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:
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.
|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.
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?
Whenever I make the statement that while I don’t believe men can be feminists, I do think they have roles to play within feminism, there’s inevitably one or two men (or women!) asking, “Well, like what?”
Guys, here’s your chance.
The White Ribbon campaign is an international awareness movement devoted to stopping violence against women. A lot of their promotional materials are devoted to educating and encouraging men to take up action against men perpetuating violence against women. Before the derailing penny gets laid on the tracks, let’s cover it:
Yes, men get raped too. Their assault is typically perpetuated by other men. Yes, women have committed rape – but they account for less than 2% of all sexual assaults committed, and this includes: statutory rape (teacher/student), abuse of their own children or abuse perpetuated on another woman. So of that already tiny percent, an even smaller percent is female-on-male abuse. Savvy? When I say his/he when talking about rapists, I’m not just blowing smoke up your ass.
Now, I often feel very strongly about violence against women, both for personal reasons and the more lofty goal of, “it’s fucking gross, don’t do that shit”. But whenever it happens within something you consider your community, you get reminded of how very far men have to go in telling each other not to rape.
One of the gold-making bloggers, Alyzande aka Gold Queen has been extremely candid in blogging about her recent experience with violence and rape. (TW for suicide at link.) Because she is a woman on the internet, being honest about her experience, people think this gives them license to be gross dicks about it, judging her or doubting her story.
Protip men: when I said there are things you can do to help feminism, this is a key one. Support survivors of assault. Don’t heap on the victim blaming. If you can’t help yourself from the latter, please kick yourself firmly in the nards.
Some WoW bloggers have used this as an opportunity to spread love and support for Alyzande personally, as well as information and education on the international white ribbon campaign. I don’t know who initially made this image, but it’s perfect:
That’s right! To celebrate my triumphant return from Blizzon 2011, I am giving one core hound puppy away to a lucky new forever home.
Which is to say, I’m giving away one of these bad boys:
|Full goody bag list at Game Geex!|
It’s a Vasco authenticator, and if you don’t have this in either key fob or mobile form on your smartphone, you don’t get an adorable minipet for free. But also, your account can be more vulnerable to hacking. WoW accounts are among some of the most valuable returns on hacking for gold-selling; don’t let your account become a statistic. No excuses, this puppy’s free!
How to enter: leave a comment on this post between October 30th (that’s today!) and November 5th. That’s all! If you want to write a hilarious story about how aliens from outer space ate your authenticator, even better. At the end of the contest, I’ll run all the comment entries through a random number generator and contact the winner to get shipping information.
|I hear random number generators help prevent scenarios like this.|
I’m back from Blizzcon and in true con fashion, I came home with a tiny attached guest – the common cold. So I’m sitting in my alliance hoodie with a box of tissue soul-bound to my hand. In spite of the backlog of work emails sitting in my inbox, I’m actually glad for the respite and rest, even if it does involve nails in the back of my throat.
Blizzcon was a whirlwind of 17 hours days, goggling at gorgeous cosplay, being Canadian in an American’s world (“It’s in the bowl over there.” “Bull?” “Bowl.” “Bull??” “No, the bowl. BOWL.”) and awesome panels. But.
(Trigger warning for suicide after the jump.)