Monday, April 4, 2011

Reflecting on race/faction changes.

I've been playing World of Warcraft for a good number of years now. I think something like five, but honestly, I can't even remember. When I hit /played it comes up with 355 days, 21 hours, 36 minutes, and 12 seconds. Granted most of that time was accrued idling in the various banks of the world, but hey, I like banks. I've actually become quite the connoisseur of Warcraft banks over the years. Best bank: Shattrath City, Scryers or Aldor, both were equivalent more or less. Worst bank: Undercity. I can't begin to count how many times I've walked my tauren warrior off of the stairs there while browsing through the guild bank tabs.

But I digress, let's just say that I've played World of Warcraft for a good long while now, long enough to know what I'm doing sixty percent of the time, every time. I've sampled the various achievements of the realm(s), and I've also taken part in what I like to think of as Blizzard's most lucrative investment: the paid race/faction change.

Long, long ago on a realm not so very far away, I started my Warcraft life as Tobias. I was svelte, with thick facial hair the color of glistening honeydew. My well-cared for locks fluttered as they were caught by the wind, always looking to the East, to the new day with those bright eyes so full of hope and challenge. Triumphant music heralded every quest I turned in, no kobold was safe from my steely wrath. Suffused in the Light, I laid waste to countless Horde in the arenas of Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. In short, I can describe my first years of playing Warcraft with the following picture:
So very noble. So very young. Unjaded and pure, like the Light itself. Oh how those times change. Raiding will do that do a person, for lack of a better reason that I can come up with.

While I might have started so very innocent, I took the faction change and the inherent race change that came along with it. This was done for both guild reasons and server reasons, but reasons aside, it's changed my outlook on playing the game. While originally I was the bastion of hope for all of Azeroth embodied by the bulging biceps of a man that belonged on a Harlequin romance novel cover, there is no way I could be that anymore, nor would I want to be. I've changed in so many ways.

Where originally I would shy from unprovoked world PVP, now I find myself seeking it relentlessly. I teabag kills, I steal nodes when I can. I've even gone as far as to sit in front of a raid instance portal half-naked with a hunter trap beneath me while my best rogue buddy sat stealthed directly behind me. I will actively follow someone on their flying mount only to judge them in the air and pop my parachute cloak while twirling my thin black mustache. No longer do I bite my tongue and politely tell people that, "No, I'm not a tank, even though I have more health than you." Maybe it's the company I keep, we're all sort of like that, cynical to a fault, if being cynical can create faults, that is. For us, it just creates more hilarity. Since my race change, which was roughly a year ago, I've changed quite a bit, the following picture is the most recent I have:

Frankly, I think I'd be better-suited sitting on the Frozen Throne, but that's just my opinion. The Old Republic humor aside, the picture still fits, even if it's from a completely separate universe. Though, that's not to say that sometimes I don't have those heartfelt moments.

In fact, I just had one of said moments the other day, and I think I'd like to share it with you. Now, let me start this little bit out by saying that I don't like how the Horde cities are laid out. I think they're horrible. Orgrimmar looks like it was pasted together by a kindergartener high on white-out. The Undercity is an MC Escher wet dream. Silvermoon City should have a sign out front that says "Population: Tumbleweed". And Mulgore looks like that same kindergartener just took that pasted layout of Orgrimmar and added some Lincoln Logs and rubberbands.

That being said, I don't like to leave Orgrimmar. It was hard enough to learn where everything is, I don't want to get a concussion on the way out the door and forget where the nearest barbershop is. I mean, come on, I'd have to ask one of those guards, then I'd just look like an ass. You know those guards judge you constantly when you keep asking them where the same thing is, just because you can't figure out what the giant red X-flag on the map is really pointing to.

It takes a lot to get me to leave the city. Namely a raid, but there are other special times, like when I need something from the Darkmoon Faire. Recently, I had one of those moments. The Darkmoon Faire was being held in Mulgore, and I had a deck to turn in, I went. I said bye-de-bye to the highscrapers and the v-v-v-v-v-videos while looking for a gang called turbulence.

I took off across the high plains of Mulgore, north of Bloodhoof Village, hugging close to the lake. My wolf's paws pounded at the well-trodden dirt, kicking up little puffs of grit as I passed the mesa by. At first, I thought I hadn't heard anything, that it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but then I heard it again, this time quite real. I brought my mount to a stop, backtracking a bit over the path I had taken. I stopped a few feet from him, my arm lifting just enough to block out the sun as it came streaking over the mesa. He looked at me, took a breath, and said it a third time:

"Will you help me find my dog?"

I was stunned to say the least. In this world of pillaging, murder, and shameless debauchery, here was a young boy asking me to help find his dog. I felt compelled to help him. Maybe I hadn't changed as much as I had thought. Maybe somewhere deep inside of me the capacity for human caring and emotion was still there and I just needed that single spark to start a wildfire of giving from within. Maybe this was it. Maybe this is what I needed since joining the Horde...

Yes, Ahab. Yes, I will help you find your dog, even if it's a level seven quest and your dog is just around the corner. I would be glad to help you. We'll both go find your dog, and then we can go back to your house and your mother can make us some cookies to celebrate a job well done.

Wait. You're how old? You're not some young kid that let his dog off his leash because you're young an irresponsible? Your title is ? How old are you? Christ. I don't have time to help your dementia-riddled ass find some dog that's probably off having a good time living it up simply because you forgot your keys somewhere and let him off the chain. Man alive, son, to think I almost finished your quest line. I've got a Darkmoon card to turn in. Go get some lowbie to find your dog for you, it's probably worth their time, certainly not worth mine. If you're still looking for him the next time the Faire comes to Mulgore, maybe I'll roll a low-level alt to do the work for you, if your dog isn't dead by then...


Yeah, I've still got it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The push for one.

Still playing? Yes.

Still raiding? Yes.

Still crushing? Oh fuck yes.

With The Old Republic going quiet until quarter 3/4, it's time to lace up the boots again, and this time we're gonna double-knot the bitches.

Number 2. That's just not going to fly in my book. Shooting for that top spot, that's the new goal.

I'll keep you posted. No Finn is gonna keep me down for long.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I am not a rogue. I am a machine gun.

Or at least I was, a long time ago. Cue dramatic sigh.

It's been about a week now since that big old expansion thing. Blizzard calls it Cataclysm, I call it TOR:40K Waitlist. For the uninitiated that's The Old Republic and Dark Millennium Online combined, both games that I am looking forward to, regardless of their overall suck when they finally go live.

Now, I wasn't around when the talents went live prior to Cataclysm and all that jazz, so I've had a little bit less time to get used to all of these changes, but I think I'm catching up pretty quickly. There are some things I want to say first, though, before I get into my big issue with Retribution paladins as they are now. So, here we go.

Son, I am disappoint.

When I heard about Cataclysm and the grind from 80 to 85 I was led to believe that it would take just as long to go those five levels as it did to go 70-80, if not longer. For those of you that have leveled accordingly, you know full well that that just isn't the case. Personally, I cleared out Loremaster of Cataclysm in less than a week. I think it was something like four days total, getting to 85 even quicker than that. Granted, I made a boat ton of money doing it, but it really never felt like much of a grind. I coasted up to 85. God forbid had I done some of those dungeon quests when I was leveling, I'd have to trade the 36 gold I'm getting for the 100k experience, and we all know I'm far too greedy for that.

Secondly, and this is pretty minor, but it's my thing to point out the little stuff, even out the fucking flight ceilings. Listen, I know how hard it was for you to go back and actually render the tops of some of those trees, I know. Thank you for giving us flying in the old world, it makes doing your crappy archaeology profession that much easier, so easy in fact that as soon as I find Jinrohk I'll promptly shoot my face off in front of Tirion in his Hearthglen mansion. Seriously though, flying is awesome, but when I hit imaginary walls every turn I make, it gets really annoying. I know my drake likes to fly high up in the jet stream, that's his thing, he gets better gas mileage up there. I'm doing this for you, Lifebinder. You hear me? I'm trying to go green for you, but your lazy developers won't let me. Maybe I'll just have to go back to my SUV mammoth, I bet you'd like that, huh? Eatin' up all your grass, grazing wherever he damn well feels like it, leaving a steaming pile right in the middle of Orgrimmar's drag for all those guards to slip on. We'll play your way, fine.

Anyway, moving on, goblins aren't goblins. They're Ferengi. This isn't World of Warcraft, this is Dungeons and Dragons Star Trek. Need proof? May I present exhibit A:

This is a goblin. He is a sound businessman. Don't argue with his business portfolio, it will end you.

Now then, onto a more serious nature now that I've gotten the initial bit of venting out of the way. I honestly can't say I like the paladin mechanics. In fact, I downright hate them. Don't get me wrong, I know why the developers did it, but come on, Holy Power? I am not a rogue. If I wanted to play a rogue, I'd go back to my level 70 rogue in Shattrath and dick around with him. Quite frankly, that's the very reason why I stopped playing my rogue. I hate combo points. Oh I know, Holy Power only has three stacks, not five like most combo point generating classes! Clever, Blizzard, but I see through your thinly veiled trap.

That's not to say that I can't live with it, though. Holy Power and I could come to some sort of agreement. Like I said, I know why the change was made. The developers didn't want Retribution paladins to be the AK-47s they were in late-stage ICC. For those of you that might not know what a DPS rotation looked like for a 264 ilevel Retribution with full T10, it was something like this: 222222222222222222222222262222222222222222222222226 AVENGING WRATH 622222222222222222 Trash dead. Boss dead. Raid dead. If you played a Retribution paladin at that time, I don't think I need to explain what the 2 and 6 keybinds I use are. If you didn't, here's a hint: Divine Storm and Hammer of Wrath. It honestly took little to no skill chugging through just about anything like that. This is what trash and most bosses in ICC were for me:

I swear, the "2" on my keyboard rubbed off so long ago from mashing that guy over and over again. I honestly could have played ICC with a Super Nintendo controller as long as it had the Turbo buttons.

So, yeah, I know where they're coming from, the developers that is, but as it stands Holy Power is just too slow. While I could get technical about it, one of my early gripes about the paladin class as a whole was our ramp up time for single target bosses. This expansion has only compounded that problem unless we get amazingly lucky with the RNG and get a mastery proc. Once we get into the groove we can really start hitting things, but it just takes way too long in comparison to the other DPS classes out there. By the time I'm ready to rock the girl has already tugged her skirt back on and is heading out the door.

And there I am, alone, surrounded by a pack of dead trash mobs, with nothing to do but blow my fully Holy Power load on a three-stack Inquisition that'll be spent by the time the next set of trash comes into view.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fix it fix it fix it fix it fix it fix it fix it. Fix it.

Blah blah blah, 4.0.1 is live, blah blah. New talents are here, old ones are gone. New stats are here, old ones are gone. New graphical interfaces, new point systems, new new new new!


Not really. I know this music. I've heard it before. I heard it two years ago, and another few years again before that.

Maybe I'm just getting old, well, wait, I know I am getting old. Maybe I'm just getting crankier over the fact that they're cutting my Social Security again, but I'm starting to get really tired of this part of every expansion. Some of you might know what I'm talking about when I say "this part", and if you do, well, you've probably seen it just as many times as I have. If you don't know what I'm talking about, if your expansion cherry hasn't been popped yet, well, welcome aboard and then get off my golf course.

Now, here's a little tidbit in case any of my information is wrong: my account is currently inactive. It's been inactive for a few months now, as noted by my inactivity here. Do I plan on reactivating it anytime soon? No. I'll jump back on when the expansion hits, but until that time, I'm thoroughly enjoying making Texa$-sized holes in the sides of buildings in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Of course, that's not to say that I haven't been paying attention to the World...of Warcraft. I know all too well the changes that have been made, I spend a good chunk of my day flittering about on MMO Champion, eying the blue posts and what have you. What can I say? Old habits die hard. So, on paper I am quite well-informed, don't get that wrong. I just haven't had the chance to see it first hand. Not like it really matters, though, from what I've heard people that are ICC 277+ are having issues getting through the old school heroics. Threat is everywhere, and tanks are getting holes punched in them like a pre-Wrath paladin mana bar. In short, I don't think I'm missing much, and I don't really want to be diddering about with a bunch of priests with 30k HP that think they are fucking boss hoss just because their stats got worked around. That, and the fact that I really don't feel like relearning how to play my class for the third time.

Right, so where was I? I know what's going on in the world, I'm not deaf. I still do my reading, I just don't want to bother with it right now, but I will when the expansion hits, you know...when it actually means something. Coincidentally, after hearing how badly things are going with people relearning how to play their characters, I can see why Blizzard got rid of the Chill of the Throne debuff in ICC. For some reason in my head I just hear the announcer from Smash TV saying, "GOOD LUCK! YOU'LL NEED IT!" while this ten main raid is running around trying to bag big money, big prizes.

If that little reference doesn't make sense, go here, it might help, or at least it'll make you feel nostalgic for some old school classic arcade action.

Anyway, I keep getting distracted. As I was saying, I've seen this all before, most people that are fanatics of this MMO have seen it as well. The last big patch comes out of the current expansion: Naxx, Sunwell, Ruby Sanctum (lolzrite?), and then we get hints from the blues, an actual release date for the next expansion, and finally...the new talents. Whammo. I'll admit, I was pretty excited when this happened the first two times, because each time I was coming at it from a different angle. Vanilla going into BC I was a holy paladin, and I really enjoyed seeing some of the new toys to play with. BC going into Wrath I was swinging the retribution stick, and it was cool, sure, but some of the flair had gone. This time, though? It's just kinda...meh. I don't care, I want an iPhone 4.

Sure you can play with the new stuff for a bit, but there's no guarantee any of it is going to stick until you get that copy of the expansion in your hands. Maybe I'm just a bit more cranky about this because this would be the third playstyle I've had to learn in as many expansions, but I'm sure there are other classes out there that are starting to feel the strain as well. I just don't see why people get so fixated on any of this junk just yet. None of it is really in stone, and it could all go out the window next Tuesday for all we know. Yes, the chances of that happening aren't very big, but as long as the guys are still working on the coefficients and all that jargon, why bother with trying to number crunch and theorycraft just yet?

There's a reason that one of the options for canceling your World of Warcraft account is "Waiting for expansion", and I'm glad for it. It says "Waiting for expansion", not "Waiting for the big patch to show off the new shit just before the expansion". It's two months away still, and that's plenty of time to play redecorator with my Carl Gustav special.

Friday, June 11, 2010

OT: Death of a Salesman.

Sell: to cause to be accepted or persuade; the goal of professional wrestling.

Salesman: a man who sells goods, services, etc; a professional wrestler.


Wrestling, since its earliest form, has always been about entertainment. Ancient Greco-Roman coliseum types aside, let’s just look at the past fifty years: people like Gorgeous George, Jimmy Hart, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Hulk Hogan, and Andy Kaufman have all been entertainers at heart (Andy Kaufman more than the rest, though). The hardest part about wrestling, current-day wrestling, isn’t being physically bigger, stronger, or smarter than your opponent as it was centuries ago when wrestling was still a pure sport, or as it is found in its common high school derivative, but rather being the better salesman.

It should be common knowledge to most of American society by now that professional wrestling is in fact, a farce—a grand soap opera that just happens to involve two or more brutes pummeling each other senseless. While it is true that it is quite the physical soap opera, and that the actors do in fact sometimes get hurt, it is never the goal of the production to actually injure any of its actors. It is the goal of the production to present the image of such injuries, though. In wrestling terminology, such a goal is commonly referred to as “selling”. Just like with good stage acting, professional wrestlers have to make their acting appear as real as possible. They have to sell their moves to the audience. Because honestly, who really likes bad acting unless one is mocking it? It takes the audience out of the experience and makes the whole production extremely laughable. That’s not to say that professional wrestling isn’t laughable by its own accord, but at least it looks real a good majority of the time.

A sale can encompass any number of elements within professional wrestling. A wrestler has to sell the action of receiving a hard boot to the groin or the aftermath of a vicious chair to the lower back. Similarly, a wrestler has to sell his character to the audience, because if the audience doesn’t buy into the character, they’re far less likely to believe the actor to begin with. In this respect, professional wrestling is nothing but a series of negotiations between a salesman (the wrestler) and a client (the audience). Just like in our everyday capitalistic society, some salesmen are better than others and are rightfully rewarded for it, moving up the corporate ladder to middle management, possibly even CEO, before retiring.

Professional wrestling is no different. What we commonly see on television are the middle management fellows duking it out for their metaphorical promotions, with the hope of one day being promoted to the position of Heavyweight Champion of the World. If that doesn’t fit into your five-year plan though, we in the wrestling world offer many other options for promotion: one could apply for the Tag Team Champions of the World, or perhaps a more regional title such as North American or Intercontinental Champion. But of course we are an offer and equal opportunity chance for promotion so we also have positions for a Cruiserweight Champion of the World (under 215 pounds only, please), and even a Women’s Championship title (Andy Kaufman’s need not apply). Not only do these positions come with a considerable pay increase, but franchising options are available for those interested (see Hasbro’s newest line in action figure realism at

There is another similarity between the capitalistic salesman and the wrestling salesman though, and it’s not of the good variety either. Think of a really stereotypical car salesman, or a pushy telemarketer, or even better a life insurance agent—you know, the type that is always trying to get you to look out for your family even though you are twenty-two, unmarried, and have no existing or hereditary medical problems, that type. With the everyday salesman it is quite possible to oversell your product to a potential customer. In doing so, one runs the risk of turning away a prospective client because you either: A) scared them away or B) presented them with more information about the product than they wanted to know. I always run into these types of salesmen, and I think I know why. It’s because I don’t shop at the high-end stores or agencies. I’m cheap, and I don’t want to spend an extra three thousand dollars for somebody to shut up and let me decide what I want.

Honestly, if you ever step foot into one of the Richie Rich stores, you’ll see what I mean. You’ll quickly realize that every item that you can purchase within the establishment carries no price tag. That’s because for the people that shop there, money isn’t a concern, and the prices are already so over-inflated a salesman can make a hefty commission by just selling one item per workday. In light of these over-inflated prices, the sales staff will generally leave a shopper alone, letting the purchaser do most of the work, only in the end swooping in to swipe a credit card as some sort of polite, customary action. Then again, the people that work in these types of places are usually good salesmen/women in their own right, they’ve earned their positions. They are the champions of their league, able to pick and choose their customers just as professional fighters pick and choose their opponents to some extent.

But you know what? For a three thousand dollar discount, I’ll let some moron talk my ear off about some feature I don’t really need or want; it’s a minor inconvenience, really. I play the role of the dutiful and gullible customer, taking every last sales pitch the seller has to offer before finally replying with a “No thanks” and walking out with whatever item I just purchased. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly frugal, I’ll do a little overselling of my own. You’d be surprised just how many companies are willing to cut you some slack on APRs or payment plans if you’re willing to listen to one of their gimmicks or take part in one of their customer satisfaction surveys. On more than one occasion I recall asking for every last gimmick, trick, and deal to be presented before me just so that I could see how low I could work the final sale price. And well, if the gimmicks aren’t particularly too painful, I’ll take’em, and other times, I’ll turn’em away. Sometimes we (myself and the salesman) get what we want out of the deal, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we make a big scene out of it (those usually work pretty well). Sometimes we oversell our roles to each other to the point where we can only laugh at how silly we both look. But getting back to my point, really bad professional wrestlers are like really bad salesmen: they oversell everything that they do, and how can you not love them for it?

Back in the 1990’s, all the way up to the turn of the century there were two major wrestling groups that were commonly televised: the WCW and the WWF, World Championship Wrestling and World Wresting Federation respectively. Between the two they had wrestling televised at least four or five nights a week. Monday and Thursday were the big nights for the WCW and Monday and Sunday were the big nights for the WWF. These shows were primetime, 7:00PM to 10:00PM and they brought in quite the televised and live crowds. But I didn’t care about the big-name nights where you saw the Hulk Hogan’s and the Bill Goldberg’s, what I loved watching were the Saturday afternoon shows. These shows usually ran from about 4:00PM to 6:30PM, well out of the limelight of the casual watcher. And let me tell you, these shows were nothing but a montage of really bad salesmen. Granted, these were the venues by which young, raw, aspiring talent got a shot at the big time, or where aging heroes were casually cast aside into mediocrity, but they were still terribly lacking in subtlety. I loved watching those time slots, I loved watching a man take a punch to the stomach and roll around on the mat for five minutes as if he had been hit by a swinging sequoia trunk while his opponent openly flirted with the nearest female ring assistant, I loved the flamboyant costumes, I loved the way wrestlers would change their characters every week in order to find a new angle on something that had been done by their predecessors decades before, I loved the tongue-in-cheek announcers, I loved trashy low-grade professional wrestling, and I loved it for all the wrong reasons.

I suppose that is why I find the older professional wrestling so appealing, the stuff you can’t find on television anymore, except for when the Fox Sports Network is having a special. I love the clich├ęs, the Gorgeous George’s and the Ric Flair’s. They wrestled when there was no “big time” there was simply the time, and they were in it. Sure there might have been a Heavyweight Champion of the World, but they just got some flimsy plastic belt to show for it, not an action figure and their face on a cereal box. Don’t get me wrong, wrestling back then was still as scripted as it was today, still as fake, but the sell wasn’t nearly as important.

Maybe people back in the 1950’s and 60’s were more gullible, or maybe they were just eager to be entertained, not as jaded as the children of the 80’s were. I think that television had a lot to do with it though. Back in the 50’s and 60’s matches were hardly televised as they often are today, and even if they were televised, it was with your typical 1950’s RCA low quality camera by today’s comparison. That being said, most of the audience was actually present at the event, hundreds, if not thousands of people packed into an auditorium to see two men face off in a twenty foot square. Like actors of the Greco-Roman period in the coliseum, the wrestlers had to be sure that their actions were accurately portrayed to all of the spectators, even those occupying the two dollar nosebleed seats. Punches had to knock men off their feet, send them across the ring, and even sometimes through the ropes spilling onto the apron below. These men were larger than life, as were their actions. Everything was taken to the extreme for the sake of the audience. Wrestlers of old had to project themselves, and their characters much further than today’s wrestlers have to. Think of the wrestlers of yore as actors in a melodrama. Today’s wrestlers, through the addition of technological advances in camerawork, merely have to project themselves as far as the nearest camera, which is usually only five or six feet away. From there, their image is then plastered onto a big screen within the arena for all to see, even those in the two dollar nosebleed sections, as if they were only six feet away from the action. The wrestlers of today can be a lot more subtle in their actions. Punches that would in the past be made to look like they had the force to send a man through the ropes now lean more towards believability—professional wrestlers aren’t gods, nor do they hit like ones. Today’s wrestlers take part in a well-scripted soap opera where the standard melodramatic character types have blurred to the point where characters today can change on a week to week basis dependent on audience approval or disapproval.

By today’s wrestling standards, wrestling of old is nothing but a collection of overselling. Though I don’t think it’s a bad thing, they were merely conscious of their audience, as most good actors are. I still enjoy it though, much more than I ever enjoyed the current popular professional wrestling (not the Saturday afternoon stuff, that was just too good to miss), regardless of how real or fake it was. The Saturday afternoon scrubs, like their historic predecessors, were both entertaining in their own right. Sure the scrubs would never make it into the big time because they lacked subtlety, but that’s okay, that’s not what they were selling. I guess that’s why I still find myself buying items I don’t need from really bad salesmen; not because their pitch was amazing, but because they tried, overzealous and misguided as they might be.