#372: The Capital

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No, this post won’t be talking about Washington DC, just so you know. I guess today’s blog post is going to continue discussing World of Warcraft, considering it’s what I’m currently playing and what feels the most natural for me to write about. I know it’s not so much a life update like some of the other blogs, but hopefully it suffices regardless.

In World of Warcraft, there are a few different capital cities, depending on what race you choose. I’ll talk a little bit about what I like about the Horde ones, considering those are the ones I’ll be frequenting the most while writing this post.

Cities in this game are bustling hubs of economic activity and discussion in trade chat. People take the time to interact with each other, gather their things and parties together, and set sail for adventure in various parts of the world. Cities usually connect between each other, and cities often have transportation to other continents connected to them as well. Orgrimmar can help you move to Stranglethorn Vale on the opposite side of the planet, and Stormwind can help you reach Darnassus. No matter where you’re going, there are easy ways of moving around the world once you get the hang of it.

My favorite city used be the Undercity, the home of the Undead. Unfortunately, that city is no more, as it was destroyed in the events of the most recent World of Warcraft expansion and blighted to nothingness. It no longer exists, basically, just like Darnassus. Orgrimmar, however, is still functioning, and it still has its usual auction houses and activities going on. It’s become the place to be now that Undercity is torched to the ground. I still prefer the old stomping grounds, but it’s nice that there’s at least one place to go to still.

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#371: The Ghost

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I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I do believe in some kind of supernatural mental space. I think every element of the supernatural can be traced back to a moment in time in which a person, at that time, felt that the horror was real, as if it really had a hold on them. Like, for example, vampires aren’t real, obviously, but vampires were inspired by prejudice and anti-semitism. The actual disease of the mind wasn’t the vampiric haunts, but rather the bigotry that enabled people to invent whole new classifications for humans in order to understand minorities.

The real reason I wanted to make this post is because I was thinking about running back to my corpse on World of Warcraft, a regular corpse run to try and restore my spirit to its body. It’s an obnoxious process (I’ve talked a lot about obnoxious behaviors on this blog recently, haven’t I?) and it’s always made worse by the fact that the spirit healer is so far from your body. Sometimes I just don’t want to run all the way across the ocean to restore life to my corpse. Sometimes I just want to get resurrection sickness and accept defeat from there on.

Being a ghost isn’t so bad when you’re a night elf, though, as you have the ability to turn into a wisp which increases your movement speed while dead. It’s preferable to being any other race while dead, and if you spend a lot of time dead, like me, it makes sense to roll that race.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just got a tattoo done for the Horde faction, and here I am advocating people make night elves. I’m a traitor to my own tattoo at this point.

But really, dying sucks in this game. I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this.

#368: The First Tattoo

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By the time this post goes up, I’ll have gotten my first tattoo. To say I’m not a little bit nervous about it is putting it lightly, but I’m eager to see how it goes and excited to have the final product on my body soon.

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know I’ve played World of Warcraft on and off for the past 10-12 years. It’s been a consistent fixture of my life, something even Alex knows a lot about by virtue of our conversations about it and from watching me play.

Inside the world of this game, there are two major superpowers that are in a military deadlock with each other: the Horde and the Alliance. Each faction has its own set of races (orcs, trolls, tauren versus humans, elves, dwarves) that are exclusive to the faction.

One of my favorite raids in the history of the game, Siege of Orgrimmar, takes place in the Horde’s main capital city. No matter what era of the game I’m playing, I’m usually maining a character on the Horde side regardless.

My original main was a Blood Elf Mage, and then I race-changed to an Undead. I played that character throughout Burning Crusade all the way until Battle for Azeroth. I still have him at max level, even though mage isn’t that fun to me any more.

Horde is also a place where I met a bunch of lifelong, lasting friends. It’s where I first joined a guild, it’s where I first started raiding in Wrath of the Lich King, and it’s where I still reside even all these years later. I feel an attachment to this faction even though it might seem a bit silly. It’s personal to me, like anything else. It represents a special type of connection between friends.

#328: The Subscription

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Paying a subscription to a service feels like having partial ownership of it, depending on what type of service you’re paying into. If it’s something like Hulu or Netflix, I can’t say for sure how that feels, but it’s not the same as say, owning a subscription to World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. In those games, you are a paying customer, and you get to pay with your wallet if things don’t go according to what you like. You have to, really, because ultimately you need to justify the extra $15 or so you’re paying a month towards something. If you’re living a frugal lifestyle, that $15 could be going towards groceries or gas or insurance or what have you, but instead you’re paying it towards a temporary permission slip to play a game. Is that entirely fair?

In my opinion, yes, because they fill the games with enough content and replayability to make it all worth it. If you are frugal, then of course it doesn’t work for you, but for me, I can give away a little bit of money a month to make sure I have a stable gaming community with my friends. Sometimes just being part of a group that’s larger than your own fills you with the right kind of team spirit to continue forward.

Being a part of a guild, which I’ve spoken about before on here, is a great feeling when the guild is active and supportive of each other. Paying money to get that access is totally normal, at least in my opinion. Money shouldn’t be an obstacle to that kind of social interaction, but I understand that Blizzard needs to keep their immense server database running somehow.

And if you’re wondering about this day’s picture, it’s because I searched “sub” and then “boat” and then chose something pretty. That’s all it takes!

#297: The Vanilla

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The classic experience. When people think about World of Warcraft, they probably think about the original game, the game as it was when it first came out and people flooded the streets of Orgrimmar and Stormwind, recognizable faces polluted trade chat, and Horde and Alliance alike waged war against Ragnaros, Kel’Thuzad, Nefarian, and C’Thun. This age, from 2004 to 2006, is referred to as “Vanilla WoW,” and the most basic (but not in a complexity sense) and fundamental aspects of the game trace their roots to this time period.

I never had the chance to play during this era, so my experience here is restricted. However, recently, Blizzard has released what’s called “Classic WoW,” which is included in the regular, retail WoW subscription price. “Classic WoW” is a separate set of servers that are tailor-made to restore the game as it once was. It preserves this two-year span of history forever in the state that it was at the time. For fans of the simpler days, before sharding took over and when servers had their own communities, this is ideal news. Blizzard’s decision to finally endorse and give in to classic servers was huge, considering their prior resistance to the idea. While I still dip into the retail game from time to time, I don’t currently have a subscription. If I did, I would consider jumping into Classic WoW to get a sense of how things were before probably going back to how things currently are. While I’m not saying the current iteration of the game is perfect, there are certain mechanics and systems to the retail version of WoW that I’m not sure I’d be able to do without, and I just learned flying again too!

Regardless, I respect Blizzard’s decision and the huge wave of support that Classic WoW has received is great to see. I’m a fan.

#271: The Aether, Part 2

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Aether is paramount to understanding the Final Fantasy story, though. If I were to introduce you to its boundless lore, I wouldn’t know where to start, partially because I don’t have a lot of familiarity with it and partially because I haven’t been paying a deep amount of attention into the lore thus far. Because it’s all still early game progression to me, I haven’t been reading quest text as diligently as I sometimes do in World of Warcraft. Others I know who rarely, if ever, read quest text have said that the Final Fantasy XIV lore is worth getting into, but I still remain unconvinced for the time being. It’s just so much to take on all at once, so much to understand with no real application benefit.

I do appreciate having a lot of lore, though, and I think a great MMORPG requires it in order to function well, in order to feel like a vast, unexplored world to conquer and adventure through. It’s one of the big appeals of World of Warcraft, to me; but also, I know the general lore of WoW and could definitely explain it to someone if they were interested to hear about it. It’s completely buckwild, but it’s fun and it takes up a vast space in my memory regardless. That’s what I get for playing that game for so many hours and days and years of my life.

But sometimes, when you’re playing multiple games at once, the burden of understanding so many different lores and universes and the laws of their individual universes is a lot. Like, for example, I’m currently playing through Fire Emblem: Three Houses as well, and in that game, there are crests, units, kingdoms, castles, so many things to understand about the world. But I can’t simultaneously keep that in my head while also trying to learn about Final Fantasy’s vast, open world, if that makes sense.

#268: The Last Minute

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Ever wait until the last minute to do something? That tends to be me in that position, wandering around, waiting for a sign of what to do, only for something to finally show up and excite me into action. That was me tonight, when I decided to queue up for a Mythic+ dungeon on World of Warcraft the day before the weekly dungeon reset. I realized at night that I wouldn’t be getting a good box the next day if I didn’t run a dungeon at all, so I queued for an Atal’Dazar +6, which means I’m committing myself to at least 30 minutes or so of dungeoneering on my elemental shaman. Usually, when I’m about to start a dungeon, I go through a checklist in my head of whatever else needs to be done beforehand: do I have water nearby? Have I prepared the necessary materials in game? Does anyone else need me right now? Will anyone need me in the next 30 minutes? (Always unpredictable; anyone could call me at any time, and people do that sometimes in the middle of dungeons. It makes for awkward conversations.)

The last minute, though, is when you usually feel the most motivation to do a particular task. The heightened anxieties, the excitement in the air. It’s usually the moment when people feel the most stress, but to me, that stress is productive, positive, and enthralling. Not to say that I always leave everything to the last minute; that wouldn’t be the case at all. But when a bunch of tasks are piled on someone all at once, you will naturally have to make a few concessions here and there; one task gets completed now, the other one perhaps later, the last one in the last minute. I don’t volunteer for all of my tasks to be completed then; it just so happens to end up that way when you’re given a lot at once.

#256: The Flyers

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Anyone who plays World of Warcraft can recognize that the game changes completely as soon as you unlock flying for the first time. Once you’re able to soar through the sky on your flying mounts, everything on the map becomes more enticing and travel is significantly less tedious. You don’t have to worry about running into mobs any more on the “safe” path to that one world quest, and you can freely escape a dangerous situation if you manage to get out of combat and have a few seconds to load up your mount. For world quests, even in enemy territory, it’s easy just to drop in, kill something, and then load up your mount again. Flying takes away so much of the tedium and trials of the game, making so much of the game accessible to someone like me, who doesn’t as much enjoy his ground mounts.

Being able to fly is great and all, but one of the best benefits of flying is exclusive to the druid class: flight form. Druids are shapeshifters, taking the form of beasts and animals to suit the situation they’re in. When they enter water, they can take the form of an aquatic animal to increase their movement speed while others swim at slow speeds. But in flight form, they can fly around and collect herbs easily, without ever having to leave their transformed form. (Does that wording make sense? Hopefully…) They can swoop down, collect an herb safely, and ignore any potential danger. It’s like having a free pass to level your gathering professions. I love that so much about flying, and right now it’s what’s motivating me to play my druid, after a while of having that character sitting on the bench. The transition is as smooth as butter and nothing really compares to it.

#251: The Portal

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Today I’ll be discussing a lesser-known aspect of World of Warcraft, but something that’s still deeply important to my main class choices.

For the record, and for those who don’t know, I played a mage as my main class from 2007 all the way until… probably about 2018. His name is Seneth, and he’s been my main guy for well over 10 years. I still play him from time to time, though not as frequently as I used to. The mage playstyle just doesn’t interest me that much right now, and I’m waiting to see if any major changes to the mage rotation come in the next expansion, or after that. At the moment, nothing about mage is really striking me as interesting, except one thing… Portals.

That’s the topic of today’s blog post: the portal. Being a mage means having access to portals and teleportation spells that allow you to go wherever you want, whenever you want. The spells cost mana to cast, but the cost is practically negligible when it comes down to it. The main perk of playing mage is the ability to always have the ease of access of teleporting wherever you want to go. I miss that when I play other classes, like paladin and shaman, which don’t have the same ease of transportation. Both are bulky, mostly immobile classes. It makes me wish that mages were better right now, as I would probably be playing one!

I took a portal just now from Boralus to Silithus, but it would have been so much easier had I been on my mage. The times have definitely changed since the old days of this game.

As you might be able to tell by the picture up top here, I don’t have a picture of an actual portal to share with you, just a port!

#238: The Grind

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The Grind. When it comes to grinding out experience, reputation, currency, gold, whatever I need in order to push forward in World of Warcraft, I’m used to it. Back when Burning Crusade was current content, I remember the first grind I participated in was the Shattered Sun Offensive reputation grind. You had to hit exalted in order to get all the good stuff, so obviously I wanted to get there pretty badly. As a kid in middle school, I didn’t realize the predatory practices of games at the time, and I didn’t quite understand how the rep grind was designed to make me want to play the game more and more, incentivizing total commitment to the game every day in order to maximize the reputation I earned each day. That’s what life on current World of Warcraft is like, too, now that they’ve added two new reputations and two new zones to explore: Nazjatar and the Ankoan, and Mechagon and the Rustbolt Resistance. (Rustbolt almost sounds like Rustbelt, which is kind of funny.)

(Coffee beans are all I could find when searching “grind,” even though it’s unrelated to the topic. I like having unrelated pictures attached to these blog posts, though.)

In other words, the grind is a long, arduous process of completing monotonous tasks over and over again in order to achieve a result that’s gated in some way by an arbitrary restriction, such as reputation or gold or something like that. In this case, in order to get flying on all my characters in the new areas, I need to hit revered with both of the new factions and then explore each new island, too. It’s a process, but I’m used to it by this point. I’ve done it on almost all of my characters, so there’s nothing holding me back.