World of Warcraft’s Cinematic Heritage

Tonight, I showed Alex the Mists of Pandaria official trailer.

He was… amused, but his reaction can be best described as “Huh, okay. Neat.”

I mentioned that there were other videos, done by Blizzard, for each of the expansions. And I showed him how you can access them from the game loading screen. No, he had never seen them before. At least, that he remembered since he began playing.

Those movies were much bigger hits, with the Catalclysm cinematic winning ‘best of show’ for Alex.

But watching the cinematics, I was confused. I remembered there being other movies, official movies that I was not seeing in the in-game list. I expected to open up, for example, the Burning Crusade tab and see at least two movies in there. The first official expansion cinematic, and then there was at least one Black Temple video, wasn’t there?

And what about original WoW? Wasn’t there a movie for the Necropolis patch release?


I went to find World of Warcraft’s official Youtube channel, and yes, yes there they all were. All of the cinematics, along with tons of other videos and commercials.

Alex watched as I reviewed the Rage of the Firelands patch trailer, and he freaked. He has now watched that trailer probably 5 times, and he can’t stop gushing about it.

I had to bookmark the WoW youtube channel and teach him how to navigate it and use the settings to change the quality level and make them full screen, and I know full well what he’s going to be doing tomorrow.

One thing he asked me though, was if there was some way he could only see the patch and expansion trailers as he browsed the channel.

Maybe he can, I don’t know. I’m not as tech savvy with these things as I used to be. I don’t take the time to tinker like I used to.

One thing I can do, though, is make a single blog page that has each expansion and trailer video, in chronological order, for him to view at his convenience.

It will be an awesome little webpage for me, too. It’s been a long time, and just watching snippets of these videos again made me excited all over for the entire game.

Why, it motivated me to get us into Blackwing Lair tonight, and get the achievement and see if we could get some of that awesome gear. Alex had a BLAST controlling Razorgore the Untamed!

Before I list all of the videos, may I strongly recommend Eshaton’s Solo and Duo Old Raid Guide for level 85s? It’s hosted on Wowhead, and it is magnificent for the old school solo and team tourists like us.

It made blasting through Blackwing Lair a breeze. 🙂

And now, on to a celebration of the Blizzard cinematic team, and my unbridled thrill at wishing they were in charge of the entire World of Warcraft official movie development. I don’t want live action, I want this! As a trilogy over ten years if I must.

World of Warcraft – official cinematic trailer.

In the beginning, World of Warcraft and Everquest II were both slated for release at the same time, and most game magazines I read compared them side by side, weighting EQII as the heavyweight and WoW as the upstart underdog.

I didn’t buy in until I saw this video. It was that transformation from night Elf to panther that sold me on this. That, and the Dwarf with his Bear. Yes, Cats and Bears are pretty much why I bought this game.

World of Warcraft – Patch 1.11: Shadow of the Necropolis.

When Alex saw this video, his first question was, “Can we go there?” Yes, my son, yes. And there will be much rejoicing.

World of Warcraft – The Burning Crusade cinematic trailer.

Alex was surprised to see this one, he has never set foot in the Black Temple, but he loved the look of Illidan. He also loved a certain sheepish moment. Yeah, I went there.

The Burning Crusade – Patch 2.1: The Black Temple

The Burning Crusade – Patch 2.3: The Gods of Zul’Aman

The Burning Crusade – Patch 2.4: Fury of the Sunwell

World of Warcraft – Wrath of the Lich King cinematic trailer

Wrath of the Lich King – Patch 3.1: Secrets of Ulduar

Wrath of the Lich King – Patch 3.2: Call of the Crusade

Wrath of the Lich King – Patch 3.3: Fall of the Lich King

World of Warcraft – Cataclysm cinematic trailer

Cataclysm – Patch 4.1: Rise of the Zandalari

Cataclysm – Patch 4.2: Rage of the Firelands

Alex has chosen this as the ultimate best movie in all of creation. He keeps talking about how incredible it is, Thrall asks for guidance from the spirits and gets a vision from Ragnaraos himself! Or, as Alex said he calls him, “Little Rag.”

Cataclysm – Patch 4.3: Hour of Twilight

World of Warcraft – Mists of Pandaria cinematic trailer

Whew! You know, I swear there was a movie for Ahn’Qiraj. Are there some Blizzard doesn’t have on their official site? I know that there are many more awesome movies there and commericals and stuff, but I wanted to make Alex a collection of the official cinematic and trailer videos, and I was surprised there wasn’t a Gates of Ahn’Qiraj one.

Regardless, after watching all of these back to back, I am so freaking excited to play some more WoW I want Pandas, and I mean right the heck NOW!!!


World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria game trailer is live

The cinematic trailer for Mists of Pandaria is out, and it was a nice way to start a morning.

I love the philosophical shift in this trailer. I wonder how this is going to work out in the long term.

In the previous expansion cinematics for World of Warcraft, it started with the journey, but finished up focused on what would turn out to be our raiding end goal.

I felt that this cinematic was a breath of fresh air, going back to the very first vanilla WoW cinematic. It established where we were in the game, fighting and butting heads faction to faction, and then in a shift of perspective opened up a whole new world of possibility for us to explore.

We’ve always been focused on a final big bad, and I’ve posted before that Alex likes that. It sets a simple, easily defined goal when you log into the game; work a little closer to killing the big bad wolf. Maybe get a little better gear, develop closer ties to allied reputations, defeat lesser bosses, develop information on who the big bad is or what his plot is to foil, even just figure out how to forge a key to open the big bad’s front door.

This time, in a very appropriate change, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey along the way.

I know my son will enjoy the game, but without that clear goal staring him in the face at the login screen, he’s going to be a bit adrift. He is very young, after all, and isn’t used to setting his own goals or following his own path. He is more used to an obvious structure to follow.

That being said, he also loves redoing levels in games like Super Mario Galaxy I and II, so he can adapt to enjoying journeys just fine.

I’m pretty excited. I know that there will be some faffing around as I settle into Pandaria, and I’m sure that there will be so many directions to expore that I could get lost along the way in side paths and digressions, but I’m okay with that.

I can’t help but wonder, once the rush of the video has passed, just how many folks will start thinking about that lack of a big bad to focus on, and start whining about being confused as to what they are supposed to do.

For myself… I love it. it’s the journey I love, and if I never see the destination, I’m fine. We’ll have many wonderful adventures along the way.

Alex may find his attention wandering, but, hey… pet battles!

Oh, and talk about short attention span theater. Serious conflict, heavy drama, a struggle for sruvival shipwrecked on a dense jungle isle… then, comedy! I have been trained well. The training begun with Mtv has finally come full circle. I can now enjoy in full a 3 minute movie. I’m surprised we didn’t have a satisfying love affair worked in there.

Swimming for Firelands

We’re living in interesting times.

The new expansion for World of Warcraft is just around the corner, and the 5.0.4 patch that will bring us new talent specs is less than two weeks away.

I am… not prepared.

I haven’t made any effort to get prepared, either.

Specifically, prepared to tank as a Guardian Druid Bear RAWR RAWR bash all the things tankity tank tank.

I could have spent my time these last several months doing research, beta testing things out, providing feedback to the devs, all that sort of thing. If I had, I’d be going into this expansion ready and able to take advantage of every gearing and playstyle opportunity that is heading our way.

I chose not to.

I decided, rather than spend my time these last few months as an unpaid beta tester and help influence the direction of the game, I would spend my time having fun in the live game I’m paying for right now.

While others were beta testing, providing valuable feedback and pointed guidance to help improve outr class and future gameplay, and coincidentally preparing themselves with the knowledge they gained, I’ve been busy.

I’ve been running Dragon Soul and Firelands raids with our guild when I can, playing with my family in old instances, and having fun with a bunch of you in Icecrown Citadel.

I’ve been pursuing achievements, leveling alts I’ve never tried before, completing pet and bucket list goals, just living the high life with my wife and son.

Everything comes with a choice… and a price.

That price will soon have to be paid.

The fun I have had along the way has been great, and I regret none of it.

My Mage dinged level 84 last night, and I can proudly say that I leveled as Fire spec every. single. squishy. day. I only bought Dual Spec last night because I wanted to answer the question posed by the immortal Chris Knight, “Hows it feel to be frozen!”

It’s true, ice is nice! But I’m still burning for you, babe.

When the expansion goes live, I am going to return to doing something I haven’t done in a long, long time.

I’m going to return to raiding… on my Druid.

As a tank.

At least, that is the plan right now. I’ve been asked to be one of the tanks for the raid team I’ve been a part of, on my Druid, but whether or not that goes live depends a lot on the team, who levels what first, who wants to do what, that kind of thing. The team I’ve been healing for has two really awesome tanks right now, and as far as I know there hasn’t been a meeting I’ve been a part of to talk about our future plans, so I really don’t know who, if either of them, were planning on playing something else rather than a tank at first.

I’m not trying to vague things up here, I just don’t really know what’s going on. I’m not an officer, a raid leader, or any of that. I am joe player, one each, and I just offered to play whatever part I was asked, asked who I should level first to be ready for the team, and I was asked to level my Druid to tank.

I’m cool with that. It was either my Druid, my Hunter or my Priest, and frankly, I want my Druid leveled to 90 and having fun first. There is so much more I can do with my Druid, for everyone.

Yes, I may even start posting Bear tanking things again here.

God help me, I’ve got a big mouth and I write about whatever I’m doing in the game at the time. Whether or not anyone would care is really irrelevant. It hasn’t stopped me posting anything else, why start now?

Putting aside future raiding and my state of preparedness or not, Imagine with me for a moment what the new expansion will really mean for us as small family or solo players.

I am at heart not a progression raider in the way it used to mean. There is too great a necessity to devote long hours on multiple evenings, time I spend away from computer a lot more than my online status may suggest.

Let’s just say I’ve been surprised to find my character still logged in and afk twenty-four hours after I left to take care of something “just for a minute”.

For those of us who do not raid regularly, or who enjoy playing solo or with just a few family members, level 90 is going to give us a lot of distance from Cataclysm content.

What ICC and Ulduar and Naxxramas are to us now, Bastian of Twilight and Blackwing Descent soon will be. Plus of course the heroic versions of Cataclysm instances.

Right now, a group of three LFR geared players can fairly easily clear most normal Cataclysm dungeons, especially if one of them is a tank.

Once we’re level 90, and geared appropriately from that, all of Cataclysm will open up to us like a pretty flower, and the gate won’t be gear or DPS or HPS, but management of the mechanics.

I’m really looking forward to those days to come.

I’ve found that with the right team, I do love challenging the new content and really pushing forward to do the best I can, but I also love taking a group into close to current content, stuff that WAS the baddest of the bad very recently, and just taking the time to laugh, to joke, to explore and sightsee our way through the content, beating up bad guys as we go.

When Ulduar was current content, I only got in there in raids a few times. When I did get in there, I was focused entirely on performance. I was watching the boss, the trash, and the other players to ensure I was doing my best to help the team win. I wasn’t looking at the graphical design of the architecture.

Likewise every other current raid I have ever done.

It isn’t until content is ‘old tier’ that I’ve able to go in and take my time playing tourist and simply enjoy the artwork, the designs and the amazing attention to detail that has gone into the game.

From something as simple as the floor in Gundrak in front of Moorabi that is so gorgeously detailed with elephants it could be a special collector’s edition china plate, to the room of Algalon in Ulduar that transforms into a stunning galaxy of light and color when the encounter begins, it’s breathtaking… when you are able to take the time to enjoy it.

As much fun as it is to progress in raid content, for me there is more satisfaction to be found in playing tourist, taking the time to stop and smell the rot in Sindragosa’s lair. For a place featuring an All You Can Eat buffet, ew. Dragon bits and bits and bits!

At a time when my thoughts should be turning to catching up with Guardian Druid gear plans, talent specs, ability synergy and active mitigation to tank a progressive raid group, I find myself instead already looking forward to when I can look back, and form cross-server reader raid groups to take down Bastian of Twilight and Firelands, to smile at the dragons and admire the electricity sparking down Onyxias’ side.

I am not prepared… but that’s okay. We gonna have us some fun!

The Cub Report: Tanking AAR

Over the last few weeks, I’ve mentioned that the tables have been turned.

Cassie and I have alts we are playing through Outlands and now Northrend, and Alex has been providing runs through instances for us both.

To Alex, this means that even though he is an Unholy Death Knight with a permanent pet, he is “the tank” for our groups.

He takes this very seriously.

I don’t have a lot of experience with other children, but I really try and be open to his mood and his interests, and help him pursue what he wants to do and encourage him rather than redirect him to what I *think* he should be doing.

I’m aware that oftentimes what he wants to do is whatever activity Cassie and I are doing. But not always, he has plenty of other toys and shows and outdoor activities with us as well, it’s not all WoW, all the time.

One thing that really is universal though, is he wants to be the leader. He wants to be the one actively charging ahead, taking the initiative, guiding us, showing US how to do things, not the other way around.

So, he loves being able to pop dragon form and have me ride his back all the way to somewhere… seeing what he wants to show me along the way.

In point of fact, he found in his explorations the mountain of Uldis in the Storm Peaks, where there is a side ari lock that leads into the massive mecahnized guts of the mountain.

He loves that place, and his delight in taking me there and flying inside, showing me around was extreme. A hollow, mechanized mountain full of gears! And bad guys! Look, dad!

He likes to be the one to invite others to group, and to set dungeon difficulties, loot rules, etc.

He wants to be the one to tank us through runs.

I like him to feel that level of control, and see where it takes him.

For all of Outlands and most of Northrend, Alex really enjoyed running us both through instances. He wasn’t really tanking, as such, because the mechanics of the instances all left the fights at ‘overpower = instagib’.

He led us, and he made it happen, but he wasn’t really a tank with the pressures a tank feels.

I’ve seen many wonderful things that I love from him during this time.

He is very observant. I know the attitude many adults have is to discount the awareness of children, as though youth automatically means someone who is shallow or oblivious.

Alex, and I’m sure he is far from the only youngster who is this sharp, notices things and pays attention to detail. He has a very sharp eye.

One of the first signs is how he sees the armor other NPCs and players wear, and recognizes either where he has seen it before, or what it is. He makes connections from the armor one of the players in our Sunday ICC raid wears to the armor on an NPC to that same armor on a Mega Bloks character (the Worgen DK) all matching.

He asks me, in the middle of a fight, if I noticed how such-and-so’s armor is so cool, look at those shoulders, those are the same ones that NPC X was wearing in Underbog.

Me, I’m sitting in lala land, “Armor? Who? What? Oh, um, yeah.” Then I check on Wowhead later, no shit, he was right.

Similarly, in Violet Hold, he has already caught on that each portal spawn location will only ever be a group or a single summoner,  it’s not random. If you have a portal in front of the puppy dog, it will ALWAYS be a single summoner. So we run to a portal and he’s saying along the way to me, “This will be a group, Death and Decay!”

He notices the small things… just because he doesn’t TALK about what he sees all the time, or tells you he’s making a connection doesn’t mean he hasn’t.

Well, as I said he was ‘tanking’ us through Northrend instances, doing his best, and we came to Halls of Stone.

Halls of Stone we’ve done a few times as a group of three level 85s, in order to work on the Glory of the Hero achievement. He understands the fight and the escort of Brann Bronzebeard, but up to this point he had me Bearcatting, and I’m here to tell you there is in my opinion no more powerful low level content tank than a Bearcat. Swipe alone in cat form with fast run speed makes for ridiculous on-the-fly aggro retension over low level characters.

So I had been Bearcatting it up in Halls of Stone heroic, and Alex had seen the waves but hadn’t really dealt with it as a tank before.

Suddenly doing the Brann Bronzebeard escort quest, fighting off waves of incoming adds all trying to run past to get to Brann, with two level 76 squishies while in Unholy was not good. Death and Decay has a very long cooldown, and stuff in single target mode dies too fast to spread stuff around.

Cassie and I both died during the run.

It was inevitable, even if Alex was an uber-tank it wouldn’t have mattered, we were both getting shot by beams of light the entire time, and none of us are healers. I didn’t even have pots or bandages, I haven’t needed them before. Cassie bandaged me twice before we went down, but down we went, leaving Alex to finish it up on his own and then Mass Ress us.

Today, as we were running around doing chores, I saw that he was kind of down about something.

I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he was really sorry he let us both die while running Halls of Stone. He was really sad that we’d both died while he was the tank.

He followed that up by asking me if we could work on getting him tanking gear, so he would have gear designed to be a better tank.

He was really sad that he, as the tank, had tried really, really hard, but couldn’t keep some of the people in his group from dying.

Does that sound familiar to any of you fine tanks out there?

I explained to him that to me, that meant he had what it takes to be one the best tanks there is.

To me, the heart of a tank isn’t someone that wants to be the boss or run fast leading the way.

To me, the true heart of the tank is someone that cares that everyone in the group succeeds, and lives to make it to the end of the run.

A true tank takes it hard if someone else dies along the way, even if there was nothing the tank could do about it.

All the best tanks I’ve ever known have been more concerned about keeping the party together and making it through as a team.

The saying goes, if the tank dies, blame the healer, if the healer dies, blame the tank.

The good tank, in his heart, blames himself if ANYONE dies, including him or her self. Even when this is silly.

Maybe it’s a feeling of personal responsibility, and maybe it’s something else.

I get to talk to quite a few people who tank, and a common feeling is that even when someone dies by standing in the fire, the frustration of the tank comes at least in part from wishing there was some way the tank could Leap of Faith or Thunderclap the bastard out of that fire and save them despite themselves.

I spent quite some time explaining to Alex how proud of him I was. You can pretend a lot, but it’s hard to pretend you care. You either do or you don’t.

How to tank can be learned, gear can be grabbed, specs can be changed, skills can be moved.

You can’t just spec into ‘give a shit about others’.

On a side note, explaining how it wasn’t the gear, it was the spec that helps provide threat causing and damage reducing powers was interesting. Now I think he understands that he can buy dual spec, build a blood talent spec, and be able to use AoE abilities and have more damage reduction to make tanking easier, regardless of what gear he’s wearing.

Now that I’ve had that conversation, I wonder if in the future he’ll go the other way, and assume that it doesn’t matter what gear he’s wearing to tank as long as he’s in the right spec?

Ah, every new day brings new adventures.

Like right now. He’s decided he’d like to get the Cataclysmic Gladiator’s Desecration set, so I explained about Conquest points. Now he is, right this second, in a random battleground. Isle of Conquest.

This probably won’t end well.

Update: He won! Miracles do happen.

Having a Bit of Fun in the Aftermath

Have you ever visited the WoW Item Creator and had fun?

I did. 🙂

I might put the pic on the sidebar.

Of course, the humor is definitely mine.

[audio:|titles=The Tim Malloys – Cannae Throw Your Granny]

Hey, go make your own, and link ’em!

C’mon, you know there isn’t anything better to do while waiting for the expansion to drop.

A Fond and (Hopefully) Brief Farewell

I have finally stirred from my cave to see that my friend Nymphy is taking a break from the stress that I among others caused her yesterday.

I accept that I was a major contributing factor, because a mature person would have hit ‘save draft’, considered the ramifications of what was about t happen, cooled down a bit to gain perspective and then gone to let his friend know what was happening rather than just hit publish in a blind rage. Good friend? Not me, not then, and I suck. I said it in the comments, and it’s true. Friends don’t let friends get hit by guild drama trainwrecks out of the blue.

I hope and pray that Nymphy and her family and future family are all well, and will be well, and that all manner of things will be well.

It’s at time like this that I find music to be a soothing balm for a troubled heart.

I’d like to offer my own, perfectly chosen song of sadness to show Nymphy how much my thoughts are with her.


Really, that song flows right from my heart.

(If you like that song, be sure to visit my favorite local awesome Irish band, The Tim Malloys, who played at my bachelor party.)

(Oh come on, you know me, I feel sorry but at the same time, laughter is the best medicine! It shows that people care.)

Moving on

As a much needed follow up to my explosion of hostility earlier today, I wanted to provide some sense of closure.

Just a little bit ago, Navimie, Orvillius, Nymphy and I chilled out in beautiful Stormwind, dancing among the rooftops and admiring each others transmogs and mounts while we chatted about the stress of the day.

Whatever else that was said in my post today, and that I stand behind by the way, the fact remains that what I said about a certain person doesn’t reflect in any way on the rest of the guild they’re a part of, at least not in my mind.

It’s a double standard I didn’t even know I had, and it’s not about how well I like and admire Orv and Nymphy. I’m not giving them a ‘friend pass’.

It’s that their guild is a guild mostly built through the WoW Twitter community, and most of the members are bloggers or prominent in the WoW world.

What does that mean?

It means I don’t hold the guild in any way responsible for one of it’s members being a complete douchebag. I hold the douchebag responsible, and leave it at that.

You see, the normal ‘face’ of a guild is reversed here. Normally, a guild name is famous on a server, and the players are known by their association with the guild as members.

In this other guilds case, the PLAYERS are famous, and the guild is known by it’s association with the PLAYERS.

It’s a weird distinction. But it matters. The famous players are in a guild because they met each other in various ways outside the guild, and all came together for one reason or another and follow the golden rule, “Don’t be dicks to each other.”

Nothing is said about all these famous people dropping their very strong habit of speaking their mind how and when and where they see fit, and talking to strangers as they think appropriate. How in the hell could you? It’s how they all came to know each other in the first place.

Something I don’t see talked about much when we discuss WoW communities, but WoW bloggers are people first, bloggers second.

Being a blogger or a forum commenter or an official WoW forum troll or whatever else that has brought you fame does not mean you are also, inherently and automatically, a nice person.

WoW bloggers can be dicks too. And dear lord, don’t let me get started on the massive honking egos that anyone that blogs has to have to think that anyone else gives two shits about their opinion on anything and everything…

Oh, wait, what? Huh? Oh, I’m one of them?

Shit. Well, that proves that theory, doesn’t it?

Look, the key thing here is, we’re talking about “oh I’m so special my shit doesn’t stink and I have a thousand people who will agree with me” behavior. We’re talking about someone who, in their clique with friends and people they think of as equals, they’re (from what I have heard) sweetness and light personified.

But to outsiders or strangers that seem pesky or dare to bother them? Well, it’s just like one of the unwashed herd wearing a dirty sweat shirt and grubbies daring to bother the great and powerful Paris Hilton.

I damn near expect to see something along the lines of, “Don’t you know who I AM? I’m internet famous! How dare you waste my time?”

Okay, this has turned into a parting shot. I guess I can’t help myself.

But really. It’s true. Don’t think of it as Navi dealing with an asshat, and how dare that guild have someone like that representing them.

Just think of it as her face to face with a Kardashian.

Really, what else would you expect to have happen?

I mean, do you really blame all the other people who are nice and competent and shit hot who are stuck with this  self-important, puffed up asshat just because they all belong to the same country club? Of course not. Especially when the stuck up asshat is quite nice if they think they’re talking to fellow royalty rather than unwashed swine.

Wow, I am snarky when I haven’t had sleep. It’s true though. If someone is ALWAYS nice to YOU, and I mean always, and is your friend… don’t you give them the benefit of the doubt? Especially if there is an apology, as there was, and a case made for a serious miscommunication and misunderstanding issue?

Seriously, nothing excuses that kind of behavior in my eyes, but I am 100% behind calling this done and moving on. This horse has been beaten, Orv and Nymphy have seriously had way more than enough stress over this, Navi had some major bad stress but has moved on and even enjoyed fun dancing and picture time, I got to see all three of them together, and I’ve moved on too.

Navi has continued past this with a positive attitude, and Orv and Nymphy have taken artemisian steps to overcome this shitstorm, I kid you not, we can all move on now.

Oh, and that person that I ripped into? The stress they felt over all of this, if any?

I don’t give a shit, sit and spin on it, I’ve got nothing for you.

Tomorrow, I take my inspiration from Navi and will post from within the enthusiasm and excitement I felt when Deathwing died and Alex got the Destroyer’s End achievement last night.

That was what I went to sleep on last night, that massive feeling of HELL YES, that pleasure at seeing the joy Alex felt at winning the kickass two handed mace from the Skyship encounter, the overall feeling of having been part of a great time as a family, as a guild, and with friends in a great game.

I’m gonna pretend today didn’t happen, except for the part where I got to chat in one hell of a great and enjoyable conversation with Orv and Nymphy.

Yep, nothing happened, we just killed Deathwing, Alex is asleep, and now I go to dream of navistamps and Mount Hyjal raids and sailing over the High Seas.

Stick a fork in it.