to be this big deal.    See him over there?  He's not that tough.
But the real action is happening elsewhere...and you can see it on Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars micro series.   This is where another (and more powerful) Jedi assassin is introduced, the cyborg Grievous (later known as General Grievous).   He's shown below, in all his 4 armed glory.  

In his first introduction, Grievous is terrorizing six (6!) Jedi simultaneously, including two Jedi Masters and he is clearly dominating the battle.   He does this after he has beaten a 7th Jedi (a Master, as well), and the only reason he does not kill them all is a dumb plot device.   
In the second set he kills at least 4 more Jedi and defeats Jedi Shaak Ti, who is revered as a great warrior herself.  I'm no expert, but I give him credit for well over one dozen clean Jedi kills.  
Obi Wan kills him, too. 
 Are you starting to get the picture?

That damn little kid

See that cute little blonde kid on the right hand column?   Evidently he's a big deal, something to do with being created by the Force or something.   Legend has it he was the most powerful Jedi ever.   But not when Obi Wan has something to say about it.   When he's done with this little Anakin kid, this is what he looks like:

Now I know what some people will say, that Vader only grew in power later, but that's just not true.   He peaked on Mustafar, and we know this because Saga Edition rules reduce force power for every cybernetic limb a character has.   Considering Vader is now "more machine than man", his use of the Force has been reduced by 50%.  

After Episode 3

Did you know that Obi Wan continued to kick ass after he went into hiding?   Yep.   While on Tatooine, Obi Wan meets and handily defeats Asharad Hett.   Who's that?   Well, he's a Jedi who survived Order 66, who one time captured Aurra Sing,
 Beat'd, and he takes off an arm

Sorry, needed to hide that in case you ever want to read the Legacy comic series.   
Obi Want cuts off his arm, rips off his mask, and exiles him like a whimpering little child.  And in that time, his beard became even more awesome.

His death

You see what I did there?  Obi Wan doesn't even DIE.  He just becomes one with the Force, meaning he was never beaten in combat.  Ever.  Only Yoda can lay claim to this (maybe Luke, but who the hell knows?)
And that is why, my seven year old whom I love so much, you are WRONG. 


Plus, that Obi Wan right there can sing.  Seriously, watch Moulin Rouge when you get old enough for your mother to let you watch it.   The old Obi Wan?  I saw him blow up a bridge on some river names Kwai while whistling a tune an din the face of the entire Japanese Army.   That's why he is the greatest.
Top that.

How do you get Carnegie Hall?

Practice!   And how do you get better at writing blogs that are cohesively constructed, interesting to read and contain useful, helpful, or mildly entertaining information, thoughts or witticisms?  Practice.
Of course if I'm writing a blog on website about video games, I should probably be playing a video game or two to comment on.   Unfortunately, those things take time.   One thing I do not have a lot of right now.   I've been trying to balance time in Half-Life 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, World of Warcraft and Minecraft at the same time -- this doesn't actually seem possible, but I have not yet stopped trying.    My current lack of Internet access is the number one thing holding me back, as I can't play either WoW or HL2 without it, and those are the two I want to play most right now.   This leaves me with little alternative but to bleg on the few things that are on my mind right now.


Absolutely one of my favorite things in this world,  beer is a testament to man's ingenuity and tireless effort in pursuit of worldly happiness.   This weekend will mark my first foray into an entirely different level of beer-related love;  I am going to start home brewing.   As my preferred poison is a nice, cloudy hefeweizen, I have amassed the necessary equipment and have ordered a hefeweizen kit, granting me everything I need to brew 5 full gallons of this Nectar of the Gods.   I won't be going it alone though, as I will be joined by my brother-in-law, who has been home brewing for about three years now.    When it's all said and done in about 6 weeks, I will likely drink myself into a stupor. 


News flash:  this economy sucks.   I've been doing my part to sock away money for retirement at my normal pace throughout this recession, choosing to keep up the habit so I can live within my means.  This means a double digit percentage of my salary is diverted into a 401k.   Six years ago I had a small nest egg set aside in various 401Ks from three different employers.    After checking again this morning, I have made tens of thousands of dollars in additional contributions these past few years, and I now have...a slightly smaller nest egg than I did a few years ago.  
As a professionally training economist, this is bullshit.

Patch 4.01

Seriously Blizzard?   I need to completely relearn all of my classes (all two of them?!) now that all the mechanics have changed?   Ugh.   I have to say though, I'm glad that WoW still feels fresh for casual players like me.  There's something new to learn at every turn.  I am supposed to join my first ICC raid ever this weekend, and I have no clue how to play my class or any time to learn it in 3 days.   Knowing some of the people in my guild, it's entirely possible I will still out-dps all but one other player.

Old Content

Not necessarily old games, but old stuff I've written.   Way back when (say, 2002ish) I wrote for a small website under an alter ego.   They have long since gone the way of the dodo, but I've been thinking about transferring my reviews and content to GB.   Since most of my writing was about video games and alcohol, I think this might be the best place. 
And that's what's on my mind right now.  
That, and hamburgers.

Still not making headway

For some reason I've been pulled into Half-Life 2, solely for the purpose of completing Steam Achievements, and I've not touched my current "it" game, NWN2.  
Oh yeah, and Minecraft.  I'll have to do something about all of this.

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