Honoring THE Hero

September 29, 2009

Uther Lightbringer

I’ve heard a lot about Harvest Festival, and very little of it has been in a positive light. To be fair, I’ve played WoW for about four years and this is the first I’ve even known of it existing, despite it being a week-long event. There aren’t any achievements or real physical rewards aside from some food and drinks if you just took a fall from the highest point in Ironforge or something, so in that sense there’s not much of an incentive to care about this little holiday. There’s some fireworks to buy which can always be entertaining, but that usually only lasts for a short moment. Just about everything I’ve heard about the festival has been underwhelming. I can’t help but feel very differently.

Perhaps the one single event in this little festival that has anyone doing…anything is a short little quest with, on first glance, absolutely nothing to gain. You’re to fly out to Western Plaguelands, one of the foulest zones in Azeroth, to take a look at some statue, kneel down, and fly back. I’m sure for most people the process is exactly like that; maybe kill a few hordies hangin’ around in the meantime, but there’s not much thought to it. Turns out there’s all that’s to the holiday; paying your respects to the most valued heroes of each faction. For me, I /kneeled down in front of Uther Lightbringer’s monument a good while after I’d placed my tribute, feeling really, really glad that this holiday existed. There didn’t need to be a bunch of different minigames and achievements revolved around this one; I actually think it’d cheapen the festival. It’s whole reason for existing was to remind everyone of the characters that risked everything to provide us with the Azeroth of today. I know it’s just a game, but to me, there’s something very special about this sort of thing. I noticed plenty of others running up to the statue and performing their tributes as well, and while they probably just wanted to complete the objective, it just felt kind of cool. This game has such a heart to it that’s usually taken for granted.

I have to say, kneeling there and looking up at the greatest paladin of all time brought back a lot of great memories. I’ve been playing this game for what seems like too long to remember and I have plenty of different characters with different experiences, but there’s nothing I hold more fondly than the adventures of my paladin. From marching through places like Shadowfang Keep and The Sunken Temple merely to forge light-blessed weapons to learning the offbeat judgement order against the army of ghoulds in Scholomance for my golden Charger, there was always so much about playing the class that made me happy. Regardless of their current state of unpopularity, it can’t be denied that they’re one of the culturally richest classes; from the style of gameplay to the massive lore behind us, there’s nothing like a member of the Order of the Silver Hand. This holiday essentially confirms that the greatest alliance hero was Uther Lightbringer, and he was the founder of that order. In a world where people constantly try to make me feel bad for playing an ‘loladin’, I was able to feel proud again today.

Oh, and a tip to Mr. Hammerstrike; I know you mean incredibly well, but try and find a better writer than Jennre Loresinger. While ‘For the Light!’ was amusing, it was also really, really bad.

-Charles-

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3.2.2

September 26, 2009

Being a huge film buff and a complete World of Warcraft nerd can be a very dangerous combination. Sometimes I just can’t control thoughts that pop into my head, and the two forms of media (glorious video-films and WoW because WoW is big enough to be called it’s own form of media, a seperate entity from PC gaming due to it’s unmatched stature) just clashed. I thought about various situations in the game that represented the various genres I knew and loved. The holidays were your seasonal comedies (possible…romantic comedies if you play on RP realms and you’re creepy). Raiding has all the aspects of the epic movie with lush storylines and overcoming tremendous odds (Illidan died? REALLY?). World pvp resembles the gritty war drama; armies against armies fighting for little reason.

And then, every now and again, Blizzard jumps into the horror genre. These aren’t your typical remakes or reimaginings that Hollywood’s been obsessed with lately, either. These are the uniquely original films that keep you awake at night. These events are exciting and terrifying. The audience’s reaction will vary; many will be frightened into having fun, displaying some twisted joy. Many will mask their fear by expressing intense anger. One thing’s completely certain, though; these days would fucking destroy the box office.

BOO!

OKAY, so I am being a little dramatic. But honestly, these are your scary thrillers of the WoW world! As active as the forums are, they freakin’ EXPLODE on patch day. Everyone that talks about WoW is talking about this at the moment. People are raving, complaining, and letting their WoW-obsessed minds focus entirely on this patch. And this one wasn’t even that big. But it’s big enough for me to have a few stories to tell.

On this particular day I was completely disaffected. Kind of. I mean, Onyxia seemed kind of cool, but I wasn’t going absolutely crazy over getting the achievement before anyone else; I figured that there would be massive pvp battles in front of her cave and whatnot and I wasn’t too fond of spending about an hour trying to get inside. Besides, we had a raid scheduled that night for TOC. From what I had seen, the gear Onyxia dropped was comparable to most TOC equivalents, so that wasn’t a big incentive for me to rush over to the big dragon. She was just one boss and there were many people who hadn’t fought her before; I wasn’t especially fond of the prospect of wiping a few times to get some gear that’s okay when we could go wipe out a raid that I knew I could complete in an hour, get more gear just as good, more triumphant emblems, the whole deal. I know it sounds like I’m really sort of dissing Onyxia, but eh. The situation was just better for some tournament-ing!

OR SO I THOUGHT.

So it’s the smoothest run yet. There are some new people in my group that hadn’t even done TOC yet, but they were smart and knew how to follow directions. I completed Beasts with full mana SOMEHOW, a feat generally unheard of, but the encounter was really that smooth. Jaraxxus was even better; probably the quickest finishing yet. DPS was off the chaaaarts. The raid leader didn’t even have to yell at anyone the whole time, which is really phenomenal because this guy really really likes to yell at people. So we’re in a good mood. We get in the corner, faction champions get summoned down, and a lot of us are pretty giddy because it’s the easiest setup we’ve seen so far. We barely even go through a strategy because we know how awesome we’re going to do. And then I started lagging. “Hey guys, I think I’m gonna disconnect…” “Yeah, me too.” “LAWLS.” But nobody ever does. Instance servers get screwed and we’re forced to sit around for two hours chatting to each other about the HORRORS OF PATCH DAY.

See? SEE?!

I didn’t mind because the social aspect of WoW is the very best, so an excuse to take a break and talk to my friends about the most random subjects was an entertaining one. We were stuck for hours, too, so I had plenty of time to go grab a snack, take a short break, watch some law and order, and come back feeling ultra-refreshed. Not everyone did this. About half the raid waited the entire time and generally had a fed-up attitude, but continued to wait anyway. So by the time we did get kicked off and it let us all back in, many people were sooooo not in the mood. But since this game controls us so easily, we all decided to group up once again and give it another go. Except one of us was stuck in there and wasn’t logging back on, not that I blamed him, so for some reason none of us could fit in. I was autorunning into the instance portal wish a sad face, wishing the yellow words “Instance is Full” would go away.

But we are fearless adventurers and we weren’t going to stop there! Despite my fears, it was time to face Onyxia! And my fears all came true! We wiped seven times because many people didn’t understand the fight the first three to four attempts and once people had figured it out people were tired and not putting in effort and it just went downhill from there. And I haven’t been back in since. I know it’s supposed to be a fairly simple encounter but I have this thing where when I don’t wind up accomplishing something I tend to avoid it for a while. I’ll probably try it next week though.

Other thoughts, other thoughts…probably the biggest upset community-wise was the changes to Alterac Valley; yielding less honor and experience and separating the lower levels and 80s. I have no opinion on whether the separation was the right thing to do or not, but really, I’ll freely admit that the whole experience thing was wayyyyy too much. I tried leveling my rogue through AV and it simply depressed me with how quickly I was gaining experience. I’m a huge fan of questing and I’d hoped to just fill in a little gap so I could access some quests in another zone, but I saw that I could very easily skip all of that content and be 80 in no time and it was just nonsense. Many complain about this, but they don’t understand how much they were being spoiled by getting experience in battlegrounds to begin with. And they still are. The feature’s been around for an extremely short while, and with a slight nerf people begin to act like it’s a game-breaking subscription-ending thing. I think it’s just in people’s nature to complain about every new thing and act like it’s a big deal on the WoW forums, but the abundance of the negative feedback just struck a tiny little chord. Leveling used to be a loooot harder.

I can see the less honor thing being a tad more annoying. People that focus on pvp and hate battlegrounds still confuse me, though.

Pets! This is definitely the non-combat pet-patch. A slew of very interesting and adorable new pets are in the game; some attainable through the TCG, an Onyxia Whelpling coming for the next anniversary, and a hefty SIX which unknown drop locations. A Zipao Tiger, a miniature version of Kel’Thuzad, a gryphon and wind rider in their infancies, a core hound that’s surprisingly cute, and my absolute favorite, the Pandaren Monk. CHECK THIS OUT, I DARE YOU TO NOT SMILE.

But yeah. As horrifying as the patch day itself was, this one wasn’t a big deal. There were some minor buffs around; ret paladins finally have no excuse to not spec into seal of command, arcane mages were happy, and a few minor buffs to nearly every class, but none that would change the game too much. The five HaT rogues that existed don’t exist anymore; the other specs are upset about fan of knives. Warriors got a buff in sword specialization, but it’s still bad. None of my characters got really any buffs or nerfs, and I’m completely fine with that. I’m very happy they’ve found balance, and I feel it.

All in all, even the most minor patches can make excellent horror films. In scale, this was probably more of a short film or a television special, but it still gave people some goosebumps. Aside from the nostalgia some people get out of Onyxia and the happiness of all non-combat pet enthusiasts, there wasn’t a lot to notice about patch day aside from the terrible instance server debacle, but that was sort of fun in it’s own right too if you look at everything in a positive light like I do.

The theme to this entry is that change is very, very scary, even when it’s small. Try and man up and not freak out/complain about every little thing and enjoy the additions.

I’ll go over Brewfest later; it’s the most fun I’ve had in a holiday all year.

Dollhouse season two premiered this week. It was amazing.

-Charles-

Holiday Season

September 20, 2009

And it begins.

I’m at a terrible risk. This is my first post in this blog, and I fear that the wrong impression might be given. I don’t want Two Tents to follow any specific theme, but I’m almost certain that one will be consistently present from today through two entire seasons. The whole latter half of the year will almost certainly deal with one aspect of the game that I’m hopelessly obsessed over; The Holidays.

I think that the holiday season is something needed. After a summer of constant raiding and questing, a sense of monotony builds up, and even if you’re decently progressed in what you’re doing, it’s all the same. That’s not to say that Blizzard doesn’t offer many fantastic different ways to play this game, but after a good while, you’ve tried ’em all and something is needed to help you break away from the severely typical. There are a lot of people that play this game that do have fairly tedious jobs that require you do to the same thing every day, and for WoW to sort of mimic that becomes horrifying. And so, Pirate’s Day Saturday rolls around to kick off a season that offers something completely different; a welcome change.

There’s something about the holidays that’s very alluring. There seems to be many more holidays in the game than ones we actually celebrate outside of WoW, and they all offer wonderful time-wasting activities. There’s a slew of various minigames to take advantage of and the social atmosphere is usually booming; here are people getting together not to take down a giant raid boss or fight the opposing faction together, but to…search for little easter eggs together, or something of that nature. It’s all very lighthearted and fun. The holiday events are a reminder that fun can be had with the game without taking it all that seriously. It’s my favorite time of year to play the game, and I’d be out of line if I didn’t blog about it. I fear the weeks to come will make anyone who stumbles across Two Tents believe that this is a holiday-related blog. I assure you that there’s more to it, buuuuut goodness I love the holiday season. And that’ll show.

<It Came From The Blog>'s Pirate's Day Event.

I can’t believe this was the first time I became interested enough in worldwide events to login and participate; I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on events like these from now on. <It came from the Blog> is an infamous guild in Zangarmarsh(US) known for putting on events such as these; it’s also the official guild of WoW.com, so I have to say that seeing some familiar names login and play with the group was pretty entertaining. These were people I’ve come to idolize in the WoW blogging world; writers of articles I’ve read countless times. The fact that they took part in this fairly fun little celebration really brought them down from the pedestal I’d imagined them to look down on me from and they were just like any other warcrafter, which, for me, was a really neat experience.

Down to the event itself. One thing’s for sure; this Robin Torres person really, really knows what she’s doing. I think she’s a she, anyway. But it was all handled extremely professionally. There was a loose set of guidelines and those that refused to follow were kicked rather quickly, making it a general pleasant experience. The turnout was massive; much more than I expected. There was pretty much an ocean of pirates running through the barrens; certainly a screenshot-worthy little journey. We met in Orgrimmar, we ran together in a huge pack to Ratchet, piled up into the boat, and headed up to Dread Captain Demeza to collectively join her crew in Booty Bay. We’d stopped in every little town along the way to make sure everyone stayed together, and it was quite the epic display once we arrived.

It was short and sweet. The main purpose of this was for everyone to grab the achievement and continue to have some fun however they wanted in the goblin town. Many people resembled lemmings and jumped in large numbers into the ocean drowning themselves, letting their corpses serve as a reminder for those that entered the town sometime later that they’d been there. Others took part in some fun world pvp with the various alliance that fought futility in trying to kill us while we were there. I merely stood around, took some screenshots of the celebration and talked a little while before it was time for me to head to the next great event.

Samueltempus' Gnomestock

What an ambitious event. This wasn’t related to any of Blizzard’s orchestrated holidays, but it was quite the little holiday in itself. Samueltempus of Mug’thol had much more prepared for his creation than It came from the Blog could have. It seemed like hundreds of level one gnomes had congregated in Dun Morogh, preparing for various games. There was a lot to this; customized tabards and shirts were handed out to everyone as it was required for participation in the different activities. We were all part of the same <Gnomestock> guild and wherever we ran, it certainly made an impression on everyone that wasn’t involved. There were a couple of people that had made characters on the server only to find the sea of gnomes in front of them as soon as their opening cutscene had ended; quite a surprise.

There were some events that fell short. It was handled as perfectly as it could have, but one couldn’t expect all of the gnomes to react quickly enough to keep some games rather fun, and while rock-throwing and paper zeppelin-chasing would normally be fun with a decent-sized group, a lot of us were just standing around due to many unresponsive gnomes not realizing they had the items in their inventory. There was also a lot of running around, back and forth to different places with no real goal which did get a little tiresome. I think the Pirate’s Day celebration was a lot more successful in that it was short and very sweet; Gnomestock tried to do a lot more and some of it sounded a lot better on paper than it would happen to translate ingame.

Despite various shortcomings, there were a lot of great things that kept me there. The obvious one is the very fact that so many people were willing to break away from their daily gaming routine to make a gnome and run around with lots and lots of other gnomes with no apparent goal other than to have fun, and there was plenty of fun to be had! I’d say the starting event was clearly the strongest; a race from the starting zone in Dun Morogh to Thelsamar, collecting money for the flight path back to Ironforge along the way. Gnomes were scrambling all over the map very, very frantically. It was fast-paced and what I had come to expect. We’d also ported to Theramore and had a few savory deviate delights passed around for some awesome pirate-style fun.

Events like these were exactly what I needed, and I’ll probably follow them a bit more actively than I’d ever before. Thanks to both sources for leaving me with a rather satisfied feeling.

Brewfest starts today. More on that drunken debacle later.

-Charles-