Monday, November 11, 2013

The Quest Reward of a Lifetime: The Wedding of Warcraft

In which she who quests become she for whom is quested.

This blog post is a continuation of The Quest Chain Of A Lifetime, in which our heroic author proposed to his lovely lady through an epic real-life quest chain.

This informative sign never saw the light of day.

  As we began planning and preparing for our wedding, Clara remained adamant that this would be an event sans World of Warcraft.  While I suggested that "Lament of the Highborne" would make an excellent song to accompany her march down the aisle and even drafted a sign to explain to wedding attendees where to sit, she would not be swayed.

Dual Horde emblem cufflinks (+5 to Style)

   In the end, she allowed me to hide miniscule, mostly-transparent Horde emblem hearts in the wedding invitation, as well as design my own cuff links. As we got closer to the event, however, she indicated that there were a few wedding surprises planned for the day. Being rather busy at the time (I was helping to put together a wedding), I didn't spend much effort in contemplating what these surprises might be.

A simple quest for our waiting groom.

   On the day of the wedding, as I was awaiting the cue to end my isolation in the men's preparation room, a contingent of bridesmaids arrived to exchange bride and groom gifts and provide me the first surprise: my very own quest.
Notice the small loot box on the right.

   My best man Bobby had apparently been briefed on the planned surprises, as he made his entrance to the ceremony with some additional loot. As it turns out, the talented Bethany, one of Clara's bridesmaids, had built a slightly larger and somewhat sturdier version of the golden papercraft chest I had created for the proposal.

Quest turn-in in a box.

   When the time came to exchange rings, Bobby came forward with the golden chest and I had the pleasure of revealing the final quest reward to the assembled wedding party and guests. Even better, Clara had snuck away my wedding band before the wedding and had the word "soulbound" engraved on the inside.
My Band of Binding The ring in its place of honor.
For the Horde!

   With the ceremony over, we proceeded to the reception, where we showed our Horde spirit with a classic Warcraft groom's cake, which was very well-executed by our Sugar Artist.

Honeymoon! Representing on Takeshita Street
What with our epic wedding and an amazing whirlwind honeymoon (which included a cat cafe), we weren't able to afford the time for a trip to BlizzCon, but there's always next year!

-Michael "Khalanil" Kennedy

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Quest Chain of a Lifetime...

Update: Thanks to everyone for the comments and well-wishing! We've very happy to see all the positive attention from everyone (over 18k views!), thanks to the WoW forums, Reddit, and Kotaku. My fiancee decided that we need a better image of the ring, so I've added one to the very end. Also, since there appears to be some confusion, my name is Michael and I am a male.

I was contemplating how to present Clara with her engagement ring, when I came across a blog called Unofficial World of Warcraft Papercrafts.  This site had the perfect ring box: an origami treasure chest. After a dry run using printer paper, I had the template printed out on card stock at FedEx Office and prepared to create the final version.  Even better, this Warcraft-style ring box provided me with the perfect theme for the final proposal.... 

After what seemed to me to be an inordinate amount of searching on Google, I found a website that allowed the creation of custom World of Warcraft tooltips. With that tool, some quest background images I found somewhere online, and the Morpheus font, I was ready to start building some quests.  After crafting several quests, all of which ultimately involved eating at fun local restaurants, I started putting all the pieces together.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Look, it's a quest! The initial quest
Time to turn it in Looks like another quest...
...and another one. Looks like we've hit the end of our quest chain
I wonder what could be inside?
Achievement: Engaged!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Wind Farm Tour

Yesterday, I got to experience an all-day field trip to see a wind farm being constructed up in Reese, Michigan. The wind turbines are being developed by NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based company with a diverse energy-production portfolio (i.e. wind, solar, hydroelectric, fossil fuels, and nuclear).  This wind farm is close to the end of its construction phase, having started around July with an anticipated completion before the end of the year.

After the four-hour drive to Reese, we started off with lunch and a presentation about wind farms and the construction process. We were then given hard hats, safety glasses, and a vest, then headed off to see a couple of turbines in the early stages of construction.

View from the bus.  I think this might actually
be the one that we visited at the end of the tour.

 This first turbine consisted of the bottom half of the tower, with the rest of the parts scattered around nearby.  It gave us the opportunity to see exactly how large these parts are.  For reference, these wind turbines are of the 100 meter variety (diameter of wingspan).

Turbine hub
Top half of the tower
Nacelle resting beside the bottom half of the tower.
The hub is somewhat visible between the two.
The tour group
Bottom half of the tower, looking up
Me, standing next to the nacelle
The turbine blades

Base of a turbine blade
Looking along the turbine blades

One end of the top half of the tower

Looking up the stairs at the top half of the tower
The next turbine was fully assembled, but essentially hadn't been turned on yet. That meant this turbine had all of the wiring and circuits for us to examine.

Below the turbine, looking up
Circuits inside the turbine
Inside the turbine, looking up
The door

Electrical box beside the turbine

A look inside the electrical box

At this point, we headed off to see the relay station where the turbines sent their electricity. 

View of a half-finished turbine from the bus. If you look closely, you can see a constructed blade assembly at the foot of that turbine.
The relay station

Relays. Five of the bars along the top split about 120 megawatts, while the sixth connects to a capacitor.
A transformer, with a berm to contain oil leaks.
If you look up, you can see lines which are intended to prevent the station from
being hit by lightning.
Electricity heading off to the end-user
Finally, we visited a working turbine that was actively generating electricity. The wind turbine made very little noise.  If you were standing in the right spot, you could hear a noise as the blades swept by that almost sounded like waves on a beach.

When we got there, they called the control headquarters in Florida and had them shut down the turbine so we could see how that worked. Basically, the primary method for stopping a turbine involves rotating the blades so that they no longer catch the wind.  So you can see this for yourself, I took two videos using my phone; the first one shows the turbine in action, while the second shows the turbine as it's stopping.  You should be able to notice the difference in the orientation of the blades.  Also, the turbine stopped fairly quickly after they sent the shutdown message.

All in all, it was a very fun and informative experience.  The NextEra guys who led us around were very knowledgeable and were able to easily answer all of our questions.  I definitely learned a lot about wind farms, as well as a bit about Reese, Michigan (for instance, the farmland there is naturally swampland, so the area needs a gridwork of pipes to carry away the water).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Status Update

It's been two and a half years since I created this blog, and I haven't really touched it since then.  Now that I'm starting my fourth year of graduate school, I've decided to start it back up.  Time will tell whether I actually keep it up....

So, I'm taking stock of where I am in life and looking at where I'm moving forward.  I'm definitely happy with my research, and feel that it validates my decision to pursue a helping-other-people direction in my career aspirations.  If I can, I'd like to continue pushing commercial development once I graduate; if not, I'll go for a position in industry in a related field. Hopefully, if everything goes according to schedule, I'll be able to get my PhD by spring 2014 (edit: not 2013).

Recreation-wise, I've been doing a lot of custom map-making for StarCraft 2.  Unfortunately, it's rather time-intensive and takes time away from other recreational activities.  Right now, the plan is for me to quit SC2 map-making when Mists of Pandaria comes out in 10 days; I've missed playing WoW and I'm pretty sure that Clara is tired of leveling alts by herself.

Apart from that, I'm sure that I'll continue to be very busy.  Apart from working on my black belt, I'm hoping to find some time to write some useful apps for my new Windows phone.  Coincidentally, the SC2 HotS beta has started, and I was just admitted yesterday.  I'm sure that will test my resolve on taking a break from SC2 and quitting map-making altogether.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ranked and good to go

I've been playing 1v1 using Random race, and finished my 10 placement games yesterday. This means that the automated matchmaking algorithms have now placed me in the rankings for 1v1 play. I started in the Gold League, Division 4, 37th place. As far as I can tell, leagues are platinum, gold, silver, bronze, and copper, in order. Each division has 100 players, and there are at least 8 divisions per league. Divisions don't appear to mean anything in terms of rank, so I think they're parallel subdivisions within the leagues. I haven't been able to get a good game recorded (one in which I'm not trounced), but I have some good replays, which I might record at some point. While I'm feeling pretty good as Terran and Protoss, I haven't won any matches yet as Zerg.

Yesterday, I played a couple of 2v2 games with someone I met by getting zealot-owned in 1v1. In the first 2v2, his game crashed with an error about 10 minutes in, at which point I took his zealots and my marines and wiped the map with our 2 opponents. Shared unit control works the same as Warcraft III, and I was able to control all of his units and buildings once he dropped.

In order to start up a game with friends, all you need to do is invite them to a party and jump in a game. You can also create a custom game and get all set up before allowing anybody else in if you want.

As of today, I'm ranked 42 in the Gold league for 1v1 and 18 in the Platinum league for 2v2. In 2v2, I've been playing Terran with my Protoss teammate. I get a barracks with a reactor add-on for quick marines, while he gets zealots followed by stalkers. We generally rush or defend against the opponents' rush then counterattack. If that doesn't end them, I build up to marauders and go to factory or starport to support my infantry.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2/17- Beta begins

I'm going to start up this blog to share my experience with the Starcraft 2 beta. I'm 2-0 against other players and have tried out all three races against the computer AI (only "very easy" available right now).

First Impressions:
Orbital Station (upgraded Command Center) has an ability called "Call down supplies" which is very handy, especially because I keep forgetting to keep my supply high enough.
Siege tanks work a lot better for uphill sieging as they no longer have a chance to miss when shooting at something on higher group (you just need to have sight on the target).
Marauders are very nice and give Terran a handy anti-mech unit.

The Nexus has the new Protoss macro ability "Chrono boost" which speeds up a building's production or researching for 30 seconds. It costs 25 out of the Nexus's 100 mana and might very well be overpowered. It is extremely useful for boosting probe production, pumping out Colossi a bit faster, and pretty much anything that involves training or researching.
Void rays are really useful. I took out the Planetary Fortress in a Terran player's expansion in about 5 seconds using 3 void rays. Their charging up attacks make quick work of buildings as well as Thor, as I discovered.
The Gateway's ability to switch to a Warp Gate and warp in units anywhere on the map within the psionic matrix is also very cool and helps for reinforcing attacks on the enemy base.

The new and more important queen is a nice touch to the Zerg feel. She can lay creep tumors (which are how the creep is extended now), spawn more larva at a hatchery, and heal a friendly unit.
Nydus worms combined with the Overlord's new ability to spawn creep greatly improve Zerg mobility, allowing instant transportation across the map.
The distinct waypoints at the hatchery for drones vs other units threw me off at first until I realize that I could also set waypoints for morphing larva directly.

I'm going to try to record some of my games and put them on YouTube, so if anyone has any special requests, let me know.