Massive Offensive Rant: The Story Belongs to Blizzard

I’m seeing a lot of bitching, pissing and moaning among the community of active players about the story and characters revealed at BlizzCon.

I could probably have truncated that to “I’ve seen a lot of bitching, pissing and moaning.” I don’t have to specify it’s players; it has ever been thus.

“Oh no, I don’t see any strong female leads to base my existence off of and to inspire my daughter to be a whole person!”

“Oh my, all the characters in the story are male, it’s a big boys club, I feel so excluded!”

“Oh, there’s a token female Draenei they mentioned, but she’s described as being like Joan of Arc, and nobody knows what that really means so I’ll make tons of assumptions about Blizzard, the other players, the story, the characters who will be in it and everything ever based on my worldview and prejudices.”

“And then I’ll go rant about it and tell Blizzard how they’re doing it wrong, and need to change things to be more like what I want.”

Really?

First and only lesson that everyone who is an actual writer knows, male or female, is that the story does not belong to the reader, nor is the reader entitled to make demands upon the writer.

The story belongs to the writer or writers. They are the ones who are creating it, it comes from their imaginations, they are the ones with the voice.

If you don’t like the story that they are presenting, if you don’t like the characters they are inspired by and who drive their story, you are free to go make your OWN story, with your OWN characters, and build it into something so popular it’s inspiring millions of people around the world.

Nobody, and I do mean NOBODY has the right to tell ANY author or creator what they should do to change their own creative efforts because clearly you know better.

I know people feel entitled to getting their own way these days, but shit, are you people serious?

Do you really think you have the right to demand anyone change their creative works to meet what you think you want to read?

Sadly, the answer seems to be a resounding YES.

If you are reading or watching or listening to a story, and if you don’t like it, you don’t like the characters or something about what the writers have done pisses you off, the appropriate response is to STOP READING IT.

Only in a nightmare world do you think you can call up the writer and tell them to scrap what they were writing and change it all because you don’t like what you’ve heard on the teaser about it, and oh yeah they need to add some new main characters and give supporting characters you like more of a role because you wish you knew more about what Sylvanus was doing while the Horde was rolling through the Vale or something.

Really?

If you want an example of a strong character, male or female, how about you log into YOUR character that YOU created, and YOU roleplay it how you think it should be done! Your own part of the story done your way. That is how much freedom you have, to create your own story within the world that has been created by other talented writers and artists.

It’s sickening to me. It really is.

And it’s not feminism, don’t even dare to make that mistake.

Everyone wants someone in a story to identify with. Everyone wants a main protagonist that makes a difference and captures our imagination. Male or female, makes no difference.

We want people who capture our imagination. People we get to know, who we come to care about, and who we are proud to play alongside of in the story that unfolds.

I watched all the panels at BlizzCon.

You know what I got out of it?

I heard that the main villains are going to be the original male Orc warlords of old Draenor.

We’re going to go back in time and kill the evil male Orcs that laid waste to everything good in their own world, nearly destroyed our own world, and succeeded in OBLITERATING THEIR OWN PLANET.

We’re going to step back in time and take down the clans that perpetrated the worst evil, the most insane genocidal act imaginable.

They killed an entire planet.

Oh sure, they didn’t mean to, but that was a direct result of their choices. THEIR CHOICES.

And we’re going back to take them down. Orcs that may not have drunk the demon blood, but who have weapons of mass destruction dumped into their hands and told to unleash that upon their world… and ours.

No women among the evil bastards we’re setting out to destroy?

Well… not at first, but you know, there’s going to be an entire series of content patches throughout the course of the expansion, as EVENTS CHANGE THROUGH OUR ACTIONS, it’s possible that maybe SHIT WILL CHANGE from what happened originally, right?

We’re going to be going back to a key point in the story that is already familiar to us and was written… BUT IT’S GOING TO CHANGE AFTER THAT WHEN WE GET ROLLING.

The other thing I heard was that right from the beginning, the single most important NPC character we are going to meet and work alongside of is a female Draenei of blazing spirit that will be as inspirational and important, will have as much impact on our part of the story as a Joan of Arc.

So the enemy are all evil male frat boys and the only NPC worth a damn so far is a female Draenei. Sounds pretty cool to me.

I heard that Garrosh was only the catalyst that sets things in motion, but it’s not going to be a Garrosh story, he’s cast aside early as things move out of control. Good, we’re all sick of Garrosh, it’s good to know that he’s just the fuel that lights the fire.

And finally, I heard that what they were teasing us with in the story was just the tip of the iceberg, the most bare bones hint of what was to come in a story they had been planning and working towards for years.

A story their creative team has mapped out, played with, finding out where they want to go, what inspires them to do next, what arcs they want to tell for years to come.

I heard them say that they have so much of this story they want to tell, so much they want to reveal that they have expansions lined up for the foreseeable future, that there is no end in sight.

And yet!

And yet.

I see people, people I normally respect and admire talking as though what was shown at BlizzCon was the ENTIRE EXPANSION STORY, that there is nothing but what was said or shown to be seen, and they are apparently building entire ivory towers of supposition and assumption around what they imagine.

Most of what I get from that is, these people are prejudiced against Blizzard. Their default state is to feel Blizzard can’t be trusted. Tough.

And they’re ranting and raving about it in public.

You don’t like what you hear, that’s your prerogative.

Blizzard is made up of enthusiastic geeks and creative geniuses. Dave Kosak? Brilliant creator, driving force behind so much of the game… and a horrible public speaker.

I loved listening to everything he said though. He was so damn enthusiastic!

Did he gush too much, did the message he shared sound disjointed, like Old Draenor was going to be this frat pack rat pack party gone amok? Sure.

But am I the only one that got that he was energetic, enthused, and nervous speaking in front of a horde of rabid fans? That he was excited abuot what was to come but was trying to restrain himself to talking about the bits he COULD without spoiling it?

He was sharing his geekspasm with us.

God bless him for it.

I’m sure the politically correct micro-managing backseat drivers would love to spin webs a mile wide from every word he said, but he’s not a political pundit in front of a teleprompter with a carefully rehearsed and sanitized speech that a team of 15 went over to ensure it was as inoffensive as possible.

He was speaking off the cuff. People need to get a grip.

Have all of you forgotten the massive story arc changes that the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria took us through?

You were shown a video of us arriving on the shores of Pandaria. Were you really able to infer from all of that the raid on Orgrimmar and a new warchief?

You have NO INFORMATION TO BASE YOUR OUTRAGE ON.

You don’t know shit about what’s going to come.

I just… I can’t imagine this shit happening anywhere else, and then I can.

Is it that we have characters in the game world, characters that we love? Is that what leads some of us to think we’re entitled to a say in the way the story will be written?

Do people think that we’re all working together to build the most epic story ever told? A story written by committee?

I can only imagine Robert Jordan getting mail from fans, “I love the People of the Leaf so much, you don’t write about them enough, please write more about them in the next book.”

Or to Tolkein, “I thought your books were good, but you barely mentioned Tom Bombadil in passing and never returned to that character again. Please bring Tom back and show us more of their family life.”

Or to Heinlein, “Your Expanded Universe is a great concept, and I love what you did with the World as Fiction idea, but you didn’t take it far enough. You only used the classics like Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz and others in the cross-overs. Why not do a book where they meet characters from a more modern setting like Star Wars? Chewbacca is my favorite, could you have him where he has to save Friday?”

Just… NO.

/makes swishing motion with rolled up newspaper. NO! Bad fans!

You want more awesome stories with these characters? You think there is a way it SHOULD have been written, characters that SHOULD have been created?

WRITE THEM YOURSELF, IF YOU KNOW SO DAMN MUCH.

Fanfic goes anywhere and everywhere. Post links to it on all those social media sites you’ve used to rant about how much Blizzard sucks, okay?

Please do, I’d love to see it and tell YOU what YOU need to change to satisfy MY prejudices.

Moar bears, mostly.

Biggest problem I had with the Disney film “Brave” was, not enough bears innit.

I make light, but really. I’m so sick and tired of this elitist entitlement ignorant shit, so disgusted that I want to drop the keyboard, flush the blog and walk away from the entire community.

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Experienced, Bored, Dangerous?

Pop quiz, hotshot.

So, what happens when you’ve been playing a video game for a very, very long time and you’re bored?

What do you do?

What DO you do?

Experience and boredom. A dangerous combination.

What I’m doing is combining race swapping with race/class specific quest items to mess with people and pay tribute to my best friend Manny, all at the same time.

See, here’s the thing.

I like lightsabers. Back in the day, there were lightsabers in World of Warcraft, and I had a character with one (lost long ago on a server far, far away), but I don’t any longer.

I also like Warriors as alts.

I have one at level 85 (or 86, or something), a Worgen. Kinda okay, but the look of a Worgen Warrior isn’t stirring my interest, plus, no lightsabers.

When Cataclysm came around, a lot of stuff changed. One of them was the lightsaber. They’re pretty darn rare nowadays. Used to be super rare world drops, might still be, not really the point.

There IS still a 100% guaranteed way to get a lightsaber in the game.

Roll a Gnome Warrior.

The Gnome Warrior starts in the revamped Gnomeregan area, and the level THREE quest Arts of the Warrior gives you a Very Light Sabre. With stats! Totally transmoggable.

But I don’t like playing Gnomes. I wanted to make a female Night Elf warrior like my bud Manny used to play.

Also, the Very Light Sabre is a two handed weapon. I wanted to wield it in one hand, like a, dare I say it? A lightsaber. I could go Arms and two hand it, but I wanted to have it in one hand. Kinda the point, bored and messing with stuff, don’t be typical.

Ah!

But what if, WHAT IF we were to start a Gnome Warrior, get the Very Light Sabre, race change to a Night Elf, level up to 38 and then switch to Fury for Titan’s Grip?

And what if I had two heirloom Bloodied Arcanite Reaper two-handed axes to equip?

And what if I were to transmog them both to look like the Very Light Sabre two-handed sword? Something you can do now, you know.

Why, if I were to do that, it might look something very much like this; Warrior transformed

That is what my Warrior looked like in Eastern Plaguelands, when I was wearing the cultist disguise for the quest to blow up the cauldron, with my main hand weapon enchanted with Crusader, and no enchant on my off hand.

Note how wispy the unenchanted Very Light Sabre looks in that pic.

Looking at the picture, it occurred to me, I hadn’t even begun to plumb the depths of this rabbit hole.

The Very Light Sabre, when unenchanted, looks ephemeral. Not very saber-y at all. The glow associated with Crusader bulked up the apparent ‘blade’ pretty nice, but applied a strong white tint.

So, what would happen if I started messing with different colored weapon enchants? The blade itself is a glow, and weapon enchants appear on your transmog so I’d be applying a glow overlaid on a glow.

Ah, what fun. What fun.

You might get something like this;

Crusader and Elemental Force

Which is what you get with Crusader in your main hand and Elemental Force on your off hand.

Elemental Force? But isn’t that a higher level enchant? Why, yes it is, enchants scale with weapon level now so you can use ANY ENCHANT YOU’D LIKE irregardless of former ilevel restrictions. Use a MoP enchant on your weapon, by all means, the effects scale down… but the enchant stays the same. 🙂

So, interesting. A little red added to the blue, doesn’t bulk up the forward half of the blade at all, but interesting effect.

How about going all in on the red?

Twin Greater Savagery - red

Let’s try one of the more vibrant reds in the game, twin Greater Savagery.

That’s pretty cool, but you clearly see that the wispy end of the Very Light Sabre doesn’t get converted by the weapon enchant. In this case, I tried it in combat and it looked REALLY cool, but what would happen if we overlaid a solid blue enchant on the wispy blue Very Light Sabre?

Maybe something like this?

Twin Windsong - blue

If you compare that shot of twin Windsongs with the earliest shot of an unenchanted Very Light Sabre, you’ll see the Windsong has bulked up the wispy blade graphic, making them look like true lightsabers.

Here’s another view, not very good I know, Hellfire Peninsula has a bad filter;

Twin Windsong - blue posed

See, now this is the kind of trouble you get into when you know about weapon enchant colors, unique items from racial and class quests, tricks to transmogs, class mechanics and how easy it is to grind Justice Points to grab some heirlooms.

And there is still farther I can take this, I haven’t even farmed up the JP to upgrade all my Heirlooms to be good from 80 to 85 yet!

One of the great things to look forward to is, I get to start browsing for brown cloth items to try and make a Jedi Robe appearance, and I get to really scour the plate drop lists for transmog gear to farm that would look good on a Night Elf dual wielding lightsabers…

Way back, the first few months I played WoW with my friend Manny, he had two characters he loved, the male Dwarf Hunter (and his cat), and his female Night Elf Warrior.

Manny hasn’t played in many a year, but having made this character and bopping around with her, it takes me all the way back.

Good times. Good times.

How much better when I’m running down the streets of Stormwind, and someone stops me and asks me where the HECK I got the swords from?!?

So.

What do YOU do with your dangerous knowledge when it’s the wee hours of the morning and you’re feeling bored?

World of Warcraft has gone insane with Recruit a Friend

Good morning, my friends.

In the wake of all the BlizzCon craziness, can I just say the timing on the revamped Recruit a Friend program is hilarious?

“Now that’s you’re all abuzz over the awesome things coming in the next expansion, pimp the game to your friends! Get them to ditch their old abandoned accounts and make brand new ones! Reap those yummy rewards, you know you wanna catch ’em all!”

Yes. Yes, damn you, I do.

Don’t know if you’ve heard, but if you are an active player and you Recruit a Friend someone that starts a brand new account, or has an active account less than 30 days old from like right now, and IF they pay for two months of game time, then you get your choice of one of eight awesome rewards, including four ultra rare pets and the Emerald Hippogryph.

You can’t use it to bring back players that have left the game, you do that with a Scroll of Resurrection, a completely different program that has NOT been revamped or had rewards expanded. So for all of you who might have been interested in coming back, I’d be happy to shoot you a Scroll of Resurrection, but you can’t be RAFed on your existing accounts.

“All those moments, lost. Like tears… in the rain.”

You CAN create a new World of Warcraft account on your existing Battle-net account. Did you know that? One battle-net login, multiple WoW accounts. My son actually has THREE, a free-to-play, a Recruit a Friend, and a third full account which is our only paid account on his battle-net. When he logs in, the screen prompts him to pick among WoW1, WoW2 and WoW3.

I talked to customer support about it once… if I wanted to, I could transfer characters from among the various accounts to consolidate them into one, then remove the unwanted ones. Just haven’t seen any reason to. You never know when they might change things so that there are new rewards to shooting a Scroll of Ressurection over to a long dead account, you know what I mean?

All that to say, you could both revive your original account and create a new one, then after enjoying the xp bonuses transfer characters and consolidate later.

Or keep playing Guild Wars 2.

Allow me to say this straight up – if you have any interest in creating a new account to play in advance of the new expansion, and would be willing to be my Recruit a Friend buddy, just let me know at thebigbearbutt@gmail.com. Be happy to friend up with you, I have warlock cookies.

As an avid pet collector, it really hurts to see those pets, the tigers especially, gated as Recruit a Friend rewards.

Would I buy them for $10 or $15 if they were on the Blizzard store? Yes, at least I would buy the tigers. The pigs, I long ago accepted I wasn’t going to get the pigs so I took my own Mr Wiggles, upgraded him to Rare quality and leveled him to 25. I’ve got my porker, and he’s a peach of a pet!

Am I going to buy another copy of the game for $20, then pay for two months of game time at $32 total, just for one pet? $52 for a pet. Really?

No. No, I’m not. It doesn’t sound like much until you spread it across 4 pets. The day I spend over $200 to collect four pets in a game where I already have over 500 pets is the day Cassie shoots me.

And as she stands there over my rapidly cooling body, the smoke wisping from the barrels of the shotgun, I won’t even ask why. I’ll utter with my dying breath, “Thank you for freeing me from the madness…”

Anyway.

For more details on the new Recruit a Friend system and the rewards, check out the official post with in depth videos and the process at http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/279639-recruit-a-friend-program-offers-new-rewards/

And again, if you’re looking to come back with a fresh account and would like to be my recruit a Friend buddy, send me an email!

Pimping done, over and out.

Warlords of Draenor – AKA Minion Masters!

The new expansion for World of Warcraft has been announced at BlizzCon. Warlords of Draenor.

Go back in time.
SEE! the doomed world of Draenor.
FEEL! the drums of the clans inspiring young orcs to war.
BATTLE! the famous warlords of the past to save modern-day Azeroth from destruction.
WITNESS! Thrall meeting his mommy and daddy and realizing they put their loincloths on one hole at a time just like everyone else.
SAVE! an entire world and change events that will have no effect on our own timeline, so are they real fake people or fake fake people?
PLAY! in a different leg of the bifurcated trousers of time (copyright Terry Pratchett).

Lots of stuff came out, and for that news stuff I suggest you go visit WoW Insider or MMO Champion. Anything you could possibly want to know about BlizzCon and World of Warcraft announcements can be found there.

If a game developer farted at BlizzCon, WoW Insider was there, liveblogging it.

I’m saying it’s exhaustive coverage. Or is that supposed to be extensive? No, no I was right the first time. Just kidding! Sorta. It’s all done with love. And a level of stalking that is a little scary if you stop and think about it.

Enough blathering. I’m going to talk about the single new WoW feature I’m most excited about, that’s right, you saw it in the post title…

GARRISONS!

Garrisons are the new WoW player housing. Except it’s not a freaking house, or a hut on a farm, it’s your own walled fortress city.

A city. You get a city.

I’m sorry, but we go from an overgrown plot of weeds and rocks doing slave labor for a panda to building our own populated fortress.

Blizzard, you had me at “Followers”.

First, the official word on Garrisons from the official Blizzard CM blog post;

In Warlords of Draenor, you’ll make a permanent impact on the world with a Garrison: your own personal fortress that you build, staff, and manage. You’ll customize your Garrison’s layout, appearance, and gameplay effects, and attract followers to operate it. The Garrison allows World of Warcraft players to own a larger part of the world than ever before, and opens up a wide variety of interesting gameplay decisions—with as much or as little micromanagement as you wish.

Your Garrison exists seamlessly in the world, but you won’t need to go into an instance portal to visit your home base—as you travel through Draenor, you’ll see your Garrison looming on the horizon.

Read on for more details.

Followers

Followers are NPCs (non-player characters) that you recruit to join your Garrison. You’ll send them on missions to improve your Garrison and earn loot for your character. You can also allocate them to complete tasks—things like crafting or gathering resources, which they’ll do whether you’re online or offline.

Followers have a character level, an item level, and traits that affect missions and tasks. For example, if they have the Mining trait, you’ll be able to assign them to a Mine in your Garrison to gather resources for you. There are common, uncommon, rare, and epic followers, and their rarity affects the number of traits they can have.

Recruiting Followers

To run an effective Garrison, you’ll first need to recruit followers. Some will make their own way to your base, but you can also upgrade your Inn to attract more followers. You can also win followers to your cause as you progress through the game’s story, when completing quests, or simply by coughing up the right sum of gold to hire mercenaries.

When they’re not away on missions, your followers hold down posts at your Garrison, where you can visit them at any time. A major goal for the Garrison system is for followers to be dynamic and interesting—for example, if a follower fails a mission that takes place in a local dungeon, they might be taken prisoner; the next time you adventure in that dungeon, you’ll be able to rescue them.

Missions

Mission Objectives

You’ll send your followers on missions for varied purposes. Successful missions will give you the resources you need to keep developing your Garrison, but you’ll also have the chance to acquire powerful loot for your character, and your followers will gain experience for each mission they run.

The resources you’ll acquire during missions include both existing crafting reagents and Garrison-specific materials. For example, if you assign a follower to a mining mission, you could receive ore, but you might also unearth stone, a new kind of resource used to construct and upgrade buildings.

Though followers are great for solo play, the system also has multiplayer elements. When you dispatch a party of your followers on certain missions, you’ll also be able to join forces with your guildmates’ followers, even if your guildmate is offline.

Follower Progression

Followers grow in power in a way that mirrors players’ progression. From levels 90–100, followers will gain character levels, which have a significant impact on their abilities and mission success chance. They’ll also increase their item level as you equip them with follower-specific gear; once they’ve reached level 100, equipment will have a larger role to play in their overall effectiveness.

Garrisons & Buildings

Building Functions

Buildings are the individual “pieces” of your Garrison—Stables, Farms, Mines, Armories, and more. They improve your ability to recruit, use, and train followers; to craft; to complete missions; and to run missions more quickly by reducing your followers’ downtime.

Each building in your garrison can be upgraded, which amplifies its mechanical effect and visuals. For example, an upgraded Barracks will grow bigger and more impressive, but it’ll also increase the number of followers you can send on missions at one time (for example, 5 followers at once for a level 1 Barracks, then 7 followers, then 12—though the exact numbers are still in flux).

Customizing Your Garrison’s Look

Buildings in your Garrison can be placed in a number of configurations. You can only place small-sized buildings (primarily crafting-related) on small plots; a larger building, like a Barracks, won’t fit. Bigger buildings can be constructed early on—even a “starting” Garrison has room for a large structure. As your Garrison increases in level, you’ll get access to more and larger building space, and increase the versatility and power of your holdings.

Garrisons are visually distinct depending on whether you’re a Horde or Alliance player, and you’ll be able to place your Garrison in one of several zones on Draenor. You’ll also specify your Garrison’s layout (the physical location of buildings within your Garrison’s walls), and select the buildings you’d like to include. Choosing to “spec” your buildings (more on that below) will also change cosmetic aspects of those buildings, like furniture types and decorations, in addition to imparting different gameplay effects.

Garrisons can be shown off to same-faction players in your party, who can walk around your base, converse with your NPCs, and appraise your layout. You’ll have a reason to show your Garrison off, too: trading resources. For example, if you have extra building resources, you’ll be able to bring them to a friend’s Garrison and exchange them for materials that you need.

Specializing Buildings

When specializing your Garrison’s buildings, you’ll choose a variant on the bonuses and abilities the building provides. For example, one Mine specialization might make your miners gather ore faster by the hour, while another will increase the chance that your workers strike a rare mining node. Several buildings can provide you with access to professions that your character hasn’t mastered—though you won’t have enough plots to put one down for every profession.

As you begin building up your Garrison, we expect that you’ll interact with it quite a bit. However, over time, it’s expected that your interaction will become more casual. At lower levels, your missions are on shorter time cycles (minutes, hours or days); once your followers have reached high levels, it’s likely that you’ll send some of them off on longer raid missions for a week at a time. We want garrisons to be important, but our goal is a system that’s easy to enjoy without being extremely intensive.

Take command on Draenor!

Your Garrison will be woven deeply into the storyline of Warlords of Draenor, beginning when your faction leader commissions you to establish a beachhead on this alien world—but the ultimate fate of your personal fortress on Draenor is entirely up to you.

Pretty insanely awesome, right?

Here are more details from BlizzCon about Garrisons, and also my take on things.

startingbuildings garrisons - smallA Garrison is your own personal phased place in the old world of Draenor. You decide what zone you want your Garrison to be in, and if later on you decide you’d prefer the whole Garrison to be somewhere else, you will be able to move your Garrison to a different zone. So it’s not a permanent decision, you can make a mistake and change it later.

largebuildings garrisobns - small

Your Garrison is exactly like the farm in one respect; progress/development is tied to one character. Each of your characters will have a different Garrison. Blizzard has said that there will be ways to accelerate other Garrison growth once one character has it maxed.

mediumbuildings - garrisons small

I do not know if your Followers will be leveled and shared across your account, just like pets and mounts are now, or if they will be character specific. I’d love some clarification on that. Since you have to level them and there are different quality levels, I would have assumed Followers would be account wide.

smallbuildings garrisons - small

However, some of the comments from Blizzard concerning limits on numbers of Followers sent out on missions and bringing back loot for a specific character, and the fact they say your Followers will be present on your Garrison performing the tasks you assigned them when you visit makes me feel that right now Followers will also be specific to a particular character. I have no hard facts, but that is my feeling as things stand now.

garrisons - missions

I find it interesting that they have mentioned there will be Follower-specific gear. That means you don’t give your Followers your own cast-off loot drops as you would in Diablo III. They get their own special items. I guess that way there won’t be complaints that the Rogue is rolling Need on Plate drops so “My tank Followers can get geared up.”

garrisons - missions 2

Your friends can visit your Garrison. Yes! The Garrisons are phased like existing farms, but if you form a party with your friends, the other members of the party will be able to visit (be in phase with) the Garrison of the party leader, up to a whole 40 person raid!

So, the Garrison is like the original Warcraft real time strategy (RTS) towns on crack. The buildings you plop down are real buildings in World of Warcraft. You can enter them, explore them, they are furnished with stuffs. The barracks is a real barracks, not just a building with a glowing door that troops sometimes come running from. I always wanted to go in those damn things! Also, Blizzard has announced they are working on updating the code on the original Warcraft games so they will run on modern versions of Windows. Please release soon, I want to play them all over again!

You will be able to decorate and customize your Garrison buildings. It was specifically mentioned that if you kill a creature out in Draenor and take it’s head as a trophy, you will be able to display it somewhere in your Garrison. More details were not provided, but customization is very cool. Technically, the farm ALSO had this kind of customization. If you improved your relationship with the Friends on the Farm, they would upgrade/decorate your personal farm and sometimes give you pets, join you there, etc. So it might be that these customizations for the Garrison will follow the same lines. We might not be talking color changes or banners, or new furniture is what I’m saying.

Your Garrison will be populated by minions, um, I mean Followers. Your minions. Minions that you will mostly recruit from the town hall of your city, and that have quality ratings just like current pets do. You will be able to assign minions to work in the buildings you erect, and when you go into those buildings or the mine or whatever, there they will be for you to see, hard at work.

I took all of the screenshots you see here directly from the archived BlizzCon streams, so these are fresh as of this weekend.

All buildings can be upgraded through three tiers, and if you look at the screenshots, some are greyed out. You will be able to buy and find Blueprints in the game for upgrading buildings, and possibly also to unlock a specific new building type.

There are more types of buildings than there are spaces to put them, even at max size, so you will have to decide what buildings you want.

I would like to point out that one of the screenshots shows the Dance Studio as a building, grayed out but there as a choice. Clearly, not all building types will be available when you first set up your Garrison, you will have to unlock more somehow later on.

garrison - tier two dance studio

So for buildings, there is an element of collecting going on here. Collecting buildings, collecting upgrade Blueprints.

Garrisonbuilding placing

Then we have the minions. Yes, they are minions, and just thinking about it gives me a gleeful evil cackle from the cockles of my heart.

From the screenshots, you can see they have quality levels, just like our pets do. We can name them, we can assign them quests, send them out to level them up.

Minions will be able to be assigned to buildings in your garrison to gather materials or craft things. When you do that, and then go visit that building, there they will be. Just, too cool.

Minions can be teamed up with other minions, formed into groups and sent on dungeon runs, and even formed up into large groups and sent on raids to bring you back loot.

None of us have ever had minions (or followers) in the game before. These will be brand new, and it makes perfect sense that we’ll be able to recruit them in our Garrison Town Hall.

garrisons - tier 1 starting

garrisons - rank two

garrisons - rank three

It doesn’t end there, though. Blizzard made it clear in their blog post I quoted above that we will be able to run across potential Followers in Inns / Taverns elsewhere in the world.

Isn’t that wonderful? Entering a Tavern to recruit a Follower to send on quests, just like in the conventional AD&D games. After all, how many dungeon adventures start with the heroes all in the bar, drinking? “It was a dark and stormy night, the heroes are at the table before the fire in the crowded inn, and the door bangs open. An old man makes his way in, tired and worn, chilled from the storm. He comes to your table, struggling with a heavy burden. When he reaches your table, he unwraps the bundle he carries, and there revealed is a shield, worn but fine, chased with gold, emblazoned with the symbol of a hero long vanished. He has a mission, will you choose to listen to his tale?”

All adventures should start in a bar.

On a side note, have you ever heard of Tun Tavern, the birthplace of the US Marine Corps? No idea why I just thought of that.

Think how incredibly rewarding it will be when, after following a quest chain where we help avenge the death of someone’s family, they decide to join us and follow us, because we gave of ourselves to help them.

Such a simple thing. Gaining a new follower for completing a long quest chain where you spent the last several hours (or game days) helping them. You got to know them, spent lots of time with them, gave of yourself to help them, and now they’re going to join YOU on your continuing adventures.

What about gaining Followers in some of the new spontaneous world events that were announced?

You find that broken down caravan wagon in the snow, surrounded by Iron Horde orcs racing around on their war wolves and throwing spears as the people huddle inside and try to hold them off. You pitch in, chase off the orcs and help the people get to safety, and one of them decides to join you, inspired by your selflessness in saving their lives at great risk of your own. A new Follower to inspire and mentor.

That is such an amazing, rewarding idea. If Blizzard moves forward with this as they have announced, especially if we can name them afterwards, just think of the level of immersion, the depth of roleplay opportunities this provides, especially when up to 40 of your friends can come to join you in a special phased town of your own creation, populated with people YOU named?

And sure, we will likely (just guessing here) be able to get new minions as drops in raids, just like everywhere we currently find pets in the game.

Maybe we could even get new Followers from our professions. Engineers have already learned how to craft the Rascal-bot and Pierre, we have made the Blingtron and Jeeves, is it such a stretch to imagine us making the Minomatic 9001? A mechanical marvel we can set in our mine to harvest ore, and you know it’s going to get bonus ore from it’s mining, because it’s OVER NINE THOUSAND.

Followers, minions, whatever you’d like to call them, this will be amazing.

We will be recruiing minions, assigning them tasks, building instance groups and sending them off to adventure for us, building entire raid teams and ordering them to get in that dangerous place and bring me back some gear.

We can obsess over minion quality, leveling them up, what cute names to choose for them and the many tasks and quests they can do.

My son watched the whole thing with me, and when he saw you could name your minions, he announced “I’m going to name mine Bob, Bob, Bobtwo, Bob and Bob.”

Me, I’ll probably name mine after friends just like I have my pets.

Except for that one minion that fails at everything, and dies on every raid. You know there will be THAT ONE MINION, and I will find a special name for him. Oh, yes I will.

The developers have said that you will be able to use the Follower interface anywhere in the world to send them on tasks, but to collect the actual rewards they gather or bring back, you will need to visit your Garrison.

This mission system for your Followers looks like it would be perfect for using offline to assign your Followers tasks from your phone, and get the results later in game, but the developers have said they are not working on a mobile version of it at the moment. Too bad, I’d love to be able to manage my growing army of minions while I’m at work, and kiss the last smidgeon of productivity goodbye.

This Garrison and Follower addition is truly the most amazing thing I have seen in the game in all the years I have played. I thought pet battles were as good as it could ever get, but I was wrong. Oh, so freaking wrong.

The ramifications of all of this go so far beyond my expectations, I don’t even care what else they said was coming.

New raids and instances? That’s nice. A new world? Thank you, I’ll enjoy discovering it. No new major changes to pets? That’s okay, I don’t need them.

Oh wait, we might be breeding pets at the pet stables in our Garrison? Um, ew? I don’t have to, like, insert anything anywhere, do I? I like pets, but not that much. If they want to get it on, I don’t ask, they don’t tell.

No, really. Don’t tell. And if my Creepy Crate and Soul of the Aspects get together and present me with a Creepy Aspect, I really, REALLY don’t want to be told how. NOPE.

My own city and minions to command, marshaling my forces and sending them on raids, matching skills and abilities to take on more complex missions?

Expectations exceeded, mind blown, just take my damn money right now. Please?

My Pre-Blizzcon spoiler-free predictions

Good morning, folks.

As we wait for the opening ceremony of Blizzcon to begin, I wanted to get my expansion predictions out there before the floodgates of actual data come roaring out.

I know there have been ‘spoilers’ and other things going up on places like MMO Champion, and I have not read them. I might be and probably will be 100% wrong in my predictions, but that’s part of the fun.

I know we’re seeing “Warlords of Draenor” as the probably titles of the next expansion. That’s not really a spoiler, it’s all over the place because of the licensing.

I’m basing my prediction mostly on what I feel the game would benefit from in actual play.

I predict the expansion will bring a focus back to Outlands, in two parts;

First, I think the existing Outlands zones will be revamped the way Cataclysm refreshed Azeroth, improving (or simply changing) the leveling experience from 60 – 70.

Second, I think that we will either see an entire world/continent of Old Draenor accessed from the Caverns of Time, OR we will see a series of seperate zone/dimensions accessed from multiple portals throughout Outlands.

Here is my thinking on the second part.

Draenor was torn apart by Ner’zhul when he tried to open multiple dimensional portals to new worlds for the Horde to conquer. It was when traveling through one of those portals that he was captured by the Burning Legion, and eventually transformed into the husk of psionic armor that was the original Lich King.

Those multiple dimensional portals were created, orcs fled through them (or charged into them as solid armies bent on conquest) as the world of Draenor was torn apart around them.

The Burning Legion was clearly out there through some of them, because they nabbed Ner’zhul.

It makes sense to me that armies of orcs may still be out there spread among multiple dimensional portals, some of whom are either waging their own ongoing wars of conquest OR are actively fighting for or against the Burning Legion on other planets.

All it would take to bring us back into this storyline would be for some of those far-off orcs to try and open a return portal back. Somehow, some way. The maguffin of how isn’t important.

What this would give us is potential portals opening in key areas of Outlands, and that would change what is going on there in those zones right now, bringing them all current with drama for us to take part in. Orc/Burning Legion invasions into Outlands through portals, the homelands of the orcs (Thrall’s gramma!) and draenei that we have to protect, etc.

Even orcs requesting we provide aid to them on some of those far-flung worlds defending against the Burning Legion.

The other part of that second idea is just me being kinda grumpy.

I’ve done the Empowering the Hourglass quests, and I feel like seeing our good buddy time traveler Nozdormu watching over Garrosh is ominous.

I wonder… what happens if Garrosh, still alive and awaiting his trial, is given the opportunity to go back in time to original Draenor and ‘redeem’ his father, prevent him from ever drinking the blood of Mannoroth in the first place?

Does anyone think that would end up well? A happily ever after tale?

What if Sargeras, once a presence within Medivh… is now a presence in Nozdormu instead, and that is the corrupting influence we’ve been seeing? And Sargeras is now guiding Nozdormu to get Garrosh back to Old Draenor and change the events that led to the downfall of the Burning Legion on Azeroth?

What if we have to pursue Garrosh into Old Draenor as a still-vibrant intact world, and face the Horde and Burning Legion all over again, a do over but with Sargeras revealed as being the spirit inhabiting and eventually freed from Nozdormu?

See what I did there? Two completely different ideas for the level 90+ content, both spun from pure BS.

The only thing I really believe is that the expansion reveals are going to be all about revamped Outlands and new Burning Crusade modern day Outlands stuff.

Okay, I’m only hoping.

I’ll be watching new news from Blizzcon as eagerly as anyone else!