Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Armory tells all (mostly)

Recently the WoW Armory was updated to add RSS feeds for character activity, stuff like gaining achievements and killing bosses. This seems like a good deal for those of us who want to show a box on our blog with recent achievements. But the feeds can be put to a more sinister use. Tracking your WoW time.

Anyone can load the Armory and take a look at the recent activity of a character, and that page will show which instance you finished (by showing the bosses killed), which items you equipped and even partial progress toward an achievement (such as /loving a sheep).

You can also log into the armory and create custom feeds for multiple characters, so you can keep up to date with someone's alts, or a group of friends. Add these feeds to something like google reader and you get a nice set of updates about what people are up to in-game.

Now this is all very well, but the activity items seem to update while you are logged in, and are very accurately timestamped. So the activity can be used to tell when someone did something and thus to check up on someone, maybe to see if they played when they weren't meant to, or for too long.

Say your son is sat in his room apparently doing his homework on his PC from 5pm. But yet when you look at the armory activity for his characters, you spot that one has completed Heroic Old Kingdom at 5:20pm, then proceeded to kill the bosses in Pit Of Saron, the last one dying at 6pm. Has any homework been done? It looks like not. Now I know you can use parental controls, but the play times are not very flexible so you may not be doing so.

However say you were round your friends house allegedly helping him restore his treasured classic car from 2pm to 6pm. Yet your armory feed seems to indicate you were actually completing the weekly raid quest and in some various heroics. Grats on the new loot, by the way! If your wife got access to this feed, there might be trouble. She might not understand the finer points of Forge of Souls, but she may well understand the implications of your presence therein.

So how could one play a WoW session without anything appearing in such a feed?

  • Don't kill any end bosses in the original Wrath instances
  • Don't kill any bosses in raids, or the new Wrath instances (Trial of the Champion onwards)
  • Don't complete any achievements
  • Don't even do parts of an achievement, such as the wrist part of Superior
  • Don't obtain any epic or rare loot, even if you don't equip it. Note a custom feed can specify to see Uncommon (green) loot as well, so no looting if you are paranoid
  • Don't kill Mr. Bigglesworth!
  • Don't get any Feats of Strength
There might be more things Blizzard are tracking - the Mr Bigglesworth kill certainly surprised me.

Pretty much you could do quests, but not any which award loot, or not too many if you are close to the 2000 or 3000 quests achievement, or the zone quests achievements. Any instance completion will show up clearly, so you can do the original Wrath heroics, but quit before the end boss. If you get Trial of the Champion onward, every boss is tracked so no killing any of them!

You can grind reputation as pure rep gains do not show up, but watch out if there is an achievement for exalted, and don't for heaven's sake buy a rep item. You could grind professions but again watch out for any achievements like Profession Grand Master.

Avoiding an activity trace will make for a pretty boring and frustrating play session, so keep your character names close to your chest. Whereas if you want people to know what you're up to in game, the new Armory activity feed is really great and detailed.

Now let us never speak of the Armory activity feed again.

1 comment:

Skraps said...

This is horrible! Now Mrs. Skraps will know that when I tell her the the boys and I are going to the strip club to do some blow off a 19 year old's bottom, she will know I am actually raiding!

Sadly I sometimes think Mrs. Skraps would prefer the above scene than thinking I "waste" hours on a stupid game.

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