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The MacEpic Legacy: Wedding Belle

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

It's actually kinda homey now. Not the coolest house ever... but not a shack.

While watching the first live action Death Note movie (and the first half of the second), I worked on the MacEpic Legacy. He received two promotions in quick order, thanks to some opportunities and the fact that his Lifetime Wish and job requirements work together well. With Kevin making more money, upgrades to his house came much faster.

I expanded twice, adding two decent-sized rooms. The first room became his bedroom; I moved the bed and the trashcan into it to make room for the chair and table in the entryway/kitchen. The second room I added became the study. I made it bigger than its purpose requires to leave room for anything else Kevin might want or need. I was unable to buy a computer yet (needed to wait for the next pay check), so I sent Kevin to bed with the room as it was.

A burglar came in the night and stole his desk chair and his solitary sink. I got off light (good thing the computer was yet unbought), but damn that was annoying.

The coworker I had hoped to hook Kevin up with aged up and is now too old to bear children. Now I have to go find him a woman who is young and unmarried. Turns out she’s married anyway; Kevin met her daughter at the library and started chatting with her to see if she was romanceable only to find out that she’s yet a teenager.

I ended up adding one more room to the house. This should be plenty of rooms until Kevin has children, so I started trying to woo Zelda Mae. In spite of some traits I’d rather not deal with, her name is Zelda. Kevin gets his very own princess to kick off the family!

Kevin also aged up to adult male status. When he tried to blow out the candles on his cake, it caught on fire. He was able to keep it from spreading long enough for the fireman to get there, so I only lost the cake and the table.

I’m quite vexed about the fact that aging has taken away Kevin’s rice picker hat and I seem unable to get it back.

On the plus side, Zelda accepted Kevin’s marriage proposal. Between promotions and job income and all that jazz, the household’s cash on hand is over 10,000 simoleons. As soon as mama gets home, they’re tryin’ for baby. Her Lifetime Wish is to become a rock star, so I would like her to keep her job. Luckily for me, her schedule and Kevin’s work out (at the moment, at least) such that at least one of them is always home. Hooray!

Not really all that pretty, is she?

Name: Zelda (Mae) MacEpic

Favorite Food: Peanut butter & Jelly
Favorite Music: Indie
Favorite Color: Pink

Traits: Flirty, Party Animal, Childish, Easily Impressed, Green Thumb

Lifetime Wish: Rock Star

I fully intend to ignore her Party Animal trait; I dislike parties in The Sims even more than I do in real life. Green Thumb will come in handy, though — she can help Kevin keep the garden in order if he falls behind, though he needs the skillups for work. She can also satisfy her social needs by talking to plants, and while I expect to rarely take advantage of that… it’s certainly amusing.

For all the advancements I made this session… I’m still at 2 legacy points.

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The MacEpic Legacy: The Jolly Green Hobo

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Having created my Sims 3 Legacy Challenge Scorecard, I’ve started a legacy of my own. The family name is MacEpic, and I’ve dubbed the founder, Kevin, the Jolly Green Hobo.

Howdy-ho!

Name: Kevin MacEpic

Favorite Food: Pancakes
Favorite Music: Kids’ Music
Favorite Color: Red

Traits: Bookworm, computer Whiz, Family-Oriented, Lucky, Good Sense of Humor

Lifetime Wish: The Tinkerer

I’m not sure why green and blue are skin color options in Sims 3, but I’m running with it. And by running with it, I mean that everyone born into the family without a bit of green in their skin tone is getting fed to the time stream. I may be dooming myself to an early end for my first run, but that’s okay — Kevin has a rice picker hat.

Having addressed the “jolly green” portion of the title, allow me to elaborate on his hobo-ness. The first thing I did after buying the lot was try to build Kevin a house. I say “try” because the label “house” is too grand for his shitty 3×3 shack. It has a light, a bed, a sink, and a toilet. No floor. No refrigerator. His table and chair are outside the shack. Pa-the-tic.

Kevin's shitty shack. It doesn't even have a floor. It does have a roof, though -- those are free, and turn invisible as needed.

Almost instantly, Kevin wished to join the science career track. Rather than waiting for a newspaper (and wasting precious time — this dude needs some cashmoney), I trotted him right up to the science lab and got him a job as a lab rat.

His newest lifetime wishes at this point involved learning the basics of the logic skill, so I took him to a park to play chess with himself until bed time. Lucky for fridgeless Kevin, there was also free picnic food at the park. I was able to concentrate more on expanding his house and less on buying him a fridge by taking advantage of that on a regular basis.

He was extremely stinky by the time I got him a shower stall. I crammed it in between the bed and the toilet across from the door. His mood was negatively affected by the lack of paint and flooring, so I upgraded that.

Observant observers will note that the table and chair are still outside.

By the end of the session, Kevin’s house had two rooms. The main room had the kitchen, trash can, and bed; the second room was the bathroom. Both rooms had red walls and floors. The outside was painted brick. Kevin needs to improve his gardening abilities to advance in the science career, so I had him take a gardening class, out of which he came with seeds to plant a small garden outside near the table and chair. Kevin has received a promotion, and is getting ready to expand his house again, so that the living room won’t also be the bedroom.

Total points for the Legacy Challenge currently stand at 2. Since that’s the base amount, I’m not going to bother with a breakdown.

Sims 3 Legacy Challenge Scorecard Spreadsheet

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

I recently acquired The Sims 3. A friend of mine then introduced me to the Sims Legacy Challenge. The Legacy Challenge was conceptualized for The Sims 2, the goal being to start a new game with one impoverished Sim owning a large plot of land with no house on it and see how awesome you can make his (or her) family by the birth of the tenth generation. Only the founding Sim is created through Create-a-Sim mode; he and all his descendants must mate with non-player-created Sims. Like a royal family, there must be a blood-related heir to the position of head of household. Any Sims moved out of the household cease to be active members of the bloodline and no longer attribute to the success of the family. No Sims are allowed to return to the nest, and the challenge ends prematurely if the head of household dies heirless.

The part that makes this a real challenge is that all Sims born into the household must have all of their personality traits assigned randomly, even if the game gives the player the option to choose. If your heir is insane, hates children, and just wants to sit on the couch all day… well, you can try for baby again and hope for a better Sim or you can make it work.

The challenge’s creator, dubbed Pinstar1161 on EA’s official Sims forums, has set up a scoring method for the Legacy Challenge for both The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. Beyond birthing a tenth generation and building a wicked and expensive house, success in the challenge is measured by things like fulfilling your Sims’ goals (major and minor) in life and keeping portraits of your Sims after their deaths. Full rules for the Sims 2 Legacy Challenge can be found at the Legacy Challenge web site; rules for the Sims 3 Legacy Challenge haven’t been added there yet, but can be read in a thread on EA’s Sims 3 forums.

Now, you may note, as I did, that while Pinstar has done an excellent job of writing the rules out in a detailed and thorough manner, he has chosen not to make a plain ol’ scorecard for the Legacy Challenge. Multiple someones have made scorecards for the Sims 2 Legacy Challenge at different points in time, reflecting changes made to the Legacy Challenge for different expansions. A fellow going by RSKehrer at the official Sims 3 forums has made a printable scorecard for the Sims 3 Legacy Challenge and shared it with the community.

I live my life without a printer and am psychotic about papers getting wrinkles in them (which is likely to happen if I leave a paper scorecard by my computer), so I decided to make an Excel spreadsheet scorecard for the Sims 3 Legacy Challenge. In addition to remaining wrinkle-free, it does all the point calculations for me and can be reused again and again for multiple Legacy Challenge games.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded via Google Documents. (Edit: Check out the newest version.) It is an .xls file with no macros in it. Although I crafted it in Office 2007, it uses only basic formulas, so there shouldn’t be any compatibility issues with older versions of Office or with OpenOffice. If you do have any problems, please let me know by leaving a comment.

Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 6: Healing Done

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

This is the sixth in a series of posts about Recount, an add-on for World of Warcraft. It gathers and reports on data taken during combat.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

Healing Done

The Healing Done summary chart is very similar to the Damage Done chart. Players are listed by their total healing done, with the largest healing volume at the top and the lowest at the bottom. Each bar shows the player’s name and the total amount healed. In parentheses next to the total amount healed are a healing per second (HPS) value and the percentage of total healing done by all players which was contributed by that player. Total healing done and the HPS number include overhealing done.

Recount - Healing Done

Effective Healing Detail Window

Clicking on a player’s name brings up his Effective Healing detail report, which is the first of four healing done detail windows.

Effective Healing Detail Window

Much like the Damage Done detail window, it’s split in half horizontally. The top half is a summary of the effective healing done by each of the spells the player cast, where effective healing is all the healing that actually restored lost health — everything that wasn’t overhealing. Spells are listed by which spell healed the most hit points in total. After the name of the spell are three columns: the Count column, which shows how many times the spell healed during the data recording session; the Heal column, which is the total hit points healed by the spell, and the % column, which is the percentage of the player’s total effective heals contributed by that spell. Each spell is assigned a color which is used to create the pie chart on the left.

You can select an individual spell in the top half to see further details about it in the bottom half. The bottom half further divides the total healing done by the selected spell according to the different kinds of spell hits performed. The spell which was selected for the above picture was Renew, a heal-over-time (HoT) spell which cannot crit, so all it does is “Tick” once cast, periodically healing the recipient for a small amount. A different spell, such as Flash Heal, might show “Hit” and “Crit” under the Type column, reflecting data for each. Other columns show minimum, average, and maximum effective healing done per heal the spell performed, as well as the number of heals performed and what percentage of the total healing done with that spell came from that spell hit type.

Overhealing Detail Window

This detail window covers all the healing which was not effective healing, and is also split in half horizontally. The top half is a summary of the overhealing done by each of the spells the player cast. Spells are listed by which spell overhealed the most hit points in total. After the name of the spell are three columns: the Count column, which shows how many instances the spell overhealed someone during the data recording session; the Overheal column, which is the total hit points overhealed by the spell, and the % column, which is the percentage of the player’s total overheals contributed by that spell. Each spell is assigned a color which is used to create the pie chart on the left.

You can select an individual spell in the top half to see further details about it in the bottom half. The bottom half further divides the total overhealing done by the selected spell according to the different kinds of spell hits performed. Other columns show minimum, average, and maximum overhealing done per heal the spell performed, as well as the number of overheals performed and what percentage of the total overhealing done with that spell came from that spell hit type.

Healed Who Detail Window

This window is split in half horizontally. The top half lists the party/raid members on whom the player cast his healing spells, with the people receiving the most healing at the top. This list includes any pets healed. After each character or pet’s name are two columns. The Healed column lists how many hit points were healed in total for that character/pet, and the % column shows what percentage of the healer’s total healing done (both effective and overhealed) went to that character or pet. Each character/pet is assigned a color, which is used to represent it in the pie chart on the left.

Selecting a character or pet from the list brings up a detailed list of healing done to that character/pet by each kind of healing spell cast upon him. Spells are arranged here according to which dealt the most healing. After the list of spell names are two columns, with the Healing column listing the amount of healing done to the selected character/pet by that spell and the % column listing what percentage of the total healing done to the character/pet which was done by that spell. Again, each is assigned a color for use in a pie chart on the left-hand side.

There is no way to determine how much overhealing was dealt to a specific character.

Time Spent Healing Detail Window

This detail window is split horizontally into two sections. The top section lists the characters and pets healed by the player according to how much time each character/pet was under the effects of the player’s healing spells. After each character/pet name are two column entries. The first, Time (s), is the time in seconds that the character/pet was under the effects of the player’s healing spells. The second, %, lists the percentage of the player’s total time spent healing which was devoted to that character/pet. Colors are assigned to each character/pet for use in creation of the left-hand pie chart.

The bottom half of the detail window lists the healing spells used on the character/pet highlighted in the top half of the window according to which spells were in effect on the character/pet for the greatest amount of time. After the name of each healing spell are the Time (s) column, which lists the amount of time the highlighted character/pet was under the effect of that spell during the time the data was recorded, and the % column, which lists how much of the total time the selected character/pet was under the effect of the player’s heal spells was time spent under the effect of that spell.

As you can see in the image above, heal-over-time spells such as Renew dominate the top of the spell list for each character/pet. Furthermore, the total time spent healing a character/pet is the sum of each individual spell’s time in effect on the character/pet. The data fails to take into account the fact that multiple healing spells from one player can be in effect on a single character/pet at one time. For example, a priest can cast Prayer of Mending and Power Word: Fortitude on a character who is already under the effect of Renew, and land Lesser Heal on the character at the same time Glyph of Power Word: Fortitude takes effect from the protective bubble being popped. The time a player spends healing is therefore of limited usefulness.

Flaws in and Potential Abuses of the Healing Charts

Each healing class in WoW has its own unique array of spells. Subsequently, they play very differently from each other and have different strengths and weaknesses. While any healing class, given a good enough player, can heal just about any situation, certain classes are better for certain healing jobs than others. The strongest examples of this are the paladin and shaman classes. Thanks to Beacon of Light, a good paladin healer can raid heal and still keep a tank up, but a paladin really excels when all he has to do is focus on one or two people. A shaman can keep the raid up all day with chain heal, but single-target healing is tough for him.

Another consequence of the differences in strengths and weaknesses from class to class is that certain classes are doomed to do a lot of overhealing in spite of their best efforts. Any healing spells which apply healing to a character at max health are said to have overhealed the character. This can occur when a healing spell is cast on someone who is already at full health or when a healing spell heals more health than the character is currently missing. Paladins who rely heavily on Beacon of Light often overheal their beacon; chain heal does its best to target people who need health the most, but can only jump so far and sometimes heals people who are hardly injured at all; and druids lay down heal over time spells which last for a given duration without regard for the character’s current health. Analyses of overhealing done should take these differences into account, a task which is made easier with the help of the detail windows.

Then there are the discipline priests, which specialize in Power word: Fortitude. They come up low on the Healing Done summary chart during raids because they’re too busy preventing damage to heal very much. I’ve often seen ignorant leaders of PUG’d raids show disdain for and/or kick discipline priests because their HPS was below some numerical standard. Discipline priests are invaluable allies, able to keep the party or raid alive for a long time… but they’re inaccurately represented by Recount’s data.

I must confess, the Time Spent Healing detail window seems silly to me. While the data contained therein is an important part of calculating the HPS number, the only reason I can see for having it publishable is to find out which of the DPS are taking up too much of the healers’ efforts. You can find that out just by listening to the healers, though — they’re usually pretty good about telling DPS when they’re taking inordinate amounts of preventable damage.

The good that comes of the Time Spent Healing detail window is an understanding of how HPS and DPS are calculated. Casters who rely heavily on heal-over-time and damage-over-time spells will have a much higher value for the time they spend healing or damaging than players whose healing/damage mostly come from one-hit abilities. Since healing per second and damage per second are both calculated by dividing the total healing or total damage done by the amount of time spent on doing it, they will come out with a lower HPS/DPS number. At a cursory glance, classes such as fire mages, affliction warlocks, and restoration druids may look weaker than other classes for that reason alone, regardless of whatever class nerfs Blizzard has in place at any given time.

An Early End

My interest in WoW has waned. In Blizzard’s attempts to make end game content more accessible to as many people as possible (and therefore increase the number of subscription months they sell), they’ve made end game content less challenging. The game, in short, bores me now. I had hoped to finish this series of posts in spite of that, but the Magic 8 Ball in the back of my head says, “not likely”. I had to force myself to finish this post. There are a couple of key features — like the real-time graph and the death detail window — that are to be left out, which is a real shame. I may go in and do those later, anyway, if I work up the internal motivation. (That would occur in summer 2010 at the earliest, since I just landed a part in TBA Theatre‘s production of The Sound of Music on top of my full-time job and three independent study courses.)

That said, if you look through the other posts in this series, you’ll get a feel for how most of the rest of the data windows and charts work. All of the basic data summaries are similar in format. Clicking on player names in any data summary chart brings up details windows with what should, by now, be familiar formatting (with one notable exception off the top of my head).

Keep an open mind, apply a little logic, and remember that data has to be interpreted to be of any use. You must keep both class and boss mechanics in mind when looking at the accumulated data in order to get a clear, realistic picture of what happened during the battle. A good player is more than the sum of his gear score and his DPS/HPS number; he understands what his character can do and when to use each skill in his arsenal to maximum effect. Recount is a tool which can help raid leaders and players shore up their weak spots, not a scoreboard.