The Cub Report – Backseat Game Designer for teh EPIC

I now return you to the ongoing adventures of Alex the Cub, already in progress.

In this weeks episode, the Cub has a great time while the Bear gets increasingly battle worn and weary.

Battlechicken wrote a very interesting article that touched in part on “What epic is to us”, and that really applies to what all has been going on lately.

Alex has become immersed in the WoW, and is getting his own ideas about what is and is not ‘epic’.

Alex has now raided Firelands a few times, done our Sunday evening Icecrown Citadel achievement runs, romped through Dragon Soul on LFR and saw a good bit of it on normal.

He ran Cassie and I through Hellfire Ramparts and Blood Furnace last week, and saw Magtheridon crouching in his lair down below. He got so excited that nothing would do but for us to run in and kill Magtheridon, so we spent a very fun time taking a swipe and coming up with maggies drawers.

Did you know Magtheridon can drop a polearm that just looks freaking fantastic? Yeah, that’s my new transmog, and I couldn’t be happier. šŸ™‚

Then we stomped Gruul into the dust for good measure.

He has destroyed Ragnaros in the Molten Core, and he’s killed Sartharion so many times I think his armor is starting to rust from all the dragon blood.

Speaking of dragons, we have also killed Onyxia several times now, and he’s getting to be great on whelp control. He really, really likes Onyxia.

One of the absolute highlights of his adventures is that he was fortunate enough to do almost a full clear of Ulduar, and he HAS killed Algalon with the awesome folks at Eff the Ineffable.

There are still a few raids we’ve kept as a mystery to him, intentionally. He has not set foot in Karazhan, Naxxramas or the Black Temple yet, and when we do venture to one of them, I fully expect it to be a truly epic experience. Those aren’t places to just bop into on a whim, just like Ulduar you’ve got to savor your first time viewing the amazing scope of those places.

Even without those three, he has covered an incredible amount of raiding in a very short period of time. And there is so much more he could do! He has been inside Serpentshrine Cavern but we didn’t do a full clear or fish up that one boss, so there is an incredible experience still waiting for him there. He hasn’t done The Eye. He hasn’t seen Blackwing Lair yet, but he has done both Ahn’Qiraj raids… except Twin Emperors. He wasn’t max level for that yet, and we’d need a fourth person I think.

I could talk about some of the awesome stuff he’s done in instances, but you get the idea. He’s been a very, very active little raider because the sheer quantity of things possible to do that you outlevel takes my breath away.

I mean, Alex is almost done with all the achievements necessary for Glory of the Hero, which means he’s seen every Northrend instance at least once, and in some cases several times. Plus all the Outlands instances he has run Cassie and I through, and the Northrend instances like Hellfire Citadel, The Nexus, Azjol-Nerub and that other bug city thingie place.

He’s getting to feel how powerful he is by taking the lead on these runs, and on a personal note, I would like to say that he is very vocal when it comes to the rules Cassie and I must abide by when he is in charge and ‘tanking’ our run throughs.

I might be reaping my reward for how well I taught him what a “DPS” player should do when in an instance group. Bossy Alex is bossy!

Plus, I need to learn to stop running in front of the tank, apparently. And stop using Sheep.

While doing our Sunday evening Icecrown Citadel achievement runs, Alex completed the two handed axe that is part of the legendary questline, and he has fallen in love with the Death Knight ICC tier, all purple glowing highlighted plate, and has decided he must have the entire set. It’s inspired him to work hard at earning justice Points, which means he’s been running random Hour of Twilight instances with me. A lot. And he’s taken to asking me when we can try and run ICC 10 person heroic modes so he can get the matching TierĀ belt and boot drops.

Tired bear needs a nap. And bacon. Oh, wait, I had bacon last night. A nap, I definitely need a nap.

Sigh. I can’t wait for the expansion to come out so I can get some rest! When people told me kids would run me ragged,Ā I thought they meant out on bicycles and stuff, playing catch. Not in a video game!

Mah point, I say mah point to all this flidderfaddle is, he has had a crash course in many of the things we consider “epic” that this game has to offer, all in a very short period of time.

He has gushed like a hardcore fan over the power of Deathwing, the still-burning scars of the towers of Stormwind, fighting on the back, all that stuff.

He’s had that fanboy phase, and then went right through to the other side… the armchair quarterbacking, backseat driving, second-guessing game of “if I was the designer I would…”.

The most epic moment of all for him was when he accepted the quest to go to the aid of Mount Hyjal. The moment I’m speaking of is when you are sent through a portal to Moonglade, and from there ride on the back of a dragon to Mount Hyjal.

Along the way, you pass the citadel in the middle of a lake of fire that is home to the Azerothian entrance to the Firelands. Your dragon pauses, and you witness, coming out of the sky, the majesty that is Deathwing, and you gaze upon the terrifying spectacle of Deathwing apparently raising Ragnaros from the dead.

That was an “epic” moment for him, to see the big boss of the current expansion apparently raise from the dead the ‘big bad’ from a previous expansion for you to have to fight.

That moment captured his imagination in a powerful way. Here is one big bad boss, raising ANOTHER big bad boss we’d killed in an earlier raid, bringing him back from the grave to challenge us again. This time, with feeling!

He is buzzing with the possibilities here.

If Deathwing can raise Ragnaros, then in the expansion after Mists, which doesn’t seem to have a big bad and is thus very, very lame except in pet battles and shared mounts, maybe a new big bad will come along and raise Ragnaros, theĀ Lich King AND Deathwing for us to fight!

Oh yeah, Alex is all hot now, he says that would be epic!

Like, if all of these old super-powerful bosses that were tainted by the Old Gods were now owned by them, and in the expansion after Mists we would face the Old Gods and they bring back the spirits of all those they twisted and tainted to fight for them, and right at the head of this massive army of twisted shadowy beings were these old super bosses we had to face in a giant deathmatch.


I’d like to be clear about this… Alex understands the idea of there being a big bad superboss that is the story focus for an expansion, and he approves. Very much so. The slow buildup, the preparation, getting immersed in the story of why this is a big bad and why it’s important to take him down, then the raids leading up to taking him down, and the final battle itself.

This is a ‘progression’ he believes in, right down to having a login screen that constantly reminds you of your goal by showing you the big boss you need to fight every single time you come on.

And that is why he doesn’t ‘get’ Mists of Pandaria. There’s this dichotomy in how they’re packaging this one compared to the others. The others all had a big bad, the point was to get more powerful so you could face and kill the big bad, a very clear and very pure objective. Big bad threatens (insert maguffin here), we must experience personal growth and overcome adversity in order to challenge and defeat big bad. Strive, struggle, fight, WIN! Okay, done, bring on the next expansion!

He gets that. He has, ahem, internalized the concept.

He doesn’t get any of that in pandaland. He does not see a foe to overcome, a challenge to rise against, a threat to pit himself against… he sees a world of new discoveries to explore. And a war looming to break our world apart.

It’s all cool, and interesting, and there are threads to follow and things to do, but there is no single concept to bring the ‘pow!’.

It’s all messy and convoluted like a new chefs three egg western omelet.

He’s already talking in terms of what he hopes they do ‘in the expansion after Mists’, because he thinks of Mists as a pet battles and ponies expansion.Ā A whole new land doesn’t grab him with thrills of delightĀ because all of the currently existing game is damn near a whole new world to him as it is.

I know Blizzard has stated their reasons for not having a ‘big bad’ this time, but if my son is anything at all to go by for enthusiasm and nailing the point of an expansion’s story, they missed this one big time for the nine and under crowd. šŸ™‚

He likes the individual pieces of what is coming out, and the game in my opinion is going to be vastly improved by what is being changed and added. But taking the focus off a single storypoint that captures the minds’ eye has left Alex cold.

More faction battles? “But”, he says, “we already have that. I can do PvP in a battleground whenever I want. We’re already at war. How is the war new? Or are we not really killing each other inĀ PvP battlegrounds?”

I don’t really have an answer for him. Maybe that’s my fault, I don’t feel sold on the new storylineĀ myself,Ā so how can I sell it to him?

This is the expansion where they are adding a culture, a race, new improvements and expanded fuctionality, but I don’t feel there is somethingĀ to really point at and say, “There! That is what our adventurers must do! This is the new legendary heroic journey, the new obstacle to overcome!”

Is it strange that I am very excited about the expansion coming out, but more for the way the existing gameĀ I love is going to change?

I really have little interest in the new world to level through. I’m interested in getting to 90 so the three of us can do more old content together as uber badasses.

I’m interested in getting to 90 and doing more group content like raiding.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… this is the expansion where there are bears that can’t be bears.

Bears that cannot be bears? Is this a Bruce Lee teachable moment? Am I supposed to not look directly at the finger or else I’ll miss all the heavenly glory?

Facepalm, and give me mah pet battles Pokemon style, and account-wide mounts, and I’ll happily go shut the heck up.

Oh yeah, and Alex would specifically like at least one pet of each of the different elements similar to Pebble as a capturable pet. Like a flame pet, and a water elemental pet, and an ice pet, and a rock pet, and a lava pet…

Yes,Ā I know some of those are reactions, not elements. Shush! I want those pets too.

Alex andĀ I both love the “Wild Pets” seriesĀ BubblesĀ of Mischief’s been posting, showing screenshots of new capturable pets in different areas, and we want to see more! Didja see? Didja see the green fire pet! WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

19 thoughts on “The Cub Report – Backseat Game Designer for teh EPIC

  1. Pingback: 5.0 Patch Day Mayhem | Tastes Like Battle Chicken

  2. With the elemental pets, there’s the iceling from the Fire Festival, the scorchling from Firelands, the coal-ling from Winter’s Veil, the mana-ling from the Dalaran book hunt… Haven’t seen a water or air one, though.


  3. I wish Blizzard would do for WoW what Mythic did for Dark Age of Camelot, and have one or two servers dedicated to just Vanilla. While I was in the original beta, and played for a month after launch, I stopped playing because my friends were still neck deep in DAoC. I didn’t come back until the tail end of BC and really didn’t get motivated to play a single character to level cap until Death Knights were announced and you had to have 55 on the server you wanted to play it on.

    My first raid was revamped Naxx.

    I’d so love to be able to play on a server that had all that old content still locked with attunements and hard to win with Tier 1 gear… I wouldn’t mind some of the newer mechanics to help out – LFG and LFR (Molten Core!) would rock… don’t relish sitting for hours forming up a raid – specially a 40 man one – let the system work its magic for me – but going out and getting that lore first hand instead of whatever remnants remain, and running them at 85… fun, but not immersive.

    I’m sure there’s no profit in making a server like that though.

    Oh well, off to YouTube to find vids of lore.


  4. But has Alex felt the surge of power when growling “For the Horde!!!”, yet? Let him learn the true nature of the Alliance through the Horde storyline, and see which side of the fence he ends up on šŸ˜‰


    • Vanilla had multiple big bads and the questlines and lore for them was woven deep into the rest of the game. Questlines pointing you deeper into Blackrock mountain hinted at the history of both Ragnaros and Nefarian, there were multiple questlines hinting at the bugs that eventually led to Ahn-Quiraj (plus there was a very epic server questline to open AQ20 and AQ40). So not one big bad, but some pretty epic experiences all in all.

      Great post btw.


      • I love how so much of the vanilla experience originally led you to look forward to uncovering Nefarian. That was an extremely well crafted, multi-layered story. Unmasking Onyxia, and the subterfuge was so well captured in the Art of War: Blind rogue video it’s one of the reasons I still love it so.


  5. It will be a fatherly proud and sad day when your son successfully votes to kick you from the party, because your being a bad dps… a true right of passage.


  6. I love these stories, if I said it once, I’ll say it a hundred times. Probably why I do what I do in real life. It never gets old. As far as sneaking peeks, I told Cymre that I can’t wait to start reading her blog again until after release. I am really trying to stay away from too many ‘movie trailers’ that have all the best, funny lines in them. Because I’m old and jaded, I need to manufacture the element of ‘surprise’ a bit more. (Oh, post idea!) I have a guildmate who loves to share all his information he’s learned about the expansion in Mumble, and while I start singing the “Banana Splits” theme song, loudly, this has not dissauded him from continuing sharing his vast knowledge.


    Anyway- I’m sure it occured to you that what you are witnessing is, well — Alex would not be in this position of newly acquired expertise if he didn’t have loving parents guiding him through this journey. The power of the shared story. That is epic indeed.


  7. Always love these. Makes for the work in my day to go by faster reading the Cub Report. Its nice to see you have that bond with your kid instead of pushing them to do something they don’t want to. You’ll see when he is older than difference in his respect for you because of that, it’ll be overwhelming.



  8. They *really* missed the boat on not letting Pandaren be Druids. As I understand it, the Chinese word for “panda” literally translates into English as “giant cat bear”.



  9. It’s always interesting reading about the game from a different perspective – esp. a different generation. I appreciate the link and I’m happy that you both enjoy the Wild Pet series. That fel flame was a touch little sucker. It took quite a few attempts at the time but I was determined to get one as I’m sure you both will be too.


  10. I never get tired of these. Poor BBB, Alex just won’t slow down and let you rest!

    Have you discussed the Mists “end boss” (as far as we know) of having to take down Garrosh yet? While it’s not epic in the same scale as the Lich King or Deathwing, it’s definitely epic in the sense of actually fighting a faction leader! Especially a HORDE faction leader. I’m not sure how familiar he is with the Ally leaders, or the Horde/Alliance stuff? Or if he’d be remotely interested in this idea. But it’s a possibility, maybe!


  11. Ah, the enthusiasm! The joy of seeing Cataclysm through the eyes of a child! I love these recounts, and I would love my child to love WoW like mummy does – at the moment she is very young and just likes to fly and explore the little things, but maybe one day, she and mummy can go and kill dragons.


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