Some Things Defy Description

This ain’t one of those things.

I’ve mentioned briefly that my son loves his Worgen Warlock, Wooffie.

Perhaps I should say that he loves the appearance and the idea of Wooffie. Wooffie looks amazing. Big old evil Worgen Warlock.

I’ve been playing Wooffie a lot, lately.

What can I tell you? I loved my Warlock so much that once I’d taken her as far as I could possibly go, I wanted more Warlock goodness. So, I stole his and leveled and now I’m gearing.

The big shock to me is how much difference Haste makes to fun. Nothing says fun quite like massive loads of haste in your Incinerate casts. Flipping from my Warlock to my sons and back again in combat drives me to consider throwing all weighting models out the window in favor of stacking haste. Screw DPS results, I want to click buttons faster.

But I digress.

If someone ever writes the story of my life and where it went so laughably wrong, they should call it “But I Digress”.

Who am I kidding. It would be called Bearwall. And now that I consider it, that shall be the name of my next fantasy novel. Make it so.

So, Wooffie, Worgen and Warlocks.

He has two transmogs he loves, the Voidheart and the Corrupter Tier set from SSC. They mostly come out of SSC. Mostly.

I like that red set too, which is why I sport it exclusively on my own Warlock. But Wooffie has taken it a step beyond, and then some.

As I’ve been gearing, the Cub logs in to check it out, test things and see how he plays. One of his favorite things is to mount up and see what the red Fire and Brimstone effect does to various mounts.

The other thing he does is test what the items he’s getting look like un-transmogged.

Imagine my surprise when I log in and see that he has removed the transmog on a couple of pieces of new gear, leaving an appearance that blew me away.

My friends, I present to you the new Playable Race for World of Warcraft, the Sha-touched.

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He removed the transmog from the Tier 14 Sha-Skin Regalia normal helm and LFR gloves, and left all the rest of his set alone. With the beastly Worgen stance, he looks like some Sha-touched creature dressed like a Warlock, as if some spell into the nether went horribly wrong.

God, I love this look. I don’t even know if swapping for the normal gloves or the LFR helm would improve it, somehow the reddish helm with the blue gloves just work, even though they’re from different difficulty sets.

I don’t know if you’ve seen this helm, but it has living effects, the jaws open and close, breath comes out, twitches. It’s just like having a different head on your body.

This is the kind of thing that makes me finally look at transmog as something other than a way to have your character wear a full set as Blizzard intended.

I have to ask, what kinds of mixed sets do you have that you love? Is there a special blend of mountain-grown Warlock stuffs that you just adore? Is there something that works better for your race than anything else?

Oh, and by the way… here are a few pics of his favorite Fire and Brimstone mounts.

First, the Heart of the Aspects.

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And then, because Alex wanted to make sure you knew that if you were riding the Heart of the Aspects underwater it turned into a sea serpent;

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Then the Sandstone Drake… or, as Alex put it, the Bloodstone Drake;

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And finally…. the one Alex was most adamant I take a screenshot of. The Abyssal Seahorse. Blood in the Water? Yikes!

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Kicking Something Once Again

I have known about Kickstarter for a while, people talk about it a lot. I, however, like a modern day luddite, never even visited the website.

There are millions of knickknacks I’d love that already exist which I can’t afford, so I didn’t see the point in searching for new things to spend money on that might or might not happen someday. Ain’t getting my hopes up for vaporware, not anymore.

That only changed because a good friend, Tesh, went forward with his own project on Kickstarter.

Tesh has brought his design for Tinker Dice to Kickstarter in the hopes it will get fully funded and become a reality, and hey, when your bud goes for his dream, you’re there for him, right?

Unfortunately, it’s looking like unless there is a sudden big push at the last minute, Tinker Dice aren’t going to happen. There are only four days left for it to be fully funded. We can hope, though. It ain’t over yet. And assuming it ain’t gonna happen, Tesh says he has plans to fall back, regroup and come at it with a different angle. He’s not dead yet!

While I hope Tinker Dice become real, and I’d love to add them to my dice collection, what I’m really drooling over are his designs for his Steampunk-themed playing cards, what he’s calling his Tinker Deck. Hopefully he will Kickstart the Tinker Deck someday soon, incorporating the lessons learned from his dice project.

Anyway.

Tesh’s Tinker Dice have apparently become a gateway project for me, leading me to explore this whole Kickstarter thing you youngun’s created a bit closer.

It turns out, drooling over potential projects is a dangerous drug. It has me imaging all the awesome things you can do with 3D printers, board games, songs, etc and so forth.

It also has me thinking about the obvious jokes, like wondering when someone will come up with a Kinkstarter website.

Come on, you know somebody (besides me) thought of it already. Kinkstarter, the website where you post your ideas for new porn movies or devices, and hope the project becomes fully funded. With Backer rewards like being in the production. In this world, you know it’s only a matter of time.

Distractions aside, I’ve been browsing projects at Kickstarter, and there is a game there that is as close to a sure thing as anything I’ve ever seen.

There is this tabletop miniature tactical game called Warmachine, I’ve heard a ton about it, but I’ve never played it or seen it played. I’m well versed in the genre from playing Warhammer and Warhammer: 40K, so I grasp the basic concept. Just haven;’t had the chance to get my hands on any miniatures for it, and even if I did, I don’t know a single soul in the Twin Cities of Minnesota to play against.

Well, the creators of Warmachine are teamed up with an indie software company to create a computer version of Warmachine, called Warmachine: Tactics, and it freaking looks great.

It looks like a polished version of the tabletop game, both single player campaigns and multiplayer, just like my old favorite Warhammer 40K tactical video games of years gone by. And it will be out years before I could get my hands on the Warhammer 40k MMO.

And here’s the kicker, as it were. For $20, you can be a Kickstarter of it right now, and get the game when it is complete and have all of the extra in-game stretch goal content. It’s already fully funded so there is no worry as to whether it’s happening or not. This ain’t vaporware, they are way past their initial goals on this one.

In this case, you pays your money without taking any chances.

Oh, hard choice. Support the game, help them reach more stretch goals and get rewarded with even more multiplayer units, factions or options once the game goes live? yes, please.

Yes indeed, I threw my support behind it, and I’m darned excited to see the final game. A game with the promise of this one, for only $20? I can defer gratification for a year or more in the hopes that this will be even half as good as their promo makes it look.

If you like tactical games like Warhammer 40k, I strongly recommend you think about using Kickstarter to back this one. Who knows, you might get the chance to play against the Big Bear Butt in multiplayer and crush the very life out of me.

It could happen. ūüôā

WoW, I’d Buy That For A Dollar!

There are new items up in the Blizzard store, nice looking hats that can be used to change the appearance of any helm you own, for any character, no matter the armor type.

I feel the price is a mite steep, but they’re mighty nice looking hats. Who’s to say how they’ll do until the folks in game have a chance to vote with their wallets?

I’ve given Blizzard a bit of a hard time over the store, and that’s not to say I’m opposed to the store at all.

I’ve said it before, a¬†Cinder Kitten for $10? Sweet animations, endearing appearance, so cute you almost don’t mind the third degree burns fro cuddling one on your lap. SOLD!

Yep, I’d like to see the Blizzard store do well, and help to keep the game going on at the same high level of quality we’ve all come to expect and enjoy over the years.

That being said, I’m a bit concerned over these items they released, and the price point they’ve set.

I think I’d like to see something a little fancier, a little flashier, but with a price point to match.

This is just me talking, but I’d like to see a new mount in the Blizzard store, one that would have the lore admirers among us sitting up and taking notice.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking.

“Another mount? Don’t we have enough ways of getting from here to there? And that bat mount, whew, well, let’s just put that behind us. We won’t go there.”

I know.

But I have a thought on a new mount that would truly stand out from the rest.

A mount that already has the art assets in the game, a mount that would be fun and would actually fit with a hard-earned (once upon a time) reputation grind and associated title.

I’m talking about your very own best buddy, Kil’Ruk the Wind-Reaver.

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Many of you will remember our good friend Kil’ruk the Wind-Reaver. The first of the Klaxxi Paragons that we Awakened from stasis, he stood up for us before the Klaxxi Council, and has carried us to our daily work for as long as we have served the Klaxxi in our honorary role as Wakener.

For months we have been able to approach our friend Kil’ruk, and ask him to take us to where the action is. And each time, he has obliged, a Wakener and his Klaxxi.

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A case could be made that Kil’ruk could and should be made a mount available for those Exalted with the Klaxxi, but there is already a mount at the Klaxxi Quartermaster, the Amber Scorpion, and a lovely ground mount it is.

But Kilruk, ah Kil’ruk. Always the pragmatist, he was willing to plead your case to the Council, but when they told him to execute you, well, tough luck pal.

This isn’t someone that just travels along with you, carrying you from village to township out of friendship. There has to be another reason for his service to be placed at your command.

I think a solid chunk of cash slipped to the Elder Gods of Blizzard to earn his undying service sounds about right to me.

This is something I’d be happy to see in the Blizzard store, Kil’ruk would go great with the Wakener title, and I’d think he would be an appropriate buddy for the low, low sum of $20 or $25 US.

I also think it’s an item that would be a fun trend to see on the store.

Imagine it, a series of epic-level mounts tied to reputations or titles we’ve earned in the past.

Can you imagine the crazy lengths you could go if you started with the goal of designing an epic-level flying mount suited for a cash store to go with the “Guardian of Cenarius”, or the “Bloodsail Admiral” titles?

And considering the gold we had to drop for it way back in the day, I think a nice, pretty golden mount to go with “of the Shattered Sun” would be appropriate, wouldn’t you?

Give me my own flying schooner to go with Bloodsail Admiral, and I’ll take my tall ship and find a star to sail her by, have no fear.

The New Warcraft Store – For Reals

More items have been revealed that will be coming to the existing Blizzard cash store.

MMO Champion has a lovely write-up with videos and pictures of the new stuffs.

There are lovely helms with animation that are purely for transmog, and some cute functional items, one for playing on a teeter-totter and another item that gives mounts to a whole raid.. temporarily, I’m sure.

This is causing me to stop and re-evaluate my position on the store concept.

Er, wait.. why?

Here is what my true, inner-gut reaction was to the new items that were revealed.

“Wow, those helms are incredibly cool. That ice helm in particular is just amazing. And the hitching post to give your entire raid team the look of a thundering army on top of the same horse model? What a neat concept.”

“But why are they putting such cool items with excellent art assets in a store to buy instead of in the game I already pay for? If they’re going to be spending development resources making a LOT of super-cool items in a short period of time, I expect them to be included in the game somewhere to find or earn.”

That was my true reaction. I could lie, but that is how I felt, and it made me question a few things about my attitude towards the game itself.

I’ve long said I love World of Warcraft for what it is, and you’ll have to pry my account from my cold, dead fingers. Or, y’know, close the servers down. When the last fortress on Azeroth is overrun, I’ll be the one lowering the Alliance flag.

What I didn’t realize was how much the monthly subscription fee was a part of my ‘WoW for life’ attitude.

Items for sale aren’t new to the game. That’s the funny thing. There have long been really cool items that you can only get by spending extra money, in some cases massive wads of cash, just to add them into the game we pay a subscription for.

I had no problem with those, so why would this be any different?

It all comes down to what I’ve felt was an unspoken agreement between me as a monthly subscriber and Blizzard as a content provider.

I will continue to pay my subscription fee every month, and in exchange Blizzard will continue to have their development team focused on creating and releasing fresh content for me to enjoy.

When we ask for more features, such as player housing, if the answer is “We are using those resources to create more quests instead, we prioritize our development resources on what will benefit the majority of players in the game, new quests for all or limited content for a few. You have to choose between the features you want and new content”, I accept that answer at face value.

When I suddenly see a flood of cool, fresh new items that have beautiful art assets/designs, and those items are going to be only for those who spend real cash money on them, I get irritated.

Those items look quite a lot nicer than a lot of what I see in the game. Sorry, but it’s true. There is some very nice art in there. There is genuine effort going into making those specifically desirable over items in the game.

The reason I’ve enjoyed the items previously in the Blizzard cash store has been their scarcity. They are few, and there has traditionally been a long time between new item releases.

A single pet design dropped in the store has never bothered me, when it’s both optional AND couldn’t possibly use up that many resources to make. A single pet every 4 months isn’t gonna kill anyone, and could even be a nice chore passed off to an intern. No worries.

If they are going to ramp up the design and production of a bunch of items that require unique art design and special coding, enough not just for three cute items in a Trading Card game run but a slew to populate a new store, I’m going to have a problem reconciling the use of those development assets on store shit instead of the game I pay for.

If you’ve got those assets available, then it is a conscious choice to use them for store stuff for added revenue instead of the content that has been asked for over the years, such as player housing.

No real changes here to what I do. I’m not rage quitting or even remotely thinking about it. Still paying to play the game, still having fun.

I can feel the quake, though. In my mind, we had a deal. I pay to play, you put the majority of your effort into stuff to drop in the game for me to enjoy.

I pay the money for the new expansions, for three accounts. I never cancel or suspend any of my accounts. Over the lifetime of the game, that’s been some investment on my part, and I’ve had my fun out of it, no question.

The deal has worked well, for both sides I think.

If you put in a cash store, I’m going to look very carefully at how much development time is going into the items there, and I’m going to be comparing, in my mind, the quality and style of those items over what is being added into the game for subscription payers.

If I start to feel that the best and brightest A-game materials are being reserved for the cash store, I’ll revisit my part of our agreement.

The quality of the game I play has been solid, never had any reason to complain, and I’m not starting now.

Just a fair warning. I’ve played other microtransaction driven games, I’m cynical as all hell about how they work based on actual experience, and I’ve got my eye on you.

Star Trek: Generations

This is going to be an ongoing project.¬†Expect updates as I go, and I’ll put a link on the website to it in case anyone ever wants to check back.

I was talking with my wife the other day, and the topic turned to Star Trek.

My son has never seen Star Trek.

I’m not talking about being aware of how Star Trek has permeated our culture, influenced our way of telling sequential stories, or spawned countless memes.

He doesn’t know it exists. Period.

Never heard of the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Enterprise, none of the movies.

He has an imagination untouched by the idea of boldly going where nobody had gone before.

No Vulcan nerve pinch. No “Live Long and Prosper”. No “KHAAAAAAAANNN!!!”

Star Wars has remained relevant through the generations. Say what you will of George Lucas, and now Disney, but it is a very visible and vital universe of new creations and stories that our youth enjoy every day. Plus, of course, endless Lego toys.

There have continued to be Star Wars movies, and those movies have had toys and cartoons targeted directly at the younger generations to keep them up to speed.

Star Trek, not so much.

The new Star Trek movies aren’t a good place to begin, because to fully invest in their story you need to have been there for all that came before. If you don’t, then you are left feeling like an outsider as all the cool kids share the in-jokes and secret handshakes around you. When old Spock appears, the experienced and knowledgeable people ooh and aah and get it immediately, while you go “Huh, so this is that Spock dude from the future? Okay, that’s cool, but is that going to be important? And why not take the actor from the movie and artificially age him so it looks more like him?”

Does it feel fun to be the one that doesn’t get the reference everyone else understands? I don’t think so.

So.

Project Star Trek: Generations is born.

My goal is simple. To take the core of greatness that is the Star Trek that I grew up with and present it to my son.

It is my duty to pass the important parts of our heritage on to my son. What he does with it after that is his business.

What makes this a project is, I have no intention of sitting him down in front of three full seasons of original Trek, then Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc etc and so forth.

I am not a trekkie. I enjoyed it growing up, but then I enjoyed a lot of stuff growing up. It’s important to me that he groks the heart and the most significant or enduring stories, not that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of it.

If he decides he wants to see it all someday, if he gets hooked, that’s fine. But that’s not the project.

 

My intent is to cherry pick the very best and brightest episodes of the original series, and follow that up with the best of the movies starring the original cast.

Concerning the Next Generation, I think Next Gen might be fun to watch together when he gets older, I was overseas when most of it was released so I never saw much of it either. For now, Star Trek will mean Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That is what I intend to focus on. Time enough for him to see the Next Generation when he has some distance to make those original cast cameos seem special.

 

In order to narrow the selection down, I have to decide what ‘the best’ means to me.

To me, what I loved best was the warmth and the camaraderie between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. That held the episodes together for me. Whatever craziness was going to happen, those three would be able to count on each other to succeed, no matter what.

But the best episodes were the ones that took a bold concept and made it fascinating, asking questions that lingered long after the episode was over.

I know the original tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

To me, the series served to boldly explore science fiction concepts that I didn’t see on TV before, concepts that made me think about normal things in new ways.

I don’t have a ‘maximum number of episodes’ that I want to get down to. But I do want each episode we watch to be a ‘must see’. If we start including episodes where there was ‘like this really cool 2 minute segment’ in it, then we would be watching every episode. Even “Spock’s Brain” has to have some cool bit in it somewhere, even if it lasted less time than the lifespan of a mayfly. No, I want to whittle this sucker down to ‘must watch’ core episodes only.

Here is the complete list of the original series episodes I have to cull from;

1 “The Man Trap” – the melancholy of the salt vampire is cool, and i do remember the episode, but no.
2 “Charlie X” – hell no, I remember thinking it was crap when I saw it, and I was younger than Alex.
3 “Where No Man Has Gone Before” – no. I remember it during syndication, and I always wondered “where did this almost-trek come from? And where’s Bones?”
4 “The Naked Time” – must watch, an inside look at the hidden personalities of the crew, but I can’t remember details other than it was very revealing and cool.
5 “The Enemy Within” – must watch, transporter malfunction and good kirk/bad kirk
6 “Mudd’s Women” – must watch. Harry Freaking Mudd. Or is it? There is another Mudd later that was very good.
7 “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” – no.
8 “Miri” – not sure
9 “Dagger of the Mind” – no, I remember this one well, and I never did care for it.
10 “The Corbomite Maneuver” – must watch, I still remember loving how the first encounter isn’t decided by who was strongest, but by who thought who was strongest. Bluff and counter bluff and how belief affects what you think you can get away with.
11 “The Menagerie, Part I” – no. My memories of this were of a horribly dry and boring snoozefest lacking in charm.
12 “The Menagerie, Part II” – no.
13 “The Conscience of the King” – must watch, strong acting between Spock and McCoy, and Shakespeare in space.
14 “Balance of Terror” – must watch due to being highly recommended (I don’t remember it, lol)
15 “Shore Leave” – must watch. I remember this one well, and it has inspired some of my more interesting RPG designs.
16 “The Galileo Seven” – hell no.
17 “The Squire of Gothos” – must watch. The Squire, powerful Spock moments, great fun from the god-being.
18 “Arena” – must watch OMG, GORN and how to make gunpowder to prove all we need is guns, dah de dah da da.
19 “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” – time travel and could be a good preparation for Star Trek IV, but I remember it as being dull.
20 “Court Martial” – god, I hated this episode.
21 “The Return of the Archons” – no.
22 “Space Seed” – must watch, and sets the stage for Wrath of Khan.
23 “A Taste of Armageddon” – possible, I remember this one, and it’s strong send up of the stupidity of war without objectives, for the sake of hate.
24 “This Side of Paradise” – an absolute must-watch, the episode where the enemy is being too damn happy, and Spock smiling and in love.
25 “The Devil in the Dark” – must watch. Silicon-based life forms, judging by appearance instead of by deeds, foul heart concealed by fair face. “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”
26 “Errand of Mercy” – on the fence. first appearance of Klingons, but… I didn’t like this one as a kid, and the Klingons look like, not Klingons.
27 “The Alternative Factor” – hells no.
28 “The City on the Edge of Forever” – must watch, Harlan Ellison’s classic time travel piece and a powerful story that lingers.
29 “Operation: Annihilate!” – maybe, but not remembering anything special.
30 “Amok Time” – must watch, standing by your friends, not being ashamed of who you are, the price of repressing your feelings.
31 “Who Mourns for Adonais?” – I do not mourn for Adonais. Not even slightly.
32 “The Changeling” – nah. The all powerful probe from hell wasn’t that interesting.
33 “Mirror, Mirror” – must watch evil facial hair doppleganger twins! Parallel dimensions of fun! Oh, hell yes.
34 “The Apple” – nope
35 “The Doomsday Machine” – must watch.
36 “Catspaw”
37 “I, Mudd”
38 “Metamorphosis”
39 “Journey to Babel”
40 “Friday’s Child”
41 “The Deadly Years”
42 “Obsession”
43 “Wolf in the Fold”
44 “The Trouble With Tribbles” – oh come on, it’s awesome. Must watch.
45 “The Gamesters of Triskelion”
46 “A Piece of the Action”
47 “The Immunity Syndrome”
48 “A Private Little War”
49 “Return to Tomorrow”
50 “Patterns of Force”
51 “By Any Other Name”
52 “The Omega Glory”
53 “The Ultimate Computer”
54 “Bread and Circuses”
55 “Assignment: Earth”
56 “Spock’s Brain”
57 “The Enterprise Incident”
58 “The Paradise Syndrome”
59 “And the Children Shall Lead”
60 “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”
61 “Spectre of the Gun”
62 “Day of the Dove”
63 “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”
64 “The Tholian Web”
65 “Plato’s Stepchildren”
66 “Wink of an Eye”
67 “The Empath”
68 “Elaan of Troyius”
69 “Whom Gods Destroy”
70 “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
71 “The Mark of Gideon”
72 “That Which Survives”
73 “The Lights of Zetar”
74 “Requiem for Methuselah”
75 “The Way to Eden”
76 “The Cloud Minders”
77 “The Savage Curtain”
78 “All Our Yesterdays”
79 “Turnabout Intruder”

The Movies

“Star Trek – The Motion Picture” – I don’t want to include this. It’s a hard decision, because I loved the core concept – We sent a spaceship out there loaded with things to tell others who we are, and something finds it and follows it back to us that is beyond anything we ever dreamed of. But damnit all, it’s slow as hell, and I hated the uniforms. It was like they pretended time enver passed and the original cast was still in their twenties. The second movie brought that feeling of age and wisdom and experience that the first lacked. Just… brilliant story idea, but as cold in presentation as V’ger itself.
“Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan” – oh hell yes.
“Star Trek III – The Search for Spock” – yep, gotta have it, everyone gets a part to play.
“Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home” – well sure, save the whales, Spock swearing, transparent aluminum, mouse driven computers. The Enterprise in dock. Of course.
“Star Trek V – The Final Frontier” – I think I blocked this out, so I don’t know. I think I hated it, but it’s all a blur.
“Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” – I remember thinking it was great when it was over, but damned if I can remember anything about it now.

Update 1: added link to the Wikipedia page for the original Star Trek episodes.
Update 2: I welcome your opinions and suggestions on which episodes should be included in the ‘absolutely must be included list’, but please, you must tell me why. And only one episode per comment, please. It will help me sort. I will continue to update episode titles above with comments and my decisions as we go.

Update 3: Added more episode decisions, influenced by comments from Tesh, Ted, Kamalia and Degei.

Update 4: okay, made it into Season 2 a little, made the first cull. Now to sleep on it. I can’t believe how many of these I remember from my childhood.

Store Your Anger Deep Down Inside… Ka-Ching!

So, an in-game store for World of Warcraft?

An idea that goes too far, some might say.

Or does it go far enough?

In the free to play games I’ve tried so far, there have been in-game stores. Each store has had some version of an item that you can buy with real money (or with tokens you buy with crystals that you get with rep you earned by spending real money on a resource pack, or something something five layers removed shady alert).

So?

So what?

Coincidentally enough, in each of those games I played a character I really liked,  in an enjoyable series of story driven quests. At least, I did until I reached a point where I had done all the quests available in my level range, and the next range of quests and associated villains were several levels higher than I was, leaving a power gap.

Well, that’s okay. It was certainly an oversight in the quest progression development process, and I’ll do what we did in vanilla WoW… grind the hell out of some mobs until high enough level to move on to Burning Steppes. Just grind that content gap away so I can move on.

Or… well, I was really enjoying that quest chain, it was fun, I’d like to get back to that. Screw it, a couple bucks for a resource pack I can trade for a few gems that are worth credits to use in the store to get +100% XP gained for an hour, that ain’t so bad. Get me past that hump and back into the questing!

Right?

Oh. Ooh, you mean the game might have been intentionally set up with gaps in content that encourage you to face the “buy XP boost consumable or grind for hours” dilemma?

Oh bullshit, that’s just cynical and paranoid. Nobody would do that. People create games for us to have fun! They don’t care if they make tons and tons of money. That’s why the game is free! because they love us gamers soooo much.

It’s because we’re so kind on game forums, so patient with bugs and release dates, so considerate and calm when describing our class balance in comparison to others in PvP. The free to play games are our reward for being so nice.

Ah, I crack myself up. Looked at that way, I’m surprised more games aren’t designed to lure you along until you’re five XP from max level, and then delete your character, cancel your account, max out your credit cards, burn down your house and punch your significant other so hard you feel it in your taint.

I guess free to play comes close enough to be allowed by law. But I digress.

Content gaps in your game? How crafty! And here I thought burying your store currency under a hundred different layers to hide how much an item really costs was the limit to shady practices.

But wait, what is this I see before me?

Is it a World of Warcraft game that has been streamlined and buffed to the point that you can damn well outlevel a zone before you finish the starter quests?

I do believe it is!

God forbid you should try to complete a leveling questline while wearing your heirloom gear. You’ll be a raid boss by the time you’re done.

But, I thought this XP boost item for an in-game store was evil and stuff? If World of Warcraft doesn’t have any big dead content gaps, what is going to be the driving force to make people choose the XP potion over grinding miserably for hours?

WHAT?

Oh, shit, that’s right.

NOTHING BUT FREE WILL, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Unless Blizzard does something truly remarkable, such as remove Heirlooms, cancel all of the accumulated accelerated XP gains that have been added over the years, or remove content from the game, this won’t do anything at all.

Nothing except give people another option besides Recruit A Friend for stupid levels of XP gain. Oh yeah, and give us all something to bitch about for the next month.

People will still buy the potions.

Yes, even with the ridiculous XP gain we already have, people will buy the potions.

Depending on how much they cost, I could even see myself buying one. Shit, why not?

No, really, why not? Sometimes, you just want to speed past that zone (Outlands) you’ve completed on 14 previous characters ¬†and get to something else, please Elune, anything else.

Sometimes you just want to get a character to 80 in an afternoon so you can lock XP and prepare for a Herald of the Titans run. (Grats on your Herald achievement, DeGei!)

XP Potions? Meaningless in the framework of WoW. They are not a quality of life improvement, they are not a necessity, they aren’t even a gateway to break you into the habit of paying for shit. They are pure luxury, superfluous, an excuse to show off that you can afford to buy shit in game.

As if having every Collector Edition pet didn’t already do that, lol. Or are we supposed to pretend there haven’t been in-game items bought from a store before?

On that subject, am I the only player that wishes we had MORe pets in the Blizzard store that came with plush stuffed buddies for our real life adventures?

I know I for one would like a plush Cinder Kitten. Yes, yes I would. Yes, I know I already bought one for myself, and my son, and my wife. I’m sure I culd find someone in North America that could use the code while I keep the, um I mean give the plush Cinder Kitten to my son to cuddle.

There is one case where I can see this being a shadow of potential concern.

If they were building the store and the XP boost item into WoW now to get the bugs worked out in live just so they can integrate a polished store into their new Titan MMO flawlessly, and if TITAN were to incorporate the level content gaps to ‘encourage’ you to buy XP boost pots to get past a grind… well then. That would be a whole ‘nother kettle of fish entirely.

I’ll worry about a game that is four years from a release cycle some other time. I doubt it will happen, Blizzard hasn’t built their reputation on screwing customers to nickel and dime them on the backend, they prefer to take your money right out of your wallet, swift and painless once a month, regular as clockwork or a guaranteed return on your investment. With quarterly bonuses from new store items like bat mounts. Or Arena passes.

But hell, anything can happen, right?

Let’s move all past that.

Let’s talk about the true possibilities of an in-game store.

XP potions? That does not go nearly far enough, Blizzard. Oh, hell no.

No, this is World of Warcraft we’re talking about. The other MMOs can pussyfoot around the store idea, shuffling in the darkness, hoping to pry a few coppers off the unwary.

It takes Blizzard to pull out the big guns and show everyone who has the guts to make a move.

Tired of RNG in your loot rolls? How about a potion in the store that gives you a +15% chance to loot rolls for an hour? ALL loot rolls? Or +25%?

How about a potion that specifically increases the drop chance of items needed for Legendaries or for rare mounts?

Who among us hasn’t run SOMETHING week after week looking for that rare drop?

Come on, you know you have. Grinding for multiple weeks seeking a special rare drop is a WoW rite of passage, like gunters coding a classic game. Everybody has to do it at least once over a few weeks. Or months or years.

I don’t care if you ran Baron Rivendare timed runs in vanilla until your eyes bled, farmed the Fiery Warhorse in Kara until you developed a twitch, or soloed Kael’thas in the Eye seeking the Ashes of A’lar.

Maybe you got the left bindings of the Windseeker in Molten Core on your very first run, and you’ve been running it every single week for the past 6 years trying to get the other half.

You know you did it, even if only for three weeks before giving up in disgust.

Now you tell me true, and be honest with yourself.

If Blizzard added an item in the store that cost $5, and it would give you a significantly better chance at having that one damn thing drop, tell me.

TELL me you wouldn’t do it at least once on that damn white unicorn you always wanted and never, ever, ever saw drop.

Now ask yourself what if there were items to buy that gave you more bonus rolls on bosses? A consumable that acted as if you had a Mogu Rune of Fate from the weekly quest?

Oh yeah, you see where I’m going with this.

Before you bitch about a measly little XP boost potion, you need to take a step back and ask yourself how deep this rabbit hole could go.

I tell you true, the universe would hear the cries of a million whining players screaming that the game was ruined…

Oh there would be crying, and wailing, and yes even the gnashing of the little teethes, and Blizzard would quietly drag in the chips tossed by 5 million players paying to get that fucking Right Binding to drop. Garr, you little shit.

So let’s play a game, you and I.

Open up that imagination, and let’s see what plausible and yet utterly horrifying items we can come up with for a World of Warcraft in-game store.

Who knows, if we come up with something crazy but brilliant enough, it might make it’s way into the game!

The Cub Report: Minecraft Double Trouble

For those who enjoy Minecraft, a new update went live today that added horses, rideable horses, with armor barding to the game. Also, other stuffs too, but yeah. Horses.

Over the weekend, my son and I investigated this whole ‘Minecraft multiplayer’ concept.

I took the time to setup a Hamachi LAN network tunnel between our two computers, and sort of kinda got it working with Minecraft. If I hosted the game, Alex’s computer could direct connect to it, but not the reverse.

It’s exactly that kind of thing that can make you throw up your hands in frustration if it weren’t for Google searches. A few minutes revealed that our issue was far from rare, and so, as with so many other Minecraft bugs, you shrug your shoulders and be grateful for what works.

It really is that good of a game.

As an aside, the reason this was an irritation was, the person who hosts the game and opens it up to a LAN can do this with any of their created worlds, and if Alex can’t open one of his uber-cool worlds for me to come explore and admire, it takes a lot of the point out of it. He likes to have me see his awesome creations.

Perhaps today’s content update will fix some of the issues. We’ll see.

Did I mention horses?

We created a survival world at random, and entered it together to see what it was like, playing together. Cooperative. VERY cooperative.

Except when I mighta punched him with a pickaxe.

Yeah, that was pretty much my weekend, right there.

I understand that you really can’t make an MMO in the Minecraft model. A world that every player could mold to their own will would be a battlefield of conflicting creative visions, and if it was a PvP world, then every camping asshat would be seeking to overwrite or destroy the creations of others.

That doesn’t prevent me from wishing that there was a way for a phased area to be set aside for each player, much as the farms are, to be our sandbox to shape as we will.

And to wish such a place, once it existed in game, could be set to allow specific invited guests to come visit.

Minecraft satisfies an urge that World of Warcraft does not; to play an active part in shaping the world around us, to set aside a place where everything is as we wish it, and to say, “This is my home. My actual home, my place of refuge, my fortress of solitude, my oasis of calm midst the chaos of a land eternally at war. Come, friend, take your ease and be welcome.”

In Minecraft, my son and I explored islands, built homes, and crafted defenses against the nocturnal stalkers that hunt the night.

We delved deep, and discovered many things. We crafted weapons and armor that were useful and wouldn’t be replaced by drops, and admired how we each looked. (We looked like 16 bit pixel-people. Wearing tinfoil. It was still cool.)

We fought spiders, skeletons armed with bows, ghouls and ender men that could teleport and who would attack if you dared look them in the eyes.

In creative mode, Alex made fountains of lava, and large structures involving levers, pistons, TNT and other stuff that, well… at the flip of a lever, it expanded, then exploded.

He seemed disappointed that it didn’t explode more.

In talking about our game afterwards, I was musing aloud how I wished the game had one additional thing; a way to hire guards to defend your home while you are away.

How great it would be, I mused, if we could build our giant fortresses with the moats of flaming lava and pens of cute animals, and then hire nearby villagers to come and patrol our walls, defend our gates, protect our strongholds while we are away on our adventures.

My son says, “Yeah, I wish I could walk up to a villager, point my sword at him and tell him, serve me or die!”

True story.

And thus, another evil genius is born.

Now I finally understand what Minecraft is.

It’s the Evil Overlord Starter Set.

Now, they just need the minion content update and we’re all good, right?

So you know what we need to have happen now.

We need the Evil Overlord mod, so you can set up your volcano lair with the bond villain death traps, the sharks with frackin’ laser beams in their frackin’ heads, the minions with the different uniform options (identity concealing helmets or non-concealing helmets), all the bells and whistles.

If you’re going to encourage and promote the world-conquering fantasies of ¬†our children, let’s help them aspire to true greatness, shall we?

Volcano lairs. Gotta have a volcano lair. All I’m saying.