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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Silvermoon High School Cheer Squad Is Now Recruiting!

Our brand new "World of Warcraft" guild is recruiting!
Are you pretty and popular? The Silvermoon High School Cheer Squad is recruiting! Female Blood Elves only! Show your Sin'Dorei pride! Mail or PST our Dance Captain Aktrez, or Cheer Captain Verthandi for an invite! No geeks or freaks. Gooooooooooo Hawkstriders!
Becky and I started the guild on Korialstrasz, inspired by the female belf /joke and /flirt emotes. We're working on a web site and saving up for a tabard.

Click here for more info.


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Monday, February 26, 2007

Runing Naked Through Hillsbrad & Arathi

My Blood Elf Warlock, Verthandi, got the succubus quest in the Undercity.

The first thing you have to do is go collect the hearts of two virtuous men. One of them hangs out at the Greymane Wall in Silverpine Forest, which is a pain in the ass because the area is chock full of level 20 humans, wolves and lycanthropes, plus a nasty 24th-level Son of Arugal that enjoys attacking from behind. Plus the guy you have to kill takes a really, really long time to respawn.

After I killed him, I had to walk all the way to the frickin' Wetlands to find the second time. This means you have to run all the way through the redundantly-named Hillsbrad Foothills, and halfway through the Arathi Highlands (I suspect that "arathi" is the Elvish word for "highland"). Parts of both these areas are inhabited by nasty 30th level mobs, and even if I stuck to the roads, I was likely to get attacked and killed.

So I just decided to sprint for it. And to keep my armor and possessions from getting damaged in an attack, I did it naked.

Here's Verthandi, running naked through the Hillsbrad Foothills, not long after stripping naked and leaving Silverpine Forest.

Look! Thoradin's Wall!

These Alliance losers are staring at my sweet young body. There were a number of rude comments from passersby.

Running, running, running.

Here I am standing in front of the Thandol Span, just before reaching my objective. I was only killed three times!

Back in the Undercity, I have slain myself a succubus!

And here I am with my new best friend! I call her Kitten (as in "Kitten with a Whip").

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Friday, February 9, 2007

Sylvanas Windrunner and the Runnettes!

Verthandi with Sylvanas Windrunner, Royal Quarter, Undercity. 2-9-07 3:13am.

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Cloud vs. Star

I, like a lot of you, have had a few weeks to play the "Burning Crusade" expansion for "World of Warcraft" now. I've substantially leveled a couple of new characters*, one of each of the new races (Blood Elves and Draenei if you like, have a life or something) and noticed pretty key differences between the two.

It's not really the new abilities or classes that make the difference, but rather the starting areas, and how they relate to quest progression. WoW was an evolutionary step up in MMORPG design in that it had quests that logically flowed by level and race to new areas that were always level-appropriate. Players were not forbidden to go into areas that they're too low level for, but neither did any of their quests necessarily lead them there - exploration was still possible, and even rewarding - but not a part of the leveling chain. Completing quests was substantially more rewarding than just grinding through countless rats and selling their teeth, and also kept you moving from area to area that progressed naturally in terms of both difficulty and reward.

Still, there were many jokes about the "World of Walking" due to a lot of quests involving running back and forth across the same stretch of terrain several times to deliver things. Sure, one could throw the item to be delivered into a sack and complete the quest when it's convenient, but lots of us knocked out one quest at a time. This lead to a lot of wasted time - and by wasted I mean we weren't exploring new areas, or completing quests, or engaging in combat, or even - Light forbid! - doing roleplaying. How many times did you trot across the Crossroads on the Horde side; a vast area that had little to commend itself visually, and less in terms of ease-of-travel?

The developers at Blizzard have learned some lessons, and improved on the design of quests in the expansion, mostly. The starting area for the Draenei resolves this problem; the starting area for the Blood Elves, for the most part, does not. Blood Elves get quests the old-fashioned way; you're given a quest to go to an area and do something (kill things, explore, acquire something, whatever) and then return to complete the quest. Upon completion, another quest opens up, and you head out again - trotting back and forth across the starting zone many times. Sometimes it's possible to pick up several quests and complete them all in one run - but for the most part it's one at a time - the star pattern method. I call it this because your path of travel makes a star, a whole bunch of radial arms emerging from a central point - that central point being the quest giver.

The Draenei, on the other hand, have it easier. You arrive at the area with the quest-givers, and there are many quests to pick up all at once - all of which lead you to the same general geographical area. In that area, there's a cluster of things to do - NPCs to interact with, creeps to slay and loot, stories to advance. It's easy to further a story this way, too - a whole tableau of a situation is presented upon arrival, and through your efforts, the conflict is resolved. Once that cluster of quests is completed, you run back to the central area and turn them all in at once - and either get directed to a new central area, or get a new batch of quests. I call this the cloud method - your path of travel concentrates in a cloud in each place, with a minimum of back-and-forth just traveling.

Now that I've played through most of the starting quests up to level 20 in both starting areas - which they're designed to do with minimum pain and maximum fun - I'd say the cloud method is a lot more appealing. I appreciate the scenery in Azeroth, and WoW's success has a lot to do with how attractive the environment is - but in reality (so to speak!) we're spending a lot of time in the same vicinity, and the novelty of the backdrop wears off after wandering around looking for that fourteenth Mistbat Vampire - or whatever.

This is not to say that the Blood Elves' area is entirely free of anything like quest efficiency - it's just that it's more prevalent, and more carefully laid out for the Draenei. As a result, I just had more fun playing the Draenei character - even if they don't do little spinning moves when they jump up and down. I hope that future releases or content updates for WoW follow more the cloud pattern, and less the star pattern.

*(Draenei - Iri, Blood Elves - Neeky; Both on Korial'strasz. Say hello!)

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Cosplaying a Blood Elf

I've decided to start going to work on my very first MMO based cosplay costume. I'm so in love with my blood elf that I believe I'm going to become her!

I recently found these great contacts that I think would be PERFECT for the costume.

These actually glow under black light.

The rest of the costume will soon follow. Any ideas, tricks or advice?!

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Hey! That Chick's Not Wearing Underwear!

Verthandi at Tranquillien, Ghostlands. 2-7-07 6:47pm PST.

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