Shadowlands (WoW again)

Now I’m going to write things about the new Shadowlands expansion for World of Warcraft some more, and apologies yet again to the Second Life folks who are still reading here in hopes of someday getting Second Life content again. :)

(I have done some “virtual world creation, albeit not Second Life” stuff that I guess I haven’t mentioned here? Which is odd because it was really pretty cool; enough scripting that I nearly got out a source code control system and a bug tracker, in the service of a really remarkable world build. See Karima Hoisan’s post and teaser video on the subject.)

Anyway, Shadowlands! Somewhat contradictorily:

  • I like it quite a bit (the strange systems, the quirkily-different places like the Maw and the Tower of Torghast, the fact that it doesn’t really take itself very seriously, as usual), and
  • It makes not the tiniest particle of sense.

The latter point is (and I suppose in some sense there are spoilers for the expansion below, but really if you haven’t yet gotten at least as far as I have by now you probably aren’t someone who cares about that kind of thing) due to a number of factors, including:

  • It’s supposed to be set in the Afterlife. This has some amusing side-effects, like encountering the occasional defeated ex-villain from prior expansions sweeping the floor to atone for their sins or whatever, but otherwise it’s pretty unconvincing, since:
  • There’s basically no one there. I mean, it’s supposed to have been the place where everyone who dies on Azeroth and and least a couple of other worlds (and quite likely all worlds because why not) goes after they die. So there should be a really incredible number of NPCs around somewhere. But there is no hint of that; there’s like I dunno a few dozen or hundred or something.
  • There’s no Shadowlands Archaeology, supposedly because the place has no history, but obviously the place does have history; Revendreth in particular is chock-full of ruins that would have any archaeologist drooling. And Bastion has that one hilltop devoted to that one hero from the past, and the entire Locus of Memory.
  • Three of the five areas are full of stuff that gets left behind when one dies, and has no place in the Afterlife: bones and gristle and skulls and skeletons and funerary equipment and like that. That’s just silly; what is all that doing there? What are these the bones and coffins and so on of?
  • Relatedly, since this is WoW, one is constantly killing (“defeating”) things. How exactly does that work, ontology-wise? When things die, do they go to an After-Afterlife? Do they just respawn after awhile? (Of course things just respawn after awhile everywhere else in WoW, so that’s a whole area of confusion to think about.)
    • There are a few references to “the True Death”, but if dying in the Shadowlands means that you cease to exist rather than spending eternity doing… something (more on that below) you’d think people would be really really careful to avoid it, at the very least. And the Shadowlands people are always calling us mortals “mortals”, which would seem to imply that they are not mortal, suggesting that there is no “True Death” in fact. Which is it??
    • Sometimes when you die in Shadowlands, a voice says “It is not yet your time, Child of Azeroth”. Not yet my time for what, exactly, voice?
  • And why are there so many things? Why are there fish and plants and annoyingly-overhanging rock formations in the Afterlife? Are they the souls of fish and plants and annoyingly-overhanding rock formations that died in the mortal world? How would that work? (The fact that the areas of the Afterlife are all islands floating in a cloudy void, and if you fall off you… die, is a whole nother issue.)
  • Before this big power imbalance and war that we’re involved in started, the Afterlife apparently sat around for untold ages not doing that. So what were all the (millions and billions, at least, of) souls doing? Considering this by area, we speculate:
    • In the Maw they were just suffering forever because they were so terrible, which is horrible but it’s basically just Hell so okay.
    • In Revendreth they were coming to terms with and admitting their sins so they could then go to some other area, or to the Maw if they ultimately failed (why this involves vampires I may or may not wonder about again below),
    • In Ardenweald they were taking care of the recharging souls of various Nature Demigods waiting for their Respawn Timers to count down, which is sort of nice, but you wouldn’t think it would require all that many people (they also put on plays, which is cool, although the theatre isn’t nearly big enough for the millions of… okay we’re tired of that complaint).
    • In Bastion they were having all of their memories of their lives removed and archived, being turned into overgrown humanoid Smurfs regardless of what shape or species they were in life (wut), and then trained in battle so they could go out and bring the souls of the dead to the Shadowlands for judgment. Except:
      • They don’t in fact do that; the souls just sort of flow down from the sky in a big river,
      • In the one example we see where they do do that, no battle skills of any kind are required since they’re just magical angels and who would they be fighting?
      • Also in the one example we see where they do do that, they need exercise no judgment whatever, so the excuse we see that they have to forget their past lives so that they can fetch souls “without judgment” makes no sense whatever.
    • In Maldraxxus they were apparently being made into bizarre amalgams of bone and gristle and other corpse-parts for no obvious reason, and then set to fighting each other in an endless round of melee, poisoning, plague, spying, and whatnot, ostensibly to defend the Shadowlands, although it’s not clear against what, and of course it’s eventually against each other, which is obviously perfect for a WoW realm, but otherwise makes not a lot of sense.

In the Bastion storyline, we get the impression that the Shadowlands has in the past been attacked by critters from the Void (just like the rest of the universe has), so maybe that’s what Maldraxxus is training against, but I don’t see a whole lot of evidence for that.

Okay, enough complaining for now. :) As I said, I’m certainly enjoying it, but I wanted to write this stuff down just because it’s fun to write down things that make so sense. As I mentioned, Blizzard themselves don’t take it all that seriously; I don’t know if the line “If this is truly the only way, then I shall find another” is intentionally satirical (I mean, strictly speaking and going by the meaning of “only”, you shall in that case not find another), but when the flavor text for a scroll that you find (when looking for a more important one) in the Locus of Memory is something like “In this weighty tome a Kyrian has recorded every one of the memories of their life. Every. Single. One.” you know that they’re having a good time with their lore and ontology.

(Also, one is constantly being carried around unceremoniously by Kyrians, which is pretty funny.)

Spennatrix is OP

I have been in Second Life a bit more in the last few months doing random things, as well as being in Kitely contributing to Karima Hoisan’s amazing builds (“worlds”, they call them in Kitely). But I’ve also been in World of Warcraft even more (hey, there’s a new expansion out!) so I’m going to talk about that here instead. Who knows, if I get used to writing in weblogs again, maybe it’ll occur to me to write some original words about SL again eventually!

(For instance maybe about how it was kind of fun figuring out Bakes on Mesh and having a full mesh head and body for Girl Dale, but that having done it all there doesn’t really seem to be any point outside of like better-looking joints in swimsuit photos.)

Spennix the Rogue has been max-level (which is 60 again now; shades of Classic!) for a little while now, and it’s been pretty fun. She’s rather squishy, as I’ve resigned myself to rogues being, with of course the somewhat compensating advantage of being very good at sneaking and vanishing and running away and stuff. So, good for exploration. She is in the Night Fae Covenant, mostly because I thought the “running around fast as a glowy animal” thing sounded like fun and more in-character than the other covenants. The damage ability seems to do a little extra damage, but nothing amazing.

For variety, I also leveled Spenax the Affliction Warlock a bit, up to 57 as of this writing. They have this nice mechanic where when your second and subsequent characters arrive at the main part of the expansion, you have a choice between going through all the introductory storylines introducing the covenants one at a time and all, or you can go straight to choosing one and then flitting around all the various areas levelling. I chose the latter for Spenax, and the Venthyr seemed aesthetically appropriate for a Warlock. The Door of Shadows ability is fun, and the damage ability, again, seems to do maybe a little extra damage.

A snappily-dressed female Night Elf Holy PriestThen I decided to focus and to some higher-stress stuff, so I’ve been leveling Spennatrix the Holy Priest, including actually healing instances, which is stressful because if you mess up the party dies, and if the tank messes up the party dies and blames you. (I’m sure tanks say the same thing about healers.) But it sure is quicker than just questing around, and the dungeon-queue wait times are like two minutes tops for a healer. So Spennatrix is 59 going on 60 as of this writing. She joined the Kryian Covenant because of course she did (they’re so pure and earnest that they are going to turn out to be bad guys, right?), and the non-combat “weird little owl guy with a baby voice brings you a potion” ability is amusing. But the combat ability? Well, holy shirtballs!

I mean, I may be pretty bad at party healing (or maybe I’m pretty good, I’m not sure; so much depends on the tank and how bad the DPS are about standing in pools of stuff), but for solo’ing around, a Kyrian Holy Priest is totally OP. (OverPowered, that is, not Original Post{er}.)

Long, long ago, in say Ashenvale, poor Spennatrix would wince at the site of, say, a bear, because they tended to do damage faster than she could heal, if she was going to get in any damage herself and therefore kill the bear before running out of mana.

But now! Need to do damage? We have Smite and Holy Fire. We also have Holy Word; Chastise, which is not only a nice chunk of damage but also a good interrupt and a decent stun, and it comes around so often on the guitar that we can just use it for a little extra damage without worrying about wasting the interrupt part, because it’ll be back soon. We also have miscellany like Holy Nova for an area effect, and that star thingie which does both damage and healing in a line out of front of one, and then again on the way back.

(All priests apparently also have Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death. Spennatrix does not use these. Ever.)

Worried about taking damage? We have Power Word: Shield (which we didn’t for awhile, but now we do again) which makes the first N owches of damage just not count, and we can self-cast it every like 15 seconds. And if we do take damage, we have small fast heal, and big slow heal, and “heal that person and then jump to whoever else needs it the most”, and a Heal Over Time, and a “heal the whole party with pretty graphical effects”, and “heal this person and everyone near them”, and “heal this person an enormous amount if it’s available, and since its cooldown reduces with every small fast heal you cast, it probably is”, and… and… and…

And then there’s the Kyrian thing, Boon of the Ascended, which can be used every three minutes, and basically turns you into this unstoppable damage and healing vortex for ten seconds, with both direct and area damage, all kinds of healing as a side effect, and a big boom at the end that takes care of most of whatever difficulties survived until then.

Spennatrix is no longer worried about bears. Especially the first bear that’s tried to mess with her in the last three minutes.

(And then there are little perks like Levitate, which is an any-time “no worries about falling” thing, as long as you don’t need to steer, and Fade and/or Shadowmeld, which are not as good for sneaking as a rogue’s Stealth, but still very handy.)

None of this helps (enough) in a dungeon with a squishy headlong tank and DPSes that stand in boiling blood, but it’s definitely easier to solo around than I remember!

Update: Ding 60! :)

How old are Dales and some gnomes?

So yeah, How Old dot Net is all the rage, and I’m sure I’m not the first person to point it at various digital-realm avatars, but here we go!

Girl Dale and Boy Dale both seem to be mid-20’s, which is plausible:

Boy Dale looks 26?

Girl Dale looks 27?

Even drowed-up for Fantasy Faire (see Michele H’s very nice coverage although given how late I always am it is probably over by when you read this):

Drow Girl Dale, too

On the other hand Spennix is, well…

Spennix, on the other hand...

as is her alternate-realm self, the Arcane Mage Tashalorum (now level 100 also with her own Castle; I think we may have seen her here or on Flickr before, at like level 12; leveling is sooo easy these days):

Tashalorum, too...

The human PNC architect there is handled more plausibly, so probably we just need a different version of How Old dot Net for each of the races of Azeroth. (But what of the half-gnomes??)

Amusingly, the male version of Tashalorum (two words: Transmorphic Tincture) is apparently an even harder problem:

Male Tashalorum ; no face??

Maybe facial hair isn’t supposed to be pink?

That’s all for now. :) All various things have been occurring as always, but I have been lazy and not weblogging them or anything. Which means they didn’t really happen yet at all!!

Speaking of vanity…

Meanwhile, over in WoW, I’ve been playing various of my 90s through the brief pre-expansion quests to get the level 515 item and whatever achievement or title or thingie one gets (oh, right, it’s the “of the Iron Vanguard” title, and you really only need to get it once with one character and then they can all use it), and then doing other random things.

I played Spennix just a tiny bit, then my shadow priest for awhile (wicked DPS), and various others, then settled on Spennatrix the healer for some time, including trying to complete all of the Pandaren raids (at mere Looking For Raid difficulty) before the expansion comes out and makes all the existing content easy. (Still have just one to go! The wait-time for raid healers is always really short, I am just lazy.)

Y’all will doubtless remember Spennatrix’s simple white outfit from the other month (okay, the other year). As she went up to 90 and did Timeless Isle quests and got that gear, I didn’t re-transmog every upgrade she got, so eventually she was looking a bit more baroque again:

Spennatrix Ornate

although not awful; the Pandaren gear is much less bizarre-looking than the stuff that inspired her to do a set of transmogs in the first place.

But so anyway, I was in the white transmog again, standing around with a raid group buffing up to take down the Council of Elders in Last Stand of the Zandalari, when I notice this other Night Elf Priestess, and she’s wearing like omg TOTALLY the same transmog!!!

Mooncloth Robes

That’s me on the left.

Of course it’s not really exactly the same transmog, mostly it’s that we both have Mooncloth Robes, and generally non-ornate other gear. She’s got this High Councillor’s Circlet for a nice blue gem matching the blue hair, whereas I have hair matching the robes, and an unmodified Amaranthine Cowl of the Impatient on top (not really a cowl despite the name, more a little top extension with a hairpin) because it looks good, and matches the (also unmodified) belt.

Neither of us quite have the shoulders right, I’d say; I have the White Woolen shoulders or whatever that is, and they’re simple but kind of a weird shape, and actually too white for the white outfit. On the other hand her I think Shadow Council Mantle is a little too ornate for the overall look (although they do go nicely with the gloves). I’ve switched back to the Silver-Threaded Amice look for the shoulders since, and I think I prefer it.

I was thinking about some evil-looking dark transmog for the Shadow Priest, but then I realized that since she spends 99% of her time in Shadowform, no one would hardly ever see it.

And if no one sees it, what’s the point, eh? :)

Three Poems

My RL self did National Poetry Writing Month in April; 30 poems in 30 days. I thought I’d post three (at least) of them here, because they have some Virtual World content.

This first one, from the 29th, is notable for having inspired a machinima as noted the other day.

Dactyls are Dharma, too

Here in the midst of the ten thousand thingummies
Hearing the voices of ten million throats,
Feeling compassion for those who have aching knees,
Those who build bridges and those who dig moats.

Sitting in zazen and counting the in-and-out
One and a one and a one and a one,
Mind somehow caught in this insistent rhythm, I
Tick like a clock sitting here in the sun.

Dharma is silent but Dharma is noises and
Dharma is stillness but Dharma is speed,
Why should I think that the circling second-hand
Isn’t precisely the sound that we need?

One commenter (commentor? commentator?) somewhere said they’d learned two new words from it; I’m guessing “dactyl” and “dharma”; both good words to know.

The second one, from the 9th, is very relevant to lil Spennix:

A long way from Kharanos

Well it’s a damn’ long way from Kharanos
To th’ Gate o’ th’ Settin’ Sun,
But the beer is good an’ the beds are soft
When th’ daily slaughter’s done.

I left a dagger in Thermaplugg,
All those long hard years ago,
Took a bit of his gear as a souvenir,
Of Gnomeregan below.

But that crazy old coot was nothin’,
‘gainst the things that they’ve got ‘ere,
Bugs an’ Mogu an’ lizard men,
And hungry ghosts o’ fear.

Someday I’ll go back t’ ol’ Col’ridge,
An’ sit on the porch with ‘em all,
But ’til then I’m out here in the Vale,
Killin’ bugs up on the wall.

Well it’s a damn’ long way from Kharanos
To th’ Gate o’ th’ Settin’ Sun,
But the beer is good and the beds are soft
When th’ daily slaughter’s done.

… and here is an Action Shot of “Killin’ bugs up on the wall”:

Fightin' bugs up on the Wall

(Click through to the shockingly-redesigned flickr for the same picture larger, and in a confusing interface.)

And to close, this one from the 17th. Note that it’s not actually about Second Life, since that has real people in it, not just simulated ones. But still…

Walking Cross-Country

He says he’s writing a computer program
to simulate
walking cross-country
in an unknown place.

Where you might follow a brook upstream
and be surprised by
a forest lake
sparkling in the sun,

And follow a path around it
to a ramshackle house
at the end of a dirt road
where a woman with dark hair and soft eyes
opens the door
and smiles a welcome.

And I say that that sounds cool,
and I also say,
that the real world has surprises like that, too,
and even soft-eyed women,
and he should maybe go for real walks sometimes.

He turns to me,
like he’s about to say something,
but then he just shakes his head
and goes back to the keyboard.

Bored with WoW again :)

So the periods during which I get interested enough in WoW to play it relatively regularly seem to be getting shorter, and less frequent.

The latest one, of course, happened when the Kung-Fu Pandas expansion came out. Spennix got to level 90 pretty quick:

Spennix in Pandaria

At least I think she’s level 90 there; anyway, she is now! And she got to 90 without doing a single instance, or very many dailies, just questing about. More of the “everything in WoW up to but not including advanced raiding is now dead-easy” effect.

She also has maxed-out Engineering and stuff now, and is very fond of her Mechanical Dragonling pet:

Spennix's Mechanical Dragonling

One new thing I haven’t yet done in WoW is the “Pet Battle” stuff. ’cause, I mean, y’know, sheesh?

I also have a Pandaren Brewmaster, as seemed pretty much required, considering.


He’s level 50-odd now, and wow Brewmaster tanking is easy so far! :) But since after the first rather fun Pandaren start zone he’s just doing the same old levels, I find it hard to get really interested.

Spennatrix has also been Holy Priesting around the first few levels of Pandaria:

Spennatrix in Pandaria

But again I find it hard to be fascinated, since Spennix just did all these areas not so long ago. Instance healing might be fun, but I dunno shrug.

Spennix has done some Golden Lotus and Tillers and insect-dudes dailies, and they can be diverting, but I always come away feeling like I’ve just wasted a big chunk of time.

Whereas in Second Life, when I look at the clock and discover it’s hours past bedtime, I almost never feel like it was a waste. :)

So expect to see me around the grid a bit more than I have been! (Except of course that this weekend is Thanksgiving so there are RL things going on, and then next week I’m out of town on business and may not have connectivity, and and and…)

Fashion comes to the WoW battlefield

There’s always been a bit of fashion stuff in World of Warcraft; certain items of clothing or other gear that you could buy or get that were valuable not because of their stats, but because they looked cool (or unusual, or weird, or extra-ugly).

People would make up elegant or funny or whatever outfits out of these sometimes and stroll around in town showing off, or wear them to RP (Roleplaying) events, or costume parties or whatever. See for instance the famous picture of Spennix in the pimpin’ Crimson Felt Hat, which is actually useful for about twenty minutes at level 48, if you’re a Priest, but looks good on anyone:

Spennix's Town Hat

On the battlefield (or out in the wilderness or the necromancer’s tower or whatever), however, you generally wore whatever you could get your hands on that had the best stats, with little or no regard to how it looked. (’cause of otherwise you would like die an’ all.)

The Blizzard folks did put some thought into gear design, and there are various sets that go together thematically at both high and low levels. But even at that if you’re a holy priest or a warlock or a retribution paladin or whatever at a certain level, there are a very limited number of things that are Best In Slot (BiS) for you at that level, and at most a couple of different integrated outfits, and even those will have been designed by, well, by Blizzard.

And they ain’t exactly fashion designers.

But now that is all changed!

Using Transmogrification, you can make any piece of gear look like any other piece of the same sort of gear (with various complicated rules like you have to own and be able to use both, both must actually have some kind of stats bonus, etc, etc), and that has completely opened up the WoW fashion scene, both in town and in the fray.

(Well, not completely-completely as in Second Life, because you still can’t quite make your own stuff, but you can combine various of the lots and lots of existing-looking stuff in multiplicative ways.)

For instance I hadn’t taken pictures to speak of of Spennatrix, my healer Priest, or even played her all that much lately, at least partly because she looked stupid in her gear.

Here, for instance, is the Mask of New Snow, the best healer headgear she’d come across and/or been able to afford to that point:

I mean, yuck! And also, eek! Is that a look you’d want to trust your life to in battle? More like something you’d expect to be battling against.

A bit later she upgraded to the Cowl of Destiny, which looks like this:

Again, omg and/or wtf rofls. Blizzard’s style choices at high levels have always run to more or less elaborate more or less dark and threatening things, which is fine if you’re a necromancer warlock or a mage or even warrior or whatever, but Spennatrix is a humble Priestess of Elune, the WoW Moon Goddess, and is not really interested in looking like any of those things, thank you very much.

(And her staff, for that matter; Chelly’s Staff of Dark Mending isn’t exactly In Character, but it’s what she’s got.)

So, transmogrification! Being an Illustrious Grand Master Tailor and a Night Elf, it was no problem to cleanse some Felcloth into Mooncloth at the ancient Moonwell over in the mysterious Twilight Grove over in Duskwood, and make a lovely set of Mooncloth robes. Then taking out the elegant Imperial Red Circlet she’d saved from her early adventures, and the Moon Staff of Elune that she quested for in her novitiate (if priestesses of Elune have novitiates, I dunno), and then down to the Ethereal’s place in Stormwind for th’ Transmogrifying (not to mention a trip to the barber for a little magical dye job), and viola:

Now there’s someone you want at your back when you’re tanking Mannoroth at the Well of Eternity, eh?

(Her next robe upgrade, to the Robes of the Cleansing Flame, didn’t look too bad:

but still too much like a Fire Mage or a UPS deliveryperson or something (not to mention making her bottom look huge; what were they thinking with that pattern on the hips??). Much better in Mooncloth:

don’t you think?)

So that’s fashion in WoW! None of my other toons (haha, “toons”) have made as much use of it as Spennatrix, although my necro warlock did use it to color-coordinate a piece of what was really Priest gear that he was using for awhile, and Spennix has used it to get back the look of her very very cool goggles from awhile back. But Spennatrix is definitely my most fashion-conscious WoW character. :)

And back in SL, boy Dale has a rather new look, too! We’ll see how long that lasts. Fortunately, no annoying raids or prolonged quests or tedious grinding are required to change looks in SL; just shopping!

Bunnies vs Argaloth!

Just to show that WoW isn’t all battles and fighting and stuff, here’s a moment of silliness, where most of the 25-person guild raid waiting for the last two members to show up before taking on Pit Lord Argaloth decided to turn each other into bunnies and get out our Spring Rabbit pets, and hop around for picture-taking.

Bunnies vs Argaloth!

(I really should have turned off all of the floating nametags, ’cause they sort of clutter up the picture…)

I am happy to see that the picture has already been favorited once on flickr. :)

I wasn’t actually planning to be in this raid at all, I just happened to be doing Tol Barad when it was time for my guild‘s weekly “Raid Boot Camp” run, so I got included in the invitation, and I thought “What the heck!”.

The raid was fun (even not counting the bunnies), and the Boot Camp part consisted mostly of following directions (something I am generally pretty good at). And I was rewarded richly, in that as the only rogue there I pretty much by default got the nice rogue PvP legs that dropped, and they were a good upgrade to my PvP set.

(In fact they’re enough better than the legs currently in my PvE set that I’m thinking of swapping them in there also; but wearing PvP for PvE, even when justified by the numbers, is sort of a WoW Fashion Faux Pas…)

So see! What WoW is really about is (a) silliness, and (b) fashion. Now you know! :)


Little people with letters on themI think I’ve figured out why I so often disagree with Hamlet Au‘s opinions about how Second Life should change. As I speculate here, I think Hamlet is talking as an investor or a business consultant, saying what he thinks will improve new-user signups, or retention, or profitability in general; whereas I’m talking as a resident, saying what I think would make the world a better place to be a resident in, for people who are at least to some extent like me. Of course the world has to continue to exist :) in order to be a good place to reside, so I am somewhat concerned with profitability, but it’s not primary.

So for instance when Blue Mars decided to give up development of the actual virtual world, in favor of an “is my AV hot or not?” app for cellphones, that may have been a great decision in terms of bottom line, but presumably was not great news for those who enjoyed the actual virtual world.

And when Hamlet praises the new “Rank” system on the Second Life official forums, and hopes that it will soon have an equivalent inworld, I think he means that he believes (based on his knowledge of similar systems in places like the 2.5D Habbo Hotel (“Habbos Like: army cool diceplaya elite police force financier football friends fun funny habbo habbo government job justin bieber lol love music nypd pays police white house”)), that this would increase new-user retention, concurrency, profits, etc; but when I say I think it would be an awful idea, it’s because I have a really hard time imagining how such a thing would actually improve my experience of the world, aside from any profitability impacts it might have.

I remember when I briefly tried “vSide” awhile back, there was some system of “Creds” or something, based on something like a ranking system or achievements or friends or money spent or something, and various items that I might have wanted to buy were only available if you had enough “Creds”, and I didn’t. And this turned me off, and was one of the reasons I stopped going there; one thing I don’t want a virtual world telling me is that I Am Not Good Enough!

On the other hand I do appreciate the value of a constant little stream of validation in any activity. So maybe it would be possible to imagine some sort of “Gamification” of SL that would, rather than telling you that you are currently Not Good Enough to get some particular item or upload some particular kind of content, instead give you little attaboys, little blips of praise or accomplishment. Might be worth thinking about.

World of Warcraft has (at least) two almost entirely separate reward and rank systems, one of which I think is completely inappropriate for SL, and one of which might actually be interesting.

The inappropriate one is the obvious one: every character has a level, and the most obvious driving force behind the entire game is leveling up. You level up very very fast at the beginning, which provides a steady stream of little rewards to start with, while you’re still perhaps finding out what-all there is to do in the game. Low-level characters can only go to low-level places, and use low-level items, and fight low-level monsters. A high-level character can kill a low-level character of the other faction with a single blow.

Importantly, it’s a ranking system among characters (“toons”), but not among players; in general each player is expected to have a number of toons, and the level 15 druid that you’re talking to is quite likely just the latest toon of someone who also has two or ten level 85 characters of other classes and races.

And this would all be completely inappropriate for Second Life. SL isn’t about some ubiquitous overarching story that everyone is taking part in, some set of predefined ladders that everyone goes up and that everyone is interested in. It’s not about creating a character, leveling it up one of the available ladders, improving one’s gear, and then starting a new character with different abilities, to climb a slightly different ladder. SL can be this, if you get into one of the RP systems, but that’s entirely up to the player; it’s not baked in. And it shouldn’t be; changing SL to be that way would be like making it into an “is my AV hot or not?” app for cellphones, or for that matter into a sales platform for dishwashers. It might be profitable, but I (and I think most residents) would lose all interest.

On the other hand, WoW also has the more recently-added “Achievements” system. Achievements are things that you do outside of the level system, and that get you at most little decorative rewards, like a new title to display over your head, or a pet that will follow you around but doesn’t actually do anything in the game. And the vast majority of achievements don’t even do that; it’s just another achievement that you’ve achieved, the game makes a cool little noise and informs anyone standing nearby and anyone in your guild who happens to be logged in at the time, but that’s it. There’s a “compare achievements” mechanism that you can use to compare your achievements with those of anyone nearby, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of anyone using it.

Could we have a similar system in SL? Maybe. It wouldn’t be like the thing on the forums at all, with every person having one single rank-like title (“Honored Resident”, “Member”, “Advisor”, gak); instead there’d just be alot of checkboxes that you could either ignore entirely, or work more or less hard on getting them checked off. Having checked off alot of them would not get you any special powers on the forums or in the world. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough; tying them to special powers leads to cheating and hacks and drama and destruction.

There could be a bunch of very easy checkboxes, so that new residents get a nice welcoming stream of validation messages when they start out. And it should be easy to ignore those checkboxes you never intend to check off; someone who has no interest in combat games should not be constantly prodded by the viewer because they have not yet checked off the “kill or be killed in a combat game” box. (I really hate the thing on Facebook or wherever it is that’s always reminding me that I’ve provided only 47% of the intimate personal information that they’d like me to reveal; that’s all I ever intend to provide, thank you very much!)

So what would be some fun checkboxes? I’m sure people are making lists like this all over the SL web even as I type. :) Maybe:

  • Find the Friends List panel
  • Find the IM and Group IM panels
  • Say something in open chat
  • Walk!
  • Fly
  • Teleport
  • Find the world map
  • Teleport to somewhere on the world map
  • Receive an IM
  • Send an IM
  • Offer friendship to someone
  • Be offered friendship by someone
  • Buy something / spend Lindens
  • Sell something / receive Lindens
  • Rez a cube
  • Change the texture of something in Edit mode
  • Create a new piece of clothing / body part / notecard…
  • Join a group
  • Create a group
  • Take a snapshot

And so on and so on. :) Most of those are newborn sorts of things; I think I’ve done all of them but “create a group”.

We could argue that once someone’s been inworld for awhile, they will have found other sources of validation and fun besides the little achievements. On the other hand it’s easy to imagine the occasional olderbie achievement: “Rez your 500’th cube” or “delete your 10,000th thing from inventory” or “make your 100th friend”. Even “own an entire sim”. How about “be hired by Linden Lab”? :)

I dunno. I think I can convince myself that these things might be fun, and might increase new-user retention some. On the other hand I’m not sure, given all of the things that might be fun and might increase new-user retention, if this is anywhere near the top of the list. (Get sim-border-crossings working first, ffs!)



So RL has been crazy busy, but we did get ourselves the new WoW expansion, and I’ve been having some fun (during boring conference calls and things heh heh). Mostly with ol’ Spennix, although I’ve also made a Worgen mage (that was interesting while he was in the new Worgen part; now that he’s in the usual lowish-level parts of the game, not so much).

Anyway, Spennix!

Just before Cataclysm came out, there were various one-time events, like the retaking of the above-ground parts of Gnomeregan from the bad guys.

Here is Spennix on her gnomish battlestrider, accompanying the King of the Gnomes just before the attack.

Spennix at the Battle for Gnomeregan

Gnomeregan Shall Rise Again!

One of the funnest new things about Cataclysm is that you can fly in the old classic parts of the world. So much easier getting around major cities now!!

Spennix and the Prince, over Stormwind

That is Spennix up over Stormwind on one of her gryphons (griffins?), with the Prince of Stormwind, questing together for a bit.

(Another thing about Cataclysm is that they’ve ramped up the whole “the player is a world-reknowned hero” aspect; NPCs are forever saying very validating things about how you are the world’s only hope an’ all. And on the other hand, asking you to pick up a dozen apples for them to make pie.)

Here we are standing in the Keep in Stormwind.

Spennix and the Prince

He is clearly far too tall.

However, he has a tiny little horse.

Spennix and the Prince on horseback

Eat your heart out, Prince of tall persons!

Cataclysm has changed lots of the old classic areas of the game (well, not counting Outland, mostly). Here’s Spennix riding the new Caravan in Eastern Plaguelands.


I haven’t actually figured out what, if anything, it’s for, but it was fun to ride.

I finally got Exalted with the Kalu’ak walrus folks, which means I can buy the egg of the adorable Pengu, and also the magic fishing pole that both improves your fishing and lets you breath underwater. While you’re holding it, that is. So not really great for battle. But good for exploring!

Spennix, Pengu, and the magic fishing pole

Just to prove I’ve actually been to the new Cataclysm areas, and not just playing around in old low-level zones, here I am in the subaquatic 80+ area, with a squid on my head, in order to disguise myself as one of the mind-controlled underwater goblins and infiltrate…

Spennix in Squid Disguise

Well, long story. Anyway, squid on the head.

Archeaology is the new profession in Cataclysm. Not only does it give you an excuse to fly all over the world and explore the history and lore without necessarily killing things, but you also get some fun accessories along the way.

Spennix and Fossilized Hatchling

I assembled this guy from a bunch of fossil bones, and poof he woke up an’ started following me around. Woot, eh?

(Oh yeah, and I’m level 85 now. No one’s higher-level than me! :) Also I am an Illustrious Grand Master at all my professions except Archaeology, and I got the “3000 Quests Completed” achievement, unlikely as that sounds, which lets me make it say “Spennix the Seeker” over my head. Yay, me!)

And I have freed the Orgres of Blade’s Edge Mountains from the oppression of, umm, those big giant guys. Anyway, now Spennix is their Queen, and they won’t attack her anymore. Here they are paying her ‘omage:

Spennix, Queen Of The Ogres

(Click through to Flickr to find the actual Spennix.) After this they had a big ogre party, with lots of ogre drinking and the amusing and memorable orge dancing.

And finally, on a more quasi-serious note:


Spennix isn’t actually in this one, ’cause it’s from the cutscene just before the big battle with Deathwing (well, one of ’em).

Cataclysm has tons o’ cutscenes! I’ve been enjoying watching them. In general this expansion is emphasizing the heroic / lore / epic storytelling aspects of the thing, rather than the just flying around randomly killing monsters aspects. Which is fun!

Now excuse me, I hafta go heroically gather some more apples. :)


(Note that this is a really rambling and wordy and possibly pointless piece. I was in that mood. :) )

People play. Critters play.

I like reading about animal play (link to online article thanks to Wikipedia), because it helps focus thinking about people-play (and because it’s interesting in itself).

Play is, sometimes, doing stuff that usually matters, but doing it in a context where it doesn’t, in fact, matter. Two cubs pouncing on each other in the manner of predator and prey, even though neither is going to eat the other. Two small armies struggling to control a patch of land, even though at the end of the game neither one will actually own the football field.

In World of Warcraft, the structure of your typical five-person dungeon party roughly parallels the structure of the traditional family group:

  • The tank, like the traditional father, stands between the party and the monsters, and takes their attacks onto himself,
  • The healer, like the traditional mother, supports the tank (and, when necessary, the rest of the party), healing wounds, curing disease, making sure that everyone is doing well,
  • The DPS, like traditional children, attempt to cause as much damage as possible, using knives, guns, explosives, wild animals, and demons summoned from the netherworld.

All of WoW is play, in general, because it doesn’t matter; no one is really going to die. But DPS matters the least. In a few cases, like when the Lich King is slowly slowly coming after the party in the Halls of Reflection instance, and the walls of ice won’t go down to let you all run away until the DPS have killed all the swarming undead, your DPS had better be good and fast or you’ll wipe. But in general, like in the crypt under the Scarlet Monastery Graveyard, when Bloodmage Thalnos is waving his arms around and not really being paticularly dangerous to anyone at all, the DPS can take their time, as long as the Tank and Healer are doing their jobs; there’s no rush and no pressure. A DPS can go AFK there (PDQ!), and the others will just have to work a little longer to finish the instance.

As a rogue, Spennix is pure DPS; she sneaks in there and stabs things in the back while the tank is shouting and looking shiny in order to hold their attention. Except in, say, Halls of Reflection, it doesn’t really matter how well she does; if she has a bad day and keeps facing the wrong way and not stabbing the monsters much, the other DPS will take care of it, and probably no one will even notice unless someone’s watching a damage-meter add-on.

As a soloing rogue, Spennix is even more just playing; she’s level 80 now, which is the highest possible level (until the next expansion comes out), she has pretty good gear, she has tons of neat mounts, and so really nothing that she does matters much even in game terms. She can play around, say, doing favors for the Sha’tari Skyguard, with an eye on eventually getting one of those cool flying mounts, but if that doesn’t happen today / this month, that’s fine.

Recently I’ve been playing tanks and healers more. It’s interesting! Definitely a different set of skills. I have a human priest, “Holy” specialization, healer, at like level 34 as of this writing (here he is!), and a Draenei paladin, “Protection” spec, tank, slightly lower level (here). Both of them are currently doing Scarlet Monastery Graveyard over and over and over and over (that being just about the only instance available to low-30’s characters).

Healing and tanking are both fun. They are also, in some limited sense, less playful than DPSing; because what you do matters more.

There’s only one tank, and only one healer, and if you’re it and you mess up, the party’s likely to die. If the tank doesn’t hold the attention of the monsters, and they decide to (say) kill the healer, it’s often All Over. And if the healer doesn’t keep the tank healed, and the tank dies, the monsters will then eat up everyone else. Not always, but often. Even usually.

There are lots of bad tanks; the typical bad tank will either not be able to (or not even know they are supposed to) hold aggro, or will rush madly on ahead without making sure that the healer is ready, or both, and get everyone killed. And then, typically, blame everyone else for not keeping up, or for distracting the monsters.

There are fewer bad healers, but there are some. Usually it’s just a matter of not having good judgement about how much to heal the tank and when, either letting the tank die from insufficient healing, or running out of mana from too much healing (followed quickly by the tank dying from a sudden complete lack of healing).

I don’t, of course, want to be either of those! So when I’m tanking or healing, there’s responsibility. What the tank or healer does matters, with respect to the success of the party (although the success of the party does not itself matter, in any particularly significant sense).

So perhaps it’s that DPS is playing even in the context of play, whereas the tank and the healer aren’t playing in that context (although the context itself is play).

How much is Second Life play? What matters, and what doesn’t matter? What is the context?

The questions remind me of a classic Sophrosyne Stenvaag piece about the pricing of virtual goods. If we’re playing, just having a good time, and it doesn’t really matter, than sure charging basically nothing (100 Linden Dollars, for instance, is about US$0.40) for a piece of clothing or a device is perfectly reasonable. But if it does matter, if people want to have virtual businesses that sell virtual goods in a sort of real-life “value for money” way that one could actually live off of, then giving away stuff so cheap is undercutting those people, and maybe that matters,.

People matter. In both WoW and SL, people matter. It’s okay to kill members of the other faction in WoW, because that’s part of the play; but it’s not so okay to promise to show up for a raid at a certain time and then casually not do that, or to tell X what Y said about them, even though you promised Y that you wouldn’t. The fact that X is a Blood-elf Warlock and Y is an Orc Warrior doesn’t negate any of that stuff.

(Some people consider SL to be a place where all sorts of things don’t matter, including some very people-things. More than once Girl Dale has had some total stranger propose random fornication, and on the proposition being refused had the stranger say “why not? it is only a game!”. Boys are weird.)

People need to play, like to play. I, in particular, need to play, want to play, when I get home in the evening, especially if the day has been particularly bruising. I like to play on long weekends, relaxing with maybe some milk and cookies and my laptop, between naps and chores.

Tanking and healing in WoW is fun and interesting, but it’s less playful and less relaxing. Sitting up in my lab in the sky in SL and making random odd things is pretty much pure play; it doesn’t matter at all whether or not it works. Keeping up four or five IMs while having a deep conversation with one or two people in virtual person all at the same time and not wanting to offend any of them by cutting them off, while trying to decide which of three or five party and event and visit invitations to accept, is less relaxing, because those people do matter, and I don’t want any of them to feel bad, and I really do want to talk to them all at once, because they are all fascinating. And I don’t want to miss any of the parties!

At this point some of my SL friends, and You Know Who You Are, are thinking “oh, Dale’s saying that I should leave him alone and stop IMing him all the time”, but that’s not what I’m saying at all! I’m just saying that you matter to me; I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing. In fact it’s a very good thing!

Play is good, but having things matter is also good. I like that SL is a place to play, but if it was only a place to play it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting and significant. (It would, in a way, be more like WoW, which is really only a place to play for me, because I’ve never gotten deep into Serious Raiding Guilds or anything, and I don’t know anyone there really well; I just cook and fish and fight monsters.)

When I’m in a pure relaxing-and-playing mood, I’m more likely to play Spennix than Brothersteve or Spaenorus. I may also be more likely, these days, to play WoW than SL; or if I do go into SL, it may be on my secret antisocial building alt. On the other hand, healing and tanking are fun and interesting things to do when I’m feeling a bit more, what, ambitious in my play. And talking to all of the marvelous current and future friends in SL is one of my very favorite things to do, ever.

And that’s exactly because it matters. :)

Spennix acquires objects

Pictures of Spennix, for no really good reason!

My oldest WoW character and still my ‘main’, Spennix has been level 80 for quite awhile, and is now accumulating various of the hard-to-get things in the game. For instance, this cool motorcycle mount (which is -incredibly- expensive, like 50 times as much as mostly anything else in the game), and the special fishing hat she is wearing, that is a rare and random prize in the daily Dalaran fishing quests. (Not only does the hat look cool, but it contains an infinite number of special lures that improve your fishing.)

Spennix on her Mekgineer's Chopper

Next, she’s working on saving up for the materials to get the Mongoose enchant on her weapons. Also pricey, but nothing like the chopper!

You know they’re making things easier in WoW when Spennix, who has never been any good at PvP, has the 50,000 spare Honor Points required to buy a PvP mount:

Spennix on her new Black Battlestrider

But doesn’t it look neat? :)

(Click through to flickr for access to larger sizes of all of these pictures, suitable for framing.)

Oh, and in showing off some of Spennix’s gradual acquisitions, I shouldn’t forget the Crimson Felt Hat!

Spennix's Town Hat

This drops from one of the Stratholme bosses, and Spennix solo’d Strat a time or three while (rather belatedly) getting Exalted with the Argent Dawn in order to get the Argent Champion title.

This is now Spennix’s standard in-town hat. Completely inappropriate for her class combat-wise, but as everyone agrees, it is pimpin’! Which I gather is some modern slang for "elegant"…

(That enormous red thing on her left hand is the Hand of Nerub, which she personally sliced off of some icky boss in Naxxramas sometime back, and now uses as a weapon. Kinda gross, really. :) )

As well as the Mongoose enchant for her weapons, Spennix is also working on reputation with Netherwing (to get a cool riding dragon) and the Wymrest Accord (to get, um, a cool riding dragon) and the Kurenai (to get a cool riding ungulate).

Really, WoW is all about the vehicles… :)

Enterprise Warcraft(tm)

Since covert propaganda lackey investigative reporter Adric Antfarm recently spilled the beans in a weblog comment, I will take this opportunity to confirm the report: the next incursion of Global Megacorporations into the Virtual World space will indeed be into World of Warcraft.

Having sucked dry fully leveraged the potential of the Second Life(tm) World(tm), we at the controls of the heartless behemoth that is world capitalism will shortly announce Enterprise Warcraft(tm), an enterprise productivity enablement platform that combines the sensory immersiveness of a Second Life dance club with the strict warrior discipline of a party of level 80 Orc hunters.

Why base an enterprise virtual space on the World of Warcraft, you ask? As compared to Second Life, the World of Warcraft platform offers several advantages to the corporate purchaser:

  • Easy sharding: since the World of Warcraft server architecture is already based on a number of separate “realms”, there is no need for redesign to obtain an isolated environment: we will simply add a set of “Corporate” regions to the current “Americas”, “Europe” and “Oceanic” regions. Players (known as “employees”) will be able to connect to realms in Corporate regions only if they have a paid-up Enterprise Warcraft (EW) account (these start at a low introductory price of US$5,000 per year.)
  • Built-in hierarchy: unlike the hippy egalitarianism of Second Life, the WoW platform is all about rank and hierarchy. In EW, a character’s level is limited by the player’s rank in the organization. Rank-and-file employees may not advance beyond level 50, nor possess gear beyond Superior. Senior managers are given pre-built level 50 characters with Heirloom gear, and executives begin with level 80 characters in Epic gear (fully gemmed and appropriately enchanted). Lower-level characters will be forbidden from using the “ignore” function on higher-level characters, and from declining their duel challenges.
  • No troublesome creativity: while it has proven infeasible to entirely wipe out user creativity in Second Life, creativity in World of Warcraft is limited primarily to sneaking sexually-suggestive guild names past the censorship filters. By limiting EW players to a set of Enterprise Quests(tm) centered around corporate goals, management can assure that employees are not distracted by independent thoughts. And there is no sex in WoW! (That patch that lets you see Draenei females naked will be restricted to senior executives and authorized system administrators.)
  • Flexible interface: for Enterprise Warcraft, the open-source programmers that became mindless zombie slaves valuable collaborators during the Second Life project will be redirected to writing EW UI add-ons, in support of calendar management, project scheduling, and computing golf handicaps.

In addition to the changes mentioned above, Enterprise Warcraft will include an enhanced dungeon and party structure that more accurately reflects corporate culture and organization. First, the large monsters that are the main target of a run will no longer be called “Bosses”, but will instead be referred to as “Team Goals”. The traditional five-member party of one tank, one healer, and three DPS (damage-dealers) will be replaced by a mininum ten-member party, consisting of:

One tank, whose role is to absorb monster attacks and take the blame for all technical problems that occur during a run.

One healer, who attempts to keep the tank alive long enough to finish the run and achieve the Team Goals.

One DPS, whose role is to actually kill the monsters (this role is de-emphasized in Enterprise Warcraft).

Four Project Managers, who shout contradictory instructions at the tank, healer, and DPS during battles, and call for frequent stops to perform detailed analyses of the battle statistics and try to determine why the run is taking so long, and why the Team Goals have not yet been met.

Two Middle Managers, who run ahead of the tank and aggro any mobs encountered.

One Senior Manager, who has no role during the actual battle, but who determines whether the tank, healer, or DPS will be punished after each wipe, and who allocates all XP and loot after the run. (The Senior Manager automatically receives half of the total party XP gains for each run. If the Team Goals are not met, the Senior Manager designates either the tank, healer, or DPS for a level-based XP penalty.)

While the release date has not yet been officially announced, I am confident that within a year or two, the media will be reporting that the EW hype is now over, and that World of Warcraft is dead…

The Classic Dungeonmaster

Another WoW posting; feel free to complain. :)

In the relatively recent Word of Warcraft achievement system, there’s an achievement called Classic Dungeonmaster, which involves getting nineteen sub-achievements, each of which requires defealting the last boss of (or otherwise completing) some classic (i.e. included in WoW even before the first expansion came out) dungeon.

Spennix has been taking a break recently, since I’ve been having fun leveling lower-level characters like Deminestia, and since Spennix is mostly a soloer and so isn’t all that enthusiastic about the new easier group-forming stuff in the latest patch. But it occurred to me / her / us that it might be fun to go for this achievement, since as a moderate-geared 80 she can probably solo each of these dungeons, it will give me a little experience with them so I will be better prepared when Deminestia or someone gets to them, and if we are going to do it ever it would be good to do it before the older parts of the world are torn apart by Cataclysm.

At the moment we have just a few left to do! Here is Spennix doing a victory dance over the temporarily dead body of evil Archmage Arugal:

Spennix defeats Archmage Arugal

She is modelling a female-gnome-sized copy of his robes, which for some reason he was carrying on him when she defeated him. :)

Here she is during the cleansing of the Scholomance, temporarily turned into a skeleton by some rude bad guy:

Spennix as a skeleton in the Scholomance

And here she is at home in K3, showing off the Bad Mojo Mask that she got from the boss of Zul’Farrak:

Spennix and the Bad Mojo Mask

Pretty silly, eh? :)

The next one on her list is Sunken Temple (actually the Temple of Atal’Hakkar, but no one remembers how to spell that). The final boss of that place is a big phantom dragon, but he’s asleep and you can’t defeat him until he wakes up. He doesn’t wake up until the big High Priest guy is defeated. And you can’t get to the big High Priest guy until you bring down the glowing green barrier, which you do by defeating five or six little sub-priest guys who are scattered around the instance. And the instance is a flippin’ maze and we are always getting lost.

So here is Spennix taking a little nap with the sleeping final boss, getting up the energy to take care of all of that:

Spennix and the Shade of Eranikus


The main reason I’ll never be a Serious WoW Player is that I like having fun doing silly easy stuff like this at least as much as I like going on Big Serious Raids for Awesome Gear, which is what the Serious Players do.

(Click on each picture for the flickr page for a larger version.)

Fishing the Pristine Waters

Deminestia, who got her first mount just the other week, is now level 46 or 47 or something, has her first Swift Mount, is wearing mail, crafting stuff using Thick Leather, and running all sortsa instances that I’ve never seen before (because the only other WoW character I’ve had at this level is Spennix, who leveled almost entirely by questing, not in instances).

Here she is, with her still-faithful Dragonhawk Fido, fishing in the Pristine Waters part of Maraudon, after the first time I ran that part of the (three-section) instance.

Deminestia Fishing Pristine Waters

Sitting and fishing is so relaxing. :) I should post some fishing pictures from SL sometime…

Blood Elf Riding Chicken

The Blizzard folks must have done focus groups or something, and decided that retention, or buy-in by new members, or whatever, was suffering due to things taking to long at low levels, because they have really wildly sped things up down there.

Last Wednesday some friends persuaded me to roll up yet another WoW character :) so I could hang out on the server that they are on. Being into hunters lately, and them being Horde, I rolled up a Blood Elf hunter, named Deminestia (the first time I’ve used an automatically-suggested name unmodified; I like it).

I was curious to see what the notes for Patch 3.3 meant about having lowered leveling requirements at low levels. Turns out what they meant was that they’ve lowered leveling requirements at low levels, and you level really frigging fast.

(And they’ve also left all the existing quests in place, which means there are now far too many quests in any given area; if you try to do all available quests, like Spennix used to back in the day, you’ll be far too high level by the time you get to the last ones.)

And then once you get to Level 15, you can start to use the new “Find a Dungeon”, which will automatically hook you up with like-level characters from all the realms in your battlegroup, and magically transport you to an appropriate instance. One result of which is that you level even faster.

Having run Rage Fire Chasm twice and Shadow Fang Keep once, here’s Deminestia with her faithful dragonhawk Fido, on Friday, at level 20. After less than three days of playing! And pretty casual playing, at that (no staying up all night or anything).

Deminestia and Fido

(Prettier larger)

And since they’ve also wildly lowered the level and gold requirements for mounts, here she is on her brand new Blood Elf Riding Chicken:

Deminestia Mounted

(Also larger)

That is one embarassing mount. :)

I’m curious to see whether all this speeding up of the first twenty levels will just make the next sixty drag, as I get past the point where they’ve accelerated leveling, and no longer have a mount to work toward (since I already got one). Of course there’s still swift mounts, flying mounts, swift flying mounts…

It’s not just about killing dragons

It’s time for another Spennix update!

Since hitting 80 and getting the Explorer title, Spennix has been doing the usual sorts of heroic things, standing on the wing of an airplane fighting off attackers while the pilot struggles to get them out of the Engine of the Makers:

Spennix on the Wing

Hunting fierce dragons on mammoth-back:

Spennix on the Hunt

Venturing into the occasional mysterious dungeon in the company of other hardened adventurers:

Looking Tough

Hanging about with kings and other royalty:

Spennix and the Bronzebeards

And gathering armies of loyal followers about her:

Spennix's Penguin Army!

(Wa ha ha ha! The squad of penguin minions was for the Critter Glitter achievement; and it makes a great picture.)

But WoW is not all about combat and dragon-slaying and penguin minions! Some of it is about, for instance, bunnies!

Who says WoW is all about combat?

That title “the Noble” is from the Noblegarden spring event, which is all about bunnies and chocolate and things.

One bit of it involves using an item to put bunny ears on a female (sexism!) of all of the primary races in the game. Having a tough time finding a female Orc, Spennix snuck into the heart of Orgrimmar, one of the capitals of the Horde, and sat invisible by the flightmaster, hoping an Orc lady would happen by.

Spennix in Orgrimmar

(That didn’t actually work, and I eventually ran into one in a square in Dalaran.)

And just for grins here’s Spennix, as a pink bunny herself, sitting on the back of the throne of the King of Stormwind, just because:

A bunneh may look at a King

And well this is getting sort of long :) but finally here is evidence that even WoW can have its quiet idyllic moments:


Sitting on a mossy bank in the Marshlands of Un’goro Crater, with one’s town-hat on against the rain, a cozy fire burning, lazily fishing with one’s pet moth flitting around one’s head.

And if the hook is baited with nightcrawlers taken from the decaying bodies of zombies in the Western Plaguelands, well that just adds to the sweetness of the moment…

Spennix the Explorer and friends

Spennix has been busily exploring the world and leveling and so on. Here she is literally rocketing into the cold adventurousness of the Storm Peaks:

Spennix explores Storm Peaks by rocket

She recently hit level 80 (yay! currently the highest level in the game), but I don’t have a picture to go with that (ya don’t look any different at 80, and catching the yellow leveling-flare would have taken split-second timing with the camera).

She also finished exploring the Entire World, and got the corresponding title; here she is in the obscure corner of Storm Peaks that was the last place to be filled in on her map:

Spennix the Explorer!

(Note that it’s so cold you can see her breath; I like how Blizzard puts in cute details like this.)

Not too long after turning 80, she went on her first 25-person raid; into the Obsidian Sanctuary! Spennix-like (and for that matter Dale-like), she wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but was not disturbed by the fact; she just ran in and stabbed whatever it was everyone else was attacking.

Here’s the group about to go after Sartharion, the main OS boss:

Spennix's first 25-person raid: Sartharion

If you look real real close, you can make out the back of her head more or less dead center (because the WoW camera is always centered on the character, which is probably necessary to prevent rampant cheating, but really limits the pictures you can take!).

The raid did really well; we didn’t lose anyone until we got to the final boss, and while it did take us three attempts to down Sartharion, we did it without too much trouble.

I wasn’t expecting much in the way of loot or anything, being mostly along for the fun and not really knowing what I was doing, but I rolled a 99 (after the person before me had rolled a 98!) and came away with a lovely set of Concealment Shoulderpads, which you will probably see in future Spennix pictures (can’t imagine she’ll get anything better to replace them with anytime very soon).

It was great fun. :)

In other WoW news, I rolled up a lil gnome mage on a different server where some friends are putting together a guild. Here is Tashalorum (currently level 12 or so):


Extremely perceptive readers may notice some resemblance to Spennix…

And back on Spennix’s server, I finally got Spennatrix (originally a Holy Priest, but respec’d to Shadow when I realized that I was never playing her because Holy is so hard to solo with) up to level 30, which in these enlightened times means she gets a mount! Here she is on her Spotted Frostsaber:

Spennatrix's First Mount

somewhere in Darnassus (the Elfish capital).

And that’s todays news from World of Warcraft. :)

More evidence of the target audience for WoW

Big guns:

Big Gun

and hot women:

Voldrune Woman

(Spennix has a bit of a crush on the latter (well, on both really), and is considering a “Women of Voldrune” pinup calendar. The main challenges are that (a) the ladies would immediately attempt kill the photographer if they spotted her (part of their charm,really), and (b) I’m not sure there are actually 12 of them. And no, I don’t know why there’s an animal skeleton strapped to the gun, but doesn’t it look awesome?)

I don’t really know why I bother…

but hereafter find my scathing comment (first post!) to another clueless ‘ten reasons WoW is better than Second Life’ sort of post by someone who can’t have spent more than an hour in SL.

May I speculate that you are an ex-WoW player, and a “never tried it but have read about it in the news” SL user?

1 (the subscriber base is bigger) is probably right as to numbers; there are more regular WoW players than SL users. But as to who they are…

2 (IT workers are more likely to play WoW) The people I run into on WoW are (with some exceptions) preteen boys with the interests and manners and tendency to yell “DeathDeelar is gay!!” that you’d expect of preteen boys. The people I run into in SL are (with some exceptions) interesting and intelligent adults, many with jobs in IT, or the arts, or other creative fields.

3 (“It’s fun”) If you don’t think Second Life can be just as addictive (and fun and compelling) as WoW, you *really* haven’t been doing your research.

4 (“There’s a point to it”) It’s true there’s a built-in set of goals in WoW, whereas in SL you have to make your own reasons. But what’s really more interesting: finally killing the second boss in Kharazan, or building an art gallery (or jet-ski, or space station) with someone from Brazil, because you both thought of it?

5 (WoW has communities, SL doesn’t) Again you must never have used Second Life. It is all *about* community, and not just for “a bit of online chat”. There are groups that host live music, that create art, that build buildings that go shopping together, that play roleplaying games (sort of like WoW!), and that just hang out intensely together. If you don’t know that SL has communities what *do* you think the 70,000 people logged in at any time are doing?

6 (“Reliability”) You’re right on this one. :) But to be fair, Linden Labs has a much harder problem to solve, given that Second Life is user-created, and all the content is dynamic. Also they don’t shard.

7 (“It’s unlikely, if ever, that you’ll be in the Second Life world with a fellow user on a computer beside you.”) Where did you get that first sentence? Do you have any evidence at all? I’ve talked to just as many people in SL as in WoW (i.e. a few) who were inworld from adjacent computers. I remember one undead couple in WoW doing RFC together, I remember one couple talking to friends and dancing at a party in Second Life; both couples were together in real life, at computers next to each other. Why do you think it’s any rarer in SL?

8 (WoW “continues to grow”, SL doesn’t) Completly backwards. WoW grows only when Blizzard makes new content and releases a patch. Second Life grows every time a resident makes something new in the world, which is probably at least once a second.

9 (“WoW makes a lot of money”) As a player or a user, the only reason I care how much the company that owns the world makes is that I want them, and therefore the world, to grow and prosper. As far as I know, both Blizzard and Linden Lab are doing fine. Why would I care a about more than that, unless I was looking for a stock investment rather than a world to play in?

10 (WoW users love it) And your evidence that Second Life users don’t love Second Life with a passion is…?

Really, when comparing X and Y, it’s good to know *something* about Y other than what you’ve read on fishwrap…