Tag Archives: Lore Sjöberg

Everybody Comes to Westfall

We are now past the two week mark for WoW Classic and I feel like I haven’t gotten very far along.  People are moving along, I see people past level 30 in Stormwind regularly and “that guy on the horse” has become a regular feature. (Was it Ethic who named that concept, the person on their mount in town sitting there to show it off?)  Beside that I feel like I am poking along so slowly.

This is somewhat self-imposed as the instance group hasn’t been ready to ride yet, with moves, business trips, and end of summer vacations keeping people away.

And moving slowly isn’t all that bad.  I am not in any crazy race, nor was I ever likely to be in contention for any “world first” in the game.  There is lots to explore and see and do while keeping characters down in the level range for the first dungeon, Ragefire Chasm.

Plus, there are always alts.  I’m prone to making too many alts to start with, so keeping in the right level range has gotten me to four characters now in the level 14-16 range.  I have all four alliance races covered as well, as I now have:

  • Level 14 gnome warrior
  • Level 14 human paladin
  • Level 16 night elf druid
  • Level 16 dwarf hunter

That warrior might be my first gnome character in WoW.

So I have not been idle.  And they have all stepped into the zone where we’ll be headed, the zone where most people end up in at some point or another; Westfall.

Westfall – This Way

Westfall is one of the quintessential zones of Azeroth.  For the Alliance it is where a lot of players converge as the quest lines there lead to the Deadmines instance.  If you want to have Gryan Stoutmantle shout your name out to the zone you have to get on board the quest train.

He’s just hanging out waiting for you to show up

And, of course, Horde players have to find their way there as well if they want to do the instance.

While some of the starter zones have calmed down quite a bit… they are not dead, but I got my gnome warrior through the Coldridge Valley part of the dwarf/gnome starter zone in about 20 minutes because there were no more lines… Westfall feels like it is still full tilt crowded a lot of the time and very much alive with players.  And NPCs of memory.  Running into the zone you are greeted with the first quests right away from familiar faces.

Welcome to Westfall! How about a few quests?

Those are the Furlbrows, with Old Blanchy, who features in a couple other places in the game, including an appearance in the Old Hillsbrad dungeon in the Caverns of Time.  It was a bit of a shock when Blizz killed the lot of them for Cataclysm.

But there is no time to hang about there.  There are so many semi-overlapping quests in the zone that you might as well get them all.  One of the quests sends you to the next location anyway, Saldean’s Farm, where you pick up a few more. (And maybe stand around clucking in hopes of getting a chicken pet.)  Then it is off to Sentinal Hill to turn in the quest from Goldshire sending you to check in with Gryan Stoutmantle, who also has a quest for you, as does a couple of other NPCs.  Don’t miss the one down the hill by the inn… and don’t forget to grab the flight point.  Running is all fine and dandy, but sometimes you just want to get places.

The list of quests alone brings up a small wave of nostalgia.

Some of the early Westfall quests

Here the game starts to stress your inventory management.  Half of those quests need you to collect things.  You need four stacks of ingredients for Westfall Stew, another stack for Goretusk Liver Pie, gnoll paws for another, Defias bandanas for yet another, bags of oats for Old Blanchy, and a pocket watch for Ted Furlbrow.  It isn’t quite Green Hills of Stranglethorn level of inventory management, but when you are likely rocking six slot bags, things start to fill up fast.   And that doesn’t even start to count the random drops you’ll get.

Then you have to find the mobs for the drops.  That isn’t too hard.  They are often in handy camps.  The problem is that the camps are often well camped by players.  But the pick up group cooperation spirit of WoW Classic, or at least the Bloodsail Buccaneer server, continues on.  With a couple of characters I was able to find groups to hunt with.

Slaughtering the Defias at one of their camps

Grouping up is a great way to knock out the quests where you have to kill 15 of this or 20 of that, since everybody in the group gets credit.  And a group can hold and wipe out a camp that might be a bit much to take on solo.  Mobs, especially the gnolls, spawn close together so you often cannot pull just one.  With a group you can do the whole village.

Waiting for gnolls to pop again

The problem is the quests that require drops dole them out one at a time.  A good group will swap to free-for-all looting and people will stick around until everybody is covered.  Or mostly covered.  Sometimes somebody leaves and another joins and they’re just starting and there is a cycle through the group that could last all night if you stuck around.

And some of the drop rates kind of suck.

Welcome to the gnoll hunt

I get that maybe every Defias isn’t following dress code or maybe left their bandana on the dresser at home in the rush to get out to Westfall, but Gnolls would seem to have four paws, and boars at least one liver per.  Yet we ran across many a pawless gnoll or heavy drinking goretusk whose liver had decayed to the point of being useless for cooking.

I remember a late 2004 Lore Sjöberg article over at Wired from back in the day that spoke of the “kinder, gentler” ways of World of Warcraft (which is a bit of a time capsule point of view you can find here), that included a reference to how, if you slew a named mob for a quest that required you bring back their head, the corpse would nicely provide a head for everybody in the party.

And that is the case certainly, for a specific named quest mob.  But for a run of the mill Defias or gnoll, it is a maximum of one per corpse, not guaranteed.

Not that it is a huge burden.  I have always toyed with the idea in the back of my mind that this was on purpose back in the day, that in order to off-set the reduced experience you get for grouping Blizz makes you slay more mobs.  And, in the end, when you need eight or fifteen drops and you have none it feels like it will take forever, but it never takes too long until you’ve just got one left.

Anyway, I am through that first wave of quests in Westfall on a couple of characters, and into it with the others.  The hope is that we’ll be able to get a group together to try Ragefire Chasm this weekend.  That it is located in the back end of Orgrimmar will make this comedy gold I am sure.  But if we need to stall some more I am going to have to start another alt, and I am well down the list of options.  I only have rogues and cloth wearing casters left.  Or I could go Horde I suppose.  We’ll see.

Addendum: I noticed that I used the title of this post before.  I cannot resist an obscure allusion I guess.

Video Games, Art, and Time

Roger Ebert was feeling cranky the other day and declared that video games are not and can never be art.

The whole thing seems rather pointless, like a kid going out of his way to kick over somebody else’s blocks in pre-school.  But the man is a professional cinema critic, so it is probably tough to take off that critic’s hat when you get home.  And, of course, now other people are throwing out their own opinions on the subject.

The crux of Ebert’s argument seems to be that video games are interactive and, thus, not art.

This is a point of view to which no small number of artists, people who Roger Ebert would likely recognize as artists (who is an artist being a whole different argument and even more slippery than who is press), would object.  Interactivity is not at all an uncommon aspect of art.

My own pass through Art Appreciation at University was with a professor (and artist) who had a very inclusive view on what was art.  Or at least I think he did.  I was still working out negative space while he was going on about that.

Art is more about having a message, about communicating something to people, than about the medium the artists chooses.   Anybody who declares something “not art” because they object to the medium is kidding themselves.  Art is not the medium.  Art is the message, the intent.

And, looking at it from the other direction, merely using a recognized artistic medium does not make something art.  All movies are not art.  Every time a brush is applied to canvas, art is not magically created.  All those photographs people take, they are not all art.

Now, I would certainly entertain the proposition that no current video game has been created as art.

I would say you weren’t looking hard enough.  You’re not going to find art using a video game format as the medium on the shelf at GameStop.  It is as likely that something create to be a video game would be immediately recognized as art as… no, I’m not going to create a distracting analogy that people will argue about rather than the point I’m trying to make… let’s just say it would be unlikely and leave it at that.

But that is just my opinion.  Anybody trying to come up with an absolute definition of art is on a fool’s errand.

And all of this leads to another notion, one put forth by Lore Sjöberg in a piece he did for Wired, that video games are too recent to be seriously considered as art.  That, as a medium, video games haven’t aged enough to be viewed as art.

And while his column is pitched as humor, it does have a ring of truth to it.

In the end, I don’t know art, but I know what I like.  Or something like that.

Quitting Eternal Skirmish?

Lore Sjöberg‘s Bad Gods site has a parody of MMO exit surveys up today.

Well, not a parody of just any MMO exit survey.  As Lore says,

I’m recently returning to playing Warcraft after the 3.2 update. If you’ve ever tried to quit Warcraft — and you should, it’s an integral part of the complete experience — you’ll see that the subscription cancellation form does its best to cajole, argue, and guilt trip you into staying.

He isn’t kidding.  On the account management page, attached to the link to the page to cancel your subscription, is this plea:

You can use this link to terminate your subscription online. Before you do so, we would love to hear from you by telephone. There are many steps that our representatives can take to address any problems you may be experiencing. Please call us at 1-800-59-BLIZZARD (800-592-5499).

Call us!  Don’t just leave mad!

And that is before they really start in on you.

Anyway, be sure to actually select items from the “Why you’re leaving” drop down list of the parody.  There is even a response in there to soothe Tipa’s concerns.