Hairstyles of the Wrath and Lichness!

It is with great pleasure that I share with you the first real preview of the new hairstyles for male characters in Wrath of the Lich King!

These images are collections of wowmodelviewer characters datamined by Andrige from the beta, as he describes in the comments below. Andrige submitted these here that they might be shared with others as a glimpse into some of the new hairstyles we have to look forward to.

You should expect that, as we are still very early into the beta process, there are many more still to come, but I think that it is cute to see some of what we have to look forward to.

Andrige is a well known and highly talented WoW cummunity artist, best known for his modified shapeshift skins and a host of other Druid-related art projects.

He sent the male images to me and the female images to Phaelia of Resto4Life.

You can check out the male images by following the links below, and you can check out the female images by going to Resto4Life’s article here!

Take a good long look at the male night elf hairstyle on the left side… is that? I think it is!

Woot! Bonus style points!

Thanks, Andrige!!

*Disclaimer: Andrige wanted me to mention that, because he isn’t familiar with all of the existing hairstyles, that it’s possible some of these may already be in the game. Also, that the first batch he sent me was supposed to have the other hairstyles, but that he was having too much fun admiring the Night Elf Mohawk and forgot.*

*And to those wonderful people in the WoW Insider comments claiming that Andrige drew all this stuff, I refer you to his flat out statement in the comments of exactly where and how he obtained these images, and how you can too… so next time, please read before making an ass of yourself and accusing everyone of fraud.*

Links to each full sized image!

Edit: Added the dwarf pics that I forgot, thanks to Erthshade for pointing that out. Thanks bud!

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What Shakespeare taught me about RP

Shakespeare movies, anyway.

What, did you think I was gonna be all cultured?

You musta forgot which blog you were at. Ratshag is ====> thataway.

So, Shakespeare.

Having been a player of tabletop RPGs most of my adult life (and before), I have always been interested to some extent in acting.

My interest is, of course, more in the improvisation end of things than in repeating someone else’s written lines, but the technique of trying to put yourself in the mind of a  different character and ‘make believe’ is at the heart of roleplaying.

It’s acting without a stage, for the shared delight of the actors themselves.

And since this is what I’ve been thinking about, this is the topic you get today.

Don’t ask where I get this stuff from, my head is a cluttered attic of junk, and it seems everything is piled on top of everything else. Every morning I climb into the attic looking for something to drag onto the yard sale of the blog, and lucky you, you get whatever is nearest to the attic door at the time.

Two movies. Two movies that are relevant to the discussion.

The first is Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson.

The second is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

For those of you unfamiliar with Shakespeare in general or the story of Hamlet in particular…

Hamlet is the name of the lead character in a wonderfully light-hearted romantic comedy about the fun loving royal family of Denmark, and their lives and loves…

 ~~~

Y’know, if I could follow that line up with a straight face, I’d have a future in comedy.

Seriously though, Hamlet is the name of the lead character in a play by Wm. Shakespeare. The story follows his point of view almost exclusively, and thus you see the events of the story from his perspective.

It is a tragedy, in that in the end, no one has a happy ending.

A morally just one, perhaps, in certain respects, since everyone that dies in the end has tried in some way to screw everyone else, and along the way killed innocent people while trying to get revenge for being done wrong, thus earning their own share of justice for hurting innocents while trying to get revenge, etc etc.

The play ends ina grand guignol scene of utter carnage, dead bodies everywhere…

The movie Hamlet, which cast Mel Gibson in the lead role, is, to me, a wonderfully acted version of the play.

I say that, because not only has great care been made to capture the feel and atmosphere of the settings, but because when each actor speaks their lines, they speak them as though this is the everyday language which they are used to. It is just how they talk. It seems natural. Unforced. Smooth.

There are scenes where Mel Gibson is speaking some of the trippingly fast dialogue of Hamlet in a manic phase that is so unearthly natural that you forget that you are hearnig archaic dialogue, in much the same way that, when you’re totally absorbed in a foreign film, that afterwords you find it hard to remember that you were reading subtitles, in thinking back over the film you remember the words the actors spoke as though you understood the language. For me, Brotherhood of the Wolf in french with subtitles is much like that. Looking back I forgot that I didn’t understand what they were actually saying.

So Hamlet with Mel Gibson, to me, is an excellent example of the film and the story and is mentioned here to point out that the story focuses on the events, as seen through the eyes of the main character, Hamlet, the mover and shaker. He is the person around whom everything pivots.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, however, is also Hamlet.

It is.

It is the story of Hamlet, from beginning to end. And if you haven’t actually ever SEEN or read Hamlet in any form, much of the humor of the situation will be lost on you.

But you can still appreciate it for what it is, one of my favorite movies of all time.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a film that still drives me crazy because I can’t reconcile it’s existence with a greedy Hollywood out for a fast buck. I just don’t see how any greedy corporation could have heard the pitch for this film, and thought “That there will make me some big money. I want to invest in a piece of that.”

God bless the ones that did, though.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is Hamlet… but it is Hamlet, shown from the point of view of two small, very small, almost nonexistent minor characters of the story of Hamlet, and never from Hamlet himself.

You see the story of Hamlet from the point of view of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two characters that appear from time to time in the play.

So far, nothing so unique, yes?

Ah, but let me delve into the joys of this film.

First, the two lead roles, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are played by Gary Oldman and Tim Roth.

And when I say that these are Gary Oldman from The Fifth Element (the main villain) and The Professional (the corrupt police lieutenant), and Tim Roth from Pulp Fiction (one of the two crooks in the diner) and Reservoir Dogs (the undercover police officer), THAT level of brilliant dialogue and timing, then you should be excited. Very, very excited.

And second, the two characters only exist within the confines of the Hamlet story, in and around the scenes in which they take part… and they themselves have no memory of who they are or what they were doing prior to the first scene in which they appear, on a mountain trail in Denmark.

The movie is almost a detective story in philosophical discourse, as the two try to reason with each other, trying to puzzle out with logic and debate who they are, why they are where they are, why they would have no memory of their past, and what these crazy people they keep bumping into expect of them.

It is a rich movie, and a very fun one, as these two incredibly small bit parts of the play are brought to vivid life, where you start to really love these two guys and admire the hell out of them… they are people, not cardboard cutouts, and if you know the play, you know what’s coming.

I bring these two films up, because in many ways the lesson they teach is the heart of roleplaying, whether in pen and paper RPG settings or in WoW.

We play in a large world filled with what can be called ‘the lore’ (dun dun dun), or what is really just the fictional setting that exists at this time. There are main characters, great events, timelines and locales. It is a static story, in that we are told what has happeend in the past, and then we play in a never-ending ‘present’, where we seem to advance through the stories as we quest and level, but once you reach the end game, the present goes ever on and on, with no ultimate resolution or change.

And we play in this setting, making our own homes and stories, knowing that we cannot interact with or continue writing our own version of the major aspects of the story, because it’s not one we control.

We are bit players, without control over the events we are rushing towards, wondering what the writers of Blizzard will do to bring the main characters forward, and advance the present into a new static future that we will begin to quest towards again. 

We don’t play Arthas. WE have no input to what Thrall may decide to do next. We do not craft policy for the Alliance. We do not play one of these main characters.

We play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, small parts in the grand drama. We are but supporting players who may not even get a mention in the credits.

But even though it is Hamlet that gets top billing, and that everyone will know about, and whose story will be familiar, it is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead that teaches us there is a ton of room for the bit characters to have their own rich history, their own depth and drama, to perhaps touch in only the smallest way on such mythic figures as Thrall or Arthas or Jaina Proudmoore, but to have grand adventures in other parts of the world that are no less exciting or important to us. 

I love Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It is a wonderful example of how you can be your own star of your own story, even as your position in lore and history is unrecognised and unremarked amidst the grand destinies of thrones and the royal prerogatives that swirl on all around you.

And of course, the moral of the story is, you don’t have to be the bastard stepson of the main character or the secret lover of the Queen that was the real reason for massive event ‘X’, in order to be a part of the setting.

I hope, somewhere in all this, there was something that was worth writing, and worth reading.

If nothing else, I hope I have enticed you into watching Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

By the way, if you like the whole ‘different take on Shakespeare’ thing, I heartily, strongly, voraciously recommend you read or see a traditional version of the Taming of the Shrew, and then get the Moonlighting tv episode ‘Atomic Shakespeare’, from Season 3 (Episode 7, btw), which is a brilliantly funny take on it. God, I love that episide. Just classic.

Beyond WotLK 2: The Instances

While thinking about the whole level 1 – 40 ‘Agents of the Bronze Dragonflight’ thing last night and this morning, I had a few ideas for sample instances.

The Return of VanCleef (level 25-28)

The Heroes have saved the day! They stormed the Defias Hideout, discovered the hidden mine entrance, slaughtered their way through the Defias Brotherhood, and stopped VanCleef and his plans. VanCleef is dead, and Stormwind is saved! The Heroes take Van’Cleef’s head and depart, happy in their victory.

And then the Black Dragonflight intervenes. They raise VanCleef as a non-corporeal spectre, mad with rage and consumed by a desire for revenge, and raise his fallen Defias host as skeletons and zombies.

Maddened by revenge, VanCleef and his undead crew are preparing to launch their massive ship of war, and bring Stormwind crashing into ashes, with the undead ravaging it’s streets.

Your agents must quickly enter the secret back entrance of the Defias Hideout, located in a mine shaft in the mountains near the sea (yeah, your exit from normal Deadmines), and stop him from launching!

You enter the instance and quickly fight your way to the dock, but you are too late! Just as you reach the huge ship, it begins to launch, and you quickly fight your way onboard. (Scripted launch event)

It is then a race against time as you fight your way through the undead inside the ship, fighting your way deep into the bowels of the ship trying desperately to reach the powder room in time. The closer you get to VanCleef, the more you drift in and out of normal reality and into a projected world of VanCleef’s twisted imaginings of oversized brutal Stormwind guards and jailors, until as your final battle you must face and destroy VanCleefs’ greatest terror; a horrible re-imagining of the heroes who killed him.

Once the heroes are destroyed, you can set the powder room to explode, and abandon ship to watch it erupt in a tower of flame just outside the docks of Stormwind.

The Rise and Fall of Gnomeregan (Again) (Level 30-34)

A trusted Agent of the Bronze Dragonflight, Giglipoof Marshbucket, has gone mad. Having lost his family and friends in the fall of Gnomeregan to the underground Troggs, the temptation of time travel has become an obsession, and finally consumed him. He has traveled back in a desperate attempt to prevent the readioactive venting of Gnomeregan and the death of everything he loves.

If Giglipoof succeeds, the history of the Alliance will completely change, and the stress to the flow of time may destroy all that now exists. Giglipoof is willing to take that risk… but the Bronze Dragonflight is not. 

You must go back in time to the height of the underground war of the Gnomes versus the Trogg invasion.

Giglipoof intends to stop High Tinker Mekkatorque from venting the radioactive waste, an act that in hindsight is now known to have only acted to destroy Gnomeregan and make it nearly impossible to ever restore it.

You must enter Gnomeregan, transformed into Gnomes to get past the new racial scanners posted in various areas warning of strange intruders, and fight your way through the city at the very height of the Gnome-Trogg war.

As you get closer to the radioactive waste tank controls, you receive an urgent warning signal from your contacts in the Bronze Dragonflight.

Mekgineer Thermaplugg, a secret agent of the Bronze Dragonflight, has reported that the Black Dragonflight has entered the city, and is trying to stop the Trogg Invasion by counter-sinking tunnels to collapse the Trogg entrances. You must immediately reach Mekgineer Thermaplugg, and acquire an uber-drill mecha that you will pilot down to the Black Dragonflight digging operation and stop them from crushing the Trogg main tunnels.

Facing down and destroying the Black Dragonflight and their leader at the side of Mekgineer Thermaplugg, other gnomes caught up in the battle begin to cry out that the Mekgineer has betrayed them and had helped the Troggs to invade.

The gnomes in the area begin to move forward as a mob to attack the Mekgineer, causing him to fall back to his reinforced chamber.

You have to fight through the mob, away from the area, to finally reach the controls of the radioactive waste tanks, and confront Giglipoof.

As you reveal to Giglipoof that his actions are exactly what the Black Dragonflight want, and try to reason with him, he seems torn, but finally gives in to his fears and tries to destroy the control panel and prevent the radioactive venting. You must finally face down your former friend and one of the most powerful agents of the Bronze Dragonflight and stop him before he succeeds in saving Gnomeregan!

Notes:

You can see where I’m going with this, and obviously I can see plenty of opportunities for fun. I have plenty of other ideas, including an over-arching main storyline and the level 40 10-man raids that would be the level 40 ‘end-game’, but I’d love to see what kind of things you guys come up with along these lines. Re-imagined quests or Instances given new life, what do you think?

My ideas for new content beyond WotLK

Yesterday, Tesh said;

This is tangential, but when I step back and look at the bigger picture, I am deeply concerned with the “game starts at 70″ mindset. It does not bode well for the long-term viability of the game, especially as it relates to this sort of problem. If the game gets ever more noob-unfriendly, and actually changes substantially at the “endgame”, it’s not going to be something people stick with, or even bother with in the first place.

You’ve got a great point, Tesh.

Frankly, this is the kind of thing, where if Blizzard thought outside the box, they could change things up dramatically.

What are we worried about? What do we already see happening, and expect to only get worse?

More and more, if someone new starts the game, they play level 1 to 70 mostly alone, and hen they hit 70 they join an old established community that expects everyone they meet to have the same experience and knowledge. The early levels are not as alive, as most folks in them are people leveling new alts.

So, how do we entice people to LIVE in the early content and make it their home?

How do we encourage greater activity in the earlier zones?

Well, how about this? They could add 4 brand new classes… but not classes that require a level 70.

Instead, these classes would all be part of a brand new faction… humanoid agents of the Bronze Dragonflight recruited to work behind the scenes, going on new missions woven into the existing game from level 1 to 40, that are intended to repair events that were created by normal azerothean heroes, and are being disrupted by the Black Dragonflight.

The 4 classes would start at level 1, would level up to 40 and cap at 40, with new instances that would require certain rep levels or previous parts of one huge chain to complete, and that could only be entered at ALL by players of the appropriate level.

The quest line could focus on existing quests normal heroes already have done and know well, showing you having to perform tasks taht had to be done before the heroes could do their bit.

I envision things like, your having to foil a plan by the Black Dragonflight where they led Hogger off to a far corner and fed him poisoned corn that put him to sleep so the brave early adventurers would never test themselves against him… so you have a quest to find Hogger, and in the disguise of an attractive female riverpaw gnoll, wake him up and lure him back to the right spot in the woods… just in time for the adventurers to come along and kill him, as had happened in the original events.

If done with the right reverence for the original quest chains, and some imagination, it could lend fresh life and joy to content so many feel is old and tired.

Capping leveling to 40, and giving the classes their own isntances and even raids that only level 40’s or lower could enter, would absolutely bring a vibrant new life to the fray.

And if you added some more useful crafted patterns… those professions you leveled to get stuff at level 70 might find a new use.

A game within the game, an entire lower level tier of content, a shadow organization working behind the scenes, heroes that fight not for glory or honor or riches, but to strive to save the world from breaking apart, and who cannot gain glory for if anyone were to know of them, history would be changed.

I don’t know about you, but I would be very excited to create a new level 1 of a new faction and totally new class that had it’s own quest lines and content that would cap at 40, that I could play some totally new stuff.

Take some of those NPCs and shops in the capital cities that seem to have no real purpose, and add quest lines to reveal that some are hidden agents working behind the scenes, trying to prevent cataclysmic events from happening, all while the regular heroes go about thier business as normal, oblivous, doing great deeds that create the history you are trying to preserve. Watch as they level on to greatness and the 80’s, traveling across worlds while you remain bound to duty, working thanklessly to save the world.

C’mon, screw level 80 raiding, I’d be all over doing the 1 to 40 leveling while looking at the world with new eyes.

Why cap at 40? so that it has no effect on end game raiding or professions, and forces players to enjoy themselves in the mid range areas, doing slightly less great deeds that still feel epic in scope.

You could have twinks from HELL, entire classes of weapons or gear that require ‘Bronze Dragonflight agent’ faction to equip, that would prevent the uber stuff from going past 40.

Ah, I love this vision of a revitalized level 1 to 40 world.

A WoW topic near and dear to my heart

I have an article going live, probably in about 2 minutes (Noon Eastern time on Tuesday) on WoW Insider that concerns something I feel fairly strongly about.

Correction: Someone apparently moved it to 2 PM Eastern time. Don’t ask me why.

Correction to my correction: because Noon is WoW Moviewatch time. I knew that. 

I’d originally written most of it for the blog last week, and then realized it was going to be a loooong topic, with many parts, so I should try and do it more in depth… and geez, where have I been posting big things lately?

So it’s on WoW Insider.

The subject comes down to how we think about preparing to move from five man content, soloing and questing, and into early raiding.

All of us know how much fun it is to play solo through quest chains, most of us have enjoyed getting together with four other people and playing in an instance (at whatever level), and we know how widely our specs, gear and playstyle can vary from others during that kind of play.

There is very little pressure to have certain specs, or knowledge, or unique class skills or gear levels for most of the game.

Once you reach the last few levels, whether it be 68-70 like now, or 78-80 in the future, expectations change… but sometimes it seems the players don’t realize it, especially for their first level 70 character.

And if you are relatively new to the game, why would you be expected to know any of this?

Let me be specific.

As a druid, if I had purchased this game just 4 months ago, had started playing and leveled and had fun, once I reached level 65+ I would know certain things about how I have played while soloing.

If I was adventurous, it’s reasonable to assume that I’d found some people in LFG or the trade channel to join me in occasional instance runs.

But for the most part, the majority of people currently playing the game have been playing for a year or more, even if they started after Burning Crusade was released.

And there are certain assumptions that are made about what people know now, because ‘everyone knows that, duh’.

Can you imagine the fun I’d have trying to join a guild full of know-it-alls now?

It’s as if we are all expected to know everything when we ding 70, and it’s just not true. new players pick up the game all the time, but compared to when I started playing, lower level zones are a wasteland, barren of players except those powerleveling yet another alt to rush to 70.

Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part, the game now belongs to the 70s, and those trying to hurry up and get there.

And people see this, and, excited to join other people and finally play with the community, they get up to 68+ and look to join an active guild that does lots of neat stuff.

And the people in that guild, having been there for a while, have certain expectations of how you can play your own class that you just might not be aware of.

Like how to manage aggro. Or what neat little abilites your class has that you haven’t needed to use (like me and Mind Control on my priest), Or what you should do to prepare yourself before expecting to go on raids with your guild. 

Or how to be part of a team, and let everyone have a chance to use their abilites to help everything run smoothly, rather than be a hot dog wonderboy.

I’ve had quite a few new feral druids email me various questions, and I make a note of the things people are curious about.

Questions from people that are eager to get in and play a feral Druid in Karazhan, but are afraid of making a mistake, or don’t understand how to be a useful part of a team if they don’t have great gear yet, or simply wonder how they are to get into a Kara group as a feral druid if the party already has a good tank.

And once they’re in there, what should they do?

I’m hoping to answer a lot of these kind of questions, by writing a series of articles dealing specifically with tips and advice I would have to give a newly rising feral druid that wants to be ready to go into Karazhan, and wants to know what different things he has to offer the group besides just tank and spank once in there.

I hope you enjoy the first part, which covers everything prior to going in, and I invite your suggestions for your own tips and tricks for specific bosses and trash mobs, in the hopes that the final articles will be as complete as I can make them.