Category Archives: O teh dramaz!

It is Done

flying bfa

Tonight I started at just over 2,000 reputation short of being Revered with the Mechagon Trudgniks. I wasn’t expecting to get all that rep in one night, but the “find the chests” WQ was up so I popped it with a quest to spare.

So I’m flying in the current content once again.  I wish I could say it wasn’t a slog this time, but it really felt like a slog.  This “pathfinder” business started, what, in Draenor? I think it was Draenor.  And the funny thing is, it took a month, grinding as fast as I could.  I think it took less time in Legion, and it definitely took less than a month this time.

But it FELT like a slog through two pointless rep grinds.

I wonder if others feel the same way about the duration and pointfulness.

It’s funny, in that it feels like it was deliberately time-gated to drag things out. But if it takes less than a couple of weeks before you see people zipping around on flying mounts, how much of a delay was it?

I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel that Blizz is introducing time-wasting content to try to engage players longer – by “engage” I mean “engage players in time wasting activities”.

Okay, listen. Nobody’s kidding anyone here. Of COURSE they’re trying to drag things out, keep you involved longer without any real reward.

But what Blizz needs to do at this point is maybe put more effort into making it look less like they are.

Next up: something like 1000 manapearls to max out my benthic gear.  And maybe by then they’ll have new content.

Don’t be that guy

Jas Port 110

It’s amazing. Mere days after posting a link to one of my articles about How2Auction, I get an in-game chat from a guy that just doesn’t “get it” with regard to an item I was selling.

In this case, one of my side markets are the Tomes of Illusion that Enchanters can make.  The mats for each come from the expansions they correspond to, and some of those are a little pricey, especially the older ones from Azeroth or Outland.  I don’t mean vendor price, but what they sell for on the AH, which is considerable, if they’re even available.

So you’re looking at on average a cost per tome of around 1500 GP, and of course there’s going to be the traditional markup. If there were no profit, I wouldn’t sell it.

Thus the stage is set.

HIM: Your price for Tome of Illusions: Azeroth is too high

ME: It sells well enough at that price.

HIM: It’s just a cosmetic thing!

ME: But it takes rare stuff to make it

HIM: But the mats are easy to farm

ME: Well, if you bring me the mats, I’ll make it for the mats, though a tip would be cool.

HIM: Fuk u

And halt.

This reminds me of a recent series of threads on Twitter, in which artists were being yelled at because they wouldn’t provide free artwork “for exposure”.  There are a lot of tiny little twitch channel commandos out there that think they’re hot shit, and expect to be catered to as such, and no dumb bish “artist” will be permitted to dis them by not doing shit for them for free.

Entitled little weasels.

Here it is in a nutshell. If you want it, it has value.

I don’t make claims to even remotely the same level of talent of the artists I see day in and day out posting samples on Twitter etc and trying to scrape out a living doing what they love. But I feel in some small way the frustration they must every time some jerk yells at me for not giving away the goods for free.

Don’t be that guy.   If you want a thing in WoW, you can

  1. Pay market price
  2. Bring the mats and be nice to someone with the skillset
  3. Get friends that don’t mind your freeloading

If you want art/code assets from a person, pay them“Exposure” means fuck-all, and it doesn’t put food on anybody’s plate. If you can’t pay an artist to decorate your Twitch channel, or a coder to set up the front end for your database, go get a real job. Maybe even learn to do yourself.  Stack Overflow at least won’t charge you to tell you how to do for yourself.

Wailin’ Velen

velen-selfie

I recently had a few errands to run for Archmage Khadgar (not dropping names or anything) and one of them took me to The Exodar to visit my old friend Velen – well, this Velen isn’t so much my friend as someone that my actual friend Velen resembles a lot (only older). Look, it’s complicated, okay?

Anyway, when I got there, Velen was kinda busy and didn’t have a lot of time to chat or take selfies, but you know that doesn’t stop a Dwarf with determination. Here, he was doing something like preserving the very lives of every living soul in The Exodar while Demons charged the magical shield he was maintaining with his very life’s essence.  Asked him to smile, honestly, guess that’s the best he could do.

Pitched in to help out, kinda grumpy about it since you know, he couldn’t be arsed to even look at the camera, but he did seem kinda put out at all the demons, and, well, no big fan of demons myself. So eventually I cheered up a bit at the sight of all those demons getting blown to bits courtesy of my new best friend Titanstrike and some old friends like Bumbles the Angry Bear. Many demons littering the floor, but the Exodar sanitation crew is pretty reliable to get those fel stains out of even the most obscure crevasses.

Of course, Velen had to be a big wet blanket at the end, something about how this invading demon general reminded him of his dead son or something like that, then he went all emo and told me to go tell Khadgar that “The Light is Dead.”   Really, Vel? Gee, maybe I’ll go stick my head in Nomi’s kitchen while I’m at it. At least I’ll get quality burns out of that.

Seriously, your younger counterpart went with a lot more class than that.

What, too soon?

The Triumphant Return

drama horn

After the worlds-shattering drama following their announcement that flying would not be happening in Draenor at all, Blizzard has changed their minds and decided it bring it back, but only if you really want it.

At the heart of the initial plan to restrict flight in Draenor (even after players reach level 100) lies the design goal of providing the best moment-to-moment gameplay possible in the outdoor world. From navigating the lava flows of the Molten Front in Patch 4.2, to breaching the Thunder King’s stronghold in Patch 5.2, to reaching the heights of the Ordon Sanctuary on Timeless Isle in Patch 5.4, to uncovering secrets deep within Gorgrond’s jungles on Draenor, World of Warcraft is full of memorable moments that are only possible when players explore the world by ground. And as we’ve continued to develop content over the years, we’ve focused more and more on providing players with these kinds of experiences.

There will be chores to do; exploring, collecting, rep grinding, and so forth. It’s a little reminiscent of the attunements we had in BC, to be honest, and I like that. I’m not one for collecting piles of non combat pets I’ll never look at or mounts I’ll never or rarely use at all. I’m not as much an achievement monkey as some.  Give me a grind that will get me something tangible, however, then you’ve got my attention.

Naturally, no matter how you slice this, there will be mighty drama around this announcement as there was around the last. Where before it was all “Blizzard doesn’t care about what the players want raaaaeeeege”, now instead it’s “Blizzard gives in to every little whine raeeeeege!”  Blizzard can’t win with this bunch, and personally I think they should just do what they think best and shut down the forums, but that’s me. 

I’m still not missing flight in Draenor. But to some, the mere inconvenience is an insurmountable obstacle to inner peace, or something like that. This is not to say, I won’t use it if it’s there.  As I’ve said before, I won’t put myself at a disadvantage on mere principle.

The haters will always be around because they need an avenue to vent their frustrations in life in, and a bunch of nerds writing software is just the perfect target.  Well, people at Blizz get paid to read their drek, but I don’t. 

So flush twice, it’s a long way to MMO-C.

Wrong

This interview with Watcher has set the WoW social universe on its ear.

The first big bombshell is his statement that Flight will not only not be back in 6.2, but may quite possibly not reappear in-game ever again, going forward.

I am mixed on this.  I’m pretty much in favor of this because of the way that flight disrupts the quest design mechanics, but I want to state for the record that if Blizz had designed the quests with flight in mind in the first place, this wouldn’t be a problem. 

Let’s  consider the example that Watcher gave: without flight, you have to “fight  your way to the NPC you’re rescuing” to complete the quest, but with flight you can “just fly over there, land on the hut he’s in, and you’re done.”  And: agreed, that’s a lousy thing.

But why aren’t there flying Mobs around the hut?  This is a design failure in the quest, not a problem with flight per se. But, since Blizzard is apparently incapable of grasping that simple concept and fixing the problem, the simpler solution is just to ground everyone.

The quest designers done screwed up, so everyone has to get out of the pool.

And now, a moment of gloating.

Watcher confirms that 6.2 is not the final patch for this expansion.  There have been a number of intensely strident people swarzing up and down that this was the final content patch for Warlords, despite the fact that they had not a single fact to support this.  I have set aside a vat to collect their delicious tears, and have set aside an area for them to furiously backpedal without endangering innocent lives.  Because, sure as Moira’s got an agenda, these people will be claiming they said no such thing as soon as they can, as often as is legal in their home state and/or country, and and as loudly as local noise ordinances allow.

Let’s say this all together once again: MMO-Champion is not the gold standard of Blizzard predictions. They got it right exactly ONCE (Cata), and ever since then, Blizz has alternatively bought their silence with access bribes, or fed them misinformation.  Reddit isn’t a lot better, but at least there you don’t have a central point of failure like you do with MMO-C.

Honestly, the louder and more strident they are, the less likely they are to be right.

I myself haven’t made much in the way of predictions in this regard other than to express extreme doubts that 6.2 was the final patch.  For a number of reasons.

  • Two patches is atypical for Blizzard’s history.  Three to four is the general rule of thumb.
  • The story that I’ve been able to discern so far doesn’t really seem to be end-gamish.
  • e.g. I strongly suspect there’s a real WTF moment in our future, either at the end of 6.2 or in a future patch.
  • I don’t see the ultimate end-of-expansion time-waster-zone that we’ve seen in every expansion including BC (e.g. Money Island / Tournament / Firelands / Timeless Isle). Until they roll out that zone – which, you realize, will be yet another new and innovative way to while a way the post-expansion blues! – we’re not looking at the final patch.

As I have proven to myself a number of times, predictions are a tricky thing.  Smart people will couch these guesses as guesses and not FACT (actual quote).  There’s nothing wrong with speculation as long as it’s presented as such. But stating categorically with great authority on these topics is just silly.

Unfortunately, these people won’t learn, probably. They’ll just get shriller, louder, and more frantically self-defensive as this unwinds.  I’m not sure what the point of all this is – some weird form of territorial marking or something – but it’s lead to some serious paring of my social media feeds, let me tell you.

But I’m more interested in where this is going, lore-wise.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Grommash / Guldan story resolves this patch, or if it gets marched out to the next one.  I personally don’t think one zone and one raid is enough to include that and Archimonde, too. I’m interested to see what they do with that, too, and whether we get to see Kil’jaeden as well.  And will this all end in tears as Draenor Renewed gets blown up again?

All I know is that we are free of the tyranny of prophecy once again.

No fate but what we make for ourselves.

Levels for nothing and the boost for free

Well, they’ve finally done something I’ve been asking for for a long time – it is likely that Blizz will offer paid "boosts" to level 90 for the toons of your choice once WoD launches.  Naturally, there are those that claim that this will ruin the game, but I’ll counter – and have been for years – that the LACK of this paid service has ruined a lot of the game for a lot of people.

I want to get something out of the way, first. I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for people that are in a hurry to get to max level. None. Zip. Nada. I am happy for this paid service not on their behalf, but on behalf of everyone that has had to endure the after-effects of these people.

Blizzard has, in the past, altered the game in many ways to accommodate people that were ‘bored’ of leveling yet-another-alt to max level. They have nerfed the entire leveling game.

There are zones that you cannot get XP from all quests because the final ones go gray before you’re done! 

Entire expansions have been nerfed so that you spend minimal time in them – My Rogue completed ONE zone on Northrend before he dinged 80! He had done maybe 3/4 of Sholazar!  My DK barely finished Deepholm before she dinged 85.  The assumption has been made that if you want to do all the quests, you’ll do so anyway, regardless of any XP you might get, and otherwise you just want to be gone as fast as you can.

There are pretty much NO challenges left. Coming up in Vanilla pre-Cata, you could count on a few tough runs out there, some elites hanging around outside of instances, some big rares that required some teamwork to take down. All gone. Even Stiches is a pushover.

So, overall, the way that Blizz was trying to accommodate the speed-levelers pretty much subverted anything interesting about the lower level areas – and rather than help, that just made it worse, because now the power levelers were trying to get through areas that were pretty much as interesting as naval lint and about as attractive.  Leveling went from being tediously annoying to annoyingly annoying.

The biggest tragedy of them all is how much time and manpower that Blizz has invested in these changes that had no good effect, that pretty much subverted everything about the lower level zones, and pretty much rendered 90% of the game’s content irrelevant to a large subset of the playerbase.

The lower level areas are not the problem. The people that want to get OUT of them are the problem.  They wasted time and money on the wrong solution.

Boosting to max-for-last-expansion level is the RIGHT solution. It has a minimal footprint. It doesn’t give max level away for free. They enhance their revenue on the impatience of impatient people. Those that wish to level the traditional way get some peace from the miserable hordes of people that would rather be somewhere else.  Everybody wins.

This marginalizes nobody.  It isn’t "pay to win" – you still have whatever the current expansion is go level through. If you get any gear from it it’ll be inferior to anything you get in the expansion, so who cares?

When I saw the WoD reveal mention a free boost for one toon, I had hoped that it would lead to this. I’m so very pleased to see that it has.

I have absolutely no plans to avail myself of this.  I see paying to bypass content that you’re paying to see to be a non-sequitorian concept. But I have no reason to hate on those that will. Go in peace, kill some dragons, and tell Garrosh I said hello.

See ya in Draenor.

The Dust has Settled

Well, the big Reveal has taken place at Blizzcon, and we now know details of the next expansion.  Hopefully you followed #TeamFaff at Godmother’s liveblog.  I had to bail out right after the reveal because we had our weekly planning meeting at work, and the boss was most unsympathetic to the cause.

Now that the dust has settled, and I’ve had time to breathe, let’s talk about it.

My Scorecard

I made some cheeky predictions, so let’s see how I did!

There will be an expansion announcement and it will be called "Warlords of Draenor"

WoD LogoThat was a pretty easy one, really.  If they didn’t, it would have been ugly. The title this time was given to us by the trademark offices in several countries.  +2 for me.

It will involve a new "lost" continent of Draenor

WoD ZonesIt’s Draenor, Jim, but not as we know it.  Instead of a lost continent floating about in the Twisted Nether, we’re going back to the past. Specifically, Garrosh escapes captivity and through means as of yet unrevealed, journeys back in time to prevent the Old Horde from becoming subjugated by the Burning legion. What we, the denizens of Azeroth, then face is the Iron Horde – the united fury of the Orc clans united and at full strength.

My score: –1 (net total 1)

Alleria and Turalyon will return

No, they won’t. Though, to be fair, the new world of Old Draenor doesn’t have them to begin with. Since the First War didn’t happen, they didn’t get trapped when the Portal was closed.  But THAT is a whole new can of worms, something I’ll exposit in another post.

Score: –1, for a net of 0.

It will involve the Burning Legion

Not so much. While it’s obvious that the Legion will be involved at SOME point, the net effect is that the Orcs turn their backs on the Legion and the power it offers.  But the overall theme of this expansion is All Orc, All the Time.

WoD WarlordsScore: –1, now netting –1.

Ethereals will be the new player race

There will be no new player races.

-1 for me, for a net of –2. Oh dear.

Outland will not get revamped

Technically true, though they do move the door a bit.  Since the history leading to Outland hasn’t happened, Outland becomes an alternate timeline, and thus its entrance is moved to the Caverns of Time.  Which I have to admit, is a pretty good way to deal with it.

I’m going to claim a win, netting me back to –1.

The new level cap will be 100

Got that one right. So we’ll see a realm first Level 100 in 2 days, not 1. ((Actually, we won’t, because Realm First achievements are being removed from the game.))

+1, back to breaking even.

There are no indications of any new classes

Got that one right, too.  This will make WoD the first WoW expansion where neither a new class or race was introduced.

+1, and I’m back in the black.

Release Date: Holidays, 2014

No mention was made of a release date. This is my surprised face.  Though I keep hearing rumors of a Q1/Q2 release timeframe, there is nothing official to back that up that I am aware of.

No points either way.

You face Jaraxxus!

I was close, but he appears in Hearthstone, not WoD.

-1 to zero me out again.

Character remodels

New Female GnomeI totally didn’t call it, but it’s such a big one that I think I deserve to be dinged for missing it. 

And that’s the news: all character races are to get remodels with higher poly counts and a lot of new emotes and expressions. The samples shown – especially for the female Gnome – were amazing.

There IS a tiny bit of drama here, in that it’s stated that there are currently no plans to offer a free appearance change when the changes go into effect. But the door’s been left open just a crack, so let’s wait and see.

-1, putting me back in the red.

Gender Crisis

No WomenEvery Blizzcon, Blizz tends to offend someone, and this year was no exception.  After the buzz died down, people started noting a highly testosterone-driven theme to this expansion.  Female characters, when mentioned at all, were either minor in comparison, or they were told to go home, take care of the baby, and make Thrall a sammich.

I’ll revisit this at some future time.  Other than to say, if you throw your keyboard over this, you know what happens? It breaks, dumbass.  So I guess you showed them.

RedSo I get a point there, bringing me back to even.

The overall results are

As is usually the case with this sort of thing, if you guess wildly the best you can really hope for is 50/50, which I did achieve.  I was wrong as much as I was right.  But I’m not displeased with the result.

And now the other stuff

One of the big things for this expansion seems to be "systems", our friend GhostCrawler’s domain.

There’s a big change to bags and inventory – a lot of items are going account-wide similar to how companion pets are handled now.  This’ll clear up tons of space in our bags. A lot of materials are going from 20 to 100 per stack, freeing more room. And Tabards are a possibility for this, hooray!  Also, quest items, though I’m worried for Archmage Vargoth’s Staff.

Another big "system" change will be "item squish".  Basically, the huge numbers we currently have will be reduced by several orders of magnitude, possibly to double or even single digit values, with some sort of hidden scaling system to keep it manageable.

Related to that, itemization is changing drastically, with most secondary stats like Hit and Expertise going away and primary stats possibly varying by spec, effectively ending the spec-change-shuffle.

Convenience Features

You will be able to bring one character to 90, or "boost", per account.  So if you decide to change to a different raiding main, for example, you won’t have to spend weeks getting up to raiding level. I’ve been pushing for this for a while, because I hate that the lower level zones continue to get gimped in order to make life easier for raiders. Raiding and the leveling game are two different activities, and changes in one should not make life harder or less satisfying for either group.  By allowing a character boost, they provide raiders with what they want without punishing those that are not raiding. Right now, it’s one per account, but I suspect that there will be infrastructure in place to make additional boosts possible as a paid service. And I think that’s a good thing.

This is actually an "in"-convenience feature, but another bit of drama – including threatened or actual sub cancellations – is that flight will not be available in Draenor until at least the 6.1 patch. I’m okay with that. In fact, if they want to get rid of flight completely, I’d be completely behind it.  But a lot of people are NOT thrilled.

Garrisons

WoD GarrisonGarrisons were an unexpected new feature, which more or less amount to a cross between player housing and the Tillers farm. Other trade skills in addition to cooking will be involved, you get minions, and they can do things for you even while you’re offline.  It’s all rather non-specific right now, and it’s hard to get a read on it, but overall it has been well received.

Raiding

WoD RaidsThe big change to raiding is that all levels of raiding will be flex in WoD except the highest form, which will be called Mythic, and serves a step further than Heroic.  The raid difficulty is tuned for 20 players, which Blizz claims is important since tuning at that difficulty will be too complex otherwise.


And that’s a wrap.  I will be revisiting several of these topics in upcoming posts, but I wanted to first set the stage, as it were, for what is to come.  Specifically, I want to discuss the lore, Blizzard’s ongoing PR issues,  the game mechanics that are changing, and probably more lore, because, damn.

Go large, or go home

Hi, how ya been? It’s been weeks, I know! But it’s for a really good reasnon … see, Grimmtooth Actual done went and got himself a job, and it’s been keeping him as busy as a Goblin at a bank vault explosion site. It’s been pretty crazy, is what I’m saying. So time to think, compose, write, and otherwise participate in all things bloggy has been in short supply.  There’s also the fact that with my WoW time somewhat reduced, I’ve had a bit less inspiration to write anything, anyway.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT, HIGGLEY PIGGLEY WITHOUT CONSIDERATION FOR ORDER OR PROPRIETY.

FAIRLY WARNED BE YE, SAY I.

Read the rest of this entry

Ten hat slots, and counting!

Something said at Be MOP reminded me of somewhere else that I had read of a hat-based business model.

So this probably happened at Blizz:

Note: this webcomic is by the same team that does Penny Arcade, plus one, which may turn some people off.  So, avoid if you are ethically inclined to do so.

Alas, Theramore

The all-consuming concern of the week is, in case you were asleep, the Fall of Theramore scenario.  I didn’t participate in it on Monday when it came out ((I don’t do first-day for this sort of thing. It’s always gonna be bugged.)) but last night I got to take Jasra in Disco form.

Having not healed much in the last two-ish years, she’s still getting the hang of the Smite/Heal process, so the scenario was a good place to practice that, since the other two members of our squad didn’t need much healing.

So, things break down into two areas of concern: A) the scenario itself, and 2) the lore.

Running the Scenario

It starts with a cinematic as a goblin drops a mana bomb on Theramore ((About which more anon.)) and blows the place up. How Jaina managed to survive while everyone else did not is not adequately explained here. I think it has something to do with Rhonin’s selfless act, but I’m not certain ((I’ve read a summary of the book here that is pretty decent.)).

As you zone in, you’re on the (presumably) last surviving Alliance ship, and from there you’re given a series of tasks to accomplish. First, survive a couple of waves of attackers, then kill three ship captains, torch their ships, and slaughter all Horde in sight. From there, you charge to Jaina’s side, carry out a couple of tasks for her, and then cover her while she extracts the Focusing Iris from the bomb ((What kind of bomb blows the hell out of a city and yet remains intact? Apparently, a mana bomb. Noted.)).

The mechanics of the fight were fairly clear ((Except right at the beginning, where I understand that you can bug the scenario if you rush off the ship too quickly.)). Objectives were easy to determine, the mini map was used well, and, as far as scripted events go, it worked well. I liked how the quest tracker area was repurposed to display objectives clearly. Nice touch.

So, mechanically, at least, I call it a win. If future scenarios work the same way mechanically, this is a new feature that deserves a permanent place at the table.

One final thought here: the Embersilk drops were insane. Jas came out of there with at least six full stacks, and the other tailor in the group got as at least that much.  I’ve run entire raids without seeing that much cloth drop, and with two tailors in the group, it’s even more impressive!  Hooray for murderating your fellow humanoids, I suppose?

The Elephant in the Room

Hoo boy.

Let us preamble this with the observation that the story leading up to this event, and the event itself, is told in the book Tides of War. This is a continuation of the now-traditional shunting of lore-heavy events into books.  I must admit that the excerpt that was dropped a few weeks ago really put me off wanting to read this book – I’m sure that wasn’t what they had in mind, but the attempts at romance were cringe-worthy. There is no amount of lore, no amount of badassery, that will suffice to get me to suffer through that again. I suffered Asimov. I suffered Jordon ((Reflexively tugs on beard.)). No more, I say!

I digress.

Based on Alas’ comments about "Emo Jaina", I feared we’d get more of what we had in Icecrown.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I found that "Emo Jaina" in this case was "Angry Jaina". She talked some seriously good smack.  More, please, plus some actually smacking, in the future, one hopes. I cannot emphasize this enough: Blizz has got to get away from writing strong female leads only as Dark and Sinister. Righteous fury has its place.  Or, whoa, just for the hell of it, write a strong female lead that doesn’t have to be angry all the time ((I loves me some Fanny.)).

At any rate, everything about this scenario seems to be hell-bent on disrespecting the lore surrounding the characters, factions, and places involved. And that’s what’s got people fired up.

Saxy @ I Like Pancakes summarizes best of all how badly this scenario and its alleged lore clash with previously established lore.   Some questions she asks, such as how Garrosh seems to be acting without thought for consequences, appear to be rhetorical, since we already know that he’s under foul influences and not acting rationally, even for Garrosh.  But she also brings up more macro issues around all this. The Horde just crapped in its own bed, and the world should be rightfully turned against it now.

What about supposedly neutral factions? Do you really think the Argent Crusade will want to have anything to do with the Horde after they’ve done this? The Cenarion Expedition? The Earthen Ring? The Scryers (who know a thing or two about mana bombs)? The Aldor (who know a thing or two about cities being leveled)?

And then there’s Dalaran. Why does Sunreaver’s Sanctuary still exist? Why is any horde player not killed on sight upon entering Dalaran? Are you seriously suggesting, Blizzard, that the Kirin Tor is going to allow anyone even loosely associated with the Horde anywhere near Dalaran?

And now the Dragonflights. Why are the Horde allowed near any Caverns of Time instance?  Why are they welcome at Wyrmrest Temple? Why would any member of any Dragonflight trust any member of the Horde with any task?

Now, I’m sure she knows as we know that those are all points from elsewhere in the time stream, but ALSO she’s correctly pointing out that actions have consequences, and we should see them, but we won’t, and that’s disappointing from a lore fan’s perspective.


Sidebar. (RP-ish)

It’s interesting that, after all these years, my little alts Orlee and Yarlee have found a sympathetic voice.

Orlee is one of two orphaned Draenai that I took in when the portal opened.  Her brother, Kutath, was able to stay centered and cope, but Orlee became bent on revenge. To her, the only good orc is a dead orc, Horde in general would be better off without them, and her entire reason for staying on Azeroth in the first place was to find more orcs to kill.  It’s all perfectly logical to her. It’s quite simple. We kill the Orcs.

Yarley was one of the many Night Elves unhomed by the Warsong in Ashenvale. She had started out as a warrior, as many of her gender do in Night Elf society, but her outrage at the way the Horde violated the land motivated her to learn the way of the Druid.  She’s routinely offended by what she sees of the Horde’s treatment of Azeroth, and figures that if they’re not put down, they’ll destroy the entire planet and leave it as they left Draenor – a pile of filth at best, shattered and drifting in the Nether at worst.

Sidebar conclusion: when I read Saxy’s angry screed above, Orlee and Yarley were in the back of my head yelling, See? See? We told you. Would you listen? NOOOOOoooo! So they get some perverse satisfaction in the fact that eyes are opening around the world right now.


To be honest, the lore violations would have been more palatable had they been couched in some sort of bread crumb quests and so forth, and Saxy has yet another good screed on that topic.

[…] this was the Wrathgate sequence. It was without question the most epic questline in Wrath, involving plot, new mechanics, real interaction with heroes, betrayal, etc.  Anyone who did this questline will tell you that Blizzard did an excellent job of not just telling the story, but letting you feel like you were living through it. That you were an integral part.

Wrathgate was the sort of thing that, after I had experienced it, I went out and told people that it was something they would want to play the game for.

There aren’t many opportunities for a Wrathgate event. I believe that the fall of Theramore was one.

A minor quibble here is that Wrathgate was a mid-game event, and Theramore is either an end-of-game or start-of-game event, depending on how you want to view it.  But otherwise, I totally agree: Blizz had a chance to shine, and they blew it.

It Gets Worse

Big Bear Butt has read the book, and has some thoughts on it.

First of all, if you thought the lore issues were merely because of poor execution on the part of the development team, think again. Golden’s book is full of the same sort of thing, and it rankles.  I’m not going to blame Golden for the plot points. She got handed an agenda and had to write a story that fulfilled its requirements.

Unfortunately, those requirements pretty much had no respect for the lore surrounding the people in the story.

The one that sticks out the most here is how Thrall – excuse me, Go’el – has become hippie-orc and is fully aware of the mess that Garrosh has made of things, but doesn’t seem to care.  This is not the "honorable" Orc we’ve had preached to us for years. It’s like a few tokes and getting some sexy tiemz with Aggra has somehow removed his integrity. John says it best.

Thrall walks on into the new throne room, sees Garrosh standing there with the Blackrock Orc, wanders around listening to some of the news about guards and the Blackrock smacking around anyone that voices dissent, hears about how some vanish in the dark, gives a quick chat to Baine and Vol’jin..

Are you seriously telling me that he couldn’t stop it?

With two sentences he could have shut the whole thing down.

“You are a disgrace to the memory of Grom Hellscream and an enemy of the Horde. Get out of my sight or I will kill you where you stand.”

He’s Thrall. He forged an Orc nation from nothing and brought his people out of despair, forged an empire and saved the world. Fuck an Orc that grew up in some pussy place like Draenor, where there are so many animals to kill and eat nobody has to farm in Nagrand.

Seriously. Thrall. Disappointing, man. That shit is weaksauce.

Maybe they feel like it’s time to put the ol’ fella out to pasture. No, sorry, you don’t get to do that. Heroes don’t go off and sit in drum circles until they die in their sleep from food poisoning or something. No, they go out in a blaze of glory. That’s just the way it is in Heroic fiction. Nothing else will do.

So, character-wise, and lore-wise, Thra — ‘scuse me, Go’el — is completely inconsistent with the story of Thrall / Kal-el that Blizzard has given us so far.

Cleaning up the broken glass

The community has been pretty vocal about this, and it’s good to hear that maybe Blizz is taking it to heart. From a recent Q&A, Dave "Fargo" Kosak has this to say.

I’ve been watching the Theramore feedback closely, and this comment seems pretty universal. We tried to keep everything all in the scenario, to make it really self-contained, but not burden it with lots of story that you have to slog through every time you played the scenario. It’s pretty clear from the feedback that people wanted more story. We should’ve surrounded the scenarios with more quests or explanations to help round out the story for the people who wanted to know what exactly was happening. Lesson learned!

Compare this to the Old Stratholme instance in Wrath, where there was that long RP-ish event that people got TIIIIRED of after a dozen times. Somewhere in between these two extremes there is a sweet spot.

Let me say this: I don’t think that Scenarios were ever planned to be lore-establishing events with lots of RP-ish elements like Wrathgate. But Wrathgate points the way to doing it right. We don’t need to stick a ton of cinematics and RP in a Scenario or Instance.  Preface them with individual quest chains in which each person will get to experience any cinematics and story elements once, and at their own pace, and then you don’t have to worry about RP-ish elements in Scenarios.

The Fall of Theramore scenario didn’t receive any beta testing. There are those that say that it didn’t make it to beta because it was savaged badly by internal testers and there was no time to fix it.  That they know it was crap and didn’t need to hear more about that. This does not jibe with something that Ghostcrawler said in the Reddit AMA:

Q: Are you going to finish the Neptulon storyline? He was taken by Ozumat in throne of tides and then, nothing. His fate is unknown.

A. We weren’t happy with the way Abyssal Maw was shaping up. It managed to take on a life of its own in players’ minds, but believe me, if it had been an awesome raid, we would have shipped it. One of the hardest parts of this job is killing a feature you’re excited about because it doesn’t meet our quality bar. I suspect you’d see far more complaints if we had shipped a bad raid than not shipping one at all. We took the resources and put them back into Firelands and got a couple of extra bosses out of it.

The conspiracy theorists imply that it was withheld from beta because they already knew it sucked and were unable to do anything about it. One of the lead developers tells us, with a specific example, that if something sucks, it won’t ship. I’m going to go out on a limb and believe Ghostcrawler, but make up your own mind on the merits.

That does beg the question, though.  Are the internal testers that disconnected, that naïve? I don’t know, but I cannot envision a scenario ((C wut I did thar?)) in which somebody didn’t raise a red flag and say "guys, this doesn’t jibe" or "Hey, people are going to be confused!"  I can’t envision a world in which this sort of thing gets past what I see as a very rigorous internal QA team ((Herbal miscues notwithstanding.)).

The overall take-away for me is a sense of ennui. I can only carry water for Blizz for so long before I start to see logic in the arguments of those that claim that Blizz has lost its touch, or its soul, or its ethics – or all of the above.

I get the sense that MoP is going to be the expansion that makes or breaks this franchise. If they do well, get their footing back, then this game will continue to flourish with a varied and informed playerbase for years to come.  If they don’t do well? There are MMOs aplenty out there that represent the true End Times.

Maybe Murozond was right.