Queuing up the Dream State

Never got around to publishing this yesterday because I was too busy playing WoW.


Whenever I game for a long time (like the approximately 8 hours I did Friday night), it influences my dreams. Playing World of Warcraft as I did, I had expected dreams of slaying undead and riding dragons, but something else entirely happened.

WoW has added a way to queue for a dungeon, so you just hit a button and it signs you up, notifies you when a group is ready, and teleports you in when you accept. As I slept last night, I didn’t exactly enter a lucid dream state, but I did have a sensation of queuing my dreams.

I was able to queue three dreams total, including my current one, so there would be two waiting for when they were needed. This wasn’t too big a deal until I started to wake up in the morning, but because I had dreams queued I would immediately go back to sleep and slip into the next dream. I kept queuing dreams until I felt like getting up, and then I had to go through two more dreams before I could awake.

Not sure if the queuing was part of my dreams as well or if it’s actually possible to control our dream state like this, but it was pretty cool 🙂

What’s your working space?

cleandesk

I decided to do some cleaning on Saturday, prompted by needing some room for my Macbook. I kicked myself halfway through the process for not taking a picture before I began, because my desk was all kinds of gross: covered in milk splatters from where I eat my cereal every morning; papers, receipts, books, trash, and dirty dishes crowding the workspace; where the Macbook is now, a large, black tower PC previously resided; the monitor was far closer to the front of the desk.

I needed room to move the Macbook down onto the keyboard tray, which meant I needed room to move the keyboard somewhere else (a giant Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, which I HIGHLY recommend; more on ergonomics on Wednesday). I’d previously been using the laptop on the small table in our formal dining room, and the height was too high to be comfortable for my arms. And I also wanted to move my desktop (which still drives the Dell LCD monitor) down onto the floor.

My rather small desk was originally purchased to fit into my bedroom back when I lived in a townhouse with a couple mates of mine. The room was maybe half the size of my current office, and between a twin bed, this desk, and my computer chair, it was packed. Obviously, height rather than width was a priority, but now that I have room to spread out, my desk can be occupied by more personal rather than just essential items.

Up top are two pictures. On the left is my niece Lynette, who died in a car accident in 2001. She’d just had her senior pictures taken a month before she died, and I keep my favourite on my desk where I can always look up and see her smiling.

The picture on the right is of my wife April and me on our first date (which happened to be on Valentine’s Day in 2006) and serves as part of the frame for a wood carving from my friend Cody. This may be one of my favourite gifts ever, and has some good inside jokes built into it.

Stubbs was my nickname from grade school (based on my last name, Stublefield), and doing a roundhouse kick above my name is Chuck Norris in all his glory. To the left of my name is a cutout of the pope holding a staff, a reference to my nick in Counterstrike for a long time: The Pope (followed later by Gun Totin’ Pope when my doubles teammate ditched out on me; our team name had been The Fundamentalists, despite the fact that I wasn’t Christian at the time). The words on the right say, “It’s DM Magic!” For those of you who know, dmmagic is my new(est) online nick, and I’ve been slowly converting accounts to it for the last year. This is a reference to my many years of running Dungeons & Dragons for our group of friends, and it became a catch-phrase for explaining why something happened the way it did.

Below all this are my Klipsch speakers, which flank my various D&D manuals and my collector’s edition of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

I refer to the D&D manuals occasionally when writing fantasy fiction, and the Ptolus book is mostly there to remind me of my hubris and what not to do (I should probably write an in-depth review of Ptolus some day…).

What’s your working space like? Do you keep it cluttered or neat? And are ergonomics a primary concern for you or just a big word you could care less about?

To be honest, Liches make me a little queasy

I see a deep sorrow in Arthas's eyes; a quantifiable longing for bananas.
I see a deep sorrow in Arthas's eyes; a quantifiable longing for cuddly puppies and kittens.

I finally received my copy of the new World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King last night and set about installing it on Linux. Even though I got home pretty late last night, I wanted to at least give it a try, and since the installation and patching only took about 30 minutes, I went ahead and created a Death Knight.

My first impressions were…. *drool*. The opening video is stunning, and I was anxious to get rolling. After configuring my appearance, I began my demented existance.

As I continued playing, however, my apprehension grew. I’m the sort of guy that, when I play Knights of the Old Republic, I’m invariably a light-sided Jedi. It makes me uncomfortable to slaughter people for no other reason than my own self-advancement, and I don’t delight in rampant carnage… unless they be Stormtroopers. Even the Horde on World of Warcraft are billed as misunderstood, noble, and generally decent people. They take care of their own, and if anything can be said about their actions, it’s that they had little choice but to fight for survival.

But the Death Knights… they’re just plain evil. You start out serving the Lich King, and one of your first tasks is to go into a town and slaughter the inhabitants. You’re specifically ordered, in fact, not to worry too much about the guards, but to focus on chasing and cutting down the civilians because that will strike greater terror into the hearts of the Lich King’s enemies.

I’m going to keep going with my Death Knight, because I’m assuming you eventually break away from the Lich King to join your respective faction (Alliance or Horde) and things return to normal after a while. But these opening quests so far have just made me just a little uncomfortable.

How to install Wrath of the Lich King on Linux

You have your shiny new expansion, but you (quite understandably) don’t want to shell out another $90 for a crappy operating system to play it. No problem, says I, because WotLK is Cedega Certified!

Unfortunately, while the game works pretty well, installation does not, and you’ll quickly encounter a bug in the Death Knight starting quests that will prevent you from advancing along that quest chain. No worries, though; just follow these simple instructions and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Installation

First, you need to mount the DVD properly. I use Ubuntu, which means I have Gnome, so I use Nautilus as my file manager. After inserting the DVD, you’ll need to open your file manager (Nautilus in my case) to unmount the DVD. You should see Lich listed in the left navigation bar: right click on it with your mouse and choose Unmount.

Now, open a terminal window and type in the following line. You’ll need to modify userid and insert your own userid (what you use to log in). You may also have to modify the cdrom0 point if you use something else; you can check this by browsing to /media in Nautilus or the terminal.

sudo mount -t udf -o ro,unhide,uid=userid /dev/scd0 /media/cdrom0/

Now you can open Cedega and install as you would normally, just using the Install button. However, when the Cedega installation window pops up, notice that it wants to put WotLK into its own folder. You need to change this so it installs into the folder in which you already have World of Warcraft. Edit this, then you’re ready to proceed with the install.

Installation and patching should proceed smoothly and normally from here. Now it’s time to play!

Setting the OpenGL flag

Personally, I don’t like playing with OpenGL. Maybe it’s just my system, but I get some bugs with it, most notably that WoW doesn’t close when I quit the game, it crashes. Despite this, there are a few quests that glitch out on Linux, and you need to use OpenGL to get through them.

When playing as a Death Knight, this is most notable when doing the quest involving the Eye of Archerus. Your screen will go all solid colours, though you can still see the UI, so you can’t very well proceed with the quest. This is due to the Death Effect and Full Screen Glow, but just disabling those options in WoW doesn’t resolve the problem.

There are two steps to setting the OpenGL flag.

  1. You need to add the following line to the config.wtf file. This file can be located at:/home/userid/.cedega/World of Warcraft/c_drive/Program Files/World of Warcraft/WTF
  2. SET gxApi “opengl”

  3. Set the -opengl flag in the Cedega shortcut, as pictured below:
  4. Click to enlarge

Conclusion

You should now be good to go. After the Eye of Archerus quest, I promptly disabled OpenGL and removed that line of code from my config.wtf. It’s good to know that there’s a solution for this Death Effect bug, and I may have to use it again (especially if it crops up when the Death Knight dies and becomes a zombie that can keep fighting), but if I can avoid OpenGL, I will. It just doesn’t seem as fast or as stable as D3D to me.

Happy gaming, and suffer well!

I Need to NaNo

I should just commit myself to not writing anymore blog posts for the next week or so. Not just because it’d be great to make some progress on this project (for which I haven’t even published the first chapter yet), but because I’m swamped at work, and the time sensitivity of these projects in collusion with an increase of class work, reading assignments, and being all-around fairly busy translates itself into needing some time off. Time to relax my mind and put it into subjects other than computers, portals, technical writing, religion, or philosophy.

April is quick to point out that I spent most of last weekend playing World of Warcraft rather than writing, which is entirely true. Now that this week is upon me, I recognize in retrospect that life would be an order of magnitude more sucky if I had not taken that time to relax and recharge. I didn’t know that at the time–I was just procrastinating–so it’s not like, “Kudos to me for foresight!” But it has worked out well, and I’m glad I got some time to chill and play games.

I’ve got a ton of writing and documentation to do at work, a server to build for software license tracking, some training to attend next week (for which I’m writing the documentation), a few projects (consultations, scripting, increasing wiki security and stability, etc.) that really need my attention, and these are all things that need to be done ASAP but cannot be. On top of that, I have a book to read for Buddhism, a creative project to do for the same class (I’m thinking 10-15 poems based on the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā), philosophy lectures to keep up with, and a college ministry that I feel some sort of obligation to attend despite the fact that late evenings in the middle of the week are a really poor time for me to be out socializing and whatnot.

Can we add, I don’t know, maybe 1-3 days to the week? I don’t know if moving to a ten day week (7 days of work, 3 days off) would actually help anything, but I know that when I got home last night (after about 9 hours of work and 3 hours of class), I still had a solid 8 hours worth of work I could have done.

Heroes of the World (of Warcraft)

On particularly successful days of playing World of Warcraft, my mind will continue thinking game-related thoughts as I try to go to sleep. Since this weekend saw the acquisition of both a breastplate and a pair of pants I had been gunning for (not to mention some awesome shoulders), I continued to consider WoW while dozing off, and I wondered what kept me playing. It’s a game I enjoy a great deal, despite a two year hiatus, and I continue to have fun playing something that should, by all rights, bore me.

As I swished thoughts about the game around my brain, though, I began to think about the framework of WoW. Your character, regardless of race, begins and ascends as a hero. You are told from the outset that you are one of the last of your kind, or that your people are fighting some sort of war, and that you may be the last hope in our stand against evil.

Which, of course, appeals to me. In our middle-class, American lives spent eating, sleeping, and going to work Monday through Friday, we don’t often get the chance to be a hero. And, truth be told, we don’t really want that chance. While our characters run across continents, being attacked by fantastic and dangerous creatures, getting killed repeatedly while risking their lives, we (the players) sit comfortably in air conditioned rooms, eating pizza or drinking coffee while chatting with our friends.

Even if you’re not into roleplaying, you suspend your disbelief and sort of become your character for a while when you play World of Warcraft. The game gives you permission to put on a mask and become a hero, to work towards a goal with comrades and Save the World (of Warcraft).

We all want to be part of something greater than ourselves, and the vast world (of Warcraft) gives that feeling. Even when ascending to the heights of heroism, there’s still a great deal going on around you, and Blizzard continues to expand the world and add content for you to explore. What felt cramped prior to the current expansion now feels huge and ever-changing, and a second expansion will be released soon. New lands await for exploration, conquering, and storytelling.

As simple or complex as you make it, WoW continues to thrive, and continues to let us be the heroes of which we dream. A lot of people speak disparagingly of World of Warcraft, but you have to wonder why it retains and gains so many subscribers. The answer, to my mind, is simple: no other game or experience lets you feel so awesome. World of Warcraft is structured to stroke your ego and make you feel like a hero of legend and renown. That’s a sort of thrill that’s hard to find elsewhere, and even though I recognize the manipulation and suspension of disbelief required, the game continues to be fun for me. Every day I can become an even greater hero than the day before.