Yes, that’s Theramore, again. This is going to be a very personal post – if you want happy entertainment, I suggest you skip this installment.
This scenario continues to bother me on a very personal level. I’ve done this already. And, not that I’ve done it during the pre-Mists update, that’s not what I mean. Most of us did it then, it was the first fresh content in a while.
I mean, in real life.
This is going to take some explaining, I realize. Hardly anyone else has ever heard this before – I usually stay dead silent on the subject. Give me a little room, and I’ll try to explain.
I was born in the mid-seventies, in Philadelphia. I barely remember living in an old Victorian house on a corner in Ridley Park, PA, just outside of Philly. My father was a nuclear engineer, he had hard hats and geiger-counters and cool science stuff.
Then, Three Mile Island (TMI) happened. If you’re unaware, Three Mile Island is a nuclear power plant on the Susquehanna River (we nicknamed it the “Suck-A-Banana”), just south of Harrisburg, out in central Pennsylvania. In 1979, there was a nuclear meltdown at that power plant. At least, that’s how it happened to most of you. That’s not how it happened to us.
No one knew what had happened, when it actually happened. The agencies involved in running TMI had to put together a “research team” to go into the reactor and find out what occurred. My father was put on that research team.
Some of what I’m going to tell you is what my mother could tell me later, some of it is what I vividly remember, and some of the details happened to have emerged only in the past five years during therapy. So, if my storytelling here wanders off the path a little, I apologize.
Being on a team to go into a reactor that had an “event” was a horrifyingly stressful situation. People had to walk into the reactor wearing lead suits, point flashlights around, and try to make a diagnosis, and figure out what to do next. That’s what the research team was.
They were awake, running 24/7, for weeks. The research team members eventually took to drinking alcohol in order to try to get some sleep. They were terrified. There had never been a nuclear disaster in the history of the US prior to this event – they didn’t know what could happen. Was there going to be a crater, like in the above picture? How many people were going to die?
At one point my father told me that one of the engineers on the team stripped his lead suit off and tried running straight into the reactor. My father had to hit him in the back of the head with a pipe and drag him out. In turn, my father also took his glove off while inside, and held a fuel rod – that’s the uranium that’s having the nuclear reaction – in his bare hand because he was trying to kill himself.
My father had given my mother instructions that if he called and told her that it was unrecoverable, that she should do the following: she should load the shotgun, and shoot my brother and I in the back. The pellet spread was bound to get us in the hearts, and she wouldn’t have to see our faces when we die. She was instructed to overdose on pills afterwards. He didn’t want his family to have to live through a nuclear apocalypse. That’s how scared they were.
He did, in fact, call and tell her it was unrecoverable. Thankfully, she didn’t follow orders. I want to be very clear, I love my mother.
We moved out to the area near the reactor. At that time, it was diagnosed as a meltdown, but it was undecided whether or not they should “contain” it. So, let me give you a quick run-down on a reactor – they’re pretty simple, but you’ll need this to understand the context. Nuclear fuel rods are uranium. They emit radiation, small particles from the atoms. Put enough radiation into a vat of water, the water gets hot. That becomes steam, which is used to turn turbines and generate power. That water then goes out to the “cooling towers” – the giant curved cylinders, to become less hot, before being pumped back into the reactor for another go ’round.
The rods don’t actually touch the water. At least, they’re not supposed to. In a meltdown, the tubes that the rods go into, well, melt, and now the rod touches the water. If there are any nuclear engineers reading this and would like to correct me, please do, but I think I’m basically getting it right.
If the rods touch the water, the water is then contaminated. Containing that contaminated water, then, is what “containment” means. Instead of going to the cooling towers and evaporating away, and thereby creating a nuclear cloud that carries over the east coast, they lock it all down in cement, and turn it into a nuclear waste storage facility. If containment couldn’t hold, however, it would blow up. I don’t exactly know the details on that, I think the rods continue to heat and contaminate the water, until you get a nuclear detonation.
At this point my father was an alcoholic, understandably so. Unfortunately, he was a mean alcoholic. My parents fought a lot, I remember bottles being thrown at me, tables being thrown at my mother, my brother stepping in before I got hit by my father, etc. When I heard the garage door open, I’d run and hide, so I wouldn’t have to put up with him. Things were hard.
Sometime during all of this, I remember one Saturday afternoon my father brought home a gigantic notebook. In it were 8.5″ x 11″ sheets, three-hole punched, with numbers. There were literally hundreds of pages. On each page, numbers were spaced in an array, maybe 12 digits in each number, 6 or 8 to a row, and I have no idea how many rows to a page. It was a lot of numbers.
We had an IBM PC, the kind with the dual-floppy drives in it. He explained how I was supposed to read the numbers from the page, and type them in on whatever program it was. I was 5 or 6 at the time. I vividly remember him setting down a large plastic cup full of ice and coke in front of me, slapping my shoulder, and saying, “Son, don’t make a mistake, or you’ll blow up the entire east coast. I’m going to bed.”
Yes, I’m pretty sure that was the data that was used to determine whether or not they should attempt containment. I don’t know that for fact, though. It could have been his sick sense of humor – but I do know he had been awake for days on end, and he was reluctantly asking me to do it because it needed to be done, I was smart and good with numbers, and he desperately needed to sleep. He wasn’t going to be able to do it himself, and of everyone else in the house, I was the most likely to get it right.
If you’ve gone and done your wikipedia research, you will have learned that containment was deemed not viable. It was decided that it would eventually blow, and that they needed to “release” – yes, the contaminated water was going to be allowed to evaporate into the atmosphere, and contaminate the land. The release was done slowly, it took over five years to completely evaporate, before they could dismantle that reactor. I am pretty sure I handled that data. I am concerned that I made mistakes.
I realize this isn’t a good way to see it. I was the same age as my daughter is now – and I would never, ever, ask her to not blow up the east coast. I love her, I have a lot of faith in her and she’s very smart and caring – but c’mon, no parent should ever do that to such a small child. It’s completely insane.
I’ve tried finding any evidence of what harm that release may have caused. There are no direct deaths to my knowledge. Quite a lot of cows got some sort of cancer or tumor in their throats. Central Pennsylvania is dairy country, there’s a lot of cows there. The piece of data that worries me the most, though, is that consistent with the release was a dramatic spike in local miscarriages. Something like 1100 mothers miscarried more than usual.
My mistake(s) may have cost 1,100 unborn children their lives.
This is guilt that I carry, and can’t seem to shake. My parents eventually divorced. My father went on to marry a woman that was on the research team. There was suspicion that he was having an affair with her prior to the meltdown, and that perhaps he made that phone call as an “easy out.”
At some point prior to the divorce, he abducted me for a week, kept trying to convince me that I should live with him and this other lady. He only took me – he didn’t take my older brother. I kept trying to explain that brothers should be allowed to grow up together. I guess I became so despondent that he took me home. I know I wasn’t over 10 years old at the time, I was probably more like 7 or 8.
My father and I no longer talk to each other – I didn’t see a point in it. Once the divorce occurred, he only called once a year, and almost never sent child support. I had to tell him it wasn’t worth the effort, and that my life was a lot better once he was out of the house – I was maybe 14 at the time.
So, I’ve already unwittingly participated in a nuclear disaster. You’ll excuse me if I don’t queue up for Theramore ever again.
This has been bothering me since the Theramore scenario was first released, actually. I haven’t had the nerve, or the time, to sit down and write it all out, mostly because this isn’t stuff you share. Honestly, I know that. From years of sharing bits and pieces, I’ve learned that everyone has some pile of darkness in their past they’d rather forget about. I’ve even been avoiding blogging for the purpose of trying to get away from feeling like I have to write this out. But, I did have to write it.
This also finally answers Ambermist’s Meme and gets that off my chest. Now before you go off feeling horrible, please remember, that was my childhood, not my entire life. Since then, I have worked extremely hard at being good at what I do, being a loving father, a good husband, and enjoying my life. Things are much better for me, now.
I haven’t posted in a while, because an expansion dropped and I had to get my bearings. I’m still leveling up (only at 88 currently), but I think I’ve got bear down pretty well now, and am moving onto my other side of things, feral. I’m also pretty sure once I start pet-battling I’ll stop doing dungeons, dailies, going outside, eating, and really anything else, so it’s best if I get this out now.
Like my earlier bear post, this is an attempt to draw out the basics of the specialization’s gameplay, without getting too mired down in long-winded explanations or impressive theorycrafting. There’s a lot of that available already, from some great sources. What I’m trying to do is give you a quick visual so you can grasp the general design of the spec, and see if it’s for you, or maybe make something obvious that you have overlooked.
In my case, I use skill maps to help me navigate my keybindings and action bars, as it helps spell out what does what.
From a high-level perspective, cats use energy (a naturally refilling resource) to fuel their abilities. These abilities make combo points onto the target. With a standard UI, combo points show up as red circles on the outside of the unit frame of your target. Combo points, and a little more energy, are used to do finishing moves. If you’ve played a rogue, you know the territory.
I am not including the talent choices on the map – this is mostly because talents are all pretty useful, and choosing one negates the others on that tier.
I still used 11 categories on the map, this time they are:
- Combo-point generators – these create combo points on the target
- Finishing moves – these use the combo points
- Self Buffs – these are basically offensive cooldowns
- AoE – area of effect, use this for large groups of mobs
- Crowd Control – different skills to incapacitate targets. Note that stuns are indicated elsewhere.
- Defenses – various things to give you a bit more survivability.
- Heals – pretty obvious.
- Interrupts – used to interrupt spell casting.
- Bear – these will transform you into a bear, or require you to be in bear form to use.
- Ranged Spells – you’ll use this when the mobs are far away.
- Random Utilities – This is the catch-all for the rest of the stuff that you get. You want a lot of this, but it doesn’t neatly fit into any of the other organizations.
Also, there’s a number of notations on the map. The poorly-drawn red blob indicates a bleed effect, this is a DoT (damage over time). A red plus after a skill indicates that it hits harder if the target is bleeding.
Green text denotes “good things”, and sometimes goes with the nearby green arrows. Purple text is for requirements (you’ve heard a lot about positional requirements, now you can see which skills this affects). Sometimes you have to be stealthed as well, this is also marked in purple.
Brown/yellow text is information about energy. You can reduce the cost, or award extra energy for using particular abilities. Note the Omen of Clarity proc as well, that’s a nice thing to pay attention to, and one I usually mess up in gameplay.
Green dots are “HoT”s (heal over time). Black X’s are skills that you have, that you’ll probably never map to an action bar. They’re for boomkin, but we get them as well. They cost mana, will knock us out of cat form, and hit like wet noodles as a cat. I ignore those.
I recommend clicking on this to see it in a larger format, there’s some small text.
Pay close attention to what causes bleeds, as a few buttons cause more damage when bleeds are rolling. You can have more than one bleed on at a time. This is the first secret to cat DPS – keep all the bleeds up. The second secret is to hit the short-term cooldowns as often as possible, and do everything you can to keep all your green bonuses (on the map) continuing to go.
I hope this comes in handy for other visual learners out there. Let me know if you spot any errors, or have any ideas for improvements.
This is going to come out a bit rambly – there’s a lot of things all jarring around inside my head, and I haven’t found a clean pattern to it yet. But, there’s definitely a few things I want to get out as a result of a lot of Twitter conversations I’ve seen, or recent blog posts I’ve looked at.
Lately I’ve been seeing quite a few blog posts about what difficult circumstances the writer faces, and how they took to MMORPGs as a way of dealing with things. Some of the posts have been earth-shatteringly moving, horribly similar to my own situations, or outright sad. The feeling that I’m getting from all of this is that we’ve faced a lot. All of us.
I’ve got similar stories, and I’ll probably get around to telling them sometime. I’ll admit that during Ambermist’s Meme I was certainly considering sharing, but I had simply too much going on in real life to come out and cope with this material as well. Things are almost nearly done being shaken up in my real life, and it looks like I’m making it through.
But, as Hestiah pointed out, the negativity is getting difficult. I want to look at things a little differently. I want to ask why gaming is giving us a place to relax, connect, and enjoy our time even if our lives, or our histories, seem to imply that we shouldn’t. So, I guess I’ll share at least a little bit about why it seems to work for me.
I prefer to deal with reality in small doses. I don’t seem to want to face everything all at once. I want to glance at it, walk away, come back later, check on it, procrastinate about it, and eventually go own up to it and get it over with. Without that “warming up to it” period, I generally feel overwhelmed and try to find some avoidance mechanism. I get highly annoyed when my day is so tightly scheduled that I don’t have a break (like running errands all day, or a day full of meetings). I actually need those momentary pauses to just… disconnect. I need to temporarily let go of everything I’m trying to carry around, and just calm down for a minute.
I know that my mind works a little differently than most people. My wife isn’t calm until she’s completed the list of tasks for the day. I feel calm when I get to concentrate. If I can become so engrossed in what I’m doing, my perception of my immediate environs vanishes and I feel overwhelmingly calm. This happens the best when I’m writing. Other choices that work are reading (blogs even work, please keep sending links!), writing code (yes, I’m a programmer), or playing music. MMO gaming, however, is just a little bit different. It provides that calming mechanism, but it also provides something else.
That “other thing” it provides, is company. I’m not alone. Now, to be clear, I don’t game with a lot of people. My guild, if you’d call it that, is a few real life friends and we run dungeons together, or go do our own independent thing – there’s not enough of us for a raid group, and with SW:TOR in the mix, lately people have been playing different games entirely and only chatting back and forth on Teamspeak (Dark ages, I know, but it’s not my server and it works well enough).
But, I do get to chat with people. I do get to interact with my friends. That imaginary bubble that holds the real world back for a while actually let some other people in, and I’m not all alone. That’s phenomenally huge. MMO Gaming allows for a communal escape. “Your life sucks?” “Yeah, mine too, let’s go kill some ogres and enjoy ourselves anyway.”
I get an opportunity to push a giant PAUSE button on reality, but it doesn’t freeze my friends. That’s pretty cool. Growing up, I’d never have imagined being able to have friends tag along into a well-crafted book at the same time as me. I could lend a book out, we could talk about it afterward, but we couldn’t ever enjoy it at the same time. Our temporary escapes were solitary. Watching a movie was probably the closest we could get, but you’re just sitting there, not participating. That’s not quite the same either.
The ability to communicate, to share the event, or to interact with actual people really made a huge difference. Suddenly, console games seemed incredibly lonely. I noticed something else about myself, though. I tend to seek out these like-minded virtual communities, and have done so since before MMORPGs existed.
I went to a college called RPI, where students developed a computer-mediated communication system called lily. This system was so fascinating to me in the fact that I was communicating with basically strangers, but they had similar backgrounds and interests as me, and it wasn’t the fractured populace just wildly yammering at each other. Knowledge of the system was predicated on either being associated with the college, or knowing someone on the system. This environment gave a similar feeling, the ability to provide a side-commentary on reality, without the immediate participation in reality. I could PAUSE things while I have a brief conversation with someone.
My recent foray into the world of blogging has been similar. The gaming blogosphere isn’t like the official Blizzard forums – people certainly come across as caring, genuine, intelligent, and interesting. Twitter allows those interactions to become conversations. This has been really fun. When it feels like a chore, or a duty, or… I dunno, a Molten Front daily, then I’ll probably take a pause from it.
(To hold a bubble like my daughter is doing, just get your hand wet first).
With all the changes that have happened to our class, it’s going to take a while to get my action bars straightened out and then get my muscle memory up to snuff. I wanted to get organized for once, instead of trying to hold everything in my head, I thought perhaps I should map out my skills in a way that would be more visual, and hopefully doesn’t miss anything.
For the first step, I wanted to get a map of the abilities. Now, it’s going to look huge, and I apologize for that. But, honestly, there’s 47 abilities, not counting racial abilities, or trinket activations. There is plenty to assign to your measly 1 through = keys.
I decided to break the skills into 11 categories:
- Rage Generation
- Offensive Cooldowns
- Active Mitigation
- Rage Spending
- Threat Management
- Cat Form
- and the last group: WTF DO I USE THIS FOR?
My first category “Attacks” is something I was hoping would be easier to fill out, because the way I think of playing a Bear in Cata is a whole lot of attacking stuff. With the addition of Rage Generation, however, we now have to manage generating our rage in order to spend it on Active Mitigation abilities.
I was a little liberal with my terminology of Active Mitigation. I’m using it to mean any defensive cooldown ability, whether or not it consumes Rage, our primary resource. Only Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration consume Rage these days, and the rest are just cooldowns that help our survivability. You really should know those skills are around these days, because if you’re caught without enough rage for either “true” Active Mitigation skill, you should be using your free defensive cooldowns. These need to be on your action bars!
Rage Spending was a category I was hoping would be more filled in as well, but there’s only one ability, Maul, which is now basically a Rage dump. Unless I seriously overpower the content, I’m not likely to use this skill very often. The loss of being able to hit an Active Mitigation cooldown in exchange for a few points of DPS is pretty sad, even if it is my personality type.
Threat Management used to consist of two skills, Growl, which boosts your threat equal to the highest threat on the target, and some other “holy crap we’re gonna die” button that is there if you’ve completely blown everything. I can’t remember the name of that skill anyway, because I never pushed it – I always left it at the ready. Now we’re down to just Growl.
We still have two AoE skills, Thrash and Swipe. Thrash applies a bleed (see that red blob? That’s supposed to be a blood drop!). The red plus on Swipe is meant to show that it hits harder on opponents that have bleeds applied. Given a choice, hit Thrash, then Swipe. Lacerate (up in Attacks) also applies a bleed.
Those long streaky arrows from Lacerate and Thrash show that Mangle’s cooldown gets a chance to be reset when you push that skill. Since Mangle is the only thing that makes Rage for you, you’ll want to use it often. Hit the skills that let you use it more often. As a sanity check, that now means you have a “priority” of Mangle > Thrash / Lacerate > Swipe. Put very simply, YOU WILL SPAM MANGLE. Sometimes you get to hit other buttons, which let you hit Mangle more. If you’re not hitting Mangle, maybe try… um… hitting Mangle? If you can’t hit Mangle, you can push another button, but the next button after that will definitely be Mangle.
Utilities became a very gross, over-concentrated category. I’ll be writing a follow-up post that sorts out the Utilities better, because I’m going to need it to work out my new action bar mappings. This catch-all category includes a battle rez, various CC abilities, movement CDs, interrupts, and for some reason it looks like I can actually push “track humanoids” as a button, instead of just a mini-map option.
Cat Form abilities are helpful to note, because if Heart of the Wild becomes a viable way to transition to Cat for some temporary DPS while not tanking, you’re going to want these on your cat action bars. To better deal with the amazing shift in skill sets, I use the Bartender4 add-on. You can assign multiple bars to swap based on your shapeshift. In Cata, I used up two bars of buttons for Bear, and two bars for Cat. In Mists, there’s a good chance I’m going to need 3 bars with all the new cooldowns available.
The Healing category has a couple skills marked with green dots – these are, in fact, HoTs – heals over time. I wanted to identify those specifically because how you think about HoTs can be a little different than direct heals. If you don’t need all of the direct heal, you may not want to cast it for efficiency reasons. If you toss a HoT out, you may get less overheals as a result. I’m no healer though – so don’t take my word for it. Most of the skills here will also take you out of Bear form (unless you’re using Nature’s Swiftness skill), so don’t put these directly on your action bars. If you use Nature’s Swiftness, you can macro it with Healing Touch.
Finally… the WTF DO I USE THIS FOR? category.
Now, to be fair, I know when I should use Wrath and Moonfire – when I’m doing dailies in Org and want to hear the cool sound effect without chasing down the pigs, or the stealthed food thieves. I’ve never used Hurricane other than making a mess on my screen. I’ve heard of bears using it to pull aggro on a pack of mobs, but I just never tried, namely because the targeting reticule, and channeling aspects are cumbersome to deal with. I wouldn’t make a good boomkin, despite all that gear I’ve collected.
I have also used Teleport:Moonglade while leveling – it’s a close enough flight to Org that it makes getting back from certain places easier if your hearthstone is on cooldown, and, of course, you’re Horde. Between scrolls of recall and the reduced cooldown on my hearth from guild perks, I don’t use it anymore.
Symbiosis, like everyone else, deserves its own write-up. I’m mostly concerned what the UI looks like for the people involved. We can argue about the skills all day, but the fact remains that most casual players aren’t going to know what to do with a new skill, let alone map it to their action bars and actually use it in a 5-man. Unless it shows up as one of those “Extra Action Buttons” like Dream in the Madness fight, casual non-druids aren’t going to use their new skills, period.
Enjoy the map – and as always, feedback appreciated.
Just in case you haven’t heard, World of Warcraft’s “Mists of Panderia” has announced a release date of September 25th, 2012. This is the kind of news that happens while I’m sleeping or trying to get to work in the morning, apparently, so there’s not much of a chance for me to write a post on the bleeding edge here. I’m sure you’ve heard already, but now I don’t have to feel like I’m hiding information from you.
As you may have noticed, things have been really quiet around this blog lately – that’s due to a couple of reasons. The first is that I’m looking to leave my job of 11 years and start a new company. When I do have some time to myself, I’m usually doing research, or talking to the new business partners, or busy stressing out about what I’m about to do to myself and my family.
Secondly, when I am gaming these days, I’m just playing catch-up. My “guild” is basically a few real life friends, and they migrate from game to game as they collectively agree on what to do next. Their current obsession is SW:TOR. I’m trying, but I just don’t like it. The storyline is irksome, it’s always serious, and as noted in another post, the overall timing of the game isn’t very conducive to how often I get to play. My guildies have been level 50 (the max level) for months now, I’m still lagging behind at a lowly level 32 on my main, and haven’t even dared roll an alt yet. I’m sure there’s a SW:TOR post-mortem coming from me. In Diablo, I play intensely for about an hour at a time, but I’m still in normal mode at the start of Act III, so I don’t feel like there’s much I can add to the conversations on it at the moment. You kill stuff, it’s fun, then you hit a wall and go to the auction house. Not much to talk about, really. When it’s not seeming fun, don’t play it. Easy enough!
With MOP’s date announced, I’m now interested in getting back into WoW, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to be reasonably paced with it. The new business is definitely taking a lot of my spare cycles, so there isn’t much time.
There’s a few things I want to get done before the expansion lands:
- Review all of the new skills for my main – this will certainly take a while, and probably generate a post or two.
- Map out the best allocation of keybindings and macros so I can play easily. I’ll try to share my thoughts on this process, but that could be really lengthy.
- Get re-accustomed to tanking, which will probably have to be on the Beta so my muscle-memory gets attached to the new skills/rotations.
- As for live, I just want to clear out my inventory – I usually stockpile hordes of crap for no good reason. As a druid, I’m actually maintaining gear for any spec possible, which all just sits in my bank. Making money would be a good idea, learning as many of the remaining glyphs for Inscription would probably help, although I’m a little afraid Scribes are getting one of those “consolation gifts” of a couple pieces of gold for your previously useful, hard-earned abilities. You know, like when they took keys out of the game – you made a couple gold, but some of those you were very proud of!
- Get that T13 hat to drop, but in my case that means dealing with LFR, which I couldn’t care less about at this point.
So, there’s a lot to do these days, both in-game and out.