Monday, October 29, 2007

Comet 17P Holmes in the city sky

It's not about gaming, but I thought I'd share my enjoyment of the recently super-bright comet 17P Holmes, which appeared near the constellation of Perseus. In my photo gallery, I uploaded a set of pictures of the comet which were taken from within the city of Somerville, Massachusetts with a moon obscuring many stars, and with just a simple Canon SD 1000 camera. Even still, the image of the comet was clearly visible and in excellent focus (given that it's a blur in the sky to begin with). Hope you get the chance to get out and see it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

World of Warcraft 2.3 and Lich King

I've been writing two articles about World of Warcraft changes recently. One is 2.3 and You, and focuses on the changes that can be seen currently on the Player Test Realm (PTR) servers. The other is a collection of information about the upcoming expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, called Wrath of the Lich King and You.

2.3 is a huge patch, and tracking the changes it will bring to World of Warcraft hasn't been easy. It will involve dozens of class-specific changes, tradeskill changes, PVP and PVE changes as well as an entire new raid dungeon for 10 players.

Wrath of the Lich King, on the other hand is hard to nail down. Developers and CMs on the World of Warcraft message boards sometimes leak a tidbit, but it's not always clear when they're talking about 2.3 and when they're talking about Lich King. For example, the reduction or elimination of the so-called "deadzone" would be a major change for the hunter class, but it's looking increasingly likely that that change is being aimed at the expansion, where everyone assumed at first that it was destined for 2.3.

I'll keep trying to stay on top of these changes, and my articles will be updated as real work and homelife permit.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Roleplaying tools: name and treasure generator

Probably the most fun I've had in a long time writing code was the creation of my random name generator and random d20 treasure generator. These tools were not only fun to write, but they've obviously given many others tons of enjoyment (based on how often they're hit).

The d20 treasure generator is a fairly simple program that rolls up random treasure hordes according to the rules in the d20 SRD 3.5 (the system on which Dungeons & Dragons is based). However, it handles everything from the simple treasure tables all the way to the intelligence and special materials rules. It even smooths out a few bugs in the system. For example, the "minor" magic item "robe of useful things" could, as written, be generated with 16,000 gp worth of gems in it, and yet be worth only 7000 gp! In this case, we take any item in the robe with a listed value and add its value to the base value of the robe, but no extra value is added for the other mundane items that are often found on such robes (it is assumed that these items are included in the base price).

The random name generator is aimed at creating random strings of letters that, when pronounced, sound like a name. To do this, the program works off of a dozen or so different name lists, and for each list, it can generate names that sound like the ones on that list. It has male and female names for multiple periods in French history; the 1990 U.S. Census; science fiction and fantasy characters; Norse names from the various chronicles; and even Aztec mythology. I've looked at a lot of name generators, and while mine tends to be slower than many of them, it's also much better at generating a name that sounds like it's from a particular culture.

I hope everyone enjoys both of these tools. Feel free to provide feedback on the discussion pages for their Wiki entries: random name generator wiki page; d20 random treasure generator wiki page.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

World of Warcraft Screenshot Gallery

My World of Warcraft (WoW) screenshot gallery has been chronicling my WoW gaming experiences for about a year now. I've done a lot of PvP, raiding and soloing on the Horde side, and I've even started a few Alliance toons recently. I play on the Argent Dawn server, so if you play there, be sure to check and see if I caught you in one of my shots!

Images like the one to the left I use to share my UI setup with others. I'll be writing an article soon about how to choose mods and stay up-to-date on what new mods to use for Warcraft, because I'm constantly running into people who don't know how to customize their UI or did once, but don't know what mods work these days.

I've also got images of some of the most intense raid events that I've been through, 5-man dungeons and so on. Check it out, comment and share (yes, all of these images are intended for others to share as they wish... please credit the source when you do so, though).

Welcome to my Gaming Blog

For those who come here without knowing who I am, I'm the administrator of, an avid gamer and author of dozens of articles about video games, board games, role playing games and even card games. Gaming is a huge part of my life, and I try to share what I learn with others. I also try to make what I write accessible to others to contribute as they see fit. My site is a Wiki, so everyone who creates an account can edit it (I use the same technology as Wikipedia; a server called MediaWiki). I also publish almost all of my site under the Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike license, which means that as long as you mention where you got it and allow others the same rights, you can copy the text from my site and use it on your own.

So, what is it that I write about? I'll get into specifics in later posts, but I write about World of Warcraft on my Raiding the Metagame site; I review games like Munchkin on my AJS Reviews site; I discuss Dungeons & Dragons games that I've run and even the ethics of the game for those who might have gotten the wrong idea. I also write tools like my d20 treasure generator for Dungeons & Dragons treasure and my random name generator that can generate names in 15th century French, 1990 U.S., Aztec and lots of other themes.

I'll get into all of this more a bit later, but for now I just wanted to say hi, and get this blog rolling. See you all later!