RAMBLINGS FROM THE WORLD OF WARCRAFT

Archive for December, 2010

It Will Always Be Just A Game

** Update: I wrote this post up fairly quickly this morning. I am bad about writing something, doing a quick proof-reading and then posting it. I do not take the time to revise things and make them sound better. There are a couple of instances below where I said I wasn’t affected by the drama that has recently occurred in my guild. But those words aren’t accurate. Of course it has had an effect on me. My friends are no longer friends with each other, things are tense and strained, people are gone and people are bitter. It affects me. What I should have said is the drama didn’t involve me. I cannot determine who’s story rings the most truth because I didn’t witness any of it and none of the parties involved have ever acted or talked negatively to me. I just wanted to clear that up because saying it didn’t affect me made me sound like I didn’t care about anyone and that’s simply not true. I care about all of them.**

This January marks the beginning of my 4th year in World Of Warcraft, a game my brother had been trying to talk me into playing for at least a year before I ever did. I held out because I had heard stories about how addicting it was and I have always been someone who enjoys going out socially with friends and family as much as possible. But he finally convinced me to try the 14 day free trial during the winter days of January 2007 when I was mostly stuck in the house. I immediately loved it (like I was afraid I would) and created a permanent account before the trial was even over. I joined the guild my brother was in immediately because he and one of my real life friends from work (hi David) were in it and they told me I had to be too. I had no idea really what a guild even was, but I had one. Over the past 3 years there have been 3 other people from my life outside the game who have also joined this guild, 2 of which are very dear friends of mine. And David had other friends who lived in the same local area as me and played, so I actually got a chance to meet several guildies at a few LAN parties and have gotten to know them outside of the game.

Over the years I have also developed great friendships with some fellow guild mates who don’t live locally. It’s probably hard for people who don’t have much of an internet life to understand how you can call someone a friend if you only know them online, but trust me, it’s easy to do. These are people that I chat with for hours a week, who’ve offered their help and support to me (even if it is in-game I’m referring to), who I’ve logged into Vent with and actually heard their voices and talked with them. I follow them on Facebook and through their blogs and Twitter accounts, etc. Some of these people talk to me more than certain members of my family do. Yes, they are friends.

Like any guild, there’s drama. I’ve seen a few people rage quit or get kicked over the years and we’ve had people who have had to quit because of personal life. While it’s always sad to see someone go, none of these had ever really had any effect on me at all. But recently, that has changed. Our guild is suffering a meltdown of sorts. Instead of just 1 or 2 people leaving for their individual reasons, we have handfuls of people leaving and all for connected reasons. Guild officers have left. People who have been a big part of my WoW life, people who I absolutely loved to log in and see, people who I do consider friends… are gone now. The past month or so has been one surprise after another with drama and gquits. Our guild forum is filled with goodbye messages and whispered chats are taking place in-game.

As much as I wanted to avoid hearing anything, if you are friends with people on both sides of the split, you’re gonna eventually hear what happened. I’ve heard/read several sides of it. Some people seem to be wondering WHY I’m not more upset about what has happened while others seem to be just waiting for WHEN I will be become upset about what happened. But here’s the thing everyone needs to understand… it’s just a game. I don’t want to belittle anyone by saying that and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone who is seriously upset over what they’re feeling about all of this. But, none of what happened ever happened to me personally. I do not do drama. I don’t ever pick sides because I love everyone. It’s just my nature to be happy. Maybe you think I should be upset that my friends were treated like this. But guess what? I have friends on both sides of this thing so how do I determine who is right, who is wrong and who got treated badly? I don’t have to because I wasn’t involved in any of the original issues. I’ll never know who’s telling the story correctly. And it’s not worth my time to even try… because it’s just a game. I can still play the game and I can still talk to all of my friends (as long as they remain on the same server as me) while I’m logged in. I can even still run heroics with any of them that remain on the same server, they just simple have a different guild name now. I’m sorry everyone is upset with each other. I’m sorry for the stress my friends are feeling. I’m sorry we can’t all be one big happy family. But really, it doesn’t affect me or my game at all. And I hope me saying that doesn’t piss anyone off.

My guild just seems like part of the game to me. I can’t imagine playing without being in it. I never searched for a guild or joined one based on criteria I had in mind. It just simply came with the game because my brother put me in it. And I like it there. Yes, there have been troubles recently and there have been drastic changes and we may or may not have an uncertain future. But I log in just to have fun playing a game. It’s supposed to be an escape from real life. A way of forgetting your troubles. It should never be a source of stress or frustration (except of course for when you are wiping repeatedly on a boss). If I ever get to the point where I am seriously upset about in-game relationships or I dread logging in… then I’ll quit playing that day because it would no longer be a game. So yes, I’m staying in my guild not because I’ve picked sides, but because it’s my guild. I am ignoring the drama. I am concerned about all of my friends and I am sorry they are going through this, but it has no bearing on my game play.

In closing, I have no idea whether any of my WoW friends will ever read this but just in case they do I want to say: I value your friendship, I look forward to remaining in contact with you, I’m sorry your feelings were hurt the way they were. But I am not choosing sides; I do not believe one person over another. I refuse to. I have no way of gauging who is telling a truer version. I’m over it. I’m just playing a game. I love you all.

Uldum Is A Strange Place

I have captured a huge number of screenshots over the past week. Shots of cut scenes, npc’s saying funny things, fun quests, my rag-muffin gear that I change a piece of after every 6 or 7 quests, etc. But I don’t want to post too much about the quests or the zones before people have a chance to see it for themselves. I don’t want to be a spoiler. So instead I thought I’d show you one of the weirdest things I’ve run across so far and I promise it won’t spoil anything.

In Uldum, while flying over Vir’naal Lake, I spotted a floating cat head. I have no idea if it is supposed to be there or if it was some weird glitch, but it kinda creeped me out. It’s bigger than my head and looks like a bobber from the bottom. Some sort of weird ancient Egyptian custom I guess.

Cataclysmic Laughter

I am loving this expansion so much. Blizzard stepped their game up yet again. It’s been so much fun actually taking the time to read the quests and pay attention to the details. Several days ago, while questing in Mount Hyjal, I bounded through an ogre cave on a mission and stumbled upon some poor fellow being held prisoner. When I interacted with him he told a story about how he had been doing research when suddenly he found himself in his current predicament. You had the option of immediately accepting his request for help or you could ask him another question abou

t how his research was going. Me, being my normal smart-ass self, chose to ask the question before agreeing to help. This was his answer. (So sorry I accidentally saved it in .gif format, it looks crappy. I was too busy laughing at what I was seeing to pay attention to what I was doing.)
This was pretty early on in my Cata experience and it made me realize I was gonna have a lot of screen-shotting to do if things were gonna continue to be this awesome. And trust

me, things did continue this way and I did take a lot of screenshots. There will be more to come here shortly and they will actually be pretty jpegs and not crappy gifs.

Cataclysm: A New WoW Beginning

Thanks to a combination of a new expansion, a shift in my social life, a change in my work hours, and the fact that it’s too cold to be outside for the next several months, my WoW nerd-level is increasing. Rapidly. With the release of Cataclysm I have committed myself to stepping up my game. No more clicking the quest accept button instantly and then using quest helper add-ons to tell me what to do. No more asking about every possible upgrade in guild chat so someone else can tell me what I need. No more tabbing out to wowhead to figure out where zones or NPC’s are. Okay, that last one wasn’t really a big issue, but still. My point is, no more half-assed casual play.
I’ve been playing for nearly 3 years and it’s about time I stop wandering around like a noob.

[interlude]
Please allow me to make a small interjection here. I am serious about what I have said above, but let me clarify that this does not mean I am becoming a hardcore raider. I do plan on gearing myself better and actually studying fights for a change so that I can be a raider who will benefit my guild. But I cannot at this point committ to raiding every Friday, Saturday, Monday & Wednesday (or whatever). I mean, for one thing, it will eventually be summer again and the drive-in will be open. Also, I like to leave my house at least several times a week. That is all.
[/interlude]

I plan on grinding rep for the proper rewards… and the fun ones. I plan on reading each quest and trying to learn the story, to immerse myself a little bit more in the lore of the game. Because really, who would play this for years and years and years if there wasn’t actually a progressing and interesting story? The lore is a big reason this game has grown and I finally plan to pay it some respect. I plan on learning dungeons and raids. I will become more knowledgeable of my professions and know what I need and why (as opposed to stumbling around zones saying “ooh look, a sparkly flower”). I will understand the talent trees and actually place points there based on my understanding and not by looking up guildmates of similar class on the WoW armory to simply copy theirs. I will have the proper glyphs, enchants and gems. Oh man, just talking like this is getting me all pumped up. Woo hoo, I am so excited to be at this stage. (image via www.ackadia.com)

With the expansion being so new, I have no in-game proof of my new committment as of yet. I’m only about 75% of the way to level 81. I have only picked up a few nodes of cinderbloom and stormvine with my herbalism. I have done nothing with alchemy. I have fished up some Mountain Trout, but have done nothing with cooking. I will be doing archaeology, but have not yet looked up the trainer. I’m off to a bit of a slow start compared to others. However, keep in mind that I have only played any Cata content for about 2 1/2 hours. That is because I did not get it installed until Wednesday and even after it was installed, I spent my time Wednesday night still questing in Northrend. Icecrown, to be specific. Although I should have had it done months and months ago, I was determined to finish Northrend Loremaster. After I got Cata installed, I only had 14 IceCrown quests to complete to get the achievement. I made myself do it. Just part of my new dedication to the game. I had to go to work on Wednesday night with 4 quests left to do in Icecrown. When I got home Thursday morning, I sat down and completed them. This meant that I could now begin playing Cataclysm. After bed, of course. So Thursday night after bowling and before work, I went to Mt. Hyjal. I felt drawn to choose it over Vash’jir because of the Cenarion connection. A druid’s gotta do what feels natural after all.

What you can see to measure the extent of my nerdiness is my life outside of the game. I’m not saying spending money makes me committed, but in the past month or so I have purchased several things to help myself become more immersed in the game. One of these things was the novel ‘Warcraft: War of the Ancients Trilogy’. It should help me learn the back story of who and why. It should also just be a fun read and I hope I enjoy it enough to want to read more of the Warcraft books. When it came time to purchase Cataclysm itself, I felt a strong desire to not only buy a physical copy (as opposed to the quick and easy digital download) but to buy the Collector’s Edition. I will admit the mouse pad, art book, soundtrack cd, deck of trading cards, behind the scenes dvd, and the in-game pet were a nice bonus to this decision, but I just wanted the Collector’s Edition simply because it was special. Not rare exactly, but limited to an extent. I also bought the BradyGames Signature Series Guide for Cataclysm. Again, as a way of having the resources in front of me to actually learn what the hell I was doing instead of just googling shit at the last minute or asking for help in guild chat. The guide is wonderful. It is NOT a step-by-step walkthrough of questing. It IS a wealth of information about the new zones, the changes that have been made to classes, professions, dungeons, etc. It lists factions available to grind rep with and what their rewards are at each level of rep you gain. It’s amazing. It’s so amazing, I bought one for my best WoW mate. (image via http://www.Merecal.com)

I have been taking the guide to work and reading through it on breaks. I have learned some interesting things that you may or may not already know. I’m going to share a brief list of changes that have been made that I hadn’t heard about yet. Then, after the list, I will promptly end this giant wall of text (I do apologize for said giant wall of text) and bid you all a cheese fondue!

Some cool changes in Cata I hadn’t yet heard about:
– you are immediately proficient with any weapon you are allowed to use… no more skilling them up by type
– there are no longer ranks applied to spells and abilities… as you gain levels these will automagically improve themselves for you
– the new secondary profession, archaeology, does not have you competing with other players for items (unlike herbing, fishing, mining, etc. where someone can get it before you do)… each thing you are required to seek is only tied to your specific character
– one of the guild perks is “cash flow” which generates an extra 5% of money from an enemy you kill and deposits it directly into your guild bank. This is so awesome to me.
– there has been a change to the minimap which allows you to see a skull icon at the location where you can find a specific, named enemy you have been told to kill for a quest. Also, when you target that enemy, a yellow exclamation will appear on his portrait.

Open Letter To Blizzard

** UPDATE **
I now have the Collector’s Edition in hand and already installed. I had a friend tell me our local Best Buy did indeed have copies of it in-store (even though their website assured me weeks ago that it would not be available for in-store pickup if I ordered it online… how confusing), so I went over there the minute they opened on Wednesday morning and brought one home. I am a very happy WoW nerd right about now. I also called Target and cancelled my order, so that’s taken care of. Now if only I still weren’t too busy with Christmas to stay logged in every waking hour.

Blizzard, I love you. I really, REALLY, love you. And I am so very excited that Cataclysm is here. Except that, I’m not because mine isn’t. Here, that is. Hence the reason for this letter. Why isn’t my Cataclysm Collector’s Edition here yet? I mean, I know I ordered it from Target and that you are not responsible for shipping it from Target to me… but yet, you are responsible for them not having shipped it to me yet.

Today is December 7th. Launch day! My copy of the expansion was not allowed to be shipped before today, and I just don’t understand. I mean, I do understand why it couldn’t be shipped out when I ordered it, or even why it couldn’t be shipped out 2 weeks ago. But why couldn’t it have been allowed to leave the warehouse 2 days before launch day? Then I would have it tomorrow or the next day instead of having to wait until next week (in all probability). The fact that you didn’t turn the expansion on until 12:00am PST just proves my point. You have the power to prevent people from playing it after it’s installed until you are ready for them to play it. Why couldn’t I have received it in the mail yesterday and had it installed and ready to go when the clock struck the magic number? Having it in hand wouldn’t have gotten me in any quicker than anyone else.

I know what you’re gonna say… I could have easily purchased the digital download and would have been playing instantly. Or, at the very least, I could have attended one of the several launch parties in my area and carried it home with me in just a few hours. And yes, you are most certainly correct. Except that I wanted the Collector’s Edition and not the digital downloaded one. I wanted the box, the disk, the art book, the cd. I wanted it in my hands so that I could hug it and squeeze it and call it George. Maybe even snuggle up with it on my pillow at night. I checked all the area stores weeks ago and from what I saw, the Collector’s Edition was not available for in-store pickup in my area. So, I ordered it online. And now I sit here waiting.

To make matters worse, I had prepared myself for the wait and convinced myself that I could finish up some quest lines in Northrend while everyone else was falling all over themselves in the new areas. Then, when I got there in 5 or 6 days, things would be cleared out a bit and I could enjoy myself. But this morning I received an email that tore apart all of my optimism and prompted me to write this letter. I got an email from Target… “Thank you for shopping at Target.com. We wanted to let you know that there is a delay with one or more items in the order you placed…” Cry. Sob. QQ. I don’t think I’m gonna make it. Blizzard, you have made me emo.

In closing, I just want to say that when the next expansion comes out please consider allowing it to be shipped 2 days or so before launch date. I don’t care too much about logging in at the exact moment it goes live, but it would be nice not to have to wait a week on it.

Also, please consider not launching an expansion so close to the holidays ever again. I ended up about 80 quests short of Loremaster before patch 4.0.3a hit and although I obviously should have been questing harder earlier in the game, I believe I would have made it if I hadn’t spent the weekend before the patch out of town for 4 days celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. And now this month I have to wrap presents, attend parties, decorate, clean, bake, visit family out of town, go shopping for gifts, etc. It really sucks that it came so close to Christmas. But, I am simply speaking for myself and I know there are millions of others out there who are logged into Cataclysm right now with not a care in the world. And those people… they make me jealous.

Forever yours,
Elfindale of Azuremyst

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