If I’m sober enough to type, I’m sober enough to post.


The latest news on bag management – and especially reagent management – in patch 6.0.2 is exciting and very smexxay. Allowing you to use your reagents bank from any location is a game-changer, no doubt about it.  I hope that cooking mats are included, not that that’s a big deal to me these days1.

Without attributing to any specific incident, let me say that the ladies of WoW are an especially awesome group of people.  I might get worn out trying to keep up with some of them2, but the thoughts that they put forth on the topics of gender equality are well worth the time it takes to read and digest. I may not agree 100%3 with all that is stated by them, but overall they fight the good fight and I am totally okay with that. Not that it matters, right ladies?

It occurs to me, though, that there are very few male bloggers whose opinions I cherish. A lot of them come from a position of privilege and seem to somehow carry that with them, but others have multiple points of view and therefore bring something interesting to the party. Which I find interesting4. I’ll always have interest in the various hunter fora 5 without actually endorsing them, but it’s the blogs that have opinions on the issues that matter that keep me coming back.

A long time ago I used Amiga computers pretty much exclusively, and participated in a FidoNet “echo” that the current WoW “twitterverse” has a strong resemblance to. Those people – more than any blog, forum, or website – epitomize the goodness to be found in the WoW social universe, in the same way that nothing that mattered on amiga,org seemed to matter in #AmigaGeneral.. Not the pustulant sewers of the WoW fora, and certainly not the reeking crevasses that represent the ‘discourse’ to be found on MMO-C, 4Chan, or Reddit.

Cultivate the proper list of tweeters on Twitter, and your life will be better in every respect.

Ai  swarez.

  1. Raids? I’ve heard of them. []
  2. And I’ve dropped a few twitterz because of that. []
  3. And I suspect that my XY chromosome arrangement renders my opinions to some of them irrelevant. []
  4. I remembered ‘Rades’ but not the name of his blog. Go figure. []
  5. BTW, WHU is back, Metzen be praised. []

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With the dissemination of the WoW 6.0.2 PTR patch notes, we now have a first good idea as to what the glyph landscape will look like post-Warlords.

In this first round, we are informed that some glyphs will now become known inherently as you achieve certain levels in-game. In other words, you won’t have to buy a glyph off the AH or make it or have it made in order to learn that glyph. Good news for everyone else, bad news for us.

We made several improvements to the Glyph system. While leveling, characters unlock Glyph slots at several specific levels. However, in order to get glyphs, characters need to visit an Auction House (and potentially pay way more gold than an average character of that level has yet), or know a Scribe from which to request them. To solve this, we’ve made characters learn some Glyphs automatically as they level. Additionally, we now have the ability to make some glyphs exclusive with each other, or require specific specializations.


What this means for you is that all the glyphs in this list will potentially be turned into something called a Charred Glyph. These are worth exactly 50s when the patch drops – which is a pretty good deal considering what you can currently vendor a glyph. for something around 14s.

There’s a far shorter list of glyphs which have an uncertain future. To be honest, this could be a data mining error on WoWHead. Some – according to WoWHead – remain untouched, while some of them just … go away.

My methodology here was simple. I took the list from Blizz, looked them up on WoWHead noted the ID of the glyph, then looked it up on the Beta WoWHead. Easy enough. If you see a flaw in that logic, act accordingly.

So here’s the plan.

  1. Fire sale the glyphs on the list of those going away when the patch drops, stopping at 50s + auction fees.  If the price drops below that threshold, stash the glyphs and sell them for 50s apiece when 6.0.2 drops.
  2. Glyphs on the ‘uncertain’ list will probably go the same route … so it’s probably safe to follow option 1 with them as well. But if you feel that WoWHead is more reliable than Blizzard in this regard, by all means, set them aside or just keep them in your sale rotation, business as usual.

Here’s a couple of lists for you.

Glyphs turning to Charred Glyph

  • Alabaster Shield
  • Ambush
  • Avenging Wrath,
  • Black Ice
  • Blink
  • Bloodthirst
  • Breath of Fire
  • Bull Rush
  • Cat Form
  • Cheap Shot
  • Chimera Shot
  • Dash
  • Dazing Shield
  • Deadly Momentum
  • Death and Decay
  • Death Grip
  • Demon Training
  • Denounce
  • Dispersion
  • Divine Storm
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Drain Life
  • Ember Tap
  • Enraged Speed
  • Entangling Roots
  • Eternal Earth
  • Fade
  • Fae Silence
  • Faerie Fire
  • Fear
  • Ferocious Bite
  • Final Wrath
  • Fists of Fury
  • Flame Shock
  • Flash of Light
  • Fortuitous Spheres
  • Frost Nova
  • Frost Shock
  • Frostfire Bolt
  • Gag Order
  • Healing Touch
  • Healing Wave
  • Healthstone
  • Holy Fire
  • Levitate
  • Liberation
  • Light of Dawn
  • Lightning Shield
  • Long Charge
  • Mana Tea
  • Master Shapeshifter
  • Maul
  • Mending
  • Might of Ursoc
  • Mind Blast
  • Misdirection
  • Nature’s Grasp
  • Omens
  • Pathfinding
  • Penance
  • Polymorph
  • Rapid Rolling
  • Rebirth
  • Recuperate
  • Reflective Shield
  • Rejuvenation
  • Renew
  • Savagery
  • Shield Wall
  • Shifting Presences
  • Siphon Life
  • Slow
  • Smite
  • Spinning Crane Kick
  • Spiritwalker’s Grace
  • Stealth
  • Templar’s Verdict
  • the Executor
  • Thunder
  • Unholy Command

Glyphs with Uncertain Futures

  • Harsh Words
  • Totemic Recall
  • Victory Roll
  • Victory Rush
  • Water Elemental
  • Word of Glory

Comments 1 Comment »

In the past couple of weeks, there have been a couple of disturbing crisis points in our community, in that I am speaking of the wider community of gamers in general. 1

I won’t go into details on it, but I will link to some excellent overviews.  Here’s a link on the Anita Sarkeesian situation at Polygon2 which tackles some sacred cows, and the cows thrash back. Here’s a great breakdown of that, plus the Zoe Quinn situation.  Incidentally, Adam Baldwin is now dead to me3

So this blog post isn’t about that.

Instead, it’s about the other troubling trope that’s been getting carried around with these incidents, one that is well represented by this article at Gamasutra4.

‘Game culture’ as we know it is kind of embarrassing — it’s not even culture. It’s buying things, spackling over memes and in-jokes repeatedly, and it’s getting mad on the internet.

Weak-kneed, flimsy, pasty-colored tripe, is what that is.

It is understandable that gamers recoil in horror from a thing that is horrible.  But the problem is, the thing that is horrible was created by gamers.  The unhealthy, disturbed lashings of the people going after Zoe and Anita and all like them are coming from people that have been welcomed, suckled, and groomed by the very culture we live within.

As such, there are only two ways for some people to go5.  They can either claim that “that culture isn’t my culture”, or they can claim that “there is no such thing as gamer culture”.  Either way, it is an attempt to dodge culpability for the situation.

But here’s the thing, people.

We ARE responsible.

We are the ones that have built this culture.  When events that were just a little bit disturbing took place, we pushed it off to 4chan or something, tried to ignore it, pretended that it was an aberration. The one thing we did not do was rebuke it. 

Pushing things off to some spot where you don’t have to look at them only accomplishes one thing: it concentrates it. The fact that we don’t have to look at it that often doesn’t change that. And when we DO look at it, it gets progressively worse and worse, and we continue with the fiction that it has nothing to do with us.

On this, the weekend of two of the biggest celebrations of geek and gamer culture in the world – Dragon*Con and Pax Prime – we only have to look at the history of those two events to be reminded that these terrible things are spawned from within. Pax has especially long been a source of massive misogyny, and in that particular case you can draw a line directly from the misogynists to the motherships of geek and gamer culture. Excuse the pun, but it’s a “prime” example of how we allow our own esprit de corps to mutate into less agreeable forms of enthusiasms.6

It is, in other words, on us.

It is natural to want to avoid responsibility for this sort of thing, to pretend it’s someone else’s fault.  But the reality is that we only make matters worse when we do that.  We have the responsibility to make things right. Every time someone is a gigantic douchenozzle in raid chat, for example, we should be calling that shit out. Instead, we usually ignore it or go elsewhere because AssHatMan is ‘such a good raider’. We have to start making it clear to others that we won’t tolerate this kind of bullshit – to the perps, to our GMs, to our guild officers, everyone.

Fuck accusations of drama. People will use “drama” as a smoke screen to avoid the uncomfortable issues. To hell with them.  This is bigger than that.  Maybe a little drama is what we need right now.

Ignore this problem, and it will continue.

Ignore this problem, and it will only get worse.

It’s on you. It’s on me.

And we have to fix it.

  1. Maybe you don’t think there’s a “WoW community”, but maybe you’d at least grudgingly agree there is a wider gamer community out there?  Maybe? []
  2. Damn it, every time I drop them from my RSS reader, they get interesting again! []
  3. And by the way, Joss, why are you yet silent on this?  You guys rub elbows a lot on the con circuit, don’t pretend otherwise. []
  4. And incidentally, a website that supports the concept of the ‘art’ of gaming but hosts an opinion article rejecting the concept of ‘gamer’ and ‘gamer culture’ is a truly grand feat of irony. []
  5. There are certainly “other ways to go”, but I’m addressing a certain subset of our community right now, and those are the two ways they typically roll in this regard. Be at peace. []
  6. And yes, I am aware that people will try to say that PAX has nothing to do with “real” gamer culture.  I have one word, three syllables. DEE NYE AL. []

Comments 3 Comments »

RE: http://www.cannotbetamed.com/2014/08/19/gaming-questionnaire/

I’m a sucker for a good questionnaire, and this one is relevant to my interests.

I’ll let the Qs speak for themselves.  And if you want to chime in, go over to her blog (link above) and give her an earful!

When did you start playing video games?

In the 1970s … when they started appearing in the Pinball arcades.  Yeah.  Pinball arcades were a thing back then, and as video games started coming out, the video cabinets started displacing the pinball machines.  But pinball was my gateway drug to video gaming, no doubt about it.

What is the first game you remember playing?

Video game: Pong … when I could find someone to play with me.

Game in general … checkers. 

But it was strategy (board) games like Squad Leader or Star Fleet Battles or Submarine (in fact, most of the Avalon Hill lineup) that positioned me to get into AD&D, and that was my gateway in general.

PC or Console?

Standup console … this was before we had video games in our homes.  But the first one of THOSE that I played was on a friend’s Sears Pong console.  The first one I actually OWNED was a Magnavox Odyssey 2.  It was wretched, even back then.

XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?

Jesus H. Christ on a unicycle, how young ARE you?  My first two vid consoles were the aforementioned Odyssey 2, and a used Mattel Intellivision 2.  Neither of which you probably heard of, from the sound of it.

/hipster glasses

What’s the best game you’ve ever played?

I would never be able to nail that down to one game. Railroad Tycoon on the Amiga1 kept me playing for years, until my miggy finally died from fractured PLCC socket woes. Close behind it, Civilization III on the PC. Civ I was great, and I played it until my miggy died, but Civ III hit a sweet spot.

What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?

Sid Meiers’ Rails! was one of the biggest disappointments of all time. OF ALL TIME2.  In the vid cabinet world, I loathe and abhor Tempest.

Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

Quake.  I enjoy the FPS genre, but I felt Doom2 was the pinnacle of iDs output at the time; Quake seemed to be a poorly executed implementation of Doom in 3D.

Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

I really liked Wizardry 8 and am really glad I got in on the pre-purchase … those that didn’t, didn’t even get the disks.

What are your favorite game genres?

God Games / Strategy games.  Games like Civ, RRT, Populous, Settlers

Who is your favorite game protagonist?

Jaina Proudmoore.  I keep hoping that someday, she’ll remember she is powerful.

Describe your perfect video game.

Keeps me coming back time and time again. Not story driven. Not scenario driven (unless those are randomly or procedurally generated). Has many layers (think of Star Fleet Command’s galactic versus tactical levels). Never ends.  Never plays the same twice.  Scalable difficulty.

What video game character do you have a crush on?

I prefer my own species, thanks.  "Crushing" on vid game characters seems to be a post-FF-VII thing, which was not my jam.

But Fanny Thundermar … she does make me think twice about that from time to time even if I don’t have an arse like an anvil.

What game has the best music?

Descent / Descent 2.  Can’t beat that with a stick.  I was le disappoint with Descent 3 for not carrying forward the tradition.

Most memorable moment in a game:

Most of the games I play have no real dramatic moments in them.  Sepiroth doesn’t reveal he’s Luke’s father as you take over his company in RRT.

But there’s the time my guild downed the final boss while he was still relevant. Or the Wrathgate event (which actually crashed my computer the first time). Or that time that (SPOILERS) Yoshimo turned coat in the big bad’s lair (didn’t see that one coming).

Scariest moment in a game:

Eye of the Beholder on the Amiga … the sounds of lurking monsters, just around the corner or on the other side of that wall? The Amiga team for this game did an outstanding job of making the ambient sound dial up the creep factor.

Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:

I have no heart.  For otherwise I would care about video game characters. Baldur’s Gate II tried real hard for me to care about the wingless elf’s plight, but she just came across as whiney and clingy and resentful.  Note to dialog writers (and this is true especially of Blizzard’s): show, don’t tell.

Well, there’s Socks3.

What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?

I have a giant list.  Perhaps you have seen it in the sidebar.  I am somewhat voracious.

What’s the last game you finished?

The kind of games I generally play don’t have "finishes". But if I look back far enough … Descent 3. I think that’s the last story-driven game I purchased that I actually played all the way through. Maybe Riven on the PS2, but I don’t think I actually finished it. Wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember, if I did.   Homeworld 2, possibly, though I might have stopped playing because of the interface.  But I did finish Homeworld. Was that more recent than D3?

What future releases are you most excited about?

Elite: Dangerous.  Between this and Star Citizen, I have hopes of finding a space trader game that isn’t Eve.  If Braben can find the sweet spot between Frontier and Eve, that would be great.

Do you identify as a gamer?

Sure. Yeah.

Why do you play video games?

Not because I feel obligated.  I play for fun.  And the daystar burns, so outside is not an option.

Is that a cop-out?  Am I supposed to write something deep and interesting here?  If so, I fail, for it’s nothing more than that. It’s recreation. Nothing more than that.

  1. A computer platform from the days of the Platform Wars. “Platform” used to mean something slightly more profound than “AMD or Intel”. []
  2. Anyone else think it’s funny that both my favorite and least favorite games come from the same guy? []
  3. Socks! Nooooooooooooooo!!! []

Comments 4 Comments »

Yesterday, the cinematic for Warlords of Draenor was released to much excitement.  At the end, was the release date for the game.  If you haven’t seen yet, I’ve thoughtfully provided it here.

It was a really well-done cinematic, but continues the trend of WoW cinematics becoming smaller and smaller in scope.  The cinematics for Vanilla and BC were broad, inclusive.  But then WotLK went small, focused on Arthas1. Cata broadened back out in one dimension, but we were notably missing. It might have gone big, but it was all about Deathwing.  The MoP cinematic focused on a single moment, by way of introducing kung-fu pandas.

And now, this one … again, we’re focused on a single moment in time.  An important moment, yes, but the scope is, well, small, and doesn’t have us anywhere in it.

This is perhaps the most complicated – or maybe the better term is convoluted – setup for an expansion to date. The problem is that while there is indeed one vector from the end of MoP – Garrosh’s escape and subsequent Marty McFly to Draenor of old – the rest of the setup requires knowledge of lore that has not been on our minds for over a decade.  And, because of this, because Blizz wants us to feel like we’re part of this, regardless, they’ve worked up a huge backstory.  We’ve gotten a comic. We’ve gotten history lessons. We’ve gotten a lot of build-up to the moment that is depicted in the trailer.

But it’s not enough. Because, even if we appreciate the enormity of what we see in this cinematic, we still can’t see ourselves in this trailer. We don’t see our place in this drama that is presented to us. For all the work put into this cinematic, the “intro” trailer of last year’s Blizzcon was actually a lot more exciting.  We’re going to Draenor!  See – there we are!

The scene being depicted in the trailer – as well as in the lead-in comic – is pivotal in Warcraft lore. The whispers around the electronic water fountains is that Blizz – as the 20th anniversary of Orcs vs Humans comes nigh – wants us all to appreciate where it All Came From.  They’re obviously missing the flavor of WOvH and want us all to experience that, to remember where we all came from.

But, as the trailer shows, that’s not going to happen.

Mannoroth has been put down. Gul’dan has been cowed; he’s considered an enemy of the state.  The Burning Legion will not be driving the Iron Horde, and that means that nothing that the Orcs did in the original Warcraft series will be part of this expansion. The invasion’s not even taking place in the same time-period – it’ll be in modern times, for some reason2 We’re not witnessing history here. The only part of that history that we get to see here is the players – on the Orcish side – themselves. There is no historical significance. There is only the cult of Orcish personality.

Orcs be savage and cool. Yo.

The only real history we can get from this is an appreciation of the significance of Grom dumping the cup of demon blood on the ground, the smugness of Garrosh as he mocks Gul’dan, and the beginning of an oddly-familiar3 portal structure.

And the only reason most of us ‘get’ that is because we were told so. Not by Blizzard, not via any of their story-telling mechanisms. Most of us weren’t paying that much attention when playing, or didn’t care, or – if you’re me – were busy playing other sorts of games. No, those of us that ‘get’ it probably ‘got’ it by reading up on it after the fact, and go, “Oh, that’s interesting” in the same way we noted that Churchill preferred a particular brand of cigar over others as he ordered the destruction of the French Navy.

Yeah, sure, that’s why we’re in Karazhan. Blah blah blah.  Pull, for Metzen’s sake, I’m not getting younger.

In the end, all I can say is this.  10 out 10 for execution, but 1 out of 1000 for relevancy.   And it answers none of the concerns many of us have on terms of relevancy and inclusiveness. The sorts of players that get into the back-slapping, chest-thumping, testosterone-driven culture depicted in that trailer just don’t give two shits about “lore”.

I’m starting to get a strong feeling that part of Blizz’s “getting back to the beginning” includes pushing away people that aren’t into this man-child power fantasy crap, and being okay with that.  I think a number of people that I know and respect have already picked up on that, and left the game for good because of it, which, again, Blizz is apparently okay with.

I may be slow to pick up on this, and I’m still on the fence, but it may be right there and I’m just not looking directly at it. Fortunately, one does not have to actually buy the expansion and play the expansion to figure this out for good. I may decide to wait to see, by proxy, how it’s playing out after release, and then decide whether to buy it or not. 

The upshot is that the cinematic – and thus far, none of the comics – have done nothing to assuage my concerns, or make me want to buy it, or assure me that if I buy it, I’m not contributing to funding a bunch of genetic throwbacks that should be working at a circus instead of a software company. The trailer, while “interesting” and “well executed”, is also … impenetrable.

If I were commissioning a trailer for a product that so many people had expressed doubts – or outright dislike – about, I’d ask that the trailer convey the kind of imagery that would bring those people back.  Instead, they presented one that actually reinforces the doubts and concerns that people have expressed.

I am convinced, at the end of the day, that the Blizzard public relations department is manned by drunken wombats that live in a bubble universe where information flows out, but never in.

  1. To be fair, that’s what the whole expansion was about, the ultimate Vanity Project if your name was Arthas. []
  2. Timey-wimey. []
  3. I say oddly, since I have no logical reason why two completely different parties are building the Dark Portal to look exactly the same way, especially given the Orcish fondless for spikes on everything including their breakfast cereal. []

Comments 1 Comment »

The world of game journalism is an insular, inbred place with strange rules.  Blogging shares some of that world’s DNA;  in both worlds, everybody’s looking for an angle. Everybody’s trying to one-up the competition, whether they acknowledge it or not1.

There are a lot of ways to do this: well-designed theorycrafting, deeply thought opinions, game guides, and so forth. But in the area of “news”, the one thing that trumps almost everything else is: access. 

tardis keyAccess gets you exclusives. Access gets you in first. Access is a low-energy route towards rich content for your news site.

But access does peculiar things to a blog or news site. Access makes one dependent on the one granting the access. Do something to offend the wrong person, and that access can be removed.

Sometimes the access is that of an insider. Somebody embedded deep inside an organization that, truth be told, is probably breaking the law by going counter to a corporate NDA.

Sometimes the access is that granted by an organization.  Preview content, implicit mutual endorsement of each other. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

In the game blogging/reporting world, access can mean the difference between beta access, a press screener, or no info at all. And this puts the reporter/blogger in a precarious situation: if the game’s any good, then all’s well. But if the game stinks, the reporter/blogger is in a bad situation.  Be honest, and future access will be forfeit – most likely, for your entire organization, not just yourself.

At the same time, “honesty” also requires that one be honest in all respects.  For example, reviewing a beta as if it were the production (shipping) game is largely frowned upon unless one manages to soften any blows with caveats and provisos.

And there’s my current beef.

Massively.com crossed a line in this regard, and as a result their reputation has taken a major hit with people that value honesty in game journalism.

hit manThe culprit in this case is one Eliot Lefebvre, who starts out the first entry in this virtual hit piece with several paragraphs about how he’s old school WoW, yo, so you cannot question his authenteezies. He be authentic and shizzle, yo2.

I’m not going to go into a detailed deconstruction of his articles, but I will include links to each.

I include full linkage not because I endorse the opinions expressed within, but because I would rather you read and opine your own opinion than force mine down your throat.

I will state up front that I feel it’s important that a writer feel enabled to post something critical of a game without fear of reprisal. But that kind of article needs to have a lot to back it up.  And I’m not talking about MMO street cred, here.  There are seven million people out there that have the same amount of MMO “street cred” as Eliot does, in that they played the same game at the same time as he did.  Playing a game for a long time has limited currency, and that currency is only viable in a specific context, and that context is not the context he’s using it in. There needs to be more authority to the critique that comes. As one of my bosses once told me, perfect attendance only means you’re stubborn, not talented. The “attendance” award is what they give you to make up for having nothing else that matches your particular, um, talents.

grampa simpson hates everythingThe authority of the articles is further undermined by Eliot’s repeated rebukes of his own “attendance award.”  Complaining about NPCs not having any real feeling of familiarity with the many lore characters brought into the game.  I’m not sure what I think of a gamer that claims to be old-school while at the same time drawing a blank on just why Khadgar or Thrall Kal’el Jesus Orc Go’el are part of the ongoing lore of Draenor. Arguing that new players won’t “get it” seems silly on the face of it. This wasn’t put together for new players. Not even remotely. I’m not playing the beta, and even *I* get that.  And there was none of that hand-holding in any of the previous expansions until MoP, either. Pandaria was the first place we ever encountered that was not steeped in over 15 years’ worth of lore.  The fact that Draenor changes that lore a bit has no bearing on who Khadgar is.  My only interest in HIM is just how Khadgar GOT there in the first place3.

It also doesn’t help to contradict one’s self. To first state that one has massive history with the game and then turn around and complain that the lore NPCs are meaningless to him, only then to turn around and say that the expansion does not acknowledge the lore of the game so far. You can maybe have it two ways, but not all three, and preferably one.  And to pretend that some of the problems with the expansion are NEW, when in fact the issues and/or features have been around for two or three expansions’ worth of content is disingenuous at best.

teamworkThe greatest sin of all, however, is this.  This is a game that is in beta.  It is from a company that has taken entire ZONES offline in beta to revamp them4.  And this game is no where near the point of releaseSo why in the name of Ragneros’ smoking balls would you make a recommendation on the expansion at this point?  This is beyond the pale for game journalism. A professional game journalist would know better. A professional gaming blog / site / service would know better.  This is not just a failure on Lefebvre’s part. This is a failure on the part of the editor of Massively for letting it get by.

Until the final paragraph of that series, it was only egregiously hostile towards the expansion, obviously written by somebody that didn’t know any better, but given the track record of various AoL properties in maintaining perspective, it was not a big surprise and easily moved past, just another cranky entitled gamer not getting his props.   But the “recommendation” at the end is just fundamentally irresponsible of Joystiq’s editorial staff. Despite claims to the contrary, this kind of thing can only be seen as clickbait.

Flawed as they might be, most of the complaints in these three articles are valid comments when directed towards the development staff. I have no idea if that actually happened in this case, and I strongly suspect that it didn’t.  I strongly suspect Lefebvre viewed access to the beta as the means to the end of getting an early jump on the Blizzard-bashing yet to come5 and had no intention of providing anything like constructive feedback to the staff. I could be wrong, but the tone of the article certainly implies that he’s done with it all and has no interest in continuing onward.  Those beta keys donated as a gesture of goodwill6 were thanked with a shallow, vitriolic spew.

The only thing worse than a beta tester that is negligent in his/her duties is a supposed “journalist” with an axe to grind.

I don’t normally give two shits about people posting hit pieces about games that they don’t like. Usually the hate is honest and well framed. But it really gets my back up to see someone misrepresent an unfinished product, knowing damned well that it’s unfinished, and blowing that off anyway, because, pageviews.

The staff of WoWInsider and Massively can take umbrage at being looked down for the pageviews thing if they want.  Truth is, it’s not that that people get annoyed at. It’s the cheapness of the sort of ploy in these three articles.  You wanna go with that sort of piece?  Fine. Do so, but put some substance behind it, and don’t be foolish enough to try to recommend a game based on data that will likely be invalid at time of release.

The thing that bugs me most is WoWInsider’s silence on this.  Where are they? I’m sure the editors there read their sister site, since they publish a weekly linkshill for each other. If Lefebvre’s beefs are legit, why did we hear it from Massively instead of WoWInsider?  And if they aren’t, why haven’t they brought out a good rebuttal?  I mean, wanna talk linkbait? Two AoL sites sniping at each other on the basis of turf and seniority sounds like a great way to get pageviews.

If WoWInsider is eschewing relevancy for access, then it’s starting to look like one can best be served by reading elsewhere. They used to at least provide some link love to indy blogs, but since they stopped doing that, reading that site has become more and more frustrating – over stuff like this, as well as watching them fail to meet potential on a daily basis.

Hey, I admit up front that the view’s great from the cheap seats.  Being an indie hipster dwarf makes it easy to ignore things like pageviews and SEO and funding and all sorts of silly stuff like that. But it also means that I do this for reasons important to me, and have the option to be uncompromising.  I’ll never make a living at it, and never have to make that difficult call between relevancy, editorial freedom, and solvency.

But I am so, so, very disappoint in everything this affair brings to light.


  1. I’m looking at you, BBB, and your filthy little “bearwalls.” []
  2. Also, “dude”. That actually appeared. []
  3. I’m sure I’ll find out. []
  4. Which he seems to “pretend” to have forgotten about. []
  5. There always is, no matter how good or bad the expansion is. []
  6. And probably in hope of a sort of codependent relationship to come. []

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This is one of those articles that challenges one to complete it, as things keep changing and I keep having to rearrange or adjust things. So, if something appears a little off, please keep that in mind. But I’ve determined to finish it today before it becomes part of somebody’s “history content” features.

This article started out as a focus on the departure of Ron Pardo from Blizzard, but a recent set of blog posts featuring Mike Morhaime threw some new light on the situation.  And, finally, some commentary on the beta brought more fuel to the fire just today.

Really, if this article grows any more, I may have to buy a new domain to house it.  Which is why I really need to either post or get off the poster, if you take my meaning.

This all started a few weeks ago when Rob Pardo announced he was leaving Blizzard. Now, followers of his Twitter account may have noticed a lot of activity, but none of it game-related over the past few months – more or less right after he had said some fairly sketchy things on the topic of diversity1.

Anyway, all of the activity on that twitter feed post-sketchiness was, with one exception (E3), about vacationing. Cabo. Vegas. That sort of thing.  Which is a rather interesting factoid if you happen to be the lead of the next major expansion to your company’s cash cow.

Even more interesting was, in the middle of all that hard vacationing, that he posted shock and surprise on his twitter feed that something he’d said had caused a stir. He hadn’t even looked at Twitter – an app originally designed to be used on a cell phone – during all that time? Really? I mean, who even does that?

Once noting the shocking news of the stir he’d created, he attempted some basic damage control2, including the always popular “That’s not what I said!” 3

After that, and an intense vacation in Venice4, we saw the announcement, along with this little gem.

pardo indy 4 tweet

I’m not exactly sure that’s the tweet of a man that left altogether willingly.

What I wouldn’t give for ValleyWag to be on this56.

So, a week later, almost to the day, we see this article on WoW Insider, which was titled and presented in an fairly deceptive way which was wrong in every significant way except for the name of the exec involved.  But it did include a link to the origin of the letter, and *it* included a link to the impassioned original post on Tumblr.

A few points of interest.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about your experiences with our games. I appreciated the points you made, so I shared your letter with others on our teams here and included it as part of the ongoing discussions we’ve been having on the subject.

This is encouraging on the face of it, in that my perception up to now is that Blizz has been rather dismissive of critiques the casual sexism in their games.

[…] we want everyone to feel welcome, safe, and included in our games and communities. We have made some mistakes in how we’ve communicated about this and how we’ve reflected it in other ways, but we are working to improve.

Not entirely sure what to make of that. Are they working to improve on communication of what they want, or improving the actual thing? It’s a bit vague.

We are very conscious of the issues you raise and are discussing them more than ever, at every level of the company, in an effort to make sure our games and stories are as epic and inclusive as possible. And we know that actions speak louder than words, so we are challenging ourselves to draw from more diverse voices within and outside of the company and create more diverse heroes and content.  […] There is no reason why inclusivity should come at the expense of an amazing game experience.

But this seems to be fairly straightforward, and I welcome what he has to say on that.

Note, however: no actual apology.

But here is the comment that I find most interesting in the Rob Pardo context.

There have been times when we’ve been seen or painted as being uninterested in hearing feedback or making changes. I want to be clear that this goes against the philosophies and core values on which Blizzard has been built and continues to operate. We will always listen, and we will always work hard to make games that appeal to as many people as possible.

I am certain that Morhaime chose his words very careful, so the phrase “seen or painted as” may bear some significance. Is this a rebuke of Pardo and Browder’s earlier statements about not being in the business of, well, leading by example?  It’s very difficult to tell, as it’s been fairly well crafted to leave a LOT of wiggle room, but it is possibly indicative of an internal conflict at Blizzard. One which Pardo, possibly, didn’t win.

Well, that’s one theory.

The final piece came to light by way of this post on Massively. The final piece is not in this particular post7, but it brought a series of conversations to light on Twitter.

These discussions focused around how a lot of people were seeing Blizz as the bad guys in light of the Massively articles, seeing as they had “changed the rules” on what Garrisons were supposed to be, and things like that.  There were proponents on both side of that argument, and understandably so.

While it is true that even entire zones have been torn down and redesigned during beta8, there was a general feeling9 that the ball had been dropped, dropped hard, and dropped repeatedly during alpha, beta, and prior to that.

One of the lead designers of this expansion, and in fact the lead designer of WoW in general, was Rob Pardo

That’s background.

There are several possibilities, here, and office politics at Blizz are pretty much as opaque as any company’s, so anything proposed now is going to be based on conjecture.

Never stopped me from baseless speculation before, though.

After the Morhaime letter, one possible scenario is one in which Blizz, deciding to move actively in a direction of greater diversity in-game, and there were those that were probably not actively against diversity, but felt that giving in to the pressure sent the “wrong message” on the topic. In this scenario, Pardo is one of the resistance; Emperor Mike won this one easily, probably gave Pardo an ultimatum (“Go on sabbatical and think it over”), and eventually Pardo realized that “it wasn’t fun anymore”10.

Option 2 is a lot more simple: WoD’s production was a disaster, and it was management that was to blame.  Possibly the bean counters needed a head for their pike.  Wouldn’t be the first time. It’s important to know that Pardo, Morhaime, and most of the other names you are familiar with are only on the creative management team. The real power resides in the hand of the financial management team, and even they’re not safe from infighting.

Option 3 is: there’s no here here.  Everything is exactly as it appears. Pardo just got tired, went on vacation and decided never to come back. Morhaime is concerned about his company’s corporate culture as a logical consequence of what he’s seeing on the internet, and is taking perfectly reasonable and logical actions to correct and mitigate this.  WoD was botched, yes, but Blizz has always been capable of recovering from this sort of thing, have done in the past, and while this is not pleasant, they’re not about to go hunting scalps at the expense of “getting things done.”

A lot of people will say (and have said) that it’s not really any of our business, that it’s his personal business and the company’s internal affair.

Except …

… it’s relevant to our interests.

Option 3 is the least encouraging of all the scenarios because it implies that things will continue as they have, with no change in corporate culture and no improvements in the product that gets delivered.  The other two options, while a bit tawdry, do offer the possibility that someone has been drawn into doing something about it.

As a player and not yet decided on whether to even *buy* Warlords, I find this *incredibly* relevant to my interests, to the tune of approximately sixty clams.

What comes next is going to be watched with great interest here at casa de Grimmtooth.

My views on Pardo’s departure are mixed. A lot of people have tweeted to him11 how his work at Blizzard has made a difference to them, and this is true. And if he’s not the bad egg there, I’m sorry to see him go, too. If he is the bad egg, I have no reason to weep.  The attitude at Blizzard, especially among its upper creative management, has sucked and needs changing.

No matter what, though, I won’t be crying for Pardo.  His early arrival at Blizzard and his lofty position means he has a pretty good nest egg, assuming he didn’t invest it all at Aereo. Any man that can take three months sabbatical12 is probably swimming in gp. I have no doubt he’ll land on his feet, as long as “conspicuously lead team that felt it had no reason to speak out on the place of women in gaming and took great efforts to conspicuously avoid doing so even when team members were conspicuously pulling the rope in the other direction” doesn’t impact future hiring opportunities.  Given what I’ve read of Silicon Valley culture13, I’m sure he’ll have no end of suitors.

And I *conspicuously* hope that this marks the beginning if significant change for the better at Blizzard. And not the other thing.

  1. Namely, that it wasn’t Blizz’s responsibility to police how video games were made. Which was totally not the question, but the beauty of a straw man is that you get to pick the one you set up prior to knocking it down, isn’t it? []
  2. Never a good idea. []
  3. Note: It WAS what he said. []
  4. I am not making that up. []
  5. Even if Blizz is technically in Anaheim, not the Valley. []
  6. Well, sister site Kotaku got on it, and the brodawgs didest flow. So much for that. []
  7. How refreshing to see an AoL property not wince away from posting something incredibly critical of a Blizzard property.  Mind you, I do think it’s an incredibly bad idea to apply Production Software filters to a Beta product, but I presume that Eliot Lefebvre is experienced in game writing and has chosen deliberately to pretend he doesn’t know the difference. []
  8. Hello, Jade Forest []
  9. One I share to some extent. []
  10. Often a euphemism for “wouldn’t pay me to be a douchebag anymore.” []
  11. Which he has graciously re-tweeted, draw your own conclusions. []
  12. “Vacation.” []
  13. Take that any way you want. []

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Today we learned that The Undermine Journal is closing shop. at the end of July.  The first thing you should know is this.


Yes, The Undermine Journal plus its excellent site-specific addon are excellent tools when used with addons such as, say, TradeskillMaster.  And thus, yes, if you rely on this combination to drive your pricing needs, you’re totally screwed.

But maybe not. There are alternatives.

Alternative: suffer

You can just call it quits.  Frankly, Clan Grimmtooth is close to 2 Mil gold at this point, and I can’t see that we’ll go wanting ever again, even if I closed my final auction and vendor’d over 600 glyphs tomorrow.  But maybe you’re not that fortunate. Maybe you had a more aggressive, less successful sales strategy than myself. Maybe you’re still hungry.

Alternative: Manual Scans

You know, it takes me around an hour every day to clear my current auctions and repost them, collect de moniez, and send work orders to Illume for glyphs. I really don’t need to spend another hour idling on the AH using Auctioneer or Auctionator or whatever to scan the auction house for an hour.  I really don’t need that. But maybe you have the kind of job where you can log in via VPN and do so.  Lucky you. 

The rest of us are less fortunate.  However, using these tools to do an AH scan once a day is at least SOMETHING. I rarely update my TUJ-realm data more than once a day, for example. So, while onerous, using one of the classic AH addons to do the scanning is at least effective, if not pleasant.

Alternative: WoWuction

WoWuction.com1 is similar to TUJ but does not offer the convenience of the realm-specific addon for pricing information. What it DOES offer is a dataset that can be imported by TradeSkillMaster directly.  You will need to install the TSM Desktop app, have a TSM account (and a TSM app key derived thereof), but otherwise it’s not a lot different than what I already do with updating the TUJ realm-specific addon once a day before logging in.

There is the small matter of having to adjust your TSM auction settings to work with the new dataset, but that’s a one-time thing and after that, it’s back to making fat staxx.

Hope for the Best

As you may have read on TUJ, their fate is not entirely set in stone. They may find new hosting. They may be bought out and continue under new management. They may find some way to keep going.  The announcement is full of little trap doors that form escape clauses “just in case”.

I am not so much into this philosophy. I’d rather have a backup plan in place, ready to go, or maybe relegate TUJ to backup status and go full pelt into the unknown.

We have a couple of weeks, at least, to figure this out.

  1. Yes, that’s the way that is spelled. Not a typo. []

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When I was created1, there was a certain look we were going for. A kind of not-quite-pissed-off-at-everyone-but-I-might-start-with-you mien, if you will.  It seemed that would be a good fit for a warlock, as opposed to the so-happy-to-be-burning-you-to-cinders look cultivated by Hydra.

True, there was the regrettable incident of the ten thousand yard stare that happened waaaay back in 2.4, and the not really successful foray into Neverwinter, but overall we had a look and demeanor we were shooting for.

Flora in MoP

A Warlock at work

So there’s this fine representation from the current content. Note that a sensible warlock dresses sensibly when roaming the countryside. I’d lose the pauldrons if I could, but that’s the shakes right now.

As you probably know, WoD is revamping all the character models, which, apparently, includes me.  WoWHead has a way to view your characters by loading them off the Armory. You can probably see where that’s headed.

Flora's WoD (Alpha) Look

Not my home planet

Now, if you were I, which I am, you might recoil in shock at the changed visage.  And possibly be a bit angry, for a good reason. No, it isn’t because I hate change, but because Blizzard made a promise – we would not need a free character modification token, they said, because they were going to make the new models true to the old ones, and thus our new models would be entirely satisfactory.  As you can see, this is not true, and thus a LOT of people are upset2.

However, it turns out that the work on the new models is not yet complete, and in most cases we are limited to the default faces.

I’m a little annoyed because this just means we’ll get fewer opportunities to see what’s what before it goes live, and I know how eager these people can be to grab at any excuse to do a half-assed job and then shrug3. Call me a cynic if you must, but therein is where my withered heart lies.

And then there’s this.

Flroa's WS Look

Wildstar chicks be like

Due to the incredible inanity of Blizzard’s senior staff’s behavior, I’ve actually taken to looking elsewhere for a new home, starting with a promising new game called Wildstar4. I don’t think this is going to be home for a number of reasons5, but I haven’t given up on it yet.  Here is Flora the Spellslinger, and she looks pissed.  Perfect. That’s the Flora we all know and loathe.

In this case, I think, we’re pissed about the incredibly tiny booty shorts.  Because, omigawd. Have they forgotten how to make Levis in the distant future?

As with warlocks, leveling with a Spellslinger is hella fast, and it’s been a real joy blowing the bejeebus out of everything that comes near.  I do miss my minions, but having gone the Science path, at least I have a little Scanbot.

I shall name him Impy.

  1. Floramel is having a Bob Dole moment, obviously, and is talking about herself in second person. []
  2. Not illustrated literally: a “lot” of people. On account of I’m lazy. []
  3. Or worse – remember “Dance Studio?” []
  4. Which I may or may not review someday. []
  5. Which I may or may not go in to someday. []

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From the novel and film of the same name, an impossibly difficult choice, especially when forced onto someone. The choice is between two unbearable options, and it’s essentially a no-win situation.



WoW culture received a shock this week in the form of a scathingly critical article on Polygon that pointed out what we had all seen and chose to ignore: Rob Pardo, one of the senior seniors at Blizzard1, stating in a talk at MIT that Blizz just didn’t see that it was Blizz’ place to be all that much of an exemplar to people with regards to socially progressive topics.

I wouldn’t say that’s really a value for us. It’s not something that we’re against either, but it’s just not something that’s … something we’re trying to actively do.

– Rob Pardo

In the an article on Rock Paper Shotgun, Harper points out Dustin Browder2 arguing that Blizzard is "[…] not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that."

RPS countered, "let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified."  to which Browder countered3,

"Uh-huh. Cool. Totally."

– Dustin Browder, master of artful dodges

All this plays eerily like Nintendo’s earlier comments regarding their game Tomodachi Life, in which relationships are possible, but not if you’re gay. They apologize for this, but state

The relationship options in the game represent a playful alternate world rather than a real-life simulation.  We hope that all of our fans will see that Tomodachi Life was intended to be a whimsical and quirky game, and that we were absolutely not trying to provide social commentary.

Eerie, because it seems like Blizz is responding to some sort of game developer culture dog whistle here.

All about framing

In an earlier tech scandal this year, Mozilla Corp., better known for browsers than politics, hired a vocally anti-gay CEO, who stepped down a few days later after talk of boycotts, protests, and other general discontent.  At the time, Mozilla announced his departure along side a statement that it was "hard to balance free speech and equality".

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

This has become a popular idiom as of late; getting ahead of the reader and trying to force the reader to make a decision that they don’t have to make.  In the case of Mozilla, they try to make it so that you can only have equality or free speech.  But the fact was, nobody’s free speech was at risk here.  They made the decision to hire a known homophobe.  But they were unprepared to accept the consequences of their actions. The REAL choice was whether or not to stand by their choice, and Eich took the choice out of their hands4.

Pardo and Browder both want to do the same; present their decisions as a choice between having fun, and making a "statement" about social issues.

The problem is, of course, that nobody asked them to make that choice.  They chose to force that choice.

All about Inclusion

A few years ago, Blizzard muckety and general brodawg Chris Metzen5 got up in front of Blizzcon and made a speech about what "Geek is". Among them:

  • Transformers
  • Ten-sided dice
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Captain America
  • Star Wars
  • G. I. Joe
  • Batman6
  • Doom
  • EQ 7
  • LotR

Okay, more or less on track. But the thing he missed, the thing he didn’t say, that "Geek is" inclusive.  Real, true geeks welcome all into the fold that live by our code. We don’t care if you’re man, woman, child, elder, Eldar, gay, trans*8, country, western, Coke, or Pepsi. 

If you’ve felt more at home in a library than a soccer pitch, we feel you.

If you’ve stood in line in the rain for a Harry Potter ticket, we get you.

And if you’ve ever felt excluded because what other people like makes you feel sad or weirded out or uncomfortable – we get you.  We accept you.

Because GEEK IS … inclusive.

And I imagine Metzen left that out for at least two reasons.

  1. He – and the rest of his dawgs9 – don’t get that. Don’t understand that.
  2. His company would not be able to deliver on that.

This is not new. This is not sudden. This is baked in to the corporate culture.  If you don’t fit their mold, it’s okay if you want to hang out, but if you don’t feel comfortable in their sandbox, they don’t care. Worse than that, they want you to shut up about it.

"Women are okay, I guess. Some of my best friends are women. But this is a boy’s trip. So if they’re not really cool with that, that’s just too bad. We’re not trying to make a social statement here."

A Crisis of Conscience

WoW is in crisis. It’s a crisis that nobody talks about.

It’s not that the alpha isn’t ready to go or that raiders are feeling shafted or that there have been x number of days since the last major content patch.

The crisis is the wave of people that are leaving because they no longer feel like they belong in this game.  Every time Blizzard reaffirms this, more leave.

WoW has a unique place in this kind of conundrum.

On the one hand there is a beautiful, wonderful community of bloggers and tweeters and forum posters and such that are supportive, informative, and delightful to be around.  On the other hand, there is this seemingly toxic corporate culture that sees no profit from making the game friendly to over half the people in the world.  It’s hard to decide between the two.

For a long time, many of us have avoided deciding.

But more and more are deciding. Many major names in WoW blogging have departed lately, and they have stated this toxicity as the reason why. Not all of them are women or LGBT – some are simply sympathetic to the cause, and are leaving in a show of solidarity.

It’s a quiet crisis. We rarely speak of it. Surely, you will not see stalwarts in the WoW community like WoW Insider or WoWHead or MMO Champion reporting on it, because they know better than to antagonize the golden goose too much (But kudos to Matt Rossi for at least addressing the issue behind it, not something I would have expected to see from an AoL property.).  Note to said stalwarts: Reporting on this sort of thing is not the same as taking sides – unless, perhaps, Blizzard have made it clear that any mention of it is antagonistic to them. Is it?  I have no visibility to it. There is no transparency AT ALL.

But the crisis exists, nevertheless.

And maybe we should make it worse.

Making it an issue

People like Rob Pardo and Chris Metzen are not going to take a threat of financial loss that seriously unless their board beats them up.  You can’t really get their attention that way.  They hired somebody else to worry about that.  Someone to "be the grown-ups"10 so they could go on being big overgrown kids.

No, what Rob and Chris want more than anything is for you to think they’re cool. They have that word tatoo’d on their tongues. They say it over and over again, like a mantra. Even Greg Street drank that kool-aid.  Cool. Cool. CoolCoolCool Coooooooooooooooool.

So kick ‘em in the cool gland. If you have a voice, make it heard.  If you decided to unsubscribe, make it clear when you do that you feel that Chris and Rob and Samwise are really uncool people with uncool attitudes towards women and LGBTs and the like. Explain to them that you abhor their attitudes.  Tell ‘em to get sensitivity training or something. Tell ‘em to grow up a little (but not too much).

And maybe if enough people iterate on that, they’ll Get It.

I’m not holding my breath. Because entitled schmucks never really Get It until the world crashes down around them, and then they’re more likely to blame everyone else.11

Making it Personal

Which brings me to me.

I haven’t played the game in days, ever since this came to light. This incident has poisoned the well, soured the taste to the point where I just can’t ignore this issue any more.

I said in the past that if they showed no progress on this issue, I’d drop my subscription. The fact that I’ve written on this topic before, multiple times, is evidence enough that the problem is baked in to their culture.  Last time, in the MoP lead-up, Metzen at least made noises like they were going to try to improve. This time, they’re actually regressing, trying to disavow any responsibility for the effects their culture has on the product. I see little hope of improvement.

I have a couple of weeks left on my subscription, so I have some time to ponder this.  And that’s my difficult choice – whether to implicitly underwrite a developer’s toxic culture which chooses to ignore or alienate a bunch of my friends, or to turn my back on a number of friends that are still doggedly sticking around – though far fewer than there used to be – and cast myself into the void, to land I know not where.

While nowhere near the eponymous choice’s difficulty, it’s still a poser.

Well, Wildstar opens in a week.  Maybe that’ll tide me over until Elite.

  1. "Chief Creative Officer", which implies a lot of responsibility for the way things go at Blizzard. []
  2. Game Director on Heroes of the Storm []
  3. I swear before the Titans, this is a direct quote. []
  4. Arguably, they could have rejected his resignation, so they DID make a choice. []
  5. Senior Vice President, Story and Franchise Development []
  6. At this point, if you’re asking "Where’s Wonder Woman?", I would not be surprised. HMMMMM. []
  7. Chill out. this is where we came from. It’s legit. []
  8. And the Facebook-sized gaggle of terms that goes with. []
  9. Okay, I hate that term, I hate applying labels as some form of obscure shorthand that is as exclusionary as the thing it derides.  But dawg … seems to fit. []
  10. This is virtually verbatim from the 20th anniversary tapes. []
  11. See: "Affluenza". []

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