Monday, June 01, 2020

The Centralized Internet

A few days ago, I saw a discussion on Hacker News bemoaning the centralisation of the internet, and the loss of blogs and other independent sites. Most of the comments blamed Google and the other giant tech companies for this.

I don't really agree with this perspective. I'm not a big fan of the giant tech companies, but I don't think they were directly responsible for the centralisation of the internet.

In my view, the centralisation of the internet had too major causes: spam; and the fact that creators are drawn to audiences, and only rarely the other way around.

The hard truth is that there is no decentralised solution to spam. If you allow other people to post comments or content to your site, you will get inundated with spam. Only the large tech companies have managed to reduce the problem to manageable levels.

The other factor pushing centralisation is that creators are drawn to audiences, and not vice versa. 

One of the blogs I follow is Arnold Kling's Askblog. It's a nice blog on economics and politics with a lot of good commenters. Indeed, most of his posts get between 10 and 30 comments of high quality, which is quite excellent. In some ways, it's the "beau ideal" of blogs that the Hacker News people were mourning.

Yet last year, Mr. Kling started posting essays on Medium.com instead of his own site. His reasoning was basically that he wanted a larger audience.

The lesson here is that creators go where the audience is. If everyone watches videos on Youtube, then creators will make videos on Youtube.

I think that between spam and audiences, it was inevitable that the internet would centralise. A de facto carrot and the stick, one which the tech giants took advantage of.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Gaming Log - May 31

World of Warcraft

I finished the Legion Priest Order Hall story. It was enjoyable. I remember reading complaints that the Paladins stole all the glory, but I thought it was pretty sensible. The priest story was all about finding and unifying allies, and recruiting the paladins to their cause fit in with that.

I've started the Broken Isles campaign for the priest mount, and am in the middle of it. I've done it fairly recently on my warlock, though, so I'm not very enthusiastic about it.

World of Warcraft Classic
  • Rogue - Did another run of Stockades to finish a quest from Dun Modr. This time with a paladin tank with Consecrate. He was a pretty good tank, though he did have to drink to recover mana a lot.
  • Priest - Did a few quests to kill ghouls in Duskwood. Hit level 25.
  • Paladin - Did a couple of the early quests in Lakeshire to kill gnolls. Hit level 20, where you get the Verigan's Fist quest. So I guess I'll be trying for that.
One thing about Classic is that leveling after the main rush is a little unappealing. So many people are selling dungeon carries, or asking to buy carries that it is a little off-putting. In some ways, I wish Blizzard would release a brand-new server with no transfers allowed.

The Old Republic

My Sith Inquistor finished Nathema. Despite being Dark Side, I couldn't bring myself to do anything bad to the traitor.

I then finished Ossus with the Inquistor as well. I actually hit max level right at the start, so it's been interesting getting max-level gear randomly while going through the story.

Wolcen

I haven't played Wolcen in about a month, so I've uninstalled it. I really enjoyed the campaign, and I think the game is worth the money just for that. However, I think redoing the campaign for online play--especially with a build that wasn't my primary interest--had the effect of using up a lot of enthusiasm for the game, and I never really got into the endgame.

All in all, though, Wolcen was charming.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Gaming Log - May 28

World of Warcraft

Raid night again. We finished off the last five bosses in N'yalotha Heroic. It was a short night, as all were one-shots. We came close to wiping on N'Zoth, though. It was going perfectly fine when suddenly three quarters of the raid died near the end of phase 3. I'm still not sure what happened there. Luckily the last quarter of the raid was able to finish off the boss before they all died.

After that, I switched to the Priest. I remembered what I really wanted to do with this character, which was finish the Legion class order hall story. So back to Dalaran to continue onwards. The priest story is pretty interesting, sending you all over the place. To Northrend, to recruit a priest from the Scarlet Crusade. To Duskwood, to recruit a Shadow priest. Then it intertwines with the paladin story. I ended up stopping at a point where you get sent to the Paladin order hall. Sadly, you can't take the shortcut in Dalaran, and instead have to go all the way to Eastern Plaguelands.

World of Warcraft Classic

I did one quest on my Rogue to kill some cursed sailors in Wetlands. Still level 31. 

It is interesting how just doing a single quest in Classic is a satisfying use of time. Needing to be careful and pull one mob at a time makes questing take much more effort. Thankfully, the few times I pulled two at once, I had Blade Flurry available.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Gaming Log - May 27

World of Warcraft Classic

I play Classic in a weird (at least, weird to me) fashion. I play multiple characters, but do very little on each character.
  • Priest - did one quest to collect Rot Blossoms from skeletons in Darkshire. Still level 24.
  • Hunter - did one quest to investigate a Red Crystal in Darkshore. Had to fight through a lot of moonkins. Still level 14.
  • Rogue - joined a group and did the Dun Modr elite quests in Wetlands. Hit level 31.
That's basically 15 minutes on each character (maybe 30 min on the Rogue) before I decide I'm finished with that character for the night.

World of Warcraft

I did the first Vision with my Priest. For some reason, I did it as Holy. It was a straight shot to Alleria just to get the first cloak upgrade.  I also did the N'Zoth invasion in Uldum. For some reason, the last boss seemed much more annoying when I do it on a melee character. I then went to Nazjatar for a bit. I have two unfilled Essence slots, so I need to at least pick up Rank 1 versions from somewhere.

I need to decide what I want to do with this Priest. Do I want to heal, to dps, to do group content, or just mess around with solo content? Her item level is now around 420, so it's starting to get into the group content range.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Gaming Log - May 26

I need to get back into the habit of writing posts. I'm going to try simple log or diary-style posts.

Final Fantasy XIV

I finished the level 80 Red Mage quest. 

Shadowbringers did something different with class quests than previous expansions. Instead of have a separate quest chain for each class, each of the five roles had a shared quest chain which tied into the expansion story. I've done the Tank, Healer, and Magic DPS chains.

However at level 80, there is a small class quest which is basically just checking back in with the main NPCs for the class. The Red Mage was pretty short, but enjoyable.

World of Warcraft Classic

I just logged in with my bank alt and put up some materials on the Auction House. I'm up to 17 gold, which isn't bad considering my highest-level character is only 30. I've mostly been levelling low-level alts, but I've been consistently sending all the white and green loot to the bank alt to sell.

The bank alt also got invited to a guild, Bankers of Azeroth! Pretty amusing, I guess the officer or GM just threw me an invite when he noticed the character name was 'Coribank'.

World of Warcraft

It was raid night. We've taken to doing the first seven bosses of Nyalotha on Tuesday (top 2 wings), and doing the last 5 bosses on Thursday. Basically raiding half the time of our normal raids, but keeping the 2-day a week schedule. We did attempt to finish the raid in one night, but it was inconsistent, and we usually ended up having to leave N'Zoth to Thursday. And then logging in for just one boss was unsatisfying.

I healed with my paladin. We've taken to two-healing most of the instance with about 16 to 18 people. It's not that bad, except that it is hard to recover if mistakes are made early. We do have a couple of other raiders who switch specs if we need a third healer. Usually N'Zoth and Drest'agath. N'Zoth because wiping in phase 3 and having to redo the entire fight is annoying. Drest'agath mostly to have a healer in the obscuring vision clouds just in case the melee needs heals.

Loot-wise, I got Leech corruption boots, but I already have gemmed corruption boots, so I gave them up. We use an addon called LootRaffle to distribute unwanted loot, and it is pretty nice.

I've also gotten my Priest to 120 over the last week, got the cloak and her item level up to i412 or so. I need to decide what I want to do with this character. She's currently Shadow for solo questing, but maybe it would be better to have another healer and do some group content.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Finally Past Iokath Sentinals!

In SWTOR, my Sith Inquisitor has been stuck on one mission for the last couple of months. It's one of those vehicle combat missions. Basically, you're in a Walker on Iokath, and you have to kill three giant Sentinels.

I don't know if Bioware changed the scaling, but it was much more difficult than when I did it on my Imperial Agent and Jedi Knight a year ago. I've been hoping to see a Patch Note fixing it but nothing was coming out.

I finally did a Google search and came across an alternate strategy that was said to work. Basically have the Walker stand in the middle and use the Heavy Stomp on cooldown.

I gave that a try, and it worked like a charm! A bit cheesy, but what can you do?

According to various commenters, the vehicle missions work correctly if you are at the expected level for the mission. But if you are a higher level and are scaled down, it is much harder. Which was pretty much the exact situation I was in.

But thankfully my Inquisitor is now past that, and into the Traitor arc. There's an option to forgive the traitor at the end of the arc, which I took on both my Agent and Knight. However, doing the chapters in rapid succession has made me far less likely to forgive. The traitor causes a lot of grief early on that was easy to discount or forget about when each chapter in the arc came out a month or two apart.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Eden's Verse

Recently, I finished the Normal version of the latest 8-man raid, Eden's Verse, in Final Fantasy XIV.

I think FFXIV is pushing the limits of reasonable complexity, even if the raids aren't super difficult. Take a look at this video guide to the 3rd boss:


I watched this video in a mild state of disbelief. It's actually a little better in-game, because you generally only have to move one square, so you can do with minimal movement if you stand on the borders.

The other thing that FFXIV does is that failing mechanics is usually not an instant kill. Instead, you get a debuff called "Vulnerability" which makes you take more damage, and lasts for a minute. So you can make a few mistakes and survive, but too many will cause you to die.

The actual raid story is quite good. The other three fights are a little more reasonable. All in all, Eden's Verse is a good raid. I am a little worried that SE is leaning too much on a somewhat "artificial" way of making the fights hard, rather than a more traditional "organic" difficulty. Though I suppose what's "artificial" is in the eye of the beholder.