Should the Faction Divide be Eliminated?

Every now and again I hear people talking about how the factions should be eliminated from World of Warcraft to facilitate easier game play.  That the model of dual factions is outdated and we should all be able to group with whomever we want.

I do understand the mechanics behind such a request.  When someone has friends that have mains in the opposite faction it can be a hassle.  Faction swap might be an option if you have some friends over here and some friends over there.

Generally the rebuttals to this are something along the lines of, “But it’s World of WARcraft.” and “The factions can’t put aside their long histories.

But what if instead of merging the existing factions they disintegrated completely.  In Mists we saw the horde rip itself in two.  It easily could have been a wound that the faction failed to recover from.  Ironforge is in a similar position with trying to keep all the dwarf clans living in peace under one roof.  The reintroduction of the Highborn to Darnassus, and there has been strife in the Exodar over acceptance of the broken draenei.  All that is just in the Alliance.  If these cities go to war with themselves, then they can’t support the large group they are supposed to be a part of.

If this were to happen it would increase the amount of conflict and war in the setting, so that’s a plus, and the “but it’s World of WARcraft” argument doesn’t work.  Dissolving the factions also undermines the historical animosities, because those organizations that were involved wouldn’t exist in the same capacity.

Ather argument that I’ve heard is, “It wouldn’t make sense to have Orcs running around Stormwind.”  To that I say, it could be that each race has one or two other capital cities that they are still always considered at war with, no orcs in Stormwind, no worgen in the Undercity, etc.

What do you think?  Faction Pride or Factions Outdated?

TL;DR Ironforge should destroy itself in civil war and Gnomeregan should replace it as a capital city.  It’s in a much better location because it could have a submarine port on the coast.

GvsORC2

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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

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/

 

Mounts Mounts Mounts!

I have had a few rambling incomplete thoughts about mounts lately.TackyStrider

Size, flying, acquisition.

I hear people saying;

Big characters on small mounts looks weird.

Super Rare mounts are frustrating.

Not being able to fly is frustrating.

Giant mounts in cites are frustrating.

 

On mounts being different sizes for different races: At some point, during one of the Blizzcons, or in an interview, someone from Blizzard off handily mentioned that mounts scale based on your character’s race, so that they have the same collision size. That way, a given mount will always fit through (and not fit through) a given doorway, no matter who is riding it.  There was also a blog post when the Heart of the Aspects dropped.  Someone reported that it was able to walk though water in a battle ground where most mounted characters would be forced to swim.  Blizzard took the report very seriously.   I think it’s obvious that the mounts scale so that the players game play experience on a given mount is uniform across all characters.

Super Rare Mounts Grind: Rare mounts are frustrating to grind, because you are not supposed to grind them.  They are intended to be a cool thing for ‘lucky’ players, but is that really what happens?  I don’t try to farm mounts like the Big Love Rocket, personally. I was never able to even get Deathcharger’s Reins.  I would love those mounts, but hearing other players stories about never getting them despite hundreds of runs discourages me from trying.

Flying: Flying is goofy.  It feels very unnatural to me, and it breaks my immersion in the game to be hovering above the game, immune.  The way flying mounts move is so unnatural.  There is no momentum, no physics to speak of.  On the other size of that.  Any change that could be made at this point would be adding a limitation to it.  Mounts are already perfectly maneuverable, have zero acceleration time, and move a speed that pushes the game engine to it’s limit.  Flying mounts need limits, but I can’t imagine what could be added at this point that the community would accept.

Giant Mounts: They are weird and inconvenient in cities.  Everyone has had to deal with a mammoth in front of a mailbox.  Blizzard has addressed the problem indirectly in the past, with NPC’s that you can not mount around.  Putting mail boxes indoors might help, but it would address a symptom and not a cause.  limiting what mounts could be ridden in cities might help, maybe sorting mounts in to size categories, but people want to show off their coolest mounts, so dropping a mount that can’t be ridden in a city lowers it’s cool factor.

Mount Game Play: A mount system would be cool.  Pet battles have totally changed that aspect of the game.  I think that seeing the mounts tab right next to that pet tab, makes me want an optional mini-game for mounts.  I would love to see a system that let me get more engaged with these things I have collected.  I love the Darkmoon Faire race system.  If flying mounts required more active management, and couldn’t just hover effortlessly forever I would enjoy them more.

Mounts are fun, they are a great way to customize your characters look and express their personality.  I look forward to seeing what Blizzard does with them in the future.

 

Tinker Prosthesis

Demon Hunters have brought a brought so many character customization options to elves that they are almost all new races.  Of all the classes that could be added next (If blizzard feels like there is any room for anymore classes at all.) Tinker seems like it would bring the most uniqueness and still fit well within the game.  I would love to see how the same principles of customization the Demon Hunter brought could be applied to Tinker, and by extension, gnomes and goblins.

Mekkatorque’s Battle Armor could be a hint of what a Tinker in the role of tank could look like.  If we have a large battle suit we are wearing all the time, some customization options would make sense, but it’s also possible that a tinkers equipped armor would apply to your battle mech rather than your character.

Something I would really like to see would be prosthesis.  Blizzard has some really cool looks that they have slipped in to other games and I see no reason to not keep that up in Warcraft.

blizzprost2

Gnome Pounder Hypothesis

I have a hypothesis about art asset that is used for the gnome pounder model in game.  I think that the gnome spider tank was made first, and then that spider tank was cut in to pieces, and glued to the bones/animation of the goblin shredder.

It’s really visual.  Take a look:spiderpounderfrontFirst, here are both from a front view.  The spider tank is a round body with four ‘claw-legs’ and a smoke stack on the back.  On the gnome pounder, the round spider body is used 4 times.  Each shoulder is a spider tank body, with the front turned towards the pounder’s pilot.  The others are in the body.  The spider tank cockpit is used directly as the cockpit of the pounder, and the last spider tank body is rotated to face downward and scaled up to make the boiler that is the bulk of the torso/midriff.  The open flap on the front of the pounder is the lid of the spider tank in the open position.

spiderpounderlegclawThe legs of the spider tank are the claws of the pounder.

spiderpoundersmokestackThe Smoke stack is reused without any modification and the exhaust pipes are bent upwards.

So What?spiderpounderfuture2Well to be honest, I was really hoping they would do it again.  They made an awesome new spider tank model, and when Endgineer Omegaplugg started to be referenced in the data mining, I was hoping that they would remake the gnome pounder with the assets they created for this new spider tank.  The green skin and shadow skin for Sicco are new, but the model and animations are still over 15 years old.

I can’t figure out if Omegaplugg is genuinely supposed to be end-game content, or if it’s an Easter egg or what’s going on with it story wise.  I hope this a prelude to more and not a one-off thing.

But I still hope. The new spider tank has not been fully animated yet. Perhaps when (if) they fully animate the new spider tank we’ll see a new pounder too, but I doubt it now that Omegaplugg has been fully implemented.