|Things are getting strange, |
I'm starting to worry...
I woke up this morning, turned on my phone, and discovered that Garrosh was dead.
Once upon a time, I had no patience. This would mean that I’d get very frustrated when US TV shows would air ahead of us in the UK, and back in the late 1980’s the prospect of using the Internet to assuage that was a very unlikely one indeed. When The X Files rose to prominence in the early 90’s I got totally hooked [*] and realised I’d be at a distinct disadvantage in terms of seeing things as they aired for the first time unless I actually moved to America. Remember this is the days of Home Computing online in its infancy: downloading ANYTHING over a 9600 Modem was hardly an exercise in speed and/or efficiency. However, when you need your fix, you become increasingly creative in your methods. I found a friend on a US Usenet group who, in exchange for some hastily-constructed UK Food Parcels was prepared to send me episodes on VHS as they aired. Then the only problem was decoding NTSC…
Online spoilers continue to be a subject of contention: it has been often postulated that a Statute of Limitations should be imposed on any old TV show (or indeed any other work of fiction), that after a certain time has expired you should be safe to discuss what happens at crucial moments. The problem comes, of course, with the fact that for every new generation that joins the Net for the first time, most of this stuff IS STILL NEW. There will be people who don’t know who shot JR, what happens to Sam Beckett at the end of Quantum Leap, that Harry Potter’s male authority figures might not last the entire set of books. At what point is it acceptable to start talking about plot progression, and how long is it acceptable to wait until you drop an S-Bomb [**] into a conversation with friends?
I was reminded this morning of my old 9600 Modem, looking at my phone and wondering if I should even bother trying to download either of the revealed cinematics as a result of Garrosh’s ‘defeat.’ I wondered how long it should be before I can start discussing my thoughts as a result in open posts. I also realised that the biggest single issue Blizzard has had to deal with this Expansion can be summed up in one word: Expectation. The events that now transpire on the back of this set of circumstances will have real consequences for both sides of the faction divide. Ironically, from what I’ve been able to glean so far, the biggest story progression for the Alliance hasn’t come via the cinematics, but from two panes of dialog that one could almost believe have been added as an afterthought.
Those two panes give us some MASSIVE indicators of where things could go in the future, and fortunately for me I don’t need an always-on connection to access them. Some might consider this fortuitous, rather than simply a concession after the cinematic. Either way, if you watch one thing today, make sure afterwards you go and seek out those two panes, because if I were a betting woman I’d say that this means we’ve been given some fairly significant chunks of foreshadowing. No, I’m not going to discuss them now, because even I understand that less than 24 hours after a major spoiler’s been released is NOT the time to start spouting about the consequences without suitable warnings, and anyway I would actually like to see said Alliance/Horde cut scenes to take everything in context.
Needless to say, I am disappointed at how this story was resolved. My personal expectations were higher, but I am enough of a realist to understand that when Blizzard spend so long setting up a *particular* storyline they will not throw in an 11th Hour Surprise Twist. This ending should make an awful lot of people happy, it will allow a measure of closure for both factions, and ultimately we will all move on to the next Expansion. Whether people are happy or not… well, as has been discussed at length on this Blog before, some individuals will never be satisfied unless a) they have something to moan about or b) they feel that faction bias is being addressed. A constant number of Naysayers will remain regardless. Many will wish the Basic Campfire got the nod. Some will think it’s sad that the Big Bad of the Expansion is dad two days after the Patch launched and some will be amazed it took that long, because that means mechanics this time on Normal took the Hardcore Guilds that long to master. Expectations depend on perception. That’s a lot to consider in the first week.
Ultimately, this means one thing. The next time a new end-game instance boss dies, we’re in the next Expansion. The moment that Big Bad falls, people forget the plethora of things that have been placed before them as entertainment in 5.4 and start looking forward. Once upon a time, a cliffhanger in a TV show lasted you the Summer. Now, you’ll be lucky if that lasts a day. Blizzard know this, and what now remains to be seen is how that expectation is responded to. I may not even have played 5.4 yet but it’s already old news.
The Spoilers are Out There.
[*] I had a BBC 2 TV ‘slot’, such was my obsession. It was just me, talking about my favourite Season One Episode (Beyond the Sea) for 90 seconds. I still have it on a DVD somewhere…
[**] That’s a SPOILER-Bomb ^^