An Open Letter to Blizzard

Dear Blizzard;

I’ve been enjoying your game for quite some time now — nearly six years in fact. That’s an awfully long time for a video game to hold my interest, so congratulations on producing a game that is engaging enough to do so. Hooray! But you know, I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about this silly thing you’ve implemented called Real ID. I’m sure you’ve been getting a lot of feedback on it already, but seriously, stick around. This is worth reading, this right here.

I understand the Real ID system in game, I even tested it on the PTR servers and it was kind of neat. Not for me, but kind of neat regardless — however, while I consider my guildmates my friends, I don’t really feel close enough to them to share all my personal information, and I do enjoy my private time on random alts here and there. Since you’ve neglected to include an “invisible” option on the system, I’ve decided not to use it. It really is quite a nifty tool though, and I’m sure there are plenty of people that enjoy it.

I’ve been posting on your forums for a long time now, (I did mention I’ve been playing the game since the beginning, right? Right.) offering feedback, writing stories, writing RP guides, helping out those that needed items crafted, reporting the odd bug or two that I come across, asking for help on the Customer Service or Technical Support forums if I needed it, and generally having a good time with things. Sure there are trolls, but they are easily ignored for the large part. But yesterday I learned that if I wanted to continue posting on your forums, providing feedback, stories, guides, crafting or getting any kind of support come Cataclysm, I am going to have to post using my real first and last name.

Don’t get me wrong here — my name is public already, as I now write for a high-profile website regarding your game. But there is something intrinsically wrong with requiring people to use their real name when posting on your forums, and I’m going to try to lay this out as clearly as possible, so hang in there with me.

I don’t play your game to engage in social networking. If I want to engage in social networking, I use a social networking site like Facebook, or Twitter.

There is one reason I play your game, and it’s a reason that a lot of players share:

Internet dragons.

I enjoy killing dragons. On the internet. This has nothing to do with my real first and last name. This has nothing to do with social awareness. This has everything to do with those amazing internet dragons you have created.

This internet dragon was really hard to kill and took forty people. FORTY FUCKIN PEOPLE GUYS THIS IS ONE BADASS INTERNET DRAGON LET ME TELL YOU

I SEE HOW YOU ARE TRICKY BLIZZARD WITH YOUR FRIENDLY INTERNET DRAGON STRATEGIES

BUT WE KILLED THIS DRAGON AND SKINNED HIS CORPSE BECAUSE HE INSULTED OUR MOTHERS

THIS DRAGON IS BADASS BECAUSE SHE’S GOT FUCKING EARRINGS ON HER HORNS I MEAN WHO DOES THAT SHIT FOR REAL SHE ROCKS

KILLING INTERNET DRAGONS IS SO EXCITING EVEN THE GROUND WANTS TO DO IT

GOD DAMN WE WILL KILL THAT DRAGON WE WILL KILL IT WITH FIRE UNLESS IT IS FIRE RESISTANT THEN WE WILL KILL IT WITH FROST

Not only do I enjoy killing internet dragons, I like killing internet orcs, too. And humans. And bug things that live in the ground, and demons from another dimension, and undead kings that raise other undead kings and stuff them in swords and aliens that don’t have bodies and live in bandages and goblins and ogres and you know what else I like, I like exploring all over the landscape, scenic mountains and grassy plains and dear god we just went through a portal to another fucking realm and THERE ARE PLANETS IN THE AIR OH MY GOD ARE THOSE ISLANDS IN THE SKY I WANT TO GO TO THE ISLANDS IN THE SKY TELL ME I CAN GO THERE HOLY SHIT I CAN YOU KNOW WHY

BECAUSE NOW I CAN FLY ON MY OWN INTERNET DRAGON HOW COOL IS THIS SHIT

FUCKING HELL I LOVE THIS GAME SO SO SO MUCH MAN ALL I WANT TO DO IS ADDRESS THIS INTERNET DRAGON PROBLEM

…okay. Sorry. Little carried away. But that’s it, you get it? That’s why I play. That’s why my friends play. Because we like to come home from a long day of being John Smith or Jane Doe and get on the computer and MURDER SOME REALLY AWESOME INTERNET DRAGONS.

We don’t want to be John Smith.

We don’t want to be Jane Doe.

We don’t want our friends to just be John Smith, or Jane Doe. That’s not the point. That’s not the point of what you’ve given us. What you have given us is an awesome, amazing, awe-inspiring game where we don’t have to be ourselves. Where we can pretend we are Kronk, gruff and oft-misunderstood orc warrior with an odd penchant for interior design. Where we can pretend we are Gisella, noble paladin of the Light and kidnapper of baby wolvar . Where we can forget about the real world, the real world’s problems and issues, the real world’s pressures and annoyances and just settle back and kill some internet dragons.

We don’t want Facebook. If we want Facebook, we’ll go to Facebook.

We don’t want Twitter. If we want Twitter, we’ll go to Twitter.

We don’t want people knowing our real names or our real lives. That’s not the point. It’s a fantasy. You gave us a fantasy, and now bit by bit you are trying to take that fantasy away and convince us that it is “cool”.

We love the fantasy you gave us. It is beautiful, it is not perfect but you are working hard every day to keep it as perfect as possible, and we love it. That’s why we’re all still playing after all of these years.

You talk about “concentrated coolness,” you talk about how everything should feel “overpowered and epic,” yet bit by bit you are taking this away. You cry that posting on the forums is optional, but for those of us that have been posting for years, giving you feedback, asking for help, providing help — now we can’t. Not if we want to stay in our fantasy. Now if we want to offer feedback to you, we have to be John Smith. Or Jane Doe.

We loved the fantasy, we loved putting our words out there for you to hear, but now we can’t do it unless we want to expose our real first and last names to the world. Sure, it may help your internet troll problem — but in doing so you are silencing the voices of thousands of players who just want to offer the player base help, advice and creativity. Some people may be okay with putting their real names out there for all to see. Some people, however — many of my friends even — aren’t.

You’ve heard from parents expressing concern that their child’s name would be exposed. You’ve heard from women that live in constant wariness of predators that could easily track them down if they had that first and last name. You’ve heard from military personnel that are concerned with the safety of both themselves and their families should their real names be somewhere easily found. You’ve heard from members of the GLBT population who are still in the closet out there in the real world, but free to express themselves under the blanket of anonymous fantasy that you’ve provided.

“It’s optional,” you say. “Optional to post on the forums.”

What you have created is a community. A beautiful community full of amazing people and yes, jerks here and there. These people have grown to know each other under that safe blanket of anonymity, where they can simply be whoever they want to be without having to worry about whether or not their next door neighbor will find out anything unsavory about them. Where they aren’t judged on how they look, how they dress, how they speak, what they drive, what they wear. Where they are just voices sharing thoughts and ideas, and ears hearing thoughts and ideas in return.

And you are taking that community away.

“It’s optional,” you say. “Optional to post on the forums.”

You gave us a playground that over 11.5 million people love to play in. We felt comfortable and safe there. We aren’t feeling so safe anymore. You’re not only killing the voices of trolls, you’re killing the voices of thousands of players who simply don’t feel comfortable sharing their names.

You’re losing feedback. You’re losing the creativity. You’re losing the community that made this game so amazing in the first place. In return, you’re gaining nothing but a sharp increase in technical and customer support calls because people are far more likely to call in with a problem than post their real name someplace so public that anyone could retrieve their information in a matter of minutes.

Do you have the staff to handle that influx? Because that’s what’s going to happen. That, and you’re going to get a lot of people canceling their accounts. Why?

Because they played this game for what it was — a fantasy. And now it’s looking like you want to take that fantasy away.

Without the fantasy, there’s no reason for them to stick around.

Even with a thread that is at this moment 1,755 pages long and growing, you’ve been largely silent on this issue. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re actually going to do something about it.

I’ve already said goodbye to Kronk, and Gisella, and countless others — friends, all of them — who have decided to cancel their accounts. Logging on isn’t fun right now. It’s a litany of “how could they do this” and other similar opinions. I’m tired of seeing “friend not found.” Please at least let us know what you are thinking. What’s going on out there in Blizzard HQ, and whether you are going to do something about this, or continue to ignore the people that have been enjoying your game for so long.

I’d just like to kill the internet dragons, please.

Sincerely,

Shade

Edit: And, two days later we have our answer — they listened to us. NOW WE CAN GET BACK TO THOSE INTERNET DRAGONS HELL YES WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT INTERNET DRAGONS

THANK YOU INTERNET DRAGON WE APPRECIATE YOUR CONTRIBUTION AND WILL BE AROUND TO BEAT YOU LIKE A SCALY PINATA LATER

SHIT MAN CHECK OUT THAT AWESOME INTERNET DRAGON IT’S GOT BLUE CRYSTAL SPARK SHIT EMBEDDED IN ITS HIDE HOW AWESOME IS THAT

Aw. Will do, Ysera. Will do.

Blood Elf History, A Summary

While I haven’t completely finished blood elf history, a lot of the events that happened to these fel-loving arcane-sucking addicts happened after the introduction of the Burning Crusade expansion. I’ll be doing a detailed list of posts regarding the lore and story behind the Burning Crusade at some point, but for now I think it’s safe to stop at the stopping point I found with the blood elves in Azeroth.

It may seem like the ‘blood elf’ portion of blood elf history is awfully short – and it is. The sin’dorei didn’t become the sin’dorei until quite recently in the Warcraft timeline. For now though, it’s time to wrap up with some of the most commonly asked questions and misconceptions about the little pointy eared buggers, as well as making sense of some of the in-game contradictions.

Blood elves are night elves?

Oh heck no. They were, at one point in time – mind you this was well over 10,000 years ago in the Warcraft time line. But the changes that struck them after they left Nordrassil’s range of protection were enough to dramatically differentiate them from the night elves you know today.

So who are these high elves wandering around then? They don’t have the green eyes but they look like the blood elves do.

Those are the high elves that left back after the Second War. Remember when Anasterian pulled his support from the Alliance, Kael’thas stayed behind because he was in the Kirin Tor? There were other high elves that stayed behind as well, to continue teaching the humans and other races the magic that they’d learned. These high elves weren’t affected by the destruction of the Sunwell – why? Probably because they had spent so much time away from it that they were nowhere near as closely tied to it as the elves that lived in Silvermoon proper.

These high elves had to learn proper control, and how to deal with being away from the Sunwell right from the start – so its destruction simply didn’t affect them in the same way. It may also be (and this is speculation, mind) that they learned a few things from the creatures they were teaching about alternate ways of keeping that power that is inherent to their survival alive. The humans they taught weren’t really tied to the Sunwell after all – they looked for ley lines and other sources of magic to pull their abilities from, so perhaps the high elves just learned to do that.

How come the high elves are allied with the Alliance? Or they con friendly with the Alliance anyway, but they don’t seem to like the blood elves at all.

Because these high elves that left did so in order to teach the various Alliance races magic. It could be that they didn’t agree with Anasterian’s decision to pull his support from the Alliance, it could be that they saw the path the quel’dorei of Quel’Thalas were headed down, and they simply didn’t wish to follow that path. And now that the sin’dorei are obviously following a much darker path…well, they don’t really want anything to do with that.

So why is that Highborne in Darnassus a night elf?

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Blood Elf History Part Two: Say Illidan, You’re Looking Awfully…Uh…Horny

A brief recap: The quel’dorei, or ‘high elves’ were banished from Kalimdor by the night elves after throwing a bit of a temper tantrum, and headed to the Eastern Kingdoms. Once there, they made some new friends in the humans of the Arathor Empire, and some new enemies in the trolls of the Amani Empire. They joined the first forming of the Alliance that came about as a result of Stormwind’s destruction, but a lot of their trees got burned down in the resulting war with the orcs and trolls. After the war, they threw another, smaller, more polite temper tantrum and withdrew from the Alliance; choosing to live solely in Quel’Thelas and ignore the Alliance goings on, save for a small minority of high elves that chose instead to work with the humans.

So by this point in high elf history, there are, once again, two factions starting to come into play. While most of the elves were content to once more retreat to the Sunwell and the spires of Quel’Thalas, there were others, priests and sorcerers, that wished to continue exploring the world and teaching the humans the arts of magic. Among the high elves that chose to live outside of Quel’Thalas was the son of Anasterian, Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider.

The Fall of Quel’Thelas and the destruction of the Sunwell

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Blood Elf History Part One: We Make Withdrawal Look Pretty

The history of the Blood Elves in World of Warcraft is somewhat convoluted, as the little buggers originally started out as…well, as kaldorei. That’s right, night elves and blood elves were once the same thing. Physically, they look very different – and from a societal standpoint, they’re incredibly different as well. So why are the blood elves now a part of the Horde, while night elves are firmly on the Alliance’s side? What happened to make the Blood Elves a bunch of bad guys? And just how do they get such beautiful hair without a lot of product buildup? Some of these questions to be answered this week!

The Sin’dorei as they are currently called weren’t always the blonde, bright-eyed, egomaniacal self obsessed little buggers that you see in World of Warcraft today. Sin’dorei is a name they gave themselves after events in their history warranted the name change. Originally, they were called the Quel’dorei, or high elves – children of noble birth. In order to properly understand where these elves came from, one should probably take a look at the Night Elf History segments from a few weeks ago: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. I will be picking up with elf history shortly after the timeline presented in the night elf history segment – after the Sundering that split the world into the continents we know today.

Don’t Bleach, Use Chamomile Tea For Natural, Sun-Kissed Highlights

The kaldorei had been firmly split into two different factions – there were the night elves, and the quel’dorei. While the night elves worshipped Elune and followed a largely druidic, nature-based path, the Quel’dorei had become masters of managing the arcane energies and magic of the Well of Eternity – a mastery that had proven disastrous in the War of the Ancients. There was another difference between the two factions however. As the night elves never came out during the day, and usually did their work and worship by night, they had darkened skin and hair, brilliant hues of purple, blue and green, and their eyes retained a normal silver glow – gold in the cases of those that showed druidic potential. The quel’dorei however found it better to work under the light of the sun, and found their skin and their hair fading as well into a lighter version of the night elves dark colors.

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RP and You, A Beginner’s Guide – Dealing With Problems in RP

This week on RP and You, we’ll be looking at some info from my old RP guide that’s really still quite valid. From the last several posts, you ought to have by now a character, a good name, a good back story for that character, and a basic understanding of the mechanics of RP. So you should be ready to go, right? Well…almost. What do you do when you can’t seem to find anyone to RP with? How do you find the ever-elusive roleplayer in their natural habitat? And what do you do if you find yourself, for want of a better word, snubbed by the general roleplaying population? I’ll be addressing these issues and more today!

How do I find a roleplayer to roleplay with?

Tricky question. Are you on a roleplaying server? If not, you may want to go make sure you’ve rolled on one – most people on PvP or PvE servers don’t bother with roleplaying, they’ve got other things in the game that they’d rather do. RP servers not only have the people who are focused on PvE and PvP, but they’ve also got a good chunk of the population that’s usually focused on RP. The best places to find roleplayers vary from server to server, although I’ve found that across the board, Stormwind appears to be popular on Alliance, and Silvermoon always seems to be a hot spot for Horde. The best way to find out is to just ask – on my server, we often have people ask on the realm forums where the good places to RP are located. Check the link here and scroll down to the realm forums section, and then choose the server you wish to play on. Remember to be polite – demanding answers is never a very good first impression.

The other indicator is pretty easy to spot. The roleplay addons mentioned the last post aren’t just for reading what other people look like – they’re also a gigantic ‘LOOK AT ME I ROLE PLAY’ sign. People that use these addons on roleplay servers are more often than not roleplayers themselves, especially if they have a description set up.

How do I know if they’re busy?

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Character Focus: King Varian Wrynn

King Varian Wrynn has had a tough life. The previous may just be the understatement of the year award – but in regards to World of Warcraft, when Wrynn first appeared on the scene to take back Stormwind’s throne, reactions were…mixed to say the least. Most viewed him as a pompous xenophobic jackass; most were largely unimpressed by both him and his friends. Mind you, most hadn’t read the Warcraft comics series either, so they weren’t sure what exactly was going on or why Wrynn came back the way he did – or why he looked like the swarthy reject anime hero he is today. But Varian Wrynn’s history stretches back farther than just his sudden reemergence in Stormwind, and it explains a lot about his current motives and feelings regarding the Horde. Is Wrynn as complex a hero as Blizzard would make him out to be? Or is he just a jerk with no justification?

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING:  Wrath of the Lich King, and possibly Cataclysm. Also included HEAVILY are the Warcraft comics and novels. If you don’t wish to be spoiled on any of the above material, I would not recommend clicking to read further!

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History of the Tauren, A Summary

The history and early origins of the tauren are still largely a mystery – but there is enough information available out there to answer a few basic questions surrounding the quiet and peaceful race.

1. Aren’t the night elves the ones that are supposed to be the first druids?

Yes and no. The Night Elves are the first recorded students of Cenarius, but I like to think that’s in a large part due to the fact that the night elves are much, much better at record keeping. The tauren race is old, older than the night elves by a very large period of time, and it’s possible that the time period in which Cenarius trained the tauren in druidism took place before the night elves even existed. In which case, of course the night elves would say they were the first students – Cenarius never taught the tauren in any of the night elf history because he did so before night elf history even began.

2. So the tauren are pretty much good guys, right?

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Tauren History Part Three: Legends and Legacies Long Forgotten

Welcome back to Tauren History 101. Today we look at the last of the Thunder Bluff Scrolls, and try to piece together the fragments of information they contain. Please keep in mind that almost none of the following assumptions and conclusions have been validated by Blizzard as being correct. This week, it’s a week of historical speculation!

The last of the Thunder Bluff Scrolls tells of the evolution of the centaur, the tauren’s most hated enemy, and the one with which they still do constant battle today.

Scroll Five: Hatred of the Centaur

Part one: As the mists of dawn faded and the Age of Memory advanced, the demigod, Cenarius, went his own way through the fields of the world. The Shu’halo (tauren) were sorrowful at his passing and forgot much of the druidism he had taught them. As the generations passed, they forgot how to speak with the trees and the wild things of the land. The dark whispers from the deeps of the world drifted up to their ears once again.

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Tauren History Part One: Why Do Cows Suddenly Appear Every Time You Are Near?

We’re taking it a little easy this week, as last week’s foray into the world of Night Elf history still has my fingers bruised. This week we’re looking at another of the Horde races – the loveable, cuddly tauren, aka ‘WoW’s moocows’. The Tauren are often viewed as the ‘good guys of the Horde’ – whereas the other Horde races can and have been brutal, bloodthirsty and rage-ridden, the tauren are generally viewed as the Horde’s peaceful inhabitants, and more often than not win the title of World of Warcraft’s ‘nicest’ race. Is this a correct assumption to make? Are the Tauren really that pleasant, fun-loving and good-natured? Where exactly did they come from anyway, and why on earth did they bother joining up with the Horde?

While Night Elf history is well documented, one can hardly say the same of the Tauren race. Much of their history is orally told through story and myth, and very little of it is written down anywhere to actually read. This makes documenting Tauren history a challenge of a different kind – rather than being almost too much history to go over in a week’s time, the Tauren may not have enough to go on. Therefore the Tauren history this week is going to be a little different – mostly conjecture based upon the small amount of material Blizzard has given us to work with. Keep in mind that almost none of the following assumptions and conclusions have been validated by Blizzard as being correct. This week, it’s a week of historical speculation!

The Earthmother and the Creation of the Tauren

The tauren race has been around for an undefined period of time. Quiet for the most part, though they were present before the Sundering that split the great continent of Kalimdor into the continents we are familiar with today. Which…means I need to adjust the map of pre-Sundering Kalimdor I made and add the Tauren territories in there. I’ll post that later this week. At any rate! Tauren. The earliest records of any kind of Tauren history are hanging in the great tent occupied by Arch Druid Hamuul Runetotem over on Elder Rise in Thunder Bluff. These scrolls are readable by players, and placed sequentially around the tent in a clockwise fashion. There are five Thunder Bluff Scrolls, and they tell the earliest stories of Tauren civilization and birth. I’ll be examining each one of these piece by piece over the next several days, and what the possible symbolism and myths behind each scroll could mean.

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Night Elf History, A Summary

Whew. The history of the night elves is probably one of the most complicated pieces of Warcraft history created, spanning thousands of years with a huge cast of characters. There was no possible way to touch on them all, so I tried to keep it brief – and even brief, it was still incredibly long.

The Night Elves are members of the Alliance, and many view them as Good Guys, intent on protecting Azeroth and keeping it from harm under the charge of the Dragonflights. Let’s address some common thoughts about Night Elves:

1. Night Elves are good! They’re druids and they protect the planet!

Well…sorta. They do NOW – after having learned a valuable lesson. But in the process of learning that lesson, the world was ripped apart. And while the explosion was because of trying to prevent actions that the quel’dorei had set into motion, it was ultimately a druid that ripped the planet into pieces. Was there any other way? It’s…doubtful. The Burning Legion is a pretty badass bunch of characters, and it takes a lot to defeat them – or it did then. …now you just need seven or so level 80’s to click some rocks and beat the stuffing out of a pit lord, and about that many to go make Archimonde your personal punching bag. But back then? Ooo. Bad. Bad bad bad.

2. Illidan Stormrage was a hero!

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