Contrasts

Class order halls in World of Warcraft are a unique study in contrasting tones.

On one hand, you are exalted as a powerful leader and figure, one with an incredibly rare artifact weapon, one who is praised and worshiped and even feared.

On the other hand, you’re surrounded by a hundred other dopes who have the same weapon and status.

So you’re both this unique leader and part of a crowd of clones.

Battle Bards Episode 81: Goblins, Orcs, and Ogres!

goblin

They may be ugly. They may be smelly. And they may have no table manners whatsoever. What, we’re not talking about the Battle Bards! No, it’s actually a reference to the subject matter of today’s episode: Goblins, Orcs, and Ogres. The most unglamorous of MMO races get their day in the spotlight, as the co-hosts scrounge through soundtracks to find music that best represents their various cultures. Oh, and apparently Ogres are the odd man out, because they get nothin’ other than a sad place in the show marquee.

Episode 81 show notes (show page, direct download)

  • Intro (feat. “Plight of the Ogres” from World of Warcraft and “Down Down to Goblin-Town” from Lord of the Rings Online)
  • “The Crymbil (Goblins)” from Project Copernicus
  • “Orc Village” from Lineage II
  • “Kezan (Goblins)” from World of Warcraft
  • “Goblin Village” from Runes of Magic
  • “New Orsinium” from Elder Scrolls Online
  • “Greenskins (Orcs)” from Warhammer Online
  • “Cave of the Goblins” from RuneScape
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Along for the Ride” from Poly Bridge, “Light is Green” from Halo 5, and “Theme” from Squids
  • Outro (feat. “Goblin Sapper Quotes” from Warcraft III)

MMO gamers, go ahead and complain.

I struggled a little bit whether or not to write a post on this, mostly because I don’t get my jollies off badmouthing others’ articles and I try to refrain from commenting on Massively OP’s competition.

However, I have to break my self-imposed silence on that site today because that site decided to dash off a quick five-point list in which the author comments on “Things MMO gamers should stop complaining about.” Now, I’m no stranger to making lists or even saying things that generate controversy, but boy did this article rankle — and for the wrong reasons.

So five quick rebuttals:

  1. When an MMO news/opinion site that takes in ad revenue (not to mention “sponsored content”) from studios, you don’t really want to give the impression that you’re so far away from criticizing these studios that you’re trying to squelch the community for griping. Appearances matter.
  2. Don’t ever, ever tell me what’s OK for me to complain about or not. That’s condescending and hypocritical coming from a site that criticizes and, yes, sometimes complains about games. I have the right to complain about whatever I want. You have the right not to listen to it.
  3. I get the sentiment that players tend to whine a little too much and beat dead horses without adding anything new to the conversation. But that doesn’t mean that these topics are now off-limits. Instead, guide the community to producing constructive criticism and tone down the rhetoric and knee-jerk emotional responses a bit.
  4. If an MMO news site isn’t being a watchdog against studios’ gross tactics, then why are you berating the community for taking up that slack? Lockboxes and pay-to-win sales are very controversial and, in the eyes of many, have damaged otherwise great games’ reputations. This is pertinent and should be debated.
  5. You really do not get to write a list telling players that they shouldn’t complain and then counter every negative response to said list with, “See? A complaint! Stop it!”

World of Warcraft: The Legion countdown commences

The lead up to Legion has been a little strange on my end. I honestly think I was more excited for the 7.0 patch to drop — just in terms of anticipation, hype, and emotional dizziness. With the expansion launch proper, I’ve been so busy this month that I’ve hardly had time to really dwell on it, and so it’s rushed my way without a lot of long, agonizing days of waiting.

And that’s great for me. The Legion invasions and leveling up my Druid to 100 were perfect for occupying my attention, and in that I think Blizzard did a stellar job in making this last month of the pre-expansion bearable and even exciting. Plus, I’ve got a lot of planning for the fall in the works and projects in other games (such as getting my RIFT Cleric ready for that expansion) as well.

But now we’re the day before Legion and my thoughts have indeed turned back to the expansion. I won’t lie: It might well be the highlight of the MMO gaming year, right here. I look back at the road I took in 2016, getting back into World of Warcraft, building up my garrison, going through Draenor, and leveling up my alts. It’s been quite the journey and now we’re at the cusp of Legion.

It’s the big reset button. The gear treadmill starts anew. We’re moving digs from Draenor to the Broken Isles. There are new systems to be figured out and a new “life” to be explored. It all looks pretty great, from my perspective, and I’m hoping that the endgame world stuff pans out as Blizzard is hoping.

So what are my plans? It’s not the busiest week, although we will be doing stuff as a family over Labor Day weekend, which should shut down some of my gaming time (which is OK — the game will still be there afterward). I have five characters at the ready: My Death Knight, Druid, Warlock, Hunter, and Shaman. Unless I have a massive change of heart, I’ll be focusing on my DK for the first month or so. I think I want to explore the expansion on a single character before branching out into alts, and there really is no rush here.

I’m a little too old and responsible (or so I tell myself) to take a full day off to play on launch, and besides, I know how the crush of players can create all sorts of havoc and end up frustrating those who took time off. I’m sure I’ll be in there, but my mantra will be “no rush, no rush, explore, enjoy, pay attention to the details.” I’ll lose the race in the first hour anyway, and this expansion sounds like it’s going to be around for quite some time.

I’m looking forward to getting my artifact weapon and seeing what the class hall system has to offer, but more than that, I can’t wait for some good old-fashioned polished Blizzard questing. Draenor was a great ride while it lasted and I’ve heard some very positive things about this.

What are your launch day plans? Taking it casual or do you have a huge to do list at the ready?

Mobile game recommendation: Dungeon Warfare

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced an iPhone game that got me super-excited, but such a title happened this past week and I wanted to share it: Dungeon Warfare.

Dungeon Warfare is a mash-up of a few types of games. First and foremost, it’s a tower defense game (waves of mobs come that you have to kill before they reach your portal). But there’s a bit of Dungeon Keeper in it (since you’re running your own dungeon) and a much different feel to it. Probably the coolest part is that you can set up traps to ping-pong off each other, mousetrap-style, setting of chains of destructive glory that ripple through the oncoming waves.

Everything about this game is spot-on perfect. The pixel art works great and keeps the gore from being more than abstract, the sound effects (traps and screams) lend weight to the gameplay, and the whole interface is a dream to work with. I love how the game super-slows down when you’re placing a trap — although it doesn’t stop entirely.

There’s a lot of strategy with the different stages, especially since you can’t keep plopping down the same one type of trap, as traps become more and more expensive when you’re overusing a single type. You can even handicap yourself on stages (giving yourself only one life or allowing the mobs to regenerate health) in order to get more XP. The leveling mechanic also works well, allowing you to beef up your traps, dungeon bonuses, and consumables.

I think this was a Steam game first, but it just came out on iOS last week and I’ve been rocking it ever since. It’s brutally fun and could well be my new favorite tower defense game. Wiping out waves of heroes never gets old.

Quest for Glory III: Journey to the Simbani

(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

The next day is my appointment with Rakeesh and the Court ‘o Judgment. Here they recap what the game has already hinted at:

  • There’s a war brewing between the human Simbani tribe and the Leopardmen
  • Some of the Liontaurs want peace, while a bunch (including the king) want to fight alongside of the humans
  • A peace envoy from the Liontaurs was met with violence and most were killed
  • There may be demonic activity involved

Rakeesh swears on his honor to investigate this situation and attempt to bring peace, and I’m prompted to make the same oath. When I do, this happens:

fire

Let’s just put it out there that I am WAY too irresponsible of a player to be entrusted with a fire sword. But I’m going to enjoy it!

teem

After Rakeesh and the king get into it again — bicker bicker honor bicker — the two of us leave to travel to the Simbani. Along the way, Rakeesh tells me a bit about Tarna, being a paladin, and how to make campfires. Hey, I already know how to make campfires: I stick my sword in a heap of wood and activate its AWESOME MAGIC POWER.

home

After a day or so of travel and a non-stop Rakeesh monologue, we arrive at the village. At first, it seems promising: Everyone’s friendly and we have a joyful reunion with Uhura and her son Simba.

But then we meet with the chief and the situation sours. The chief downright loathes the Leopardmen, saying they use magic and that’s totally not fair (as I stuff my magic sword behind me). Also, they stole something called the “Spear of Death” and when the Spear of Death be stolen, there can be no peace in the world.

Naturally, Rakeesh takes in this situation, turns to me, and says, “BYE!” He heads off, leaving me to do the grunt work of investigating.

Oh, if you end up clicking on yourself:

Indeed they do! And your appearance is all pixelated! Wear some polygons, son.

cows

The next day I wander around and try to make friends with the locals. One fellow invites me to play some sort of obscure stone-related board game. I’m quite bad at it, but I’m sure you could guess that.

spears

Not much to do in this village, so I wander over to a spear throwing range and get some instruction from Uhura on the art of throwing pointy sticks. The actual technique is to judge the wind (from the waving flag) and adjust your target accordingly. I’m even worse at this than I was at the stone game.

bridge

Finally, there’s a good old-fashioned wrestling bridge. Uhura says this is another part of the initiation, and I’ve heard that enough that I have a sinking feeling that sooner or later, I’m going to have to pass all of these tests to advance in the game. Foreshadowing!

Quest for Glory III: Lover of small, furry animals

q1

(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

One thing that slightly frustrates me about these early-era VGA adventure games is that it’s apparent how much the designers are in awe of their own graphics and really want everyone to spend as much time as possible admiring them. Hence, the land speed of characters like this game being measured in inches per hour. So… very… slow.

q2

Down in the bazaar, which must take up more than half the footprint of this city, I find a lonely Katta hanging out, pining for Shapeir. I give him a note from his aunt and cough discreetly, looking for a tip. None was to be had. Actually, he does give me a free leopard carving when I try to buy it from him, so it’s all good.

dog

Next to the Katta is this doggy fellow selling dried meat. This guy just cracks me up — he’s a panting, drooling, completely dumb dog who just so happens to walk on two legs and speak. He’s so stinking eager to sell to you that you can bargain his meat down to a single coin and he’ll be ecstatic with joy that you’re buying it at all. I do take small umbrage with being labeled as “ultra-liberal,” however.

I walk away with 70 hunks of dried meat. Gonna open up my own stand and sell this stuff at a profit!

hippie

Meet the local hippie of Tarna, who owns a drug store because of course he does. Talking to him is a trip, and not the good kind. When he mentions hugging trees, we get into a conversation about how he’s had these dreams of a woman who was turned into a tree. Hey, that sounds familiar! In another burst of series continuity, I tell him about Julanar the girl-tree from the second game and he vows to pack up and visit her in Shapeir.

inn

It’s been a long, tiring, bewildering day, so I retire to the inn — another one of Quest for Glory’s staples. It’s a beautiful place that almost looks like a small palace. After a meal delivered by the beautiful owner, I retire for the night in my room (paid for by Kreesha, 10/10 highly recommended, would visit again). I love how the background changes from day to night and back into day again as time passes. And it’s so nice, for once, not to be under some sort of time pressure.

table

By the way, if you ever play these games — and you should, at some point — make sure you click on the description for everything. There are puns upon puns laying in wait, as well as funny observations. One of my favorites is how my character looks up at the chandolier with dozens of candles and then remarks how he’s so glad he isn’t the one tasked with replacing those every day. I always wondered who did such things in fantasy games.

And there are also in-jokes:

oliver

Haha! You had to be there, am I right?

lion

On day two, I go poking around the town a bit more and come upon a temple room with a rather buxom statue in the middle. And the puns… oh the puns. So delicious and yet painful at the same time.

Side-note: I wonder if this game was localized for any other market, and if so, how they handled this English wordplay.

leave

To my surprise, the statue comes to life and starts talking. She says that I bring either weal or woe to Tarna, and that there is a great darkness rising. With those cryptic statements floating in the air, I’m given a task: to find the Gem of the Guardian. So, could you give me directions to said gem? Any clues? Hints? A map? No? Okay… well, I guess I’m off then to look for a gem somewhere in the entire world.