Anti Doldrums Distractions – Translucence Sword Transmogrifications

Inspired by the outfit I put together for my Monk for May’s version of the ROYGBiV contest, I found myself a new distraction when it comes to WoW. Can I collect and put together outfits for all the translucence  swords in game. To further complicate the issue, I want each outfit to be for a different character and as swords are primarily used by classes I tend not to play this might require a spot of leveling on my part.

In total there are 7 swords which come in the following colours, yellow, purple, green, orange, blue and more jazzy purple.

There are to the best of my knowledge seven classes who can use one handed swords – Mage, Warlock, Monk, Warrior, Rogue, Deathknight and Paladin (I’m discounting Hunters simply because no Hunter would use a sword at the expense of a bow). My Monk has already effectively stolen green which leaves six swords and six classes to choose from.

Renataki’s Soul Slicer – yellow

Drops in Zul’Gurub from Renataki, one of the random bosses in the Edge of Madness event.

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I’m thinking yellow for my rogue, partly because Renataki himself is the ghost of a rogue and also because my little Gnome rogue was fond of putting pink and yellow together.

Continuum Blade – purple with glow

Requires revered with the Keepers of Time.

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This I think has to go to the Paladin and not just because it’s purpley pink.

Blade of the Archmage -purple

Requires exalted with Honor Hold.

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This one for my Gnome tank.

Pilfered Ethereal Blade more purple, this time though with a slightly different hilt.

This is a quest reward from Declawing Doomclaw in Netherstorm.

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And the Death Knight gets this.

Ethereum Phase Blade – green

This is purchased from Dealer Jadyan, dealer in exotic goods in the Stormspire.

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My Monk already has the phase blade which can be bought at the Stormspire, (it’s possible you might need to switch the options on your buying screen to read all before you can see it) so I guess it’s back to Zul’Farrek for the rest of the outfit for her.

Vibro Sword – orange

This is a quest reward from Cutting your Teeth in Blade’s Edge Mountains.

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Based on my love of the Mage tier 5, I’m thinking Merrily my Mage will be working on the vibro sword.

Phantom Blade – blue

Crafted by Blacksmiths, the recipe which is BoP drops in Stratholme.

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I’m erring towards blue on my Warlock simply because she happens to be wearing an outfit which already complements it. Now she just needs to level high enough to be able to equip a phantom blade.

Hopefully by the time Warlords come rolling around, I’ll have managed to acquire all these weapons and suitable outfits to go along side because it seems only fitting that my characters head through the portal wearing at least something to remind them of the importance of getting it right this time around, a poignant reminder of the fractured world that our Draenor became.

Women in WoW – Why it’s not about preaching but all about teaching

This is yet another post about women in WoW.

I wasn’t going to write this but then whilst reading the news about the tragic events in California, I found myself being redirected to a number of sites where the venom spewed out against women made me feel sick. I learnt that my worth is entirely dependent on the eggs inside me, that as a white, educated women I’m letting the planet down by not reproducing and that my husband is a weak pathetic man for wanting our marriage to be a partnership of equals. I know these are extreme views and that I’ve seen the same sort of rhetoric from the other side of the spectrum in the shape of one of my tutors at University who when drunk once admitted to thinking we should exterminate men having first harvested their sperm but couple that with Blizzard’s attitudes as vocalized by Rob Pardo and I can’t help feeling we have a huge problem. You can read a transcript of some of the interview with Rob Pardo  here as well as an interesting article on the subject. The whole interview can be listened to here.

 

The Comic defense

I read a lot of comics too as a child/in my early teens. My father has always been fond of routine, in fact sometimes growing up I think he forgot I was his daughter, not one of his men and so every Saturday at 2pm, when my mother and I returned from shopping in which ever town we were currently residing, we would head onto the base for coffee (my parents) and cherry coke (for me, the only day of the week I got a fizzy drink until I was 16). Daddy would buy every newspaper he could lay his hands on and I would get one or two comics. Now because my father struggled to tell the difference between a 10 year old girl and a 20 year old squaddie with tattoos and a crew cut, he would pay for what ever comics I put on the counter and my tastes quickly changed from the likes of Mandy to 2000AD, the Eagle and Wildcat. I fell in love with Judge Anderson,  Tyranny Rex and Halo Jones because they gave me hope, I could be a master criminal, a soldier or whatever I wanted to be. Yes, they all have sexualised bodies but then so do the men in these comics. For every women in a skintight jumpsuit, there is a man with his top off showing his six pack to the world but the important bit, at least to me was the characters themselves. Women who are respected in their fields, women who are capable, competent, powerful and treated as equals. If reading comics taught the Blizzard staff to draw women as sexy and sexualised then it should have also taught them to write women as more than just helpmates, mothers and stereotypes or are we just meant to assume they just looked at the pictures?

It’s also a self fulfilling  problem, Rob and the other Blizzard designers use the comics they grew up with as a defense for not trying to portray women as anything other than mothers and wives in skimpy clothing which then leads the next generation of developers to grow up playing WoW and say “oh we grew up playing WoW.. this is how we see women”.

 

It’s all women’s fault

But it’s a struggle for us because the diversity within our workplace is unbalanced. “

I read English Literature at University and in my final year, one of my tutors came into class and handed around a sheet of paper covered in paragraphs from various books. None of them were labelled and most of them were fairly obscure missing out character names. Our task was to try and determine from around 100 words whether each one was written by a man or a woman. Naturally we assumed that we would be able to tell the difference but apart from the ones we could identify because we recognised the text, we failed miserably resorting to guessing. In order to create interesting female characters you do not need a vagina, literature teaches us this over and over again. Shakespeare created a diverse range of female characters, from the villains, to the strong sensible women who saved the day to the simpering milkmaid types. Brecht’s Mother Courage got a German feminist newspaper named after her for a spell and Dickens wrote some fabulous female characters. I particularly loved the calculated cruelty of Miss Havisham and the sheer wickedness of Madame Defarge. Yes, you could argue that both of these are simply portrayals of Mother Nature at her most capricious but you can’t deny their fascination. I could go on with more modern examples but I feel if men could manage it when women didn’t have the vote, then there is no excuse now.

I suppose what angers me is that I feel it’s a gross simplification to assume you can’t write strong female characters because you aren’t female. The ability to make decisions, to be driven by something other than hormones, to be capable and competent, these are not the preserve of men only. Women are not just emotions on legs, we are as diverse as the characters we are asking for. I played with action men just as much as I played with barbie dolls, I had toy guns and toy rolling pins, I loved sharks and dinosaurs more than fluffy toys.

If setting out to make a character female and strong is too hard, then write a strong character you are happy with and make it female. The characteristics of a leader don’t change whether it’s a man or a woman, the only real difference is the physical body. If we look at female politicians versus male, the vast majority of what drives them is the same, ambition, ego, arrogance.

 

Missed Opportunities

When I first saw the teaser video for MoP, I thought of Conan Doyle’s the Lost World. That Victorian “boys trip” into the great unknown with epic mustaches and lots of testosterone. Fast forward to now and it seems we’re doing Victorian Literature yet again for Warlords. Now that would be ok (and I use the word loosely) if this was roughly 1900, when women were still effectively property, disenfranchised and not treated too dissimilarly to children. However it’s not, the rest of the world has mostly marched on. We aren’t going back to our Draenor and so if the timeline has changed in some ways, why can’t there have been some seismic changes in terms of female characters. Couldn’t Griselda Blackhand have taken on her father in a coup d’etat  and won. Why does Yrel need a lover who happens to be both dominant and male? Take Onyxia, she started out wonderfully, lurking in Stormwind Keep clearly plotting to overthrow the kingdom and ended up in a cave in a marsh surrounded by eggs….. I think that’s what is frustrating, Blizzard do try, take it so far and then revert to type. Tyrande cleaved to Malfurion and became a Victorian stereotype with an overdose of emotions thrown in to make Varian look good, having previously managed to lead her people absolutely fine. Jaina, Sylvanas, Mankrik’s wife… the list goes on.

 

End Game

In conclusion, I know all creative endeavors are personal. I know having something you slaved over, shedding blood, swear and tears for criticized is painful but ultimately Blizzard have a massive audience and a percentage of this are young. Just as Blizzard learnt from the comics they read as boys, this next generation will learn from WoW. We all want WoW to be fun, after all, gaming is a release from reality. It’s something we do to unwind and to relax. However “fun” and “We’re not trying to bring in serious stuff, or socially relevant stuff, or actively trying to preach for diversity or do things like that” are not mutually exclusive. In fact I’d argue that managing to write half a dozen female characters that women can identify with shouldn’t be classed as “preaching”, merely good storytelling with one eye on the future generations. Once again we return to Adrienne Rich and her poem “Diving into the Wreck“.

a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Gaming is not the preserve of men, any more than sewing is done only by women and the sooner companies realise this, the better for all of us. Going back to my first paragraph, when you have men out there who for whatever reason refuse to see women as anything more than their bodies, having these ideas reinforced by mainstream gaming companies like Blizzard is dangerous. We’re not asking for real world parallels to be drawn, just for Blizzard to accept that their excuses are not good enough and to try and improve their track record when it comes to anything which isn’t male, heterosexual and macho.

I don’t need to see Emmelina Pankhurst, Gnome inventor and Suffragnome chaining herself to railings in Ironforge although to be fair that would be pretty awesome.

Random Musing – On Timelines, Pre-expansion Doldrums and how I’d spend the expansion budget before the expansion

On our way home tonight, fog slowed down the journey and so to distract from the frustration, we got to talking about WoW. Primarily as is perhaps common these days, we discussed the lack of content and this post was born of that.

I wanted to think of ways in which we could have content without distracting too much from the focus of Warlords so this is a rough version of what would happen in the doldrums between now and the expansion if I were in charge (and they gave me lots of money).

For the purposes of this, the events of War Crimes have taken place and Garrosh, that naughty Elf/Dragon and Wrathion are currently lost in time and space. Chromie being that sort of Dragon is desperate to put things right but obviously this doesn’t go particularly well and whilst she keeps assuring your group that she’s tracked down Garrosh and opened a portal to his location, when you arrive on the other side…. well it’s a different story altogether.

Perhaps you’ve zoned into Icecrown Citadel, only this is another timeline and it’s Jaina who sits on the Lich’s frozen throne, having first murdered her innocent prince. Maybe you find yourself a top Blackrock Mountain but instead of finding Nefarion lounging on his chair admiring the view, you find his sister laughing over his corpse because after all if you could choose between a palace and a cave… Imagine a timeline in which Keristrasza managed to slay Malgyos herself, ruling in his stead as consort elect and rather than ending her misery, your mission was to restore balance and free her. Maybe that baby fire elemental from the Fire Festival would have the last laugh and turn up as the end boss of Molten Core.

The fights would remain essentially the same merely scaled up and yes, there would need to be model changes/voice acting but balance that against the whining, the people threatening to quit and the lack of people on-line at the moment and I wonder whether it would work out worth it. Not to mention the fact that the possibilities could be limitless, even Hogger could become the Lich King in one reality or another and who wouldn’t want to see that?

Naturally Chromie would be apologetic that she’d got it wrong but since you’re there, you might as well kill whatever is facing you and hope to fix another strand of the time line whilst getting awesome loot. Plus you would arrive at the boss you were going to fight, so you wouldn’t have to drag yourself through eight side bosses and 1000 trash packs because Chromie isn’t that much of a sadist.

Of course there would need to be items but then that could be as simple as taking all the iconic loot from specific fights and scaling it up to whatever item level would motivate people. You could also have vanity items and /or battle pets which would only be obtainable whilst the pre expansion event was in progress to add icing to the carrot on a stick. The Jaina as Lich Queen encounter for example could drop a sort of mirror which when clicked on would spawn a reflection of Jaina in her Lich state to follow you around whispering those who target her with suitably nasty things about how their blood will freeze or Onyxia in Blackwing Lair could give a whelping pet in the style of lil’ Tarecgosa.

The reward for “fixing” all the timelines in pursuit of Garrosh and co would of course net you a suitably adorable lil’Chromie battle pet which (out of combat) be able to switch into a Gnome for 10 minutes every hour and would wander around after you talking science. There would also be achievements to pursue and maybe a title to show that you’ve surfed the twisting nether and come out of it relatively unhurt.

If you had access to Blizzard’s budget how you would fill the content void between now and the release of Warlords?

Green grow the rushes oh: May’s ROYGBiV entry

The colour for May is green, the colour of envy. We associate it with spring and new shoots sprouting but also with decay as it’s the colour of mould and drowned flesh.

I knew right from the start that I had to use the Jinxed Hoodoo skin because it’s a piece dear to my heart. Two of my Druids are currently sporting it as part of their transmogrifications and I’ve always intended farming it on my Monk. At first I thought about just creating something for my other Druid, the one I plan on getting to 90 and transferring from her old forgotten server before Warlords goes live but then I got side tracked by that sword and realised that my Monk was in danger of ending up envious of the Druids.

Despite my lack of love for yellow, I’ve always preferred these shoulders to the original and so it made sense to  use them to tie together those pale vanilla shades in the kilt and the detailing on the bodice.

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  • Crown of the Forest Lord
  • Mantle of Autumn
  • Jinxed Hoodoo Skin
  • Bracers of Rolling Fields
  • Duskwing Handwraps
  • Moss Cinch
  • Jinxed Hoodoo Kilt
  • Swampwalker Boots
  • Ethereum Phase Blade
  • Councilor’s Sceptor

Wildstar Wonderings

If Doctor Seuss made video games I imagine it would look much like this.

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I fully admit that I didn’t bother reading much if anything about Wildstar before diving in and so this is basically my own internal dialogue as to whether I wish to buy the game made external.

Plus points

I love the whimsy of the game. Exploring any virtual world has always ticked my boxes and Wildstar is no different there. Unlike recent WoW expansions too, it seems to favour wandering around looking at things rather than being forced into doing one quest at a time. It’s impossible not to smile when you shrink yourself to follow white vermin down rabbit holes and discover this:

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The detail is stunning, I’m findings things to ooh and aah over everywhere I turn. I like the puzzle aspect of the game too, it’s not as simple as walk to x and kill 10 of y because after all games should get you thinking. The fact that I can wander to a higher level area and still get the quests even if I promptly get splatted pleases me.

Rivers have currents and if you don’t swim, you’ll be pulled down stream. I’ve spent far too much time drifting along testing this particular feature.

Pink Sheep…. nothing else needs saying.

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Once I got the hang of the challenges I also found myself really enjoying them, especially the non killing ones (it turns out I’m a pro jumper) and yet, despite this I find myself questioning whether I wish to purchase the game.  In order to do it justice, my graphics card would definitely need upgrading especially as jerky computer games mean migraines for me but that’s not an issue as Mr Harpy points out, we’d need to do that soon anyway. I think his apathy towards the game doesn’t help but then, I know if I said I want to play this, he’d have no issue getting two copies and trying it out.

So what are my negatives.

I’m not sure of the combat side. Now, I picked a class purely at random and ended up as an Aurin Esper without really knowing what I was getting in too and I’ve no issues at all whilst leveling but I’m not sure I like those boxes the game draws on the floor.

The character creation screen lacks options I feel. I was really hoping for more hairstyles/colours plus body shapes and yes, I realise it’s a multi player game which already taxes a lot of people’s graphics but still. That said, I’m playing a blue haired bunny with a large behind.

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The whole cowboys and aliens vibe bothers me too. I suspect I’m a traditionalist in the sense that I like medieval-esque settings for games.

I think the whole housing aspect will swing it one way or another for me and now I just need to stop staring at the scenery and make it to the correct level for a piece of my own green and verdant land. Plus my bags are filling up with decorative items to put in a house and I can’t wait to see what they actually look like.

I shall ride Midnight

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Apparently Attumen does drop a mount after all… After so many Karazhan runs I’ve lost count those fickle Gods of RNG decided that I should be rewarded for my persistence. Now I think I need a suitably “midnight” ensemble perhaps with flashes of red to match.

On Writing

Somewhere towards the end of May lurks the sixth anniversary of my blogging adventures, so with that milestone up a head and the fact that the Newbie Blogger Initiative  is in full swing once again, I thought I’d write about a topic dear to my heart.

Words, they spill from us. Look around in any public space and you’ll see them, bold brassy words yelled across a pub, soft silver lullabies whispered beneath a duvet or the blood red gothic lettering of arguments flaming forth like hammer blows. They catch on the air when spoken aloud, letters unfolding as illuminated text or spiraling across the page like heartbeats. Formed with care, they carry meaning beyond their letters. Without them we’d have no stories, no spells to mesmerize and fascinate us.

In person I get tongue tied. I struggle to pronounce things, my lips feel swollen, clumsy, useless. I can argue passionately and convincingly but only when I have time to prepare, to learn my speech as if for a play. The rest of the time I’m back to being that little girl, the one who needed speech therapy and struggled to learn to read. The one whose parents were told she was thick, stupid and would never amount to anything.

Yet when I write the words come easily, springing fully formed and delicate onto the page. There is no struggling and no stuttering. The transition from brain to page is as fluid and organic as a dolphin diving through the surf. No one pities me when I put pen to paper (unless they’ve read any of my teenage attempts to write sex scenes in fan fiction) and no one feels the need to rush to my rescue when I submit written reports. My readers don’t coo over my accent or find my tendency to add the letter R to everything amusing. All they see  is my choice of words solid and strong against the page, no prejudging just those shapes conveying meaning.

I thought about giving blogging advice in the spirit of the NBI but then I spend all my working days giving practical and sensible suggestions which I always avoid following myself so instead I thought I’d leave the guidance for others. Instead, I thought I’d end like this…

Ultimately though writing is like any other creative pursuit. Do it because you have to, because the words inside bubble up, threatening to burst, blowing your heart to smithereens amidst an alphabet of shrapnel. Write because you love it and because you’d be lost without it.