Saturday, March 22, 2014

Listen to What the Man Said

I've only recently pushed myself into Reddit, but it appears that I've picked the right moment to start paying attention. Some very interesting things are popping out of the social media network at present, not least this conversation on the back of the continuing discussion concerning just how long we're going to have to wait for Warlords. MMO this morning reference two notable quotes by Bashiok on their front page, one of which I feel has a personal resonance:

There is disparity, that much is certain.

Our Reddit poster here committed the cardinal sin with his comment: no actual facts. Blizzard are not dumb enough to stick a date in the sand unless they can absolutely commit to it, and they never have been. This means, I believe everyone will find that at no point there were any promises or assertions that we'd pitch up with a release date before Blizzard were ready. However, if you go look at the #WarlordsReleaseDate Contest Matrix you'll see that a lot of people genuinely believed we'd have the Beta before we actually will, based not on a promise by Blizzard, but by the pace of progression in the Expansion itself. Let me demonstrate this with one of the graphs Bashiok threw up as evidence:

Other people are better at maths than me.

You don't need to understand the numbers here: each coloured section is a patch. Vanilla stuck loads in a short space, Cataclysm was actually shorter than Wrath, but crucially the patches in Pandaria have created the feeling of pretty swift progress. If you look at that in comparison to what has preceded it, Blizzard shouldn't really be surprised that people are a tad exasperated. The key however is, that even with the extra timespan fitted into this equation, Pandaria could still end up as the shortest Expansion on record. In that case, you could argue that this is progress.

I suspect however that's not actually the issue for many.

Not strictly 100% accurate, but makes the point.

If we're looking for crucial points where the game is not adequately catering to its audience (and some may argue the Beta isn't to be counted anyway because that will target only a fraction of the subscribers to begin with) then Mr Holisky has provided that for us (although his assertion pre-graphic isn't entirely valid.) It has however been 192 days since any new major content. Blizzard publicly announced they'd not do another tier and they'd push everyone instead to the Expansion, and that decision is proving to be at least part of the problem. 'Engaging the player-base' is popping up in conversations almost as much as the 'ability bloat' phrase did several months ago: the fact remains that you then have to define exactly what that means. For some of us, that does mean we now get to go back and interact with features that was current months ago but we didn't have time to actually finish because patches got pushed out so fast. You can add that one onto the list of stuff you need to look at for next time, but the fact remains that if we'd been given an extra month for every patch we were given since Launch, all these conversations simply wouldn't be happening.

After careful consideration, I don't think people should be critical of Blizzard for promising something they never did. They should be asking who decided the patches where going to be thrown out this fast to begin with, and then why the decision was made to stick the brakes on and cut off new content so abruptly.

Localised Zombie Invasions? YES PLEASE.

There is one other factor not being factored as yet in all of this, which I suspect could silence a lot of critical issues ahead of a Beta, and that's the Pre-Expansion 'event' that traditionally accompanies the arrival of new content. However, the PTR remains steadfastly silent and there is no indicator at all of any movement on that front either. It's fair to say that Blizzard probably have other things on their mind with the Diablo Expansion front and centre next week, and with extra XP bonuses being thrown at players this weekend in that game I cannot help but thinking the Devs would be far happier if we all went and spent the weekend in Tristram instead of Azeroth. I'm not sure I agree with this, however, although I understand the mentality around tying your player base to your 'family' of games. There's been no Dev Watercooler for a while either, and there's an increasingly uncomfortable feeling that even though Blizzard may continue to assert they're happy with things as they are, the clock really is ticking. Having been so speedy with patches, to continue at this pace has undoubted risks attached. As Blizzard seem fairly confident they have nothing to worry about, maybe we should all assume we're in safe hands and let them just get on with it. Everyone will just turn up again when they release: after all, they've pre-ordered their Expansions already.

Nothing can go wrong, right?

Friday, March 21, 2014

To Build a Home :: Change

Crunch Time.

We discussed last week, on the back of the first actual evidence that Garrisons exist, what this feature could represent in terms of game-changing possibilities. As was discussed yesterday, there are only crumbs to work on for all of the Expansions new features: we continue to posses perilously little in terms of actual, solid facts. I suspect that's actually deliberate too, and that means this week's post isn't about speculation what we might get, or how it might affect all manner of other places. In fact, I was considering doing nothing at all this week because this is one area of the new game that's now impossible to deconstruct any further. There is nothing left to do now but wait. So why do we have this post to begin with?

Blizzard are off to PAX East next week, with their playable demo of the starting zones that journalists got to poke (and in some case show off their total lack of skills) a month or so back. It was mentioned by a couple of people at the time that features we really wanted to see (Toybox storage, Garrisons) made no appearance at all in this presentation, despite being bought up in discussion when Blizzard staff were interviewed. It is therefore fair to surmise that the reason for these items not being mentioned is they simply don't exist as usable or playable entities. If that is true then it must logically be feasible that when they're ready to go, Beta Time may not be far away.

What is apparent is that just because things are apparently finished, it doesn't mean Blizzard won't go back and keep fiddling until they're happy.


Out of the blue last night a set of re-rendered Dwarf female images appeared, which show considerable changes to facial expressions from previously. This is clearly on the back of criticism that this was lacking in the female models generally, and I for one am really pleased with the results we are seeing from these amended skins. It also shows that, if we needed it, this game is still being made. Blizzard (probably with considerable justification) will not launch until they ARE ready, and that means this is the only thing the team want to be working on until September. Although there is the part of me screaming NOW DAMMIT GIVE ME A BETA there is equally a very rational part of my mind which understands why I don't have a playable demo, and what has to be completed before that takes place.

So, unless Blizzard drop a metric crapton of Garrisons news on is in the next week, the speculation is done until I have the product IN MY HANDS, whenever that ends up being.

I have to believe it will be worth the wait.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Both Sides Now

When all you have is crumbs, pretty hard not to be hungry.

I do my best to drop by every 'major' news site at least once every day in my capacity as News Hack(ing Cough) Extraordinaire, researching each week's Azeroth in 5 at least a bit in advance, just to see if I've missed any nugget of data that could be considered for inclusion. I'm pretty select too, looking only for what I consider major changes or what could be taken as significant, affecting the vast majority of the player base. Therefore, when I read Anne Stickney's article tackling Criticism and Warlords News on WoW Insider yesterday, I found myself doing a bit of a double-take. Anne's suggesting that perhaps we're getting a little too keen to over-analyse, that maybe we shouldn't be grabbing every piece of information thrown at us and dissecting it into wafer thin slices of deconstruction without the bigger picture as an accompaniment.

I'll agree the principle is sound, but in the current drought of actual facts, dehydrated people will pounce on anything to slake their thirsts. There's a good reason why we don't have solid facts, of course: it's not ready yet. Having rushed us through a year of content we've all come to a grinding halt, traditionally the period when most people actually want to play games because it's more fun than being outside. So, in lieu of the actual client most people want, we've got Techincal Alpha streams and Hearthstone releases and Diablo 3 all desperately attempting to go 'OY WARCRAFT PEOPLE, OVER HERE!' and distract players from the fact that actually, there isn't any solid news to dissect, it is only speculation. I don't think I've ever found reason to disagree with Anne over anything she's written, but in this case, I find myself thinking that if, as a company you choose to allow specific pieces of data into the public domain, you must as a result have some idea of the consequences of your actions. Telling people not to be critical of what has been deliberately chosen as an example to showcase a piece of fiction or explain reasoning behind a game change really is an exercise in futility.

It did, too.

When you've been at something for a long time, circumstances change. The first blushes of young love are a long way from 20 years of marriage, after all, and it is crucially a lot to do with the people involved as to what you'll get from your experience. No two couples are the same, yet guidance councillors can tap into a wide range of tried and tested techniques to help people with difficulties see sense in their trauma. Similarly, in a War that lasted half a decade, and became a part of millions of people's lives, attitudes changed not simply on hardship. It may seem oddly paranoid now, looking at the 'Careless Talk' posters, but there was a real grain of truth to their message. With no instant communication, no Facebook or Instagram to take a picture or share a tidbit, you really didn't know who might be listening in. Teaching the populous to think of the wider picture became a necessary life skill, and probably did save lives.

So what has this got to do with Warcraft? After ten years, this is a relationship between player and manufacturer that's lasted longer than many marriages. Part of that has a great deal to do with how Blizzard chooses to give us information, and what we get when that happens. Although some might argue the 'all mounts are ground mounts' shocker we got last week could be seen as a bit of a 'Trash Day' ploy, the company's pretty good at picking and choosing the moments to share data with us. People who want to decry the end of Healing as we know it based on the Dev Watercooler are probably already looking for trouble to begin with. There's no maths there folks, no full spread of actual abilities to poke with a stick, and until there is there's not likely to be anyone who'll take you that seriously to begin with. It's the classic situation: someone in my Twitter feed tells me my idea will never work because their friends and guild-mates don't do it/don't agree. I ask them to provide definitive EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE of numbers, they can't, end of conversation. The only people with those numbers? Blizzard themselves. You have to trust not only what they're doing, but WHY you got this particular chunk of data to begin with.

Tosh or Truth?

I direct the floor to Item 3 on this list: What you give, you get. Karma might be right, but it is a fairly solid bet that if you give people just enough it will never be enough for some, until (at least in this case) they have their hands on a product to work with, whether it be a game or indeed the 'much anticipated' Lore novel. Yes, deliberate quotes here because... no, I'm not excited. In fact I can confidently predict I won't be reading it. Pretty much at any point ever. As to why that is? Well, buy me a beer sometime and I might tell you. But I digress: if you pick a specific topic to discuss, or a particular passage to highlight, there will be a reason. Whether it is to tease your reader or prepare your player for what to expect, it doesn't matter. Part of the process of dealing with change is this slow, gradual acceptance of the process to begin with, that things may not look exactly as you thought they might. To help you cope with that, Blizzard have intentionally presented this data for your perusal, knowing full well at least one person will get angry, another will shrug and move on, whilst everyone else will spend hours dissecting relevance. As long as it keeps us talking about the game, that's really all that matters. Because without that, people start getting bored and cancel subscriptions.

As I keep saying, that Oscar Wilde bloke had it pinned down. Talking about Warcraft is great, not talking about it isn't. Encouraging certain types of conversation however could be seen as destructive over time (look at the no flying conversation for ample evidence of that) but the fact remains, that is all it is. Without a Beta, we don't have a clue. The longer that goes on, the more speculation will grow, the louder criticsm will become... and telling people not to judge? The entertainment world is based on the ultimate symbiosis of criticism and speculation : Who Shot JR? What did 'Lost' mean? Would Jack Bauer EVER go to the bathroom in 24? It shifts units and drives websites and keeps shows on the radar even when they've not been in production for years (VERONICA MARS MOVIE) Critical feedback should help Blizzard to isolate potential flashpoints too, to understand where it might have to push the sell that bit harder. Telling people not to be critical is like telling a kid to feel his Christmas gifts and then not be disappointed when he realised he got a jumper and not the Adventure Time hoodie he'd asked for. If his parents had listened, then all of this could have been avoided. It is a two way street: if you don't want people to criticise, pick something safe. Also bear in mind what you thing is a good idea for months internally might see the light of day and fall flat on its face. What is great writing for one person, may not be for someone else.


As long as players are forced to deal with random snippets of a bigger picture, criticism is inevitable. Speculation is inevitable. Packs of flaming-torch wielding pitchfork-brandishing rabid players will continue to mutter and grumble long after the game's released, because that's what happens when you've been at something for almost a decade, it becomes fashionable to criticise the product BECAUSE IT'S STILL HERE. In the end there is only one sure fire way of shutting up most of the criticism completely, and Blizzard have the means. It's up to them now.

We just have to be patient.

I know ^^

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

FICTION :: Running Up That Hill

Title: Running up That Hill

Author: @AlternativeChat

Character/Pairing: My Hunter called P and my Rogue called Crais. You might remember them from the previous series of vignettes I created. You can find them all here. Well, thanks to CM Nethaera I found myself being drawn towards a new set of adventures, via a US Forums 'Seat of Knowledge' prompt, and here is the result. Expect to hear more from these two and the other three who make up my 'imaginary' five man in the weeks that follow. It'll give you summat to read while we all wait for Warlords...
 Mild sexual implications and themes. These people are grown-ups, after all.

Summary: She dreams of a storm...

Disclaimer: All these people live in a computer game owned by Activision and Blizzard. The one I play is mine in my mind only. 

Enormous pre-publication copy-editing  props yet again to M, without whom I would make absolutely no sense at all. I'm hoping this is what you were suggesting, but with the cold medication I'm not quite sure what the heck is going on... ^^


Running Up That Hill

She dreams of a storm.

The iconic past remains immutable: red dust, one entrance and two stone guardians marking the space between them and the past with quiet constancy. Then there is the sudden spark of life; sulphuric fel darkness springs forth, and the past becomes the present. The conduit stabilises in a swirl of dust and air and earth: space and presence both familiar and frightening. The rock watchers challenge her to respond, yet she will not yield. Instead comes the acceptance of approaching terror, a future that cannot be ignored, and her past that has set in motion a destiny that will not be dismissed. She stands at the future's threshold, in the armour she had buried away, refusing to yield to what she knows lie beyond: defying her demons to strike her down, knowing they will fail.

The carmine silk detaches from her hat and is sucked into the vortex and suddenly she can taste blood in her mouth, the warping of primal magiks and the sickening realisation that time itself is changing around her. Softening and stretching, damp tendrils of expectation reach out from somewhere else, beyond this moment, seducing her with possibility.

This is not the same as it was before.

Green inexorably mutates to red.

Something is horribly, sickeningly wrong.

When she wakes, even the arms around her are not enough to quieten her fears.


'This will be the third night in a row you've had a nightmare?

Crais should be tired but he's surprisingly alert, driven by a beat he cannot yet grasp. He's far too awake as a result in the early morning of Stormwind, another glorious Spring day in prospect. He stands at the balcony window, watching his partner stare across the farmland, and discomfort again rises at their situation, unwillingly accompanied by the familiar rhythm stuck in his head. SI7's Guest Quarters are far roomier than he remembers and the fact they're allowed here together is remarkable in itself. He's beginning to wonder if they should go back to the Loch, whether P is actually as ready as she's admitted.

'Aye. The last two times I'd assumed you were asleep.'

'I don't rest well when I know you're in pain. Never have.'

The assertion is more for his benefit than hers: he's the one craving physical connection but isn't sure how to broach it. Instead he remains static, a world away in a few short steps. The last thing they had spoken of before she drifted off to sleep was the past: her husband, the Dwarven phantom who had shaken his confidence. Maybe she's not the only one who required more time to recover.

'When I married I assumed it would be for life. I never stopped loving him, not for one day, but you know I'm a realist. He remains in my heart in songs and tales, but he does not breathe next to me. You have nothing to fear from a ghost.'

Crais can't believe the words, not so soon after waking. Her husband's death in the Black Temple is never far away, and he knows he'll never replace this hero. This is the moment for him to remain like stone; strength in the face of her fear, and his own inadequacy.

It isn't just a Master Hammersmith making him doubt himself, however, Crais grasps he is being manipulated by other forces, far more subtle and undefinable. The Sha had exposed the weaknesses of them all, in disparate ways. He'd spoken to an Si7 healer the previous day, who had confided in him that this Campaign had caused far more doubts in the minds of their troops than any other that had preceded it. If there were ever a moment for the enemy to exploit a weakness, then this was it.

At this moment, the Horde was the least of their worries.

The pattern of drums in his head refuses to go away. He needs to remember when he heard it last, to identify the source...

'Crais, what's wrong?'

The desire to translate what he's hearing in his mind into a solid memory blocks his ability to immediately respond. Now it is P's turn to misunderstand the significance of a moment.

'I'm not the only one who's struggling, am I?'

When P reaches out he tries to elucidate but falters, is inexplicably unable to maintain his composure, and it must be obvious because she almost runs to him, head to his chest and arms around his waist with an embrace that breaks his resolve, and he is crying without actually understanding why. The tears are real, there is relief yet no understanding at their meaning, and as P pulls away from him to look up into his eyes, he understands immediately what woke her. Fear vanishes and Crais is staggered by the sensation of utter calm that descends between them.

This isn't about what happened when they fell asleep, not her husband's legacy at all. This is something else, a shared fragment of a connected unconsciousness. He sees her, not here but at the place he stood... red dust, one entrance and two stone guardians marking the space between them...

They are more attached to each other than even he had grasped.

'Now I understand this isn't about your late husband at all.'

P's eyes widen and she is shaking her head, disbelief at his words. He lets the kiss she begins become a joint method to assuage what he knows isn't just his disquiet any more, and they both indulge far longer than they might normally, especially when under the roof of his paymasters. This is as close as he will ever come to staying with his mother, and normally that would mean restraint in all things, simply out of respect. As he briefly succumbs to the sensation, the sound recedes, but its colour remains: residual image inside his eyelids, a constant reminder. Three nights now. The colour of blood, and her body as a shield when Garrosh tried to kill him. The warning that rang in this mind when Hellscream was taken away. The familiar changing, a warning to all of Azeroth.

It's not just him. She was there too.

'You were standing at the Dark Portal.'

The entire landscape shifts in a breath, P backing away from him, amazement and concern all too obvious at his statement. She stands and stares, mouth open, and immediately the drums return, constant rhythm in Crais' subconscious, a memory from Nagrand.

His past. Their future.

The Orcs preparing for battle.

'It sucks my old armour away and into the Nether.'

Crais is suddenly aware that circumstance is beyond his control, absolutely nothing he can do to prevent the inevitable. The die has already been cast. Like it or not, he knows they're travelling to the Blasted Lands as soon as the sun rises. The colour compels him, draws him, and he knows whatever manipulates his mind understands his weaknesses. He can never resist this woman in carmine. The stuff of seduction and promise; salt-taste, adrenaline heightened. Irresistible.

'Then the whole thing turns red.'

His lover stands, aghast, and with her words their destiny is determined.

'We're having the same dream.'


Alternative Chat :: Episode 19

Yeah, so. I'm not well. You'll be able to tell this if you've already listened to the Azeroth in 5 I've done today. However, I don't want you to think I've given up on the personal Podcasting gig, far from it. So, just to remind you I'm here:

SHORTEST PODCAST EVER. Hopefully, Normal Service will resume next week :D

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Those We Leave Behind :: First Steps


My Hunter's become a bit of a Minor Celebrity :D


This is Garassah, my Draenei Hunter. She's levelled from 17 to 22 thus far, is wearing BRACERS WITH INTELLECT because I've not yet found any with Agility and was the character I began my Twitch career with yesterday to a surprisingly full Chat Room, because everyone has to start somewhere. She was the reason I decided to begin this feature, and a testament to the belief that actually, being out in the world's not really that bad to begin with. She inspired two people yesterday to re-roll and get back to Ashenvale (which is where I parked myself after my first successful round of levelling) and I'll try and keep pace with the zones and pick up appropriate gear as we make our journey South. Though I will admit now, 60-90's gonna be a right slog, and I suspect I'll need a bit of Moral Support (TM) to make it through there. I will probably be using my Monk as practice to make it through Everywhere But Azeroth.

Grats, Mon!

I'm using mining and skinning to supplement my wages, which is actually going quite well at present. I've been zoning back to Stormwind and riding over to Kalimdor every day (consider it as a commute) and I'll be doing the same when I've written this to sell off my spare gubbins before getting back to the process of levelling. No, it is certainly not the most time-effective use of my hours but if I wanted to do that I'd have just PRE-ORDERED THE GAME. I'll probably start converting ore to bars this week, and begin stockpiling leathers, but as there is no rush... well, you'll be able to watch me a fair bit, as I intend to stream this for a bit every evening. Feeel free to come with questions, I'll do my best to answer them as YES THERE WILL BE VOICE CHAT. For now, however, there is a lot of faffing.

Preferred Mount. FANCEH.

I'd like to thank at this point EVERYONE on this Journey with me, at whatever stage you happen to be. This isn't a contest or an exercise in 'winning', it is just about you and your character, and finding a place to be yourself in game. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I am, and I look forward to meeting you at 90 :D

Onward we go :D

Those We Leave Behind ::
Sneaking Out the Back Door


I asked for people last week to join me on the Old-Fashioned Journey of Levelling without a cash outlay and lo, it was GOOD because there's a ton of people who've expressed an interest to do so not just on this Website but their own. We'll do the first edition of My Little Hunter (Duplication is Magic) later today but to begin our journey, I'd like to introduce you to my good, dear friend Rel. You'll know him as @ReliqEU on Twitter or at his personal DK Website, Without further ado, let him fill you in on the start of his journey!


I am Bladevale of Shadowglen, a rogue of Teldrassil, and I have taken it upon myself as a duty to my Elven brothers and sisters to rid the world of evil by means of my skills in rogue-ing... in rogue-isity... in... being a rogue.  I'm young, as far as being an Elf is concerned, and I have committed myself to the task. But first, as a new adventurer, it seems I had to complete my training before the elders could permit me to leave Shadowglen.

This mainly consisted of 'cleansing' the forest around Aldrassil of critters which weren't really doing anything but were apparently corrupted. I've now been left with enough cat hair, spider hair and demon hair to make a very peculiar wig. But it's my duty. Part of my training confused me. Upon meeting the beautiful Lady Dentaria Silverglade, she informed me that Ivveron lay poisoned! Like, I could see he was looking a bit crook because he was just lying there moaning, but poisoned! Oh my goodness! 

She tasked me with collecting Moonpetal Lillies to aid in creating an antidote. But she was asking a lot of other people, too. Just how much antidote did she need? And, like, the lillies are RIGHT THERE. Dude is dying and she's standing there waiting for an apprentice to come along and pick flowers for her.


I did that, and then went and killed some spiders (FURBOLGS are corrupting them! Gnarlpine ones! How could the guards not spot ugly bear-type things running around Teldrassil with their bandy-legged waddle?) and then went back. And then I bid farewell to Lady Dentaria Silverglade (I wonder if I'll see her again?), as she had me climb Aldrassil, which I've never even had cause to climb before. It's a long way up, that's for sure.

There were whispers atop the tree amongst a couple of druids, untrusting of their current leadership... they heard me approach and stopped, so I continued on, pretending I didn't hear them. How curious... After speaking with the druid at the very top, the imposing Tenaron Stormgrip, he finally told me I'd completed my training in Shadowglen, and it was time to move on. I was needed elsewhere.

Now I'm leaving my little home. I've rarely been to Dolanaar before, never mind Darnassus. I'm worried. I've been warned of dangerous creatures, and am carrying precious things. I don't want to fail my first proper mission.

But it's a first step. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

This Week, I Will Be Mostly :: Impossible Princess

Well if there's no Beta ^^

I have taken my first step into a wider Universe.

Last night I did an hour of Hearthstone on Twitch, and it wasn't a total disaster. Therefore as a result today I will be in and out of my channel ( setting up Warcraft so that, starting TOMORROW morning I can begin streaming my Hunter's trip to L90. For those of you expecting to hear voice as well as chat: I'll get there eventually but for the next few days you're only likely to get some lovely music. Those of you paying attention will also notice that everything on the Blog's been moved down six inches, so if you come here wanting to see if I'm streaming or not, there's information at the top of the page to inform you of JUST THAT FACT. I've tried not to make things too showy as a result, and hopefully this won't detract from the entire watching experience for those of you who can't give a flying fruitbat about live streaming. Needless to say, this might have some value down the line :p

What this has *also* meant is that I've extracted the digit and finally sorted my Webpage out to accommodate a custom header. It is entirely possible this has already broken something on the Internets, but until such times as I can confirm this I will be using the new layout (FINALLY CENTRED LOGO YES) and my sense of balance will be assuaged after many months of getting mightily hacked off by code. Most of you probably never noticed, but it bothered the HELL out of me so to finally fix it is very, VERY satisfying.

What this does mean is that today (and I suspect the rest of this week) I will be doing an inordinate amount of really long-overdue website maintenance. However, there will be a Mogging Post later today and the first of our Levelling Adventures Guest Posts tomorrow. Your patience therefore whilst these essential works are completed are appreciated.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What You Want

Yup. That's right. I am a two letter word.

My Destruction Warlock is called Woo. Normally I'd not come out and admit such a thing, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions. I'm very proud of her not simply for her ability to burn mobs to a crisp on a whim, but her three letter name. Getting either a three or two letter word combo that actually works on a server is a nigh-on impossible task, just because of the age of the game to begin with. Woo was forged in the desire during late Vanilla to help the Raiding Alliance I'd just joined to down Garr in Molten Core, which required a shedload of Warlocks and their ability to banish Elemental adds. I suspect back then such responses to raid mechanics made designers look at what people played and began the understanding that it shouldn't matter what class people chose, everyone should be able to contribute to Raiding. Hence was born the relationship between what we did in game and how it affected the mechanics of potential outcomes, and that designers would end up with a fairly complex balancing act to maintain.

How do you keep people happy but still maintain the structural integrity of the game?

I got into a right fight yesterday on Twitter over the flying 'issue' to the point where virtual abuse was thrown, I was baited, and people left my feed in what I can only assume is disgust at my assertion we could live without flying, because we did for some time with absolutely no problems. Flying in TBC only came when you maxxed at 70, and I can remember one ex-Guildie riding all the way from the Dark Portal to Shadowmoon on release day, just so she could go and see at first hand what the flying mounts looked like for herself. Yes, it was that exciting for many, and I can remember the amazement when I took to the skies for the first time, even now. Hovering above Shadowmoon it was easy to see why flying was the right move for a population that had only ever lived on the ground. I was told yesterday I'm 'selfish' for wanting to take that away, that this is deliberately making other people suffer on the assertion we don't need flying. The thing is, I think Blizzard made a mistake back then and it's taken this long to admit that.

I think flying has effectively negated a large portion of all content, regardless of its current restrictions when levelling.

Ground Mounts baby, yeah!

Those of us who keep hoping that Blizzard will go back and update timelines and quests in the 'Old' World are constantly reminded by the Devs and CM's that this is unlikely ever to happen, because of the time constraints this would place on the 'new' areas of the game and would therefore mean a restriction of effective new content. However, the ENTIRE twin continents of Azeroth got just that happen to them in Cataclysm and there's still universal unhappiness at what that brought, which was done purely and simply in the first instance to allow people to fly. Having instant access to any content at 60 pretty much makes your journey from that point academic. You can in many cases simply fly in and pick up quest items without ever going into combat. You cannot be effectively controlled when you are in the air, and although this will upset people to hear, that's EXACTLY why Blizzard want you not to take to the skies the moment you step into new content. It isn't about giving you freedom in those early levels, it is about making you play the content that has been designed for you, on the ground. They haven't just removed Server Firsts to deter people from exploiting mechanics to get their badges of honour this time around, I believe this is a distinct signal of intent from Blizzard: play the game the way it's supposed to be played. There are no prizes this time for being a 'winner.'

This is *still* how my brane is. Scary stuffs.

There is no clear evidence yet to support this, but recent comments by Devs are leading me to speculate that your Garrison could have a lot to do with the fact that flying could be off the table entirely. If Blizzard are attempting to create an entirely new experience with Warlords (and quotes I'm seeing could lend some credence to this theory) then you could end up returning to the Garrison with the frequency you do a Capital City. Although it won't be a place to idle (and that much has been stated, there'll be no Bank or AH there) it could end up being connected portal-wise to everywhere else in game and then you'd negate a lot of the need for flying in one hit. There are also countless issues with flying in two person mounts across zones which utilise a lot of phasing, which could also have something to do with current thinking. Most importantly, the dedicated PvP Zone in Draenor will be no-fly by default because of the issues that causes in combat, and if you want an understanding of why flying is just a convenience and not a right, there you have it in spades. Not being able to run away by engaging your Z axis is pretty vital not simply in PvP Combat, but everywhere. Hell, not flying away has the potential to make you play better by forcing you not to just take the easy way out and leg it.

No, not him :D

I caused a bit of a stir yesterday by suggesting people might learn to play better if they're deliberately forced off their mounts and onto the ground, and this might go some way to explain Blizzard's actions in that regard. If you are deliberately presented with conflict and cannot negate it by flying over it, what will you do? There was an understandable response to this: that's all well and good until we reach 100, but why do we need tethering after that? That one's easy to answer, and has a lot to do with what's happened in the last week. Suddenly for the vast majority of players the one constant is their desire to reach max level as quickly as possible. When Warlords launches, you will have two choices: level from 1-100 by traditional means or buy a boost and simply do the last 10 levels. The quicker of these two will automatically become the yardstick for further content timing, and if Blizzard can tether players not simply by restricting movement but by slowing their progress, content will last longer. This is absolutely crucial considering current complaints of the game feeling rushed, and may (for some) seem a fairly cynical ploy, but as we have established, these guys are here to take our money. This way, content lasts and people are forced to make choices based not simply on convenience, which is going to come as a shock to quite a few people. We did say the gloves are off.

In the end, if you're going to abuse designers by name and call them selfish for their choices, it's time to take a step back and consider the consequences of your words. This is just a game, and if you're that upset by what is being asked, it's probably time to cancel your sub. You could try and engage some reverse psychology and hope that the designers see sense too, but you might then actually miss the point of this entire exercise. It isn't about making this easy for you to do anything. It isn't about simplifying processes, because if that happens what is actually the point of playing this game to begin with? Yes, I know Warcraft isn't just about challenges and provoking thought, but a journey shouldn't just about sitting back and expecting other people to do all the work. Yeah, you can do that, but I'll bet you a sizable bag of gold you'll get more out of the entire experience if you put something into the mix. You might learn something too. The problem with many players is that Blizzard has indulged their whims for too long. That's what happens with kids when you spoil them: if you try and take the toys away, the consequences can be noisy and emotional.

Kudos to Blizzard for finally trying some proactive parenting, and I hope the results make us all better children as a result.