30 April 2012

Children's Week: I have a rock in my nose.

Children's Week, also known as Week of the Wardens, charges accomplished players with a week of giving back to "the innocents of war - the orphans." This holiday occurs around the Korean and Japanese Children's Day holidays, but makes the goal about orphaned children rather than all children. Are you ready to meet the pre-teen face of Azeroth?

Almost every nation has some kind of Children's Day. South Korea's occurs on May 5th, and is a day for parents to spend time with their children, take in some kid-friendly entertainment, and pamper their progeny with gifts and good food. The holiday originated as Boy's Day, celebrated during the Japanese period of colonization. Japan celebrates "Girl's Day", or the Doll Festival, on March 3rd, but eventually changed May 5th to Children's Day with a special emphasis on boys' growth and development. Although celebrations initially mimicked the Japanese counterpart, South Korea does not display armor or carp streamers on this day. If you recall my earlier holiday posts, you will remember Dano Day, another 5th month 5th day holiday from the Chinese calendar. This holiday may explain why Children's Day was eventually moved to May 5th.

Children's Day in South Korea was originally observed on May 1st beginning in 1922. Dr. Bang Jeong-hwan, a writer and children's rights activist, coined the modern, more respectful term for children eorini and founded the children's rights organization Saekdong. He authored the Children's Charter to proclaim the rights of children to safety and happiness, and proposed the yearly celebration of Children's Day on May 1st. In 1946, after a 7 year cessation of the holiday due to occupying Japanese forces, the holiday was changed to May 5th. In 1975 it finally acquired public holiday status.

Azeroth's counterpart has a much more sober history. Orphan Matrons in Stormwind, Orgrimmar, Shattrath, and Dalaran allow each orphan to spend a week with a player volunteer. During that week the volunteer, assumed to be well-funded and well-traveled, is expected to provide anything the orphan asks for. That means that players will be traversing the entirety of Azeroth and Outlands, and buying a host of snacks and toys for their diminutive companions. The quests, recently updated, provide a unique filter for people and places that are old hat to long time players. I've always enjoyed watching my orphan interact with Lady Sylvanas, marvel at the Dark Portal, and prance around Grizzlemaw. Their childlike reactions to new places and people are sweet and often humorous. However, considering their other requests to visit estranged friends and siblings, I am reminded of the harsh reality in which the orphans live. Furthermore, the fact that my character participates in aggressive campaigns means there's a very real chance that I have created some of these orphans. It's never been implied in the quests, but I have to wonder how the matrons feel about adventurers like me. Maybe they consider the week I volunteer an appropriate penance for my violence.

After finishing the quest chains, players have the choice of adorable companion pets or a Curmudgeon's Payoff. Keep in mind that when Mists goes live, accounts will share pets, so if you can complete this holiday on multiple characters, you can get all the pets more quickly! Not to mention you might be able to knock out Veteran Nanny in one go for a hefty 50 achievement points. There are surprisingly few achievements for this holiday; only 8 for a total of 120 points. However, one of them is the universally-hated PVP extravaganza School of Hard Knocks. In keeping with the theme of "show your orphan around," players must venture into battlegrounds and perform tasks like capturing and returning flags and assaulting nodes with their orphan at their side. Diehard PVPers frustrated with the sudden influx of non-PVP oriented players in their BGs may take out their irritation on players with orphan companions - traumatizing for all involved. My only advice is to stay calm and go early in the morning. If you complete all the required achievements you will earn the dubiously appropriate title Matron or Patron (I mean, you did abandon your orphan in the wilderness when you used your hearthstone...).

The Shattrath and Dalaran orphans mention their names in the quests, but this year was the first time I realized that the human and orc orphans also have names. Now I feel like a butthole, since I randomly created one for my orphan when I wrote about it last year. Sorry, buster. Here are some of my favorite flavor quotes from the little tykes:

Grunth (orc): If your glove is too big, does it still fit like a glove?
If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
Randis (human): If you try to fail and succeed, what did you just do?
Did you just come out of a dungeon? Did you get me anything?
Salandria (blood elf): I bet ice cream would taste better if it were socketed!
Dornaa (draenei): Is the Twisting Nether shaped like a pretzel? And just what is a Nether? The orphan matron said I shouldn't ask people about their nethers.
Roo (gorloc): We can has aged yolk?
Kekek (wolvar): Orcs always point and laugh at Kekek, but he get revenge one day.

26 April 2012

Zombie Hop

What's up with that title? I don't know, go listen to the song (by Zombina & The Skeletones). This week has been weird...after stressing over an application it's now over and done and I feel kinda slow and droopy. As such, I didn't have time to put the lovely finishing touches on my next post and instead you get screenshots: the miscellaneous edition. If you wanna really make this a party, check out some of these fantastically bizarre words (I think I found a new blog title - adoxography: skilled writing on an unimportant subject).

Giant gnome
Grizzly tree
I want YOU!
Malorne goes apeshit
Titan buildings
Trapped in amber
Do not jump

And then we all died
Standing in midair

23 April 2012

Wait up, bandwagon! I'm coming!!

So, I'm not a great beta tester. This might piss some people off, that I'm not going around trying to get myself stuck in invisible holes or bug out a quest NPC, but really I just wanted to get to know my future pandaren lady. What's her story? What does she like? Who are her friends? Being able to inspect her appearance and play her opening story helps me to plan her eventual plot. Plus, I think we've talked about this, I love starting zones! There's something comforting about those introductory quests, the solitude of the area, and the nostalgic appreciation of all those character "firsts."

I wasn't able to successfully download the beta until the problematic Ji Firepaw quest text had already been changed. Really, there's no difference. I mean, he still reminds me of Homer Simpson, if Homer Simpson were capable of formulating a plan of action. The good thing about it taking me so long to finally get playing is that there have already been a host of good responses. Check them out: the original piece at Apple Cider Mage, her response to the change, Peregrina's well-written two cents, and Morrighan's impassioned post.

I'm glad they took out that difference in quest text. Unsolicited commentary on my appearance has always been a prickly subject. Having grown up constantly bombarded by the message that I'm too short, too fat, too greasy, too mannish, too everything, any commentary on that will be fraught with past traumas. It's not that I don't want compliments. I just don't want ones that indicate you're too uncreative to think of anything other than the tired and blatantly obvious. Before you get all contrary and start yammering about how "you don't even want me to COMPLIMENT YOU? You must be the saddest killjoy in all of No Funnington," let me remind you that there are a TON of other ways to compliment someone without potentially weirding them out with a comment on their looks!

If Ji were hosting a pandaren beauty contest and told me I was a hot piece of pandameat, I would be like "Yes!! Just wait until the swimsuit portion, LADIES." But I'm not going to him to be evaluated on my prize-winning ducklips face; I'm reporting for duty to help my people. I want his reaction to reflect my obvious ability to help. "Damn, girl, you look like you could hoist me over your head!" Hell yeah I can! I'm ripped! (wrapped in a protective layer of padding!)

Imagine recommending this blog to someone. "Follow red cow rise; Aka's a total babe." Be that as it may, it doesn't really relate to the content. "Follow red cow rise; Aka's a great writer and funny as hell." Accurate, and more importantly, relevant!

Here, I've gone and done some more potential situations for you:

GYM: "Cute face!"  ==>  "Wow, you're really strong/flexible/fast!"
KARAOKE: "You're sexy!"  ==>  "Your voice is incredible!" "You pick the best songs!"
COOKING: "Nice butt!"  ==>  "This soup is amazing!"
FASHION: "Those are some Great New York Boobs!"  ==>  "That outfit is fierce as hell!"

20 April 2012

Let's All Learn Chinese

Mists of Pandaria draws heavily on Chinese culture and language to create Pandaria and the races that populate it. Because of that, we are being inundated with fun and excited new words inspired by or taken directly from Mandarin and written in pinyin for English speakers. If my experience growing up in the US is any indication, most people probably don't know how to properly pronounce pinyin. The important thing to remember is that although it uses English letters to represent Mandarin written without characters, it doesn't use the same pronunciation rules as English! I don't pretend to be very good at Chinese - I took two semesters in college and had to quit in the 3rd when I started bombing Japanese tests, but hopefully this small guide to basic pronunciation will help players as they meet their new Pandaren pengyou!

I'm going to shamelessly take pronunciation guides from this very comprehensive page that includes not only the actual IPA symbols for the romanized letters, but also the nonstandard approximation "phonics" that makes phonics turn into "fonix."There are also pronunciation equivalents using English vocabulary on the Wikipedia page. The two guides don't always agree on the IPA for each vowel, so I've made do as best I can. Please feel free to submit any comments or suggestions for better pronunciation!

The good news is that the following initial consonants are pronounced about the same as they are in English (brackets indicate the IPA symbol):
  b, d, f, g, k, l, m, n, p, s, t, w, y, ch, sh
[ b, d, f, g, k, l, m, n, p, s, t, w,  j,  tʃ,  ʃ  ]

Then there are the other initial consonants.

c [tsʰ]: cats
j [tɕ]: itchy ("the blade of the tongue replaces the tip against the mouth roof and the tongue tip is placed against the back of the lower teeth")
q [tɕʰ]: cheer ("the blade of the tongue replaces the tip against the mouth roof and the tongue tip is placed against the back of the lower teeth")
r [ʐ]: (Like "j" and "r" together, as in "pleasure". A retroflex sound; the tongue is similar to the normal "r" but is curled further back in the mouth)
x [ɕ]: she ("the blade of the tongue replaces the tip against the mouth roof and the tongue tip is placed against the back of the lower teeth")
z [ds]: lids (wiki lists this as cats)
zh [tʂ]: merger

And now the extensive list of vowels, dipthongs, and ending consonants.

a [a]: father
ai [ai]: my
an [an]: fond
ang [aŋ]: car + song
au [au]: how
e [ə]: about
ei [ei]: pay
en [ɛn]: taken
eng [əŋ]: hung
er [ɑɹ]: are
i [i]: bee (when after b, d, j, l, m, n, p, q, t, x)
   [ɨ]: (like a swallowed buzzing when after z, c and s)
   [ɝ]: (like an "r" after ch, sh, zh and r)
ia [ja]: yah
ian [jɛn]: yen
iang [jaŋ]: y + can + song
iao [jau]: yow
ie [jɛ]: yes
in [in]: seen
ing [iŋ]: seen + song
iong [joŋ]: yawn + song
iu [io]: yo-yo
o [uɔ]: wet + bore
ong [oŋ]: own + song
u [u]: too (after most letters)
    [y]: similar to cute (after j, q, x and y)
    [ü]: similar to French eu (after n and l)
ua [wa]: wash
uai [wai]: why
uan [wan]: wand (after most letters)
          [wɛn]: went (after j, q, x, y)
uang [waŋ]: wand + song
ue [yɛ]: "oo-weh" (written üe after n and l)
ui [wei]: way
un [ʊen]: book + went (after most letters)
        [yn]: win (after j, q and x)
uo [uɔ]: wet + bore

Phew! That was exhausting. Ready to practice out loud? You can hear the swallowed "i" sounds when she pronounces z, c, s, ch, sh, zh, and r. Listen and repeat:

If you want to apply this to actual things in Mists, you should first read WoW Insider's very good article on the new elementals and the origin of their names. Much of the information was submitted by a Chinese-speaking fan, so there is a lot of interesting native-speaker insight into the word choice.

Next, I'd like to direct your attention to the name of the new race. Pandaren is a combination of panda (actually xiong mao 熊貓) and ren (人), ren being the word for person/people. Making pandaren...panda people! So next time you say that they aren't panda people...well, I'm not saying, I'm just saying...

Now, let's apply what we've learned to some character and place names from the Pandaren starting zone. (Mild spoilers for closeup pictures of NPC/place names and titles.)

17 April 2012

The Leatherworkers [Noblegarden]

This year for the Great Blog Noblegarden Egg Hunt, I created a silly 4 panel comic featuring the leatherworkers! It was originally hidden in the "3" of my Tier 3 link, but now gets its own special page. Enjoy!

14 April 2012

Darkmoon Details

For your viewing pleasure, I present details of the Darkmoon Faire

Ahead of you, down the path

11 April 2012

Darkmoon Faire

The Darkmoon Faire! I love those guys. And by the Earthmother, they sure love me too. I did bring them a whole cartload of cards and card accessories, after all. And now they have a proper carnival - their very own private island to decorate and populate as they like.

The atmosphere borrows heavily from the Tol Barad/Gilneas aesthetic, with and ominous purple filter overlay. The lighting and colors suggest a damp chill clinging to the place, and even at midday it's as dark as twilight. The haunting gloom is well-contrasted with the Faire's cheery strings of fairy lights, torches, and even fire breathers lighting the paths. If you leave the Faire to explore the island, you'll find shipwrecks, decomposing skeletons, woebegone ghosts, and a cook with a penchant for the Most Dangerous Game. Within the Faire, it's all business from the carnies. The brightly lit atmosphere puts an exciting, almost frantic veneer on the sinister undertones of the island, and makes me think that we'll meet a deranged wife in the attic or find out we could see dead people all along.

The monthly profession dailies are extremely satisfying on many levels (although you do need a minimum of 75 skill to see them, which discourages loading up all of your alts with cooking, fishing, and first aid). Only a few require extra materials from the player, and you can easily take the portal back to your home city if you forget to bring them. Then, collect a few items, skin or DE or craft them together, and bam! you get a couple tickets. At 85, the 250 Grisly Trophies can easily be farmed in any number of places if you won't collect them all during your regular activities.

What really bothers me is the daily quests. You have to pay for tokens, and receive only one ticket and no gold in return. Well, all right, that's pretty standard fare for carnivals. In keeping with the "screw the customer" style, most of the games cannot complete their associated dailies in one go. What's even worse is that you can almost finish your quest in the first round, meaning you only really need a few seconds at the beginning of the next. I typically turn in my quest after completing it, which always stops the game time. The NPCs tell me, "Don't stop now! You still have time to play!" Overwhelmingly, my response is no. Why is that? It's not like I'm unfamiliar with painful grinds or dailies that don't have time limits. And even fun dailies like pygmy smacking in Uldum aren't fun enough to keep me whacking after the quest objective is completed. It's just that, with the exception of Whack-a-Gnoll (I play a healer, go fig), my only reason for playing the Faire games is to complete a quest. Having to "queue" for two rounds of a game when I only need one and a half just irks me.

During February's Faire, the Hogger mobs spawned fast and thick, and I was able to complete my daily in one game round. It was incredibly satisfying! In March, they must have slowed the spawn rate because I typically get about 25/30 credits in the first round. In April, there were times I stopped and waited for several seconds for a gnoll, any gnoll to spawn. (BABIES EVERYWHERE) Having to replay just to get the last 5 is an excruciating annoyance. Doing it every day... In this case, I'd like for them to cut back on the spirit of carnivals in favor of being able to finish a quest all in one go. I don't mind the money for the tokens, but I do mind having to redo a game that isn't all that engaging to begin with.

Nowadays, we can join an anonymous collection of strangers and defeat Deathwing with little more than a fart, max out our professions using only vendor goods and quests, and buy mounts lovely enough they could be rare drops with cash money. I think the Darkmoon dailies should be tweaked until you can finish a quest in a single round of play!

08 April 2012

Noblegarden: The Joy of Life and Friendship

Noblegarden, now not just for nobles! I hope you guys are ready for a cheery, pastel explosion and subsequent egg-camping nerdrage in your racial starting zones! Blizzard's blurb about Noblegarden cites its origins as "druidic festivals from times long past" and mentions that, like the Feast of Winter Veil, while some would like to keep it traditional, others are more interested in chocolate eggs and little presents. Commercialism co-opting ancient druidic traditions? Sounds like something the goblins might want to look into...

Obviously, Noblegarden is getting all up on Christianity's Easter. However, since Easter itself has many non-Christian influences, and WoW generally avoids mentioning real-world religion, much of the Noblegarden inspiration comes from pagan roots. Originally a human holiday, Noblegarden is a festival dedicated to welcoming spring. Other Alliance races adopted it, and for gameplay convenience the Horde began to celebrate it as well.

If you're wondering why the date of Easter varies so much from year to year, it's because the date is calculated as the first Sunday following the full moon after March 21. Now that sounds like something druids would be into! The name is derived from Eostre (aka Oestre, Eastre, and Ostara), the goddess of spring and fertility. Her main symbols were eggs and hares, due to the fact that hares are capable of producing many, many offspring during their 9 month breeding season. In one story, Ostara arrives late one year, and saves a bird whose wings have been frozen by turning him into a rabbit. As an homage to his original form, she gives him the ability to lay eggs. Somehow he falls out of favor and is cast into the sky as the constellation Lepus, and is allowed to return to lay eggs for one day of each year. Eggs, of course, represent new life and are thought to have magical powers.

Kissy kissy!
The concept of an egg-laying bunny came into modern popularity in the US in the 18th century. Supposedly, the Osterhase would bring eggs to good little girls and boys who made nests in their bonnets or caps. Eggs have been decorated in countries around the world for centuries, beginning in 1307. Colors range from blood-red to gold and silver to fern decorations to generally bright spring colors. The first Faberge egg was an Easter gift! Once the process for making chocolate flow smoothly into molds was developed in the 1800s, chocolate eggs began to be mass produced during the Easter season. Originally they were made of dark, bitter chocolate, but today most chocolate eggs are made of milk chocolate. And of course, there's always the heart-stoppingly gooey Cadbury Egg.

The last time I dyed eggs was in uni
Players will be getting their chocolate on by collecting and eating Brightly Colored Eggs, hidden for hunting in each racial starting zone and also just outside Shattrath in Terokkar Forest. This practice of hiding coins, candy, and goodies inside eggs initially started with human nobles as a gift for commoners. I wonder how that's working for them out in Westfall? Since the origins of the holiday lie with druids, I can't help but wonder if the Gilnean Harvest Witches had any hand in bringing druidic traditions into human practice. (Of course, my Gilnean history is pretty spotty.) Or, since it doesn't make a ton of sense for humans to suddenly pick up druidic traditions, maybe they had their own spring celebration and were later informed by the Cenarion Circle that it coincided with their holiday.

Lookin' dapper, Aka!
At any rate, Spring Gatherers are very interested in what's up with the hidden eggs, as the druids had a hand in creating them. Fortunately, the questgivers are only interested in the shell fragments, leaving players free to spend or eat their chocolates as necessary for the various achievements associated with the holiday. The suggested game plan is to eat your 100 chocolates first, in the hopes that you will discover most of the other items you need to complete achievements. The White Tuxedo Shirt, Black Tuxedo Pants, and Elegant Dress can be worn all together, allowing you to fulfill either role of Blushing Bride. These are also non-soulbound and can be traded! If you keep your Spring Rabbit out while egg-hunting, it can find other bunnies to get busy with for Spring Fling! Fun fact: wearing new clothes for Easter has long been associated with spiritual renewal. You'll have to put on your Spring Robes before you can bring flowers to the deserts of the world!

Keep your Egg Basket clenched tightly in one hand for a speed boost when rushing to loot an egg, and hold your bouquet of Spring Flowers in the other to put bunny ears on female toons of level 18 or higher. (Weirdly, I react to this sort of creepery differently than in meatspace. In game I don't particularly mind being hunted down and bunny-eared, and I'll even click off the buff so others can do it. In meatspace it's more like, "Stop following me; I'm trying to buy vegetables/ride the train/pick my toe lint." Anything for achievements, I guess.) If you want year-round bunny ears be sure to pick up a Spring Circlet, and this year they have added a black and pink version as well! Don't vendor your Blossoming Branch without turning at least one LFR group into a warren of bunnies!

Mages might want to add Tome of Polymorph: Rabbit to their repetoire, and I imagine that everyone and their mother will be hoarding eggs this year in order to buy the fabulous Swift Springstrider for a whopping 500 chocolates! Just me? If you're interested in mass egg-collecting, I recommend picking a good camping spot with 3-4 egg spawn spots in easy reach in a busy area. There's a lot of nerd rage about spots being too crowded, but I've been on late at night when no one else is around and...when it's just you looting eggs, they spawn like a Sea Turtle! You want other people to be running willy nilly around town so that your chosen spawn points come up more often. Plus, if you have your spot all staked out, others will likely avoid it.

This holiday has 12 achievements for a total of 120 achievement points and awards the title "The Noble." It is part of the meta-achievement What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been. Although the camping and travel can be time-consuming, this holiday's meta achievement can be completed by lowbie toons as there are no level requirements. You can find out more from Wow Insider's guide or Wowhead's guide.

05 April 2012

Goblins at the Faire

After that stint in the Badlands, I thought I'd take a break from the wide world of contract work and spend some time in Orgrimmar to manage my monetary affairs more personally. My apprentice Myda is learning the tricks of the trade quickly, and knows her way around an auction house portfolio nearly as well as I do! She'll be a great addition to the Sparklefizz family, especially compared to my good-for-nothing brother.

Not three days after airing out my apartments did news of the Darkmoon Faire spread through the Slums like wildfire. Barkers were outside at all hours advertising, and banners on every corner directed me to the city's central plateau, where a Faire mage was giving ports to Thunderbluff.

I decided to give Myda the time off, so when the Faire finally opened, I ported us both to Thunderbluff and we walked to the actual portal to the island. What little history I gathered about the Faire is that it's led by a gnome called Silas Darkmoon, and after years of traveling and scraping together gold, he was able to relocated permanently to a private island. The only problem is that it requires a special portal to get to! I wonder how he found it in the first place...

When we arrived, I must admit I was surprised by the...atmosphere. Myda's pet began to yowl and pace, and she had to spend almost ten minutes calming her down! (She insisted on bringing her lion. At least my elemental can be dismissed!) But the pet's agitation was understandable. The arrival location is in a very dark forest. Even though it was mid-morning, the forest made it seem like night! It's made even worse by the thick cloud cover - I mean, it's a lot fresher than smog, but the whole island feels damp and cold and dark. Gloomy. Maybe a little ominous.

We followed the signs to the Faire proper. The flashing lights and moving parts made me think of Kezan. What I wouldn't give for an ice cold glass of Kaja Cola The Faire is massive - clearly Silas saved a lot of coin! It's much better lit than the path; there are bonfires every few steps, torches between those, and even firebreathers roaming the streets, entertaining the guests! It looks like a pretty demanding job; must be good money in that.

While Myda tried out the games, I just looked around. The contrast of bright lights and dark forest is familiar, but somehow manages to be way eerier than Kezan ever was. The carnies grin when they sell you tickets, but once the transaction's finished they go right back to serious, even grim. The trials of customer service? Maybe not. I spent some time talking with Aimee, who runs the pastry shop and got the impression that she genuinely loves her job. It seems that all Darkmoon's employees love the Faire. True employee loyalty can't be beat, but I'm curious to know how Silas earned such devotion from them, and why they frown when no one's looking.

As it turned out, Myda was pretty good at the Faire games, especially target shooting and the ring toss. She won a good pile of tickets, but it wasn't quite enough to buy anything. Maybe I'll try some games myself, see if I can't earn enough tickets to buy her a treat. After all, I need to treat my employee at least as well as Silas treats his!

03 April 2012

The Great Blog Noblegarden Egg Hunt!

HEY! Have you signed up to participate in this? Even if you don't plan to hide an egg, are you ready to EGG HUNT? Kamalia of Kamalia et Alia is continuing the tradition started by Angelya by hosting this year's event! Get thee to her post, or email her to register your blog as an egg spot! Then, cleverly (or not so cleverly) hide your egg and email her with its location! Remember, you only have until April the 8th to hide your egg, so don't delay. Your entry listing all the eggs and their locations must be delivered to her inbox no later than midnight (UTC) on April 12. Fun! Drama! Mystery! Intrigue! Prizes!!! Do this thing!

The trouble with audio

All Things Azeroth is always advertising for the website audible. My initial reaction was excitement - books! I love books! Me and books, we're tight like sisters. Then I realized that since I have serious trouble concentrating on audio, it would be entirely wasted on me.

I'm not entirely sure what the problem is. I do have some problems hearing purely on the volume level, but more often I find that even if I can hear the sound, I have trouble understanding the meaning. The yearly work health check says my hearing is just fine, so it must just be a part of my brain that says "Yeah that sound, I don't think I'll pay attention to it."

In person, I will watch a person's mouth if I'm having trouble understanding. I can't actually read lips, but making myself focus on the source of the sound makes it easier to concentrate on it. When it comes to audio-only conversations, I basically have to stop everything I'm doing to be able to participate. WoW podcasters often mention that they are playing WoW while recording, but for me that would be disastrous! The few podcasts I have participated in have been in complete isolation, with DND on all my chat programs and WoW turned off.

Passive listening, like podcasts, requires slightly less effort. I can do mindless activities like cleaning up, cooking, or farming while focusing on a prerecorded conversation. (To this day, going to Burning Steppes makes me think of Girls Gone WoW.) My biggest bane is vent, which is such a bummer! Using vent for raids has become increasingly hard for me. When the RL starts to helpfully explain the strat, my brain tunes right out. If I didn't read strats or have experience with the fights, I would be completely screwed! When healing assignments are given out, I always ask for confirmation in the healer channel. It's kind of a running gag that I frequently tab out to check facebook. I do sometimes tab out, usually to check my feedreader during breaks, but my flighty impression comes mostly from the fact that my pathetic ears betraaaaay meeee! The longer a day I've had, the harder it is to buckle down and focus on aural input.

During a boss fight is just fine, because I'm concentrating so hard on the fight. Taking verbal cues like "brez Spanky" or "green platform next" fits right in with reacting to the trumpets and gongs of DBM. But as soon as the fight ends (or I die...) my brain goes right back to la la land!

Have you ever had trouble focusing on audio? What do you do to help yourself pay attention? What are things that help you focus in general?