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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Run for your Life


Once upon a time there was a Warlock in my Guild called Cathiera.

She was brilliant and funny and as it transpires a damn fine exponent of the Dark Arts, but the thing that I remember most about her was the fact she loved to walk. A LOT. She'd play a couple of hours online with us and then announce 'I'm off out for a bit' and away she would go. As I believe she lived somewhere in Scandinavia (the memory fails me as to exactly where) I would always imagine somewhere wonderfully stark and beautiful as a backdrop, but it could just as easily have been a city she was in. I was reminded of her yesterday, as I took all my frustration about non functioning software and pointless operating systems and wasted mornings and walked myself. I remember one particular conversation between Cath and me, before she vanished into the Ether of Lost Warcraft Relationships that Altered my Existence where she informed me that one of the reasons she'd walk was just for that: to help process all the bad stuff in a raid, or to think about how to solve issues we couldn't surmount as a team.

It occurred to me how many problems could be solved in gaming if people simply stepped away from the keyboard from time to time and did just this.


Trees outside, yesterday.

As today begins the start of my 48th year on this Planet, I may have been doing more than my fair share of navel contemplation. It occurs to me that this is the fittest I think I've been for many, many years, and that the motivation of my Fitbit and an interested Twitter feed has been instrumental in getting me more active, inspiring me to eat healthier and simply not to sit for hours on end at a keyboard. It can be very easy to think that if you play games you don't need to be active, but I am more than aware of the health benefits keeping fit brings, especially as I am a long-term asthma sufferer. I've also struggled with keeping a healthy weight since the kids were born, and as the youngest is pretty much a mirror for my time in Warcraft... I know that health issues are one of those touchy subjects for certain people but frankly, we could ALL do with looking after ourselves a bit better, and with an Expansion coming up there is going to be a temptation to spend even longer than usual glued to a screen.


ALL OF THE SMILES :D


I always wonder why healthy foods don't try and do something to appeal more to gamers. You see hugely sugary snacks and chip/dips associated with gaming, or Pizza, but really shouldn't the vegetable farmers be teaming up with major developers? Bottled water maybe? Yeah, I know, because gaming is a relaxation and nobody wants to think healthy when they want to relax. Except, and here's an amazing thing, you can do both. Balance is possible. You CAN balance the good and not so good, and reprogramming your brain to do so is not as stressful as many might tell you. Being healthy is very much a choice, and like all things you have to decide what matters to you more than anything else. However, I'll tell you now how much better I feel, how much more positive it has made me and how the walking actually helps me to deal with depression and anger. With the Expansion coming up, this is a perfect opportunity to start thinking healthier for the weeks that follow.

As we move from one virtual continent to another, this would be a perfect time to think about a change. You be amazed at what you are capable of if you do :D

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bang Bang


There goes the Neighbourhood.

There is no Podcast today, or indeed no Azeroth in 5. Despite being assured to the contrary, my old sound recording software doesn't like Windows 8.1 in any way, shape or form. As this includes a considerable number of filters and effects for the latter, there's nothing happening today.

To say I am upset is an understatement. I'm REALLY sorry about the short notice, and I will make sure EVERYTHING is up to date and operational for next week. At least I knew all this now before I got down to the serious business of recording stuff for the 10 Years: 10 Questions Documentaries.

I'll be off now to find some toys to throw out of a pram.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why Bother?


This is my determined face ^^

Welcome to my new PC. I made the decision to upgrade myself before Warlords for a number of reasons, most especially the fact my disc space was beginning to creak under the weight of Blizzard's massive file systems. There's a certain Sid Meier game (Civilization: Beyond Earth) that's likely to give it a pre-Warlords run out this weekend and it will be nice in future to be able to record video without ending up with only enough space to swing a Gnome. However, today I really need to go farm things...


[FX: Sound of Fourth Wall breaking down...]

- No, we've had this discussion before, Alt. You don't NEED to do anything, you're allowing your obsessive collecting tendencies to take over ^^ 
Oh great, my internal monologue has broken again. It was embarrassing enough on the 'Girls Gone Wow' show on Sunday, but I could really do without this on a Tuesday morning... 
- Don't look at me, I'm only vocalising your desire to own two Vanity Pets and a Toy Box item before the Festival vanishes, and it is hardly as if you are alone in this. I mean, look at the number of people who are farming for that mount you got on your first run through the old style Scarlet Monastery! 
SHUSH! That is a very touchy subject for some people, who have been doing it for years and gotten nothing! We don't do willful antagonism on this blog, that's for other people... 
- Oh give it a rest with the righteous indignation, why don't you. It's just a game, this is just a part of that and if you decide its important then expect to kop a Candy Bucket full of flack when you try and justify ANYTHING as necessary. Look at the title of the blog, Why do you bother with any of this? 
Well you're not paying attention, are you? We covered that on Sunday!
- No, *we* did one of those vague and generic pieces that people love so much but *you* dodged the bullet *yet again* and frankly it is high time you explained yourself to the rest of your subconscious. Why do you think we've been emerging at inopportune moments and manifesting your desires over the last few weeks? It isn't just about buffing hunters... ^^

[FX: Sound of Internal Monologue being manhandled away by my body's Common Sense...]






Well, this is embarrassing, but actually not that much of a surprise. I think maybe it is time I spoke a bit about the Crazy Train I've been on for almost a decade: in fact, with the whole 10 Years: 10 Questions thing has begin in me quite a period of introspection, after which simply answering the questions has not adequately addressed some issues. It really is time to put some cards on the table.


Good point, well made.

I have been playing for ten years, but only *really* expressing myself creatively since my Podcasting began. According to my files that I copied from the old PC yesterday, I recorded my first Podcast on September 9th 2013, which means I've been at this for just over a year. In that time an AWFUL lot has changed for the better. The process of Podcasting has freed me in ways I am only now beginning to grasp, and the LAST thing I want to do is pretend I am anything I am not. That goes for writing too, and what I am beginning to grasp is that not being a part of anyone else's organisation and being here without the need to conform to a set style or 'outlook' in my writing is probably the most liberating thing at all. This is also true for my playtime, and having the freedom of choice in the last couple of months has meant I've begun to look at the Game in far more esoteric ways.

It also means that I am well aware of my small and insignificant place in this entire shebang. Thank you to everyone who mucks along with me on this journey, to the people who I talk to every day on Twitter, and to the new voices that join me every day to give me a bigger view of the World of Warcraft. I appreciate you allowing me to experiment with your entertainment, and I hope as a result things don't ever get boring or staid between us because then I'll know I'm doing it wrong and it is time to stop for good. Currently, I think we're doing okay, even if some days I know my opinion is just going to piss some people off. I'm good with that, assuming you are too and you know it's never meant maliciously and it is ALWAYS designed, in some way or another, to make you think.


GOOD QUESTION.

This week, I will pick up the two items I need to tick off to 'complete' Hallows End. I will take every Toon who needs it and run them through some Headless Horsemen Action until their stat-specific ring drops. I will organise every person's UI and action bars so I can play them though the Nethergarde pre-Event for those upgrades too... and by the time I manage all that, it will be November.

Oh yes.

Then the REAL fun begins :D

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't Tell Me


The Blood Elf character update
needed some more work... ^^

Yesterday, I spent quite a lot of time telling people stuff, which is always a bit fraught for me. I am NO EXPERT on anything, and I don't ever claim to be a 'leading authority' because that would mean I'd have to know everything and frankly, NOBODY does that, not even really clever people. I find it still rather unbelievable that people also refer to me as 'prolific' or 'tenacious' because I write every day out of habit and I like to make sure my position is clear if asked. However, when last night I was told I ought to be more vocal on controversial subjects, I got annoyed. I thought about writing a post about this, but this remains a Warcraft Blog and not a Social Justice Soapbox, and while that is the case, all that really matters is the former. Silence is not an admission of support, but often a desire not to further fuel a contentious debate. I do not podcast on a social justice platform, I am here to discuss a game I love, yet despite that I have been particularly vocal in my condemnation of recent community attitudes. Just because I won't stand up and condemn high profile events doesn't mean I don't understand the significance or am afraid to quantify a position. Just because I tell people things elsewhere doesn't mean I'm obliged to or indeed qualified as a spokesperson.

That said, this morning has given me pause to consider that telling people stuff is a pretty fraught pursuit regardless of the subject matter. You only have to look at the question that keeps coming up time and time again in relation to Garrisons to grasp that intractable truth. In two podcast interviews yesterday, pretty much the exact same query was raised: do I need a Garrison for end game raiding? I'm wondering how many times people are going to ask this before the basic concept of the Garrison is grasped. I'm wondering how many times Blizzard Devs are going to be asked the question and answer it before that begins to register. Phrases like "this will not directly impact progression raids" aren't being used to try and throw players off the scent or hide anything, they simply reflect the truth. There is ONE ITEM currently in your Garrison that can be made which does not as yet have a better outside of your structure, and that is the Savage Feast. Blizzard will fix this by Live, and it will become conclusive that YOU DO NOT NEED A GARRISON FOR END GAME RAIDING. However, some people still won't believe this. That's why sometimes it is really dangerous to tell people what to do, because of the real understanding are those who often thoughtlessly follow instructions without consideration of the consequences.

Words are far more powerful than many people ever adequately grasp.


IN THE 25th CENTURY DAMMIT!

You only have to look at the events of the last week or so to know how many people rely almost obsessively on Guides to help them survive game changes. Whether it be Wowhead, Icy Veins or any number of the specialist class bloggers, Guides are big business. How to play your class, where to farm difficult to find items, how to master the secrets of Gold Making... there's a Guide for everything, and often time-strapped players will defer to easy whenever possible. Where a problem really begins is when a Guide decides that something is over and above more productive/lucrative/powerful than anything else, and suddenly those words become mantras. One such example of this was a post from MMO Champion that did the rounds on Facebook recently, that urged End Game raiders to level their Garrison Followers to max as soon as possible because of the chance that after X number of weeks a certain Mission would become available allowing the reward of an armour item one tier above what players were currently wearing. Blizzard continue to iterate that you're far better off just running the raid content to gear, because of the RNG and time sink involved, which has been DELIBERATELY placed. Some people, despite all this, clearly refuse to listen.

I find it largely ironic when people accuse bloggers of a lack of clarity in their actions, when I'm told that people are confused by the choices available to them and it is up to me to make those easier. Well, that might be true, but only to a point. A good guide should NEVER tells a player what to do, it should offer facts as that (after all, NPC locations are pretty intractable in most cases, even if our target walks around) but also what players might want to consider for themselves. The key, in pretty much all cases, is how much time you are prepared to devote to a cause. I see many arguments that Hardcore Raiding is as much about sacrificing everything to grind for the optimal arrangement, and this is borne out by the number of hours Progression Teams will put into preparation before even stepping foot inside a Raid. ANY perceived advantage, however small, will therefore be considered. That's got a lot to do with Blizzard removing professions from that equation and sticking them in a completely new setting, that you'll only be able to wear 3 items of crafted gear to raid in. What makes the difference in the opening months for World Firsts won't be clear, but if Top 100 teams start declaring that Garrisons have benefits, lots of people will simply ignore Blizzard completely.

At this point however, I make the choice to believe what I'm told.


Its not Easy being Green.

Really, sometimes, it doesn't matter if you make things black and white. Some people will NEVER follow advice, or read Guides or choose to understand that abuse and threats aren't wrong, but instead are an individual's right when their environment is threatened by change. It doesn't matter a lot of the time what people like me tell you, because in most cases a section of my audience isn't listening to begin with. As a result, telling you a Garrison isn't needed for end game is pretty much a waste of time. In fact, this entire blog post could be considered as 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back. Except, and this is crucial, maybe I'm not sitting here talking to myself. Perhaps people ARE listening and if they are, perhaps maybe a sensible and rational debate is all that's needed.

The only way I'll ever know the truth is to keep writing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Communication Breakdown




There's been a bit of flack in the Twitter/Blogging world around certain people of my acquaintance this week. Someone who I consider a friend but I have never met kopped a boatload of flack over, of all things, expressing an opinion. Ben is a decent, honest man, who has a big heart and is clearly passionate about Warcraft. He's tried his best for people as a GM and an individual, and to have others turn around and lambaste his choices and feelings is, I suppose, only to be expected in a Virtual World where caring about how other people think often isn't even a consideration when 'talking.' It made me stop and think this week about how I prioritise things, and as a result we're not going to talk about how I spent yesterday farming Tricky Treats until at least paragraph three. Firstly, you're getting a peek inside my head, at how my personal Warcraft 'relationships' work. I'm going to knit the two together by the time we get to the second illustrational graphic too, just you watch.

What matters to you, regardless of what you think, isn't what matters to everyone else. Take my mate M, for instance, who I've not had a decent conversation with since probably the end of August. His life is a disaster area, a veritable minefield of work trauma and personal focuses well away from the World of Warcraft. His priority set is a world away from mine as well, and because I'm not good at poking him and he singuarly fails to communicate anything to me at a distance, this means that our relationship, currently, is an utter mess. However, please to be noting this is BOTH OF OUR FAULTS, and to make things work we need to sit down and actually TALK. As a result of this paragraph therefore I'll be e-mailing him when this Blog goes live and telling him to read paragraph two, apologise to him publicly for not keeping my end of the communications relationship functioning properly, and moving on. See, the issue here is simple: if you don't tell people what's going on, THEY DON'T KNOW. This is where yesterday comes in.


Did not exist on Friday. Discuss.

It came as a surprise to MANY people yesterday that Hallows End has changed. At least half my Guild was completely ignorant of the updates that have taken place, and reaction on Twitter leads me to believe that considering Blizzard's record for preceding anything of note this year with a Blog post, this decision to let certain items 'go live' was probably made quite late in the day. It makes prefect sense of course, because with actual new content restricted to two events that can both be completed by a competent player in an evening, that leaves twenty nine days to fill, and there's only so many times you need to kill Yogg Saron. The two new Vanity Pets and the Toybox item require 150 Tricky Treats apiece to secure, and I am reliably informed that even if you do every event religiously this year on your character, 620 or so Treats is all you can reasonably expect to collect. So, that's quite a long grind for those of you who don't play the alt game. How this means you're supposed to collect the 1000 treats required for this item, therefore is beyond me:



Someone's math was clearly awry. Blizzard are trolling? Discuss.

Communication is something we could all do with working on. Nobody is perfect, and if you want to ensure that people aren't upset or angry it is often sensible to think before you open your mouth. It is also prudent when affecting change to make sure that your intentions are not simply well demonstrated but actually thought out to begin with. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to collect some new things from a World Event, because this has been something that I've been saying should be updated for some time, and I'm well aware that, yet again, certain people could now consider the next two sentences as a moan, but really Blizzard, this needed some explanation about what you've updated that should have happened BEFORE the Event went live. As it stands I'd expect to see a Blog Post next week, and I'd also bet what's left of my stack of Tricky Treats after yesterday that you'll be able to buy the Arthas Costume for less than that current asking price before the Festival ends. However, that's scant compensation for those who decided it wasn't worth keeping their stacks and who have spent them. There's another problem with the tyranny of choice.

I choose this week to attempt to become better at communicating my intentions and desires to others. I don't think I'm the only person who could benefit from this either.

[EDIT: Blizzard are listening, they hotfixed the requirement down. What about the rest of you? ^^]

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to be Invisible


Nerve being touched? CHECK.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that my terse and possibly scathing observation of the UBRS dungeon 'event' was very close to a moan, something I'd made pains the day before to take others to task over. After all, we're only two days into the new Patch, and by the rate that Hotfixes are being applied it is very clear the Devs are attempting to address as many potential issues as possible. So, yesterday I found myself thinking about the notion of what matters in this game to the people who play it. I was doing this whilst in Dalaran with a succession of alts, all of whom are trying to snag an Unusual Compass. This will, if I can obtain one, become Item #100 in my Toybox, a feature which is already irking me from it's randomness and annoyance, and demonstrating that completion for Warcraft players is probably THE most powerful motivator of all.


The Daily Commute to the Argent Tournament was nose to tail. Again.

The last couple of days have amply shown, at least to me, that my form of playstyle is ANYTHING but isolated or niche. I just needed to see the number of people at the Argent Tournament grinding Argent Seals for the Faction Banners, or the massive influx to Dalaran to try and snag a Compass to grasp the significance of the Toybox. They're selling on the Auction House for thousands of gold too, as are the Engineering pets that you also need to help improve your numbers. Oh, and if you happen to own any of the pickpocketed dice from mobs in Cataclysm? HOW LUCKY YOU ARE. My good friend Duncs gifted me two of the three types back in that Expansion, and they stayed in my bags to this day, a reminder of one of the most important and endearing friendships this game has bought me. That means I'm still a set short, and when I sent my Rogue out yesterday to try and start 'farming' the mobs I needed? The Cataclysm area was already swarming with Saps. That's why having places like Wowhead as your sole source of Guides is all well and good, but only to a point, because if EVERYONE reads the same words...


The thing is... ^^

The irony of this change is not lost on me, as is the case with Druids having their ability to make the decision on what constitutes 'travel' removed. The Toybox was, I'm pretty certain, NEVER created to encourage people to fill it. It was introduced as way to give players somewhere to put items that took up unnecessary bag space: becoming a means to an end, and not a means in itself. However, as soon as people are given a total number of items included, something happens, and the Pokemon mentality rises silently and without prompting. The notion of completionism removes the original function of the ability and it transforms into something else entirely. Travel Form as one button is convenience, but somehow this ends up as the removal of choice for the sake of simplification. In a way these two things aren't actually that far away from each other either: both are reactions to common complaints, but the way that both have been received shows the designers at least that what may seem logical to them in the process is often not seen at all in the result.

Sometimes, what you make is not what everyone wants, but with exposure to a wider mindset just about anything can be adapted to serve a more diverse set of desires.


OH LOOK ORCS.

I've seen people comparing this pre-patch to an open beta, a pointless exercise, funny and scary simultaneously because so much is broken. However what as been far more obvious in game is what people have chosen to do with the changes they have been given. I got sick of hearing Rhonin in Dalaran yesterday telling me how people had saved Azeroth from re-origination, but for every turn in of that quest someone got a step closer to a Meta Mount and more Achievement Points. As I farmed Dragon Soul 10 man last night for Leatherworking patterns by killing and resetting the trash outside the first Boss, I was at times unable to see my name in the melee outside the Portal. For every person that has complained about SOMETHING there are those that are gleefully making hay while the sun shines. In the end, Ladies and Gentlemen, what matters most of all is how YOU play this game and nobody else, and that will be how Blizzard decide what changes and what doesn't. That means the Druids are far more likely to see an about face or a workaround than the Toybox lovers ever will, because complaining you can't complete your collection because it means you'll need to buy stuff for cash isn't the Designers' problem, it's yours for needing to be a completist to begin with.

I think that, despite certain appearances to the contrary, many people are very happy with this Patch.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Is That All There Is?


I finally got a chance to run the redesigned UBRS last night.

Here's what I thought:




When the only way your Party knows they've competed the 'event' is when the Announcement appears that 250g's been earned for the Guild, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

I think it is clear that Blizzard spent quite a lot of time this Expansion concentrating on Garrisons.

However, the lack of new content doesn't seem to be doing the game any harm:






This is the first time I've had to queue to get into Warcraft since 2010. Clearly they are doing something right.

However, with a month to kill, I'm going to need a new plan.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Same Old Song


ALL HAIL THE HYPNO-ORC.

We begin your scheduled Blog Post with an announcement:

YOUR GAME IS NOT BROKEN [*]


Yes, you think it is, but it really isn't. You hate the new models and you can't stand the little numbers and you've lost all your favourite spells but IN SHOCK NEWS there's a reason for all these things. The updates were always coming, and when you change the look of something, inevitably, some people will not want to look different. All the spell alteration isn't supposed to be optimal at 90, or indeed any level below. It's all been designed for 100, the End Game, the Raiding you've all been clamouring after for a year and the place everyone will want to be in about a month. As a result, pretty much NOTHING will be optimal. If you really want to judge where everything stands, come back and see us in January, because that's when the cracks will begin to show.

For everything else, you'll just need to be patient.

Being serious for a moment, this always happens. NO REALLY EVERY SINGLE EXPANSION the reactions are the same, the wails and gnashing of teeth: the only difference between this Expansion and the last one is that Twitter makes it really easy to do all that complaining to a massive audience. Some people genuinely believe that if they do it long enough and loud enough they'll get what they want, when the only REAL change comes from those people who take the time and effort to communicate their dissatisfaction in a reasonable and sensible fashion. It does, as well, don't you start with the 'Blizzard never listens to complaints' sob story because, quite frankly, that's bollocks. This happens whenever there are major changes to the user interface, and as some fairly substantive alterations have been made to every single player and mob's health to boot this time around... Yes, it will get messy.

However, moaning in Trade or on Twitter until people block you will do nobody any favours.

This is the Correct outlook. Pay attention at the back.

As players, this is the moment to start being better at communicating problems to Blizzard. Broken is such a horrendously blanket term it helps nobody: WHAT IS BROKEN? If it's summat like Battleground queues, Blizzard is already on that. If it is your Gnome's smile, then there are Forums for that, and blogs, and even writing directly to Blizzard themselves. Sitting by your computer and emotively flailing that this is all horrible helps nobody in the end, however better it might make you feel. If the issue is enough of a distraction from your enjoyment for you to Tweet about it for 16 hours straight, or indeed to start six sock accounts to do the same, you have it in you to go and make a better job of complaining. Really, if it matters that much, you CAN go and try and change it. Otherwise, you have two choices: wait until summat else bothers enough to do the same and things alter, or just GET ON WITH IT. Go relearn your class, or you can feel free to cancel your sub and go do a massive bitchy swansong blog post blaming Blizzard and their horrendous outlooks for the destruction of the gaming community you loved so much.

Whatever you do, you really owe it to yourself to do something properly.


Take this as you wish.

If you think this is awful, it really isn't. This is, at least where I stand, one of the better transitions I've seen Blizzard undertake. Yeah, stuff like the Toybox could have been better planned for old content and implemented with more items, but they'll fix it once the Expansion launches. It might have been an idea to tell people what numbers they might expect to output after the squish, but the Community will work it out eventually. The people who really care will simply knuckle down, file their reports and carry on playing. For everyone else, don't be surprised if people stop listening REALLY quickly.

Some of us have got important playing to do.



[*] Your definition of broken may vary, some areas may be clearly more broken than others, the value of your experience may go up as well as down, caution Dwarves are HOT.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Erase and Rewind


I should probably take a break, yes ^^

There is no Podcast today, because given the choice between talking about Warcraft and playing it, I know what I'd rather be doing. So, apologies to those on Twitter who have followed me since 9.45am this morning, when I logged in and STUFF ACTUALLY HAPPENED. It has been a long session, but I think Pherian is sorted. Ironically the only thing I have changed is her hair, because it transpires my issues about her face are now largely unfounded. I like her look, and I feel she is faithful to her original self. She also logged out last night at the Black Temple, because the first order of business this morning was HYDRA PET.


Needed the haircut :P

Meet Sputum, who was always a given after my Alpha Adventures. His family is tameable, as are the Talbuks. Don't worry, that is new to this Patch :P




After that I retired to Stormwind where I spent a HUGELY FRUSTRATING couple of hours trying to sort my bags. You see, many items appeared in my Toybox automatically (enough to grant me the 25 spaces filled achievement) and many more didn't and then I had to check which ones were duplicates and which ones weren't... and many items I believed were supposed to be in the Toybox appear now to not be. Needless to say, my brain hurt for a bit, there was a lot of muttering, mumbling (but no Morris Dancing) before eventually the disaster area that is my Storage was appeased. It isn't great, but it is certainly better than it was. Oh, and my second tab of Void Storage is already full. WTB [MOAR]


Dun, for now at least.

Then it was time to see if I could quest and not fall over, and in good news the Orcs I had to go slaughter seemed to expire with surprising ease. I have my Title, the two pets associated with the new content, and a sense of achievement of a job well done, and that actually I'm pretty well geared, all told. I've re-enchanted and regemmed in accordance with Mr Robot's suggestions, I have upgraded everything with Charms, I've made 2k from my sale of old tokens and I believe, having checked out how much faster stuff now dies than it did before that all is well. So, that's one character down. Now I gotta fix everyone else ^^ I'm rather glad I have 1000 Kyparite in the bank on that front, considering I had to replace every gem but the Legendary meta in Pher's gear. All in all, kinda glad I didn't go mad on stuff before.

/waves byebyes

Next up: off to see how much space I can free up for the Bankalts :D

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Every Little Thing


Depth isn't everything.

You may well be reading this as you wait for the US Servers to come back up. This is traditionally the time in every Expansion when many people's minds turn to their pixels, that random collection of dots, the light and shade which we choose to play and adopt as our own. This is the moment for all of us, that many things will change, quite possibly to the detriment of our own impressions. This next couple of weeks is when, I can guarantee, certain people will walk away from their class of choice, and quite possibly the game for good. The problem, like it or not, is emotional attachment. That's why there's a picture at the top of this post from The Dig, which is still my favourite Lucasfilm PC Adventure ever. It didn't matter that it looked the way it did, because the plot and storyline more than made up for the lack of visual polish.

As we look at the way our pixels have changed in the next few weeks, what other truths will be revealed to us as to the nature of our very personal relationship with this game?


How I will look :D

The reality of the change, I suspect, will not initially register with many players. Having spent so long with the 'old' shapes and ways I would think that simply running or walking, plus weapon movements will be the first indicators to many that it isn't just faces that have changed, but body contours and movements too. I wonder how many will load up their machines and stare at the people in their Character Selection Screen and not recognise the people looking back at them. I sense a fair few might even go and set the Character resolution to Low DELIBERATELY, so that they have time to adjust and change their characters to fit the ideas they hold in their heads of how these pixels actually seemed yesterday, and NOT how they appear today. That is the problem with perception, and for those whose outfits are as important as their looks, this could be a difficult could of weeks. However, would it be enough to make someone leave?  Alone, I'd doubt it, but attach this to some fairly substantive changes to every class and spec by deliberate design, and the balance might yet tip.

Did I ever tell you about one of the MANY ideas I had for the Warcraft movie?


I R ALL EARS MEDEARS

Part of my problem with cinematic adaptations of games generally is the means by which the audience is attached to the action. Ironically, I've always thought the South Park approach is the soundest: what would happen if YOU were in the video game? How would things play out if it was the player who was the protagonist, the hero, as is already the case in Warcraft? My idea for the Warcraft movie was simple: you'd have a 20-summat male protagonist without a job (yes, I know my primary audience) who'd play the game with a bunch of friends: his best mate (female) and her brother (older), their friend from High School who's now an intern at a Software company and their oldest female friend from College, who's moved away and is planning to join the Army. An accident would occur, and the protagonist would be rushed to Hospital, and in his unconscious mind, he'd play the game for his life. His struggle to beat Arthas, the iconic Wrath villain, would be acted out in a Wizard of Oz pixellated throwback, looking like Warcraft down to the last detail. His father would be the King of Stormwind. His mother would be Jaina Proudmoore and his real life nemesis would be an Orc. It would tug on the heartstrings of familiarity and paint the picture that in our own minds, sometimes, fantasy and reality are intertwined, nowhere more so than in this game.

That's why I know some people will be struggling with emotional attachment right now, especially with the changes that are being wrought on the game mechanics. These are truly the times that try pixels' souls.


YOU DON'T SAY :O

It is no fun playing a character that you feel has been 'broken.' Whatever your reasoning, however that fracturing has occurred, you have the chance to feel a sense of disconnection with the pixels you're presented with. It doesn't matter for a lot of games where your protagonists are static and unchanging, and it is simply your actions and reactions to basic stimulus that dictate the outcome of events. This isn't the case in Warcraft, far from it: every character is affected by a massive selection of variables before you even start considering the way a Dwarf looks or a Troll walks. When you pile insult on injury, when your class is apparently 'broken' to the point where you believe it is unplayable, enough will be enough, and people will walk away. For some it'll be an instant and irrevocable reaction. For others, the realisation will take weeks, even months, but here the division will begin.

Change is difficult, and some people just can't do it.

As you go away now and read the Official Patch Notes, I should tell you these things don't matter because this is only a game. Except, in reality, you and I already know that's not true, and it really is so much more.