Your friends keep telling you, "you can't play Arthas, man! Nobody's going to believe that your little human death knight is actually the Lich King in disguise. Get real!" But your idea just won't go away. You admit that creating a human death knight named "Ahrrthyss" might not be the best way to go about it, but you're in this guild which is devoted to fighting the Scourge, and you want Arthas to be a part of your story, not just an NPC who shows up in some quests and at the end of a raid.
We've already discussed a number of ways to be a villain in WoW – so you look at them to see if you can get one of them to work for you: The most obvious is to just start a new character and designate it to be one of your guild's antagonists, but the problem here is that making Arthas as an actual player character is way too Mary Sue. Such a tactic usually only works for very subtle villains (more like flawed heroes really), or for short-term possession, and your guild has done 3 "possessed by the Lich King's power" type stories already. You need something new! Another choice is to create a disposable villain, perhaps, some agent of the Lich King, which could be interesting, but still doesn't put you in touch with Arthas himself.
But there is another way, which many people have not thought of: to put the villain entirely in the shadows of the background, let him never actually be seen, but let his effects be felt based on what happens to the heroes. Arthas can indeed play a huge role in your story, without ever having to appear in person. It has been done to great effect before, even in novels. Sauron, anyone?
I didn't have any interest in watching the Oscars last night (so no, I didn't get to see Wolverine singing and dancing), but there was one piece of WoW-related news to come out of the big event. Steve Preeg is a visual effects artist who's worked on films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I, Robot, and last night, he won an Oscar for his team's work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And that's not his only achievement: he's also done everything but Sarth 3D with the guild he leads.
Yup, we've heard from one of his guildies that Preeg is a guild leader in the game -- he plays a Combat Rogue with 450 Enchanting and Inscription, and runs a progression guild that's downed everything but the big black dragon and his three companions. he's even done all of the holiday events so far (though he's rolling with the "Champion of the Frozen Wastes" title).
So he's picked up some excellent loot, both in and out of game (Oscars are epic at least -- the drop rate is pretty low). Congrats to Preeg and his team on the Oscar, and to his guild, good luck with Sarth 3D. Maybe if Anne Hathaway showed up for that you'd have him down by now.
Reader Duck Knight tipped us off to the box-art of the Battle for Middle-Earth II expansion from Electronic Arts. Also known as The Rise of the Witch-King, which sounds confusingly similar to the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King, the 2006 game's cover art looks curiously reminiscent of Blizzard's latest offering. Or vice versa. The game, which was based on the the movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, takes its art cue from the films. On the other hand, Arthas' armor is based on the cinematic from 2003's Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. I don't suppose Tolkien ever actually drew the Nazgûl armor...
Who copied whom? Probably nobody, really. It just so happens that ghastly blue seems to be the favorite color of evil leader-types and their undead minions. Witch Kings and Lich Kings also probably shop from the same armor boutiques, considering the similarity in their helmets -- eyelets, open-mouth design, and crown-like extensions. Fortunately for all of us, the Lord of the Rings video game is already a few years old, so we probably won't make the mistake of picking the wrong game up from the shelves when Wrathfinally arrives this November 13.
Our good friend Kevin Kelly (who writes for Joystiq) has apparently turned traitor -- over at the Spout blog, he's written up four reasons why they shouldn't bother making a Warcraft movie at all. His arguments go from shaky to solid -- he first claims that movies made from videogames just don't work anyway, In response, I'd submit to you Doom, and -- oh wait. Never mind. His second reason is that they just wouldn't make enough money, even if every Warcraft player bought a ticket, but I don't know if I'd worry about that: Transformers made money, and that movie was a high-budget pile of junk.
His last two points are probably more solid, though -- he says that unlike Lord of the Rings, which the Warcraft movie is often compared to, most people (even players of the games who skip cutscenes) would walk in having no idea what the story was about, which means the story would have to be dumbed down or just be a confusing mess. And finally, we can't really argue with the last point: since that first piece of concept art, we haven't heard a peep out of Legendary or Blizzard about what's happening, so maybe the flick's not getting made anyway.
And by the end of the piece, we've got to agree with Kevin: even if a big-budget worldwide movie release didn't get made, we'd much rather have a high-quality DVD of Blizzard's cinematics anyway (or maybe even a feature-length put together by the same department -- they do awesome work). The odds are against a live-action Warcraft movie already, it seems -- maybe it would be a better idea for Blizzard to just release something themselves.
Ever wonder what happens to your character when the boat or zeppelin goes out of your view as it zips across the ocean? Well, WoW That's Irregular is here to 'splain you, Lucy. The filmmaker, Wizeer, is a pal of Baron Soosdon's and a student of Machinima 101 and his third machinima makes it clear he'll be a force to be reckoned with.
The movie is really two separate vignettes which both riff on the theme of unexpected outcomes. The first story shows an Undead Rogue capturing the flag in Warsong Gulch with comedic flair. There is little standing in his way except a rookie Gnome, a surprised Draenei, and a Dwarf Hunter who looks surprisingly like BRK. One of these three offers the rogue his comeuppance, which is amusing, but what actually happens is a bit difficult to follow. According to the film's notes, the rogue overused Sprint, but I'm not entirely sure what occurred.
In the second half of the film, a Night Elf boards a boat and gets mobbed by a gang of Horde who apparently don't judge gender very well. The special effects on the boat ride showing us what happens when the boat hits the worm hole are splendid. The voice acting in this segment is also quite amusing. (Did you know that Orcs scream like little girls?) Give it a shot; I think you'll like this one.
For those of you interested in the non-WoW music used in this film, Wizeer lists "Concerning Hobbits" (Lord of the Rings), "Lacrimosa" (Immediate Music), and "Ringtone" (Battlefield Heroes).
Worldofwar.net announced the winners of its WoW movie poster contest today. Each winner of the contest received a Wrath of the Lich King beta key. The five winning posters, oddly, have a very sci-fi feel to them. Two of the winners, in particular, gave me a Star Wars vibe. One shows a cast of Alliance characters posed in a fashion reminiscent of Luke and Leia on the A New Hope posters and the other (pictured to the right) reminds me of an Imperial Star Destroyer on the move. Maybe it's just me, but I expected a poster to have more of a fantasy feel to sell this movie. Something that reminds me more of, say, Lord of the Rings rather than Star Wars.
I think my favorite one is the one of Arthas staring at the viewer. It looks menacing and the artwork is fantastic. (Not a big fan of the "2012," teaser date, though.) In addition to viewing the winning designs, you can also flip through a gallery of all the entries they received, including a nice one in the honorable mention category called "There is no escape," featuring Kil'jaeden which definitely has a fantasy vibe to it.
All the World's a Stage is a source for roleplaying ideas, commentary, and discussions. It is published every Sunday evening.
Your character is like an arrow. He was launched from the birthplace of your imagination with the aim of creating spontaneous stories with other creative people. Your character's personality is the particular direction he travels in, and his background story is the bow which set him on his way.
The bow-string tension that gives a good backstory its momentum is its lack of resolution. The desire to find resolution propels your character forward into the game, but it doesn't predict with certainty where your he or she will end up. Realizing this can free you of a great burden: your story doesn't have to make the New York Times Bestseller List. In fact, the whole idea here is to purposely leave your backstory unfinished, ready to be resolved through roleplaying. Too much emphasis on a dramatic background leaves you with not enough room for an interesting foreground, and little else to contribute other than the saga of your epic past.
Obviously, people aren't logging into WoW to read your miniature novel. They generally won't want to hear your backstory unless they specifically ask you about it (which they might!), but even then they'll care less for its narrative value and more for its ultimate impact on your character as a person. It's best to think of it less as a story in itself (e.g. "How I got to be this way"), and more as a prologue to the story you want to roleplay (e.g. "How do I get out of this mess?"). Its purpose is to set up challenges for your character to overcome with other people, and it should establish a direct line to your character's desires and aspirations.
The ring features +22 to the primary five stats, making it (wait... let me make sure my math is right here...) 22 times better than The 1 Ring.
I'm not sure of it's use initially. It's a well rounded stats ring, so perhaps a druid or other hybrid class might be interested in it if they find themselves changing roles often enough. However for a single role / gear set, there are a plethora of better choices easily obtainable.
Of course, with that said, it makes a helluva nice ring to start off at 70 with.
Richard Bartle at Terra Nova asks an interesting question regarding MMORPGs in general, wondering why so many of them tend toward the fantasy genre. Did Lord of the Rings have such a phenomenal impact on our cultural imagination that it made every story (or gaming environment) even loosely based on it more likely to succeed, or is there something deeper here?
The question sparks an interesting discussion which I encourage you to read. It certainly makes me think about WoW in a new light. Suppose we imagine that Blizzard had made a different decision about which franchise to develop into their first MMO: would World of Starcraft have been as popular as World of Warcraft is today if its gameplay was more or less just as good, or is the science fiction environment inherently less appealing to the masses than fantasy?
To me, it makes sense that Blizzard chose the Warcraft franchise over Starcraft (or even Diablo for that matter), not just because it is fantasy, and certainly not just because it draws on elements of Tolkien's literature, but because it draws on a wider range of mythic elements, contains more layers of conflict, and generally provides a greater diversity of opportunities for a new gamer to find something he or she likes in it. What's your opinion?
The Warcraft storyline is part of a great tradition of fantasy literature, and, as with any form of storytelling, the entire span of WoW lore involves a series of events and changes. Arthas wasn't always the Lich King, Illidan used to be able to wear shoes, and your character was once a little child, with no spells or epic weapons at all. All these things fit together in a single story universe, in which the progressive changes taking place in the story made the world what it is today.
But what is it today? Is Illidan now dead or alive? Is VanCleef dead or alive, for that matter? As a gaming environment, any boss you kill today has to be there for me to kill tomorrow. The WoW game world needs to remain basically unchangeable -- but over time this can stifle a roleplayer's sense of immersion in its narrative. To illustrate the impact this sort of immutability has on storytelling, let us take a page from a certain fantasy story you might have read, and see how it might work as a WoW raid instance.
Welcome to Mines of Moria! This raid instance will reset in 6 days, 10 hours and 41 minutes.
[Raidleader] [Gandalf]: Beware! There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world. Follow my glowing staff! [Raidleader] [Gandalf]: ... and um... get ready to pull that first group of orcs. Kill order is skull, x, circle... Gimli, can you offtank that cave troll?
For some, the whole process takes 5 minutes. They log in, click on "create new character," choose a race, a class, painstakingly compare each and every face and hairstyle, type in a name, click "accept," and they're done. Some take their time by paying a visit to the forums of each class, or asking their friends about which race is best -- but who sits down and makes up a story idea, a personality, and actual characteristics for characters these days?
Roleplayers do, of course. But how? What if you'd like to try out roleplaying but you just don't know where to begin creating an actual character, rather than just an avatar for yourself in the game? Each roleplayer tends to have his or her own way, but there are are a number of things they have in common. One of the first things to remember about designing your character concept, is to make your character essentially human, relatable, based on real experiences that you know about.
Mine your life. Think of what kinds of experiences you are familiar with, and which of them could be used as the foundation for another person's life, a new character with a story to tell, and a personality to engage other people's interest. Today, I'll give you a couple examples of how I tried to do this, and explain some of the pitfalls people often fall into when trying to make up an interesting character.