Category Archives: thoughts

An Interesting Thing About the World of Warcraft Experience

I’ve been thinking recently about how with most video games it doesn’t really matter when you first play it – the experience is similar for everyone.  So, for example, you can play Deus Ex or Morrowind today and talk to people who played Deus Ex or Morrowind when they first came out over a decade ago and your experiences with those games will probably have been fairly similar.  You can talk about the story, areas of the game, obnoxious bosses and so on and have a lot of common ground.

But World of Warcraft is always changing, oftentimes a lot, and so you don’t always get that ability.  Imagine someone who played the game ten years ago talking to someone who is just starting out today.  They would have some common ground, of course – but how much?

People who started raiding in Cataclysm or Mists of Pandaria have a largely different view on the game than I would – I, as someone who did her raiding in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.  The bosses were different, the mechanics were different, and the memories were different.

look at this adorable Karazhan gear
look at this adorable Karazhan gear

Other than WoW I’ve never really been a huge MMO player so this is all a different and new concept to me.  Other games are constants, but WoW is more like life, where new generations are constantly rising to play an experience that is similar to – but certainly not the same as – what the older generations experienced.

Weird, huh?

This is it. This is my favorite city in World of Warcraft.

I have a lot of love for a lot of the cities in World of Warcraft.  I have fond memories of entering Darnassus for the very first time; of falling in love with Stormwind; of… of… getting lost in Exodar.  (I still get lost in Exodar.)

There is one city in the game that I love more than any other, though, and that is:

WOW_LOCh_005.psdYup.  It’s Thunder Bluff.

What is it about Thunder Bluff?

I don’t quite know.  Perhaps a lot of things, actually.  It’s the peaceful, serene environment.  It’s the really relaxing music.  It’s the tauren, i.e. one of the best races in the entire game.  It’s the fact that no one else is ever there and the fact that I know where everything is because it has always been my favorite city and it has never really changed much.

It just feels like “home” to be, whether I’m on a max level “main” or a low-level alt.  I can always sit down on one of the hammocks in the inn next to the bank and log out, knowing my character is nice and cozy and among friends in Thunder Bluff.

What is your favorite city?

 

World of Warcraft Needs More Gnomes.

This game has a big problem, and that problem is that there are not enough gnomes in it.

Yes, gnomes.

Gnomes are great.  They’re easily my favorite Alliance race, and are a top contender for my favorite race in the game period (though they’re gonna have to duke it out with goblins, tauren and blood elves.)  And yet I feel like more often than not they’re a “joke race” who doesn’t really do much in the game – not much that’s serious, anyway.

Gelbin_Cut_ShortGnomes deserve better than just being, you know, that joke race for jokes.  Look at Star Trek, for example.  Deep Space Nine had a ton of great Ferengi episodes whilst still maintaining the core super serious plotline.  Heck, even Voyager had episodes where freaking Neelix of all people had really in-depth storylines and character arcs.  If Star Trek can pull off Ferengi and Neelix, why can’t Blizzard pull of gnomes?

What, you think people won’t buy short people being awesome and badass?

CS 65 Friday 22nd October 2010Cause um, Tyrion Lannister already exists proving that people will eat it up.

And yes, in fairness, High Tinker Mekkatorque is pretty good, and his story is rather well done.  It establishes him as a character with both baggage and ingenuity.  A strong leader who cares for his people without losing what makes him a gnome.  But is that all we’re gonna get?  Come on Blizzard.

I want a gnome legendary questline.

I want a gnome novel.

I want a gnome expansion pack.

Make it happen!

Stuck On You

The last time I had a subscription for an entire WoW expansion, with no breaks, was for The Burning Crusade.

I took one or two short breaks towards the end of WotLK, I took a very long break during Cataclysm, and I only played the first couple of months of MoP.  That last break there was the longest, clocking in at two years and some change.  In fact, I’d actually convinced myself that I wouldn’t be coming back.  The game was different now and I’d moved on to plenty of other games – heck, there were plenty of other games I was pouring hundreds of hours into, just as I had with WoW.  My gaming life was good.  WoW was a memory.

And yet, like a loyal dog, WoW waited for me to come back.  And like a sap, I did.

The Warcraft section of my gaming display shelf.  Did I mention I have a gaming display shelf?  I do.  It's big.
The Warcraft section of my gaming display shelf. Did I mention I have a gaming display shelf? I do. It’s big.  Not pictured: Warcraft I, because I have that too.

I think I’m starting to accept now that I’ll never quite go away entirely.  And you know what?  That’s fine.  I’ve reached a comfortable equilibrium knowing that I can play for as long as I want and then drop it for as long as I want, and it’ll still be there.  Different, perhaps – probably a lot different, in fact – but there.

So brace yourselves, Internet – cause this dumb blog is probably never quite going away. >:D

I Want My Druid Back

iwantmyhatback

I used to play my druid a lot.  Heck back in Wrath of the Lich King I raided on my druid a lot.  She was a proud Tree and had been that way her entire druidic career.  I loved the whole shapeshifting aspect of druids.  Not everyone felt that way – a lot of people wanted to see their character or their armor or whatever.  Not me; I already had one night elf, I didn’t need to stare at another all the time.  Seeing her in various forms was fun and the highlight of the class to me.

Then Blizzard put Tree Form on a cooldown, and since then I haven’t played my druid.  I’m not even kidding.  It’s been, what, five years?  Six years?  She’s sitting in Stormwind in WotLK raid epics.

Is it silly to be attached to something so trivial as a pixelated form on your screen?  Yeah, probably.  But I was attached.  I loved my druid because I loved my tree.  I missed my tree.

Tree_of_Life_formSince then Blizzard has added a glyph that means you can be in the old treant form all the time, but somehow it’s not the same.  Between “real” tree form now being optional and the fact that 90% of balance druids I see are glyphed into astral star form rather than Moonkin, it feels to me like the game is downplaying what was always my favorite part of druids – being able to turn into weird crazy stuff.  Yes, all of this is of course a choice.  Yes, this is what other people want, and I accept that.  I wouldn’t want to take these options away from anybody.

But it still makes me sad. :(

I want my druid back.

Shake Your Bunny Maker is Slightly Creepy

So there’s a Noblegarden (Easter) achievement called http://www.wowhead.com/achievement=2422/shake-your-bunny-maker , which involves putting bunny ears on a female player character of each race.  And you know, up until now my main has been a female character and getting bunny-eared has not bothered me.  My poor fem-tauren was hounded constantly and, you know, whatever, the ears are cute.

But now that my main is a male I suddenly feel creep-tastic.  Like “HI, PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT I AM A STRAPPING YOUNG BLOOD ELF WHO IS CURRENTLY ON THE LOOKOUT FOR A NICE YOUNG DWARVEN LADY.  IT’S FOR AN ACHIEVEMENT.  HONEST.  SWEAR TO THE SUNWELL.”

free_candy_van
Also now handing out free noblegarden chocolates!

So yeah.  If you happen to see Althalor from The Venture Co stalking you down to bunny ear you, I promise I’m not being creepy.  I promise!  I just want my achievement! /cry

Besides, does this look like a creeper face?

CCF0s3cVIAAkIQ8…okay, so don’t answer that.

WoW Token and an Uncomfortable Past

Well, as soon as the servers go back up, WoW Token will be live, allowing official trading of real world money and gold.  I’ve had one or two people ask about my thoughts on this, and overall I think it’s a good idea.  It’s nice to know that, depending on what the current “exchange rate” is, I can either spend some USD to make a bunch of gold, or spend some gold to save on USD.  It’s neat.

However, I would not always have thought that.  In fact, there’s a time when I would’ve been upset about the idea.  To explain why, I’m going to take you back.  Back to a time several years ago during one of this blog’s first hiatuses.

Back when, due to a combination of bad luck and a family emergency, I found myself out of a job in a strange new town… in the middle of the recession.

Art by Sebreg @ Deviantart.
Art by Sebreg @ Deviantart.

Anyone who has been through unemployment before is probably familiar with what I was going through.  I felt like a dirty failure, despite spending hours a day tossing resumes at anyone who would listen and making sorry amounts of chump change doing art commissions.  I was constantly worrying and fretting and basically wishing I could disappear.

One thing kept me going: World of Warcraft.

In World of Warcraft, I was decked out in purples.  In World of Warcraft, I had a guild who liked having me around.  In World of Warcraft, I had a bunch of cool mounts and pets.  In World of Warcraft, if I was short on funds, I could fly up to the Argent Tournament in Icecrown and do a bunch of dailies.  The Silver Covenant, after all, wouldn’t turn me down because I had no experience in their field or because they had no payroll.

They WILL turn you down if you look exactly like them except with green eyes.  Can't win them all I guess.
They WILL turn you down if you look exactly like them except with green eyes. Can’t win them all I guess.

I remember that about this time I got into a debate on Twitter with some other people about the idea of an official gold -> money exchange.  And I remember I hated it.  Not for any logical reason, no – but because WoW was where I went to forget, for just a couple of hours, that my money problems existed.  It was where I went to not feel like a failure anymore.  I didn’t want real life money invading my one sanctuary.  I didn’t want to remember that I was a giant loser without a job.  That’s why I didn’t want to see something like that.

Anyways, it didn’t happen, and after two extremely stressful months I got a job.  (That particular job sucked, but it did pay me.)

So fast forward to today.  I’m far from well off – I won’t be buying a house or a new car anytime soon.  But I’ve got a roof over my head and I can afford to feed myself and my cat.  I can also afford things like Netflix, Steam sales, and WoW subscriptions.

And I have the luxury of being able to like the WoW token.

464017If anyone out there reading this isn’t feeling so hot about this new addition for a similar reason, know that I feel you 100%.  And if you need someone to talk to about it, feel free to contact me in the comments, on Twitter, or via e-mail.  I’ve been where you are, and I know what you’re going through.

And to everyone else – thanks for reading and sticking with me through the tough times!  I’ll see you when the realms go back up!

Four Things I Want To See in the Warcraft Movie

So the Warcraft movie, which was first announced approximately 35867 years ago, is finally coming out next year.  Surprisingly we haven’t really seen any public teasers or anything for it yet, so what we know about it is still pretty limited. It looks like it takes place during the First War (contrary to what we were initially told), and… okay, that’s all I know.

Anyways, I dunno about you, but here is what I WANT TO SEE.  In all caps.

1. More Than Just “Orcs & Humans”

Look, I know it’s based off of the first Warcraft game which was literally titled “Orcs & Humans”.  But other stuff was certainly happening on the Eastern Kingdoms continent at the time of the First War.  The gnomes and dwarves weren’t directly involved with the conflict but obviously knew what was going on due to their close proximity to Stormwind.  Meanwhile, the Amani trolls and the high elves were up north dealing with their ongoing personal blood feud.  All of these races, at least, should have a shot at appearing in the movie.  Especially gnomes.

2. Cool lore stuff

Okay Warcraft movie, let’s really dig into the lore here and give us turbonerds more to talk about.  Not really much else to say about that point.  This does lead us nicely into point three:

3. Shoutouts to the fans (but not George Lucas style shoutouts)

Remember in the Star Wars prequel trilogy movies where every time George Lucas made some shoutout to the fans you could almost see him on screen winking slyly at the audience?  (Yes, I’m talking to you, R2-D2/C-3PO introduction and that one part later where Boba Fett looks slowly at the camera for no reason.)  I don’t want that.  I do want little blink-if-you-miss-it things that only the nerds are gonna get.  Wreck-It Ralph did a really good job of putting in references like this, I think.  Speaking of which:

4. Moroes needs to say “Mmm, unannounced visitors” or “How terribly clumsy of me” or something.

Moroes is in the movie and if he doesn’t quote his lines from Karazhan then I’m walking out of the theater damnit!

arghAlright, enough of me trying (and probably failing) to be entertaining.  What do YOU want to see in the Warcraft movie?

Okay Blizzard it’s time to revamp draenei and blood elves

I’m sure I’ll get some comments that disagree, but IMO draenei and blood elves have basically the best lore in the Warcraft universe.

But, of course, if you roll a new draenei you get the same old “OUR SHIP JUST CRASHED!!111!1″ quests we got eight years ago, and if you roll a new blood elf they’ll helpfully inform you that ~~Kael’thas is going to lead our people to Outland~~ even though that stopped being current lore, like… halfway through that same expac.

maroney_rect1-460x307_crop_northRevamp both starter zones already, Blizzard.  Make them flyable.  Make it so more of Silvermoon is rebuilt and not covered in statues of Kael’thas or fel crystals, because all of those stopped being relevant like seven years ago.  Seriously, Blizz.

While we’re at it, let’s revamp Outland.  I mean, as much of a nostalgia junkie as I am, I’m also a realist, and I accept that jumping from the Cata-revamp content to Burning feckin’ Crusade kind of hurts a little.

Actually, you know what?  To heck with it.  Let’s just get a draenei/belf expac.  This can be followed up an expac where Chromie teleports us millions of years into the past to watch the Titans and Old Gods fight because it would be awesome.

Anxiety, WoW, and Me

Hi, I’m Pike.

(Hi, Pike)

And I’m scared of dungeons.

[record scratch]

Wait, that Pike?

That Pike who threw herself into any dungeon or raid PUG that came her way during TBC?

That Pike who leveled a druid to max almost entirely through dungeons, mostly before Dungeon Finder even existed?

That Pike who would happily spend three hours in ToC on her hunter and then another three hours healing Ulduar with her druid immediately afterward?

Yes.  That Pike.

I think it started with Cataclysm.  Blizzard did two major things that affected the game for me: They made substantial changes to the way hunters work, and they also decided to make dungeons “hard”.  I think that I probably could have dealt with either of these on their own, but when they were together, it planted a little worm of doubt into my brain.

What if I’m not good at hunters or dungeons anymore?  What if I let everyone down?

Scared_Rainbow_Dash_S1E16

I did ultimately do some dungeons, but that little thought didn’t go away, so because endgame was now scary (and also because I wasn’t keen on Cataclysm), I unsubbed.

I gave it all another try for Mists of Pandaria.  After greatly enjoying the leveling process, I told myself that this time I’m going to do it.  I’m going to get back into endgame.  And I’m going to love it, just like before.

Unfortunately a couple of bad groups and douchecanoes had me convinced I was terrible at hunters and at dungeons, and because the only other real thing that MoP had to offer at the time was an endless stream of dailies I quietly left the game.  Again.

Sad_Twilight_D'aww_S2E3

And so here we are.  In WoD.  The itch, of course, is back, like it always is.  Oh, how I secretly long to spend the day in LFG doing endless heroics, or spend hours butting heads against a tough boss in a (real live!) raid.  But instead, I’m tip-toeing into normals maybe once a week when I summon up the courage, despite being overgeared and having a Gold in Proving Grounds and all that stuff.

“Why don’t you find nice people to play with, Pike?  A really nice guild or something?” I’m sure you’re asking.  And, you know, I’ve thought about it.  But because of my work schedule I’m tucking myself into bed right about when the rest of the United States is getting home from work and logging in.  I don’t think it would be impossible to find a nice guild that raids at 1:00pm.  But it might be a bit of a serious hunt.

So now what?

weird-al-yankovic-my-little-pony-friendship-is-magicWell, right now I’m determined not to let this beat me three expacs in a row.  How?  Well, uh, I’m not sure yet.  You see, there will be people involved.  And the possibility of failure.  And instances that I haven’t done before.  This is all very scary to me.  But you’ve gotta confront your fears head on, right?

Sorry for the break in pony pics.
Sorry for the break in pony pics.

So yeah.  That’s my confession for the day.  Embarrassing?  Maybe a little.  I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my life, and seeing it creep into video games – my favorite hobby – is never fun for me.  But maybe this post can help others who feel similarly – at least to know that they’re not alone!