Is it time to have less factions in MMOs?

I must admit, I like the two-factions element in WoW. But I partially like it because of all the choices it theoretically offers – the peace movement for those who want to join the two sides, the rogue Night Elf who secretly learns Orcish from his lover, the mercenary who’ll work for whichever side pays the most.

In reality, of course, it doesn’t offer any of those choices – just a stark “you’re on this side and on this side you’ll stay” mentality. It’s so endemic to many MMOs – WoW, SWTOR, RIFT – that we mostly don’t even consider the possibility of being outside the box. But today, Ferrel of Epic Slant has been thinking outside just that, and he’s got some very interesting ideas:

We cannot be who we want to be, only who Big Brother tells us to be. Rift’s elves will kill defiant. That is it and any other view is inappropriate. Of course it doesn’t help that this is a PvE game and the rule set generally makes it impossible to kill the “enemy” (not that I even want to)! We can only kill them if they flag or if we are whisked away to a magical battleground in the sky to play capture the flag or open a special rift. What breaks immersion more? Battlegrounds in the sky or a defiant and guardian hanging out as friends.

Ferrel goes on to talk about the factions system in Everquest, which I must admit sounds like an extremely interesting idea. Essentially, it’s broadly similar to reputations in WoW, but also replaces all factionality – so, if you wanted to be the only elf welcome in the Undercity, you could aim to do that.

As a writer and roleplayer (albeit not in WoW at the moment), this sounds like a great idea – a great opportunity to make meaningful choices and distinguish your character. And yet, with the exception of the ever-promising Guild Wars 2, the really big MMOs still stick to the simplistic two-sides idea. Why?

Do you like the simplicity of the two sides? Or would you prefer a more shades-of-grey game world?

_Quote taken directly from Ferrel’s article.

Find Epic Slant’s homepage at http://www.epicslant.com/_

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Variant Avatar: What Should The Alliance Battle Cry Be?

STABBY STABBY! That’s my battlecry when I’m playing a DPS warrior. Yep, original, but warriors aren’t known for their brains. But that’s just for my warriors. I don’t have something to yell in character when I’m on my alliance characters epscifically, and that’s something that Cerephus over at Variant Avatar is looking into today.

Cerephus points out that the horde have a decent battlecry that they can rally to and share a common identity in. He says that even in real life hordies can show their solidarity when they get together just by shouting “For The Horde!” It’s almost a greeting, an affirmation. But he says the Alliance don’t have anything like that, and they really need a battle cry – soon.

Of course many have suggested what about using “For the Alliance”.  While it would be easy to do that as this saying has been around in many of the Warcraft games, its a bit long syllable wise.  Also its too close to “For the Horde”.  The Alliance need something short yet distinctive that Alliance players would want to say.

According to Cerephus this is something that Blizzard have said they know need addressing, it just needs to be got right. He’s found some discussions about an Alliance battle cry on the official forums and links them, citing some examples of cries that people have suggested. Either way, he’s right – if the battlelines are going to get more entrenched in Cataclysm, the Alliance needs something to make our hearts lift and our steel steady.

What do you think – do you have any good ideas for Alliance battle cries? Let Cerephus know, and us too!

_Quote taken directly from Cerephus’ post_

_You can find Variant Avatar’s homepage here_

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Acadia’s Gold: Ways To Quick Gold For Lowbie Characters

Gold! We all want it in WoW. And strangely, a lot of us are going to be levelling new or lil’ characters at some point in the not too distant future. Hrmble, some of us might even be doing that already to stop ourselves catching flies in the pre-Cataclysm wait. But how to combine the gold rush and your lowbie characters? Well, Acadia’s got a tip for you. Yes, you. ‘Cos she’s got one for Alliance and one for Horde.

Both of them are very quick tips highlighting something you can only get in your faction. Both of them are things that you can resell for, she says, a tidy profit on your own AH. Or, you know, a minor fortune by selling it to the other faction who can’t get hold of it, via the neutral AH.

If you are frequenting the wow Gold blogs you’ve probably read about selling low level meats in the AH, Buying fishing poles, Coper rods and Other vendor items that have a good markup and can net you a couple gold. These are great little money makers and will help you to slowly build up some gold to work with.

But did you know that there is a…

Both these tips seems like good tidbits for anyone, veteran or new player, to get our lowbie characters a new shiny lining in their purse. You can find the Alliance one linked above; the horde one is here. I actually quite like checking in Acadia fairly regularly as she posts quite a few tips like this one, and another one recently netted me a quick profit too… nice work, Acadia.

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What about you – have you found any gold tips you’d like to share with lowbies, or are you keeping them to yourself for fear of market competition?**

_Quote taken directly from Acadia’s horde tip post

You can find Acadia’s Gold’s homepage here_

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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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Epic Slant: Factions Are Bad, Mkay?

Ferrel over at Epic slant has a bone to pick with the Horde. And the alliance, too. He’s saying that forcing players to pick between segregated factions in a PvE game is a Bad Idea, plain and simple.

Good and evil have been a hallmark of fantasy literature and games for quite some time now. Someone is always the hero and someone else is the villain. In more complex stories you’re not always sure who fits what mold and you often see it as an issue of perspective. Such is the case with the Horde vs Alliance. Is it really fair to say that the Horde is evil? What is the true evil here? I’ll tell you: the true evil is splitting players into two factions. This is a mechanic we simply do not need in a PvE focused MMORPG.

He makes a point of how little horde and alliance can interact and suggests that forcibly dividing the community doesn’t help the community grow.

After all, Ferrel says, that’s half the population (give or take) on your server that you can’t have a laugh with after a wipe, or make friends with. And that’s twice the content the developers need to make.

I’ve always thought that the factions having different languages has been a good call for immersion. But some way to communicate wouldn’t go amiss. Ferrel’s looking back, minus the rose tinted glasses, at a game that did it well …

I missed those good old days, but maybe you can tell me if he’s got the right idea, and if WoW’s faction developers could learn from other games?

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_Quote taken directly from Ferrel’s post_

_Epic Slant’s homepage is here_

Edit: Syl from Raging Monkeys has posted a response to Ferrel’s post. Syl’s post is a great read, and has some interesting ideas on how Blizzard’s gone wrong with the factions and what could make them work better.

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