A Learning Curve

I learnt several things yesterday. The first of those things is that I’m a terrible Mistweaver Monk.


I hadn’t really played her since the pre-patch which brought so many changes but either I haven’t properly looked through her spell book and am missing half a dozen useful spells or I’m doing something very wrong. I got my artifact and am only level 99 but it felt way harder than doing any of the three Priest artifact weapon chains.


Secondly I discovered there is a real dust problem in Dalaran. Having acquired the weapon, I felt my Monk needed a change of hair colour to match her outfit so wandered off to the Barbers. Having accidentally clicked on the rug, I came out to discover an infestation of bunnies running around.

Then when sitting down to take a screenshot of said bunny, I noticed a floating Pepe hanging around next to me.

All in all, a rather lucky day made perhaps even more important by the fact that it was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday and that it’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m still here to write about the joy of something so insignificant as finding a little orange bird in a video game. I know I’ve talked about depression before but one thing I haven’t admitted is that my postnatal depression almost killed me. I remember those feelings of emptiness, of believing that my son wasn’t real and the despair… I could have drowned whole continents. Yet whenever I tried to seek help I was dismissed, patronised or told that there was something fundamentally wrong with me because of the “unnatural” feelings I had. In the end, I reached a point where I felt not only was my life pointless but that I was already blighting my son’s. Killing myself before I did him any more harm seemed the only logical solution.

My life was saved by the kindness of a passing stranger* and so I’d like to pass that on, please if you’re feeling depressed and that you don’t see any point going on, talk to someone. The one lesson I’ve learned in all this madness is that the way we see ourselves is very often warped and twisted like a fairground mirror and that to get a true picture, we need to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.

*(and also the amazing support of Mr Harpy who never gave up on me)

Zen and the Art of Dungeoning

So far I’ve run two Legion dungeons. Both were fairly easy runs, a couple of wipes in the Eye of Azshara to Serpentrix and a gentle wander through the Halls of Valor with zero casualties. In particular I really enjoyed the latter, the look of the dungeon, the boss mechanics and the variation in bosses.  In theory, there shouldn’t be an issue but there is. You see those two dungeon runs weren’t done with 5 people, they were done with 2.

It happens every expansion, I level and then I hit a wall of what to do next. The obvious answer is dungeon but I can’t. Even thinking about queuing up has me going into “worst healer EU” mode mentally which then swiftly becomes a self fulling prophecy. I get too many physical symptoms of anxiety to play to a “proper” standard (my words, not anyone else’s).

Doing this was easy, doing it with 3 more players seems impossible.


With Legion it seems the problem is bigger than ever. You can’t do your Class Hall mission with dungeoning, you can’t level professions without dungeoning and then of course there is the revamped Karazhan heading our way. I would love to see it but the mountain it would take for me to get there in this expansion seems too high, too steep and with far too many feral goats hanging off it’s sides.

I was under the mis-impression that Blizzard had realised that there are many ways to play and that all those ways are valid, yet it seems that those lessons haven’t been learnt from the PvP fiascos of the Legendary cloak and Children’s Week. Yes, the dungeons are (in my limited experience) lovely looking and have lots of interesting mechanics and I can understand why the designers are rightly proud of them but forcing people who want to meander through the game into running them or hitting a wall seems as unfair as making people who want to progress their profession quests get blown up in the Underbelly because they either don’t know the “Guard for hire” system exists or they don’t get back fast enough to buy a new one before the timer runs out.

Where I go from here, I don’t know. I’d like to say I’d wake up one morning and think well if I can do it with 2 people, adding another 3 to the mix should surely make it go faster and if one of them stands in the fire…”so what!” but the honest answer is likely the same thing will happen this time as has happened before, I play for a bit, end up with a log of dungeon quests and quit.

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.

Cross Faction Conversations

Warning: Bad Language ahead.

The other night I was minding my own business popping on and off different characters when I noticed I had a pending battle net friend request.


Now previous to logging my latest lowbie Druid I had helped Mr Harpy once in a 2 v 2 against a Mage and Death Knight, both of whom out geared his little Fire Mage and both of whom were in Dun Morogh. I then logged onto another character to continue faffing around with my alt collection.

My issue with this is as follows. Blizzard doesn’t allow us to speak the same languages in an attempt to cut angry communications between the factions and yet this rather upset player just had to click on my character to whisper me this  abusive message. I know I’m especially sensitive at the moment as my depression is staging a rather determined coup d’etat but why should I have to read the rantings of a complete stranger who apparently wished to engage in world pvp and than decided that they didn’t without them having to go through the hassle of making a lv 1 character on my server, logging in, escaping the start video, putting me on ignore to stop any return comments I may wish to make and then typing out an essay on why I suck. Now I know that plenty of pvp heroes do exactly that as illustrated by exhibit A below:


This charming missive was sent to Mr Harpy by a Lv 90 Deathknight who he encountered killing level 12s in Westfall but why make it easier for everyone to throw their toys out of the pram.

I would much rather that you could indicate that you wished to become “friends” with someone and then they had to accept either out of curiosity or because they knew who you were before chatting was allowed. I’m sure there are lots of friendly messages passed back and forwards this way but it only takes a few people spewing hatred (this is one of the “nicer”messages the two of us have received) to ruin what was meant to be fun pvp and your night playing WoW.

Failing that, let us learn other languages properly. I would imagine a proper epic quest chain with lots of random wandering around Azeroth, collecting of weird ingredients, single person scenarios and much reading of dusty tomes (probably the sort which spawn angry ghosts) before you mysteriously understood what the other faction was saying.

Some Minor Glyphs are more Equal than others

I’ve had a hate hate relationship with minor glyphs ever since the start of MoP. Playing a Holy Priest didn’t exactly leave me with much choice outside the cosmetic and whilst I’ve nothing against cosmetic, when other classes have something useful to fill their slots it’s a little frustrating.

Sure things like being able to sprint over water and fall great distances safely are essentially niches but they take an existing useful spell and add something to it, making it more useful in certain situations with no negatives at all. Perhaps it’s easier for classes like the Rogue who despite having three specs has only one role but Priests have definitely suffered when it comes to fun minor glyphs which give you an edge over the cosmetic ones.

Confession is amusing for about 10 seconds, although if you could edit the confessions to suit the people you cast it on, it could have far more potential (although I can see why Blizzard would never ever allow this). I do like turning into a Val’kyr  but wish it altered the spell somewhat, perhaps you stay “alive” for three quarters of the time the normal Spirit remains for but it allows you to cast smite too. Not having to die to get any use of the glyph would be even better though. There are 10 Priest minor glyphs, four of these are Shadow specific, 1 Disc and 1 Holy. Of the four non spec specific spells, 3 are straight up turn this spell effect into that one and the final one is confessions.

Which brings me to the Monk. Here we see a variety of minor glyphs, ones which completely alter spells giving you variety and extra options. Take the Windwalker glyph Blackout Kick:

Use: Permanently teaches you this glyph.

Your Blackout Kick always deals 20% additional damage over 4 sec regardless of positioning but you’re unable to trigger the healing effect.

For situations where you don’t need to heal yourself, this is a great glyph. I admit my Monk currently rocks the completely cosmetic glyph of Crackling Tiger Lightning but my other 2 slots are filled with mostly practical glyphs and besides pretending I’m a Sith Monk is useful, honest. I fell in love with the glyph of Zen Flight the second I tried it out. Okay it’s not as fast as my mounts but you can cast it whilst falling, always handy especially when you’ve used crackling lightning to punt a mob off a cliff and had a slight accident whilst trying to loot it. You can cast your proper mount whilst smugly sitting on your cloud having not fallen to your death. You can mine on it four foot off the ground as well as complete pesky pick up quests under the noses of aggressive mobs. You can pose on it and chill out on it and perhaps most importantly you don’t need to die to use it.


In many regards I wish Blizzard would return to the three type model for glyphs. Major spell altering ones, which always do something nice to your abilities, lesser ones which like the Blackout Kick above offer you a situational choice and finally the minor glyphs, always cosmetic and always fun. At the moment it feels like discussing minor glyphs is comparing apples with oranges which is wrong because it should be apples with apples and the Priest ones shouldn’t be windfall, mushy and filled with maggots when compared to other classes with their shiny pink ladys and golden delicious.

Kismet: Luck or Fate

This is a post which was originally going to be a bit of a rant, however much to my surprise, it’s turned out as the opposite. Whether that’s due to luck or fate, you can be the judge.

I recently realised that all my comments on other WordPress blogs were disappearing straight into the spam filters and didn’t take long to figure out the culprit…. Akismet. Experimentation suggested it wasn’t my email address causing the problem but my Blog because if I tried posting with just a name and email address, things worked fine. This was further supported by the fact that google short links would work for around around 12 hours before they too hit the spam folders.

I flicked around on the web and found story after story of woe. In fact after reading my 15th or so negative report, I was actually considering renaming my blog as clearly harpies are frowned upon. However Mr Harpy (the sole voice of reason most of the time in our house) suggested emailing them to explain the issue and so, grudgingly we did. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting a reply and this was definitely supported by the number of people posting about Akismet and the nigh impossibility of getting yourself unbanned.

Which brings me to today, in between people telling me “oh I found a comment of yours sitting in my spam folder”, I got an email from a nice gentleman called Mark.

Sorry for that – I believe it is fixed for you now.


A spot of random testing later and yes, it seems that it has been fixed and fairly quickly too as it took them less than 48 hours from the issue being raised for them to get in touch to say it was sorted.

So it’s time for Happy Sprout to make an appearance and yes, I’m ever so slightly addicted to this Chibi-maker.


Dog eat Dog: or why I’d rather save the Vermling and feed the player base to the Sha

I’ve always been a firm believer in the WoW community, that regardless of the depths some players sink to, that they are the minority but now after levelling and starting the daily grind, I’m starting to wonder.

The sheer number of players who are so focused on achieving their own objectives that they’re happy to step on other people amazes me. You pull mobs next to something you need to pick up and next thing you know four other people are trying to nab it whilst you beat up it’s guardians. Spectral guise has turned out to be priceless in buying enough time to grab pickled vegetables or loot some artefact. I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me but I never go for anything that someone else is fighting next to on the principle that they wouldn’t be fighting some trash mob if they didn’t want whatever it was. I’ve noticed as well people with mobs on them running straight for the nearest player aoeing in the hope that they can shake off a few without having to kill them. It doesn’t matter if the guy aoeing happens to be struggling against his own mobs and might die because helping out would slow them down.

Best of all are those who come running up to something you’re already looting and then turn around and /spit on you because you “ninja’d” THEIR item. Had a couple of hilarious conversations with irate questers who seemed to think that just because they’d set their sights on looting a specific item everyone else who was closer to said item should have read their minds and walked away. When me, Mr Harpy and the Godmother were running some Alterac Valleys for achievements and fun, we encountered perhaps the most amusing example of this to date. So there was Mr Harpy, tagging Snowfall for his graveyard achievement, the last thing standing between him and Master of Alterac Valley when this Gnome Priest uses leap of faith to pull him away and promptly starts tagging itself. Of course I arriving at this point, promptly pull the Priest away in turn who then starts this massive rant in both whispers and chat about how unfair this is. Regardless of how we worded it, he didn’t seem to grasp that I’d basically done the exact same thing that he had, only my timing was ever so slightly better. Had he arrived first and been tagging, I wouldn’t have touched him because it’s the wrong thing to do unless they do it first of course because greedy people don’t deserve to profit from their badness.

I do wonder, especially now most people have hit 90 and are doing the dailies whether Blizzard should have adapted the archaeology model into working with quest items too. So that instead of 1 jar of pickled vegetables spawning and being contested by the fifteen or so people within ten yards of it, jars would spawn and would only be visible by you and your party members. This would make people slightly less aggressive in their looting tactics and perhaps speed up the dailies, which right now could really do with a speed up. I know doing them all is optional and on paper it’s easy to say only do x, y and z today but once you start getting close to certain rewards, it’s not that simple. Factor in pressure from raid guilds and arena teams and the situation gets worse.