Guess who’s back? Back again. Aro’s back! Tell a friend.
Yes, it’s the triumphant return of Arolaide to the podcast crew! She and Ellyndrial sit down this week to talk like grown-ups about the latest news in games.
Elly got a Hearthstone invite and he’s not sure how he feels about it as a veteran Magic player, while Aro refuses to play any TCG she can’t use her teeth on. Also, the PS4 launched last week and Arolaide has one! She talks about her first impressions of the new console, her favorite games so far, and the pain of exclusive titles.
Also Elly is playing Magic with real people! Aro is destroying nature in Assassin’s Creed 4! They both mock Liore a lot!
Liore was away this week, so this week’s episode is audio only. It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)
When Chris Metzen said at Blizzcon that Aggra, Thrall’s space-wife and baby momma, would not be going to Draenor because “that honeymoon is over, it’s more of a boy’s trip,” you could almost hear the cries of thousands of women players shouting “WHAT?”.
I was discussing that comment over some beers yesterday and my drinking companion noted that Azeroth and other WoW worlds are very good at making mothers disappear after they produce an heir or two. Admittedly my knowledge of WoW lore is pretty superficial, coming entirely from WoW itself and none of the books or whatnot, but I suspect that’s the case for the majority of players.
For example, who is Anduin Wrynn’s mother? Amusingly enough, WoWWiki describes him as “the son of King Varian Wrynn” alone, as though he leaped fully formed from Varian’s brain like Athena. In fact Anduin’s mother is someone named Tiffin, who I have never heard of before now, and she died a long time ago.
So who is Arthas’ mother? We know that his father is King Terenas — he was in both the Wrath of the Lich King cinematic and made a special appearance in the final Lich King battle. Looking at WoWWiki again, apparently his mother was someone named Lianne and “her fate remains unknown”. Okay then.
(It’s notable that Arthas has a sister, named Calia, and her fate is also unknown! Apparently the Menethil family has a problem with misplacing its female members…?)
Who is Moira Bronzebeard’s mother? As far as I can tell she didn’t even die, she just never existed.
Finally, who is Thrall’s mother? Surprise, while Draka is the one mother I had even heard of before, she too died suddenly and tragically at a young age.
So as I see it, aside from Aggra we have two living mothers in WoW. One is Moira Thaurissan, who was either mind controlled into having a Dark Iron Dwarf baby or just kind of a bad person who abandoned her family for an evil dwarf lover. The other is… Onyxia. And we kill her in part for trying to protect her whelp babies.
So what’s the deal with mothers, you guys? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because the Blizzard people are running with the trope of mothers being killjoys. (That is also the reason that often the mom is dead in movies where kids go on epic journeys.) “Thrall, you can’t go master lightning powers until you finish your vegetables.” “Arthas, if you’re going to try and conquer the world from an icy tower at least wear a scarf.”
It’s a pretty limited view of the role a mother can play. The Game of Thrones series has something of a similar faux historical context (battling kingdoms, sword fights, moderate technology) and Cersei Lannister and Catelyn Stark are forces of nature in their own ways, both supporting their children and fighting their own fights.
Adding Aggra to the pantheon of Warcraft women who are merely baby incubators and toddler nannies (bets on her dying suddenly and tragically?) is not only frustrating, it’s just bad storytelling.
I’ve been in an interesting conversation on Twitter over the last day about Hearthstone’s place in the pantheon of online collectible card games. It seems, perhaps not surprisingly, that some serious CCG players are not impressed by Hearthstone’s fairly simple gameplay and casual rules.
Take, for example, this tweet by blogger Scree:
— Craig 'Scree' Schupp (@TheScree) November 15, 2013
I kind of disagree with Scree here — I suspect Hearthstone’s gameplay is not as shallow as presumed — but more importantly his response reminded me a lot of… me, like 4 years ago.
Blizzard is dumbing down MMOs for a mass audience! They’re making raiding for the lowest common denominator! Ugh, why are you making WoW for tiny casual babbies ugh I hate it whyyyyy.
And now, years later, I still believe those things and I think I was right, just like I’m sure Scree and others are right about Hearthstone being a simplification of online CCGs. However, what I have come to realize over the last few years is that not everyone wants the same thing from their games and a diverse marketplace makes for happy players. The casual-ification of WoW is only a tragedy if WoW and WoW clones are the only MMOs available.
For example, my sense from blogs and podcasts is that Hearthstone’s playerbase is different from, say, the player pool for Hex or Sol Forge. Hearthstone seems to be drawing from past and present players of WoW, past and present players of Starcraft, and previous players of the paper WoW:TGC. In short, it’s a Blizzard property and has drawn in a ton of Blizzard players.
I could be wrong, but I feel as though most of these people are not leaving one CCG to play another. In fact, in the alternate continuity where Hearthstone does not exist and Garrosh runs free in Draenor (*cough*), many of these same people would not be playing a CCG at all. I know I would not!
(I also think that WoW’s audience has a lot of women in it, arguably moreso than the traditional CCG audience, and some may feel more welcome to dip their toes in the card genre now strictly because Hearthstone has a simplified ruleset and is set in the Warcraft universe.)
I have sympathy with the view of Scree and others, I really do. I can totally understand how Hearthstone seems like a step in the wrong direction for a genre that they like, and it’s disappointing to see a game you think is bad do well while games that you love languish with a fraction of the media coverage and players. But complaining about people flocking to a simplified card game is pretty much the same as complaining about casual scrubs who wants to raid.
For Scree, Hearthstone is “simplified garbage” while for me it’s the game that kept me up until 3am on Wednesday night. (Can’t sleep, winning arena…) That’s marketplace diversity in action! As long as companies are producing games for both of us, I am all for a range of both the complex and the simple. And yes, that goes for MMOs too, Liore-of-the-past.
It was Blizzcon last weekend, which means we were deluged with news about World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and much more. This week Liore, Elly, and special guest Mangle get together to talk about everything Blizzard!
That includes the new WoW expansion, Warlords of Draenor! Was the time travel plot scripted by J.J. Abrams? And if so, does that make us all Old Spock? Elly is meh about the gear stat changes, Mangle is meh about the Garrisons, and Liore is meh about orcs, and yet somehow we all agree that we’re going to play WoD.
Also, Hearthstone is a plucky success story! Liore is irrationally angry about 10-man heroic guilds! Elly just wants to enjoy levelling content, okay?
Like to watch? This podcast was also a Hangout on Air:
It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
* Blizzpro on the Hearthstone Fireside Chat
* WoW Insider on 5 cool things you may have missed at Blizzcon
As I’m sure you are all aware, dear reader, Blizzcon was last weekend which means we MMO types were inundated with news about World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Tomorrow’s podcast is talking about everything that was announced, from MOBAs to new character designs, so let me now focus on a tiny part of all the news.
(If you prefer watching an unedited podcast, it’s up now here!)
(Oh, and if you are looking for non-Liore Blizzcon commentary, I really liked Green Armadillo’s thoughts on the whole thing.)
As I wrote in various pre-Blizzcon comments around the internet I was seriously hoping for a profession revamp announcement but instead what we got was.. profession nerfs, I guess.
There were two pieces of news that affect professions and I suspect the economy in general:
1) The need for enchants and gems on gear will be reduced considerably, with more recipes for enchanters and jewelcrafters but fewer opportunities to use them.
2) Garrisons, aka The Big Farm, will let players craft items “even in professions they haven’t trained”.
Enchanting and Jewelcrafting are the big moneymakers for crafters at the moment for obvious reasons. And while I dig that Blizzard wants to simplify getting new gear without having to go through the “I can wear this as soon as I gem, enchant, and reforce” dance, the changes to enchants in particular were delivered with what I I felt was a slightly smug, hand-wavey “we’ll figure out some way to make it up to enchanters later” aside.
(And don’t forget that these changes will trickle down to other professions and gold-makers too. Transmute mastery will be less profitable for alchemists who make raw gems, and even auction house flippers will see a slower market for gems and enchants and therefore less opportunity for profit.)
So okay, this sucks a bit for crafters and gold-makers, but changes happen. Then we get the announcement that Garrisons will let players eventually obtain items outside of their actual chosen professions. To be specific, Garrison NPCs can run missions that return both Garrison-specific crafting items and existing materials. Blizzard’s official page on Garrisons gives an example: “[i]f you assign a follower to a mining mission, you could receive ore…”.
Bah, humbug! Obviously much is up in the air as to exactly what Garrison minions will gather and in what quantity, but in general I dislike this idea a lot. Not only does it deal yet another blow to gold-making, but it also further dismantles one of the last remaining useful aspects of professions, which is inter-dependency.
(This exists in some form now through the ore, cloth, etc. seeds at the farm, but the Garrison expands on the idea and makes it even easier.)
In short, I feel like I got the opposite of what I was hoping for — instead of a profession overhaul or at least buff, they’ve been weakened further, making crafting less useful and less economically viable. I’m sure things will change over the coming months, but for now it seems like the crafting economy will be taking a few big hits in Warlords of Draenor.