My Take Away from Warcraft Classic

Full Disclosure: I have not played Warcraft Classic, but I have been listening attentively to those playing it, trying to understand why they like about it.  It sound like there are two things about it that really get people excited, community, and difficulty.

Difficulty:  Leveling in Warcraft Classic requires you to be more alert, and talent points make levels feel more impactful.  The raids are much easier, because 15 years of honing players against ever increasing bosses has led to a situation where a group of not even level 60 characters in green armor can clear Molten Core in less than a week.

Everyone knows that leveling in World of Warcraft has gotten onerous and wonky. I’m excited to see how the Devs take the information gained from Classic and use it in the impending level squish.

A while ago, I posted this about incorporating the Ironman Challenge as a feature that would be selected at character creation, or built into a special class, but now having a custom challenge server seems like the obvious solution.  “Extremophile” servers where things like, permanent death, disabled quests, NPC damage and health are increased, could be done.  It would have the advantage of putting everyone together in the same boat.  Right now if you are running the Ironman Challenge, most likely no one around you is, but if it’s a dedicated server, literally every other character would be playing by the same rules.

Warmode was a great addition to Normal Servers, but it seems to have taken something away from PvP servers.  I think removing the PvP flag from those servers was a step in the wrong direction.  Even if nothing mechanically was changed at this point, those servers have a strong cultural difference from normal servers that should be acknowledged.

Community: “With the LFG and LFR tools removed, people have to talk to each other.” is what I keep hearing about what makes the Classic community better, but what seems to really excite people are drive by buffs.  Getting Powerword: Fortitude, and Mark of The Wild cast on you as someone runs by is genuinely a great feel I remember back from Vanilla WoW.  I would not be surprised if weak “handshake” buffs were added for each class in the next expansion, so that walking past another PC means getting a little buff to say “Hi”.

Like the difficulty issues, these community issues could be addressed with specialty servers.  Removing the servers from CRZ and the disabling the LFG/LFR would be easy.  What else could be done to promote community at the server level?  What if “Lone Wolf” servers were created, a server where the character max is 1.  If you can only have one character on the server, and the barbershop is disabled, everyone will quickly become recognizable.  This would mean that you only have 2 professions on that server, so no making an alt for each profession and mailing yourself materials.  No bank alts would mean that the cities would not be full of low level characters standing around ignoring everyone.

What would all this lead to?  I don’t think I’m too far outside the realm of possibility when I suggest Private Servers.  Not the illicit pirate servers that people create, but a monthly fee to Blizzard for a server that people can join by invite only.  This is how Minecraft has operated for years.  When you’re paying for the server, you could set any number of options, disable features, set character limits, permanent death, or whatever settings are deemed acceptable by Blizzard.  If Private Servers happened, I imagine they would mostly be used by streamers to create servers for just their fans, and very VERY large guilds. These servers would probably not contribute to account wide collections either.

What do you think?  What kinds of challenges would you like to see added to retail?  Would you be turned off if Private Servers became an option?  What are the best parts of classic that could be brought to retail?

NewServers

What does it mean to be a ‘Good’ Villain?

There are a lot of villains in Warcraft.  They have different Modus Operandi, and motivations (When they have motivation) but there is no denying there is a broad spectrum of evil doers out there.

Illidan – The recklessness Illidan displays makes him a danger to himself and others. He goes full tilt on every problem he encounters even when it’s not necessary, and by doing so, he does a lot of collateral damage, which he then seems largely indifferent to.  A less obvious villain trait that Illidan displays is his dishonesty, not that he outright lies very much, but he does make a point of withholding information from his allies.  No one knows what he is planning or what he will do next.  You know Illidan is never going to have your back, because he is to preoccupied with his own plans to consider the consequences for anyone else.

Gul’dan – For all the lip service orcs pay to Honor, their culture is really build on the concept ‘Might Makes Right”.  They do not use logic or mediators to resolve conflict they use violence.  The traditions and trappings of honor they uphold, are simply a way to hold combatants to only using their raw physical prowess in battle.  It is intentionally set-up so that you can not trick, fight dirty, or outsmart your opponent. Whoever is physically strongest is correct in all matters of debate.

This set-up is a real problem for a orc like Gul’dan who is clever, but not physically very strong.  Gul’dan sees though the veil of honor that orc praise, and knows that at the heart of things, power is what they really respect.  Honor is discardable because they live in a society where killing your opponents is a legitimate form of conflict resolution.

Once Gul’dan realizes his potential and rules over orcs though the Shadow Council, he becomes vindictive.  He’s bitter and resentful of orc society for how he was treated when he was weak and revels in being about to lord his power over those that would have done the same to him.

Arthas – Arthas is like the inverse of Illidan.  Whereas Illidan goes out and jumps the gun trying to handle problems, Arthas was reactionary.  He followed a problem, to it’s source and by the time he did something about it, things were desperate.  The thing that makes Arthas so effective as a villain is that, even though you may not agree with what he’s doing, you understand why he’s doing it and why he thinks it’s the right thing to do.  That understanding of why he’s doing makes it possible to imagine that in the same situations, you might feel like you have to do the same things.

A good villain should be relatable to the player, and have a reason to give a hero pause. Make them wonder if fighting them is the right thing, even for just a moment.   In addition to being a difficult physical fight to challenge the heroes attempt to stop them.  They should also offer a narrative reason to challenge the heroes morality or conviction in their ideals. Even the most evil and malicious villain is more effective when we can see something of ourselves in how they act.

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 make 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 some of these 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 in as an official option.

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

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.

Gnome Language

gnomefont1What would be a good name for the Gnome Language? Can we admit the word “Gnomish” is boring?

There are some really cool language names in Warcraft.  Names that are informed by the history and culture of the races they represent.  [Zandali](Troll) calls back to the origin of the troll race.  [Ravenspeak](Arakkoa) seems to be based on their religion.  Personally, I liked [Gutterspeak](Forsaken). It had character, but I understand why people didn’t like what it implyed about the forsaken. Other names that stand out are [Kalimag](Elemental), [Nerglish](Murloc), and [Taur-ahe](Tauren).

Lots of languages are just mirrors or slight modifications of the race name.  All of those could benefit from something more developed.
Having the name of the language match the name of the race makes things simpler, but having the name of the race in brackets afterward accomplishes the same thing.

Mekgineer Thermaplugg yells: [Cognovent](Gnome): Usurpers! Gnomeregan is mine!

I also wish languages mattered in any way.

<Warning: Intense Nerding Ahead>gnomefont4

In the real world most languages are named after the region they come from.  In fantasy, most members of a race come from the same area, but on Azeroth that is not as true.  Humans have seven kingdoms that have been separate for a little over 1,200 years.  These kingdoms were in frequent contact with each other, but it can take as little as 500 years for different regions to evolve their own full languages.  Humans should not speak [Common] at all.  If there is a common language shared between all humans it would probably function like Latin does in the modern world, an ‘extinct’ language used for formal treaties and documents that apply to more than one human nation. The language of Arathor and Strom could be used this way. The individual city states or Lordearon, Dalaran, Gilneas, Kul Tiras, and Stormwind would each have their own regional languages that developed naturally over time based on common usage of everyday people.  This is especially true for Stormwind given the fact it is more geographically isolated from the other human kingdoms.  I would expect there to be three dwarven languages as well for these same reasons.

Each Tauren and Orc tribe would most likely have their own language, or at the very least their own dialect.  Not just because of geographic isolation, but as a cultural marker of each tribes identity.

Undead are a very interesting exception, because it would seem that being animated imbues the newly raised individual with knowledge of a language not shared by the living. There is very little information on how this works, so it’s hard to say if forsaken amd scourge would speak diffrently.

Pandaren on the Wandering Isle most likely would have a different language from those that stayed on mainland Pandaria, but certainly not from each other based on philosophical differences taught at the one school on the island.  The region is too small for them to not speak to each other fluently.  It’s very unlikely two separate languages could survive in such a small community.

There is one race that gets it right: Elves.  [Thalassian] is a dialect of [Darnassian]. A longer lived race would have less variation over time than shorter lived ones.

[Draenei] has probably not changed from what was spoken on Argus, because there are draenei from Argus still alive. Meanwhile [Eredun](A.K.A. [Demonic]) despite not changing in its name from what it was called on Argus, has probably changed each time the Legion assimilated another race in to its ranks.  Leading to [Eredun](Demonic) being very different from [Draenei] despite the fact that [Draenei] is probably almost identical to [Eredun](Argus).

<End Extreme Nerdness>

<Begin Random Ideas>

Gnomish > [Cognovent]

Goblin > [Kababble]

Dwarven > [Forgen](Ironforge), [Aeries](Aerie Peak), [Grimbal](Blackrock)

Orc Clans > [Gorgrock](Blackrock), [Nagran](Warsong), [Frostrim](Frostwolf), [Tanaal](Bleeding Hollow), [Scarak](Shattered Hand), [Umbraguish](Shadowmoon)

Human Nations > [Azotha](Arathor), [Stromind](Stormwind/Human), [Lordain](Lordaeron/Forsaken), [Altir](Alterac), [Dalar](Dalaran), [Gilness](Gilnean/Worgen), [Thiras](Kul Tiras/Theramoore)

gnomefont2

[Common] is the worst. The only argument I can come up with for [Common] is using it for faction languages. Adding [Common](Alliance) and [Common](Horde) would open the door for humans and orcs to have their own languages, and further decentralized each faction from those races.

http://wow.gamepedia.com/Gnomish

Head Canon: Observers

I’ve touched on this hypothesis before. Now I’m going to update it slightly with some information from the quest “Seeking the Soulstones” and Warcraft Chronicles Vol. 1

We know that the Titans use “Titan Orbs” to collect and store information.  These orbs are mechanical, and found in many places that Mechagnomes are found.  They are entities, more like creatures than objects.  They move and perform functions autonomously.

Perhaps in the distant past the Titans would send a few dozen of these orbs out to different star systems to see if there were any planets there.  If any planets were directed, the Orbs take samples of the magic energy found there, and return to the titans.

This functionality would be in line with what we know about how Titans operated. For example, we know that the Titans imbued the ered’ruin with an attraction to fel magics so that they could seek it out and destroy it.

Doomguard says: …before Sargeras freed us, we were the Titan’s hounds. Forever enslaved to police the use of arcane magics.
Doomguard says: Sacrificial magic was considered the greatest violation of life and we were attuned to instantly punish those who delved into such… delicious sorcery.

In the case of these orbs they would be designed to seek out all forms of magic, and record where they were found.

So then, what happens to these orbs when they land on a planet that is infested with the Old Gods?  I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see them being afflicted with the curse of the flesh.

There are physical similarities.  Round bodies is obvious, but what if the ‘cage’ part of the orb was degraded and became the tentacles that hang down below the Observers?  On the central part with the filigree, there are large white glowing spots; what if these became the multiple eyes of the observers?

I think they have enough in common in both form and function to have a strong case for them to be the same thing.  Less extreme metamorphosis has been seen the the World of Warcraft before.

WoWcons1

Gnomeregan/PokemonGo

((Because: Pokemon Go))GnomeDruid

I wanna be the High Tinker,
Like no gnome ever was.
To get elected is my real test,
To rule them is my cause!

I will travel when elected,
Preaching far and wide
How Gnomeregan been neglected
And will not be cast aside!

Gnomeregan (gotta rule it all) It’s up to me
I know I’m the best you see
Gnomeregan, betrayed by my best friend
And now I need a plan

Gnomregan (Gotta rule it all) jealously will stew
Do you know what I’ll do to you?
You burned me, now I’ll burn you!
Gnome-re-gon

Gotta rule it all

GNOMEREGAN!

Warcraft Movie Garona is the Best Garona

It’s really nice to see Garona handled so well.  Everything about her has been improved in the film.  Normally, movies aren’t considered as good as the source material, but for this character, the movie is much better than the source material.

Garona has been a part of Warcraft for as long as it has existed, and in all that time, she has always struggled with her place in the story.  Her back story has been retconed more than any other, and she has been shoe horned in and then cut in almost every game.

The only thing Garona gets to do in WC1 is be rescued.  That is literally the only thing.

She is absent from Warcraft 2

In WC3 she was cut and replaced with Grom Hellscream.

In Vanilla WoW, she was cut and replaced as the leader of Ravenholdt.

In Legion she has been demoted and replaced by Ravenholdt (again).

The the comics, her mind control by Gul’dan was torturous, when that transferred to Cho’Gall it made her an almost unusable character. She literally had to spend every waking moment hiding and avoiding contact with sentient beings. Both for fear of them either controlling her or if she decided they were ok, betraying them because of the curse Sargeras put on her.

Garona’s backstory in game is a monstrous.  It’s horrific in in narrative implications, and and a mess to try to write for or relate to.  Her story is the most tangled mess in all of Warcraft.  That makes the changes that come in to movie so welcome.  The things that were cut, I was happy to see go.

Durotan didn’t exist when WC1 was written. Garona was absence from the WC2 game, but that doesn’t exclude her from playing an important role in the next movies. It would be great to see her step up to a leadership role and try to play both side of the field.  It’s also a great opportunity for a heroic rogue, which is something else we almost never get to see.  I can totally imagine Garona being the Horde representative that meets with King Aiden Perenolde and negotiates the Horde’s peaceful passage through Alterac.

http://wow.gamepedia.com/Garona_Halforcen

Warcraft Could still break the ‘Video Game Curse’

Mainly, I don’t think there is a “Video Game Curse” I think there is a Video Game STIGMA.

Back when the Warcraft movie was announced people began spinning a narrative about how it would be bad, before the narrative of the movie was even finalized.

The biggest flaw of video game movies (other than being made by Uwe Boll) is that they try to turn the interesting mechanics of a game in to visual and narrative devices.  Duncan Jones doesn’t try to to do that. The action scenes don’t look like World of Warcraft group battle, they look like action movie scenes, and that is a good thing.  Khadgar does make a joke about spell duration, but other than that we don’t see anything like cooldowns, or mana bars, because those things are mechanical limits of the game and not part of it narrative appeal.

I think that in the end, because the movie did so well in China, we will see a sequel.  Fans and the public have seen the movie and expressed a huge amount of positive support for it.  Critics might (might) actually pull their heads out of their butts and WATCH the second movie.  It’s a little late to recant on unfair reviews of the first film at this point, but by the time we get to the third one, I think we will have seen an end to the video game movie stigma.

Things and stuff that are relevant:

Penny Arcade Tesla: https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2013/02/15

http://www.techinsider.io/warcraft-interview-reporter-walks-out-2016-6

Endgineer Omegaplugg #LegionSpoilers #OOC

*UPDATE* The Mystery has been solved!  In order to Summon MY TRUE FORM, you must find and press a tiny button hidden behind one of the columns in Tinkers Court, Gnomeregan.

If SOMEHOW you manage to be victorious the the Vial or Green Goo is yours.  take it and go out in to the world my leprous disciple!

—–

I put #LegionSpoilers up there for anyone concerned with spoiling the fates of minor low level dungeon bosses.  We good?

Ok.

So on WoWhead about 5 days ago, this guy popped up “Endgineer Omegaplugg”

http://legion.wowhead.com/npc=113621/endgineer-omegaplugg

Endgineer2He uses the same Gnome Pounder model that Thermaplugg and other gnome mekgineers use.  It is green instead of red, the green of the battle suit could either be fel corruption or from decades of radiation.  It could mean nothing, because you can paint a robot any color you want, but usually the color is chosen to indicate something.  In Gnomeregan spider tanks that do fire damage are red, ones that do frost damage are blue etc. Perhaps this character will have a poisonous irradiation attack.

The gnome pilot appears to be solid black some kind of shadow/void gnome, or possibly with a texture issue because it is still in beta.  I thought it could be a new character or (as the name seems to suggest) a transformation of Thermaplugg.

Then there is this item, “Vial of Green Goo”

http://legion.wowhead.com/search?q=Vial+of+Green+Goo

If is dropped by Endgineer Omegaplugg, but the flavor text refers to Thermaplugg, suggesting that Omegaplugg is Thermaplugg.

“It’s reversible. Perhaps Thermaplugg was working on a cure after all…”

First I would like to note that it indicates Thermaplugg WAS working on a cure.  I’ve always had to find some shred of good in Thermaplugg in order to role-play him.

Second (and more importantly), this means Omegaplugg is almost certainly Thermaplugg in a new form.

At first I thought that this meant that Gnomeregan was going to get an update this expansion, but then there was one more string that referenced this ‘new’ NPC.

http://legion.wowhead.com/spell=226171/omegaplugg-spawn

There is a spell to spawn Omegaplugg.  I don’t know what that means, because it could mean anything.  It could be for a heroic version of Gnomeregan where Thermaplugg transforms at the end, or it could mean he is encountered somewhere (anywhere) else in the world.

Perhaps this is the first hint of adding in gnome Demon Hunters (unlikely).

My biggest hope is that it will be for a “Reclaiming Gnomeregan” Scenario where at the end, Gnomeregan will be an actual functioning city, or a crater with a shiny new city built on top.

No matter what it turns out to be, I am just really excited that we are seeing gnome lore moving forward!

For Gnomeregan!