It seems only fitting I should talk about WoW, on this the day of the Blizzcon opening ceremonies, right? Right! (Even if I suspect, along with the rest of the world, the big announcement will be about a new Diablo expansion, and maybe two smaller announcements about Sombra and a new Warcraft movie)(please jesus let it be about the Scourge)
In Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says: “What each person seeks is to actualize her potential, and this task is made easier when others force us to do our best.” There are two reasons I started playing World of Warcraft back in ought five: first, someone showed me the Leeroy Jenkins video, which I argued on Wednesday makes a good satire of what happens when one person isn’t seeking to actualize their potential, whether PALS 4 LIFE meant to satirize flow or not. secondly, someone posted a video of their guild beating C’thun, a 40-person end boss in Ahn’Qiraj. Watching forty people effortlessly move together around eye beams, tentacles, getting swallowed, getting spit back out again and – most importantly – NOT get devoured by thousands of small dragons really made me sit up and say “I want to do that someday.”
Of course, it was a long time from that initial desire to actually accomplishing anything like a C’thun kill – a road studded with elite yetis (seriously – FUCK that yeti in Dun Morogh), failed guilds, new guilds, new failed guilds. Finally, towards the end of Wrath of the Lich King, I achieved a heroic Lich King kill with the raid alliance I was a backup for. It wasn’t without hiccups of its own – as a back up, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to run the fights compared to the others, so I caused a fair share of raid-wide deaths, prompting more than one “Does this mage even know how to play?” comments.
But when it clicked – it was magic. When the turtle shell kicker dies unexpectedly, and you jump in to kick a turtle shell and save the day – that’s flow. That’s being in the e-zone, as e-sports players say, presumably. When you brag about your pinch-kicking a turtle shell and someone knows exactly what you mean – it feels great. When you counterspell a move half a second before it murders everyone you know? Flow. But it relies on other people also being their best, to bring you up to your own best. And frankly, humans are fallible. They’re not always – not even often – at their best.
Maybe that’s what makes it so magical when it clicks.
My history with World of Warcraft over the past two expansions has been… not good. I quit in Mists of Pandaria, tired of raiding and overwhelmed by the factions with daily grinds. It was a job, not a game anymore, and I hated it. They also fired a huge chunk of the Creative Development team, and the seams in the writing were showing. For the first time since playing any MMO, I played different ones – Wild Star and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn both took over my life for a few years, as well as offline games. I played Warlords of Draenor for a bit, only because I could finally pay for my subscription time with gold, and because the expansion itself was on sale for 12 bucks. Friends were getting really excited for Legion, and I did a lot of stuff solo in my other MMOs because people were all resubbing to WoW.
Turns out, it was for a good reason – Legion is flippin’ fantastic.
It’s like a dress that looks horrible on the rack, but makes you look like a superstar when you put it on. Illidan is coming back, and he’s bringing Demon Hunters? The Burning Legion is a threat again? Whatever.
Blizzard’s taken the best parts of all their previous expansions, and melded it into something really cool. Players finally feel like they’re the hero of the story, can change things in Azeroth – something FFXIV: ARR was great at. Demon Hunters are fun to play, and get great cut scenes:
But most of all, there’s an element of surprise and discovery to the exploration of the Broken Isles that I haven’t felt playing WoW since Vanilla. I’ve been max level for a few weeks, and I am still finding quests in areas I never discovered – despite being the kind of person Bioware complains about on Twitter. Dungeon quests are slotted at the very end of the zone’s main story so you’re not held up from progressing due to waiting in hour long queues as DPS, but in addition to that, there are tons of quest hubs hidden all over the five Broken Isles zones that you can just pick up and do any time.
Still not convinced? How about small, hidden caves all over the coastline filled with orbs that players need to click in a specific order to unlock a world boss? Or that the artifact weapons (upgradeable legendary weapons based on class-related lore) all have hidden appearances and effects that players will have to figure out how to unlock? It’s pretty hard to make discovery exciting and fresh in a post-Wowhead world, but the way it’s been established so far in Legion has made me excited to at least try things on my own as much as possible, to occasionally sad and/or hilarious results. (For example: poisoning nobles on behalf of the Revolution in Suramar City, only to find out that I was poisoning my own allies at the behest of a loyalist. HECK!)
The addition of World Quests to supplant dailies as the end game mechanic was also a great choice – World Quests each have their own individual timers, from a few hours to a few days, compared to the daily mechanism, which changed all dailies, every day at the same time. It keeps things fresh, and sends players all over the region hunting down the quests with loot or materials that they want, before the timer runs down. Half the time I begin my World Quests for the evening, and only finish hours later, because I got caught up in fishing, or rescuing a baby bear from an attacking Tauren. Especially because of rescuing baby bears…
I don’t know what my plan will be any more when I sit down to play WoW. I’m excited to see what new thing I’ll discover when I log in. Like rescuing a baby manasaber? Or a baby fawn… look, I really love baby animals.
(See WoW Insider’s “Open Letter to Jaina Proudmoore” for backstory. Be warned of 5.4 spoilers!)
If it comes as a surprise to anyone that I love ladies behaving badly in Warcraft (and other storytelling mediums), then I invite you to take a gander at my two Blizzard Story contest entries, where I think about Blood Queen Lana’thel and Leyara’s histories, respectively.
It’s hard being Alliance for all your WoW-playing career and having a fascination with villainy, because they tend to either be a part of the Horde (Sylvanas) or quest/dungeon/raid bosses (Keristrasza, Leyara, BQL, ad nauseum). The Blizzard Story contest is, at the moment, defunct, but I had been planning exploring a Sylvanas story after reading Dave Kosak’s short story, Edge of Night, because I did find it very interesting that she wasn’t present at Arthas’ death.
A lot of this is born out of my frustration that women in Warcraft tend to be pushed to their limits by the storylines, and then callously abandoned to their fate (often death, at the hands of us “heroes”) when they’re deemed irredeemable. Keristrasza was captured, abused and forced to be Malygos’ consort after she murdered his previous one, and you have to kill her in the Nexus, an act which the wiki entry for her states “a sad, but necessary end.”
Lana’thel is forced into service for the Lich King when she faced him at Northrend, armed with her former friend’s blade Quel’delar, which she was overwhelmed by Frostmourne, and forced to serve him. (Sensing a theme?) Leyara’s grief and anger at the Horde, and her father-in-law’s madness leads her to ally with the minions of Ragnaros because she doesn’t feel she has anything left to live for (and she doesn’t even make it into the dungeons, you kill her during a quest chain.)
This female madness issue didn’t start with Wrath, nor end in Cata. In Pandaria, where strong emotions are made physically manifest in the Sha, both Suna Silentstrike and Liu Flameheart become infested with Sha, and the players are forced to kill them. It would not be so very telling if not for the fact that Tarah Zhu, leader of the Shado-Pan, is similarly affected, but in the dungeon where you encounter him, all the player needs to do is drive the Sha out of his body, and defeat it.
If that’s the case, why did Suna and Liu have to die? Their grief and doubt – at the loss of a beloved husband, the fear of failing your god – are perfectly reasonable within the context of their stories, which were created by the writers and quest developers. Why do the women of Warcraft only get one chance at redemption, and then only through death?
What’s even more fascinating is that this is a narrative that’s not just played out in the game and supplemental materials, but also in the fan base. Jaina factors into this because like Suna and Leyara, she’s lost loved ones, people she was a leader to. Her story has always been one of courage and of loss. SPOILERS for 5.4 to follow the cut:
There are a thousand and one changes to WoW’s Mists of Pandaria expansion that were introduced in patch 5.2 and I spent quite some time
doing isle of Thunder dailies killing dinos wracking my brain to come up with a good post, when all along the answer has been staring me in the face: the Troves of the Thunder King and the introduction of solo scenarios.
You access Lei Shen’s trove of ill-gotten goods by finding a key on the Isle of Thunder in a handful of different ways: you can loot it from one of the island’s rare mobs (but only one per week, this way), you can loot it out of a Trove of the Thunder King (but only once per week), or you can find it in your satchel of arcane crap at the end of your dailies (purportedly unlimited times, but a very rare drop nonetheless). They also have a chance to drop from any ol’ mob on the island, again, at a very low drop rate.
As you complete the Island’s progression, your reputation with the Kirin Tor or the Sunreavers unlocks powerful items you can use within the scenario to your advantage: slow-fall potions, sleep powder, or best of all, keys to unlock the doors without using the levers located within the scenario. They cost Elder Charms, but if all goes well in the scenario, you will have Elder Charms in profusion anyway.
There are two ways to complete the scenario: one is to find a good guide to the instance, such as the Icy Veins one below, kill the end boss and loot his fantastic treasure before talking to Tenwu and porting the heck out of there to gather even more fabulous loot in the final room.
Your other choice is to go full vintage American gameshow style and loot as many of the treasure chests you can find before your five minutes are up.
(Bouffant hair required, talk to your nearest night elf faction leader!)
If this is your first few times running the instance, I highly recommend the second strategy. The Icy Veins video is great, but the creator noted they had plenty of practice on the PTR perfecting their run, and that keys were fairly easy to get there. Looting the chests while learning to move easily through the traps will net you plenty of charms and gold, and when you’ve unlocked some of the more powerful Kirin Tor items, you’ll save a lot of time on your runs.
The main item you’re searching for in Lei Shen’s All-American Loot Rush is a Burial Trove Key, and the reason why many people recommend getting to the end of the instance as fast as possible. God-hulk Gulkan drops one of these, and the chests he protects also drop them. Reaching Tenwu will net you another. This is great if you have the ability to kill the mobs you can’t avoid quickly and easily, and still take down God-Hulk before your time runs out. Without some practice, this is not easy to do, and you run the risk of completing the instance without anything to show for it. Even with practice, some healers and tanks will find the timing too tight to execute properly. But those Burial Trove keys are essential for getting a chance at the 502 epics and Kirin Tor rep items!
Enter Golden Treasure Chest.
Most of the chests scattered throughout the instance are the red and white “basic” models. But the golden treasure chests are identical to the one God-Hulk carries on his back! Meaning – a better chance at Burial Trove keys and tattered documents. They also have a chance to spawn a treasure-goblin’esque saurok you have to snare and kill.
Take a look at this video. There’s a nice little ledge all around the room that not only keeps you out of the path of nasty traps, but lets you loot a ton of chests at your leisure. Either loot as many as you like and beeline for Tenwu, or just loot until Tao-Shi automagically ports you out.
Whichever way you choose to complete Lei Shen’s Dragon Hoard, have fun, and don’t forget the three Big Sweep rules:
Have fun storming the castle! (Also if you’re running the new Throne of Thunder LFR, check out the layout of Lei Shen’s Loot-o-Rama in the trash pack area between Horrdion and the Council!)
If you’re here, you’ve noticed I’ve moved this blog over to WordPress. This is part of my push to get myself writing more, blogging more, and generally being more present, whether online or off. Welcome if you’re new, welcome back if you’re a reader from before.
Please excuse the mess of some of the posts I ported over from Blogger – the formatting copied in bizarre ways and I’m in the process of tidying them up.
I’ve kept busy, even if I haven’t been writing, doing really important things. World-changing. Life-shattering.
Okay, so maybe I haven’t been doing anything super important. But I’m trying! This week, for example, marks the first time in therapy since my early college years. I have no doubt she will have plenty of suggestions to keep me busy not being a caterpillar wrapped in a fear-cocoon.
Here is a list of other items on my table for the near future:
Once again, welcome and welcome back. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay.
Hey, remember Ji Firepaw? someone heard the voice of a thousand nerds crying out in faux oppression, and linked me to MMO-Champion that his dialogue has CHANGED. Instead of saying, “Wow, you are some kind of gorgeous!” to female pandaren, Ji now says that you look poised and ready to fight. I’m hoping to get a screen cap later tonight after work, but for now, join the party!
Many, many congratulations and thanks to Apple Cider for being the first to bring this to everyone’s attention. Great job, AC!
|Ye watchers and ye holy ones
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones!
There’s not much to report on, but the paladin glyphs look very exciting and showy! Lots still not yet implemented, but in addition to having four wings during avenging wrath, you can also call down holy fire, and have your judgment spell match whatever weapon you currently wield at the time.
|Man, I sure hope that’s conjured water running down my leg.|
For laughs, take a look at what happens when the game decides to drop you in the middle of Jade Serpent Temple instead of Wayward Landing like you expected. If the Sha are one of the major enemies we’re facing in Mists, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed with the models – they are scary as balls.
When I was able to create my pandaren monk on the beta realm, it took me a little while to get going – not because the monk isn’t fun and intuitive, because it is – but simply because the starting zone was overwhelmed with young pandaren burning scrolls and fighting trainees. Eventually though, I made it out into the wider world of the Wandering Isle to meet with Ji Firepaw.
As Apple Cider points out on her blog, your first interaction with Ji is not good. In fact, if you’re a woman who’s faced cat calls or been accosted by guys in gas stations, “I bet you can’t keep men off you,” is a familiar and threatening thing to say.
Currently the Mists beta doesn’t have the in-game feedback system that previous betas have had. But since this is beta, and beta means feedback, she makes a post on the beta forums. The response is shamefully predictable, but to save you all the effort of reading seventeen (currently) horrible pages, I’ll break down the main arguments that have sifted to the top, like so much horrible skin on tomato soup.
1. You’re Just Being So Gosh-Darn Sensitive/You’re Looking to Be Offended/PC POLICE:
The most common thread, in pretty much every discussion on sexism, racism, homophobia, you name it, this one comes up. People are so afraid of offending people, they are constantly keeping silent with their awful sexist opinions because the mean, terrible Feminists will bear down on them with the fury of a thousand gods. Oh wait, no they don’t, because there are 17 pages on the Beta forums, over 400 comments on WoW Insider, and similar threads on MMO-Champion and Scrolls of Lore forums, all full of people eager to tell players uncomfortable with Ji’s dialogue that the PC Police are ruining their free speech, and somehow they actually haven’t made posts telling people providing feedback on Ji’s creepy attitude to shut up.
Look, feminists get told we’re too sensitive all the damn time. It’s a lazy argument, it’s malicious, and it’s just plain wrong. It’s lazy because it’s the strawman everyone knows and cuddles to them to warm themselves at night. It’s malicious because it’s a dog whistle term to point out to everyone how SHRILL and HYSTERICAL this feminist is being. Even though the original posts and follow-up comments by Apple Cider were perfectly reasonable and logical, suddenly everyone is seeing how sensitive and over-reacting she is. It takes that cuddly bedtime strawman, and props it up in front of what was actually being said all along. It’s wrong because we see and hear this every day of our lives. You’d be sensitive too if your whole life experience has taught you that “I can tell we’re going to be good friends” isn’t a giant red flag to run the fuck away.
2. It’s His Character to be a Womanizer/He is Just Really Friendly and Kind of Dumb (like men):
Okay. So? A number of solutions within that thread were actually posited to keep that aspect of Ji’s character, and have it not be totally creepy. He could comment on how strong the female pandaren are, the way he does with the men. He could say the line exactly how it is, but an option to react within the quest text box to tell him to shut up, or he’ll get a punch in the mouth would give female player characters agency to react to his come-on. He could say that line, but later in your interactions with him, where it’s not the very first thing he says to you. He could call both men and women some kind of gorgeous, which, despite claims to otherwise in the forum threads, I doubt would go down as smoothly as male posters are claiming. Remember Bioware? Remember The Straight White Male is Your Demographic? Remember Nerdism’s rampant homophobia? Remember those? They’re back.
How crucial is it to Ji’s character that he be a womanizer anyway, as if that was some character aspect and not a way the majority of men feel entitled to act towards women in general? Will changing that line, moving it or allowing players to react to it really diminish this guy’s character? Do you really have that little faith in Blizzard’s writers? More on that in #4.
3. He’s the Future Racial Leader of the Horde:
This one just makes me feel sad for all the cool-ass Horde players I know. “Of course he’s impulsive and stupid and kind of creepy to women, he’s going to be the Horde racial leader!” Really? This is the best you can come up with? Despite being Alliance forever, and really loving some of my racial leaders, like Mekkatorque and Velen, I can’t lie that the factional conflict within the Horde is appealing as a storyteller, and I miss that kind of interaction when I play Alliance. I don’t really like Garrosh or Sylvanas, the way I do say, Vol’jin, but damnit if their characters aren’t interesting or consistent. I don’t particularly like that Garrosh called Sylvanas a bitch, but I can grudgingly see why he thinks that way. That said, they are pretty established characters, with histories reaching back to TBC or right into the original RTS games. Ji is a completely new entity. Sure, start him out with some flaws, so there’s room for growth and interesting storytelling. But it makes me sad that for some reason, even some of the Horde players have internalized that the Horde is savage and brutal and dumb and gross.
4. Writing is Sacrosanct!
Are you ready for this one? BULLSHIT. Anyone who’s remotely put more than a few words down on a piece of paper in the interest of having others read it know that this is totally, utter and complete triceratops poop. For this reason, I can only assume people making this argument are the types who hit publish on Dec. 1st to Create Space for their epic Sonic the Hedgehog slash fanfiction novel.
There’s a reason why people who critique your writing are called beta readers, and there’s a reason why beta testers are within their rights to critique game writing. For all it’s gorgeous scenery and actual playable female models for once, this is still a crude, unfinished product. It’s not set in stone, and even if it was live, that doesn’t mean they can’t change it. (Resquiat in pacem, Grea Red Elekk.) In fact, better to change it now, because once it goes live, people somehow feel entitled to it. Entitlement is a hell of a drug.
And trust me on this, writers are professionals. They get told to change things all the damn time. Sometimes to the detriment of the work, like the regular reminder from editors and publishers that queer main characters aren’t welcome in young adult writing. They actually don’t need you to go to bat for their feelings, because they’ve heard much much harsher critiques from the people paying them.
5. Well, Now You’re Getting Angry and That Means You Lose:
This is an argument I’ve been well-familiar with since I was old enough to argue in a manner that didn’t just consist of “no” and “why” (and let’s be real, even today that can make up the bulk of a heated discussion with me.) Anger can be passionate and productive and creative. It’s not an automatic lose. It shouldn’t be brought to the table at all. It, like the over-sensitive claim above, becomes another dog-whistle term where suddenly, everyone can see how angry you are. Even if you are still being perfectly calm and reasonable. And even if you weren’t, who cares?
Because this isn’t a win or lose thing, to me. And that’s the hell of it, folks. I don’t do this to win something. I do this to win rights, fair treatment, the sheer base consideration that women should get, but don’t, because for all claims otherwise that we’re post-feminist, or that feminism is now cool and fun, because you can still shave and be a feminist, being a feminist is still gritty and tough and not really fun. Winning an argument isn’t fun. It just means that maybe, down the road, the people I was talking to might rethink their words or actions because of what we talked about. Sometimes, ‘winning’ still means losing friends and acquaintances. And you know what? it’s still worth it, to speak truth to power, because even the little things, even one person, can make a difference. I do this for the women who don’t see a problem with getting hit on while walking down the street, or with Ji’s dialogue because if it was gone, they would probably never notice it wasn’t there anymore. It’s just become so much background noise that the tiny little blip won’t be noticeable.
But I’ll know. and I’ll be glad for it.
No, not really. But snappy title, huh?
I’m going to come right out and say it. That controversial thing. I love LFR. I think it’s a great addition to the game, and if I could change it, it would only be to wish it had been in from the beginning of Cataclysm.
|But for the grace of God the Aspects go we…|
It came up in discussion yesterday when one of the forum MVPs brought a forum thread to my attention. Particular the comment that said one of the problems with LFR was that there were no instant consequences for wiping – they could keep wiping over and over again. We ended up having a good laugh over this, which spawned the shortlived hashtag on twitter #LFRwipeconsequences, but it’s a good example of how ludicrous the expectations of LFR really are. The consequences of LFR versus a normal raid (say with a guild):
1) The obvious one, applicable to both: you wipe. Wiping is a consquence!
2) LFR: the repeated offenders get vote kicked. Usually this is pretty easy. LFR replaces the lost members in seconds. Guild run: Officers talk it over, talk to the offending parties. Maybe they get benched for the night. A new raider has to be found and brought it.
3) LFR: the good players get frustrated and leave. Guild run: the good players reform their raid team. This takes time.
I would hazard there are more instantaneous consequences during an LFR raid than a guild run, where officers are trying to balance downing bosses with a harmonious, happy, well-fed raid team. Now, the replacement solutions are equally quick and easy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly in a case like mine where I play and raid on a PST server despite living EST.
Another frequent complaint is the idea that you’re not making friends in LFR (and prior to this, LFD) because you form up, kill bosses, drop group, etc. Untrue. We’ve actually added a handful of re-rolls and recruits to our guild since LFR started by meeting fun and sassy cats in a raid group. On the other hand, when you just want to get in, kill some bosses and go, you can do that without a problem.
Our guild does have a little ten man raid group that could and for someone who is a ‘you kind of have to be there’ learner like me, LFR does help me learn the encounters. Instead of learning 5 or 6 abilities each fight, I’ve learned most of them on LFR already, where a misstep doesn’t mean a wipe, but practicing the motions is still good for me. When we do normals, now I’m learning one or two more abilities instead of all six at once. it’s a good system that works for me.
|Madness will consume you.|
But really, the coolest thing of all was finishing off a flawless LFR run the other night with my husband, who works anywhere from 60-80 hours a week. We used to raid together in TBC before his job made it impossible to keep up with farming, strat-research and the late hours. He enjoys learning his class and playing well, but the sheer amount of work that regular raiding requires was beyond his time constraints. LFR has let us raid together again and it doesn’t matter to either of us it was a nerfed encounter. When Deathwing fell and we got to watch the end cinematic together, it was awesome.
I love LFR! How about you?