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.
For more information and posts that are far more eloquent than mine, please see:
- Piercing Shots: I would rather not be making this post
- Grimmtooth’s Troops: Well, I’m not joking
- Paw Prints at the Portal: So, Blizz. You certifiable, crack-brained dumbkopfs
- Need More Rage: fuhg bigotry
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.
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.
EvE Online has made a number of controversial business decisions lately that were rumoured to be causing a drop in subscription rates. Yesterday the CEO of CCP (the company behind the game) posted a pretty unflinching mea culpa in regards to those decisions. I don’t play EvE myself, but as a general online game consumer I was impressed by the humility evident in this letter. It was nice to see a game company admit they could be fallible and say, “We got cocky and didn’t listen to you guys and it screwed us up.”
Could Blizzard benefit from making a similar apology? That’s kind of the hot topic in MMO blog circles this morning, and my answer is: “Heck yes they could!”. In fact, the first thing I said to a friend upon reading the EvE apology was, “Man, I wish Blizzard had written something similar.” (Of course the apologetic CEO thing has been done now, but perhaps they could just take the EvE Online post and recolor it. *rimshot*)
One of the wonderful things about WoW in its heyday was the feeling that Blizzard loved us and wanted us to be happy. Sure, they were a company and companies want to make money, but there seemed to be an almost universal sense that their top priority was making a kickass game. The dollars would come after that. Nowadays, however, me and a lot of the people I talk to feel as though we’ve become dollar signs with pointy elf ears. Blizzard’s main goal is no longer making a great game that people love, but maximizing their profits.
Would a public apology convince me to resubscribe to WoW? Nah. But it would go a long way towards making amends with their playerbase. It would prove that they are paying attention, that they do care about making a fun game. It would almost instantly turn me from someone who has sworn off all Blizzard games to someone who is cautiously paying attention to what they have coming down the pipe. Yes, words would eventually have to be backed up by action, but it’s certainly a start.
Will EvE Online back up their words with action? The letter seemed suspiciously clear of actual solid declarations of change, but honestly I’m not a player so it’s hard for me to tell. I hope so — the MMO landscape is much, much more interesting with a successful EvE around.
I’ve also seen a lot of disparaging talk lately about the Firelands bosses and how they require “dancing” or “dexterity”. I quit WoW shortly before Firelands appeared, but perhaps someone can explain to me the difference between the current bosses and, say, heroic Mimiron as far as movement goes? Heroic Mimiron was incredibly movement intensive, but it was — and possibly still is — the most fun boss fight in the whole damn game.
I feel like I’m missing something, because some otherwise perfectly sensible people have been put off by these new “dance bosses” and declared them to be part of the nail in the raiding coffin, and I’m not sure how it’s any different from earlier content.
Speaking of pie: Happy Thanksgiving weekend, my fellow Canadians. :)
Just a few quick notes today as both work and play are kicking my butt this week.
- Tyrande Whisperwind finally got a makeover! I think most if not all of the other female major lore figures in WoW have been freshened up before now, and Tyrande and her Mooncloth Robe were certainly overdue. Blizzard is typically pretty bad at powerful armor for women, and this is no exception. (Seriously, check out Azshara’s pasties.) One of my friends said that Tyrande is rockin’ the “Victorian Stripper” look, and that seems about right. Her skirt was caught in a lawnmower — perhaps the same one that ate her left sleeve. She has one shoulder pad and .. greaves with 3″ heels? Did she raid Beyonce’s closet? “Just call me Tyrande Fierce!”
- Glitch launched yesterday! What happens when some of the brains behind Flickr and GameNeverending and the creator of Katamari Damacy get together and make a browser-based MMO? Whimsical fun, that’s what. Glitch has no combat and no gear. There is “just” exploring, crafting, building, and changing your world. You can also pet trees. I’m going to do a more thorough write-up in a couple of weeks, but my initial impression is that this game is soothing and delightful. Support the indie developers and folks with unique ideas, and go give it a shot!
- New hats! In better-than-Tyrande Blizzard armor design news, T13 for priests was finally released and even though I don’t play WoW anymore I gotta say: that’s a great hat.
- RIFT’s patch 1.5 is released today! This is a huge patch even by Trion’s standards, with a total rogue class overhaul, a new warfront, planar advancement points, 1-2 person skirmishes, and of course an impending new event. This video implies there is a giant spider mount somewhere and as an arachnaphobe I am a little displeased about that. I’m still figuring out all the rogue DPS changes, although according to this chart my preferred build is played by someone who lives in their parents’ basement and lost most of their fingers in a lawnmower accident. Seriously.
- Some little game announced its release date over the weekend! Who has two thumbs and already booked the week between Christmas and New Years off? Aw yeah, this bounty hunter. While I’m still not sure how good SWTOR is actually going to be in the long run, I do feel absolutely confident that it will be fun as hell in the short term and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it. I love the first few weeks of an MMO: everyone is happy, everything is a surprise, and there is a real sense of server-wide camaraderie. So: will you be there when SWTOR opens?
- Finishing up The Wonderful End of the World on Sunday made me realize how many little indie games I’ve bought for Steam, and how few of them I’ve finished. It inspired me to make a serious effort to clear out my backlog, made all the easier thanks to Backloggery and this tool to import your Steam list into Backloggery. (Requires LUA for Windows, then run steam2backloggery.lua.) Last night I finally knocked out the last few points for Atom Zombie Smasher, which if you like tower defense games is an absolute must-buy.
So many games, so little time.. and it’s only going to get worse between now and the new year!
For the first time in my MMO career, I’m behind the guild pack in levels. I mean, everyone in the Cats knows I’m a legendarily slow leveller, but usually it’s alts that dawdle while my main buckles down and gets to cap ASAP. I took a break from RIFT (and all games, really) for a month or two, though, and the result is that my main is definitely behind the times.
I know that some people get a kick out of questing and having 18,000 different characters at cap and loving them all equally, but those people are not me. There was one brief glorious moment in the last weeks of TBC where I had three characters at cap, but honestly all I can sustain is one well-loved main and one slightly irregular alt.
Even with the best design intentions I find questing to be repetitive. Both RIFT and WoW have quests on rails: get to town, do a half dozen quests for the area, turn them in, get one more quest to kill a big baddie, kill him… on to the next zone! Not to belittle a designer’s work, but after the millionth small-town farmer asks me to kill 12 bandits, my brain starts to rebel. (I will give props to WoW for making leveling through PvP viable — I love that stuff.)
I also get bored with the zones themselves after a while. I do about 50 quests in a winter area and I start craving sunshine, and vice versa.
The biggest problem I have with leveling through quests, though, is really the concept itself. It feels like the game has given me a big “honeydo” list: “Oh hi, Liore, I see you have some spare time today so could you please find my missing necklace and start up six goblin generators and.. oh yeah, kill 12 bandits? Thanks! xoxo”
A pox on that! I love the open-ended feeling of being at level cap. Maybe I’ll go finish the quests in a zone, but only because I want to. It’s equally possible that I’ll do some raid rifts or craft or do whatever a T2 is or play the AH or just jump around in circles in Meridian because I’m 50 and the game can’t tell me what to do by god!!!!
The end is in sight now for me at level 46, and I have to admit that upon this second round of playing RIFT I’ve really come to appreciate the game a lot more. The development team at Trion are terrifying — they’ve released four major content patches since the game launched six months ago. It’s not the next generation of MMOs or anything, but it’s a polished, well-designed game even with questing-on-rails.
Seriously, game designers, there has to be a happy medium between “go to this quest hub and do quests to unlock next quest hub” and early WoW’s “oh hey you’re out of quests so kill these tigers for 2 levels okay?”. I’m not sure what it is, but I hope you find it soon.
Anyone who has wondered about the viability of SW:TOR may want to consider this: I started officially recruiting for the game today, and it doesn’t even have a release date yet. To be honest, recruiting for a game this far out struck me as being a little precious until I stumbled across a “looking for guild” thread on the official forums. The thread is only for August (so, 10 days old) and was already 19 pages long this morning. That’s a lot of people, particularly considering we’re at LEAST two months out from anyone playing the darn thing!