Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

Real ID on Blizzard forums, the good and the bad *Updated AGAIN!*

*update* Real ID is canceled on official forums Blizzard most definitely listened, and it’s a good thing!

So, Vaneras over on the EU forums just informed us that Real ID will be making an appearance on the forums. Needless to say there is a slew of comments slinging around about this. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some say it will be the new life of the forums while others think that this marks their imminent death. So I thought it would be good to talk about it a little bit here.

First off, lets talk about the current state of the forums. There are some good threads there. There are some helpful guides and bits of information. But for each helpful bit there is a counterpart. People that just show up to cause issues, scream drama and pick Internet fights. I know a lot of people personally who avoid the forums just to avoid those specific people. This is a sad thing though, as the forums are set up to help build the community and not to be a source of drama or argument. On a personal level I hate having to weed through 15,000 posts of people complaining to get to the 1 that has a valid point in a discussion. This is obviously an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Let’s face it, the Internet is a place where people can hide behind a fake name and say and do whatever they want with little to no recourse. This can be simple complaining out outright just being an ass-hat.  This Internet anonymity is what Blizzard is trying to take away I think. How many times have they posted a proposed class change only to have intelligent well thought out responses from posters get drowned out by the wailing masses? How many times has a person asked for advices on gear or spec or spell priority only to be called a noob for pages on end? It happens, trust me I know.  So I can see what Blizzard is trying to do here, by eliminating the ability to hide behind a character name, that person is held accountable for what they said or do.

Quick story here. I know a guy who in real life is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Intelligent, well spoken and would give you the shirt off his back. When he logs into game or on the forums however, he does a complete 180. He yells at people, argues incessantly, turns into a complete womanizing bigot and has a completely abrasive personality. This sounds extreme but it is a lot more common than you think. When you don’t have to be held accountable in real life for your actions, the rules change. The Blizzard forums have been plagued by this from day 1.

By adding this level of accountability Blizzard I’m sure is hoping to cut down on the forum slop by discouraging the trolls from posting, and making people think twice about just posting empty whining.

There is however another side to this coin. There are a ton of people who try very hard to separate their real life from their game life. They post helpful guides to trade-skills, or how to level efficiently on the forums for general reading. They offer insight to class changes and constructive criticism when people ask for help. This group of people also has something to lose by this change going live, as does the community in general if they stop posting. Some people like the anonymity of their toons as a way to just separate their lives into distinct parts. If they stop posting because of this change, that will be very sad indeed.

Some are concerned for their safety. They fear stalkers and real life harassment and fallout from the forums following them into real life. As a person who has worked in internet security for a long time, I can tell you the chances of this are pretty slim. A persons name alone does not provide a ton of information. It does not for example provide your address and township. Your internet providers work very hard to keep that information private as do most websites, banks etc. It is in Blizzards best intrest as well to keep this information private, and so far they have done a pretty good job of it. Unless you have a one of a kind name and are publicly listed in an international phone book or public websites with your pertinent information, the chances aren’t too great that your name will give up enough information about you to harass you outside of your online personae.  I understand the concern there,  it is a valid reason for being against the change. But it can be rather difficult to find someone .

Another argument is that this goes against the originally stated purpose of Real ID. It was toted as an optional, convenient way to keep track of your friends across servers and even games. Some people feel that being forced to use it to interact on the forums violates this and removes the “optional” portion of the feature. This is a valid argument as there is no way to circumvent this at current.

There are also those of us that this has absolutely zero effect on. Those of us that already live in the public eye and have our names out there will see no change in how we do business essentially. Me personally, doesn’t phase me one bit. My name is out there from the For the Lore podcast and WoW.com. Having my real name show up on the forums isn’t a big deal at this point. I also have the good fortune to have a name that is not exactly unique. Joseph Perez is the Steve Smith of Hispanic names. Try looking it up in the phone book sometimes, it is rather hilarious.

Here are some facts to remember about this

This will only affect the new forums created when SC2 and Cataclysm launch. Old forums and old posts will remain untouched (for now, hopefully this won’t become retroactive)

Blue Posters are not immune to this, and will also be showing their real first and last names

Having your name does not compromise your account security. Email, password (and hopefully you’re using an authenticator) are what let people in. Even if you call Blizzard customer support and say you are “so and so” you have to provide a LOT of proof of identity.

So what do you think? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Will it be a new beginning for the Blizzard forums or will it mark its death?

UPDATE

Let me clarify something real fast. While the change doesn’t affect me personally I still do NOT like it. I understand what they are trying to do with it, but I don’t think it was thought out enough. On facebook I can go silent, I can turn off chat and no one has to know I’m on. I can hide details like my email, phone number and location, and if I so choose I can change my name on the account. Here we don’t have the option. I do NOT like the idea that choice is being taken away from the gamers. We choose to play this game and who to interact with. Why do we not have a choice in this? I think that the overwhelming response people are having to this is a good thing and hopefully Blizzard will see it and make some changes. But again, I am NOT for this change, but I don’t think it needs to be attacked with nukes instead of calm rational discussion. It is a lot easier for people (i.e. Blizzard) to dismiss an over the top emotional response to this (which don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly valid response from us as users to be passionate about this change) as opposed to when people calmly lay down why they don’t agree with it. That’s all.

Real I.D., Lodur’s thoughts

Real I.D., Lodur’s thoughts

Since it was first announced there has been a wave of people very outspoken about this feature from both sides. People have been arguing the pros and cons of it and some of them are less than rational arguments. So I figured I’d share my own thoughts on it.

First though, here are some facts that you may not know about Real ID

  • Real ID is another name for Dingo, if you aren’t careful it will steal your babies!
  • Real ID promised to buy me dinner, but when the check came its wallet was in its other pants
  • Real ID will walk into a room, let one rip audibly and blame it on your dog
  • BP isn’t actually to blame for the oil spill, in truth it was Real ID. It just blamed BP and ran like hell.
  • Real ID is so fast it can outrun the Flash, which oddly enough is why Flash doesn’t work on your iPhone
  • Real ID assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand
  • I survived Real ID, and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt

I figured a little levity was in order for this one, hope you got a giggle out of.

Honestly though there has been a bevy of ridiculous comments about Real ID to the point I don’t think I hear this much QQ when hunters are nerfed. It seems most of the arguments against it are based off of misinformation. Posts have been popping up every where about it from small blogs to big blogs accross the globe.

Stoppable had a great post about Real ID yesterday explaining some of the misconceptions about the new features. It’s a good read you should take a gander at it. Even Matt offered his two cents on the topic.

Spinks offered a good argument for sometimes wanting to be alone in game and not be bothered by anyone and how Real ID eliminates that. It was one of the better arguments I’ve read against the inclusion of Real ID and it is definitely worth your time as well. Anna from  too many annas has also chimed in on the topic and talked about the opening up of your personal information. It is a well thought out discussion on the negatives of Real ID.

That said I like the idea of Real ID chat ingame. There are actually many reason. First of all is it allows me and the officers in my guild to be more accessible to our guildies. There are times when someone will need an officer but none may be on at that time. As it stands a number of guildies have my cell phone, email, home address, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and so forth in order to get a hold of me when needed. I tend to be a night owl, I’m up all hours of the night, but I’m not always in WoW. I do intend to play a lot of SC2 and you bet your arse I’ll be playing Diablo 3. Having a way to keep in touch with guildies and be pegged if I’m needed in game is very nice. Secondly it allows me to stay in touch with friends on different servers and factions. I have friends all over the place, many of my readers here fall into that category. I like being able to send them a whisper and ask what’s up. My girlfriend raids as horde on another server and it is nice to be able to send her a message in game just to say hi. I enjoyed using it in the SC2 beta and it worked really well there.

It is not without short-comings though. First of all, right out of the box it is spam heavy. Pop ups, growl notifications, status spam assail you as soon as you enable the feature. This can be turned off in the game settings, but still it is not a friendly first impression. There are memory issues still. Friends running top of the line PC’s with gobs of ram and terabytes of storage were getting errors about drive space for processing. This needs to be fixed and fixed fast. There are two key binds to reply to someone now in the default UI. A seperate key for chat reply, and one for whisper reply. Heres the thing though, they don’t both work! Chat reply (for chat groups) doesn’t work at all.  Why not just leave it as one key replies to whispers from Real ID or regular friends and leave the chat like a normal chat channel? Privacy mode please. Even on facebook I can turn chat off and have no one know I logged in. Why can’t I do the same here? I can set myself to busy but it’s not the same. Blizzard please add a function where I can turn it off when I don’t want to be bothered. I mean I accidentally did this last night when I crashed but I would rather prefer a button!

Overall I like it.  It is not very different from the battle.net communication we used to track friends back in Diablo 2 (you could add battle.net or user names to see all of their characters) and many of us utilize services like Steam where we can communicate across ANY game in the steam library to our friends, and it was about time that we saw something like this from Blizzard.

I’ll end today with a couple notes about security and etiquette

Friend of a Friend: People right now are saying that the ability to see friends of a friend are broken and wrong and invade someone’s privacy. The truth is though, besides a name you do not get anything else about the person. You do not see their email or anything like that. In fact, you get more information about friends of a friend from Facebook.

I have to give my email out!?: While the system is designed to search for people by email addresses, you can add other people and they cannot see your email. You can have people add you through friend of a friend and they will never see your email, or simply you can choose not to participate. Either way your information is really only accessible if you volunteer it.

Now I’m going to get spam mail!!!: Well, you may but you wont get it because of this. There are entire companies that do nothing but plug random combination of letters and numbers at domain names offering blanket statements to try and sell you products or click really bad links. Others buy the information from other websites for marketing. Either way I can pretty much guarantee you the Viagra spam email you got had nothing to do with Real ID.

Say who you are!!: A new pet peeve of mine is people adding someone without saying who they are. I’ve gotten a dozen requests that I have no clue who those people are. I accept that this will happen as my information is highly public thanks to wow.com, World of Matticus and For The Lore.  All I ask is that if you’re going to send the request tell me who you are. I’ve accepted many friend requests on FaceBook that just said “hey I’m a reader from xyz you should add me”. So my rule is no message telling me who you are, I wont accept the invitation. I will be using this rule for Real ID as well. I mean it’s just common courtesy to announce who you are!

We live in a world where our information is readily available for just about anyone if they look hard enough. Take a look at FaceBook, Twitter, and even personal Blogs and Livejournals. We post information about ourselves that just about anyone can see if they want unless we are ultra super secretly careful. Is this really worse than they are? Is this worse than FaceBook ? In the end this is still optional, you can choose not to participate. Simply don’t accept any requests and don’t send any, and everything goes along as normal. This is not the end of the world. Blizzard is not going to sell your information to gold farmers and spammers (they would have long since done that already if that was the case) and the truth of the matter is your account is in no greater danger than it was two days ago. You should still have an authenticator and you shouldn’t respond to those emails from Gnomeregan royalty who just need a little help to get their money out of escrow.

So now that you’ve had a day with it, what do you think of the new Real ID system?

Special thanks to Thespius and my buddy Doug for the comedic help this morning.

Real ID Ain’t For Me

At least, not yet anyway. I just like being able to unplug and do my own thing on WoW without being disturbed. Besides, I’m always idling my guild’s vent server anyway (idling is a term from IRC which means just hanging out). You know how often I get followed around by naked Night Elf Priests who do nothing more than Mana Bonking me?

Anyway, go see Stop‘s post to get the real story on it. But I’m going to swipe his bulleted TLDR version (you’re the best Stop)!

  • People you are Real ID friends with do see your first and last name (the ones set up as your primary contact in battle.net).
  • People you are Real ID friends with do see your character, realm, and zone.
  • People you are Real ID friends with do see what game you are playing – WoW and Starcraft II support Real ID right now. You can safely assume Diablo III will as well.
  • People who you would like to be Real ID friends do need your email address once, or you will need theirs once.
  • People you are Real ID friends with do not see your email address in their friends list, nor do you see theirs.
  • Friends of people you are Real ID friends with do not see your email address in their friends-of-friends list, nor do you see theirs.
  • Read the FAQ before you start freaking out next time, internet.

Anna’s written some of her cautionary thoughts on it as well. Check out Spinks’ post on the subject while you’re at it.

Funny though, my email’s right there on my blog. Twitter’s available. People can find me on Facebook (with minimal effort, but at least include a message or something saying why you’re adding me such as “I read your blog” or “Met you at BlizzCon” otherwise I’m just going to ignore it).

I’m going to let Real ID sit for now as more features and stuff get developed for it. I’ll end up adopting it eventually, I think. Just not right away.

Faction Change Service Announced

I normally don’t post news but I think this one merits something. I’m a bit stunned by this. Blue’s have announced that a faction switching service is in the works. It allows players to transform an existing character into a roughly equivalent character of the opposing faction on the same realm. In other words, I can switch from Alliance to Horde and back. I wonder what a Dwarf would transform into.

More ways to make money, I suppose. I’m almost certain this service is going to involve cash. Hands up anyone out there who would take advantage of this service. Why? Who wouldn’t? Why not? Personally not a bad idea as this would enable Wyn to raid with me if it ever came down to it.

Some more news is coming up on how tier loot and tier tokens will be handled in 3.2.

More on this later…

5 Reasons Why the PTR Sucks

5 Reasons Why the PTR Sucks

ptr-woes

What is the PTR? There’s all sorts of curiosity and questions about this PTR thing. One of my guildies affectionately refer to it as the patience test realm. The PTR as we know it is actually known as the public test realm. It’s several servers that contain upcoming content for players to test such as new class changes, new in game events (like the Argent tournament) and a new raid instance like Ulduar.

But my experience with it has been incredibly frustrating. Of course, there are periods where things aren’t so bad and I can try out stuff. Today’s post is going to feature a list of annoyances and possible suggestions for Blizzard in upcoming content patches.

Instance instability

During the worst of times, the instances are unplayable. I’d have half my raid group inside Ulduar and another half would be waiting outside trying to get in. They’d receive errors like “Transfer Aborted: Instance not found” or “Too many instances. Please try again later.” It was incredibly frustrating. A typical PTR test day would involve 30 minutes of actual boss time and 90 minutes of waiting for people to resolve their technical issues.

I can’t even report any bugs and such or effectively test out stuff since it’s nigh impossible.

Solution: In BC, we’ve got this major traffic artery called the Port Mann bridge. It carries hundreds of thousands of cars daily and it’s still not enough. Right now, the city engineers in are in the process of twinning the Port Mann bridge by doubling the lanes to increase the load that the bridge can carry. I wonder if that same logic is possible to apply by launching more instance servers.

No Mcweaksauce

I know. Blizzard mentioned that players should be prepared to bring their own stash of buffs. I don’t know how realistic it is to have that kind of expectation that players have bags full of flasks, enchanting mats, glyphs and what not for the entire duration of the testing phase. It would just be incredibly convenient.

Solution: Have the entire McWeaksauce family at the staging area just before the instance portal that anyone can go to. Make them slightly larger than normal to prevent mammoths from sitting on top of them.

Overcrowding

Guildies and other players I’ve spoken to explained that previous PTRs were much easier to get in to. Why? Because there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in them. Why? Because people weren’t bored and they still had stuff to do.

Think about it.

A large number of guilds have completed all that the game presently has to offer. More than usual, even. So when word comes out that there’s new stuff to play around with, a lot of players will jump at the chance. I know if I was still working on OS drakes or Malygos, I wouldn’t be as dedicated with the PTR. Most of the traffic seems to occur right around the beginning of a boss being toggled on.

Solution: Not quite sure here. Would more servers do the trick?

Lack of servers

Again, this is similar to the population control. I have players disconnect from world servers. I have players who get network connection errors. I have players who continuously error out. There’s a lot more demand from players who want to get in on the action then there are boxes that can supply that desire. Europe’s got four servers, right? North America has two. But I guess all the European ones come in various languages. It’s at the point now where I routinely pray for other players to get frustrated enough to give up their attempts to get back in so that my group has a higher chance of getting in.

Solution: See above.

Inflated prices

This is just a product of every PTR phase. This is what some players are thinking:

“Gold doesn’t mean a thing so I can charge a crapload for it! I can make a fortune of gold that will be completely and utterly useless! It’s all going to disappear within a few weeks so I can charge obscenely high prices and not give a damn!”

And this ends up being a vicious cycle. One person charges overpriced stuff for enchanting mats or glyphs. This causes everyone else to match the price to come up with the funds to pay for other overpriced stuff. And on and on it continues. Who loses? Just about everybody since they can’t get access to the tools they need to test stuff effectively. And don’t even try to raise the garbage argument that “oh they should’ve gotten their stuff enchanted before coming”. Because we all know there’s new items coming and that stuff should get polished up, too.

Solution: A really savage beating.

So why do I keep going back? Why do I continue to subject myself to hours of teeth grinding annoyances?

Because I still firmly believe that knowledge is power. Sure you can read about strategy and watch live videos of guilds attempting to do it. But the experience and feeling of accomplishment after figuring a boss out on our own? That type of feeling can’t be reduplicated. There’s already strategies and videos out. But for the brief hours I was in there with friends and guildies, the experience of undergoing trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t is unmatched. And I have a new whole level of respect for the top tier guilds and raid leaders around the world who engage in this every time new content is available.

Props to those guys. And Stratfu.

Apparently word on the street is that linking to Stratfu brings good luck and many beautiful women. I’ll have to test this theory.

Blizzcon Predictions from Bloggers and the WoW Twitterati!

Blizzcon Predictions from Bloggers and the WoW Twitterati!

Whelps, Blizzcon’s just about here! I decided to activate the crystal ball that is the WoW community in an effort to predict the news, events, activities, and happenings that would unveiled at this years Blizzard convention! You’ll hear it from from the 3 of us along with other bloggers and the chemical catalyst that is the WoW Twitterati!

Dying for the return of Starcraft: Ghost. With the merger with Activision, wouldn’t it just rock to see Ghost on the CoD 4 engine? We know that dual talent specs will be explained more. I think we’ll hear a lot more from the class designers regarding design choices and intents for the various classes. I’m hoping for first shots of Arthas in Ice Crown but I believe that’s unlikely to happen. Will definitely be paying a lot more attention to the raids and dungeons aspect of the convention. And it won’t be Blizzcon without Starcraft and Diablo related news! I’ll have multiple split screens set up so I can keep track of everything.

Here are Sydera’s guesses at the announcements that might be made at the druid class discussion.

“Many people are concerned about the size of the big bear butt. We are as well, because we play druids, and we can’t tank half as comfortably as we’d like with big fuzzy in our faces. So, we’re instituting a new, improved, Slim Bear Butt form. Just apply a minor glyph, and your bear will morph into a lean, mean, streamlined-rear machine. The graphic comes with black and yellow bicycle shorts to further hold in bear cellulite. And remember, you can only eat [Raw Carrots] and [Celery Stalks] in Slim Butt Form. Side effects of this form include nausea, dizziness, and increased irritability. Those mobs had better watch out! They look tasty.”

“Now that we’ve removed the 20% snare from Tree of Life, many of you Restos will never see caster form again–at least not while you raid. So, to respond to your aesthetic concerns, Tree of Life will shift colors every season. Shifting days will be tied to the closest Tuesday to the equinoxes and solstices. We are removing the Rotten Broccoli coloration entirely. Spring Form will have yellow-green leaves with blooming pink flowers, while Summer Form will be deep green with [Shiny Red Apples], Autumnal Form will have brilliant orange-red leaves that drift, one at a time, to the ground, and Winter Form will have no leaves at all, just a dusting of sparkling snow. We would like to thank Sydera for repeatedly posting this idea for us on the suggestion forums. We really could not have thought of it ourselves.”

“We have recently heard that druids are quite proficient at 2v2 and 3v3 arenas. In fact, many in the gaming community consider druids’ mobility to be overpowered for arena. So, just for druid arena players, we have decided to implement Potted Plant Form, a new shapeshift form that all druids will gain at level 80. Druids will no longer be able to heal in caster form or Tree of Life form in the arenas. Instead, they must use their new healing-specific arena form. In Potted Plant Form, which looks just like a window-box full of geraniums, druids’ mobility is reduced by 100%, but their healing is also increased by 100%. Their resilience is buffed by 400%, but they cannot cast Lifebloom at all while shifted into Potted Plant Form. We think that the introduction of this new form will be exciting for players, particularly the forum trolls that haunt the druid class forms, making whiny emo posts every time some Druid-Warrior combo beats them in 2v2. Just especially for the arena druid, we will also be introducing the [Glyph of Potted Plant Form], which will attract cute little butterflies and chipmunks to your pretty red flowers. The butterflies and chipmunks apply a stacking spell haste buff of 10 spell haste per critter, which can stack up to 10 times.”

Possibly another expansion after Wrath (unlikely to hear about it). Definitely hear more about Starcraft. The healing trees of all classes besides Priests will be removed and Priests will get a tanking tree :). Murlocs will be a playable race. Alliance and Horde will, for the first time ever, be able to talk to each other. Full slots of legendary grade items (On a side note, why aren’t there any legendary items aside from weapons?).

Other Bloggers

Joveta: I predict a big announcement that’s non-Wrath related.  Maybe a date for the new Starcraft or Diablo (or both!).  (It is Blizzcon, not WoWcon, after all)

Veneretio: My prediction is that the new spec system will include a sandbox area where you can pre-build specs and save them. This in conjunction with a single click respec feature would allow for easier, safer, faster respecs for maximum level characters.

Seri: Lots of wrath promo. New pvp info. Dual spec ui teaser for post-wrath. New Diablo info. Maybe a demo. Class panels with lots of QQ. Photos of drunken fanboys with devs and CMs. Pin the tail on the Tauren.Felicia Day sighting.

Lassirra: Naked Gnome races and Murloc rodeos!

The Twitterati

@Medros wow 4.0, updates on dual spec and dance studios, and general fanboi craziness

@shinmeko Blizzcon predictions: Alex and I get drunk, Felicia Day stuns nerds far and wide, and Starcraft never gets released.

@isheepthings from the blue feeds it looks like they will hash out a bit more about duel-spec mechanics. rest will be d3 news.

@Laikia i have a sneaking suspicion we’ll all be a tad disappointed. But maybe a release date for Starcraft II

@honorshammer Tigole or Kalgan will make an offhand comment in one of the class Q&As that will get disected for days and days on the forums

@roflwolf  I predict there’s a potential for getting felicia day’s autograph… assuming I can rely on my friends… so, probably not. lol! Otherwise, it’s going to be E3 w/o the competition… whatever that means.

@eliah No big announcements. Overpriced collectible crap. I will stay up late posting.

@IcE_IcE_Luwin Jessica Alba will reveal she is a hardcore WoW player (plays a female dwarf priest)

@justanna  someone, somewhere, will murder a murloc horribly. I predict chalk outlines, as this becomes a new Blizzcon trend.

Image credits: mmagallan