I regret to announce that […] this is the END! I am going. I am leaving NOW! GOODBYE!"
— Bilbo Baggins, on the occasion of his Sudden Disappearance
This shall be my final post on this blog. I will continue blogging on my other WoW site, Not All Hunters, but this dedicated site is going dark at the end of May, 2015, and will not be coming back.
It has been a delight to share my time with you here, and I have enjoyed the chance to interact with a number of people that have either commented here, or poked me from elsewhere, or just dragged me into their raiding group for a big old group hug. It’s been a sweet eight years, and I’m glad for the chance to say goodbye on my terms rather than somebody else’s.
As you may have guessed, I’m still going to be playing WoW, and will have things to say about it along the way. If I have pithy thoughts towards anything game-like at the moment, I’ll share them over on that other blog.
That brings me to my final thought. People have time and again poked at the concept of a WoW “Community”, denied it exists, denied it is any good even if it DID exist.
Well, last week, the WoW community literally saved a woman’s life. As she posted a couple of disturbing suicidal tweets, the community went into action, and instead of reading about her death, we were the next day treated to her grateful tweet explaining that the police busted down her door and dragged her off to a hospital. They saved her life.
Maybe you don’t believe in the WoW community because you’re not part of it. I don’t know. But I know there is one, and it can be an agent of good, and there are many people that are grateful for that this very night.
That’s all I have to say here. We’ll meet again, I’m sure.
Play us off, Stevie.
When I see you again, As I always do, It appears to me that Destiny rules. And the spirits are ruthless with the paths they choose. It’s not being together, It’s just following the rules. No one’s a fool.
As I’m retiring the blog, I hate to leave the various inhabitants of this blog in limbo. Here, then, is the resolution of each thread of their existence, virtually speaking.
Flora eventually retired from adventuring, having never achieved green fire, refusing to run anything but Demon spec. By "retired" we mean, of course, that she took out Milo Oddcog, the leader of the criminal underground in Stormwind, and promptly assumed his station and ran things the way she saw fit – starting with, of course, a huge shift in how the syndicate dealt with young orphaned girls, especially as they achieved womanhood. She died thirty years afterward from buffalo wings that were so powerful, they projected her soul into the wrong dimension and it was eaten by demons.
Jasra retired from raiding and settled in at the Legerdemain Lounge in Dalaran, where she worked as a barmaid in the day and relished life to the fullest with her lover Amisi Azuregaze and her husband, Arille. While she freely donated healing and services to the Dalaran orphanage, she never healed in anger again.
Faiella finally burned out the rage and pain gifted to her by the Lich King on Icecrown Glacier, fighting the remnants of his forces near the Well of Souls. She died never having betrayed the trust of her family, and that was a gift beyond measure, for her.
For many years, he courted Illume, as he was smitten. She rebuffed him, saying she was in love with a man in Gilneas and she would not turn her back on that. When the Graymane Gate was shattered, he used his resources within the Syndicate to locate said person – who was still alive, though Worgenfied – and hired assassins to end him.
Illume was not without her own resources and, upon discovering this chain of events, had Slithmere put to death in the city square of Gilneas. He did not appreciate the irony that she hired the same assassins that he had earlier.
After settling matters with Slithmere, she seemed to decide that instead of explaining things to the rest of the clan, she would go into exile herself. She was last sighted exploring the ancient libraries of Eldre’Thalas, learning from the masters of the High Elves remaining there, and generally trying to keep a low profile. She rebuffed many attempts at renewed contact from Grimm, Flora, and Jasra, and either died or disappeared in those halls.
Kutath settled with the Dwarven shamani of the Twilight Highlands and married an impressive dwarven lass named Magenta Ironcask, herself a capable student of the elements. He dedicated his spare time to the art of brewing fine ales, and was renowned as far away as Shadowforge for his talents. When asked why she married him, Magenta claimed that she fell in love with is penchant for drinking songs.
Orlee took up the shield and died on the battlefield in Draenor Renewed, finding more than enough Orcs to sate her lust for revenge.
Amus never left Grimm’s side when he wasn’t off serving as a soldier of the Light. His greatest battle is yet to come.
Yar never gave up trying to save Azeroth from the corruption of the Horde, and died fighting the Horde in Warsong Gulch, trying in vain to save one more tree from their vile axes.
Wojo eventually left Khaz Modan to take up studies with the high Monks of Pandaria. She didn’t return until Gnomeregan was finally retaken. When she did, she dedicated her life to bringing harmony to the troubled city, and lived out her days doing just that.
Grimm settled on the outskirts of the Twilight Highlands, as close to Grim Batol as he could manage, and spent most of his time helping with the effort to rehabilitate the city. Mogdug’s curse still prevails, but he has hopes of some day seeing the forge refired and reclaiming his family’s legacy.
He married, having been proposed to by the Widow Holly Hearthstone on the occasion of his fifth Brewfest in the Highlands. It is said that the two of them made a wedding present to Kutath and Magenta of his grandpappy’s lost ale recipes, but nobody has ever confirmed that they even exist, and nobody’s telling.
Once a year, the remnants of the clan, excepting Illume and Slithmere, gather together at Grimm’s place and toast those that have been lost; those that are absent; and to celebrate those bright days of yore when we gathered together to fight giants, dragons, and legends.
Some say that they speak of doing again, someday. Some say they already have. But everyone agrees that the land is brighter, the moons shine fairer, the ale is sweeter, and the songs are merrier when the whole clan comes together.
Those were the days of legend, friends. None shall see their likes in Azeroth ever again.
I have a post ready to go that tells the story of where each of the inhabitants of this blog end up, but some of them are dependent on stories yet untold. To provide a bit of context, I’d like to provide a précis of those untold backstories. Most of these stories are already written to the greater extent, but I’ve never really been ready to publish them, and now that’s not going to happen at all.
Floramel (Human Warlock)
Flora’s origin story involved her – as a young girl – working for a character I had introduced before, a fellow named Milo Oddcog, the head of the criminal underground in Stormwind, who also happens to be a warlock.
She had been teaching herself the ins and outs of being a warlock using “borrowed” tomes from his office when she fell in with one of his old rivals, who offered to train her more fully in exchange for certain bits of intelligence on his business.
It all came to a head when Milo brought her along on an exchange between himself and a Dwarf named Grimmtooth. Her erstwhile teacher ambushed Milo, got torched for his troubles, and Grimm got accused of trying to double-cross Milo. Thinking on her feet, Flora changed the balance of power in the ensuing standoff, in favor of Grimmtooth.
Which earned her the gratitude of said Dwarf, who put Milo in charge of her Warlock training in exchange for his life. She became the first of Grimm’s “adoptees” and was instrumental in establishing his estate in Ironforge.
Illume (Human Mage) and Slithmere (Night Elf Rogue)
One cannot discuss the story of Illume without also discussing Slithmere, for, you see, he fell in love with her and attempted many times to woo her. She rebuffed him, however, being betrothed to someone in Gilneas who she had not yet given up on quite yet.
When the Graymane Gate was shattered, Slithmere used his contacts to locate this person, who he found had become “worgenfied”. He hired assassins to kill this worgen. Even so, news of his death (minus context) was not sufficient to earn her love.
When she found that he was the one that hired assassins to kill her fiancé Effington, she spurned him, and the clan at large expelled him from the group. He has been on his own, a lone wolf in he darkness, ever since. Nobody knows what his intentions are.
Faiella (Dwarven Death Knight)
We know Faiella’s origin as a Death Knight, but her defining moment has yet to be described. As she wandered the frozen wastes of Icecrown Glacier, she encountered the ghost of Mathias Lehner, the alleged lost innocence of Arthas Menethil, who brought her face to face with her fear of slaying her family at the command of The Lich King. This has been her greatest fear since her Enlightenment. She lacked conviction that she was not, in fact, a ticking time bomb, and feared that she would, at the worst possible time, slay all those who she loved.
She came to some level of peace with her inner demons during this episode, but remained aloof from her family ever after.
Orlee (Draenai Warrior) and Kutath (Draenai Shaman)
Orlee was originally a priest in Karabor, but when the Orcs invaded and sacked it, her spirit – but not her body – was broken. When she awoke on Azeroth, she eschewed her priestly upbringing and embraced the way of the warrior, claiming that the worlds would never be safe until every damned Orc that ever existed was dead. She has dedicated her life to this goal, and it has made her perhaps a little less balanced than one would expect from a Draenai. Not that she cares. There’s murdering to be done.
Kutath, her brother, tried as hard as he could to rein her in before she turned her back on her upbringing completely. He does his best to smooth out any conflicts she may cause amongst the group, or Azeroth in general, but otherwise he is fully dedicated to the Shamanistic path, and has become fascinated by the Shamani of the Wildhammer Dwarves.
Yarley (Night Elf Druid)
Yarley’s family was in Warsong when the Orcs invaded, and what she saw has forged her as an extremist Druid; basically, anything the Horde does is viewed through her very narrow point of view of whether it is good for Azeroth or not. With that in mind, she has concluded that pretty much everything the Horde does – including the Tauren – is destroying the planet, and thus she has concluded that the only good Hordie is a dead Hordie, nurturing the earth with their rotting remains.
Wojo (Gnome Monk)
Our newest member has an inherent curiosity that drew her to the Zen philosophy of the Monks of Pandaria. Grimm adopted her when he found her stowing away in his luggage on the way to The Jade Forest, and promised her a place among the Hidden Land if she would apply herself and gain the experience necessary to survive in this new land without an escort. She has been doing so every since, in the land of Khaz Modan.
Her curiosity makes her a lot less prone to judgment, and thus she is the sole member of the clan that maintains contact with Slithmere. Her main point of inquiry: what makes someone like him tick? Was it love alone or something more sinister? She’s yet to draw conclusions.
I’ll have wordier things to say in the month yet to come, but I want to make An Announcement.
Namely, that in a month’s time, this blog will be going offline. I’ve decided that it’s no longer worth $100/year for what amounts to essentially a vanity project.
I’ll still be playing WoW – I have enough gold to buy tokens for years to come – but as time goes on I see less of interest to blog about, and certainly not worth paying real money to blog.
I may open something on a free platform, so I’ll make the announcement as to where it is, if I do. grimmtooth.wordpress.com isn’t available, as I once opened it then closed it and, apparently, that’s irreversible. Go figure.
My gratitude goes out to those of you that have taken the time to read, comment, argue, scoff, laugh, and celebrate this strange world that is World of Warcraft with us. It is very much appreciated.
As you know, the subtitle of this blog is “Say hello to the voices in my head.” This is a reference to the sort of internal roleplay I do with my toons in order to develop some internal sense of consistency in how they behave, dress, craft, and fight. While Grimmtooth (/wave) is more or less a direct channel to my daily internal monologue, the others – Jasra, Floramel, Illume, Faiella, Slithmere, Orlee, Amusmoses, Yarley, and Wojo – all more or less inhabit some crevasse of Grimmtooth Actual’s brain. And as such, I intend to write up a send-up for each of them, collectively or individually, I haven’t decided. More for my internal peace of mind than anything else. I’m pretty sure nobody else really cares that much where Floramel ends up when she retires. :)
My adventures in Elite: Dangerous and Eve Online1 have highlighted some things that have come out, albeit peripherally, in research. Namely, that third person perspective and first person perspective have profound effects on the immersion that one experiences when playing a game – and how one approaches playing that game.
You may be familiar with this in WoW. You’re sitting at the mailbox, going through the daily hate mail from Arthas and Deathwing, when some tool runs up to you, plants his pixlelly ass in between you and the mailbox, and proceeds to jump up and down.
And jump up and down.
And jump up and down.
And jump up and down.
And jump up and down.
And … well, you get the idea.
Turns out, a VR+Camera rig that gives you the same viewpoint on real life … makes you act exactly the same way you would in an MMO in which you play from the third party viewpoint.
Now, I hasten to emphasize that the experimenter did not indicate whether hir test subjects were frequent gamers, which would tend to skew the behavior a bit3, but I have to say this: even if the only place you do that sort of thing is in an MMO, you’re still … kind of an asshole. Sorry.
Now, getting in someone’s face and jumping up and down is small potatoes compared to other things that people playing in 3PP4 frequently do. They tend to – apparently – not believe that the people they are interacting with are real, and thus they treat those people as if they are not people. Now, personally, I tend to not treat non-people like shit just because I can because I’m not an asshole5 but there seems to be a lot of people that treat abstract entities online badly if they can, because they can.
And here, at last, I get to the point of contrast between Eve Online and Elite: Dangerous.
Eve plays constantly in a third party mode, even when docked. You’re actually viewing your SHIP in 3PP, not even yourself, in that game.
Elite, on the other hand, sticks you in the cockpit and leaves you there. To view your ship in 3PP, in fact, is a DEBUG control. And you can’t do much of anything in debug mode.
If you follow Eve’s politics and drama even peripherally, you’ll know that in 0sec space, no one’s safe unless you have some sort of protection from the “corps”6, you’ll probably end up podded7. At the upper levels, there is constant backstabbing and outright crimes against fellow corp-mates, sometimes taking down entire corps. Basically, everything goes, and while the game’s creators may not encourage this sort of behavior, they don’t discourage it, either. Honestly, they don’t really appear to care.
In Elite, the same lack of constraints on one’s behavior exist, but running into this sort of situation is extremely rare. I’ve been attacked by other players for no real reason from time to time, but it’s rarely malevolent in nature – i.e., just a pirate, doing his job. They’ve even offered to help me out before shooting me up for non-response.
The best example of this is the Goonswarm. In Eve, the Goonswarm is a force to be reckoned with. They have taken over entire corps, terrorize 0sec space, and generally specialize in griefing.
Goonswarm exists in Elite, as well, but they are oddly ineffective. They have all the tools they need to effect a system-wide shutdown – which they attempted – except, of course, the whole ‘corp’ framework, which can be replaced by an external framework like Mumble – but as it turns out, lowly CMDRs like me just skooched along and took care of business. Eventually, the lack of dread and loathing from the general population caused the Goonies to lose interest. When nobody reacts to trolls, they go elsewhere looking for attention.
The entire Elite community has, at least in-game, been extremely polite and helpful. The worst behavior I’ve seen has been in system-wide chat, which is a newly implemented feature, and the behavior is consistent with the 3PP theory – people in a chat window aren’t people, so you can treat them like shit without repercussions. 8.
There are dozens of potential causes for this disparity between the two games that are otherwise very similar, so I won’t draw a conclusion as to cause. All I want to do here is point out that research that I’ve mentioned before, and note that what we see in the skew between Eve and Elite tracks very well with those conclusions.
The message you get in Elite is that piloting a starship is a very personal thing. It isn’t an abstract thing involving armadas and ‘swarms’. It’s just you, your starship, and the Big Black.
Does this mean I would switch to FPP in WoW to try to replicate this experience? Not likely. WoW is designed around a different paradigm than Elite is, and doesn’t enforce the other players playing the same way, so I don’t see any point to it. Though, I will note, that it does suggest an interesting thing.
To wit: What if everyone in WoW was forced to first person perspective? Would the social dynamics of the game shift significantly?
The new Timewalking feature that is coming out in 6.2 will present you with the opportunity to run a dungeon of the past – say, BC or WotLK dungeons – with your iLevel and other stats scaled down to match that instance.
They’re also providing rewards that scale UP to your current Level 100 badassedness, which is kind of interesting. This is a clear example of how well the core design team has progressed in abstracting item and character statistics to the point that all they have to do is pull a few levers to tweak an item in a very precise way. Five years ago, this would have been unthinkable.
But as much as I’d like to go down that rabbit hole, I’m more interested in looking at the whole Timewalking experience, and the potential consequences of letting players romp around in old instances at appropriate levels with other players of suitable skill and maturity levels.
Simply stated … what if, in the process of timewalking, players come to realize that the old instances were a lot more FUN than the current batch?
Or, conversely, what if longtime players find out that their memories of older instances were somewhat skewed by the influence of nostalgia?
I have one specific instance in mind. Hellfire Ramparts. You remember it, I’m sure. The endless, slogging, crawl up that front causeway only to end up in a densely packed terrace full of angry mobs ready to rush you if you twitched the wrong way. The planning. The CC. The precision required, especially at Heroic difficulty.
Was Ramps an exemplar of a well-done instance that called for the best in a group, or was it a poorly implemented meat grinder that people saw WAY too much of?
It’ll be interesting to see how people react to this when 6.2 goes live.
If you’re not familiar with the WoW token, it is a token that you can buy from Blizz that can then be sold on the AH. It is, essentially, a means of turning Dollars or EUs or whatever into gold on Azeroth.
Blizz has further said that WoW tokens will sell on an exchange that spans all realms, not just your normal battlegroup set of realms.
Blizz has further stated that they will set the starting bid for that token.
What they have not stated is what that starting bid will be.
Over the course of a couple of decades, I have pined for an experience I enjoyed back in the 80s thanks to a little 8-bit game called Elite. When I heard that one of the original creators was bringing the game into the 21st Century as an MMO-ish sort of thing, I was verra excite. It was launched this past December, but I held off for a few reasons.
Draenor had my full attention
The game had some … quirks to work out.
The game had some system requirements that were a bit out of my processing budget1.
Recently I’ve acquired the necessary horsepower and enough dosh to buy the thing, so I did so and, for the past three weeks or so, have been alternating my time between alt-ing in WoW and flying a Sidewinder from the rim of the galaxy towards Sol. For most of that time, I’ve been blogging about it.