Soak in it, my friends, the gloriously messy, chaotic, crazy lore of World of Warcraft.
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Soak in it, my friends, the gloriously messy, chaotic, crazy lore of World of Warcraft.
I was playing Diablo III last night after playing WoW, because I hate it when days happen and I see the sun, when it occurred to me that the two settings are very different in a variety of ways, and one of the big ones is this - you could (and have) basically fit the entire thematic kit of the Diablo setting inside WoW, but you couldn't do the same in reverse. There's not enough room, for lack of a better word, for all of Warcraft inside Sanctuary. What do I mean by that? Well, Diablo as a setting has specific themes - the war between Heaven and Hell, Sanctuary created by dissidents from both sides, the creation of humanity by said defectors, and Diablo's plans to enlist or subvert humans to fight in said war between these polar opposites.
Warcraft has a host of demons that seek to destroy all reality that can easily stand-in for the hosts of Hell from Diablo, and the risen dead we see in places like Tristram is if anything small potatoes compared to the plague of undeath we see in the Plaguelands. But WoW contains multitudes that have little to nothing to do with them - the Old Gods are a completely different kind of menace and one that there's no place for in Diablo. Similarly, the many races of the Warcraft setting have no place in the cosmology of the Diablo setting.
Part of the reason for this is the origin of each game - while both have Dungeons and Dragons in their DNA, Diablo has always been a more straightforward dungeon crawl while Warcraft was originally an RTS with deep roots in the orc vs. human gameplay element. As an RTS, and one with two competing factions, new units helped create diversity and gameplay, and as a result having these new units be of different races gave flavor to the setting. Diablo has always been about you, alone in a vast dunegon complex or infested region, destroying waves of foes by yourself or with a small group - the variety came in terms of different kinds of foes to destroy and the ways you did so.
I wasn't one of the Alliance players who was upset about the Horde rebels having a role in SoO. I don't feel like it diminished the Alliance story any to show us working alongside them, I wasn't bothered by seeing Varian's actions at the end of the raid. I thought it was all good and proper.
But frankly, I'm done with the Horde's problems. I play Alliance. I want to see Alliance stories. Horde players should have their stories, too, I'm not saying they shouldn't -- more power to y'all solving that whole issue of inheriting a legacy of murderous psychopathic lunacy from the Old Horde, that's gotta be rough for you -- but I am done. Because Warlords of Draenor has promised me the one thing I've wanted to see since Burning Crusade itself failed to deliver it, and that's draenei. Draenei cities, as they appeared at their height. Draenei culture, not the ruined remnants of it. The draenei we saw in BC were the ragged remnants cast adrift on Azeroth, survivors of a near total extermination. They were the embattled refugees desperately seeking a place to rebuild. I fell in love with them in no small part due to their tenacity and willingness to keep going, but I've always wondered what they were really like before the horrors Ner'zhul and later Gul'dan unleashed upon them at Kil'jaeden's behest. And at last, I'm going to get to find out.
At present, the peoples of Pandaria, from the mogu to the mantid, the virmen and the hozen, are mostly unknown to us. Of these races, the pandaren are most familiar, and even then this is purely due to the actions of one pandaren who came to Kalimdor and walked alongside Rexxar and his allies, Chen Stormstout. But what do we know about the pandaren and their ancient homeland of Pandaria?
Originally this weekend, I had planned on writing a direct address to Blizzard concerning holy priest healing and mana in beta raids. The topic has been a large area of concern for priests on the forums lately, and I thought I should give the discussion a little boost by addressing it in my column. However, I am currently at BlizzCon 2010, and I happened to get the opportunity to talk to Ghostcrawler (lead systems design) in person for a few minutes. During that time, I relayed the general message of our problem (HPS is jank, mana needs work) and figured I'd give the Blizzard developers a week to attend to it before assailing them with complaints. Until then, I ask that my fellow priests not panic for a little while longer. In the words of Toby, who is pictured above, "Keep the faith!"
By the way, I'm starting a donation fund for BlizzCon 2011 to buy Ghostcrawler a fedora. Ghostcrawler would look awesome in a fedora.
Anyway, to tide you guys over until then, I figured this week I would attempt to entertain you all. At first, I thought I might try to be humorous, and then I remembered I'm not funny. (A priest walks into a bar and ... yeah, I got nothing.) So instead, I've decided to go with priest story time. Hit the jump to see what I mean.
Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI, macro, and addon related.
Organizing healing continues to be one of the many intriguing challenges that raiding groups face today. In some cases, there are pre-set players assigned to do specific things. Sometimes they are even worked out in advance on a forum or a white board. In looser groups or pickup groups, there isn't the luxury of planning healing in advance and the organizers have to go with their gut feeling and "stereotype" classes in order to figure out assignments. Examples, any holy paladins are told to heal a tank. Restoration shamans are told to heal a specific group and holy priests are told to heal another group.
It wasn't always entirely like that. This week, I want to take you back in time to the era of vanilla raid healing, through the Burning Crusade and to now. I'm also going to include my thoughts as to what Cataclysm might be like.
It's interesting to think what Blizzard was like before World of Warcraft. Today, the two are almost synonymous -- while they have two other major franchises (and one secret IP hiding in the works), it's almost impossible for anyone to think of Blizzard without thinking of WoW, and vice versa. The company has become almost solely defined by what they've done with this game. But of course, before the release, that wasn't the case.
Let's get meta here folks. Zetathran asked a question about the history of this site, and it got me into a conversation with our Editor-in-Chief Liz Harper about the activities of old. WoW.com has a changed a lot in the past few years, and while the long dialog we had about past policies and editorial standards is probably of no interest but ourselves, the basic story of the site probably is, so we'll start off with that.
"How did WoW Insider start? Who were the original bloggers?"
And so, we're here to help. Whether you've never heard of microtransactions before, you're convinced that they're the devil and that Blizzard has grown too greedy for their own good, or you can't wait to open up your wallet and get a Pandaren Monk to follow you around, let's take a second and look at the history of the microtransaction model, what it means that Blizzard made this decision, and what might happen to the game in the future.
There are all kinds of great little tidbits in here: originally, Warcraft III was planned with the over-the-shoulder look that WoW now has, and that's one of the reasons they wanted to create a more straightforward RPG game. Tom Chilton showed up on the team about a year before WoW's release, and to his surprise, the game was almost completely unfinished -- the level cap was only 15, the talent system wasn't implemented, the AH or mail systems weren't in, PvP wasn't in at all (of course, even at release it was pretty barebones), and endgame raiding was nonexistent. Most of the things we think of as intrinsic to the World of Warcraft -- even things like the Horde and Alliance not speaking to each other -- were debated and almost not in at all as they moved towards release.
One of the things they did is spur me to finally get a character maxed out fishing. I was always sort of planning to, one of these days, seriously, but it took the Tuskarr to push me over the edge, just because they made it so chill and awesome. Ok, so the epic fishing pole probably had something to do with it too, but still.
It's funny -- as a genre and a technology, MMO games are actually in the absolute earliest phases of their history. Socoiologists and psychologists have been studying real humans for thousands of years, and yet it's only in the past few decades that they've gotten access to MMO games, like little petri dishes of condensed human behavior. Nardi may be one of the first to try and scientifically examine how players use (and are affected by) this technology, but she'll definitely be far from the last.
The main problem, says Rob Pardo, is one of control: console controllers just don't have the flexibility to do what Blizzard wants to do with their games. "If I were them," he told the press, "I'd be sitting around trying to figure out what's a cool new input device that supports all types of new kinds of games." And he also hinted that he might be trying to do just that -- Blizzard is apparently in talks with Microsoft, not to develop for this generation of consoles, but to help them advance to the next generation. This is a little more than just Diablo III on the Xbox 360 (though that's definitely a possibility) -- it's Blizzard possibly getting the chance to bring what they love about PC gaming to the next console generation.
Heady stuff. Blizzard doesn't need to do anything these days, of course -- if they want to take their next sequel and release it in, say, three separate parts, they can do that and it will likely still be a hit. But if they want to set their sights on innovating in the console space, we'll probably all benefit.
- Single-server battlegrounds, and sometimes waiting hours for a queue.
- The old battleground ranking system, with one High Warlord per server.
- 40-man instances, if you think keeping 25 people in line is challenging, give this one a go.
- Epic ground mounts for 1000 gold in a time when cash did not flow so freely.
- Horde had no Paladins and Alliance had no Shamans.
- Before the report feature, I got a whisper message from a gold spammer about every thirty seconds.
- Many more limitations on where mounts were allowed.