Sunday Screenshots – Demon Invasions

It seems to rain a lot whenever those pesky Demons are doing a spot of invading, bringing a whole new meaning to “Acid Rain”.

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If you can’t beat them…

The Burning Legion are one of my all time favourite villains. They quite literally have it all, style, pithy one liners to be quoted in guildchat ad nauseam and unshirking commitment to their goals.

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So, in the build up to Legion and in at attempt to get back into blogging for more than a week every six months, I’m going to be celebrating all things demonic.

 

Running Away – A Short Story

Running away is easy, it’s the coming back which is hard.

“Here”, the once Priestess took the bottle offered by the Undead. The liquid was cold with an acid tang, burning like shame as it slid down her throat. She shook her head slightly, unused to the alcohol, feeling colour rush to her cheeks as the miscreants of the Dark Moon Faire surveyed her with amusement.

“So”, this time the voice belonged to a fellow Night Elf, although this one clearly hadn’t been anywhere near Darnassus for a long time. “What are you running from? Oh don’t be shy dear, we’re all running from something. Me, it’s not my fault that he died from a dagger in the back. No one joins the Faire unless they’ve got a guilty secret, something dark and delicious hidden inside just waiting to be unwrapped like a square of shiny chocolate or a Winter Veil gift”.

“I’m not running from the Law”, her tone was more judgmental than intended or wise. Once a Priestess of Elune, perhaps always a Priestess.

“Poor you”, this time it was a Gnome that spoke. “Running from yourself is the worst kind of running. You think you’ve found space, a moment’s peace from the demons in your head so you collapse on the grass, take a deep breath and then you see them, tramping across the meadow all tendrils and tentacles. You can’t outrun you…not even with Gnomish engineering. We’re afraid of the hand on our shoulders, the handcuffs of iron, the noose, the brand. You…you’re afraid of you”.

Drawing herself to her full height, the Priestess wrapped the shadows around herself like a shroud, breathing in the darkness to steady her thudding heart. “Hit a nerve, huh?” The Undead and the alcohol were back, “I’m not great on advice but if you can’t escape the monsters in your head, maybe it’s time to confront them. Although if they’re real demons as opposed to metaphorical ones, you might want to go somewhere else before letting them out. Wouldn’t want collateral damage now would we”.

The bottle, still seeming full despite having made many circles of the fire lit crowd found it’s way back into her hand. Closing her eyes, she let her mind wander back to the days before. The taverns after battles, drinking to forget and at memorials, drinking to remember. Those she had saved and those she couldn’t. The losses like knives in her skin, branding her with failure. The lovers, gone but not forgotten. Pained, dust in Theramore, broken bodies everywhere, blood pouring through her fingers as she tried to channel the light. Then rage taking her unaware, catching in her throat, squatting on her tongue so the only notes spilling forth were birthed in tendrils of shadow, searing all before her.

She recalled asking those around her, how they dealt with so much death. Her sisters in blood and her sisters in arms had shrugged, smiled and carried on. Her sister, once a Sentinel, now a Death Knight had sighed not meeting her eyes, her never still fingers sliding up and down, down and up her rune blade. Her lover, a Sentinel still had laughed, kissed, pulled her down into the bed ignoring the blood smears on her armour, immune it seemed to the stench of death surrounding them. Returning to Darnassus in search of answers, the Priestesses there, safe in the Temple miles away from skin puckered with stab wounds, slashed by axes, burnt by fel flames told her the old lies. Discipline, focus, Elune’s work…watch words to live by, if you’re miles from the front line.

The final straw, it wasn’t so much a straw as a moment’s clarity. The enemy changed, Horde, Old Gods, Monsters of every stripe and colour but the injured and the dead did not. From soldiers who mostly knew what they signing up for to children caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, her magic had soothed, healed and given life. She had fought until she could barely stand, until her voice was hoarse with whispered prayers, she had given everything in service to her Goddess and in return had asked for nothing.

Until that day, having collapsed in bed exhausted and drained of magic, she awoke filled with rage and a shadowy emptiness. Had, dragging one foot in front of the other walked away from her responsibilities, from her lover and her friends, from her sister.

Running away is easy, it’s the coming back which is hard.

 

Yes, beneath the illusion there might be some grains of personal truth in this. Madness can and does sneak up upon all of us, it hides in the most innocent of places, twists things beyond recognition and makes monsters out of memories. Post-natal depression is to put it politely a Bitch. 

When Worlds collide

I paid a visit to the Kirkwall Chantry recently…somewhat disappointed by the lack of men in armour wielding broadswords but it was a really beautiful building.

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It did however get me thinking about different game worlds and how they reflect on the world around us. There are some similarities between Kirkwall the real place and Kirkwall the virtual one, both are located by the sea and both have religious buildings as a focal point but there is a distinct lack of chains (at least in the areas we visited) in the Scottish version.

Looking at art work like this, (one of the loading screens from Dragon Age II).

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It doesn’t require a huge imaginative leap to contemplate that perhaps the designers also had the “real” Kirkwall in mind with it’s Cathedral named for  Magnus Erlendsson (St Magnus) when they decided to call the “City of Chains”, Kirkwall.

In fact, the Orkney Islands seem full of virtual gaming references as seen in the picture below:

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Here we can clearly see a Gnome leaving a Dwarfish dwelling (or not).

I know it’s been a long time since I posted last and if I’m being honest, I have no idea if I’m back. It turns out that I was “not prepared” for Post-natal depression, in fact I imagine it was the real world equivalent of fighting C’thun, Ragnaros versions 1 & 2, the Lich King and 4 Horde raids all at the same time whilst in the Suppression rooms from Blackwing Lair.

In an ideal world, I would like to start posting at least once a fortnight (folder full of drafts, half written stories and I’m still finishing the last Dragon Age) and intend on returning to the game at some point prior to the next expansion going live. In the real world…who knows.

A Blast from the Past

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So eight months down the line, we’re finally starting to establish a “routine” and fingers crossed I might actually manage to visit this place more than once every three months or so. I am still playing WoW or rather I log in regularly to kick off Garrison missions which has had the strange (for me) side effect of making me money for once but am hoping that those brief flying visits will become proper ones now we seem to have bedtime roughly under control. It’s almost Hallows End, the evenings are drawing in and you can smell the log smoke in the air so it’s the perfect time for some World of Warcraft.

Now I just to have to wade through eight months worth of everyone else’s posts and I’ll be all caught up!

The Leisurely Stroll to 90

This week WoW insider asks if leveling in WoW is too easy? The quick answer would definitely be a resounding yes. However the part of Robin’s post that I found the most interesting was this:

Is the speed and ease of leveling in the eye of the beholder?

Personally I think speed and difficulty or rather the lack of it are two separate issues.

There are a plethora of ways in which we can boost our experience gain per hour, from seasonal buffs to the Darkmoon Faire Carousel ride and the Monk daily. That’s before we even factor in the bonuses questers get from being guilded or from wearing heirlooms. Not that only, the options for the discerning leveler have never been more varied. You can pick herbs, mine, pet battle, quest, dungeon, battleground, dig artifacts out of the ground or mix and match your way to 90.

Yes, things are exceedingly fast these days. I think my recent Monk managed about 45 quests to go from 80 to 85 with a few flower picking sessions plus a bunch of battlegrounds thrown in. That’s about 10 per zone. However I don’t see this an issue because even ignoring the fact that I could have stripped off my heirlooms and not bothered buffing up with experience buffs, if I really wanted, there is nothing to stop me doing the same content I would have done whilst leveling at 90. In fact I will still pvp, quest and pick herbs on my Monk when she levels. It’s just that former should get a bit harder, the middle bit easier and the latter remain the same.

Dps might be a tad too high, especially when kitted out in decent gear. As a Mistweaver I probably shouldn’t be kicking monkeys in the face for 70k (half their health). Which brings me onto the bigger issue in my opinion. Difficulty or the lack thereof. The hardest part of AoE grinding is finding enough mobs to pull at once. Dungeons can be two manned and can often be completed without a tank, especially at low levels like Wailing Caverns. Most of the complex dungeons have been neutered, not to mention shortened. My first Blackrock Depths run took five hours and by that point we still hadn’t found the bar. Now whilst I admit this might not have been awesome game decision but it did help you get ready for raiding, even if it was just getting used to the idea of spending five hours in the same place whilst the people around you argued about tactics.

Even with my predisposition for wandering around taking screenshots and not paying attention, there aren’t any real nasties lurking in the undergrowth, no more Stitches patrolling the road or the Crimson Courier riding about looking to make mincemeat out of non-believers. Perhaps I’m looking at the game wrong but I’ve always believed that as you level not only do you learn to play your class correctly but you also figure out new aspects of the game as and when you encounter them. For example I’m far more understanding of a tank who can’t tank in the Deadmines than I would be in a LFR situation. Equally I’m fine explaining how a particular battleground works and that I can’t hand in their flag until our team wakes up and returns ours in a level 20 to 25 WSG than I would be at end-game.

Making things too easy has a dangerous flip side, especially when it comes to certain toxic elements in the community. Convenience is a wonderful thing but so much was learnt through necessity previously (including the whole avoid the roads in certain zones on pain of death and don’t touch the Blood of Heroes).  I learnt to kite on my Hunter between levels 1 and 10 when I was pet-less and you either had to slowly melee things to death or figure out how to jump kite.

I can’t help thinking that a few simple changes would help. For example we now have mobs whose health pool increases depending on how many people are in combat with them. How about taking that and increasing quest mobs in relation to the item level/health of the person engaging them as well as party size. The AI especially for named mobs should be more exotic too. We have kicks, slows and cc for a reason. Things would be far more fun and challenging if just like the Monk quests, we actually had to use them whilst leveling. Or alternatively if all classes had access to dailies like the Monk ones which require you to use certain abilities because no one should get to end-game without understanding all their spells. Dungeons really shouldn’t be doable with two, especially if neither of those are tanks and “elite” mobs should make you think twice about charging in at half health.

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Of course making the game harder would also have the knock on effect of making leveling take longer too so it could be a bit of a win win situation for some people.

In short the game should make you think and should present challenges all the way through. In many ways Cavafy said it best:

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Although whilst many people see leveling as a means to end rather than a game within itself, I suspect that we’re going to see the levels before end-game get easier and easier and quicker and quicker.

Swan Song

This probably won’t come as a huge surprise but Sprout decided the stresses and strains of a world about to be torn apart by war (yet again) really wasn’t for her. Instead she packed her backpacks and headed off to join the Darkmoon Faire. Wrapped in purples, conjuring shadows for curious passers by who stand and watch for a moment before hurrying off to the safety of the firelight might not the life she imagined for herself but as long as she doesn’t stray in the woods, at least she knows she’ll see what passes for dawn on the Darkmoon Isle.

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Yep, I’ve stopped playing WoW. There are many reasons why. In the next few months I’m starting a new job, we’re buying a new house (the exact one is not yet decided but it will probably need work on it) and in the autumn I’m starting another degree course (part-time because I haven’t totally lost it). My new job whilst masquerading as a 9 to 5 will be more than that, given that it’s all about helping those who need it the most. The house will cut our daily journey to work but not entirely as we’re going seaside idyll over inner city streets and studying as I want the first I narrowly let slip through my drunken partied out fingers the first time around will take effort and dedication.

Of course it’s not that simple, a girl still needs relaxation and had my long lasting love affair with WoW still been as strong as it was at the beginning then this post wouldn’t have been necessary. Whilst I’ve loved certain aspects of Mists, other bits have pushed me away as hard as green fronds caught in a first date’s teeth before you sit down to dinner and now, when free time is so precious to me, I don’t want to spend it getting frustrated in battlegrounds or grinding dailies for a few more points. Instead I intend to paint, to cook, to draw, to sew, to read, to walk by the sea and to ride. I’m sure there will be other games, I’m tempted by Guild Wars 2 just for a casual look and Candy Crush is firmly ensconced on my phone. I’m also excited by the thought of Dragon Age III and maybe curiosity will push me back to WoW at some point. I even have a secret hankering for board games.

As for my blog, well it’s been a blast. My intention once the aforementioned house is a reality is to return to blogging about crafts and cooking and random things which catch my magpie eyes. The title of said blog may mention Harpies and possibly even nests because you can’t change your nature. In the meantime, I doubt this one will remain completely silent (leopard spots and all) and I even have some weird idea about finding the time to finish all the posts stuck in my drafts folder.

Of course I won’t be disappearing completely as I need something to do in my lunch hour and so, I’ll still be popping up now and then and posting random drivel disguised as comments on your blogs! The bald truth is without the community, I’d never have lasted as long as I did so thank you❤

 

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