An Idea, Just a Small One

Hi, it’s me, Gloria. I’m the author of such silly idea threads as “add a class difficulty rating” and “long, wordy, too many comparisons battlepet post” A, B and C as well as “add a battle pet that is an artifact.

Basically, I come up with weird ideas on the regular. I don’t know what it is about WoW that makes me think this stuff up, especially since, like, look at me? I work customer service day-to-day, what makes me think I know more than the developers a massive hit of an MMO? I guess it’s a good outlet, since most people know suggesting things at work can be pretty hit or miss. At least I got them to replace the random generic stock photo person on our website with an actual employee though, hah. But I could be brainstorming to improve my own life, or building ships in a bottle or something! Instead I sit here like, “But…what would make the experience better for newbies in the game?” because WoW is so ingrained in me after 10 years and I want to see it succeed.

That said, I was thinking the other day about why I see so many of the people in my community (which is mostly friends on twitter) so rapidly abandoning the raiding lifestyle. I do still have friends that raid regularly and even do mythic. (Bear Retirement Home is recruiting, btw, great group of people. Search them up on twitter.) But a lot of us…a LOT OF US have just given up for various reasons.

Raiding retirement reasons include:

-Not wanting to commit to a weekly schedule anymore.
-Not wanting to sit at a comp for hours at a time to prepare for a raid or do the raid.
-Not wanting to focus on wiping, recovering, and doing it all over again.
-Not wanting to have to actually maintain a raid group. Scheduling, raid leading, and hoping people show up, and recruiting can be incredible draining.

Now, I don’t have the data Blizzard has. This is all data taken anecdotally from conversations I’ve had among friends. But it seems that, by and large, an aging playerbase is slowly growing out of the raiding mentality. Because you have to admit, the points made above are…kinda what raiding is all about? It used to be that there was plenty of new blood to replace retiring raiders, but with how newbie unfriendly WoW has become I’m not so sure that’s the case right now. But again, anecdotal. I’m sure Blizzard has meetings with data to go over trends and whatnot.

But anyway, I was thinking the other day about how the idea of raiding is going out of style. Do people want to feel like they have to sit at a computer for 3+ hours to accomplish anything? The current popularity of MOBAs and FPS games says that no, no they do not. Also, note that I said “feel like” because we all know some MOBA matches can take longer than 40 minutes. But the illusion of, “Oh I can just sit here for 20 minutes and get a game in” is there. And that’s what appeals. With raiding, unless you’re doing LFR, you know that’s probably going to be an hour+ long commitment going in. Is that what people are turning their noses up at? Hmm.

So I was trying to think of a way that kind of content could be adapted to WoW. And I says to myself, I says, “What if people could jump into a progression raid with a guild and automatically have their ilvl boosted to the average of the rest of the raid?”

Okay wait. WAAAIT. Before you freak out at the idea, let me explain.

I find myself constantly wishing I could jump into my friends’ raids to help out every once in a while without making a commitment. But my character’s ilvl would be a hindrance, especially on my horde character that is a late-to-the-expansion alt. Now I can farm to get my ilvl up, and I do, but it would be nice to be able to jump into a raid once in a while to help heal when they’re down a person and still be able to actually HELP.

This would serve two purposes:

  1. I get to do raid content without having to commit, and suddenly you see that bite-sized MOBA style influence coming in here and it appeals. Oh does it appeal.
  2. If my friends’ guilds are ever down a person, it’s easier for them to fill that spot without fretting about backup raiders not being available.

Eh? Eeeh? Seeing my picture now?

Obviously there would have to be some serious limitations on the system. You shouldn’t be able to just join a random raid group where the leader has an ilvl of 6 billion and automatically have yours boosted to that level. That would trivialize like, everything ever. But if you are joining a guild group that clearly has 10-15 people all with the same guild tag and general ilvl, that’s when yours would be boosted up to the average.

LFR is controversial because people see it as sightseeing content. And let’s be real, it is. You can blow on the bosses and knock them over, and there are some people that like it that way. That’s fine, it’s whatever. I think a lot of people that run LFR don’t run it because it’s fun, they run it because it’s bite-sized content they can enjoy in an hour of playtime. So let’s bring that concept to another area of the game and help the now retired/casual raiders to sometimes have a little challenging raiding back in their lives on their own and also help guilds that may be struggling to recruit on their servers or whatever have a bit of a backup plan.

And who knows? Maybe the retired raiders will fall back in love with it and start to revive the system a little, alongside newer players coming in Legion.

There’s also the fact that a lot of people want to introduce friends/family members to the game and outside of dungeon content, well, you can’t really bring your undergeared brother to your heroic raid, even though you might really want him to be able to see just how freakin’ cool it is. So your option is to run with him through LFR.


This would allow you to have him tag along.

I mean they already do this with dropping ilvls to make Timewalking dungeons relevant again. I don’t see why it couldn’t be applied in what is essentially the opposite direction. We have the technology! I mean, sort of. We sort of have the technology. They really need to work on stuff like trinket proc percentages and whatnot because in Timewalking those are BAaaaAAAad but…we have MOST of the technology!

Though to be perfectly honest, I would be shocked if the developers hadn’t already considered an idea like this. I’m sure it’s come up in a meeting at some point. So there must be a reason why it hasn’t been done yet. And I’m sure players can think of dozens of reasons why it’s terrible. Trust me, I get it, lots of my ideas are bad. But hey, gotta get them out there even if I’m shouting into a void!

So you know, food for thought.

Thoughts on the Warcraft Movie

Back from the dead! And with a blog entry that’s been bouncing around in the back of my mind for a few months now.

So the Warcraft movie comes out in June and I am not going to lie, I’m PUMPED. I can’t wait to see one of my favorite magical universes come alive on the big screen. I’m also thrilled I get to share that experience with hundreds of thousands of fellow fans across the entire WORLD. Plus the added benefit of introducing people to Azeroth and my not-so-subtle hope that they will come join us veteran players in the upcoming Legion expansion.

I’m hype to see gryphons, Dalaran, spells and swords and all kinds of visual eyecandy going on! And also maybe imagining one of my characters in the fray as well, because admit it, you wish your character could be on that moviescreen too!

But if there is anything that prevents Warcraft from being a smashing commercial success, it is one key problem. It’s not the woman playing Garona looking like she just donned some body-paints and a couple tooth prosthetics. It’s not the retconning of some of the lore to fit a more exciting storyline. It’s not the movie’s CG. Those are things that are only going to tweak the nerves of Warcraft fans, and it’s not going to be enough to make them NOT go see the movie. No, the problem that will turn off the general moviegoing public is…well…

It’s the orcs.

If you think about it, exposure to the concept of “orcs” in a fantasy setting for most non-fantasy fans has basically revolved around things like Tolkien’s Middle-Earth versions of hulking, evil minions of Sauron’s armies. And…let’s be real? The Warcraft versions of orcs don’t look much different than that since they were clearly influenced by Tolkien and to a larger extent Warhammer. (Which was also heavily based on D&D and more Tolkien.)

I’m going to be frank here…the CG on the orcs in the movie is fantastic, but they still fall HEAVILY into uncanny valley. And it’s an uncanny valley where they also look vaguely humanoid but still just a tad bit terrifying? They’re these giant, hulking, muscular beasts swinging axes around at the human actors and invading another planet because they destroyed their own. Durotan and Draka being the obvious exceptions, and their…weird…CG Go’elbaby but sit there and think. Really, really think. Do you think the majority of movie-goers, ages 10-50, are going to identify with the orcs? Do you think they will learn to like them by the end of the movie just because of Durotan’s actions? Or do you think they won’t even give the movie a chance because they’re going to see the orcs in the commercials and think, “That’s not something I want to watch or take my family to see.”

That is the sad, painful truth I’ve had rattling around in my head for the last couple of weeks. Ever since the edited trailers started flying around and the commercials started. “War” is for sure a major part of WARcraft, but they picked a topic for the first movie involving a race that is ALREADY divisive among the playerbase. We’re the people who LIKE the game and WANT to see the movie but already a lot of us have been suffering from orc fatigue ever since the end of Mists of Pandaria. I’m not going to the movie to see the orcs. I’m going to see Lothar and Medivh fire some fireballs and ride around on gryphons. And yet fully half the movie is going to be designated to a storyline that frankly, after WoD, I don’t give two diddly squits about. Gul’dan is pretty much the only orc that piques my interest anymore, and even he is wearing thin on my nerves after months of HFC.

It really says something when one of the most talked about parts of the trailer were the high-elves during the council and funeral scenes. People picked those 2-4 seconds of footage apart, hoping to get a better look at the pointy-eared nobles. Dalaran looks FREAKING amazing in the shots we got of it. And then it cuts back to an orc swinging an axe around and everyone is just like, “Oh, hmkay.” On twitter and reddit there are people constantly asking if other races will be portrayed, and there was a communal shout of joy when it was revealed that yes, there will be some footage of trolls.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that NOBODY likes orcs. A fair few people love them dearly. But a small subset of people really liking the race is not enough to carry an audience for a major motion picture. The fact of the matter is that the ideal of the orcs – giant, manly men who grunt and swing axes and wear unrealistic piercings and tattoos – has been super out of touch with the main playerbase of WoW for a while now. It was probably a huge part of how the Warcraft series originally got popular, but it’s been almost -22 years- since the original orcs and humans game launched. To not expect or think your audience would grow, and their tastes would change over time, is absolute madness.

And dare I say, it’s super out of touch with the general moviegoing public as well. And here is where the problem lies. Now we have our stakes resting on this movie, which they specifically chose the plot of orcs and humans for. And the stakes are HIGH. A tantalizing sequel depends on how this movie performs. And there’s also the idea of new players picking up the game and older players returning.

And also a major thing that hasn’t really been touched on much is the fact that a lot of the current playerbase hopes that this movie will vindicate their “nerdy” hobby in the eyes of the general populace that has consistently made fun of it for decades now. Is this going to be the movie that sweeps that stereotype over a waterfall, never to be seen again?


*looks over at the trailer and Durotan smacking Gul’dan again*


So let me end by saying that I am absolutely going to be there opening night, plonked into a seat with my fine-ass movie-theater popcorn tub. I will laugh, I will cry, I will come home with a renewed sense of enjoyment in the franchise.  But I’m afraid. I’m really afraid of how things are going to play out. This is one case where I really, really hope I’m wrong. I hope this movie breaks chart records and blows the mind of the movie executives. I guess we’ll see in a few more months.

The Perfect Raid Boss

So there’s been a lot of talk about raid mechanics lately thanks to Blackrock Foundry being released. Some say it’s the most fun raid in years, and others say that overkill mechanics on the final boss, Blackhand, are destroying guilds left and right. You’ve also got Hans and Franz – a fight that apparently requires more dramamine than being on a Carnival cruise while sitting in a moving car and reading a book.

Former WoW developer Xelnath has been posting a series of blog entries about boss encounters he designed. They are definitely worth a read to get a peek into what goes on when it comes to raid boss development. If you don’t want to read it (Shame on you!) and want to know what goes into the process – the short answer is: “A whole lotta.” A whole lot of what? Just a whole lotta. Not half a lotta. A whole lotta. Tons of factors go into the design process including breakpoints, damage calculations, strategery required, etc.

Raid design certainly isn’t easy but I’ve got good news for all the MMO developers out there! I’ve developed what I believe to be the PERFECT raid boss fight. It’s chock-full of mechanics that I know everyone loves. I talked about my ideas on twitter and a bunch of people chimed in with their mechanic ideas as well, so credit goes to those folk too.

So let me introduce you to my raid boss. Blorglbloog! Its full name is Blorglbloogastraszagosa’chimonde’jaeden-garRande. (Accent on the “e.”)  As we all well know – long, hard to pronounce names are an absolute must so raid leaders and folks in mumble struggle as much as possible to announce the boss during the fight.


You’ll notice that I created his design with a purpose in mind. He has an incredibly generic shape and a tiny face so it’s next to impossible for melee attackers to tell if they’re actually hitting his backside. It also ensures that his frontal cone breath attack will hit at least 60% of the raid at any given time because the tanks won’t be sure which side they need to run to in order to turn it away.

I chose light blue as a color so that he sticks out in his lime-green dayglo boss room. My hope is that by doing this, the raid is induced to vomiting within 5 attempts. People want a raiding challenge – and there’s nothing more challenging than fighting human biological issues.

As for mechanics? I picked the best possible repertoire for my little Blorglbloog.

Now, it’s a 32 minute fight with approximately 16 phases. There’s also some RP cutscenes in the beginning, middle, 3/4ths of the way, and at the last 1%. These cutscenes are 15 minutes long, mandatory, and are guaranteed to crash your main healer’s WoW client. However, I must warn everyone that the only part of the fight that actually matters is the last 2%. This is when Blorgl will berserk and do every single one of his mechanics with a 75% damage modifier. There’s a hard-enrage at 45 minutes because I wanted to make sure that the fight didn’t drag on too long.

After the raid chips away at 2% of his HP, he’ll use one of his first zone mechanics. Blorgl will spit out four types of colored acid spots on the floor.  The raid will need to stand in the “good” acid spot in order to avoid an enormous raid-wide AoE pulse that happens every .2 seconds. I’ve made a handy chart to demonstrate which color is the right one to stand in:


After 15 seconds the “bad” zones will melt away, revealing what I personally think is the best possible mechanic in a raid – an elevator. Random raid members will be teleported on to the elevators and have to wait for it to move back up to the top floor in order to rejoin the battle. Sometimes the elevator won’t load properly and they’ll plummet to their deaths, but that’s what they get for having a crappy internet connection lol.

If enough people stand in the “good” zone, the buff they receive will transform their character that specifically chose to play because they know and are experienced at using it into a “boogerling.” These boogerlings are considered vehicles and have their own action bars which may or may not require a UI reload depending on the player’s addons. Boogerlings have 7 unique abilities which the raid won’t have time to read, but one of them is a CRITICAL DoT that must be applied on the boss every 3 seconds or the boss will enrage and it will be an auto-wipe. This transformation happens to healers and tanks as well as DPS because I firmly feel that if you rolled a healer, you secretly want to learn an entirely new DPS mechanic on the fly so here’s your chance!

After the boogerling phase, gigantic ice walls will erupt from the floor. These icewalls provide a line-of-sight barrier around the room. The boss will teleport itself and the two tanks behind a random set of barriers which will leave the healers and DPS to try and figure out where the Hell they need to stand in order to keep the raid going. The walls reset to new positions every 13 seconds so the raid must constantly be on the move. This ensures that ranged DPS will never get to attack due to LOS, and also ensures that melee DPS will never get to attack since the boss is constantly moving.

go dis way

At 50%, the room will flood with a goolike, watery substance and the underwater phase will begin! The raid will be forced to operate on both the X and Y axis while trying to maintain their rotations. After a minute or so, a portion of the water will drain and the raid can hop on to small pieces of floating debris. The collision detection on this debris will purposely be poor so that it adds an extra layer of challenge to the fight! This way everyone can laugh in enjoyment as they can’t navigate the ridiculous jumping angle to get on to stable ground. If more than 1 person is in the goo after 2 minutes, the goo explodes and kills everyone.

At 20% the REAL fun begins as a curse is applied to a new raid member every 15 seconds.This curse MUST NOT be dispelled or it will blow up and automatically kill the tanks from a distance. So tell your healers to uninstall their debuff tracking addons or they’re gonna be in trouble! The curse will last until the end of the fight, so I hope your healers have plenty of mana left 10 minutes in!

Once you whittle Blorglbloog down to 15%, he will begin using his tank mind control mechanic. This is a channeled spell will target both tanks and cause a complete threat wipe. The mind controlled tanks will enrage and gain a 75% damage buff. They will also be specifically programmed to target the healers in the raid. Every time a healer is killed, Blorgl will heal up to 40% of his HP.

So now the raid is in the homestretch at 10%! Along with his other mechanics, Blorgl will begin the “council” phase of the fight. He will summon his 8 most trusted advisers that will rush into the fray! Each adviser has a different ability ranging from a cleave that AT LEAST 15 people must stack in to mitigate raid damage to a timestop spell. The only visual difference between Blorgl and his council of sub-bosses is a very small mustache/goatee combo on the clones.


Now we’re down to 5%! The real DPS race is on as Blorgl begins a countdown to self-destruct. The raid must chip off his remaining 284 million HP within 1 minute or Blorgl will permanently explode for the week, preventing any further attempts and destroying any loot he may have had on his body.

At 2%, Blorgl enrages and uses each of his abilities at a 50% increased rate. Wait, this is the final minute of the fight? Oh, did I say 50%? I mean 150%! If any of his clones are left alive at this point, they will merge back to Blorgl and heal him for 300% of his HP.

DOESN’T THAT JUST SOUND LIKE AN ABSOLUTE BLAST? I think I have developed what is, quite possibly, the must fun raid boss in the history of gaming. Look at all those AMAZING mechanics.

And wait, I’m not finished. Because you face not one, but TWO BLORGLBLOOGMUNGMAWS!

In all seriousness, it’s easy for me to sit in my non-developer chair and criticize raid mechanics. I have the luxury of not being in the industry and knowing how complicated the process really is. As a player I can sit here and demand that they add in a mechanic that causes skittles to spew out of my CD drive as a reward for downing a raid boss without realizing how complicated it may be or if it’s even feasible. Raid development is a lot of work. Blorglbloog agrees!


Corgi Island Rescue Pet Spotlight: Macabre Marionette


So picture this – I’m strolling along the canals of Stormwind during the annual day of the dead ceremonies and I stumble over a pile discarded bones. They were tiny and vaguely humanoid. Thinking they were perhaps from a gnomish murder most foul, I almost panicked and ran for Horatio Laine until I realized there was a strange noise coming from under the jumbled skeleton.

Upon closer (and incredibly delicate) inspection I realized that the sound I was hearing was coming from a pair of tiny maracas that were buried at the base of the bone pile.

Being a pet rescuer, I’m no stranger to weird creatures. I’ve seen floating skulls, flying books, and even levitating eyeballs. Something about this ridiculous pile of bones that clung so desperately to its maracas made my rescue instincts go wild, so I sat down to begin the arduous task of reassembling the little creeper.

marionettejumpWhile I am a fairly talented restoration shaman, I rarely deal with rebuilding skeletal structures so the entire endeavor took HOURS. Not to mention the danged thing kept shaking and shimmying once it had a few of its limbs reattached. When I was finished, the heap of bones reached for its hat and maracas and just starting dancing away!

I was actually kind of impressed. To go from pile’o’bones to rockin’ out with your maracas out in .5 seconds after being reassembled is pretty impressive for a non-herolike creature. Either way, I figured it had gotten lost and decided to lead it back to the festivities. When I initially returned it to the Day of the Dead celebration area, it shimmied around the crowd trying to get everyone to feel the rhythm. I was content to for it to stay there, but after I turned to leave the little one was at my heels still shaking its thangs and followed me all the way home.

And that’s how I came to adopt my own little rhythm machine!


PLAY HIM OFF, MARIONETTEBefore taking this guy into battle you’re going to want to toss him an undead upgrade stone so he reaches his full potential. And boy, does he have potential. A full arsenal of undead moves makes him a fantastic counter to humanoid pets, plus he has macabre maraca to deal extra damage to dragonkin – the pet family he takes less damage from.

While not particularly speedy or powerful, the marionette DOES have a defense shattering move in dead man’s party. Currently this is the ONLY undead style flock/hunting party style defense shattering move. Bone barrage and death and decay are incredibly useful as well. If you want to use him as a hard counter against a dragonkin pet, set up a dead man’s party and hammer away with macabre maraca for really dancin’ good time.

There are PLENTY of humanoid tamer battles to face off against in Warlords of Draenor, so adding this guy to your repertoire sooner rather than later would be a really good idea. Though be prepared for a lot of maraca shaking around your house.



Garrisons: Stop Expecting the Expected

Garrison GatesLet me be blunt and get this out of the way immediately: Garrisons are NOT player housing. I have played FFXIV and Wildstar, and THOSE are games with player housing. If you go into Warlords of Draenor expecting the same kind of experience with garrisons, you are going to be disappointed and that’s unfortunate. It would be better to instead go into WoD looking for a different kind of experience, because there is a LOT of good here. Unfortunately that good is trapped under the shadow of the “Housing HOUSING HOUSING!!” monster.

I COMPLETELY understand the appeal of regular player housing. Trust me. My Wildstar home is decked to the roof with all kinds of neat stuff. There isn’t really any of that customization with garrisons. You’re not going to have neighbors, and you’re not going to be able to change the roof/walls/flooring of your buildings.

“How can it possibly feel like home, then?”

pets pets PETSThere are other ways. For example, once you open your pet menagerie following a brief pet battle questline, the pets from your pet journal will wander around your entire garrison. Occasionally they’ll stop and chill with you.

If you choose to build a stable building, your mounts will wander around that area as well.

innIf you choose to build an inn, you can go in and see your followers and garrison workers enjoying a nice meal together. It gives it a very homey feel. In a way you could almost think of the followers as your customizable furniture, but…that’s awful. It’s kinda true though, since they’re the main feature of what brings the garrison to life.

left right leftThere are also the NPCs that will wander throughout the area, giving it a sense of hustle and bustle. Most of these NPCs are followers you’ve picked up throughout your questing travels in WoD. So I know that they seem like strangers now, but by the time you finish certain questlines you’ll be glad to welcome them to your stronghold. If they spot you walking by, they’ll either greet you as a friend or commander which is pretty nice.

The idea of the garrison is less about homey personalized housing and more about building a military foothold on Draenor. You’re not going to invite neighbors over for a BBQ, but you are going to defend the base from attacks, help it grow, and utilize it for strategic missions. You are, in essence, taking control of your own quest hub.

salute me!Yes. For once you get to be the maniacal taskmaster that sends hoards of minions out on dangerous missions. From your command table within the town hall, you’ll be doling out various forms of strategery to the followers you’ve amassed throughout your questing escapades. These “missions” (queeeests) range from 25 minutes to 8 hours and reward anything from new followers to gold to gear appropriate for your spec.

command tableDo…do you feel that? That’s the power. The power that NPCs like Varian and Thrall have wielded for all these years. Ah, yes, it feels so nice. Dance, my little minions, dance!!

You also get to kind of sort of customize your garrison by picking out the specific buildings you want. Certain buildings like the pet menagerie, herb garden, and fishing shack exist for everyone and must be unlocked via quests. Others like the barracks, inn, stables, and profession tents are chosen by the player. It’s like a sim game on rails, and long time players of strategic or sim games aren’t going to find anything challenging here.

SsssstablesAnd that’s okay. Because this is a multi-player game that shouldn’t be made or broken based on tiny buildings in one area of the game. The garrison profession buildings provide a nice bonus, for sure, but there’s a careful balance to maintain between “necessary” and “fun but gives a small bonus.” Once things start falling into the “necessary” range, people get shoehorned into doing things in order to progress more smarterer or betterer. As it stands now, I’d wager that every progression raider is probably going to have the dwarven bunker once they cap as it allows an extra raid bonus roll per week. Imagine if the garrison were FILLED with “must haves” instead of “want to have” and you can see why they put it on rails.

herbgardenRight now the garrisons are still a work in progress. There are parts of it that are clunky. Specifically you need to return to your garrison while questing to send your followers out on new missions. You’re provided a special hearthstone for this task, but having to hearth and then fly back to resume questing is a bit of a pain. Other games manage this by allowing you to teleport to the housing map and then teleport right back to the spot you initially left. Unless any changes are made, you’re probably just going to set things up to run, quest, and then return once you hit an area that has a flight path. This sometimes means you lose time on sending followers out on new missions.

But it’s still very early in beta and things are always subject to change. Hint. Hint hint Blizzard. HINT HINT HINT.

PondOh, and I should also mention that the alliance garrison is FRICKIN’ BEAUTIFUL. Seriously. I know we lost the ability to build wherever we wanted, but I think the alliance garrison in SMV more than makes up for it with its own ambiance.

So again I say – cast off your expectations or hopes for this to be WoW’s answer to player housing. It’s not. This is a different genre entirely. Perhaps someday WoW will add in real player housing, but poopooing the garrisons because they aren’t on that level is like comparing apples to coffee beans.  I think with enough polish and adaptation for it at endgame, this could be something that keeps WoD interesting well throughout the expansion for players like me. We’ll certainly see.



Thrall – What Happened, Man?

***As a note, this entry discusses model updates in Warlords of Draenor. If you are trying to avoid spoilers about those kinds of updates, you may want to take a pass on this one. Fair warning.***

It’s hard to preface this post because Thrall – as a character – is such an integral part of the World of Warcraft. Some love him, some hate him. Like Jaina, he’s very polarizing amongst the playerbase. Whether that makes him a good character is debatable. Some (MEEEEE!!) would argue that negative attention is still attention and any character that gets lore discussions going means the writers of the game are doing their jobs. Others would argue that flat writing (Garrosh, for example) doesn’t do the story any favors even if it gets people talking…or venting as the case may be. I can see both sides of the situation.

Thrall is…haha. Oh boy. I would argue that if “main characters” existed in the Warcraft Universe, Thrall would be central among them. In a world where there are countless NPCs and storylines that stretch into the fathomless Ether, Thrall and several other characters sit like the anchoring trunk of a tree. If there were Warcraft themed cereals, Thrall O’s would be right there on the shelf next to the Tyrande Wheaties. HE’S AN IMPORTANT GUY IS WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY.

With the start of the Cataclysm expansion, Thrall started to take a much more central role in the storyline. He essentially became a “free agent” which in the warcraft universe means that he was more useable in the plot. If you fly solo and have less responsibilities, you can do more in a story. The reason we see Tyrande or Jaina in less “solo” roles is because they CAN’T do that. They have people to lead, places to guard, Malfurions to ignore. Jaina can pop in now and then in a siege or two, but she doesn’t have time to go on a life altering journey of discovery because Dalaran would be sans glorious and beautiful leader.

Why they chose Thrall of all characters to be the more leading faceman of Warcraft, I don’t know. People speculate, they mock, they infer. I have my thoughts on that too. But for all the, “God WHY does Thrall keep popping up?” discussions that happen in story circles – there you go. He’s a solo agent of progressing the story. If you look back through the Warcraft franchise – he always kinda was like that. (Along with other leading characters.) Nothing has changed for him except he gave up the mantle of Warchief – which was preventing him from continuing the same role he had as a character in the RTS games.

Imagine if Sylvanas didn’t have to stay in the Undercity to keep the Forsaken under her thumb? Yeah, there you go. Responsibilities are like, such a drag, man.

On this, the year of our Lord Warlords of Draenor 2014’s eve, the alpha client has launched and the fruitful delving and plundering of the expansion’s assets has begun. With that has come the preliminary character models – Velen and Thrall included.

I try to keep an open mind, and I also want to add the caveat that: ALPHA ALPHA ALPHA ALPHA ALL THINGS SUBJECT TO CHANGE!!!

But my preliminary look at Thrall’s model made me say, out loud: “Man, what happened to you, guy?”

The model is of a vaguely orc-like looking guy in a trenchcoat…robe…thing. The outfit is interesting, but now Thrall stands completely erect. Shoulders back, neck held high. The main thing that marks Thrall as an orc at this point is his green skin. He actually looks more like a human than an orc. If you don’t believe me, here’s a side-by-side image comparison of the new male orc model, Thrall’s new model, and Gilbert the improverished (He just needs a little more time to find himself, okay?) human warrior:

like malcolm in the middle but less funny

like malcolm in the middle but less funny

(With credit to mmo champion for the image of Thrall’s new model.)

Look at that and tell me which one Thrall more closely resembles. It’s like, right there. *grabs your head and smushes your face against your computer monitor* See? SEE?!

This model update is the latest in a long line of updating the art to make Thrall appear more humanlike in appearance when compared to other orcs. If you trace the artwork of Thrall back to the RTS games, you see him gradually lose his hunching posture, his body fills out more naturally, and his face gains a more human appearance as well. WHY?!

There are a couple of possible explanations, and I don’t like either of them. The first is that he was an orc raised by humans; Blackmoore specifically. Trained to be a gladiator but taught by human hand, it might explain why Thrall has begun to subconsciously emulate the humans he spent so much time around. But…there were orcs in those camps too. Also, like, the horde has orcs and he spent a pretty long time around them? Soo.

The other explanation could be that Thrall has spent so much time on his own lately finding himself, that he’s just naturally adopted the new, less orclike posture because…I don’t know? Shaman magic and the journey of self discovery and enlightenment? Lol. *throws notecards in the air*

The obvious answer here is that they want a way to make Thrall distinctive from all the other orcs, especially now that we’re going to alternate Draenor where orcs flow from mighty waterfalls and rain from the skies on cloudy days. But I have got to say – that sucks. Both for all the other orcs, and for Thrall himself.

The guy was already going to stick out because he had green skin. Making him so human in his appearance doesn’t really serve a helpful purpose – except to make him more identifiable by the players. The age old idea of people subconsciously feeling more of a bond with him because he looks more “human” than his fellow orcs. This is the same logic applied to the dimorphism of a LOT of the female models in game. To be “attractive” is to have that more ideal human physique. But this is a world where little rat men scurry through tunnels holding candles, and bird men can be attorneys at law. What I’m saying is – was doing this to Thrall even necessary?

Here’s my main issue with these subtle changes to Thrall over the years. Thrall, the orc, was very proud and fierce. The dude fought alongside Rexxar and Grom Hellscream with orcish pride. He slung the doomhammer and Lok’tar’d to the Heavens. He was an orc then. He looked like an orc, he acted like an orc, and he was an ORC HERO.

Now he’s a humanized hero, in more ways than one. Since he’s been pushed more to the forefront, he has sacrificed a LOT of his orcish features and essentially become human. He was an orc when they needed him to be an orc, but now that they need him to step up and be a more neutral hero – he looks the part of a bland human everyman so people can “identify” I guess.

PLUS he stands among the other orcs in the horde, all hunched over. Garrosh is hunched over. The orcs in the siege of Orgrimmar are hunched over. It almost makes you equate that hunchy thicker orcs = bad and stupider and Thrall with his superior posture and physique = paragon of light and intelligence. It’s a leap, but can’t you kind of see that? And now he’s going to meet his father Durotan and his mother Draka (sort of) looking…almost like he came from a completely different race.

Honestly, I get it. Thrall has ALWAYS been a different orc. He has fought to maintain his identity as an individual and an orc in a hostile world that would see him hang because of it. But I think that is the part of his character that resonated with people so much. To see such a key part of him changing and going away just makes me feel…sad. I don’t think this new model is badass. I think it flies in the face of how a once proud orc and warrior of the horde has dropped intriguing and harrowing parts of his personality and by proxy physique as the story has gone on. And it’s a shame. If a more humanlike Thrall is what the writers want, so be it. But I’ll just sit here and miss the Thrall that once was.

What it takes to be a Lady Lore char in WoW

You’re a fresh recruit, right out of the Stormwind army’s training camps. Bright eyed, you want to make a difference in this mixed up Azeroth! You think you can do it – after all, plenty of women have worked their way up the ranks to become leading lore figures!

But as a leading lore character, what are your options? Well, take a look at this handy chart and decide which path you’d like to follow:

lady lore chars

(And to note: This isn’t even touching on how crappy it is to use insanity or mental illness as a plot device for villainy in this game. I take real issue with that, but it’s a complaint for another time.)

Look at that! A whole 4 options for you to choose from. What’s even nicer is that every choice you make, you’ll have a fanbase at your heels constantly calling you a “psycho bitch” or “whore” regardless. And you’ll have a development team that doesn’t particularly care how the fanbase reacts, because they openly admit to certain parts of WoW being a “boys’ club.” Or they encourage it by writing in quests where a leader openly calls a lady leader a bitch as well.

Okay, hyperboles aside, the above stuff was meant to prove a point. Do I think the writing team purposely portrays women this way? No. I just think they aren’t sure what to do with their women characters, and they have an increasingly hostile fanbase that twists their words to a point where any time Jaina Proudmoore is brought up, the first word uttered is “Alliance bitch.”

It’s hard for some people to understand, so let me put it this way. When Varian is brought up, he is not called a whore because he had feelings for Tiffin. (Unlike Jaina and Arthas.) When Garrosh is brought up, he is not called a psycho bitch for his genocide against Theramore. (Unlike Sylvanas and her motives. While his behavior isn’t excused, it’s usually justified by his lust for power, not his “bitchiness” or “unstable emotions.”) Thrall isn’t called a wuss for seeking neutrality.

So why the disconnect? It’s a symptom of the disrespect people have for these characters. It is the exact definition of a double standard. And the only real difference is the genders of the characters and the way they are perceived.

Let’s take a quick look at the major lady lore figures in the warcraft universe:

– Azshara: Queen of the ancient and beautiful highborne. She was renowned for her beauty, vanity, and lust for power. In fact, she embodied vanity and greed. And thus led to the downfall of her entire race.

-Magna Aegwynn: A guardian of Tirisfal. Incredibly strong, hard headed, and powerful. Blunt to a fault, she single-handedly fought off the fallen Titan Sargeras. She largely disappeared from the public eye until she sacrificed herself for her grandson, Med’an. A woman who DEFEATED A TITAN sacrificed herself so her grandson could kill Cho’gall, a beginner tier raid boss.

-Sylvanas: Leader of the forsaken and a force the be reckoned with. Deadly with a bow, and more than a match in wits for the lich king himself. Now considered to be on a power trip, players discuss how they can’t wait until she’s a raid boss and can be killed, and even in game Garrosh calls her a bitch with no repercussions.

-Jaina Proudmoore: One of the most powerful mages alive. Continuously does what she thinks is best for her people and faction, regardless of the toll it takes on her. Though she could have destroyed Orgrimmar in a tidal wave as payback for Theramore’s destruction, she resisted. She even refrained herself from smacking Thrall upside the head when he told her to get a husband to even her emotions out.

-Tyrande Whisperwind: Leader of the night elven people and a powerful priestess/warrior in her own rite. Waits dutifully for her husband Malfurion, and follows his commands to the letter despite the traditional NE idea that priestesses are to be led by the head priestess and only druids are to be led by the archdruids. Can best be summed up by the quote: “Hush, Tyrande.” and now seeks to wage war wherever she can.

-Maiev Shadowsong: Staunch in her duty, she led the powerful NE wardens for centuries including keeping the jailed Illidan in line. Appears at the end of black temple to help strike the killing blow. Later re-appears and takes issue with the fact that Malfurion let the highborne (see Azshara) back into NE society. It’s not so subtly implied that she is off her rocker, and thus she falls into the annals of “insane villainess” history.

-Aggra: Appeared in a book to teach Thrall. Had a single questline. Served her purpose by having Thrall’s son. Never seen again.

-Moira Thaurissan: Held under the thumb of a father that was angry she was not born a son. Told throughout her childhood that she would not amount to a good leader because of it. Ran away and found true love with a Dark Iron king who treated her as an equal. Said king was then assassinated at the command of her father. When she returned to claim her rightful spot on the throne with her legitimate heir son, she was almost assassinated by Varian Wrynn. Probably one of the characters most frequently referred to as a “bitch” by the general playerbase because no attempt to explain her motives exists in the game.

There are some exceptions to these characterizations in the game. Namely Alleria, the dragon aspects, and Shandris Feathermoon. (Please, Gods of WoW lore, do not take Shandris from us!) but overall I think you can see the running theme here.

It’s bad that these characters are pigeonholed into these roles. It’s even WORSE that the community will continually resort to gendered insults whenever any of these characters makes a move. I think Sylvanas could sit down and have a tea party and someone, somewhere, would call her a bitch because of it. And that’s really not right. And it’s not fair.

Thankfully, Pandaria was full of awesome characters, both men and women. It was certainly a step in the right direction! Except the mantid society. What was up with that? Helmed by a powerful queen that existed merely as a figurehead, kept constantly in check by the Klaxxi. It’s like they took the idea of insect biology, specifically bees, and warped it into some bizarre amalgam that only half worked. It was still a good storyline, but the idea of it annoyed me on some level.

Do I have hope for change in Warlords of Draenor? Not really. I am absolutely thrilled we’ll be getting a new leading lady in the form of a draenei priestess. But I don’t have much hope for her not following the footsteps of her predecessors. Or even worse, she will be subject to a fanbase that presumes to call her a bitch or a whore regardless of any choices she makes. I find that really, really sad.

On their face, the issues with the characters don’t bother me as much as the reaction of the community to them. Nothing is worse than having a good discussion about Jaina on twitter and someone randomly butting in to call her a bitch. Thanks for your input, random person, and thanks for reducing an entire character down to a stereotype about her gender. I would hope, deep in my heart, that kind of thing would be obnoxious to the writers of the game as well. They spend time trying to build up characters, only to have them and their motives explained away by PMS. But you’d think that id it did bother the writers, they would be trying to affect some change in the way they, themselves, treat and regard their own creations.

All I can say is that it does bother me. It should bother everyone.