Everything Changes

The community blog topic over at WoW Insider this week is:

What do you think of persistent changes to Azeroth?

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Now I have to admit I am in favour of the world constantly evolving and changing. Events like a giant bad tempered Dragon flying up from inside the earth should leave scars on the landscape as should tidal waves and conflict. You can’t have say deforestation taking place on a massive scale yet the number of trees in a particular zone staying the same, it doesn’t happen in the real world and wouldn’t happen on Azeroth either. As a story line progresses, the world in which it takes place needs to change along side it. I think phasing ( as annoying as it is from a world pvp perspective) works wonders for this, letting us see the result of our actions as we explore the environment around us. That said, I do wish Blizzard would stop taking a remodeling tool to my favourite zones.

However what I’d love to see is more use being made of the Caverns of Time. What if we could enter a zone in the Caverns of Time and be whisked away to a point in Azeroth’s past. You couldn’t necessarily go anywhere at once but that could easily be explained away by mist on the timeways or some such random deus ex machina. Maybe the destinations would change weekly or maybe it would be influenced by the patch but the idea would be that one week/patch cycle you could picnic in old Auberdine and the following week/patch you could revisit Desolace back when it was desolate.

This would also allow Blizzard to add old content without actually adding old content. A bit like the Timeless Isle, I wouldn’t make it obvious with big question marks everywhere but merely allow those who are interested to meander around finding things if they want to. You could put the old class quests back even if the rewards are purely cosmetic but personally I’d love to see Eris Havenfire yelling across the Plaguelands again. It would also allow people who are relatively new to the game to see the bits and pieces which everyone still talks about.

Major events like the Scourge invasions and the recent Barrens conflict could also turn up so that people who still want things from them could have a chance to revisit on alts. In fact which areas are due to swing by the Caverns could appear in the calendar a bit like the call to arms battleground so that you would know that next week, you could pay a visit to old Westfall or in three weeks time your chance to farm a bit of lumber for an old war effort. Loch Modan would still have a loch in it and Auberdine a proper pier but yet it wouldn’t detract from the current game.

We’d be able to pay our respects to NPCs long since dead and dance around Lady Prestor teasing her with future.

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Azshara could be Goblin free once again even it was just for a limited period and we could just wander and explore to our heart’s content. Blizzard have recently started adding more and more vanity items and these portals into the past would be the perfect place to continue this trend as well allowing them to advance current story lines by trips into the shadows if they so chose.

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A few of my favourite things: First loves and endearing stories

This close to the end of an expansion, my mind always starts roaming back over things I’ve enjoyed in the current and previous incarnations of the game so today I want to talk about my favourite five man vanilla and TBC dungeons. It’s a combination of things, the atmosphere (scenary and any storylines/quest chains) and the mechanics of the fights which draw me to specific dungeons over and  over again.

Vanilla

The Deadmines

You never forget your first, whether that was your first kiss, first shot of horseradish vodka, first lover or first ever WoW dungeon. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter, it was your first and that makes it special. It will colour your views of everything which comes afterwards.

We got lost finding the instance and then spent ages wandering around the tunnels before the dungeon proper thinking we were awesome because stuff was dying. When we finally made it through the loading screen there was this sense of WOW…. and that was before we even got close to the the whole boat in a cave bit. The fights were varied and fun, the loot was the best we’d see up until that point and the fact that you could get a rolling pin and two mini-pets made it even better.

The story line behind the instance has always struck me as a fairly poignant one too. I spent much of my childhood not far from Hamelin, the town immortalised in the tale of the Pied Piper and there are definite similarities between that and the story of the Defias, one which could serve as a warning to anyone planning on not paying for services rendered.

The Scarlet Monastery

When I rolled my first Priest, we were levelling as a threesome. Me, the now Mr Harpy on a Druid and a friend playing a Rogue. We had picked a server at random and so were levelling quite happily by ourselves. This involved ganking as many fellow questers as possible (If a Troll Shaman called Ada is reading this.. sorry) and seeing if we could three man most of the levelling dungeons at an appropriate level. This worked like a charm until we encountered the final wing of the Monastery, where Whitemane and co really didn’t want to go down easily.

Whitemane has remained one of my favourite dungeon bosses and I’m really glad that the revamp didn’t see her replaced with a pale imitation. There is something endearing about her fanaticism, her eye makeup and her love for Mograine that makes me feel slightly bad every time I kill her.

Plus she has a Benediction which clearly makes her awesome! Also every time I cast resurrection, a gleeful little voice in my head yells “Arise my champion”.

Scholomance

I love horror movies despite the fact that I have an over-active imagination and am prone to nightmares even if I’m not watching people being slaughtered in inventive ways by homicidal maniacs in haunted houses, thus Scholomance and I were always going to be a match made in heaven. Again it’s an instance I encountered fairly early on because I needed the mana potion recipe which was only obtainable by completing the quest chains there. Then it became a staple of my pre Molten Core farm as I and my guildmates worked on collecting our dungeon sets.  The arguments as the warlock in the party always wanted to do Jandice and the tank didn’t, people getting locked out of the Kirtonos fight and the yell of “Schools in session” which always sent a frisson of excitement down my spine as I prayed I wouldn’t be the one getting portaled into a room full of skeletons.

I wrote about my love affair with Scholomance back in 2009 and reading back over that post, my feelings haven’t changed at all. In fact whilst I like the re-make (although it’s bit like beloved films, a part of me is yelling “WHY WHY WHY!!!!”), I feel the spirit of the place has gone. The Eva Sarkhoff quest chain was both chilling and heartbreakingly sad at the same time and I feel it’s removal lessens the Scholomance experience.

The Burning Crusade

Caverns of Time: Old Hillsbrad

Saving Thrall and wandering about in the past, what’s not to love about Old Hillsbrad. Now that Southshore is destroyed, I make pilgrimages to the dungeon to sit in the Inn and mingle amongst the villagers listening to their chatter. I watch little Sally Whitemane running around, carefree and happy not knowing what the future will bring. I’d also love to make a human character who looked like this:

The story is a good one too, trying to stop someone messing with the time line and of course, I love the “disguise” element of the dungeon, seeing my Nightelves and Draenei turning into humans. Thrall versus the armourer never fails to make me smile either even though I know it’s coming.

Shadow Labs

My favourite board game when I was small was called Labyrinth and of course, I loved the the David Bowie movie too (he was my second ever crush after Daley Thomson) so my excitement towards Shadow Labs was building long before TBC was actually released. The first actual run was a little disappointing but as I healed run after run helping my guild attune themselves to Karazhan it grew on me. I particularly enjoyed the second boss, Mr Mindcontrol because of the chaotic nature of the fight. It was like a smaller scale precursor of the Faction Champions. Shadow Labs was also the source of one of my greatest triumphs when myself, Mr Harpy on his warrior and a warlock guildmate managed to three man most of the instance in the first few weeks of the Burning Crusade (at a time when most people were complaining about the difficulty of the instance and the randomness and nastiness of the 2nd boss in particular.

Next time I’ll be explaining why my favourite picks of Wrath and Cataclysm probably aren’t everyone else’s cup of tea.