Something worth being upset about

I was going to make a point to not write anything about Blizzard for a week or two because I’ve talked a lot about WoW lately and other blogs have still not shut up about pandas. (No, they’re not talking about the expansion in general, just debating whether Pandaran are silly. You know who’s silly? People who are still frothing about pandas, on either side of the argument.) However, despite my intentions something has come up that cannot be ignored: the horrible Corpsegrinder video that was officially displayed at Blizzcon.

During the Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftan (a band which features high-level Blizzard employees) show last Saturday, Blizzard chose to air a video featuring Corpsegrinder, the lead singer of Cannibal Corpse. In the video the singer goes on a tirade about how much he hates Alliance, including calling them “cocksuckers” and “faggots”. The words were bleeped, but it was clear to everyone what was being said and in what context the words were being used.

I cannot even begin to comprehend how or why anyone at Blizzard felt this was acceptable. Well, actually, that’s not true: sadly I can comprehend how this happened, and it involves a complete disconnect between Blizzard and their playerbase and a whole truckload of ugly privilege. The official “apology” makes that clear: they are not sorry for playing the video, they are sorry that we’re upset about it. It was a joke, man, and why can’t GLBT folks and their allies just relax already. Sheesh.

There have already been some wonderful posts about this and there’s not anything I can really add at this point except my outrage. There is already so much inherent casual homophobia, sexism, and racism in the gaming community that it breaks my heart to see a company come right out and literally disseminate slurs. It reeks of such a lack of respect for.. well, not only their players, but HUMAN BEINGS.

I cannot in good faith give this bunch of hurtful fratboys my money. Although I just restarted my account, it seems that two weeks later I find myself cancelling it again. Shame on you, Blizzard.

UPDATE: At 8pm Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s President, released a much more sincere apology which you can read here.

For more information and posts that are far more eloquent than mine, please see:

Why aren’t you playing RIFT?

Huh? Huh!? Explain yourself!

That’s okay, I haven’t played it much lately myself despite the fact that I truly believe that RIFT is currently the best of WoW-inspired games, World of Warcraft itself included. So, if it’s the better game, and many of us played WoW and enjoyed it… why aren’t we all in RIFT right now?

Why should we be playing RIFT? Because, in my opinion, Trion releases content faster and better than WoW. Wardrobe tabs and armor dyes? RIFT has it. Chonicles are totally awesome 1-2 person instances based on 20-man raids that let experienced players gather badges for gear and “XP” for advancement points. There are huge sprawling questlines that run through 5-man groups and 20-man raids.

RIFT has dynamic invasions and rifts around the world. People don’t just sit in a main city waiting for a queue to pop — they’re in Iron Pine Peak running PvP rifts (yes! world pvp!) or Shimmersand running crafting rifts*. There are dynamic events every few months that offer new daily quests and rewards like gear, achievements, costumes, and pets.

Enjoy exploring? Okay! There are achievements and neat things to see at the tops of mountains and off the beaten path. Enjoy crafting! Okay! Daily and weekly crafting quests give you something to do. Like dungeons? Okay! There are three different modes of them to run, from easy to hard, and yes there is a LFD system. Tired of the holy trinity of groups? Oka– well, yeah, RIFT still has this but it also added support classes which helps to mix things up a bit.

So basically on paper RIFT is superior to World of Warcraft in almost every way. So why haven’t I logged in for a couple of weeks? I’m.. not sure. Not to pass the blame, but I think it’s everyone else’s fault! (Yeah! That’s the ticket!) I was spoiled by having One True MMO for years that we all played. There was a sense of.. a critical mass of players.

But now people are taking a break before the fast and furious holiday game season and some people just got burned out on themepark MMOs and I can’t help but worry that when SWTOR hits the RIFT population will be decimated and do I really want to invest myself into a multiplayer game that few people play? So I don’t log on, and perpetuate the problem.

So why aren’t you playing RIFT right now?

* Crafting rifts are one of my favorite new ideas in a themepark MMO in the last five years, at least.


Hey guys! Anything interesting in MMO-land happen this weekend?

Okay, okay, I kid. If you’re reading this, then you more than likely already know that on Friday Blizzard announced that the fourth expansion pack for World of Warcraft will be Mists of Pandaria. The reaction to this announcement has generally been derisive, and bloggers in particular have been deleting their characters in protest and declaring that they’re moving on to other games.

My reaction has been mixed. I’m not a fan of the furry races although much of that can be attributed to the fact that Blizzard artists cannot stop fetishizing the female form of any species. (Yes, that is an official concept drawing of a mantis lady with no arms and the rack of a Playboy bunny.) However, I totally dig the addition of a hybrid melee healer class in the monk, and I think the proposed talent changes are a good direction. There was nothing said at Blizzcon that convinced me to rededicate myself to WoW but I will likely end up buying MoP and playing it for a few months.

Mostly, though, Blizzcon just made me kind of nostalgic and sad for the way things once were. We had guildies there in person from 2007-2010, many meeting face-to-face for the first time. I went myself in 2009 for the announcement of Cataclysm and the sense of community and excitement in the convention hall was palpable. While I couldn’t make it to Anaheim last year I did buy the feed and had a few folks over for a Blizzcon party.

This year the Cats are far-flung around the gaming universe and while a lot of folks checked in to talk about Pandas it made me very much miss the good ol’ days of all being online together. (Sema, if you still read this.. I hope you’re well.) To some extent that applies to the MMO community as a whole, too: I’m not arguing against diversity in the game pool, but I do feel a little sad that we’ll probably never again be united as we once were.

And in truth, some of the complaining got on my nerves. My IM list lit up like a Christmas tree on Friday afternoon with people who wanted to talk about how WoW is a stupid game for stupid people, and it started to irritate me. I played it for six years, and I liked it. Were we all stupid then? Some Cats still play WoW. Are they stupid? I mean hell, Blizzard has made some decisions that I don’t agree with but the glee with which people tear into the game now is off-putting, in my opinion.

So anyway, yeah. I’m supposed to be all outraged about pandas like the cool kids when in fact I’m more just kind of sad that the MMO scene is a big ball of aimless wandering and negativity right now.


Much to the dismay of my guild leadery tendencies I can now totally see the appeal to just subscribing to WoW when there is new content to be had and not worrying about it when there’s not. My casual goblin self had a fine time this weekend trying to remember what buttons mean and doing the Molten Front quests.

I had the opportunity to see Firelands for the first time with a semi-pug. I hadn’t raided in seven months and hadn’t played a holy spec in longer than that. I skimmed over the Tankspot videos for the first two bosses and just kind of winged it and lo and behold at no point was I instakilled by a dance move. In all fairness perhaps the complaints about this refer to later bosses, but SpiderLady and PathyTrashGuy seemed not unduly reliant on twitch movement to me.

And then when I woke up I was green

And then when I woke up I was green

I know I swore I would never give Blizzard Activision one red cent again. I know! And I meant it! At the time!

But then there’s all this Dragon Soul raid info coming out and it’s Blizzcon week so there’s a little bit of Blizzard pixie dust in the air and a very nice coworker talked to me about his uber-casual guild and I’ve always wanted to try Horde and… then this happened.

I haven’t been in Orgrimmar since before the Cataclysm. I managed to find a bank and now I’m kind of afraid to move. There are ORCS everywhere!

Also, Horde, I don’t want to alarm you but I think you should know that all your Battlegrounds start on the wrong side of the map.

You Can Dance If You Want To

As I mentioned in a previous post, there has been much hand-wringing over what is now being termed as “the dance” in WoW raiding. From what I can tell, “dancing” refers to more twitchy, agility-based boss encounters that require being quick on your feet and moving in required ways at required times during the fight.

Leading the charge in this current complaint is Gevlon, the WoW blog scene’s favorite libertarian, and his post today is all about why the dance is inaccessable and wrong. Now, just to be clear, I haven’t done Firelands but I have at least seen if not killed every boss and mode that came before it, as well as watched videos of the Firelands fights and spoken with others who have done it themselves. I do not see how movement-based boss encounters are a new thing, and I do not understand how this would limit a player’s access to raids moreso than previous dependence on gear or output.

Are movement-based boss fights anything new? Gevlon thinks so: “While “fire on the ground” existed since Vanilla, it was straightforward and non-obtrusive.” Non-obtrusive fire! His argument is that previous raid bosses had elements that required movement, but they were straight-forward. I think an example of this that everyone would agree on is the fel infernals that dropped during the Prince Malchezaar fight in Karazhan. The infernals dropped out of the sky at a somewhat random pace onto a somewhat random location, but once they landed the damage could be easily avoided.

However, there are many, many examples of chaotic environmental damage before Cataclysm. This is hardly a new phenomenon. Archimonde had doomfires sweeping around the raid (not to mention the twitch mechanic of clicking Tears when tossed in the air). Felmyst’s air phase required some pretty fast and tricky movement, and anyone who failed would become mind controlled and have to be killed. Mother Shahraz in Black Temple had very little movement for tanks, but at random moments three players would be teleported and had to run like hell or they’d pretty much drop dead and take someone else with them. Heigan (in Vanilla and WotLK) is famous for being the “Dance Fight”, but Thaddius is an even better example of bosses that require moving correctly for success. (I’m purposefully not mentioning hard modes, but these mechanics have always been extremely popular there, like dodging fire on Mimiron or rotating the plague debuff for Putricide.)

“Move fast and smart” boss mechanics are nothing new.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s be kind and say that while this has always been around, it’s more prevalent in Firelands than ever before. Would this in fact be more limiting to casual raid accessability than previous tiers? Gevlon certainly thinks so, going so far as to say that “Brutallus was more casual friendly than Alysrazor.” The reason given for this is that output based bosses like Brutallus allow a completely new person the opportunity to succeed their first time in the fight due to work done outside of the raid (collecting gear and practicing rotations, basically).

Would someone brand new to the zone be able to survive and contribute to a Brutallus kill? To be fair, Brutallus was the pinnacle of DPS race bosses in his day but even he had a movement/awareness component from the Burn debuff that could be spread to surrounding players. I don’t think it’s at all reasonable to assume that a raider who has a problem with movement and twitch play would easily be able to note if they or someone around them had Burn and quickly move appropriately.

It’s also worth noting that the only way to contribute to Brutallus as DPS was to have top-of-the-line raid gear from previous encounters, which was hardly casual friendly back in TBC days. I think everyone who played WoW then and now would agree that it’s much easier to gear up a character now, whether they think that’s a good thing or not.

This is all hypothetical though, so again for the sake of argument let’s pretend that there are more movement requirements in Firelands bosses, and someone new to the fight is more likely to die the first time they see a current fight than they would in the bad old days. My response to that is: so what? The expectation here seems to be that someone completely new to a boss should be able to walk into the fight and ace it 100% of the time. A newbie died the first time they saw a fight? Oh no! A brand new tank had to try a few times before they mastered the movement associated with a boss? What?! That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back!

Why should a player expect to be awesome at a fight they’ve never seen? Grinding badges for gear until your fingers fall off is acceptable raid behavior, but actually practising the fight is, apparently, not.

Movement and fire “dancing” is not new to Cataclysm. Not having to move is not the final absolute arbiter over whether a new raider survives a fight or not. And even if it was — I don’t really see why it’s a problem. Chill out, take a deep breath, let the new guy learn the fight, and move it, move it.

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