Breaking Mekkatorque

Sicco Thermaplugg marched towards Gelbin Mekkatorque’s office.  He carried reports from the field, mostly bad news.  There was determination in his walk.  He had something new to show Mekkatorque today, not that it would make a difference, but it would be an opening the Mekgineer needed to get the High Tinker to listen.

There was a banging on his door, Mekkatorque sighed.  The months of fighting troggs had taken a toll, and he was exhausted.  Thermaplugg opened the door without waiting to be invited in, per usual.

“I have the latest numbers.” Thermaplugg dropped a pile of rolled up papers on the desk.  “It’s not good news.  I did want to talk to you about…” as Sicco spoke Gelbin closed his eyes, ‘Here it comes again‘, he thought, ‘that horror show Sicco had been pushing for months‘, but to his surprize, Sicco’s next words were not what he expected, “…something new.”

Thermaplugg unrolled a large schematic.  “What is it?” Gelbin asked. On the table lay a schematic for a battle armor suit, a huge one. Sicco watched the High Tinker’s face light up, clearly he’d gotten Gelbin’s attention.

The Mekgineer continued, “We haven’t updated the mecha-marine units since the war with the orcs.  They didn’t see much action, so there was not much field test data to work with. I call this rig the ‘Gnome Pounder’.  This new design gives them sufficient power to outclass the largest troggs we have encountered and is still maneuverable enough to pass through the tunnels easily.”

It was a breath of fresh air for Gelbin.  Thermaplugg had always squirmed in his position as the Mekgineer General of the Mecha-Marines.  Could this be a sign that Sicco was done with his endless attempts at one upmanship and finally getting down to the business of his position?

Sicco continued pointing at the schematics and explaining, “I had originally wanted to put a canon on it here, but the recoil was too much and I had to go with a pulverizing arm.”  Sicco turned to face Mekkatorque with a self satisfied smirk on his face.  There was hope in Gelbin’s eyes, exactly what Sicco wanted. “There is just one problem.”

Gelbin felt the brakes clamp down on his enthusiasm. “What’s that?”

Sicco took a deep breath, “We can’t build it.”

“Why not?” Gelbin insisted surprised. His eyes scanned the schematics for something he had missed. “This all seems good Sicco, there is nothing here outside our ability to fabricate…”

“There wouldn’t be, if we had free access to the engineering bay.  With the lock down in place there’s no way to get there from here without a fight.  We’ve slowed down the troggs, but we’ve also cut ourselves off from our resources.”

The excitement on Mekkatorque’s face began to fade.  He knew it was true.  Gnomeregan was built it be incredibly easy to transverse, but once the invasion had begun, the lock down protocol had changed all that.  It had been designed to keep the citizens sequestered while threats were pushed out of the city.  Turning the city into a maze of disjointed rooms and winding passages with ‘defendable’ entrances and exits.

“The engineering bay is in the lowest section of the city.” Sicco stated plainly.

Gelbin turned to look at him with a questioning look on his face that quickly fell into a scowl, ‘here it comes‘ he thought, but this time he was more than just annoyed.  “You are not going to strip my bolts with this again, are you!?  I can’t agree to that atrocity you’ve been planning.  Did you draw up these plans JUST to get me to listen to THIS again!?” Frustration bubbled up out of Mekkatorque’s voice.

Sicco had counted on getting Mekkatorque riled up, but now to see Gelbin like this it occurred to him that he had never seen the High Tinker like this before.  It was a touch fascinating and terrifying.  He really had know idea what this gnome, famous for his cool head and reliability, would do next.  Thermaplugg pushed forward.

“How many gnomes have to die for you Mekkatorque?” Sicco pointed at the reports he had brought in. “You’ve seen the same numbers I have.  This is getting worse, not better.  We used the old kobold shield wall strategies and they failed, because the troggs are too strong.  We used the tanks we built for pushing back the trolls and THEY failed, because they were too big to function under the surface.  We are learning, but not fast enough.  This isn’t a lab, we don;t have time for experimentation.  The consequences are real!”

Mekkatorque began to crack, “Do you think I don’t see that?  I know each time we are forced to change strategies we lose more ground…”

“And we lose more gnomes! Yet you refused to evacuate the city.” Thermaplugg shot back, “Now we have gnomes trapped behind enemy lines.  At our current rate of iteration and development, how many more failures before we get the upper hand?  How many gnome lives are spent while you sit around trying to figure something out?”

Mekkatorque rebuffed, “Every gnome I send out there has a fighting chance of coming home. If we do what you suggest, their blood will be on our hands, MY hands.  Blast it, even the troggs don’t deserve the a cruel death you have concocted.  It’s not a defense, it’s an extermination.”

“You’re worried about the well being of the troggs now!?” Sicco recoiled.

“That’s not what I mean and you know it Sicco.” Gelbin said with a sober tone.

It was true, but Sicco pressed the point anyway, “Ten percent.”

Gelbin finally replied after a pause, “Ten percent what?”

“Casualties to the gnome martial service under my plan.  You may say that those lives would be on your hands if you do this, but I’ve seen these numbers.” Sicco picked up one of the scrolls of the table.  “You’re looking at twice, maybe triple that from any of these alternate solutions.  THOSE are the gnomes whose blood you need to think about.  Gnomes who in the end could be ALIVE because of the decision you make.  Face reality Gelbin.  These aren’t our old enemies, kobolds, trolls, even orcs.  These creatures don’t want our resources.  They are frenzied killing machines.  They will not stop until we are wiped out.  We can’t drive them back into the tunnels they can from and seal them up, we have to eradicate them before they eradicate us.”

Sicco watched Gelbin silently for a long time.  His face was unreadable.  Sicco’s heart was racing, sure this was his last chance to present this idea and keep his position as Mekkatorque’s advisor.

“Bring me the plans and formulas for the irradiator.”  Gelbin finally said; his tone betrayed no emotion. “And start setting up what you need.  Once I give the final approval I want it ready to go.” He turned to look away from Sicco, “Time wasted is lives lost.”

“Right away, Sir.” Sicco surprised himself, he never called Mekkatorque Sir, not in all the years they had worked together had he done so. “Most of it is already set-up. My mephitichemists have been collecting the materials and brewing the fuel.  We just need to cut into the main…” Gelbin held up a hand to stop Sicco.

“Just… bring me the plans and put the devices in place.  You are dismissed.”

Sicco quickly hurried to the door, but paused at the threshold. His face somber he turned back towards the High Tinker, “Gelbin.  I know this was hard for you.  It’s the best thing for Gnomeregan.  We are going to save a lot of lives.”  Mekkatorque kept his back towards him.

Thermaplugg stepped out of the room. Once he heard the door close, his face pinched in to an insidious smile as he hurried down the hall. He had done it. Despite always being one step behind Mekkatorque, he was finally going to get his way.

Faceoff

Should the Ironman Challenge Become an Option in WoW?

Iron Man Challenged is so popular, I hope Blizzard adds it as an official option when rolling a character one day.  It seems like it would be an easy thing to add, just tick a box and you can’t equip uncommon armor, enter instances or BG or learn professions…  Oh and when you die your character is dead forever.  Official integration would lead to a few ‘convenience’ features, like an official leader-board, and the ability to mail all your gold from your dead character to one of your living toons.  Heck, it could be as simple as having the title “Iron <name>” on all new toons that is then lost the first time you die or equip an uncommon/rare/epic item.

The best time to have added a leveling challenge would have been right after Cataclysm.  New leveling content and an incentive to run it in a new way.  Perhaps if they rework the level content again (unlikely) they will add it.  I think they are close to making boosting level at the beginning of an expansion so cheap and easy as to make leveling in the old world irrelevant.

wowchallcrestI was checking out the leader boards they have at wowchallenges.com. Their other challenges are really interesting too.  Along with variable levels of the Ironman (such as Tinman) They have a Pacifist and Blood Thirsty challenges.

Pacifist has gotten a lot of attention from Polygon’s series “World of Peacecraft” staring the gnome rogue Raandyy, and before that the extreme efforts of the pandaren shaman Doubleagent.  In the past, I’ve said that Pacifist should be a separate ‘class’.  I say that because I think it’s the easiest way to make a character that does not have the ability to attack.  As a class they could get a low level sprint and some kind of aggro reducing ability.  Lorewise they could be cast as Merchants, leading to them being unfriendly/neutral with the opposing faction.

Blood Thirsty is challenging (all grinding mobs, no quests), but it feels like it’s missing something.  If Blizzard added something akin to Blood Thirsty, I think they would have to amp it up. They could making it starkly the opposite of pacifist and put you are at war with BOTH Alliance and Horde.  Those characters would need to have their own starting zone.  Story wise, they could lump all those characters together, like remnants of the Twilight’s Hammer, or make them unique per race, like Leper Gnomes and Grimtotem Tauren.  Something that puts them on the outside of society story wise.  There are certain places that tweaks would need to be made so that these characters could get around the world, like up to Northrend.

The biggest challenge I see with making these philosophically, is that they can not join groups or guilds.  Not being able to party up puts these type of characters at odds with the social nature of the MMO.  That being said, I don’t think anyone would play a challenge mode as their main.  I would love to see some new ways to play baked right in as an option.

WoW Challenges can be found on their website at wowchallenges.com and on Twitter: @WoWChallenges

Why Wait? Mekkatorque in Heroes of the Storm

We know that Blizzard has planned to put Mekkatorque in Heroes of the Storm for a long time (Since 2011 at least) so why wait?  My first thought was that they wanted to wait until the HotS meta was in a certain place for some reason.

But does it make sense to hold a hero until either a counter hero, or until a certain map has been released first?  Any new hero that is added needs to function on all the existing maps without breaking them, and will need to be countered by multiple heroes that already exist.

It could be they are waiting for Mekkatorque to do something in World of Warcraft.  We’ve seen Mekkatorque in his new battle suit.  I wonder if he has some kind of upcoming scene where they will show him doing things that they want to bring in to HotS, but they don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen for World of Warcraft players.  Admittedly, that’s a reach, and might be 100% wishful thinking, but the idea of it makes me excited for BOTH games.

Maybe they want to make him a multi-class character, but that he got too complicated.  Now they are watching how Varian does.  Working kinks out of the multi-class concept with a straight forward character before trying a more complicated one.  As a bonus, they get to test the waters for how multi-class characters are received, and get us the player familiar with the basics of how the system work before adding a layer of complexity on top of it.

Of course, this is all assuming that Mekkatorque hasn’t been scrapped in favor of Chromie.  I highly suspect that the HotS team would like a character that represents each race and class from WoW and that Chromie ticks the ‘gnome’ box.  Datamining had shown Mekkatorque with a ‘tar barrel’ attack that might have turned in to Chromie’s Slowing Sands.  Chromie also has the Gnomeregan score as her theme music instead of the Caverns of Time music.  Doesn’t leave a lot for future gnomes.

The worst part is I can’t just say “we’ll see” because if Mekkatorque is never released, we could speculate forever.  On top of that he could get scrapped, and then picked back up later for a completely different concept.  HotS is so random I am completely unable to guess what character might be coming next.

Journal Entry gMAY 1st 2017

Children’s Week is here.  I wanted to do something for all the orphans from Gnomeregan, but I have been unable to locate where Mekkatorque has hidden the gnomish children that were evacuated  when the troggs invaded.  They must be some where.  How could he hide that many children?  I’ve been searching for these kids for almost 20 years. Where could they be!?  In the mean time, we continue to make toys for the little tykes, including Jerry Hatchet Hands, the Spark’n’Flash race car, and the EZ Mix Explosives Kit!

GnomeBaby

Gnomish Sciomancers

Most gnomes don’t think much about the afterlife.  Attempts to contact and study those that have passed on generally yields inconclusive results, with one exception: Ghosts.

Ghost are real, as is the shadowlands.  They can be interacted with and examined through sciomancy.  At one time this lead to the formation of a group of gnomes who believed becoming a ghost was the only hope of an afterlife. (If not the ONLY hope, at least it was preferable to reintegration with the environment or oblivion.)  These gnomes became Sciomancers of the highest caliber.  Able to contact and control the spirits of the dead, and even enter the shadowlands.

While Gnomeregan had no official laws against Necromancy or Shadow magic at the time, the group was still looked down upon and outcast.  Most of these Scimomancers went north to Lordaeron to study at the school that became Scholomance, and were lost to the scourge.

Sciomancer2

Inferred Gnome Lore from Warcraft 2 Tinfoil Hat

Because gnome lore in World of Warcraft is… light.  There is a lot of room for head canon.  When coming up with my head canon I try to look back at what is there and infer as much as possible for the source material before I start creating things from whole cloth.  What can be inferred about gnomes from Warcraft 2 lore and game mechanics?

THumanInventorhere are two gnome units and one gnome building in Warcraft 2, the Gnomish Flying Machine, the Gnomish Submarine and the Gnomish Inventor.  The first to become available is the Gnomish Flying Machine.  It’s built at the Gnomish Inventor building. The submarine is built at the shipyard, just like all Alliance boats, but requires the Gnomish Inventor to be present.

WFlyhen World of Warcraft launched in 2004 there were really only 2 gnome characters of any note, Mekkatorque and Thermaplugg.  It’s suggested in the lore that Mekkatorque has been High Tinker since before the Second War. Therefore I feel like it’s safe to assume that he lead the gnomish forces in that conflict, making Gelbin Mekkatorque THE Gnomish Inventor.

WHumanFlyinge see in concept art for Heroes of the Storm that Mekkatorque is a pilot of a Gnomish Flying machine.  This makes sense, his most famous inventions are forms of transportation, the Mechanostrider and the Deeprun Tram.  So his role as a pilot would not contradict anything we see him do in game.  It is further supported more by the suit of power armor he pilots on the Broken Shore in Legion.  Mekkatorque seems as comfortable behind a control panel as he does with a melee weapon.

IWC2HumanSubmarinef we assume that Mekkatorque lead the Gnomish Air Force during the Second war, I think it’s safe to assume that Thermaplugg was Admiral of the Gnomish Navy.  Thermaplugg would not have been on the same level as Mekkatorque. He would have been under the command of Grand Admiral Proudmoore from Kil Tiras.  The lore descriptions of how the subs were used in Warcraft 2 imply that the gnome submarines were under Proudmoore’s command.

I would love to see a remastered Warcraft 2 RTS that featured Mekkatorque as a hero Flying Machine unit, and Thermaplugg as a hero Submarine unit.

IHumanGryphonf we look further at the game mechanics to give lore hints, we find something else.  There are two dwarven units in the game too.  The Gryphon Rider, which is a Wildhammer dwarf, and the Demolishion Squad, from underground Kaz’Modan.  The thing is, the Dwarves of Ironforge are the second unit you get from the Gnomish Inventor.

IDwarfdemo think that while the Wildhammers were going all in with the Alliance Forces, Ironforge was holding back, and the Ironforge dwarves that did participate were under the command of Mekkatorque.

WHumanAviaryildhammers are said in the lore to be separate and distrusting of the other dwarves.  They even have their own building for their unit.  But the Ironforge dwarves come from the Gnomish Inventor.  It supports the idea of the strained relationship between Wildhammers and Bronzebeards.

If Ironforge feels about the same way towards Wildhammers as Wildhammers feel about them.  I could see Magni not wanting to commit to the Alliance fully because the Wildhammers were featuring such a predominate role in it’s formation.  Is it really a stretch to think that Magni would want to keep the Wildhammers, and by extension the Alliance, at arms length?  Here is this large organization forming, that includes both friendly trading partners and old rivals.  He can’t snub them by refusing to join, and the threat too Azeroth as a whole is large to be ignored.  So rather than put Ironforge dwarves at risk of having to take orders from Wildhammers, he asks Mekkatorque to take the role leading Ironforge and Gnomeregan’s combined forces.  That way he can send aids to his allies, and defend Azeroth, without having to buddy up to the Wildhammers.

All that political and military entanglement of Ironforge and Gnomeregan could lead to Gnomeregan catching the attention of the Dark Irons… but that’s a path we can go down later.

I have not had a chance to read Chronicles Volume 2 yet, but from what I have heard there is not a lot of development of either Gnomeregan or Ironforge from the Warcraft 2 era.  I really wish that some distance would be put between the Gnomes and Dwarves in Warcraft.  They can be friends with being shoehorned in to the same niche in the lore.  At this point they remain inexorably tied to one another.  I hope that they will continue to work on making each more unique by diversifying their kits in different directions.

Transmog Store

HelmsShopEyepatches2A few weeks ago, Matthew Rossi over at Blizzard Watch wrote a couple of articles about transmog and they made me think.  What would I buy from the store for transmog?  Why don’t I like the three helms they have available?

I think I don’t like the helms because of how stylized they are.  Each one looks like it is a part of a larger set.  You can not buy one to complement your transmog, you have to build an outfit around the helm.  What I really want are simpler items that I can use with a variety of outfits.

I would like to see more flexible RP options in the transmog store. For example, some people use the [Crimson Beholder Eye] as a plate ‘eye-patch’ (even though it is a monocle).  If I could buy and [Eyepatch] that came with ~10 different recolors or patterns, I would snatch that up.  The same if true for generic hoods and goggles.  If there was a bundled kit full of colors to match lots of outfits, I would be much more inclined to buy them.  I would also love a hood/cowl/mask option that would automatically match the color scheme of my guild tabard.
The three helms they have in the store already could even be improved by simply adding a few tint shifts for them so we can make the helm match what we are wearing instead of the other way around.  Jewel of the Firelord/Fel Lord/Frost Lord/Light Lord/Shadowlord anyone?

Helms2Right now the role-play options for plate wears is esspecially low.  We have goggles now, but we still can’t wear eye-patches, blind folds, masks, most monocles, or hats.  Opening these up across armor types would make me very happy.

http://blizzardwatch.com/2017/03/16/transmog-items-sale/

http://blizzardwatch.com/2017/03/20/like-added-transmogrification-system/