Archive for the “Soapbox” Category

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Some days, it feels like I’ve been writing here forever, other times it’s like my first post just went up yesterday.

Mostly, it’s the yesterday thing.

So many things have changed in just the short time I’ve been writing, and whatever direction my writing takes next, I want to get this one thing out there.

We can spend so much time championing the things we believe in that it’s easy to lose sight of the world as it is right now. 

When my first post went up, I was considered crazy for including my real name on my website. It just wasn’t done. You hid behind a pseudonym, you don’t put yourself out there bold as brass. There can be repercussions, your work might find out you play games, or talk about things. 

Times have changed. There can still be repercussions. Retribution. People will still attack you for speaking your mind, if they don’t agree with what you’re saying. But I’m no longer thought crazy for doing it, most folks are fine with putting their name to their words.

Everyone has always had a voice, but now you can make that voice heard… or at least put it out there for anyone to find.

Today’s social media reminds me (in a good way) of the old film Pump up the Volume, with the ham radio operator broadcasting his complaints about his high school and having fun playing rap music and being a goofball. He was unique at the beginning because he had the equipment, he had the know-how. He touched a lot of people, and many of those people wanted their OWN voices to be heard. At the end, the credits were overlayed with all these pirate radio stations springing up everywhere, inspired by his example to share their own voice and to listen. To no longer be alone.

I’m not the trailblazer on my blog, not by a long shot; I’m just one of the many people who have raised their voices to be heard, on blogs or podcasts or videos or whatever social media is the flavor of the minute. More people like me join every day, talking about everything and nothing, as we choose. HOW we choose.

Changes.

Everyone has a voice, but does everyone have an audience? No.

Is everything sunshine and daffodils and long walks in the park? Hell no.

Changes keep rolling on, building up all the time.

Things change, and they’re still changing all the time. Nothing stands still. The only certainty in life is shit be changing all the time, yo. Yes, even now.

But the one big change I have seen is how, when someone stands up and speaks their mind, others rise to challenge it, to oppose it, to debate it.

It’s taken for granted and that amazes me. Have people forgotten the past so easily?

Being able to challenge someone in public, to argue with them and have your own voice be heard, your counter-argument, your words of opposition, your reasoning… that is massive.

Yes, I’m saying that it is a good thing. A great thing.

It’s not about challenging someone and winning an argument, or converting them to your point of view, or humiliating them or striking them down or raising up a mob against them.

It is about having another point of view brought up, recognized, talked about, SEEN.

When the challenge is made, when the issues are discussed, when the controversy makes us all talk about it… our children hear. And they get to hear ALL the sides of the debate. The debate exists, and informs, and they learn.

Our children get to see us question authority, question why things are the way they are, why people think they way they think, why we believe what we do and get to hear the reasoning, the justifications, and in some cases get to hear people caught out in lies.

This is what is important. The argument. The discussion.

The world doesn’t end with our generation. We’re not the final form. Our preconceived ideas are not the ultimate end result.

As we fight to change things, as we champion our causes, the next generation is being born and growing up surrounded by the argument. They are having their ideas formed amid freedom of research, sharing of ideas, and some of the most incredible propaganda bullshit I’ve ever seen. But they still have it all right there in their face.

Our children still hear and see racism and misogyny, but they also see it challenged wherever it is visible, and seeing it hidden and concealed in shame is a lesson all on it’s own. 

People stand up and are heard, challenging what we see as hurtful, hateful, oppressive and wrong. That is the miracle to fight for, to keep alive.

We are no longer a people that pretends we didn’t see the wounds. That pretends we didn’t hear the hate. Some do, but the next generation is building on this and taking it for granted. 

This is my point. This. This huge change.

It’s not that shit is all better. It’s that when someone speaks their mind, it gets challenged immediately and everyone EXPECTS IT.

It is now okay and accepted for there to be immediate debate over what people say.

When the debate turns into one side trying to destroy the other emotionally, financially and even with physical pain because they don’t agree, that is where shit goes off the rails. But the argument, the immediate challenge… that is precious.

This is the most incredible victory for our future I could imagine.

This is what our future will be built on. That someone can speak their mind and have it spark a lively debate without fear of being stoned to death. That is where we need to always be heading.

Phil Robertson is asked a question in an interview, he speaks his mind and it sparks a lively debate.

That is a good thing. That is a GREAT thing! Never lose sight of that one fact; it is right and good to challenge people on their beliefs, and have an open discussion. An OPEN MINDED discussion.

Bring it all out, talk about it, get everything out there. Get some thinking going on. Show our kids that we can talk about these things like adults, apply some serious thought to them. Challenge age-old preconceived ideas and test them. Shine the light on our beliefs, ask where they come from, why are they this way.

You may not change minds that are set, that have been raised believing that anything that challenges your blind faith is a test that must be resisted.

But the discussion will be heard by more people than you know. And seeing one person defending calling a type of love evil or a sin, and someone else saying that love comes from God, that Jesus IS love… it can help the open minded to think. Really think, not rely on blind jingoistic rhetoric.

Our greatest task is to encourage the debate, the argument, the discussion without going too far the other way. An open-minded exchange of ideas is what is grand and good.

It does not matter what the subject is, if someone speaks their mind it should be an opportunity to stand up and say, “I do not agree with you, I think this whole other thing here. I’m not saying you’re evil or wrong for thinking your way, but this is what I think, what I see, and I’d love to talk about it.”

I’m not saying that you shut someone else up. You don’t act to silence the voice you don’t agree with. Debate, yes. Challenge, yes. Silence? Why should you be able to silence someone you disagree with? Sure, silence them, but only if we get to silence you when we don’t agree with you, too.

Who decides which voice is allowed to be heard? Those with the power to enforce their decisions on who is permitted to speak.

THINK about it. If you desire the freedom to live your own life in accordance with your faith and belief system, then you MUST allow the free and open exchange of ideas. Give someone the power to silence the people you hate, and sooner or later something you think will add you to the list of the silenced. If not you, then your children.

It is not right to try and hurt someone else for thinking differently that you do. To silence them, to attack them, to gain vengeance upon them. 

There seems to be this idea out there that if someone speaks their mind, and what they think doesn’t meet the proper criteria, then it is an offensive and hateful attack that deserves the ruination of the speaker’s life, driving them to hide in their home, lose their jobs, and be hounded by the media around the clock. Anything is justified in punishing these evil beings, including having their families physically threatened as some kind of ‘justice’.

Try and have perspective. If you’re offended by what someone says, then open your voice and challenge the ideas, win over the hearts and minds through passionate debate and a coherent, well reasoned argument.

Stop with the violence. Do not give in to your own hate, even if hate is what you think you see. Hate is ugly. Even if your cause is wonderful and your passion is real, if you are consumed with hate then you are doing more harm than good. People with open minds will see your hate, and rightfully judge you by it. 

Challenge what you see is wrong and rejoice in having the freedom, the power to do it. Just don’t let the power of the mob make you feel the worm has turned and it’s time to get even, to gain revenge for every wrong, real or imagined, that you think has fallen your way. 

Again, the fight is not to convert the person whose words you challenge. You can’t expect someone to just abandon deeply held convictions because you said so. If you expect someone to respect the depth of your own feelings, then you MUST have the capability of respecting that they may feel theirs just as strongly.

The fight is to present a competing idea, to present more than one point of view, to get everyone seeing that there is not just ONE ‘right’ way that everyone must obey or fear ridicule.

The violence towards those that speak what they believe… that is the danger I see for our future.

There are those who have felt powerless for so long that I think  now that they feel the thrill of being a part of the mob, the taste of blood, that they want more. They want to see the people who think differently from them torn from the herd and thrust into the center of the pack to be ripped to shreds and satiate their lust for vengeance.

Now is the time to recognize the dangers to our freedom. The very act of challenging what you disagree with is already so powerful that it changes how our children see the world. If you unleash hate and violence on anyone that thinks differently, and it’s okay, oh well they aren’t like us… that message will get taught to our children also.

The right to challenge what we see as wrong with reasoned debate… that is so wonderful. It is the very best of freedom of speech. To hear someone say some stupid bigoted crap, and be able to stand up and disagree.

Maybe you don’t see it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m crazy. 

~——————~

That really ends the relevant part of what I wanted to say. The rest of this will be personal stories that directly relate to where my head is at lately. If you read this far, thank you. I hope you have a blessed Christmas, I really do. God bless you.

~——————~

I’m in my mid-forties. I see my son growing up, I talk with him all the time as he plays Minecraft and I play WoW by his side, and it shocks me how different he is from me at that age.

He sees the debates, he hears the arguments and the way people say something and get called on it all over the place. He sees that it is right to make that stand, and to have that discussion. He sees that you don’t ignore it, or pretend it didn’t happen so as not to make a fuss.

What I’m going to say doesn’t prove anything. It’s just what I see in my own life, my small little section of the country. And it gives me hope.

My son is ten years old, and he goes to a private Catholic school. He’s in fifth grade. He’s gone to this same school his whole life.

I’m not Catholic myself, although my wife is. I believe in God, and I have spent an amazing amount of my time really thinking about it, feeling my way through.

What I am, is a guy that grew up in one of the more violent inner city schools in the country, and I wanted what I think most people want; a better life for our children. Wrap that little sucker up in duct tape so he doesn’t get hurt.

So, a Catholic school promised a far lower chance at the kind of gang violence that was normal in my Miami public school. Oh yeah, and it had a very good academic record. Like I care, my grades were horrible. If he gets hooked on learning, he’ll learn whether grades reflect it or not.

It’s been a balancing act.

I don’t want him to be taught hate towards lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender people, misogynistic ‘the man is the MAN and priests speak the direct word of God’ crap, or intolerance towards other religious faiths. I don’t want it either blatantly being beaten into his head or have it seep into him through constant immersion. I watch for signs of that like a hawk. You have no idea, simply no idea. It is my one greatest fear for him, that he learns prejudice without us seeing or knowing.

I read, understood and thoroughly grok the Illuminati trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. I am a true believer in freedom of thought, of raw information and analysis. I just don’t think you need drugs of any kind to expand your consciousness. I get high on my own imagination all the time without drugs. Um, except caffeine. LOTS of caffeine.

So I’m nervous, sure… but his school is a place where bullying and violence simply does not exist. Does. Not. Exist. The people there are so square you could use them as a foundation for the pyramids.

When I was the age my son is now, I carried a gun and knives to school on a regular basis. I lived in fear for my life. I will never forget that. It’s probably fair to say that I’ll never get over it. My son, he just… I’m not blind. I know how clueless most parents seem to be, but my son truly does not know how deep that rabbit hole of desperate fear can go.

His only real worry is not getting an A on his report card, his only stress is how much homework the school piles on each day. He doesn’t have that fear for his life, he hasn’t felt what it’s like to be hunted by people in a place you are required by law to attend, and for that I am truly grateful.

Cassie and I have stopped attending the actual church services because of how bad the sermons got about homosexuality. I live in Minnesota and yeah, it’s been pretty bad. But it’s not in the actual classrooms.

Even if he is seeing it, Cassie and I are a competing point of view, and we’re there more than the school and his peers are. SO FAR. I know that will change, but so far, so good.

It’s hard for someone to sell the idea that other people are evil because they love each other, when there is a competing point of view to be shared. Jesus is love, and I can make a pretty good argument that if two mature adults feel true love for each other, then that love must be a gift from God because love is such a fragile, precious thing.

It’s hard for someone to argue against it, at least honestly, without resorting to “but this book said so”. As I said earlier… hate is pretty ugly. So is fear.

For the record, that is what I personally believe. True love between mature, consenting adults is a gift from God. I truly don’t give a shit, in any way, what race, color, creed, biology, whatever. I am not a champion of a cause, I don’t march, it just seems so clear that I don’t get it and I never will. Love between consenting adults is love, period. Acting as though it were evil or a sin is something I don’t think I’ll ever understand or comprehend. And trying to make it illegal? Just, wtf over.

Evil to me is any mature adult trying to take advantage of an innocent child. Children aren’t capable of understanding what they really feel, and look to older authority figures for guidance and direction on what they need to do to be accepted. The abuse of the innocent, especially by those in positions of authority, that is evil.

But again, I’m NOT an activist. It’s like saying I’m an activist for gravity. I’m watching people saying gravity is evil, and I just… how? It’s gravity! How do you deny it exists, or try to say this kind of gravity is okay but that kind is wrong? Just, OMG I’m going insane.

My son, he asked me the other night, all on his own, if we could talk about the dinosaurs and Adam and Eve.

He tells me that for years now he’s known that the school teaches that God created the heavens and the earth and Adam and Eve, but it bothers him. If that is what happened, where did the dinosaurs come from? He’s heard several things, but he’d like to know what I think to help him make up his mind.

That is my hope for the future, right there. An open mind, willing to get a few different points of view and make his own decision on what he believes. And a desire for empirical research. :)

Even with all of this, I face the fact that my son is white, and he’s a guy, and he’s going to a Catholic school. For a lot of prejudiced people of my generation, they will assume and treat him as though he’s a selfish, privileged racist hate-mongering bigoted misogynist, a potential militia member and a probable white sheet wearer to boot. Who would probably own slaves if given half a chance. 

I’ll do my best to raise him so that when he is treated that way, he can calmly challenge that thinking with a clear, coherent and reasoned argument. Not with hatred, or fear, or violence.

I’ll try. Even though I myself think the people who act that way to me are worthless assholes that need to have some sun shining on the mold in their brains. Or a good ass kicking.

Sigh. I guess that whole non-violent thing is kind of an ongoing project for me.

For every person that stands up and challenges what you think is wrong, thank you. You are building the future I want my son to live in. I don’t care what it is you think or believe. What is important to me is that you stand up for what you believe in, and make sure your voice is heard.

Just please, try and temper your passion with a sense of proportion.

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One of the things I like about World of Warcraft is the rich story and the wide variety of characters that I’ve come to care about.

These are characters that I’ve talked to, done favors for, fought beside and generally been a huge pain in the butt to over the years.

Any RPG is going to be like that, but there is something about the World of Warcraft story that has me actually wondering what those characters are doing during the parts of the game where the focus is on something else.

“What has Sylvanas been doing while we’ve been fighting Sha in Pandaria? What plots are bubbling just beneath the visible surface?”

“How has Kalecgos reacted to the changes in Jaina, and her actions in Dalaran? Is everything still all right with a girl and her dragon?”

“Why was Tyrande Whisperwind suddenly bloodthirsty and impulsive in the scenario ‘A Little Patience’? Was it simply poor writing for a priestess that has successfully led her people for thousands of years, and suddenly displays less wisdom then Varian? Or is there something unseen going on that may turn up later? What if she has lost part of her deep connection with Elune, and is feeling horrible pressure without that reassuring presence?” – just complete tinfoil hat speculation, by the way.

I like these characters, and I want to know more about them, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what the future holds in store for them. And of course, I want to know when I get to see them again and go on missions for them. Or attack them in their capital cities. :)

Of all the characters in World of Warcraft, it is the future of Jaina Proudmoore that is worrying me the most.

I’m just going to say it.

I don’t want a WoW version of Dark Willow.

If that’s what happens, if that is the direction the story is heading, well, that’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

Jaina has been one of the strongest people we have worked alongside in Azeroth. And her greatest strength has been her displayed adherence to principles, touched with compassion.

I have seen her sometimes portrayed as the peacemaker, but it always seemed to me that she was less concerned about peace for the sake of peace, and was more focused on wanting to see to the truth of things, no matter who was speaking, no matter what form it took. She did not trust based on appearance, she did not lend the words of someone more weight simply because their tabard was blue rather than red.

She judged intent by actions, not words. She acted on her judgment with conviction of purpose, even when her judgment was that the Orc invaders of Azeroth were acting with honor and her own father was acting from hatred and prejudice.

Jaina wasn’t soft, and has never acted soft, she has instead always been driven to see a thing clearly as what it is, and to act on that vision. To try and convince others to see things as she did. And when they wouldn’t, when she saw them determined to act as fools, she tried to do what she could could to minimize the inevitable damage they were going to cause.

Badass.

Oh yeah, and she’s the most powerful wielder of magic in the world.

Total badass.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the Dark Willow storyline as it played out in Buffy. As much as my heart ached for what happened to her and Tara, as pissed off as I was that Whedon felt the need to ruin the one perfect relationship in his show, even then I knew we were watching something that was going to become legendary.

Time softens the wounds, but leaves behind the memory of a truly epic transformation.

What I have a problem with, is that it feels Jaina is being groomed for that kind of descent.

You’d think we were past that. Tides of War saw Jaina faced with the tragedy and grief, and suffused with rage akin to Willow when her beloved Theramore and all the family she cherished, the people she took responsibility for were destroyed. Jaina had her moment where rage and grief overwhelmed compassion, and she had her dark transformation. She went all billy badass and wanted to wash Ogrimmar out to sea, let Garrosh have fun swimming with the fishies.

Frankly, I was rooting for Jaina. Except I would have liked to have seen her use one of those thingies Mages can do, wtf are they called, oh yeah, PORTALS, and open one of those bad bears inside Garrosh’s throne room. From inside a volcano. Lava bath for Mr Garrosh, will you accept the charges?

But yeah, we saw that side, but she didn’t go through with it. She had enough strength of character, of sheer will to still listen through her rage and hate when Thrall and Kalecgos tried to reach her.

I would have liked to see more Jaina beating Thralls ass, while I’m on the subject. You know, I blame Thrall for the entire Garrosh saga.

I can see why he would have been motivated to do it. I never forget that Thrall was standing beside Grommash against Mannoroth when Grommash sacrificed his life to take the demon down. I played through the Thrall and Garrosh questline in Outlands. I always keep in mind that Thrall feels guilt over Grommash dying for the Horde and Orc people instead of Thrall.

Was it a shit decision to give the leadership of the Horde to the hotheaded Outlander son of Grommash, a boy that never really LIVED through the aftermath of the Second War? Hell yes. Garrosh just didn’t have that shared experience of being defeated by the Alliance, of experiencing the containment camps and the misery, the despair. the apathy. That was something that happened to some other Orcs, and just like most youth, he seemed to feel that it would have all been different if he had been there during the Second War, if HE had been the one in charge.

Stupid decision. Of course I blame Thrall. And I blame him a second time after playing through the Thrall and Aggra questline in Cataclysm, and seeing the firelands version of Thrall raging against Garrosh, his true feelings exposed, because he rightfully blamed Garrosh for the death of his friend, Cairne.

Thrall felt rage in his heart against Garrosh for killing Cairne. It was exposed, and at Aggra’s direction we helped him to calm down and regain control.

That doesn’t change the fact of his feelings… and yet, unless something Horde side in the story is vastly different, he never acted on those feelings. He never confronted Garrosh. He never called him to account for his part in the massive disrespect he showed to Cairne.

I have heard the Garrosh apologists when the duel with Cairne happened. I read the book, I understand.

My problem from the beginning was the disrespect Garrosh showed Cairne, and the complete lack of honor given to him, the disregard for his words of advice, his council.

It was Cairne, Thrall and Jaina who combined their magics to purge Grom Hellscream of the demon blood. Remember that? Cairne, Jaina and Thrall. They worked together, wove their magics together, and it was only because they did that Grom was freed.

And Garrosh is going to face this wise old tauren chieftain who redeemed his father and gave him the opportunity to die a hero instead of a blood-drenched betrayer of the entire Orcish people, and blow him off? Talk down to him?

Oh, and now that you’ve killed one person that helped save your father, let’s go drop a mana bomb on the other.

FUCK Garrosh. And Thrall let that shit go? Yeah, I blame the entire Garrosh problem on Thrall from the get go.

Got off track, sorry about that.

We’ve seen Jaina have her transformation, face her dark night of the soul, and sure Thrall and Kalecgos talked to her but it was her own compassionate spirit and determination to see to the truth of things that saw her return. Changed, yes. Less willing to listen to the counsel of fools, yes. And why not? Action, not words.

Since the fall of Theramore, it just feels like she’s not done changing. She came back changed, but those changes aren’t done. We’re not seeing just a Jaina with a new attitude, a new view of what she will permit to exist around her unchallenged.

It feels like every time we see a new chapter in the story of Jaina, we’re seeing her less interested in the truth. She isn’t looking as close before taking action. She is making decisions based on her own prejudice instead of a thorough understanding of the facts.

And I hate it.

She isn’t her father, I thought that was the whole point.

I am truly afraid she is being groomed to follow in her father’s footsteps, to come to the decision that in the end her father was right to believe the Horde would never change, and to seek their total destruction regardless of the actions of a few.

I don’t want to see such a strong, principled character, someone who to me represented strength of character and clarity of vision, slide down the slope to become another bigoted, hate-filled genocidal tool.

I don’t really see where else her story is going, though. I was in hope that we were seeing a hard-won wisdom in our words with her at Anduin’s behest while we were seeing the beach landings. Then the purge of Dalaran happened, and that was a thing.

Then we had the whole thing with Jaina and Blood Elf ponytail on the Isle of Thunder. I thought, just for a moment, that maybe Taran Zhu got through to them both, what with the hole in his gut and all that.

But we see the ending cinematic for the Siege of Ogrimmar, and what strikes a foul note? Jaina urging Varian to slaughter the Horde leaders right then and there, “end it” once and for all.

End it? What, all of them?

And once you’ve ‘ended’ the threat, what do you do?

Concentration camps? Or do you learn from past mistakes made by your father, when he ‘let’ the Orcs be kept alive in the camps instead of exterminating them and ‘ending’ the threat?

I don’t like where that little snippet in the cinematic leads us, because that isn’t a Jaina that is true to who she was, someone who is stronger than blind hatred or prejudice.

So.

We’ll see what we see, but I guess my real question from everything we’ve seen so far is, has anyone seen any sign that Jaina is overcoming her hatred? Have I missed a short story or a piece of lore or questline recently where we see that she is changed, yes, but still possessed of her wisdom, strength of character and principles?

Oh yeah, and can I get in one last fuck Garrosh?

War Crimes trial my butt, I want the ghost of Cairne to come back like Uther and shove the bloodhoof runespear right up his ass. RIGHT up. And Magatha too, of course.

I guess, best case, I’m hoping the War Crimes novel by Christie Golden (which I am very eager for) will bring those visions of the past to life, and by living through them a second time give Jaina a chance to grieve, and find some small sense of closure.

Damn, 1900 words. I am very sorry for rambling on that much.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, everyone.

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Midst the flood of news recently came a little woolgathering from Ghostcrawler, as he told Digital Spy that they would like to put expansions out more frequently, and as often as once a year or so “would be a good rate”.

I noticed he didn’t say they were going to put them out once a year, or commit to doing them once a year. He only said that they know new expansions bring more people back than a content patch, and they’d like to do them more often.

“We really want to get to a cadence where we can release expansions more quickly. Once a year I think would be a good rate. I think the best thing we can do for new players is to keep coming out with regular content updates.” - Ghostcrawler.

I’m not seeing a promise to put out a new expansion every year, although I have seen folks rephrase it as though this is the new moose. Will we see people yelling at Blizzard years in the future, “But you promised you’d put out a new expansion each year!”

Undoubtedly. Reading comprehension is a fading skill.

But so what? What IS an expansion, anyway?

How does a new expansion differ from a content patch?

To me, an expansion is an entire story arc coupled with new technology upgrades, added mechanics and features.

The story arc is the part I love the most, but the technology upgrades probably have the most impact on my everyday gameplay.

I do not expect the same updates or upgrades to the engine each expansion, or the same bumps in character capability. I just expect that there be some improvements to the software, some technology upgrades, some under-the-hood tinkering.

So, like with Warlords of Draenor. I am hearing people complain and saying how disappointed they are that there aren’t new classes or races announced. “It’s not an expansion without at least one new class or race.”

I can see why you could think that. Burning Crusade brought Blood Elves and Draenei, Wrath of the Lich King brought Death Knights, Cataclysm brought Worgen and Goblins, Mists of Pandaria gave us Monks and Pandaren.

It’s a fair point to make.

I don’t personally subscribe to the belief that what was done once must be done always, until the end of days, world without end amen. So they’re not doing a new class or race this time. Okay.

They ARE, however, committed to updating the character models and animations of every single race out there, and I have heard it said they are adding more hair styles and color options.

I don’t have this mythical new class or race, but what I do have are eleven full character slots on my main server, with five character at max level and more on the way, each and every one of whom could benefit from looking prettier.

New Garrisons. New world PVP. New elite PVP modes for those who want the PVP version of Challenge Modes, skill instead of gear. Item Squishes, gear that changes primary stats based on your current specialization, Heirlooms on a UI and out of the bags, Garrisons, more class levels and new class talents.

Yes, this upcoming expansion is bringing tech and mechanic improvements. So to me, that checkbox is filled.

And we’re getting a new story arc. Warlords of Draenor. Going to old Draenor and taking the fight to the Horde… before they were a Horde, and before they ever did anything to us. So, basically, we’re getting our revenge in first. Preemptive Revenge.

So, if we invade Draenor and kick all kinds of snot out of the Orc tribes, in the years to come will they nurse their anger and thirst for revenge against us? After all, Han Shot First and all that.

What I personally want to see is the part of the story arc after the initial rush. That first content patch after the expansion has been out for three months, when we’ve killed most of the male Orc tribal leaders… and their wives seize control of the clans, swear vengeance and set out to make us pay.

Then we can have a great slog in the mud as everything gets all twisted. The Orcs were manipulated into attacking their former friends, the Draenei. But they didn’t drink Mannoroth’s blood, they still possess free will, and here came these invaders from another world who tore into the Iron Horde and slaughtered their leaders before they had the chance to make their own decision to turn back to the path of justice.

The Iron Horde are not inherently evil, they cannot be, for they are the living parents of our own Orc peoples.

So what happens when we get ours in first, and they respond to that? When they rise to this unexpected challenge? When the Warlords that were duped fall and new leaders rise in their place, leaders that may not have fully bought into this whole “let’s go kill the Draenei and wear their skins as clothes” bullshit, but sure as HELL aren’t going to let us just waltz in and kill their families.

It’s going to be interesting as all hell. Where will it go? Where will it end? Blood feuds will come from this. And what of the Orcs of our Azeroth, going back to fight their own ancestors, once lost to them?

This isn’t that long ago, what of Orcs facing otherworld versions of themselves…

Will the Orcs of the Iron Horde think of themselves as the superior race because they did NOT weaken themselves by drinking the blood of a demon? A master race?

Will they be a people capable of both atrocity and compassion, or cardboard cutouts? Are we looking at Orc Socialism on the move?

I am excited as hell because Blizzard has ALWAYS satisfied me with their storytelling and their intricate plots. Go  back and take a look at Mists of Pandaria, track how we started with a lost prince on a mysterious island, grew through discovery of ancient peoples and fascinating cultures, fought a massive war against the Mogu and the overall insidious nature of the Sha poisoning everything, and finally culminating in a faction leader trying to take some of that power and seize his chance at ultimate victory over everyone he sees as an enemy.

Which turns out to be everyone not exactly like him, or the mercenary Goblins he hires.

This new story arc is so full of potential I’m squeeing in glee. So many ways to take this Warlords of Draenor thing over an entire expansion arc filled with multiple content patches.

So much potential for fun.

What is an expansion?

It’s lots of new game features and improvements, and a big honking story arc.

Can they do a new expansion every year?

Sure, as long as they tighten up how long the planned story arc will be to one year in length with the content patches coming  every two to three months. And as long as they continue to have new features and improvements in the pipeline that seem significant when they are unveiled each year.

I know it sounds silly but while I do like having content coming out sooner, I don’t want tons of new content coming out quite that fast.

I think most of Mists of Pandaria hit me at just the right pace. Maybe a few weeks of free time after I had absorbed each one before the next came out.

How fast we play the content is different for each person. For every player that has best in slot gear and has already completed Siege of Ogrimmar on normal, there are probably 50 that are still collecting Sigils or Valor for their Legendary cloak quest.

Just as there has to be new content for us to get excited over, there has to be a codetta afterwards to give us space to breath. We enjoy the content, work hard to reach levels or reputations or gear points, unlock content, and then we take a moment to look upon our works and relax before tearing into it once more.

I would actually like to see something different than a traditional expansion each year.

What I would like to see is one true expansion with the technological marvels and new features with the big story arc lasting a year of smaller content patches as chapters…

And then the second year would focus on another big story arc, new areas to explore and adventures to go on. The Burning Crusade storyline, zones, dungeons and raids without the programming time spent working in two new races, more levels and above all the time spent trying to re-balance it all in playtesting.

Yes, the art assets, quest design, all of that would be just as intense as ever, massive amounts of work for Blizzard to prepare. But without the balancing that new levels or classes impose on us, I think we could get to the new storylines sooner.

Anyway.

What do you think? What features or improvements do you feel are necessary to take something from a content patch and make it a real expansion worth purchasing a box?

And how fast do you really want them to come? Has Mists of Pandaria left you feeling bored between content patches, overwhelmed by all the new things to do that hit before you’re done with the last chunk, or has it been just right?

Comments 4 Comments »

Because we see what happens when you do.

I posted angry a few days ago.

The only thing I regret is that I posted in anger, and the anger had nothing to do with what I was writing about. Also, because I was angry, I rushed to vent my spleen onto the internet without taking the time to make sure I said everything I wanted to. Sent it out confrontational, aggressive, hurtful and with half the things I wanted to say still swirling around in my head.

When I talk here, I always make the standard internet mistake. I talk like I would to folks who I have known for over seven years of intimate sharing. I assume you know what is in my heart. Poor communicating on my part; you can only know what I say, not what I think.

For the record, I stand by everything I said. I do wish I’d have done it without anger, I didn’t set out to hurting peoples feelings or say things that clearly sounded like I hated or was angry with other people in the community.

I regret the anger. I wasn’t angry about what I wrote. I’m still not.

I was angry for other, completely separate reasons.

Stuff is going on with our son at school, not bullying or anything like that at all, but it’s stuff he has to deal with on his own. There is very little we can actually do to help, and I have a hard time feeling useless, having to stand by and watch and do nothing. I hate it, and the anger and frustration I feel with myself for being useless and unable to help is feeding a really good head of steam.

I didn’t really know what was causing me to be so angry, but I sure as hell was. And when I got irritated at the way it feels people are ganging up on and bullying Blizzard to reveal stuff about the upcoming story to assuage their fears, or to make changes without even knowing what’s going to happen past the first chapter of the prelude to a novel, I let that irritation grow into a full fledged tirade.

I’m still angry about the school stuff with the Cub. That hasn’t changed, but at least now I understand why I’m so quick to take offense at the littlest things right now. I’ll let it go soon, knowing where shit is coming from in my head is the best start to letting it go.

Look, I’ll end this with a few points I wanted to make, and let it be done.

First, I feel that we saw some geeks having a great time in the company of friends at BlizzCon, and I think they focused on the ‘boy’s club’ bullshit because all they can share with us without spoilers is the first chapter of the introduction to a massive novel. I think if PR reps had released carefully worded statements, it wouldn’t have gone out the way it did. But these are geeks, with the over enthusiastic explosion of excitement and all it entails.

Second, I don’t think it’s fair or realistic to go after Blizzard community managers in anger at the story and anyone’s portion of it when we have no facts of what is to come after the beachhead in Draenor. We don’t have any facts on which to base outrage. We just don’t. We only know the very tip of what is to come. Voicing concern is fine and healthy, it helps Blizzard know where we are and what our hopes and dreams for the expansion will be. But attacking in outrage and hate is just wrong. Most didn’t act that way, but enough I saw did that it is what spurred my initial irritation.

Third, Blizzard has a history of making some bad, offensive mistakes when it comes to sexism and other topics in the game. I say other topics, but we’ve got rape culture, torture, racism, bullying… there have been incidents at BlizzCons of the past and coded into the game itself. Most of us know that and we all have a right to be concerned when we think we’re seeing it happen again. I know I don’t want my son exposed to it, that torture quest in Northrend in particular still bothers me, and so does some of the creepy stalking of Ji Firepaw, and those damn Oglers and Mina in Pandaria. And other stuff, when I let my mind roam over the years.

I feel that we have to wait until Blizzard actually makes the mistake before we can register our concern aggressively. They have been very good about recognizing the mistakes when brought to their attention by the community, and fixing them. I wish they wouldn’t make them in the first place, but attacking the game designers now before anything is even in beta for us to see in game feels wrong.

Fourth, I agree that it is a good idea to share those hopes and dreams we have for what we’d like to see in the game with the developers. My objection is when some people phrase it as an attack, an accusation, a pre-emptive strike. Getting in your retaliation first. Say what you expect, get the message out, but accept that in the end the story is in the hands of Blizzard, and is fueled by what they are most excited and passionate about.

Some things they can probably add or change, but I think we’ve all got to remind ourselves, the story they’re telling now was written and decided over a year ago. They’re crafting the story for the next expansion now, and the one after that. All we can hope for now is that they can add subplots if the community asks for things they didn’t think of way back then. But those requests should come with a measure of respect, and failing that, some courtesy. Not outright hostility.

Fifth and last. I truly do apologize to the people who read what I write and felt it was a personal attack. I really do. I’m sorry. I am aware that it was uncalled for and over the top, and none of you deserved to have even a moments confusion as to whether I was talking to you, about you, or felt any anger towards you.

I can’t ask for forgiveness, but I can at least tell you that I’ll try to only rant and rave like a lunatic when the emotions I feel go with what I’m talking about.

Peace to you all, my friends and to all who sometimes visit for whatever reason.

Comments 18 Comments »

I’m seeing a lot of bitching, pissing and moaning among the community of active players about the story and characters revealed at BlizzCon.

I could probably have truncated that to “I’ve seen a lot of bitching, pissing and moaning.” I don’t have to specify it’s players; it has ever been thus.

“Oh no, I don’t see any strong female leads to base my existence off of and to inspire my daughter to be a whole person!”

“Oh my, all the characters in the story are male, it’s a big boys club, I feel so excluded!”

“Oh, there’s a token female Draenei they mentioned, but she’s described as being like Joan of Arc, and nobody knows what that really means so I’ll make tons of assumptions about Blizzard, the other players, the story, the characters who will be in it and everything ever based on my worldview and prejudices.”

“And then I’ll go rant about it and tell Blizzard how they’re doing it wrong, and need to change things to be more like what I want.”

Really?

First and only lesson that everyone who is an actual writer knows, male or female, is that the story does not belong to the reader, nor is the reader entitled to make demands upon the writer.

The story belongs to the writer or writers. They are the ones who are creating it, it comes from their imaginations, they are the ones with the voice.

If you don’t like the story that they are presenting, if you don’t like the characters they are inspired by and who drive their story, you are free to go make your OWN story, with your OWN characters, and build it into something so popular it’s inspiring millions of people around the world.

Nobody, and I do mean NOBODY has the right to tell ANY author or creator what they should do to change their own creative efforts because clearly you know better.

I know people feel entitled to getting their own way these days, but shit, are you people serious?

Do you really think you have the right to demand anyone change their creative works to meet what you think you want to read?

Sadly, the answer seems to be a resounding YES.

If you are reading or watching or listening to a story, and if you don’t like it, you don’t like the characters or something about what the writers have done pisses you off, the appropriate response is to STOP READING IT.

Only in a nightmare world do you think you can call up the writer and tell them to scrap what they were writing and change it all because you don’t like what you’ve heard on the teaser about it, and oh yeah they need to add some new main characters and give supporting characters you like more of a role because you wish you knew more about what Sylvanus was doing while the Horde was rolling through the Vale or something.

Really?

If you want an example of a strong character, male or female, how about you log into YOUR character that YOU created, and YOU roleplay it how you think it should be done! Your own part of the story done your way. That is how much freedom you have, to create your own story within the world that has been created by other talented writers and artists.

It’s sickening to me. It really is.

And it’s not feminism, don’t even dare to make that mistake.

Everyone wants someone in a story to identify with. Everyone wants a main protagonist that makes a difference and captures our imagination. Male or female, makes no difference.

We want people who capture our imagination. People we get to know, who we come to care about, and who we are proud to play alongside of in the story that unfolds.

I watched all the panels at BlizzCon.

You know what I got out of it?

I heard that the main villains are going to be the original male Orc warlords of old Draenor.

We’re going to go back in time and kill the evil male Orcs that laid waste to everything good in their own world, nearly destroyed our own world, and succeeded in OBLITERATING THEIR OWN PLANET.

We’re going to step back in time and take down the clans that perpetrated the worst evil, the most insane genocidal act imaginable.

They killed an entire planet.

Oh sure, they didn’t mean to, but that was a direct result of their choices. THEIR CHOICES.

And we’re going back to take them down. Orcs that may not have drunk the demon blood, but who have weapons of mass destruction dumped into their hands and told to unleash that upon their world… and ours.

No women among the evil bastards we’re setting out to destroy?

Well… not at first, but you know, there’s going to be an entire series of content patches throughout the course of the expansion, as EVENTS CHANGE THROUGH OUR ACTIONS, it’s possible that maybe SHIT WILL CHANGE from what happened originally, right?

We’re going to be going back to a key point in the story that is already familiar to us and was written… BUT IT’S GOING TO CHANGE AFTER THAT WHEN WE GET ROLLING.

The other thing I heard was that right from the beginning, the single most important NPC character we are going to meet and work alongside of is a female Draenei of blazing spirit that will be as inspirational and important, will have as much impact on our part of the story as a Joan of Arc.

So the enemy are all evil male frat boys and the only NPC worth a damn so far is a female Draenei. Sounds pretty cool to me.

I heard that Garrosh was only the catalyst that sets things in motion, but it’s not going to be a Garrosh story, he’s cast aside early as things move out of control. Good, we’re all sick of Garrosh, it’s good to know that he’s just the fuel that lights the fire.

And finally, I heard that what they were teasing us with in the story was just the tip of the iceberg, the most bare bones hint of what was to come in a story they had been planning and working towards for years.

A story their creative team has mapped out, played with, finding out where they want to go, what inspires them to do next, what arcs they want to tell for years to come.

I heard them say that they have so much of this story they want to tell, so much they want to reveal that they have expansions lined up for the foreseeable future, that there is no end in sight.

And yet!

And yet.

I see people, people I normally respect and admire talking as though what was shown at BlizzCon was the ENTIRE EXPANSION STORY, that there is nothing but what was said or shown to be seen, and they are apparently building entire ivory towers of supposition and assumption around what they imagine.

Most of what I get from that is, these people are prejudiced against Blizzard. Their default state is to feel Blizzard can’t be trusted. Tough.

And they’re ranting and raving about it in public.

You don’t like what you hear, that’s your prerogative.

Blizzard is made up of enthusiastic geeks and creative geniuses. Dave Kosak? Brilliant creator, driving force behind so much of the game… and a horrible public speaker.

I loved listening to everything he said though. He was so damn enthusiastic!

Did he gush too much, did the message he shared sound disjointed, like Old Draenor was going to be this frat pack rat pack party gone amok? Sure.

But am I the only one that got that he was energetic, enthused, and nervous speaking in front of a horde of rabid fans? That he was excited abuot what was to come but was trying to restrain himself to talking about the bits he COULD without spoiling it?

He was sharing his geekspasm with us.

God bless him for it.

I’m sure the politically correct micro-managing backseat drivers would love to spin webs a mile wide from every word he said, but he’s not a political pundit in front of a teleprompter with a carefully rehearsed and sanitized speech that a team of 15 went over to ensure it was as inoffensive as possible.

He was speaking off the cuff. People need to get a grip.

Have all of you forgotten the massive story arc changes that the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria took us through?

You were shown a video of us arriving on the shores of Pandaria. Were you really able to infer from all of that the raid on Orgrimmar and a new warchief?

You have NO INFORMATION TO BASE YOUR OUTRAGE ON.

You don’t know shit about what’s going to come.

I just… I can’t imagine this shit happening anywhere else, and then I can.

Is it that we have characters in the game world, characters that we love? Is that what leads some of us to think we’re entitled to a say in the way the story will be written?

Do people think that we’re all working together to build the most epic story ever told? A story written by committee?

I can only imagine Robert Jordan getting mail from fans, “I love the People of the Leaf so much, you don’t write about them enough, please write more about them in the next book.”

Or to Tolkein, “I thought your books were good, but you barely mentioned Tom Bombadil in passing and never returned to that character again. Please bring Tom back and show us more of their family life.”

Or to Heinlein, “Your Expanded Universe is a great concept, and I love what you did with the World as Fiction idea, but you didn’t take it far enough. You only used the classics like Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz and others in the cross-overs. Why not do a book where they meet characters from a more modern setting like Star Wars? Chewbacca is my favorite, could you have him where he has to save Friday?”

Just… NO.

/makes swishing motion with rolled up newspaper. NO! Bad fans!

You want more awesome stories with these characters? You think there is a way it SHOULD have been written, characters that SHOULD have been created?

WRITE THEM YOURSELF, IF YOU KNOW SO DAMN MUCH.

Fanfic goes anywhere and everywhere. Post links to it on all those social media sites you’ve used to rant about how much Blizzard sucks, okay?

Please do, I’d love to see it and tell YOU what YOU need to change to satisfy MY prejudices.

Moar bears, mostly.

Biggest problem I had with the Disney film “Brave” was, not enough bears innit.

I make light, but really. I’m so sick and tired of this elitist entitlement ignorant shit, so disgusted that I want to drop the keyboard, flush the blog and walk away from the entire community.

Comments 46 Comments »

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