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Friday, April 18, 2014

To Build a Home ::
That was the Week That Was


Oh look, everyone else just turned up ^^

Garrisons really are a key part of your entire gaming experience in Warlords. You don't need to take my word for it now, there's irrefutable proof, in print and audio form, from various sources to back up those assertions I've been making here for the last month or so. As soon as you help fight back the Orcs in Draenor your reward is a place to form your own outpost. This will be your Garrison, and although Blizzard are at pains to point out you can just level dungeons for ten levels if you wish, you'll miss an awful lot of content that (I'm thinking) won't be like any other you'll have seen from the company before. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they had to redesign large proportions of the game to even make this work. This feature is one you are going to WANT TO PLAY, because I think this could be the beginning of the future of your MMO experience with Blizzard.

That's a fairly grandiose claim, even for me. Let's go about justifying it, shall we?


Commit this map to memory. From Wowhead :D

Although we may never know for sure, there are those who would speculate that Garrisons are what's holding up the deployment of a large-scale playable Client for anyone else outside Irvine. Of course, there's a great deal more at play than *just* this feature in the finished product, but what appears to have become apparent as a result of the PAX interviews is that this is the place you'll want to come to as you level, and what you do here (points) at the map is moving Blizzard into a new age of individual 'choice' that has never previously existed in game. Of course, for some, choice means not wanting to play at all and simply piling towards a World First Kill, but these people make up an increasingly small proportion of Warcraft's player base. For most, there needs to be more than just powering to max level, a level of engagement that will last beyond the first run from 90-100. That means making every time you take the journey a different adventure than the one previously. That appears to be the niche your Garrison is attempting to fill.

A cursory look at this map above will tell you that although everyone has to have their Farm, Town Hall and Mine in the same place, pretty much everything else is up for debate, and that is something so new Blizzard have admitted having to re-write code to accommodate the consequences. This is the clearest indicator for some time that Blizzard have exhausted pretty much all previous avenues of linear questing, even though I can guarantee there will be those who claim this is no less linear over time: the key difference is the choice of input from the player. There will still only be a finite number of building combinations, and presumably a limited combination of interactions with Followers and via Missions. However, this is a quantum leap forward from killing 10 rats and then gathering 6 plants without any other choice. The problem for many players is the understanding they have, which Blizzard may like to overlook, no need to ever repeat the process of levelling more than once. One would argue that the Garrison isn't for these people anyway, but Blizzard may secretly hope if the format is attractive enough they may be persuaded to play the 'game' at least once.


LOOK IT'S A HORDE MAP. They have more letters :O

This is all you can expect, in the end, but to make that attractive Blizzard already know the stakes: the game is littered with failed attempts at creating content that engages the player. There are already those who feel they know that this too will be simply thrown away as a bad idea at the end of the Expansion, that there is nothing Blizzard will ever be able to do to make the process of 'questing' attractive to everyone: which is exactly the point. The aren't trying to please everyone, they're attempting to attract as many people as possible, with a combination of attractive snares that will make this idea last (presumably) an Expansion and maybe beyond. That means hot-linking Professions into this so you can't just use them alone any more if you wish to make the most of what's on offer. It means giving the Garrison enough attractive 'features' that levelling without one being at least basically utilised will put you at a disadvantage. It means trying to dissuade players from using one-shot pulls for massive XP or running trash over and over again to level alt number five by giving them a realistic alternative that guarantees they can see content in different ways, creating different experiences as they go.

In the end, however, if you don't like questing, you won't like this. You'll just see it as another way to dress up the same old thing because you're utterly focussed on what YOU need from the game. Blizzard will never please you because, ultimately, you refuse to be open to the possibility that you are half of the problem.

For me, this is a time of daily excitement. I have to rein in my enthusiasm for fear of putting people off because I can see something completely new being built pretty much from the ground up. I am enough of a realist to understand the limits of linear gameplay and timeframes, that there will be only so many options presented, but that's not going to stop me GETTING UNREASONABLY EXCITED at what I can see and what I KNOW could be possible with this combination of factors. What encourages me most, more than anything else, is that with this feature, Blizzard show me that they have listened to all those years of criticism. There are distinct and definite moves to make the game less rigid and more intuitive, to add life and depth to parts of the franchise that have remained static since the beginning. Okay, so it's not my idea of what I'd like but that really doesn't matter because I trust these people, that they know what they're doing, and even if they may not identify me as their target audience, I still respect them for what they are capable of doing.

I also genuinely believe that whatever they come up with, it's going to be worth the wait. Some may say this is misguided enthusiasm, yet I do not care. You should not judge something before you've tried it, and you shouldn't dismiss it out of turn just because you think your way is better. Give these guys a chance, and play Garrisons at least once, and THEN pass your judgement.

Until then, watch and wait.

HotS :: Coming Around Again


This isn't Azeroth any more :O

For those of you tuning in expecting the Garrisons feature, it'll be with you later. Promise. For now, however, I appear to have found myself in The Nexus...


NO NOT THOSE THINGS...


This, for the seven or so people on my feed who DON'T know, is Blizzard's MoBa (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) Heroes of the Storm, which is also in it's Alpha phase but seems considerably more advanced than the other thing does. I already appear to have upset a few people by being here already, for which I apologise profusely, as I'm hardly what you'd call Pro by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I can already see myself attaching a Post-It note to my screen with all the various keys I'll need to press to not utterly embarrass myself. However, if I can stick at this, it might be the game that stops me keyboard moving once and for all. We shall see.


Just so we're clear. This is what an Alpha looks like. 


I come fresh from my Tutorials and am already well aware my inability to distinguish right from left in stressful situations now has a really good chance of killing me. I like the general idea (far more than I did Hearthstone and I downloaded THAT on the iPad last night ^^), and I also like the fact that James Raynor appears to share my sense of humour ('You had me at 'Hail' got an out loud laugh, for the record.) I am aware that people can buy different Heroes and skins and mounts and all that funky stuff but I'm on a budget here so I suspect it'll be me and Mr R all the way to max level (if I can make it that far) There's also a very real sense of Blizzard not taking itself too seriously (in the Nexus, 'Death is merely a setback') which is going to be a really rather pleasant change from what's become my day job.

It goes without saying, of course, that everything looks ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.


May not see a lot of these, MAKE THE MOST OF IT :D

Needless to say, you're likely to hear a bit about this on the Blog as I progress, I'll mark them with a HotS header here and on Twitter so you can easily choose to ignore them if you so desire. I am well aware of the popularity of these 'genre' titles and that they've never appealed to me because, frankly, they have no 'hook' with which to snare me. That's where the Blizzard franchise comes in, of course, that I'm playing in places I already know and with characters that I recognise and associate with, and there we have the old Blizzard magic weaving it's spell, because that's just what they did with Hearthstone and look where that's gone. It is an unbelievably shrewd piece of market capitalisation on Blizzard's part to pitch this where they have, and it is now very easy to see why so many people are interested in a piece of this even at the Alpha stage because, really, it has everything I suspect a MoBa fan would want, and it's wrapped up in Blizzard paper.

What I'll need to do now is actually play it and see just how awful I am. I'll bet you 5g right now I'm going to spend most of my time face down in the dirt.

Welcome to a new Level Grind :D

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ALPHA: Build 18156

I will be discarding the normal song title nomenclature for builds to make it easier for people to ignore the posts (for obvious reasons.) Also, anything Garrison-specific will now be covered in depth at the other Website.

Highlights of this build (in this Parish) are as follows:

  • Totally awesome Twitter Peeps get a drink named after them
  • Cookery Recipes (at least a basic set) now exist, there appear to be some Tailoring Items Tailoring items too
  • Is there now actually a Horde Garrison in the Alpha files? (only one site is suggesting this, I'll wait for secondary verification before getting too excited). Names also seem to exist for Garrison 'families', plus a bunch of 'bonus loot when fighting X' titles appear to have been added (but again this is only showing on one datamining site at present so I'll wait for independent corroboration of this)
  • Events may well now actually exist to found your Garrison \o/

Wowhead have listed a ton of new phases in this post  (BE WARNED POTENTIAL SPOILERS EXIST THERE) which look like the leadup to the establishment of your Garrison proper. I could make some broad guesses at how the questline's going to run too, looking at these events, but it would all be MASSIVE SUPPOSITION and as a result, I'll go do it on the actual Garrisons site later. For now, this is very encouraging news because it looks as if we're getting closer to having the Garrison ready to play in Alpha \o/

  • There appears to be a new 'Personal' loot setting: what could this allude to?

    ERR_SET_LOOT_PUSH:: Looting set to Personal is a new datastring. It is actually surrounded by Garrison-related strings, yet when accompanied by such strings as DATAMINER_RED_HERRING:: There is no cow level you are immediately mindful of drawing all the wrong conclusions ^^ However, I'd like to know what this one specifically refers to (not the cows, the personal loot :P
  • Quite a lot of stuff seems to have changed for Druids ^^ There's a fair few class changes generally (though I don't see any Hunter ones) so you may wish to check these out.

Needless to say, as more stuff appears, we'll be poking it for you here :D

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alternative Chat ::
Episode 22 GARRISONS SPECIAL




With all the chat in the last few days being about the G-Word, I decided it was probably the right moment for an Alternative Chat GARRISONS SPECIAL. So, here we are. Settle back and listen to me ramble about the feature suddenly everyone else has started talking about...


In this week's special we talk about:

  • Actually being right about this feature.
  • What happens in the first hour of the Expansion.
  • Will Leatherworking ever be made actually INTERESTING?.
  • We could use SOME MORE FACTS.
  • I am hoping I'll still be happy in six months.
  • I am still enthusiastic for this Feature.





If you have any comments or thoughts on this week's Podcast, or you'd like to abuse me for not having a clue as to what the Hell I'm talking about, please send your mail to:

alternativegodmother (all one word) AT gmail DOT com

==


NOTES.


I now have a Facebook page. Come LIKE me at http://www.facebook.com/alternativeblog

This is where you will find my Garrisons Guide:


==


Also, the Podcast is NOW AVAILABLE ON STITCHER :D Keep everything crossed, we should be back here on April 23rd!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud


Too good to be true? Quite possibly...


I've been watching Garrisons news since Blizzcon with a sense of mounting excitement: you might have noticed. I've been called 'ahead of the curve' in my understanding of what this new feature could mean and, as time has gone on, my assumptions about just how much of a significant part these 'places' have to play in a player's life have, it appears, become increasingly accurate. At some point someone was going to raise concerns, it was inevitable: I assumed it would come when we got the game to play with. However, on the back of the PAX event in Boston, there are those already with questions to ask as to what's on the table as our alternative to pure questing and Dailies:

Hang on...

When I saw this Tweet I realised there was clearly a point of reference I'd not yet seen, so I went looking for some answers. I found them in Wowhead's interview with Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut and Game Designer Steve Burke. Specifically, I direct the room to this particular section of said interview (with thanks to Wowhead for the quotes:)


Kris: I think people compare them (Garrisons) to battle pets because that was the new feature last time but I’d say they're not at all like battle pets. Unlike battle pets, they are integrated into EVERY aspect of Warlords of Draenor. Steve can actually give you a lot of info on this... 
Steve: Its a -huge- focus of ours to make sure we fold those (garrisons) into everything. We're going to re-route you back to/from your garrison constantly as you're leveling up. 
There are several things that are going to drive you back there. For example when you first get your garrison we're going to give you a mine. We're going to give you a farm, and a barn for free, basically. You're going to be able to build these structures right away. Those are going to give you the resource gathering. You're going to get every resource, whether you're spec'd for it or not, and ... 
Kris (interjects): leather, and ore, and herbs... 
Steve: Exactly, whether you're offline or online it will keep generating those. And you're going to want to keep going back to your garrison to make sure that you remove those (resources) from those facilities and transfer them over to whatever crafting buildings you might have built, whether it's a blacksmith, or leatherworking, or whatever. 
Kris: Garrisons are tied to every aspect of max-level tradeskills so if you want to advance your tradeskills, you have to build that up in your garrison. It's going to be part of what's going on.


 Now, I don't know about you, but that seems quite clear on a few things, namely:


  • Garrisons will involve you returning to them as you level,
  • They are vital if you want to max a Tradeskill,
  • Pretty much EVERYTHING will be linked to your Garrison in one form or another.


Having now digested this, I can understand why Olivia might be a *wee* bit concerned.


L100. Requires Tier 3 Town Hall.

Remember the huge outcry with Pandaria's content 'gating'? You know, the soul-destroying Dailies that everyone had to do to access gear via Reputation? Well, it could easily be argued that based on this interview we're about to head into a situation where players have no choice but to return to their Garrisons whilst levelling. Of course, this is only supposition, because a) this is one section of interview with no other accompanying context and b) it could just as easily be that all this will be skippable if people want to... except at this point I find myself remembering The Flying Argument, and the fact it's been removed from 6.1 (and possibly beyond) because of its ability to 'negate content.' Garrisons get the best billing in the Alpha Notes, right at the top of thirty three pages. This is a big deal, there's going to be FOUR blog posts on how they work at every stage of our journey through Draenor. If Blizzard are so mad keen for us NOT to avoid the content we're being presented with to the point flying could be permanently off the table... are they expecting us to play the Garrisons the same way? Could our silver lining be inside a particularly black and thunder-filled cloud?

There's also an area of payoff here that I don't think may have been considered on the strength of this interview: the ability to attach specific Professions to Garrison participation to maximise the profit you might be able to make max your skills when using them. If that is the case, people will already be considering the options presented by Cookie Cutter Gold Making Garrison 'builds' for specific combinations of Professions and Rewards. It won't be how the 'majority' of players even consider what buildings they place, because they'll be pretty much learning from scratch. But for those who are lucky enough to get early game access via an invite from, say PAX itself... suddenly that access could be a vital head start for those wishing to 'play the system' and be ahead of the curve once the Expansion releases. I'm pretty sure that's not even an option anyone whose been making this game has even considered. The fact remains that taking Professions away from one area and linking them to another is going to have consequences unless everything you make is BoA, and we already know from Engineering that's not likely to be the case.

This could be a goldrush. Time to smarten up those covered wagons.

Does this come in purple?

Again we are back at the 'well, we need a Client' argument to put a lot of these queries and concerns to rest. There's still no sign of this happening either, and there's been no movement on the Patch Notes updating or indeed much else, but you could argue that's because we had PAX to contend with. The thing is, there's a major holiday coming up (CHOCOLATE) and unless something happens this week quite fast it could be another couple of weeks before anything actually goes down. Then, we're in MAY. Yeah, time flies when you're having fun. But it won't sell you games, and when it seems each week that someone's cancelling their sub because there's nothing to justify it the clock is most definitely ticking. I didn't even mention the 'defending your Garrison from attack' nugget that emerged at the weekend either. I'm not sure I want to go there just yet myself... Whatever this 'feature' is eventually going to end up being, we need to be playing with it sooner rather than later to get the answers to an increasing number of questions. Time to cross everything and hope that happens in the near future...

Monday, April 14, 2014

This Week, I Will Be Mostly :: All The Small Things


Cracking!


It's Week Two of the Easter Holidays in the Alternative Chat household, and my daughter's taken over the front room and built an enormous den with GIANT POLES to support her roof. It was SO good we let her sleep in it last night. No 1. Son now has a decent Warlock Mog and has been gearing his DK for some proper dps increases, and cycled seven miles at the weekend before riding into a brook. Frankly, it's one of the best holidays on record, and despite some people's efforts to spoil the entire thing I am feeling that achievement in game is really of rather secondary importance next to the bike rides and trips out I've made with them over the past week. However, there has been game progress. It's been pretty useful as well.


Dark Ninja Priest.

There'll be two Vogue Mog Posts (at least) this week as the Shaman's as close to done as I am likely to get her (still waiting on a AH drop) and the Priest here finally has the stick from the Pit Of Saron and is 89 from Pet Battles (and FINALLY remembered her HAT.)  I've also designed THREE new mogs for Druid and two Rogues to boot, and there's now a part of me that would like to redesign everybody BECAUSE I CAN. That's going to entirely depend on timing however: needless to say, mogging is a great thing to do with the odds and ends of game I get when on 'holiday.'


Most Excellent Druid Mog.

I have also been quietly trying to get Alani out of the way (STILL only 6 Skyshards *sigh*) and I'll poking things in the Vale to do that again this week... oh, and I suppose I *could* actually try and kill Garrosh in LFR. No. I've not done that yet, because I R NUBZOR.

Once he's dead though, I think I'm going to have a REALLY hard time waiting for the new stuff ^^

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vogue: Building the Perfect Beast




I am receiving increasing numbers of requests from players who are seeing me fiddle with various costume 'designs' on Twitter and are asking for a run-down of what I'm picking. As a result, this post will be just that: no frills, no extensive comments apart from a run-down of what I've used. In as many cases as possible I will try to not use items I know are no longer in game, that are craftable with items still available or won't require you to have 20 friends in tow to complete. I'm also doing my best to avoid what I know some people like to make stupidly large sums of cash on too, but it does occasionally happen.

I should also note that a lot of my items tend to come from Quests, as the majority of my alts haven't completed anything really of note in that regard (with the exception of P) for several years. I will link therefore to Wowhead's database which is useful for sourcing alternative items if the one I specify isn't immediately available to you.

Without further ado, let's get down to business:


YELLOW BIRD...


This is one of those mogs that frankly just made itself. There is no cloak, but either an Imbued Primal Cape or a Reinforced Linen Cape would work very well :D




I am the Goddess of Hellfire and I bring you...


My son paid me his pocket money for his Expansion with one aim: so he could boost his Gnome Warlock to 90. Now he has, his next request was for a Mog that he could gather with the minimum amount of fuss. This means using Mum's Tailor to make things, and as a result only the hat and the belt will require some actual effort. The staff is a Justice Points purchase from Shatt, though I haven't yet checked the rep requirement for it... :P


Oh, and an Imbued Simple Cape or a Ravager Cloak would probably finish this off nicely.


Finally... I've been spending quite a bit of time trying to clothe rogues.


RED ROGUE, RED ROGUE.


First of, as my rogue's an Engi, goggles are pretty much de rigeur. After that, I'm just looking for something that's striking and individual, and this does the job. Also, ALWAYS Daggers :D However, as my Monk is now very similarly clothed I've decided to go the purple route, the fruits of which I'll show you in a post just as soon as I have all the pieces collected. For now, take this set as my second choice:


A Different World


This Raid Boss doesn't look at all scary.

This is Arsene Wenger. He's managed Arsenal Football [*] Club since 1996 and is considered by many as a revolutionary not simply on the pitch, but in the fields of sports science and player management too. However, he has come under mounting criticism in recent years as his team seem to have become increasingly adept at not simply getting injured with worrying frequency, but throwing away potentially winning situations. As the world has changed, as other managers have been hired and fired, Wenger remains one of the longest serving managers at a single club of all time. However, he has failed to win a major trophy since 2005.

You're already wondering where I'm going with this, aren't you?

Wenger is an innovator, a trailblazer, whose effect on English Football is universally accepted. However, as time has moved on, many would argue his outlook has remained worryingly static, refusing to grasp that the world around his team is a considerably more complicated place than it was the last time he won a trophy. In fact, one might argue that he has failed to cope with key changes not simply in how the game of football is played, but in the world around his team. This is where I come into this story, on Thursday night, sitting at my PC making Mogs for various characters. As I watch Twitter on my second screen, I have a WTF moment the like of which I think I've never really experienced before.




Yeah, so...

I think this WoW Insider article sums up my feelings pretty well. This is about as relevant to my interests as a poster where Pamela Anderson cosplays Sylvanas being offered to me as a free gift for subbing to the game. In the two hours that followed the announcement I watched pretty much every reaction imaginable to this news: shock, amazement, disbelief, anger... they were all there. Then there were the inevitable comments from those who didn't really see what the fuss was about to begin with, who just carried on with their evening and (presumably) chalked this whole PR exercise down to 'just another thing Blizzard do.' It's like the occasional picture sequence I'll see appear on Twitter that shows lines and lines of Champagne bottles lined up for Blizzard employees to 'celebrate' some notable anniversary, where the whole point appears to be to waste a load of alcohol by spraying it over each other in what I assume is the same celebration that Racing Drivers and other 'sports' participants love so much.

I've never been a great fan of waste, but I digress.

It occurs to me that although clearly much has changed in gaming over the nine or so years since Arsenal won a trophy, certain parts of Blizzard's mindset remain entrenched in an age where the 'guys on choppers' lifestyle would not simply be appropriate, it would be far more universally embraced. However, that's not the case in this part of the demographic, and for the first time in some years I know I'm not alone if the reaction of the last few days in my social 'network' has been any accurate indicator. More importantly, where this kind of outlook might simply be ignored or dismissed as not relevant, and more and more people are making their unhappiness felt with the situation as it stands. Blizzard have a track record of inappropriate behaviour in certain sectors of the community. This latest adventure is not likely to do them any favours in those places as a result.

Horde Corgi, Alliance Corgi, EVERYBODY WINS.

As someone pointed out to me in the midst of the lolwuts on Thursday, it's not like Blizzard aren't short a few pence, so indulging an 'Easy Rider' interlude is perfectly understandable. Let's face it, if I could do a job where I could make cool stuff and then make it in turn into virtual cool stuff and still remain relevant for the majority of my player base, I'd probably take that as a good deal. The thing is, as Mr Wenger is now discovering to his cost, there comes a point where doing the same things over and over again and not embracing the changes to science, society and culture around you has potentially dangerous consequences. As I don't own a billion-dollar gaming empire I'm clearly in no position to give advice, but as a mother of two with kids (boy and girl) who both think Blizzard isn't really catering to them or their mum, but has their dad covered with the bikes, there's a sage lesson in base level observation for starters. When my daughter asks unprompted for more female characters that do cool stuff and my son thinks armour should actually look like it works and not be an excuse to expose some pixel skin, there's possible benefit in listening to your minorities, whoever they might be.

The thing is, there's not always an Agenda (Capital A) behind people's actions, or some shouty person in what seems to you like a minority who wants to upset everyone to make a point. Sometimes it's normal, decent people who are just fed up with the fact that when the rest of the world changes, other bits seem to like to pretend they're stuck in nearly ten years ago. This isn't 2005 any more, and if enough time elapses before things do start to change...

The future's supposed to be for everyone, after all, not just those in the demographic of the people who manage the company. It might finally be time to more publicly embrace the diversity, rather than what seems to be the case currently.

We're still here, after all.

==


[*] That's soccer for those of you who insist on playing Football in armour and with a rugby ball :P

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ray of Light


Big Rock. There's a reason this is here, just not yet.

I know I keep banging on about this, but this will be the tenth year of Warcraft. That doesn't simply mean almost a decade of gaming, it represents a vast, VAST amount of Lore that's been presented to us as part of the gameplay, and even for those of us who try and resist the pull of being enthralled by all the possibilities, it still happens. Take my fiction series, for instance. It arose as a direct result of what was happening in game clashing with what I believed SHOULD have happened with the storyline, and became a way for me to cope with what was presented. The story remains the same, only my perception of the details has changed. What this has meant however is that coming into Warlords I find myself utterly and totally devolved from the upcoming storyline, with absolutely no interest in Orcs whatsoever and even less concern with the fact I'm going back in time to meet them... until I realised that actually, Garrosh's agenda should be one side of the story.

My interest, as has been the case with a number of people I know, began to move towards the Draenei, and more specifically the Light they worship.


Sparkly dudes. Back to you in a sec.


As an Alliance player I'm going to be starting in Warlords in what was Shadowmoon Valley before the Orcs threw a ton of Fel Magic at the place and reduced it to a wasteland. What the Orcs are doing there is frankly of little or no importance: what I'm hoping (and I'll have to wait and see) is if we are given any glimpse into the Temple of Karabor, which is of course what becomes the Black Temple in TBC. I'm already writing fiction in which the Temple itself plays a key part, and only when I was listening in the week to some of the datamined music that plays (presumably) when I arrive there for the first time had something of a minor epiphany. When the trailer for Mists posed the question 'why do we fight' I realised that my motivation has changed in the ten years since I began this journey. Just vanquishing a Bad Guy after a while isn't actually enough. Being the victor isn't satisfying either, it becomes almost self-defeating, because there has to be something more for the individual in terms of motivation. Just saving the World is all well and good, but how does one reconcile the personal trauma that creates?

In the end the personal cost of war is something Blizzard has spent pretty much the entirety of Pandaria presenting us with to consider.





We are about to leave an Expansion for the first time ever without a scalp of a Big Bad to brandish, because the Pandarans prevented Garrosh's end-boss execution and suggested he be tried for his crimes instead. This is completely new territory for the storyline: normally the sword has only ever been the answer to the long-term problems of tyrants and monsters. The concepts of compassion and justice normally never walk hand in hand, but the lesson Pandaria has taught us isn't just that our own hearts are the compass of our actions, but we are only heroic sometimes when we do NOT do as we always have, but we stop and think about what might happen if we try something different. However, it appears that the consequences for our compassion are going to push us back to a time where war appears to be the default state for just about everything with a pulse, and that mass slaughter will be only answer. For someone like me, who baulked at the events at the Jade Statue, this is enough to make me want to run away screaming. Therefore, to find a means to reconcile myself with the upcoming events, I need some kind of motivation.

That's where the Naaru come in.


DAT MACE BRO!


There will be those that argue that, for the second time of asking, the Draenei are having to take minor billing behind a Horde aggressor (last time it was the Blood Elves that stole all the thunder) In Warlords they will be the ones being slaughtered by the Orcs we than have to slaughter to make the whole exercise have some kind of relevance. For me personally, however, this isn't the destruction that will ever drive me. I want to learn more about this race of peaceful beings, and more importantly about the motivation that comes from their spiritual guides, the Naaru. There are those who have already speculated that the Light of Elune could have more than a little to do with the Naaru's influence and when I read this for research I was immediately reminded of the quest that Tirion Fordring sends you to in Northrend to try and save the life of a fallen Crusader, a man called Bridenbecker, who inevitably cannot be saved by your actions and is taken by A'dal into the light. It is a quest that touched many people and moved even more to tears, myself included. If you want to know the story behind the man who inspired it, Wowhead has you covered.

What it left me with, and what I still carry, is that the Naaru and the Draenei are a cause worth fighting for.

And so I go into the NEXT Expansion really not caring about the Dudebros of Draenor, except that they exist to further a storyline that, if I'm lucky, might find a way to touch me and change my outlook. However, if it doesn't I have my own chronology to fall back on, and in that the Light remains something that is enough to maintain my momentum. Even if I do not have a character who uses faith as an inspiration I respect those who do, and understand the significance it carries in their lives. You don't need to understand something to fight for it, but it helps if you can start with something like respect, and there's plenty of that here.

I'm ready for whatever Warlords has to offer, even if I'm not actually thrilled about what that entails.

Friday, April 11, 2014

To Build a Home :: Big Time


Oooh well will you look at that...

We discussed in a big old blog post earlier in the week how Garrisons are probably a far bigger thing than a lot of people are currently aware of. Well, some more evidence of that has emerged via the interviews done last week, especially with those lovely people at Convert to Raid. Wowhead were good enough to summarise for those of us on Easter Holidays with the kids and therefore with little free time, and although it's only five lines of text BOY WHAT A 5 LINES THEY ARE:


  • Garrisons will play a big natural role in the levelling experience.
  • There will be quest lines and "Choose Your Own Adventure" style chains that add to your Garrison.
  • Your Garrison choices will alter your quest flow for different zones as you level.
  • It'll be a natural part of the questing, not a grind like the 5.0 dailies.
  • You'll get your garrison as soon as you land on Draenor.


So, all you people who don't think Garrisons are the reason why we have no playable client? THINK AGAIN. Those five lines pretty much place the significance of the Garrison 'experience' front and centre, that they'll be largely indivisible from the entire 90-100 journey, and they mean (if point four is to be believed) this is where you'll spend your life once you're level capped. Point Two is pretty ambitious just on its own too, and if it works could pretty much redefine how the ENTIRE questing experience works in Warcraft, PERIOD.


My daughter still has these :D

For a long time there's been an argument with my lovely mate Mori (who works for a proper big gaming company that isn't Blizzard) about what was inherently wrong with the Quest experience in Warcraft. His answer was always the same: there's no variety. You do the same quest on six characters, it is ALWAYS the same. I agree too, and when 'interesting' quests appear like the money with menaces daily we get for the Tillers it's always a welcome diversion. However, to make a quest truly an experience, you need a choice of possible paths, as well and more than one conclusion. That's why I suspect the 'Choose your Own Adventure' books appear in Point Two: if that structure is going to be applied to Warcraft quests, then subsequently it will influence quest flow as a result and that's a MASSIVE change from times past. If they do it right, it won't be like anything you've ever seen in Warcraft ever before. It will be a true game changing experience.

This also could go a long way to explaining why there nothing to play right now either: if all of this wraps so tightly around the levelling experience, then we'll need to see how that works in tandem with the stuff that's already been done and dusted. This will also no doubt give the art department vital weeks to get those class models done and dusted, and might mean some other things we weren't automatically promised are given a look at too. Personally, now I've heard some actual depth to the Garrison concept, I'm quite happy to wait and see what we get, because if I wasn't excited before I am most certainly bouncing with anticipation now, based on the very real possibility that this aspect of the game is, actually, what the game is going to become. It might be a Garrison for Warlords, but for the NEXT Expansion it could be an Outpost, or a Research Facility, or any number of new ways of using this technology to make the game exciting and to re-invent what the game is about.

If this is Gaming evolution occurring as I watch, I for one am now more than willing to wait until it's done.