Things are surprisingly quiet in the WoW blogosphere at the moment, with the only major ongoing topic being that of dailies and Valor Points. But nonetheless, bloggers are still writing some very interesting posts – come with us to see the best of the last week, all in one place…
- The Godmother looks at all the empty spaces of Azeroth, and wonders if it’s a hint of expansions to come – “I’m keeping a mental note of every vast area I find (and screenies wherever possible) and my fingers firmly crossed that at some point in the war between Alliance and Horde that we’re going to no just see major changes in Pandaria, but there might be some action far closer to ‘home’… “
- Scott Andrews writes a fantastic article in WoW Insider looking at the creepy secrets of WoW – I didn’t know MOST of these – “Horde characters may be surprised to find out that every time they’ve ridden through the Ruins of Lordaeron above the Undercity, they’ve been surrounded by invisible ghosts. “
- The Grumpy Elf poses a fascinating, and seriously off-the-wall, question – which lore character would you like to have dinner with? – “There are some lesser spoken about lore characters that really interest me. Like the Windrunner family, at least the ones not named Sylvanas. “
- Eric at The Golden Crusade is performing his annual survey of WoW wealth – “I hope to make this a regular event every year around the same time to track how player wealth progresses across the years and expansions. Since this is the second survey it will be the first opportunity to track changes in player wealth over time. “
- Zinn ponders a question many people have faced – is it possible to play WoW seriously, but just a little? – “Yet I can’t, I just can’t help, but feeling like I am really missing out. Like there is not even a point to playing WoW unless you do endgame of some sort, like raiding or pvp. I level my mage and I think “why waste my time, because there will be nothing, nothing, for me to do once I hit max level.”
- And Kamalia looks to the future of the Tillers and our beloved little farms – “For the Alliance, Elwynn Forest seems to be a natural choice for a farm. Perhaps Tommy Joe Stonefield and Maybell Maclure have finally succeeded in running off together to start their own farm, and they need us to help them get things going and prove themselves to their angry parents.”
How’s WoW treating you this week?
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Mists of Pandaria is looming in upon us now, and the world of WoW is aware of it – raid leaders preparing their troops, players organising their characters, and everyone waiting for the Dawn Of The Pandas.
But it’s not all Pandaria, Pandaria, Pandaria from this weekend…
- Ironyca explores the urban legends around the old version of Scholomance, and the “don’t talk to the students” advice – “So what happened if you spoke to the students, or for that matter the teachers? Did the entire room turn against you? – actually not.”
- Anne Stickney explains some of the neat lore developments in WoW that are being incubated in the trading-card game, of all things – “With one little expansion, the WoW TCG neatly wove itself into the main story of Warcraft, introducing another lore element that ties in to the overall theme of Cataclysm. This was, to say the least, the most unexpected place I ever thought I’d see it.”
- Derevka writes a very timely guide to staying healthy and sane during the MoP release madness – “During quest/NPC RP, flightpaths, any break you take… Do a couple of push ups, squats, crunches… literally, do them. It keeps your blood moving, and can help release endorphins.”
- Sometimes A Tree is concerned that the implications of Challenge Mode normalisation mean we’ll all have very full bags come MoP – ” The reason being that within the context of Challenge Modes, every single item over that level becomes a side-grade.”
- And The Grumpy Elf is far from grumpy as he enthuses about the implications of Challenge Modes as a far better competitive PvE arena than heroic raids – ” Perhaps Kin Raiders did get world best time when they did it first but then the world fifth might have beaten it. This means that there is no slacking off for Kin Raiders if they want to keep that number 1 spot, they need to get back in there and try to get their world best time back. It makes the heroic tier last a hell of a lot longer.”
I must admit, I’m very excited about Challenge Modes too. Everything from the normalised gear to the official ladder says that they’re something I could get very addicted to – and like Grumpy, I’m excited about how they could develop, too.
What’s exciting you about MoP these days?
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The bumper crop of cool and interesting writing continues! Today we’ve got Rades starting an epic and awesome series, Anafiele noting that Blizzard seem to have listened to her ideas, and more…
- Rades is back – and he’s currently half-way through an epic series of blog posts devoted to nothing less than proving WoW’s “Holy Light” Naaru are in fact thoroughly EVIL – “The draenei would be crushed, their spirits broken, their morale shattered. They would never be the same, and their relationships with every other Azerothian race would be drastically and irrevocably changed. And this would be AMAZING.”
- Entombed looks at Guild Wars 2’s incoming Big Dragon Problem – “What prevents a player from saying, “Oh yay, another dragon” with the sort of disdained interest that plagues the fantasy genre? “
- Anafielle, who called for an Achievement for completing raids without the nerfs turned on a while ago, talks about her feelings on the subject now that Blizzard have done just that – “I firmly believe that this doesn’t disadvantage anyone. I think it can only be a good thing to add more challenges in the game. I believe in content being accessible, but I also believe in rewarding success and challenging people to be better and better. This does both.”
- Redbeard looks at the WoW subscriber numbers, and asks how many of them are gold farmers – “Still, this is all water under the bridge since the definition of “true, playing WoW subs” probably is defined by Blizz as “a paying subscription.” They can’t afford to discriminate, unless the behavior of the sub is deemed malicious in intent”
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It’s been a very serious, deep, intense time in the MMO world recently – but today’s first featured post changes all that. Just be sure you’re not drinking anything whilst reading.
Yes, Bravetank is back, and today she’s sitting down for a heart-to-heart – well, a full-on sitting-on-the-couch disclosing-feelings-in-privacy therapy session, actually – with moon goddess and rare WoW female character Elune –
“Psychiatrist: The Kaldorei let you down?
Elune: Yes – you must have heard – it was the talk of the land. In fact it ravaged the land. They got a taste for power. The bad kind. Then their queen Azshara got totally swept away by Sargeras. Weak minded that one – but surprisingly very kind to puppies. Most people don’t know that about her. When she retires she plans to set up an animal sanctuary and I’ve promised to help out volunteering on weekends. Anyway… her shenanigans with Sargeras led to the Burning Legion descending on Azeroth and as you know total disaster.
Psychiatrist: Did you tell the Kaldorei and Azshara how you felt about it all?
Elune: (Sighing) Well I sent Azshara a rather terse note but not sure if she read it. She’d gone a bit doolallytap by then (wiggles finger at head). Plus as I said I’m not really allowed to express myself like that. Malorne likes me to be all calm and dignified – except in the bedroom of course where it’s all “Discipline me mistress, discipline me, I’ve been a very bad stag.” The only thing I can do if there’s ever any trouble going on – and you won’t believe this – is sing a song. It calms people down for some reason- although Malorne says I’m usually a fraction off key and can’t hold a candle to Barbra Streisand, whoever she is.
Psychiatrist: So what do you want to do to change all this? What would you like to be different?
Elune: Well as a starter I’d like to be able to actually say how I feel and not revert to song as if I’m in some bloody Gilbert & Sullivan production. And I know it sounds trivial but I’d also like to start wearing darker clothes. All this luminescence totally washes me out. It makes me look 10 years older and I’m old enough as it is. And I want laser eye surgery. My eyes are orbs of pure moonlight. Pure moonlight! There’s not one working optic nerve between them. It’s the reason why I ended up hooking up with a stag of all things – I thought he was a Titan in fancy dress. And I’m constantly bumping into things. ”
If you know much about Warcraft lore, you’ll probably love this piece. Just, like I said – be careful you’re not drinking anything before you begin. Tea/keyboard interactions are bad.
What WoW character would you like to see (forcibly restrained, if necessary) in the psychiatrist’s chair?
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The MMOSphere has been hella busy over the weekend, and as the timer counts down toward Mists of Pandaria, much of the discussion has been of WoW.
But there’s some very cool stuff going on outside WoW too. So, if you’re in the mood for something awesome that doesn’t come with added Azeroth, here we go…
- Bronte at Are We New At This spotlights a really fascinating persistent massive-ish new game: “Day Z”, a mod which conjures up an uber-realistic persistent world after a zombie apocalypse – “You need to drink and eat every once in a while or you will die. You need to find shelter when it pours to avoid hypothermia. You can get an infection from your wounds. If you get hit, you bleed, and must take steps to stem the bleeding or risk an untimely death. You can get broken bones, limiting you to crawling on all fours. You “
- The Nosy Gamer looks at one potential influence on EVE Online’s unique culture – the fascinating case of the “Cod War” between Iceland and Britain – “In 1972 Iceland successfully expanded that control out to 50 miles from shore and in 1975-1976 finally established control out to 200 miles in the face of opposition from the Royal Navy, the only fleet capable of contesting the matter with the Icelandic Coast Guard.”
- Rowan at I Have Touched The Sky takes a look at the realism level of The Secret World, demonstrating that the game sticks really, really closely to real-world geography.
- And Hunter’s Insight concludes the day with a – massive – guide and resource list for Guild Wars 2’s surprisingly deep and complex history of lore – “If you want a chronological sense of Tyria, try the timeline the wiki has compiled of all three continents in their respective calendars.”*
Run across anything particularly cool in an MMO lately? Yeah, including WoW
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GW2’s rather eaten today’s coverage, so we’ll be doing the thing we sometimes do and featuring some of the weekend’s posts tomorrow. But in the meantime, here are a few great reads that don’t have anything to do with this week’s beta elephant in the room:
- Eric at Elder Game has been considering the big questions – death, and how to handle it in an MMO – “If every middle-class person in your dystopian future can afford their own personal clones, doesn’t that affect the story a lot more than we’re letting on? Of course it does. Murder stops being the most heinous crime you can commit, for one thing.”
- In a heartwarming reversal of events, the Amateur Azerothian’s farewell party to WoW convinced him to stay in the game after all – “But the laughter, excitement, and fun of tonight? The specific individuals who made it that way? Well, turns out that’s the kind of thing a person needs. That’s how we get by in this crazy world. “
- And Anne Stickney wonders if Sargeras, the ultimate bad guy of the WoW universe, is actually secretly its greatest hero – “what if the Titans were too good at creating order? If the balance shifts to chaos, chaos will reign. But what happens if the balance shifts the other way? What happens if the universe is infused with nothing but order, with nothing to hold it in check?”
Enjoyed these posts? Please consider sharing them!
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Today’s weekend link collection seems to have come in two parts: those discussing the state of MMOs present, and those looking to the world of MMOs future.
So, for starters, here are the great blog posts of the weekend talking about the current state of MMO play:
- Dude, Where’s My Bantha?, a new SWTOR blog, digs into the rather …specific romance options for male Republic characters in SWTOR – “It’s almost as if Bioware think that everyone playing The Old Republic fantasises about being the kind of tough, strong and ruggedly handsome man that damsels in distress everywhere need to shelter them from all the ugly in the world.”
- Corellian Run Radio has a great summary of the story in the Star Wars universe that leads up to SWTOR – “The Sith fight the Republic because they feel that the Republic damned them and sentenced them to death, now wanting vengeance, following the conclusion of the Great Hyperspace War. The Republic fights for political and social reasons, along with the idea that if the Empire wins, the citizens of the Republic will lose their freedoms, ruled by the tyranny of the Dark Lords.”
- And Melmoth at Killed in a Smiling Accident talks about why he’s stopped playing LoTRO even though he still has a lot of play options available – “Having spent a not inconsiderable amount in the store in the past, I can say for certain that Turbine would still have my custom if they’d just opened up some basic options at the end-game outside of the standard raiding treadmill.”
How are you finding the present state of MMOs?
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Every so often, a post comes along that changes how you think about an aspect of the game you love. I can’t say for sure whether the two brilliant bits of devil’s advocacy today will do that for your WoW experience, but I can’t say they won’t, either. So, if you want to keep thinking of Ner’zhul as a bad guy, Valen the Prophet as a good guy, and your Onyxian Whelpling as not the Azerothian equivalent of Cote D’Ivoire chocolate , don’t read any further!
So, yeah, those dragons. Love your blue dragon mount? Have a nice collection of whelpling pets? Well, Dreams of Iso’rath would like you to take a long, hard look at your draconic collection today, and ask – was the way your character aquired those companions really ethically sound at all? –
“Dragons in World of Warcraft – at least normal dragons from the major flights – are intelligent, not just part of the wildlife. They think, they talk, they have feelings, they can have power well beyond that of members of playable races…
…and despite this, it seems to be the case that we’re using at least some of the drakes we ride against their will, turning intelligent creatures into little more than beasts of burden.
It is a major point of Warcraft lore that the enslaving of Alexstrasza and the red dragonflight by the Dragonmaw Clan, and the forced use of drakes and dragons as war mounts, was a heinous, horrible act.
And yet it seems to be perfectly fine for players to do the same thing – at least to “evil” dragons.”
Obviously, we’re talking about fantasy ethics here – no-one’s suggesting that you, the player, have done anything immoral! But that aside, DOI’s got a really fascinating point here about the break between in-game lore and random Blizzard-enabled shinies. If you read nothing else in the post, read the bit about whelplings, and see if that doesn’t make you feel at least a bit bad about your fine collection of cute mini-dragons.
But don’t worry – on the grand scheme of things, your character’s never going to be a villain in Azerothian terms, right? Not whilst there are really horrible characters like Ner’zhul, the orc who led the Orcs to invade new worlds – you know, the invasion that started the entire Warcraft series off. Except…
Rades of Orcish Army Knife has been looking into the entire thing, and he thinks that if we’re going to call Ner’zhul a villain, we’ve got to extend that name to other lore characters too – like the Prophet Valen, leader of the Draenai and practically the Azerothian byword for a good guy –
“ The destruction of Draenor, the corruption of the Orc race, the thousands who died during the great wars when the Horde invaded Azeroth – all of these tragedies could have been avoided had Velen “simply” sacrificed himself and his people to the Burning Legion. Instead, they fled, over and over again, each time leading the Legion to untarnished, pure worlds, ripe for decimation.
You might say this isn’t a fair comparison. That Velen and the other Draenei were victims. After all, they didn’t ask for Kil’jaeden to come and shatter their perfect society. And this is true. But then again, did the Orcs ask the Draenei to come live on their planet, and bring their demoniac curse with them? Did Perenolde and Alterac ask for the Horde to invade their lands, and force them to choose between betrayal and extinction?”
Whilst it takes a little while to really get going – particularly if you’re not super-familiar with pre-WoW lore – once he gets to Valen and really gets into his stride, Rades has written an astonishing piece of work here. I can’t find fault in his logic – and from here on out, as far as I’m concerned, Valen’s not a Force of Good, he’s pretty close to the most evil creature in Azeroth, Deathwing and all. Read it and see if you agree!
Valen: heroic leader or total scumbucket? And are your whelps Fair Trade?
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If you’ve played through the Goblin starting questline on Kezan and the Lost Isles or if you’ve rescued Thrall from the afflictions of Majordomo Staghelm, but haven’t read any of the Warcraft novelizations, you might be wondering who on Azeroth this new ‘Aggra’ character is.
The short answer is that Aggra is now Thrall’s wife, and that’s official so you’d better get used to it.
Aggra is an orc of the Mag’har, and a powerful shaman in her own right. She got to know Thrall during the events immediately following Wrath of the Lich King and before Cataclysm – events detailed in the World of Warcraft novelization The Shattering.
Thrall traveled to Nagrand to commune with the elements there, during which time he met Aggra. While the two of them initially antagonized each other, they soon became – in true buddy cop fashion – the best of friends. The friendship blossomed into love, and any fanboy hope of seeing Thrall and Jaina Proudmore play Hide the Stoneskin Totem died an undignified death.
Aggra plays a significant role in the events of the goblin starting questline on the Lost Isles. She leads the band of shipwrecked orcs who, with the aid of the goblins, rescue Thrall from imprisonment at the hands of Alliance S:17 agents. She later makes a reappearance during the questline The Call of the World Shaman, during which she follows Thrall around complaining that he talks too much, while ordering the player to do all the hard work. If you do manage to complete that questline, you’ll be rewarded with an i-level 365 cloak, and you’ll be punished by being made to endure Thrall and Aggra’s vomit-inducing commitment ceremony. Depending on your opinion, of course, this may be the best thing about that questline. If you really want to see it, check our guide, How to get to Mount Hyjal.
It was Aggra who convinced Thrall that he needed to choose between his duties as a Warchief and his duties as a Shaman. Thrall, who was perhaps following the advice of a part of his body other than his brain, chose the later option – leaving Garosh Hellscream to lead the Horde to glory under his famous election slogan “Vote Hellscream – because 99% ineptitude just ain’t good enough.”
What do you think of Aggra? Do you approve of her partnership with Thrall, or were you as confused about her sudden appearance as the rest of us?
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I’ve come across three cool posts from the weekend, and I couldn’t decide which one to feature, so I’m doing the usual indecisive thing, and featuring all of them:
- In WoW, Raging Monkeys finds that A/S/L has been replaced by GS/GL/GA. What’s GS/GL/GA? Gearscore? Guild Level? Got Achievement?
- In LoTRO, there’s a uniquely LoTRO-ish flap going on, as A Gentle Stroll To Mordor reports. A new raid boss is getting everyone upset – because it may conflict slightly with Tolkein’s lore.
- And over at Cannot Be Tamed, Jaysla thought she was awesome for dodging all the AOE on a Firelands boss – and then checked the logs. A cautionary tale about any time you’re sitting there thinking “why can’t these total n00bs get this right?”
Incidentally, I have a question. As you may have seen, I tend to do these brief list-type things more than Rebecca did in the past – do you like them, or would you prefer we mostly stick to the fuller posts? They’ll never be the majority of postings here, but infrequently there’s a lot of good stuff out there, and I want to post it.
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