Should Pokémon Go?

pgo-uw

Following the articles about the D.C. Holocaust museum’s reaction to Pokémon Go, it struck me how very differently game-theory people and other people react to what’s going on with this game. The spots in the museum have been targets in another game (Ingress) for a few years, apparently without incident. Hundreds of thousands of people play that game, and many have played it inside the museum. But Pokémon is a very different sort of game. It is much more popular, and appeals to younger people, and unlike a game that is essentially a game-ified version of Geocaching, Pokémon is lighthearted and people are excited about it because it is new.

The original game was intended to get people out, walking, seeing things they might never otherwise see in their communities or around the world. It has worked that way for me. I’ve spent time looking at art, and buildings, and historical places that I never knew existed because first Ingress, and now Pokémon Go have drawn me out to do those things. I know people who have lost weight, met friends, and improved their mental health playing.

The spots that appear now in Pokémon Go appeared first in Ingress. Most of them have been submitted by players, people exploring their world and wanting to draw particular attention to meaningful places. That’s how the spots inside the Holocaust Museum came to be. I would warrant that the museum has benefited from visitors seeking those game spots, and they are apparently so benefiting now.

But the important difference I’m seeing is that the challenge the museum is facing made me think “great! People are visiting a place with so much to teach them because of the game! Now, how should they take the next step to encourage appropriate behavior from those visitors?” In other words, “how could the museum gamify getting the behavior they want from visitors instead of the behavior they don’t?” Quiet, respectful behavior and attention to the exhibits presumably.

When I was in Milan, one of the official pamphlets from the Duomo had information for Ingress players about a mission there. One of the most famous cathedrals in the world, a historical wonder intended for silent, respectful contemplation of God, used a game to get more people to visit and to get them to see the best parts of the church. That surprised and impressed me, of all of the places I would expect to clamp down on frivolous things or modern things, instead they embraced the possibilities.

Right now HORDES of people who are friendly, interested, and monumentally willing to learn and be influenced to positive behavior are available to the Holocaust Museum (and every other significant site on the planet from the North Pole to the South). “Get out” isn’t going to work. “Don’t play” won’t be a thing. The only way to make that happen would be to ban cell phone use, and even that would be iffy. (Do they know about smartwatches and glasses and rings and every other morphology of technology that people will employ to achieve their objectives? Have they MET people?) But “if you are respectful and appropriate we will reward you with a path that gets you your game objectives” would work beautifully. It would get them more visitors and get those to pay attention to the museum’s educational objectives. Win-win. The game-theory holy grail.

Thinking through that, in their place I would contact Niantic and ask them to stop spawning Pokemon in the exhibit areas. The main problematic behavior seems to be people “chasing” (probably slowly turning and stepping in odd directions) Pokémon. Stopping the spawns would make that stop. Instead, spawns in a gathering area where people wait for their friends, or in the gift shop, would benefit the museum, and would benefit people waiting.

The game points inside (Pokéstops) I would leave. Those attract people to see parts of the museum that they might otherwise miss. They have information about those spots. And they aren’t disturbing anyone (because they are not different than the Ingress portals that have not disturbed anyone for years).

Regardless of Niantic’s approach, or willingness to help (I wager they will be eager to help), the Museum could still give visitors a reminder of appropriate behavior. It’s not about the game, people have presumably been using their phones in the museum all along, it’s about the behavior. Unfortunately people do need reminding sometimes to behave appropriately. But “we welcome you to use your phones in the museum, but please be mindful of the people around you and their experience in this important place.”

When I was young, my parents went to enormous lengths to expose me to culturally and historically-significant places. If Pokémon Go had existed then, I would have appreciated that so much more. I had (and still have) what others might describe as “a short attention span.” (It’s long enough to do what I need to do, just not long enough to tolerate wasted time). Having a game on hand to absorb minutes or more waiting for other people to finish their experience keeps me from getting grumpy. Children everywhere work the same way. I personally prefer to visit museums in which people are not grumpy (especially children, and especially me). I understand the reactions of people who think that playing a game is disrespectful. I disagree, of course, but I understand. But I also know that neurodiversity is a thing. That people experience life differently. That all of the “put your phone away and experience life” in the world doesn’t create a positive response or a meaningful experience. Has anyone NOT been that sullen child forced to “experience” what we are told to?

I just sat last night at a Pokéstop in a place I see every day. That stop is a sculpture I’d never seen before, tucked away in back of a building. I would not have experienced it but for the person who submitted it as a “portal” in Ingress because they loved it, and but for Pokémon Go and the “lure patch” some other player applied to that stop. Those people invited me to experience something they found meaningful, and I was delighted to share in that. I was very able to calmly and quietly play my game and appreciate the moving work of art. That has been my observation of Ingress, and if Pokémon gets more people to see their world more thoroughly, (plus the other positive benefits,) I’m going to frown hard at “don’t play here” responses based on non-players assumptions about what players are thinking. I am sorry for people whose peaceful reflection can be disrupted by someone else silently looking at their cell phone, but I don’t feel at all obliged to put mine away for their comfort. If that phone has drawn me to a place, I am entitled to my experience. My experience is not “disrespectful.” That is other people’s mistaken interpretation of what is happening in my head. If a place chooses to forbid me to use the thing that probably got me there in the first place, then I will pass along to the next place. Washington D.C. is a deeply rich city that I could not experience all of with years to do it.

To each their experience. If Pokémon Go players are being inappropriate, then they should stop, and the Museum should certainly ask them to behave properly for the benefit of others there. I think that the Museum could find ways to benefit, as so many other places of cultural significance have done. This is a new kind of thing, and clearly not going anywhere. We have the opportunity right now to find ways to cultivate it positively and set expectations. It is a VERY exciting time. I hope that most places faced with the dilemma we’re hearing about will find ways to make a win-win out of it.

#teaminstinct #enlightened

Zygor Guides for World of Warcraft sale – 50% off

Zygor Guides is having a 50% off sale today – there really is no better addon for leveling alts quickly and efficiently from 1-90. You can buy just the leveling guide, or additional guides in various categories covering all aspects of the game, such as dailies, professions, pets and mounts, and reputation grinding.

From Zygor’s website, here’s some marketing copy that I think describes it pretty well:

Zygor Guides is an in-game software strategy guide for World of Warcraft. Every guide comes complete with the Guide Viewer, which displays step by step instructions of what quests to accept, how to complete objectives, when to use items, and more. Our gorgeous waypoint arrow will point you exactly where to go at all times and the model viewer will display fully rendered 3D models of NPCs and objects mentioned in the guide.

Zygor’s Leveling Guide includes the most optimized questing path for power leveling from 1-90 in lightning speed. The guide software is very dynamic, tracking your progress, detecting when you complete goals, and automating tedious tasks such as accepting and turning in quests. You will be amazed by the difference Zygor makes.

I can attest to the fact that the optimized quest paths are superior to the free ones like Jame’s leveling guide (which I used for my first main). I used Jame’s to get that toon to 85, and switched to Zygor when Pandaria came out to get to 90 and there was a huge difference. I’ve used Zygor since for all my Alliance toons. To be honest the guides are expensive, so I can’t recommend buying them at full price, but at 50% off they are definitely worth the investment in time saved.

Here’s a video that gives a preview of how it works:

I can’t recommend Zygor enough if you play WoW! There’s a free trial option so there’s no risk in giving it a whirl.

The Idiot’s Guide to the School of Hard Knocks Achievement

Aabde's new Violet Proto-Drake. What a long, strange trip it's been indeed!
Aabde’s new Violet Proto-Drake. What a long, strange trip it’s been indeed!

I just got my Violet Proto-Drake this morning 🙂

When I started WoW, the very first time I logged on it was the Fire Festival. I’ve always loved the seasonal events, and have great memories of sneaking into enemy areas or high level zones to burn bonfires. I’ve been after the What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been meta-achievement for three years, to get my Violet Proto-Drake, but everyone who goes for the meta has to eventually face the facts: they will have to do the School of Hard Knocks achievement during Children’s Week.

Not. Fun.

There’s plenty of qq about this achievement and it is by far the hardest thing in the entire meta to do. I won’t qq about it here. I will refer you to the excellent piece at WoW Insider which pretty much says it all, not to mention the discussion at the Wowhead entry (the latter which also has a lot of great tips).

My aim here is to make a very quick, succinct guide about strategy for this achievement. There’s lots of strategy guide material out there, but here’s what worked for me. I hope it helps you, because despite the well-warranted qq, this IS achievable. It IS doable. Don’t be intimidated and don’t despair. If I could do it, so could you.

Yes, there’s a lot of luck involved. But that’s how statistics and RNG work: keep trying and it will break in your favor. Keep trying.

Preparation

  • Finish up all the other achievements for the meta. Do all the achievements for Children’s Week also, except for SoHK. (Still stuck on this step? See below…)
  • If not already, get to the level cap (90 as of Mists of Pandaria).
  • Obtain a crafted PvP gear set. The latest ones as of today’s date are the iLvl 458 crafted blue sets. Use that link to figure out which set is appropriate for your class and spec, and then advertise on Trade for a blacksmith/tailor/leatherworker to make it for you or search the AH.
  • Get gemmed – use Ask Mr Robot to figure out the optimal gems for each slot.;
  • Get these two enchants:
  • Don’t bother with potions or food. You’re going to die. A lot. It’s just a waste of money.
  • With that done, you are ready to enter the Battlegrounds!

Orphan, Orphan, Orphan!

  • Thankfully this never happened to me, but many people go through all this trouble to do these PvP achieves, but forget to have their orphan out when they do it. This means they do NOT get credit for their hard work and luck!
  • EVERY time you die – which will be often – your FIRST action should be to blow your whistle and call your orphan back. EVERY time.
  • You can be mounted without losing your orphan. So call your orphan and then mount up.
  • DON’T click the whistle if the orphan is out already – doing so will dismiss him/her!

Capture the flag in Eye of the Storm

Map for Eye of the Storm
Map for Eye of the Storm

UPDATE: yes, as several folks have pointed out, the map is backwards. I will revise this asap…

  1. Get the flag
    • While waiting for the gates to open, summon your orphan and mount up.
    • Ride in a straight line to the center of the map. Don’t worry about fall damage. There is a stone bridge in the middle where the flag will spawn. Run straight there and try to grab the flag.
    • If someone else grabs it before you, stay there and wait; the flag will respawn as soon as they take the flag back to their base.
    • If you are killed, run back to the center bridge and wait for the flag to respawn.
    • While you are waiting, read all the updates about the battle scrolling past in chat. You need to know specifically when the flag is about to respawn, and what bases your side controls. Use the map to make sure you know where the controlled base is, so you know how to get there.
  2. Run the flag to your base
    • As soon as you have the flag, RUN (do not mount up or you will drop the flag). You need to take it to one of the bases your side controls. Usually these are the two closest to your starting side, but not necessarily.
    • If you die, summon orphan and then run back to where the flag is to see if:
      • the flag is still lying there? then pick it up again and run to base; or
      • someone else picked it up and there’s a big brawl going on? then wait around for them to die and try to pick it up again; or
      • someone picked it up and they are almost at their own base? then run back to the center bridge and wait for the flag to respawn.
    • There’s a circular pile of rocks inside your base, just run towards that and the flag will automatically despawn and you’ll get your credit. IF you had your orphan out, that is.

Assault a tower in Alterac Valley:

Alterac Valley map from WoW Insider
Alterac Valley map from WoW Insider
  1. Run to the farthest undefended tower
    • You cannot mount up while waiting for the BG to start, so summon your orphan and wait for the countdown. As soon as it hits zero, if you have an ability like Blink, Heroic Leap, Sprint or Dash, use it to give yourself some headstart. Pop that and then mount up.
    • Ride towards the other end of the map, along the path. As you gain familiarity with the map on repeated tries, take whatever shortcuts you can to get to the other side ASAP.
    • There is a central area called the Field of Strife. Stay to the right side of it or you will be smack in the middle of the opposing faction’s crowd and probably get killed.
    • If you are Horde, you are aiming for the bunkers; if you are Alliance you are aiming for the towers. (I’ll refer to both as towers henceforth). Ignore the graveyards, outposts, huts, etc.
    • I suggest aiming for Tower Point if you are Alliance or Icewing Bunker if Horde, but keep in mind others with Orphans out will also be aiming for them too. If there are a lot of others in your group also trying for the achieve, then instead aim for one of West Tower and East Tower (if you are Alliance) or for North Bunker and South Bunker (if you are Horde). These are the furthest towers and you will have less competition.
    • At the start of the game, all the towers on Horde side are Horde controlled and vice versa for Alliance. That will change as the battle progresses and towers are claimed.
    • If you are killed, you will resurrect at the closest graveyard. Look at your map to see which towers on the opposing side remain controlled by the opposite faction and run there. Any towers that are destroyed are no longer usable for the achieve and you can ignore them.
  2. Capture the tower
    • Run inside and run up the stairs to find the flag. Right-click on it to start the capture process, this takes a few seconds so if you can CC any NPCs around there will be less interruption.
    • If there are a lot of enemy players there, you will probably get killed before you can capture. Better to wait for backup, let your teammates engage and then try to grab the flag in the melee. If the game just started though, there won’t be.
    • You don’t need to carry the flag anywhere. Once you complete the capture, you will get credit for the completion. IF you had your orphan out, that is.

Assault a flag in Arathi Basin

Arathi Basin map
Arathi Basin map
  1. Get the flag
    • While waiting for the gates to open, summon your orphan and mount up.
    • As soon as they open, ride in a straight line to the first base and visible flag directly ahead of you (Stables for Alliance, Farm for Horde). Get there and right click the flag as fast as you can. Capturing the flag will take a few seconds.
    • If someone else gets it before you, then run to the next available non-controlled spot (check your map) and try to capture that one. If there are a lot of people with orphans out, skip Stables/Farm and go for Gold Mine (if Alliance) or Lumber Mill (Horde) instead.
    • If you are killed, you will resurrect at the nearest graveyard controlled by your faction. Summon your orphan and check the map. It’s unlikely there are any uncontrolled spots by this time, so you’ll have to go find one controlled by the opposite faction and try to take it from them. Try to spy from afar how many defenders there are and pick the least-defended target possible.
    • It’s far more likely you’ll have to fight for this one. So stay in the fight and keep at it. Unlike the others, your achievement goal here actually coincides exactly with the goal of winning the BG, so be a team player. As with Alterac, once you succeed you will get completion. IF you had your orphan out, that is.

Return a fallen flag in Warsong Gulch

Alliance flag room in Warsong Gulch
Alliance flag room in Warsong Gulch
  1. Get in position
    • Unlike the other BGs, you need to know your starting area very well rather than the map. Look carefully at the image of teh Alliance flag room above; the Horde room is laid out identically. Your first time in WSG you may want to not even bother trying for the achievement, instead just familiarizing yourself with the layout of the room and where the entrances to each area are.
    • While waiting for the BG to start, summon your orphan and wait for the countdown. As soon as the gate opens, run up the ramp on your left to the second level of the flag room so you have a view overlooking your own side’s flag from above.
  2. Recover the stolen flag
    • When the opposing faction arrive to take the flag, they will most likely arrive either above you (the roof area) or the ground level (via the long tunnel entrance). Do not try to stop them from picking up the flag – the flag needs to be in the enemy’s possession first for the achieve to count.
    • Once they have the flag, jump down from above and focus all your fire on the flag carrier. They will probably have friends with them for defense; ignore them and focus on taking the carrier down.
    • If you die, you will resurrect at the single graveyard on your side. Summon your orphan and run immediately to the long tunnel entrance to intercept the flag carrier who will use that exit 99% of the time. Attack and focus again on just the carrier.
    • Once the carrier dies, they will drop the flag and you can pick it up to get credit for completion. IF you have your orphan out, that is.



What about the rest of WaLSTiB?

If you are just getting started on What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been, you may be feeling a trifle bit overwhelmed. But even though they removed the free 310 flying reward, it’s still the best way to get yourself a rare proto-drake mount, far more interesting and less grinding than getting the various raid meta-achievements. If I had to start from scratch, the best option is to use Zygor’s Professions and Achievements addon (affiliate link). If I had this when I first started, I would likely have finished the meta achievement a full year earlier and gotten my 310 flying, so I regret not getting the help. There’s no better way to keep all the various achievement steps and goals organized than this – it will literally save you days of work.

Here’s a quick video preview of how Zygor’s Professions and Achievements addon works:

(That’s just for the Professions and Achievements guide, of course. There is also a fantastic Zygor guide for leveling which I highly recommend).

Other resources

Finally, also do check out Cynwise’s guide to School of Hard Knocks as well. Very detailed guide with a lot more depth on strategy for Warsong Gulch in particular.

Building your army of alts with Zygor’s help

In anticipation of MoP I’m trying to build up an alt army, mainly for professions support of my main, Aabde (mining/blacksmithing). I’ve got Ppeeta, a lvl 10 gnome mage herbalist/inscription, Mmarko, a lvl 20 worgen hunter jewelcrafter/enchanter, and Zzamba, a lvl 30 nelf druid skinner/leatherworker. Those guys are all in the queue, but I’ve mainly been focusing on Gganda, my dwarf rogue engineer/tailor who just reached 71. And of course I will have a Panda monk to add to the mix, I’ll probably just go mining/herbing for him to act as gatherer support.

This is daunting especially since most of Outland and a hefty chunk of Northrend bored me out of my mind the first time around with Aabde. I’ve got agility leather heirlooms to outfit the alts with (note how all are classes that can use the same set, except for the mage). I’m turning to Zygor’s Guides as an alternative, especially since due to Real Life I barely have any actual time to play. They have a free trial available as well, and the guides have an in-game addon that looks like it lets you level on cruise control. (and they also do Diablo III, if you’re interested…). I’m setup as an affiliate link so if you decide to buy I will also get a few bucks, which will be useful since keeping this place spam free isn’t cheap 😛

There are other guides out there, but it looks like Zygor is the leader of the pack. Give it a shot!

Support Independent gaming and Kickstart QONQR!

Qonqr is a cool location-based mobile MMO that is being developed by an independent studio also named Qonqr. One of my close friends from college is a co-founder and they are trying to raise some money via Kickstarter to fund development of the next phase of the game. About the game:

QONQR is a location-based, massively-multiplayer strategy game in which players use their smartphones to battle for control of the cities, towns, and neighborhoods in which they live and work. QONQR allows you to be a mobile operative on the streets, in coffee shops and even at the grocery store; battling for control and conquering the world. It is available right now on iPhone and Windows Phone, with Android development underway.

Here’s a quick summary video with more detail:

Please check their Kickstarter out if you’re intrigued, and lend them a few bucks. They are halfway to their goal of $25k and there are only 36 hours left in the campaign, so time is of the essence!

mind your b’s and K’s: the arcane art of measuring download speeds

I’ve just upgraded to the 30 MB/s internet plan at Charter cable (and added HBO so we can watch Game of Thrones), so here’s the obligatory speedtest results.

It occurs to me that the units for download can be incredibly confusing. Charter advertises the download speed plan using units of Mbps. So, the question naturally arises, how long should it take to download something 18.3 GB in size? (and a related question, if I am downloading something at 300 KB/s, am I getting my max download speed?)

1 GB refers to a gigabyte (10^9 bytes) in this context, since we are talking about file sizes and network speeds. If we were talking about RAM, a GB would actually refer to a gibibyte. However, 1 Mb is a megabit (10^6 bits), not a megabyte (10^6 bytes), because of the small-case b. So 1 Mb is actually 1/8 MB (since there are 8 bits per byte).

So 18.3 GB downloading at 30 Mbps should require:

(size) / (speed) = (time)

(18.3 x 10^9 bytes) / ( (30 x 10^6 bits / sec) x (1 byte / 8 bits) = 18.3 x 10^9 * 8 / 30 x 10^6 = 4880 seconds = 81.3 minutes

Wolfram Alpha gets the answer right, too (and I like teh natural language query – very intuitive).

Now, suppose I’m rocking 300 KB/s according to a certain beta software download client. How am I really doing? The capital B means it is kilobytes, so that’s actually 300 x 10^3 x 8 = 2400 x 10^3 = 2400000 = 2.4 Mbps. Wait, what??

I’m only getting 1/10th my actual download speed for this??

This is why it’s important to do the math. Of course, the download speed may be limited by a lot of other factors, most notably how fast the server at the other end can deliver the data. I clocked almost 40 Mbps doing a speedtest with some local, low-ping server somewhere, but for downloading this big file I’m probably going a lot further and their server has a lot more to do than humor my ping requests. I guess I should be satisfied.

(But, I’m not. grrr….)