Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 01, 2010
Chronicling a personal history

It just so happened that the first request on yesterday's open Sunday thread was also on my personal list of things I planned to post about, so as requested, here is my view on the new Armory activity feed: For those who haven't heard of this new feature of the World of Warcraft Armory, there is now the possibility to create a RSS feed which reports the main items of a characters activity, that is bosses killed, epic loot gained, and achievements gained. Thus if you would take for example the Armory activity feed for my priest, you would see that over the last week he ran Forge of Souls on normal 15 times, before giving up on the bracers that Ick & Krick never dropped, buying crafted epic bracers instead to get the Epic achievement.

The catch is that to access that feed you only need to know the name of the character and the server he is playing on. Thus everybody who knows that information can follow your activity. Although normally that shouldn't cause much of a problem, because for example your boss is unlikely to know your character name and thus can't find out what you really did when you called in sick, some people are worried about privacy issues. Blizzard should have been more privacy conscious on that one, and have at least an option to disable your activity feed if you don't want others to see it.

Nevertheless the Armory activity feed is interesting, because it gives us a hint of things to come. Game developers are slowly realizing a simple truth: People are more interested in their own characters' history than in the history of some NPC. What would *you* rather have, a website with the complete history of Arthas, or a website with the complete history of *your* characters? Just imagine a complete history "book" of your character, the times he leveled, the challenges he overcame, sorted by date, and clickable for how your character looked in his gear at that time. In a time and age where people feel the need to Twitter what cereal they had for breakfast, the heroic tales of you fantasy avatars make for a much better story. So I'm sure that the activity feed isn't the end of that trend. I don't know if it will be WoW or another game, but some time soon we will see a MMORPG offering a complete chronicle of your character's history.
"Just imagine a complete history "book" of your character, the times he leveled, the challenges he overcame, sorted by date, and clickable for how your character looked in his gear at that time."

That actually already existed a while ago, it was called Path of a Hero, though last I heard the website's author had moved on to other things and stopped work on it.
I wonder how the personal history will handle name changes and server transfers. If those too are logged, then people might be more vary of burning their bridges when they leave a guild. If the recruitment officer of the next guild that you apply to can easily track down your old guild's leadership, you aren't getting in if your last act in that guild was to empty the guild vault.
I know Warcraft Realms has been tracking character history since launch.

You have always been able to see what guilds, levels, and etc just by typing the characters name.

It isn't the perfect system since it is all user submitted data captured by the addon Census.
And with that, I could just retire my blog completely.

I personally do like that better then the history of the game. Hey, it's my history that I want people to remember when I'm gone...

Good one!
It would be great to see this officially implemented. What do I do with all those hours? Well, I did this - and it's the epic journey of a hero's adventures and triumphs. Kind of cool.
>people feel the need to Twitter what cereal they had for breakfast

Cocoa puffs. I wasn't watching what I was doing and ALMOST had raisin bran. Just think of the look on my face if I had screwed that one up.

>Just imagine a complete history "book" of your character

All my decent characters are on RP servers. I LIVE for everything that makes a good novel.

For better or worse, I'm no Frank Herbert.

This 'chronicle' reminds me of the Pink Pigtail Inn's post about the relationship between pornography and the dungeon finder. The quick and silent run.

Is WoW's current 'activity feed' not just a quick and silent story? Is there anything really intimate about what's written there? Even more, should there be?
"What would *you* rather have, a website with the complete history of Arthas, or a website with the complete history of *your* characters?"

I think probably Arthas. The history of my characters is pretty banal, and besides, I remember most of it.
So, how does it feel to be married to an assumed avatar name? It's sad that we now have to treat our fictional avatar name with the same level of care as our real life name, online.

What you will find in the real world will hold true in the virtual world - in that people stand a chance to be held accountable for their in-game actions the same as they are for their real world actions. The problem is, with the lack of laws relating to virtual behaviors and actions, who gets to decide what is acceptable behavior?

The main thing i am uncomfortable with regarding this RSS feed ability, is that it gives the hackers and account thieves a bit more information than should be available. Knowing your playing patterns, what loot you are acquiring, where you have been..ect...all potentially give someone with no-so-honest motives the ability to "profile" a player for possible nefarious means.

But as far as personal history.... I would love to have the ability to lay my character to rest(when I finally decide to quit) in a graveyard somewhere in Azeroth where someone could click on my tombstone and see all of my in-game achievements and exploits. It would definitely make me feel like 5+ years wasnt wasted on a toon that is just going to dissapear the day I decide to -really- quit.
I would love a way to combine it all to show my character having a story that isn't just RP nonsense about having any eyepatch or a long-lost father who I'm trying to find.
Sounds a little like what The Tomb of Knowledge was for WAR.

It would track and list a whole number of items, achievements, kills, and much more.

People could look at your tomb and see what you have done, it was a really cool feature but of course WAR was not.

Privacy issues? The same people think Google Street View is invading their privacy.

Just remember, if it is on the Internet it can be found. It is really no different then being in a guild who kills bosses and like Brian said, it gets tracked.
This was an interesting take on the character feed, usually I only hear about the privacy concerns, this post was a nice breath of fresh air in that regard.

I had never thought of the feed as my personal history though, I really am not that bothered with it, as it doesn't track if I'm having fun or not. And I have a huge screenshot collection showing my character history anyway. ^^
"Bernard began his adventure by killing ten rats. Then 20 spiders. Then..."

Perhaps a site dedicated to my 'achievements' would be more interesting? Wait a second...
It's been done before as said and games like Vanguard has been running with it for some time now (although they were not very successful and presented in a less friendly fashion, I admit).
Personally, I like and hate the idea.

I like it because yes, I find it fun to check some of my old characters stats once in a while and on that, the more the merrier.
I hate it because it's completely open to absolutely everyone, like the Armory is and that because of it, people are more prompt to pass judgement based on numbers and out of context information and less on actually chatting with you and testing it out.

At the end of the day, the display of every single thing you do with your characters is removing the "white lies" every single one of us use here and there. Sorry if you don't like it but lying is part of what makes humans special.

We're not machines, we argue.

PS: oh, and Google street view IS invading privacy in some cases and they have multiple lawsuits on their butts as we speak about it. Not everyone wants to be seen on the internet taking a naked sunbath in their private garden or terrass.
Put me in the privacy box too.

It's a great idea, if you can select it. If it's on no matter what, I'm not a fan. Hell, the first time a stalker uses this to say "Okay, she's just started an AQ run, I've got at least 2 hours where I know exactly where she is, and that she's distracted..." you'll see some negative publicity.

"Police say the robbers knew the victim was at home playing World of Warcraft, so were able to clean out the store without fear. When he logged out early, they noticed it, and were able to leave in time to escape."
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