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'twas the night after Winter's Veil, and all through the realm, not a druid was stirring…
Yes, it's BlogAzeroth Secret Santa time again, and this year, my secret santa is Lady Erinia of Moments in the Life of a Death Knight, who brings me a gaily-wrapped post, possibly inspired by one of Aqua's earliest hits:
Sit back,and enjoy:
Dr Jones, Dr Jones!
If you have ever done the level 70 10-man instance Zul’Aman located in the Ghostlands, odds are you have met Harrison Jones. Dr. Jones is a lovable rascal that is modeled after a certain adventure series that contain archaeology bits and Nazis. ￼
Harrison Jones has certainly been around the block a few times in WoW. He always seems to want to, um, “explore” some type of ruins and “discover” and “protect” some treasure. Well, it’s better him than some goblin like Schnottz right? ￼
After supposedly perishing in Zul’Aman, he popped up again Northrend in the Drakil'jin Ruins for some more…treasure hunting. With the addition of the archaeology profession in Cataclysm, Dr. Jones decided to don his professorship hat and train some would-be adventures in the new profession, but only if said adventures are members of the Alliance.
All hope is not lost though. If you are Horde, you still get to do the wickedly fun Harrison Jones questline in Uldum which is modeled after a certain Indiana Jones movie. ￼
I highly recommend doing the Harrison Jones quests at once when you have time because there are cut-scenes and references galore. You might even get to star in some of the cut-scenes! You’ll get to witness Dr. Jones using his whip to swing around and destroy precious statues, participate in a dogfight (an airplane fight, not a canine fight), and save the Ark of the Cov….I mean the Coffer of Promise from the Naz..errr…Commander Schnottz and Deathwing’s minions.
Long story short, if you are an Indiana Jones fan, then this questline is for you! Who knows? In a thousand years, even you might be worth something! I had a great time doing the quest line and I cannot wait to do it again with my next toon.
If you weren't a designer, but a hardcore WoW raider, do you think you would think the game was too "casual" these days?
Quite possibly. I have this theory that, when you're a really elite hardcore gamer, what you really want – what drives you – is that sense of competition; really having that gap between you and the less skilled, and more casual. That's what drives you, and that's not different no matter what game you're playing: WoW, Counterstrike, Warcraft III, games like that. You strive to make the gap as big as possible.
So I certainly think that there is that sense that "Hey, I remember back when I had to walk uphill to school in snow both ways, and other players don't have to do it as hard as I did!" There's naturally going to be some resentment, but in the bigger picture, it doesn't diminish their accomplishment at all. They're still better and more skilled – but the gap has changed.
That's from an interview with Rob Pardo of Blizzard, that I've had open in a browser tab for days, but have only just got around to reading. I think it's a really telling quote in light of our recent discussion about the state of WoW.
The short of it is this: Blizzard is interested in providing you with challenges as hard as they have every been, but not in pandering to a sense of extreme superiority over others.
Now you can argue about how well Blizz are doing at providing that challenge – and it seems to be clear that there's a certain segment of the market they're not pleasing at all – but it seems very clear that vast differentials in gear and access between the most committed and the average players are a thing of the past.
As re-posted by just about everybody:
The thing I love about this little MMoRPG subculture of ours is that it can support creativity and art like this, because new media has brought down the cost of producing and distributing professional-level art, and also created a ready-made system for letting people know about its existence – by reposting it on their blogs. 😉 Oh, and there's enough of us out there to make it financiall viable.
The actual song and video are really nice pieces of work – both an accurate spoof of modern mainstream pop and absolutely spot-on gags in the lyrics that hit the spot for gamers. It's almost like a highly-niche version of a Wierd Al track.
And I'll never, ever look at the phrase "tank and spank" the same way again.
So, have you noticed how often Space Goats get stuck behind old world terrain? Poor old Ularia, my space goat pally got trapped behind some scenery in Ashenvale recently, and I was forced to summon a GM to my aid. I obviously crited my summon roll, because I got a witty GM…
And you would think that would be enough. But, no, Gnatashi was better than that:
It’s wee touches like that that make it a please playing (and paying for) this game. Thanks, Gnatashi!
I was reading my once-and-future guidie Psia’s blog, when I came across this little admission:
And so I came to the clothing section. And here’s where I get to the
nub of this post (I know, I take a long time to make a point!). I wasn’t prepared to buy any clothing because I am ashamed to publicly declare my love for the game. There, I said it. Ashamed of something that I spend hours on. That I enjoy in a social context with a lot of my friends.
Psia is ashamed of WoW? For shame!
Are you? I’m not.
Now, I wouldn’t wear a WoW t-shirt, but that’s not through any feeling of shame at being a WoW player – it’s just because I think they look faintly ridiculous on a guy in his mid-30s. I don’t wear t-shirts at all anymore – I’m strictly a shirt or structured top kinda guy. But, if I did, I’d more happily wear something like one of Phae’s t-shirts, which are much less in your face about the WoW connection. To those who know nothing about the game, they’re just an odd design, to those who do, they’re a point of common conversation. The default Blizz designs are just a little too much like paying to wear advertising…
But I’m certainly not ashamed of my WoW-playing. A substantial number of my collegues at work know that I play, and there will be a small aknowledgement on my main blog when I post here. I’ve often interlinked between the two. MMoRPGs feel like they’re in the same place blogging was in a few years back – many people were ashamed to admit that they were involved, but they were rapidly becoming part of the mainstream. Just as with blogging, I treat WoW like something ordinary and mainstream, and that makes it a non-issue for others.
Does that match everyone’s experiences?
To get guilds like that to move, you need to create something so
very attractive – and which offers the same social benefits as WoW –
that the vast majority of the guild are committed to moving. Then those
who are less keen will either quit altogether, or come along as Azeroth
begins to feel terribly empty. If Blizzard continues to put out enough
content to keep everyone occupied and enjoying the game, than even a
significantly superior game won’t be enough to overcome the social
Think of WoW as a local pub, if you like. You can drop in there
whenever you want, and pretty much guarantee finding someone you know
to chat to. Now, a newer, more shiny bar may open down the road, but
the sofa you and your mates normally sit on isn’t there, and the first
couple of times you swing by, there’s no-one you know about. Not much
incentive to switch, even if they are serving better beer, is there? It
will take either a focused decision to switch, or a gentle migration
over time, for the new pub to displace the old one. And the only thing
that’s likely to drive either is dissatisfaction with the current game.
The Mac Factor
And don’t under-estimate the drag factor of the Mac users. WoW is
the only MMoRPG that has been available on both Mac and Windows from
the start and, unlike previous efforts, allows both PC and Mac owners
to play on the same server. Now, Macs may be under 10% of the computers
sold, but when you factor out business sales, they’re a much larger
proportion. So, if, say 20% of your guild is on Macs, you have an
additional drag factor to stop wholesale switching.
A World of World of Warcraft
There’s more to it than just the micro social aspect, though.
There’s clearly a macro social factor, too. The game has such a large
international player base that elements of the game have become a
strong shared cultural vocabulary. The key iconography of the game is
recognisable all over the world, even if some of the names aren’t.
Warhammer, or Star Trek, for all their well-known IPs, come
pre-bundled with loads of baggage. For those who aren’t part of the
existing fanbase, they’re "spotty teenage boy" and "no life geeks"
stereotypes, which will be hard to shake. For those who are fans,
dealing with players not taking beloved settings seriously will be an
problem (I like to call this the DarthPwnsU issue…).
Warcraft is an IP that was designed for a game, and which has only
spread slightly outside that. Few people will be coming to the IP
through the spin-offs rather than the games. It has a strong element of
humour and silliness from the start, that makes the intrustion of lame
player humour all the less jarring.
In other words, people don’t come for the IP – but they stay for it. One of the reasons for the rapid growth of the WoW blogosphere has been that shared, worldwide community who can interact around shared concepts. And
that very blogosphere becomes another reason to stay – it extends out
the in-game social experience to a broader social experience. You can
now interact with other players on forums, blogs, podcasts, conferences
This is How a Game Dies
WoW’s growth was sudden and unexpected. People who were watching the
early days of the game will remember the struggles Blizz had to get
enough servers up, and then the dreadful login queues we used to
encounter. They were so bad on the EU instance of Argent Dawn that my
guild transferred wholesale to Steamwheedle Cartel when the option of a
free transfer came up.
The WoW-killer will not be as sudden a success. It will be a slow build to a tipping point where enough people have moved to provide as rich a social environment as WoW. The game will be one that has as much mainstream appeal as WoW, and one that emphasises a fun environment over gritty game-play detail.
And, right now, there’s a better than average chance that the WoW-killer will come from Blizz itself.
Simply put – this game is now Blizzard’s to lose, because it’ll take
a lot more than a pretty good game to get people to switch social
I’m distracted. Partially I’m distracted by Guild Drama (TM) after Tuesday night’s Kara run. (Long story, not for airing in public.) But mostly I’m distracted by Blog Azeroth, which is a stunning wee idea from a couple of our favourite WoW bloggers, Phaelia and Valenna.
It’s a community for the growing number of WoW bloggers to meet, chat, share information and resources and just debate stuff. And it’s shaping up really well. If you have a WoW blog, or are thinking of starting one, it’s well worth signing up for. See you there!
He’ll be missed…
But the urge to prove yourself "better" than others, I struggle with. Perhaps I’m not competitive enough but, that aside, there are clear markers of being better or not. Someone in Tier 6 is clearly a better raider than me. Someone in full season 3 Arena gear is clearly better at PvP than me with my poor, honor point-bought gear. Coming up with other reasons to be "better" is just futile.
Ah, but anyway, the happy result of Andro’s story, which saw a compatriot of hers, along with my young compatriot Ularia and a baby druid called Corse go adventuring together, was that three low-to-mid 20s cleared the Deadlines. And I (in my space pally guise) finally got to do one of the most fun things in an instance ever.
Here’s the video evidence: