But Where Did The Real Garrosh Go?

Garrosh Hellscream: villain of Mists of Pandaria. Altogether all-round bad egg. Corrupted, sinister, and irredeemable.

How did that happen, exactly?

Rades is steamingly furious at the progression Garrosh has gone through from complex, flawed character to mustache-twirling archvillain, and he explains exactly why, how it all fails to make sense, and where it seems to have gone wrong in this fascinating post:

“But then it was announced that he was going to be the end villain in Mists, and I guess Blizzard wanted to make EXTRA SURE that we knew he was bad? They’ve made it pretty clear that, oh hey, just in case you haven’t noticed, HE’S EVIL NOW. First there’s Malkorok playing the role of enforcer Gestapo, who literally came from nowhere and STILL feels bizarrely forced and jarring. And of course, the bombing of Theramore, which only goes against every aspect of Garrosh’s honor-driven personality we saw so carefully constructed during Cataclysm and the excellent Shattering novel.

I’m still not really sure how “I would never use a bomb to kill innocents, Krom’gar!” turns into “I’m totes gonna use this bomb to destroy innocents, Malkorok!” I guess that’s character growth, or something?

So that’s been bad enough, and that was even before Mists launched! And it’s only gotten worse. Garrosh in pursuit of evil artifacts. Garrosh sending assassins after his own allies, or abusing them so bad they start thinking of switching sides to the Alliance. Garrosh trying to control the Sha, even as Pandaria is torn apart by their re-emergence and even as his strongest warriors are twisted and slain by the negative energies he’s trying to wield.

Because oh, it’s not like HELLSCREAMS have any important history of being corrupted by evil forces that would make Garrosh think twice about such an act. Nope, not at all.”

Read the rest of “Thoughts on Garrosh and Baine’s “betrayal” comment” »

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Why MMOs Shouldn’t Tell Stories

Ah, the story of our favourite MMO. That’s why we play, right? To learn what happens to our favourite heroes, villains, and…

Wait, what? No?

MMOs appear to have disappeared down a “story” rabbit-hole as of 2013. From the increasing linearity of much of WoW to Guild Wars 2’s “All Trahearne, all the time” plotline, game developers appear to be convinced that what we want is to play alongside a classic fantasy epic.

As you may have guessed by now, I’m not really of that opinion. And neither, it turns out, is Syl, who writes a fantastic piece at her new site, MMO Gypsy, pointing out just why the “big plot” push of the last few years just doesn’t seem satisfying to many people:

“I honestly think the constant demand for increased “story telling” in MMORPGs is mislead. The so-called fourth pillar of game design is overrated for this genre in particular, for should not the player drive the narrative rather than being driven by it? And it would be a good thing to remember how great stories are really created and why more and more story-driven quests and events in MMOs are in fact counter-productive to the immersive experience. Worlds are immersive when they engage us and make us partake – not listen to.

Great writing is the art of not saying things. It’s the skill of knowing which things to write and which to leave out. The greatest of authors understand that it won’t do to spell out all the details, secrets and twists about a story; this is not how interesting characters or plot are created. I believe typically most writers spend the first half of their journey learning to flesh out, formulate and construct interesting, complex plot-lines. After that, they spend the other half of the time removing information and un-saying too many words. I can confirm this for my own writing journey, that it’s a struggle of learning what not to say, rather than what to say and mustering that “courage for silence” which tangentially, is also a central theme in the education of teachers (which happens to be my professional background). Didactics 101 will teach you that for greatest learning effect, impact and longevity, your audience needs to make as many steps of the journey on their own as possible. They must try unearth and unravel the story (or learning subject) by themselves. The teacher should only ever be the prompter, the one asking questions and if required the fallback plan.”

Read the rest of Why Storytelling In MMORPGs Is Overrated

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Controversy Watch – Cross-Realm Zones, Theramore, and GW2 Jumping

Cross-Realm Zones are attracting accolades and anger in equal measure, the aftermath of the Theramore scenario’s still rumbling, and Guild Wars 2 has its fair share of controversy thanks to its (overly hard?) jumping puzzles – the MMO world’s not quiet right now! So, here’s our weekly update on what’s getting everyone talking:

Cross-Realm Failings

Theramore, Garrosh, and the Tides of War

  • Rades writes a fascinating post explaining what he thinks is going on with Garrosh Hellscream’s sudden out-of-character personality shift“The Garrosh we see in Tides of War…is a very different Garrosh from who we’ve seen before. And not just in a “oh, he’s in a bad mood today” sort of different. He’s a completely different person.”
  • Erinys takes a stab at explaining how she would have designed a much better Theramore scenario“An event as momentous as the destruction of Theramore should be available to more than just those players at the level cap, therefore I would have made the first stages available to everyone of a level high enough to play in Dustwallow Marsh.”
  • And Saxsy looks further at the ways that the massive impact of Theramore’s fall is completely failing to be felt in the gameworld“When NPCs within the game do not react to those events, when they in effect collectively yawn at what is happening, what does that say to a player? It tells me that I’m an idiot for caring.”

Guild Wars 2’s jumping puzzles

  • Ocho defends Guild Wars 2’s jumping puzzles against their critics“So, wait, sometimes these games we play have a difficulty attached to them and need a little skill or hand-eye coordination to complete? Welcome to the gaming world! “

Any thoughts?

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“Is this a poisoned blade which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”

WoW and Shakespeare – not much crossover?

You might just be wrong there.

Erinys at The Harpy’s Nest writes another one of her truly fascinating studies of literature and WoW today. Particularly fascinating given the occasional mutterings about WoW’s lack of strong female characters, this time she’s talking about Magatha Grimtotem, Elder Crone and architect of Cairne Bloodhoof’s death, and how her character maps surprisingly well to the most famous of all femme fatales, Lady Macbeth

“It’s her words softly spoken into Garrosh’s emotional ears which lay the ground work. She picks her moment perfectly, Garrosh, like Macbeth has returned from a great and successful campaign when he’s waylaid by his very own Crone. Both of them have new and shiny titles,

I have heard you called the Hero of Northrend, and I think that an apt title (Pg 47 of the Shattering, Thrall to Garrosh)

and Macbeth is newly called Thane of Cawdor on top of his own existing title yet both have a hunger for more. Magatha pushes the right buttons, mentioning first Garrosh’s father and then his own deeds claiming to be impressed by them, knowing that the boy inside Garrosh will fall for her flattery, especially in the light of his “treatment” by Cairne and Thrall. Just like the Three Witches, Magatha influences the events which follow. Her title too, “The Elder Crone” plays into this idea of her as a witch, a wise woman with the answer to everything, even the question not yet asked. Even those that don’t trust her, respect her abilities and her opinions.

Then later, she reinforces what has already been said, making sure Garrosh “does the right thing”. She doesn’t want his weakness getting in the way. It’s not hard to imagine Lady Macbeth’s words coming from Magatha’s mouth.

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;

And chastise with the valour of my tongue

Of course she is helped by Garrosh’s personality and his fear of looking stupid. He doesn’t want to question her motives because that might highlight his own lack of knowledge. He accepts because she has offered him a prize, already mentioned, the support of her clan, her tribe and to bring the Grimtotem to heel, to accomplish something so quickly that both Thrall and Cairne never managed, of course he’s going to leap at the chance.”

It might seem strange or even ludicrous to compare WoW to Shakespeare, but the fact is, whilst the story’s of uneven quality, WoW has a massive body of narrative, and much of it (conciously or unconciously) makes use of classic archetypes and plots. Whilst WoW’s rarely in iambic pentameter, the fact is that, like the rest of Western literature, it owes many things to Shakespeare, and it’s interesting to see them discussed.

Unlike Erinys’ previous piece on this subject, discussing the similarities between WoW’s women and those of Victorian literature, this piece is a good deal more flattering to Blizzard, as well as being extremely interesting. I had no idea quite what a complex character Magatha had become, and I’m now looking forward to her future appearances a good deal!

And this comparison makes me wonder whether the Garrosh / Macbeth comparisons are deliberate, too. Could it be that Blizzard are doing something a good deal more complex – and literary – than we expected? Will Encounter 2 of the Siege of Orgrimmar be set in Birnam Wood, or the Kalimdor equivalent?

WoW and Shakespeare – any other similarities you can think of?

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Orientalism, Steamy Romance, Druid Shapes and Mass Murder – WoW Weekend Links

Obviously, one of the big topics of the weekend’s WoW links has been the MoP beta – or rather, the lack of it for many people. But that’s not the only topic of interest from this weekend’s posts, by far:

  • A datamined model left Pewter of Decoding Dragons decidedly concerned about Blizzard’s ongoing stereotyping of non-Caucasian cultures“In Cataclysm we saw the introduction of the Pygmy model. A brown-skinned race depicted as savage – supposedly based on heavy metal characters, but in actuality echoing the colonialist stereotype of the peoples of North Africa. The very name taken from real cultures in Africa. During the course of questing through Uldum, players would kill and cage the pygmies, hit them with mallots etc/”
  • Syrco has been doing a LOT of research and delivers a fascinating argument that Blizzard should make redesigning the Moonkin form a high priority“I fear they will go too far with these glyphs and ruin what I love about this game and druids, that you’ll be able to choose too much, like looks and forms just by using a glyph. “
  • Ratshag of Need More Rage suggests that before we say Garrosh should die, we take a long hard look at just how innocent our characters are“I’s killed women and children. I’s killed everything what walks or crawls at one time or another. I’s slaughtered not onlies them what stood against me, but they’s children, they’s parents, whoevers were hidin’ in them houses and huts in Hillsbrad an’ Windyreed Village an’ an’ Bladespire an’ Skorn.”
  • And Red Cow Rise offers a wonderful compendium – a summary and details of how to aquire every single Steamy Romance novel in-game – and speculation on their hidden secret! – “Currently, there are five volumes available in the game. They stack up to 20 (so you can have a real library!) and follow the sexual adventures of a man named Marcus as he samples all the physical delights that Azerothian womankind has to offer.”

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Elkagorasa the Casual: Background To Thrall Handing Over Warchief

The horde’s beloved warchief is going to do something questionable around the time the world goes boom. We’ll be in the hands of Garrosh. Noes! Why would Thrall do this to us? Well, Elkagorasa has found some quests which might explain some things.

Elk’s post is very short, but he points out just where you need to go to get some of Thrall’s background. Background that links into Thrall and Garroshs’ current adoptive brotherly relationship, and foreshadows the trust between them that will lead Thrall to  abandon us hand us over to Garrosh.

I decided I’d do the cooking daily hoping for one of my last 2 recipe drops. The quest of the day was Spiritual Soup; one of my least hated Outland’s cooking dailies. Flying through Nagrand, I stopped by the Horde outpost, Garadar, to Trick or Treat. CANDY!! Who should be standing, but none other than Garrosh.

His post also includes the video of Thrall appointing Garrosh as warchief as an optional extra unless you’re avoiding spoilers. But otherwise, it looks like doing the Nagrand quests Elk talks about is a great way to understand and enjoy the changes coming in Cataclysm. Are you prepared… for Garrosh as warchief?

What do you think – are there any other quests preceding Thrall’s handover, or are there other reasons we just haven’t ‘seen’ yet? (Jaina and Thrall sprogs, noooooo)

_Quote taken from Elkagorasa’s post

You can find Elkagorasa the Casual’s homepage here_

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