I was listening to the latest Group Quest podcast this morning, and heard DeGei mention the fun and games we had over the Thanksgiving weekend doing some cross-server friends list leveling.
I was on my low level Warlock having a blast, and DeGei was on his Panda Warrior of about the same level. He saw me on, and suggested we group up and run some instances.
On the podcast, he made the point that this is something to be thankful for, that Blizzard has continued to grow the game to this point; that two people can be friends and follow what they’re doing regardless of what server they choose to be on (or originally rolled), and can group up together to run quests, queue for instances, and even do raids, so long as they aren’t current content raids.
I completely agree with DeGei on this. Maybe people take it for granted, or think there never should have been split servers to keep friends apart in the first place, but we are now at a point where if you are friends with people anywhere in your geographical area, you can meet them and play with them in almost everything the game has to offer.
The cross-server raids I’ve been doing have been some of the most fun I ever had in game… at least, until Pandaria came out and kinda depth-charged the concept. Level 90 has made most old stuff so trivial it’s hard to find things for a large group to do.
My point though is I was able to group up with a friend and do some runs together. By the way, DeGei is an extremely good tank. He led two different groups through Blackfathom, and if asked beforehand I would have said I never wanted to do that one ever again. He actually made it fun, by knowing exactly what to do and where to go and how to tank. Such a blessed relief, especially at low levels. And without Heirlooms!
Now, let’s contrast this with last Saturday.
It was time to get our Moguvaults raid going, and we were once again short a ranged DPS. The wondermage that we had was a no-call, no-show, no-mail for the second week in a row.
Now, we asked in guild if anyone wanted to join us to DPS, but nobody was available. We really wanted to play with friends, so since guild members were out, we turned to our friends lists.
Several of us had friends who were available, and volunteered to join us.
The problem? You guessed it I, bet… they were all on other servers.
And you cannot have people from other servers in your raid to do CURRENT content.
End of story.
So, we were unable to bring in a friend, someone known to us, to join us in playing together. In order to continue our raid, Discobiscuit had to resort to, [shudder], Trade Chat to find one more.
This time, we were successful. The new DPS player had the lowest DPS in our raid, but they were friendly, paid attention and tried their best. With them added to our ranks, we felt the thrill of victory over the first two bosses in Mogu’shan Vaults again, and even had a fun go at da troll dude, mon.
As icing on the raiding cake, we had the pleasure of killing the stone dogs with jaspar chains up, and let me tell you, it’s a true feeling of satisfaction to struggle with a mechanic and then conquer it. Our first successful kill had been without the jaspar chains, so there was certainly some “we must overcome this” tension going through the group. Hah! Take that, you silly dogs, you. I wave my private parts in your general direction.
So, we ended up with a complete stranger in the group, but it worked out for us. This time.
This gave us a chance to meet someone new on our server, and potentially make a new friend. So, good thing, right?
But this came at the expense of a chance to play with an existing friend, build a stronger bond and develop more shared experiences. What was the more valuable opportunity? To have grown an existing freindship or start a new one?
I want to talk about this a bit, because of the recent comments by Ghostcrawler on Twitter about cross-server grouping for current content.
They’re worried about what it might do to guilds.
Okay. That’s very reasonable. But with that given as a reason, can we talk about it?
What could having cross-server raiding on current content do to a specific guild, or guilds in general?
I’m trying to think about this, and I’m running right up against the age-old question, “What is a guild?”
A guild is a social system with built-in tools to easily communicate between members and organize group activities. There are additional tools available to aid the group, such as a storage system for items useful to the group, rewards for being active within the group, and methods to visually display your allegiance with your guild.
There is also the visual tag you can show proclaiming your membership in that group.
People can use this social system for whatever purpose they want. You can invite anyone in the server and have the purpose be a big social circus, try to only invite people with common goals or interests, or limit membership to known friends or family. Whatever you want.
I have a question. Can you queue with cross-realm friends to do current PvP battleground or Arena content? it’s something I don’t know.
See, the thing that I’m wondering about is why we would only block current content raiding from including personal cross-server friends, but not other activities. If current PvP content is also blocked, then it would seem a consistent policy for progression-oriented guilds, be they raiding or PvP.
Let’s simply look at the consequences of blocking cross-server friends.
If you’re short someone for your raid, this does force you to find someone on your own server.
If the person you invite is on another server and can only be invited through your friends list, then for everyone else in the raid that person is a “friend of a friend”, seperated by at least one remove. The rest of the guild only knows him through you, and can only chat with them or play with them if you are on and willing… until the cross-server friend shares their Battletag around.
If a guild is a social system to ease communication between members, then the cross-server friends list goes against the spirit by isolating the friend from the group.
If you have to resort to a stranger that exists on your own server, though, then everyone in the raid has the chance to spend time together, develop a bond, and possibly find mutual ground to consider joining the guild or making some other kind of lasting bond with multiple people from the guild.
Limiting current raiding, which is probably one of the most popular guild group activities, to same-server players has a better chance of growing the guild itself from adding people frmo the same server, and allowing for multiple personal connections to form.
So… the issue is the limitation of the technology. If we had the capability for cross-server guild invites and communication, then those same connections could form. It might be a bit harder initially, since the ‘getting to know you’ period would involve Battletags unless yuo gave them an isntant invite, but it would also strengthen the role of guild websites and matchmaking services for recruitment and trying out new potential members.
Right now, if you party or raid group with someone else, it pulls everyone into the same server group. I say go one step further, and if you are NOT in an existing party or raid, then everyone in the same guild could be effectively pulled into the same server.
The guild as a social system would be restored. In fact, you’d have a greater chance to grow, by having strangers from multiple servers available to invite into your runs when you needed someone.
With cross-realm guilds, if you meet that great person in a PUG, you would be able to chat with them as you do now, but you could then say “Hey why not hit me up on our website, we can run some more stuff sometime as a group”. That person could become a guildie, and not just “that great tank we had last week, wish he was in our guild.”
I freely admit this is all rampant speculation. I’d love to hear more speculation on what the benefits or challenges would be.
And now, just to be contrary, I’m gonna turn to the only real argument I’ve heard against cross-server guilds.
I’ve heard that a big problem with cross-server guilds would be guild bank access shared across servers, places with different economies. I believe the argument is that would allow guilds to have the potential to become the East India Trading Company, doing triangle trade deals across servers, and placing ‘normal’ players at a competitive pricing disadvantage.
Imagine for a moment the rise of mercantile guilds, guilds of auction house traders purchasing cloth cheap on Azuremyst, selling it at higher prices on Kael’thas, using the profit to buy cheap Darkmoon Cards on Kael’thas and flipping them high on Vol’jin, and then buying cheap ore on Vol’jin to sell at a profit on Azuremyst.
Shit man, go for it. I’d love to see another, deeper aspect to the game economy emerge.
If you’re upset because you like the status quo, you’ve got a good thing going and this would make your gold-making system fail, well, I have no sympathy for you. You want to rule the auction house in a changing economy, adapt or die. Don’t try to throw up roadblocks to change to protect your own interests… or at least, acknowledge that you’re basically mirroring the real world business model by trying to stem the tides of change when that change isn’t in your favor.
Never forget your first principles. Things will not sell for more than people are willing to pay. But if there is a ready market for your goods at a price you are willing to accept, that means there are people in the market eager to buy. Opening up new markets for your goods means that true fairness is that other people have the same opportunity… but it’s up to them whether they take advantage of it.
God, wouldn’t it be a thing to see? Might even tend to bring market stabilization over the long term.
Let Blizzard develop a regulatory agency, and we’ll just go the rest of the way to having a true world government within WoW.
Okay, we’re just being silly now, but there is so much to chew on in the subject.
For every problem, there is a potential solution, and also many things to fear. The first step is deciding what constitutes a real problem. Are we simply afraid of what may happen, and is that fear stopping us from adopting change?
All I see from what Ghostcrawler says is that they worry what it would do to guilds. Nothing in his statements says they have made a decision against, or that they aren’t considering how to implement it to address those worries.
I’m glad they worry what it would do to guilds. If they didn’t give a shit but just changed things and hoped for the best, we’d be in deep trouble.
I hope that, in the end, we do move towards something that opens the world up even more, expands the guild system to be more inclusive of people regardless of what server they are on, and that the technology and bugs get worked out to address the issues people have with CRZ right now.
I have no conclusions. I lean towards the “let’s implement it and deal with the consequences” side, but I don’t know what other obstacles or concerns they may be considering.
Maybe they’ve run studies that suggest if people could raid with others from a friends list, it would tend to exclude people new to the game and uncertain how to find a guild. I don’t know how, what with the rise of matchmaking cross-server raiding websites, and in-game Blizzard-sponsored assistance/welcoming guilds, but maybe it could.
I’m just saying, it’s fun to think about, and every time I have ever played with friends cross-server, whether in an instance or a raid, it has been an absolute joy, and I hope to see more growth to expand it further in the future.
Now…. now is your opportunity to tell me how strongly you disagree with me. :)
I mentioned to Cassie in passing today that one of the surprises in Patch 5.1 was that Ghost Iron Ore and all Herb spawns had their respawn rates cut in half. Why? Apparently, because the resources were too abundant. If the resources are scarcer and players have to work harder to get them we’ll value them more, and they (and they’re crafted items) will be worth more on the Auction House.
Her reply? “Sometimes I think Blizzard hates the players.”*
I can see her point. I personally thought the respawns were originally too generous… and I was grateful, because I don’t exist to play “WoW Tycoon”, I play WoW, the game that has an auction house in it where I can share shit I get with other players for cash, and if there is something I’d like I can maybe go find it there too.
Since I don’t play the game to amass vast quantities of gold, I make sure I’ve got characters that can go out and get the stuff I need to satisfy my wants. You know, like Herbalists and Alchemists and Enchanters and all that stuff. Self-sufficient. So long as I can get enough of the base resources to satisfy my own needs, fine.
It’s about time investment, though. I invest my time in leveling a character now so I have the capability to make stuff, so in the future I can spend teeny amounts of time getting a few mats and making what I ened on the spot instead of having to always be working to get gold to buy stuff on the AH.
Change things so it takes tons of time to get those mats, fighting other farming players for hours to get the scant few resources it takes to make a couple flasks, and it flips things around.
Likewise, they changed the conversion rate for Spirits of Harmony from 1 Spirit to 3 Golden Lotus, to 1 Spirit for two GL. I’m not trying to corner the AH market, so whatever. As long as I can still get what I need to make weekly flasks with my little farm, it’s all good.
It does mean that the amount of time it takes us, the players, to accomplish the same tasks has increased. So why do it?
If I were to settle into a “me me me” point of view, then it would be a sign Blizzard hates us, the players. They made it harder and take more time, so thus they’re out to ruin our fun. Right?
It’s nice that people can make WoW Tycoon a game in and of itself… but I don’t feel that we need to really care if people aren’t getting the prices from their ore or herbs that they want. If the inscription market doesn’t make you thousands of gold, I really don’t give a shit. That’s not the game I care about or respect. So how dare you change things to cater to them! Let them make real money in the real world with those skills if that’s what they like!
Or… maybe there’s a different point of view. A view that embraces more than just me. Possibly?
I don’t see it and other things Blizzard does as signs they hate the players. I see it as signs they are still looking for ways to please more types of playstyles.
I think they are still growing, and in this case are trying to identify all the different playstyles that attract paying monthly players, and then add content that will reward them and keep them coming back.
The Black Market Auction House, canes and monocles and other items… these are things that acknowledge the existence of playing the WoW market as a real ‘thing’, so let’s go all the way to making the game economy an official, and rewarding, part of the game.
Just because I don’t care about it doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile part of the game, right? PvP isn’t my thing, and they’ve done amazing stuff with integrating it into the game.
How long did those of us who like all the casual stuff in game rail at how the designers seemed solely focused on raider content? Oh waaa, it’s all about the raiders, why can’t we get class quests or something for us casuals to do?
Shit, we got that in spades, didn’t we? Look around you, and there is so much to do the game is bursting with content for players of all playstyles. Including raiding for non-raiders!
PvP content, raiding content, social and collecting and game economy and fashion and soloing and now even stage productions, fighting while we watch!
They didn’t ignore the plight of casual players for content, did they? It just took time, exactly as they told us it would.
“The things we are working on to make the game better now you won’t see for years.”
They tell us these things, and looking back, can we agree they weren’t kidding around?
And now, they’re clearly paying attention to the desires of those who make the Auction House and game economy their playstyle, and despite it meaning it’ll be a teeny bit harder for me to go out and get my own mats when I want them, to me it means the opposite of “Blizzard hates the players”.
It looks to me like Blizzard is trying to see what people like to do in the game, and then accommodate those desires. ALL of those desires. A massive balancing act, trying to make all of the people happy all of the time.
That’s pretty amazing. Doomed to fail? Heck, let’s find out. I’m enjoying the ride anyway.
They’re even going back to the “let’s make class quests because they’re fun” well, with the Warlocks.
Pet battles, mounts to collect, pets as drops from old raids, old raids modified to change mechanics that required multiple people to now be (potentially) soloable, a Brawlers Guild that is all about a solo player going against NPC challenges before a live audience…
Blizzard takes a lot of abuse, but when you come right down to it, they’re doing an amazing job.
One thing I like is how they’re experimenting more with small changes that add up to big content for players.
Have you seen the little items you can buy with the new Commendations that drop from mobs you kill doing dailies? You can buy traps. You take a trap, and it gives you a daily quest. You can go out and farm some materials to make an animal trap. Then, you trap the animal in the wild. You take the animal and turn it in at a big arena with animal cages. You or anyone that sees the animal in a cage can ask to fight it. And those are some tough critters! Crabs, Tigers and Cranes, and they are serious badasses designed to be easy for a party of five, but good luck soloing one.
Here’s a hint; stand on top of the tiger. If you back off to range, he’ll leap on you and one shot your ass. Melee Hunters up!
It’s just a little thing, but it’s an activity that you can choose to do every day that takes time, is diverting and different, the trap quests act as dailies for 5 valor and 2 Lesser tokens, and when you’re done, you or anyone else can fight the beasts and get a quest on completion that gives you more faction rep. And like with other boss kills from quests in the game, you don’t all have to be in the same group. If you take part in the kill, just jump in and assist one in progress, you get credit. And like I said, when it’s dead, your first critter kill of the day gives you a nice quest to turn in for added rep with the new faction.
I tested it. It’s only the first animal kill. Just saying.
Blizzard does things sometimes that seem to be huge pains in the ass, or make life more annoying, or whatever. But sometimes, you look at it a different way, and you can see that it may be annoying to my playstyle, but it makes someone else’s more interesting.
Let’s not be the raider that hated on casuals for wanting stuff to do. Or the casuals that hated on PvP.
I personally am eager to get a Brawler Invite. I’ll wait until I can afford one on the BMAH, but I was in the Brawlers Guild arena watching today, and it was very cool.
I enjoyed watching other players square off against opponents, and I can ABSOLUTELY see spending an evening kicking back, relaxing, having a few beers and watching the fights while waiting for my turn in the ring.
This Brawlers Guild thing really is going to add a new dimension to the game… exhibition. You are going into your fight knowing you are being watched, and judged. Will you get stage fright? Will the crowd jeer you?
Today I saw a Druid fight a penguin in Bear form, running and jogging around, almost jigging and it looked like it was all to put on an exciting show. I’ll grant you, someone in the crowd was /yelling “GO GO GO HAPPYFEET”, but it was still fun.
I can see a developing new playstyle, people playing to the crowd, tweaking their costumes for the show (transmogs are awesome now that we can be performers on stage, amiright?), dancing around and doing emotes to give the live audience something to FRAPS or screenshot for later.
Players, we who are about to /dance while kiting green slime salute you!
I feel as though the seeds for amazing things were sown in the expansion, and we’re still just seeing them start to blossom.
It’s just too damn early to pass final judgment on these things. Or to get all cranky.
*sentence take out of context may not represent Cassie’s actual thoughts about Blizzard.
Why should you, or anyone, care about a debate? Just put some names on a ballot and everyone can vote, they’re all the same, right?
I have a surprise for you. This post has NOTHING to do with the US presidential debate.
It has to do with making the best choice you can from what is offered. Okay, and it’s to say my piece before the election is over.
I bet what I’ve got to say ain’t what most of you think though.
American politics is, at it’s root, about having the power to choose who will rule us.
Supposedly, we as individuals have the power to decide how much authority we are going to delegate to a chosen representative, and then to choose those representatives to make decisions on our behalf.
In reality, once you get to a certain level, there are organized entrenched political ‘machines’ that represent big money and power. You want to be a candidate and play in the big leagues, you need lots of money and support to get in the news, get signs made, get the word out about your name. So a would-be candidate picks a side, joins a machine, and gets run through the mill.
The Tea Party is universally hated by both machines for challenging that power structure. Don’t be fooled otherwise. If you can look past the rabid rhetoric and name calling, at the heart of things is power, who will hold it, and who won’t. No matter what a Democrat thinks about a Republican and vice versa, neither candidate wants to see a third competitor for wealth and power.
A political machine is all about controlling who our choices will be come election day, and making sure that whoever is chosen, the power is retained intact.
Once you get to that level… once a machine gets involved, whether you know it or not, you’ve already lost.
The Tea Party can be seen as a prime example of what happens when someone rises to challenge the existing power structure. The hate both existing machines have heaped on members of the Tea Party is very revealing.
“But, they share your stated views on this issue…” “They are illiterate, inbred redneck scum and probably violent extremists willing to bomb Americans.” “…that seems harsh.”
The conceit is, we are told that all of the politicians are in the game out of a sense of covic pride. They have, each of them, devoted their life topublic service to make the country and the world a better place. Altruism, not self-interest.
Um… think about it. Without someone on a TV telling it to you in a matter-of-fact tone as if, duh, of COURSE they serve out of the goodness of their heart. How could anyone think otherwise? That is a given. No self-interest, no lust for power and wealth, just good spirited civic-mindedness.
Think about that for a bit… and then think about all the people you have ever met in the real world. Don’t think in TV fantasyland terms, think of what you know about reality.
And then remember the old cop saying – wanna know why someone did something? Follow the money.
A reminder here. We are, all of us here in the United States, people first, political activists second.
America consists of those who have voted for many different political parties.
I hold a controversial opinion. I firmly believe that voting Democrat or Republican does not make a person inherently evil.
According to the latest polling figures, the country is pretty evenly split 50/50 between the Democrat and Republican Presidential nominees.
If you can truly believe in your heart that half of the voting population of the United States of America is EVIL because they are of a different political party than you, I mean seriously hold to that idea that half of the whole fucking country is evil, than you’re a worthless sack of shit that can’t think for yourself, and fuck you.
I can’t challenge that level of rabid closemindedness. I don’t dislike members of political parties, I dislike any person of any side that can HATE other people because of whatever their values may be.
I can drill down and give you just one example of how fucking stupid this “party as evil” idea is.
Do you think our armed forces consist solely of Republicans or Democrats? Hmm? These are people who have, all of them, chosen to step forward and risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in service to our country.
Do you feel that a large portion of them are evil? Are without value, because of affiliation with a political party?
Or can you entertain the concept that a large portion of the men and women who stand up to defend our country and our way of life do not share the same political views that you do, and yet they are still brave, honorable and valiant defenders of liberty?
Many of them do not share your views, whateverthose views may be, but they have stood up just the same. Putting their lives on the line for their own reasons, yes, but many of them because they love our country and our way of life, and our freedom to express ourselves and hold fast to our values and beliefs without fear of persecution.
Can you hold fast to your belief that they are evil scum? And yet, they are still willing to risk their lives in service to our country.
The freedom they fight for is the freedom of choice, and of opinion, and that includes fighting to defend your right to be a hate-filled little snot.
I know who I will choose to stand beside. And a spoiler? It ain’t someone that tells me how we need to silence an entire group because you do not agree with what they have to say.
There is an old adage that has a bit of truth to it. If you’re under the age of 21 and aren’t a democrat, you’ve got no heart. If you’re over the age of 21 and aren’t a republican, you’ve got no brain.
The truth there isn’t about the ideologies of either side, it’s about how the two parties have packaged their arguments.
Each political machine has packaged their argument to pit “heart” against “brain”. Either vote for the party that cares about people and trust that the money will be there to spread around, or vote for the party that cares about economic prosperity and trust that the people will be taken care of somehow.
Another way to spin it, either vote for the party that thinks you need to be told what to do and how to live your life because they know better, or vote for the party that believes that every single snowflake is precious and equally responsible and there should be no rules limiting our behavior because everyone is a fabulous rock star.
Can you see through the bullshit?
Holy crap, I hate to look to fiction to try and make any point about the real world, but look at the fictional world of Azeroth for a minute.
Azeroth is created from scratch, and yet it has a more diverse political structure than the one we have in the United States.
What, the fictional world of Azeroth is somehow more compicated than the real US? The power struggles between Garrosh and Vol’jin and Baine and Sylvanus and Thrall are really MORE complicated with more sides and opinions and beliefs than a country formed of many diverse ethnic groups and centuries of growing and conflicting social and religious issues?
Are you fucking serious? Two parties, two ideologies, and that covers EVERY eventuality, every valid opinion? You can buy into that?
Just no. Basic Campfire for President. Burn it all down.
Once you reach the level of the political machine, the candidates are all slime. Power corrupts, and so does the hunger for power. You don’t have to possess power before you become corrupted. Just wanting it bad enough will do.
To join a machine, a politician had to crave personal power over you and me so badly that they were willing to shit all over principles and make deals and promises and assurances that they will do what they are told. That kind of money isn’t thrown behind someone unless they are sure you’ll do what they tell you.
The interesting thing is how clean, how packaged, how prepared the candidates all are at that level. You see them, and they all seem stamped from the same mold, right?
Do you think they were born that way?
There is a way you can see exactly what these people are like. And it’s called a debate.
A debate is all about putting this ball of cats together in a room, throwing water on the lot and let them tear the shit out of each other.
We the people get to sit back, /popcorn and watch, and see how they handle themselves when the claws come out.
The higher in office the candidates get, the more prepared, the more coached, polished, packaged and sterilized they have become. So… you really wanna see them, catch them early in their career before someone spackled bullshit all over them.
I’ve talked a lot about “once you get to the machine level”, but every candidate has to start somewhere.
You ever hear the phrase that if you want to get into politics, you have to start somewhere, like third assistant city dogcatcher?
It’s true. There are many positions that are on local ballots, and in the US, there are so many of them that the political machine can’t grab and package and prepare every single one. They try, but at the lowest levels, common everyday mere mortals like you and me have the sheer effrontery of thinking we can be a candidate too.
At the lowest level, you see a mix of machine candidates and actual real living human beings that have no clue but are infused with outrage, or greed, or driven by one issue that they want to get elected to ram home.
At this lowest level, the local City Council (or School Board, that’s another one), you see a broad mix of folks.
Entrenched power versus upstarts, machine candidates against independants (real independants without any group behind them), nut balls and whack jobs, concerned citizens and power hungry freaks.
The City Council election gets them all.
This is where you get the chance to see where your Barack Obama and Mitt Romney starts. Every candidate has to start somewhere, and most of them didn’t explode onto the scene sanitized and ready to perform.
You want to have fun? Do you want to really get involved in politics? Do you want to see the reality underpinning all this bullshit for yourself?
Try to find out information about every candidate for a City Council position.
You have to find out as much as possible about each and every candidate to make the best choice you can when you vote. Right? Supposedly, as a responsible citizen, you have to make a personal judgment about the candidates. You have to compare their qualities, and then choose one to be your best option.
The candidates know this… and know that it is in their best interests to conceal as much about themselves as possible, especially at this earliest level, so that when they get elected and attract the attention of a machine, they have no baggage to make it difficult for a machine to mold their image.
Remember, fundamentally, they are slime. All of them. YES THEY ARE.
Do you think they want you to get to know the real them?
Of course not, they look forward to the day when they have handlers and flacks that will insulate themselves from you. They want you to see the image they have created, the package they’ve put together. Scripted, primped, powdered and pandered to.
If a candidate can get away with it, they will give you nothing about themselves, and as little about what they would do once in power as possible, because anything they say to get elected can come back later as a campaign promise they did or did not fulfill.
If they make no promises, then they can’t be held accountable for any decision they make, or have to explain their reasoning for making it.
I live in the city of North Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America.
It’s not the actual city of Saint Paul, the famous big city. It’s a tiny little suburban town on the northeastern outskirts of Saint Paul.
Every time the City Council election comes due, Cassie and I try to find out details about the candidates. Who are they? What do they represent? What is important to them, what do they intend to do or change once elected?
It’s hilarious. Most of them have little or no information. No websites, no position papers. When the newspapers try to get info out of them by giving each candidate a list of questions to answer, most leave the questions blank.
That’s right, candidates when asked point blank by a newspaper to state their positions to get publicity and attention refuse to answer.
That says it all right there, doesn’t it?
If the candidates tell you nothing about themselves, how do they expect you to make an informed chocie?
They don’t. They expect you to vote for the name that sounds ethnically pleasing, or catchy, or by alphabetical precedence. Or because you saw it everywhere on little signs in front yards, and it sounds familiar, and your neighbors must know what they’re doing.
Or because they call themselves a Democrat or Republican.
So, if the candidates are trying to make you vote blind, how do you find anything out about them?
That would be the purpose of the debate.
You attend the City Council debate, and you see these people as they really are.
Remember, these are the people who are baby politicians. Some are in the machine, mostly the incumbent (another word for bought and paid for), but sometimes a promising challenger gets in the machine early. Some aren’t in the machine. The only difference between them and a Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is how much time and effort has been spent coaching them and training them to HIDE WHO THEY REALLY ARE.
At the City Council level, you can see them unmasked… IF you get them in a debate, and IF they have not already joined forces and made deals behind the scenes to make sure one gets elected and the others get what they wanted.
Oh yes, of course. One guy is running because he wants to put in a bike trail, and another is running for the power of the position? That is a situation ripe for a deal. The guy running for the power of it makes sure the bike trail gets done in exchange for the other guy throwing his support in the ring and giving up. Where do you think endorsements come from?
If you made it this far, you deserve a present. And I have one for you, courtesy of Cassie.
Cassie was researching our local City Council candidates, and getting disgusted at the way most of them try to conceal their info. But she found a wonderful Youtube video made of the most recent City Council candidate debate, where oh my YES you can see them in action. Being themselves.
You watch this, and as you watch it, remind yourselves that these are the people who are fighting for control over an entire city… legally. And when they have that control, millions of dollars are placed in their hands to make decisions as they see fit… and this is because, supposedly, they represent the will of the citizens living in that city.
Remember that key point. Their job is not to govern responsibly. That implies that we are voting for a ruler to do whatever the ruler sees fit, furthered by divine inspiration and just knowing what is best for everyone.
Their job as elected representatives is to act to further the will of the majority of the citizens, and in cases where that will is not clear, to call a complicated issue to a vote.
Govern responsibly. lol.
Think about your local city. How is it governed? How much do you know about them?
Is it possible to find out what they are really like?
Maybe you can’t physically attend your City Council meetings, maybe you can.
And maybe, just possibly, once you see these fucking idiots in action, you’ll be able to translate that into the larger world stage and realise, we’re not voting for infallible gods greater than us lesser mortals, we’re being told to choose between two pieces of shit slapped with a grade A coat of polish to make them shine, baby, shine.
Sure, we’ve got a choice. But… it’s between shit, or shit. That’s a choice?
And no, the other side is not evil and hateful and everyone on your side is not wonderful. Whichever side it is. That is the bullshit you are being fed, to choose to fight against the evil “Other”, to make you believe that you are embroiled in a battle of good versus evil.
Don’t be that naive. Don’t give in to hate. Don’t be used that way.
We can make our choices, and we can fight for our individual causes, and hope that we can make the right decisions on who to vote for, starting at the very lowest level and paying attention to every single level of government throughout the entire system, without buying into the ludicrous idea that half of this country is populated by twisted, hateful, evil.
Presidents. Shit. If you want to be passionate, throw that passion where it will do the most good. Start local, and work your way up, fighting for your issue and for the best of a bad choice all the way up the line.
If you don’t start paying attention to these bozos until they’re fighting for King of America, it’s too damn late.
Ever since BlizzCon, when the expansion and the playable race were revealed, I’ve read a lot about Kung Fu Pandas.
I’ve never felt the desire to comment about Pandas before now, but there seems to be a rising narrative that I want to rebut and rebuke before it simply becomes “what everyone thinks” from inertia and a lack of pushback.
It feels stupid to even acknowledge the ignorance, but what the hell. It’s annoying me, I’m not seeing anyone address it, and whether you feel what I say about it is appropriate or accurate or not, I’ll feel better for having said it.
The playable race is Pandas. Pandas are cool. Deal with it.
I’ve seen people talk about how they hate the pandas, the idea of pandas, how stupid pandas are, multiple references to Kung Fu Panda, and my personal favorite, repeated statements that nobody out there wants to play a panda as a heroic character because they’re fat and stupid and uncool and, like, whatever.
First off, and my biggest point.
Speak for yourself. Don’t speak to what “everyone” thinks, or “everyone” wants, because you just come across sounding like what that shit is: stupid or ignorant or both.
All you can speak towards is what YOU think. You’ve got no idea what other people think. All you know is what you think in your head, and what you’ve seen people publicly say in the locations you go to.
If you surround yourself with alcoholics, and then ask if drinking is the best thing ever, you’re going to get a certain point of view. It’ll likely be damn close to unanimous in favor of the awesomeness of booze. Ask that same question at an AA meeting, and you’ll likely get a different answer.
So just shut up about telling us what “everyone” thinks based on what you think coupled with the opinions you’ve read in the places you frequent. Or, as I like to put it, stop giving us your knowledge learned in the school of “What some guy said in a pub.”
I’m saying you’re full of shit, in case I’m being too vague. You not only don’t speak for everyone, you CAN’T speak for everyone. Nor can you speak for a majority of people, about ANYTHING.
What, you did a Rasmussen poll? Who did you contact? Where? The forums? Oh yeah, that’s representative of the playerbase as a whole. Some blog? Your college dorm friends? What is your sampling size? What backgrounds and demographics are represented?
This goes for every damn thing out there. I don’t care what the topic is. Shit, even if we’re talking cannibalism. You can assume that nobody in the entire world is in favor of cannibalism, but you don’t KNOW. All you really know is what you think and what you feel inside your own head, and sometimes you don’t even know that.
Haven’t you ever heard of repressed feelings, and living in denial?
Maybe eveyone in the world secretly wonders what people taste like, but nobody dares to mention it for fear of being thought a freak. You don’t really know? Do you?
If you want to say something about what you think, say what you think. Don’t try to bolster your argument by acting like everyone else thinks the same as you, if you disagree you’re not cool. Outsider, unclean, conform, conform.
Bullshit. Yes, speak your mind. If you think pandas suck, fine. Say so, loud and long, based on YOUR thoughts and feelings.
But don’t tell me that “everyone else thinks they suck, too”. Red flag, BULLSHIT ALERT. BULLSHIT ALERT.
Let’s move on to more Panda-specific ranting, on the race and on role playing in general.
People say Pandas aren’t cool. Aren’t neat. Are stupid as a playable race.
Here is where tastes divurge.
I think Pandas in general look pretty cool. When I see them hugging a tree, or eating a piece of sugarcane, I go “d’awww.” So cute! For all I know they might be mean little buggers in real life, with nasty claws and a bad temper. No idea.
More specifically, I think the Pandaran race in World of Warcraft looks very cool. When you see them in motion, there is a graceful flow to them that is very nice. I made a male Panda Warrior, and the two handed sword combat looks super-cool. It brings back fond memories of watching old Kung Fu movies when I was a child.
They are very graceful, without being explosions of macho muscle. They seem deadly like a keen edge, not a battering ram. And yet, the males Pandaren are physically huge, without being aggressively muscular.
So, you don’t think they’re cool? I do. I’ve given some reasons already, and I’ll have more further down. If your reason for why they’re not cool is to say, “Well, duh, ’cause they’re pandas” I say, not good enough. Back it up.
Now, I’m going to really delve into my own personal opinion on role playing games, playing, and what I think is at the heart of all the panda hate as a race.
Total speculation, my opinion, based on my own personal experiences playing pen and paper role playing games for many years, both in High School and for eight years with Marines that also played.
I know some people play role playing games to live vicariously through the lives of their characters.
I have known people I’ve played with who heavily invested themselves in the character they created. They played their character to feel things and do things, and act in ways through their character that they either could not or would not in the real world.
These were characters, yes, but they were also surrogate selves. They were the people my friends wished they were, or were like, instead of the reality.
Some of them, yes, played their character to feel powerful and badass. Some of them were Marines I’ve known. It may surprise you, but Marines can feel powerless and ineffective in the real world too. They played to feel some control, some power, some feeling of success.
I’m not just guessing. Some of my good friends and I would bullshit about this stuff all the time, they knew they did it, and copped to it. In some cases, freely admitted that they did it as a stress relief. Work may have really sucked and the Sergeant has been giving them a ration of shit lately, by damn let’s get this game going, I want to blow some shit up.
I say, good. Whatever you do that helps you feel better, and doesn’t involve hurting other people is just fine with me.
I’d much rather someone feel powerful by playing a badass in an RPG than that they get out on the open road in a 2 ton car and decide that by Godthey were going to make people fear them today and touch someone else’s life whether they like it or not.
It’s not just about feelings of power or control, either.
I’ve also known people that had a public face, professional, restrained, even proper, but when playing a role-playing game felt safe enough or free enough to act completely different than they ‘normally’ would. To be flirty or unrestrained, as one example, but also to act loud and brash, or argumentative and bullheaded instead of going along to get along, or other behaviors that they just didn’t feel right doing in real life.
Part of role playing is it’s not real. It’s a safe environment to let you do shit you yourself don’t do in the real world, because that’s not who you really are, but let’s pretend for a short time.
Sometimes, how you or someone else acts in the anonymity of the internet isn’t who you really are inside, it might be someone you are exploring being, a path not taken, someone you’ve never been, just to try it on where it’s ‘make-believe’. What else IS role playing, if not trying on something that ain’t really you?
They’re role-playing games. This is the whole point, doing things and experiencing things through a character that ain’t you. Sometimes you’re working out issues, sometimes, you’re just exploring the possibilities.
Hopefully, doing it inside a fictional storyline, being interactive and playing with friends makes it all one big fun time.
But, if you do play the your character in the game to feel like a powerful badass, then a character race or class that you identify with that feeds into a sense of personal power would be what you want, not some soft cuddly panda.
I get that.
In pen and paper role playing games, the races chosen by players seeking personal power would be the big gonzo things, the giants, half-giants, orcs, dragonkin, half-dragons, etc. Massive super-powerful, imposing, rippling muscles and ragged loincloths or big spiky armor. Honking big axes, flaming swords, that kind of thing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Damnit, it’s one of the things that I like best about role playing games, we’re adults, we can damn well play make believe in any way and for whatever reason that we want to. There isn’t a ‘right way’ to play a role playing game.
But maybe that is why people say they don’t like the pandaren playable race, or think they’re not cool?
The person playing to be a powerful badass wishes they’d gotten something badass and powerful like dragons or dragonkin as a playable race, or something else large and imposing and covered in spikes or rippling muscles. Something that fits a different definition of ‘cool’. A definition that gets fed by the covers of video game magazines, muscle car magazines, and the Shooting Times.
I don’t know. I’m wondering, and yes I’m projecting, but I’m trying like hell to figure out where all the panda rage is coming from, and I’m drawing some blanks here.
In short, I’m wondering if most of the rage at Pandas as a playable race is coming from people who wanted a race to feed their power fantasies better.
If you don’t like pandas or are raging against them, if that’s your thing, go for it.
But don’t go out there and start talking about how everyone hates them and nobody would play one, or how stupid they are, and expect it to go unchallenged.
I love the panda characters, their style, their feel. They are very interesting as potential characters.
They cry out for stories, for adventures, for making their way in a fictional world, stumbling into trouble and trying to learn more about the outside they’ve never known before. And all of this with a positive, open, curious frame of mind.
The pandas to me are a playable race where, finally, we don’t have a legacy of war and patriotism and old feuds and fury. We’ve got a race that can wander out in the world, not to kill or dominate or impose their will on others, but to see, to explore, and to learn.
Pandas are the good stewards, looking to leave things as they find them, to learn from what they see, and to offer aid to those that need it regardless of who they are.
I for one am grateful to have a new race that is more open to having a different point of view, a more peaceful, reflective mood as a foundation to build on.
Oh shit. Wait, I just thought. Is peace not cool, either?
Last night, in World of Warcraft, the first new content was released for the game in about ten months. It was released just a bit more than one week in advance of a new $40 expansion.
I recap that because I do have friends who come here who don’t play WoW anymore, haven’t in years, and probably couldn’t care less about it. It’s good to provide some general perspective before launching into discussion, right?
In the short time the scenario has been out, I have seen dozens of blog posts, hundreds of tweets, and some pretty incendiary flaming directed at it.
A lot of folks are upset.
Scenarios are a new addition to the game, and I’ve read that we will see a bunch more of them in the new expansion aimed at level 90 players.
Whats the big deal?
In the current game of World of Warcraft, there is the questing content for solo players (and lately we’ve seen just about all of the old group quests nerfed down to be soloable), there are dungeons designed for groups of five players that must incoporate a tank, a healer and three damage dealers, and then there are raids, content for groups of from ten to twenty-five players that again are designed to require some of the players be designated tanks and healers to succeed. Or to be pretty damn crafty and overgeared for the raid. Druids and Death knights and Paladins, I’m looking at you.
Scenarios, on the other hand, are a very new concept for World of Warcraft.
Scenarios are designed for groups of three players, they are supposed to be of shorter duration than a traditional dungeon instance, and most importantly, they are designed to allow groups of any composition, so long as most can do damage, to succeed. I’m sure groups formed of three healers will be… interesting to watch. I can’t wait to see videos spring up on Youtube of groups of unlikley combinations having fun.
Scenarios can still grant nice loot rewards, but they seem to be meant to be little mini-stories. True scenarios, where you are presented with a beginning situation, and work through the events towards a conclusion. more than a quest, less than a big dungeon full of complicated boss mechanics.
From a bald description of scenarios, you’d be left to wonder why so many folks are upset, right?
The answer to that is tied up in player expectations and story shit that has nothing to do with scenarios.
There have been quite a few expansions for the game now, and for each of the previous expansions, there was a special event within the game starting a week prior to the expansions release.
The events really only last a week or two, and typically end the night before the expansion is live.
Having done these cool little one-time-only events so many times before, there was an expectation in the game that we’d see the same thing this time; something coming out that was special a week or two before the expansion landed on store shelves.
So far, there is only one week remaining, and what we have is this one short ten minute scenario.
The next issue a lot of people have is that the Fall of Theramore is an act of aggression by the Horde against the Alliance, serving as the single most visible catalyst for the eruption of full scale war between the factions going into the expansion.
There was a book, The Tides of War, that deals with all of this story development and the buildup of these events, but within the game, everyone expected to see some kind of playable event or even quests or content that would allow us to take part in and feel involved in this huge whopping change that was about to take place.
Basically, we all expected to be playing something that would involve us in events and allow us to become more emotionally invested in going to war.
Again, instead of any cutscenes, quests, or outward manifestation of what led to the moment, within the game we got… a 10 minute scenario.
Many players are a mite upset at this. And I do get that.
What I question is whether it is right to heap all that anger on the scenario.
I’m not looking at all the lore stuff, and I’m not judging the scenario based on my expecations for an in game event. I didn’t really expect it to be taken as one, but maybe I’m crazy.
I expected the scenario to be exactly what it was; a tease of the kind of new content I’m going to be able to play in Mists. And based on that expectation, I really enjoyed it. I loved it. It made me very, very happy. I can foresee many happy evenings with my family doing scenarios on whatever bloody character we’d like to bring.
The scenario is really two completely different scenarios, one from the Horde/aggressor point of view, and the other from the Alliance/defender point of view.
I like that, and for the first time I really, really wish I had at least one Horde character at level 85 to be able to experience it. My bad. I will next time, my Panda Warrior will be Horde all the way.
From the point of view of the Alliance side, my first expectation was met. I was able to group, on whichever character I chose, with Cassie and Alex and enter the scenario. I did not know if there was a quest or just to queue like you do with world holiday events, so I checked, and there were scenarios listed under the Dungeon Finder. The three of us queued, and in we went immediately.
The event itself spawned quests that flowed naturally from one to another. We did not try to ‘zerg’ it, or beat the clock, but instead took part as if we were in the story. We read the chat, followed the quest clues, and took part in the retaking and defense of Theramore Isle and Jaina. Alex felt pressure to avoid wandering level 85 elite wolf patrols, and loved being able to engulf each of the ships in flames. Cassie had to remind him to please let us get OFF the ships before he set them on fire. I’m totally going to use that in a book someday.
Each part of the scenario story flowed naturally into the next. At one point Cassie was irritated because she was taking considerable damage without time to heal between waves, but that’s what Natures Swiftness/Healing Touch is for. It’s back, baby! I feel like a real hybrid Druid again. Mangle Swipe Thrash BIG HEAL Mangle Mangle…
The scenario did exactly what I hoped it would do. It showed me a new type of content where three people will be able to play together in an interesting fastpaced storyline without taking the length of time of a full instance, and without the normal worry over having one of each necessary role or making sure each person was stopping and healing/holding aggro, etc.
It is indisputably selfish, but now Cassie, Alex and I will have current things we can do when we’d like together without needing to make sure we’ve got a tank, a healer, and two other people who may or may not be asshats. And I freaking love it.
For what I expected, it rocked.
I think it’s damn unfortunate that it was released to stand all alone a week before expansion, pushed out the door to be devoured by a crowd starving for new content.
I picture the scenario almost like a comedian being tossed out on stage to do a quick bit of standup to chill out a crowd that has been waiting five hours for Axl Rose to appear for a GNR concert. Poor scenario. Poor, poor scenario. Nobody deserves that fate.
I’m just not ranting or raving this time around. My expectations… were met.
I already did the pissy thing about the age-old question of how much of the game do we get to play as the main characters, and how much as the spectators. I ranted about it back when Cataclysm came out and the world just… switched over without my having any involvement whatsoever. When the cataclysm came, I apparently watched the waves roll in while drinking rum shots with little umbrellas in ‘em.
I said it all then, I’m over it.
After the great Cataclysm world flip, I no longer had the expectation that I would be seeing or taking part in any of that story or lore that tranforms a world. I am a spectator, and as was pointed out to me then, the game world exists in it’s own time, an ever-fixed ‘now’.
As a critical piece of lore, standing alone to usher us from a world at peace in the aftermath of the defeat of Deathwing into a world where Horde and Alliance strive for conquest and domination, the scenario would be pretty sad. Maybe it’s just the tip of the iceberg this week, I dunno.
As an introduction to a brand new style of WoW gameplay,my expectations are met, and all I gots to say is, HELL YES!