Tag Archives: Blizzard

Motion Sickness in Games

Eternal Darkness. Morrowind. Drakon the Ancient Gates. Oblivion. Half Life 2. Quake 4. Portal. WoW. Minecraft. Borderlands. Legend of Grimmrock 2.

What do all these games have in common?

I have vomited at some point while or directly after playing them. It’s worth noting, I never once vomited while pregnant. But I play Half Life 2 for 10 minutes and I am seeing my lunch again.

This has come up yet again because of WoW’s newest raid, Blackrock Foundry, and one of the fights is pretty awful.

I am a bit surprised it’s just coming up now, because for me at least, Grimrail Depot was far worse. Both fights have moving things, generally at a high speed, while the player needs to move or stay stationary. The problem occurs in that the player’s brain is immersed to the point they FEEL like they should be moving, but they aren’t, so everything gets a bit wonky.

In Grimrail, the specific problem is that the players are on a moving train. The developers added a screen “jostle” to sell the realism of being on a train. Then they have a section where the boxcar walls are lowered and there are canyon walls rushing by. But those walls have stripes on them, so the sensation of movement is very strong.

In the Hans and Frans fight, the floor moves, and the player has to run around dodging things while fighting against the conveyors.

“How does something like this get through?”

In my experience – it gets through because no one notices it. I have worked at 4 game companies, and only ONCE have I worked with someone else who got motion sick playing games. Occasionally a game will pop up that makes a large number of people motion sick, but they just adjust the fov and move on. (This is how I fixed Minecraft.) But for those of us that are sensitive to it, this is not going to solve our problems.

Game devs are generally, by definition, Gamers. They play tons of games. They have been playing games forever. (And if they don’t, like some artists, they don’t even play the games they make! But that’s another post entirely.) Much like riding on a boat, you get “sea legs” that makes you less likely to notice or be bothered by the motion sickness. You can acclimate. So by the time devs get to the point of working on massive games like WoW, they generally don’t get sick from it anymore.

“Okay, but I still feel like ralphing, how do I get around this without just skipping this fight?”

In a perfect world, Game Devs would contract a QA team to test and find things like – color blind issues, motion sickness, epilepsy, deafness, etc. Pretty much everything Able Gamers fights to raise awareness and solutions for. But there isn’t always time or money. (However for Blizzard I call bullshit. They know better. They have the money. They should have their OWN internal team checking for it.) At the very least, each company should have avenues for employees to bring attention to and address these issues. (Just like they should also do with sexist and problematic things!) At every company I have worked at, I invariably end up as a “motion tester” because I complain VERY LOUDLY any time I get motion sick. I get called to desks to test stuff and help the designer tweak areas and gameplay sequences to make them less hurl inducing.

But this isn’t a perfect world. So how did I get over it? After all, some of those games I listed are my favorite games! And I have to keep doing Grimrail for alts for the legendary ring!

– Saltines. It’s an old standby for a reason.

– Ginger ale. Again, we give this to sick kids for a reason.

– Greasy food. I have a method for a game like Skyrim or Grimmrock. I play it until I am feeling VERY unwell, then I eat some McDonalds. It calms my stomach down, and I wait until the sickness has completely passed, then do it again. Skyrim took 4 attempts. Grimmrock took 3. Drakon was the WORST. It took 11. I was persistent.

Preggo Pops. Seriously. I got these while pregnant and there is a reason I never got sick. Further, they are super safe, and many moms even give them to kids when they are ill.

– Lemon water. Especially if you are one of the people who has mouth watering right before vomiting. Lemon water knocks that right out. (Or just sucking on a lemon if you can stand it.)

Within the game solutions:

– Point your camera straight down. Or adjust it so you can’t see the movement. I am awful at Grimrail for this reason, I have to just stare at the plate and can’t look up at the walls.

– On Hans and Frans, get your warlocks to set up their portals ALONG the “stationary” bands. These are the thinner bands. Then STAY ON THESE BANDS. Do not spend any time if possible on the moving part. Doing this means your camera doesn’t move, so YOU feel stationary, even though everything else ever is moving. Use the portals to move for smashers and try to focus on only looking at the bands. (I also found it helped to keep my camera facing the same way – the door direction – and stay on the one band.)

– Turn down spell effects. The more graphical stuff you have going on, the more it fights with your ability to focus on anything. Turn it way down. This just clears out the noise.

– Request that your raid take a break after this fight. Maybe you can sit out the next trash clear. But step AWAY from the game, and eat something bready.

– Persist. You will get your sea legs.

– Last resort – Dramamine or Sickness bands. While in school, we had two semesters where we worked in Half Life 2. I took that crap twice a day for 6 months. It sucks, but it made me able to function in the tool to build levels for it.

I feel like Blizzard could do somethings to help this without destroying the fight. Clearly delineating the stationary parts. Tune it so you can lose 3-4 people without wiping (so the motion sickers can just die). But they do need to do something. This is definitely a stepping away point for some people.

New Game Smell

I have many thoughts about Warlords of Draenor. I think there should be more women in the marketing. I think there is a noticeable lack of characters we can find heroic. I think their healing blog on the changes has me not wanting to heal.

When pre-orders went up for WoD though, I didn’t blink, I paid my $70 for the Digital Deluxe Version, and immediately started thinking about who I wanted to boost to 90. Today a Breakfast Topic on WI discussed the pricing of WoD. It’s the fifth WoW expansion, all previous expansions were $40, but WoD is $50.

The more cynical people think it’s “charging” $10 for the “free” level 90 boost. The more economics knowledgeable people point to inflation. But I am a game developer, so my first thought was – Yep, that price sounds about right, for a WoW expansion. But I was astonished at several responses, but none as much as this one “$50? That’s almost the price of a new game!” (Some used the CE pricing and said it was as much as a new game.) This was followed by claims of less content, subscriptions funding the expansion development, and comparisons to new games.

I am baffled by how many people commenting seemed to have no knowledge of game development, or even WoW’s development.

So here’s some food for thought, on why a mere expansion should cost the same as a “new” game.

First, I want to bring issue with the term expansion and the belief that our subs fund the development of expansions. Expansion is a word that is used to describe additions to a game that require the base game to play. Expansion does NOT necessarily indicate the number of hours of play added or the amount of content. There also seems to be some misconception about subs being used to support development, and while it’s possible they do, they are also used to pay for servers (and any upgrades over the years), server power, GMs, CMs, Customer Service, and all those other pesky things that come from running a massive live game like WoW. Then, any left over money likely gets split between investors and Blizzard, with a larger cut going to investors. (I heard rumors back in 2008 from a good source that indicated that the original deal of how sub fees got split actually meant Blizzard got very very little from it, but that is probably outdated now as those kinds of thing are occasionally renegotiated.) Regardless, that money doesn’t necessarily get spent on the development of expansions. Nor is Blizzard under any obligation to do so. Read the ToS. It says nothing about Subscription Fees or where they will be spent. You are paying for access, and nothing else. (Although the more I think about it, the more I expect that our sub does pay for the content we receive in patches, while the expansion price is paying for the huge drop of leveling content at the start.)

Second, the cost of everything rises and games are no exception. I remember when the price on console games went from 50 to 60, and everyone threw a fit. But it stuck, and eventually everyone accepted it. Even at the time, the developer response to the cost increase was art. I am a game developer and I have shipped 4 titles, in addition to knowing dozens of game developers from games of all sizes. One universal truth is – art is expensive. Exponentially so. The higher the fidelity, the higher the cost. Artists make up more than half of the company at every company I have worked at. Creating a single environmental object for a game, like a tombstone or barrel, can take 8 hours, based on the complexity of the model, the detail in the texture, how long it takes to unwrap, etc. Then every piece of art has to be reviewed and approved. Things like characters can take several WEEKS to model and texture, then a few more to rig and animate. Once a piece of art is finished, it has to go to programmers or designers to be implemented and placed in the game.

So from Skylanders, here’s how it goes with a SINGLE destructible item. I needed a barrel for the Darklight Crypt level. That was 4 hours of an artist’s time. Then he sent the barrel model and the models for the 5 pieces of it that show up when it breaks. It takes me about an hour to get them loaded into a destructible level, with proper collision and that’s AFTER a great deal of development time spent setting up the “pipeline” so I just have to plug stuff in, as opposed to scripting it up by hand. But then depending on the item I might have to do more special case scripting on top. Let’s say I don’t, so now it’s up to 5 hours. Then I send an email to vfx, so they can add particles when it explodes that match the item exploding. They spend about 2-4 hours doing that. (A barrel is likely 2.) Then sound has to go in and add explosion sounds and adjust those for the specific item. (About an hour.) And here we are, a barrel, in the game exploding, right at about 8 hours. Oh, but this was Darklight Crypt… and there is a world swapping mechanic, so I need that same barrel, only for the other world, so it’s going to need to look different… Two days, minimum of four employees, for TWO art assets that are as simple as it gets in games. Imagine doing hundreds of these. How many different barrels and crates have you seen in WoW?

As the items get bigger and more complex, they take more time. Oh and on a game like WoW, where they are updating the graphics engine with each expansion they have to go back and re-do art to make it look better and fit with the new graphics. Otherwise you have the problem all over the game that you can see by simply standing a human next to a panda. Not to mention that graphics engine that got updated probably had a few programmers working on it. (I would bet Blizzard has between 5-10 at least.) I know how many people work on Skylanders (although, that’s JUST TfB, technically people at Beenox and Vicarious Visions are working on it too…) so I can just imagine WoW’s team must be at least 150-200 people – JUST for development. Do you realize how much MONEY it takes to PAY that many people? And these aren’t minimum wage employees either. These are highly specialized, talented people. If Blizzard isn’t paying them well, someone else will, and they will lose their talent. Game Career Guide does a salary survey every year. Programmers with 6+ years of experience get ~106k. Artists – 76K. Designers – 82K. Producers 66K. Audio – 93K. So if we average that, we get (round down) 84k. 84k x 200 people… That’s over 17 MILLION a year – JUST on salaries. And I am positive that number is low. Really low. Because that’s not taking into account leads, people with 10+ years of experience, or things like QA. Obviously, if we had more data, we would have a more accurate picture, but making games is expensive! (Here’s another post on this exact same thing.)

Now, to my biggest bone of contention, and the one comment that made my teeth grind. “But it’s almost as much as a WHOLE NEW GAME!”

How do you know?

We haven’t seen all of Draenor yet. We don’t know how big the space is. We don’t know how many “skins” the garrison has. (Blizzard calls them kits.) We don’t know how many quests there are. We don’t know the number of new pets, mounts, armor, etc. We only know the number of dungeons and raid bosses. We don’t know the time it will take to get to 100. You are speculating on content size without having seen it! Okay, fine, let’s make the assumption it is as big as Pandaria. (With equal numbers of quests, dungeons, etc etc.)

Alright – but how big are new games? People like comparing it to ESO or WildStar, but those games aren’t out yet either. (I would like to cut the speculation down as much as possible.) I didn’t play SWTOR, so I can’t speak to it either. So let’s look at some new games I did play. Dishonored! Great game, I highly recommend it. It took me 15 hours to beat. Content wise though, it has about the equivalent of Jade Forest. What about Skyrim, another excellent game I highly recommend? (Thank you Reddit dudes for actually timing this.) It takes about 30 minutes to run from one end to the other. So if we run from one end of Pandaria to the other… and it takes about 30 minutes (on the ground, not flying or flight paths). Hum.

Okay okay, what about GAMEPLAY. That’s what’s important right? So Skyrim, I played for ~300 hours. My /played in Pandaria (since you can see how long it has been at this level) is… 22 DAYS? Honestly I expected more. I have 5 other characters at 90 too. Quests! Skyrim has ~300 quests. Here they are – all listed on one page. Pandaria has 1551. (I am skipping dungeons as they don’t really compare easily – Skyrim has over 100, but they are significantly shorter, use modular art, and do not generally have boss fights for all of them.) How many animals? Mounts? Pets? Buildings? All of these take time to make and then implement. You can’t just reuse assets either, or players complain, or it just looks silly. You can’t use regular mailboxes in Pandaria, they have to match the aesthetic of the world.

In the game industry, you will often hear the saying “Good, Fast, or Cheap. Pick two.” This is why Skyrim took ~5 years to make. It’s a great game. It’s a big game. It took a long time. (I’d bet money it wasn’t cheap either.) Pandaria, as a stand alone game, has just as much as Skyrim in terms of content, gameplay, and awesomeness. But took 3 less years to make and cost $20 less. That kind of turn around is not cheap. That means overtime. That means more people. That means talented people who cost more but do the work right the first time. Consider that Vanilla took at least 4 years to make. And yet they are churning out MORE content in the expansions than they did in Vanilla.

I also see people saying because there isn’t a new race or class, it’s not as “much” as before. UH. You’re getting effectively 5 races this expansion. When they “rework” models, they aren’t faster and easier because they have been done before. You have to start fresh and the new ones are so much more complex. And goodness, who actually wants a new class? I don’t have time to play the ones we HAVE! Monks are still a fraction of the player base as compared to the older classes. So logically, why would Blizzard spend 100s of hours making and balancing a new class when it’s not going to be played? Many decisions made in game development change based on how much something costs to do versus how many players actually do it. (Why 100s of hours? Well first you have to think it up, then implement it – which could take a month or so, then art it just enough to figure out if it works/is fun/feels like WoW, then iteration to make it GOOD, then more art to make it LOOK good, then more iteration to make it balanced… so much TIME! Wouldn’t that time be better spent on things people who don’t want alts can also play with? Like… Garrisons? :))

So is WoD worth the extra $10? Is it comparable to a new game? Of course it is. It has far more content and gameplay than most games. The comparable games, like Skyrim, are known for being “massive” among gamers. Honestly, Blizzard could be charging $60 for it. We call it an expansion because it builds on WoW, but in terms of scope, it’s bigger than most new games.

If you take into account the time spent in the game, the “return on investment” says they could be charging even more, and it would still be worth it. I paid $60 for Dishonored and got 15 hours out of it (that’s about $4 an hour, not bad). I paid $120 (two copies, xbox and pc) for Skyrim and got 300 hours out of it (40 cents per hour, really great return). My time in WoW though… $60 for Vanilla, $40 for BC/Wrath/Cata/MoP each (really $70 because I get the CEs), plus $13/month since August 2005… ($340 for the games, $13×103 months = $1339, grand total – $1679) with a /played across my account (we’re going to ignore the SECOND account I also have that has been subbed continuously since 2007) of 432+ days. That’s over 10k hours. It ends up being… about 15 cents PER HOUR of enjoyment in WoW. Is WoD worth it?

If making games were easy, everyone would do it. If making money making games was easy, you wouldn’t see things like studio closures. If making GOOD games like Blizzard does was easy, you wouldn’t see games with sub 80 scores on Metacritic. $50 for a game the size/quality of Pandaria is a bargain. It’s possible the sales of the expansion alone won’t even cover the full development costs (especially if the game is purchased as a physical copy over the digital versions – Blizzard likely gets 100% on the digital sales, but about 50% on sales through retailers). The people developing this game (all of them from Metzen down to QA dude #300) don’t work for free. They deserve to get paid. Game sales, mounts, pets, services, and subs make sure they get paid and the game keeps getting worked on. In the end, game companies are trying to make money which means charging enough to make more than they spent on their specialized product.

Just like every other creative art product, if you want the artist to keep producing new stuff, you have to buy the old stuff. It’s why I buy albums, movies, books, and games from people who’s work I love. It’s why I buy books on my iPad AND physical copies. It’s why I buy tv shows on DVD. I want the people who make these things to make more, and that means supporting them now. I want to be playing WoW when I am 80, and if that means paying $50 over $40 for an expansion now, shut up and take my money Blizzard.



Thanks to Misanthropology for pointing this out.

SERIOUSLY. How do people NOT get this yet?

The whole “She’s a 6.” or “She’s a 10.” is incredibly insulting. You are boiling a woman’s ENTIRE worth down to a 10 point scale BASED ON HER LOOKS.

Even worse, this is a PLAYER that NPCs are critiquing. Take a minute Blizzard Bark Writer who wrote this and consider… you have ~8 MILLION players. about 3M of them are female. How many women in that group have been insulted by men who called her a 4?

I have. It was a COMMON thing at my college (filled with all those lovely Christians learning to be ministers but that didn’t stop them from sleeping with every woman on campus, passing around gonorrhea and generally being jerks) for guys to call women by their number. Mine was 4 apparently.

My roommate was a 4 as well. Except the one semester I lived with another girl who was barely able to pull mediocre grades, in the freshmen level classes, but she spent 2 hours getting ready every morning… She was an 8. (Her nose was “unacceptably large” – ie it was FINE, but not pug like they wanted.) I was “too fat” at 160 pounds. I was also too “GINGER”. Didn’t matter I had a PERFECT gpa, was active in a dozen clubs, tutored people in subjects I DIDN’T TAKE, and singlehandedly put together TWO yearbooks… Nope, I was a 4, just because I was “fat” and ginger.

Thanks Blizz, you just offended me. You just INSULTED the appearance of the FANTASY character I play. The one place I ALWAYS feel beautiful and amazing… AND NOW I FEEL LIKE SHIT.

I have two accounts. I have *every* piece of WoW clothing from J!nx. I am LITERALLY sitting here in an Alliance hoodie and a Healer shirt. But now I want to go home and change. I want to get my Illuminati hoodie. I want to cancel my accounts.

All because some douche on your team is too stupid to understand THIS IS NOT OKAY. Being sexually harassed by randoms on the street, NOT OKAY. Where is the evil review overlord who should have looked at this and say, eh, not a great idea.

I would think this was just an isolated incident… EXCEPT… I have had to talk to writers about changing THIS EXACT LINE IN TWO OTHER GAMES. I worked at TWO companies where TWO different male game developers thought this was okay. Even more so, when I said, hey you need to take this out, it’s insulting to women, he said and I quote “Uh no it’s not. It’s being complimentary, so it can’t be insulting.”


The point isn’t the NUMBER. THE POINT IS: You are boiling a woman’s ENTIRE worth down to a 10 point scale BASED ON HER LOOKS.

Also, why is it I can’t attack these guys? I want to spread their blood from Orgrimmar to Uldum for this insult.

As I write this, I am getting angrier about the whole thing. I see the trend. I see the casual sexism that has been smeared across the characters in the game. Tyrande removed from her position of power in favor of Malfurion. Told to hush and she listens. I see Sylvanas called a bitch and virtually absent from the expansion. I see Jania on the path to being a raid boss and constantly belittled by Varian, Thrall, and even now Andiun. I see Tiffin in the refrigerator. I see Aggra demoted from badass Shaman to Thrall’s wife and offspring machine. I see Garona demoted to mother of Med’an and lover of Medivh. I see Moira forced to rule with two male dwarves DESPITE having right of succession. I see Vareesa consumed with her husband’s death and vengence instead of CARING FOR HER TWINS. I see Alexstraza is only known for her role as mother. I see Lorna, strong, but then reduced to an object and bargained over.


(I literally went through the entire list and found: Ysera, Lady Liadrin, Valeera Sanguinar, Maiev may have some of her own back now that Illidan is dead, Shandris, Lillian Voss to an extent – she is very defined by her father and is “subjugated” by Gandling, maybe Aegwyn, but look at how she is portrayed with her interactions with Aran, Medivh, and Saragas? *yay mystical pregnancy* ugh.)

Anyone else notice ALL the offspring of major lore characters are male? Varian, Moria, Thrall, Rhonin and Vareesa… ALL WE HAVE ARE SONS. Sorry boys… you’ll never get married cause daughters are unwanted.

Even worse, is with the exception of Sylvanas, Tyrande, and Jania, it seems like all of the “growth” of these female characters is completely out of game.

I started looking for strong females who didn’t lose their agency when they fell in love or completely become subservient to the men around them and I had to LOOK. I had to go to Wowpedia and look through the Major Characters list. That’s how I found Lady Liadrin and Shandris, the only two who fully fit the bill of having their own strength, power, and NOT becoming a wife/mother at the complete loss of all their own agency. (Even more terrifying is I started doing the count on Major Male Characters to Major Female ones… At the point I stopped it was 10 to 1 and GETTING WORSE.)

Yay. Thanks Blizzard. How about you hire a WOMAN to help on your writing team? Hell, get Christie Golden if that’s what it takes.

I was uncomfortable with the torture quest. I was WILDLY uncomfortable with Keristrasza’s entire quest line and story. (Really guys? NO ONE thought this wasn’t really something we should do?) But each of these hit as an isolated incident. Each of these passed under my level of “Too Far”. However, over the years I have become more sensitive to women’s portrayals in media and games. So I see it now. I see it and it sickens me.

I love WoW… but really taking a look at it… UGH.


I am one of those insane WoW fans, but I think I might be done. Done with this bullshit until devs can learn to STOP TREATING WOMEN LIKE CRAP.


Update #1:

Well, they hotfixed it out. That’s a step.

The inherent problem remains though. Are they going to hotfix out Tyrande Hush? Are they going to hotfix in a proportionate number of major lore characters who are women to the men? Are they going to find someone ANYONE on their team to check their shit BEFORE it goes live to say, hey maybe don’t do this. We haven’t forgotten Ji Firepaw yet. This problem is not solved. It’s just hidden once more.


Update #2: More lovely words – http://www.applecidermage.com/2013/09/12/can-we-not-razor-hill/

Diablo 3 – Random Returns for Vengence

I have always been perfectly upfront about how I feel about using Random as a game design tool.

To catch anyone new up: I hate it. I think it is a terrible idea. It’s a terrible crutch.

The entire point of a designer is to sculpt the experience for the player. To create the world for them to interact with. To make something amazing for the player to play in. Using random takes the control away from the designer and puts it in the hands of a program.

So by this extension, I wouldn’t even try Diablo. It’s a randomly generated world, with randomly generated enemies, with randomly generated loot. Good lord, it’s a trifecta of bad random. But I love Blizzard and I had fun playing the beta, so I knew I would play the game.

How does Diablo 3’s randomness make me feel? Like I was right all along.

1. The Problem with Randomly generated gameplay spaces.

First off, Diablo 3 doesn’t use randomly generated levels everywhere. And to be fair, their code is much better at creating spaces than it was in Diablo 2.

BUT. Diablo 3’s random maps all suffer from the same problem: Jogging simulation. If you don’t head the right direction, and there are a bunch of branches in the path, you can and will find yourself backtracking over huge portions of terrain. For a game that is all about fast paced action and demon slaughtering, this leads to some very boring lengths of time in the middle of your fun.

Even worse is when you have these huge sprawling dungeons, where the named enemy you are supposed to be killing spawns three rooms over from the chest of loot. Way to protect your treasure man.


2. Random Enemies – oh god or yawn.

The idea behind the enemies sounds good. Each enemy has a modifier. Vortex, Frozen, etc etc. The idea is that when an enemy gets created, it has 2-4 of these modifiers which gives it abilities and makes it more interesting.

A good idea, in theory. But in practice shows the painful problem with random modifiers like that. Some modifiers aren’t that scary or dangerous to the player. Many are extremely dangerous to the player just by themselves. If you get a monster with two of the weak powers, they are a one finger pushover, almost on par with standard enemies. If you get one with 2 of the powerful modifiers, you are toast.

Add this to the random placement of enemies, in randomly generated terrain, and you get serious gameplay problems. I zoned into a basement area, that had an enemy with the modifier that lets him freeze me in place, and the modifier that lets him create arcane orbs that generate a beam of death that moves in a circle. Both of these abilities are combated by moving away from them and kiting the bad guy. But I was in a basement. Not only that, the boss’ trash mobs with him managed to corner me and block me from moving at all. I got thrashed repeatedly, because I couldn’t even get far enough into the room to not be completely surrounded and have collision preventing me from moving away from the stuff I knew was bad and I shouldn’t be standing in.


3. Random Loot – Good thing we have the auction house.

I have a level 42 Wizard in Act 3 of Nightmare. I search every corner, every dungeon, kill every enemy. I pick everything up. I just bought the third tab of my stash. I like to loot.

Over the course of the game, I have probably gotten 40-50 rares. Of all these rares, I have been able to equip about 5 of them. Only one actually had stats that made me want to equip it. I haven’t equipped a drop since I was level 15.

I get all my gear from the Auction House. Period. I sell things I get that are decent, but I can’t use, and I buy things I can use.

If not for the auction house, I would be sitting around farming some boss or other hoping for rares. Only 1 in 50 of which I will be able to use.

Boy, that sounds like fun. (Or not so much.)

Would it really change the game that much to have the rares at the very least be ones I can equip on that character? Even then you have the second random of it getting stats you want/need, but must we double roll to get anything? Actually, triple roll, because not all bosses drop rares all the time!

To recap: The boss has to drop a rare, which might not happen, you have to be able to equip the rare, which might not happen, and then the rare has to have useful stats on it, which my wands with strength on them prove doesn’t happen. Yay. This is fun. *said in Simon voice*


I get that all of this is kind of the “point” of Diablo. That’s the base of the design. But really, it just means that here I am, in Nightmare, already sick of the game. Already ready to go back to WoW, where at least I am fairly certain a boss will drop something useful, even if I can’t use it.

I feel that there is a possibility for a Diablo like game (in the base game play idea) that doesn’t rely on random or at the very least mitigates the negatives of using random. Loot may be randomized, but at least have logical limits placed on them. (Like all wands have to have Int and Vit, but the secondary stats, and the amount of the primary stat can be random. Also guarantee that at least 1 rare item off each boss is equip-able by the character playing, though in multiplayer this could be any one of the characters playing.) Monsters may be randomized, but their powers weighted, so you never have an enemy with more than a 10 difficulty rating and then you give all the worst powers a 6 so they never appear together. Levels shouldn’t be randomized. I mean honestly. Use modular pieces, and throw something together. Anything designed by a person will be better than a computer.

It’s worth a shot huh?

On Being Legendary, Pt. 2

There are a ton of reasons why this post took so long to write.

1. Our guild stalled out on Shannox for the first 6 weeks of Firelands.

2. They gave 5 embers to a guy who then left. (Shocker, as they didn’t take my suggestions on how to pick someone to get the embers.)

3. We converted from a 25 man to a 10 man raiding group.

4. To deal with converting, we now have 2 dps teams and so dps only gets to raid half of the time. Hence, our embers are pretty evenly split between two players. (Me and another Lock.)


But finally I am able to write that my embers have been collected, and last night I walked into the Nexus to complete the quest Through a Glass Darkly.

Holy hand grenades, was I not prepared.

I can actually solo level 70 Nexus on my lock fairly easily, but this was a whole new level of difficult. I didn’t have too much trouble until I reached the final boss. Then I had the great joy of wiping for 3 hours trying to kill him.

This was both the greatest and worst quest ever.


1. I just killed a thing that was AMAZINGLY difficult.


1. That AMAZINGLY difficult was also frustrating.

(Let’s just assume from here on, the first one is a good, the second is a bad.)

2. I had to use skills I so rarely get the chance to use.

2. I had to use skills that are so rarely used… FOR A REASON.

3. I love playing affliction and dot management.

3. I could only play affliction because I had to have the fel hound out.

4. Speaking of Fel Hounds, man does that dude rock when glyphed and has mana feed.

4. Man is the Fel Hound RETARDED when it comes to staying out of the fire.

5. The Nexus was a pretty cool instance.

5. The circular platform with a flying boss makes it impossible for my pet, a good 25% of my damage, to attack said boss.

6. I understood what I needed to do, even though it was somewhat “random-ish” it wasn’t too cheap.

6. I also understood how much easier this would have been if I had been a mage.

7. I have an amazing staff!

7. That is equal item level to two other staves that are just drops off of bosses… and that didn’t cost weeks of raiding, 9k gold, or 400g worth of repair bills.

8. Now that I have the stage one staff I am the only one collecting for stage two!

8. I have to kill the same seven bosses over and over and over again for the next SEVEN WEEKS to get the next stage. Are you KIDDING ME?!?


The more I have thought about this, the angrier I am. This staff should at least be the iLvl of the staff of Rags. The quest or the extra boss or the money sink should have been spread out. Now I just have two lame collections that essentially are: farm Firelands for x amount of time. Really Blizz? You couldn’t try to be a little more original? It’s like they got to this part, went, okay, that’s an awesome first stage. Oh we’re out of time? Oh well just throw in two more collections and call it a day.

Regardless I suppose I should be happy I have the Branch of Nordrassil. I should be happy I have started my cinder collection. Really I am just annoyed at Blizzard for not thinking out the rest of the quest line and making it JUST as interesting as Through a Glass Darkly. I am annoyed that the second parts now have no variation other than farm Firelands.


Blizzard announced stuff about new 5 mans, a new raid, and cross-realm raiding. Is anyone talking about that? No. Why? Because they also announced a thing that changes very little, and yet somehow changes *everything*.

I remember getting an armor dye drop back in DAoC. It was black, and for metal. It sold for about 100g. A veritable fortune at the time in that game. My healer wore a rather lovely mix of dark green armor, so it was worthless to me, but amazing for someone else. When I later started playing WoW, on my very first character, I got some hideous brown robe and immediately asked my friend “Oh god, where do I get dye? This thing looks like baby poop.”

“You don’t.” He said, then explained that everything in WoW was set. I was exceedingly happy a level or so later to get a green robe to replace the other. Now, I am aware that many people think this is a girl thing, but it’s not. I even know a rather masculine man (he was a football player, so huge) who refused to wear any “of the Whale” items, because that implied he was fat. But regardless, for many of the same reasons people chose certain races or sexes in the game, we wish we could chose gear.

Guild tabards are hotly debated among officers to “look good.” People will match their pets to their mounts. (My hunter was furious when they took away her pet while mounted.) Everyone who went from Vanilla, with lovely armor sets, to the rainbow barf that was leveling in Burning Crusade had some moment of thought along the lines of, “Ugh, my character looks ridiculous.” Our characters are an extension of ourselves. We wouldn’t go out into public looking like that, why would our characters?

So why did Blizzard insist on limiting the armor colors and styles? Why didn’t they have an appearance tab like LotR Online and other MMOs? Why didn’t they add armor dyes? Why didn’t they give the community what was begged for?

They claimed the reason was dedication to the art. They wanted things to look correct. No pink hello kitty Darth Vaders here. And the Silhouette theory. This is best explained by looking at just the outlines of characters. Can you tell what kind of character it is by the outline? Then the Silhouette theory is working. The idea being that you could just glance at someone and tell, are they friend or foe. Are they Horde or Alliance? Heavy or Medic? This is why the shoulders in all the armor sets are so distinctive and large. So that player can not only tell at a glance who is who, but also how well geared they are.

It was a good argument… With a few gaping holes.

1. What about Noggenfogger? It changes everyone’s silhouette! As does Deviate Delight. Arrr!

2. What about Orb of the Sin’dorei? I love my orb. I used to be a Blood Elf. But then I faction changed to play with friends. I miss being a blood elf. So I use my orb with shocking regularity. I love using it in Tol Barad. Has it ever saved my life? Not even once.

3. Rated Battlegrounds.  For those who don’t run them, every so occasionally your team will get matched up against a team of the same faction. So it just slaps a buff on you that says “Horde” or “Alliance”. That’s it.

The other comment made was that with the armor sets being static, you could tell someone’s “epicness” just by looking at them. Which was great, back in Vanilla. But ever since Wrath, and the great design shift to allowing everyone to see raids, this has created a huge problem. Yes, those shoulders DO look cool. And everyone else and their BROTHER is wearing them. It was the sparkle pony all over again. Everyone looked the same. (I think this is also the time that “town gear” also rose to wide spread popularity, where you carried a set of gear just for wearing about town.)

Apparently though, Blizzard re-thought their stance and came up with an amazing compromise. No, we still can’t dye our armor. BUT we can make it look like another piece of armor in the same armor class. And the masses rejoiced.

I have never been so glad or my hoarder mentality of tier sets. I have never been so glad I have my bank stuffed to the gills with old and interesting armor. There is literally NOTHING in my bank that isn’t soul bound. Everything else sits on my bank alt.  Joyia has all 24 slot bags, and not a single space to spare. But she also has all the warlock sets. I will have these ugly tier 11 shoulders looking like tier 5 so fast it will make Joyia’s head spin!

Ah Corruptor Raiment, I have missed you. I cannot wait to have my shoulders bedecked with skulls once more. My hunter is gonna wear this one. And I will no longer have to deal with the fact that my dps is lower because I refuse to use one of those noisy guns! I may even try to raid with her now! I have all the starter DK gear sitting in my DK’s bank. My priest will be looking all angelic in this set. I am already excited about wearing these armor pieces again. I am already thinking of running old instances to get nifty looking gear.

But that just changes me right? That doesn’t change the whole of WoW. But it does. I already have friends who are planning on re-subbing when the patch hits. They are already planning THEIR ARMOR SETS. The invites for old school raids have already started. People are already compiling lists of nifty items and where to get them. Oh and the Destiny sword I have been listing for a month that hasn’t been selling? Gone for 500g. So I listed a Brain Hacker. I couldn’t sell it for 100g 3 months ago. Today, it went, in 15 minutes, for 500g. Lovely Dresses (despite not having stats so possibly not being eligible for the transmogrification) all sold for 100g each. This feature isn’t even in yet and people are already creating ripple effects in the game.

The best part about this change? It sets a precedent. Blizzard said no and gave reasons. Then later came back and said, okay, we found a compromise. No Pandaren? No dual faction races? There could be more compromises. Breaking the armor silhouette sets them up to break the race silhouette. This could be the beginning of a whole new World of Warcraft.

Now, I have to go stare lovingly at my t5 warlock set, sighing over the thought of wearing such lovely gear again.

Achievements – You’re Doing It WRONG

One of the first things you learn as a game designer is: Be Consistent. If the player does something, and gets a response, they need to get the same response every time. Game Rules need to be consistent across the entire game.

Blizzard has NOT been consistent when it comes to achievements. They are not being consistent when it comes to rewards either. They need to PICK A POSITION and STICK TO IT.

Example 1: Hand of Adal vs. Starcaller/Kingslayer. Hand of A’Dal doesn’t even have an achievement associated with it, but it was removed. Blizzard claims they “didn’t want people to get the title who didn’t earn it in the period it was intended to be earned” and so they removed it. But Kingslayer and Starcaller were just as difficult, and intended to be just as exclusive, and yet remain in the game.

(Note: Q: Will you ever bring back the mounts for achievements that were removed (Naxx Glory runs) as you didn’t remove the later mounts? – Joyia (North America/ANZ) A: This is a tough one. On the one hand, we know there are a lot of players who would still like to get their hands on these mounts. On the other hand, we were pretty clear that they would only be available for a limited time, and we hate to go back on our word because we know some groups went through heroic efforts to get them before the door closed. This is the kind of thing that is not set in stone and player feedback might eventually convince us to change our minds.)

Example 2: Achievement Drakes. Yes, I was the Joyia who asked about the Naxx Drakes on the achievement Q&A thread. I was a part of a guild at the time that was working on the achievements for said drakes. It nearly ripped our guild apart. It lead to multiple people leaving and joining more progressed guilds. It lead to me LEAVING a guild I liked and almost leaving the game. The stress of attempting to get these achievements BEFORE they were removed was insane considering this is a GAME. That’s right, it’s a game. It should be fun. But on multiple occasions, Blizzard insists on making the game not fun by putting time limits on achieving things. (Theoretically the ZA Bear and ZG mounts fall here too, despite not being achievements.)

When it came down to it, I resolved myself to the fact I wasn’t going to get these drakes. I resolved myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get the Ulduar drakes. I just wasn’t that kind of player. I got my purple protodrake, and I was happy. But then, I managed to achieve the bone drake for ICC 10 man on my mage. Success! Joy! And then… they didn’t remove the achievements. Last week, a bunch of goofballs in trade pugged up a 10 man group and succeeded in getting the SAME drake I had worked so hard for.

What makes my Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher LESS special than the Naxx Plagued Protodrake?!? Wow, way to be a hypocrite!

To head off the comments of whiny elitists saying “I want my mount to be rare!” There are three things with this as well. One, stop being elitist. You can always climb on your little box and show off your e-peen by saying “Well I got mine two weeks after the raid was released!” Two, it is punishing to players who change mains, re-roll alts, or start the game late. Even the new people deserve the chance to get something awesome, this is after all a game that wants to be accessible, NOT elitist and exclusive. Three, rarity is a FALLACY in WoW. That’s right, it’s not real. Rarity is a RELATIVE concept. Meaning, something is only considered rare, if and only if, the people you play with do not have it. I have posted this example before. When the Sparkle Pony came out, only 2 people in my guild bought it. So out of about 20 players, only 2 people had one. Meaning that the people we hung out with and were likely to pay attention to their mounts, count as the audience. That gives the Sparkle Pony a 1 in 10 rarity. Now, the Deathcharger’s Reins had been farmed up by about 10 people in the guild, meaning it has a rarity of 1 in 2. the entire World of Warcraft does not count in the rarity, only the people you are likely to interact with do.

BE CONSISTENT. Seriously. I am willing to accept the decision one way or the other, just PICK A SIDE AND STICK TO IT. This endless waffling and inconsistency just frustrates and annoys players and is just BAD DESIGN. Best case, Blizzard realizes it’s hypocritical responses and opens the Naxx Drakes back up. (Theoretically they could add the Tiger and Raptor mounts back in some form of grind or in the CtA bags – which to be honest would be FAR more effective in getting people to run it. They could even add the ZA bear back to a timed run of the new ZA dungeon.) Worst case, they remove the ICC and Ulduar drakes, and people got them “unfairly” after the period, but at least now, that will not happen again, because they decided to be consistent.

Respond, if you please

Video games tend to draw controversy. It’s okay, we ask for it. We know we are asking for it and deal with it when it happens. This is how the ESRB was born after all.

The thing that bothers me though, is when a video game gets a ton of bad press, then makes attempts to correct the “problem” and receives no response from the media or sites that complained so loudly to begin with. I get why national media doesn’t do this (though really with everything on the internet they could at least make a small post). But what stops small blogs from responding?

The example that spawned the thought for me is the “Torture Quest” brouhaha in WoW. When Wrath of the Lich King launched, players tore into the content, much as they always do. A few weeks after launch, someone wrote a blog post about a quest: The Art of Persuasion and about how horrible it was and how they were going to stop playing WoW over it. The quest requires you to “torture” a captured enemy for information. For whatever reason, many players (ironically most had done the quest, but never really paid attention to *what* they were doing) latched on to this and got *bent*. How dare the developers force them to TORTURE INNOCENT PEOPLE. Rawr! Pitchforks! Torches! Bad Blizzard Devs!

To which I replied with “Really? THIS is where you draw the line?” Seriously. We are discussing a game where my main character, Joyia has 181,866 TOTAL KILLS. She has KILLED almost 200,000 THINGS in the game. (I also want to point out her kills that yield experience or honor, ie meaningful kills, are at 67,405, meaning that she has killed 114,461 creatures/humaniods/players that were only for loot and sometimes not even that.) In that same zone there is a quest to collect HUMAN EARS. In Hillsbrad they have you poisoning some farmer’s dog. In Hillsbrad again they have you COLLECTING SKULLS. These are just the thoughts off the top of my head. My first reaction was “What’s a little torture on top of the wholesale slaughter of thousands of creatures, many of whom were unarmed or non-aggressive.”

My second thought was “Well, okay, but this guy, NOT INNOCENT.” And he isn’t. He is an evil wizard attempting to destroy the WORLD. Imagine a crazy, powerful being, attempting to launch every nuclear weapon in the world at once. It’s your job to stop him. Would you step down the dark side to prevent it? Even if it meant my own death at the hands of Justice, I am pretty sure I would. This isn’t puppy killing we are discussing. This guy is a mass murder (as much as any player character) and is actively killing puppies himself.

Regardless, after a few months, the furor died down and no one really talked about it again. Fast forward to Cataclysm. Early in Hyjal, one of the introductory leveling zones for level 80 players, there is a quest to capture a harpy (a known and common enemy mob throughout the game)  and interrogate her about her master’s plans to reincarnate an ancient for the bad guys. Ancients are super powerful beings. Having even one on your side is the equivalent of bringing a tank to a knife fight. The player, once damaging her to about 25% is given two “speech” options. One to “Soften her up” the second to “Ask her about their plans.” The first results in a bit of “smacking around” and some comments from the npc holding the harpy in place for you.

This is very obviously Blizzard’s response to the fuss over the Persuasion quest. First, the player doesn’t need to “rough” the npc up to get her to talk. Just asking her she volunteers the information the player is looking for. Second, if the player does “rough” her up, the npc has 8 canned responses, 5 of which could be construed as negative towards the player for using violence. Finally, at the end of the conversation with the harpy the player is given the choice, to kill her or spare her. Both options return a “positive” response from the npc. “It’s your call, <name>. Marion brought this on herself when she attacked our matron’s sacred shrine.” and “You’re a better person than I, <name>. But I suppose the harpies are just pawns here.” if you choose to kill or spare respectively.

It allows the player to play as they chose, as opposed to following the designed path. I love it. This is a prime example of  “Player Driven Stories” as discussed at GDC this year. The player drives the story. Both of my healers let her off, sparing her life. My DK and Warlock both killed her. My DK chose to soften her up until the npc said something to the effect of  “Okay, we still need her to answer questions.”

Regardless, it was a superb response to player’s comments on the “interrogation” from Wrath so why couldn’t the detractors at the very least acknowledge that Blizzard took their concerns under consideration and made an effort to appease them. Although I still feel it is a bit hypocritical to run around ripping out skulls then get squeamish at a bit of shock therapy.

BlizzCon The Aftermath

EDIT: This post was mostly written the Monday after BlizzCon, but wasn’t posted due to the hacking.

One thing about conventions, you are always gonna sit in line. We started our BlizzCon experience sitting in a massive line outside the convention center. Everyone standing around had their passes on, many with their names. Most conversations started with the question “Horde or Alliance?”. Then asking about classes, number of 80s, and if you raid or pvp. Of course this caused small groups to break off and discuss their specific World of Warcraft love.

An hour later, after meeting several interesting people, a liar, and witnessing an e-peen contest, we were on the move towards the doors. First greeted with a huge statue of a Terran Marine and large sign marking it as Blizzcon. In the distance was a second sign proclaiming Starcraft 2. The hall, extremely massive, had been divided into 4 sections, a Main Theatre, Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft. We knew the opening ceremony was soon, so we just glanced at the huge banks of computers as we moved towards the main theatre. There about 10,000 chairs sat in front of a huge array of massive screen. We managed to find a seat near the back and waited for the event to start.

Being there, in a room literally filled to the brim with people who were fans of all the same things I was. Of course we noted the interesting costumes. We talked excitedly about what we hoped to see. I looked through the schedule planning on what all I wanted to see that day. Veterans of the event kept telling us to go to the Loot Elemental or this or that.

We listened to the opening speech, excited beyond measure. Even the Demon Hunter video, for a game I likely won’t play that much, was thrilling. Once it was done Pinecone and I decided to take a pass of the convention floor. We walked the whole thing. There were huge statues from the various games scattered throughout the halls. And so many people. Lines snaked and meandered through the room, none of them seeming to even have ends, though one can assume they knew where they were headed.

We found our way to the Steel Series booth after browsing the halls and met up with the woman in charge of the contest. She took our picture (it was later posted on Facebook) and then asked us if we had time to go around to the partners booths. We figured we had nothing better to do, might as well. She also dug out two of the SteelSeries Cataclysm mousepads. You know, the giant ones that are specially designed to just work better? We both thanked her profusely. I snagged the Worgen one, and handed the Goblin one off to Pined. (I love the Worgen, but wish all the Goblins had drowned.) We followed JoJo through the crowd winding over to the Brady Games booth.

Apparently at BlizzCon they do a “Quest”. Where each day you go to all of the booths, and if you do, you get a little tag that lets you scratch off and maybe win a prize. Brady Games was our first stop. We just walked up to the table, bypassing the HUGE line of people waiting. The Brady Games rep gave us two scratchers, insisting we need not do the quest. We scratched and got Green, (the colors were based on the item colors in WoW) and so got patches. They were so swamped the rep asked us if we could come back later when they weren’t busy. We agreed, and headed over to Jinx.

A bit of background… I love Jinx. I am a Champion of Jinx’s site, mostly from purchases. I order at least one huge order every year and occasionally small ones. They are the reason I can go for 3 weeks wearing nothing but WoW shirts without repeating. In fact my t-shirts all come from one of three places: Jinx, Think Geek, and Woot.Shirt. I own all of their WoW hoodies. The Jinx booth, as the others had a huge line. They, once again, jumped us to the front. The nice guy from Jinx smiled through me gushing about the company and how much liked it, while handing us order forms. This is what I was here for. I quickly marked several of the new t-shirts and a hoodie. I couldn’t *wait* to wear my shiny new murloc hoodie. I pulled out my credit card and waited with a smile. Pinecone marked an item or two and handed his form back as well. The rep looked at my form and nodded. Then looked at Pinecone’s and goes: “Uh, dude, don’t you want more than that?” Pinecone looked a bit surprised, as I thought, wow hard seller here. After making some comment that he couldn’t quite afford more than that, the rep laughed and says “No no dude, it’s all free. Here.” And hands the form back. I blinked. I had almost $200 worth of stuff marked already. He made more waving motions. Well, if you insist I thought…

We walked away from the Jinx booth with quite the load of gear, both of us, wildly shocked and a bit dazed. We made our way over to the arena competition area and got some lunch. As we sat and ate we watched one of the pro arena matches. Now, I am one of the first people to say that people getting paid to play WoW is just absurd. But what got me was the fact that the team was a druid, shaman, warlock. I have played all three. I played a warlock at 70 raiding and 80 raiding. I played a shaman at 80 raiding as heals and elemental. My MAIN is a warlock. And I could *barely* follow what was happening. He was using spells in ways I had never considered.

After this, we wandered the hall a bit more and then headed over to the main hall once more for the Dungeons and Raids panels. Three cheers for being able to admit that you built some bad ideas and correcting them. After this, I was quite exhausted and wanted to head back to the hotel to drop off our loot. Once done there, we headed back to the convention center, and stopped in to the Lore panel. (Yes, I saw Red Shirt guy ask his question, it was pretty funny to be present for that.) We then camped our chairs for the Live Raid, and met Murky, a wonderful girl. She and I talked about mini pets and such for quite a while. I also stopped by the WoW magazine booth and renewed my subscription for a lovely green murloc.

The live raid was hilarious, despite not really being a raid, or even that interesting as far as mechanics. We went back by the Brady booth, now cleared out and introduced ourselves again. The rep was excited to see us and gave us free Razer headphones and a SteelSeries mouse. Once more loaded down with loot, and thoroughly excited, we decided to search for food.

Pinecone and I headed out, and decided to eat at Mortons. While exceptionally good, I am fairly sure I like Boca better. We then took a stroll down to Disneyland’s entrance, stopping along the way to talk to WoW-ers and take pictures of costumes.

Thus ended day 1 of BlizzCon. We headed back to our hotel room and took the time to log on and run Horseman from my teeny Netbook. (Did I mention I had installed WoW on a Dell Netbook, so we could make sure to run the Horseman event every day? It’s hilarious playing WoW on a screen that small, but I got the horse on TWO of my 80s, so it was worth it.)

We got up the next morning and headed over, excited to see more. The line was much much shorter and as such we were fairly close to the beginning. Only this time we were surrounded by a group of idiots that were very clearly the source of trolling on their server. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long and we were inside, once more bee-lining to the Main Theatre. We watched the Cataclysm cinematic panel in awe, from our great seats right up front. I, of course, got goosebumps at the Worgen cinematic. Nothing really beats seeing it on a 15 foot screen with an insane sound system. As we were still tired, and had *great* seats, we decided to sit, and took turns venturing out into the convention hall. During this time I took pictures of costumes, statues, computer banks, huge posters and so on. I also took a moment to pick up an item or two from the Blizzard Store.

The Q&A panel might have been more interesting if it wasn’t all about Pallys, so we got up once more, visited the large meeting stone, made our mark on the wall, then decided to head back to the hotel. Exhausted we decided to just head on back to the airport, so we wouldn’t have to rush. We packed up our loot (now our suitcases were near to bursting) and headed to the airport.

TSA has a shockingly understanding attitude about women dressed up as murlocs. They laughed, asked me what I was supposed to be, and waved me on through.

Our plane was delayed twice, though we got to play WoW on the Netbook, taking turns back and forth. It was great fun.

After PAX, I can say BlizzCon is a very focused show. It’s all about Blizzard products. I felt a bit bad, as I am not a huge Starcraft fan (and thus didn’t care Fruitdealer was there) or Diablo fan (the demon hunter trailer was cool at least). I enjoy PAX and I like that I can enjoy PAX with a majority of my friends. But really BlizzCon seemed almost lacking in that respect. I am very glad I took Pinecone, as my husband would have been quite annoyed to sit through all those panels, and likely would not have taken me bypassing all the SC and Diablo stuff with such grace. (Not to mention all the loot would have been lost on him.) I suppose it might be different if it were an expansion announcement year. Or if I took part in one of the contests. But I think, if I have to choose a convention, I will choose PAX. (And GDC of course, but that one is work related!)

I have to say though… if you are going to go to a convention, doing it as a contest winner is the way to go.

Indiana Jones and the Quests of Uldum

That title came out much more “logical” sounding than I intended. Cataclysm brought with it 5 more levels and 5 large complex zones to gain them in. As always, controversy has sprung up around some of the content Blizzard has included. (This makes me wonder, what was the vanilla WoW equivalent?) In Wrath it was a quest that required you to torture a bad guy for information. I made my stance perfectly clear on that point. In WoW things are quite a bit more cut and dried than real life. In addition to *knowing* I was on the right side of that battle, I also had just finished a quest that had me slaughter dozens of little creatures, on top of the 73 levels worth of killing I had done to reach this point. Not to mention that he was trying to destroy the world, and you can always choose *not* to do the quest. The furor died down and then in Cata they even gave an answer to that controversy by allowing the player the option, when you have captured someone for information, you are given the option to let them go once you get it.

After reaching level 83 players are given the option to go to a zone called Uldum. Uldum has been referenced in game since the beginning, so for me, it was something of a long awaited journey for me. I really wanted to see what was in this zone. The fact that it’s art style strongly mimicked Egypt and it’s plot lines revolved around pyramids, tombs, and archeology was enticing to me. I couldn’t wait.

The lush oasis, the massive pyramids, the sky scraping obelisks, all of it just tickled my fancy. As anticipated they pulled out the well used Harrison Jones NPC (Indiana Jones) and made him the focus of about half the quests of the zone. I was shocked! No, not really. In fact I am actually a bit surprised he was only half the zone.  Anyway, you step into the role of sidekick and proceed to follow large sweeping sections of various Indiana Jones movies. They don’t even try to hide it. Plane chase where you are the gunner and shooting the tail of the plane? Check. Fighting a bald dude next to an airplane that then runs over him and kills him? Check. Artifacts? Check. Jumping into trunks (fridge) and getting blown across the area? Check. Evil dude in white hat trying to take our stuff? Check. Nazis? Check.

That last one is the one everyone is all up in arms over. Okay they aren’t real Nazis. They are goblins all following this guy named Schnotts, so they are Schnottzis. But that’s the general idea. When I encountered them, I stopped for a moment, realized I was going to be doing quests for them, was like, “Well that’s odd, I would have expected these to be Horde quest. *shrug* Oh well, what do you want me to do?” About 20 minutes later, I had destroyed the guy’s entire operation from within, freed a bunch of prisoners, and was skipping back to the north to help Indy, I mean Harrison again.

But if you read these two blogs:



This was a horrible horrible thing and Blizzard should be SHAMED! Wait, what?

They say that Schnotts is Hilter… which is just weird. I mean, yes, he has the little thin mustache thing, but I just assumed that was making fun of it. (It was a fashion at the time.) I always felt like Schnotts was a caricature of some commander. Bad German accents… isn’t that the joke? It would never have occurred to me to even think they were spoofing real German accents. I assumed they were spoofing the TERRIBLE German accents from those kinds of movies.  Silly puns… This is Blizzard after all, do you even remember All You Can Eat? (The achievement.) Bad puns are kind of their bread and butter for being funny.

The one author claims that this is fantasy and should not include such things. Well, yeah, but this is also the game with motorcycles, helicopters, and shotguns. They argue about history and loss of immersion. Last I checked, Indiana Jones, not exactly a history lesson. History… seriously? You think this even remotely ties to truthful history at all? Of course not! It’s just a ripoff! The author even goes on about the turkey, Gobbles… To which I am perplexed. Did I miss a reference, cause when I did the quest (both times) it seemed to me it was a setup for getting Schnotts to say Nine! repeatedly. (Which did make me chuckle.) As for immersion… Well, that’s you. Personally, I never once thought twice about it. Nazis in an Indiana Jones quest? Sure, that makes sense. Wearing a Schnottzi uniform to spread discord among the ranks? Worked for Indy, why not me? Personally it breaks my immersion every time I see “Istabyoudead” and the 50 bazillion other weird and non-fantasy names that people use. It breaks my immersion every time I do a quest like “Gather hooves from these horses.” and I managed to find the 10 horses that don’t have any hooves. Even the Desert Fox quest (where you literally go find a fox) made me giggle, though as a former history major I was well aware of the obscure reference. It’s a massively multiplayer game. The other people are going to be breaking your immersion.

(Really after reading the second blog a bit more, I am just confronted with the feeling that this person is very annoyed with WoW as a whole. The ranty style mixed with the very specific and person arguments versus other players just makes it feel like someone’s blog, much like this is mine. And I really feel it isn’t a valid source for WoWInsider to pull from to talk about the controversy of Uldum’s Indiana Jones hard on.)

Are these people overly sensitive? I don’t think so. Does that mean we should remove the quests? Again, I don’t think so. Is it going to bother a specific population (ie Jewish players)? Didn’t seem like it to the guy I asked, he thought it was pretty funny. Is it going to bother a large portion of the game? I doubt it. Most WoW players don’t even read the quest text and are likely far more annoyed by the cut scenes throughout the entire zone. (I know I was. I mean, I liked some of them, but one after every quest, REALLY?) Is it “too soon”? To spoof an action movie from the 90s? No. Does it make WoW worse? Debatable, but I also believe that open world pvp makes WoW worse. I believe Tol Barad makes WoW worse. I believe having the wrong item level number on the heroic access makes WoW worse. Everyone has their opinions and with 12 million of us, we are likely going to have every opinion covered.

They have a valid complaint. They didn’t like it. That’s fair. But, as always, no one is forcing them to do it. (I love when they complain they need to do it to get the achievement or the levels, at which point I am like, both are optional.) I despise Vashj’ir from the bottom of my cold cynical heart and yet will likely do it on every toon for the rep and gold. I hate everything about it. The water, the music, the submarine, the caves, the naga… there isn’t a single redeemable quest in the zone as far as I am concerned. Do I think it should be removed? Nope, because someone else is gonna love it.