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I thought I’d check out the Darkmoon Faire this month. After all, the portal for it was in my home town of Goldshire. I still have no idea no idea how to use the game interface most of the time, so after realizing a right click on the portal would get me there, I took a stroll through the Faire. I found the experience to be a mixed bag for me. (The exit portals are at the end of the pier; one for Alliance, one for Horde.)

If you’ve never been to the faire before, it consists of games to play, different things to eat or drink, some different pets and items you can purchase.  The better items have to be purchased with tickets, tickets that you win when you complete quests within (and sometimes outside of) the faire.  Most of the games (quests) can be played daily.

One of the down sides of not having gone to the fair before is how it works. Being unfamiliar with RPG games, I didn’t realize once I bought my sack of tokens I needed to right click on them until the coins landed in a box in my inventory bag.  I stood at the Whack A Gnoll game for a long time.  The lady kept throwing me out because I hadn’t taken the coins out of my bag (even though I clicked the “I’m Ready” button).  Clearly she knew they were in there.

Some of the games require you to click on the bullet, then the target before you shoot, some require you click on the target first and then click the bullet (Tonk).  You just have to figure out which game works which way. When you meet the requirements for the game (quest), the time will continue to run out at which point you can go back to the person who let you in and collect your ticket prize.  I found the Tonk game to be the easiest to play.

One of the problems I had with some of the games, such as the shooting gallery, was the buffer between the game and my computer was way off.  The guns always went off way after I clicked for the target and the target light had moved.  I noticed other people were hitting the target frequently.  I can only surmise that I just don’t understand how to use the game interface correctly (more aiming involved than just clicking the cursor where you want the bullet to go).

There were other equally frustrating buffer problems.  For example, you can get blown out of a cannon and hope to hit a target in the ocean, but the movement commands didn’t seem to start working on my computer until I was right on top of the target and by then my over compensation had already lodged itself in the buffer.  The swim back was obnoxious.  For some reason my avatar wouldn’t swim straight and moved VERY slowly.  Once you got back to the shore, you had to ride all the way back to the cannon.  The Human Cannonball quest won’t disappear from your list unless you abandon it or finish it.  I decided to abandon it as it seemed a rather unproductive use of my time.

The other problem I had with the faire were the unmarked places.  Most people who have played WoW for a while probably know what a PvP (Player vs Player) arena looks like.  I had no idea.  When I went up to investigate, I found myself in the ring wishing I hadn’t been so curious.  If you get TOO close and hit the wrong button, it throws you right in.  I don’t PvP specifically because anyone else in the game who’s been playing a while most likely has the BEST equipment.  I don’t know what the restrictions are for levels either, all I know is some really big dude popped into the ring and cut me down with one slash.

The only good thing I got out of the faire was a storage box with more storage space than the bags I currently buy to hold my things.  It only cost one ticket. The rest of the faire was pretty annoying, especially the girl next to the “Test Your Strength” machine.  To complete that quest you had to go kill 250 NPCs (ones your own size). I did it in one day, but I have no idea if that’s normal.  I received 10 free tickets for it.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything I wanted to use my 10 tickets with.  Whether my achievements roll into next month’s faire, I do not know. What I do know is there is an awesome staff I could use at the faire grounds, but it costs 160 tickets – far exceeding the 11 tickets I managed to come up with this week.

On Sunday WoW did an update to their software around 1:00PM. Nothing worked right the rest of the day.  There was constant lagging, and oh, did I mention hackers managed to get through the system while they were upgrading?  That’s right, if you look around YouTube, you’ll see the carnage. Blizzard had to shut down the servers until they could figure out how the German hackers got in and cut them off at the pass. Somehow, the hackers had created a level one character with the powers of a God – able to kill people with one slash of the sword.  There were a lot of dead players who weren’t looking for a battle.

Blizzard put their purchasable mounts on sale half price yesterday.  Instead of paying $25, they were $12.50.  I was getting tired of using the gryphons, so I thought if I bought this mount (Winged Guardian) it would solve my problems, after all it said you could use it at level 20.  I went into the game, received it into my in-game mailbox, right-clicked on it to get it into my mount area and hopped on.  I couldn’t get the darn thing to fly!  Apparently, if you buy a mount you only get to use the running part of it until you are level 60 (I believe) and can learn how to fly.  Disappointing to say the least, but it was a lesson learned.  For now I’ll keep using my horse for transportation because it makes me feel happy.

I finally leveled up to 35 so I could wear my pirate hat.  When I put it on, my hair style suddenly changed. Not sure why.  I also noticed when I just went in the game to get a print screen of my new equipment (new hat, staff, belt, gloves and boots that look more like toe-less socks), it said they were planning on doing more upgrades at 1:00PM (ET) today.  I just hope it doesn’t turn into the horrible mess it did last time.

Dreamkeeper
At the end of day three I wound up with the best present ever!  I was finally a high enough level to buy a horse.  I chose a pinto pony for my mount as the palomino horse was covered in some goofy-looking armor.  I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not have to run everywhere.  What is even odder is the sense memory that comes flying back as I ride my horse in the game.

When I was in my 20s, I owned a horse.  I loved it dearly as it was the best horse ever.  Of course, this didn’t mean that he was a pedigree horse or held any championship records.  It just means we had this incredible bond.

“Red” was a rescue horse – not that I rescued, but the lady who leased and later sold him to me rescued.  He was a quarter horse mutt, a bit high for my height challenged 5′ 4″ body at somewhere a little over 16 hands.  The abuse he suffered before being rescued made him a bit spooky, but having worked at Camp Furman for a time in my youth (as well as years of summer horse camp there), I was OK with it.

When I needed him, he was solid as a rock. On one trail ride I had to walk him along a very small strip of land next to a very deep ditch in the woods where construction for a gas line was taking place (by ditch I mean a good 20-30 feet down).  Everyone else had dismounted, but getting back up on Red in the middle of the woods would have been problematic for me at the time.  He was a perfect gentleman until after he passed the ditch, at which point he spooked just a little to show me he could.  I think he was just messing with me.  Having “Dreamkeeper” (my WoW mount) in the game brings back all the good memories of my sweet Red horse.

Great memories aren’t the only positive thing about playing WoW (World of Warcraft).  It reminded me how good it felt to be able to work hard at something and achieve results.  I contracted CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) after an operation in 1995.  I’ve been on disability since 1996.  There have been periods of my life that were better than others since then, but I remember how physically disabling CFS was when it first manifested.  I played MUD at the time to keep my brain sharp as one of the bad things about the onset of CFS is feeling like you don’t have enough energy to move.  If you don’t exercise your mind when bad CFS episodes come on, you wind up asleep in bed all day.  Playing CircleMUD (this was back before graphics had evolved to what they are now) was a welcome relief from all the things I “couldn’t” do.

I am now a level 22 priest.  When I hit level 20, I went looking EVERYWHERE to buy a horse.  Apparently, while there are many stables in the game, there is only ONE place you can buy a horse these days (and I did it so fast, I didn’t remember the name of the city).  Unfortunately, I had to get help from someone by asking where to buy a mount through the general channel.  I found someone who was nice enough to give me a ride to the one stable I could purchase a horse at and they stayed with me until I was able to actually to get my character on top of it.

I purchased my bridle, did several things I’ll never remember (move horse from bag by clicking right mouse button, move into mount screen, etc., etc.), clicked the “Mount” button at the bottom of the horse screen and I was off! While trying to figure all this out, my new friend gave me a tip about putting an action bar off to the right side of my screen (BEST tip yet!!!).  I moved the horse into that screen and now whenever I want to mount or unmount, I just click the horse icon to the right. 🙂

I know it sounds strange, but while I’m riding Dreamkeeper the graphics in the game are good enough for me to relive what it was like cantering across a field on my Red horse.  It was the best feeling in the world!

The other advantage to the help I was given was joining a guild.  Yes, I finally found a guild situation that felt right.  The person who helped me was really nice and I liked that the guild had a positive name.  I don’t know much about guilds or how to use them, but there were some really cool advantages to being in one from the looks of the guild menu, so I’m very happy.  I’m too little to be of much help to them yet, but I hope it will help me get better gear when I start getting big enough to really take advantage of my armor in the upper levels – I’ll have people to help me fight the NPCs for it.

I also came upon my first quest that was too much for me to handle.  It had to do with prisoners, a character who assists me and really burly people (who I haven’t figured out how to not get killed from), so I decided to work on some quests from someplace else and go back to that area when I’m bigger.

I also bought some better equipment to wear through the auction house (priests can only wear cloth items).  The funny part about it is I have pantyline buldge now.  LOL!  You think I’m kidding? Take a gander.  For a moment it looked like there was some type of chastity belt underneath, but now it just looks like bikini underwear.

On my second day in the game, I was taken via quest into Stormwind where the Trade District is.  I was so lost it wasn’t funny.  I finally did what I used to do in CircleMUD – I drew my own map for the area to make up for my inability to remember anything consistently. Now I can find where all the shops are and if I get lost, I know how to get back to a less remote place in the city.  It’s not a complete or well-drawn map, just one that helps me get around.

I’m really starting to enjoy my gaming experience.  I was surprised how relaxing being in this RPG game is.  It also brings back some pretty fond memories I have of playing CircleMUD, not only with my son but other friends I made while playing.  They are friends I left behind long ago as my life changed, but they will always be wonderful memories.  It will be interesting to see if I make friends as easily as I did back then after I’ve been playing WoW a while.  I don’t expect to interact with other players much until I’m up there in levels and can be of use to others in the game, but that’s OK as it reflects my real life.  That’s the best part of gaming.  Even when you’re sick, you can still be productive.

A long time ago in a lifetime far, far away . . . yeah, I know. It’s cheesy George Lucas, but that’s where I am today. When my son was nine years old, he introduced me to a text game on our local BBS (Bulletin Board System for those of you who weren’t even a sparkle in your father’s eye at the time). The only people using the internet back then were college students and government workers and the recreation on the server was MUD (Multi-User Dungeon for those not of the geek persuasion). It came in lots of different shapes, sizes and types.

The best thing about MUDs were they were easy to program and easy to make new worlds for. After all, the only requirements were imagination and being able to type. If you had any intelligence at all, you could tell how each of the world, item, MOB, etc. files were coded – it was all ASCII text.

In this time before the internet, you called up your local BBS for social recreation when it was either too late to be out or you had kids in bed and work the next day. So it was my nine year old son who taught me how to play CircleMUD, mainly so I could be a Cleric and heal him as he tore up the towns.

Unlike my son, however, I stayed with the game for several years. I was a God in some versions, created new zones for others – there were always a large amount of different MUDs to choose from. As my health became more stable, however, I didn’t have as much time to devote to the game. About the same time my son started playing first person shooter Nintendo games and the rest is history; the internet we see today.

I never made the transition from text to graphic games. When my son started playing Golden Eye 007, just watching him made me nauseous. The screen went by so fast I couldn’t get my bearings and had to turn away. I decided I would simply be one of those people who couldn’t switch over to graphic games.

Later, when Facebook started putting graphic games online, I started playing Restaurant City – a likable little cooking game. At least until EA got it’s greedy hands on it. Soon after it was sold by Playfish, things went downhill and the game was removed by EA. Having noticed a trend in professional gaming companies to try and suck people dry until they no longer wanted to play their games, I swore off Facebook games.

Having been a Eureka fan for a while, I became a fan of Felicia Day when she started doing guest shots on the series. This led to the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube and many other pleasure entertainment pursuits. Her YouTube series The Guild was funny and while I could appreciate some of the jokes from being a MUD player, I still had no idea what World of Warcraft was like. With my health being in the state it’s in, I figured now would be the best time as any to learn. I finally had tech that would meet the minimum requirements to play the game and an operating system that didn’t make my life a living hell trying to connect to the server. (BTW, if anyone would like to buy me a nice, new gaming computer, please feel free to do so.)

I don’t actually personally know anyone who plays World of Warcraft. I’m 53 years old. Most of the people my age are playing with their grandchildren. Lucky for me, I didn’t give birth to my son straight out of high school, I waited until the ripe old age of 26. He graduated with his Engineering/Physics degree a couple years ago and just like I did he works 18 hours a day trying to make ends meet. He’s not much gaming help to me.

For those of you who don’t play WoW, the part that allows you to play with other people costs $15 per month on the Blizzard server. Since I have to budget my money wisely, I figured I should just jump right into the trial they offer (20 levels for free!) and see if it was a pursuit worth picking up.

Shavai - Human PriestI created my character, leveled it up to seven and upon realizing I wasn’t getting nauseous decided to take advantage of the $9.99 digital download they offer when you play the trial version. That’s pretty cheap for a video game considering I’d probably never look at the books that came with the software anyhow.

The thing I liked most about it was Blizzard keeps all your gaming information on their servers – what you’ve purchased, all your characters. If my tech decides to take a nose dive (and if you knew how old it was, you’d understand) all I have to do is download the program again on the replacement computer (or something like that – I’m sure a call to tech support will ensue).  BTW, you will wind up having to call Blizzard if you start with the trial so your character can be consolidated into the one digital purchase account.  My experience with their customer service was incredibly happy.  In my book, good customer service is usually the hallmark of a good product.

So I’m good for a month. While everyone else is playing the new add-on Mysts of Pandaria I’m running around some world that comes with the Battle Chest Starter Edition (Dalaran). The sad thing is if I decide to switch to the Mysts (which I’m sure will be offered to me at a discount at some point along with the other add-ons I don’t own), I have to start a new character. It doesn’t look that hard. I’ve only played a couple of hours and my priest is up to level 9 and that’s without knowing anything about the game other than point and kill all by myself. I just figured out how to reply to a message today. Grouping with someone is going to require reading the directions though. LOL!

Yes, there are a hundred other things I need to learn about World of Warcraft, but I’ve got plenty of time to learn them with my current physical challenges. The funniest thing I got stuck on yesterday was figuring out that once you get up to level three, you have to click on the name of the quest you are completing in order to get your goods. 🙂 That’s what happens when you first switch over from a text based game to a graphic game. You don’t know where the heck anything is or how to use it. I hope it doesn’t take forever to learn all the little things.

June 2017
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