Foundation (Isaac Asimov)
As one of the science fiction classics, I feel like I'm going to get a lot of shit for saying I did not care for this at all.
You know how I often complain when a video game tells its story through infodumps instead of actually having shit happen in-game? Well, most of Foundation's story is told through two men talking to each other about things that happened off-page, which kept me at an arm's distance through the whole book. Which two men depends on where you are in the book as it goes through constant cast changes, making it even harder for me to get invested in and therefore give a crap about what's going on. And while many years pass between Acts, months can pass between chapters, then a couple men suddenly turn up to tell me about the cool stuff I missed. Then it just unceremoniously ends after an argument between two men and an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Galactica saying "Yeah, the one guy totally won. Too bad we can't show you the fight!"
The choppy, alienating storytelling also made it hard for me to figure out what the point of the book was. Characters repeatedly say the line "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" but it's so in your face that I didn't think that could be all there was to the book; there's a running theme of people treating technology the way priests treat holy relics, so it's got to be some horseshoe theory thing with science and religion, right? But on Twitter, I was affirmed that, no, the point of the book was "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." Why does that need 300 pages of old men being boring? Was the "in five days of discussion [Lord Dorwin] didn't say one damned thing" line supposed to be self-aware?
And speaking of Lord Dorwin, I don't know what the hell his accent was supposed was to make him sound like sixty years ago when this book was written, but nowadays he just sounds like Doofus Drake from Ducktales.
World of Warcraft (PC)
At the beginning of the month, I planned to play a certain number of games, read a certain number of books, and work through a certain number of textbooks. Instead, I pissed away nearly all of it on World of Warcraft, so I might as well say something about it. This quickie also includes things that happened in the following months before publishing this quickie in November.
But how exactly does one write about World of Warcraft? Most of the game is running errands for NPCs who want you to kill ten enemies, gather twenty of something, or deliver a parcel to somebody else. Every once in a while, when you've done enough fetch quests, the game lets you do something awesome like bomb an army on a dragon's back, join in on three characters bullshitting each other with stories of how they beat up Deathwing with a flying motorcycle, or play 3D Joust. At the very least, it's a pretty, colorful game with lots of environments and settings to explore.
The first five zones have their charm, but the Warlords of Draenor content kind of sucks. This expansion's main gimmick is a garrison that feels like a Free To Play game that I guess we should be thankful Blizzard didn't charge microtransactions to maintain. It's also annoying that you're not able to fly in Draenor until you've already done basically everything there; I know Blizzard didn't want people missing most of the content by flying over it, but Pandaria already found the sweet spot of not letting you fly until you got to Lv. 90 and reached the zone's final area, and flying is a convenient way to reach stuff you missed. Apparently, even Blizzard admitted the choices made with the expansion were terrible.
Since reaching Lv. 100 and punching out Deathwing (wanting to do this was the reason I got into WoW), I've spent less time in Draenor and more time cleaning up the stuff I missed in my haste to work through twelve years of content in three months. What this usually amounts to is looking through the mount encyclopedia, finding one that looks cool, looking up how to earn it online, then spending a week doing that. Then I go "...huh... now what?" before picking a new mount to work towards.
One thing I see a lot of veterans who have been around since vanilla complaining about is how WoW has been dumbed down for the filthy casuals. I'm more inclined to believe that after twelve years of constant updates, balancing everything in World of Warcraft's massive world has become utterly impossible. If I understand correctly, when WoW launched the Paladin class was exclusive to the Alliance, while the Shaman was exclusive to the Horde. But around Cataclysm, Blizzard was having so much trouble keeping to two balanced with each other that they finally said "fuck it" and let both factions have them.
As of writing this, I have not engaged in a true raid because there just isn't anyone else to do them with. I've solo'd a bunch of vanilla, Burning Crusade, Lich King, and Cataclysm raids, when I was Lv 81 a couple of my guild mates let me tag along while they roflstomped the Lich King, and we've had a couple of achievement runs in Pandaria which for me meant standing back while a Lv. 110 character did most of the work. As you can imagine, these just weren't the same as having real, coordinated assaults, especially when most legacy raids amount to ramboing bosses that once upon a time took actual work to kill.
At Level 85, you unlock something called the Raid Finder, which in theory allows you to tackle raids with strangers. Except you can't join the queue if your gear is too weak. And while you're going after acceptable gear, you're still gaining experience points and once you hit Lv. 86, you can't queue up for Cataclysm raids. Then the same thing happens with Mists of Pandaria raids. I'm Lv. 100 and don't have the Legion expansion so I can go into some Warlords of Draenor raids, but the Dungeon Finder is enough of a crapshoot as to whether you get chill people who want to work as a team, or DPS jackasses who run ahead of the team, yell at you for being too cautious with enemy pulls, or get passive aggressive because you don't instinctively know the mechanics for beating a boss the first time you enter a given dungeon. Plus, since I've never had a real raid before, I'm not confident in my ability to not wipe the whole thing.
I don't know how much truth there is to the belief that Horde players are more mature than Alliance players. Most Alliance players I've crossed paths with seem content to do their quests and mind their own business, and I imagine if I spent more time with my Draenei I'd see more Horde players being assholes. And an orc was one of, if not the game's biggest troll, but then again it was an Alliance guild that sacked a funeral some Horde players were holding for their dead friend. But here's some stupid shit I've seen from the allegedly more righteous Alliance:
- In a Lv. 50 zone, a human who was five levels higher than me started spamming me with duel challenges. Not respecting my wish to not have a duel is dickish enough. But just a couple levels difference in WoW leads to an ass kicking.
- A Rogue started attacking me while I was turning in a quest, not realizing I was flagged for PvP because I accidentally bumbled into an Alliance camp (I was on a manticore and was able to fly off, at least).
- For a while I kept going into Orgrimmar and seeing the same Human Paladin causing a ruckus in the Valley of Strength.
- One day during the Halloween event, a Pandaran Hunter was hanging out on the walls of Undercity, sniping people as they came out of the quest for dropping stink bombs on Stormwind and PvP flagged.
Then again, it's rare that I go into Orgrimmar and not see people adding "Anal" to spell names in the chat log, so fuck me.
If anyone wants to know, I'm on the Garrosh server, my main is a Tauren Paladin named "Azhadak", and my guild is the Adopt a Cat Agency. Because of course it is.