Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First Impressions for Quest Atlantis

I went back to look at my first few postings for Second Life and World of Warcraft. I remember feeling "creeped" out by SL and terrified by WoW. Within a few visits, however, I was soon feeling more adventuresome and comfortable with the format. I'm hoping I'll feel the same with QA. Right now, I'm irritated, annoyed and feeling trapped.

List of annoyances:

  1. Here's me - I signed up with  "sbisaccio" not realizing it would be my avatar's name. Apparently, it will require dispensation from many people in authority to change it. I'm annoyed about that. 
  2. Help files require logging in again - except that it wouldn't allow me in while I was in world. I could log in to the help file while I was out of world. I'm definitely irritated now!
  3. I'm trapped in a loop. I went to Emissary Island - seemingly the only available venue at this time where a principal told me to view a slideshow (PowerPoint - not that!). I went through half of the slides and then it was apparently time to move on. I needed to talk to other teachers - this was all canned dialogue, mind you. I was eventually able to make my way back to the classroom where I was told to click on the terminal that would take me to the next step. Unfortunately, I was reminded that I hadn't finished the slideshow. I haven't been able to move from there.
Let's see how this compares with the other VWs I've been to...
On the right is Trulytis with nary a skill to her name.The only thing in her backpack is a hearthstone for Coldridge Valley. Down below is TisGirl with the wide open space of Marlboro Island. A maze awaits her and a tunnel to learn to fly through. Both feel intimidated, a bit frightened, but neither are annoyed!
Let's hope QA gets better since I don't know that there are too many options for elementary kids!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gaining Skills

This is my second week of playing WoW. I'm now at Level 8 and have completed around 15 quests. I've battled Frostmane Snowstriders and Wendigos. I've ridden on a Gryphon and last week I was on a Geocopter. It's been a busy couple of weeks.  A few observations/tips:

  • The more I do, the harder and longer the quests. There also a distance away on the map. That's to be expected. I have more expertise so now I'm capable of going farther and doing more. Also, there are more bad guys outside of Coldridge Valley and I needed to "level up" before being confronted by them.
  • Beings attack me now. They never used to attack first. Again, the safety of my starting point allowed me to gain a few more skills before going out into the world. Now every venture off the beaten path is fraught with danger. One tip I learned from the intro part of the game is that staying close to the road means it's less likely I'll encounter trouble from "bad guys."
  • When in doubt, ask. One of my quests required me to go to Kharanos. The only problem was I couldn't get through to Kharanos because of a cave-in. I killed the same Rockjaw Invader as I tried to go through again and again. I attempted to cross the mountains but this was too much of a challenge. They're so steep, Trulytis kept running sideways. After circling the area for an hour, I finally asked my son for some ideas who said, "why don't you just ask that guy?" Sure enough, there was a guy standing next to the tracks outside the cave who said the rocks had been cleared from the cave-in. I killed a number of Rockjaw invaders and I was on my way. 
    • On that note, I've learned to look on the Internet for answers. I've Googled a few of the quests when I couldn't find my way, and the descriptions from WoWwiki have been helpful in helping me change my focus.
  • "Dead" is a good time to take a break. When I first "died," I asked for my spirit to be released immediately. Now, I take a bathroom break, let the dogs out, throw some laundry in the machine. etc. By the time I get back,  I'm usually within 30 seconds of release. I was o.k. with "dead" one time because I was having difficulty getting out of "Grizzled Den." I couldn't seem to find my way out and I kept getting attacked by Wendigos. "Dead" put me back in Kharanos in the cemetery so I was finally out of the cave. Too bad my next quest has me right back in there.
  • Try not to play too close to bedtime. Because of work, I didn't have much choice as far as to when I had time to play. The only problem was some of the quests were so frightening to me that my heart would be racing while I was battling the bad guy of the quest. I'm usually so wound up that there's no possibility of going to sleep right away. Also, and I noticed this with Second Life, I find myself being "Trulytis" or TisGirl all night long which means I'm either on a quest or I'm trying to build something. Either way, sleep doesn't seem that restorative.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

WoW: 2nd Thoughts

This is why it's good to reflect at the beginning of an adventure. My first foray into WoW was not noteworthy. I was happier in SL because I was having success. I didn't see the point of WoW, my skill set was negligible, so therefore, I wasn't having any fun.

Fortunately, there were assignments to do so I really needed to get back into the fray. I missed the class on Sunday, due to Fathers' Day activities so I went in on my own. There was OliveTree! Ah, a friendly face - even if she didn't look the same. Actually, she looked like me (except her hair was different). Still there were assignments to do and I couldn't linger for long.  I embarked on my first quest, killed a Rockjaw Invader but I didn't know how I did it. I went up against one of the other bigger dudes and ended up dying. That was interesting - a cemetery and creepy music.

My son stopped in about this time and gave me a few quick tips about attacking. Soon I was attacking with some skill. I began moving up in levels and I discovered I was having fun. I learned how to sell goods and buy other things. I learned to follow the map which I'm sure was the point of the 4th quest I did.

In my earlier blog, I reflected on whether I didn't enjoy WoW because I wasn't successful. Today, I had success, I enjoyed myself and I understood the game better. What does that say about learning?

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Well, this was an interesting evening. My first real experience in World of Warcraft and I hardly set the world on fire with my skill. In SL, I use my arrow keys to move; in WoW, it's "W," "A," etc. That shouldn't have been that big a deal but when you're running into walls and going up the side of the hill instead of forward, well, that's just downright embarrassing.

Another thing to get used to in this virtual world are the sounds. Constant sounds of creatures yelling and grunting is a bit disconcerting - not to mention the body falling at your feet. There seemed to be a lot of those and that was o.k. with folks. I couldn't be sure as to their intent in the killing. Then there's the music. Clearly music is used to indicate the type of area, changing in intensity so as you pass into darker places, you can't help but feel a frisson of danger. I appeared to sustain damage at some point but moved on anyway. No idea how that worked!

There are quests to do and the one I was given (but I didn't know what it meant) said to "hold the line." I'll need to do some research to figure out how I go about fulfilling a quest. A few other things I need to research are the chat feature. I had no clue on that one. I also couldn't figure out to exit. Well, when in doubt, Alt + F4 is always an option!

I must admit I'm not as riveted as I was with Second Life. It might be because I'm not much of a warrior. Then there's the possibility that I didn't like it that much because it didn't come easily to me. This is also a humbling thought...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blending RWs with VWs

A few observations as I continue to navigate the virtual world...

  • Yesterday, when I went to get my haircut, I noticed a lovely bowl of lemons sitting on the table in the waiting area. I had seen that before in my other trips to the salon so the bowl itself was not unusual. What was unusual was my connection to it. Now, I thought of it in terms of assignments and that if I were to click on it (not that it can be done in the RW!), I would get a menu.  Weird connection, but there it was.
  • Second Life now figures in my dreams. I was dreaming that Tis was cold and I kept thinking I should find her a jacket. The reality was that I was cold and I just needed to pull up the blanket!
  • Today, we went on a tour of different destinations. Esme gave us a list and we went to Genome Island and the Space Museum. We took a flight to the Space Station. Our rocket disappeared when we arrived, which was a little unsettling. There were paths around the space station which I was fine while walking on them. I flew up to inspect the rest of the station and while I was up there, I saw Gibson plummet! Now I had a pit in my stomach and carefully navigated my way back to the path in order to land safely. It was an odd reaction on my part, although I have experienced the same sensation while playing Wii Fit. There's an obstacle course that's up in the air. I rarely play it because I have a fear of falling off of it. Esme explained that if I had "fallen," I would have simply fallen out of the box and gone "splat." Avatars simply dust themselves off after a "splat." Whew!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Second Life in the Classroom...

...or how to change a stance in 6 weeks... Yesterday, I had the pleasure of riding up to Montpelier with our district's tech director for a meeting on 1:1 devices. He asked me how Second Life was going. Six weeks ago when someone asked me that question, I rolled my eyes (such an adolescent gesture on my part) and said something that made it clear I was in this because I'm part of the Master's program. My response yesterday? "Oh, it's fun - you would not believe how much fun."

Frank thinks about this for a bit and then played "devil's advocate" in asking me of what use this would be in education. I explain the classroom concept of gathering around Esme, sitting on seats (or the ground) that are really little red disks, the challenge of keeping track of the various threads of conversation, the field trips, and the assignments that push us to learn both on our own and with the help of our new friends.  We talked about different ideas for class discussion in virtual classrooms and why this would work for teachers and students. As our conversation went on, I was a little startled at the strength of my advocacy, considering my previous opposition to it.

My position now, 6 weeks later? This is a wonderful tool, one of many that today's teachers are fortunate to have at their disposal. Just like any sophisticated tool, however, it takes some practice, creativity and commitment to figure out how to use it effectively. It doesn't satisfy every circumstance and every teacher. Find me the tool that does!