Friday, August 28, 2015

Random Things

     I realized I hadn't put up a post about my reaction to the expansion announcement a while back. And that's partly because I've been thinking about what sort of character my demon hunter will be, but also because I am not sure what to feel. It sounds incredibly exciting, and I feel that if they dive in and do everything they mentioned for it the way it should be done without cutting any corners, it could very well be amazing. That is the expansion I want. If they cut too much out of it and it ends up another Warlords, I think I will be very sad. So that's what I think. I'm excited by the idea but my optimism is more cautious this time.
     The rest of this post is just going to be a collection of screenshots, mostly with explanation of a few of the things I've been up to in game. During raids I have discovered that with Transmorphic Tincture + the Orb of the Sin'dorei Ailuuya can spend five minutes being a male blood elf and I can feel more at home. She makes a very handsome male blood elf, so here are screenshots, taken in the garrison when I wasn't frantically healing.
      I want that armor for one of my actual blood elves more than ever now.
     She's even a redhead. I also finally got around to taking Tyl and Ailuuya over to Tanaan even if they have yet to do much there. In the process I discovered that tall characters have facial expressions during the cutscene where you open Lion's Watch. I managed to capture these gems:
     I am not sure I've ever seen anybody this excited over a map. Tyl's really liking the idea of hunting in the jungle I guess.
     Ailuuya on the other hand: "There are HOW many demons out here?!"

     I've been spending a fair bit of time on Vaelanys, RPing and occasionally just exploring, so here are a couple of my favorite screenshots with him.
     Spires. This zone in particular is my favorite in WoD. The moons I love in every zone.
     A screenshot I took while Vaelanys and this fellow were having a chat. For some reason I just loved something about the way it turned out so I couldn't resist sharing it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

RP Stuff: Storming the Portal

((More story time about Vaelanys and how he ended up with his garrison. The part of Damarianth (top screenshot) is played by Seish, who got his hair done for the first time ever for the role.))

            The Dark Portal was worse than he had ever imagined. He thought it had gone worse than any of them could have envisioned. Vaelanys had expected battle. It had been almost a massacre. Damarianth's Lynxes had been a proud company, nearly fifty strong, but they were routed, more than half their number lost. What remained fled before he and the paladin beside him, a long, straggling, broken line whose beginning was out of sight in the jungle. He thought the rest of the Horde's forces had lost even more.
            He hadn't escaped unscathed. He wasn't sure any of them had, but the pain in his wounded leg was minor and troubled him far less that the distant sounds of battle behind them. He and Damarianth turned as one to look, but for the moment there was neither pursuit nor the more welcome sign that some straggling Lynx would have been. Neither of them spoke, though when the paladin tugged the reins to keep his charger at a walk, Vaelanys mirrored the gesture and felt the hawkstrider tense under him, ruffled feathers scraping at his leathers.
            They watched the last red and gold tabard vanish over a small rise ahead of them, and once more Vaelanys looked over his shoulder, and then back at the dense trees ahead of them, wondering if what they were running into was really any better than what they fled. "Where will we go?" he asked finally and was pleased to find that his voice sounded calm and steady even if he felt nothing of the sort.
            "I don't know." The paladin tucked one gauntleted hand under the opposite elbow, pulling the heavy glove off long enough to let his bare fingers push sweat and hair from his eyes. "Have to find a place we can retreat to and try to fortify. Regroup, tend the wounded then see if we can contact any of the Horde forces that are left." If there were any left.
            Vaelanys nodded. What neither of them said was that all that depended on whether they even survived the jungle. "Are they okay? At the front?" His head tilted slightly in the direction the vanished line had gone.
            "Kieryl's at the front. He'll be watching them." 
            They both turned another look over their shoulders. But no more red tabards straggled into sight, no more fleeing mounts ran past them. More than half. He had known them only a week and Vaelanys's heart ached for it. He couldn't imagine what Damarianth felt. None of it showed in the paladin's face, but Vaelanys knew the look of a noble's composed mask when he saw it. He wore it often enough himself. "Let's catch..." But before he'd even finished the words an earth shattering roar made Tyrn spin beneath him. He caught a brief and dizzying glimpse of what looked like a moving hillside before he steadied the warstrider beneath him.
            "Light..." In the ringing silence that followed the roar he heard Damarianth's prayerful whisper. Both of them stared up at the Gronn. Into its single mad and furious eye and then higher to the heavy cannon mounted on its hunched shoulders.
            The bottom dropped out of Vaelanys's stomach, and for a moment his hands on the reins were numb. Beside him Damarianth seemed similarly frozen, but it was the paladin who moved first, slowly tugging his gauntlet back on and then very deliberately reaching up to loosen his shield and mace from his back. Vaelanys stared at him, but the paladin's eyes were fixed on the gronn.
            Damarianth couldn't mean to fight that. There was no way the two of them could possibly win. But then it moved again and Vaelanys understood. It covered what felt like half the distance between them in a few strides. It had been only moments since the last of the Lynxes had vanished from sight. One numb hand lifted over his shoulder to close on his staff.
            "Get them out, Vaelanys." The paladin's eyes stayed on the gronn. "You keep my people alive and you get them out. Do you understand me?"
            "You can't stop it, Damarianth. No one could. I can't let you..."
            "That is an ORDER, Sunthorn. You get my people. And you get them out."
            "There has to be another way." His own jaw set as he stared up at the gronn and it moved again.
            "Now! Go." The paladin heeled the reluctant charger forward one walking step. "And tell Kieryl..." Their eyes met as for the first time since the gronn appeared Damarianth looked at him, but a second later the paladin shook his head and turned away. "Never mind, I'll catch up. But don't let them wait. Keep them alive. GO!"
            "I will try." He obeyed. Vaelanys hated himself for it even as he did but he turned Tyrn and heeled the strider away.
            Behind him he heard Damarianth yell and one glance over his shoulder showed him the paladin, long white braid whipping behind him as he rode the charger straight at the gronn. "Fangs of the Eversong!"
             He didn't look back a second time and he felt like a coward as he dug his heels into the strider's sides again and leaned forward against the feathered neck. But he didn't want to even hear what would happen. Sunwell, he did not want to hear that.

***
            "We can't wait any longer." Vaelanys told the weary, dirt smudged, rebellious faces around him. He'd disobeyed that much, let them wait a few moments miles away in the lee of large stone, though it had been more for the wounded than any real hope for Damarianth. "We have to move."
            "WE'RE NOT LEAVING!" Kieryl snapped at him, throwing his shield to the ground at his feet. "We're not leaving him. YOU might be coward enough to run and leave him to fight alone, but the rest of us will stand with him."
            Vaelanys's own anger rose, along with his own stinging hurt that he knew was no match for the smaller paladin's agony. The butt of his staff slammed the ground as he stood. "I followed ORDERS! And he told me to go and he told me to get you out and I will be damned to a place worse than this if I fail! Now get the rest of them up, get the wounded up and MOVE!"
            "Then you can go straight to wherever that is." Kieryl snarled. He could see the muscles working as the smaller paladin's jaw clenched tight. "Because I'm not leaving him."
            He understood, Sunwell but he understood the pain in Kieryl's voice and face. It tore at him until it took every ounce of his own control to keep it from showing in his features. "You are." He said firmly. "Either on your own feet or hog-tied over Tyrn's back. He gave me an order. He gave us an order and we are going to obey it. Pick up your shield."
            It surprised him a little when after spitting at his feet the smaller paladin obeyed, picking up his shield and turning his back. Even through the plate he could see the angry set of Kieryl's shoulders. But that sign had been what it took for those that hadn't yet risen to begin, rising and tugging the worst of the injured to their feet.
            "Get Anrastas onto Tyrn. I can walk." Vaelanys watched them move to obey, scooping the barely conscious warrior onto the warstrider's back. Tal'efir picked up the last tattered red and gold Lynx banner from where it had been propped up against the stone.
            Kieryl stood a little away, his back to them, looking not the way they'd go, but back the way they'd come. His armor grated once with some small movement and Vaelanys wondered if he wept. But when he turned back his eyes were hard and bright and dry. "Where we going?" He demanded.
            "Out of this jungle. Somewhere we can fortify." It wasn't really an answer but it was the best he had. "What we're going to do first is stay alive." He wished he had some balm for their grief, and for his own. "You can leave him a sign. I'm sure you have one, some secret sign for missions. Leave some as we go. If he can come he'll know where to look." It felt wrong to say it, to offer hope where he knew there was none but if it gave them even a fragile thread to cling to and keep moving Vaelanys would use it.
            He didn't watch as Kieryl moved to scoop up rocks and scrape at the stone where they'd rested, but he waited until he'd finished and until they'd all begun to move out before he followed. Vaelanys didn't look back. His attention was focused on the way ahead of them and the promise he'd made. He'd never wanted this responsibility. He didn't feel qualified to handle it. But what he wanted didn't matter. It was his now. They were his now, to protect if he could, or to die like Damarianth in trying.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

RP Stuff: Orders

      My poor blog has been suffering for posts. Aside from raiding with my wonderful raid buddies and Tanaan most of what I've been doing with my game time at this point in the expansion has been RP and character story writing. So as Kamalia was nice enough to suggest, I thought I'd put up at least a couple of the mostly finished snippets for Vaelanys, my RP server character. This is the first part of the story of how he ended up in Draenor and in command of something.

           His face hurt from forcing himself to smile. His throat ached from making himself speak charming words, but the party was over, and as he finally closed the door to his chambers behind him Vaelanys's shoulders slumped. For just a moment he let go of the tension of pretending to be happy, before another sort of tension filled him. He crossed the room in two strides, slammed his palms down on the solid top of the wooden desk hard enough that his bones ached for the impact. "Light damn it." He whispered.
            The side of his right fist struck the desk a second time, far less violently. He stared unseeing down at the blank parchment on the desk. She'd ruined everything. He wasn't sure if it made it better or worse to know that she'd only meant to help him. Perhaps neither. His breaths were ragged in his own ears, and his eyes prickled dangerously close to angry tears he wasn't going to let himself shed.
            He'd wanted, he'd -intended- to go serve the Horde and just march on the Dark Portal with the rest wherever they saw fit to send him. It was what he'd done in Northrend, just turned up and taken the duty they gave him. He'd earn his own way or he wouldn't, but either way it would be something he'd done. It was the first thing that had made him feel like there was a purpose in his life in years.
            His mother would never know the effort it had cost him to smile and thank her when she'd handed him the rather crumpled paper now tucked into his belt. He'd probably never know the number of favors she'd called in to get it. Assistant Commander under Damarianth Spearsong. Second in command, of a force he'd never even met, and when he hadn't even left the city since just before Arthas fell. So much for earning his own way.
            He just wouldn't go. But the rebellious thought had no sooner formed itself in his mind than Vaelanys rejected it. He couldn't stand to stay. No matter what it cost his pride to go. No matter how wrong it felt. No matter how little this felt like what he'd wanted when he made up his mind he was leaving. He slumped slowly into the chair, one hand coming up to press against his face. He felt like she'd taken something from him with this. After a moment it came to him what that was. His freedom.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Flying is (or will be) a go.

     I've been spending a lot of time in Tanaan, and I've only even opened it with two characters. Tai and Os had gone ahead and finished all that stuff they hadn't bothered with before the patch. The rest of Nagrand for Loremaster, some exploration, some treasure hunting. The last few dailies for securing Draenor as they showed up on the table. So all that was left was the reps.
     But the first night the day the patch hit I didn't even bother trying until late in the evening. I heard horror stories about lines and waits and I was in no rush to deal with that. No, the first thing I did in 6.2 was send Rim around to purchase a set of holy paladin plate heirlooms!
     And if that might be a new little blood elf holy paladin wearing them? What of it?
    That evening and the next day both Tai and Os and Vaelanys and his new hunter friend made their way to Tanaan. And for a few weeks I was doing all the dailies faithfully twice a day on two Mistweavers. I don't know exactly how this happened. Tai finished the reps last night. Vae had his trading post up sooner and beat him to getting the big achievement by a day but it's Tai's in my book. And it's done, so maybe now I'll consider taking some of the others on over.
     In the meantime Ailuuya's still got Yrel hanging out in her garrison so I couldn't resist snapping some pictures of their matching armor. Ailuuya even took off her helmet for the occasion.
     The rest of them will get over there sooner rather than later, I hope, now that the worst of the pressure for running them with friends twice daily is over, even if I would still like to finish out those reps.
    Vaelanys still rides his warstrider everywhere. Apparently it's tougher than it looks or something.
     And I hate to shame Tai for his luck, but I feel really bad. It's so hard to get tags on Deathtalon and the rest. They're dead almost as soon as they spawn so it's mainly a matter of getting lucky and being somewhere near the right place at the right time. So Tai and Os have only had a few cracks at them, yet somehow Tai has managed to acquire all the mounts. But poor Os hasn't had one drop yet. I was really sad looting the last one because I couldn't just share.
   

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cautiously more optimistic

     So flying isn't gone after all. I'm glad to hear it. Not just because that means eventually when Seish gives the order the raven will actually take off, but because it gives me a bit more hope that Blizzard is actually listening to their players.
    I'm not going to complain at all about the achievement. I think it's pretty spot on for what it should be. My only minor quibble/hope is that there will be dailies for those rep grinds. I like dailies. I always have. I miss them. Other than that honestly I'd have been fine with it rewarding flying to all my level 100 alts. Giving it to them at 90 seems very generous.
     Perhaps the best part of this, though is actually feeling like I have a reason to log in again. Tai and Os have been elected to do the achieve and they're putting in work on it here and there. They were close on most of the things they needed as it was, so now that there's a reason for it they're out there checking off boxes.
     The other thing I've accomplished is leveling my 8th 100. This is Vaelanys. He lives on an RP server. He languished at level 75 for a very long time, but finally yesterday he hit 100, an expansion later than I meant him to, but better late than never.
     The thing I am not sure I want to talk about is that yes, he is another Mistweaver Monk. Yes that means that I currently have as many level 100 monks as I do paladins. Yes, that means that with 8 characters at 100 I've got three paladins, three monks, and two hunters. I probably have a problem(or three).
     He was leveled by himself so he took Aeda with him for about the second half of the process. She was helpful when she wasn't dead. At level 100 he went to do proving grounds. I didn't expect it to go well. His ilvl was 607 and it took Tai a few goes. But he one shot it. It was relatively simple. But here's a small rant. If I have to do these on every single character, regardless of whether I have done it on that specific class and spec before... can we please just have the achievements for it not be account wide? It would be helpful not only for remembering whether I've done it on a given character or not... and also give me a shiny feeling of accomplishment when it flashed up on screen.
     I'm still not sure my faith is entirely restored, but I'm glad they listened about flying. I'm glad they made it an achievement that should be accessible to anybody who wants to put in the time to do it rather than tying it to the ring or raiding in some way. And I'm really hoping we can start looking forward to a little more level 100 content outside of raids. But in the meantime outside of raids there's still transmog.
     And here's Vae's transmog. On an RP server these things are important.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

You can take the sky from me...

   

      But I am not in any way obligated to like it. This post isn't all about flying, but it's a lot about flying. Feel free not to read the rest of it if you've read enough on that topic, I wouldn't blame you at all. 
     I remember back when I first started playing this game, one of the things that first sold me on it was the realization that if I leveled high enough my character could FLY! Not only that, but they could acquire and ride actual dragons. Sold! Many of the things I might have looked forward to while leveling were maybe not all they were cracked up to be or exactly what I imagined but I never felt that way about flying. I could fly. I could fly up to the tops of mountains and land in trees and explore every little nook and cranny of an area to see what was there. I could take dramatic screenshots of my character on dragonback against the sky.
     Of the many things I loved and probably took for granted the most in World of Warcraft it was that when you get to a certain level... you can fly. You have to shell out gold every expansion, you have to hit the new level cap, but when you do you get your wings. I've -never- had a problem with waiting to level cap for flying. Heck I liked leveling on the ground because it made the wings an added incentive at the end. I was never one of the people who felt like my alts should get flying before max. I was willing to make the journey there on the ground every time before I got to spread my wings.
     So I'm heartbroken to think that's not coming back, that I'll never get to fly around Spires of Arak like I fantasized about from the moment I saw the zone for the first time. I won't get to have that moment I had in Pandaria when I hit max level and flew to every peak in the Jade Forest to see the top. Because apparently that makes me not take the time to appreciate the world the designers have made. I could argue that, but I won't. Because even though flying feels like a sort of catalyst and turning point it's not what has me feeling so sad and miserable and wistful. It's just the thing that's finally made what was bugging me click into place in my head so I can understand it.

     This isn't a quitting post. Not yet. But it is a 'thinking harder about quitting than I ever thought I would' post. And it's not even just because of the flying. Silvermoon City has no flying and though I have always dreamed about flying up to the spires and balconies and exploring them I accept that it doesn't and I love it anyway. Maybe it's partly because of how the whole situation was handled. I don't need to go over how we were so indirectly given the news. But I'd like to mention that as of this morning this ad was still on the front page:
     I didn't buy the mount, that's a whole other kettle of somewhat related fish, but I feel bad for the people that did maybe thinking that ad implied it was going to fly in Draenor at any point in the future. 'Cause you know, there it is... flying in Draenor.
     No what my problem comes down to is that I don't feel like this is at all the same game it was. Not because things have changed. I'm used to the changes between expansions in how to play, but when I compare what's actually there in the game now to what was there in Mists, and even in Cataclysm, well the answer is that it doesn't feel like much. This Blizzard isn't the one that made Silvermoon. It's not even the one that made Pandaria, and honestly illogical as it is the decisions lately make me feel almost as though they are deliberately trying to kill the game for some reason. I can't imagine any reason why they'd do that, but time and time again I realize that is what it feels like to me. 
     And that's why for the first time ever I'm feeling like I might need a break or something. I love this game. I love the people I play with in it, but right now I have no love or trust for the people who are making it. Every time I log on now I feel a little rush of sadness that I never felt before. And so I'm tempted to walk away because I don't want to watch them break it. If flying can be taken out regardless of what it's likely to do to the sub numbers, maybe all those other things I love in the game and have taken for granted can go next. Maybe one day Silvermoon won't be there either.

     In my opinion there were a lot of ways they could have compromised on the flying. If they want to be sure people do the jumping puzzles as they intended, put in an achieve for doing them all before flying is added, tie them to flying even. Or better yet put in the achieve and rather than making flying tied to that... or a boring gold sink like it always has been make a quest chain to get it back. A quest chain that takes you on the ground in every zone, a chain that ties it into the lore of Draenor and is maybe even just a little bit challenging at the end. Make it so when you get it back you've -earned- it.
     Make it so alts need to do it even, then not only do you give people back their flying, but you have them out in the world exploring it to get it. On the ground. And what's more you'd have added some lore behind something that's never made any sense... and  you'd have given all those level 100s something to do besides stare at the garrison walls.
     I'm not leaving over this, but I'm switching to paying with tokens for a bit, even though I'd intended to keep up a real money payment plan. I'll be spreading my wings to try some other games out. I'll still be on for raiding and for some of my garrison chores, and most of all for my friends (the ones that are still playing) but I am abandoning my alt leveling projects and some other things until I figure out what I really want to do or until I stop feeling sad when I log on.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A complaint post.

     This post is full of complaining and possibly somewhat unreasonable irritation. I don't think it is unreasonable but being the one who is irritated I wouldn't. You've been warned. This isn't a post about the things I feel are wrong with Warlords. Others have expressed those things far better and more eloquently than me: Grumpy Elf and Misdirections to name a very few. This is about one very specific and probably silly thing: Male blood elf models.
    I have been trying so hard to like these new models, I've been staring at them since the patch and trying to find the things I like in them. There are things. They're not 100% bad. But this post isn't even about how much I hate the facial proportions. This is about the fact that in places these models are flat out broken.
     This first one is perhaps a minor quibble, but still something I feel should never have made it into live as it is. This is a very iconic Blood Elf hair style. Lor'themar himself wears it.But the hair clips into the cheek and ear every time they turn their heads while idling. There are several helmets that aren't usable any more due to clipping issues: Veils that clip through the nose, circlets that clip into the forehead, but armor clipping has always been a thing, annoying as it is. This, though, that's his hair, I don't feel like it should clip into him that way, especially not during something as basic as just standing around.

     The next one is the thing that upsets me most. This is a screenshot I took today while Aug was out trapping. This isn't the first time I noticed this issue because I've been staring at it since the beta. It was posted about multiple times in the forums before they ever went live. But every time I go out to trap or do dungeons or anything where Aug does that thing that hunters do and runs and shoots at the same time... I get to see this:
     This isn't okay. It's not something about models moving that way, my male night elf  doesn't have this problem. I don't know if the female blood elves do, but it makes it very hard to enjoy playing my hunter when I keep noticing this. We don't get to have flying mounts this expansion because 'immersion'. What do you suppose this does to 'immersion'?
     This next one is a minor quibble. I've got a little male night elf, Tyndellan. He uses the hairstyle that's equivalent to Tai's. And since the model update it's awesome. His braids sway when he moves and when he jumps they do this:
     When male night elf new models went live and I saw this I was so excited. I couldn't wait for Tai's hair to get this update. Here's a screenshot of what Tai's hair does when he jumps... and when he stands... and when he does... anything:
     Nothing. It's glued to him or something. Which it was in the old models too and which I probably wouldn't mind if I hadn't seen what it could be.
     There is a lot more. I could probably rant on this for a while, but I think this is enough. I will just say though, that we waited longer for our model update than anybody else and I feel extremely insulted that what we got in the end is flat out broken in ways I haven't noticed in any other models. It makes it worse that I looked at the patch notes and didn't see anything about blood elves getting any tweaks at all, unlike the other races who had a lot of minor problems that had gone live fixed entirely by those.