Wow, what a lazy weekend I had. So lazy that I couldn't even bother to blog, despite the fact that I was basically home all day two days in a row. Sue me: I needed a break from thinking. New job that involves brain work + 70 miles of commuting every day = Jeff tired by Friday night. I think I did intend to blog, but every time I sat down at the PC, I somehow ended up playing WoW instead. Funny how that works.
I've said this already, but in Lich King, Blizzard has really outdone itself. The quest chains in Northrend (and for the Death Knights) are just outstanding--clever, engaging, funny, and in some places almost, if not revolutionary, then at least pointing the way towards what is likely to be at least part of the future of MMO gameplay. I'm talking specifically about the "phasing", which is the coolest thing I've seen in an MMO in a long time (other than Warhammer's public group quests, which also rock.) "Phasing," in WoW, means that the public zone you are in dynamically changes for you as you complete quests. In a way, this is somewhat of the holy grail that Chris Metzen was pining for years ago in an interview with me when WoW was still fairly early on. How do you make gamers really feel like they're having an impact on an MMO world? Rather than just being a guest at Disneyland, where nothing ever changes?
Phasing, it turns out, is an excellent answer to this question, and I'll be danged if I can even wrap my head around what exactly is happening. All I know is, you complete a quest, and the landscape around you, what NPCs are doing, whether a building is on fire or not, whatever, is now different for you than for players who have not yet completed that quest. You are not instanced. You are not on a separate server. You are still right there in the game with everyone, in that zone, but it now all looks different--and it is done without a load screen either. The fact that it is invisible this way is just astounding, and opens up worlds of possibilities now for storytelling in massive multiplayer games. This is just a first iteration of it. And what's funny is that Blizzard didn't even really tout this as a big deal for this expansion, nor has the gaming media really focused much attention on it. But I think it's going to go down as a landmark in MMO design and will influence games (and maybe not just MMOs) for years to come.
Jeez. There I go about WoW again. Sorry. I'm just fully addicted again and yes I know there are tons of other games to play, including some made by the company I work for, which you should all support, vigorously, with your cash! But back to WoW. I'm level 73 now and am having a blast with the new instances (put me in the camp that is happier that they are shorter and easier). And, personal query to fellow warlocks: I think I'm bailing on Destruction for now, but can't decide between Demonology and Affliction. I heart the Felguard, so I'm tempted to go that way, but conventional wisdom seems to have deemed Affliction the new cool spec. I dunno. Given I'm mostly a soloer, what should I do?
In other news, my back and leg are feeling a little better, thanks to my new regime of exercises, and my new consciousness about my posture and chair position. Thank you, physical therapist! And thank you blogger palz for all yer advice, too.
Finally, since I am no longer running, and have yet to pick an alternate form of good cardiovascular exercise (I'm still temporarily banned by my PT anyway), this means I need to watch what I eat a little better. Because I am sort of watching my formerly svelte figure (okay, so it hasn't been svelte for 30 years, whatever), getting a bit, oh, shall we say....rotund? No, we shant. That's too harsh. But yeah. One needs to watch it a bit. One does not want to be called Obesio McFattypants behind one's flabby back.
Which is why the EA Holiday party, this past Saturday night, was a bit of a disaster for me. I actually hadn't intended to go, at first. Not being much of a party guy, for one, but also cuz I actually had plans for a different party that I really did want to go to--but that one ended up getting canceled. So, the wife and I put on our fancy clothes (i.e. I ironed my Fallout t-shirt and wore the levis without the holes and spaghetti stains), and headed over to the swanktastic party in downtown San Francisco, which ended up being quite fun, for, ya know, an office Xmas party. One might be a little bothered by the fact that they had one of these given 1) the economy and 2) recent layoffs and game cancellations, but, hey, the people need their Xmas party too, even us Hebrew folk, and canceling altogether would probably be even more depressing. So they had one. And it was good and not overly obnoxiously extravagant the way they probably were back in The Salad Days. In any case, the point is that there was a LOT of food there, and most of it was not of the healthy variety. For example, there was this kinda stuff all over the place:
Looks great, doesn't it? THAT'S WHY I ATE TWO TONS OF IT. There were also heaping, gigantic spreads of sushi, pasta, pizza, burgers, paella, etc etc etc. And why have just one kind of french fries when you can have three?
The next day, Sunday, I sat down and watched five hours of documentaries on Africa. Now not only did I feel like a heaving, bloated oafsicle, but I felt guilty too.
YEAH SO THANKS A LOT FOR THE GREAT PARTY, EA.