WoW Addons

Nick and I started playing World of Warcraft again last month, after a little bit of peer pressure. 😛 Well, I was asked which addons I use, so here are some of the main ones:

  • Altoholic – Yeah, I’m an altoholic. I love learning all the different classes and specs. I have leveled every class, except for rogue and hunter, to level 80+. Because I play so many different characters, Altoholic is a godsend. It allows you to see the gear, talents, skills, inventories, achievements, etc. of all of your characters without having to annoy your friends by switching back and forth between them.
  • Auctioneer – One of WoW’s most popular addons, Auctioneer simplifies the auctioning experience.
  • Bagnon – I’m not sure I could play WoW anymore without this addon. 😛 It combines all of your bags into one large bag that is very customizable and searchable. It does the same with your personal bank and guild banks (although I typically disable the guild bank option).
  • Deadly Boss Mods – Another addon all WoW players should have. DBM is extremely helpful with boss fights in raids and dungeons by providing warnings and timers and such.
  • Dominos – While there are tons of other addons you can use to modify your action bars, I really like the simplicity of Dominos. With this addon, you can move and customize the padding, spacing, columns, scale, opacity, etc. of the 10 action bars.
  • HealBot – I doubt there is an effective healer out there who doesn’t use a healing addon. HealBot is the addon I use and it is probably the most popular. It gives you a grid of character bars that you can customize with your own savable skins. This lets you quickly switch between one skin for 5-man dungeons and another for raiding or PVPing or whatever. With HealBot, you assign spells and macros to different mouse and keyboard+mouse combinations, so that healing someone is as simple as pushing a button or two above that character’s bar. HealBot also does handy things like monitor aggro and buffs, so it’s useful for more than just healers.
  • NeedToKnow – Well, I haven’t actually used this addon yet; I only got it on Tuesday when I was re-downloading my addons for Patch 4.3. It is supposed to be a good replacement for DoTimer, an addon I used to use that is no longer being updated. DoTimer was super helpful for DoT-based classes (like Affliction warlocks), because it shows when the DoTs are going to expire on your targets. It looks like NeedToKnow has more features than DoTimer had, but I’ll have to spend some time customizing it to see what all it can do for me.
  • Postal – Helpful mailbox addon. It autocompletes names for your alts, friends, guildies, etc. and, most importantly, lets you open all of your mail with one click.
  • Recount – Another addon most WoW players have. Recount is a damage (and healing) meter.
  • TomTom – Navigation addon that lets you add and reset waypoints. It also has an optional arrow that will point you in the direction of your destination.

Skyrim: Faendal and Frost

Faendal

In my last Skyrim post, Faendal (my companion/follower) had unexpectedly disappeared. I searched high and low for him. I tried fast travelling to see if he would catch up to me. I went back to the last place I could remember being with him. Nothing. No sign of poor Faendal. In Skyrim, companions are immortal… unless you kill your companion (accidental or not) yourself. So, I sadly concluded that Faendal must have stepped in front of one of my firebolts without me noticing. He does that a lot. :-/ Thankfully, I still had an old save I was able to revert back to. I had to redo a bunch of things I lost from reverting, but at least I still had Faendal. 😛

Most people who play Skyrim prefer to have Lydia as their companion… probably because she’s the first companion most people get. Because I like fooling around and talking to the people of Skyrim, I got Faendal as a companion  before Lydia (Faendal was involved in a love triangle and felt indebted to me after I exposed the other guy as a scoundrel). One of the great things about Faendal is how helpful and cheerful he is. When you start a trade with Faendal (to give him better gear or have him carry things for you), he politely asks, “What do you want me to carry?” Ask to trade with Lydia, however, and she sighs, rolls her eyes, and grumbles, “I am sworn to carry your burdens…” Regardless, people love Lydia. Someone has even taken the time to drag Lydia’s corpse up to an open casket at the top of a mountain (not an easy task!) after she died.

Frost

I have another new friend in Skyrim – a horse I acquired in the southeastern parts of Skyrim. Like companions, horses don’t seem to be that helpful and just end up getting in the way… but one still grows fond of them. Horses can run faster than the player, but it’s not that much of a speed increase, especially because followers can’t join you in riding on the horse, so they quickly fall behind. Another issue is that horses apparently think they’re invulnerable. They have no problem running up to baddies (even dragons) and attempting to stomp them to death. Frost once went into the water, pulled out a fish, brought it onto the land, and stomped on it until it died. Thanks for protecting me from that fish, Frost. 😛

Lydia and Faendal in my house
Lydia and Faendal in my house
Riding Frost
Riding Frost

Skyrim: College of Winterhold

I started my day today by slaying two dragons. I also got into a fight with a giant and a mammoth (at the same time – not easy!!) and survived due to lots of kiting. 😛

I spent most of my time in Skyrim today doing a bunch of silliness and exploring, but I did make it to the College of Winterhold, where I impressed the mages with my arcane knowledge. 😉 At the end of the day, I upgraded my house and it looks much better now. I seem to have lost my faithful companion, Faendel, though. Not sure where he disappeared to and I’m hoping he’ll show up tomorrow.

Today in pictures:

Slain Dragon
I slayed two dragons this morning!
Skinny dippers
Found some people skinny dipping 😉
College of Winterhold
I made it to the College of Winterhold
Cave exploration
Exploring a cave with my buddy, Faendel
Night sky
Pretty night sky
Breezhome
My redecorated home
Oh, and I also had to switch strafing from buttons Q and E back to Skyrim’s default A and D. I found that I couldn’t loot books without remapping my keys (ick), so I gave up and went back to default. 😛

Also also, when I was fighting my first dragon today, I actually killed it twice. Skyrim crashed on me as I killed the dragon the first time, so I had to kill it again. 🙁 It’s the first (and only) time Skyrim has crashed on me, but it’s crashed a few times already for Nick.

Skyrim: Slain dragon and new home

I killed my first dragon and then found out I am a Dragonborn (which means I am super special and can use dragon shouts). 😮 Then, I squandered all of my gold on a house in Whiterun, leaving me with only 69 gold. My house is pretty shabby and sad, but I’ll be able to upgrade it once I have more gold.

Slain dragon
I slayed a dragon!
Breezehome
Breezehome, my first house

Well, I think that’s enough adventuring for today. I will travel to the College of Winterhold tomorrow to get some mage training and join the mage guild.

Skyrim: Fun with baskets

Yesterday, on 11/11/11, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released. Nick and I bought the PC version and he spent most of the day playing. I wasn’t feeling well, so I opted for cocooning myself in a blanket on the couch and reading The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. I’m feeling better today, though, so I adventured into the world of Skyrim. Inspired by the following video, one of the first things I was determined to do was put a basket on someone’s head.

Skyrim Basket
Success! I put a basket on someone's head. 🙂

My biggest complaint so far is (of course) that there isn’t a way to play multiplayer, even on LAN. My second biggest complaint is that there isn’t a way to run Skyrim well in windowed mode. Very annoying. Also, the left/right equipping thing is counter-intuitive. When you equip something in your left hand, you use your right mouse button (mouse button 2) to use it and you use your left mouse button (mouse button 1) to use something in your right hand. Thankfully, you can remap the keys. 😛 Unfortunately, the tooltips don’t always change when you remap keys. Silly Bethesda developers.

I haven’t played enough yet to really review the game yet, but it seems enjoyable so far. I’ve spent most of my time goofing off and chatting with the townsfolk… and getting used to the controls.

Now, back to the game! I must venture to the city of Whiterun!

Kingdom Rush

I really like strategy games like Age of Empires, Risk, and PixelJunk Monsters… so I got really excited when I heard about Kingdom Rush, a free online tower defense game.

Kingdom Rush

Kingdom Rush is very well done. The difficulty increases at a good rate and although some levels are pretty challenging, they’re not impossible to overcome. I also like the heroic and iron challenges for each level, which require players to rethink their strategies. The achievements are another smart way to keep the players having fun (it took me forever to figure out how I was supposed to make the sheep explode!). I really enjoyed playing Kingdom Rush, so why don’t you give it a try? Play Kingdom Rush! 🙂

Playstation & Identity Theft

PlaystationYesterday, Sony announced that the Playstation Network (PSN) had been compromised and users’ personal information was stolen. This information included name, address, email address, birth date, and login info for PSN. Sony also announced that purchase history and credit card information may have also been obtained.

Mistakes happen and, at least for me, it’s not a huge deal that PSN had a temporary security hole that let hackers get in. The hackers gained access to the information because Sony’s bug treated their Playstation consoles as if they were developer consoles.

What really upsets me is that credit card information is at risk. I can’t think of any reason why developers should have direct access to credit card numbers.

And this brings up another thing that scares me: I have no way of ensuring that when I enter sensitive data online, the company/individual on the other end is doing their job to ensure that the information remains secure.  I would hope that developers dealing with sensitive data are competent enough to know how to use encryption and the like (and for goodness’ sake, don’t store it as plain text), but that certainly isn’t always the case.

Last summer, I gave a persuasive speech in my speech class about identity theft. I talked about things like phishing, website spoofing, and downloadable malware. Since it relates to the topic, I figured I would include a few simple tricks from my speech for preventing identity theft:

1. Use strong, secure passwords.
Microsoft recommends using passwords that are at least 14 characters long. They should contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, and a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. And don’t use the same password for everything. Your email password, in particular, should be unique and your most secure password, because if anyone gets access to your email account, they can easily gain access to any of your other accounts.

WoW Authenticator2. Use an alternate verification source, when available.
World of Warcraft, for example, allows players to get an optional authenticator and have it tied to their accounts. With the push of a button, the authenticator generates a seemingly random six-digit number for the player, who then enters that number along with his or her password. The six-digit number is created based on the time and a special key tied to each individual authenticator, so that the number can be verified on the server end.

Side note: Yes, I talked about WoW in my speech. I even gave an entire informative speech about WoW. I got everyone’s attention when I started the speech with, “Some people say that I don’t exist… because I’m a girl and I play World of Warcraft.” 😛

3. Make sure you use anti-virus software.
And only one anti-virus software program, because having multiple anti-virus programs running at the same time just isn’t good or safe.

4. Verify URL’s before entering any personal data on a website.
Spoofed websites are designed to look like legitimate website and can easily trick people into entering their personal information on fraudulent websites. You should also avoid clicking links directly from email, because they can be disguised.
At the time of my speech, I had also just heard about a new scam called “tabnabbing.” The theory behind the scam is that people are learning to detect spoofed websites, so the webpage will initially look like any normal webpage. After the page detects a period of inactivity (probably due to switching to another tab in your browser), the page will transform itself into the look-a-like of another webpage, like the Gmail login page.

I would hope that most people already know about the things I talked about in my speech, but sometimes people surprise me.

From WoW to Rift

WoW - Eris and Lich King
Me and the Lich King (WoW)

After over 2.5 years of playing World of Warcraft, Nick and I finally called it quits in early February. In that time, I played all 10 classes (every class except for two (rogue and hunter) up to level 80+). We had fun questing, raiding, and PvPing together, with friends, and from people we met from all over the world… but eventually we grew a bit tired of it. And the task of leveling my eight level 80’s to level 85 with the new expansion, Cataclysm, was daunting… having to repeat the same quest chains over and over again did not sound fun. 🙁

We had (or, are having?) a heck of a time finding a good replacement, though. We played Little Big Planet 2 for a while. Then, we started playing old favorites like Age of Empires 2 (best game ever?), Warcraft 3, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Nick and me (Rift)

A month ago, we started playing Rift with some of our friends from work and personal life. It feels a lot like WoW. It has a couple of nice features, like rifts and invasions, that keep the game interesting. It also handles groups well. In Rift, you are able to easily join public groups and merge groups to form larger groups. This comes in handy, especially during a zone invasion, when everyone in the zone is working together to extinguish the rifts and invasions. When it’s over, hitting “unmerge groups” removes your original group from the larger group. Very cool. Nick and I are still learning a lot about Rift (so we haven’t made our minds up about it yet), but for now, it’s a fun outlet… even though there aren’t any gnomes. 🙁

We’re also looking forward to playing Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. 🙂

Eskimo Escapades I: The Land Bridge

As mentioned on the Projects page, Eskimo Escapades I: The Land Bridge (EE1) is a game I created in C#, using XNA and Torque X, for my Game Programming Class (Fall 2010). It was designed to be used with an Xbox 360 controller, but it also works with equivalent keyboard input. My professor is involved in researching a narrow land bridge that spanned across Lake Huron thousands of years ago and he wanted us to create a game based on the land bridge. EE1 is a classic-style, turn-based, role-playing game (RPG) in which the player controls a team of four young Eskimos (warrior, mage, hunter, and healer) to get them across the land bridge to Canada. As the player moves across the game map, he or she encounters three bosses along the way: The Angry Snowman, The Lonely Yeti, and Scott the Mountie. These encounters trigger battles with the bosses and the player must defeat each of the bosses (using the four characters’ unique abilities) in order to get to Canada.

I want to go a little more in depth about the game, with more screenshots and a more detailed description.

Continue reading Eskimo Escapades I: The Land Bridge