Breaking News: Nothing happens.

Not actually true, strictly speaking – it is the opposite of nothing happening which is causing it to appear as if nothing is happening around here. Real life has been pretty busy, chaotic and mostly unpleasant and this has prevented me from working on any of the 7+ posts in my drafts folder recently. I haven’t forgotten about this place, but nor have I been able to devote any time to working on it (and the time I have had, I haven’t really been able to focus).

It doesn’t seem to be a localised effect though – EVERYTHING seems to have slowed down, at least on the parts of the Internet that I frequent. No-one seems to be updating things very often at the moment. Maybe they’re just updating at the same speed as normal, and I’m just noticing it a little more as I’m relying on the Internet for some light relief every day?

Regardless, here’s the stuff that I’ll probably eventually publish and won’t end up just deleting:

  • A Skyrate’s Life Part 8 and onwards from there. Apologies if you’re following this series, I’ll get on with it when I have some time.
  • Some thoughts on the Cataclysm expansion now that we’re pretty much at the end.
  • The first actual BF3 war story which I’ve been ineffectually working at for bloody ages.
  • More things… at some point.

Anyone who’s still about: Thanks for your patience!



What have I created?!

You have no idea how long this took...

Update: Guide is now up! Click here for all your Beast Mastery requirements!

I have been working on a guide to Beast Mastery hunting in 4.3.

I have written so much.

It’s almost complete, but I need to edit it down to at least less than 3 quintillion words, find some pictures to break it up and illustrate things and mess around with the formatting. It should be up this week, and will discuss the following:

  • Spec, naturally
  • Glyphs
  • Gear, gems and reforging. I suppose I’ll have to find somewhere to cram enchants, too.
  • The shot priority
  • Cooldowns – execution and macros
  • Beast Masters and Battlegrounds (maybe – I haven’t PvPed very much this expansion)
  • Pets!

Unrelated: If you grouped and quested with a Smuggler called ‘Myra’ on the Handmaidens of Atris server in the TOR Beta stress test weekend, drop me a comment! I’m on Bao Dur now since Handmaidens of Atris turned out to be a German server on live. Also: Not called Myra any more :P

Good grief! How strange to see you here!

Hello, Internet!

Well! It has been a while, hasn’t it? How are you doing? Good, good. Me? Oh, I’m fine. Got a new car! It’s magnificent!

Oh, yes, well I haven’t been around very much recently. Writing about something is fine when you’re really enthusiastic about it, but when you play on and off it’s a little hard to put the necessary effort in. Also, at some point I decided that if I was going to make a real go of this that I may as well do it right – no posts without header images and so on. I still have a draft post from a couple of months back that is waiting for a header image!

Actually, I’m working with PsySniper now. Remember him, he posted here once or twice as Semseye? We’ve been putting game videos up on YouTube, usually with some talking. We’re trying to find our style at this stage, but that’s definitely an interesting thing to pursue. It’s supposed to tie-in to YBS, except that I haven’t really been posting here very much. I don’t fully understand how writing is harder than planning, shooting, editing and then speaking over the top of a video, but there it is. Strange, eh?

Yeah, I am still playing WoW actually. My hunter’s average item level is up to 372, and I’m blasting my way through the Raid Finder version of the Dragon Soul. I’m really enjoying 4.3 so far – the story, the new 5-mans, transmogrification, the raid finder – the whole package. Best patch ever? Maybe. Ask me in a few months! I’ve also been playing quite a lot of Skyrim – Morrowind is one of my ooh… Top 3 games of all time? Something like that. I really love the Elder Scrolls series, and Skyrim might just be the best one ever. We’ll see about that after the Creation Kit is released and Bethesda finishes patching it up. What else? The Old Republic is out very imminently. Knights of the Old Republic is the game that got me into the RPG genre in the first place, and it’s up there with Morrowind somewhere. I played a little bit of the Beta when they did the stress testing weekend. It’s not really KOTOR, but it is massive, story driven and likely to be updated and added to for a long time. Also: Optional drop-in co-op and group content. I liked it quite a lot, and expect to get into the pre-order head start tomorrow. Psy and I put together an impressions video during the Beta, so have a look at that if you’re interested in OPINIONS.

Anyway, I should really be off. It’s been really good chatting with you, Internet! Drop back in soon, I have a Beast Mastery hunting guide which has been sitting there in a half finished state since the end of Wrath, gotta get that cleaned up and posted. I expect I’ll have some more videos and things too.

Sorry about the whole ‘disappearing for ages’ thing. You know how it is.

Take care. Talk to you soon!

System Online

Through a process of refrigerating my faulty hard disk and then quickly plugging it into my computer to pull as many files off as possible before it reheats and fails again, I have managed to avoid redownloading WoW and all its expansions. This is fortunate, as it would have taken approximately 318300 seconds to download again, and that’s far too many seconds.

Actually, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Blizzard Repair Utility, which has been improved recently. In the past, it would scan your files and say “Yup, you’re right, something’s broken or missing. You’ll have to reinstall” (Thanks, Repair Utility). It turned out that about 2GB of files were corrupted when I transferred them, and the new Repair Utility detected what was missing or kaput and directed the WoW launcher to go ahead and reacquire them.

It took about a week for the replacement drive from Western Digital to arrive – they must’ve sent it out almost as soon as they recieved the RMA request. Before anyone takes the wrong idea about WD’s reliability, I still have a 40GB WD as my system primary. It must be 8 or 10 years old now!

Oh, yeah. There are some changes coming for YBS shortly. Look out for some new content and perhaps a broadening of our focus in the coming weeks…

This is an unrecoverable loss

I have just suffered a hard disk drive failure – two actually, first my backup external drive and now just two weeks later – while a replacement external drive was on order – my Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB internal drive. I have lost everything, and the backups.

It will take me a while to organise replacements – the internal drive is still under warranty. Additionally, I’ll have to reinstall and patch up the client which will take a significant amount of time with my connection being as it is. Needless to say, I’m out of it for a while.

I have also lost every WoW screenshot I’ve ever taken which is surprisingly painful, particularly when a lot of the areas and things in them no longer exist. I also had 300GB of steam games and a fairly hefty iTunes directory on this disk, and it will take me literally months to redownload everything stored server-side. Anything not stored server side… is just gone. This is what happens when you lose your primary drive and backup in the time it takes to get a replacement drive out. What are the chances of that even happening for Elune’s sake?!

And all this, just as I was really getting back into Hunting. I even had a few articles underway. Sadly, these will be delayed while I smash my head repeatedly into nearby solid surfaces.

Durkon will be away for a while. It’s really not his choice. Why do you hate me, O Hardware Gods?

Tick tock…

I think it's a self destruct timer. It's ALWAYS bloody self-destruct...

This has recently appeared on a page discovered on the Portal 2 website (except with actual ticking numbers and that). An ARG initiated by Valve working with a collective of indie developers has led up to this point. The community have engaged in an extremely organised effort to ‘solve’ the various puzzles thrown at them, and this is where it has led.

A timer.

And it ends in about an hour and a half.

What does it mean? Current speculation seems to be firmly rooted in the ‘Early Portal 2 release at that time’ camp, but I’m not so sure. GLaDOS (and that probably is Her speaking to us in the text above) mentions ‘the final test’. I reckon that whatever this ‘test’ is will be unleashed on us when the timer runs down, and Portal 2 will be released when that’s solved – maybe a little later today.

Or maybe the final test is completing the game itself? In that case that countdown timer may as well be ‘time to complete termination of productivity’ as far as I’m concerned.

A quick word about Warcraft and Hunting. You’ll notice the lack of posts about either around here since I returned. Essentially, my Internet connection has degraded to the point where playing Warcraft (and other-online-game-du-jour Minecraft SMP with the Guild) is technically possible but infuriating. I get random lag spikes that get me killed or otherwise make online games the next best thing to impossible to play properly. For this reason, I haven’t been playing a lot and writing about things I haven’t been doing doesn’t make very much sense. Even if my connection is magically improved at once… Portal 2 is imminent. So expect further delays.

With that said, I’m working with Semseye and the Guild (First Legion of Azeroth on Aggramar-EU-A) on something special. Expect to hear more about this soonish…

How I make shoot enemy again?

Or: What a long, strange break it’s been.

Pretty much the first thing that happens when I log in: I get incinerated. Naturally.


It looks a lot like I’m back. Yeah, once again I took a two month break from Warcraft without ever actually deciding to do such a thing. Again I missed Lunar Festival (two in a row) and again I missed the two brewfest brews I need for the achievement (two for two on that also). It’s really odd how this happens every year without fail at the same time. Christmas is traditionally the time of year where I work the most for the longest hours, so you’d think I would have less time to play WoW and get worn out on it.


Some things have changed, clearly. My guild is mostly off playing Minecraft (as am I). We’ve built a magnificent town and I’m consistently impressed with the creative vision of my fellow miner-and-crafters. Me? I built a fortress. Stone for creeper-blast and fire protection. Living quarters elevated in a tower. Multiple overhangs to prevent spiders getting in. Access to personal mine. Self-contained lava-antilava reactor in the basement. Sufficient underground food production to supply several occupants indefinitely in the event of apocalypse. Next project: Find a really impressive mountain, build Ironforge.


Hunters can auto-shot while moving now! Astonishing! Completely unexpected. They stripped the “auto-shot while moving” functionality out of Aspect of the Fox really early during Cata testing, and now they’ve given it back to hunters except ALL THE TIME instead of just when Fox is active. This is surprising. I am surprised. This’ll mean big things for our combat mobility and kiting ability too. This is also more or less the end of our ability to excuse ourselves from being competent on high-movement fights. We lose the extra attack power from Aspect of the Dragonhawk, but that’s about it. I suppose we also have to concentrate on where we’re going as well as what we’re shooting and who we’re shooting which will take up some attention normally reserved for pushing the right buttons.

Blizzard seem to have removed the druid’s ability to break roots by shapeshifting. I disapprove. Sometimes it seems like they have something against ferals – Balance and Restoration are allowed to be different and unique, but Cat is like a rogue with less tools and Bear is like a warrior with less tools. One of the ways in which druids in general and ferals specifically are unique and better than their analogue classes is their ability to defeat CC by changing their shape – an ability absolutely central to Warcraft druidism. I think removing the druids’ ability to remove root effects is a mistake. With that said, reducing Bear’s swipe to a 3 second cooldown will help my levelling bear tank out a bit, so that’s good.


I suspect there’s a lot of things I haven’t discovered yet, and I need to relearn how to play my class. COMMENCE HUNTERING!


And I’m back(ish)!

Hello, Hunter Community! It’s been a while! How’ve you been?

Good, good. Yes, I’ve been away for a while. Played quite a bit of Starcraft, some Dragon Age, a little Mass Effect 2, some Star Trek Online oh, and Minecraft.

Minecraft’s a little indie game which you probably should have heard about by now. It’s made by one man (more or less) and is currently available to pre-order for 10 Euro-Pounds. This gains you access to the alpha version. You shouldn’t expect to see daylight again. Read the excellent RPS adventures in Minecraft here (scroll ye down for the first post).

So, Warcraft. I haven’t actually played the game since some time before my last post, and I won’t be able to until… Thursday. This is because I am incredibly busy for the next few days and will spend all of my time:

  1. Working
  2. Unconscious

With that said, I’ve found that WoW has entered into my thoughts of late. I’ve spent some time catching up with Cata news before I jump back in. Some thoughts:

  • The talent trees seem like they’ve been refined quite a bit, a brief play about with Beastmastery builds seems to actually make some kind of sense now. There are several references however to ‘Basic Attacks’ which I thought were being scrapped completely (in favour of all pets doing the same DPS). Maybe these talents will affect pet abilities instead, although they generally won’t be a DPS improvement. I will tear into the hunter changes properly towards the end of the week.
  • I’m really not convinced by the psychotic new Female Worgen design. Actually I don’t like it at all.
  • Brewfest was my first world event after I joined WoW. I participated as a very junior hunter, somewhere around level 15 or 20. I was already planning my reputation grind to get my riding sabrecat. Brewfest starts tomorrow, the most Dwarvern of all festivals. I’ll be there on Thursday!
  • This is the second time I’ve tired of the game and gone off to play other things for a few months. It’s a cycle. Exactly the same thing happened last year, except last time I didn’t really know if I was coming back.
  • I notice that Operation: Gnomeregan is out. I look foward to running that soon.
  • It seems like the Guild still hasn’t downed the Lich King. At least I didn’t miss much.
  • Cataclysm looks pretty damn imminent.

That’s it for now. Apologies to those in the community who may have actually read YBS previously, I didn’t expect to be gone for this long. Look for more posts towards the end of the week!

Midsummer Fire

Too hot.

Unable to accomplish anything.

Many reports to write. Spreadsheets. Product listings. Objectives. Deadline approaches.

Fan blows out only warm air. Tried turning fan off, worse. No breeze outside. Could drive somewhere in my car. Air-con. Can’t work while driving though.

Many posts in drafts. Tenacity. Situational awareness. Some kind of story. Can’t concentrate. No time. Reports…

Where’s a frost mage when you need one?

Connection restored (ish)

My Internet connection now breaks only some of the time as opposed to all of it. So, you know, progress.

I managed to squeeze into the guild’s allied 25-man ICC run last week. I have never been to ICC before, except very briefly when someone bailed on Festergut and I was the only replacement available. I had damn near zero Ashen Verdict rep and only a basic understanding of the tactics on each boss. I spent most of my time alt-tabbing and reading up on what the hell to do for each fight. I managed to perform reasonably well, getting myself horribly killed only once when Lady Deathwhisper’s ghosts floated up to me and exploded. They do 15k damage each, so I could have survived two of them at once. Naturally there were three…

Oh, I knew that I had to run away from them, but the problem with speed-reading tactics in the brief gaps between shooting things is that you miss some of the more minor details such as “they don’t have name plates”.

The sequence of events:
Durkon: She’s almost finished! Arcane shot! How’s serpent sting doing? Steady shot! Refresh that serpent sting. When’s my next Bestial Wrath? Ooh, killshot!
~0.2 seconds

Deadly Boss Mods is utterly indispensible for me, and it does its best to keep me alive. Unfortunately the ghosts explode on contact and DBM only warns you when they start meleeing you. In the words of Rilgon “THEY DO NOT HAVE NAMEPLATES – ZOOM YOUR CAMERA OUT”. I should have read his guide in the first place, really.

I managed to disconnect just before the pull on Festergut – the one fight I’d done before – reconnecting to hear “He’s down, well done everyone” over Teamspeak. Bah. We made it up to Rotface before dying repeatedly due to a general tactics failure. Still, a pretty good night which put me on Friendly with the Ashen Verdict.

Guild’s been extending their 10-man raid lockout each week to try and progress – it’s probably the only way we’ll get to the Lich King on one raid night per week. I didn’t get in, but I was able to observe. They made good progress, getting as far as Sindragosa and getting her into phase three before the tactics failure – people got the indicator to show that they were about to be iceblocked, and ran to get away from other raid members. Unfortunately they ran IN FRONT OF THE DRAGON. Three times. After my ghosts incident I’m not the most qualified person to speak about situational awareness but you should probably notice that the last two people who got iceblocked are dead and everyone on teamspeak’s going on about not going in front of the dragon. Let’s face it, these are standard blizzard tactics: Don’t go in front of or behind dragons, and don’t stand in fire! :P (actually, I expect them to subvert it one day by giving everyone who stands in front of or behind a dragon some kind of huge buff, and those who stand on the side get crushed by the wings or something).

Oh yes! The Orca Hunter’s Harpoon finally dropped for me! Finally a replacement for my Silvery Sylvan Stave. That staff incidentally is an excellent buyable weapon for those of you who are unlucky with weapon drops like me. It costs 25 Champion’s Seals and you must be a Champion at the Argent Colosseum. That staff has been with me for a long time, I’ll kind of miss it.

This week: Few daily dungeons, weekly raid, if I’m lucky another ICC run. T10 headpiece. Level my druid a bit more (he’s 72 now). I guess I’ll have to finish up my ridiculous endless paperwork related to my actual job too (last week of a big project this week)…