Keep Your History Away From My Internet Dragons

Spoiler Warning.

You have been warned.

I am not happy about the Uldum quests involving Schnottz, otherwise known as Nazis. Do not want.

It Just Does Not “FIT”

We’re going to play a game. Remember, like in the OLD Sesame Street. I can even hear Cookie Monster singing now.

One of these things is not like the other… one of these things is not the same…

  1. Dragons
  2. Arcane blasts coming from one’s fingers
  3. glowing magical weapons
  4. portals allowing instant travel between locations or points in time
  5. Floating cities and islands
  6. Nazis

Did you guess which one doesn’t fit?

This is a fantasy game, boys and girls. My toon is such a fantasy that she doesn’t ever pee unless it’s part of a quest. Why on earth do I want real life butting in?

I Chose WoW, not a World War II Game

If I wanted to blow up Nazis, I’d pick a different game. A game about… World War II.

It’s not that Nazis are portrayed one way or the other that I find offensive. I find it offensive that they exist at all in my game. I play my game to get away from reality, not to have references to one of the worst things that reality has contained.

The fact is, nobody’s relatives have ever been killed by a dragon, dinosaur, wizard, or ogre.

How Far is Too Far with Sensitive Issues?

You know, I get that WoW has a lot of pop culture references.  Some people are cool with them, and some people are not.  I, for one, find their prevalence in the expansion a bit too pervasive, but I’m not passionate about it.

I also get that the Schnottzi’s in Uldum come in because of Harrison Jones, to recreate a pop culture movie reference. Which I don’t like, but doesn’t bother me. Now, when you start getting references to real Nazi stuff (Fashionism?  Gobbles? Really?) OK NOW I AM UPSET.

Everyone has issues to which they are particularly sensitive.  Some people earlier this summer took offense to the fact that the Goblin starter zone pushed a heteronormative (and revenge-filled) agenda. For me, I take offense at Nazis.

The fact that finishing one of the quests required dressing up in a Schnottzi uniform made me want to vomit in my mouth.1

Too Soon?

Maybe it’s OK to allude to Nazis plainly because it’s been a long time.  I, of course, disagree with this, but we can talk about it, right?

Suppose one of the quests had been to take your Zepplin and crash it into the Horde’s “2 turrets” to bring them down. Would that be ok?  Hell no.

Oh… but September 11 wasn’t that long ago.  How about some other sensitive issues?

Suppose, as a green orc, you were given a quest to enslave pink orcs because… well they’re PINK! Is that ok? I mean, slavery is much further in the past than Nazis… To me, of course, the answer is still hell no, that is not ok.

How to Fix

Omg Blizzard, quit trying to bend every quest to an immediately recognizable reference (pop culture or otherwise)! I’m totally ok with killing twilight cultists or a rogue band of bloodthirsty owlkin. Whatever. Finding a pop culture reference is no longer “fun” like finding a secret Easter egg, but rather the norm to be slogged through. And in the zeal to create those references, there have been some serious missteps – not just Schnottzis…. but that’s the subject of another article.

Further Reading

Welcome to Spinksville: Tell me why (I don’t like Uldum)

EDITED TO ADD: COMMENTING

Because we have new guests from Wow Insider here, I’d like to remind people about the commenting policy and to keep it civil, even if you agree or disagree with me or one of your fellow commenters.  I have turned on comment moderation for this post.  Please be patient, since your comments may take a few minutes to appear.

  1. In fact, I tried to add images (other than cookie monster) to this post and just could NOT bring myself to do it.

Cata Questing Content Review (80-85): Uldum

Uldum: Raiders of the Lost Cut Scene

So after Deepholm we found Harrison Jones in the Stormwind Library and started a trek to southern Kalimdor for a high stakes adventure in the spirit of Texas Telly and the Golden Triangle of Destiny.

Blizzard has fallen in love with cut scenes as a way to dictate the narrative. This is cool up to a point. In all of the previous zones we’ve seen some cut scenes, but Uldum so far seems to have quite a lot of them. To the point that it seems to be over used. By the time you finish this zone you will have seen every major plot point of Raiders of the Lost Ark acted out in cut scene form.

The cut scenes also game some game play issues. There is a collection quest where when you get the last pot or vase or whatever you immediately go to a cut scene that transports you back to the quest hub. This is fine if you are soloing, not so cool if you are working in a group. In this quest line being the mage muscle I told Zel to go grab the pots/vases whatever while I took care of the bad guys. She did and was immediately transported away. She didn’t turn in the quest at the end of the scene (so as not to be “out of phase” with me) and mounted up to get back in case I needed help and to keep us on exactly the same step. Being a few ahead of me when I collected my next one as she almost got back to me (enough for me to be still one shy of completion),  she got put back into that exact same cut scene she had just been through. Again she raced out to help just in case and arrived at my location just in time for that cut scene a third time. So the cut scenes can have a negative impact on gameplay experience, and it also makes you feel more passive in your heroic journey.

This brings me to one little gripe about the stories in Uldum and back in Vashj’ir. Uldum starts off with your caravan being taken prisoner necessitating an escape. Now I’ve been able to make portals to Stormwind since 42, and the plots of both zones involve NPCs saying that they are trapped”, or “can’t escape”, “if only there was some way out of here”. I know they can’t have the story resolve or divert based on a mage making a portal for escape to Stormwind where a plea is made to that jackass Wrynn to mount a holy crusade or whatever. It feels like watching a Sci-Fi show where one week they use this totally clever way to defeat the enemy and the next week you wonder why they don’t just do that again, but the characters on the show are  struck with the dumb. This is obviously a mage-specific gripe because no other class would be able to allow an army to retreat from Vashj’ir or help your caravan escape out of their prison with ease like a mage could. When I replay those zones on my warrior, lock or priest it will obviously feel more appropriate to be trapped in those zones. Ah the sacrifices we must make to be awesome.

One final thing Blizzard seems to be loving is the Xzibit mentality of putting games in their game. In Hyjal we saw Joust, in Uldum there are two minor RTS type quests and a Katamari minigame. This makes me think that one of my predictions for Cataclysm months ago was spot on. Back in August I was leveling up my mining on the warrior, playing catchup on professions, and as I was looking for ore nodes in Silithus I thought “I think Cataclysm is the WoW remix album”. Basically they are taking us back to the old world, and they are redoing many of the stuff from classic WoW. And like all good remixes they bring in something from other popular works,and in this case it is these quests that are very much like other games.

Little known fact: Xzibit is now a game developer for Blizzard

Overall Uldum was beautiful to look at, especially after the dreary Deepholm, but the cut scenes really took me out of the action. I know that overall Uldum is wildly popular among WoW players, but for me there was a bit too much homage to Indiana Jones, too many cut scenes, and I’m worried about the direction of the use of minigames that are other games in WoW. I play WoW to play WoW, not to play Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds, or contract bridge. When they do that too much I worry that Blizzard is running out of ideas for this already mature game. On replay I might not do this zone again opting for Twilight Highlands instead.

Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I’ll Eat Some Worms

In the whole drama mess going on in guildland (sigh) it has come to my attention that unnamed “people” don’t like me. It has further come out that this may be the prevailing opinion! The complaint was exceptionally vague.

Not Everyone Clicks

You know, I get this. Not everyone is going to like everyone else. That’s just life. I don’t have an overwhelming desire to like everyone or be liked by everyone.

What To Do About It

So if you don’t like someone, what do you do about it?  It depends.

1. Identify what you don’t like. Maybe it’s racist jokes in gchat.

2. Determine if that’s reasonable. It’s reasonable to dislike racist jokes in gchat. It’s not reasonable if your chief complaint is “breathes through mouth on vent.” Tough shit. Get over it.

3. Do something about it. If you want to do something about it, go to the person and say “hey, quit telling racist jokes in gchat.” OR, if you feel uncomfortable doing this, tell an officer to deal with it.  That is what the officers are there for.

What If There is Nothing To Do About It

If there is nothing to do about it, then STFU.  There is no point complaining to an officer that “I don’t like so-and-so” without identifying the problem. What the hell is the officer supposed to do about it?  Maybe say “I hear someone doesn’t like you for unidentified reasons.  So please stop sucking. Thanks.” Or maybe gkick based on that complaint?  Unlikely.

Again, STFU.  This should be self-explanatory. You’re just spreading drama. At best, your ranting goes unnoticed. At worst, it gets back to the person and hurts his or her feelings, while at the same time making you look petty.

And Here I Am

Unidentified people dislike me for unidentified reasons, which someone felt the need to tell an officer and the officer reported to Alas.  What the hell is she, as GM, supposed to do about it with no more details than that?  What the hell am I supposed to do about it? Whatever I’m doing wrong – I have no idea what it is so I don’t know to quit doing it.  And since I don’t know who made the unspecified complaint, I have this grating feeling that the person I’m joking with in gchat or helping by healing an instance may be the same person snarking behind my back.  Not exactly motivating.

(Ok, enough whining, next post will return to our normally “informational” jabbering.)

Twig’s Book Pick: “There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon”

Twig has started reading my childhood books, and she has discovered There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon.

This book is about a squee-cute dragon who starts getting larger in an attempt to be noticed… after all, if there’s no such thing as a dragon, everyone is going to go quite out of their way to ignore it. Twig especially likes the part when (spoiler alert) “DRAGON EAT THE PANCAKES!”

My copy which was published in the late 70’s has a charming stain on it which is either from water damage in the basement or (likelier) my mom spilling coffee on it in the early 80’s. Look, it even has the 95 cent price on it.  I feel old.

Imagine my excitement (and Twig’s) when we discovered it has been reprinted… with additional cute drawings, glossy pages, and no coffee stains.

Remember, folks, it’s never too early to talk to your children about dragons.

Full Disclosure: We got paid zero money for recommending this book. Unfortunate, really.

Murloc Parliament? On the Twisted Nether Blogcast?

Yep. Saturday, Jan 1 at 8 Pacific. We will both be there. Twig will be in bed (we hope).

We won’t be hung over because we have a kid and no life. ATT is very personable. I might get bleeped.

If you have anything you want discussed, let them know over at Twisted Nether. Apparently there’s a live chat room at go-time, but you can e-mail in questions in advance if you can’t attend this momentous event.

Edit: Oh hot damn, now I have a DIRECT LINK to our awesome show notice.

My Ideal Guild Officer

I went to respond to Alas’s post and I realized I was going to go off on my own long-ass tangent about generalities and shit that pisses me off, so I decided to post it here.  What I THINK a guild officer should be.

1. Officers need to be motivated by the desire to help others, not themselves.  You should not become an officer because you will be able to get guild invites without that annoying wait or because you won’t have to ask others for guild bank access.  You should not offer to be a raid leading officer to ensure your raid spot.  You should not become an officer because there’s a policy that you personally hate and you want to campaign to change it.  It’s not about you.

2. Officership is a job, not a perk. It’s not an honor bestowed on you because you’ve been there a long time or because of your good looks and charm. It’s not recognition of your awesomeness.  It is definitely not a reward.  It’s a JOB. That doesn’t mean all your game time should be eaten by officery crap. But it does mean that a certain portion of your game time will be.

3. Officers need to be online often. Even in a casual guild. If you can’t do that… it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that your opinion matters less than everyone else’s. It just means that you shouldn’t be an officer.

4. Officership should not be 4 lyfe. We get into the trap that officers serve until they decide not to. Because of this, there’s no regular reevaluation of whether they want to continue being officers. In a democracy, a politician comes up for reelection and has to decide whether he or she really wants to continue. It’s better to have reevaluation at a designated point than for an officer to continue until he or she is totally burnt out.

5. Officers need to lead by example, and then some. If you step out of line even a little, everyone is going to think it’s ok. If the guild rules say “show up to a raid 10 minutes early”, you need to show up 15 minutes early. Don’t be the guy missing a flask or an enchant.

6. Officers should identify and, if possible, fix problems. If you don’t like something, if you think it’s wrong, weigh in. In a previous guild, I found an officer had applied to another guild and stated as a reason for wanting a change the failing raiding program of the current guild. The officer had never mentioned the raiding program to the other officers or the GM. There’s no excuse for QQing about policies that you don’t even attempt to change when you, as an officer, do have the power to change them.

7. Officers need to abide by guild decisions, even if they don’t agree. You wanted to do free rolls but the GM and other officers decided on suicide kings.  It’s ok to say that you disagree with the decision, even publicly.  It’s not ok to run your raids as free rolls. You need to abide by the decision that the guild leadership made.

Cata Questing Content Review(80-85): Deepholm

Deepholm: It is like Netherstorm Except Really Depressing

After Hyjal we headed toward the Maelstrom to talk to Thrall. He was still casting whatever he was when I saw him on that vision thingy before Vashj’ir a few days back. Holy cow and I thought portals had a long cast time.

Zel’s impression of Deepholm with all the floating rocks and stuff was that it was like Netherstorm but more depressing. I however just pretended I was a Gnome Astronaut on the moon. “One small step for gnome, one giant leap for gnomekind!”

Gnomes. In. SPAAAAACE!

(Source)

Not much to say about this zone. It had all your normal quest tropes, I didn’t notice much phasing really, which is probably a good thing. But I did learn two things about the game.

First there is a quest where you have to summon some giant Tirestack like monster in an enemy camp. What I learned is that you don’t have to, or shouldn’t kill everything you summon. Important safety tip on that one.

It is the almighty Tirestack Monster. Tread carefully or you will be run over!

The second lesson is a quest to go kill the Broodmother that required you to jump from floating stone to stone to kill her. She would attack one stone at a time until it fell. I don’t know for a fact, but I STRONGLY suspect that the jumping mechanic will be used in a raid at some point this expansion. The same mechanic was used for whirling vortexes in Vortex Pinnacle so learn it now.

Be sure to quest this zone to its completion of repairing the world pillar (the core plot point of the zone) so you can unlock dailies and get a really nice blue item. By the end of the zone you should probably be honored with the Therazane which is great because it allows you to get a nice shoulder enchant. Like Hodir in Wrath you need to get rep with these guys just so you can have the best shoulder enchants available. But unlike Hodir they have a tabard so do the zone, grab the tabard and never worry about the dailies for a rep grind like our Hodir friends up north.

Don't they make a cute couple?

Overall the zone was pretty well done, my only gripe was the visual touches on the zone. The dark caverns with floating rocks just didn’t appeal to me, especially after the lush sea floor of Vashj’ir and the bountiful green on Hyjal. That is just a personal taste thing, and your experience may vary. But considering the rep from Therazane and the quality of the quests I would not skip this zone on replay.

Personal Responsibility and the Decision to Raid

I’ve heard a little rabbling lately about how burdensome it is to go through the crap needed to be raid-ready.  Which is true – it’s burdensome and annoying and a long-ass grind.  However, for your amusement, let me put it in flowchart form.

So… in case it’s not entirely obvious from the chart… raiding is optional. You can opt out at any time and not raid. Nobody is making you raid. But if you do choose to raid, you have to do the necessary prep. I’m not sure why rational humans fail to grasp this.

To a certain extent, beyond a few specifics, your guild is not creating the rules.  Most guild rules are shockingly similar because these are essential prerequisites to the activity for it to succeed.

If you joined a bowling league, could you refuse to wear bowling shoes?  “No thanks, I’m a special snowflake, so I’m going to wear my street shoes and scuff up the lanes for everyone else.” Of course not.

In real life, it’s not ok to think yourself above the rules that everyone else must follow in order for an activity to happen. But that’s exactly what people do when they refuse to become raid-ready and still expect to raid.

Do or do not. There is no whine.