Saturday, August 09, 2014

BETA: Old Friends

Corgi: Wistful.

Having shamelessly hijacked the 'Nostalgia Culture' Blizzard have been cultivating in the last few days, I think it is probably time I took a step back and considered the situation with a more objective eye. Because, despite what some people might be telling you, bringing back the past is hardly a radical new tactic in Blizzard's arsenal of catering to player satisfaction. Nostalgia is a potent currency after all: let 'Mad Men's Don Draper explain:

“Nostalgia - its delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”

There are those who will remind that you can never truly go back to the past: of course, this is absolutely true, and that's why Vanilla Only Guilds are all well and good but once the moment has passed, you're out of luck. The trick that Blizzard has perfected, and it started with Onyxia at five years, is the subtle art of reinvention. It may look the same, and in many cases taste the same (Zul'Aman) but this is not what it once was, not by any stretch of the imagination. First off, all the people who 'did' the original content first time around will cross their arms and remind you, often in very great detail, just how hard things were 'back then' and it doesn't matter whatever the designers do, it will never be as good as being there. Second of all, in most cases, Blizzard don't stay at the original size: Onyxia was shrunk, so were the Zul's, because the understanding was that people wouldn't entertain the 'old ways' to begin with. Then LFR came along, and random queuing, and it became apparent that raiding with 24 strangers was actually a lot more like Vanilla content than many people were actually comfortable to admit. I mean, really, how many people did you know in your 40 man raid? REALLY? When dealing with such large numbers, sometimes, horrendous accidents*happened* and they became the stuff of legends. The fact remains, you were a small part of a larger whole. In that respect, virtually nothing has changed in ten years.

Still has wheels, still a wagon ^^

The potential success of this exercise will not depend on how faithful events are to the original. It will hinge on how much can be faked to create the *illusion* of nostalgia without people realising they're being fooled.

Please note the wording in this release. Thank you.

Blizzard, first up, are being very careful to ensure that this nostalgia isn't being trailed as the original articles: 'based on', 'relive the experience' doesn't advertise anything unusual or indeed guaranteed it will reproduce what older players will remember. We know that the scoring in the Southshore/Tarran Mill deathmatch will be based on the old style PvP ranks: the more people you kill, the higher your rank and the more points players will gain for bringing you down. We even learn from the explanatory Blog that the original designer of the Hillsbrad zone had to be bought in to recreate it because the zone had changed post-Cataclysm. However, details at this stage are very much at a premium, and I suspect that will be deliberate, because there will be those who will be expecting a de facto reproduction of the MC layout right down to there needing to be a kill order for Majordomo's adds. Will Blizzard be forced to update everything or is that actually too dangerous because of how ingrained these original tactics have become in Warcraft history? Will this be like ZG and ZA where the bosses names remain the same but the mechanics are 'altered' to accommodate 40 random people all firing (potentially) at different targets?

I doubt we'll know until these features are available for testing. The map may exist in the beta files, but there's nothing else there as yet. Until actual testing occurs (and there is no indicator it will publicly) we only have speculation and the past that exists as reference. Neither of these will be any accurate means of actually predicting the future.

Potent drug, this mount is. Clearly from MMO Champion.

Of course, the sweeteners for players are there too. Back in Vanilla there weren't even Achievements, but offering a mount in MC and a pet for just logging in during the celebration are enough to get people frustrated that if they can't, they'll miss out. This is the advertising Blizzard needs, the incentives that drive players away from normally sedentary activity and force them to log, to resubscribe. Even if it's just a 30 day timecard, that's still cash in the coffers, and as I do need to remind people from time to time, that's what this business enterprise is all about. Yes, we know everyone loves a good bowl of nostalgia from time to time, but like everything else it has to be paid with by something. Never forget this.

Personally, I'm under no illusions as to what I'll get, and inevitably it will be as much about what I put into the experience as I'll ultimately get out. That's the key to enjoying nostalgia: remembering where you are, and what it is you're ultimately referencing. It is true: you can never go back to the past, and I for one am very grateful for this fact because I'd hate to go back to the person I was when I began this game. I'm looking forward to reliving the past in my present form, and seeing just how much better I've gotten as a result. I'm also looking forward for the first time in many, many months to deliberately doing this in LFR, on my own, and seeing how 39 other random people cope with what is thrown at them.

I think this will be very interesting indeed :D

Friday, August 08, 2014

10 Years :: 10 Questions OFFICIAL LAUNCH

UTTER LOGO OF AWESOME. Thank you @Wabbage!

Nostalgia is worth quite a bit of currency for Blizzard, as we've seen from Thursday's announcements concerning the 10th Anniversary celebrations. As I prepare to take a break from actual Podcasting I'm not stopping the process however, anything but. In fact, part of the reason for taking a break is so I can start preparing for a project that I've been planing for a while now, and which I think it's high time to share with you guys and at the same time ask you for help. My forte has always been sound, and as a result I've decided to launch a Project which is nothing at all to do with me and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with you, and the memories you have of World of Warcraft over the last 10 years.

Hence the 10 YEARS :: 10 QUESTIONS project was born, and I need your help to make it a reality.

What's this all about, I hear you ask? Well, it is very simple: I want to ask AS MANY PLAYERS AS I CAN FIND the same ten questions about their time in Warcraft. The more responses I get, the easier it will be to build a balanced and comprehensive picture of what matters to players after a decade: what they remember, what Warcraft has given them as an experience and most importantly the legacy of the game for players as we move into the NEXT ten years of Warcraft's life. That means getting the word out everywhere: social media, other sites, and I'm not just looking for current players either. I'm attempting to contact ex-players too for their responses because this isn't just about the people who remain, I grasp that those who have left have as much to say on this as the existing playerbase.

Without further ado, let's give you the 10 questions that matter:

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

You can be as brief or verbose as you wish, that's the wonder of words as a medium. What matters most to me are YOUR stories, and how Warcraft has changed the way you have not just played the game, but come to look at yourself.



Please send your responses to alternativegodmother (at) as soon as possible. If you can work out how to respond completely in the tiny comments box after this post pelase do so, but I'd suggest the e-mail option is probably better. There's also a banner at the top of the page which will remain in place for the next month as I try and collect as many responses as I can. Clicking that will take you to a handy-dandy form where you can record your responses for posterity.


If you wish to use these questions as a basis for a blog post, PLEASE DO SO, and ensure you link the post to this post so I'll be able to use your answers as part of my Source Material. Please also indicate whether you'd be prepared to be interviewed in person for the Podcast (see below.) I'll also happily accept video responses, poetry, Reddit, Tumblr, and pretty much every point in-between if you have an original way of getting these questions answered. Just let me know where your responses are so I can see them!


If you wish to answer online, you'll find a Survey Form by CLICKING THIS LINK. That will record all the details I need to make sure your contribution to this Project is counted.


Once I have all the data collated, I'll be recording a series of six, 30 minute Podcast documentaries. There will be an introductory 'episode' that will explain what we did, why it matters and will feature real Warcraft players from ACROSS THE GLOBE. Not celebrities, or famous Players, but the ordinary people who make Warcraft what it is and continue to contribute to the evolution of the game.

The next five, thirty minute episodes will cover two questions each, and will feature a mixture of live interviews and and snippets from the best responses submitted via the Internet during the research/collation process. So, if you have a answer to one of my questions you think the World of Warcraft ought to know about, make sure you take part to have your voice heard. I will be actively seeking players to be interviewed as a result: if you think you have an interesting story you'd feel comfortable sharing that fits inside the questions I've given, please leave a note in the comments or use the e-mail address above to contact me!


I'm hoping that by word of mouth and reputation I'll be able to grab enough responses from people across the massive range of player base to make this a really significant exercise and to produce a series of Podcasts that people can come back to in years to come as a lasting legacy of what Warcraft has contributed to the Gaming Community. That will depend on YOUR contribution. Please spread the word, ask your friends and most importantly take part yourself, because EVERY ANSWER MATTERS, and I will read every single one to make this the best set of Documentaries I can produce.

The rest now is up to you. 

Thank You for taking part :D

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Alternative Chat, Episode 31 ::
Garrisons 101, 18663 Edition

On the morning Blizzard release a new Beta Build this Podcast is already out of date. WE DON'T CARE.

This is pretty much all I have currently about Garrisons in Beta. There's at least one piece of information that I know is out of date (you will be able to recruit a maximum of 40 followers into your Garrison which rewards an achievement called Commander) but apart from that its pretty much as good as it gets. That's the wonder of Beta after all, STUFF KEEPS CHANGING.

I hope this is useful to people: if you do find it informative, please let me know in the Comments, plus any suggestions or tips on improvement would be gratefully received :D


I will now be taking a formal break from Podcasting and will return again in early September.

BETA: Big Fun

Yeah, that pretty much covers all the bases.

In a move no-one actually anticipated (but the datamining of a Core Hound mount did suggest) Blizzard whipped out their 10th Anniversary celebrations yesterday morning US time, slapped them hard down on the Table of Player Expectations and watched the rivers of nostalgia flow. In amongst the chaos that followed after the announcement there were the smart voices that pointed out that if Molten Core's L100 and this is happening as an Anniversary celebration, then you're not getting your new Expansion until well past November 25th: well, that *could* be true, but I gave up second guessing how Blizzard are playing this game with any measure of accuracy sometime back in March. We may be used to a week of celebrations for Anniversaries under 'normal' circumstances but these are EXTRAORDINARY TIMES we live in so I'd not expect anything until the guys in Irvine actually tell us. I'd also anticipate this won't be the only celebration we get either. I'd bet on it.

For me, a lot of this is horribly bittersweet, because I could spend hours recalling memories of MC the first time around. The same is true for Southshore as well: this is where I admit I never deleted the Alt that went there for the first time, at L25, whose antics earnt me a retweet from Holinka yesterday.

Only two retweets BUT WHAT A TWO :D

That particular hunter has undergone a Race and Name change since then (began life as a Dwarf, unsurprisingly) but she still exists, sitting on my second account pretty much unlevelled since I abandoned her on Al'Akir, which appears to have been THE PvP Server of choice back in the day. She's with the rest of my Toons now on Shadowsong/Azsune however, and I've made the decision not simply to level her for the Expansion, but also to get her a set of Tier 1 in commemoration of this Massive Nostalgiafest. Because you know MEMORIES LIGHT THE CORNERS OF MY MIND *sniff*

Old Hunter, New Project.

Of course, there are already the dissenting voices, because Blizzard could give you a years' free sub and 10,000 gold and some people would still find fault in the action. The biggest issue this time around seems to be that the pet is Limited Time, but I suspect the bigger issue will be you'll need to actually purchase the Expansion to obtain it. Well, them's the breaks people, these guys need to make money somehow. Fortunately I appear not to follow that many whining grumpers and so this disgruntlement has largely passed me by. However, for anyone who feels suitably aggrieved by Blizzard's attack of generosity, I have the following message:

Seriously folks, GIVE IT A BLOODY REST. If you don't like what you're being offered stop moaning and just go and do something else. It isn't hard. I know that bashing Blizzard has become a competitive sport for some of you but really, you're not going to dampen the enthusiasm of those people who understand EXACTLY what the Company is doing here and think it is a great way to celebrate 10 Years of the Franchise. Be like those people for whom this doesn't bother them either way and they'll do a 40 man LFR once because it's there. Learn the value of having an opinion that's not deliberately tailored to start a fight.

It's a good life skill, if all else fails.

Ah, the Sideboard :D

This does mean, of course, that I'll be breaking with tradition and actively pursuing a complete set of Tier Gear for the first time since Mogging was introduced. HELL YEAH, except the hat which is woefully horrible and will be steadfastly ignored. That should guarantee it drops every damn time now, that's for sure.

Suddenly, I have a new Project that I'm genuinely looking forward to.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

BETA :: Long Distance

A great deal has changed since we began 2014.

Still Waiting ^^

Fortunately an end is in sight, because we do at least now know when we'll be told the release date (insert meta joke of choice here.) What is also apparent is that Blizzard's subs will be at their smallest point for the release since Vanilla, as the reported audience for the game is now recorded at 6.8 million players (as per the Q2 earnings call yesterday.) Just to put that into perspective, that's still vastly more players than most major titles have ever had in their entire lifespans, and is historically acceptable in context (a drop in Eastern subscribers happens before every Expansion.) However we're not here to discuss the number of people playing the game: today is all about expectations.

The last eight months have been an exercise in Blizzard managing expectations, and some efforts have been more successful than others.

Doing it right.

When this map popped up at the top of EVERYONE's datamining posts after the latest beta build was deployed, it wasn't a surprise to a lot of us, because the signs had been there for some time. If you wanted one event for PvP players that typified what that portion of the game was about ten years ago, then this 'scenario' was it, and there's no surprise that the map resembles the Escape from Durnholde instance one, because that's effectively what it is. The Caverns of Time already have a pathway to this spot, just a bit further back along the timeway than they need to go. As this Expansion is all about the Alternate Universe vibe, what better place to send PvP-ers than to this moment (presumably in large groups for authenticity) and allow them to relive a classic beat them up from the past. It's already embedded in precedent, and it gives a new spin on an old favourite. Frankly, it is win/win all the way.

This is a great example of Blizzard understanding their audience, appealing to a wide player base and maybe encouraging some players to attempt a portion of the game they may be staunchly against. It's also being managed very well by the PvP people too, just the right amount of drama and theatre currently to make things very interesting indeed.

Then there are the flashpoints: flying, character models, faction capitals... plus even the Azeroth Choppers 'distraction' that, depending on who you speak to, have been anything from efficiently produced and presented to being an utter shambles. There are those of course who would argue the PvP thing's just a cynical attempt to cash in on a piece of the past that was never intended to be used as a marketing feature to begin with, and then you have the biggest problem with any company managing expectations when you have six point eight million of them spread across the globe. We will never grow tired here of reminding you that you can't please all of the people all of the time, that even as Blizzard went from Vanilla to The Burning Crusade on an enormous wave of hype and expectation, people were still publicly dissing the company, having high-profile Guild bustups and generally being part of a phenomena that, like it or not, hasn't actually changed that much in a decade.

What has happened however between 2004 and now is that social media is a FAR more sophisticated beast than it ever was, and whereas before getting your voice heard on a public stage could be quite the exercise in logistics, it is VERY easy now to make a point and have millions of people hear it with relative ease.

Blizzard do still occasionally miss the target with their social media management, but it has to be said in the main they are very much aware of what the platform can do for controlling and filtering expectations, and without the use of it (especially in the fallow months of no new content at all) those Q2 figures could have been a lot worse than they clearly are. There are those who will argue there are a great many lessons that ought to be learnt from what has occurred since Bashiok's pronouncement in January, but frankly now is not the time because the focus now HAS to be on getting Warlords into people's PC's and Macs, which is still very much a work in progress, if the current state of Beta is anything to go by.

However, before anyone starts decrying that these latest subscriber figures are an indicator of the inability of Blizzard to sell a product, I'd point out that pre-sales figures are now reported at OVER 1.5 MILLION units. My maths may not be very good, but even I can do the sums and tell you that regardless of how you think Blizzard work as a business, they know how to get the cash out of players, and that's with no new content on offer in the existing game.

Whatever you may think of the state of the game, it still generates an awful lot of interest in its development cycle.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

BETA : These Foolish Things

Right then, that settles it.

There's a conversation I've been putting off having with myself for a while now, since I knew that professions were undergoing a renaissance in Warlords. As most of my 90's currently exist pretty much exclusively to give me access to professions, what I did with them when the Expansion launched was very much going to be dependant on what I could expect from the changes I saw. What has become abundantly clear in the last few weeks is the level of involvement certain Professions will demand from players: I'm looking particularly at Fishing (always a favourite for me) which is rapidly developing into a reputation grind all of its own. This means trying to set a balance between what I play and what is doable in my playtime, and with Garrisons becoming pretty much a wrapper around everything else... well, things will have to give.

The screenie above from Wowhead's latest patch notes is a fairly damning indicator for me of what I can expect if I wish to 'complete' a Garrison to L3 standard: I'll be expected to complete some fairly involved Achievements in order to access the final level plans for the structures that interest me the most, including the Mine and the Herb Garden, which are both involved in passive gathering of ore and herbs. This could, I suppose, be considered as using Achievements to gate content (which is a first, but hardly surprising) but it does mean that, for the first time, I can genuinely see an advantage to having a Herbalist/Miner active at the same time as I am levelling what constitutes as my Main. Normally I would focus on simply one character in this situation but I believe that the best way to ensure I can max existing professions on Alts without the need to initially roll a Garrison for every one will be to have a two character team levelling simultaneously. I am grateful therefore for the insight Beta has given me for allowing me a chance to prepare myself for this task beforehand.

No more Refining :(

What this means is that P and K, Mogging Hunters extraordinaire, will be the basis of my thrust into Warlords. Currently the Professions they cover are Leatherworking and Skinning (P) and Engineering/Mining (K) As I already posses another max level Engineer in K's specialisation I'll be dropping the skill from her this week and taking her to Herbalism at 600. What has become apparent is that Work Order completion in your Garrison depend on certain materials being gathered, and without a gatherer I am going to assume the rate of completion of items will be held up, especially as it is unclear what kind of gathering rates I can reasonably expect from my Garrison 'plots.'

This will *hopefully* therefore mean that I am able to place Buildings without the need to 'discover' a specific set of blueprints via questing (as we have been told you can purchase all buildings regardless of having to quest for them.) If that is the case, I can start planning a path. These are my current thoughts for Small Plot Choice:

P's Small Plots:
  • Tannery (LW bonus)
  • Storehouse (extra storage)
  • Salvage Yard (Productivity test)
  • Enchanter's Study (Not simply because of new enchants but as a complement to general utility ^^)

K's Small Plots:
  • Alchemy Lab (Potions)
  • Gem Boutique (DUH)
  • Scribes Quarters (Darkmoon cards)
  • Tailoring Emporium (Plush Elekk ^^)

The rationale behind K's four choices are simple: each of these does (potentially) offer an advantage for End Game play: potions still matter, so do bags, I'll still require gems and presumably if I have herb surpluses creating Darkmoon Decks could have some merit financially. P's choices cover the usefulness of salvage, Enchants which still maintain value in game and what extra storage will mean in the long term for any player as opposed to simply going full-out on professions.

This then makes the 'choices' available to me as Garrison Outposts really simple: P takes one path, and K the other, which allows me to stack options for growth and progression. The Sparring Arena has had some interesting options introduced in the latest build so it is likely P will take that in Gorgrond and allow K to have the Lumber Mill, whereas I will stick with the Dwarven Bunker in Talador and give K the Mage Tower option.


Therefore, for the first time in 10 years, I'm not looking at what character I'll level first, but what CHARACTERS will be doing the work. If this is Blizzard's way of ensuring I'll upgrade both accounts, it's certainly a shrewd move, but the reality is more subtle: if I want to maximise output on everyone, I'm going to need to make some decisions now.

That's the great thing about planning: being ready is the best advantage you'll ever have.

BETA: New Life

Sorry I'm late this morning. I was unavoidably detained by my own need to see stuff at close hand.


There's a new Beta Build in town, and as promised there is the ability for EU players to copy their toons to the Testing servers and HELLO HUNTER MOG :D It looks pretty good too, though I'm still hoping I might get a chance for a facial transform at some point, this will do for now. Of course, the first thing I did when I logged on this time wasn't rush for the Dark Temple for a Hydra or indeed to the Blasted Lands for the quests. I headed straight for the Bank :D


I wanted to finally understand for myself just how much space I'd have on P thanks to the changes in the game: I have only have three slots occupied in my reagent bank and have filled my second tab in Void Storage, and with the additions to the Toybox I find myself with OMG SO MUCH SPACE LOOOOOK at it :O If this Expansion does anything for people like me it will be to return us to a state where we can actually collect what we want and not worry about the contents of our bank :D It also means that for the first three days of 6.0 I'm not going anywhere near Nethergarde Keep, I'm sorting out my storage.


Nice Disclaimer, Mage Boy :D

The quests for the 'events' are now on the Heroes Call board in Stormwind, and despite still having to spawn camp mobs around Nethergarde Keep (which I'm pretty certain I reported) that area seems a fair bit more 'dynamic' than it was when I first visited it. There also appear to be a number of Rare Spawns in the area, though as yet dispatching them does not garner any rewards :D

I counted at least 3 in close proximity.

I also did what I was pretty certain was going to be deemed impossible on a PvE Realm and managed to flag myself by being able to attack mobs which, as being non-flagged I couldn't. I'd tweeted this one to @holinka and I look forward to seeing the response, because I do hope the 'no PvP' rule isn't just for the Draenor 'zone' ^^

Yes, deliberate P name there for recognition porpoises :P

I have two podcasts to finish today, so I won't get another chance to play until tomorrow, but when I do I want to push into Draenor to see how my Professions work in situ: I am really rather looking forward to skinning for the first time :D On this front, I would like to take a moment to mourn the departure of what used to be one of the biggest faffs in game back in the day and now has been removed, along with the Engineering item that made it.

Please stand for a moment and remember the awesome that was Refined Deeprock Salt:

Awwww :(

Start selling them now, people ^^

Monday, August 04, 2014

VOGUE :: Inspector Norse

Backs to the wall...

When I made this Mog on Friday, I didn't really expect the depth of response it received. It is odd how sometimes a moment is more important than you realise, and it occurs to me now as I write this post that I admitted to myself on making this outfit that occasionally you are forced into choices you don't like which end up with unexpected results. This cloak is a metaphor for my experience in Pandaria: it promised so much on paper, but in the end I was forced to hide from it because it wouldn't let me do what I wanted. Finally, now we are almost done with this Expansion, I show it again and I design an entire outfit around it because I want to be able to choose whether I wear a particular item or not and not have it imposed upon me, whether it be because of iLevel or looks. My dissatisfaction with this 'legendary' is well known, and at the 11th hour it has become the basis of an outfit that marks a distinct development in my relationship with Transmog.

Deliberately Static

To my eyes, even now, this Mog shouldn't work. There are too many textures and the colours between legs and shoulders don't match. I should be getting cross with the belt and the gun's simplicity is frankly incredible... but the fact remains, when I step back and look at P in combat, or idling in the Shrine, it feels as natural an outfit as I think I've ever found for her. That's the key, the feeling is right: it is the shoulders from Northrend Leatherworking that I remember making the first time around for PvP and loving them because they looked so unlike anything else I'd ever seen. It is these trousers I got as a quest reward from the 1-60 grind and JUST KNEW I wanted to Mog with at some point because the detail on them is incredible. The key to this all however I think is the Rift Stalker Hauberk: I never liked the original Tier set because I thought there was far too much blue. This pattern really compliments the cloak, and acts as a way of bringing the trousers into the ensemble without overpowering everything else. There's also enough brown and black in this overall to appeal to my sensibilities for Hunter attire generally. Overall, I like that I've raised the bar for myself.

I hope this is the start of a fruitful period of Mogging generally in game :D

Full List of Transmog Items is as follows:

[*] The bracers don't show behind the gloves so their colour doesn't matter, hence this item. Your Race shape may vary :D

Oh, and because I was asked, this is how the Mog would look like on a Night Elf and Blood Elf, respectively :D

Thanks to the Well of Eternity 'illusion'

Thanks to the Orb of the Sin'dorei

All Together Now


At 11pm BST tonight, lights will symbolically be extinguished across Europe, as it is 100 Years since World War One began. There will be those who question the judgement of 'commemorating' any War, especially with so many conflicts being ignored across the planet, but the need to remember what happened in four years in the early part of the 20th Century should never be underestimated. It is not simply what happened, but why that is perhaps most significant, and I cannot recommend enough the BBC Website from which this header is deliberately borrowed. Especially if you have children in their teens, or even if you need to understand more about the events that bought an entire continent to conflict in the space of just a couple of months, it is worth spending time exploring.

These kind of conflicts may seem a long way away for those of us involved in virtual wars, but the relevance of loss has not been forgotten.

Crusader Bridenbrad's Tale. 

The 'A Tale of Valor' questline may have been created for a notable servant of Irvine, California and a relation of a Blizzard employee but the story it tells is one of War, sacrifice and ultimately the right way to celebrate the achievement of a soldier who gave what he was to that others could have a life after him. When we are asked by the Pandarans 'why do we fight?' it is to preserve what we hold precious, to allow the future to continue as we would wish it. This is the real legacy of conflict, and why in areas like Ukraine and Gaza the need to preserve what people feel are their rights and inheritances continues to be so important. This is the very nature of conflict itself, and without it there would be no games like Warcraft to be played. It may seem trite to compare such huge global events to a collection of pixels, but the fact remains that without the understanding of conflict, and the desire for players to engage in it, many facets of this industry would simply cease to exist.

War is not pretty or glamorous, and the casualties are not just counted in those that fall, they are also mirrored in those that are left behind.

Gaming is often cited as the ultimate escape, a means for players to escape the rigours of reality and forget about their own personal issues. Except, of course, war is a very real and dangerous thing, and there continue to be those that argue that trivialising the concepts in gaming will only lead to a generation that is desensitised to such events. That is why, more and more, you will find news media focussing on the personal stories, the moments of humanity that allow people to empathise with the situations. That's why Bridenbrad's story works so well, in essence: it appeals to your humanity, and gives the player the chance to set a worthy soul finally at peace. Finding the human angle, the means to make a story touch the hearts and minds of many is a potent means of story telling in both real and virtual worlds.

I didn't come here today to condemn gaming's depictions of war, or those who feel that the real and virtual worlds should never be joined by comparing the similarity of actions. I came here to remind everyone that the World you live in, the one Warcraft is an important part of for so many, would simply not exist as it had were it not for the War that began 100 years ago today. There are many reasons to stop and remember, and today, more than perhaps any other it is not simply about the conflicts that rage around the Globe for those who desire freedom for what they perceive is an unjust enemy. Spend some time today learning about this event, the reasons behind it, and why it happened when it did. The past is our key to understanding our own futures and our places within it.

Most importantly, NEVER forget those who gave their lives for your freedom.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae

Sunday, August 03, 2014

With or Without You

Giant Godlike Fingers Optional ^^

I've been involved in some *really* interesting conversations this weekend so far, and I'd like to share a secret with you this morning as a result: I'm nothing special. No, really, I'm not trying to pretend I'm something I'm not, I am doing my level best just to be what you see on these pages and read in these words. I've done a lot of hiding and re-inventing in my time too: I've existed in other Fandoms, thrown myself about in other parts of the Internet, often with little thought for the consequences. But the arrival of my kids bought a really rather fundamental change to my outlook and the understanding that although what I do really ought to be to make me happy first, that doesn't mean I can be the same way wherever I go. I've deliberately shed and walked away from a number of digital identities because, when it came down to it, I never grasped the distinction between being naive and being arrogant until I finally had the courage to address my own actions. There's an extremely fine dividing line between those two qualities, and in gaming that can be quite hard to detect even close up.

When you choose to be a certain way online, there will be consequences.

Item details coming later today, stand by.

Last night I was farming Borean Leather in Zul'drak. It is one of my favourite spots: hardly efficient but reminds me of a better time in Wrath when everything in game was in a good place. I'll admit after I stepped down on Friday there's been a bit of navel contemplation but I am attempting to keep it to a minimum: imagine my surprise when one of my most talented and problemmatic ex-Guildies appeared online and started a conversation. Whatever issues and differences we had weren't on the table: he simply approached me to ask how I was and to wish the new GM well, and suddenly I realised that actually, perception is probably nearly as important when playing as the way you act with other people. If you *think* everything refers to you when you're in a situation that can be as dangerous as it is arrogant, being naive really doesn't come into the equation. This is especially true in social media: unless someone actually stands up and refers to you by name, it's probably always a good idea NOT to assume everything that's being said is personal, because the road to madness is not far away if you do.

One of the biggest issues in game for many people is what happens when the community they are a part of is damaged whilst the game remains robustly intact. It could be due to the actions of a single person, or possibly a group of people with the same common 'goal.' It is a hard job dealing with drama, and I won't lie that one of the main reasons I stepped back from being involved in any kind of organisation for the upcoming expansion is that I just don't want to be that person any more. It isn't about dealing with drama either, it is contributing to it that I'm actively trying to avoid, but there is very little I can do if other people look at what I say or do and choose to make it about them. As my daughter would say, I'm not trying to be a massive poobum, really I'm not. The problem is that some days, try as you might, someone is going to have a LOOK AT ME MAKE IT ABOUT ME moment and you just have to ride the wave and see where it takes you.

This is why I also try REALLY hard not to be an attention-seeking uberplop. That one's my daughter's as well.

Be a Good Repeatable Daily Questgiver. Or summat.

The point this morning is simple. Your experiences are important, hugely so. It is the sum of these moments that has made Warcraft as successful as we all know it has been and continues to be. These memories are what define us and make us what we are, not simply in the Real World but in the confines of Azeroth. However you may view yourself I can guarantee other people will look at the avatar and think differently, and that's why it actually does matter how you act in game, that your online self is an extension of the real person you are. Yes, you can run away and hide, change your name and swap servers, but the person on the outside of the screen remains the same, and there comes a point where you have to decide if what you are and what you appear to be should be the same, or not. For me, I am pretty much the same way everywhere: how I talk, what I write and how I play. That means on any given day you're getting from inspired to utter pants and most points in-between.

As long as you're okay with that, and as long as we can make this journey about joint respect and understanding, that's absolutely fine with me.