My latest Distraction

starwars

Inspired by a comment left by the Dancing Hare, I thought I’d dabble in SW:TOR and much to my surprise I am actually enjoying the story so far. It’s weird because I hated the gated fixed leveling zones in WoW but yet here I find myself sinking into the story telling rather than focusing on the fact that everyone playing my class experiences the same beginning. The fact that I’m playing solo probably helps, wanting to play say a Worgen and then being stuck for 14 levels when you want to quest with someone who refuses to play a Worgen got frustrating fast. Not sure how long the “ooh” factor will last but then since I really really really want to kill the guy who keeps giving me quests, I suspect I’ll be enthralled at least to the point where I either get to slaughter him or the game designers disappoint me by making him turn out to be okay after all.

I’m also playing through Dragon Age: Origins as a Mage yet again. I could pretty much do my harrowing in my sleep by this stage. Although what normally happens is I burn out by Ostagar and run off and make a new character but this time, I’m determined. I have goals in fact. I will actually finish the damn game, seduce Leliana and make Alistair marry Anora.

On the flip (WoW) side, I’ve found myself missing Sprout to the point of starting to sketch gnome faces, trying to decide whether a plushie would work best with a painted felt face or one built out of embroidery and fabric. Not convinced I actually miss playing the game though.

Not Lost

Merely playing Tomb Raider.

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There have definitely been a few moments I found uncomfortable. On the other hand, getting to blow the heads off bad men almost makes up for those feelings.

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It is a truly beautiful game if a bit repetitive but then choosing to kill everyone with a bow and arrow just because… helps break up the monotony.

Pygmalion Complex – Building the Perfect Woman

The idea of men searching for the perfect mate and then having to resort to building their own is ancient one. As we search through literature, it’s a concept we encounter time and time again and now it’s found it’s way into WoW.

When Pygmalion saw these women spending their lives in criminal pursuits, shocked at the vices which Nature had so plentifully imparted to the female disposition, he lived a single life without a wife, and for a long time was without a partner of his bed. In the meantime, he ingeniously carved a statue of snow-white ivory with wondrous skill; and gave it a beauty with which no woman can be born; and then conceived a passion for his own workmanship. The appearance was that of a real virgin, whom you might suppose to be alive, and if modesty did not hinder her, to be desirous to move; so much did art lie concealed under his skill. Pygmalion admires it; and entertains, within his breast, a flame for this fictitious body.

Ovid (Metamorphoses X)

Sound familiar? Well if you’re been following the discussion on the Thunder King’s most precious possessions, the Twin Consorts, it should.

Players who look closely at the models of these celestial twins will note that they seem quite literally carved out of stone. Indeed, these were specifically created by Lei Shen and empowered to serve and guard him, and they are a direct reflection of his will rather than any broader sense of mogu culture as a whole.

To say Blizzard handled this badly would be an understatement. A fairly large and vocal percentage of the community (rightly so) have been protesting about the lack of female models for more than half the races for years and once again, Blizzard fell head first into the trap. However I’m not going to go into that because Nyxrinne, Apple Cider and Navimie have already covered it. What I want to talk about instead is the missed opportunities Blizzard have let saunter past them once again.

Stories don’t exist in a vacuum and with games like WoW, Blizzard have the perfect opportunity to drop hints and clues long in advance. We know from the various quests that MoP launched with that the Thunder King was always going to be brought back so far more preparation could have been done.  We also know that the Mogu themselves came from stone, brought to flesh and blood by the same curse which gave us Gnomes (basically it’s all the Old Gods fault!).

Their ancient research delivered to them methods of turning flesh to stone, and back again. Lifeless rock could be animated, providing a willing (or unwilling) soul could be captured within. These dark rituals created the Stoneborn, soldiers of jade and dark magic forged from the living essence of conquered victims. These creations were powerful… terrible to behold, and above all else, one hundred percent loyal to their mogu masters. (from Wowpedia).

There are a number of potential avenues that they could have utilized, archaeology, the Lorewalkers faction and of course the storylines on the Isle of Thunder itself. Archaeology has a Mogu branch but there is no mention of the Twins in any of the artifacts which given that they are meant to be pride and joy seems strange. Adding twin fans, one of anger and one of solitude which needed uniting to create perhaps a boe blue fist weapon set would have been a nice touch. Even a grey item, perhaps a painting of the sun and the moon with flavour text implying it represented the Thunder King’s greatest treasure would have been a start.

Then when we look at the Lorewalkers, they tell the tale of Lao-Fe:

Even by mogu standards, Emperor Lao-Fe was a monster among beasts. His favored punishment among pandaren slaves was to separate families. Slaves who displeased him would have their children sent to the Serpent’s Spine, to suffer and die as fodder for the mantid swarms.

This was the fate that befell a young pandaren monk named Kang. Kang was so grief-stricken over the loss of his cub that he chose to wear all black. In a moment of clarity, he saw the mogu overlords for what they were: weak.

Re-writing that to suggest the origins of these two female Mogu would have worked. Perhaps Lei Shen surrounded by his wealth and his power with his palaces and his wall was jealous of the relationships between male and female Pandarens. Maybe he watched and listened and finally decided that like the Titans who created his race, that he too could play God. Imagine what sort of punishment for rebellion that would be, forced to watch the essence of your sister or wife forced into silent rock, powerless to save them and then dying at their hands as the Thunder King sits on his throne, his laugh booming through his halls. As one of those little stories told through pictures and the words of Lorewalker Cho it would have worked wonderfully.

Finally though, I came across this:

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What a shame then, that this “famous saga” doesn’t seem to have stood the test of time. Of course, this raises all sorts of questions such as if this was prior to the creation of the Twins, what sort of woman did they allegedly quarrel over? Based on everything we know about the Thunder King, it seems unlikely he would have “consorted” with a woman from what he would deem a “lesser” race (i.e. everything which wasn’t his own). The writers could have had so much fun with this, adding extra dimensions to not only the Twins but Lei Shen too. Investing the player base with their story so that when we’re knocking on his door with murder and loot in mind we actually know why we’re there. Of course, it would be easy to argue that Blizzard tend not to invest time in creating a back story for many if any of the interim bosses in a raid instance so why should these two ladies be any different? I’d like to think they shouldn’t be and that Blizzard should be using every opportunity they can grasp to both answer questions and create new ones in the minds of the player base (at least those amongst us who actually read flavour and quest text). We should know the story behind each and every of the bosses we encounter as we slice and dice our way across the continents. Surely that’s the whole point of grey items, archaeology and lore.

Instead though, Blizzard decided that a few quick lines explaining “everything” would suffice. Of course that’s ignoring the fact that we’re back to the whole “Madonna” and “Whore” thing again, the soft sad serene sister who clearly isn’t happy killing people and her angry twin who appears to glorify in it. The women in WoW don’t seem to come in any other flavours other than victim or mad. What they really need is Carol Anne Duffy writing the lore for them.

Afraid of the Dark

Like Webster, I’m rather obsessed with death. I love the dark and all that crawls in it, am drawn to Halloween and overly fond of skeletons. Thus is probably comes as no surprise that all my Alliance characters level through Duskwood, the closest the Alliance comes to a properly creepy zone.

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Not only does Duskwood have some of the best rare spawns, it also has some of the most engaging and interesting quest chains.

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Whenever I’m passing through, I pop up to Beggar’s Haunt to see if the Unknown Soldier is meditating on his own tomb. Despite the eyes gleaming from the undergrowth, I can find peace in amongst the trees and shadowy nooks.

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Over all though, it’s the flow of the quests and the little details which draw me back time and time again. From everyone’s favourite sneaky Undead pausing by his own tombstone to the way in which the quest chains play out, Duskwood has it all. Sadness, spookiness, Worgen quest givers in a setting which makes sense, revenge and murder… who could ask for more.

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If I had to live anywhere in WoW, taking rooms at the Scarlet Raven would be a distinct possibility. After all, I doubt it would ever be boring.

A Crisis of Confidence

My love affair with Priests has hit a stumbling block. I’ve never liked Disc as a spec and always resented being pushed into it throughout Wrath and Cataclysm for both PvE and PvP. With Mists I vowed I’d never play a spec I didn’t like again and I’ve tried to persevere with Holy, I really have but in PvP in particular I have terrible mobility and when shut down I’m rather squishy to say the least. Sure, gear is part of it, but when you’ve already got over 55 percent resilience (or whatever it’s called these days) but people still regularly crit you for 200k, getting a few percent more isn’t going to make a huge difference.

I miss the days when I could as a healer take on a dpser and stand a chance of winning (i.e. every expansion bar this one). That coupled with a few stupid mistakes in roughly pve related things, brought on in the main part by my shyness when having to play with strangers have left me wondering what good is Sprout. She struggles to do her dailies alone, random battlegrounds are hugely painful because as soon as one or two competent dpsers glare at her she tends to go splat and I’m too short of time and too insecure to raid anymore.

And yes, emo post is emo.

Made to be Broken

As it turned out, Christmas and the New Year to this point have been a bit of a wash out, literally as well as figuratively. At some point during the festive period Mr Harpy and I were infected with a rather nasty virus which left us drained of energy, bouncing between hot sweats and cold ones with absolutely no appetite to speak of. Now luckily since we both return to work tomorrow we seem to be on the way to recovery. I still creak like an old sail ship in a gale when I breathe and my chest feels like I’m wearing a corset three sizes too small but given the deluded state I spent the weekend in, it’s a definite improvement. This bout of sickness has however meant that all the things I hoped to get done this week have fallen by the way side, blogging included.

Now being a list lover, what better way to start the new year than with a list!

I won’t bore you all with all my resolutions, mainly because half of them won’t last the week but here are those which vaguely relate to either WoW or to this blog.

  • Make time to write, blog posts, journal entries, stories. Sometimes it’s healthier for your sanity to get those voices out of your mind and anchored down safely onto paper. This is especially true when your family tree is loaded with slightly crazy fruit (My Mother’s family excel at alcoholism, madness and that dry sarcastic humour which whilst very funny when aimed at others, can make grown women cry.. and in the case of my Mother’s sisters in law frequently does).
  • Learn to knit. Not particularly WoW related other than the secret desire to knit Mother Shahraz. This might be case of  running before I can walk given that the only thing I’ve ever knitted was a jumper for Barbie when I was eight but might as well aim high.
  • Play WoW. Now this might seem like a strange resolution but these days I’m barely logging an hour a week and there are still lots of things in-game I want to do and write about.
  • Spend some time playing around with my strange little blog which was started with such good intentions and then ignored.
  • Comment more on other people’s blogs. I flick through my reader thinking “Oh, I’ll go back and comment on X” and then I get sidetracked and forget all about it. Finally getting my reader set up on my phone should help, that way I can do it whilst commuting to work or in my breaks.
  • As for this blog, having to decided not to mothball it, I’m going to aim for at least two posts a week. One might end up being screenshots every now and then but I’ve come this far so why give up now.

2012 was a strange year for me, a year of spending far too much time in the car driving between cities, of job interviews after job interviews and that strange feeling of being up in the air and not knowing when or where you’re going to come down. Hopefully 2013 will bring stability, a new house and sense of purpose and confidence.

Happy Winter Veil

I know it’s slightly early but after finishing work tomorrow we’re heading straight off into a three day food and family fest without proper computer access (we do have it but I’d be roasted alive if my Mother* caught me blogging about a computer game whilst I’m meant to be concentrating on nieces, nephews and other assorted family members) so this is my last chance to hope you all have an awesome time and that Grandfather Winter brings everything on your wish lists.

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As for me, it seems that Grandfather Winter came early this year because Mr Bigglesworth is already ticked off my present list. Although in this particular shot he does seem to be trying to distance himself from a tastefully dressed levitating carol singing Gnome, can’t imagine why.

*Yes I’m afraid of my Mother and with good reason I assure you. She makes Sprout’s PvP bloodlust look like a lazy afternoon picnic.