Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dragon Age: Origin (of Nightmares)

RSS feeds will show me.
Well, Dragon Age: Origins (or the two hours that I played of it on a friend's laptop) has officially turned me off of MMOs (more specifically, WoW) for the moment. As much as I love the world of WoW, and it's amazing setting and milieu, the game itself is a bit... outdated. Each story, while interesting nonetheless, lacks the voice acting which is present in DA:O, Age of Conan's starting area, and other games - the whole human-NPC reaction in WoW is really really lazily done, with a simple text box for you to read, and a TL:DR post at the bottom of the blurb. Also, storylines have future implications - which actually impact how storylines work with each other.
That's basically the best part about it. Save a man here, he'll offer you a quest on the other side of the world - while simultaneously angering his captors. Shoot that man instead, and you've flipped the coin, which may limit your options for henchmen or spells in one area but open up hundreds in another direction. Its replayability is amazing, and when combined with an interesting combat system and fully-voiced dialogue (as Bioware is well known for *cough*SWTOR*cough*), and you have an extremely powerful and potent game.
If you're reading one, this must look odd.
Next, graphics are stunning in newer games, and while WoW is still amazing in its potency, it's seams are really beginning to show. You just have to look at the water to know this is a game past it's day in the graphic spotlight. Spell effects (while cool) are not close to as partically awesome, and meanwhile we have 1 single cinematic throughout the entire game. And it isn't even in the powerful cinematic engine we know that WoW has, that we've seen in the cinematics we load up in the loading screen - no, it's a much wimpier vamped up game engine. Cool, still, and I still get chills whenever I hear Putress cackling upon the cliff face, but the epic wars in which you take part in DA:O, or the space missions in Star Trek Online, simply outclass WoW a hundredfold. Just google "Dragon Age Spell Effects" and you'll see what I mean. Just, wow.
Like, really odd.
There are things I do disagree with in the game. First off, loading screens inside the game really are just a put-off; I hate em. With a passion. They have even less place in an MMO, which is what really sucks about AoC and STO when I've played them. It cuts the 'World' part of the MMO buisness to shreds when you lose that; really a poor decision on the part of MMO developers to leave that in, no matter the programming cost. Spell effects can fall to this point, and upon this I will not concede.
Odder than peppermint kiwi soda.
Second, instant travel-porting between towns kills that sense of 'world' too, when when you 'randomly' have to fight in between - it just spits in the face of the individual who's trying to piece together the world in their head. The Legend of Zelda series has a great way of circumventing this, by making their 'fast-travel' both make sense in the story and simultaneously not always the most effective means of transport (it could make more sense to just call up your horse and ride there, for example).

If the powers of WoW and the newer gaming era combined... I'd shudder at the outcome. Hopefully Blizzard will not look back at their open world experience as a mistake in their upcoming MMO - hopefully, they will combine the old with the new, seeing what they can work on while simultaniously holding onto those core ideas which keeps me shelling out 15$ a month.
Which is really, really, gross.
However, it means nonetheless that I find it hard to jump into the random dungeon finder tonight, knowing that there is a whole world out there where everything I do has a repercussion; everything I do has an impact. Ha ha, I know, real world does this too, you're so clever. Unfortunately, I'm blowing all the money I have for gaming on the Star Trek Online Lifetime Subscription, so it'll be a while before I pick it up - maybe I'll get it in whatever pack they put it with the expansion.
Ah well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Here. We. Go.

I am feeling fairly philosophical at the moment. However, I am fairly sure that whatever I post here, on the subject of gaming, religion, butter side up or butter side down, the declining state of the ridiculous in the modern world - will not be quite so helpful as your own post. Your own thought. So, I, standing here - well, sitting really - invite you to think for a while. Find your own controversy. Do that for as long as you would spend reading a normal... or at least average post. To help you with that, I have provided the general length of a blog post in blank lines.
and 4. Have fun!!!

Hello, I'm the guy that writes in the blank spaces of all the blogs in the world.

Wait, you thought that they were just... blank spaces? Devoid of thought? No. There are too many ideas in the world, waiting to be heard, to actually leave anything truly barren.

Wherever you go, there's one of us.




don't report anything, i might get in trouble :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

No matter where we go... here we are.

I have 3 more questes to do. One is probably the coolest quest in WoW history, two others are pretty good as well, but I'm not feeling it at the moment. So, I decided to write about something different. Amazing, that.

I may have tricked you, dear readers, into thinking this was a world of warcraft blog. Shazam! Kablooey! No. You were wrong. This blog is about life, the universe, and nothing, nobody, and perhaps nothing at all. However, despite the presiding disclaimer, I will speak about WoW oncemore, because I feel like it. So, there. Take that.
I feel like Blizzard - more specifically, that part of Blizzard that works on WoW - has lost some of it's goals. Some of it's purpose. Ka-Pow! Now I have a thesis. You must be drawn in. It is law. For a little bit of background, I have played for a good four years... Got it in the summer after it came out (so 4 1/2 yrs I guess) and it was my first MMO ever. Noting the necessary haze of nostalgia and epicness that obviously cloud those memories, I will tread quite carefully into its lair.

I would challenge you to tell me the story arc of WoW Vanilla. Perhaps tell me the main villain... or the link between the various baddies... or even explain the significance of the thousands of existing storylines, both unfinished and finished, from An Azsharan Shipwreck to the Rise of the Troll God Hakkar to the Summoning of an Ancient God to Quelling a Human Uprising to... thousands more. The obvious point here is that their IS NONE. You cannot convince me that each piece of each of these storylines - while each a very worthy, interesting storyline in its own right - have anything to do with one another. In short, Blizzard did not build a game on a story - it built a game on a world.

However, this idea is slowly... slipping. Slipping away. Outland preserved a bit of it - you'd have no clue why the Consortium were there, or the history of Medivh and is ivory tower, or the Arakkoan Gods or the Ancient Gods of Zul'Aman. However, we fought, in every single zone, members of the Legion. We crushed hundreds of their troops, allied with Demon Hunters, defeated the standing leader, destroyed two of the most powerful lieutenants, up through the big, titular baddie himself, up through one of the most powerful members of the legion known to date.

In short, we went through a story.

In Wrath of the Lich King, it is even MORE present. I mean, you see Arthas is basically every zone, and even in the ones you don't see him in, his presence is felt. Almost every single dungeon touches on him. Yes, we had the Nexus War. Yes, we had the Titans. That's what, 3 storylines compared to hundreds in vanilla? Thousands? BC had more, what with Gruul and Oshu'gun and the Blood Elves Redemption and Auchindoun and the Ogres and the Cenarion Expedition and all sorts of others.

It may just be the product of having a thing like an 'Expansion'. You have to reset the level cap, gear cap, and you only have 1 continent - with 7-9 zones - to work with. It only makes sense to push across one storyline. However, this expansion scheme kind of kills that world-like realism that WoW built around itself. No, the villain wasn't always present. But you still got to see a giant dragon appearing in the throne room, and defeat the Old God C'Thun, and discover the mysteries of the trolls and the scourge and the aftermath of the wars behind and looking to the years ahead.

I am... afraid. As always. We only have around 5 zones this expansion. We have 2 heroiced old dungeons, with no more background in lore than Onyxia that we know of, and about 8 that all directly tie to Deathwing and the Black Dragonflight. Uldum's secret weapon, the raids on the Elemental Planes, all lock together to form a cohesive narrative... one with a single storyline. I am really, really scared that people will not notice that their 'world' is dissolving around them. Because if it works in an expansion, why not, while revamping the old world, make all the pieces fit together? Have the quest lines build like a plot from a novel? They could do it. I really, really don't want them to.

I think one of the easiest ways to see the decline in the world is the Role-Playing community. It was really, really hard to be a 'Mary Sue' in Vanilla. Sure, people did it, but there was no 'Arthas's betrayer' or 'Illidan's best bud' storyline to follow. You picked a path, of vengeance or light or honor or general connivery, and could make a person - a real, live person - out of all the pieces. Nowadays, it gets harder and harder to do so. If you want to play through the entire last twenty (five) levels of the game, you have to follow these plot lines.

But even more scary about WoW doing this is that other people will do it to. I mean, who's to say that the new MMO won't be all story driven? Linear or otherwise, with an intended goal and a path to follow? Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, however they spin it, it'll just be one more game - not a "real" world. This is what really, really worries me about SW:TOR. They say that they're bringing the 'story' to the MMO. Giving it a more RPG feel, letting you pick a path and meet with other people along a way. It's not a world - its a walkway. Maybe you'll have two, five, eight paths diverging in a yellow wood, but really they'll all lead somewhere, and there's only one path to follow.
Maybe I'm mad. Perhaps this is just natural evolution of the MMORPG, to a more RPG based, soloplayer style. But I hold out that this isn't true. The idea that you can build a world, from scratch to full animated glory, is so astonishing - so mind boggling - that I still find it hard to switch to any other game.

What do I hope for, in the not-too-distant future? I hope that Blizzard will release larger, more expansive expansions. One every two years, or two and a half. Include multiple coexisting storylines, and not just multiple, but tons upon tons upon tons. I am not against evolving worlds - in fact, I am heartily for them. However I am against single-lined, one stranded plots. This is a virtual World. It is a community, a hub of lore and art and music and thought, philosophy and theory and statistics and design, planning and crafting and building and living. It is not just a game - it is a world. If the day should ever come that WoW forgets this... it may be time to find a new game.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Short, Unstated PuG Healer Tips

Well, it seems like our random dungeon finder has really taken off, both in terms of use and blog posts. I'm not sure if there is a WoW blog which has not posted about hints and tricks to make your PuG experience more enjoyable. I, in turn, have decided to follow - however, I will attempt to avoid all previously stated tips. Which is actually pretty difficult. Here goes.

1) If you are overgeared for a certain instance - which a ton of people are (I don't think I've seen a healer that isn't overgeared for dungeons like roic Nexus or UK) - pick yourself up a Darkmoon Card: Twisting Nether. Basically, it acts as a free soulstone 10% of the time. If anyone messes up, probably an additional small amount of spellpower/mana probably won't save you. If it will, then by all means keep your snowflakes or pictures equipped; however, usually, it's an issue of threat or the tank picking up the wrong adds, and it's a 1-hit KO either way.

However, if you have the slightest doubt about your performance in a heroic, have everything (including your best gear) ready! Flasks, potions, reagents, food, the works (keeping a few feasts around always makes group members happy). Also, don't have this equipped in the new heroics. You'll need to be on your toes every moment.

2) Fear, though not as present as in BC, is still a factor in the equation. There are 2 spots I notice it most frequently - the trash pulls in the end of DTK, and some random guys in UP [edit: also, Halls of Reflection trash. But it can get so messy there, it's not really a specific mechanic that needs worrying about]. Probably exist other places as well, but it doesn't spring to the top of my head as I think about it, so it's probably not all that annoying.

However, you can be SURE that the last two pulls of DTK will always be aggroed together, because of fear, and you can also be sure that King Dred will make your life miserable with his own roar of fear-inducingness. A wonderful counter to this is equipping a PvP Trinket (or using the racial if you're human) - or just spamming hots. Effective management of fears can mean the difference between a wipe and a clean kill, and if you're really unlucky - it doesn't matter HOW geared you are.

3) Here, there is a very fitting quote from Simon Tam, medic of Firefly:

Simon: No matter what you do, or say or plot, no matter how you come down on us… I will never, ever harm you. You're on this table, you're safe. 'Cause I'm your medic, and however little we may like or trust each other, we're on the same crew. Got the same troubles, same enemies, and more than enough of both. Now, we could circle each other and growl, sleep with one eye open, but that thought wearies me. I don't care what you've done, I don't know what you're planning on doing, but I'm trusting you. I think you should do the same. 'Cause I don't see this working any other way.

You are a healer, or a tank, a crucial member of the team. It is a privilege that you get to queue so quickly (this applies even more to tanks). You do NOT get to pick who gets healed, you do NOT get to 'accidentally' let one mob run by, and let people die. If you signed up to be in a role, you better perform that role, unbiased, no matter how much of a jerk that hunter is, or whether or not the mage won't switch out of his PvP gear. It is your very own Hippocratic oath, one that you signed by clicking that little check box next to the plus symbol with the 'Healer' text below. Don't be an idiot about it.

4) There is a following, very fitting quote from Simon's sister, River:

River: Also... I can kill you with my brain.

Just because you cannot be an arbiter of life between your party members, you still do have a voice. First, if someone is being extremely offensive, there is the Ignore button, as well as the 'Report to GM' button. Both are viable solutions for most of your troubles. However if their conduct falls outside of the realm of the little chat box int he bottom left corner your screen, then you have the 'Vote to Kick' button in your arsenal. If one person is really bugging the whole group - through offensive actions, AFKness, DC'dness, or other general ruderies, then do the vote and remove him from the group. A few rules I follow when dealing with the 'vote to kick' function:
  • First, if someone has said they will be afk for under 3-5 minutes, I won't kick them. If they don't return by then, I feel totally in the right to do so.
  • If someone is taking too many afk's, then I feel I am in the right there too. It depends on the length and number, but most often people find themselves agitated after 2 or 3.
  • If a person doesn't tell the group they're going offline, and they're gone for over a minute and a half, I usually send out a vote.
  • Lastly, if someone is attacking another person verbally, or being purposely offensive, they will earn an immediate vote from me.
Remember, these are my own guidelines, and you by no means have to follow them - but it IS a good idea to figure out what yours are, so you can be consistent about them. Lastly, each of these simply votes for the individual to be kicked, and if someone knows more than you do, they can decline and inform you of the reason for the DC, or the number of AFKs, or an assurance the rudeness will die down.

5) Lastly, you really do have a powerful weapon at your disposal. Your final option is to quit the group, but this power should be exercised with extreme caution. Tanks do not get to drop group because CoS starts with a 5-minute speech. DPS can't call it because they hit FoS and actually needed 5 badges instead of 4. Healers can't immediately drop group when you see that the rogue has two trinkets from level 70 brewfest. You have an obligation to stick around for at least a little while, because you signed up for it.

The dungeon finder has a great option, letting you NOT pick a random dungeon. Also, you can just run with guildies or PuGs from your server, and not use the tool at all, to avoid potential conflicts - you can even select a random dungeon and get your daily frosts that way. However if something truly unexpected and intolerable occurs, and you feel that it is time, do not hesitate to drop group. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Yea, I just went there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Questes : The Shady Rest Inn

This is one of the most excellent sidequests in the game. By sidequests, I mean ones that don't send you up against ancient demons or powerful avian gods, but ones that describe the little people of WoW - in the case, one innkeeper now known by the name of 'Smiling Jim'. There are a bunch more of these, like Mor'ladim and Jitters and Magister Duskwither and so many more... I might cover them all at some point. However, today is not that day. Today, we Questes!
Who can do this?
Well, both Alliance and Horde members can do the quests, however they are fairly different and the Alliance one ends with much more conclusion.
In terms of level requirement, you need to be level 37 to finish it, and 30 to start. You might level up enough over the course of the chain, because a ton of quests coincide with the quests in this area, however it's your best bet to just wait a little and at least hit 34 before starting. Unless you plan on running dungeons/bg's in the interim. Which isn't a bad idea.

Well, finding the start for this one has to be easy!
There are like 18 different ways to start this quest, so I'll be brief about each.
Alliance: First, you can pick up the quest chain off of Connor Rivers in the Blue Recluse - the inn in the Mage District in Stormwind.
Next, you can get it from Guard Byron (No, not the extremely stealthy tauren) who's inhabiting the walls of Thermore.

Horde: You can pick up a quest from one Krog to go check out the ruins, who's chilling in Brackenwall.
OR, you can just go straight to the source, the Shady Rest Inn, and grab the three objects off of the ground and surrounding areas; The Black Shield above the fireplace, the Suspicious Hoofprint on the ground, and a little glimmering badge on the floor.

Fine. Its four. Still a lot.

Ok, got a little tricky maneuver for me this time? Huh?
Nope. Wowwiki it is. Horde has a nice wowhead post too (the pink one).

Any 1337 Loot?
Ee-yikes. I'll make it quick.

In the end, you get some Leggings of the Long Road (caster cloth), Skirmisher's Cover (Hunter/Feral Druid/Rogue cap), or a Steel-banded Hauberk (nice for warriors/pallies).
Then you get one of three: Biting Axe (Str/Agil), Bone Dirk (Many Agils and a stam), and a Glowing Tourmaline Ring (stam/Spi, eww).

Then the horde can get:
You get to choose between 2 items: Eyepoker (statless wand) and Blasting Hackbut (statless gun).

Not all that great, but not all that bad.
Why this?
As with all of these... A - it rocks, and B - it could go away. However here we get to see some of the neat things Blizzard did with two different factions - if you get a chance to do both sides of the quest, you see insights into the situation that you never would get if you only saw half of the story. The Battle for the Undercity is another such quest which is explored differently on both factions (I only recently did the horde side one and was duly impressed), and it'd be neat to see if Blizzard gets to bring more such quests into Cataclysm - even in dimensions like PvP or dungeons or raids, which explored different sides to different stories or different factions. There's so much that Blizzard can do, and has done, it'll be quite awesome to see how they tinker around with things now, to get a feel for what they can and cannot do in their unannounced MMO.
Also: the alliance quest ends in a tragic yet noble way. It's one of those things that would deserve voice acting if Blizzard put the time into it (perhaps a short cinematic as well). But it's a cool quest in the constraints they have - one that really shows you what the smaller stories of Warcraft are all about. I don't know how much time they'll put into revamping Dustwallow as in 2.3 it got added to a fair bit, but who knows what can stay and what will go... when the world is devoured by rage.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Questes : The Glowing Shard

Now, hey, adept readers will note. The Glowing Shard? That sounds like some low level FedEx quest! What're you trying to pull on us? And you might even be more surprised when I tell you, you're right! It IS just a low level FedEx quest! But one chock-full of very, very, current and relevant lore.

It is no mystery that I am an ardent lover of all things druidic. This quest basically deals with all sorts of druidic dealings which will come to fruition in Cataclysm, and will play out also whenever we get to see the Emerald Dream (well, more than just a little acorn-filled grove surrounded by elite ancients of war). If you don't know what I'm talking about, go finish up your Icecrown Loremaster Achievement. The entire quest deals with the Nightmare and lore leading up to the Hyjal zone and the Barrens revamp and sundering. This quest is assuredly going to disappear. No doubt about it.
Who can do it?
The level cap for this one is 10, making it the most easily doable one of the lot. Unless you're getting run through the dungeon required to start this quest - Wailing Caverns, though, it really behooves you to get up to about level 15, when the random dungeon finder will queue you for it automatically. Otherwise, you're basically good. To solo the thing, it pays to be at about lvl 25-35, lower if you're more confident, and higher if you want it to go quickly and without deaths.

Start this is where?
The Quest begins off of a little green gem, whose icon looks like the Essence of Eranikus, that drops off of the end boss of the Wailing Caverns. It's a really, really annoying dungeon if you haven't done it before. In fact, it's really annoying even if you have. To spare yourself the trouble, follow your group leader, mind the jump, and if you are soloing hag upon wowwiki's every word.

Already had the page open for Wowwiki...
HAHA! This time, I'm actually going to TELL YOU what to do! Innit strange? If you still want to do it on your own, fine. I'm not going to stop you. However, you'd be a little nutty to do so.

Blizzard had a grand idea for a number of 'Mystery Quests' to be scattered throughout the world - like the one to find Jitters (easy) to the one from the scroll in the bottom of the bloodsail ship (harder) to the one from the dwarf in southern westfall (completely and totally insane). This is one of those 'mystery' quests - and Blizzard never made one after Vanilla, because they basically stunk. As this quest should be done simply for the lore, and more so to get you to run WC before it implodes in a bronze dragonflight paradox of insanity, it does not behoove you to run around the barrens and ask every person whether or not they know about a little green prism-thing. I'll spare you the trouble.

Basically, after you loot the gem, run to Falla Sagewind next to the flight master in Ratchet. She has no Question Mark. This is supposed to make the quest more 'mysterious'. In actually it makes it just eighty times more annoying if we didn't have wowhead. But, we do! After this it's simply a little jaunt up to your major druidic city (TB/Darn).

What crap do you get from this?
Not... much. If you haven't done the instance before, you get an achievement. Woo! Might even be a FoS someday.
You get to pick between two items. The Talbar Mantle, a very low level shoulder gear - once cool, now nulled by heirloom shoulders - and Quagmire Galoshes, a pair of decent tanking boots. Nothing spectacular, but a bit of XP and major city rep comes alongside.

So... That was totally not worth it.
You might think so. You got to do a really, really terrible dungeon. One that Blizzard will probably... hopefully... remove. Even its druidic awesomeness doesn't make up for the fact that it sucks. You ran around through a city to find a mob with no question mark over her head. Then, you flew an annoyingly long way back to an underused faction city you might not even have the flight route to, in which case you would have run or taken an arduous journey by foot/boat/zeppelin. Then you talked, finished the quest, and got a one of two low level greens.

HOWEVER. You now get to see WHY the barrens will be half a lush tropical forest in Cataclysm. You got to see the first warnings of the Emerald Nightmare, which Malfurion will come back yelling about. You destroyed the corrupted creations of the dream, and witnessed the power it has, first hand. This is Cataclysm's lore IN ACTION! The world is evolving before your very eyes! Live it! Breathe it! The Azeroth around you actually exists. It may not make up for the fact that you just ran WC, but hey, you did it. This is what too many quests were like pre-BC. So if you complain about how you have to go joust again, or your quest to pick up citizens on gryphonback is too long, or your grinding in Grizzly Hills isn't as much fun as it should be - you can now look back upon your arduously annoying journey and think, huh. This isn't so bad after all. In fact, this game might just be entertaining.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Questes : In Dreams

Hah, you thought you were rid of me, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU? Well, you were WRONG, soldier! Wrong as a doornail! In light of how wrong you are, I've decided to spotlight something completely off topic! That would be one of the most universally heralded quests in the game! A little quest from our Ashbringer-wielding, justice-serving head-of-the-Argent-Crusade Tirion Fordring!

First named in Metzen's short story 'Of Blood and Honor', Tirion has a long history described in said novel - a great precursor to the questline and WoW in general - you should read it. If you can't be bothered, a short summation follows: A post WC2 setting, just a week or two after 'Lord of the Clans', it describes Tirion's happenstance meeting with an orc by the name of Eitrigg (who you can see now in Ogrimmar/The Argent Stand) and how he ended up an outcast due to his pact of honor he swore to defend the orc, after his life was spared in turn. His family stayed in the town of Hearthglen (located in northern western plaguelands, now a scarlet crusade front) while he was exiled into the forests. It's a good read, and like always I'd heartily suggest it. Now, on with the show!

Who can do it?
Anybody that wants to, really. You need to be level 52, and that's about it. Youll need a fair bit of time as well, as the first three quests are pretty grindy, but the mobs are very close together and not hard to kill. Soloability I'd suggest around outland-ready, but if you're brave and daring you might even be able to do it at 52. Probably want stealth or invisibility potions, though.

Another thing - you can see a bit more of his history by going into Old Hillsbrad Foothills in the Caverns of Time.

Where do I beginz teh lulz?
Tirion himself has the starter. He's a bit hard to find, you know, being exiled and all, but you can either follow the river that divides E and W Plaguelands north on the Plaguelands side, or you can run through the Terrorweb Tunnel (usually a rare spawn in there, drops a load of Crypty Bits). Either way, he starts it off with three lengthy kill quests: Blood Tinged Skies, Carrion Grubbage, and Demon Dogs. Grind, grind, grind away.

A little hint to cut down running times: If your faction controls the Plaguewood Tower, you can fly using the spectral gryphon rider there to any of the other towers - specifically, the Eastwall Tower, as it is very near to the Light's Hope Chapel, which has a flight point. (Woo!)
One note about completion...
Try not to kill Isillien when he spawns at the end of the last quest. The end event has a chance to bug out, and while when I did it it was fine, other people have had issues. You can still turn in the quest in if you remain where you stand, though.

Where to go for teh guidez...
Wowwiki. Done and Done.

You get one choice out of 5 for the entire thing. Woo Beans.
First, a Mark of Fordring, very nice pre-OL neck for people that like crit/ap.
Then a Ornate Adamantium Breastplate, very very shiny tanking breastplate.
Next a Shimmering Platinum Warhammer (One of a kind model!), which is a.... decent weapon that looks very cool.
Penultimately a caster cloak, Shroud of the Exile, which is decent and graphically fine.
And last and certainly not least, for casters anyway, is a pretty little thing by the name of Fordring's Seal, a brilliant healing/dps ring for 50-60. All this'll be replaced in Outland ('cept for the hammer's total awesomeness), but nice for those neverending random Blackrock runs.
(See that hammer? Isn't it AWESOME? Yea. It is.)

Why this? WHY???

Firstly, it ends beautifully. Really well done stuff. Not going to spoil it here, but it's safe to say that it was the highlight of the questing experience for many Blizzard developers (as evidenced by a number of different podcasts/videos).
Also, Tirion exists in about 8 incarnations. With the heavy Plaguelands revamp, it could be seen that the world is brought up to the current timeline so as to make your actions feel more impacting. This may be very cool and awesome in its own right... but it would mean nixing some quests that no longer follow that path, including this one. This is one of those wuest which define why the Questing system implemented in WoW was so revolutionary. This kind of stuff hadn't happened before. It just... hadn't. This is one to do. It leaves you hanging to the last moment, and you can see how far Tirion has come, even to this day in Icecrown Citadel. All we are left to ponder, in every hero's case, is... Redemption?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Questes : The Battle for Darrowshire

Wait, you say. I know that name! I have seen a great many things... and that's one of them - that's the extremely awesome video and song by Cranius! Of course, if you don't know about it, then now you do, so you can reread the beginning of this paragraph and be just as informed as the rest of us. Congrats.
Now, what would you say if you could relive one of the best machinimas of all time IN GAME? Yes, I know you can blast your foes in twill and stealth into Stormwind (can't attack Ony any more, but you could) - but seriously, Darrowshire was a brilliant masterpiece by Cranius... and was based on a quest. Which is, oddly enough, the very same quest that we're going to do today in questes! It makes a man wonder, it does. With that said, let's get to fightin'!

Who can do it?
Anybody over level 50. This chain used to end in one of the most epic outdoor raid quests ever - no longer, nerfed in the death of the microdungeon in patch 2.3. Now it is possible to finish the last quest with a decent 5-man at level, or 3-man if you're good. Try to solo it if you really want to, but it is difficult and requires an inaverage amount of cleverness/speed. I'd wait until 70 or so to attempt soloing it, however, especially as a class not so levelling-inclined.

Where to begin!
There are two options of where to start this. Firstly, you can talk to Jessica Redpath in Everlook, the goblin quest hub in Winterspring, for the quest 'Sister Pamela'. Or, you can begin the chain qith a very similar quest from Marlene Redpath, who wanders around a ramshackle inn in the Western Plaguelands. Starting it here is suggested, because you have to go back to her later, she is in the same general area, and the quest she gives you offers a bit more xp. Basically, start with her. Also, neat bit of music inside the hut she stays in - not sure if it exists anywhere else in the world.
You an also bypass both of these quests, and go straight to Pamela Redpath on the outskirts of Darrowshire - use quest tracking to make it easy.
Who tells me how to do THIS one?
Well, you guessed it, wowwiki once again comes to the rescue. Isn't it amazing how much anonymous people give to the community through posting there? Also, if you know your mobs well, you could try to just do the quest based upon Cranius's masterpiece. However, it takes some artistic interpretations, and if you just followed it linearly you'd probably get lost. Best to just stick to Wowwiki/Wowhead with this one.

Like always, however, I'd really suggest that you try and do these quests on your own, without outside instruction. In-game quest help makes it pretty simple, and if you keep referring to a guide, at least I feel it takes away from the epicness of the game. You can do what you wish, however.

The stuff we find...
Like always, experience is good. So is Argent Dawn reputation, for a number of reasons, not least the Argent Champion title.
As for stuff stuff, you first get some Tea with Sugar, which is actually usable during the Vezax encounter. Only 3 charges, but still neat you get something useful after all this while.
Next, you get three decent blue items, good for their level, but soon replaced by outland gear. They are the Ring of Protection (Best Vanilla feral tanking ring evar - its true, some durids is bare), the Arclight Talisman (Caster neck) and the Magebane Scion (offhand with a heap of resistances).

Why I picked this...
First, this is the best quest that is currently in game. No question. Beautifully crafted, brilliant story, interesting yet not idiotic game mechanics. All ending in a really awesome and epic encounter. Well done, Blizz, well done.
However, Blizzard is revamping all of the Lordaeron zones. A lot. It seems like the plaguelands may be hit by the revamp bat the hardest. It would be a really sad shame if it got lost to the hourglass of eternity - and I really hope it isn't - but just in case, do it now. Even if they make it better, and add more interesting and new followup quest lines, you really really dont want to miss your opportunity now. You'll kick yourself for it later.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Questes : Class Quests

This is sort of a stand-in for all of the class quests out there. If you are lucky enough to be graced with a really cool, class-specific quest, you better do it. No question. These are those defining factors that tie classes together, that prove your mark as a real (fill in your class here); these are the quests that people hold as some of their highest accomplishments in the game. I'll jot them out here. (In addition to the ones listed, each class - bar DKs - has a quest that brings them to do a specific thing in the Sunken Temple. Some are more interesting than others, but the dungeon's pretty fun, and I'd suggest doing it at some point. Very soloable nowadays.)

  • Death Knight: Sorry, all you get is the starting zone quests. Well, not sorry, actually, because this is the most polished zone in the game. But no active seeking of quests for you.
  • Druid: The Seal Form quest is a bit of a trial of patience. It's one of the defining factors of a druid, in that it made a ton of people change classes right at level 16. Annoying, yet relieving, that they dropped it a few patches ago. The real gem is the Epic Flight form quest: see below.
  • Hunter: The Ancient Petrified Leaf is your epic quest. Very cool from the looks of things - I haven't yet gotten to try it with my hunter.
  • Mage: No really epic quests (sorry). You do get a quest that teaches you Polymorph Pig, though.
  • Paladin: Lucky bum, you get two! Sorry, got. First, along with Warriors, you could craft one Quel'Serrar - sister blade to Quel'Delar. Buuut with level 80 Onyxia, the quest was removed. Sorry. However, you still get the very very cool Paladin Charger chain, which I highly urge you to do.
  • Priest: Benediction. Do it.
  • Rogue: Ravenholdt! It's a faction, I know - but it's YOUR faction. Some rogue-specific quests are around there too.
  • Shaman: You have an epic quest for a Helm, which is kinda cool. Not very long, not as amazing as others, and no Alliance equivalent. However, you do have a quest for each of your totems (no longer necessary), which are worth doing.
  • Warlock: Three! Three whole class defining quests. In addition to a quest for each Demon. Lucky. First are the two demon quests a large number of people skip: the Infernal, and the Doomguard. Next is one of the coolest quests that I have done, and that's the Warlock Epic Mount chain. Really dead annoying if you do it to get your first epic mount (as I did), but still annoying even now. But the annoyance is far overshadowed by the pure, unadulterated awesome that exudes from it.
  • Warrior: Cool level 40 quest where I still remember being awed at the sheer size of the wind elemental. Also, the quests for stances are neat. No level 60 quest since Quel'serrar was removed, though. Sorry.

Of course, as you may have realized, I still have to cover a quest here. Obviously, I will cover the magnificent Druid's Epic Flight Form quest.

Who can do it?
Unfortunately, only Druids can do the Druid epic flight form quest. Oddly enough. Never understood the reasoning behind it. Also, you need to be level 70 and honored or higher with the Lower City (so you can enter heroic Auchindoun instances).
Also, you need to have both regular and epic flight training. This costs a hefty amount of gold - 4 to 5k, depending upon your reputation. You get the regular flight training at 60 for next to nothing, so it's not really an issue. I farmed up this gold during BC by grinding eternal water around skettis - the easiest way to get gold now is to quest at max level and do dailies - professions are also a viable option. However, to obtain swift flight form, you do need to already have purchased artisan flying - unlike the other mount chains.

Where to begin...
To start the chain, just talk to any druid trainer, and they'll give you a quest to go talk to a druid in the Cenarion Refuge in Zangarmarsh. The easiest gut to talk to, though, is an old Druid in Moonglade by the name of Loganaar. Just teleport to Moonglade (Remember that spell? Yeah? you get to use it now! Woo!), and accept his quest - and you're on your way.

How do I do this nao plox kthxbai?
Of course, there's a brilliant guide once again at Wowwiki. You can always check the pages for each specific part of the chain on wowhead as well. In fact, I seem to be saying that alot, and I could probably just nix this section. Whatever.

Roxxorz Lootzorz!
This quest used to have the best loot for any druid in the game. That loot is the spell 'Swift Flight Form'. An instant cast, while moving, mount that gives you all the usual bonuses of shapeshifting - including the ability to pick herbs. However, no longer. You can now train this spell at level 71, and the quest has faded into oblivion. However, there are a few other notable and still useful rewards in the chain.
Firstly, as with most of these quests, you get a great deal of reputation - this time with the Cenarion Expedition, useful for grinding keys for old roics, or getting exalted for your Hippogryph. Also, you get 100g.
Next, you get a dead useless trinket. It used to act as a riding crop for swift flight form, increasing flight speed by 10%, but no longer. It is now, essentially, useless. Undisenchantable. Not even sellable. Even the vendors know how useless it is.
Later, you get a marginally useful idol. I don't do much of my levelling in form, but for ferals and the odd non-healing straight boomkin-form leveller, it can last you through the first couple levels of Northrend. Otherwise, DE or sell it.
Lastly, and much more importantly, you get a very, very important key. The only way of getting this key, the Essence-Infused Moonstone, is either from a quest in this chain or a repeatable quest you an get after the fact. It summons an extra boss, Anzu, inside of Heroic Sethekk Halls. Now, this is just an ordinary boss... But he is no ordinary boss! He has a chance to drop a highly coveted mount - The Reigns of the Raven Lord - which, though the drop frequency is quite small, looks totally awesome.
Lastly, you get a Feat of Strength. Woo!

Why am I bringing this up an expansion too late?
Firstly, this is one of the most epic quests in ever. No, really. Solo boss fights encompassing all druid forms, thrilling heroics, an awesome aqueous chase... it's brilliant. Also, it's a unique experience for Druids alone, and so us ardent followers of Alamo are brought all the closer together.

However, Blizzard has stated that Class-specific quests are going the way of the Captain Placeholder. It's understandable, because only 1/10 of the characters get to actually see the content, but it's definitely a loss - they really tied the classes together. This is the last class quest we may ever see (excluding Hero classes), so it's worth cherishing. It's also relatively soloable nowadays, or at least doable with just the help of one more person. However, the river chase heavily relies upon no flying in Azeroth (and the old, un-hordesymboled Azshara) - it may be that Blizzard lazily waves this quest off as one not to revamp, because nobody's doing it anymore. I... sure hope not. But just in case, dust off that old druid of yours and level him up to 80 (it can't take you long - not with RaF, Heirlooms, Battlegrounds, and Random Dungeons), then go do this quest. You won't want to miss it.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Now, I was going to write another 'Questes' today, on what I think personally is the second best quest in the game. However, my excitement to do so was significantly diminished by the overwhelming power that two wonderfully epic pieces of art had on me. As such, you better go read/watch them. Within 17 minutes of your reading this. Seriously.

Lord of the Clans

Personally, I think this is the best book ever written in the world of Azeroth. Seriously, Golden really hit it this time. Of course, Thrall is in fact one of the coolest characters in the entire everness-ness, but really, go read this. You won't be disappointed. Well-versed ones among you may notice this to be a significant ripoff off of a number of different sources (not discluding one of the planet of the apes's) , but it is brilliantly done. Also, it's a great lead-in to Warcraft 3, and sets up a real backstory to the entire orc campaign. Without it, you may not ever even have heard of Drek'thar, or Grom's inner demons... even the entire clan of Forstwolf and Warsong still play into the world as we know it today. In other news, it really makes the Horde look justified in hating the humans. (Also, if you've read or will read Golden's other, more current work - Arthas: Rise of the Lich King - you'll appreciate the subtle nods she casts in its direction.)

It's based off of a never released Warcraft Adventure game, dubbed by the same name as the book, and promised to be interesting indeed (though it probably would not have done the story justice). You can pick it up for like 4-8$ from any local bookstore that sells it, or off of Amazon, and unlike Mage-lord Urom says, it is definitely worth your time.


If you haven't heard of Avatar, then you are either from some twisted demonic realm or perhaps have just been running random heroics for about two weeks straight. Either way, sprint as fast as you can to a local cinema (or find one here). I cannot do it justice to describe its brilliance. So I will simply say, it is Epic incarnate and shall change how science fiction in portrayed in theaters for years to come. It takes a simple, understandable plot, shows it magnificently, and.. and... I really can't put it into words. Just go see it. Now. NOW.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Questes : The Master's Key

Not so long ago, in that same rather near world, there was a tower in Deadwind Pass known by the name of Karazhan. It was the first step in what promised to be an epic raiding scheme, more accessible than ever with the new 10 and 25 man raids, versus the previously very constricting 40-man ones. Home to Tirisfal's Last Guardian, Medivh, it was packed with all sorts of lore and touted as a dungeon even from WoW's release (but didn't make it in 'til BC). However, it (like almost all BC's raids on release) required the completing of a quest chain, to obtain the key which opened the gate before Karahzan. Later the attunement feature was removed - only one raid member needs to have the key, to open the door which lets you enter Karazhan.

Who can do it?
There are a few requirements before you can get the key to enter Kara. First, you will need to have access to a Key to the Arcatraz, which comes from the quest chain that begins with 'A Heap of Ethereals'.
Next, you will need access to Shadow Labyrinths, which requires a key from a chest in the end of Sethekk Halls. (Both of these doors can also be avoided by using a rogue with 350 or greater lockpicking).
Lastly, you will need access to the Black Morass, which requires continuing the quest 'To The Master's Lair' through 'Escape from Durnholde'.
To actually do the chain, you will need to be level 70. However to do Karazhan solo, you must be level 80 and fairly well geared - as well as knowing what you're doing. Even then, It'd be difficult.

Where to begin...
You can either start with the lead-in quest, Archmage Alturus, which begins with Apprentice Tasserel in the World's End Tavern in Shattrath. If you don't want to go there for some weird reason, you can always just head out in front of Kara and pick up the two beginning quests.

Who can tell you how to do it?
There's a great guide on Wowwiki that takes you through it step by step. (A note on Wowwiki: It's a wiki, so, things can be wrong on the site! That, however, does not make it less creditable - as long as you note the discrepancy, and fix it yourself.)

Epix Lootzorz!
First, you get a great deal of xp and gold, as with any long quest chain. However, all through this quest, you get to take your first steps through the Violet Eye reputation, which has a great deal of neat rewards if you keep at the raid for a while. Really only useful if you plan on staying at lvl 70, though, because most if not all rewards will be replaced within the first few zones in Northrend.
Next, you'll get your very own copy of 'The Master's Key', which will allow you to enter the tower of Karazhan at any time you like.
Lastly, if you continue the quest all the way through the dungeon, you get a 'Violet Badge', a decent trinket with a ton of arcane resistance - useful for soloing a number of the bosses in Kara, especially The Curator. Who is indeed equipped for gallery protection.

Why in the gorram world does this quest matter?
Well, I'll tell you. Firstly, as with all others, this could be removed in Cataclysm - we just don't know - and it'll be neat to have a unique, no longer obtainable key if that is so.
Secondly, this was the first rite of passage for all BC raiders. It's a cool thing to be able to know the roots of raiding, and what has come before - so you can feel lucky that there are no more fights with ridiculously annoying RNG like Prince, or feel sad about the loss of your free epix off of Chess. Also, having a key is nice in case you want to shoot for the Karazhan achievement - with nobody doing it nowadays, it'll get harder and harder to find a key.
Lastly, it's just a pretty cool quest. All sorts of lore is intertwined throughout.