Google+ ALT : ernative: 07/06/2014 - 07/13/2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

BETA :: 1999


Allegorical?

Cast your mind back, if you will (or indeed can) to late May in 1999.

Myself, Mr Alt and two friends decide we will fly to the US, to see Episode One of Star Wars on the weekend of release. I still carry those tickets in my handbag after nearly 20 years as a reminder not of the awesome nature of the film, but the lesson that was learnt in the experience. I should probably also confess that I've NEVER seen the movie again since that point. Not once. I walked out of the theatre in Connecticut that we'd picked (as we were staying on Long Island) and felt utterly and totally cheated. The past history of the franchise I had kept as a reference point from my childhood bore absolutely no resemblance to the film I'd seen, and I felt has if George Lucas had failed to grasp a vital point: a story is only great when it engages ALL of your audience. He seemed to have focussed on all the parts of the 'past' that he had an interest in, but nobody else did. As a result, for large portions of the film, I was bored.

Star Wars had never bored me before, and my first response wasn't to blame Lucas. Perhaps it was my fault. Maybe I'd been too enthusiastic about the build up, travelling all this way, perhaps the gravitas of the moment had somehow over-inflated my expectations. Except, in retrospect, the World seems to have agreed with me on my assessment. I suspect that's why so many people are fired for the next set of films because, hopefully, the lessons of 1-3 will finally have been learnt and we're going to get something that truly mirrors what the original movies did in a time when storytelling probably mattered far more than the special effects ever would.

After a decade, it appears Blizzard still haven't learnt some rather important lessons about storytelling either.


Not as Intended.

It is now impossible to enter Draenor without 'playing' the Tanaan Jungle portion of the content to arrive there, which is what I needed to do this morning so I can start a 'clean' copy of the Garrison for some robust testing. I had high hopes when I arrived at the Portal, but by the time I left I KNEW I'd only ever want to do this version of events once. I'm disappointed too with what counts as 'training' for new players and more significantly, after a decade of playing this game, this morning had me sitting at the screen for the first time in ten years of opening content and thinking 'Oh God this is boring, do I REALLY have to do this?'  I wanted to make sure I still felt the same way about what I'd seen after some reflection and so I've been away, come back to my keyboard and concluded that this sequence feel really, REALLY out of place.

Let's now see if we can pin down where the problems actually occur:

  • Bolted On

    Having run through the Garrison 'opening' sequence on quite a few occasions now, I find myself thinking that I have absolutely no invested interest in the Tanaan 'sequence'. I've saved the world so many times now this has become a job, and the 'gravitas' of the situation I am thrown into has very little personal relevance. Whereas the Garrison is very much your individual responsibility, and the onus to construct it is very much in your hands, this 'story' is driven pretty much entirely by acts of NPC awesome (one in particular, no I'm not going to spoil.) The final 'battle' you take part in is yet another 'climb into a vehicle and destroy X things' which we were doing in TBC but back then it was new and exciting. Now it seems like a bit of an afterthought. I have nothing to personally make me care about these races. I have no connection to the struggle they are involved in, save to turn up and be a hero.

  • One Long Battle

    It may not take long in 'relative' terms to compete this and make your way out to 'safety', but there is no real respite between 'fights.' There is no time to paint a picture of the NPC's you are fighting with, no opportunities to create relationships as there has been in previous expansions. Simply throwing in a large number of NPC's that are familiar does not make you have an affinity with them, it's like one of those all-star movies where you can name every actor but have no favourite character because nobody has been written that well. That's where the next point becomes more painfully obvious.

  • No Soul

    The events of this opening sequence left me cold. Focusing on the 'Warlords' isn't dramatic for me, or engaging. It's a continual progression of Orcs with different models, mobs who (presumably) have to die, and finally for me this is where the real lack of soul begins to tell, because I have no connection with these 'people.' It stops being about immersing me in a story as a backdrop and becomes about simply getting out of this phase of gameplay and into the next one. Questing isn't interesting, and is in one place deliberately gimmicky to the point of the gimmick being more fun than the objective of the quest, and that just says to me that the process needs more work. Part of me wants to make my own way through the zone and I am presuming this isn't an option, especially as this is supposed to be 'training' for the 'new' L90's, and that too I have some issue with.

  • The 'Training' Is a Lie
    So, I'd expected an experience that would push players to use their skills in a sensible manner. Perhaps this is not yet totally functional yet, I don't know, but simply rewarding groups of spells as 'reward' for completing a quest? REALLY? How does that make players more competent and how does that teach them to play their class better? From what I can see you're given mobs to kill and (as yet) no indicator of which spells to use, or which abilities are more situational... this is all a bit of a false impression. As this is Beta I am going to assume that some things will change, but knowing the timescales we have, I can't see the sophistication of this system being drastically improved. I'm quite willing to be proved wrong here, of course, but if this is what Blizzard feel is acceptable as training for new players I am really very disappointed indeed.

  • I've Been Robbed.

    Even though I had my reservations with The Jade Forest, and the Pandaria 'ethos' in general, in the wider scheme of things my actions made sense and had a larger sense of importance in those early stages of gameplay. It could well be that the pre-Portal Event is yet to lay a large wodge of expositional justification, I don't know, but I feel cheated with this as my 'escape.' Epic battles do not make things awesome, Blizzard. Killing hundreds of people, destroying thousands of lives, does not have the same impact as one life lost to whom you feel a genuine bond of empathy and compassion. I have no idea how many Orcs I had to slaughter to get out of Tanaan but it didn't matter, and neither did they, and that is a problem. This means I resent the needless slaughter of thousands of lives just to help me escape so I can build a Garrison to destroy the Iron Horde ALL OVER AGAIN. It seems that we have learnt nothing at all from Pandaria, and actually that's where all the issues should have started raising red flags. 

If you take the time to read my work on a regular basis you'll know how much I love what Blizzard does. I have now gotten the opportunity to build a 'new' Garrison and (hopefully) get a lot of broken things working again, which fills me with unbounding enthusiasm. It is, therefore, more than a little depressing that to get to a stage where I am Mistress of my own Destiny and able to actually influence gameplay like never before, I am forced to be reminded just how awful linear progression can be when it is done far below the standards I'd expect from a Blizzard product.

Just goes to show, you can never tell what you'll get in a Beta.

Friday, July 11, 2014

REPOST: The Last Days of Dragonscale


I am not here today, for I am elsewhere, and as a result I have decided to remind you good people of something I pointed out back in March, because it is even more relevant now than it was then. I hope you'll forgive me the repetition, and I'll see you at the weekend :D


One Orc and his Drake (DED!)

Normally it's song titles as blog post headers, but as the Oscars was the day after this post was originally published the particular disambiguation remains too good an opportunity to pass up. Ever since the Mortal Races got left to do their own thang by the Dragon Aspects at the end of Cataclysm, it's been looking increasingly perilous for not simply their species in general, but those of us who used to make our living crafting items from them. Sources of raw materials have begun to dry up, and with what we know of the future it is possible many pieces may become almost impossible to create. In fact, with what could be massive changes to professions coming in Warlords, how important will Dragonscale even be in the general scheme of things? Some of the most striking pieces of crafted mail can be found in the 1-60 level range, including the Iconic Black set still favoured today by hunters, and may become as endangered as the animals from which they are derived.


If you have the recipe, last orders on
crafting may be soon...

Dragonscale has been on the Azerothian 'Endangered' List for some time [*], since Cataclysm wiped out the indigenous Red and Blue populations from the world. There is a lone rare mob in Winterspring (Azurous) that might be skinned for Blue scales if you're really lucky, and if you kill Cromaggus once a week in Blackwing Lair you could also pick up both Red and Blue. However, by far the most productive method (and by that I mean guaranteeing between 3-5 Scales per trip) is killing the Chromatic Dragons in UBRS and Gyth, Rend Blackhand's personal transport. Once UBRS evolves, there's no indication these mobs will remain as a supply. The only other Dragons in the world will drop Worn and Green (Sunken Temple plus various Rare Spawns) or Black (Blackwing Lair, the dragons in the Burning Steppes no longer can be skinned for scale) with any measure of consistency. Oh, and it's entirely possible one type of scale could vanish altogether, as there's only one recipe in game that still uses it, if (like me) you're lucky enough to have pulled the recipe from Dire Maul back in the day. That's the Chromatic Cloak above, and without these Scales, you won't be able to craft it.


Going bye-byes with (I suspect) a measure of certainty.

So, if UBRS has its dragon population decreased, a lot of currently quite easy to make recipes could be come considerably harder to come by, which is a shame, because there are some absolutely CRACKING potential mogs out there that can made using them, and at least one pattern that might vanish for good.


Pay attention to the
Breastplate

If you are a completionist and don't yet have the Red Dragonscale Breastplate recipe in your collection, you might want to consider farming it for two reasons: mainly because it is one of the VERY few recipes that is Bind on Pickup, but secondly because the drop rate generally is criminally low. Drakkisath holds onto this and I only managed to get my hands on it in the last year via some fairly intensive farming, so you may want to do it on a day when the lucks are with you. In terms of look it is identical to the Mercurial Breastplate (E my Belf is wearing the trousers and boots from that set) so if it does vanish, there is no great loss. However, there are at least two items that might become REALLY hard to farm, and one is an absolute CRACKER.


Top half's looking dicey...

There are three pieces to the Blue Dragonscale Armour: legs, chest and shoulders.Only the legs recipe is trainable, the other two are no longer available in game. The chest has only one comparable item that matches it (from a L28 Alliance quest in Ashenvale) whilst the shoulders are, like it or not, the ONLY single colour blue shoulders available for mail wearers. Therefore, if you mog a Shaman or a Hunter, this might be an item you want to get your hands on before Warlords, because the means for crafting these two could go from complicated to nigh-on impossible, assuming you're lucky enough to own the patterns to begin with.


As a result, a new Shaman Mog
has appeared...

It has become apparent the number of people who regretted not having gone to Scholomance before it was updated to grab the Bloodmail Legguards As it occurred to me now, you have plenty of time to make your choice about UBRS: we have no idea what the sub-100 version might look like, or what it might contain, but there's a decent chance most of what now resides there is likely to vanish. I'm glad to say I went and snagged a Finkle's Skinner during research for this piece, which will replace the Gnomish Army Knife in my bags as a souvenir to one of my favourite ever instances in the game, period.

They say that the best organisational tool you can ever possess is time. You've got it now. If you want to make Armour while the sun shines, this is probably your best chance. Away you go. I know I will be...

==

[*] Dragons indeed remain in the Highlands and in other areas, but as Evolution seems to be affecting the oldest surviving Dragon inhabitants first... ^^

[EDIT: I am aware of many people who have now run the 'new' UBRS: any comments on pattern drops would be greatly appreciated... :D]

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BETA :: Notes from a Small Island 10/07




Frankly, you can all stop now. Whatever you've done in Beta, the things you have discovered or achieved, are now UTTERLY IRRELEVANT. Sorry to break this to you, guys, but the only thing that matters now is in my Garrison.

YOUR BETA TESTING IS INVALID.

I don't care about anything else right now, OUR GUILD MASCOT IS A FOLLOWER :O Heck, not only is he Rare quality he's L100 to boot, and the fact he still CBA to leave Dalaran to work for you and sends the image instead is frankly a stroke of genius. Actually, that's not the only thing to get excited about in today's new build, for many things have changed and a great many of these are definitely moves in the correct direction.


Top Quality Bird.

The new HQ Gryphon Stop is a thing of beauty. The birds have new animations and even their nests have been upgraded. It is an indicator of what a difference it makes if you take something old and make it new again, especially in a game this old. If this isn't enough to get you excited, go take a look inside the Level 2 Barracks:

DETAILS PEOPLE!

My other new best thing ever about Garrisons is now that every time you pass an Alliance Troop person they STOP AND SALUTE YOU. They are all Human currently, but there is the possibility this could change. I know this coz I had a conversation about it with Cory Stockton yesterday. BOOOOOM!



Casual as you like :P

Having Dwarves salute me, frankly, would NEVER GET OLD because Commander and yeah, I'd put up with being attacked for that, even if I was utterly crap at defending (see previous post.) Oh, talking of which, I found a breadcrumb quest for that as well, pretty much totally by accident. I'd just taken part in a MASSIVE PLOT SPOILER for Warlords, and I'm standing there letting the enormity of what I'd just seen sink in and then...




Here's your initial starting quest: at this point it doesn't lead you anywhere except to the turn in at the other end, but the time will soon be upon us, and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth as I have to learn to do ANOTHER new thing that has absolutely nothing to do with how well I can play a hunter and is more about how quickly I can learn to pick up a new set of skills. UTTERLY DOOMED ^^

However, I did find summat a bit awesome.


I sleep all night and I work all day :D

A bunch of Achievements went up in this build and amongst them is one for cutting down trees (cue Environmentally friendly objections here.) It appears that you can do this yourself, because when I moused over this tree in Beta my cursor changed into a circular saw blade. I need a Lumber Mill, and fortunately for me I have a quest now to go rescue some Lumberjacks. Could they be related? ^^ I also hear that a Tannery might not be out of the question too, I'll just have to keep questing.

GNOME IN THE CAMP \o/

Also pleased to say that there is a far larger racial diversity in the Fortress this Build around. Long may it continue.


SAVAGE CASTER MACE.

Rares are no so common it seems a bit pointless to call them Rares, if I'm honest. General agreed with me today as well, but I'm not sure what we'd call them as a result. Exceptional Loot Mobs would be my choice but I'm not even sure that's a fair summation. I dunno, I think maybe Silver Dragons should be for the normals and Silver Vignettes should be for the bigger 'events.' Answers on a postcard, people.

I really need to find some more Followers so I can start doing some new Missions... ^^

BETA: Run to the Hills


Screenie from Wowhead. Mild panic from me.


Welcome to Build 18522, Ladies and Gentlemen, where suddenly there's a METRIC CRAPTON of new Garrisons Achievements. I won't have a chance to play today for a couple of hours, but it appears there's been quite a lot of work on rewarding people for staying in Blizzard's new feature, at least in terms of raking in some points for completing tasks. There are categories for Missions, Followers, Buildings and Levelling... plus the introduction of INVASIONS as a 'thing.'

The fact your Invasions will have a three tier difficulty level is already enough to fill me with a sense of unerring dread. I'm not a big fan of Blizzard's in-game 'tasks', as a rule. In fact, I'm actually a bit scared RIGHT NOW. I blame the Argent Tournament.


Jousting. Yuk.

I suppose, if I'm honest, it began with Bombing Runs in TBC. The co-ordination required to both fly and fling would often reduce me to a quivering, frustrated mess, and many of the timed achievements that were introduced eluded me for quite some time after they were current. Then we got jousting and I can recall the anger that rose when I tried to co-ordinate everything that was required. It has taken me since Wrath to grasp the technique with confidence. With Proving Grounds I've not actually tried anything past Bronze but as we're using the Bronze/Silver/Gold 'levels' as our benchmark here, I suppose it might be a plan to get the learning braincells working again...

Of course, we have no idea what *exactly* these tasks will involve, but the Achievements themselves can shine some light on what is going to be expected from you as Commander:


Everybody hates me ^^

I count SEVEN different types of invader in that list, all of which (presumably) will have specialist abilities you'll need to counter. More importantly, you'll get extra points for ensuring no buildings are damaged in the particular incursions. If the 'invasions' all follow the same pattern this shouldn't be too much of an issue, but I doubt Blizzard would be that predictable. This is going to be an interesting part of proceedings. It is also going to, I suspect, be a part of the game many players simply won't want a part of, especially those hoping to have a place they can customise rather than having to defend. If you wanted proof positive that this wasn't Animal Crossing in Azeroth, then here we go. I can also see people getting really frustrated when they only need an Ogre incursion to completed the 'Master of Invasions' achievement and all that attacks them are Primals... ^^

I have the new beta build downloaded. Once I'm back from exercise this morning I'll dive in, and we'll see what has changed elsewhere. Expect a report to follow shortly afterwards :D

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

#WCOW14 :: July 9th SEMI FINAL



And now, we reach the Semi Finals :D

Each 'game' of the Campaign will play in 'real time' to coincide with events outside Azeroth (you know what I'm talking about :D) Twitter and Facebook will link to this page, and Voting will be open until 9am TOMORROW MORNING to give people more time to support their favourites :D


HOW TO TAKE PART:

Vote for the Team you would like to win. 


Underneath each game is a link to a Poll. Please click on this to cast your vote.


At the end of the Voting period, the team with the most votes will be awarded the win. If votes, when tallied are within 5% of each other, the game will be declared a draw, and a coin will be tossed to determine who will win on penalties, because that's about as fair as the real thing ^^

Results will be added to this post after each game has been concluded. Remember to vote for your team!


Tonight's Result:


Thriller

For a job I love, writing is a bloody thankless task. Everyone's a critic, you can never get things to sound the way you want and some days, inspiration just won't appear. It is horrible when this happens, and I know the pain of writer's block only too well, especially if on a deadline or when writing to a daily or weekly schedule.




When I saw two of my favourite writers both lamenting issues with writing yesterday, I felt compelled to help, because ultimately this is not a problem you need to shoulder alone. There may be no hard and fast way to make writing easier on any given day, but there are ways and means to assist the process. With that in mind, for Kurn and Kristin, here are Five Ways to Beat Writers Block Without Really Trying.



Encouragement is a THING.

1. Identify the Issue

The biggest single challenge when writing won't happen naturally is to work out why. This i09 Article is brilliant at helping attack the key issue for fiction writers: what exactly is the problem? Is it something you're not happy about writing, perhaps a topic has become a chore and not the joy it once was. Part of the key to solving the problem is being able to identify the source of what began the frustration. That might sound initially like trying to catch smoke, but as time goes on and you begin to understand how your writing brain operates, it does become easier. Ultimately for me my reticence to write about certain subjects is my unwillingness to tackle them generally: this was the biggest single issue with preventing me writing about overtly personal issues. What you need is to stop beating yourself up about it and find a way to deal with the first step. If it is something you MUST do, then attempt to find ways to get more pressing issues (that don't involve words) done BEFORE you write, so that the task doesn't seem as important when placed in a wider context.

2. Ask for Advice

Asking for help is ABSOLUTELY a good thing. Find people you can trust to read your work and ask them for feedback, and once they are used to your style, when you get stuck for a way to start they'll have a better idea of what you are about and how you operate and should be able to provide another outlook on your approach to a given topic. There is nothing wrong in asking random strangers either on certain days: I did this only a couple of days ago and BY THE WONDER OF BEARDS I found myself with a topic I could attack in a Blog Post. Inspiration can strike in odd ways sometimes and often it is an idea to write something completely different than the 'thing' you need/want to do and see if that in turn gives you any inspiration. This is why I have five or six long form pieces on the go simultaneously, so if I can't find an inroad with one I can often switch to another and make progress there.


Don't be afraid to aim high.


3. Find an Alternative Route

If you absolutely, positively have no choice on the piece you have to present, try and pick an alternative route to completion if everything else fails you. Do it in the style of Shakespeare, or as a Reality TV Show Script. Get yourself a book of inspiration for a way to mix up your normal style. Go watch TV for an hour with a pencil and paper and write out possible ideas longhand. Go outside with a Laptop, or do as I do and go and exercise for an hour or so and hope the endorphins that generates are sufficient to send your brain in a new direction. The key is to try and relax yourself and not become fixated with how hard the task is, or that you need to have it done in a particular timeframe. Everyone has block at some point, it is a part of the process of your brain learning how to communicate your ideas onto the page. Don't see it as an obstacle. Learn to move around it.

4. Change your Situation.

Any quack doctor will tell you that if something keeps hurting, it is probably a good idea to stop doing it to make your life less painful. However, the dodgy psychiatrist he refers you will then remind you that sometimes pain is as much of the process of understanding as anything else. Half the problem in writing is of your own invention: you have great ideas, all the time. Just look at all that other brilliant stuff you wrote. You didn't instantly lose the ability to do this, something quite simple happened to make you just not capable of it *right now.* If the alternative route stuff won't work, if you just don't have the time to write, if you'd rather sit and just not write... then that's what you need to do. Unless it is your paid employ to present words to people and you have a deadline every week to meet, it is okay if sometimes you just don't do it. What you need, more than anything else, is to be happy, and if writing is making you miserable, then it is time to do something else.


Everyone is NOT the same ^^


5. Learn from Yourself

Personally, this one for me is absolutely crucial. I NEED to write as part of the process of being the person I now am. I don't like not doing it, it makes me unhappy and irritable, because the sequence of taking things from inside my head and onto a page or a screen or into a Podcast is my way of communicating with the world around me. It is like someone telling a pianist they can't practice the piano or a sportsman that they'll have to stop training, it would be a physical and mental impairment for me to not be able to communicate as I do now. If I were stopped, I suspect I'd do my absolute damnedest to find a way regardless, and perhaps this just shows the point that if you really want to do something, there'll be nothing on Earth that can stop you.

When writing is difficult, this is often the opportunity for your best work, but also the most personal. Even the process of explaining to your reader 'I had real trouble writing this piece' might well be enough to help you reveal the true issue behind your writer's block, because at some point, like it or not, for writing to really matter it needs to be imbued with a real part of what you really are. Even if you only spent your life copying other texts into foreign languages, there is the opportunity to imbue words with a personality that is distinctly and recognisably yours. By doing so, you change not simply the way that you write, but the person you are, and that is very important. Whatever the reason you write, there has to be a point where you sit back and are pleased of what you've done, because if you're not, there really isn't much point in beginning the process at all.

==

I have no idea if any of this advice will help my friends who couldn't write yesterday, but it has been an important exercise for me. Knowing why things happen is, after all, nearly as important as the fact that they occur at all.

Alternative Chat :: Episode 29





It was a bit touch and go for a bit, but ironically as soon as I started writing that I didn't have anything to Podcast about... BOOM! There's another week of stuff ready for you. That's how it goes :D


This Week, I am Discussing:


  • Having nothing to talk about can still fill a Podcast.
  • Learning how to play the game your way is important.
  • However, what matters most is you being happy.
  • I'd like to see Tier Gear become pointless.
  • There is at least one swear word in this week's episode :D
  • Garrisons 101 is all about the AWESOME that is your Level 2 structure.




Contacting the Show:

E-mail:

alternativegodmother (at) gmail (dot) com



Social Media Gubbins:

@AlternativeChat on Twitter

http://www.facebook.com/alternativeblog on Facebook

Other Notes:

The link to the large picture post I did for the Level Two Garrison is here.


==

Look forward to seeing you here next week :D

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

#WCOW14 :: July 8th SEMI FINAL




And now, we reach the Semi Finals :D

Each 'game' of the Campaign will play in 'real time' to coincide with events outside Azeroth (you know what I'm talking about :D) Twitter and Facebook will link to this page, and Voting will be open until 9am TOMORROW MORNING to give people more time to support their favourites :D


HOW TO TAKE PART:

Vote for the Team you would like to win. 


Underneath each game is a link to a Poll. Please click on this to cast your vote.


At the end of the Voting period, the team with the most votes will be awarded the win. If votes, when tallied are within 5% of each other, the game will be declared a draw, and a coin will be tossed to determine who will win on penalties, because that's about as fair as the real thing ^^

Results will be added to this post after each game has been concluded. Remember to vote for your team!


Tonight's Game RESULT:


#WCOW14 ::
Quarter Final Results, Semi Final Games



The results of the Quarter Finals are here, and it means we have the details for the SEMI FINAL MATCHES :D




What this therefore means that the Schedule for Games is now as follows:

TODAY (8th): Hydraxian Waterlords v Argent Dawn
TOMORROW (9th): Cenarion Expedition v Brood of Nozdormu

with the Third Place playoff on Saturday and the Final on Sunday.


Watch this Space for final voting details in the next few days, and MAY THE BEST TEAM WIN :D

BETA: Warm Sound





Music is quite a significant component of my life. Film scores form a fairly major lump of this, which is why I'm still buzzing from the weekend, when I was lucky enough to see film composer David Arnold 'play' his first ever gig in Central London at the Royal Festival Hall. Needless to say, any man who can legitimately open a half with a James Bond theme and then close the same with the end credits from Independence Day is doing *something* right along the way. It made me think about how important game music is for me this morning, and when I sat down to write this I knew instinctively what I would be using as the opening piece for this article. Because, if there is one 'suite' of music that totally and utterly sums up the brilliance of Warcraft in terms of composition, it is this 10 minutes worth of accompaniment from Nagrand. For me it evokes a classic soundtrack from my gaming past to boot, and as Arnold pointed out during his concert, composers often shamelessly owe a significant debt of gratitude to those that have preceded them.






Arnold cited John Barry as his classic influence for Bond composition, and it is very apparent where those influences lie. I find myself wondering if Nagrand owes anything to Lucasarts, but it may just simply be co-incidence. What is apparent however in Warlords are a number of influences not simply from Expansions past. In fact, the opening 'theme' from the Beta (and presumably the Expansion proper) owes a lot to a number of film soundtracks, at least to my ears. It is possibly one of the most 'cinematic' openings we've had in a decade, and I for one feel this choice may be very deliberate indeed.






Let us not forget that there is an ACTUAL MOVIE in Post Production as I type this, and I suspect there's going to be moments scattered all over the Expansion that could act as tie-ins to what we can expect in the future. This theme for me evokes any number of Fantasy film scores, but I'm reminded particularly of the Danny Elfman-scored Batman movies, with a quite liberal dose of Hanz Zimmer/James Newton Howard's The Dark Knight thrown in for good measure. It is also fairly ironic (at least for me) that I wrote a key conceit of my 'Salvation' fiction around the sound of drums, which seems to have sneaked into here as an aside :P

It's amazing what music can do to create a mood: after all, there's a reason why silent films would have a piano accompaniment for many years before sound arrived. Needless to say, if the rest of the Game's soundtrack is as good as this opener, I reckon we're in for a real treat :D

==

Before I finish here, I'd just like to take a moment to talk about beards.


Beards. Is there anything they can't do?

I was stuck for post inspiration this morning (bit of a slow news day) and having voiced this concern on Twitter, @The_WizFish came to my rescue and suggested I write about his beard. Well, I should thank him for giving me a picture, and in turn for reminding me of David Arnold which is where the inspiration for this post appeared. Frankly, a man with a beard is a thing of beauty:

Mr Arnold. GENIUS.
As an aside, men with beards in 3 piece suits = FANGIRL SQUEE.

Thank you Casey for the inspiration. THIS POST SALUTE YOUR BEARD IN THANKS.
                                                             

Monday, July 07, 2014

To Build a Home :: Second Time Around


Second Verse, SAME AS THE FIRST ^^

Yes, I KNOW it's not Friday (which is the normal time for this Feature) but for the second time of asking we have a MAHOOSIVE POST of STUFFS, so let's get right to the Exposition. I've been playing with Garrisons on beta, and discovered yesterday that COMPLETELY BY ACCIDENT that I could upgrade to a L2 overall Structure because my Town Hall was 'ready' (needs to be clearer, Blizzard.) So, having been told this, I rushed online (despite being supposed to be getting ready to go out) and discovered that yes, I had an upgrade:


PUSH THE BUTTON.

Well, I wasn't going to leave this unexplored, now was I?




Welcome to your Level Two Garrison, which is now 'officially' referred to your Fort, because OMG LOOK AT THE BUILDING WORK. It is no wonder they never finished the stuff in Stormwind, you've got all the best construction people here, Ladies and Gentlemen. However, all is not well outside the walls of your Garrison...




As a salutatory reminder that this is a SAVAGE LAND in which we are living, there's a plot outside your front gates that has already been attacked by some undesirable elements. I think we may need more than a few Red Shirts out here to keep everything safe. It also shows those walls are serving an important purpose... :D




Let us retire to the safety of your new Home and take a quick tour around then, shall we?




Mr Longdrink now has an actual space to call his own. One assumes at level 3 we'll get summat for the Gryphons to sleep under and maybe some kind of Stables... and behind him is a man who appears to be selling items that one might want to stick on the walls of our Town Hall. I suspect I'll come back to him at some point.




I've spoken to a few people who were confused when their Garrison opened up as to the locations of all the old stuff from Level 1, but actually everything does pretty much stay exactly where it was (with the notable exception of the Town Hall, which we will be back to in a second) Here is your Barracks, next to your Heroes Call Board. WTB [Upgrade Plans] PST.




Oh, and because this is the Alliance and running water is the ultimate indicator of civilisation, we haz Fountain. Needless to say, the piping on that alone was what took the longest to complete. But in good news, SHOWERS in every room :D




New plots have opened, but as yet there are no indicators of how you can utilise them (GIEF NEXT BUILD) We also have quest 'buildings' that can be unlocked, which include the Fishing Shack, the Mine and the Herb Garden. I'll be pushing to 92 this week to see how many of these I can unlock.




From the steps of your Town Hall down to the gates, you can see the layout remains largely static. By the gate is your Alchemy Lab, with the empty plot still opposite, and your Barracks is still up to the left. The biggest change is the small tent that was your Town Hall which has become... well a tad larger.




I need a better picture of this with the tower (WTB Portrait Screenshot capacity) but you know this is home because that's where you'll find your mailbox. Inside as you go in on the left you'll find your Missions and Followers table, and in the largest Town Hall room is the Architects Table and Mr Alexton at the back. Go poke about and get yourself orientated, but if you're used to the inside of Alliance buildings then none of this will be a total surprise. Thank you to those people who pointed out that's my Monument 'plinth' left in shot :D




As you can see, fortifications have come quite a long way in a level.




There is also a space for another Medium Plot by the Town Hall. Space is used very well here, I have to say, and placement of buildings seems fairly logical. To give you an idea of the Level Two layout:




The three locked Buildings are currently outside the walls of your Garrison. Lets take a look at them now.




Here is your Herb Garden (bottom locked building) with a small space to the left (which could well become your Barn when unlocked) and a plot of land to the right (which is already being tended to by Farmer, the Farmer ^^) There is also an important structure here that should be noted in reference to the Tillers Farm:




The chew Murloc and the food bowl are there, we just needs the Dog :D




As you can see, our 'patch' is quite modest but as I've only been here for a level it really isn't that bad. Keep working Mr Farmer!




Currently in the space next to your Herb Garden is a Blacksmith NPC, who may (or may not) have relevance. Needless to say, I'll do a full NPC post on the Other Blog at some point in the future.




Your Mine (middle locked building) has also got a little less basic and now your Mining NPC has somewhere to keep his tools.




However, the guy at the Fishing Shack (top locked building) has got a bit of a raw deal, because it appears at present that they've stuck him next to an area that might 'appear' to have fish, but doesn't as yet possess any actual water ^^




I think they'll be fixing that as well in an upcoming Build ^^

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There is likely to be far more pictures from this Build over the course of the next week, including amended shots of the L1 Garrison from the Horde site. For those details and much more, remember to keep your eye on my Garrisons Blog, where all of this is going to be kept as I discover it in the weeks and months that follow :D