Weekly Roundup: ExcitedSoup Heads to BlizzCon 2014!

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Whether it was a gift or a curse last night to be suddenly struck with a minor case of manflu, while feeling terrible and sorry for myself it helped me stay awake until 3am for BlizzCon tickets to go on sale in the UK (damn time zones…)! The very first batch of tickets were gone within seconds, and I mean seconds: I was hastily refreshing the EventBrite page from about 02:55 just in case the tickets went out early, and sure enough they did. Although it was at 02:59 on my clock when the “N/A” button turned active, I tried to grab my ticket. I was put into the waiting room for about 30-40secs, before realising my fear when it sent me back to the BlizzCon booking page, notifying me that the tickets were now unavailable.

Within seconds, just as my PC’s clock turned 03:00, tickets were all booked up! Knowing that you had an 8min timeout period, I still clung onto hope that one of three things would happen:

  • People who were group-buying tickets for their friends ended up having their friends also get in, so canceled their order for tickets.
  • People who weren’t prepared but so hyped about trying to get tickets, ended up fumbling through the form and timing out after 8mins.
  • People were jerks who were just going to sit on the ticket page and let it time out, without any intention of actually buying tickets.

Fortunately enough, I stuck around constantly refreshing the page “just in case” – I’d have given up after about 20mins and just tried again on Saturday otherwise, but sure enough a few minutes later, the “Unavailable” tag turned live again and again as I tried to get my ticket. Then finally at about 03:15 I managed to grab my ticket! I think I actually squeaked, thanks to the cold (totally…!) and am now looking forward to this November, when I’ll be heading out to my first BlizzCon – heck, my first convention altogether! I’m so stoked, it’s now just to book flights and hotels, and to extend my holiday at work as I originally just had the two convention days for the virtual ticket, and hopefully I’ll get to meet some awesome people while I’m down there!

Apologies for the lack of roundup earlier in the week, so I’ll do a quick one at the end of this post. I have to admit not an awful lot has gone on in the past week – with extra time off work last week I ended up writing an extra blog article, and updated my side-panel so that my Hero Spotlights in Heroes would be much easier to access, as I imagine when more and more heroes become spotlighted, it might be a bit more difficult to scroll through if you wanted to find out about one of the earlier spotlights such as Kerrigan or Tyrael. The gravity on the home brew was finally stable, so we bottled that up and we should be enjoying around 40 pints of bitter in around a couple of weeks time! It’s certainly a cheaper way to enjoy beer, but we’ll have to see how it tastes first.

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Weekly Roundup: The Anonymity Clause

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These weeks fly by faster than I can even think about what I’ve been doing in the week itself, I swear. This week’s weekly roundup is going to be fairly short, even though there has been much to talk about in the Blizziverse, let alone what other games I’ve played or what achievements I picked up in Civ5 this week… I’m going to have to start playing rush games in order to churn out those achievements soon enough, instead of having my hang-up of wanting to play the game to the Information Era and making my victory there. On the plus side, I managed to get my first culture victory since I got the Brave New World expansion, simply by getting influential with a couple of civs, and completely destroying the rest. It’s a kind of a macabre version of tourism: “LOVE ME OR BE OBLITERATED!”

So, on topic with the title above, I got to dress up in the store’s mascot costume over the weekend, in an attempt to raise money for charity. While it was incredibly successful and raised a lot of money for charity, I once again observed some interesting things about different customers and passers-by.

Firstly, the most generous people seemed to be older people and parents with young children – the latter mainly because of parents teaching their children about charity, and the fact that the kids just wanted to dance with the big mascot. Despite that, I still waved and danced at people of all ages, as well as people driving past in their vehicles going past the store, just to see the different kinds of reactions – who doesn’t like making a pretty girl smile anyway?

But the thing that surprised me the most, and continues to surprise me? The fact that I was waving at strangers and DANCING out in public. Whenever people tell me to do a little jig, even among friends, I always say that you have to get alcohol in me for my inhibitions to falter for me to dance. I’m willing to admit I’m pretty socially awkward at first, and that it takes a while to come out of my shell and be comfortable. However here I was, dressed up in a mascot costume, doing things completely uncharacteristic to my nature. I’ve dressed up in it plenty of times before at my old store, and the same results happened – colleagues have mentioned to me that it’s almost like it’s a different person inside the costume compared to when I’m outside.

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So it got me thinking about how much people can potentially change when they’re hidden behind a mask. We see it all the time online – in places such as Call of Duty, the MOBA genre in general, and even in WoW in LFD and LFR we see people all the time that you have to sit back sometimes and wonder “Are they really like that in real life?” If they are, then I do feel sorry for them, but if not then it begs the question: Why does that anonymous mask turn somebody into something completely different to how they are in real life society?

I have to admit, among friends online I do try to stay true to myself, mainly because half of them have my Facebook or Twitter details and would easily catch me out otherwise. People in real life know I’m a geek that has played an unhealthy amount of WoW over the past decade. It’s only in this mascot suit that I’ve really been different to how I am normally, and I feel that’s mainly because I’m in a silly suit, why not be silly at the same time? I’m hidden behind a mask so I can’t embarrass myself too much, and I’m collecting for a good cause at the same time. By all means, I don’t become an asshole like in the examples above of the online anonymity, hell even in those circumstances where I queue solo for those games or parts of games, I don’t become an ass. I know that most of the time, people won’t be able to trace my name back to me, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m any different in solo queues to how I am when gaming with friends.

So what’s the science behind the anonymity clause? Do you guys feel that you act different when you know that actions you make can’t be traced back to you as a person in society? Do you try to separate your online life from your real life so that you can get away with releasing any built up tension to random strangers on the internet?

When a lot of information is a bad thing

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This week at work, we had a few days where one of our two entrance doors were out of order. The sensor on it was faulty, and it led to the door being temperamental as to whether or not it would detect if people were nearby to automatically open. So we switched the electronics in the door off, and put up a sign apologising to customers that the door was out of use, and to ask them to use the other door, barely two paces away. The miniature social experiment I observed afterwards when I had a few slow starts in the morning, or in the evening was quite interesting. While I didn’t collect any data or anything like that, it was still amusing to see the results that followed:

  • People walked up to the broken door, found it didn’t open, and walked off, assuming we were shut – we had to run out the door telling them that we were open, it’s just the first door they tried was faulty. Most of the time they looked at the other door, noticed the sign, and laughed at themselves for not noticing it and came back in.
  • Some stood in front of the inoperative door, waited a couple of seconds looking at the sensor or doing some kind of ritual dance (ignoring the sign on the door), then walked over to the other door.
  • People walked past the operating door that opened for them, stood a few seconds at the broken door, stepped back to wave at the sensor, then walked back through the open door.
  • Some weren’t paying attention whatsoever and walked straight into the broken door, expecting it to have already opened.
  • Finally, one or two who couldn’t get in the broken door, walked through the operating door, then told me that the broken door was in fact broken. Depending on their tone with me, I either politely thanked them and said that we were expecting someone in to fix it soon; or told them we were aware of it, and gestured toward the big sign stuck up in the middle of the door.

I’m pretty sure there were other anecdotes surrounding the broken door for when I wasn’t working the till, but overall I had to laugh at the amount of different reactions to the broken door, but more importantly how many people ignored the sign that was stuck onto the door explaining the situation. It then got me thinking possible reasons why the sign was ignored – as I said I don’t have official data to back this up, and I didn’t ask any of the customers why they didn’t notice the sign, so it’s all speculation purely on my behalf.

Some people may have been distracted in their thoughts, just purely not looking at what’s on the door, and just expecting it to be a door that opens for them. After all, that’s what automatic doors are supposed to do, especially when they’ve worked that way for many years and all of a sudden it just doesn’t. However, the main conclusion I came to is that we have a lot of information already on our doors that’s only really applicable to a small percentage of the time. We have signs stuck on the doors explaining our opening times, what services we provide in-store, what cards we process, signs to tell customers that we do have an online store that does deliveries to the customers’ homes, and even some others that I can’t remember right now. While we thought that a sign in a colour scheme that didn’t match the overall theme of those other signs, as well as a big, red CAUTION at the top of the sign would get people to take notice, I was still surprised at the amount of people that didn’t acknowledge it. To them, it was likely just another sign on the door that most likely wouldn’t have affected them as they went for their fortnightly shop in our store.

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So what does this little real life anecdote have to do with anything in terms of gaming? Not an awful lot, but considering I’ve spent pretty much no time this week in games, I thought I’d try to link something up between the two. I got to thinking about UIs and the amount of information they can present in games, how some UIs can just be full of pretty looking fluff that is there to please the eye (as pictured above – after all, why not if you’re going to be looking at it for multiple hours per day). Some are just clogged up with information in that you may as well be playing a text-based game. Some can be minimalistic so that only the important information is right where you need it.

It all comes down to personal taste and how you can process the information on your screen: If you feel like being an air traffic controller while you game, then go and give yourself a ton of information to process; if you don’t want to just be presented with a whole load of boxes displaying information, go and download kgPanels to make your life on WoW a little easier on the eye; if you know your keybindings through and through, and have a good sense for your class and the game, go for the minimalist approach and just have what’s important at that time for you. I’m personally the first kind of player – for those that have seen my UI in one of my earlier posts everything’s kind of… There. Since my burnout of WoW, the UI’s only gotten more deprecated, though I have scaled the ability buttons down and moved a few things around here and there from when I was raiding on Nagrand. It’s very messy, I’m well aware of it, but it’s what I’ve gotten used to and I’m pretty sure I’d be lost going for a different approach. I could cut it down to the minimalist UI like the one below, but as I’m an altoholic, I’d be lost having one UI for my Druid(s) and knowing the exact keybindings etc for them, but then on alts I’d forever be wondering what button does what.

MiniUI

However, I know my faults when it does come to me and my UI – adding new things to it. I’m so used to how my UI looks 95% of the time, that when I add a new WeakAura for a specific boss fight, I have to add a sound or make my character say something so that I actually do notice it. I know it took me more attempts than I’d like (as in, not fixing the problem straight away after the first fail) on Malkorok heroic to notice a ball spawning underneath my feet in the first 30secs, because I’m too focused on how much time left I’ve got on potion, trinket procs, engineer tinker proc, Celestial Alignment, Incarnation and matching those to DOTs, Starsurge procs, and when CA runs out to start casting Wrath instead of Starfire for a few casts, that I end up not watching the small ball that barely poked out of my big Boomer butt. I love the first 15-30secs of a fight as a Moonkin, don’t get me wrong, but put a subtle change to the fight in that time period and I will either screw up that crucial early DPS pace or the fight mechanics. As another example, on Fallen Protectors we all had to make speech bubbles for when we were affected by Sha Sear. It’s going to be fun to purge all those WeakAuras and make new ones when WoD hits, that’s for sure.