Monday, April 26, 2010


My WoW account was hacked this weekend.

As I was playing it, the game froze and then disconnected and when I went to log back in, I suddenly had an authenticator attached to my account. Bugger.

So I had to do two things - first, get rid of whatever miscreant device had infiltrated my system and second, negotiate the choppy waters of Blizzard customer service. The debugging was pretty easy as a quick update and malware scan found the little bugger straight away. That got smushed. For securities sake, I switched to another computer to do my Blizzard business and then things slowed down a little.

I'm sure its not the case, but the Blizz helpline is apparently (according to the part of the website I looked at) only open during office hours on weekdays. Harsh. They do have a webform though, which looked fine, until it asked you for your CD-Key and the answer to your special question. CD-Key was easy ... Mr Pack Rat FTW! I needed to waltz around my account for a while to get a hint of my secret question. If I hadn't been able to do this, they would have required me to fax over a copy of my passport. Faff!

Anyway, I made my protestations and waited for the wheels to go into motion. Now, I hit the next snag. Phishing emails. I get around 2-3 WoW related phishing mails per day and they are just spam-foldered and daily deleted. How do you differentiate between the phish and the helpdesk? Well, Blizz have a nice way of doing it involving changed passwords and very plain information about each step of the process. Sorted.

So I'm back (now with added authenticator of my own) and everything on my character reimbursed. EVERYTHING. Even the scraps of fur that the twats had sold. I was impressed.

So, how do I feel? Well, a little silly for being hacked - although for the life of me I cannot work out how, considering my lack of internet adventure - and not in the least bit traumatised. I thought I would be, but I'm not. Its just a thing that has happened.

I think, in its own way, thats kind of healthy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Creative Tsunami

There are some things that I really have to avoid. One of them is watching the ITV news, as I may be forced to put my foot through the TV screen. Another is going to one of those Big Lukes 'Eat all you can' American Meat eateries, as I may gorge myself to death. However, above all else, I need to avoid 'genre' magazines - specifically things like SFX, SciFiNow or Previews.

The problem with these things is that they light a burning fire in my head. The assault of ideas, imagery and easily digestible information is like ... well, you know in those silly films where they try to brainwash the hero by pinning his eyes open and then flashing loads of images of war and death and evil into his mind? Thats the effect it has on me. It fills my head with all of the possibilities that are out there, waiting to be exploited and explored. Not in a 'Oh, I must go to the moon tomorrow!' way, but rather in a creative way.
Throughout my life I have always struggled with the perceived mismatch between my desire to create and my ability to do so to my satisfaction. Am I a perfectionist? No, not really, but I can be terribly hypercritical of my own work on one hand and yet exceptionally defensive of it on the other. You know, *I* am allowed to call my stuff (whatever it is) crap, but nobody else can! Certainly, the former has been the main reason why I stopped drawing when I went to Uni - I was never going to be a comic book artist so what was the point? Its been the reason why I have failed to pursue a number of creative avenues and the excuse on why I have failed to complete a number of others. The entire Omnihedron Games experience has been an exceptional one for me, if only because I have actually carried something creative through to completion.
And yet, I still get these overpowering urges to create. Something. To write, draw, design, build something. They may lay dormant for some time but then they erupt again, stimulated by something which catches my eye or ear or whatever.

Today's culprit was SciFiNow and its commentary on the phenomenon of paranormal romance - which you will all know is a favourite of mine. Gah, I want to play with that stuff in some way. I know its in there, something, bursting to get out but I cannot seem to get an outlet which satisfies.
And why? Well, this particular urge came at 9pm at night, after a 12 hour teaching shift in the middle of a three day, 12 hours per day session which has to be followed up by marking and research for my last college assignment (yes, another one...) and then writing up notes for my latest D&H expansion.
If Perfect is the enemy of Done, then Time is the arch nemesis of Creativity in my world.
But it still doesn't stop the build up and the frustration.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Golden Rules and Pitching

Following on from my previous post an excellent discussion has taken place regarding future games for my gaming group. As an upshot of this discussion, the following Golden Rules were formulated:
  1. GM enthusiasm drives the games that are brought to the table.
  2. Buy-in via collaborative campaign so what's important to the player / character is present in the game
  3. Narrative arc / focus is present which may manifest in 'seasons' for longer campaigns
  4. If it's narratively complete, don't go back! We tend to consume / burn up ideas / concepts rather than get comfortable with them and return
  5. Playing with regularity

As we now have a pencilled in end date for the D&D campaign, the conversation was also had about who would referee. In the end, with Andrew and Nigel coming off the back of looooong campaigns it came down to either me, Ian or Dave when he returns. As we are also looking at games with an initial arc of around 8-10 sessions, this choice is essentially 'who goes first' and thus might require a little 'pitching'.

There are two games currently which are sitting in my 'to play' pile: The Dresden Files and Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. (What? No D&H? No BtQ? - I keep my playtesters fresh and keen...) Well, when I say sitting, DFRPG is not even bought yet, although its purchase is inevitable. I thought I would, in public, run through these and see how the Golden Rules apply. It might help the process.

Rule #1: GM Enthusiasm - I'm going to assume that my love of urban fantasy will latch onto the Dresden rules and produce wonderful babies. Dr Who is back on the TV at the moment so enthusiasm for that will probably increase as well. Generally, I've not got a problem with enthusiasm if I feel that the players are into the game too.

Rule #2: Collaborative Buy-in - This is really a given for our group and I think this might be where Dresden (a game which has collaborative building built into the ruleset) edges out Dr Who. Both have pre-determined worlds and I think I would have to cherry-pick some of the initial Dresden stuff to introduce it slowly, whereas Dr Who is pretty much there and in our face.

Rule #3: Arc Structure - Not a problem. Never a problem. I think there is an awareness needed that the length of the arc (8-10 sessions) does mean that the scope of the game and the arc doesn't need to be as all encompassing as previous games. End on a cliffhanger? Possibly.

Rule #4: Accept Burn Out - I'm not sure that, given careful planning, you could easily burn out Dr Who or Dresden out in 10 sessions. I think thats a strength of the semi-established backgrounds - you can delve into one area and have other things left to look at later.

Rule #5: Play with Regularity - Hopefully, this will not be a problem. As the new academic year approaches, I have less work to prepare which should be able to free up time for prep. Dr Who wins here, as from what I gather Dresden has a bit more prep than Who. If the game is enthralling, I think we will have no problem with regularity.

Well that's put it all down and really, it doesn't get it any clearer. Dresden will probably have me more enthused but Who would be easier to run.