mountup

A Hunter ain’t a beastmaster unless you can tame yourself a big ol’ dino!

Just look at the size of him. Look at that nose, the snout, she’s a real goer, you can tell.

Thanks to my habit of Warbringer farming, I MIGHT have a matching mount. Riding around on the ground for an expansion holds no fears for me, because I’ll be looking good, baby.

Looking good, Billy Ray? Feeling good, Lewis!

Feeling good, indeed.

Let’s talk about being locked to the land for an expansion.

Flying, not flying, no flying at start, maybe later? maybe never? Everyone has an opinion, of that one thing you can be sure.

Flying is a lot of fun. It causes problems for developers when it comes to controlling players and the rate or ease with which they devour/and/or avoid content, sure, but bottom line it.

You can’t take the sky from me.

I love to fly. I love to fly as a Druid in flight form especially, but no matter what the method, I love to fly in the game. The controls are smooth and responsive, and the graphics slide by with ease. A sense of soaring through the wind is attained.

For me, cloudbusting is one of the key things I love in the game.

Oh hell, why not. I love this song, and I love Kate Bush. Enjoy this brief interlude.

Okay, back?

Damn, I love that song and video. Almost thirty years old, and you still feel the power of Terry Gilliam, Kate Bush and Donald Sutherland sticking the landing.

That first line of the song, “I still dream of Algernon, I wake up crying.” That makes me want to cry as well. I also remember Algernon, and I always will.

Cloudbusting.

Let’s put aside all the cynical reasons why a developer would want to keep you bound to the earth for an expansion. Let’s look at the game as a game.

There was a time not so very long ago where there was no free flight in the game. If you went somewhere, you went on foot or took a flight from a dedicated flight master. And before you could fly to the flight master, you had to go out and discover him for yourself. For the fifteenth alt, a pain in the ass, but that first time?

Ah, that first time. Everyone remembers their first time.

Sometimes, flight masters were killed and you’d land only to be stranded until they reappeared.

Sometimes you went walkabout, trying to find the edges of the world. Jumping and climbing, working your way up slopes to the boundaries to see what lay beyond.

I made it once, you know. Dun Morogh, up near Mo’grosh Stronghold, out east where the Night Elves have their hunting lodge. I went climbing with a few random people I met killing ogres one day, and we fell off the world into an empty, grey void.

I saw the other side, and only I am returned to tell thee.

The world was a place of mystery, where the far corners might not have been mapped yet, where you didn’t really know what was on the other side or near the top.

A place where dwarves operated airstrips in the mountains that you couldn’t quite reach, but legend spoke of those who did, and were banished by Blizzard to silence the tales they might tell.

I love my flying, and I do not wish to lose it. I have the game open even now as I write, with my hunter hovering over Golden Terrace, and even now the sound of the wind soars through my speakers, mixed with a sweeping refrain of violins.

Bring in the horn section. Ah, there we are.

There was an undeniable thrill to seeing the world at sea level, to pushing through vines and fronds of leaves, of hacking my way through deepest jungle and breaking trail over high peaks. Yes, and of knowing that if you got in deep shit, you were way out in the woods and far from home, and my what big eyes you have granny.

I still remember the death run I made from Stormwind to Booty Bay, to visit every flight master along the way, at the ripe old level of 25 or 35 or whatever the heck it was. Low enough level to be a bite sized aggro magnet morsel. Every step, would I aggro some unseen panther from the other side of that hill? Would I be able to run? Would I make it, and if not, how much further would I get next time?

As large as the world truly is, being able to fly makes everything that much smaller.

The challenges, like the people, seem so small when viewed from above.

You can’t take the sky from me.

But you can borrow it for a little while.

There are other games, and I can tell you now that there will be times that I will play those other games when I would normally be playing World of Warcraft, just so I can feel the thrill of speed, faster and faster until the rush of the stoop outweighs the fear of death.

Is it a good design decision if it sends players to a different game? Short term yes as long as it isn’t long term permanent, I think.

For the short term, I think I will enjoy the expansion more knowing that wherever I go, I will have to contest my right to go where I will with those that think themselves the lands masters.

I will contest with them, and they will make way, or their bones will litter the ground behind me. It’s all the same to me.

I will not slink like a coward through the Dark Portal to stab the minions of the warlords in their sleep.

Nay, I will ride through the Dark Portal with my massive dinosaur Bloodtusk like the conquering champion that I am, fearing nothing.

Mastersofdraenor

Why should I fear? I have trod the wings of dragons beneath my mailed feet. I have taken the crown from the head of the prince of death, and anointed a successor by my will.

I have killed death itself and sent the elder gods fleeing in panic, seeking to escape my wrath in vain.

I, fear the Warlords of Draenor?

Right. Pull the other one, it’s got mail on, it tinkles like a bell.

Go ahead, give it a few really good tugs. Don’t be shy.

I will not fear, but it will be good to feel once more the sensations of wonder, curiosity, the rousing spirit of adventuring through unknown lands eager to see what lies over the next rise. And yes, the thrill of wondering if it will be big enough to eat me like a Fel Reaver eatng noobs on the first day of the Burning Crusade launch.

Once I’ve traveled the length and breadth of New Draenor and mastered all it has for me, well, at that point there had best be some soaring symphony is all I’m saying.

For a while though, a very little while, all will be well. And all will be well. And all manner of things will be well.

I live for the unchained melody of the wind playing beneath my wings.

7 Responses to “All That Lies Between Earth and Sky”
  1. Cozy says:

    Way, way back when in vanilla, we used the “must run to the flight-masters before being able to fly there” mechanic to run a RP event on our (RP) server. The king needed a new messenger, and he needed to be shown all the flight points. No warlock summons allowed, evil people, he had to run all the way, being resurrected in place if he died.

    So we ran an escort event to show him the way. Starting gnome in Dun Morogh at level 1, running north up to Light’s Hope Chapel. The aggro radius a level 3 had in that zone was… interesting. Then flying back down to Ironforge, and running down one side of the lower continent to Booty Bay and back up the other to Stormwind.

    If anyone’s curious, it took a little over 7 hours to do the full run, and he ended at level 5. I used to remember his death tally, too, but I don’t any more.

    Sidecars and passengers and stuff take all that fun out of it now… ;-)

  2. Jem says:

    Yeah, I can handle leveling land locked but not a whole expansion. I love flying, and I’m always out and a bout flying. What really disappoints me though is the designs the devs have cut themselves off from by turning off flying. I love Storm Peaks and Deepholm, the shee scale of them. Sholozar, Icecrown Glacier, Uldum. Those areas have been built for flying and their scale reflects that. I love those areas, the feeling of being so tiny up against the enormous mountains.

    Mountains you can only ever look at are not part of a wonderful world you can explore. They’re a backdrop painting and nothing more. Flat and lifeless.

    I think it is also counter to the notion of getting people out into the world, I think they’ll be more inclined to stay in place if they have to ride everywhere.

    I’m already tossing up if I have the time to commit to raiding in another expac, if they take flying away forever I may not bother with WoD at all. I had planned to enjoy my large number of alts, but I’m not going to go out doing archaeology for 3 hours at a time if I’m constricted to land mounts and taxis with really crappy flight pathing.

  3. Joonces says:

    Remember when you had to go to Menethil Harbor to get to Kalimdor? That was always a rite of passage — the run from Ironforge to Menethil. If you were lucky you had a higher level friend accompanying you, but there were those trouble spots — the ogres up in between the mountain pass. The spiders when your entered Wetlands. And that ONE CROCOLISK as you neared Menethil. He ALWAYS got me.

    I do miss that a little. :-)

  4. koalabear21 says:

    Kate Bush, Righteous Brothers and Bette Midler!

    You’re all over the place dude! :)

  5. Thela says:

    When it comes to “no flying” I have mixed feelings.

    On the one hand, it’s not a new thing to turn off flying for a new expansion…with the exception of Cataclysm. It’s perfectly understandable for Blizz to want us to be at ground level experiencing a new “world”. It brings back adventure and excitement of the unknown. But, in the past, we’ve always had it in the back of our brains that we’d be able to take to the skies again. So the whole “no flying” so far has never really been a big deal. Just wait long enough, or reach a certain level, and you can be back up in the clouds.

    On the other hand, however, flying is a HUGE convenience that we have all grown accustomed to. If we are to lose it in Draenor permanently I forsee that new shiny world they are giving us become desolate much sooner than expected…unless once everyone gets to max level and end up hanging out in the new Alliance/Horde main city in Draenor. A part of me thinks most might head back to SW or Org though to do that because they can fly in those places…or even at the Alliance/Horde temples in Pandaria.

    If they do stick us with “no flying in Draenor” for the whole expansion I hope they do it right by giving us back “wall climbing/jumping”. I would easily give up flying in Draenor if I was able to trek on foot once again into the unknown way up high in the mountains. I used to love exploring like that back before we could fly everywhere. Every once in a while I would spend hours trying to get on top of every mountain I came across to either find a shortcut to another zone or just to see what Blizz might have hidden up there.

    If they end up treating flying like they did during Lich King that wouldn’t be too bad. Once we get one toon to max level open up flying for us again and allow that max level toon to buy a “book” to pass on to our alts so that they can fly right away when they reach Draenor…although…not being able to fly in Pandaria until we reached max level wasn’t that bad even on alts. After my first toon got to 90 and got flying I cheated the system, so to speak, and brought each of my alts right away to the temple to make it their hearth. After getting an alt to Pandaria, and completing the first 3-4 quests to become zoned in enough to get the first flight point, I would get them on their ground mount and do the following:

    – ride through Jade Forest into Valley of 4 Winds
    – ride to flight master at base of steps that lead up to Tavern in the Mists/BMAH and get FP there
    – ride up to Tavern and get FP there
    – ride through tunnel into Kun Lai and get FP at that first little town
    – ride through Kun Lai to where the Shado-Pan are fighting the Sha, go into building and up stairs to top of wall and get FP
    – ride on top of wall until I got along the edge of Vale of Eternal Blossoms and then drop down into that zone
    – ride across the Vale until I reached the Temple to get FP and set my hearth

    From that point it made questing in Pandaria so much easier for my alts until they reached max level and could fly again.

  6. Riegnman says:

    What is it with the space goats and flying? You can’t fly in Azuremyst isle either. I thought that it was because of something to do with where it fell in the expansions or something but it looks like there is a more nefarious reasoning behind it.

  7. […]  As I noted on Twitter in a comment to Big Bear Butt when he mentioned his article and that WoWInsider piece, I don’t mind waiting until the end of an expansion to be able to […]

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