WoW Teambuilder / List Builder

And now, an update! *gasp*

I just finished putting the final little touches on an idea I’ve been kicking around for years. It’s just a little ap to visually build lists (or teams, etc). It’s got no database, no login/username requirements, and a very simple way to save the state of your workspace to come back to later.

The basic idea is that you can add things to the ‘table’ and then move them around as if they were scraps of paper. So if you’re in a WoW guild with 30+ active raiders and need a way to build 10man Ulduar teams, this is here to help you out.

Check it out, I’m pretty happy with it: Kythin’s WoW Teambuilder and Generic List Builder

And ofcourse if you like it enough to want to support my random programming project habbit, you can always buy me a beer!

Real Life Experience Through MMO Gaming

About a year and a half ago I had a relatively serious addiction to World of Warcraft. In my defense it only once got to the stage where I called in sick to work in order to play it, and that coincidently was the day I decided this was not who I wanted to become, but many other gamers have gone far beyond that line. I’m fortunate that I’ve never really had an addictive personality, but a lot of other people I know do. Lots of gamers do, and though too much of anything isn’t good for you there are some benefits to getting that deeply involved in a social game like WoW – provided you can get yourself out under your own power.

Let me give you a bit of insight into what that means;
Towards the end of my addiction I was the Guild Leader of one of the biggest and most progressed guilds on my server. We weren’t the absolute top guild, but we were serious enough to be able to get forty or more people together up to five times a week and coordinate ourselves enough to make progress every time. I had up to 8 people designated as my ‘officers’ who helped manage the hundred or so people in the guild at any one time, and sometimes they had a few people to help them with tasks as well. So, as much fun as the game was, it became more of a job towards the end, and quite a stressful one at that.

Why did we need so many people to play a game, you ask? Well there’s lots of things to do to keep the guild running smoothly. It’s not just a matter of signing people up and turning up on time. Here’s a few jobs we had to regularly take care of, otherwise people would leave, or there would be infighting, or we wouldn’t get anywhere (which leads to more infighting or leaving).

  • Recruit more people, of the right type, as required to fill spots.
  • Ensure everyone is happy, or at least satisfied, and knows their role in the guild.
  • Evaluate the people already in the guild regularly, give pointers or warnings if they were having trouble, listen to their problems and try to fix them, mitigate arguments inside the guild.
  • Strategically plan where we were going next week, and where we wanted to be in a month. This was dependent on how many people were available on a given day, where we were at the moment, when the Instances we were planning were reset (each week the places we go to reset, so we can’t just go to one ten times in a row, etc.)
  • Manage the guild website, which was also an external marketing tool for people looking for a new guild to join or for other people on the server to know where we were in the game and basically how good we are.
  • Manage the guild forums, respond to questions about the guild, instances, raids, people, player types (classes).
  • Manage the income and outgoing funds and items the guild uses to stay operating, sometimes including real world dollars for things like the website or Voice over IP servers.
  • Learning new strategies so that the leader and officers could teach the others when we get to them.
  • Running the actual Raids almost every day, or running other activities to keep the guild bonded or allow people into bigger raids.

And that’s just off the top of my head, more than a year and a half later! That’s a lot of work for someone who’s also working fulltime in the real world too. I enjoyed it though, don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I got my first real dose of management during that year and the drive to get into a management job in the real wold is still with me today because I enjoyed it so much. There was almost a hundred people who looked to me for help or followed my instructions to get something done, or listen to and help them with their problems in the guild. As much as it was a bit of a power trip at times, I was also extremely proud of everyone who came into the guild not knowing anything about what we called ‘Endgame Raiding’, and grow into very competent members of the guild, or even officers eventually.

To the guild, there is a lot of respect for those in authority in a guild. Because it is ofcourse a game, it’s incredibly easy to break off and make your own guild if you want to, so anyone who stays for more than a month builds credibility with the others in the guild, and leaders are the ones who stay the longest and have the most experience, so most people respect their decisions and everyone gets on well most of the time because of that. Outside the game however, the community sees these people (myself included) as just no-talent gamers who are antisocial and won’t go far because they’re always playing stupid games. This is true for some gamers, yes, but some are learning valuable lessons through methods that have never even been considered before.

My point for this whole post is this: Nomatter what anyone thinks of how much I played WoW back then, I learned a lot about managing people. Granted, I wouldn’t put any of the above on my CV, I fervently believe I had a years worth of crash course in management and learned some important interdepartmental and interpersonal skills over the span of my leadership of the guild. That management position I was more or less dropped into some three years ago now still drives me to learn about management and pursue jobs in that field in a more professional environment.

Portal Game Review

Game: Portal
Publisher: Valve
Kythin’s Rating: 5/5

I just finished playing one of the most entertaining and innovative games I have played in a long time, possibly since Ocarina of Time. The whole game only takes about three hours to complete, but it plays out like an extremely well put together comedy/sci-fi movie. The sometimes black humor scattered throughout, mostly given as voice prompts by the governing computer system in the facility, add a light hearted aspect to the feeling of being isolated and alone in a weird testing environment.

The new game mechanic that is the whole point of the game, i.e. the portal gun, is one of those “It’s so simple, why hasn’t this been done before” ideas that just… well it just works, and it works really well. Basically you shoot a wall with the left mouse button, then you shoot another wall with the right mouse button, and you can run between the portals you’ve created. You can even use it for scouting out high or low places, or looking around corners, because you can see through the portals like they’re streaming video from the other end.

It’s also incredibly fun to make portals that make you perpetually fall, or better yet watch inanimate objects fall (like your weighted companion cube <3 ).

The portals you create are so smoothly programmed that you can tear the universe new space holes while falling or flying through the air. You can’t actually fly though, because that would be silly. You can however fall into one side of a portal and come flying out the other – persistent momentum through portals – or in layman terms: speedy thing go in, speedy thing come out.

The game travels along at your own pace, limited only by your own ability to solve the puzzles presented to you. Surprise surprise, most of the puzzles require you to figure out where to put a portal in order to get to a platform, or hit a switch, or direct a rocket, etc. Sometimes the puzzles in the room force you to think quickly as well, but most of the time you have all the time you want to sort it out – as long as you don’t get hit by machine gun fire, or fall in a pit of sewage.

All in all the gameplay is polished and smooth and extremely entertaining. The portal gun is a great new mechanic that I’m sure will be used again in the near future. The somewhat dark humour included made the whole game fun and lighthearted even when staring down the barrel of a rocket launching floating eyeball… thing.

Get it and have a go, it’s worth it: The Orange Box and Portal

– Kythin