Saturday, May 03, 2014

Chocolate Cake

I think it would be fair to say there's been a considerable amount of discussion around this Parish of late concerning the timing of content. Heck, when major news sites pile in with op-ed pieces I reckon we can be confident the issue is present in many people's minds. Therefore on Thursday, when CM Lore was asked by a player on Twitter if the suggestions the Wow Insider article put forward were feasible, it would not have been a surprise to have gotten nothing in response considering the current and contentious nature of the debate. However, that wasn't what happened: what Lore presented could be considered a pretty impressive yet beautifully succinct reply:

Wow. Just *wow*

So, there you have it. We may want the content faster, but Blizzard can't support it in Development. That much is abundantly apparent at present to boot, but that's not actually the issue. Point Four has a lot to do with it, I suspect: the perception of what matters is also significantly different between any two players (which takes us back quite nicely to yesterday's post, I suppose.) Point Two's also interesting: again, you then need to question the notion of what constitutes a 'reward' to players, and there are now so many of them to choose from. It has been suggested in certain quarters, for instance, that Blizzard is now 'catering to elites' with the LFR changes because it's deliberately pushing players into content many of them may simply not want. However when it is all said and done, we're back to the #1 Used Graphic in this Blog in Q4:

We Love You Graphic Representation!

I genuinely believe what Blizzard are attempting to do with Warlords is make people, for want of a better expression, 'less casual.' By that phrase I mean several things, not simply pushing people into Endgame by removing their ability to cheese tier from LFR. They need people putting in the hours to play the content properly because to justify the subscription price, so by extension there has to be further incentive to play. That means making all forms of the game as attractive as possible (looks at PvP) with many options to compliment PvE instanced content, and offering interesting and diverse alternatives to 'traditional' playstyles. With so many other MMO titles shuffling around Zombie style trying to infect players with their addictive qualities, Blizzard need to be able to fend them off with a large selection of defensive weaponry. Simply a baseball bat and good aim is no longer enough. EVERYTHING needs to be new, and shinier, and with a greater ability to suck players back into what might *feel* like more of the same, but actually needs to be something different in order for the game not only to evolve, but to survive. Most importantly of all, it needs a far greater cohesion, because that's something the current game is really suffering from a lack of. Once upon a time things fitted together far more logically, now it looks for some like a lot of different 'games' all shoehorned in together.

Not just me, then.

The Warcraft Movie won't be here UNTIL 2016, lets not forget. You've gotta assume Blizzard will want people playing therefore for at least this next Expansion. So, that's a fairly massive glob of forward planning required to attain that goal, quite apart from thinking about what people will want on a day-to-day basis. That's why Point One in that Tweet essay above actually matters far more than most people might choose to believe. Timing is incredibly relative as a concept for everyone in the player-base. The thing many players conveniently forget is that not everyone turns up at the start of an Expansion. After all, it is perhaps more about incentive at this point in the cycle than perhaps at any other.

Doughnuts. Is there anything they CAN'T do?

As a journalist, getting to a story first can be quite a coup, but as communication times have shortened, often not being first gives the vital time required to create the most newsworthy impact. In this game, owning content before anyone else used to be all about queuing up and having it in your hand, quite before you actually got home to install the damn thing. Now people can pre-order a game and stop playing, ready to come back when the Expansion's about to launch. The problem therefore for Blizzard is twofold: they will have to plan that everyone who bought a copy on Pre-Order will do just that, turn up on the day and expect to play on release. Then they have to make sure the game is still looking good four to six months down the line so when the first patch hits and a ton of people who didn't turn up for the start need to begin from the top, they can do so and still be an active part of the experience. This isn't about making sure everyone gets something exciting to do, it's ensuring that not only does it remain exciting and engaging, but that can be said in a year as well as a month. Planning everything in a two or three month window means the long term could very easily get left behind.

You only need to take a cursory glance at what's happened in Pandaria since November for a more than adequate demonstration of what happens when long-term planning is sacrificed for short term reward.

Blizzard aren't trying to dress anything up this time, no Photoshopping anything out of the picture or pretending it wasn't intended. We have EVERYTHING front and centre in blogs and videos and interviews, and however much people like me might like to sarcastically comment from time to time on Social Media it's all one huge distraction process, it is anything but. You distract people from stuff you don't want to see. I know, at least in the case of Garrisons from what I see in data-mining, that content's not even done yet. Sure, the opening zone might have existed since November and Blizzcon might have implied that everything was planned, but there's a world of difference between planning and actual product. There's no cake to eat if you're still working from the recipe. This Expansion is very much still in the kitchen, whatever we may have been led to believe in November.

Thanks to Lore, at least now we can understand what to expect going forward.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Gimme the Prize

Can you see what it is yet?

Yesterday did not go exactly as I'd expected.

The backlash for LFR happened. I'd have been staggered if it hadn't, because on the most basic level Blizzard took something away from people who don't 'seriously' raid. Without context and a sense of what that will mean in the wider game plan, it *does* look like a slap in the face. It means that when I look at the picture above and see a wolf's head, others stare and see only Blizzard destroying their hopes and dreams. The thing is, however, a test is NEVER conclusive. What I see you won't, and then it boils down to how that in itself makes you react. Does it bother me that I sometimes don't consider all the possibilities? HECK YES.

Yesterday was utterly a case in point.

This is where it began...

I've followed Kamalia's Blog for some time: like me she is a Mogger (and an absolutely superb one at that) with an eclectic view on the World I wish more Warcraft Players shared, frankly. I have a great deal of respect for her and her words, and when she left a disgruntled response to yesterday's post I was, initially quite alarmed, as I'd gone out of my way to not try and stoke any fires with its presentation. However, when I read it a few times I realise exactly why her ire was genuine and justified. I'd suggested mogging away from LFR gear if people didn't like the look and wanted to hide where it came from. Kam's point, which she very eloquently explains in this post, is that actually some people might just want LFR just so they can Mog with the gear. I was staggered: I'd never even considered this possibility.

You mean people use current gear to Mog with?


I think this must be roughly akin in Real Life terms to spending my life eating soup in a trendy Lunch Emporium with one of those plastic forks with small prongs and a bit of space at the back where I could grab SOME liquid, only to be told by some kind person one day whilst struggling that spoons were indeed provided at the checkout if I'd actually paid attention. That one time I couldn't find a spoon, so I just stuck with the fork and now, out of habit, I assume I'd just manage. People like Out of Beta wrote very sensible and rational posts on yesterday's announcement, and it occurs to me now looking back on my reaction I've forgotten that my opinion isn't the only answer. I thought I'd done the right thing by covering a few bases, but it never occurred to me that actually, it isn't about having all the facts. It is more about grasping the reasoning sometimes and with Raiding... it's actually a really emotive subject. After nearly a decade, it's far less about the gaming aspect, and far, far more about the personal perception of the result.

No prize for Second. Hang on...

Lines are beginning to blur in gaming all over the place. The clearly defined goals of 'go kill X and you get Y' aren't sacred by ANY stretch of the imagination. Motivations have altered, and designers are beginning to understand that plot-based context is actually as important as the business of getting players to engage. You could be playing your favourite first person shooter very soon and a Really Famous and Rather Good Actor could suddenly appear in it and he's not just there to drive forward the plot, he's been retained to give your game some gravitas and make you feel like you're in a TV show and not a game... This gig is no longer about simple desire-driven goals, the levels of complexity some designers are having to go to in order to ensure they keep their audiences happy is... frankly, mind-blowing. That means covering every base whilst at the same time giving people at least some incentive to do more than just turn up, take loot and go home. Except for many people, that is still the game. For at long as World Firsts and Raiding Guilds drive Tier and Progression, this is what Warcraft is, like it or not.

The Revolution is here however, and has been for quite some time, and I'm not just talking about those who want to run every instance for the matching gloves and belt combinations. Just as Mogging and Roleplay matter to some people, doing things exactly NOT the way they were meant to be done is a thing for others. Why? Because they can. Take the World First Roof Dark Shaman that Orcish Army Knife scored in this last week. Look at the Panda who's never left the Pandarian starting area but who hit L80. If there's something off the beaten track that people can do you can bet in Azeroth they will, because the individuality of action matters far more for some in the end than legitimacy. This is what playing Warcraft has become for many. It is no longer about the obvious achievements, and far more about what can be considered personally as worthwhile. Keeping those people happy's going to be a FAR harder job in the long term.

The Revolution will NOT GET RID OF THE NUBS.

When considering why Blizzard do anything, it is important to grasp a number of intractable truths. The company regularly survey their playerbase. I know, I had one a week or so ago. They also have an enormous amount of data at their disposal simply from what you run in game every day. That's how Achievements like Insane in the Membrane come about: understanding what people are doing and rewarding them for doing so. Part of me can see that Dark Shaman kill being awarded a Feat of Strength for just that reason, because it would be a method for the Designers to acknowledge the players who took part and nod at how they took the game and made something different from the norm. By then it'll be too late for you to emulate it, so if you wanna stand a chance of greatness, GO TRY IT NOW. That's the thing about winning, you need enough people to validate you to make it worthwhile.

Next time Blizzard suggest something like this, I will be considering far more than the obvious repercussions. I've learnt my lesson: there are more things in Azeroth, Godmother, than dreamt of in your Blog Posts. Never forget that the size of the playerbase is directly proportionate to the number of awesome people in it.

Most importantly, this is why you should NEVER just think your view of Azeroth is the only one. Or indeed the best.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

ALPHA :: You Better You Bet

Pay Attention, 007.

As I expected, the last part of WatcherDev's Watercooler serious on Raiding has delivered a large lorryload of potential drama to the yard. Let's sum up the main points in bullet form, shall we?

  • The four raids above EACH HAVE THEIR OWN WEEKLY LOCKOUT.
  • Less Valor required plus less incentive to cap has been promised.
  • Targeted design will allow players non-linear progression.
  • LFR drop rates will double, with deliberately different art, no tier and no set bonuses. Yes, you still get trinkets.

Already, the expected arguments have begun. LFR players will either see this as a massive kick in the teeth or an opportunity to gear on the way up to new Raiding adventures. Some people will do nothing but run end game content all week. I can see many others converting to PvP on the strength of that blog post yesterday. After nine years of watching pretty much everything come and go, I've become fairly adept at having all the arguments in my head, understanding every pro and con when Blizzard offer their playerbase a choice like this to make. At the end of the day, the game has never been the problem here. It's the people playing that cause the issues.

Fair point Grimmy :D

There are some practical considerations to be made, however. We as yet don't know how hard it will be to kill a L100 mob in quest gear. We have no idea of what these raids will in fact entail. We don't know if PvP gear will actually be an easier farm than LFR. With so many unanswered questions it becomes difficult to make accurate choices, but this is, of course, only part of a far larger and far more complicated equation. For those of us who run multiple alts, the notion of choice has been severely restricted in Pandaria. If you want to gear for raiding, all you have is LFR. There is no alternative, and that has not changed. This time around for Warlords Blizzard have been smart enough to offer gear that will get you raiding, but won't pretend its anything other than just that. That's the key difference that I sense most may simply choose to ignore. For everyone else... well, it will depend what other PvE options are on the table.

It will also have a lot to do with what people decide the 'reward' in Warlords actually is.

 Free Coffee? YES PLEASE.

For a long time, End Game was your only discernible goal. Yes, it was. Illidan, Arthas, that's what everybody wanted to see, and most people never did, and that's why we got LFR. Everyone then had the opportunity to experience the main storyline in Cataclysm/Pandaria, and the game didn't care whether you did it in Raid Finder or Warforged gear. It stopped being about getting there first, it was all about just being there to begin with. Warlords is going to change the way that story is told period, this much is already obvious from what we know about Garrisons and the first hour of gameplay. In that vital initial contact you will meet, outside of an Instance, all the titular Warlords. Everyone will be thrust front and centre to the storyline and that won't change through ten levels of gameplay. LFR becomes simply a stage for players to watch the story unfold with the benefit of nice gear, just not *as nice* as the other three tiers above them. Blizzard will therefore be hoping that this immersion may yet inspire players to step outside the LFR 'treadmill' and try their hands at higher forms of raiding. This is most obviously the aim of this entire system, exactly as it is with the PvP changes. Blizzard are encouraging players to make their own choices and decide how to play their game.

It will however be the rewards that matter most for some players, and for those who believe that LFR deserves the same level of gear in terms of looks and set bonuses, there will be disappointment. For those people, I'd suggest learning how to mog your gear if it really matters that much. In the end that is all it is, your ilevel should never matter as much as your ability to play or your worth as a player, but this is never the way this part of end game has worked. Players need to understand the game's still the same, even if the mechanics have changed. This whole exercise isn't about what Blizzard offers you as reward, its how you choose to interact with the game.

The incentive, as always, is yours.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Alternative Chat :: Episode 23

I was grumpy last week. Now I'm better, there's a Podcast for you.

In this week's episode we talk about:

  • Light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Distracted by TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
  • Blogging for Fun and Profit.
  • Why you should consider starting a Blog.
  • Launching 'Le Grand Salon du Mogging.'
  • Generally being enthusiastic again \o/

If you have any comments or thoughts on this week's Podcast, you need any help on Blogging or you have a Transmog item you'd like me to design an outfit around, please send your mail to:

alternativegodmother (all one word) AT gmail DOT com



I now have a Facebook page. Come LIKE me at

The page for the New Blogger Initiative is here.

You can find Sentry Totem here.

All things being equal (and because Unkie Greg told me that reliability is key) I'll be back here May 7th!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vogue :: Beauty in the World [Part 2]

So, for those of you who don't have the time or the inclination to farm ICC for an item with a 1% drop rate, I've found a number of perfectly adequate alternatives. Two of these should be accessible to everyone, one is a quest reward, another's just for leatherworkers and the first one here needs you to be running heroic SoO:

Quarantine Shoulderguards

These are the Heroic version, so you'd need to have access to that (obviously) to get them. Similarly the Shoulders of Lightning Reflexes are BoP for Leatherworkers, so you could only use these if you can make them:

Shoulders of Lightning Reflexes

The Wavemender's Mantle is a Black Temple Drop, the Rift Stalker item is a token exchange, and if you are levelling and don't want glow the Jade Witch Spaulders are a Pandaria quest reward:

The Wavemender's Mantle

Rift Stalker Mantle

Jade Witch Spaulders

Hopefully that gives you at least one suitable alternative to a 1% farm :D

Vogue :: Beauty in the World [Part 1]

Occasionally, people approach me to do costume requests :P I'll be asked to look at a particular item and suggest a mog around it. In this case, my friend Sivation gave me a bow as a starting point, saying only that he was interested in something to match the crystal 'look.' It's often hard to match weapons to outfits, and easier to pick a feature as a starting point. In this case, I went for colour and glow, and I think I've managed to create something quite iconically 'huntery' as a result:

Click for BIG.

I think it is the hat that settles this for me, the single blue feather picking out the various blues across the outfit. There's also the shoulder glow that matches the jewels on the waistband. *Hopefully* this won't mean excessive farming (with the exception of the shoulders which are, I will warn you, a low % drop.) I've done my best to try and offer as many items as possible that aren't hugely hard to grab (the chestpiece and hat are both crafts) and there'll need to be a tier token for the legs, but when Blizzard tell you you're able to farm everywhere at 90, it's time to take their advice and get on out there. Oh, and if you persist for these shoulders, at least for Hunters, they come with an added bonus:

Animation beats ALL, except
in Legendary cloaks ^^

Complete list of items is as follows:

NB: The identical Belt design drops from two bosses in the Black Temple. You could also use Naturalist's Preserving Clinch from Supremus. I've also detailed in a separate post with some shoulder option if you don't fancy farming for an item with a 1% drop rate :D

[*] It transpires that this item is BoP only for Blacksmiths. However, there are two alternatives:

Jessera's Fungus Lined Hauberk is Alliance only and a quest reward.
Oversized Ogre Hauberk is from a Broken questline in Nagrand.

12 Reasons Why
(and How To Start Blogging To Boot)

This weekend, two people asked what advice I'd give to anyone starting a Blog. As the NBI is just around the corner, it seemed like a good opportunity to apply a bit of wisdom to this issue and then hand the entire shebang over to you guys as possible inspiration to go out into the world and MAKE BLOGS OF AWESOME. I thought when I wrote this massive opus about not simply the advice I'd want to give, but the raw materials you should probably gather before you begin. I reckon, if you're going to make a decent fist of this, there actually does need to be some organisation too. You'll thank yourself later.

Right then, to the list!

1. The Name Remains the Same

I spent a good portion of my life before kids in a business that had a ridiculous name, but because it so perfectly suited what was made, nobody cared. In fact, people would comment on what a fabulous name it was and how easy it was to remember. Titles matter, like it or not, but the problem with the Internet is that most of the good names are already gone when you turn up. If you come up with the most brilliant name in the Universe for your Blogging Adventures (TM) and then discover the URL is a holding page for a Chinese manufacturing company, do not despair. The use of the word BLOG in your webpage title is a good fallback (see above :p) You can still create a presence without having to go the extra mile of buying a domain as well (see Number 4.) I bought after three years, as my commitment to the fact I'm in this for the long haul. It isn't necessary however, what is FAR more important is your name covers what it is you're setting out to do.

2. Tell Me Why

That's the next issue. Your name should really reflect your desire to write, and why you are doing this to begin with. 'James' Gaming Blog' is all very well and good (extra points for correct use of the apostrophe by the way) but it only tells half your story. If you're covering a subject like Gaming, try and focus on the particular part of of the process you enjoy the most, or maybe identify an iconic part of gaming that might give a more general focus, but actually end up as unexpectedly personal. Some ideas for you in this vein are as follows (feel free to steal:)

Loading Screen
Player One
Linear Progression
Benched for Raiding
Race Change

These should allow you a bit of freedom to cover a multitude of Gaming topics. If you want to be personal and talk about yourself occasionally, don't worry, we'll make sure you can do that in Part 3. If you're only going to be writing about Warcraft then you could pick perhaps your favourite place in Game as a jump off point (Slumming in Silvermoon) or maybe your most loved class (Hunting High and Low) I am available for naming duties if required, by the way. You know where to find me.

3. Build That Wall

Now it is time to set out your stall. I will suggest you sit in a quiet place with a paper and pen/pencil and actually write down What You Want to Achieve by Blogging. My remit's pretty much remained unchanged in five years. I write about a game I love, and if I can't find something that inspires me, I don't write. I don't deliberately 'do' personal stuff (in fact, I now have a separate site for just that formless ranting with a side order of my original writing) but in the last year here I have branched out and covered other games. However, I always come back to Azeroth, so people know that's where my heart and my writing lies. I'd suggest you use these notes you make to form the backbone of the 'About' portion of your website and at least keep them for reference. This is when you actually decide if you want to do this or not, because when we get to Part 4 you might end up spending some money and to do that when you're not entirely sure you want to...

Writing is not for everyone. With big words come great responsibility. If you want to do this, and well, there's a lot to consider. When you'll write, how you'll do it, what you'll cover, who you want to read it.

In shock news, people you have never met may end up reading your Blog. You need to be prepared.

4. All I Need.

You do not need to spend a fortune on hosting a site. Both Blogger and Wordpress offer fully serviceable packages for starter Bloggers for the grand total of NO MONEY. That's why I started with Blogger before Google bought them out in 2003 and with the functionality that company now offers in tandem with services like Picasa for image storage and Gmail for custom e-mail facilities it's still a decent call. However, there's a load of options. You could Tumblr your adventures. You could take your Tweets and Storify them... the possibilities are endless. The thing is, I'm not going to tell you what's best for you, that's your choice to make, and it will all boil down to how you feel most comfortable working. Look at where you spend your time: which forums you like, which sites you find attractive. Use these to help you drive your decisions. It doesn't matter where you write, after all, only that you do.

I wrote for a year on Blogger and never told a soul. Nobody ever found me. When I realised that I actually wanted people to interact with, it was time to work out how I made that happen.

5. Woke Up This Morning

If you want people to respond to your work, you need to tell them where to find you. This means, at some point, you're going to have to go public. I waited for a year because frankly, I wasn't confident enough I had enough material even after 365 days to make people want to read me. I didn't realise at the time it doesn't really matter one iota about quantity, it is all about quality and honesty. Just being myself is what has got me here, warts and all, hissy fits and depression and AWESOME with all points in between pretty much covered. This is what propels me forward too, the realisation I love writing and sharing it with people and hopefully infecting you all with UNDILUTED ENTHUSIASM. It works too, but only because I believe it does. That's pretty important in all of this. If you believe you can do it when you wake up, then write. If the writing just doesn't happen, don't force it and try and work out why.

Most importantly of all, if you write six posts in a day and then nothing in the next week, it's time to investigate the joys of time management and scheduling.

6. All of My Heart.

BE YOURSELF. Really, I cannot stress this enough. If you don't want to be what you are and insist on creating a virtual 'personality' for yourself be aware you'll be expected to 'perform' at all hours of the day and night as this person, and if that's something you really don't want to do, being you becomes a far more sensible alternative. If you do this, over time, you will find you are in a position to build meaningful relationships with your readers. No, you won't go out for dinner with them all but if you're lucky you'll get to learn all their names and your writing will stop being just about you and increasingly more about the people who interact with you. This is the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. Trust me on this. This then in turn gives you increased confidence to push your limits and try more complicated topics. It also ensures that you're no longer alone, and as a writer, this matters.

The best work always happens when you have an audience.

Make them all look this way. That's the brief.

7. Blackout.

In the early days, you will be tempted to check your blog stats every hour. Hell, who am I kidding, I still do this, especially if the post I've put up is particularly contentious. I run quite a fine line some days between obvious disinterest and obsessive refreshing, and I'm here to tell you that overly fixating about your audience (or often the lack of them) is ultimately not healthy. Again, you'll just have to trust me on this one, but you won't gain anything long term by worrying about who's reading, or indeed if there is anyone there at all. If you write, people will come, especially if the content is strong and different from what everyone else is currently saying. That might be where I'm excelling currently, as I'm still enjoying a game lots of people frankly can't be arsed with right now. Often, it is hard to tell why something is popular, but every view is a victory and should be considered that way.

However, there are those who tell you it's dead easy to to target posts to specific audiences and they're right. I'm not here however to offer you growth hacks. Maybe that's also a part of my problem, but that's a post for another time. However, I guarantee that if you click my Twitter links I won't earn money from you. I am at least consistent in that regard.

8. Monster.

As soon as you press 'Publish' on whatever platform you've chosen, be aware that what you've written can be seen by the entire Internet, even if the vast majority of them don't know you exist yet. That means, you'll be open to criticism. As a result, you'd better be ready to defend yourself if someone takes offence at what you've done.

Someone on my server towards the end of Wrath started a Blog that documented how he'd 'snipe' players using the Neutral AH when they'd transfer stuffs from Horde to Alliance and vice versa. A lot of chat logs appeared on his site in the brief time he was active, many of them were pretty much him baiting the players whose stuff he'd intercept. Blizzard were effectively powerless because he was doing nothing wrong, until one notable exchange when he was arrogant enough to let rip with a torrent of abuse which the player to whom it was directed sensibly capped and sent to Customer Services. A ban ensued, and he vanished, as did his site. The lesson to learn here is simple: if you write things, be ready to stand by them. Don't get cocky either. At some point it WILL bite you in the ass. Then it becomes how you choose to deal with the consequences.

9. It Just Won't Do

On this point, if you do upset someone, how you deal with that is actually pretty important. Internet status does not afford you anonymity, and really it never has. If you upset a reader, for whatever reason, you have two choices. You can choose to ignore it and simply mark this down to 'a difference of opinion' or you can attempt to manage the consequences. This one remains a vastly grey area, but as a rule I never write ANYTHING EVER in an attempt to deliberately offend ANYONE. No deliberate use of people's names or anything personal, because this is a game and I'm not running  a tabloid newspaper. Why people take offence is a hugely complicated issue, so its a pretty good idea to have a plan to deal with stuff when it happens. The key for me is not to retract anything, not without a damn good reason. I think I've done this twice in five years, and in both instances I felt it was ultimately the right thing to do.

Some will say you should never retract anything you write. As I get older, more and more, this is how I feel too. If you publish something you should stand by it, because they are your words and they matter.

10. Oblivious.

It's probably an idea once you establish yourself to learn how to promote your site. This Guide is not the place however, I've already critted you today with a wall of text, you don't need that twice over. I will therefore be doing a guide on how to bend Twitter to your will in the next few weeks. For now, understand that you can have an audience and the smart choice is to stay ethically sound if at all possible until the Right Person comes along and offers to buy you out for Loadsofmoney (TM) [*]. Again, if you wanna make a fortune from promoting yourself, you're definitely reading the wrong blog :P

11. Love What You Do.

Don't look at this as a job. I write that statement knowing full well that this, for me is JUST THAT. That's because I've always wanted to write like this, mostly because I realised it would allow me the opportunities I wanted as a person and ultimately allow me to become the woman I've always wanted to be. My journey is pretty unique: I've wanted this since I was about nine, and this is the culmination of many, MANY years of desire and personal effort. I realise that not everyone's turning up at this Guide to become a writer or to attempt to blaze their name across the Internets. If all you want to do is write once every few days or after you've done summat cool, you're still under the same rule I am.

If you don't love it, don't do it.

Write because it makes you happy, because it helps you deal with the world around you, and most importantly because you have something to say. Don't write becuse you feel obliged, or that you think people will like you more because you do. Write as a way to express yourself, always.

12. Envy.

Finally, and most importantly. It doesn't matter about everyone else, this is for YOU.

In the end you may have an audience, and people who read you daily and possibly even fans and a five figure Twitter following. Did you really come here to do this for the fame and the recognition? No, you started this journey because you wanted to write, and in the end that's what it's all about. Getting jealous of people who seem to be doing better than you are? SO NOT WORTH IT. Make every word you write have a personal resonance, and never forget that all that matters are your words. If you just want to talk, people will listen, you just have to grasp the intractable truth that opening your heart and mind to other people isn't about becoming famous, it's about making you a better person. If you are doing this just to be an Internet Sensation you came in the wrong door. This isn't what writing is about.

Go start a You Tube/Twitch Channel instead :P


One last thing: even if you only last a month and never Blog again, you will be able to say you tried. Writing is the most unique form of human expression, but for many it never really fits, because finding the right words depends so much on being able to pull them out of your head and onto a screen/page/wall. For some people, however hard they try, it just never happens. However, if you want to write, the results can be absolutely glorious.

The choice is yours.

[*] It happens.

Monday, April 28, 2014

This Week, I Will be Mostly :: Orinoco Flow


The Garrison Guide is well established. We're still in Theoretical Alpha territory. This means it's probably time to start thinking about what we do in the large space that is going to inevitably exist between

Here -------------------- and -------------------- Then

when 'Then' could either be the Expansion proper, some kind of client I get to participate in, or indeed ANYTHING that will constitute Protracted Actual News. I've deliberately ferried the Garrison stuff off elsewhere because if the last week has taught me anything, it is that saying the same thing over and over again is more than likely going to get you slapped by somebody. This way, if you want to read about it, it'll be primarily elsewhere, and I suspect my Friday feature, pretty much up until the end of this Expansion, will be keeping people up to date with highlights. Needless to say, if you want it as it happens, go bookmark my dedicated Garrisons Site. For everything else? Well, that's a question.


The Druid will now be rested all the way to 90, so tomorrow I will be grabbing the items I need to make this mog a reality (which includes making some Mooncloth *gasp* for both chest-piece and shoulders.) After that, well, who knows frankly. It's not like I don't have a ton of people to level, or loads of potential projects to attack. What I am now aware of is the possibilities the Garrison will offer me, and that as a result I am probably going to want to have more than just P taking part. That means getting some other alts geared to a reasonable standard and being ready to roll on the process when we finally get there, whenever that may eventually be. That's going to mean Mog Hunter, Horde Hunter, Mage and Warlock will get the nod with Rogue as backup because actually, I'm really enjoying pottering with her as well. Actual playing is likely to break out as a result. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Yeah, I committed myself ^^

Then there's the New Blogger Initiative event which kicks off properly on Thursday. I may have committed myself for a *wee* bit of work on this as well, but it's all good. This means you'll see, in the next few weeks, guides from me on Twitter, Podcasting and *gasp* Fan Fiction for those of you that might not feel totally confident using any of these media as a form of self-expression. Hopefully I won't put anyone off, and maybe I'll encourage a few people to start their journeys into larger Universes (because they are, for better and for worse) Needless to say, I'll do my best to be actually helpful. NO REALLY DON'T START BACKING AWAY...

I should at least take some comfort in the fact the US Blog's encouraging players to go to Molten Core.

At Level 90.

Welcome to my world, Blizzard :D

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Vogue :: Back in Black

Oh, the possibilities.

I would like to ask Blizzard, when they finally get around to sorting out Transmogrification somewhere I suspect around Patch 6.3, to give every class the opportunity to purchase plain colour items of armour from a vendor. Ideally, it would be fabulous to be able to dye your own particular pieces, but as the last time someone suggested that it was April 1st I think we might be waiting some time for it to eventually happen. As you can see above, black would be my first choice for everyone I own. Everyone would get trousers, because YOU CAN DO NO WRONG WITH BLACK. It is amazing what one can do with a block of plain colour in terms of awesome mogging.

Those shoulders above came from the Sunwell, by the way, and although they're Shaman gear its still wonderful to have a touch of Warlock for the Hunter (glowing green and purple balls is SO Affliction.). The problem with tier, more often than not, is the fact that it ends up being designed only with that class in mind. That means nature motifs for Druids and animal shizzle for Hunters, which is all well and good but after SEVENTEEN tier sets (and deity knows how many other combinations) there's only so much of the same theme you can stomach without insanity resulting. That does also mean there's an amazing (potential) back catalogue of items at our disposal, and rules have been vastly simplified in terms of what you can use. This chestpiece, although a PvP item, is available for purchase using a tier token from the Isle of Quel'Dailies. There's a good chance this outfit might actually get made as a result :D However, I should warn you, not everything you think you can create is actually possible.

Can't be done :(

There are still many cautionary tales to be told in the land of Potential Moggage. This outfit, for instance, is not craftable unless a) my Rogue was a Leatherworker and b) had existed in the days of Leatherworking specialisations, because this top is BoP from the Elemental branch. The only alternative item is from the starting area in Hellfire, and I lost the option to have this restored many, many years ago. So, I cane up with a suitable alternative, and I'll be highlighting that and my Priest's mog later this week. Then it's off to sort out the Awesome Druid Mog of Awesome and to get that character to 90. I would suspect as part of my coping with nothing to do until Expansion plan will have more than a little to do with Mogging, because 'dressing' each alt has become as much of my process of playing them as doing Farming or going to LFR.

It may seem needless, but I think I've grasped just how enjoyable dressing my bunch has actually become.

Like Clockwork

Tick tock tick tock...

Been a funny old week, Brian.

We've considered at length the notion of time in this parish, not simply inextricably linked to game immersion, but actual progression. As we find ourselves in what can only be considered as 'the space between' (more on that feature next week) expansions, it's time for some harsh decisions. It's also time to take a deliberate step back and consider the options. For an increasing number of people that means a sub cancellation, at probably the crucial time when cash is needed to allow the game designers the luxury of doing their job and ensuring there'll be an audience there to receive their product 'when it's done.' However, Blizzard have the exits covered: Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Diablo 3 maintain the familiar imagery burning bright in the brain, to remind the non-Warcraft player their game may not be current, but it's always been here. Let's face it, Warcraft is Kosh Naranek, and if you don't know who that is, shame on you.

I have always been here. TOLD YOU.

There are those who have already planned out the land for the next six months, and those who are already looking at the 'entertainment' provided as diversion and are crying foul. Needless to say, for those of us who remain the planning of previous months is probably pointless, and this will require a considerable rethink for the weeks and months ahead. I've been able to effectively deal with all of the reasons for my week's disquiet too, and as it transpires the World has shown me that actually most people are decent and care and are prepared to think twice about things when they actually matter. As to how I will approach the possibilities... well, that's tomorrow's post, and I don't want to get ahead of myself because suddenly I'm looking having to provide at least another six months of blog space with content that will keep you guys engaged until we have a new game. Yes, I absolutely predict late November now, not simply because it's the beginning of 10 Years of Warcraft. Looking at data mining, it will take that long for everything they've actually promised to be ready and working. No, that's not a criticism, far from it. It's just a statement of fact.

I can totally accept this if the end product is awesome, and I think Blizzard know this time it really is crud or bust.

Like Bart ever learnt... ^^

Someone (quite gleefully I felt) reminded me in the week of the overreaching optimism of my Release Date Competition: if there's nothing some people like better it's pointing out people's shortfalls.[*] To everyone who placed a guess I'd like to apologise for getting your hopes up, because I do feel that I'm at least in part to blame for making myself believe we were getting something when we clearly weren't. My intentions were at least honestly placed, even if the timescale was completely off the ball. However, as I believe was pointed out to me, Blizzard game releases have often closely mirrored the release of Lore novels. Christie Golden's 'War Crimes' is due out on May 6th. You will at least have plenty of time to digest the contents before the game is released.

No, I still won't be reading it ^^

No, just NO.

This is going to be quite a long six months, I'd wager, though I suspect I'll be looking back on it in six months time wondering where the time went. The fact remains, there's a lot of people who are going to need to look at the world a little bit differently in the weeks that follow.

I suspect I will be one of them.


[*] Pretty sure it was meant as a joke, but you can never tell in 140 characters. Like we said at the top, funny old game...