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.

Draenei History, A Summary

While draenei history is pretty cut and dry when compared to other Warcraft races, there are still people that either don’t understand the timeline given, or are annoyed, to say the least, with the way the events were presented. Today I’ll be addressing some of those questions and concerns, and attempting to resolve and put to rest the impressions that people have gotten over the past couple of years.

So Draenei are Eredar?

Absolutely. They’re still eredar to this day – they just took the name draenei because it differentiated them from their corrupted kin. That’s why the night elves were so frightened of the draenei at first – because to the night elves, the draenei looked startlingly similar to the demonic eredar that had slaughtered so many of their people during the War of the Ancients. Archimonde was a leader of the eredar right alongside Velen – and Archimonde appeared during the War of the Ancients, so it’s no wonder really that the night elves were as terrified as they were.

How exactly does a spaceship fit into Warcraft Lore?

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Draenei History: Space Goats, Windchimes and Demonic Corruption

Some view the introduction of the draenei as the biggest mistake that Blizzard could have made from a lore standpoint. Sci-fi? In our Warcraft? Spaceships and technology? Well…yes, actually. The thing that most people seem to forget when playing a game like this is that it’s an ongoing story. If WoW’s story remained the same, static and unchanging, it would hardly be the sort of game that captured the attention of so many people for so long. From a pure story standpoint, WoW is ongoing, and changing – and it’s up to the storywriters to decide in what way that story will evolve. While some view the science fiction elements of Burning Crusade as far-fetched, I don’t think it’s that major of a stepping-stone – we’ve already had some elements introduced, portals and dual worlds, Titans and engineering – science very much has a place in the WoW universe. What the storywriters have done is create a natural blend of science fiction and magic that for some reason works.

The mysterious race known as the draenei have been referenced in Warcraft lore prior to Burning Crusade, however the draenei we were presented with were very different from the playable race. Little guys that look largely like potato sacks with legs, it was difficult for players to imagine how anyone could ever want to play them as a character in game. But the draenei’s origins are a startling departure from the magic-wielding elves, the savage orcs, and the other playable races available. The draenei were covered briefly in Orc History – you can go back and read parts One and Two here, or simply read ahead, as I’ll be recapping the events presented in the orc history segment.

The Eredar, the Naaru, and the Birth of the Burning Legion

The draenei originated as a race known as the Eredar – a group of supremely talented magic users who originated on the planet Argus, millions of years prior to Azeroth’s creation. These creatures were led by three of the strongest magic users – Archimonde, Kil’jaeden, and Velen. Sargeras, the dark titan intent on destroying worlds and devouring magic, was in the middle of building a vast army to carry out his dark purposes – and the inherent power of the Eredar quickly drew his attention. He approached the three leaders, offering them both vast powers and immortality in exchange for their allegiance.

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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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Gnomish History, A Summary

Gnomes are probably one of the friendliest, least judgmental races in Warcraft. They are eager to share their information and knowledge of technology with anyone that will sit down and listen, which is why there’s a gnomish branch of engineering that is available to everyone, Alliance or Horde. While the goblin race remains neutral for financial reasons, the gnomes are simply nice to everyone, regardless. Anyone could be a potential friend or fellow inventor, as far as they are concerned. The gnomes joined the Alliance primarily because their closest friends, the dwarves, did so – but it’s entirely possible that they could have remained a completely neutral party like the goblins if they weren’t already such close buddies with the dwarves of Ironforge. While they have a bit of a grudge against the orcs, left over from their fighting in the second war, they are still forgiving, and willing to give the orcs a second chance. After all, prejudice isn’t really part of the programming of a rational machine.

So now we know where gnomes came from! Sort of. While there is a large amount of information missing from gnomish history, enough has been revealed about the origins of the race to at least speculate on answers to some common questions.

1. If Gnomes are all about the technology, how come they can be mages?

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Gnomish History Part Two: Explosions! MORE explosions!

There are several references to the Curse of the Flesh in Warcraft lore dating all the way back to the original, vanilla release of World of Warcraft, indicating this was clearly something the writers over at Blizzard had in the works for quite some time. Although it is not mentioned by name, the Curse is first spoken of in the last quest in Uldaman, The Platinum Discs. Interestingly, the NPC that gives players the story of the dwarves origins is called the Lore Keeper of Norgannon, indicating that these Watchers, at least, were placed to archive the world’s history by the titan Norgannon himself. The question that still hasn’t been answered to this date is this: How many of these Watchers are scattered across the world, and how much of Azeroth’s history do they have compilations for? There was an article a couple of weeks ago on wow.com by David Bowers about Warhammer’s “Tome of Knowledge”, an in-game database full of game information like achievements, titles, and quests – but it also includes an extensive database of story, lore and history. I’d like to think that the discs that are used to activate the Watcher’s archives could very well be a method that Blizzard could incorporate an in-game database of lore that is easily accessible by players, but for now it’s wishful thinking. That, and it’d make this blog woefully obsolete. Regardless, let’s continue on with the Gnomes, what little we do know of them, and speculation on what we don’t.

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING:  Wrath of the Lich King,  and events that take place in the raid zone of Ulduar. 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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Gnomish History Part One: I Solemnly Swear To Try Really Hard To Avoid Gnome-Related Puns

Last week, we focused on the history of the Tauren, the largest of the Horde’s races, and speculated on their possibly titanic origins. This week we’re going to look at the smallest of the Alliance races – the Gnomes – and speculate on their titantic origins, and what those origins mean for the race. Gnomes are the oft-misaligned hated race of the alliance, endless streams of short jokes and threats of gnome punting littering the net. Nobody likes the gnomes, it seems – unless of course you are a gnome player, and if you’re a gnome player, then you’re weird. At the original release of World of Warcraft very little was known about this odd, tiny, frenetic little race of tinkers and mechanics, but the release of Wrath of the Lich King cleared up a lot of the mystery of where the gnomes came from, and why they are here.

Not all of it, but a lot of it. This week, expect small amounts of speculation that are clearly labeled, and a whole lot of Warcraft history. Please be patient with me, as the timeline involving the Titans arrival, the Old Gods arrival, and everything that happened in between is currently in flux – game lore is contradicting existing lore, and it makes everything…iffy.

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING:  Wrath of the Lich King,  and events that take place in the raid zone of Ulduar. If you don’t wish to be spoiled on any of the above material, I would not recommend clicking to read further!

If, however, you’re interested in the little frenetic tinkering gnomes, READ ON!

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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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